Thursday, May 03, 2018

Hitler's bones

Slate talks at length about a new book published in France, in which the authors explain that a re-examination of a bit of jaw held by the Russians re-affirms earlier conclusions that it is from Hitler.   A piece of skull the Russians also hold - that's not so clear.  But the teeth in the jaw allow for some reasonable certainty:
Sognnaes and Ström did not have access to the actual jawbone and relied on testimonies of Hitler’s dentist and physicians, X-ray plates taken after a 1944 assassination attempt, and findings of the Russian autopsy to assert that “Hitler did in fact die, and that the Russians did indeed recover and autopsy the right body.” 

Charlier analyzed the teeth with a stereo microscope and was even able to dissect a few particles he involuntarily brought back with him in France, stuck to his laboratory gloves, and concluded that the jawbone presented to him is not a “historical forgery.” He asserts: “We are certain of the anatomical correspondence between the radiographies, the descriptions of the autopsies, the tales of the witnesses, especially those who made these dental prostheses, and what we had in hands.” Brisard and Parshina add, with similar confidence: “We can state that Hitler died in Berlin on April the 30th, 1945. Not in Brazil at 95, nor in Japan, nor in the Argentinian Andes. The proof is scientific, not ideological. Coldly scientific.”

One line struck me as a bit like something out of James Bond, or Mission Impossible:
The description of their investigations makes for a lively tale, full of appointments not honored, rude secretaries, and unexpected twists, like the purchase of a bottle of Armenian cognac to mollify an archivist or a visit to a storage room where all oxygen is expulsed at night to trap any illegal visitors.

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