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The controversy surrounding Adolf Hitler’s skeletal remains is embarrassing for the Russian secret services. In 2000 the Russian secret service presented a skull fragment and a piece of jawbone that they claimed were the remains of the Adolf Hitler the Nazi leader. It was an attempt to quash the rumors that he had escaped Germany alive at the end of World War II.
But this October US researchers presented the results of DNA tests on the skull fragments. The results conclude that the skull fragments definitely did not belong to Hitler because the fragments were from a female. Scientists had already harbored doubts about the authenticity of the piece of bone because it was thinner than a male’s usually is. Nick Bellantoni of the University of Connecticut said, “The bone seemed very thin — male bone tends to be more robust. It corresponds to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40.” In addition the position of the exit wound at the back of the skull also made scientists suspicious because eyewitnesses said Hitler had committed suicide by firing into his right temple.
Russia’s intelligence service, has rejected these doubts. Vasily Khristoforov, the director of the FSB archives (the FSB is the successor to the KGB), told the newspaper Izvestiya that the bones are definitely Hitler’s. “These researchers never got in contact with us,” Khristoforov said, adding, “with what could they have compared the DNA? Moscow is the only place with the remains of Hitler”
Bellantoni said he was allowed to work on the skull for an hour. When he flew home from Moscow he had two samples in his luggage: a sample from the skull fragment and one sample of blood from the sofa on which Hitler is said to have shot himself.
Bellantoni was able to compare the bloodstains on the blood-stained fabric with photos the Soviets took after they seized Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. The stains had matched those in the photos. The research showed that the sofa blood DNA did not match the skull DNA. The sofa blood was male and the skull belonged to a woman, claims Bellantoni.
Khristoforov insists that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had ordered an investigation of the bone pieces because he was not convinced Hitler was dead. The comparison of the jaw bones with X-ray photos of Hitler made in 1944 had satisfied Stalin that Hitler was dead.
Khristoforov said that the corpses of Hitler and Eva Braun, Joseph Goebbels and his wife and their six children had been destroyed on April 4, 1970. “The order came from KGB chief Yuri Andropov, the later state and party leader.” The remains of Hitler and Eva Braun had been stored in the eastern German city of Magdeburg but on the orders of Andropov they were incinerated and the ash was scattered in the river. “That was probably the right solution. Otherwise the burial site would have become a pilgrimage site for fascists who exist everywhere.”
Even within Russian officials don’t all agree on whether the bones are really Hitler’s. After the US research was revealed in October, the vice president of the Russian state archive, Vladimir Kozlov, said: “No one claimed that was Hitler’s skull.