The story of how Brisard and Parshina were allowed into Russian archives is as compelling as the evidence of Hitler’s death they were shown.
Admittance to the hallowed State Archives of the Russian Federation was primarily achieved by the fame of the Russian-American Parshina. Her major achievement—the last interview with Stalin’s favorite daughter, Svetlana, who was hiding out in a hospice in the United States—made her a household name in Russia. Parshina’s understanding of the complex wheels of the bureaucratic Russian machine helped the authors gain access to the secret, sensitive, and complex files. Throughout their adventure in the bowels of Russian secrecy, Brisard’s French identity elicited hesitation, but Parshina’s quick thinking and wit always seemed to alleviate the situation. Meetings were postponed, delayed, and cancelled during their quest, which ran from early 2016 to late 2017. Their first meeting was with the director of the archives. During that meeting, they were shown the skull remains said to be Hitler’s. Along with that, there were some blood-stained table legs, photos, and documents from April 1945, which Brisard was allowed to photograph. The next step was to translate the documents, including memos written to Stalin regarding the discovery of Hitler’s bunker and interviews with prisoners. The ever paranoid Russians spread information among three separate services, all of which hated and distrusted each other. The authors’ perseverance paid off, as they eventually succeeded with all three and got permission for a forensic scientist to examine the remains. Alternating with the story of finding the documents, they reconstruct the tale of the last days in Berlin. Ultimately, the evidence shows that Hitler died in a bunker from a self-inflicted bullet wound; he did not escape. There are still questions unanswered, and who knows when they might be allowed to be asked.
The new evidence presented here makes this a must-read for students of World War II.