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ADOLF HITLER
The Making of a Fuhrer
Who was Responsible?
by Walter Smoter Frank

CONTENTS

PREFACE……………………………………………………... 3

PART I THE BOY……………………………………………...5


1: First 11 Years…………………………...…...5
2: High School Days………………………….14
3: Friends and Loves………………………… 25
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PART II THE YOUNG MAN……………………………...35

4: Teenage Dreams………………………...36
5: Hard Times……………………………..48
6: The Artist………………………………56
7: A Real German………………………...76

PART III THE WWI SOLDIER…………………………...90


8: Early Months…………………………...91
9: A Born Soldier……………………..….104
10: War Not Peace……………………….118
11: Slaughter and Honor…………….…...129
12: Hate and Defeat……………………...145
13: Revolution…………………………...156
14: A Star Pupil…………………….…….171
15: Helping Hands……………………….188

PART IV THE FLEDGLING POLITICIAN……….….. 202


16: The Civilian…………………………203
17: The Struggle………………………...216
18: Der Fuhrer…………………………..230

AFTERWARD…………………………………………241
DEDICATION…………………………………….……246
BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………….……..255
APPENDIX………………………………………….....264
FOOTNOTES……………………………………..…...307
INDEX……………………………………………..…..343
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PREFACE:
Soon after the fall of the Third Reich, intellectuals began poking around the ashes of post WWII
Europe in an attempt to understand why the Germans, and other nationalities, followed Adolf Hitler.
Since that time, a host of professionals and experts have propounded their theories. Most insinuate that
Hitler was some kind of demonic monster whom "sophisticated," "fine," or "other persons of quality"
rejected from the beginning--A comforting approach from their point of view, but then, considering that
no political movement has ever entirely developed from the bottom up, one is still left with the question
of why and how Adolf Hitler came to power.
From 1955 till 1995 I had talked to scores of Germans and German-Americans who lived in and out of
Germany during the NAZI era. However, when it came to Adolf Hitler, as one historian noted:
"People...have long since learnt to adjust their answers to suit the political complexion of those who
question them." Consequently, one had to proceed cautiously in garnering true feelings. With that in
mind, three incidents are worth noting:
1: In 1972 while attending night classes at a Pennsylvania University, a discussion in one class,
dominated by young people, on why the German people followed Hitler produced the usual post WWII
propaganda responses. When I offered a few easily verified facts about Hitler's early appeal, and
innovative economic policies, nearly the whole class looked at me in disbelief. During a class break I
was approached by a "thirty-something" German student. When she was sure no one was able to
overhear, she stated: "What you said was correct. My family had it good once Hitler came to power."
She want on to talk about the good Hitler's policies did for her family and the pride and hope he
instilled in the German people during the early years.
2: A decade later, while living in the state of Washington, I talked to an elderly ex-German soldier (his
father incidentally had worked on one of Rommel's estates). He told me some very revealing stories of
how Germans "believed" in Hitler during the early ("those days were fun") period, and how Hitler was
able to rouse the people when he spoke. He then stopped momentary and as though reliving some
intoxicating moment of his youth, affirmed: "Hitler always gave a good speech."
3: In 1991 on a visit to Austria, I stopped off at Braunau, on the river Inn, where Hitler was born. I
located the building that appeared to be Hitler's birthplace, but momentarily had my doubts. At that
moment a very old, wrinkled and hunched over woman wearing a shawl on her head and carrying a
battered cloth shopping bag happened along. In my "best" German, I ask her, pointing, if that was the
building where Adolf Hitler was born. After monetarily deciphering my poor German, she answered
(without a note of revulsion, horror or apology): "Ja. Ja. Das ist das Geburt haus vom Fuhrer" ("Yes.
Yes. That is the birth place of the Fuhrer.").
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Because nearly all history, news, editorials and "public opinion" reflect the viewpoint of the upper
classes, and their privileged subordinates (Right or Left), the people quoted above are normally
depicted as "Nazis," "ignorant," or "dim-witted."
Today, many books, TV productions and now, countless web sites continue with unsubstantiated events
and characterizations which portray the prewar Hitler as a madman. The aim of these "biographers of
Hitler," as Werner Maser (a probing Hitler historian) pointed out over forty years ago, "is not
to...discover historically verifiable facts, but rather to 'reinterpret' earlier assumptions which have long
since become exposed as false." Moreover, their interpretations still beg the question: "Why did people
follow Hitler?"
The scope of the material in this work is not meant to apologize for Hitler or minimize the horrors
which occurred once the war he initiated broadened. On the other hand, the "mystique" that still draws
people to Adolf Hitler (whether out of admiration, hate or curiosity ) comes from his youth and the
forces that shaped him. Adolf Hitler never said or did anything that at one time or another hadn't
already been said or done by past intellectuals or world leaders.
To reiterate, Hitler was a product of the European culture from which he came. To understand how he
came to power (and what subsequently resulted), one must have an understanding of his early years and
the culture that influenced and made him. That is what the footnoted material in this book attempts to
do. After all, aren't all our thoughts and actions (to one degree or another) the result of culture?
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Part I
The Boy

Throughout this work one asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.
"Copy" the last few words before a * then use your browser's "Find in [or] on This Page" in a "Footnote" section
to find the source. Two ** indicate additional information.

1: First 11 Years
Klara Polzl was born into a family of hard-working Catholic
peasants on August 12, 1860. She spent most of her early
life near her birthplace, Spital, Austria, thirty miles north of
the Danube. Her sweet face along with a quiet and soft
disposition gave her an agreeable manner, and she was liked
by everyone in her village. She matured to become a modest
and an attractive women. She had a slender body of medium
height and her light brown hair accentuated her delicate
facial features and large gray-blue eyes. Because of her
looks, manners, and demeanor it was impossible to
determine her peasant background. Unlike many of her
friends who spent the largest portion of their lives working
the fields along with their families, and later their husbands,
Klara became a maid to the more prosperous families in the
vicinity.
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Klara did not marry until she was twenty-four. Her husband, Alois Hitler, was a man twice her age but
well-to-do by the standards of the area. Four-months after her marriage, on May 17, 1885, she gave
birth to her first child, a son, whom she named Gustav.
In the upper class societies of Europe the embarrassing, short period between marriage and the birth of
a child would have raised some eyebrows. In the rural towns of Austria, little was out of the ordinary.
In the Wooded Quarter (Waldviertel) where she lived, pregnancy out of marriage was taken for granted
among the local population. In some areas the illegitimacy rate was near forty percent. Giving birth
four months after one was married was not even a "serious embarrassment."*
In September of the following year Klara gave birth to a daughter, Ida. The following autumn another
son, Otto, was born. Within a few days Otto died. Two weeks before Christmas, two and a half year old
Gustav died of diphtheria. The day after New Years, fifteen month old Ida died of the same disease.
Klara, who only four months before was the mother of three children, was now childless.
That fate would hand a "modest, kindly," and "gentle" woman like Klara* such a horrible burden was
bound to alter her perception of life and her dealings with others. There was no doubt that if she gave
birth to any future children, the relationship between mother and child would be very attentive and
protective.
Klara remained childless for nearly sixteen months. Then on April 20, 1889, at 6:30 in the evening, she
gave birth to a son. Two days later she had the child baptized Adolfus; however, she always called him
Adi, short for Adolf, Adolf Hitler.
Birthplace of Adolf Hitler

Adolf (the name means Noble Wolf) was born in the Hitler family quarters on the
2nd floor (3rd in the U.S.) of the Pommer Inn in the small town of Braunau,
Austria.
Braunau (which until 1816 had been part of Bavaria except for one short interruption) sits on the river
Inn which borders Germany. Although Austrians have their own ethnic, historical and cultural heritage,
they are German. Political jealousies and maneuvering had kept Austria out of the German federation.
When Adolf was three years old, his father's job required that the family settle in Germany. The family
moved across the river to Passau, Bavaria where the river Inn flows into the Danube. There the young
Adolf spent the next three years playing with the local children and developing a lower Bavarian
dialect that would stay with him all his life.
Though neighbors recalled an excessive amount of attention bestowed by Klara on her young son, life
in the Hitler household during these early years was harmonious and peaceful. As Adolf grew older,
however, problems were bound to develop. In most German families the word of the father was the
inflexible law of the household. Strictness accompanied by "thrashings" of children was common in
those days, and women were not expected to interfere. Even as late as 1946 when German women were
asked to complete the question--"A mother who interferes when a father is punishing his son is?--
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seventy percent chose the answer: "A bad wife." Klara, nonetheless, had developed into an overly
protective mother. Unlike most German women, she would interfere and try to shield her son from the
demands and punishments of her husband.
Alois Hitler, Adolf's father, was remembered as a considerate, but stern and down-to-earth man with a
cynical sense of humor. His letters to friends show him to be kindly, sensible, and no more rigid than
anyone else of his area and background. He made lasting and close friendships with his neighbors, co-
workers and relations, but he had nothing but contempt for "card players, debtors, drinkers," and others
who he felt lead immoral lives. Like most men of his day, he believed in absolute obedience to
superiors and expected the same from subordinates. With his family he was authoritative and normally
not one to be denied.
Alois was also born in the Wooded Quarter in the village of Strones on June 7, 1837. He was also of
peasant origins but had a self-reliant and determined personality. He had only a few years of
elementary school when he was sent off to Vienna, at the age of fourteen, to become a cobbler.* Shoe
making had no appeal to the young man and by the time he was eighteen he had obtained a position as
a border guard for the Austrian Customs Office. After working and studying diligently he passed a
difficult examination and, around his twenty-fourth birthday, became a Revenue Clerk. Three years
later he was promoted to supervisory rank. With the class distinctions and prejudices that existed
against the peasantry, his achievement was quite notable. Having "made good," as many of his friends
saw it, he spent most of his career working in the bordering towns of Germany and Austria.
Because of Alois' position and success, he was popular with the local ladies and was not adverse to
their attention. Although he may have scorned "immoral living," relations with women did not seem to
be part of his moral code. It is rumored that he had many affairs. He remained a hard worker,
nevertheless, and there were further promotions. In 1871, at the age of 34, he reached the rank of
Assistant Inspector of Customs. Two years later he married for the first time. His wife was fourteen
years older but was the daughter of a wealthy tobacco merchant who came with a sizable dowry.* The
marriage produced no children and was "stormy," as one observer noted. Not one to let his emotional
life interfere with his responsibilities, Alois was determined to climb the social ladder and was
rewarded in 1875 with a promotion to Senior Assistant Customs Officer.*
Up to this time Alois's last name was not Hitler but Schicklgruber. He had been an illegitimate child
and carried his mother's last name even though his mother and the man she asserted to be his father
were married five years after he was born. Alois' "father" (see below in Hitler Name & legends) was a
traveling miller who found it hard to settle down. Alois' mother, who was 42 years old when he was
born, died when he was ten. Shortly after, his father resumed his drifting ways. Alois, consequently,
spent some years in the house of his uncle (his father's brother) before being sent off to Vienna. His
father died when he was twenty without ever having him legitimized. At age thirty-eight, Alois decided
to claim the name of Hitler. See Appendix A (The Hitler Name & Legends).
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After considerable correspondence, on December 27, 1876, the district commissioner's office in charge
of overseeing regulations concerning legitimization was finally satisfied. Although Alois had already
been using the Hitler name for at least six months,* by Jan 6, 1877,* while married to his first wife, the
thirty-nine year old Alois Schicklgruber was officially and legally known as Alois Hitler.* That he was
using the Hitler name before the "legitimacy" went through, shows that he intended to change his name
one way or the other.
It was during the many visits to the Hiedler/Hitler household in Spital that Alois came to know Klara
who was the granddaughter of his uncle. Because of Alois' age and status, Klara always referred to
Alois as "uncle" although in reality they were second cousins.
When Alois's first wife developed a lung ailment and became invalid the hard working and
conscientious Klara was employed by the Hitlers as a maid. Soon after, the first wife found that Alois
was having an affair with a hotel kitchen maid. She left him and obtained a separation. Alois began
living openly with the kitchen maid who quickly dismissed the good looking Klara. The twenty year
old Klara went to Vienna where she obtained employment as a parlor maid (a servant was the most
common occupation for women during this period).
When Alois' estranged wife died of consumption he married the kitchen maid within seven weeks. The
marriage took place on May 22, 1883, one month before Alois' forty-seventh birthday. The new bride
was twenty-two. The maid had already borne him a son out of marriage (which he immediately
legitimized) and she gave birth to a daughter within two months of the marriage. A year later the
second wife fell mortally ill with tuberculosis. Klara was called back to help care for her and the two
children. Although Klara did her best to nurse her back to health,* lung ailments and tuberculosis were
the scourge of Austrians during the era. On August 10, 1884, Alois' second wife also died.*
With a two year old son and a 12 month old daughter to raise, Alois, seeing a good thing, decided to
marry the unassuming and loyal Klara. Intermarriages among second cousins were frequent among the
country stock at that time and little was out of the ordinary.
The marriage took place in the Catholic Church at Braunau, during the morning, on Jan 7, 1885, five
months after the death of Alois' second wife. The marriage would have taken place sooner and Klara's
first child (born May 17,1885) would not have been born four months after the wedding, but an
Episcopal dispensation had to be secured since they were second cousins.
The marriage and reception were attended by friends and relations including Klara's father, mother and
two younger sisters. The only memorable event that witnesses remembered occurred when a maid
overheated the room at the Hitler house and Alois teased her about not being able to manage a fire.
There was no honeymoon for the 48 year old groom and his 24 year old bride. Before the morning was
over, Alois was back at work.*
For some time after their marriage Klara continued to address her husband as "uncle."* She, however,
took well to her new role and after the deaths of her first three children continued to care for Alois' two
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children as though they were her own. She was a devout Catholic, a devoted wife, a meticulous
housekeeper, and an affectionate mother.*
Marriage to a stern official twenty-three years her senior brought few moments of cheerfulness into
Klara's life. She accepted the disillusions of married life with relative calm. She once told an
acquaintance: "What I hoped and dreamed of as a young girl has not been fulfilled in my marriage."
Then quickly added, "but does such a thing ever happen?"* Klara Hitler was a realistic, modest, loving
and quiet women. She made no demands on her husband and their marriage remained peaceful.
When Adolf was born, his stepbrother, Alois Jr, was seven years old and his stepsister, Angela, was
almost six. They had to take a back seat to Adolf who became the apple of his mother's eye. Klara was
devoted to her son and doted over him, but her obsession over the deaths of her previous three children
made her see Adolf as a sick baby. Although a housemaid during this time remembered Adolf as a
"very healthy, lively child who developed very well,"* Klara lived in dread of losing him. She was
constantly attentive to her son and if he showed even the slightest ailment she worried profoundly.
Neighbors remembered that she seldom stopped to linger in conversation, being in a hurry to return
home to care for her children.* During the first few years of Adolf's life, mother and son were
inseparable. In March 1894, when Adolf was almost five and still living in Germany, Klara gave birth
to another son who she named Edmund. Despite the new addition to the family, the close bond between
Adolf and his mother continued.
Farmhouse with barn in rear.

In April of the following year, the family moved back to Austria and took up
residence on a newly purchased nine acre farm near the river Traun in the village
of Hafeld. The six year old Adolf, dressed in a dark-blue sailor suit., entered
public school for the first time in the village of Fischlham two miles away.* His
teachers had nothing but good to say about him. He was a "star" pupil who made nothing but excellent
or above average grades. He was "mentally very much alert, obedient" but like many boys, "lively."*
Soon after the family arrived back in Austria, Alois, only 58 years old, abruptly retired on June 25,
1895, after 40 years service.* Although "he must have been well above average in industry, efficiency
and, not least, in his determination to succeed,"* his legitimacy offered no rewards. He had to wait 17
years before he was promoted from Senior Assistant Customs Officer to Higher Collector and the
promotion came automatically with service.* He had stayed on for an additional three years after the
promotion to meet probationary requirements and to become eligible for a higher pension rate.
Even though Alois was well liked and respected by the local people, they found him at times to be
bitter. He was outspoken about his beliefs and, unlike most men, was not afraid to voice his opinions in
the presence of others who favored a different point of view. Like most men who succeed on their own,
he had little compassion for the lower classes from which he came. When a small sawmill was being
constructed by one of his neighbors, he sarcastically but humorously mumbled something about "little
guys" coming up and "big guys" going down.
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The retirement funds Alois received were about the same amount as what a country lawyer or principal
of a grade school earned. The village at Hafeld had a population of 100 inhabitants and the impressive
two and a half storied house on the Hitler farm was a sign of success. Alois took on the life style of a
country gentleman. He busied himself with gardening and bee-keeping while hired help did the heavy
work. A Minna, the generic name for a family's cook and general maid, helped Klara in the large house
and there were summer vacations to Spital. The Hitlers lived in a material life style approaching the
prosperous middle class of the day. They lived within their means, cared for their children, celebrated
birthdays, worshipped their God, and lived respectable and honest lives. Alois never gambled and
although he drank beer or wine, no one ever saw him drunk. There were no reported violent outbursts,
no feuds, and no tyrannical upheavals.*
On Jan 21, 1896, when Adolf was almost seven, a sister, Paula, was born. With Klara's attention tied up
with an infant daughter, a two year old son, two budding teenagers and a husband, Adolf began to
spend more time on his own. The farm had an orchard and there were stables for the cows and farm
horses behind the house. Adolf enjoyed playing in the hayloft, the small stream behind the barn, and in
the surrounding woods. Although neighbors thought that Klara had turned Adolf into a Muttersohnchen
(mama's boy),* he, nevertheless was developing into a little roughneck. His favorite stories were about
the American West, which led to one of his favorite games – cowboys and Indians. The blue eyed,
light-brown haired Adolf liked to play the part of the big "Indian chief." Neighbors were sometimes
unsettled by his rowdy behavior and loud Indian war cries.
By the standards of the day Adolf was a spoiled and very self-reliant child without the sweet manners
and refinement that most German parents expected in children. He was well liked, however, by his
young playmates and developed a close relationship with his younger brother.
In the same year Paula was born, Adolf's stepbrother, Alois Jr. ran away at the age of fourteen, never to
return in his father's lifetime. Years later he would claim that the reason was the beatings he received
from his father and, though no one has ever substantiated his claim, he stated later that even the docile
Klara and the family dog were not spared physical abuse.
The "beatings" Alois Jr. endured were delivered because of his poor grades and habit of skipping
school. Shortly before running away he skipped school three days in a row. His actions did nothing to
endear him to his father and, in accordance with the customs of the times, he was thrashed. The
dominant factor in his decision to leave home was more likely the presence of Klara's children. Alois
Jr. never got along with any of them and especially didn't liked Adolf who, he claimed, got everything
his way. Over 50 years later he would still complain: "My stepmother always took his part."*
Furthermore both Klara and Adolf got along splendidly with his sister Angela. Klara treated her as a
daughter, and Adolf and Angela got along so well they spent nearly two hours a day walking back and
forth to the school at Fischlham. Alois Jr., who was approaching fifteen years old, no doubt felt abused
and neglected.
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With his stepbrother gone, Adolf, as the oldest son, was given more chores to do around the small farm.
But it didn't last long. The farm had a history of economic problems and the good country life proved a
disappointment to the 60 year old Alois. In June 1897 he sold the farm, with its imposing house, to a
nobleman named von Zdekauer from Vienna.

Inn at Lambach.

The Hitlers took up residence two and a half miles away in Lambach, a town with
some 1700 inhabitants. They moved into a fashionable lodging house directly
across the street from the town's Benedictine abbey. Six months later they moved
into a spacious second floor apartment in the main plaza just around the corner.
As a retired official of the Royal and Imperial Civil Service, Alois became part of the Honoratioren--
leading citizens of the small town like the mayor, doctor, school principal, tax collector, and more
important merchants. They met regularly to discuss the problems and issues of their day.
The eight year old Adolf was admitted to the Catholic school attached to the abbey. As usual, he
excelled in his school work. He also attended choir lessons and began training as an alter boy.
The abbey church had been built nearly a thousand years earlier and was remodeled hundreds of years
later by a ruling abbot whose coat of arms contained his initials (TH) in the form of a stylized
hakenkreuz (hooked-cross in English; swastika in French). In many civilizations the swastika was
considered a good luck symbol or signified that all was well. In 1907 for example, the United States
Bureau of Reclamation, known then as the US Reclamation Service, used swastikas to decorate Laguna
Dam, the first Federal structure built across the Colorado River.* In German mythology the swastika
(usually represented in rotary fashion) was the "fire whisk" which twirled the earth into existence. The
abbot, responsible for the remodeling, combined German myth with Christianity and the swastika-like
symbol appeared on various parts of the abbey, including the main gateway* and on the pulpit.*
Abbey courtyard where
Hitler attended grade school.
Adolf was fascinated with ecclesiastical music and Catholic ritual. He took voice
lessons at the choir school,* developed a good singing voice and sang in the
church choir. At nine years old he became an altar boy* and within a short time
contemplated becoming a priest. Impressed by the fiery sermons given by the
local priests on Sundays, he occasionally draped an apron over his shoulders when at home, stood on a
kitchen chair and mimicked the priests giving sermons. Although his father disliked much of church
policy, he nevertheless considered a parish priest a model,* and along with Klara, they encouraged
Adolf's hopes.
As the son of a retired official, young Adolf enjoyed the prestige and status of his father's position.
Since the family was one of the most prosperous in the small community, by the time Adolf was nine
he was looked up to by many of the local boys and soon became a little "ringleader." His favorite game
was still cowboys and Indians, and he would organize the neighboring boys, and sometimes the girls,
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into teams and lead his braves against the opposing forces. During the 18 months Adolf lived in
Lambach, he frequently got in trouble. He once brought "Indian" knives and axes to school. One day he
was caught taking a puff on a cigarette. Another time he organized the neighboring boys and raided an
orchard. Over the objections of his mother, his father handled such misbehavior in the accepted way--a
customary thrashing. His father's anger, however, was contained. Angela would later remark that she
and Klara would hang on to Alois' coattails when he went to "hit" Adolf* and Adolf himself never held
such thrashings against his father. He would later state that they were "necessary"* and that his life as a
child "showed little or no difference from that of other people."*
Adolf's grades in school remained at excellent with an occasional above average in singing, drawing,
and gymnastics. In the last quarter of the 1897-98 school year he received twelve 1's which is
equivalent to twelve A's in the American school system. Neighbors, nonetheless, considered Adolf a
little rogue who was always where the action was and usually leading it. Although they complained that
the boy with the "beautiful blue eyes" was a spoiled loudmouth and could be unsettling to have around,
they also noted that he could talk to adults and at times was very expressive and fluent for one so
young.
Hitler home at Leonding.

