Answers may be hard to come

You’re on the edge of your chair.

Curiosity is almost killing you; there’s something you need to know but knowledge may be impossible. Truth may be hidden, though you follow every clue and learn what you can. You’re hanging, and you know the truth is somewhere but as you’ll see in the new book “The Death of Hitler: The Final Word” by Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina, answers may be hard to come by.

It had been a long journey to Moscow.

For months, Brisard and Parshina had been gently petitioning the Russian government to allow them to see something that few others had ever seen. He, a Frenchman; she, a Russian-American, had been asking to see evidence of Adolph Hitler’s death, in the form of a piece of skull.

Born in 1889, Hitler was long dead by then: legend had it that he and his wife (some say mistress) poisoned themselves and their bodies were burned because Hitler was afraid of what the Russians would do to his corpse. Much like Elvis, however, sightings of a living Hitler were reported for years, post-WWII. Various spotters in several countries claimed to have seen the Nazi as an old man, but other document-supported eyewitness accounts led Brisard and Parshina to firmly believe that Hitler’s last days were spent more than 25 feet below-ground in a bunker with a handful of men, women and children, slowly losing his health and his mind.

The Russians held the proof.

It was early 2016 when Brisard and Parshina were finally allowed to view the evidence and documents. Immediately, they noticed that the cranial shard, the most tantalizing bit of clue, had clearly been pierced by a bullet that had probably caused its owner’s death. The owner, however, was unknown, and previous experts claimed it was from the skull of a younger woman. Other physical evidence tied the bone to Hitler. His own officers insisted that he’d taken cyanide. Dental evidence offered more clues.

“The mystery about Hitler’s death,” say the authors, “would remain unsolved for decades.”

But is it solved now? Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina seem to think so, although they point out that no witnesses are alive for interrogation.

And yet, the evidence they’ve presented is intriguing enough to feel definitive and getting there is fascinating. “The Death of Hitler: The Final Word” rivals any fictional mystery, with plenty of back-story on Hitler and those who surrounded him in his last days. Those scenarios feel ominous, even though we know the outcome; they also sometimes feel too pat, as if they’re there to move the story along. What helps is that the authors pull readers into modern-day sleuthing often enough to keep their ground.

This book is very well-sourced, and it’s perfect for historians, World War II buffs, and mystery-lovers. Parts of it do feel recreated here, but it possesses a reassurance of truth and a positive air of authority. “The Death of Hitler: The Final Word” is a very good book, though the final word may still be hanging.


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