Moscow, Russia – A former Russian officer who burnt the bones of German dictator Adolf Hitler refuses to reveal where the ashes were scattered.
Vladimir Gumenyuk, 73, is said to be the last man alive from a three-member team sent in 1970 to dig up the bones of Hitler, his mistress Eva Braun and the remains of the dictator’s close associate Joseph Goebbels and his family.
Gumenyuk is concerned that if he tells where the ashes were scattered, it could become a place for neo-Nazi pilgrimages, The Sun reported.
“We were ordered to burn the remains of Hitler and all his entourage, and blow them to the wind,” Gumenyuk was quoted as saying.
The bones, which were dug up near Magdeburg in former East Germany, were burnt. Then the team drove to the top of a cliff on a stream, where the ashes were scattered.
He said they had posed as fishermen.
“No one was there – 20 seconds and the job was done. It was just the last flight of the Fuhrer.”
Gumenyuk told a Russian newspaper: “There are still too many neo-Nazis. There would be pilgrimages. They’d even put up a monument.”
Yesterday he gave a few additional details but said he had turned down large sums from the German media to identify the exact spot he disposed of Hitler.
‘I believe that the coverage of this subject is not appropriate,’ he said.
Making clear he would go to his grave with his knowledge, he said: ‘There are still too many neo-Nazis around. There would be pilgrimages. They would even put up a monument.’
He said that the had been haunted by a fear of ‘failure’ since 1970, concerned that knowledge of the operation might leak out before its disclosure was officially sanctioned.
‘I and two other colleagues were given a secret order – due to the transfer of a Soviet military town – to burn the remains of Hitler and all his entourage, and blow them to the wind,’ said Gumenyuk, who served in a special KGB department linked to the Red Army in East Germany.
‘They had been buried there after the war in a secret place. And we were told the coordinates under conditions of such secrecy that even now I cannot tell you everything.’
The burial location at the Soviet military base was surrounded by German-built tower blocks, he said.
When they went to dig up the macabre remains, they pretended to be fishermen on a trip, and pitched a tent over the site where the bones had been hidden in the aftermath of the war.
Their initial dig failed to produce any results. But then they realised they had counted 45 metres instead of 45 paces from a secret co-ordinate, so they moved the tent.
Five feet below the surface, they found the rotting wooden crates that the German high command had been buried in.
‘The remains had been lying for a long time in the ground, and I’m generally a squeamish person, so I took rubber gloves, boots, and a special suit of chemical protection.
‘I thought the smell would be terrible, and even took the mask.
‘But when they began to dig, nothing like that happened. Sometimes when digging in the garden, you find a bone – it was the same thing here. We shifted the bones and put the ground back.’
Their order was to burn the bones ‘but in Germany the fire at night, even at the river bank is something quite unusual. The people here are disciplined, and it wasn’t allowed to make fires outside in the GDR.’
So they waited until morning, he said, drove around Magdeburg making sure they were not being followed, and went to a river, a sport screened by trees, posing as fishermen.
They lit a fire to make soup – and then a second blaze to burn Hitler’s remains.
‘We wasted the whole canister of gasoline on him,’ he said.
Later he collected the ashes in his rucksack and ‘went to a pre-determined location’ – by the cliff – where they disposed of Hitler.
‘It was over in no time at all. I opened up the rucksack, the wind caught the ashes up in a little brown cloud, and in a second they were gone.’
He wrote a report saying they had completed the task, never talking about it, even to his wife.