In November, 1898, Alois purchased a house in Leonding, a little village three


miles west of Linz. The family moved in shortly before Adolf turned ten. It was
an attractive house situated in tranquil surroundings with a half-acre yard in the
rear. Alois, not a man to sit idly by, spent his time working a small garden and a
few fruit trees. He also continued to tend bees and wrote articles on bee-keeping.* "In my youth I had
every opportunity to study bees," Adolf Hitler would recall years later, "for my old father was a keen
apiarist. Unfortunately I was frequently so badly stung that I all but died! To be stung by a bee in our
family was an ordinary, ever day occurrence. My mother often pulled out as many as forty-five or fifty
stings from the old gentleman when he returned from cleaning the hives. He never protected himself in
any way; all he did was to smoke all the time – in other words, a good excuse for another cigar."*
Adolf was enrolled in the local grade school which was only a couple hundred yards north of the Hitler
home. As usual, he excelled in his school work. Like all small boys of the time, he was often dressed
in "leather shorts, embroidered suspenders [and] a small green hat with a feather in its band."*
Nearly directly opposite the Hitler home, on the other side of the road, was the local Catholic cemetery
and church of St. Michael. The Hitler family attended the church every Sunday and Adolf joined other
local boys in singing in the choir. From his upstairs bedroom window, Adolf could see over the high
stone wall surrounding the cemetery.
On Feb 2, 1900, shortly before Adolf's eleventh birthday, his six year old brother, Edmund, died of
complications following measles. To Klara, the death was like a hammer blow and brought back the
memories of the three children she had lost twelve years before. She suffered terribly and neighbors
13

were shocked when she failed to attend the funeral. To the ten year old Adolf, who had been very close
to his younger brother, the death left a lasting wound.* After the church service he stood in a driving
snowstorm and watched while his little brother was lowered into his grave.* In the future, anytime
Adolf looked out of his bedroom window he was reminded of Edmund who's grave was visible from
his window. He became moody, dispirited and withdrawn.
Years later when Adolf Hitler would become famous, journalists and reporters would flock to the area
to see what people remembered of him. Although the local population would repeat the stories of his
Indian games, how quickly he ran if called by his father, how well he did in the Leonding school, or
how spoiled he was, they also remembered a very curious thing. They said Adolf was sometimes seen,
late into the night, sitting on the high cemetery wall "gazing up at the stars"* or talking to the
"windblown trees."* One of Adolf's playmates remembered that Adolf would also climb the hill behind
his house at night and talk to a "nonexistent audience." After Edmund's death, religion lost its glamour
for the young Adolf and he never again talked about becoming a priest. (It appears that Edmund's death
haunted Hitler all his life. Forty-two years later, to the month (Feb.1942), Hitler made the statement:
"When our degenerate priests question a seven year old child in the confessional about sin, it is they
who cause the child to become aware of sin.")**
To add to the suffering of the family, it was learned shortly after Edmund's death that Alois Jr. had been
arrested, tried and sentenced to five months imprisonment for theft. The 63 year old Alois, a pillar of
the small community seethed with indignation. A strong believer in law and order, he would not
compromise his beliefs and had his will changed to leave his oldest "no-account" son only the
minimum sum allowed by law. The tension in the household increased the suffering of Klara and had a
profound affect on Adolf. Like his father, Adolf Hitler would grow up lacking any compassion for what
he saw as lawbreakers and believed they should be severely punished. In the future he refused to have
anything to do with his half brother and later forbade all mention of his name.*
With Edmund's death, the close bond between Klara and Adolf intensified. She resumed her doting
over him and pampered him continuously. His health and dispirited attitude worried her profoundly.
With the end of summer vacation that year, Adolf (a star pupil in grade school) began classes, on
9/17/1900, at the non-classical secondary school on Stein Gasse in Linz.
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2: High School Days


Making the transition from grade school to high school can be a hard period for any boy, but was
particularly hard on the eleven year old Adolf Hitler. He not only had to contend with the recent death
of his brother but with a new environment. Unlike the small rural towns where he had spent his life,
Linz was a bustling city of 55,000 people. Adolf either had to walk to the four-story school building,
which took about an hour, or he could take the train. In the secondary school, which wasn't mandatory
and where parents paid for their children's education, his father's position and rank meant little. As an
"outsider" he and a few other boys from Leonding, were looked down on by many of the wealthier city
boys as one of those "from the peasants."* For the first time he now found himself exposed to the class
prejudices of the upper classes who considered him unworthy in not only character but appearance. As
one class conscious historian later commented: "For here he found himself a rough-hewn rustic, a
despised outsider among the sons of academics, businessmen, and persons of quality."* Adolf's whole
world must have seemed like it was falling in on him. He appeared listless and unconcerned and, for
the first time, did poorly in school.
As Adolf's grades plunged, a conflict between father and son developed because Alois feared another
"no-account" son. Adolf Hitler would later write that "hostility" developed between his father and
himself when he was "eleven years old." He would also admit that he once had a temper tantrum which
caused him to fall to the ground, "faint from rage," when he didn't get his way in a disagreement with
his father. It wasn't long before Adolf found himself at the mercy of his father's discipline on a regular
basis. Klara shielded the boy whenever possible but normally consoled him afterward and no doubt
alienated her husband. The opposing values between parents drew Adolf closer to his mother and he
developed a rebellious attitude toward his father. For the first time, relatives and neighbors noted that
the spoiled child Adolf could also be defiant and did not like anyone telling him what to do. He failed
math and natural history and was not promoted that year. "When I was a schoolboy," Hitler would later
state, "I did all I could to get out in the open air as much as possible--my school reports bear witness to
that!"*
Hitler's frustration is made clear by one of his own stories. One of his jobs at home was to protect the
family garden from neighboring chickens. Adolf found it "irritating" that when he chased them away
they came back again. "When I was a child," he would later recollect, "my parents had a little garden in
Leonding. Our neighbor insisted on letting her hens forage in our garden. One day I loaded a shot-gun
and blazed off at them."* The neighbor undoubtedly complained to the authorities and the incident was
never forgotten by Hitler. Years later he would state that the legal way was to capture and hold the hens
until damages were paid.*
15

After he returned to school in the Fall of 1901, and began repeating the year he had failed, things
improved. The shock of his brother's death had subsided and he returned to some of his old ways. By
keeping his distance from those "persons of quality," he found his place. Because of his brashness, and
because he was now older than most of his classmates, many began to look up to him and he became a
little leader again.* His grades improved and his twelve year old mind began to be shaped by the
beliefs of his day. The ideals impressed upon the young Hitler during this period would dominate his
thinking till the day he died. See Appendix B (Influences That Shaped the Young Hitler).
Alois wanted Adolf to follow in his footsteps and become a civil servant for the Austrian government.
Adolf, on the other hand, was opposed to it. Building upon the child's instinct to rival the father and a
doting mother to protect or console him, Adolf's rebellious attitude toward his father increased. His
sister Paula would later state: "When Mother said anything he obeyed, and when Father said anything
he was against it."* Adolf admitted to his father that he did not want to follow in his footsteps. The
conflict between father and son intensified. "Adolf," his sister also remarked, "challenged my father ...
and... got a sound thrashing everyday. He was a scrubby little rogue, and all attempts of father to thrash
him for his rudeness and cause him to crave the profession of an official of the state were in vain. How
often on the other hand did my mother caress him and try to obtain with her kindness, where the father
could not succeed with harshness!"*
Neither mother nor father succeeded for Adolf had other ideas. Adolf's teachers and classmates noticed
that he had an above average ability in drawing. He was very adept at drawing geometric or
architectural structures. He could amaze his classmates by drawing from memory buildings which they
would recognize before he was finished. Some of his early works still survive and show the crude but
budding talent of an untrained child. Adolf nourished the idea of becoming an artist. When he revealed
this to his father it only aggravated the bad feelings already there.
Caught in that awkward period between the passing of childhood and the coming of adolescence, Adolf
still led his Indian braves against the opposing forces. "When we children played 'Red Indians,'" his
sister later related "my brother Adolf was always the leader. All the others did what he told them; they
must have had an instinct that his will was stronger."* He learned to throw a lasso and so occasionally
switched sides.
During this period Adolf also acquired the habit of reading since his father had a small library. Adolf's
mind was fired by the exploits of the Norwegian Arctic explorer and oceanographer, Fridtjof Nansen
(1922 Nobel Peace Prize winner), and also the Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin, who had recently
traversed the ancient silk routes from Russia, through Tibet to Peking.*
"One Christmas," Hitler would later state, "I was given a beautiful illustrated edition [of Defoe's
Robinson Crusoe]." He found it unmatched in "desert-island stories. He also read Don Quixote, Uncle
Tom's Cabin, and Gulliver's Travels, all of which he later hailed as "universal works."* His favorite
stories, however, were still tales of the American west and he read all he came across.*
16

One day a friend of Adolf's found him reading Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. He told Adolf that
the "westerns" of Karl May (who lived in Linz around this time)* where much better. Adolf took his
advice. May, whose stories of the wild American west won him a huge German audience, soon became
his favorite author. He compared May to Jules Verne. "I was carried away," Hitler would later say. "I
went on to devour at once the other books by the same author."*
Although May never saw America he produced dozens of wild and rowdy stories of trappers, hunters,
cowboys and Indians. Like the late 19th century American "dime novels," May's stories were filled
with tales of adventure and violence. His swashbuckling hero, Old Shatterhand, was a white American
who fought the red men and his ruthlessness was always described with admiration. Old Shatterhand
liked to quote the Bible to show he was perfectly justified in killing his enemies.* As a balance to Old
Shatterhand and the white man, there were the noble Apaches and their resolute chief, Winnetou. Adolf
was deeply impressed with the character of Winnetou and nearly forty years later would state that
Winnetou had always been his "model of a noble spirit."* May's stories were snatched up by millions
of readers and a generation of German youths adored his work. Boys like Albert Einstein and Albert
Schweitzer (1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner) were loyal May fans.* Even girls, like Eva Braun, read
May.*
Around this time, Adolf read in one of those stories that it was a sign of courage not to show pain, and
decided never to cry again when his father whipped me. He claimed years later that his resolve worked.
Whether for that reason or not, the thrashing stopped and his father never touched him again.
One day Adolf found some literature in his father's library about Germany's defeat of France in 1871.
He also read about the Boer War in South Africa (which was then drawing to an end)
where the British were crushing resistance by burning farms and sticking Boer
families in concentration camps. Adolf's imagination was fired by the
stories of the military battles. He was soon leading his "Boers" against the British,* or
his "Prussian troops" against the French. His "favorite playground," as he called it,
was the historic fortifications (top left) between the Danube River and the Roman
Road at Linz (bottom left).*

One of his classmates would later remark: "We were always playing at war – war games endlessly.
Most of us got sick of it, but Hitler always managed to find some who would play with him, usually
younger boys."* Another commented: "He was more alert than the other boys, and in their games it
was he who used his wits to best advantage....and he was always the leader."* Another playmate
stated: "Once through sheer carelessness, we started a forest fire. We tried to stamp it out and when we
found we couldn't, we ran off. Adolf kept dinning into us not to tell anyone, otherwise, he said, we
would all be thrashed and put in jail. Finally the fire brigade from Linz had to deal with it."*
After repeating the year he had failed Adolf was promoted. He would earn decent grades in most
subjects when he returned to school in the fall, but his grades would never reach the level they had
17

before his brother's death. Like many students, he did not like mathematics and never mastered the
technicalities of written languages. His grades in Mathematics were poor, and he received below
average marks in both written and spoken German. Surprisingly he also received below average grades
in Free Hand Drawing even though his teachers reported that he was "fluent" in the subject; but, his
grades in geometrical drawing were above average. As in his first year he was failing French. His
grades in conduct, on the other hand, were usually "good." Hitler would later blame his bad grades
during this period on his habit of reading material not concerned with school activities.* Because his
father expected better grades, the friction between them continued.
Although Alois, well into his sixties now, still "scolded and bawled" at Adolf and threatened to "bash"
him, Alois' "bark," as before, was worst than his bite. Acquaintances stated he "never touched" Adolf
during these later years and that "the boy stood in awe of him."* Apparently Alois had returned to his
mellowed ways for witnesses stated that he was always cheerful and good company. He seems to have
had his sentimental moments and in one of his surviving letters inquires about purchasing two beehives
he built years earlier on the Hafeld farm "as a memento of my activities there."* Adolf Hitler would
always speak of his father without malice and even remember times when his father joked with him.
Years later he would remark:
The expression 'officer of the civil authority,'...reminds me of my father. I used
occasionally to say to him: 'Father just think...' He used immediately to
interrupt me: 'My son, I have no need to think, I'm an official.'*

Klara, who was always considered "a real nice women,"* was often seen on school mornings walking
Paula to the gate and giving her a kiss in parting. Open affection was not a common trait among the
Germans in the area and the Hitler children were the envy of some of their peers.* "My mother," Hitler
would recall years later, "lived for her husband and children."* Although Klara attended church every
Sunday with the children, Alois attended only on the Emperor's birthday. On the other hand, Alois
continued to be involved with social issues and met at informal gatherings at a local inn and even
joined a singing group. He was content, and though he had been bothered by a lung aliment for some
time, appeared in good health.
When Adolf was almost fourteen, his father then 66, died unexpectedly of a lung hemorrhage (Jan. 3,
1903). The funeral was held a few days later in the church opposite their home. Relations from Spital,
old friends from the customs service, and nearly everyone in the village of Leonding, included the
mayor, attended. Alois was laid to rest on the other side of the stone wall. Although Adolf had his
differences with his father, he considered him a "man of honor" and was "deeply bereaved."*
The Linz Tagespost, the largest paper in Upper Austria, gave Alois a lengthy obituary referring to his
cheerfulness, energetic civil sense, his authority on bee-keeping and noted that he "was able to [speak]
authoritatively on any matter that came to his notice." Alois, "at all times an energetic champion of law
and order," was praised as a "good man" and "friend of song." They forgave him for his occasional
harsh words and stated: "Hitler's passing has left a great gap."*
18

Whether his father's death was the triggering element or not, by this time Adolf lost complete faith in
the teaching of the church. "Since my fourteenth year," he would later say, "I have felt liberated from
the superstition that the priests used to teach."* Around this time a teacher/priest asked Adolf if he said
his prayers. Adolf replied: "No, sir, I don't say prayers. Besides, I don't see how God could be interested
in the prayers of a secondary school boy."*
Ironically, Adolf's grandfather ( Klara's father), had died the previous January. After watching his
brother, grandfather and now father buried during three of the last four winters, Adolf not only turned
away from his religion, but also began to develop a distaste for the colder months and never again
enjoyed winter activities. Although he knew how to snow-ski, he gave it up around this time and never
skied again.* "I've always detested snow," he would later state, "I've always halted it."*
Klara received about 80% of her husband's income in pensions for her and the children. Because of her
frugality, the material life style of the family was not affected. They lived within the lower fringes of
the middle class (petty bourgeoisie). They lived "quietly and decently -- unnoticed little people in an
out-of-the-way town."*
Klara allowed Adolf to room at Linz during school days to avoid the three mile trip to school everyday.
She hoped his grades would improve – they didn't. The landlady of the boarding-house, Frau Sekira
(and the five other boys at the Kostplatz), stated that although Adolf appeared ill at ease at times, he
was polite, well-behaved and spent most of his free time drawing and reading.*
Adolf never became close friends with any of the five boys who shared the lodging. His experiences
the previous year with class prejudices caused him to keep his distance from those who considered him
an outsider or one from the peasants. In German there are two common forms of "you;" Sie (formal)
and du (familiar). Du, at the time, was only to be used among close friends of equal status. The young
Adolf, in an apparent defiant gesture, refused to address certain classmates by du since they obviously
did not consider him their equal.* As one of the boys would later state: "None of the five other boys
made friends with him. Whereas we schoolmates naturally called one another du, he addressed us as
Sie, and we also said Sie to him and did not even think there was anything odd about it."* As Adolf
Hitler would later state: "In my youth, I was rather a loner and didn’t feel the need to be part of a
group."* The peasants at this time furthermore, finding the word Sie too formal, frequently used the
word "ihr" to address outsiders. Hitler may also have been proclaiming to those boys of "quality" that
he was not a peasant.
One of Klara's sisters, Theresia, was married to a farmer named Schmidt whose farm at Spital consisted
of woods and fields. After Adolf completed his school year, Klara, Angela, Paula and Adolf spent most
of the summer on the Schmidt farm. The Schmidts had two young children and Adolf's Grandmother
(Klara's mother) also lived there. Adolf would spend the next four summers there. Although he
occasionally helped out with some of the farm chores, he avoided the tedium of field work. He spent
most of his time reading, drawing and playing with the Schmidt children.
19

During this period the family heard from Alois Jr. who had gotten himself into trouble with the law
again. He had been sentenced to eight months imprisonment for theft. He appears to have gotten out of
jail and was finding it hard to make ends meet. He wrote Klara appealing for financial help. Adolf
supposedly intercepted the letter and, no doubt remembering the pain Alois Jr. had brought to the
household during his younger brothers death, is reported to have written back: "To steal and to be
caught means that you are not even a good thief. In that case my advice is to go hang yourself."*
Since a student was expected to maintain a "satisfactory" grade in certain subjects Adolf had to take a
special examination in Mathematics before entering his third year. Once back in school he got along
with most of his classmates and like all boys participated in sports, indulged in pranks, and planned a
trip around the world. He tried to make contact with girls by making funny faces at them or carrying
their packages,* but he was shy around girls his age and was unable to carry on a sustained
conversation. His grades remained about the same. As would be expected, some of his teachers liked
him, others had no opinion, and some disliked him. He, on the other hand, disliked most of his teachers
and admired others. He would later pay particular praise to one of his history teachers who, as he put it,
"carried us away with the splendor of his eloquence....and who evoked historical facts out of the fog of
the centuries and turned them into living reality."*
On Sept 14, 1903, Adolf's half sister, Angela who was now twenty, married a young assistant tax
inspector from Linz named Leo Raubal. This was an unpleasant time for the fourteen year old Adolf
who was close to Angela and saw her leaving as another terrible event. Adolf never got along with
Angela's husband who made fun of Adolf's idea of becoming an artist or painter and thought that he
should become a civil servant as his father had wanted. Also, because of Adolf's admiration of the
Germans of Germany, Leo's position with the Austrian government further alienated them.
By the time Adolf Hitler was fifteen he was a committed outspoken German Nationalist. During this
period a youth movement began sweeping Germany and Austria. It was a movement which gloried in
the coming of a mystical nationalism led by a powerful Fuhrer (leader) who would lead the Volk
(common people) to world prominence. The movement is normally referred to as volkisch which is
somewhat defined as a racial community tied together by deep spiritual and cultural views fortified by
a legendary past (many early American Indian tribes would understand its appeal). The movement
taught that man must become a part of something greater than himself and emphasized the whole of the
Volk over the individual. The movement appealed to many Germans since they, for the most part, have
always looked for a strong leader to point them in the right direction. Many saw the ideal state as one
patterned after the model of the family with a strong father/leader figure.
The work of the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-9O) did much to advance the idea.
His discoveries of Troy on the shores of Turkey, and the ancient burial sights of the great "Aryan Greek
heroes" in Mycenae, led to a rage of interest in ancient life which did much to promote the idea of
militarism and the warrior in the German speaking world. The young Adolf was greatly impressed by
20

these discoveries and came to believe that the "Hellenic spirit" ("and German technology") was the
dominant reason for the great advances in Europe and the Near East.
Hitler took his nationalism seriously and like those around him was prone to generalities. Slogans like,
"German boy, do not forget that you are a German," and "German maid, remember that you are to be a
German mother,"* were heard by almost every Austrian child. Like adolescents today who take pride in
their heritage, religion or ethnic affiliations (which subtly teach them to believe in their superiority),
Adolf believed the teaching and racism of his time. Because of his light brown hair at the time, and
blue eyes, he considered himself an "old German," as compared to others who, as an example, had been
"Latinized" by their neighbors to the south. He once remarked to a schoolmate that the boy was not an
"old German" because he had dark hair and dark eyes.* Most of Adolf's classmates, nevertheless, liked
him at school or play and would later state that he wasn't a fanatic and was better than most boys. One
stated that he was brave, likable, and not a hothead but a "quiet extremist" who tried to be agreeable.
Another felt that Adolf was "no more [nationalistic] than we all were."*
A few of Adolf's teachers disagreed. By the time he entered his third year of high school, he had
become the typical spoiled, independent minded teenager. "We pupils of the old Austria were brought
up to respect old people and women," he would later state; "but on our professors we had no mercy;
they were our natural enemies."* Although one of his teachers stated that he left neither a favorable
nor an unfavorable impression, others claimed that he was a spoiled, stubborn boy who talked back to
them, failed to show them any respect, or played pranks on them.
In one of the pranks, Adolf knew that a teacher was going to instruct the students to stand and then
divide the class down the center. Half were to proceed to one side of the room while the other half
proceeded to the other side to conduct a lesson. Adolf, with a couple friends, organized the students and
convinced them to go to the opposite side of the room. The confusion that resulted was paramount and
Hitler would gleefully remember years later that the teacher "danced with indignation, exclaiming that
the students became more and more stupid with every year."*
In another case, there was one teacher who did not uphold the national ideal of a united German people
and believed strongly in a great Austria. Adolf enjoyed irritating the teacher by waving pencils of black,
red and gold (the colors of Greater Germany) when he had a question. Adolf and his classmates were
delighted when the teacher would bellow: "Put those horrible colors away immediately." This teacher
had a female relative who kept a little shop a few doors down from the school. Adolf and his friends
visited her one day and asked to see women's bloomers, corsets and other under garments which they
knew she didn't stock. When the embarrassed lady told them that she did not stock such items, Adolf
and his friends left the shop while putting on airs of indignation and "complaining in loud voices."*
One of Adolf's friends, "a real scamp," as Hitler called him, used to blow kisses at the younger nuns
who lived in a convent near the school. One day a senior nun, "an old prude" as Adolf called her,
complained to the head of the school, and Adolf, who undoubtedly followed his friends lead, got into
more trouble. In the presence of higher authority Adolf promised to change his ways and admitted
21

years later that if it hadn't been for a few teachers who acted on his behalf the "affair would have ended
badly for me."*
Good intentions bore little fruit, and as Hitler would later remark: "I couldn't help it."* He was soon
involved in other pranks. In addition, both Klara and Paula attended church every Sunday, but after
Alois' death, Adolf attended only for weddings and funerals. (In spite of this, on May 22, 1904, he was
confirmed at the Linz Cathedral. It was obvious to everyone present that he was against the
confirmation and only went through with it to please his mother. On the ride back to Leonding he was
almost rude to his sponsors who went to considerable expense to stand for him. Back at home, a group
of Adolf's playmates were waiting for him and he soon dashed off among a chorus of Indian war
hoots.*)
Naturally, such continued "bad conduct" was not to be tolerated. When it was found that Adolf was the
prime organizer behind many of these indiscretions (and also a bad Christian no doubt), his mother was
called to the school.
Because of his reputation as an organizer and ringleader, Adolf was not allowed back to his school after
completing his third year. As Adolf's German and French teacher, Professor Huemer, would later
testify:
Hitler was certainly gifted, although only for particular subjects, but he lacked
self-control and, to say the least, he was considered argumentative, autocratic,
self-opinionated and bad-tempered, and unable to submit to school discipline.
Nor was he industrious; otherwise he would have achieved much better results,
gifted as he was.*

