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Woman who held Hitler secret

Tom Parfitt

MOSCOW: In the smouldering ruins of Berlin, Elena Rzhevskaya stooped by a radio to hear the announcement of the Nazis' final capitulation, a small box clutched to her side. It was May 8, 1945 and at Karls-horst, on the edge of the city, the German high command had surrendered to Russian, British and American forces.

But the young interpreter from Soviet military reconnaissance was subdued as her comrades across the city broke into wild celebrations.

Tucked in the satin-lined box she was clutching were the flesh-specked jawbones of Adolf Hitler, wrenched from his corpse just hours earlier by a Russian pathologist. A burnt body thought to be the Fuhrer's had been found by a Red Army soldier near his bunker days before, but Joseph Stalin ordered the discovery be concealed.

"Only two officers knew what I was carrying and I had to keep my tongue," Ms. Rzhevskaya, 85, said in a rare interview at her Moscow apartment.

Hitler's teeth would be key to proving the corpse was his and only a select few knew what had been entrusted to Ms. Rzhevskaya.

It was not until the 1960s that her secret would be revealed, and the full truth only emerged in Russia a decade ago.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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