Hitler committed suicide in 1945, but I'm curious as to what would have happened to him if he hadn't. Did the Allies have any formal plans as to what they would do with Hitler if they caught him alive? Moreover, did the Allies agree on this plan, or would his ultimate fate have depended on which country caught him?

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    Other high-ranking Nazi leaders who were captured alive were tried in war crime tribunals.. Maybe this is what they would have done to him too
    – Louis Rhys
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 2:57
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    they would certainly have wanted that, which is one reason he suicided (so as not to be paraded before a court of Untermenschen). Of course it's quite possible he'd be lynched instead by his captors.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 6:14
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    Not an official answer so I'm just putting it as a comment, but I wonder if he ever really WOULD have been captured, even if they'd taken the bunker with him still alive. Every Allied and Soviet soldier had a cause to personally hate Hitler, and guns have a tendency of going off at just the wrong time, you know?
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 18:37
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    I see your point, but they managed not to kill the rest of the Nazi leaders. Mussolini got lynched, but he was captured by partisans, not regular troops.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


Some 22 surviving high-ranking Nazis were tried at Nuremburg after the end of the war, per agreement between the Allied powers.

The highest ranking of them, Hermann Goering was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death (although he committed suicide before his execution). The same would certainly have been true of Hitler had he lived to stand trial.


Actually, according to recently declassified records, it seems that Churchill was very much in favour of summarily executing Hitler should he be captured.

Whether this would have really become policy or remained just a bit of Churchillian bluster is impossible to tell.

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    It's a matter of speculation now, but those records only give strength to the theory that Hitler would probably be executed. The Nuremberg trials also give strength to that thought: that's what happened in the end to many of the prosecuted, especially those involved in planning the Nazi war crimes.
    – aenariel
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 10:20
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    @aenariel there's a difference between putting him up on trial and convicting him to be executed and just putting a bullet in his brain the moment he's caught... Not for the guy who ends up dead maybe, but for the world around him.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 12:18
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    @jwenting, obviously. I'm assuming he'd be executed either way: if caught, he'd probably be shot there and then, given the hatred cultivated on his persona; but, even if he survived that, he'd probably be executed as a war criminal afterwards. Since the OP's question was on what would happen to him, I still consider my comment valid; execution would most probably be his fate. I was just expanding on Felix's comment to give substance that it wouldn't matter who captured him.
    – aenariel
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 13:47
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    The URL is broken.. any chance you have a good one?
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 1:57
  • According to this source that was an opinion merely voiced in Cabinet in 1942, in camera, shortly after ULTRA had first broken German codes revealing the Holocaust. I cannot take such a single glib comment, in this context, as revealing true intent. (spiegel.de/international/europe/…) Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 21:14

This reminds of an American army "training" film I was shown in high school (!), which was an anti-axis propaganda piece. At the end of the film they showed three portraits, that of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, while the narrator intoned, "If you see any of these men, doooooooon't hesitate!"

I think you can safely assume that if Hitler had been captured by the allies he would have been tried at Nuremburg and hung. A similar fate would have occurred if the Red Army had captured him.

The actual plan for Nuremberg was made by Army lawyer Murray C. Bernays at the direction of Henry Stimson, Secretary of Defense. After the Quebec Tri-Powers Conference in 1944, Roosevelt ordered Stimson to make a plan for the treatment of captured Nazi leaders and organizations. Stimson gave the job to Bernays who wrote a 6-page memo.

Murray C. Bernays, architect of the Nuremberg trials

Murray C. Bernays, architect of the Nuremberg trials

The memorandum was originally classified SECRET but has since been de-classified and is archived at the Truman libary. Page images of the memorandum are available online.

  • Safely assuming assumes no formal plans, so your answer to the question asked is that the Allied High Command had no written guidance on what to do with Hitler?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 17:08
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    @CGCampbell There was written guidance. I have updated my answer to describe it. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 17:42
  • An additional source is found in The American Road To Nuremberg.
    – Schwern
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 20:49

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