Hitler's remains 'were destroyed'

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The Independent Online
FRESH rumours that Hitler's remains, found by Soviet troops near his bunker shortly after he committed suicide in April 1945, are buried somewhere on Russian soil are untrue, a Russian journalist said yesterday. The charred bones were 'liquidated' by the KGB in 1970 to prevent them becoming relics for neo-Nazis, said Lev Besymenski, a journalist on the weekly New Times.

Quoting rumours among Soviet veterans, the German magazine Der Spiegel suggested yesterday that the remains of Hitler and his wife Eva Braun might be in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, but Mr Besymenski says he was told by KGB officials some years ago that there had been a 'special order' from the intelligence service to get rid of the bones.

'The bodies were exhumed nine times altogether before they were finally destroyed,' said Mr Besymenski, who is 72 and has made a special study of how the bodies were moved after they had been set alight by Hitler's aides in a shallow grave in the grounds of the German Chancellery.

Mr Besymenski, who was a captain in the Red Army when it entered Berlin, said the bodies were dug up almost immediately after they had been buried, and then returned to the same grave when rumours flashed around Berlin that Hitler was still alive. When those rumours appeared false, the bodies were removed and taken, on several stages including an autopsy, to a grave in Magdeburg. From there, in 1970, they were dug up again and destroyed.

The delay in destruction was because of Stalin's belief that Hitler had escaped. Intelligence officers kept the corpse intact in the hope they could one day prove it was not the Nazi leader. According to Mr Besymenski, Soviet doctors performed two autopsies on Hitler's corpse, but the autopsies have not been made public. The KGB gave Mr Besymenski details of the exhumations for his 1968 book, The Death of Adolf Hitler, on the condition that he said the bodies had been destroyed when they were originally set on fire.

'I should now write another book, I have to correct myself,' he said yesterday.