Hitler turns up in cardboard box

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The Independent Online
THE MOSCOW press corps was in a frenzy yesterday after the director of the Russian State Archives confirmed that his library was holding the remains of Adolf Hitler's skull. The bones - kept in a cardboard box marked 'Blue Ink for Pens' - are genuine, the library says, and are for sale.

The most valuable items are 'the jaws, full of crowns and bridges - which immediately allowed the dead bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun to be identified in May 1945 - and which rumour had it were in the State Security archives', the daily Izvestia reported. Apart from some blood- stained wood fragments from Hitler's sofa, only fragments of the skull remain. Its top is 'partly missing'. Parts of the back of the skull, as well as the left temple bone, remain.

Andrej Batrak, a correspondent for the German magazine Der Spiegel, said his bureau had been offered access to two bones and six volumes of eye-witness accounts of Hitler's last hours in his Berlin bunker in exchange for a great deal of money. How much? 'I really can't say. Many thousands.' Mr Batrak was not talking roubles.

In fact, the Russians were asking so much that Spiegel had to pull out of the bidding. 'We wouldn't have given half what they were asking,' said Mr Batrak. But the rumours are that a Western publication has paid a six-figure sum for the 'exclusive'.

Precisely what happened to the bodies of Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun after their suicide has long been a subject of speculation. Ella Maximova, the Izvestia reporter who described the frisson she felt when she held the remains of the Fuhrer's skull in her hands, said the archives revealed that German soldiers doused the bodies with petrol, then burnt and clumsily buried them in the gardens of the Chancellery. But a Russian soldier, Ivan Churkov, found the remains five days later.

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