Wednesday, 25 March 2015

On Hitler's Teeth - or, the Death of a Dictator.


Alongside his many other faults, Adolf Hitler had very bad teeth - catastrophically bad teeth.  It is not clear precisely why - bad genes, bad diet or poor personal hygiene - but some among his entourage would later claim that his halitosis was sometimes so bad that they involuntarily took a step back when talking to him.  By the last year of the war, his teeth had deteriorated to such a state that only 5 of his 32 adult teeth were his own.  This X-Ray of Hitler's skull, taken in the autumn of 1944 in the aftermath of the 20th July Bomb Plot, shows the scale of the problem.  The dark patches where his teeth should be are crowns, with only the five front teeth of Hitler's bottom jaw showing as his own.

An apple a day...

Given that Hitler had the teeth of a Berlin hobo, therefore, he required some elaborate dentistry to conceal the dark truth.  Consequently, his dentist Hugo Blaschke constructed a network of gold crowns and bridges with porcelain veneers inside the Führer's mouth.  Now, to any German of that generation, working in close proximity to their leader would have been a memorable experience, but for Blaschke and his assistants - Käthe Heusermann and Fritz Echtmann - it was also the complex dentistry that stuck in their minds, not least the famed "telephone bridge" that spanned a crown in Hitler's lower jaw. 


Such recollections were to come in useful.  Though Blaschke escaped to the south and was eventually captured by the Americans, and the dental records were destroyed in the Börnersdorf plane crash (which also ultimately spawned the "Hitler Diaries" fiasco), the two assistants - Heusermann and Echtmann remained in Berlin and were duly arrested by the Soviets.  Under interrogation, they were asked to describe Hitler's elaborate dentistry from memory - Heusermann had been Blaschke's dental assistant, and Echtmann had crafted the bridges.  They did so; they also produced sketches - Heusermann's sketch (complete with Russian annotation) is here..






Then, on 9 May 1945, Heusermann and Echtmann were shown pieces of jaw that the Soviets had retrieved from one of the 14 or so charred corpses that had been discovered in the Reich Chancellery garden the week before.  Both immediately affirmed that the teeth and bone that they were handling were indeed those of Adolf Hitler.  The dentistry on show also conformed precisely to what the two had described and sketched prior to being shown the remains.  The teeth were Hitler's. 


Thereafter - according to Heusermann, who was flown back to Moscow for 10 years of further questioning - the teeth were carried around in a cigar box and were opened referred to by their NKVD handlers as "Hitler". 
These, incidentally, are the same jaw fragments that are still kept in the Moscow Special Archive. Clearly, it seems, the Soviets were convinced that the teeth in their possession were those of Hitler and - logically - that Hitler was therefore dead. Indeed, in mid-May, Soviet intelligence officers confirmed to their Western counterparts that Hitler had "been poisoned" and Zhukov admitted to Khrushchev that they had found Hitler's "charred carcass".

Hitler's teeth, with the 'telephone bridge' (right)


Sadly, however, within a few days Soviet leaders had opted to deny the obvious and chose instead to sow confusion over Hitler's death, insinuating that the German dictator had somehow survived and had escaped to the Western zones of occupation - thereby giving themselves an excellent stick with which to beat the West in the opening exchanges of the Cold War.  It is the subsequent campaign of disinformation and obfuscation that led to the outlandish tales of Hitler's survival - in the jungles of Patagonia, in fascist Spain, or in the secret Nazi base on the moon - that occasionally resurface to this day.  

Of course, it should be clear from this brief essay that if Hitler did in fact escape Berlin, we have to assume that he did so missing both his upper and lower jaw.  That 'escaped Hitler' would not only have to have been a master of disguise and have had the escapology skills of a Houdini - he would have been a medical miracle...

10 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

Fascinating, Roger. I had no idea he had such poor teeth. Great post.

wyne crawford said...

You would think that someone like him would have healthy teeth after all i really believe he might have escaped to South America like Eichman and Mengla along with several other Nazis

wyne crawford said...

You would think that someone like him would have healthy teeth after all i really believe he might have escaped to South America like Eichman and Mengla along with several other Nazis

Tim Atkinson said...

