Hitler Lives! at least according to the sensationalist US magazine Police Gazette in 1964
[Fair Use via Pulp International]
By Roger Clark
Journalist Gerrard Williams says he is convinced ‘We were lied to’ when it comes to Hitler’s suicide in 1945 because Mr Williams believes Hitler escaped from Berlin at the end of WW2 and lived happily ever after in South America with Eva Braun, Martin Bormann and Blondi the dog.
Now the History Channel, which broadcasts to over 180 countries, is giving Mr Williams’ theory a global audience as he joins a cast including an ex- CIA agent, a cage fighter and a small drone, in the $16 million TV series “Hunting Hitler”.
In this special investigation, published to mark the seventy first anniversary of the suicide of Adolf Hitler in Berlin on 30 April 1945, the broadcaster and former BBC documentary maker Roger Clark reveals that the producer of Mr Williams’ TV film “GREY WOLF – the Escape of Adolf Hitler” was the millionaire financier, Magnus Peterson, who was jailed for fraud for 13 years in 2015, and explores the reasons why pseudo history matters and why it must be exposed.
The journalist Gerrard Williams has twice been told he physically resembles a fatter version of Martin Bormann – Hitler’s notorious henchman and war criminal. How do we know? Because Mr Williams told listeners this interesting fact while plugging his bogus history book GREY WOLF – the escape of Adolf Hitler on two radio shows. He wrote the book with the help of Simon Dunstan and – if we believe mainstream critics and historians – a fine hash they made of it.
Undaunted, Mr Williams went ahead and directed a movie based on the book. It, too, was called GREY WOLF – the escape of Adolph Hitler. Both have excited derision amongst historians. But – new honours! – Mr Williams now has a starring role in the History Channel’s equally spurious 8-part series Hunting Hitler. This series, beamed to millions of viewers around the globe, is an all-out assault on history and truth.
Described without irony in one episode as a ‘heavyweight investigative journalist’ Mr Williams is part of a team of investigators led by ex-CIA man Bob Baer. They are trying to find evidence that Hitler lived for years in South America after World War 2. Baer claims: ‘All these stories we’ve been told about Hitler’s bunker – There’s nothing to back it up. It’s the biggest mystery of the 20th century.’ Serious historians, who have spent a lifetime studying Hitler, would question that assessment. Critics may also wonder if it was wise for the makers of the Hunting Hitler series, Karga Seven Pictures, to employ Gerrard Williams in such a high profile position in their project.
Newspaper reviews cast doubts on the veracity of GREY WOLF soon after the book was published in 2011. So have one star Amazon reviews. Surely someone on the production team should have had qualms after reading them – take these three for example;
1) ‘The Rehash of a Fantasy’ … By Donald M. McKale on 7 June 2012. Prof McKale is an historian and has written a standard book on the false claims that Hitler escaped from Berlin in 1945. It’s called Hitler the Survival Myth.
2) Another scathing review was entitled ‘Shoddily researched, evidentially worthless, faux academic, pseudo-historical faction’ … By P. A. S. Jefferson – 25 March 2015.
Jefferson examines in detail the evidence and alleges: ‘The authors often seem to be intellectually dishonest or incompetent.’
3) The production team might have noticed also my own review entitled ‘Buyer Beware – Fantasy History!’ – UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2013 … By Roger Clark on 16 October 2011. I worked for years as a producer and broadcaster in BBC Radio producing many programs and features about WW2. I was astonished by the claims made in GREY WOLF. So I set about investigating them in the same way I would a program for the BBC’s national network Radio 4, or the BBC World Service. I researched from scratch and consulted many international experts;
The historian Prof Sir Richard Evans dismissed GREY WOLF as ‘fantasy history’.
The world’s leading Nazi hunting organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, twice condemned the book.
Yad Vashem, the world centre for Holocaust research in Jerusalem, also denied Hitler survived the war. So did the Wiener Library, another leading authority on the Holocaust and Nazi era. So did the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive). So did the Encyclopaedia Britannica and numerous other experts I quoted in my review.
Were all these authorities wrong and GREY WOLF right?
Apparently so, indeed, the History Channel thinks Mr Williams is ‘an invaluable asset’ to their investigative team in “Hunting Hitler”and they are puzzled why experts spurn his findings saying: ‘Despite the rigor in his journalism and his adherence to facts and evidence, the international community has largely ignored him.’
However, it is the History Channel to the rescue of Mr Williams’ theory as the channel trumpets: ‘Williams has taken over a dozen trips to Argentina and visited locations like Hotel Eden, Bariloche, and the Inalco House years before the FBI files pointed squarely to them. Williams believes that where he lacked the finances and technology to dig deep enough, this team won’t be held back in the same way.’
Problems, problems, problems
I found out more than expected while researching my Amazon review. In addition to a host of historical inaccuracies, I discovered allegations of plagiarism, non-payment of bills, libel, production chaos, budget mismanagement and scandalous behaviour behind the scenes – accusations Mr Williams denies.
Even before GREY WOLF was published in 2011 the project became embroiled in a complicated legal case. The Argentine journalist Abel Basti launched a legal action against the authors and publishers of GREY WOLF alleging plagiarism and more. Years later – I am writing this in April 2016 – that case is still going on. It is wending its way slowly through the Argentine legal system and could eventually end up in the High Court in London.
Like the book, the GREY WOLF film claims to tell ‘the untold story of Adolf Hitler’s escape to Argentina at the end of WW2.’ The movie’s publicity blurb is less emphatic than the book excoriated by critics. But according to the write-up ‘this film dramatization explores the possibility that Hitler didn’t die in Germany at the end of the war, but instead escaped from Berlin by air and made his way to Argentina. This is the gripping story of what might have happened; the CIA’s possible involvement, his life in Patagonia, the escape routes and the astonishing fact that Hitler may have had two daughters.’
