As we reported on October 27, President Trump ordered the release of more than 2,800 of the previously withheld documents related to the investigation into the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy on October 26. Because of the voluminous number of files, it is taking journalists and researchers time to sift through these documents and new information is periodically coming out. What interests most researchers is information related to the assassination, itself — particularly whether the Warren Commission Report was accurate in finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.
However, a new bit of information just discovered in the files relates not to Kennedy’s assassination, but to documents from the CIA archives revealing the claims of an informant who in 1954 told a CIA agent codenamed Cimelody-3 that the infamous German dictator Adolf Hitler was alive and living in Colombia.
This encounter was first recorded in a file classified as “secret” on October 3, 1955. It was outlined in a memo from David N. Brixnor, the acting chief of the CIA station in Caracas, Venezuela, to the CIA’s chief of the Western Hemisphere Division (WHD). The subject of the memo was “Operational Adolph Hitler.”
The memo summarized the matter in four points:
1. On September 29, 1955, a CIA agent codenamed Cimelody-3 reported the following (listed in the next numbered points.) It noted that neither Cimelody-3 nor the Caracas station was in a position to give an intelligent evaluation of the information and that it was being forwarded “as of possible interest.”
2. Cimelody-3 was contacted on September 29, 1955 by a trusted friend who served under his command in Europe and who was at the time of the memo residing in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Cimelody-3 preferred not to reveal the identity of his friend.
3. Cimelody-3’s friend stated that during the latter part of September 1955, a man named Phillip Citroen (identified as a former German SS trooper) stated to him confidentially that Adolph Hitler was still alive. Citroen claimed to have contacted Hitler about once a month in Colombia on his trip from Maracaibo to that country as an employee of the KNSM (Royal Dutch) Shipping Company in Maracaibo. Citroen indicated to Cimelody-3’s friend that he took a picture with Hitler not too long before they met, but did not show him the photograph. The man also stated that Hitler left Colombia for Argentina around January 1955. Citroen said that since as ten years have passed since the end of World War II, the Allies could no longer prosecute Hitler as a criminal of war.
4. On September 28, 1955, Cimelody-3’s friend surreptitiously obtained the photograph that Citroen had referred to. On September 29, 1955, the photo was shown to Cimelody-3 for the purpose of getting his reaction to the possible veracity of this fantastic story. He wrote that Cimelody-3 obviously was not in a position to make any comments. Nevertheless, he borrowed the photograph long enough so that the Caracas station could take any action it deemed advisable. Brixnor noted that photostats of the picture were taken, and were being forwarded and that the photograph was to be returned to its owner the following day. Brixnor noted that the person on the left in the picture is alleged to be Citroen and the person on the right is undoubtedly the person that Citroen claims is Hitler. The back side of the photograph contained the following data: “Adolf Schrittelmayor, Tunga, Colombia, 1954.”
In a second memo that was declassified, written on October 11, 1955, Franklin D. Mallek, chief of the CIA station in Bogota, Colombia, contacted the CIA’s chief of the WHD, stating: “If headquarters desires, through Girella, Bogota Station can make inquiry concerning “Adolf Schrittelmayor, Tunga, Colombia, 1954.”
In response to Mallek’s memo, J.C. King, the WHD chief, replied: “Headquarters has no objections to Station’s passing this information to Girella, but it is felt that enormous efforts could be expended on this matter with remote possibilities of establishing anything concrete. Therefore, we suggest the matter be dropped.”
At that time, there was little reason to doubt the accounts of Hitler’s suicide provided by his valet, Heinz Linge, who said that after Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide, he helped douse the bodies of Hitler and his wife, Eva, with gasoline and burn them. It does not sound unreasonable, therefore, that the CIA chief did not want to exert much effort and expense on what might have been a wild goose chase.
Nevertheless, this is one of the many mysteries of history about which there is insufficient evidence to make a conclusive statement. Did Hitler and his wife commit suicide in their bunker on April 30, 1945 as was reported? Or did he survive and escape to South America? Many people have speculated that that might have been the case, including this writer’s high-school history teacher more than 50 years ago. However, it will require more evidence than has just been released in the CIA documents to say for sure.
Photo of Adolf Hitler: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA