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O. Guensche, 86; Aide Burned Hitler's Body to Keep From Soviets

October 14, 2003|From Associated Press

BERLIN — Otto Guensche, an aide to Adolf Hitler who burned the Nazi dictator's body to keep it from the advancing Soviets in the final days of World War II, died Oct. 2 of heart failure at his home in Lohmar, Germany. He was 86.

An officer of the SS, the Nazi special police, and a member of Hitler's inner circle, Guensche spent the last hours with the Nazi leader in the Fuehrer bunker in Berlin before Hitler and his companion, Eva Braun, committed suicide on April 30, 1945.

Guensche said in a recent Associated Press interview that Hitler personally ordered him to burn his body.

When the day came, Hitler's chief of staff, Martin Bormann, tried to set the corpses of Hitler and Braun on fire in the garden of the Reich chancellery in Berlin.

But it was Guensche who threw a burning rag that started the blaze.

Guensche was captured by Red Army troops at the end of the war and detained for several years.

Guensche, who was born in 1917, joined the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's armed forces, and rose to the rank of SS major, according to prosecutor Kurt Schrimm, the head of Germany's central office for investigating former Nazis.

The agency's files show no investigation against Guensche for Nazi-era crimes, Schrimm said.

Guensche lived quietly in West Germany after he was released from Soviet captivity.

A widower, he is survived by three children.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 16, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Guensche obituary -- An obituary of Adolf Hitler aide Otto Guensche in Tuesday's California section referred to Eva Braun as Hitler's companion at the time they committed suicide on April 30, 1945. In fact, they were married.

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