One of Sniper Elite’s defining quirks is its insistence in selling DLC missions where you get to shoot Hitler in the balls. Or head. Or liver. You can shoot the bastard wherever you damn like, is my point. While the season passes bring a plethora of weapon packs to spice up your gameplay, of equal importance are the mini-campaigns also present within it which gives players a few more hours in the sniper heaven that is the Sniper Elite series.
In this feature, we are exploring how historical those missions actually are, from saving Winston Churchill to shooting Hitler in the ballsack. You may think you know the answer to those, but you actually don’t. Before we get deep into each game’s season pass’ missions, we must answer that age old question that your racist uncle always brings up during Christmas dinner: did Hitler really just have one testicle?
Yes. And no. Maybe. No one knows. Truth is, for all his documented escapades, we have an awful low number of medical records regarding Adolf Hitler. The Führer seldom got sick, and even if he did, Nazi propaganda would make sure the news wasn’t spread around, so we are left with whatever few documents we can scrounge up after the Americans stormed in and the Soviets shat in everything else.
There are three conflicting sources for the Adolf Hitler had one testicle debacle, and they are a testimony from World War I, Hitler’s prison medical records, and the Soviet autopsy after his suicide. Each one of them have small holes and uncertainties that cast a shadow regarding their reliability, making it hard to accept one of them as a “correct” answer. The end result is that we have three accounts of something that a lot of people desperately want to believe, but can’t be backed up in any way, shape, or form (save for a TARDIS and a Führer-tastic turn and cough exam).
The first account of Hitler having one ball dates back to World War I, where the mustachioed genocider fought as a volunteer private for the Bavarian Army. During the Battle of the Somme in the Western Front, Hitler was wounded in the groin/left thigh region when a shell exploded nearby, and he was subsequently treated by an army doctor that later said he was wounded in the abdomen and had lost a testicle. Official military records actually confirm the wound sustained in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, but it was described as a wound to the groin or left thigh, with no mention of the abdominal injury or any loss of testicle involved.
The second source of the rumour started when documents from Landsberg prison were to be released and compiled for a book in December 2015. Having attempted to overthrow the German government via the Beer Hall Putsch and failing, Hitler was arrested for treason in 1924 and spent over nine months in Landsberg prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf. Supposedly, there is a note from the prison doctor at the lock-up’s book of arrivals saying that Hitler had "right-sided cryptorchidism", which is an undescended testicule -- not a missing one, and not the left one, either.
The third and final account comes from the Soviet autopsy released in 1970, which was claimed to be compiled shortly after ol’ Adolf shot himself in the Führerbunker in Berlin. The document says Hitler had a monorchid, which is the lack of one testicle, and is completely different from an undescended one like the prison doctor mentioned. Furthermore, the report states the missing ball was the left one, harmonising with WWI’s testimonies but flying in the face of Landsberg prison’s notes. Given the delay, the fact Hitler’s body was immolated, and the timing of the document (it was the middle of the Cold War), the Soviet autopsy is largely considered a propaganda fabrication.
Hitler’s doctors and personal physician categorically said there was nothing wrong with his testicles, casting uncertainty on the subject and forcing me to put way more effort than I would like to in writing about Hitler’s balls. During World War II, there was actually a very popular song amongst the British called "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball", usually put to the tune of the “Colonel Bogey March”. Given the complete lack of contemporary proofs of his monorchidism, the most likely explanation was that no, Hitler did not really had just had one testicle, and that rumour started thanks to a folk song. So in a way, the internet was always part of humanity.
Sniper Elite III
We’re starting with Sniper Elite III because it takes place in 1942, making it the first chronological entry in the series. The DLC pack adds two scenarios: one where the player needs to save Winston Churchill from a German assassination attempt, and one where we must shoot Hitler in the balls. Guess with which one we’re gonna start?
Winston Churchill had a few assassination plots against him, what with being the leader of the United Kingdom and kicking Nazis’ asses left and right and all that. In this fictional scenario, Karl returns to Siwa Oasis in January 1943 to uncover the identity of Churchill's would-be assassins. By this point in time (immediately after Sniper Elite III’s ending), the oasis had been captured by the Allies, making it different from the main game’s mission taking place in the same spot against Axis troops.