The front of the British version of the DVD carries quotes from the historian Dan Snow on the front, and others from Sir David Frost, Pravda and the Daily Mail suggesting they have endorsed this film. In fact their remarks relate to the book, not the film. The Daily Mail actually savaged the book.
The Cover of the UK DVD release of Grey Wolf: [High Flyers Films- Fair Use]
Enter a millionaire fraudster
Although GREY WOLF is junk history it is a lavish production. The film was shot on location in Argentina. The credits list over 50 actors, 15 voice over artists and 60 people on the production side, including a composer who wrote original music for the film. In addition 25 people are thanked for their help. There’s the expensive art work for the cover and cardboard slipcase for the DVD. As far as production and camerawork are concerned the film looks professional – as does the book. Both set out convince the gullible who are unable to see behind the slick packaging.
However, the film’s appearance was delayed two years because of legal, editorial and financial problems exacerbated by the world economic crisis. When it eventually emerged viewers saw a bizarre documentary drama with actors and voiced over comments. Editorially it is as worthless as the book – fantasy masquerading as history.
Then a major disaster hit the film in January 2015. The man who produced and bankrolled it in the early stages – the millionaire financier Magnus Peterson – was jailed for 13 years having been found guilty on multiple charges of forgery and fraud involving hundreds of millions of pounds.
Magnus Peterson was jailed for fraud after his Cayman Islands based hedge fund – Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund – collapsed. The fund failed in 2009 when it was unable to pay investors wanting their money back after the 2008 financial crisis. Following an investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office Peterson was found guilty of eight counts of fraud, forgery, false accounting and fraudulent trading along with three other directors and senior employees of the company.
According to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – which was responsible for regulating the UK’s financial services industry until 2013 – investors lost around $536 million – £349 million pounds.
‘Peterson defrauded investors who should have been able to trust him,’ said Mark Steward, the Financial Conduct Authority’s director of enforcement and market oversight.
‘Over a prolonged period he purposely used investors’ money to prop up his business, and then lied in order to cover up his deception.’
Peterson had ‘rewarded himself handsomely from investors’ monies’, to the value of £5.8 million between 2005 and 2009, said the UK Authorities.
Reuters Business News reported that Magnus Peterson was humiliated yet again on Monday 26 October 2015 when the UK’s financial watchdog took further action against him:-
‘Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority on Monday banned the former head of Weavering hedge fund Magnus Michael Peterson from working in the financial services industry.’
Curiously, little mention was made of the bogus Hitler film during the three-month trial. That dealt with weightier financial matters – frauds involving hundreds of millions of pounds. But insiders – such as the investigative journalist Laurence de Mello who has worked closely with Abel Basti – allege that much of the money used initially to finance the film came from Peterson’s Weavering hedge fund suggesting: ‘Over $2 million from the fund was used by Peterson to produce a bizarre film about Adolf Hitler” Peterson may be in jail, but if de Mello and Basti are correct GREY WOLF, is still cashing in on Weavering hedge fund investors’ losses.’
Although critics panned the book and major historians and institutions failed to endorse it Peterson still wanted his name associated with the movie. This is proudly displayed on the back cover of the DVD case.
Convicted fraudster Magnus Peterson is named as producer of “Grey Wolf” on the UK DVD Release of the film [High Flyers Films- Fair Use]
Peterson’s name is also mentioned twice in the credits at the end of the film – first as the producer. Then he is listed at the top of the Special Thanks credits along with his wife Amanda Peterson. You can also see him listed as the film’s producer on the IMDB website and the Australian government’s official film classification website.
It seems extraordinary Peterson should wish to have his name prominently linked to a spurious history project when his life was collapsing in financial ruin. But as the prison gates clanged behind him the DVD went on sale.
Of course, there is no suggestion that Gerrard Williams was aware of Mr Peterson’s fraudulent activities, and it must be assumed he accepted the financing of his film in good faith. However, the relationship between Peterson and Williams extends over many years. We know the connection was close because both Williams and Peterson were directors of Gerbil Films Ltd which was involved in the early stages of the production of the GREY WOLF film. And before he became involved in the bogus Hitler project Peterson employed Williams to direct a corporate video about his ill-fated Weavering Capital company. Gerrard Williams, is grateful for Magnus Peterson’s help with GREY WOLF. In the Acknowledgements at the end of his book he writes:-
‘And to Magnus Peterson – my benefactor, supporter, and convivial companion throughout the trials and tribulations of this project – go my thanks, best wishes, and undying friendship. – GERRARD WILLIAMS’
While there is also nothing to suggest that Mr Williams and Mr Peterson did anything illegal in connection with the writing and making of “Grey Wolf”, there are many unanswered questions about their relationship. Was Peterson responsible in any way for the book as well as the film? Was the relationship purely financial? Was Peterson a hands-on producer? Did he have any editorial or creative input into the production of the GREY WOLF movie? If so, what? Obviously he must have at least acquiesced in, if not endorsed, the main thrust of the film – namely the fraudulent claim that Hitler and Eva Braun escaped the fall of Berlin in 1945.
In August 2012 Gerbil Films was dissolved leaving thousands of dollars owed to creditors. A new company – Lobos Gris Ltd [“Grey Wolf ” geddit?]– was formed. This, too, was liquidated. The rights to the film were then purchased by Grey Wolf Media Ltd, a new company mainly owned by Williams and Peterson. You can follow the details in a Wikipedia article entitled Grey Wolf (film) which you can find here and in the history of the financial filings of this succession of companies at Companies House.
