BERLIN -- BERLIN (AP) — It was one of the great remaining mysteries surrounding the final days of World War II — what happened to Heinrich Mueller, the head of the Gestapo secret police and the highest-ranking Nazi never to have been captured or located.
But a leading German researcher said Thursday he has uncovered historical documents indicating Mueller never made it more than a few hundred meters (yards) from Hitler's bunker in downtown Berlin and was eventually buried in a common grave in a Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis.
Though Mueller's body hasn't been found, Johannes Tuchel, the director of Berlin's German Resistance Memorial Center, said the evidence he uncovered is "clear-cut."
He said that, according to a death certificate he found, Mueller died in the final days of the war in 1945 near the Luftwaffe headquarters.
Tuchel said other evidence shows that about three months after the end of the war Mueller's body was found by a work crew cleaning up corpses and buried along with about 3,000 others in a communal grave on the site of a Jewish cemetery that the SS had destroyed in 1943. The documents show "with near certainty" that Mueller was buried in August 1945 in the garden of the Luftwaffe headquarters, then brought to the Jewish cemetery on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, said Tuchel, whose story was first reported by Bild newspaper.
Mueller, who was an SS Gruppenfuehrer — roughly equivalent to a major general — was sought for decades after the war by investigators around the world, including Israel's Mossad, the U.S. Office of Special Investigations, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Tuchel said he had no explanation for why they hadn't come up with the same information. "That is a part of the puzzle I can't answer," he said. The Simon Wiesenthal Center's top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, sounded a note of caution, saying only DNA evidence could prove Mueller was buried in Berlin.
"The Nazis who wanted to escape very often took measures to create false documents faking their death," he said in a telephone interview from London. "I would be very wary of reports like that without forensic evidence."
He cited the case of Aribert Heim, a Mauthausen concentration camp doctor who allegedly died in Cairo in 1992.
"Heim was buried, according to his son, in a mass grave for poor people in Cairo, and it's a perfect story because it's impossible to verify," Zuroff said. Read more on this story at--