WASHINGTON, September 12, 2016 — “If you tell a lie often enough and loudly enough, it becomes the truth. And in this case, what the world has accepted as the truth is this lie,” says historian and journalist Gerrard Williams in the first episode of the British series documentary “Conspiracy,” which is now streaming on Netflix.
Commander Heinz Schäffer helped perpetuate one such lie when he surfaced U-Boat 977 and popped its hatch on August 17, 1945, after 66 days at sea—submerged. He and his crew then surrendered to Argentine authorities at Mar del Plata, a popular tourist destination famous for its sandy beaches.
One question has puzzled historians ever since: What was the real purpose for this long voyage?
Some conspiracy theorists suggest Schäffer transported stolen European gold to Nazi sympathizers in South America. Others say that he and his crew smuggled high-ranking Nazi officials to Argentina, which happened to include Adolf Hitler and his blushing bride Eva Braun.
Still others say U-977 had completed its mission to supply a secret Nazi base in Antarctica and its crew wanted to come back to a warmer world and jump-start their lives.
Sitting in a file cabinet at the London School of Economics is the official report by British intelligence concerning the death of Hitler.
Dated November 1, 1945 and under the heading “The Last Days of Hitler and Eva Braun,” the very first paragraph reads:
“Available evidence sifted by British Intelligence and based largely on eyewitness accounts, shows (as conclusively as possible without bodies) that Hitler and Eva Braun died shortly after 2:30 a.m. on April 30th 1945, in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery, their bodies being burned just outside the bunker.” (emphasis added).
Twenty years later, the Soviet government announced it had found the charred remains of Hitler in 1945, subjected them to forensic analysis and identified them as those of the German dictator. In 2009, however, an American DNA analysis of a skull fragment supposedly Hitler’s, found it belonged to a woman in her forties.
And recently declassified documents from the period show FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent investigators to South America to chase down leads provided by witnesses claiming to have seen Hitler.
But regarding a supposed Nazi base in the Antarctic, Colin Summerhayes of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, told interviewers for “Conspiracy” what is applicable to all the episodes that follow:
“It’s a story concocted by people who have pulled little bits of information together from all over the place … They have stuck them together into sort of a montage that when you look at it and sort of squint, you can say, ‘Oh, yeah, there might be something there.’ But really, it’s just a bunch of hogwash.”
Or is it?
“Conspiracy” is now streaming on Netflix.