At the time of writing Grey Wolf Media Limited is facing a compulsory winding up order under the companies Act 2006.
The mystery of the vanishing professor
One person who is notable by his absence from the GREY WOLF film is Prof Alf Linney, Emeritus Professor UCL Ear Institute – UCL (University College London). Prof Linney is mentioned six times in the GREY WOLF book. The authors claimed Prof Linney had agreed with them that a double was substituted for Hitler at the tyrant’s last photo call outside the Berlin bunker in 1945.
If true this would be a startling development as most historians argue the photos are genuine and show the real Hitler. Prof Linney was one of the few people with any weight, standing, or authority quoted in the book who – apparently – disputed this. He was the book’s star witness. If what was attributed to him were true – that the Hitler pictures were fakes and showed a double – this would send shockwaves through the world of contemporary history and ignite a major controversy. To have him on side would be a major coup for the authors.
Gerrard Williams repeated the claims in an interview he gave to Sir David Frost on Frost Over the World. It went out on Al Jazeera’s English TV service and is still on YouTube. There Mr Williams used Linney’s name to bolster his argument that Hitler was replaced by a double in the last photos taken of him:-
‘We’ve had proved by the senior facial recognition expert who works for the Metropolitan Police here in London – Prof Alf Linney – that the final pictures of Adolf Hitler, which everybody knows, of him with the Hitler Youth on 20 March 1945… are definitely not that of Adolf Hitler. They’ve been cross-checked and checked – and this is a double…’
Williams repeated the claims again in two radio interviews. But had Linney confirmed the pictures Williams had shown him showed a Hitler double?
I sent Professor Linney numerous photos of Hitler and emails detailing the evidence. I also sent him a kindle edition of the GREY WOLF book so he could find the six references to himself. In addition I sent him direct quotations from the TV and radio interviews where Williams had repeated his claims about the Professor’s involvement with the project.
Eventually Prof Linney emailed telling me his ‘involvement in this book was minimal’ and; ‘some of the remarks you report the authors as making are certainly wide of the truth.’
Viewers will notice something strange when they look at the GREY WOLF film. Prof Linney never appears. This star witness – the man who apparently could have turned history upside down – has vanished. He is never quoted, nor is his name mentioned in the credits. Did the professor ask Williams to stop using his name in association with GREY WOLF? The professor – a discrete man – is not saying. But his name is in no way associated with the film as it was with the book and broadcast interviews. Nor does he feature in the History Channel series Hunting Hitler. Gerrard Williams never mentions him. Nor do other members of the team. And there is no mention of Prof Linney in the credits.
However, amid the mystery of the vanishing professor there is one comforting note. The credits at the end of the GREY WOLF film assure us that: ’No animals were harmed in the making of this production.’
Possibly not. But something worse was harmed – truth was violated and genuine authorities seem to have been used inappropriately to promote a spurious thesis.
Why did Williams’ phoney book and film appeal to the Hunting Hitler team? Both looked professional productions and they failed to notice their rotten content. The production team never saw below the surface glitter.
Ironically, another member of the Hunting Hitler team, Steven Rambam, is not only a freelance Nazi hunter; ‘…publicly known for his pro bono efforts to track and locate 170 Nazi collaborators and war criminals in the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.’
Mr Rambam is also a financial forensic investigator against fraud. Was he aware of the embarrassing problems that engulfed GREY WOLF?
If he was he never mentions them.
‘The great investigator will check all the boxes,’ he tells us. So what does this great investigator do? He goes ahead and endorses Gerrard Williams.
‘Steven Rambam believes Williams is an invaluable asset to the team,’ the History Channel’s publicity assures us, adding; ‘Williams has spent over a decade laser-focused on the facts surrounding this investigation … As a journalist, his devotion to facts provides the precise framework that Rambam demands to make this investigation the most in-depth and revealing the world has ever seen.’
Strangely, the leader of the investigative team – 21-year CIA veteran, Bob Baer – repeats the same endorsement word for word on a separate publicity page. Baer ‘believes Williams is an invaluable asset to the team. Williams has spent over a decade being laser-focused on the facts surrounding this investigation … As a journalist, his devotion to the facts provides the precise framework that Baer demands to make this investigation the most in-depth and revealing the world has ever seen.’
So who made these remarks endorsing Mr Williams – Steven Rambam, or Bob Baer, or someone in the media relations department at the Arts and Entertainment Network? Checking seems a little slack when it comes to Gerrard Williams. Here is a man who has co-authored a terrible book. If you base a film on a terrible book you’ll produce a terrible film. And that’s what GREY WOLF is – a double whammy – a terrible book and a terrible film. In fact we now have a triple whammy because Mr Williams has also brought his baleful influence to bear on Hunting Hitler.
Rubbishing the truth
There’s a wealth of difference between bad, but entertaining, war movies labelled works of fiction and war movies that claim they are historically accurate and rubbish the truth. GREY WOLF the movie – and the book on which its based – claims to be historically accurate. In 2011 an advert for the film appeared on YouTube. It’s still there for the whole world to see and ends with these words:-
‘Hitler escaped to Argentina. And it was there, 17 years after his alleged suicide in Berlin, at 3pm on 13 February 1962 – tormented, demented and betrayed – the most evil man of the 20th century finally died … We were lied to.’
‘We were lied to’? … Strong words! They attack and undermine countless historians and experts who have established what happened. And those same words are repeated at the end of the GREY WOLF movie. For good measure the movie quotes a woman who makes another extraordinary claim:
‘They say Eva is still alive. But that would be ridiculous. She would be 96.’
To drive the point home we cut to a street scene captioned: ‘Buenos Aires, Argentina. November 2008.’ There we see an elderly woman being pushed along in a wheelchair by a young woman who calls her ‘Grandma’.
They are actors, of course, like most of the people who appear in the film. But they claim to portray and quote real people. So according to the GREY WOLF film Eva Braun was alive just a few years ago. And Hitler’s granddaughter – or granddaughters – are probably strolling around downtown Buenos Aires right now!
The biggest cover-up in history?
Why does this matter? Because thousands of people believe this nonsense, especially when they see it on TV. The History Channel’s Hunting Hitler claims it is investigating ‘what could be the biggest cover-up in history’. In the first program Williams is at it again. He asserts people who went through World War 2 were deliberately deceived.
‘That generation was lied to,’ he claims. ‘This story needs telling … This is one of the greatest stories never told.’
Later he declares;
‘Here’s one simple question that I’d really like answered – why aren’t we being told the truth?’
At the beginning of Hunting Hitler we are told in 2014 over 700 pages of secret FBI documents were declassified. They revealed the US government were investigating Adolf Hitler’s whereabouts months and even years after he was believed dead.
‘In these files are thousands of leads,’ states Bob Baer. ‘This is report, after report, after report…’
‘Thousands of leads’? … Thousand of false leads more like it – gossip, rumours, hearsay, legends and folklore – phoney information and mistaken identities. Those FBI reports are based on people reporting they had seen Hitler, nothing more – thousands of uncorroborated sightings. The FBI wrote up the reports and filed them away.
Nonetheless, Bob Baer is quoted saying in the first episode of Hunting Hitler and in edited form all over the Internet :
‘The narrative the government gives us is a lie. If you look at the FBI files it throws open the investigation. One document states: “American Army officials in Germany have not located Hitler’s body nor is there any reliable source that Hitler is dead”.’
By the time we reach the final episode of Hunting Hitler Bob Baer is so carried away he thinks the non-existent Hitler could have been planning to strike the USA with V3 rockets armed with nuclear warheads and found a Fourth Reich.
Conspiracy theorists constantly misinterpret evidence. That happened in 2009 when an American scientist DNA-tested the famous ‘Hitler Skull’ fragment with a bullet hole held for decades in Moscow. He was taking part in another History Channel documentary called Mystery Quest – Hitler`s Escape.
The person who examined the skull was Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni – a state Archaeologist and bone specialist who worked out of the CT State Museum of Natural History and Archaeology Center in the University of Connecticut. Dr Bellantoni said:
‘Producers for the History Channel asked if I would assist in a program they were doing on the death and remains of Adolf Hitler, and asked if I would go along as their scientist.’
His findings proved explosive. The Moscow skull fragment belonged to an unknown woman and not Hitler. Others in the History Channel program – though not Dr Bellantoni – suggested the findings bolstered the theory that Hitler never committed suicide in the bunker in 1945. Indeed the title of the program – Hitler’s Escape – endorsed this view. The story made world headlines.
‘In the wake of new revelations,’ reported the Guardian newspaper, ‘the histories of Hitler’s death may need to be rewritten – and left open-ended.’
The only physical proof that Hitler had shot himself was suddenly rendered worthless. Conspiracy theorists, including the authors of GREY WOLF, seized on the revelations. Hitler could have escaped.
That belief carries over into the first episode of the new History Channel documentary Hunting Hitler. Here we glimpse for a few seconds the controversial skull fragment and are told it belonged to a woman. Immediately the leader of the investigative team Bob Baer tells us:
‘The forensics we do have make it look as if Hitler got away.’
At that point viewers might expect to see and hear from the man who made the startling discovery in the earlier History Channel documentary. But Dr Bellantoni never appears, or is quoted, in the History Channel’s Hunting Hitler series. And with good reason. Dr Bellantoni never claimed in the original Mystery Quest program that his discovery proved Hitler escaped. All he claimed was that the skull fragment belonged to a woman. Indeed, Dr Bellantoni challenges the whole concept that Hitler escaped. He rejects outright any idea that Hitler survived:-
‘My theory is that he didn’t escape; he clearly died in the bunker,’ Dr Bellantoni told the Connecticut Magazine in an interview published in May 2012. ‘He was a very sick man throughout his time in the bunker. There’s good evidence that he had not only at least one nervous breakdown, but also suffered a stroke while in the bunker. The idea that he could’ve escaped, at that late date, to me, isn’t very practical because of the information we had … But yeah, he died in the bunker. There’s no question about it … No question in my mind he died in the bunker. Because the skull plate was not him, doesn’t mean that he didn’t die in the bunker, it simply means what they recovered was not him.’
You can read the full interview with Dr Bellantoni by visiting the Connecticut Magazine website.
They seek him here, they seek him there
The Hunting Hitler team constantly over-interpret evidence. For example, tracking down a report that Hitler attended a ballet in the remote town of Cassino in Brazil in 1947 – where many Nazis lived – may verify the ballet took place, but does it confirm Hitler was there? Visiting the town’s archives Gerrard Williams and members of the team eagerly scour local newspapers. And yes! – articles reveal a ballet was performed on two evenings in the town (the FBI report says three). There are even photos of the dancers. But where are the photos and words reporting the presence of Hitler and Eva in the audience? Not in the newspapers. Those describe just the ballet.
But wait … Mr Williams has an explanation. He thinks the ballet may have been performed on three evenings instead of two. But one of them, he suggests, was restricted to a private performance attended by Hitler and Eva. The only proof is a French poem praising the ballet dated differently from the reports about the two public performances. That’s it. That’s the proof.
