Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler
Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler
by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams
German dictator Adolf Hitler and his bride Eva Braun are said to have committed suicide in a Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945. Not so, say British military historian Simon Dunstan and his journalist co-author, Gerrard Williams. In their readable and well-mapped what-if history, they say the Hitlers swapped places with lookalikes three days earlier, and landed at Necochea, Argentina, from a U-boat three months later.
Historians have dismissed such claims, but Dunstan and Williams clear the way for their story by saying past accounts are also flawed.
Bunker residents lied for Hugh Trevor-Roper's 1947 widely accepted history, The Last Days of Hitler, and the author was duped into thinking the forged Hitler Diaries were real in 1983, they write.
There is 'no conclusive forensic evidence' that charred bodies outside the bunker were Hitler and Braun's, particularly as the 'Hitler Skull' fragment in Moscow was DNA tested to be that of a 40-year-old woman, they add.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin told the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 that Hitler had escaped 'probably to Spain or Argentina' while his top commander, Marshal Georgi Zukhov, admitted his troops 'found no corpses that could be Hitler's', the authors say.
No wonder, because the Hitlers had several stand-ins, including a 'perfect' Propaganda Ministry starlet and the 'uncanny' Gustav Weber, who, the authors claim, was last photographed decorating Hitler Youth, on March 20, 1945. Both could have played their roles to the last, they explain.
Grey Wolf is more than a conspiracy yarn, however. Its authors show Hitler's escape was possible with detailed research. They describe how the Nazis under Hitler's ruthless reichsleiter (national leader, second ranked to Hitler), Martin Bormann, got rich as masters of graft, plunder and murder, and with eager overseas friends.
The authors highlight the pragmatism of Swiss banks; the presence of up to 300 major US corporations in Germany in 1940; why the Nazis decorated Henry Ford, and how Opel-owning companies General Motors, Alcoa and ITT helped German might.
The book's highlight is a lucid account of how the Nazis moved their loot from 1943, when they knew the war was lost. Bormann even bought shipping and airlines to move valuables, usually via Italy and Spain to safe havens worldwide, the authors write. American columnist Drew Pearson reported in 1943 that the region of Patagonia in Argentina was 'a series of vast Nazi-owned ranches where German is spoken almost exclusively, where Hitler could be hidden for years', and which would be all but impenetrable for an outsider, Grey Wolf says.
Argentina soon thrived as the Nazis pumped in their money - much of it as fake British currency - while their diplomats cosied up to key politicians such as Juan Peron and his mistress, Eva 'Evita' Duarte, who, Grey Wolf claims, later swindled Bormann of loot.
Between 1943 and 1945, more than 200 German companies set up subsidiaries in Argentina, whose gold reserves rocketed from 346 tonnes in 1940 to 1,173 tonnes, or US$1.4 billion, in 1945, the authors write.
Grey Wolf details how Allied cold war deals with former Nazis muted investigations in Latin America, and shows post-war FBI reports of Hitler sightings alongside the reminiscences of elderly minions who say they knew the ageing f?hrer, code-named 'Grey Wolf', was at his sub-Andean retreat near San Carlos de Bariloche. The authors weave in hearsay of the Hitlers' daughters, the toll of exile on Braun before she left the f?hrer 'probably in 1954', and how Nazi hitmen pounced after his peaceful death, aged 73, in 1962.
Grey Wolf might wrap fantasy in facts, but it's a gripping read.