Book Review: Compelling Plot, Dry Narration

April 22, 2013


So, did Adolf Hitler actually die in the bunker in Berlin in 1945 or was he able to escape? That is a question that has been raised a few times, but any theories that imply that Der Fuhrer actually got away have been moved to the “crackpot conspiracy theory” category by “experts.” However, we think that Grey Wolf is unlikely to be dismissed as easily.

For Messrs Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams do make a very good case about Hitler and Eva Braun managing to escape from Berlin and living the rest of their lives out in Argentina, and back it up with reasonable evidence. No, Grey Wolf is not a book meant for sensationalism – it is a very methodical elaboration of a theory that makes sense. Disturbing sense. In fact, in the very first sentence of the preface of the book, the authors say: “We never wanted this story to be true.” And yet, by the time you put down Grey Wolf, your belief that Hitler committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin would have taken a battering. The authors deserve credit for this as they  provide detailed evidence of the duo’s exit from Berlin, including the testimony of the pilot who allegedly flew them out (he disappeared mysteriously), as well as information about their sightings in Argentina. In fact, many Allied commanders initially believed that Hitler had managed to escape from Berlin, before they all toed the official line about him having committed suicide.

What makes Grey Wolf is not just the evidence provided by Dunstan and Williams but also the holes in the conventional suicide theory. The skull that the Soviets claimed was Hitler’s has been found to be that of a woman and one of the pictures that they presented as the last picture of Hitler, complete with a bullet wound in the temple, was found to be that of a double. Dunstan and Williams argue – and do so compellingly – that while two people did die in the (in)famous Berlin Bunker, they were actually body doubles of Hitler and Eva Braun. The real Hitler and Eva Braun were out of Germany by that time and in fact a picture that many consider to be the last of Adolf Hitler – in which he is seen meeting boy soldiers – is actually that of his double. And before you laugh at the “double” theory, Churchill had a double too – they were a rage at that time and often used to send the enemy on the wrong trail. And it certainly seems to have worked in Hitler’s case, if you believe the prognosis of the authors, aided and abetted by a sympathetic regime in Argentina.

Which brings us to the book’s biggest flaw – the fact that it reads like a report rather than a narrative. Those expecting Grey Wolf to be a brisk, racy read are going to be disappointed, as this is a very methodical piece of work, tracing the relationships between different parties that made the escape possible. Yes, it is very efficient and logical, but quite often, it results in narrative that tends to drag, tempting you to skip more than the odd page. Even the narration of the actual escape does not exactly keep you glued to the pages. On the flip side, there can be no denying that this is easily the most compelling work we have seen in support of the “Hitler got away” theory. Its conclusions can be argued against, but we doubt they can dismissed lightly.

So, should you be reading Grey Wolf? Well, if you have even the slightest interest in the Second World War or the Third Reich, you pretty well must. For, this not only turns conventional wisdom on its head, but does so very methodically. So methodically that readability at times becomes a casualty. Grey Wolf does not read like a thriller, but like a slice of meticulously detailed history. Which is why it is the first book that actually makes us seriously wonder – did He get away after all?

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler
By Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams
352 pages
Rs 399

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