‘I feel quite blown away,’ says Williams. ‘He was here.’
Critics may feel a poem – where Hitler and Eva are never mentioned – is insufficient evidence to prove beyond doubt that Hitler and Eva were present. Mr Williams says he ‘can’t step inside the mind of Adolf Hitler on that day when he was sitting at a table watching a ballet surrounded by important, wealthy people’.
Nonetheless, he’s prepared to speculate: ‘I doubt whether he’s thinking “Gosh, that’s a lovely prima ballerina.” He’s thinking, “Who amongst these people can I be talking to. Who amongst these people may be able to help us get back”.’
Maybe … But let’s get one thing clear. Mr Williams can produce no evidence for this flight of fancy. He’s just made it up.
The FBI report also claimed there was a high-powered radio station near the hotel where the ballet was performed. This radio station had a global reach – just the sort of thing Hitler needed. But did Hitler and fellow-Nazis ever use it? Did anyone intercept any messages? If so, where are they? Not in this series. Indeed, the team find no trace of the radio station except an old, grainy photo.
Did this woman see Hitler – Yes or No?
Williams was equally excited by an the elderly woman called Catalina Gomero whom he believes saw Hitler in La Falda in Argentina. He calls her ‘the main eyewitness’. She worked as a servant for the owners of the luxurious Hotel Eden. We are told Hitler stayed in their nearby home and Catalina waited on him but – and this is crucial – she never saw him. She used to leave food by his door and asked a driver: ‘Who’s the person in the room?’ He told her it was Hitler, but she needed to stay quiet.
This is revealed in Hunting Hitler when Williams talks to ‘a local expert’ and later stands at the foot of Catalina’s bed and asks about her experiences. She makes no claim that she actually saw Hitler with her own eyes. But Williams asserts, ‘It’s confirmation from a real human being that Adolf Hitler didn’t die in the bunker in 1945.’
In a separate independent interview using another source – unconnected with the TV series – Catalina again made it clear she never set eyes on Hitler:- ‘No, no, no. We don’t see him. He stayed in a private place. Nobody can see him.’
But there’s a contradiction. In the GREY WOLF book and film Williams quotes her as saying she did see Hitler. She describes at length what he was like. In the
GREY WOLF film Catalina claims Hitler ‘ate the same food as everyone else in the house – typical German meals – sausage, ham, vegetables…’ So the world’s
most famous vegetarian is no longer worried about his diet, or eating animals, huh? How reliable is this witness when she get basic facts wrong and keeps
changing her story? How can we believe anything she says?
Like a Police investigator we have to ask; how reliable is this witness when she keeps changing her story? How can we believe anything she says?
Lost in a swamp
At the beginning of the series the CIA man Bob Baer claims Mr Williams has a ‘Great reputation … He’s the kind of guy I need to sift the evidence to tell me whether we’re on firm ground or not.’
Did he say ‘firm ground’? Alas, by the end of the series their ‘evidence’ has led them into a swamp – literally.
Members of the “Hunting Hitler” team flounder in a Colombian marsh desperately trying to find the remains of an alleged aircraft that allegedly brought Hitler to Bogota in 1948. FBI documents suggest after landing in Argentina Hitler moved northwards. The team think this indicates Hitler had hopes of regaining power. After all, based in the north of South America he is only 2,000 miles from the United States. With him are two physicists. ‘They carried with them secret plans for the V3 Sky Rocket bomb and the complete record of the German nuclear investigations,’ we are told.
‘He’s going operational,’ exclaims Baer using service jargon to give the unsupported claim added veracity. Hitler is planning to strike the United States with rockets armed with nuclear warheads. If only the team can find the aircraft that brought Hitler to Bogota that will prove he was here and was going ahead with his plans. FBI reports say the aircraft was burned after it landed and the remains pushed into a swamp. So let’s find the swamp.
Unfortunately, the water in the swamp is so murky visibility is almost zero. ‘We can’t see anything,’ gasp the divers as they grope around under water. ‘These are the worst conditions you can dive in.’
Exhausted, Tim Kennedy – one of the most eager of the investigators – staggers out of the water. All they found are small pieces of metal that are impossible to identify.
‘Obviously it’s a major disappointment,’ he admits. ‘It wasn’t what we were looking for, or hoping for. It was a closed door – a dead end. That’s super frustrating.’
The swamp is a metaphor for the whole series. Dominated by flawed observations and analysis the team get carried away with cloudy ideas that lead nowhere.
“This is better evidence than we have from the bunker.”[Not]
That final program ends with a gigantic anti-climax. It just peters out. What happened to Hitler afterwards? Hunting Hitler fails to tell us. The series never goes beyond 1948. We are, therefore, spared Gerrard Williams’ embarrassing airport thriller description of Hitler’s death in 1962 – a dubious account based on unreliable sources – and bizarre claims about Eva’s survival and children. But heck, they’ve spent $16 million on these programs. You can’t end like this. Let’s insult generations of historians – thousands of them worldwide – who have studied Hitler for decades. That should appeal to what one critic calls, ‘Young idiots, ill-served by schooling and suspicious of facts’ at whom these programs are aimed.
So Bob Baer delivers an upbeat assessment about what they have found. He says if we look at the totality of the evidence it favours Hitler’s escape from Berlin in 1945. And yes – like Gerrard Williams – he believes Hitler could have come to South America. Standing on the banks of the swamp Baer asserts:
‘There is no evidence that Hitler died in the bunker. But we do have – no doubt in my mind – more evidence that he could have gotten away than there is for his death in Berlin … This is better evidence than we have from the bunker.’