Klara was forced to transfer her son to a different school that year. Adolf was enrolled in the state High
School in the charming town of Steyr for his final year.
Although it was the closest alternative, Adolf's new school was twenty-five miles away. Klara had him
boarded at the home of a local family named Cichini who lived on the Grunmarkt.* This was the first
time in Adolf's life that he was truly separated from his mother. At the school in Linz he could come
home to be consoled or comforted if he had a problem. At Steyr, he could return only on weekends. In
addition, at the age of fifteen when most boys need the companionship of others and have carved out
their place among their peers, Adolf had to adjust to a new environment where he was considered a real
outsider. He knew no one, was terribly unhappy, and had trouble adjusting.* He also faced a new
curriculum and his grades during the first semester plunged.
By the second half of the year he learned to fit in and made friends with a few boys. One, a boy named
Sturmlechner who had artistic ability, drew him in profile. Adolf also made friends with the boy who
shared his room and although years later he could not remember the boys last name he had no trouble
remembering that his first name was Gustav. By the end of the school year he was able to bring his
grades up. He failed Geometry however, and had to repeat an examination which resulted in a passing
22

grade. (It appears that he was permitted to take the reexamination before returning home to Linz.) In
July of 1905, when Adolf was 16, he completed his last year of Mittelschule (equivalent to high school
in the US). See Appendix C (Hitler’s Report Card).
Accordingly, he received his grade completion Certificate, but he did not graduate. In Austria, the
completing and promoting of a grade did not entitle one to a diploma. Adolf was required to return later
that year and take a "final examination."
After receiving their grade completion certificate, Adolf and a few friends decided to celebrate the
occasion, as well as the beginning of the summer holidays.* As he would later tell an acquaintance:
"We went out on the sly to a country inn where we drank and had a high old time."* The party
continued into the night. Adolf got so drunk he didn't remember anything till the next morning when he
was awakened along the road from Steyr to Garsten by a milkmaid.* He made his way to his rooming
house and after he took a bath, Mrs. Cichini gave him a cup of coffee and asked if he received his
Certificate. For the first time he realized it was missing. "Just what happened I didn't know," he would
later remark, "I had to piece things together." He learned that he had torn his Certificate into four pieces
and used it for toilet paper while he was drunk. "Heavens," he said to Mrs. Cichini, "I've got to have
something to show to my mother!"* Knowing that the passing Certificate would greatly please his
mother, he returned to the school and attempted to obtain a duplicate. The principal of the school had
been informed of the drinking and toilet paper incident and gave Adolf a sound scolding about his
behavior which left him, as he put it: "humiliated."* A duplicate Certificate was apparently not issued
until the 16th of September. Adolf was so embarrassed that he swore to Mrs. Cichini that he would
never drink again.* It is seldom in this world that a youth will carry through his pledges made at 16
years old, but it was the only time in Adolf Hitler's life he ever got drunk. If there was ever a drink in
front of him in the future, it was just for social reasons or to show he was one of the boys, he seldom
finished it.
It is unknown what Adolf told his mother when he returned home in July. Klara, despite all, was
delighted with her son's achievement and saw him as a conquering hero.* To have her only surviving
son complete high school was one of the great moments in Klara's life. There was no doubt in her mind
that he would prevail in his final examination and go on to a higher education at a technical institute or
a realschule for the advanced. A diploma also entitled a pupil to a state grant enabling him to enter an
officer cadet training college if he chose.*
About the time Adolf returned from Steyr, Klara moved the family to Linz. She had sold the house in
Leonding the previous month for 10,000 kronen. The initial purchase price had been 7,700 kronen and
with the equity built up over a period of seven years, on a ten year mortgage, only 2520 kronen was
owed. After setting aside 1304 kronen for Paula's and Adolf's future, she ended up with over 5500
kronen after taxes.* To have her stepdaughter and confidante Angela living nearby, Klara rented a third
floor (4th in US) apartment in a new, attractive building on Humbold Strasse not far from the Danube
23

River. The apartment was small but Adolf got his own little room where he set up his painting
equipment.
1st Linz home
The move to Humbold street appealed to the sixteen year old Adolf. The Hitler's
new apartment was in a prime residential area of Linz and most of the apartment
buildings were three, four and five storied. Some of the buildings had shops on
the ground floor and with the addition of sidewalk vendors during the day, the
street hummed with activity. A ten or fifteen minute walk in any direction would place one in front of,
or in the midst of, any number of technological, artistic or cultural sites. Adolf was finally able to cast
off the stigma of being associated with the peasants. With the exception of Braunau as his birth place,
he seldom would acknowledged in the future that he grew up anywhere but in Linz.
As in the previous summers, Adolf stayed with his younger cousins on the Spital farm. The days of
cowboys and Indians were behind him and he became listless and uncommunicative. He continued to
read, draw, paint and, like many teenagers, dabble in poetry. The Schmidt children noticed the change
and teased him because he would no longer play with them. They were delighted when Adolf would
angrily chase after them. During the summer Adolf developed, as his father had, a lung infection. He
lost weight and took on a lanky appearance.
Shortly before he was to return home, and then on to Steyr for his final school examination, he suffered
a severe lung hemorrhage. He became weak and pale and began coughing blood. The attending doctor,
Karl Keiss from the nearby village of Weitra, predicted a slow recovery and thought that Adolf might
"never be healthy after this sickness."* According to the Schmidt children, Klara tenderly nursed her
son back to health. Every morning she awakened him with a glass of warm milk and made him drink it.
The family remained on the farm till Adolf was well enough to travel.*
With Adolf back home recuperating under the watchful eye of his doting and anxious mother, he
missed his examination and never bothered to obtain his diploma. He knew his poor showing during
the last year would probably bring failure and he would have to return for additional studies. That was
the last thing he wanted. At sixteen his anti-establishment attitude, that so many teenagers go through,
was in high gear. He was caught up in the rebellious youth movement of the turn of the century which
rejected many of the social norms.
Divorce, at the beginning of the twentieth century – like abortion at the close – was one of the great
challenges to state and religious institutions. Adolf got caught up in the fervor of his time. As his
health improved he joined a pro-divorce organization to help, as he stated, "spread the truth amongst
the public”* about wives who, because of the law, could never separate from callous husbands. He also
rejected the idea of settling down to a steady bread and butter job or, the other accepted alternative,
pursuing a military career (he would have needed a diploma for that). He began in earnest to believe
that he could become an artist through his own ability and that he would never need a high school
diploma.
24

He began spending much of his time painting in oils or water colors and filling his sketch book with the
drawings that most sixteen year old aspiring artists are noted for. He also copied, with meticulous care,
pictures, paintings, or postcards, sometimes making many copies of the same picture till he got it
exactly the way he wanted it. His surviving drawings and paintings from this period, including a water
color of Postlingberg Castle near Linz, another titled Camel Boy, and a drawing of a cavalier, show that
for an untrained boy he had artistic ability.
That Fall, a boy named Hagmuller from Leonding began attending the high school in Linz. Since it was
too far for the boy to travel home for lunch, his father, a baker who knew Klara, arranged for the boy to
have his midday meal at the Hitler's apartment in Linz. Hagmuller would continue to have his noon
meal at the Hitlers for almost two years.
Hagmuller was almost four years younger than the sixteen year old Adolf, but despite their age
difference they became good friends. "Often when we were at the table," Hagmuller would later
remark, "[Adolf] would take a sheet of paper and make a quick sketch of some building, column,
archway, window, or whatever occurred to him."* Hagmuller also observed Adolf painting in water
colors and oils. There was one still-life he observed which Adolf took "special pains" in doing. Adolf
also did a silhouette of Hagmuller sitting in an armchair. Adolf, as did his father, enjoyed singing and
Hagmuller would later recall: "I can still see the weakly lad pacing up and down the room singing."*
Ironically, although Adolf didn't want to attend any more school he had an insatiable appetite for
knowledge on subjects that interested him. He developed into a voracious reader. He spent much of his
time reading a great number of books he was able to borrow from the many private libraries in the city.
He also joined the city's Museum Society.
Around this time he began to take a deep interest in the city's architecture. One building
that sparked his interest was Martinskirche which is one of the oldest churches in Austria.
Saint Martin's Church was built in the 8th century on foundations constructed by the
Romans who recognized the strategic importance of Linz which commanded both the
Danube valley and the former salt routes coming down the Traun valley. Adolf's mind was fired with
the thought that St. Martins builder was none other than Charlemagne, one of the greatest of European
conquerors who attempted to unite Europe by force. Both the French and the Germans claimed Charles
the Great as their own. Adolf considered him one of the greatest men in world history.
Although most of Adolf's reading tended to be informative or instructive he did read novels.* With the
exception of adventure stories which he read for enjoyment, he seldom read popular novels which had
not stood the test of time and wisely read classics. Occasionally he did read novels that were in vogue,
a friend would later state, "but in order to form a judgment of those who read them rather than of the
books themselves."*
He spent his time away from home attending the local concerts and, since movies had not yet come into
their own, the theater and opera. Opera seats at the local (Landes-) Theater were fairly expensive so
25

Adolf usually purchased tickets that entitled him to a "cheap seat in the top gallery,"* or cheaper still, a
standing spot.

3: Friends and Loves

Linz Opera House

While at the opera one evening Adolf Hitler met August Kubizek who was to
become one of his best friends.
Practicing frugality, Kubizek and Hitler often used to arrive early at the
Landestheater to get a good standing place. They began competing with one
another for one of the two columns which supported the Royal box. The wooden columns offered the
luxury of something to lean against during the sometimes lengthy performances.* In time they
recognized one another and became acquainted.
Kubizek was nine months older than Hitler and was a mild-mannered and sensitive youth with a look
of intelligence. He was the son of a small businessman and lived above his father's upholstery shop in
the family quarters on Klamm Strasse, not far from where Adolf Hitler lived. He was determined to be
a renowned musician. At the time he could already play the piano, violin, trumpet and trombone and
was studying music theory. He also played the viola for the local Music Society and the Symphony
Orchestra. When he wasn't pursuing his dream he worked in his father's shop refinishing furniture.
Kubizek noted that "Adolf," because of his recent sickness, was a pale and skinny youth. But what
captured his main attention was Adolf's glistening eyes and curious hairdo which was combed straight
down over his forehead. Kubizek found that Adolf, like rebellious teenagers in every generation, wore
26

his curious hairdo because no one else did. Kubizek, an only child, was one of those protected
teenagers who have an adoration of the rebellious and "admiration" was his strongest point in
cultivating a friendship. As Kubizek would write: "It was this very fact, that he was out of the ordinary,
that attracted me even more."*
As their friendship matured, Hitler never addressed Kubizek by August but called him Gustl or Gustav,
which had been the name of Hitler's oldest deceased brother. Kubizek in reality played the part of an
idolizing younger brother. Hitler was extremely independent and it often happened that they did not
meet for days even when they were on the best of terms.*
Although "Gustl" found Adolf high-strung, he also found him reserved. Hitler was formal and aloof in
his dealings with others and was insistent on "good manners and correct behavior."* Unusual for a
teenager, Hitler seldom became overly friendly and there were few teenagers his age that he liked. He
had nothing but disdain for young people who wasted their time in shallow talk and mundane pursuits.
He considered most teenagers superficial for he was, as Kubizek said, much more mature than most
people of his age.
Walking was the only exercise that appealed to Hitler* and he and Kubizek often took long walks
around the town or hiked into the nearby woods. They had their favorite trails and their favorite
swimming hole. On these excursions, a walking stick was the only requirement and Adolf would wear a
colored shirt and (in place of the normal necktie) “a silk cord with two tassels hanging down."*
Kubizek was particularly amazed by Adolf's refined speech which made him very persuasive, even
with grown-ups. Kubizek was always astonished at how, when they were alone, Hitler could rant on
about a particular subject and get himself worked up; yet, when dealing with others he kept calm and
had an air of reasonableness. Hitler was normally polite to people, was not vain, and could be very
sensitive if he felt someone was unhappy or sick. Kubizek also wrote that Adolf helped him through
difficult times and always have time for people he liked.* Hitler was well-liked and respected by
almost everyone he met.*
Kubizek was also awed by the seriousness and wide range of knowledge Hitler showed for one as
young as he was. While most teenage boys interests are mainly confined to sports, comradeship and
embellished stories or beliefs concerning the opposite sex, Hitler's interests were boundless. He was
interested in agriculture, city planning, mythology, history, politics, and world events, including air
travel. The Wright bothers had flown their heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk a few years before and
Hitler was very impressed. He was interested in everything, Kubizek noted, and wasn't indifferent
about anything.*
Kubizek would come to write a book about his experiences with the young Hitler. If the portents in
retrospect and the occasional melodramatic moments are overlooked, he describes Hitler as a fairly
normal teenager with an inquiring mind. Since many historians like to portray the young Hitler as
unbalanced, ignorant, lazy, and stupid, a few have attempted to discredit Kubizek anytime he portrays
27

the young Hitler in a decent light. Paula Hitler, however (who was about the only acquaintance who
never tried to capitalize on her brother's name), stated that as a teenager Adolf had opinions about
everything and constantly read. She also stated that he often used to give persuasive lectures on themes
concerning history and politics to her and her mother.* (Paula, equal to her mother, was a quiet, docile
and honest woman. She took a back seat to her brother when still a child and remained there all her life.
She kept house for him during the "good" years and later learned applied art and led an obscure life in
Vienna. She never married and spent the last years of her life living in the area of Berchtesgaden--her
brother's last home. She died on June 1, 1960* almost unnoticed or unmourned.)
As Kubizek further described Hitler: "There was an incredible earnestness in him, a thoroughness, a.
true passionate interest in everything that happened and, most important, an unfailing devotion to the
beauty, majesty and grandeur of art."* Because of their common knowledge in theater, painting,
architecture, writing, poetry, and especially music and opera, they became fairly close friends and
Hitler confided in Kubizek.
Hitler told Kubizek his dream of becoming a painter; "my beautiful dream of the future," as he referred
to it. When Kubizek saw Hitler's room for the first time, it reminded him of an "architect's office."
Although Hitler painted landscapes and many other subjects, most of his works tended to be
architectural structures. One of his hobbies was drawing or painting the finer buildings of Linz and
making changes in their design. His favorite buildings were of the Italian Renaissance style and his
favorite building was the Landesmuseum which he considered "one of the peak achievements in
German architecture."* The richly ornamented gate and the hundred meter long sculptured panel
above the main floor never ceased to impress him. Kubizek and Hitler would take long walks around
the city and Hitler would often stop to look over one building or another. "There he stood," Kubizek
would later write, "this pallid, skinny youth, with the first dark brown showing on his upper lip, in his
shabby pepper-and-salt suit, threadbare at the elbows and collar, with his eyes glued to some
architectural detail, analyzing the style, criticizing or praising the work, disapproving of the material--
all this with such thoughtfulness and such expert knowledge as though he were the builder and would
have to pay for every shortcoming out of his own pocket."*
According to Kubizek, some art lovers in Linz founded a society to promote the construction of a new
theater. Hitler joined the society and "took part in a competition for ideas."* Hitler also made detailed
drawings of the city's layout, showing how it could be improved and beautified. Adolf, Kubizek wrote,
"could never walk the streets without being provoked by what he saw."* On more than one occasion
Hitler noted that this or that building "shouldn't be here"* because it distracted from a view or did not
"fit into its surroundings."* Kubizek would later write that Adolf's ideas were not "sheer fantasy, but a
well-disciplined, almost systematic process."*
Hitler always had a secluded spot outside of town where he could be alone. One spot was a bench along
a winding trail (Turmleitenweg), and another, when he really wanted to be alone, was a large,
overhanging rock perched high above the Danube near by. Here he could think and cultivate his plans
28

and ideas, including one, way ahead of its time, to turn Wildberg Castle (north of Linz) into an "open-
air museum."* This "island where the centuries had stood still," (Adolf's very words according to
Kubizek)* was to have a permanent population of men, women and children in medieval costumes
demonstrating their crafts and trades. Hitler thought the castle would serve as a place of study for all
those who wanted to learn about life as it was lived in the Middle Ages. And, it could pay for itself by
charging admission to tourists.
Hitler also nurtured ideas of becoming a poet, writer or playwright.** Kubizek was enormously
impressed by some of Hitler's poems. There was one, a sonnet, that Hitler attempted to extend into a
play. That Hitler "devoted himself to writing, poetry, drawing, painting and to going to the theater," had
Kubizek's complete admiration.* Another thing that impressed Kubizek was Hitler's complete self-
assurance that one day he would become famous.
In time they came to dream about their success and how they would either build their own villa or
renovate a large flat where struggling "lofty minded" artists with talent could come and find shelter.
Hitler made numerous sketches of the proposed villa. On the other hand, if they opted for the flat, they
proposed to rent the entire second floor of a huge building adjoining the Nibelungen Bridge which
crossed the Danube between Linz and the suburb of Urfahr.* They bought a lottery ticket and dreamed
about how they would spend it furnishing their new abode if they won. Their plan was to find a refined
and distinguished older woman to serve as host, and two other "females" to serve as cook and
housemaid.* The women were to be of impeccable character since, at this point of their lives, they had
high ideals concerning women.
As was usual for most sixteen and seventeen year olds of their day, both Hitler and Kubizek kept their
distance from young women. "Flirtations" were out of the question and even a conversation with a
young girl, outside the necessary everyday dealings, was rare. To further complicate their situation,
Kubizek noted that Hitler, like himself, was very shy around young women and although interested,
found it difficult to communicate with them. They were caught between that unrelenting biological
urge to reproduce and the fear of the unknown. Rather then admit their fears they consoled themselves,
as Kubizek noted, in waiting for that “sacred” virgin that would lead to marriage and children.*
Kubizek also noted that Hitler was a night person. If he wanted to think or something was bothering
him, he would take lengthy night walks to the outskirts of the city and now and then climb the nearby
hills on the west side of town. If he wasn't thinking he would paint or read late into the night. He
seldom rose early except when absolutely necessary. Hitler was aware that early risers see themselves
as superior to late risers, but he never tried to hide his sleeping habits. (Since he was known to be aware
of Mark Twain's writings, it's possible that he knew about Twain's comment that he never went to bed
as long as he had someone to talk to, and he never got up early unless it was "damn important.")
Kubizek noted that anytime Adolf was up early in the morning, something had to be "very special." If
Adolf slept too late, however, Klara would send the younger Paula to wake him with the words, "go
29

and give him a kiss."* Adolf, who hated to be kissed or hugged, would jump out of bed the moment
his sister got near him.
As their friendship continued, Kubizek would find that Hitler would sometimes become impatient or
angry when someone disagreed with him. Kubizek took great care not to clash with Adolf and always
yielded except on musical matters. Nonetheless, their relationship was an on-and-off thing, sometimes
lasting for weeks. Kubizek would acknowledge that there were times he thought his friendship with
Adolf was over, but they would meet by chance, usually at a concert, and patch up their differences.*
Around this time the Hitler family began seeing a new doctor named Eduard Bloch. He described
"Adolf" as a "well mannered," "neat," "obedient boy" who would "bow...courteously" whenever they
met. He found Adolf to be "neither robust nor sickly" but "'frail looking'" with "large, melancholy and
thoughtful....gray-blue eyes....inherited from his mother." Dr. Bloch, like Kubizek, also described
Adolf as a "quiet," and a "well-bred boy of fourteen or fifteen" who was "old for his age."*
Two-and-a-half months before Hitler turned seventeen his grandmother died on Feb, 8, 1906. Klara's
mother had been loved by the whole family which went into deep mourning. For the fourth time in six
winters Hitler saw another close family member laid to rest.
With a school year lost and spring approaching, Hitler began making plans for his future. Klara still had
hopes that her son would take his final test to obtain his diploma and enter a local technical school and
become a civil servant like his father. Adolf, on the other hand, pleaded that sitting in an office wasn't
for him. He saw artists as a better class of society and his dream was to become a great artist, possibly
like one of his three favorites, Rubens, or the moderns: Hans Makart or Anselm Feuerback. He decided
that he wanted to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (known then as the Vienna School of Fine
Arts) that autumn.
A diploma was not necessary for admittance to the academy and he undoubtedly pointed out the good
marks he had received in art during his last year of school. Although not opposed to his studying art,
Klara was strongly opposed to his relocating in Vienna. She had been terribly shaken by his recent
sickness and his frail appearance worried her. He was her only surviving son and she wanted him by
her side. Vienna was a hundred miles away.
For Hitler's seventeenth birthday, Klara gave in to her son's insistence. She gave him enough money for
a vacation in Vienna where he could gather information on the Academy. She did so, however, with the
hope that he would get the idea out of his system and give up his idea of leaving home. Shortly after his
birthday, he arrived in Vienna where, after the blandness of Linz, he was immediately enchanted by the
large metropolis. Klara had misjudged her son. See Appendix D (The Vienna Trip.)