Fascinating! It so happens I've just started reading a book (a novel, by Mike Atherton - though not the cricketer!) which features one of Hitler's tooth, a tooth that subsequently plays a part in a very mysterious DNA match many years later.

Bruce Anderson said...

Neat theories, I have been working learning to write and working on writing a historical style book for about 20 years. My Started out with investigations of Gulf War Syndromes an the diagnosable illness I started about 1996 to 1997 going back to Project paper Clip that so feed the rise of Pyschotromics and project Artichoke out of Project Monarch relative to Human manipulations issues form the impact of Ionizing v/s non radiation and the use of trauma an impact of medical devices such as dental work such Dental Mercury Amalgam more common known as Silver Fillings not to leave out crowns. Induced Misdiagnosed Bi polar Sczho effective et al via the induced tinnitus effects. In 2005 to 2007 on starting writing it on Writing.com The Title is called Elisheva & The way stones. I find the common over looked historical connection or lack of explanation of what was so called his phone bridge was to theoretically been thus related to the concern of for the Allies in concerns of the rise of inventions such as Radio's Radar and the 1st TV's to modern day cell phones . The More I have read I would or could agree to ask Was Hitler really Hitler as to answer the questions did he really die for it just so happens the fbi reopen the case about 2 years ago not on these point yet just over all . So If we was to apply books by Roger D Isaacs "Talking with God" alone with theme of "Beautiful Mind" an say the movie "Raider's of the lost ark" say with the movie with "the knowing" staring Mr. Cages or The British Film "Frequencies" of 2014 it would illustrate what such concerns could have been and or so active to date with Wi FI Illness. Or yet the hidden truths related to what in fact a fu fighter's really could have been? I will add abit of sarcasm to high light my views Ping Ping my Moon God God Play Mate. Oh Worm Wood Yes Uncle will you tell us the rest of the story of the battle of the Silver Chair Sure before hand hows that stock in this new Ipad and the Smart Phones. The Stocks are great. how about the Minamata Convention of 2013 well they passed yet the fda is still doing well to cover the facts wit the fcc and Obamacare the medical the tax well they left the concern out so the testing will never be confirmed so no need to worry about the class action law suits. It seams we are wining the Battle of the Silver Chair ... Yes I see Your Point I am guessing the fluoride is working as well Yes Uncle just enough to dilute the perspective of the ringing in the ears in diagnoses they still pass it off Uncle Worm WOod I think your right they Love their Cell Phone's.

Thiên Lôi said...

Đơn vị chuyên đặt mua hàng Quảng Châu online qua mạng
Đơn vị chuyên nhận đặt mua order đồ taobao cấp tốc tốt nhất hiện nay
Đơn vị chuyên nhận ship đồ taobao nhanh uy tín nhất hiện nay
Công ty chuyên nhận đặt mua order hàng taobao

Sonal priya said...

hank you for this brief explanation and very nice information. Well, got a good knowledge. Sometimes you just have to yell at people and give them a good shake to get your point across.

Best Dental Clinic In Chennai | Best Dentists In Chennai | Dental Hospital In Chennai

Christian Hunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christian Hunter said...


My god, man, your post was near totally inscrutable.

If your goal is to communicate something, anything really, you may wish to reconsider your frequent use of hyper-esoteric references. I can't imagine they're necessary to make whatever point you intended to make.

My two cents.

Unknown said...

Hitler was gross!!! I could tell he had bad teeth from the few pictures of him smiling, and the only reason I stupidly called him my boyfriend when I was 12 in 1995 was because smells cannot be captured and conveyed in pictures. I feel bad for the German people of that time, being made to salute and worship a mortal man with bad breath who probably also shat his pants at least once in his adult life. It makes me sick now when I think of how he wanted to create a super race, while taking 80+ medications including serious drugs! I used to be amazed (and slightly aroused from the irony) by the fact that he had actually had colds when he was called the Fuhrer, but come to find out, he had lots of them as well as more serious things like hepatitis and Parkinson's. How could I ever have been so stupid as to think of him as a superhero?