Jerome R. Corsi is a bona fide conspiracy theorist. Since 2004’s Unfit for Command, the New York Times best-selling--and widely denounced--takedown of then-presidential candidate John Kerry, Corsi has churned out a constant stream of articles and books pushing unsubstantiated ideas on everything from the origin of oil to the U.S.’s role in 9/11 to Barack Obama’s nationality--all the while waving his Harvard PhD. as some kind of evidence that he’s not a complete and utter wingnut.
Corsi’s latest hypothesis, detailed in his new book Hunting Hitler, is that the German dictator didn’t actually kill himself alongside wife Eva Braun in his Berlin bunker as history books would have us believe. According to Corsi, Hitler actually escaped Germany as the Third Reich fell, and he did it with the help of none other than the U.S. government.
Corsi’s argument is that there’s no real proof Hitler didn’t escape. The world has long been willing to accept the idea that Hitler shot himself while Braun took cyanide, but where is the photographic evidence? The world’s most notorious genocidal maniac shot himself in a private bunker and no one took pictures? Corsi doesn’t buy it.
What really solidified Corsi’s suspicions, however, was the fact that, in 2009, an American archaeologist examined skull fragments long pointed to as proof of Hitler’s suicide by the Russian Federation State Archive, and found that they didn’t belong to Hitler at all. Then there were alleged doubts from both Stalin and Eisenhower about Hitler’s death. And the U.S.’s inability to obtain any of the Fuhrer’s physical remains. And the absence of any testimony from witnesses who heard the shots from the bunker. All this led Corsi to conclude that U.S. intelligence agents, including Allen Dulles, who later became director of the CIA, helped Hitler and Braun escape to Argentina. There, Corsi claims, the two retired peacefully in a mansion built by German expats hidden by the Bariloche forests.
Corsi is not the first to propagate such a theory. Israeli filmmakers Noam Shalev and Pablo Weschler’s 2012 documentary Hitler in Argentina suggests Hitler was living in an Argentine hotel before he died in 1965. The film points to some of the same evidence Corsi uses. In 2013, authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams made a documentary based on their 2011 book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, in which they argue that U.S. intelligence officials allowed Hitler to escape in exchange for Nazi war technology. It’s a theory so widespread that they were able quickly dismiss an Argentine journalist’s accusations of plagiarism.
Theories about whether Hitler killed himself have been circulating since Joseph Stalin first suggested he didn’t, but Corsi brings no new solid evidence to the discussion. He may have a PhD. from Harvard, but Corsi, a staff reporter at the conservative website WorldNetDaily, is a conspiracy theorist extraordinaire. He’s an avid birther. He believes the U.S. government covered up information about 9/11. He claims fossil fuels are a myth thought up by oil companies. He thinks the U.S. is supporting Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. He’s called Martin Luther King Jr. a “shakedown artist.” And in honor of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he published a book claiming that Lyndon B. Johnson knew about the plan to kill the president and supported it.
But if the facts have never hindered Corsi’s zeal, neither have they interfered with his success. His two most popular books, Unfit for Command and The Obama Nation, have been faulted for multiple inaccuracies. But both books were New York Times best sellers.
How and where Hitler’s life ultimately ended is a question worth exploring, and it’s certainly an entertaining conspiracy theory. But for a reasonable—believable--explanation of Hitler’s alleged escape, Corsi is probably not the most reliable source.