Baer claims he was sceptical at the beginning. He believed the accepted story that Hitler committed suicide in 1945. But now…
‘I find this frankly appalling that the historians have left it at that assumption that I’ve lived with my whole life,’ he says. ‘We are fed history and expected to believe it. And based on what? History books say without a shadow of a doubt that Hitler died in the bunker. I can safely say – with the evidence that I have uncovered – that that’s not true. History is not fixed as we have perceived it. I will never stop looking for the truth. I never take facts at face value and never will.’
‘No evidence Hitler died in the bunker… appalling that the historians have left it at that … fed history and expected to believe it…’ What on earth is this man on about?
His attack on the integrity of historians – the suggestion they are sloppy or even dishonest, which is the line Williams and other survivalists peddle – will come back to haunt Baer. If he knew more about history and Hitler and how historians work he would find them sceptical and critical. They have no qualms countering accepted opinions if they can turn up convincing new evidence.
Baer and his team should do more reading. They have no understanding of Hitler’s psychology and why he committed suicide. Hitler had threatened to kill himself many times when his world fell apart and life became unbearable. It was a logical means of escape. Hitler committed suicide in 1945 because he had no alternative. Having lost the war the dictator had no wish to stand trial, or have his body put on public display.
In his book Hitler the survival myth the historian Prof Donald M. McKale quoted James McRandle who argued “how typical Hitler’s death was.”
By European and Western standards, he had been a “suicidal personality” … McRandle documented wherein “at least nine times during the days preceding his death,” Hitler had threatened to end it all. And on five occasions before that, “extending as far back as 1905, Hitler stated that he would kill himself, and twice he named a pistol as the weapon of destruction”.’
In short, Hitler was determined to go down in a blaze of infamy with himself centre stage, and avoid becoming a fugitive or trophy for his enemies, a suicidal narcissist.
Destroyed in a sentence
Critics are circling. Besides a caustic review article here on thePipeLine, Variety magazine has damned the series: ‘Hunting Hitler Further Sullies History Channel’s Bad Name,’ ran their headline.
With the deadly accuracy of a cruise missile the magazine’s TV columnist, Brian Lowry, destroyed the series in one sentence:-
‘If viewers were to take a shot of alcohol every time someone uses a phrase like, “There could have been … ” or, “There’s a chance that Hitler might have come here … ” or, “If there was in fact a bunker …,” they would be plastered by the second or third commercial break.’
Exactly. Just because something is possible and could happen doesn’t mean it did.
That’s true in every episode. No amount speculation can supplant hard evidence. Proof is constantly lacking.
History Today is equally dismissive. Hunting Hitler, it declares, is ‘Another outing for one of the 20th century’s most pernicious myths … Despite all evidence to the contrary, the myth of Hitler’s survival beyond the end of the Second World War still attracts supporters and conspiracy theorists.’
Just as Hunting Hitler was starting the Smithsonian Channel broadcast a documentary confirming Hitler’s suicide in Berlin in 1945. The program – called The Day Hitler Died – carried filmed interviews made in 1948 with members of Hitler’s inner circle – civilian and military – who were with Hitler in Berlin to the end. This contained the ultimate boots-on-the-ground research. The interviews were carried out by the naval lawyer and Nuremberg trial judge Captain Michael Musmanno. He spent two years in Germany in the 1940s tracking down and interviewing over 100 people who had worked closely with Hitler in the last days of the war. In their own words they tell us what happened in the bunker as the Red Army closed in and refute what Hitler survivalists would have us believe.
A blog called Stuff Nobody Cares About [SNCA], which takes a light-hearted look at the world, also makes some telling observations about “Hunting Hitler”: ‘The evidence the show presents is highly speculative’, it says in an article under the damning headline:- ‘History Channel Treads Ground Covered Ad Nauseam By Sensationalist Magazine 50 + Years Ago.’
SNCA says although Hunting Hitler bases a lot of its investigation on newly declassified FBI documents, ‘Most of the information about Hitler escaping to Argentina is not new, especially to magazines like the National Police Gazette.’
The National Police Gazette was a sensational tabloid magazine notorious for sex, violence, celebrity gossip, sleaze and Hitler. SNCA goes on: ‘Adolf Hitler was featured 76 times in the National Police Gazette from 1951 – 1968. He made the cover 37 times. According to the Gazette, Hitler was definitely in Argentina. That is until 1968 when they said Hitler was in Bogota, Colombia.’
To accompany its article SNCA publishes some of the covers like the example from May 1964 which heads this investigation.
You can find more National Police Gazette Hitler covers here.
Hitler’s secret hideout?
Hunting Hitler is even failing to carry Hitler conspiracy theorists with it. Harry Cooper lambasted the programs as a ‘comedy TV series … Absolutely incredible and idiotic!’
Who is Harry Cooper? He runs the neo-Nazi website Sharkhunters International. He says: ‘These guys on the History Channel are clowns – just plain clowns! … Shame on them!’
Since 2006 Harry has published three books claiming Hitler escaped from Berlin in 1945. He is enraged that his rival, Gerrard Williams, was invited to take part in Hunting Hitler while he was ignored. Cooper is never mentioned in any of the eight episodes.
So Harry has created a special website called hitlerinargentina.com where he and his followers – and he has many – can rail against the History Channel series.
For example, in episode 7 – urged on by Gerrard Williams – the Hunting Hitler team launch a military-style special ops stealth mission when they investigate the Inalco House in the Southern Andes. This is a supposed hideout ‘where Hitler could have stayed’. It’s ‘a creepy place’, warns a ‘local expert’. ‘You better not go there.’ But Williams insists and warns team members they may encounter armed guards so they must take precautions.
