World War II ended in 1945, but rumors that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler didn't really die in his Berlin bunker have lived on. Finally, a team of French pathologists has come up with definitive proof of Hitler's death in April 1945. Russian authorities allowed the team to examine teeth and jawbone fragments that had been stored in Moscow for more than 70 years, and they concluded that "there is no possible doubt" that the teeth belonged to Hitler. Soviet troops had recovered the remains from outside the Führerbunker at the end of the war. The pathologists also looked at skull fragments found with the teeth and confirmed that the evidence indicates that Hitler died as reported: by suicide, most likely by taking cyanide and shooting himself.
Hitler's death, shrouded in Soviet propaganda:
- Hitler had notoriously bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. The poor condition of his teeth, as well as his complicated set of bridges and dentures, helped with the identification, as they could be matched to Hitler's X-rays and dental reports from the 1940s.
- During the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched a propaganda campaign known as Operation Myth which encouraged the rumor that Adolf Hitler was still alive, and had been helped to flee Germany by the British or the Americans. For decades, Hitler's remains were stored in Moscow, and outside investigators were denied access.
- Conspiracy theories had long suggested that Hitler might have escaped to South America, as some other prominent Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele had done.