By Kevin M. Hymel

As the Allied armies in the West closed in on Germany in late September 1944, one question began to dog many of democracy’s leaders. What if Adolf Hitler disguised himself to escape detection? The Fuehrer had the resources to hide himself from any invading force and would, no doubt, use them. Other leaders of the Third Reich could be easily identified. Hermann Goering’s huge size would make the Luftwaffe chief an easy mark. Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, had a round, baby face, and Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, had a clubbed foot.

To solve the Hitler problem, the American Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the modern Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), put together a series of photos of what the Fuehrer might look like without his favorite mustache and shock of hair. The OSS worked with Eddie Senz, a makeup expert from New York who worked in movies, theater and opera, to create possible images of the disguised dictator. Senz considered the most prominent feature of Hitler to be the Nazi leader’s eyes, which Senz described as, “the most remarkable I have ever seen.”

Using an original photograph of Hitler, Senz and the agents went to work. They experimented with different mustaches and beards, various pairs of glasses, and different hairstyles from stylish to bald. The result was a collection of seven portraits of the Fuehrer, which were given to OSS agents and eventually published in the New York Times.

Fortunately, the photos never had to be used. Hitler committed suicide along with his wife, Eva Braun, whom he had married hours earlier. The two died in the fuehrerbunker below the embattled German capital city. Their lifeless bodies were then carried above to the structure’s garden, doused with gasoline, and set alight. The remains of the Fuehrer and Eva Braun were discovered later by Red Army soldiers.

All photos courtesy National Archives.
All photos courtesy National Archives.

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