The house, we are told, is so isolated it can be approached only by water, although a quick glance at a Google map shows a road close by. For some reason this was removed from aerial photos in the program so viewers can’t see it. But as Williams and the team discuss the forthcoming operation we glimpse that road gleaming like a river of silver on one of the investigator’s laptops.
This is no minor road, or dirt track. This is National Route 40 – the Road of the Seven Lakes – one of the main tourist routes in the region known worldwide for the matchless beauty of its scenery. It’s over 105 km long and passes through two national parks. Bus tours are available and side roads lead to beaches, fishing resorts, tourist hotels, small cafes and restaurants and native villages.
National Route 40 is just 250 metres away from the Inalco House. It runs along the eastern side of the estate. But Hunting Hitler says it’s impossible to reach the house from the road and approaches the Inalco estate by boat – a frogman in the water to scout the mystery villa overlooking the lake. Gerrard Williams stays at home as Tim Kennedy and another Green Beret operator don black wet suits. Stealthily swimming ashore Kennedy throws himself flat on the beach when a caretaker approaches. Then he takes surreptitious photos. Returning at night Kennedy searches with a low intensity red light that is difficult for guards to see from a distance.
So far so exciting in the best tradition of clandestine documentary making. Except Harry Cooper says all this creeping about is completely unnecessary. He visited the Inalco House twice in 2008 with a guide and returned the following year with a group.
‘There were ten people plus the captains of the two cabin cruisers rented for this trip,’ he says. ‘There was no dropping off the boat offshore and swimming in – they just beached the two boats and walked to the house.’
‘Anyone can ground their boat on the beach and walk to the estate,’ says Cooper. Having come shore in 2009 the group ‘boldly walked across the 150 feet of grass to the house. There were no guards, no security and no reason for this phoney assault.’
To prove this was never a James Bond super-spy operation Cooper publishes a series of photos showing the boats and the party wandering about taking pictures all over the estate. They include a photo of his group posing on the lawn in front of the Inalco House.
Unlike Hunting Hitler, which shows us only exterior shots, Cooper got inside the Inalco House and one of the guest houses in January 2008 and photographed their interiors. You can see them on his website. But the big question is this – Did Cooper and his group find anything on the site associated with Hitler – photos, documents, clothes, objects, DNA, etc … anything that could prove beyond doubt that Hitler once lived there? … No! … There was nothing – no hard evidence that Hitler ever set foot in the place, let alone lived there for years.
Like the rest of the Hunting Hitler team Gerrard Williams never got inside the Inalco House, or the other buildings. Nonetheless he made extravagant claims in his GREY WOLF book. He says there were; ‘underground steel-lined chambers beneath the offices, where the “most important and sinister documents of that century” were kept.’
But no one – least of all Gerrard Williams – has discovered either the chambers, or a priceless hoard of Hitler documents. As for Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, or Blondi the dog … No sign of them either.
That’s true of the whole Hunting Hitler series – constant dead ends.
- No sign of a missing U-boat that could have brought Hitler to South America. The team hoped its discovery might lead to ‘rewriting a new chapter in history’.
- No sign of … But if I added to the list of failures to find anything of substance I would end up writing a book.
Suffice to say the series is still attracting a lot of flack. Disgruntled viewers are sniping on the Internet. One observed: ‘Don’t these guys realize that YES Germans were in hiding in South America all over the place. That’s what they are finding, evidence of Germans not evidence of Hitler.’
Another said: ‘Moronic doesn’t even begin to describe the show. They got all excited when they found a “Nazi coin” in one of the towns. Every country in South America had German communities during the inter-war period…’
Hunting Hitler may have given Mr Williams worldwide publicity, but it has failed to strengthen his case.
Why it matters
Ideas have consequences. As the Hunting Hitler programs are beamed to millions of people worldwide thousands of viewers will believe this nonsense. The claim that Hitler escaped and the allies lied has traction. Look at the four and five star reviews on Amazon and comments on YouTube where people gleefully attack reputable historians and experts and denounce them as liars. More disturbing is the anti-Semitic abuse and defamatory attacks on critics who dare suggest Hitler survival books and films are untrue. Study the fatuous remarks made by the paranoid – like this one accompanying a GREY WOLF trailer on YouTube: ‘Exactly what was it that Hitler did that was evil? Everything they told me in school was a lie.’
We will never know everything that happened when Hitler died in Berlin in 1945, any more than we know everything that happened the night the Titanic sank. But just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we know nothing, or everything we know is wrong. Despite conspiracy theorists we know an iceberg sank the Titanic. And we have a mountain of evidence that confirms Hitler committed suicide. The Hunting Hitler team should start by reading The Last Days of Hitler – Legend, Evidence and Truth by Anton Joachimsthaler, who publishes a mass of testimonies, interviews, written reports, details of inquiries, photos, plans etc. In addition our team need to read authoritative biographies and histories to learn about the final days and psychology of Hitler. Then they should lie low. They have made fools of themselves and it will take them years to live down this series. The History Channel may have thrown $16 million, Mr Williams and Bob Baer at Adolf Hitler, but in the end they never prove Hitler escaped.
Conspiracy theorists pollute the wells of knowledge – exploiting and patronising the poorly educated and intensifying their ignorance. They encourage people to disbelieve works of scholarship and drag down the reputations of legitimate historians. Professor McKale has attacked what he calls ‘a growing assault on truth and memory’ … the ‘chilling attack on the factual record…’ He claims a conspiracy book ‘undermines the very principles of objective scholarship that support the world’s faith in historical knowledge.’
The same is true with film and TV.
