On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide along with his wife, Eva in his bunker in Berlin. According to testimonies, both swallowed cyanide pills and he shot himself in the head for good measure. Their remains were burnt in the Reich Chancellery garden outside the bunker. Many other high Nazi officials gave themselves up to authorities, so why did Hitler kill himself? All his reasons for committing suicide were known only to Hitler himself, but one can always speculate.
Why Did Hitler Kill Himself? Why Not Escape?
Hitler's officers warned him that the Russians were on their way and that it would only take them a day or two to take the chancellery. They urged him to escape to the Bavarian Alps, to a small town in Berchtesgarden, but he chose suicide. There are however theorists that do claim Hitler and Eva managed to escape to South America, where they lived out their lives with their children, but these claims have been discarded by most historians. Hitler was highly recognizable and by that time escaping past the thousands of troops invading the country may have been close to impossible. Hitler may have chosen to, rather than spending his last days fleeing in fear before eventually getting captured, humiliated and executed, get married, spend his wedding night in peace and quiet and say his farewells.
Death Before Dishonor
One of the Nazi principles was that death was better than dishonor, which may have prompted Hitler to rather chose suicide than (if he survived the capture) be tried for his crimes against humanity. He may also have believed that a captain doesn't abandon a sinking ship, which would make trying to flee a dishonorable act. Hitler may have decided to stay in Berlin right till the end to prove that he stand by his ideals and was there for his people.
While hiding out in the bunker, Hitler got word that Mussolini was captured when trying to escape with his mistress and that they both were shot and their bodies hung a town square where they were reviled by vengeful people. Hitler didn't want anything like that to happen to him and wrote in his last will and testament that he didn't want to become a “spectacle.”
This article is part of our larger selection of posts about Adolph Hitler. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to the life of Adolph Hitler.