In real life, the Siwa Oasis in Western Egypt is a beautiful locale that saw no battles or garrisons during World War II, making the premise for this mission anachronistic. Fairburne learns the identity of the assassins and their leader, and quickly skidaddles to the assassins' base in the Rif mountains in Morocco. Like Siwa Oasis, the Rif mountains are a mountainous region (no shit) in northern Morocco that saw exactly zero wars or fights during WWII, which would probably make it a great place for a lair of assassins.
Fairburne infiltrates the Axis base and finds out the assassination will take place in the Casablanca Conference. He rushes there and eliminates all Axis threats, including a fictional sniper called Raubvogel (German for “bird of prey”) who wears a surprisingly real armour carapace meant to stop bullets but seldom employed in the field. His mission successful, Karl goes away and Churchill lives to fight another day.
The real Conference, held in Casablanca, French Morocco in January of 1943, was very uneventful. Churchill met U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the two talked about the plans for Allied cooperation and set in stone that the war was only ending once the Axis powers gave up via an “unconditional surrender”. While there were wacky real life plots like “death by chocolate” to take Winston out, the DLC’s story is fictitious but surprisingly drew inspiration from a real assassination attempt.
Operation Long Jump was an alleged German plan to simultaneously assassinate Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference in 1943, and it arguably serves as the idea from where Rebellion seems to have spun the Save Churchill missions. The Tehran conference took place just 10 months after Casablanca, in November of 1943, and the assassination attempt was foiled by Soviet agents before it could be launched. Given the only evidence that it even existed comes from Soviet sources, there is heavy scepticism about its veracity, but it nonetheless stands as a strong contender for the inspiration of Save Churchill’s plot.
Back to the subject everybody knows and loves, Hitler’s ball (or balls, we talked about this already) can be shot in the second scenario of Sniper Elite III’s DLC, “Hunt the Grey Wolf”. Taking place in the port city of Tobruk in an unspecified time, the mission sees Karl following a lead that the Führer may be visiting the town. Our sniper elite must find intel that confirms if the target is really Hitler or a body double, and then take him out (or not).
Placing the mission in a timeframe is difficult; Tobruk was originally part of an Italian colony before the war, and changed hands a few times. The British captured it in 1941 and lost it to the Germans in June of 1942, when Sniper Elite III begins. The British recaptured Tobruk in December of 1942, and held it until the end of the war -- that theoretically puts Hunt the Grey Wolf before 1941 or between mid-late 1942, but Karl says “It’s good to be back” as soon as the mission begins, throwing all my theories out the window and cementing the time frame as “it’s a game, stupid” AD.
Tobruk as depicted here is once more wrong, since it pretty much reuses a part of the main campaign’s map. Since the first mission takes place in the Battle of Gazala wrongly mislabelled as “Tobruk”, the map shares the misnomer while maintaining the correct architectural features: there is a village located within an arid, mountainous region, as well as some clear defensive fortifications around it. However, the sea is nowhere in sight, which it should be if this was actually the port city of Tobruk, as ports need water.
As for body doubles, Adolf Hitler is known to have employed at least one decoy, and it has been alleged that he employed as many as six. The possibility of there being a Hitler decoy in Tobruk at any point in history massively overwhelms the chance of it being a visit from the jew hater himself, but both scenarios are dreadfully implausible given the time frame Tobruk was held by the Nazis and the lack of a reason for the Führer to ever go down there. His position was mostly political and military, meaning a visit to front lines so far from the main theatre would be impractical.
Regarding his balls, he actually is depicted with two here as opposed to V2’s monoball, so either Rebellion went with the safe route or the guy was actually the decoy. Who knows?
Sniper Elite 4
Once Karl takes care of the previous game’s plot and heads to Italy to help the Italian resistance against the fascists, he gets intel from an informant within the German navy that a new top secret U-boat facility is being built in the island of Sendari, north of Crete. Sniper Elite 4 really threw me a curveball by making every single goddamn place a fictional one, meaning I had to research and Google Maps and dust off years and years of forgotten knowledge to place the locations where each mission most likely took place, or at least drew inspiration from.