Hitler spent his days sight-seeing and sketching many of Vienna's wonders. He spent most of his
evenings visiting the music halls, theaters, and especially the opera which overwhelmed him when
compared to the caliber of Linz's. Just walking the stairs of the Burg Theater or the State Opera House
30

was enough to make any youth feel he was part of a world of power and grandeur. As he would later
recall: "Never shall I forget the gracious spectacle of the Vienna Opera, the women sparkling with
diadems and fine clothes."*
Hitler sent postcards to his family and friends* including Hagmuller,* Kubizek* and Dr. Bloch,*
voicing his enthusiasm. He returned home more convinced than ever that he wanted to return to Vienna
by late September when admission tests to the academy began.
Although the family finances were adequate, Klara did everything to dissuade him. The love that
mother and son had for each other was obvious to everyone, but the thought of being separated from
her son was unbearable to Klara. She was intent that he should choose a profession which would keep
him at home.
During the family's summer vacation on the farm that Summer, Adolf was hammered with alternative
proposals for pursuing a more sensible career. He became alienated and kept to himself. He whiled
away the hours by drawing in his sketch book, painting, reading or taking long solitary walks. When
the family returned home he was further barraged with suggestions by Angela's husband, Leo. Klara
even had her baker friend and his wife attempt to secure Adolf a position as a baker's apprentice which
he refused. When a neighbor, no doubt at Klara's urging, suggested a position with the postal service,
Adolf answered that he intended to become an artist. Undaunted, Klara continued searching for an
excuse to keep her son at home.
Kubizek had been taking piano lessons from an expensive Polish teacher named Josef Prewatzki.
Around the end of September when Adolf wanted to leave for Vienna, Klara suggested that he join
Kubizek. Klara knew her son occasionally thought about becoming a poet or writer. With his love for
music and the opera she attempted to convince him to study music so he could go on to become a
composer or possibly write operas. Klara's persistence finally paid off. Adolf relented. The relieved
Klara brought him a piano made by Heitzmann-Flugel, whose pianos were among the best in the
world.*
Hitler began piano lessons on October 2, 1906. As with any subject he enjoyed, or found interest in, he
threw himself into it. He never missed a class and paid by the month. According to the teacher, he was
a little timid and was bored easily by finger exercises but he had a good ear for music, practiced his
scales conscientiously and progressed steadily. His sister Paula remembered that he would sit at the
large piano at home for hours practicing.* With the examinations to the art academy over for another
year, life in the Hitler household settled down. Shortly after, the seventeen year old Hitler developed his
first and only teenage crush.* See Appendix E (Hitler’s First Love).
In the Winter of 1906, Hitler and Kubizek attended an opera of Wagner's Rienzi. The story is set in
fourteenth century Rome and tells the story of a man of the people, trying to free them from the
oppression of the upper classes. The privileged make an attempt to kill Rienzi but are overpowered and
after violating their oath of submission are exterminated. Rienzi rises to the position of dictator and in
31

one scene the trumpets blare and the people shout: "Heil, Rienzi. Heil the tribune of the people." Hitler
was completely enthralled by the music and by the character of the rebel Rienzi who had been goaded
to political action after witnessing the death of his younger brother. Rienzi in the end, however, is
stoned and burned to death by those who never really wanted the freedom he offered.
The long opera was not over until after midnight and Hitler, quite out of context, showed a side of his
personality that Kubizek had never seen. After the performance Hitler talked for over an hour about
politics. Like many young thinkers of the lower middle class he was beginning to develop a hard
attitude against the upper echelon--"the social order which made everything dependent on whether or
not you had money," as he put it.* Because of those persons of quality he was first exposed to in high
school, he appears to "have acquired a tenacious 'class consciousness.'"* His turn of mind was no
doubt compounded by the fact that Stefanie and "her society," as he put it, were out of his reach.
Undoubtedly influenced by the writers of the time, the seventeen year old Hitler also began to believe
strongly in destiny. The fact that two of his brothers died before he was born, and another was born and
died after him, caused him to wonder why he was spared. He confided to Kubizek that he believed in
fate and that even he could be called upon someday by the people "to lead them out of servitude to
heights of freedom."* (This at first appears to be one of Kubizek's exaggerations or recollections
borrowed from others (including Mein Kampf), however, Adolf Hitler would tell more than one person
that the "beginning" of his success began the first time he saw the opera Rienzi. It would be hard to
deny that the first time he saw the opera was with Kubizek.) Years later Hitler would comment to
another friend on the story of Rienzi: "Listening to this blessed music as a young man in the theater at
Linz, I had the vision that I too must someday succeed in uniting the German Empire and making it
great once more."* He believed that he was destined for a "special mission."*
In January of 1907 Klara fell ill and doctor Bloch summoned Adolf and Angela for a conference on the
situation. They learned that Klara had breast cancer and her only chance for survival was a serious
operation. Dr. Bloch was touched by Adolf's tears and concern and recognized the strong "attachment
that existed between mother and son."*
Klara entered the hospital in mid January and on Jan 18, 1907, during an operation performed by a
surgeon named Karl Urban, one of her breasts was removed. She had little concern about herself but
was most concerned about her children if she should die. She did not hide from Dr. Bloch that her
gravest concern was for her son. "Adolf is still so young," she said repeatedly to him.* While she
lavished her son with almost everything he wanted, she herself spent the next two and a half weeks
recuperating in a third class ward of the hospital even though she could have afforded better. Adolf
visited her every day.
When Adolf's recuperating mother returned home he, possibly afraid of disturbing her or unable to
concentrate, discontinued his piano practice and lessons. He resumed his painting and drawing. Both
Kubizek and Dr. Bloch (who called and at times administered Klara morphine to relieve her pain)
speak of Adolf's attentiveness to his mother and the fear in his eyes on bad days. Dr. Bloch stated that
32

this was not a pathological relationship, only deep affection between a mother who adored her son and
a son who adored his mother.* As the months passed Klara appeared to have recovered.
2nd Linz home at Urfahr
In May the family moved to a new, two storied apartment building on Bluten
Strasse in the Urfahr district. Here Klara could venture out for walks or do her
shopping without climbing as many stairs.
She now apparently had a change of heart about Adolf's desire to become an artist.* When Klara's
sisters and especially Angela's husband suggested to her that Adolf should give up his artistic desires
and get a job, she now replied: "He is different from us."* Late that summer she withdrew Adolf's
patrimony, now over 700 kronen, and gave it to him along with her blessings to pursue his dream of
becoming a painter.
If Adolf was frugal, the money he received was enough for tuition and living expenses in Vienna for
over a year. In Sept. of 1907 his plans were made to leave for the academy's admission test. Shortly
before his departure Klara's health took a turn for the worse, but examinations for entrance to the
academy were scheduled for Oct. lst and 2nd and he would have to wait another year if he didn't go
then. When Kubizek came to see Adolf off, there were tears all around as Klara, Paula and Adolf bid
farewell. They were aware that once accepted, he would begin classes in a week and he might not
return till the holidays.
When he arrived in Vienna, he rented a single room on Stumper Gasse (Stumper Lane) which was only
a few blocks southwest from the railroad station (Westbahnhof) that served all trains going west. If
word arrived that his mother's health had taken a turn for the worse, he could catch a train and, for a
little over seven Kronen, be back in less than three and a half hours.* See Appemdix F (Artist
Admissions Test)
Along with 51 other candidates, Adolf Hitler was refused admittance to the art Academy. He was
crushed. All his dreams were dashed. The fact that out of 113 original candidates only 28 were
admitted* did not console him. For over a week he roamed the streets of Vienna not knowing what to
do. He then received word that his mother had taken another turn for the worse.
Hitler returned home immediately to be by his mother's side. On October 22nd. he consulted with Dr.
Bloch* and found that Klara was in very serious condition. The operation had occurred too late and the
disease was spreading rapidly. An experimental treatment was attempted which only added to her
suffering. Within a short time she needed constant attention. Her bed was moved to the kitchen/living
room area which was the warmest room in the house. Although Adolf admitted to others that he had
failed to gain admittance to the academy,* he didn't burden his mother with his rejection and assured
her that he was accepted and would become an artist someday.
Klara spent the next two months in constant pain which she bore well believing "that her fate was
God's will."* However, the ever present Adolf according to neighbors, Kubizek, and Dr. Bloch,
33

anguished over her suffering. Although Klara's sister Johanna also helped care for Klara, Adolf took
over as man of the house. He was in constant attendance to his mother and did whatever possible to
make her comfortable. Dressed in his old clothes, he scrubbed floors, helped with the washing, and
cooked her favorite meals which she greatly appreciated. He took charge of his eleven year old sister,
Paula, and even tutored her.
In late November, Klara had a serious relapse. Adolf slept on the couch near her bed and did what he
could to comfort her. He read aloud to her the sentimental novels she loved even though he hated them.
He drew her picture and on some days held her hand for hours on end. As Paula would state years later:
"...my brother Adolf spoiled my mother during this last time of her life with overflowing tenderness.
He was indefatigable in his care for her, wanted to comply with any desire she could possibly have and
did all to demonstrate his great love for her."*
When Kubizek or Dr. Bloch visited they found the normally high strung and proud Adolf quiet, gentle
and apprehensive. If Klara showed any signs of improvement, Dr. Bloch noted, Adolf's eyes would
light up and he would take an optimistic view.* With the holidays approaching a Christmas tree was
placed in the living room in hopes of lifting her spirits.
On Dec 20th. Dr. Bloch made two house calls and saw that the end was near. Kubizek also visited and
saw her lying, weak and barely able to speak. Her thoughts, however, were of her son. When the
distraught Adolf left the room momentarily she managed to whisper to Kubizek: "Go on being a good
friend to my son when I'm no longer here."*
At 2a.m. the following morning, with Adolf at her bedside, Klara, age 47, died in the glow of the
lighted Christmas tree. Adolf was crushed. Dr. Bloch stated: "In all my career I have never seen anyone
so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler."* Two days later, on Christmas Eve, Adolf followed the hearse
which drove to Leonding three miles away. The funeral Mass was held in the small church across the
road from where they used to live and Klara was laid to rest beside her husband.

Graves of Hitler's mother &


father as they rest today.
After everyone else had left, Adolf remained behind at her grave site as though
unable to tear himself away.* Hitler would remember the lighted Christmas tree
in the house and the memory was so bitter for him that he could never again
enjoy Christmas. He hated when it snowed, and was always in an emotional state
around the holidays. For the rest of his life he would usually spend Christmas Eve alone.* Almost
twenty years later he would write in Mein Kampf: "My father I respected, my mother I loved."*
He himself wrote the announcement of the passing away of his "deeply, loved, never-to-be-forgotten
mother."* For the rest of his life he would always have a picture of his mother on his person or nearby,
and whenever the occasion arose would proudly and lovingly show it. Dr. Bloch, who was Jewish,
would later emigrate to the safety of the United States but still refused to repudiate his statements,
including the one that described the young Hitler as "a fine and exemplary son who bore such a deep
34

love and concern for his dear mother which one finds on this globe only in extremely exceptional
cases."* Kubizek, also, in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the psychologists, newsmen, historians in
residence and other persons of quality, who never ceased to degrade the young Hitler as an uncaring
son, would later write: "Adolf really loved his mother. I swear to it before God and man."
As Klara's oldest child, Adolf, under the guidance of his legal guardian, the Mayor of Leonding, Josef
Mayrhofer, took care of all of his mother's personal unfinished business and paid all her debts with the
estate left behind. Surviving documents show that the doctor bill outstanding was 300 kronen while the
funeral and coffin, cost 370 kronen--an extremely large sum for a lower middle class family to pay.
Adolf also gave a part of his inheritance to his stepsister since she and her husband agreed to take on
the responsibility of raising the eleven year old Paula.* He thanked neighbors for their help and even
gave one of his best paintings to a couple who had showed particular loyalty during his mothers
sickness. His legal guardian, Mayrhofer, found the young Hitler's actions "laudable."
Since their father had been a State official, the "orphans" Paula and Adolf were now eligible for 600
Kronen annually between them. Their guardian split the pension down the center. The eighteen year old
Adolf Hitler was to receive 300 kronen a year in monthly payments until he was twenty-four years old
or until he became self-supporting.
Hitler, now armed with a letter of recommendation from his influential landlord (which described
Hitler as a "nice, steadygoing .... serious and ambitious young man ... mature and sensible beyond his
years,"*) decided to return to Vienna. If fortune did not smile on him, he could retake the examination
test to the Art Academy later that year. As "my father had accomplished fifty years before," he would
later write, "I too, wanted to become 'something.'"*
Kubizek also wanted to leave Linz and enter the Academy of Music in Vienna but his father was
against him leaving at the time. Hitler made a trip to Kubizek's house and persuaded the old man to let
him go. Kubizek would follow him shortly. With what was left from his inheritance, Hitler left for
Vienna in mid February 1908, in search of a "special mission."
35

Part II
The Young Man
36

4: Teenage Dreams

On a cold foggy evening in late February 1908, August Kubizek arrived in Vienna. As he stood amidst
the confusion of the railroad station (Westbahnhof), he saw his friend approaching through the crowd.
Hitler was wearing his dark, good quality overcoat and broad-brimmed hat. Already at ease in his new
environment, he wore kid gloves and carried a walking stick with an ivory handle. The slim Adolf,
Kubizek thought, "appeared almost elegant."*
After a warm greeting, they kissed on the cheek in the Austrian manner, they made their way to Hitler's
apartment. After a short walk Hitler stopped in front of an imposing and distinguished building on
Stumper Gasse.

Hitler's 1st Vienna Apartment


With Kubizek on his heels, Hitler entered the arched entrance off to one side,
passed through the more elaborate section of the building, crossed a small
courtyard and entered the humbler rear section of the building. They went up the
polished stone staircase to the "second floor" (3rd in America) and entered a
small room.
This was the same building Hitler had stayed during his attempt to enter the Art Academy a few months
before. The monthly rent was ten kronen and although respectable, it was a no frills establishment in a
lower middle class neighborhood. Hitler's monthly pension of 25 kronen only covered the cost of a
meager diet, so he had to be frugal with what was left of his inheritance. Like most tenement houses it
was infested with bugs and the whole floor, six small apartments, had only one lavatory. After Hitler
cleared away the numerous sketches that lay around his room, he and Kubizek had something to eat.
Although Hitler was still suffering and bitter over his mother's death, he insisted on taking Kubizek on
a tour of the city.
They made their way to the Ringstrasse, the great boulevard (where once stood the city battlements)
which circles the inner city. Hitler's blue eyes blazed excitedly as he pointed out many of the cities
historical landmarks. Just off the Ring was the Art Academy which he still hoped to enter, and not far
away was the Music Conservatory which Kubizek hoped to attend. Like any young man who grows
and matures in a small town, Kubizek, like Hitler was overwhelmed by the vast and thriving city.
Kubizek particularly wanted to see the immense soaring spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral but it was
shrouded in the fog.
37

In one of his letters, Hitler had offered Kubizek the advantage of staying with him for awhile. Hitler,
however, was still the independent type and knowing that he and Kubizek had their differences, he had
added: "Later we shall see."* Hitler's small room was not large enough to hold a piano that Kubizek
would need to practice on so they spent the next morning looking for a room for Kubizek. It proved
difficult.
Vienna was the most overcrowded capital city in Europe. Almost half the population lived in one or
two rooms, and in the working districts 4 to 5 persons shared these "flats."* The few rooms they found
available were either sleazy, did not allow piano playing, or were too small to hold a grand piano. After
a fruitless search in the immediate vicinity, they finally came to a house with a sign: "Room to Let."
They were admitted into the house by a maid and introduced to an elegant looking middle aged woman
wearing a silk dressing gown, fur-lined slippers and little else. As she showed them around the house,
including the available bedroom, she appeared to take a shine to Hitler. She suggested that Hitler rent
the available room and turn his room on Stumper Gasse over to Kubizek. At that moment the belt of her
dressing gown became loose and her gown opened momentarily. "Oh, excuse me, gentlemen," she
calmly said as she redid the belt.* Too fainthearted and too unworldly to take advantage of such an
opportune moment, Hitler and Kubizek beat a hasty retreat.
They returned to their apartment and Hitler persuaded the landlady to give up her larger room next door
for theirs. By the end of the day they had settled into the larger room, #17, for an additional 10 kronen a
month. Because of the housing shortage, the normal rent for a one or two room flat ran from twenty-
two to twenty-eight kronen per month in the laboring districts. Their room was a real bargain. Kubizek
was again amazed by Hitler's gift of persuasion.
Within a few days of his arrival, Kubizek took his test and was admitted to the Music Conservatory.
Kubizek's easy accomplishment magnified Hitler's failure to enter the Art Academy, and he appeared
envious for a time. While Kubizek began attending morning classes, Hitler spent his time in one pursuit
after another.
Some days Hitler relentlessly worked on his drawings, on another day, he would sit for hours reading
on architecture, another, working tirelessly on an idea he had for a short story, the next, practicing on
the piano Kubizek had rented.* Kubizek would state that Hitler was never idle, but always "filled with
a tireless urge to be active."*
Interestingly, Hitler never made use of the letter of recommendation he had received which introduced
him to one of Vienna's best known stage designers, Alfred Roller. Years later he would comment: "One
got absolutely nothing in Austria without letters of introduction. When I arrived in Vienna, I had one to
Roller, but I didn't use it. If I'd presented myself to him with this introduction, he'd have engaged me at
once. No doubt it's better that things went otherwise. It's not a bad thing for me that I had to have a
rough time of it."*
38

Having to live on a minimum budget, they spent their leisure time visiting the Vienna Woods, taking
boat trips on the Danube and even once took a train trip to the Alps and climbed a mountain. They also
visited the numerous coffee houses in the area. "The Viennese cuisine was delightful;" Hitler would
later recall, "at breakfast nothing was eaten, at mid day... [people] lunched off a cup of coffee and two
croissants, and the coffee in the little coffee-shops was as good as that in the famous restaurants. For
lunch, even in the fashionable places, only soup, a main dish and dessert were served--there was never
an entree."* One of Hitler's favorite coffee-shops (which served a particular nut-cake he enjoyed) was a
favorite of Jewish college students.*
To an inquiring mind, Vienna offered much for no cost. Hitler and Kubizek spent much of their free
time touring the city. They strolled the avenues and visited the countless museums, churches, historical
sites, parks and plazas. Hitler was particularly fond of the Schwarzenberg Platz, especially at night
when the fanciful illuminated fountains produced incredible lighting effects. Most of Hitler's praises,
however, were bestowed upon Vienna's huge and ornate buildings. He was very impressed by
Schonbrunn Castle, the elegant 1200 room, royal summer residence of the Hapsburgs which had once
been home to Napoleon himself. After viewing such luxury, Hitler often grumbled about the sparse
room they had to return to.
On Sundays, Hitler enjoyed listening to musical groups or soloists performing at the city chapel. He
was particularly found of the Vienna Boys Choir.* There were also the countless parades, pageantry
and social events which accompanied the Hapsburg dynasty. These events were normally stern, formal
and dignified affairs that showed off the ruling dynasty as lofty and untouchable. In an age and in an
empire that also believed in armed might, military holidays were celebrated with all the trappings of a
society prepared for war.*
Two or three evenings each week they went to a theater, opera, or concert because as a student,
Kubizek could often get free tickets. At concerts, Hitler was very fond of the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra. He enjoyed some of the music of the masters, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and also the
Romanticists, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn and especially Bruckner who had been an organist at the
old Linz Cathedral for twelve years. Like most Viennese, Hitler also enjoyed the music of Johann
Strauss and the Hungarian Liszt.
On one of their visits to a concert, Hitler and Kubizek struck up a conversation with a well-dressed,
prosperous-looking man who invited them to a local hotel for something to eat. The man paid for
everything and after a conversation in which he praised chamber music and demeaned women as gold
diggers, he handed them a calling card as they departed. To Kubizek's surprise Hitler stated in a calm
voice that the man was a homosexual. Hitler believed that homosexuality was an unnatural act and that
“he wished to see it fought against relentlessly." They burned the calling card.*
When attending the theater Hitler preferred the more serious works, and Vienna's theaters offered
masterpieces by some of Europe's best playwrights. Vienna was also a famed joyful and carefree city,
and its less dignified theaters offered worldly, lighthearted and often risqué performances. Although
39

