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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK

World: Europe

Hitler's 'suicide bunker' unearthed

Historians were worried the site could become a shrine for neo-Nazis

Workmen in the German capital, Berlin, have unearthed the remains of the bunker where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is said to have committed suicide.

[ image: Hitler committed suicide as Berlin capitulated to the Russians]
Hitler committed suicide as Berlin capitulated to the Russians
Historians have always known the site of Hitler's hide-away, which was sealed off by the Red Army after Berlin capitulated to the Russians.

But it was never excavated for fear it could become a shrine for Neo-Nazis.

Now, construction workers laying foundations for a new government building have uncovered six-metre-thick concrete blocks and rusting metal rods - believed to be part of the reinforced roof of the bunker.

'No doubt'

The bunker, just to the south of the Bradenburg Gate is where Hitler and his new bride Eva Braun are thought to have taken their lives in the final days of World War II.

An official for the Berlin State Archaeological Office, Karin Wagner, said she has no doubt the find was Hitler's bunker.

[ image: Whether anything is left in the bunker is unclear]
Whether anything is left in the bunker is unclear
She said the authorities now needed to discuss what to do with the site with the city's Jewish community.

"It is certainly part of the Hitler bunker," Ms Wagner added. "We must discuss this calmly, with political and other city partners, before any proposals can be made."

She said the authorities had two options - either to fill in the site and continue building as planned or to conduct an archaeological investigation.

Plundered by Red Army

Although some archaeologists say the site must be investigated and preserved, some Jewish groups want the remains blown up or reburied.

Andreas Nachama, the head of the small but high-profile Jewish community said he did not believe preserving every remnant from the Nazi era would serve any purpose.

It is unclear whether there is anything belonging to Hitler in the bunker as it is believed the Red Army plundered it after his death.

Last year, the discovery of a bunker believed to have belonged to Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, underneath the site of a planned Holocaust memorial, posed a dilemma for the German authorities.

There were calls for it to be integrated into a memorial, but the authorities were worried about it becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

City officials later decided to build the memorial over the site.

Suicide theories

Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, 1945, but some people dispute how he died.

The Nazi leader is generally believed to have used arsenic to poison himself. But last year, a United States dealer offered for sale a pistol which he said Hitler had used to take his life.

The former Soviet Union said it cremated Hitler's body after capturing the bunker but the final resting place of the ashes is not known.

Unable to destroy the heavily fortified bunker, the Red Army blew up the interior and filled the remains with sand.

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall a decade ago, most of what used to be no-man's land on the East German side of Wall has become a construction site for the new government district.

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