BERLIN - New testimony on the death of Adolf Hitler in his Berlin bunker came to light in Germany this week. The Spiegel TV channel discovered recordings of statements given by the first two people to discover the bodies of Hitler and his bride Eva Braun after they committed suicide in the bunker on April 30, 1945.
Among those testifying were Hitler's aide, SS officer Otto Gunsche, and his valet Heinz Linge.
"When I entered on my left I saw Hitler on the sofa," said Linge, who died about 30 years ago, in the recording. "His head was bent forward and I could see a bullet hole about the size of a penny on the right side of his temple," he said.
Gunsche, who died in 2003, said, "Hitler sat leaning on the arm of the sofa with his head hanging down on the right shoulder ... On the right side I saw the bullet hole." The two said they helped carry Hitler and Braun's bodies out of the bunker and tried to cremate them in the garden outside the compound.
The two were later captured by Red Army troops and sent to prison in Moscow for 10 years. They returned to Germany after their release.
The Bavarian government taped the recording in a Berchtesgaden courtroom on October 25, 1956. The court, at the site of Hitler's former Bavarian mountain retreat, had been convened to formally declare the Nazi dictator dead, enabling the state authorities to legally seize his fortune and the rights to his memoir "Mein Kampf."
Some 40 people gave evidence under oath that they entered Hitler's study after hearing shots on April 30, 1945, and found him dead.
Until now, the recordings had been kept in Munich's state archives and have not been heard, apparently due to technical difficulties. Now that their sound has been improved, historians and researchers will be able to make use of them. Although history books say Hitler shot himself on April 30, 1945, at 3:30 P.M., for years doubts about the Nazi leader's death lingered in the media and among some historians.
Various intelligence services have been searching for Hitler throughout the world since 1945, suspecting he escaped from the bunker on the eve of Berlin's surrender to the Red Army, escaping to Spain, Argentina or another South American destination.
According to one version, Hitler escaped in a German submarine to the Antarctic Queen Maude Island, a former German submarine base. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin added to the mystery when he claimed in July 1945 that he did not know where Hitler was.
In 1970 the Soviet Union admitted that Hitler's remains, which were found in the yard outside the bunker by the Soviet Army, had been taken for examination and confirmed to be his.
In 2000 the Russian intelligence service released photos of part of a skull and jaw it maintained had been taken from Hitler's body.
Last year, however, an American explorer said he believed those parts belonged to a woman's body, reviving speculation about Hitler's whereabouts.
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