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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Is Hitler Dead? Rumours, Misinformation and Problems of Evidence Seminar

Time:
18:00
Date:
4 December 2018
Venue:
Lecture Theatre B, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Parkes Institute at parkes@southampton.ac.uk .

Event details

Part of the Parkes Institute's Research Seminar Series for 2018/19

On 1 May 1945, the death of Adolf Hitler was proclaimed on North German radio.  The news was duly splashed across the front pages of the British and American press through the recurring, matter-of-fact headline, ‘Hitler Dead!’.  The cover of Time magazine offered a similar and seemingly irrefutable summary of events, striking out the Nazi leader’s face with a large red cross.  The message was clear: Hitler was gone, the war was practically over, National Socialism was vanquished.

Yet this conviction about Hitler’s fate did not hold for long.  The western Allies swiftly countered Nazi descriptions of Hitler meeting a ‘hero’s death’, offering alternate causes and timings of his demise that fuelled public confusion about Hitler’s mortal status. The Soviets, meanwhile, declared the whole death story to be a ‘fascist trick’ to conceal Hitler’s escape from war-torn Berlin, especially when no identifiable body seemed forthcoming.

Focusing particularly on the period May-December 1945, this paper analyses these competing narratives and revisits the initial investigative efforts mounted by Allied intelligence agencies.  It argues that, from the start, establishing definitive proof of Hitler’s death was hampered by political power games among the remnants of the Nazi leadership, mutual mistrust between the wartime Allies, the general turmoil of the immediate post-war environment and serious methodological flaws regarding the collation of evidence.

Speaker information

Dr Caroline Sharples, University of Roehampton. Senior Lecturer in Modern European History

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