When Hitler Met His End

“For seldom had so many millions of people hoped so implacably for the death of one man” wrote Time magazine. The magazine was of course writing about Adolf Hilter, whose death was announced by the Hamburg radio at about 10.30 pm on May 1st 1945, almost 66 years to the hour of bin Laden’s death-notice.

There were many karmic similarities between the ignominious ends of this and last century’s greatest villains. Bombed out or driven away from the nations they cynically manipulated, both men would met their demise surrounded only by a dwindling loyal cadre. The armies they wronged would carry the photos to figure out how a fugitive Hitler or bin Laden might disguise himself.

There were conflicting reports on Hitler’s last days, his power and sanity during the cornered days under the Reich Chancellery, and unsurprisingly there were conflicting reports on his death too. The West believed, based on testimonies by those who were in the bunker with him, that Hitler had shot himself; the Soviets only revealed in the late 1960s that Hitler took a cyanide pill. Hitler was identified by his dental records; the Soviets buried the body, but the East German government dug it up, burned it, and thrown the ashes into a river.

On its cover, Time magazine featured a portrait of Hitler with a bloody X through it — starting a powerful tradition that the magazine carried through its coverage on the demise of the Empire of Japan, Saddam Hussein, al Zarqawi, and now bin Laden (above). [Bin Laden cover was commissioned years ago, back in 2002.]

While it took the Internet only a few minutes to fake bin Laden’s final photo, it took the world of 1945 quite a while to come up with a photo of a man who vaguely resembled Hitler (ab0ve).

the origins of this video are murky

And an event of this scale required conspiracies too. Lack of photographic evidence surrounding Hitler’s death fuelled allegations that the Fuhrer had indeed escaped. A German submarine that escaped the Allied blockade to arrive in South America further escalated these rumors. No matter how or where he met his end, Adolf Hitler as a political force died in 1945. The Nazis would gain a place in popular culture, but more often than not, only as delusional and self-important vaudevillians.

If the Revolutions of 2011 are any guide, Islamic radicalism will probably follow this route too in a few years’ time.

6 thoughts on “When Hitler Met His End

  1. I don’t think the comparison is apt, because of the underlying causes behind radicalism. And since these terrorist organizations are highly decentralized, unlike the Third Reich and Nazism, the death of a leader (which probably was no longer in charge) won’t make a dramatic change.

    But thank you for the time covers.

  2. I agree with the above two posters regarding the very weak connection between Nazi ideology and Islamic Fundamentalism.

    Furthermore, I think the poster misses the basic incongruity between the death of Hitler and Osama. Hitler killed himself because his highly centralized army was completely defeated, thereby making it impossible to further promulgate Nazi ideology by force (it still survives without the need for force unfortunately).

    Osama’s death happened after more than a decade-long humiliatingly ineffective search. If it can be said that he has an army, it is highly decentralized with the communication network and army almost completely unaffected by his death. In the best case scenario, the fight for a new leader leads to schisms and infighting. However, unlike the tight link between the Wermacht and Nazi ideology, there is no such complete link between Osama’s forces and violent Islamic fundamentalism.

  3. What are you all going on about? The similarities are perfect. Both groups created a ‘them’ boogeyman to rally the populace into supporting them and keep them in power. The nazi’s picked jews, the ‘islamist fundamentalists’ picked the United States.

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