If we damage the credibility of properly researched books and films then we substitute myths for reality. If serious historians are wrong about Hitler’s death – and he really did survive for years after 1945 – then perhaps they’re wrong about everything else, including the Holocaust. It’s disturbing to see how many Hitler survivalists are also anti-Semitic and Holocaust deniers.
Bogus history does harm. It offends war veterans and millions of victims of the Nazis. To suggest Hitler retired to some hideaways with the connivance of the western allies is insulting. It trivialises and negates the hard-won victory over the Nazis. It depicts Hitler and his henchmen as shrewd and skilful supermen outwitting their enemies.
The Fuehrer, we are led to believe, was never defeated. Instead he escaped and was planning to retaliate.
Questions Hitler conspiracy theorists must answer
GREY WOLF and Hunting Hitler are part of a flourishing Hitler survival industry. All Hitler survival theories cannot be true since they contradict one another. But all Hitler survival theories can be untrue – and are. Their advocates can produce only rumours and hearsay. They disagree about how and when Hitler escaped from Berlin, how he traveled abroad, where he lived, what he did, and how, when and where he died.
Survivalists have failed to produce any convincing photos of Hitler alive after 30 April 1945 when he committed suicide in the Berlin bunker. Nor have they produced any convincing documents.
Hitler said he was going to write his memoirs when he retired. Where are they? Indeed, can anyone produce any documents written by Hitler in exile?
If – as some survivalists argue – Hitler escaped with the connivance of the allies why was this dangerous man never interrogated, or monitored? We are told he was planning a comeback – a Fourth Reich – and may have lived near nuclear facilities as well as planning atomic attacks on the USA. Are we seriously expected to believe the most dangerous man on the planet was left alone and no one supervised what he was doing? Surely it’s reasonable to expect a constant stream of reports from agents watching Hitler’s every move? One would expect to find detailed accounts sent back to the allies describing his activities and people he was meeting. Where are these reports? Did anyone ever have an intelligent conversation with Hitler in exile? If they did no details have surfaced.
How come Hitler took his dog Blondi with him but no member of his staff? During the war one or two adjutants were always present with Hitler during military conferences. They acted as personal assistants and provided close security protection. Are we supposed to believe at the end of the war, surrounded by enemies, the most hunted man in the world fled with his young wife and dog and but no backup team to help him? Surely an adjutant such as Otto Günsche, or the indispensable Martin Bormann, would have supplied vital support?
What about Hitler’s health? By 1945 he was a physical wreck. He needed constant medical attention. But the tyrant abandons his doctors. Hunting Hitler claims he was flying around in aircraft, crawling though tunnels and spent weeks under water in a submarine, then lived in numerous hideouts. This makes no sense.
How come no one was able to track down Hitler and assassinate him if he survived for years after the war? Many people wanted him dead and were willing to kill him.
As for the claims Gerrard Williams makes in the GREY WOLF film about Eva Hitler [nee Braun] surviving into her 90s, these are omitted from Hunting Hitler …
Why has no one found Mrs Hitler if she survived for decades and may even have lived into the 21st century? Eva was a skilled photographer and could operate a Rolleiflex and a movie camera. She took the famous colour films of Hitler at the Berghof. Are we to believe she never photographed Hitler while he was in exile? Where are these photos? She would also have documents and artefacts. Where are they?
What about the children and grandchildren? Has anyone seen them? And what about Martin Bormann, featured so heavily if GREY WOLF? No sign of him. As for Blondi the dog – forget it. Hunting Hitler does.
So where does the $16 million History Channel series Hunting Hitler leave Gerrard Williams? No further forward it seems.
Hunting Hitler may have enjoyed more money and resources than his previous efforts, but has singularly failed to stand history on its head. To describe this investigation, as the History Channel does, ‘as the most in-depth and revealing the world has ever seen’, is absurd. Mr Williams’ laser-focus has produced nothing worthwhile even when backed up by a team headed by a ex-CIA man and including a former special Forces operator. How long he will pursue his fruitless quest to find the phantom fuehrer in South America and persuade others to follow his lead is anybody’s guess.
High quality camerawork and sophisticated production techniques are no substitute for having a plausible story to tell and getting facts right. Editorially Hunting Hitler fails to convince. Trawling round the Internet, however, there is evidence that many viewers are treating the series as a joke:
‘I watched it,’ confessed one person on a website discussing the programs. ‘Like everyone else, I thought it was a bunch of BS but I have to say … I still watched it. Kind of like watching a train wreck. You know it’s not good but I had to see where it went.’
There’s some hope, then, that this ludicrous series has portrayed the survivalist case so badly that, by association, it discredits every other conspiracy theory. Perhaps – like a sinking ship – it will suck down into the deep everything in the vicinity. One thing you can confidently say about these competing survivalist fantasies – They all seem whacky. It will take more than the History Channel, Gerrard Williams and the crooked financier Magnus Peterson’s cash to convince most people that Hitler escaped. Trash is trash. And that is what this latest conspiracy fantasy Hunting Hitler and GREY WOLF are – trash
According to the History Channel, ‘Williams understands how sensitive to discuss and unfathomable to comprehend this subject is, but he stands by his work and welcomes a spirited debate revolving around the newly released facts.’
If true, that’s a significant change. In the past Mr Williams has berated anyone who dared challenge his theories and told him he was wrong – which he is.
Meanwhile, the curious may wonder if Mr Williams will honour his vow of ‘undying friendship’ with his producer Magnus Peterson and visit his ‘convivial companion’ in prison? They will have a lot to chew over when it comes to their film GREY WOLF and its bastard offspring Hunting Hitler.