Hitler never admitted to attending anything too risqué, he enjoyed Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow and
often whistled Lehar's happy tunes.
At the theater one evening a group of young men were causing a disturbance. Hitler and Kubizek
attempted to silence them. The leader of the group refused to keep his mouth shut and Hitler punched
him in the side. When Hitler and Kubizek left the theater they found that the noisemaker had
summoned a policeman who attempted to arrest Hitler. Hitler explained the situation and persuaded the
policeman to let him go. Hitler then caught up with the troublemaker and gave him, to quote Kubizek,
"a sound box on the ears."*
Just as in Linz, the opera was still Hitler's first choice in entertainment, but opera seats in Vienna were
extremely expensive. Although Hitler preferred a seat in the upper balcony, to save money, he and
Kubizek usually took the cheapest standing room. Like most people who go to movies today, Hitler did
not care for foreign works. He was only interested in German customs, German feeling, and German
thought. Except for Verdi's opera, Aida--the love story of an Ethiopian slave girl and an Egyptian
warrior--he didn't care for most Italian operas because of the many plots involving "daggers." He also
wasn't particularly fond of French operas and considered Gounod's Faust (there are two rapes within
the opera) vulgar. Not even the Russian Tchaikovsky met with his approval. On the other hand he
appreciated many of the works of the Germans Beethoven and Weber and was especially delighted with
Mozart's anti-establishment comedy of infidelity, Figaro. His favorite works were by the highly
acclaimed Richard Wagner who wrote about figures of medieval history, saga, and myth--similar to the
"supper hero" movies of today.
Most of Wagner's heroes were purely human and were torn between desire and morality--Wagner
believed in the first. During Hitler's years in Vienna, 15 different productions of Wagner's operas were
performed in over 420 performances at the State Opera House alone.
Hitler attended every new offering and saw some of the performances over and over again. "I was so
poor, during the Viennese period of my life," Hitler would later recall, "that I had to restrict myself to
seeing only the finest spectacles. Thus I heard [Wagner's] Tristan thirty or forty times, and always from
the best companies."*
Every young man has his idol and Wagner was Hitler's. "For me, Wagner is something Godly and his
music is my religion," Hitler would later tell an American reporter. Kubizek also noted Hitler's devotion
to Wagner. When Hitler attended a Wagner opera the music had a profound, exhilarating influence on
him.* When talking to friends or other opera buffs, Hitler always praised Wagner with passionate
devotion.*
Wagner not only wrote the music but the librettos (words) for his operas. He refused allegiance to any
set forms. Besides composing, writing and producing his operas he occasionally took on the role of
stage manager, director, and conductor. He referred to his mission as the "art work of the future," and to
his operas as "music dramas." Wagner saw the orchestra as just adding to the action on the stage (much
40

like background music in movies today), but he ruffled the egos of many persons of quality by
concealing the conductor and orchestra so they would not distract from the performance.
Many of the themes of Wagner's music dramas were grounded on lofty German myths and legends
which revealed human emotions that influence nearly all issues and relations. Like Wagner, Hitler was
enthralled by the past and believed that great significance lay in German mythology. One of Hitler's
favorites was Lohengrin. He could amaze opera buffs by reciting the entire libretto by heart. While
living with Kubizek, he saw Lohengrin ten times.
Lohengrin's pomp, pageantry, and dramatic interest is compelling. It is considered by many to be the
finest of all romantic grand operas. The plot is set in the tenth century and involves a beautiful blonde
maiden who is falsely accused of murder. To her rescue comes the gallant Lohengrin, the "Knight of
the Swan," who will champion the accused and later marry her. The love duet is exquisite ("one of the
sweetest and tenderest passages of which the Lyric stage can boast")* and there is also the haunting
Bridal Chorus. Besides the compelling music and German nationalism, Hitler no doubt associated with
the silver-armored hero with his pure soul and wondrous flashing eyes. In the end, Lohengrin, called
Fuhrer (leader) by his followers, is forced to reveal that he is a "Knight of the Holy Grail" and must
give up love for a higher calling.
Another of Hitler's favorites was Die Meistersingers which is told in terms of a simple love story. The
plot involves a young songwriter who comes up against traditional rules and methods. In the end he
overcomes the rank prejudices of The Master Singers and while preserving what is best in art tradition,
succeeds and wins the heroin for his bride. As with Lohengrin, Hitler knew the Meistersingers by
heart.*
If an indication of the ideals and beliefs of a young man can be judged on the entertainment he enjoys,
the young Hitler appears very normal for his time. Aida, and Figaro, are two of the most popular operas
ever performed in their time.* The Meistersingers and Lohengrin have, almost since their conceptions
been German favorites. Hitler's enjoying The Mastersingers is comparable to young people in every
generation enjoying stories whose plots rebel against tradition and the old folks. The story was written
by Wagner to scorn the establishment that once rejected him. The love story, however, is the backbone
of the action and everything else is centered around it. The same thing can be said for Lohengrin and
especially Tristan which is about love and (did they love the night) little else. That Hitler repeatedly
enjoyed these operas places him in the majority of young men of his day who had high ideals
concerning love and women. On the other hand, he could still laugh about the inconsistencies of love
found in an opera like Figaro. But, the young Hitler was not the old Faust and could not understand a
man giving up everything for youth and desire.
During their trips to the opera, concert or theater, Kubizek noticed that women would flirt with Hitler
despite his usually modest clothing and reserved manner. On one occasion, a young lady handed Hitler
a note informing him where she would be stopping after the performance. Although acknowledging
that Hitler was not a handsome man in the standard sense, Kubizek believed that women were attracted
41

to him because of his aloof but distinguished manners, or brilliant eyes, or some mysterious quality that
can't be described.* Because he was shy, Hitler never responded to these
opportunities in Kubizek's presence, but not for a lack of interest in women. Like
many eighteen year olds, Hitler had his favorite actress, Lucie Weidt (a gifted soprano
ten years older than Hitler), who reminded him of Stefanie and "roused his
enthusiasm in the part of Elsa in Lohengrin."*
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, noted during this period that people seldom, if ever
discussed their sex drive. Hitler never talked about his desires or his sex life. When discussing the
subject in an impersonal way, Hitler, according to Kubizek, found the loose morals in Vienna shocking.
His belief was influenced by the terribly high rate of syphilis that existed in Europe at that time, and the
incurable and horrible consequences of contracting it. A cure would not be readily available for a few
years and complications of the heart, blood vessels, bones, skin, and finally paralysis and insanity were
common. Hitler, like many others of his time had a fear of catching the disease* and would later
condemn the government for its "complete capitulation" when an all out "fight" was needed to bring
the "plague" under control to insure the "health" of the nation.*
Vienna, nonetheless, thrived with centers of prostitution and cafes where the sexes mixed liberally. A
survey of doctors, carried out while Hitler lived in Vienna, revealed that only 4% of the doctors had
their first sexual experience with middle class young women who might qualify as potential wives,
17% had their first experience with lower class waitresses or the like, while 75% had their first romp
with prostitutes.*
Spittelberg Gasse
Hitler, like the doctors, was also familiar with the more worldly areas of Vienna
including Spittelberg Gasse, just off the Ring and eleven blocks from his
apartment, where girls and women sat in windows between customers. Hitler once
escorted the reluctant Kubizek through the area and it was obvious Hitler had been
there before. After "running the gauntlet," then doing an about face and retracing their steps, Hitler
gave Kubizek a dissertation about "commercial love." He pointed out that the men were there only to
satisfy their sexual urges while the women were only concerned with their "earnings."* Very perceptive
for an eighteen year old, or more likely, first hand knowledge.
Legalized prostitution in Austria dated from the Liberal ascendancy three decades before. When Hitler
arrived in Vienna, any girl sixteen or older could register or apply for a license. She was then free to
practice the profession as long as she could prove mental competence and meet simple health rules.
Even with such liberal regulations, there was still a thriving free lance business throughout Vienna, and
it was estimated that over 10,000 girls went unregistered.
On their evening excursions on the town, there were occasions when Kubizek and Hitler were
approached by lone streetwalkers. According to Kubizek, in every instance the "ladies" ignored him
and asked Hitler if he wanted to go with them. Kubizek thought that these girls of the "unholy city"
42

were attracted to Hitler because they may have seen him as a man of moral restraint from the religious
countryside. Hitler always refused in Kubizek's presence.
That Hitler would show indifference to prostitutes, or keep any encounters with loose women from
Kubizek is quite possible. The class consciousness of the time made most men from the middle classes
secretive about the lower class women they associated with. In addition, Kubizek had made clear his
attitude toward the loose morals he encountered in Vienna: "this sink of iniquity, where even
prostitution was made the object of the artist's glorification."* Hitler on the other hand, though also
condemning prostitution, saw nothing wrong with young men "chasing the girls."* When still a young
man he scorned the prejudices, old habits, previous ideas, general opinions and "prudishness in certain
circles,"* and would later state: "Contrary to popular belief, it is wrong to suppose that virginity is a
particularly desirable quality; one cannot help suspecting that those who have been spared have nothing
particular to offer!"* He would also add: "In my time in Vienna, I knew many beautiful women"*
Kubizek had to get up early in the morning for classes and usually retired early while Hitler was often
awake and out till late at night. There were times Hitler would go out and not return till the following
day. On one occasion he disappeared for three days, and when he returned, “dead tired," Kubizek asked
where he had been. Hitler gave him some feeble story about exploring the city and never brought up
the subject again.* Hitler then spent the next two days designing apartments for the working poor with
separate bedrooms for grownups and children; and, at the time, the luxury of a private bath."*
Nevertheless, Hitler, as earlier in Linz, also had suggestions for Vienna's planning and layout. He
believed in wider streets, pollution control, and less crowding. He advocated the destruction of old
tenement housing and the building of lower income housing where workers could live cheaply. He
believed that there should be more areas set aside for parks and green areas. He thought it unthinkable
that railroads should run through a city, tying up people and traffic. Railroads, he believed, should be
rerouted to the outskirts and what trains that had to enter the city should be placed underground. These
revolutionary ideas were already starting to have their effects in some of the larger cities throughout the
world and Hitler no doubt read about them. That an eighteen year old could grasped their long range
significance and advocated such a policy is noteworthy. As he had in Linz, he spent quite a bit of time
working on drawings and the details of such planning.
Kubizek, in the meantime, continued with his classes and it was becoming apparent that he was one of
the star pupils in the music school. He was constantly sought after to tutor other classmates and to
perform in small musical groups in the homes of some of the wealthy and cultivated of Vienna.
Occasionally Hitler went along and "enjoyed himself very much" though he normally chose to play the
part of the silent listener. As he was in no financial position to buy new clothes, it was only his
inadequate dress, Kubizek observed, that made him feel uneasy.
Hitler was proud of his friend's achievements but witnessing what appeared to be Kubizek's easy
accomplishment, he began searching for a road to instant success. Although he continued drawing, he
did little painting that summer.
43

The Hofburg, containing among other things, one of the most extensive (and beautiful)
libraries in the world, was only a mile away from their room and Hitler visited there
regularly. He continued to read on architecture and art, but also mythology, religion,
history and biography. In his reading on architecture he acquired an extensive amount of
history on many of Linz's buildings and appears to have attempted to write a handbook or
manual on the subject.* He then worked tirelessly on a short story he titled The Next
Morning. He talked about becoming a playwright and after weeks of research at the library began a
script centered on the time Christianity was introduced in Germany. He then switched to a play about
the Spanish painter, Bartolome Murillo, who's art work Hitler knew well.* Murillo had also been a
"poor orphan" and became famous for his charming paintings of religious subjects and sweet street
urchins. After a vigorous start, Hitler put the idea aside.
When Hitler felt dejected he would walk to Schonbrunn Castle and spend his time
in the huge adjoining park where miles of shaded walks wended their ways
among clumps of trees, arbors, vast formal flower beds and elaborate fountains.
Along with other attractions the park also contained a zoo and the Gloriette, an
elaborate stone pavilion surmounted by a huge imperial eagle.
Hitler's favorite spot was a stone bench not far from the Gloriette where he
enjoyed feeding the birds and squirrels. (The stone bench, along with the
descendants of those birds and squirrels, are still there at this writing.) He never
went to the park on Sundays since he did not like crowds, and the noisy and
carefree spirit of most of the young people annoyed him.
Sooner or later however, he would conceive another idea and wholeheartedly throw himself into it.
After numerous day trips to the Hof-Library and night after night of continuous writing, he abandoned
one idea after another. After countless false starts as a playwright or writer, he suddenly decided to
become a composer.
Hitler spent months working on a Wagnerian type opera which would have been understood by ancient
Germans. The work was to be performed with rattles, drums, reeds, crude brass wind instruments,
primitive harps, and bone and wood flutes. He searched excitedly through volumes of the Hof-Library
studying ancient music and looking for the types of musical instruments used by ancient Germans.
That he had no formal musical training, other than four months of piano lessons, daunted him not. To
make up for his lack of knowledge he read the scores and librettos of a large number of operas and
acquired an amazing knowledge of stagecraft.* He worked on his opera night after night plotting the
story, producing drawings for the sets, sketching the main characters in charcoal and composing the
music with Kubizek's help. Kubizek acknowledged that the prelude turned out very presentable (after
he had convinced Hitler to add a few modern instruments) but Hitler was not satisfied. "It reduced him
to utter despair," Kubizek wrote, "that he had an ideal in his head, a musical idea which he considered
bold and important, without being able to pin it down."* Hitler finally realized that success as a
44

composer was as hard to come by as that of a painter or writer and finally gave up. Dejected, he would
return to the park and feed the pigeons and squirrels until another idea dawned.
Hitler came up with an idea for a traveling symphony. He felt it was unfair that only the lucky few in
the major cities were privileged to hear first rate performances. His mobile orchestra was to travel to
small towns where less fortunate people could hear other than second rate performances. He spent quite
a deal of time working out the intricate little details, including the composition of the group, their
feeding, dress, direction, and rehearsal time. He decided that only German composers would be played
and he even timed the length of each piece while at concerts. The orchestra was not only to perform
classic and romantic works (the oldies so to speak), but also the works of modern, young and unknown
composers. As with traveling "concerts" today the ideal was plausible, but the lack of adequate public
halls in small towns made him abandon the idea. He then returned to the park.
Like all idealistic young men on a minimum budget, Hitler became disillusioned and he soon
developed a strong social conscious. He would visit the Parliament when it was in session, and on a
few occasions even dragged Kubizek along. Hitler was amazed at the lack of action. He had expected
to see stately men in control, debating and pondering over the problems of their day. What he saw was
dissension, filibustering, confusion, rants, threats, procedure, formality and wordy nonsense. He came
away disillusioned and was appalled by politicians and their, as he called it, "ridiculous institution."*
The Viennese are noted for their criticism ("a grumble a day keeps bad temper away," is one of their
mottoes) and Hitler fit in well. "Isn't this a dog's life,"* became one of his favorite sayings and he
began to blame government for his situation. He became impatient and developed a deep contempt for
most politicians. He began raging openly against, as he called them: "the well-born and all powerful
people." He felt that the government should provide grants to students with ability and that poor
working young women should receive trousseaus to encourage marriage so as to cut down on fatherless
children and sex-related diseases. He believed the government should do something to decrease the
amount of alcoholic beverages consumed by promoting non-alcoholic drinks. And, he still felt that
more should be done to house the working class.
Hitler actually worked out a plan for housing those with low incomes. Using his interior plan as a
starting point, the standard building was to be a two storied, four family residence. Under no condition
was any building to contain more than 16 families and all should be surrounded by gardens, trees, and
play grounds. He thought professional landlords unfair and believed that housing should be owned and
built by the government and the rent set to cover the cost and maintenance of the building. He devoted
much of his thinking to moving people out of "distress and poverty."*
The longer Hitler lived in the giant city, the more he saw of the inequalities. While the upper classes
practiced an almost complete indifference, those of the younger and poorer generation began to openly
criticize their leaders. Hitler became one of them for he could not understand the apathy and
resignation of politicians and leading intellectuals. Their stance that "nothing can be done about it,"
earned them his undying hatred. "He who resigned," Hitler stated, "lost his right to live."* He saw
45

these men of education with their professional training as a group of "idiots." No doubt remembering
that his more-than-qualified father had been held in the same position for seventeen years because of
his background, Hitler felt that men who actually showed ability should be chosen to manage affairs as
opposed to those with formal qualifications, class and connections.
With what was left of his inheritance running low and knowing that his pension would only support a
meager living, disillusionment soon vented itself in anger. For no apparent reason, there were days
when he would go into a rage about the unfairness of life. Any disagreement or rebuke on Kubizek's
part only heightened his anger. A while later he would be calm, cooperative and charming. But,
Kubizek noted, it was contrary to his nature to ignore important issues, and there were days he would
read or see something that would set him off all over again. Hitler was often abrupt, moody, and brash,
but Kubizek stated that he could never be angry with Hitler because he regarded him as a "visionary."
"For a long time, I had it rough in Vienna," Hitler would later recall. "For months I never even had a
hot meal. I lived on milk and dry bread but spent thirteen kreuzers day after day on cigarettes. I smoked
twenty-five to forty a day. One day the thought came to me: ’Instead of spending thirteen kreuzers on
cigarettes, buy butter for your bread. That would be five kreuzers a day and I’d have money left over.’
Soon after that thought, I threw my cigarettes in the Danube and have never touched another"* There
is nothing worse than a reformed--whatever--and Hitler soon began ranting about the government's
involvement in the tobacco industry. He argued that the State was ruining the health of its own people
for monetary gains. He felt all tobacco factories should be closed and the importation of tobacco,
cigars, and cigarettes be forbidden.* (Later, when Hitler became Fuhrer and his European conquests
seemed unstoppable, he made the statement: "Before going into retirement, I shall order that all the
cigarette packets on sale in my Europe should have on the label, in letters of fire, the slogan: 'Danger,
tobacco smoke kills; danger: Cancer.'"*)
Reflecting on Hitler's meager fare, Kubizek concluded that much of Hitler's anger stemmed from his
financial situation. Kubizek suggested that Hitler go to the "soup kitchen" and get a decent free meal.
Hitler angrily retorted that going to a soup kitchen was demeaning and that such "contemptible
institutions...only symbolized the segregation of the social classes."*
Many of Vienna's population lived in similar circumstances and Hitler "unhesitatingly" associated with
the "simple, decent but underprivileged people."* He thought something should be done for the "'little
man,' the 'poor betrayed masses.'"* He ranted about the "tight fisted" ways of the upper classes. As
Kubizek would later state: "Everywhere we noticed a deep chasm between the social classes....We saw
the splendid mansions of the nobility with garishly attired servants in front, and the sumptuous hotels in
which Vienna's rich society--the old nobility, the captains of industry, landowners and magnates--held
their lavish parties. Poverty, need, hunger on the one side, and reckless enjoyment of life, sensuality
and prodigal luxury on the other." The obvious social injustice embittered Hitler and the presumptuous
and arrogant demeanor of the upper classes "roused in him a demoniacal hatred."* He continuously
railed "against the privileged position of certain classes."*
46

Although Kubizek always portrayed Hitler as a serious and stern young man, there was another side of
him. Kubizek took a short trip home for the Easter holiday and wrote Hitler that he had contracted an
eye infection and that when he returned he might be wearing glasses. Kubizek knew his constant
practicing on the piano distracted or annoyed Hitler at times so he also mentioned that he was also
going to bring a viola, testing what Hitler's reaction would be. On April 20, 1908, the day of his 19th
birthday, Hitler wrote back (after making a joke about the bad weather in Vienna): “I am deeply sorry
to hear that you are going blind. It means you will play more wrong notes and keys. The blinder you
become, the deafer I will become. Oh dear." He also added that he was going out to buy "cotton" for his
ears. He then signed the letter: "Your friend, Adolf Hitler."*
Kubizek returned shortly after and, in June, completed his first period at the Conservatory with
excellent grades. He was privileged to conduct the end-of-term concert where three of his songs were
sung and part of his sextet for strings was performed. At a gathering in the "artists' room," Kubizek was
showered with praises by his teachers and classmates as Hitler sat quietly by himself watching. It
appeared that for Kubizek, success was just around the corner.
Kubizek went home in July to work in the family business for the summer. Since he was nearly a year
older than Hitler he was now of military age and was required to report for a physical. Found to be fit,
he was to undergo eight weeks of training for the Army Reserve and would not return till November.
Hitler's landlady also took a trip to visit her brother and Hitler looked after the building for her until she
returned. Hitler kept in touch with Kubizek and on one occasion, referring to one of his ideas for a
book, wrote: "Since your departure I have been working very hard often again until 2 or 3 in the
morning."* Knowing Hitler was running short of money Kubizek and his mother sent him some food
packages. A few days later the proud Hitler would write on a postcard dated July 19, 1908:
Dear friend!
My best thanks for your kindness. You don't need to send me butter and cheese now. But I thank
you most gratefully for the kind thought. Tonight I am going to see Lohengrin. Kindest regards
to you and your esteemed parents.
Adolf Hitler.*
A few days later Hitler would write again mentioning that he was not feeling well. It was not until
August 17 that Kubizek heard from him again. This time he mentioned that he had got over a "sharp
attack of bronchial catarrh," but was "writing quite a lot lately."*
Late that August, Hitler took a trip to the Wooded Quarter for a family gathering on the Spital farm.
Besides his two aunts and their families, his step-sister Angela and her family were also present. Hitler
still disliked Angela's husband and had considered putting off the trip, but was no doubt shown the new
addition to Angela's family--a two month old daughter called "Geli." He also saw his twelve year old
sister, Paula, who was now a pretty, quiet and reserved girl. Hitler had previously given Paula the book
Don Quixote (possibly after reading it) as a birthday gift and got into an argument with her because she
47

disapproved of a list of books he obviously had read and suggested for her education. Since they were
never very close, her rejection of his advice separated them further. Although "fond" of one another, as
Paula would later state, they remained fairly distant all their lives. Before returning to Vienna, Hitler
sent Gustl a postcard wishing him the "best" on his Name-day. It would be the last contact Kubizek
would have with Hitler for thirty years. (After a promising beginning Kubizek's artistic dreams would
be shattered by W.W.I. He became a "clerk.")
In Sept 1908 the nineteen year old Hitler applied for entrance to Vienna's Art Academy again. The
drawings he submitted on this occasion were not considered adequate. He was notified, that this time
he would not even be permitted to take the test. The 1908 entry in the Academy's list read:
The following gentlemen .... #24 Adolf Hitler ... April 20, 1889, German,
Catholic .... Not admitted to test.*