In Sniper Elite 4’s “Target: Führer” DLC, the Chancellor of Germany (Hitler) visits a state-of-the-art secret U-boat facility built in the "forgotten" Sendari Island somewhere on the Mediterranean. That base gives U-boats a safe harbour and threatens Allied shipping, so it's up to Karl Fairburne to take the installation out of business and U-boats out of Mediterranean waters.
The island of Sendari is fictional, supposedly located among the island group southeast of Greece known as the Cyclades. Given its wonderfully described status as “full of rocks” and the logistics requirements of a large, secret, U-boat facility, the island would most likely be Sikinos, Despotiko, or Gyaros: Sikinos is big and has just a couple of villages, Despotiko is barren and nobody likes it, and Gyaros was actually used as the place of exile for important figures of the Roman Empire (and Hitler loved the Romans, like any military person worth their salt).
The U-boat facility layout is actually quite real, fitting the proper structures meant to be built in the Mediterranean as the Second World War progressed. In real life, those structures were virtually non-existent -- the Germans at most built makeshift bases by the opening of World War II, and planned for proper U-boat bunkers complete with protection for dockyard facilities as the war progressed. As the situation escalated and the Allies started pushing back further and stronger than predicted, a lot of the bunkers on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea that were conceived were never actually built.
The only real major dock that came close to being used as an U-boat bunker was the La Spezia Naval Base, located in North Italy at 100 km from Genoa. A historically awesome naval base who saw use for centuries and still exists today, La Spezia Arsenale was first conceived of by Napoleon -- who was actually (arguably) Italian and not French, but that is a subject for another feature. La Spezia was eventually used by U-boats and got severely damaged by air bombardment during the war, but it’s location on the other side of Italy and not actually in Crete makes its probable inspiration as the basis for the DLC slim at best. Besides, the base was actually the inspiration for a mission in the main campaign, meaning the U-boat bunker in “Target: Führer” is completely made up.
And yes, Hitler has just one ball again.
Sniper Elite V2
The first entry in the rebooted series actually takes place after the sequels in terms of timeline, during 1945. The DLC once more takes place outside any established timeframe, meant to be just a fun bonus mission and not serving any overarching plot. Karl is sent to Berchtesgaden, a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps close to the famed Eagle’s Nest mountain where Hitler had a private retreat. The Nazi building was originally used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings, but it was presented to Adolf on his 50th birthday. He only visited it a total of 14 times, and is presumably during one of those visits where Karl snipes him in the ballsack.
The map is surprisingly accurate in regards to historical layout, with even the Special Train tunnel that connected Berchtesgaden to Germany being spot on. The whole mission actually revolves around said train, which was known as the Führersonderzug; a special train that was originally used as a mobile center of operations called “Führer Headquarters” until the Balkan Campaigns of 1941, where Italy conquered Yugoslavia and Greece. After that, Hitler merely used it throughout the war when he travelled between Berlin, Berchtesgaden, Munich, and other headquarters, since the situation became progressively more dangerous.
As part of the Hitler's private line, the Berchtesgaden train station would obviously be under heavy guard at all times. The Chancellor's presence at Eagle's Nest would elementary bring a bigger security detail, but the waning days of World War II would see a reduced contingent due to Germany's strained manpower. It would be unreasonably hard -- yet not impossible -- for a single remarkable sniper like Karl Fairburne to get near enough the perimeter to pull off a long distance shot.
The mission is completely plausible, as it involves Karl tracking the Führer to his retreat and sniping him as he boards the Special Train back to Berlin. It set up the precedent that even Sniper Elite's extra missions are somewhat grounded in reality, providing the series with a real flavourful context and adding weight to player's actions. Rebellion thankfully continued this trend with every subsequent instalment, and the "Kill Hitler" DLC of Sniper Elite V2 ultimately served to cement the foundations of Sniper Elite's historically based franchise.
And as the DLC that spawned all other DLC’s, Hitler has just the one ball.