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The memo shared on social media is a manipulated version of an authentic 1971 memo about Uruguay elections.
Most historians agree — despite abundant conspiracy theories — that Hitler died by suicide in his bunker in Berlin on April 30, 1945.
French researchers in 2018 studied dental remains and confirmed that they belonged to Hitler.
There have been many conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler’s death over the years. Some allege the Nazi leader fled on a submarine to Argentina, or another South American country. Other claims suggest he ended up on a Nazi base in Antarctica, or a base on the moon.
The burning of Hitler’s body by his aides after he died by suicide in a Berlin bunker in April 1945 likely fed some of these theories. Hitler killed himself as Soviet forces closed in on him near the end of World War II.
Now, a new claim circulating on social media claims that Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, is "dumping secrets in an extended deathbed confession" about Hitler’s fate.
A Dec. 3 Instagram post shares an image of a memorandum allegedly sent to Kissinger that claims that "Adolf Hitler is buried in Spain in the cemetery of the Almundena." The document said that after the war, the Spanish government concealed Hitler, and that he lived there until he died at age 68.
"Apparently a deathbed confession of where Adolf Hitler is really buried. It’s obvious that he did not die of suicide like we all thought according to this person‘s confession," read a caption on the post.
The Instagram posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
But the memo is a manipulated version of a real memo sent to Kissinger in 1971 by Theodore L. Eliot Jr., then the U.S. State Department’s executive secretary.
The real memo’s subject was "the Uruguayan Elections." Eliot wrote that he was attaching a copy of a department memorandum on the Nov. 28 election in that country.
It appears that the subject line and paragraph under it were the only things changed in the altered memo shared on social media. The memos have the same date (Nov. 27, 1971), the same number on the top right (7119052) and the words "Attachment: Election Memorandum" under Eliot’s signature.
The authentic memo and the fake one purportedly about Hitler have the same handwritten notes at the top left and on the right side. Eliot’s original document is five pages long; the document shared on social media is a single page.
Carlos Osorio, information systems manager of the National Security Archive and director of its Southern Cone Documentation Project, said the Hitler memo is a fake. The archive is a nonprofit journalists and scholars founded in 1985 to expand access to declassified public documents.
Osorio published the original document and others on the archive website in 2002 in an electronic briefing titled "Nixon: Brazil helped rig the Uruguayan elections, 1971."
Osorio noted that the fake memo about Hitler has different font types.
He also pointed out the writing "Pol 14 Uru" scribbled on the document ‘s right side refers to the National Archives classification for files that pertain to political affairs (Pol), elections (14) and Uruguay (Uru). The National Archives, a federal government agency that preserves government and historical records, is unrelated to the National Security Archive.
Osorio said his colleagues at the Universidad de la República GEIPAR project in Uruguay, copied the National Archives folder that contains the original Uruguayan elections document. An image of the folder containing the documents shows "Pol 14 Uru" written on the folder.
The memo about Hitler shared on social media has nothing to do with elections, so it makes no sense for it to cite them. The memo’s poor sentence structure is another clue that the document is likely inauthentic.
"After the Second World War the government of Francisco Franco concealed him in Madrid and there he died to the age of 68 years," it read. "His body lies in a tomb without name of the mentioned Spanish cemetery. It is suitable that this information never publicizes."
The notion that Hitler lived another 12 years after the war is at odds with what most historians believe — that Hitler fatally shot himself in his bunker, and his wife, Eva Braun, took a cyanide pill and died next to him on April 30, 1945.
Their bodies were burned at his direction, historian Ian Kershaw wrote in his 2010 biography of Hitler, according to The Washington Post. Russian soldiers later found the remains and identified them with dental records, Kershaw wrote.
French researchers in 2018 hoped they had put any remaining theories to rest when they were granted access to Hitler’s dental remains, which they said confirmed his death in Germany.
"We can stop all the conspiracy theories about Hitler," the study’s lead author told the news agency Agence France-Presse. "He did not flee to Argentina in a submarine; he is not in a hidden base in Antarctica or on the dark side of the moon."
Kissinger, 99, appeared virtually in November at Bloomberg News’ New Economy Forum and discussed the U.S.’ relationship with China.
An Instagram post claims that Kissinger in a death bed confession released a 1971 memo that shows that Hitler was hidden in Spain after World War II and died there at age 68.
But the memo is an altered version of a real 1971 memo to Kissinger about elections in Uruguay, according to a National Security Archive researcher who published the original document in 2002.
Most historians agree that Hitler died by suicide in a Berlin bunker in 1945.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Instagram post, Dec. 3, 2022
Email interview with Carlos Osorio, information systems manager of the National Security Archives and director of its Southern Cone Documentation Project, Dec. 6, 2022
Universidad de la Republica GEIPAR project. "POL 14 UR 9-1-71"
European Journal of Internal Medicine, "The remains of Adolf Hitler: A biomedical analysis and definitive identification," May 18, 2018
The National Security Archive, "NIXON: "BRAZIL HELPED RIG THE URUGUAYAN ELECTIONS," 1971"
The National Security Archive, Kissinger memorandum about Uruguay elections, Nov. 27, 1971
The Washington Post, "Scientists say Hitler died in WWII. Tell that to ‘Adolf Schüttelmayor’ and the Nazi moon base.," May 20, 2018
The Washington Post, "Hitler shot himself 75 years ago, ending an era of war, genocide and destruction," April 30, 2020
NPR, "French Researchers: Hitler Really Did Die In The Bunker In 1945," May 21, 2018
DW, "Teeth test dispels myths of Hitler's survival," May 20, 2018
Bloomberg, "Kissinger Says Biden-Xi Talks Kickstart ‘Bridge-Building’ Effort," Nov. 14, 2022
The New Statesman,
"What the Hitler conspiracies mean The Nazi dictator’s death in 1945 is well evidenced, but reports of his survival and escape to Argentina continue to seduce many in the social media age," Dec. 2, 2020
The National World War II Museum, "The Death of Adolf Hitler," March 30, 2020
The New York Times, "The Day of Hitler's Death: Even Now, New Glimpses," May 4, 1995
Popular Mechanics, "10 Astonishing Facts About the Moon That People Totally Got Wrong," Sept. 27, 2022
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