Again he was crushed. This time he asked for a reason and was told that his abilities lay in architecture
and it was recommended that he study that field. This judgment is borne out by his surviving drawings
and paintings which show a flare for architectural renderings. To enter the Architectural branch of the
Academy, however, a diploma was necessary. "What I had defiantly neglected in the high school "
Hitler stated, "now took its bitter revenge."* Since he lacked a diploma he would have to show that he
was "exceptionally gifted" to enter the architecture field. Hitler was realistic enough to know that he
did not possess such abilities and never attempted to register.
As Hitler would show many times in his life, he could not face people when things were going bad.
Although Kubizek had previously offered Hitler financial help, Hitler, as with the food packages, was
too proud to accept and decided to end their relationship. Because of his failure to gain admittance to
the Academy for the second time, he no doubt felt ashamed to face Kubizek, or anyone else. Around
the same time, Hitler also quit writing Hagmuller, the boy who used to have his lunch at the Hitler
house in Linz, and they also "lost touch."*
2nd Vienna Apartment
On Nov. 18, 1908, with Kubizek expected back in a few days, the dejected Hitler
gave notice to his landlady. Without leaving a forwarding address he moved to a
building across from the railway yards. As required by law, he registered the
change of address with the local police station. This time, he registered as a
"student" instead of "artist" as he had done at his former address. He continued reading and looking for
that special mission he was sure would come. Like most 19 year olds he no doubt carried the false
assumption that all he had to do was plod along and rewards or success would automatically come.
48

5: Hard Times

Unlike the upper classes who place heavy emphasis on the amount of friends, and
consequently contacts one has, Hitler did not view hobnobbing as the way to success.
After his friendship with Kubizek, most other young men must have seemed shallow
indeed. Like most would-be artists, Hitler had learned to look at objects in depth while drawing or
painting and had learned to see details that most people overlook. To an idealistic young man the
ignorance of peers becomes frustrating and one learns to keep their distance from those who do not
share ones interest. As always, Hitler kept his intimate friends to a minimum. During this period.
people found him "polite," but "distant." Women were still attracted to him and befriended him,
because, as a young waitress who gave him "extra-large" portions at a cafe he frequented said: "He was
very reserved and quiet, and would read books, and seemed very serious, unlike the rest of the young
men."*
Hitler did take himself seriously and because of his understanding of the complexities in art, he seldom
took sides in any conversation unless he had some knowledge of the topic's details. He would research
subjects to a certain degree before making judgments. Besides his book reading, he constantly read
newspapers, magazines and pamphlets. One subject that was to catch his attention and occupy his
thoughts while he lived across from the railroad yards was racism.
For all its cultural and intellectual endeavors, Vienna, like much of the western world, was alive with
racial prejudices. Because of the nationalistic fervor, almost every nation had its "experts" who prated
about their nation's "racial superiority." Wagner, Hitler's idol, had done as much as anyone to spread the
racist idea in German speaking Europe, and there is little doubt that Hitler was acquainted with his
writings.
Wagner believed that the Nordic Aryans (northern Europeans), especially the Germans, were a super-
race and considered all others inferior. His racial views were born out of the cold rationalism of the
19th century intellectual community's adoration of science and the law of nature which experts had
supposedly worked out with "iron logic."
In view of such "logic," some intellectuals asserted that only the Aryan tribes which drifted towards the
sparsely populated areas around the Baltic and North Seas, to become the ancient Norse people, later
the Teutonic or Germanic race, were the only "true" Aryans. See Appendix G (The Aryans)
The theorists contended that over the centuries the Aryan "Slavonic race" living in eastern Europe had
been overrun by invading "Mongolians from Central Asia, the Huns – ugly bow-legged yellow men"*
and were no longer true Aryans. The theorists also believed that the "Latin race" in the south of Europe
had continuously mixed with the "dark white race" which inhabited the Mediterranean rim and were no
longer true Aryans either. German racialists prated about the superiority of their race and proclaimed:
"The Teutons are the aristocracy of humanity; the Latins belong to a degenerate mob." Their main
49

attacks, however, were reserved for the "Mongolized Slavs" as well as Turks and other races from the
east, who were not only seen as inferior, but as a great threat to central Europe.
The Germans of Vienna had been the bulwark against invaders from the east since the days of the
Roman Empire and it took little to convince Hitler, or any other German, of the danger. They still saw
themselves as a great bastion against eastern pressures. As in Linz where Hitler had spent his formative
years, Vienna also had its Trinity Column to bear witness to the time when the Germans, and the Poles
ironically, fought off an invasion of Turks who threatened the whole of Europe. Acting as further
reminders, Vienna's hills (while Hitler lived there) were still dotted with castles, watchtowers and
armories which were stocked with all types of weaponry should a levy be called.
As the capital, Vienna still dominated over central Europe but the empire was slowly crumbling under
the weight of its conflicting "racial groups."* Austria's subjects comprised half the "races" of Europe
and, just as in Alois' (Hitler's father) time, the Slavs, Turks and other non Germans were still viewed
with suspicion and fear
As in Paris, Moscow and other European capitals, the people of Vienna were also extremely hostile to
Semitic (Jew and Arab) people. (Intellectuals had classified Semites as an "ancient dark white people"
that spoke a Semitic primary-language from which all the dominant languages of the Middle East and
parts of Africa are supposed to have originated. According to one theory, these Semitic speakers
appeared on the south west tip of Arabia before 9000 BC and by 5000 BC lived throughout most of
Arabia. By 2500 BC they had spread into the other parts of the Middle East (today's Turkey, Iraq,
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel) breeding with the local populations and developing their own customs,
appearances, religions, and different versions of the Semitic language. Because of dense forests,
swamps, mountains, deserts and seas, the Aryan and Semitic speaking peoples developed somewhat
independently. Thus was laid the foundation for all subsequent anti-Semitism in Europe. See Appendix
H (The Semites and Antisemitism.)
Long before Hitler was born, anti-Semitism had taken on a primarily anti-Jewish meaning in Europe
since many Jews had clung to their customs and ways and refused to melt into the European population
as other Semites had done. All of Vienna's "anti-Semitism" was directed against the 175,000 Jews who
made up almost 9% of Vienna's population. Even many of Austria's intellectuals were opposed to the
Jews' influence on the grounds that their "oriental" or "Asiatic temperament"* threatened German
traditions and ways.
Six years before Hitler was born, a large segment of the German student body of Vienna's University
had formed a union that was anti-Jewish but referred to itself as anti-Semitic to demonstrate they
stressed race and not religion. They protested against the high number of Jewish students at the
University and demonstrated against the large number of Jewish doctors, lawyers, and professors being
produced.*
50

The students had their champion in a member of the Austrian parliament, Georg Ritter von Schonerer
(1842-1921), who founded the German Nationalist Party in Austria. His family came from the Wooded
Quarter where Hitler's family had its roots. Like anyone interested in the success stories of people from
their birth places, Hitler took a keen interest in the life and policies of the aging Schonerer. He was to
become Hitler's first political idol.* See Appendix I (Von Schonerer)
By the time Hitler arrived in Vienna, Schonerer had toned down his attacks against Jews, Slavs, and
other non-Germans. He abandoned all hope of preserving the Austrian Empire.* With the backing of
university intellectuals, he turned his main attention to the unity of Austria with Germany.
Hitler, like most central Europeans, had no trouble accepting the ideas that the Slavs were a threat or
the rich were greedy. But unlike the university students, Hitler refused to accept many of the racist
beliefs. It was Schonerer's pleas for union with Germany that held Hitler's admiration, not Schonerer's
anti-Semitic stance.* "Schonerer," Hitler would write, "recognized more clearly and more correctly
than anyone else the inevitable end of the Austrian State."* But, Hitler also stated: "In Vienna, anti-
Semitism could never have any foundation but a religious one. From the point of view of race, about 50
per cent of the population of Vienna was not German."*
Hitler had no great love for anyone foreign, but he felt that people who railed against those who spoke,
looked and acted German, did so for selfish reasons. To the young Hitler, a man who spoke and looked
German was German* and he was filled with "distaste" when anyone singled someone out as a "Jew."*
Concerning the Germanized Jews, he wrote: "I even looked upon them as Germans."* He thought that
attacks upon them were made out of "jealousy and envy." He also stated: "in the Jew I still saw only a
man who was of a different religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I was against the
idea that he [or any other] should be attacked because he had a different faith."* As an acquaintance
would later write, Hitler did not associate the word Jew with race and "believed every religion to be
good and ... didn't care much about anti-Semitism."*
As Hitler would later write in Mein Kampf (and Kubizek noted in his book), shortly after he arrived in
Vienna, he began to believe the anti-Jewish rhetoric he heard and read. Consequently, he turned to
handbooks and magazines to relieve his "doubts," and now for the first time in his life bought himself
some anti-Semitic pamphlets.
During Hitler's stay in Vienna, racist literature could be purchased almost anywhere, including the
tobacco shop a few doors from where he lived. Although the idea of "pure racial stock" was already a
fanciful belief to many; racialists books, pamphlets and newspapers were read by millions.* Hitler
read many of these publications including the Schonerer movement's satirical magazine: Politics and
Entertainment in Art and Life (which not only specialized in attacks on non-Germans, but also attacked
the Church, members of parliament, and the decline of morals and the evils of alcoholism).* Hitler
complained that these publications did not supply enough information on the Jewish question and
added:
51

All began with the standpoint that the reader had a certain degree of information of the
Jewish question or was familiar with it. Moreover the tone of most of these pamphlets
was such that I became doubtful again because the statements made were partly
superficial and the proofs extraordinarily unscientific.*
One of the most prodigious racist writers at the time was a defrocked monk named Adolf Josef Lanz.
His magazine, the Ostara, was a typical Viennese tabloid of the time. It damned assimilation, preached
racial purity and looked forward to the day of a "German master race" led by a quasi-religious military
leader.* To be sure the reader was of the right type himself, the magazine contained a question and
answer section where one could find out where he fit within the great racial pool. A varied number of
points were given for physical attributes such as color of hair, eyes and skin. One then added up the
points and consulted the index to determine his "racial group." Naturally, the scoring was done in a.
way that anyone who found the tabloid congenial emerged as one qualified to participate in the struggle
against inferior races.*
Featured articles like "The Sex and Love-Life of Blondes and Dark Ones"* boosted the Ostara's
circulation for some issues to 100,000 in Austria and Germany. Although it "played down 'the Jewish
Question,'"* it appealed to both the superiority of the Germans and their suspicion of the Jews, and also
Slavs, Turks, Negroes, and other "dark ones." It contained material that urged the white or Aryan race
to arm itself against "dark forces." In order to popularize the Aryan idea, racial beauty contests were
even proposed. In its more malign moments it called for a systematic program of sterilization,
deportation, or forced labor. By subjugating the dark races, the Ostarapreached, the Aryans could rule
the earth.*
Hitler, according to Lanz (in a 1951 interview), appeared at his home in 1909 and explained that he had
read most issues of the Ostara, which he purchased at the tobacco shop near his place on Felber
Strasse. Hitler wasn't able to obtain a few of the back issues and asked Lanz if he had them. Lanz
claimed that Hitler looked so earnest but impoverished that he gave him the copies free of charge and
also two kronen for streetcar fare home.*
Even after additional reading on the subject, Hitler still wasn't convinced about the "Jewish danger" and
would later state in Mein Kampf: "I returned to my old way of thinking."* (Hitler adds: "...for weeks
and once even for months."* This addition was undoubtedly an attempt to cover his position as a youth.
Hitler knew that there would be those who knew that he wasn't "anti-Semitic" in his youth and could
expose him (as more than one acquaintance later did). By claiming to have moments of "indecision" he
covered his rear – so to speak.)
"Anti-Semitism" was an outgrowth of the nationalistic fervor that infected almost everyone during this
period. Hitler undoubtedly made statements in his youth that could be interpreted as "anti-Semite."
With the exception, however, of a few foggy statements that Kubizek remembered in retrospect, all
reliable sources who knew Hitler personally during his youth agree that he was not an anti-Semite, but
an outspoken nationalist.
52

Even the Jews got caught up in the nationalistic fervor* and "decided to open their own all-Jewish
club."* Zionism was proclaimed when Hitler was a boy, and as established, accepted a national status
for the Jews. Like all the discontented nationalities throughout Europe, such a status barred
assimilation. In his book, The Jewish State (1896), Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jewish poet, would
write a beautiful, revealing passage that echoed all the nationalities of Europe looking to control their
own destinies:
The Jews who wish it, will have their own state. We shall live at last as free men on our
own soil, die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched
by our wealth, magnified by our greatness.*

By the time Hitler arrived in Vienna, the Zionist "movement was strongly represented in Vienna."*
Zionism was well on its way to erecting a framework so strong that it would hold Palestine (the future
Israel) open to "stateless" Jews against the wishes of the British Empire, the Vatican, Arab nationalism;
and, international minded Jews.
The Jews, however, weren't asking for a part of Europe and Hitler may have supported the Zionist
movement at the time. (A few years later, Hitler would tell an acquaintance that if he had the power, he
would make all the Jews to go to Palestine.* Even as late as 1920, when his "anti-Semitism" was in
bloom, he would state: "The Jew ... belongs, in his own state of Palestine."*) Hitler, like the
overwhelming portion of the population at that time, supported the idea that each nationality (or "race"
as many referred to it) should live in its own independent or autonomous region.
On August 22, 1909, after a nine month stay, the
twenty year old Hitler gave up his residence
across from the railway yards. He took another
room, a short distance from Schonbrunn Palace.
His inheritance was almost exhausted and he
was slowly falling into the category of the
uprooted urban middle class. Hitler had once
told Kubizek that in most instances genius went
hand and hand with poverty. Like many
idealistic young men he may have figured he
had now done his suffering, which would make
him see life more clearly. He resumed his
writing. On Aug 22 he registered as "studying to
be a writer"* with the local police station. He
grew a beard to fit the part but soon gave up the
writing.
By mid September he had sold off everything of
value, including his art supplies and overcoat.
53

He now had only his orphan pension of 25 kronen a month. Unable to pay rent by the month, he
abandoned his address and turned to subletting rooms by the week. The rent was between two and two
and a half Kronen a week and all roomers hoped that they would have to share a room with only one
other. It was estimated that around 90,000 Viennese lived in such a manner. Hitler stayed for such short
durations that he failed for the first time to register his address with the police.
During this period he kept in touch with his step sister, Angela, who forwarded his pension.* Angela
abhorred his "flight from reality" and gave him a long scolding. Hitler decided not to contact her again
until his life improved. In one of the few cases Hitler got the year exactly right concerning his youth, he
would later write, "...the autumn of 1909, this was an infinitely bitter period for me. I was a young,
inexperienced man without any financial support and too proud to accept it from no matter whom, let
alone ask for it."* Although Hitler scorned the idea of a "bread and butter job," cut off from his
pension he made a halfhearted attempt to enter the ranks of the working masses. For a time he worked
as a "hod [cement or brick] carrier on building construction jobs."* (Most historians believe that Hitler
was lying when he gave his account in Mein Kampf of working in the building trade (some believe he
was too weak). However, during this period the yearly turnover for "labor" was around 100%* and
unskilled workers were also in short supply* because of the huge peace-time conscription.* Employers
took what they could get, and they especially preferred new workers from small towns and the
countryside since they were known to outperform their more seasoned big city workers.* Furthermore,
seventeen years after Mein Kampf was written Hitler stated: "What a great joy it is each time I meet
with the Duce [Benito Mussolini]. He’s a great personality. Ironically, during the same period as
myself, he also worked as a construction worker...."* Mussolini was one of the few men Hitler
admired and was "fond" of.* The comparison was obviously make with pride. Hitler was not the type
to base such a comparison on a lie.)
Although Hitler associated with the "little man," he, like most people from the lower middle class, had
little in common with the "workers." He saw himself as a step above them. Their unrefined speech,
manners and shallow views were repugnant to him and, as he admitted later, his ignorance of their
unions and politics alienated him.* When he offered an opposing view to a number of his "union"
comrades while working on a construction site,* they, he would later write, "ordered me to leave the
building or else get flung down from the scaffolding."* A few weeks later, when he obtained
employment at another construction site, the same thing occurred. Hitler soon gave up any idea of
joining the workers and drifted into doing day work only when necessary.
By early November he sold off almost everything but the bare necessities. Within a few weeks he
exhausted nearly all funds and was put out of his last independent address (possibly on Simon Denk
Gasse in the northern part of the city) after his landlady seized his last small bundle of his possessions.*
Like many of America's "homeless," he turned to the streets. But, he did not enter the lowest depths of
society as a "worker," but as a member of the uprooted urban middle class. He chose to wear a faded
"blue-checked suit."* Hitler no doubt chose his apparel knowing that society would be more tolerant
54

toward a "middle class" young man down on his luck. He also had no desire, as he put it, to be
"identified" with the "despised class....the manual worker."*
November of that year was unusually cold with rain often mixed with snow, so he had to find shelter.
There were many seedy and dilapidated lodging houses scattered throughout Vienna where, for a small
fee, he could take a room for the night. If these places lacked the facilities, then for a nominal fee he
could use the municipal baths to keep himself clean.
To earn a few cents Hitler tried begging even though he found it demeaning. On one occasion he tried
to beg a few cents from a rich drunk who tried to hit him with his cane.* The incident did nothing to
change Hitler's opinion of the rich and the experience deeply embittered him. He never tried begging
again. With funds nearly depleted he spent a few evenings sleeping in a cafe on Kaiser Strasse, after
paying the price of a cup of coffee.*
Finally he exhausted all funds and for a few nights he wandered around sleeping on park benches. Near
the end of November, exhausted and frail looking, Hitler ended up in a 'Obdachslosenasyl' (Shelter for
the Roofless) behind the Meidling Railroad station. Here one received a card and could get a "bed" for
five nights. Afterwards, for a modest fee, one could stay on if they chose.
The shelter received most of its support from a Jewish family and housed hundreds of Vienna's
destitute including whole families. Residents were segregated by sex and assigned to a large military-
like dormitory. Everyone was required to shower daily and then return to the main hall where they were
served a meal of soup and bread before being assigned a place to sleep. Unlike many of the shelters in
Vienna this one was spotless which is probably why Hitler chose it. Because it was expected that
people should work, or be looking for work, everyone had to leave during the day.
While at the "Asylum," as some called it, Hitler met a professional street person named Reinhold
Hanisch** who went by the name of Walter Fritz. Hanisch had traveled through much of Germany and
Austria and although originally from the Sudetenland (part of today's Czech Republic) liked to pass
himself off as a Berliner. He avoided steady work like the plague and whenever finances allowed,
looked for happiness in a beer or wine bottle.
Hanisch knew all the angles of street living and since this was an entirely new way of life for Hitler,
Hanisch showed him how to take advantage of all possible charitable institutions.* Since the shelter
closed until dusk, Hanisch showed Hitler how to stretch out the day so they would hit the right places at
the right time to get a free meal or handout. Hitler's idea that "soup kitchens" were demeaning was
replaced by hunger since the Asylum only provided one meal a day. He and Hanisch took advantage of
the half dozen "warming rooms" and a nearby hospital which handed out bread or soup to thousands of
Vienna's destitute men, women and children. They visited the homes of "soft touches" where they
might get some small change or some other handout. They lined up at the Sisters of Mercy Convent on
Gumpendorfer Strasse, just down the street and around the corner from his former address on Stumper
55

Gasse. Hitler went there almost everyday for a free meal and later strolled over to the Western Station
where he carried passenger's bags in hopes of earning a little money.*
On cold days Hanisch showed Hitler all the public places where their presence would be tolerated. He
showed Hitler how to save
money by purchasing unused
portions of admittance cards
from those who were leaving
the Asylum. They also took
advantage of other charitable
Jewish institutions including
the Warming House on
Erdberg Strasse on the other
side of town. According to
Hanisch, Hitler was grateful
for the help offered by Jews,
admired their resistance to
persecutions, and never
muttered a serious anti-Jewish
remark to him.* While at the
shelter, Hitler befriended a
number of Jews including a Jewish locksmith named Robinsohn who occasionally gave Hitler a few
coins.*
Even with the charitable soup kitchens, the handouts of friends, and the few cents Hitler made carrying
bags at the railroad station, he still didn't earn enough to keep himself fed. He and Hanisch, therefore,
made a few coins beating carpets, shoveling snow, or doing other casual labor. Hitler once suggested
that they apply for some ditch digging work that was available in the Favoriten area, but Hanisch
wouldn't hear of doing any kind of hard work.* Hanisch also taught Hitler never to let any of the street
people know you had money for you might be robbed, or just as bad, asked for a loan. Any dealings
they had with other street people was usually transacted with the exchange of clothing or cigarettes. In
a short time Hitler, Hanisch and other friends met almost every night and sang to keep up their spirits in
spite of their "troubles."*
Why Hanisch took Hitler under his wing was all too obvious. Hitler had told Hanisch a little of his
background and Hanisch realized that Hitler's family was not poor. Hanisch, one of those classless
operators who sponge off of people until they finally learn to say no, advised Hitler to write his
stepsister for money. Only after Hanisch and another moocher (a so-called "salesman from... Silesia")
refused to take "no" for an answer did Hitler finally give in. Hitler wrote the letter in a coffee house
(the Cafe Arthaber) opposite the Meidling Station and the letter was sent off to Linz. "A few days
before Christmas Eve" Hitler received the money.* Either looking for sympathy by playing the part of
56

a destitute young man, or understanding he was dealing with two classless operators who would sponge
off of him if they knew he had a steady income, Hitler never admitted that the fifty kronen sent him
was his back pension money.
Hitler bought himself a good used overcoat and, according to Hanisch, a "transformation" took place in
him. The money gave him new hope. Although Hanisch would later claim that it was his idea, Hitler
decided to use his painting ability to try to earn a living as a street painter. Hitler saw that others, like
his idol Wagner, had worked themselves out of poverty and he had nowhere to go but up.
There was a year round market for small paintings in Vienna. They could be sold to locals in the cafes
or to stores that either sold them again or used them to promote picture frames. Furniture makers also
used small paintings which they inserted in the back of chairs, rockers or loveseats and varnished over.
In summer the paintings could be sold to tourists in cafes or in the street.
Hitler purchased ink, T-square, paints and postcard-sized painting cards. Like many self-taught
painters, Hitler worked from photographs or other prints, usually after viewing the object. Since
everyone was required to leave the asylum during the day, Hitler had to paint in cafes or other public
places. To allow himself more time to paint, he attempted to get the "the salesman from Silesia" to sell
his paintings but the man refused. Hitler, consequently, "took them to art dealers, furniture stores and
upholsters" himself.*
Street living during the day and the shelter at night with its motley people and lack of privacy soon
became unacceptable to Hitler. Like many derelicts, he considered himself a fallen upperclassmen and
despised most of those he had to associate with. A month of living like a "tramp" was enough for the
twenty year old Hitler. Shortly before the new year,* Hitler left Hanisch behind and moved to a hostel
at the north end of town not far from where the Danube and the Danube Canal intersect. The place was
known as the Mannerheim (Men's Home).

