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Some doubts arise about Hitler's death. Information about the skull found strengthens the idea that the dictator escaped the siege of Berlin.
A skull fragment that was believed to belong to Adolf Hitler is actually the skull of an unidentified woman, aged 20 to 40 years. The information, revealed by a study by the University of Connecticut in the United States, revived doubts about the death of the Nazi leader.
Part of the skull, which has a gunshot mark, was used to support the theory that Hitler took cyanide and shot himself in his Berlin bunker as Soviet troops approached in April 1945.
Questions about how the dictator died, including speculation that Hitler had escaped, persisted for decades. Debates attached importance to the fragment, which was first exhibited at the Moscow Federal Archive in 2000 as a unique war trophy that filled the Russians with pride.
In addition to the skull, Soviet troops reported that they had exhumed Hitler's jaw and that the identity of the remains had been confirmed by an examination of his dental arch.
Archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni said he immediately suspected that the skull belonged to a woman because of the bone structure. Her colleague Linda Strausbaugh, director of the university's Center for Applied Genetics, agreed to do a DNA analysis if she could get a good sample. This is how Bellantoni traveled to Moscow, where he obtained permission to take a DNA sample.
In May, his team began work at the University of Connecticut laboratory in Storrs. Initially, they thought the poor condition of the skull would undermine the research. "What we were shown was the part that was charred. Fire is one of the great enemies to get DNA evidence," Linda explained.
The skull had been stored at room temperature, which also damaged the DNA. The interior of the fragment, however, was not burnt, and the amount of material obtained was within the range that DNA samples should have, he said.
The result was amazing. "DNA confirmed it was a woman," he added.
The revelation was made in a new documentary released by History Channel entitled "The Hitler Escape", which relaunches the idea that the German dictator could have escaped the siege of Berlin.
Linda Strausbaugh clarifies that her analyzes prove nothing about Hitler's fate and only reveal that the skull attributed to him belongs to someone else.
According to Holocaust historian Christopher Browning, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the test results do not change the consensus that Hitler died in the bunker.
Browning also pointed out that historians do not rely solely on the report of Soviet troops. There are also investigations at the time, including one by British intelligence officers, who gathered evidence from witnesses about the corpses of Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun.
"None of this depends on the supposed validity of a body or skull held by the Russians," Browning said. "When History Channel says this puts in doubt everything we know since 1945, it is giving false information."
According to the Soviets, the remains attributed to Hitler and Braun, as well as Joseph Goebbels and his wife and children, have been moved several times, Brown said. "The problem with many of these samples is that they were not stored correctly," Linda said.
If more DNA samples were obtained from family members who died in the bunker, the relics could tell their story. For now, however, the skull's identity in the Moscow archives is a puzzle, Linda lamented.
Source: AFP and R7
Image Credit: AFP