BERLIN — It was one of the great remaining mysteries surrounding the final days of World War II — what happened to Heinrich Mueller, 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 documents indicating Mueller never made it more than a few hundred yards from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin and was buried in a common grave in a Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis.
Though Mueller’s body hasn’t been found, Johannes Tuchel, 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 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.
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.