Chapter 6
The Artist
57

The Mannerheim, located on Meldemann Strasse, was the fourth project sponsored by the Habsburg's
to tackle the miserable living conditions of the less well-paid Viennese. The first three projects stressed
homes for families while the Mannerheim catered to men going through a hard time. The establishment
covered almost a whole block and had room for over 500 men. Opened in 1905 it was the most sought-
after refuge in Vienna for both blue and white-collar workers with meager or uncertain incomes. This
was a time of little social security and
no unemployment payments and even
members of the middle classes roomed
there during bad periods. A number of
wealthy businessmen (who had pushed
their luck too far), a baron and a count
had also roomed there. The place was
exceptionally clean and the cost, when
Hitler first moved in, was a little over
two kronen for a week's stay.
The Men's Home was considered the
most "luxurious" halfway house in
Austria (today it can be compared with
many of the older YMCA's in many of the larger US and Canadian cities). Each occupant had his own
small private room. In each room a single, metal framed bed nearly filled the space on one side of the
entrance door while a chair, small table and storage facilities nearly filled the other side of the room. A
large window, which let in an abundance of light during the day,
nearly filled the wall directly opposite the door.

There were large and more then adequate lavatories a short


distance down the hall and there were also waiting, game, and
reading rooms. The main reading room on the top floor
contained a small library along with the day's papers and
popular magazines. Besides a shoemaker and tailor shop, where
items could be repaired or new ones made, the basement
contained a barbershop, laundry and storage lockers. If one
cared for a prepared meal, it could be purchased for a nominal
cost and consumed on the ground floor in a large dining room at
the rear of the building which seated over 300 men.
The place also had a large public kitchen (still in use today)
where the economizing Hitler cooked his own meals. The Mannerheim was constantly under attack by
58

conservatives who saw it as pampering the lazy and unworthy. They sarcastically referred to it as the
"Men's Hotel."
The place was run
by Johann Kanya, a
retired officer, who
had fixed ideas
about behavior.
There were many
rules and
regulations
regarding conduct.
Kanya insisted that
all residents live a
quiet and orderly
life and woe to the
resident who
disobeyed. Loud
talk, standing on a
bed, or unkempt
appearances were
grounds for expulsion. To shower a resident had to pay a few extra cents which entitled him to a piece
of soap, a towel and a "bathing-apron" since total nudity was forbidden. Chess, checkers, and dominoes
were the only approved games and even then an argument over a move could get a resident in trouble.
For the slightest disregard of the rules a resident would find himself out in the street. In this disciplined
world, Hitler had little trouble fitting in.
At the Mannerheim, Hitler had the room and the privacy to paint. Shortly after moving in, Hitler sent
Dr Bloch, who tried so desperately to save his mother, a carefully painted postcard of a hooded monk
hoisting a glass of bubbling champagne, with the caption: "A toast to the New Year." On the reverse
side were cordial New Year's greetings and it was signed: "In everlasting thankfulness, Adolf Hitler."*
The ever conniving Hanisch followed Hitler to the Mannerheim in about a week. He knew that Hitler's
type of paintings were the kind that tourists and the average person found pleasing and admitted he
hoped to benefit for himself. Hanisch convinced Hitler that he would need an agent to sell his paintings
and would handle it for half the proceeds. Hitler appeared reluctant and offered the excuse that Hanisch
lacked a peddler's license which might get them into trouble with the police. Hanisch assured him that
he would take care of it. Hitler finally agreed.
Hitler continued painting small postcard-sized paintings of landscapes or architectural renditions of
churches and the more noble buildings of Vienna. Hitler attempted to do his best but Hanisch
59

complained: "He was a very slow worker, and I often told him not to dawdle around with his cards so
much, to daub on anything."* Hitler finally relented and began to dash most of them off in a hurry.
By the beginning of February Hitler settled into a fairly stable routine and began turning out two or
three postcard-sized paintings everyday. He did many paintings of the Gloriette and the "Roman Ruins"
in Schonbrunn Park. To give some of the pictures an old fashion quality he would hold them near a fire,
yellowing them, until he produced the effect he wanted. A few of his better paintings sold for five
kronen.
His usual place of work was at a large oak
table near the windows in the reading room
where would-be entrepreneurs gathered to
work on various projects. He could be seen
there almost everyday with his box of
paints. Hitler hated anyone looking over his
shoulder and did not like anyone to see his
work until it was complete. Hanisch took
care of the selling end of their business,
splitting the money equally with Hitler.
"Hitler was busy. Misery was at an end. We
were doing better and new hopes sprang
up," Hanisch would later recount. "At
Easter, 1910, we earned forty kronen on a big order [eight paintings] and we divided it equally."*
With his paintings subsidizing his pension, Hitler was soon making more than enough to pay the rent
and eat decently. Hanisch stated that Hitler, using part of his Easter windfall, even splurged and went to
the movies. See Appendix J (The movie). With real want diminishing, Hitler began spending less of his
time painting.
Many people in Vienna, as in other parts of Europe, use politics to warm-up to a conversation the way
Americans use the weather. In a place like the Mannerheim, where most of the down-and-out blame
government for their situation., politics was always a major topic. The reading room where Hitler did
his painting, was also the room where men gathered almost every day to discuss politics. On March 10,
1910 Karl Lueger, one of the most civic-minded yet controversial men in Austrian politics died. The
Mannerheim buzzed with opposing views and before they subsided, Hitler would find another idol
"who more than any other became [his] political mentor, though the two never met."*
When Hitler arrived in Vienna he had been a stanch opponent of Lueger and a supporter of Schonerer.
“Yet,” Hitler would later state, “in the course of my stay in Vienna I couldn't help acquiring a feeling of
great respect for Lueger personally. It was at the City Hall that I first heard him speak. I had to wage a
battle with myself on that occasion, for I was filled with the resolve to detest Lueger, Yet I couldn't
refrain from admiring him. He was an extraordinary orator .... I never saw him in the streets of Vienna
60

without everybody's stopping to great him. His popularity was immense .... What in other cities was the
responsibility of private firms, he converted in Vienna into public service."* See Appendix K (Karl
Lueger)
Though controversial, Lueger miraculously remained in the mayor's office for ten years despite the
forces and the wealth aligned against him. He withstood all obstacles, slurs and ostracizing and finally
withdrew in 1907 only after an illness exhausted his energies. Most people, including Hitler, who
witnessed his impressive funeral cortege in 1910, knew that a man of great stature had left them. "At
his funeral," Hitler would later recall, "two hundred thousand Viennese followed him to the cemetery.
The procession lasted a whole day."* The common people of Lower Austria truly mourned for Lueger.
There were many among the privileged however, who had never forgiven Lueger for his "frightening"
hold over the crowd and rejoiced over his passing.
The impact of Lueger's death changed Hitler from a person who just skims the surface of political
issues, to one who really begins to look deeply into the politics of his day. Politics become Hitler's
passion. "Hitler," Hanisch would later write, "told us a lot about Dr. Lueger, who had been forced to
fight hard for his position as mayor."* Fourteen years later, persons of quality and their historians in
residence were still degrading everything Lueger stood for (Konrad Heiden, for example, considered
Lueger a "despot."*) Hitler, however, would refer to Lueger as "the greatest German mayor of all
times"* and a greater "statesman" than any other politician who lived at that time.*
Although Hitler did not join the party Lueger left behind, it is possible he handed out the party's
literature on street corners for a while.* There now began to sprout in Hitler's mind, more from instinct
than by reason, "a political shrewdness which enabled him to see with amazing clarity the strengths and
weaknesses of contemporary political movements."* Lueger had shown Hitler at first hand that class
interests could be bridged between the lower ranks of the middle class and the working classes. If
Lueger had lived his Municipal Socialism might have evolved into National Socialism.
In April, 1910, Hitler turned twenty-one years old. He still had his beard, without a mustache, and his
hair was long. His complexion was pale, and his lanky body gave him an ungainly appearance. As
always, his prominent blue eyes were his most distinguishing and memorable feature. Although he kept
himself and his clothes clean, he developed the habit of cutting expenses by wearing old used clothes.
Jacob Altenberg, an art dealer, remembered that Hitler's clothes, although old, were neat and his pants
well-pressed. Hitler washed his only good shirt almost everyday as he took his shower. He pressed his
pants by folding them carefully and placing them under his mattress.
To keep his expenses at a minimum, Hitler also kept his diet simple. His normal meals consisted of
corn pudding or potatoes with margarine and bread. On a profitable day he sometimes went to a cheap
coffee shop where he ordered one of his favorite foods, cream cakes. Like many Viennese he was
developing a sweet tooth.
61

With the tourist season approaching, Hitler doubled the size of his paintings and produced a completed
one in about a day. These larger paintings, done in oil or water color, normally measured 12 by 18
inches, but he occasionally did some twice as large. These more elaborate, time consuming and fairly
good works normally brought in five to ten kronen each. Hanisch, nonetheless, complained that Hitler
never worked enough and when he scolded him about it, Hitler retorted that he was "not a coolie."*
Their mildly successful little enterprise brought Hitler and Hanisch together daily. Although politics
was always at the top of their conversation, they occasionally discussed other matters. Hitler was
interested in science and "thought men of the future would nourish themselves more and more with
substitutes."* Hitler also assured his friend that the day would come when men would learn to
overcome gravity, and to prove his point explained how gravity functioned. Hitler, Hanisch stated, read
a great deal and besides reading the science journals and newspapers at the Men's Home, also read
history (including the history of past German revolutions), philosophy, poetry, mythology and religion.
Although Hitler was born and raised a Catholic, he favored Protestantism and had great respect for
Luther whom he considered a genius. He nevertheless believed that if the Germans had remained
faithful to their old Germanic faith, instead of adopting Catholicism in the south and Protestantism in
the north, they would not have been a divided people. On the other hand Hitler understood the
advancements that come from outside sources and "believed that the Western nations gained a great
deal from the oriental civilizations during the crusades," especially in the field of art.* He questioned
the Nationalist's glorification of Teutonic (old German) civilization when compared to the Greek and
the Roman.*
As the weather improved, Hitler, Hanisch and other friends often went over to the Prater, an immense
park, which was dotted with cafes and recreational attractions. On weekends and holidays, musical
groups often performed there for the public. Much of the music tended to be classical and many of the
performances consisted of pieces from operas. Since most of Hitler's new acquaintances knew little or
nothing about opera, Hitler would quietly explain what action would be taking place in each piece. On
the way home he would try to explain the opera to his friends and often sang or hummed some of the
tunes to get his point across. Hanisch stated that although Hitler was a bad singer, "he could describe
the scenes, very well, and what the music meant."*
During this period, Hitler also became interested in the power of advertising and observed how easily
people were swayed by it. He believed that with the right "propaganda," which is what he considered
advertising to be, one could be induced to believe or buy anything. He told Hanisch that to be a
successful salesman, all one needed was "a talent for oratory."*
On one occasion, Hanisch even got Hitler to talk about women. During one of Hitler's summer
vacations to Spital as a teenager, Hitler admitted to an encounter with a girl in a neighbor's barn. When
it appeared that the girl, who had been milking a cow, was willing to go further than Hitler expected, he
beat a retreat, knocking over a pail of milk in his haste.* See Appendix L (The Milk Pail)
62

Although Hitler used the story as an example of how he had "thought of the eventual consequences,"
and controlled his passion, Hanisch, like Kubizek, believed that Hitler in reality was shy and timid
around women and no doubt lost his nerve.
Like many young men, Hitler was still groping toward those things that attract a woman to a man.
According to Hanisch, Hitler once said that the tilt of a man's hat (which would show something of the
man's personality) could have an alluring affect upon a woman. Hitler saw most women as fragile and
easily seduced by men and told Hanisch it was wrong to take advantage of their weaknesses. He still
had a "high opinion of love and marriage," but "little respect" for women outside the marriage role or
the home. On the other hand he strongly condemned the "disloyalty" of husbands and felt they should
adopt a "moral way of living." He told Hanisch that "a decent man can never improve a bad woman,
but a [decent] woman can improve a man."* The way in which Hitler talked about women convinced
Hanisch that Hitler's principles regarding them were really decent. Interestingly, just as when Hitler
lived with Kubizek and disappeared for days at a time, he also would disappear occasionally from the
Mannerheim. On one, or possibly two, occasions, a lengthy absence caused the loss of his room and he
had to re-register when he returned.
In July, Hitler had reason to believe that Hanisch was cheating him on what he was receiving for his
paintings. He asked for a list of all Hanisch's customers and when Hanisch refused, their partnership
began to crumble. Shortly after, Hanisch disappeared with two of Hitler's best paintings, including one
oil titled Parliament Housewhich Hitler valued at 50 kronen. Hitler filed a complaint with the police.
Early in August, Hanisch was seen by a Jewish postcard seller named Siegfried Loffner who also had
some bad dealings with Hanisch and also happened to know Hitler. When Loffner "reproached"
Hanisch for having run off with one of Hitler's paintings, an argument ensued in the street and Loffner
summoned the police.* Hanisch was arrested for possible embezzlement and carrying false
identification papers.
During the investigation Hitler was summoned to give a statement. Hanisch would try to discredit
Hitler, even claiming that Hitler was the one who suggested that he use a different name. He also
claimed that it was Hitler who was dishonest, and though he refused to reveal or call the buyer as a
witness, claimed that he received only 12 kronen for Hitler's oil painting of the Parliament building.
Hitler's testimony during the investigation was recorded as follows.
Royal and Imperial District Police Commissariat
Brigittenau [District] August 5, 1910
Adolf Hitler, artist-painter, born in Braunau, 20 April, 1889, domicile [address for legal purposes] Linz,
catholic, single, present address Vienna, XX [District], 27 Meldemann Strasse, declares:

It is not correct that I advised Hanisch to use the name of Walter Fritz. I have never known him by any
other name but Walter Fritz. Since he was destitute, I gave him the pictures I painted to sell. He
regularly received 50% of the proceeds realized. For about two weeks Hanisch had not returned to the
63

Home for Men, and stole from me the picture "Parliament House," valued at 50 kronen, and a
watercolor valued at nine kronen.

The only document of his that I ever saw was the employment booklet in question in the name of Fritz,
Walter. I first met Hanisch in the lodging-house in Meidling.

Adolf Hitler*

At the trial that followed on August 11, Loffner and Hitler testified against Hanisch who was sentenced
to an additional week in jail. The eight-month business venture between Hitler and Hanisch was over.
With the tourist season ending, Hitler found it harder to make a decent living but continued on his own.
Hitler normally left his room at exactly 9 am. since the rules of the Mannerheim did not permit
residents to stay in bed past that time. He would go down stairs for a light breakfast and then to the
reading room for the morning papers. Around ten o'clock he would began work on a new painting by
sketching out the picture. After lunch he spent much of the afternoon completing the detailed work and
coloring. On days when he had available a sufficient number of paintings he would leave the
Mannerheim late in the morning and tramp the streets selling his works. He would later return to the
reading room where he painted by the window. He seldom retired early and was normally seen, late
into the night, debating, reading, writing or painting. A few of the early risers condemned him for his
"late" habits. Hitler, however, would continue to practice the same basic routine the entire time he
resided at the Mannerheim.
There were Jews at the Mannerheim with whom Hitler often discussed politics, and he "often found
Jews who listened to his political debates."* Many of his favorite actors and musicians were Jews. He
spoke enthusiastically about Gustav Mahler and the work of Felix Mendelssohn. Although he didn't
agree with the politics of the late author and poet Heinrich (Harry) Heine, Hitler thought that his poetry
deserved respect and argued that it was sad Germany did not "recognize his merit."*
The Brigittenau district where the Mannerheim was located sat next to the Leopoldstadt district which
had been "set aside" for the Jews in 1623. The two districts were flanked by the Danube on one side
and separated from the main city by the Danube Canal on the other. As the Jewish population
increased, it had a tendency to push into the Brigittenau district swelling the Jewish population to 17%.
Shortly after moving into the Mannerheim, Hitler stated, he observed an Eastern or orthodox Jew. The
man had lengthy black hair-locks and was wearing a long black caftan. Hitler claimed that he was
instantly repulsed by him. Nevertheless, he still saw Jews who looked and spoke German as Germans.
The rampant anti-Semitism that existed in Europe failed to influence Hitler. One of his closest friends
during this period was a Jew named Josef Neumann.*
Neumann was a part time used clothes and art dealer who was instrumental in moving Hitler up the
social ladder. He had previously given Hitler some respectable used clothes and then put him in touch
with a few Jewish art dealers who purchased the best of Hitler's paintings. The dealers resold the
64

paintings, for the most part, to Jewish businessmen, doctors and lawyers. Hitler, consequently,
increased the number of his paintings and his business improved.
Hitler's and Neumann's relationship turned into such a close friendship that on certain days they would
spend all their time roaming the huge city, visiting museums or lost in conversation. Hitler and
Neumann had long discussions about Zionism. In one conversation Neumann stated that if all the Jews
left Austria the country would be in trouble for the Jews would carry away much of Austria's money.
Hitler, who appears to have understood nothing about international banking affairs at the time,
disagreed. He believed that the money would be confiscated since it was not Jewish but Austrian. In
another discussion about the Jews, Hitler thought it possible that God had not personally given Moses
the Ten Commandments but that Moses had collected them from various other cultures. But, if the Ten
Commandments were the work of the Jews, Hitler believed, "they had produced as a nation one of the
most marvelous things in history, since our whole civilization was based on the Ten Commandments."*
Hitler would carry that thought with him for the rest of his life and would state thirty-one years later:
"The Ten Commandments are moral values which are undeniably praiseworthy."*
Neumann was disenchanted with Vienna and dreamed of saving enough money and moving to
Germany. The idea strongly appealed to Hitler and on one occasion they actually made plans to leave
together. Their plans fell through and Neumann would depart by himself before the end of 1910 and
may have been the one who planted the seeds in Hitler's mind of moving to Germany.
Hitler felt a strong sense of obligation and openly praised Neumann long after he was gone. Hitler also
had nothing but praise for the Jewish art dealers, including Altenberg, another named Landsberger, and
a picture framer, Morgenstern, who bought most of his works. He thought highly of nearly all
Westernized Jews, especially since they were "willing to take chances" by buying his art.*
The most serious remark Hitler made against the Jews during this period (when Europe was awash in
antisemitism) was that he felt that one Jew who ran a pawn shop, "cheated" him on the price he
received for the coat he had previously sold. Instead of going to a Jewish shop to buy a new one, as a
friend suggested, he refused and went to a government pawn shop. That Hitler would make such a
statement at the time was not uncommon.
The Jews as a group in Vienna were law-abiding citizens and had a conviction rate in most crimes that
was lower than non-Jews. During Hitler's stay at the Mannerheim, however, they accounted for more
than their share of crimes involving fraud, exacting excessive interest and illegal bankruptcy
procedures.* Since many of these crimes were committed against fellow Jews, or left others holding a
useless IOU, many Viennese found humor in their illegal acts. On the other hand, their activities did
nothing to still the fervor of anti-Semitic newspapers. Hitler, who read newspapers everyday, was
aware of these acts, yet reliable sources who knew him during this period make no mention of any anti-
Jewish statements on his part. Hitler even went so far as to accuse members of the nobility of
committing illegal acts while "using the Jews as agents," and also pointed out that "most capital is in
the hands of Christians."*
65

In the large reading room at the Mannerheim, Hitler began to join in on the discussions with the more
educated "middle class" residents. Since "workers" were looked down on and seldom used the reading
room, opinions like Hitler's were seldom heard. The normal discussion was politics and what "anti"
remarks Hitler made against groups at this time were normally reserved for the rich and privileged no
matter what their religion or race. He railed against stock companies, large industries, greedy people*
and all their "unearned wealth."* The memory of Lueger and his fight against the upper strata was still
fresh in Hitler's mind. He saw Lueger's dictatorial system of government as the most efficient. By
admiring strong leadership, Hitler was soon at odds with most of the other debaters who favored the
"give and take" leadership as found in liberal representative government.
Because of the belief and feeling of the time, Hitler, without realizing it, as he would later write, had
also been "inoculated with a certain admiration" of representative government and took it for granted.*
By the time of Lueger's death, he had completely turned against the idea. Hitler saw that
"representative government" always fell into the hands of the those with the wealth and he believed the
rich took control of government only for their own self-interest. Hitler still saw royalty as the rightful
heirs* and felt that "unjustified greed for profit on the part of some people represented a great danger
for the state."* Since it was the wealthy liberal middle class who more than any other group advocated
representative government, he saw it as a "swindle."
Hitler, who continued to visit Vienna's House of Representatives, observed at first hand what was so
"elegantly reported," as he put it, in the liberal papers. As he sat above in the visitor's gallery one day
and watched one session, consisting of a few hundred representatives, he would remember and later
write:
A comedy unfolded beneath my eyes .... A wild gesticulating mass, screaming all at once in
every different key, was presided over by a pathetic old man sweating profusely as he tried to
revive the dignity of the House by violently ringing a bell and alternating between friendly
appeals and grave warnings.

I could not help laughing.

A few weeks later I paid another visit. The picture had changed beyond recognition. The hall
was practically empty. Down below most representatives were asleep. A few were in their
places, yawning in each other's faces as one was speaking. The presiding vice-president was
in his chair, looking out into the hall with obvious boredom.*

In front of the Representatives sat the shorthand writers who busily recorded the goings-on and Hitler
would tell an accompanying friend that they were "the only people who do any work in this house."
But he felt that it was unfortunate that "these hard-working men are of no importance whatsoever."*
After observing the "representative process" in person, Hitler would write that he was saved from
becoming a convert to a political theory which at first seems so alluring though the "ridiculous
institution"* is a symptom of "human decadence." Hitler was particularly bothered by the lack of any
66

individual responsibility by a representative body. Politicians as a group, he argued, can make decisions
or refuse to act on matters "which may have the most devastating consequences, yet nobody bears the
responsibility for it."*
Hitler felt that representative government was a hindrance to efficiency and was incapable of solving
problems as they arose. The upper classes have the security, standing, and money to weather hard
times, but Hitler, like most people of the lower stratum, had little interest in long-range policies and had
a desire for timely action. Unlike the educated and privileged, the young Hitler had a tendency to view
politics in black-and-white terms and had an impatience with all the talk and discussion. His beliefs
were influenced by the conditions that prevailed throughout the German speaking world and much of
Europe.
The previous century had seen an upheaval in the social structure of Europe and none of the present
systems of government seemed able to deal with it.* Whether the wealthy were in complete control or
aligned with royalty, the plight of the common man failed to improve and in many cases was made
worse. Although countries like Britain and France had weathered the initial impact of the enormous
changes brought on by industrialization, the remainder of Europe had just begun to feel the full effects.
New production methods had forced many of the small craftsmen and artisans out of work.
Technological innovations in agriculture forced many of the small farmers off the land. Changing
business methods had forced many small shop owners and merchants out of business. Millions of
common people gave up the struggle and headed for America where conditions were little better.
Millions more were forced into the bulging cities of Europe to compete with the underpaid workers
already there. Between 1895 and 1907, for example, the German machine-building labor force
increased almost 300%, the mining and metal industry almost doubled, and employment in chemicals
increased by 60%.* Housing for workers was cramped, their health care inadequate, and even though
the largest percentage of German workers spent over 50% of their income on food, their diet was
meager. For the fortunate ones who were able to achieve a better living, they accomplished it only by
working long hours at jobs in which the majority found no pleasure.
The new German workers who came to the cities were filled with expectations but found little hope for
themselves or their loved ones. The privileged either ignored or overlooked the fact that these workers
were not rustic clodhoppers, but a fairly educated lot. The number of new workers whose fathers had
been artisans (trained blue-collar workers) or members of the higher professions was double or triple
the number of sons of peasants.* Although a significant number maintained traditional views, another
group had picked up liberal middle class values, especially with regard to individualism and aspirations
of mobility. But another large group stood between these two; a group that found traditional and liberal
goals inappropriate and was groping toward new values.*
Because of the mix of people residing at the Mannerheim, political conversations tended to cover
a wide spectrum of views. Hitler, who was able to grasp different points of view because of his passion
for reading diverse newspapers, was always in the midst of the discussions. He was one of the large
67

group groping for new values and became strongly impressed with the views advocated in many of the
Socialists newspapers--the views grounded on the beliefs of Karl Marx, the father of modern
communism. See Appendix M (Karl Marx)
Because of its coarseness, Marx's gospel lost its momentum within his lifetime. In 1889, however, the
year Hitler was born, and six years after Marx's death, a Second International movement was formed
which hoped to spread the Marxian Gospel across the world with a toned down version. Afterward,
"Communists" began to refer to themselves as "Socialists" even though the year before, Engels had
stated in his preface to the English version of the "Communists Manifesto":
Socialism was ... a middle-class movement, Communism a working-class movement. Socialism
was..."respectable"; Communism was the very opposite. And as our notion from the very beginning,
was that "the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself," there can
be no doubt as to which of the two names we must take. Moreover, we have ever since, been far from
repudiating it.*

Most of the Communists, nonetheless, took to calling themselves Socialists. The growing strength of
their movement, under the name of the Social Democrats, marched steadily onward. Failing to notice
that the Social Democrats never clearly repudiated any of the Marxian Communists' goals, much of
their leadership was drawn from the "progressive" and "liberal" ranks. Other "economists,
philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity,
members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole and corner
reformers of every imaginable kind,"* and other "revolution-makers," as Marx contemptuously called
them, were also drawn to the Socialists out of "principles sake." The respectability that Marx and
Engels never wanted was theirs.
Although there were some liberals who were organizing parties that represented not only the rights of
the middle classes but those of small businessmen, artisans, and factory workers, it was too little to late.
While crammed into the large cities, millions of common men, especially the industrialized working
classes, looked about for anyone to help them. The Social Democrats seemed to be the only party who
offered them anything. Out of desperation, for the most part, they flocked to its banner. As Hitler would
later state: "The poverty into which they would fall sooner or later drove them finally into the camp of
Social Democracy."* By the time Hitler entered the Mannerheim the Social Democrats were one of the
most powerful parties in Central and Eastern Europe. A left-wing radical movement, that was more
closely attuned to the teachings of Marx, was rapidly growing within their ranks.
Hitler admitted that when he first came to Vienna he was attracted to the socialism of the Social
Democrats. The relentless materialist approach of Marxism overshadowed its other liberal objectives
and no doubt appealed to the young and financially insecure Hitler. Nearly all people of the lower
classes cannot help but push for the redistribution of wealth – the one Marxist ideal with great appeal.
But, as Hitler would later write, after living in Vienna for two years he came to see the "new" Marxist
party as a "whore covered with a mask of social virtue and brotherly love."
68

Hitler, who indisputably read the Communists Manifesto and other works of Marx, saw that when the
economic ideals of Marx are removed, nearly everything remaining clashes with most people's
thinking. He turned against the Social Democrats and began to hate everything their organization or
their leaders stood for. As he would later write:
These men degraded everything. The nation and country, because [they believed] it was an invention of
the "capitalist" (how often I heard this word) class for the exploitation of the working class; the
authority of law, because it was a means of oppressing the common man; school, was an institution for
bringing up slaves or slave drivers; religion, was a means of doping the people so as to exploit them
later; morality, was a badge of stupid and sleepish docility. There was nothing they did not drag through
the depths of the mud.*

In time, not believing that Germans came to hate their nation, religion, law, and the concept of morality
on their own, Hitler "discovered," as he put it, from reading newspapers from cover to cover, that the
Social Democrats and other liberals were poisoning the minds of the common man through their
newspapers. He was amazed that men read newspapers and took everything as fact without any
consideration as to who owned or edited the paper.
Unlike most men who read only one paper, Hitler was slowly acquiring an understanding of how
different news groups distort the same story to conform to their viewpoints or enhance the standing of
their sacred cows. Hitler, like Schonerer, realized that the news media cast a strong opinion on the
thoughts of others. His passion for reading had not abated and he would consume three or four
newspapers at a morning sitting. He became so obsessed with reading different points of view of the
same story that, if he had read all the papers in the reading room at the Mannerheim, and someone
came in with another, he would wait to read it also.
Like millions of others throughout Europe, Hitler saw voting as a joke. He believed that the Marxists,
borrowing and building on democratic and constitutional convictions laid down by the middle classes,
were working under the Socialist banner to achieve Marx's goal. He believed that the Socialists used
their press to glorify representative government so as to win "the favor of the crowd" which,
considering their numbers, would lead to the ultimate triumph of Socialism and the destruction of the
nations with their traditional, historical and moral values.
"Representative government" or "western democracy, " as Hitler called it, "is the forerunner of
Marxism [and] is the breeding-ground in which the Marxist plague can grow and spread." He saw the
Social Democrats as "the deadliest enemy of our nationality,"* which, "spurred me on to a greater love
for my country than ever before."*
Hitler blamed the growth of the Socialists on the stupid and immoral actions of the wealthy and their
representatives who refused to give in to "humanly justified" social demands because they couldn't
obtain "any advantages for themselves." (The italics are Hitler's).* He thought that it was only a matter
of time till the Marxists won over the crowd because of the lack of action by the "political
bourgeoisie," as he called them, who refused to carry out tasks of "vital importance."
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Along with Hitler, most traditional Germans saw the new "Socialism" as a front for the old Marxism.
They saw the Marxists as enemies of nationality, Christianity, tradition, family, law, order, and decency.
It was these people, especially outside the large cities, all over Western and Central Europe whose vote
did much to curtail the liberal Communist vision.
Like many young men of the lower classes, Hitler held on to the traditional German dream of a strong
leader who stood above politics and could immediately right the wrongs that existed. Hitler believed
that, during bad times, representative and constitutional government was an obstacle to efficient social
and economic leadership because of its built-in checks and counterchecks of command. Hitler also
believed that in complicated affairs, like economics or foreign policy, "five hundred elected...
incompetent... narrow-minded, vainglorious, and arrogant amateurs," who "lack all qualifications for
the task," are supposed to decide issues "of the gravest importance for the future." Yet he states, not one
of them would have the courage to admit that he, or his fellow representatives, knew anything about a
subject under consideration because the other representatives would never "permit the game to be
spoiled by such an honest ass." As to the objection that the representatives had "experts" and "special
committees" to advise them, Hitler asked: "Why are five hundred elected...?"*
Like Voltaire (the 18th century philosopher, who favored a type of enlightened despotism where
rational laws guaranteed "natural rights"), Hitler also had his model in Frederick the Great of Prussia.
Frederick was the greatest of the enlightened "despots" and because of his reign, unlimited power
vested in a single ruler of benevolent disposition was seen as the best foundation of a state by many of
the Enlightenment intellectuals.
Hitler could also look to Germany where Otto von Bismarck, the creator of the Second Reich, had also
been in complete control of domestic policy. Under his administration, limitations of the work week
were instituted along with provisions to ensure safe and sanitary conditions in the work place. Free
medical and hospital services, accident insurance, and old age and invalids insurance were also
instituted, even before Hitler was born. The leaders of the democratic nations scorned these pioneering
social laws as nothing but sops to ensure the status of royalty. The workers of the "free world,"
however, would not see such social progress for decades. (In the United States, for example,
comparable legislation would not be introduced for another fifty years.*) For all Bismarck did for
German workers, however, Hitler was wise enough to know that Bismarck, because of his personality,
methods and visions, would never have appealed to voters of any class. As Hitler would later write: "It
is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a great man to be 'discovered' by an
election."* Since he felt that the wealthy middle classes were only concerned with themselves and that
the majority of workers were tools of the Marxists, he was firmly against voting as a means of choosing
the leadership of the nation. He believed that both "western democracy" and "Marxism" repudiated the
"aristocratic principle."
At this time, Hitler considered the nobility as a group "superior"* and saw them as "a sort of noble race
that would forever remain preeminent."* He believed they could handle matters better than a bunch of
70

bickering representatives and felt they should lead, or appoint a leader like Bismarck to run the state.
Such a leader (a Fuhrer) would stand above politics and have almost unlimited power to appoint whom
he wanted to help run the state. He would not be answerable to a representative body, but, like a
Wagnerian hero, would be "obliged to accept full responsibility for his actions and.... for those
decisions he pledges all he has in the world and even his life."* Hitler felt that if the nation found itself
with an unworthy or "cowardly" leader, the nobility would replace him. (Hitler continued to support a
monarchy for years to come. As he would remark in 1942: "I must, however, quite frankly confess that
in 1920, if the monarchy had been restored...we [National Socialists] should have supported it. It was
only later that we gradually realized that a monarchy had outlived its times."* When Hitler published
Mein Kampf (after his failed putsch) in 1925, he discarded the monarchy, and using a combination of
ancient German history, myth, and nationalistic ideals of a mystical strong man to lead the German
Volk, gave into the idea of a "free election"* since he knew it was his only way to power.*) Later he
would come to despise the nobility as much as he despised the bourgeoisie.
Those at the Mannerheim who didn't share Hitler's opinions thought he was "strange" or "odd." He was
aware of those who considered him "eccentric," but he was also aware of those who found substance in
his views. As one resident would later remark: "I believe that Hitler was the only one among us who
had a clear vision of his future way."*
Because rent had to be paid and food purchased, Hitler would sooner or later put his political visions
aside and return to his painting. He admitted that he worked only enough to "avoid starvation," and one
of his favorite remarks was: "Oh, to hell with the money!" As time passed, nevertheless, his funds
improved and his life style appeared very respectable. He was still thin and frail, but he began to eat
and dress better. Because of his artistic ability he was soon living as good as anyone in the
Mannerheim. He was now making over 70 Kronen a month from his painting and also had his pension.
He was very close to exceeding the 1,400 Kronen annual income limit set by the Mannerheim.
In December of 1910, Hitler's aunt Johanna, Klara's sister, knowing her time was short withdrew her
savings from the bank and gave Hitler a large share of it. She, like most of Hitler's other relatives, had
opposed his idea of becoming an artist. She nevertheless had corresponded with him on occasion and
apparently had a change of heart. She gave him the money for the purpose of pursuing his career as an
artist.* Five months after receiving this "windfall," and a month after Johanna's death, Angela, Hitler's
step-sister, inquired at the Linz court as to whether Hitler was still entitled to his share of the orphan's
pension since he now appeared self-supporting. Angela's husband had died the previous August, and
with a daughter and son of her own, she now wanted Hitler's share of the pension to revert to the 15
year old Paula whom she was still raising. In May, 1911, at age 22 Hitler made the trip to Linz and
according to Paula, "voluntarily" gave up the right to his share of the pension. According to court
records Hitler stated he was "able to maintain himself and...[agrees] that the full amount of the orphan's
pension should be put to the use of his sister."* Mayor Mayrhofer, Hitler's guardian, believed that
Hitler had again acted "decently" and heard no complaints about Hitler's actions.* ( In later years when
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reporters and historians began making inquires, Mayrhofer, who knew the young Hitler as well as
anyone, never found anything bad to say about him.)
Exactly how much Hitler received from his aunt is a mystery, other than to report that it had been a
"considerable sum." What Hitler did with the money is even a bigger mystery. Since there was little
change in his life style, some feel he lost the money in some financial scheme. Since he never reported
his windfall to the management, others feel he shrewdly doled it back to himself in small amounts as he
had done with his inheritance when his mother died. Other's believe he may have squandered it away or
(most unlikely) took a trip to Munich.** Actually, he may have taken a trip to the countryside that May
before he returned to Vienna. As Hitler would later recount:
Like chamois [small antelopes], girls are rare in the mountains. I must say I admire those lads who
tramp for hours through the night, carrying a heavy ladder and running the risk of being bitten by
the watch-dog--or having a bucket of cold water thrown over them for their pains! I have much
more sympathy for them than for the type who wander round the big cities, rattling his five or ten
marks in his pocket! On the other hand, there are times when the countryside has its advantages,
though none but the brave deserve the fair. The nights of May, the month of the festival of the
Holy Virgin, are wonderful in the country--and afford wonderful opportunities for a tender
rendezvous to say nothing of the various pilgrimages, which offer a good excuse to spend the night
anywhere. In Austria it is in Carinthia that these happy practices are most prevalent, and it is there
one finds the loveliest maids.**

Nonetheless, after Hitler returned to Vienna he resumed his painting. He produced landscapes and
portraits in ink, watercolor and oils. With the warmer weather, and his Jewish contacts, he was able to
sell everything he painted.
Hitler knew and admitted to friends that his work was not masterful because he did not have the proper
training. Although many of his later pictures are pleasant to look at and are the type the average person
appreciates, they are not what the avant-garde or experts consider "art" (not enough "depth," they say).
Technically, however, much of his work was "quite professional"* and pleasing. Though he, like many
artists, never completely mastered perspective, Hitler knew that his real talent lay in architectural
renderings. Although many of his works were dashed off quickly for profit, he often did detailed
sketches of certain scenes and buildings before painting them. He had "an undeniable eye for
structure;"* most of his street scenes are often "technically excellent;"* and many of his buildings were
executed with "genuine dexterity."* Like many untrained artist, he could not draw figures within the
context of his paintings and they were usually out of proportion or stood unnatural when he did.**
Understanding his own shortcomings, Hitler normally painted architectural structures and left people
out.**
The large number of street artists in Vienna made it impossible for Hitler to dredge out more than a
meager living in the winter months. When sales dropped off he occasionally switched from street
paintings to painting posters and rough advertisements for local businesses. His ad depicting Santa
Claus holding "colored candies," or the one depicting the spire of St Stephen's rising out of a mountain
72

of "soap-suds" have provided countless historians with fuel for condemnation. For advertising
purposes, however, these ads had "depth" for their time. They also kept a roof over his head since he
didn't have the financial support of wealthy relatives that most highborn "struggling" artists enjoy.
Like many artists, Hitler thought of switching to the less glamorous end of the artistic endeavor and
working for businesses where the income is steady. He "undertook technically difficult work for
reproductions in print (usually engravings), mainly for posters or illustrations for advertisements of
cosmetics, face powder, footwear, shoe polish and ladies' underwear."* For a while he renewed his
dream of becoming an architect and secured, from a construction company, assignments producing
elementary architectural designs.*
Hitler was always looking for that "special mission" he thought he was to achieve. Almost everyone
who met him was impressed by his ambition and energy at times. Between bouts of painting and
reading, he would get an idea and throw himself into it for weeks or months at a time. After
experimenting with model airplanes he attempted to design a full size airplane. After reading the
science journals in the reading room about underwater exploration, his imagination was fired and he
attempted to design water-diving equipment. He noted that paper money wore out too quickly and felt
bills should be made smaller. He then attempted to come up with an idea for enclosing them in
celluloid. He occasionally resumed his idea of writing a book and in many cases told people he was a
writer.
What he was attempting to write at this time is not known. If anyone in the Mannerheim tried to look
over his shoulder, he would hunch over and shield his writing with his arm. But, he read a number of
books on philosophy, Eastern and Western religions, astrology, occultism, and ancient Greece and
Rome which abounded with Gods. He was remarkably knowledgeable about the history of German
antiquity and the numerous gods and heroes of its mythology. He also knew his Bible, being
particularly well versed in the Old Testament.* He had also read Dante's Divine Comedy* which is
religious in content (though its goals were ethical) and showed great sympathy for pre-Christians who
had contributed philosophical ideals. Hitler's design may have been to write a book on religion, or a
theme concerning Christianity again, which, as with his earlier "opera," had always appealed to him
from a worldly point of view.
Just as quickly his interest would wane and he would abandon one idea after another. Friends would
then marvel over his complete lack of activity. In a short time he would recover and return to his
painting until another big idea dawned.
By such twists and turns however, he began to acquired information in many fields unknown to most
men. His reading was far from the narrow confines accepted by most intellectuals. "With the
indiscriminateness of the self-educated,"* his readings opened up a whole world of ideas. Unlike most
intellectuals, academics and professionals (who spent a large part of their lives acquiring an expertise in
one particular subject, and who are, consequently, surprisingly ignorant of nearly everything else
outside their expertise) Hitler had a scope of interconnecting knowledge that was widening. He also
73

had an "extraordinarily efficient memory" which retained what he read.* Although he was not an
authority in anything, he was acquiring a vast general knowledge which was "nothing short of
amazing."*
In addition, men of education usually keep within their own circles or class and are oblivious to other
classes desires and beliefs. Hitler's changing life styles and locations since a youngster had exposed
him to a wide range of social classes which laid the seeds of insight into the driving motivations of
different classes. Mythology can also "open a window to a people's soul"* and Hitler's reading and
knowledge of German Mythology had also given him special insights that few people understand. His
habit of reading different newspapers with different perspectives also gave him a more realistic and
discerning view of events. He knew when to "retain the essential and discard the non-essential
[propaganda]." Unlike those trained in the academic tradition, he was not easily swayed by the opinions
of others. He came to understand that the "educated classes" are just as blinded by their interests and in
protecting their way of life and, consequently, are as predisposed, prejudiced, narrow-minded and
unenlightened as any other class.
As even Marx noted, the place a person assumes in the economic order deeply influences his sense of
identity. Hitler did not identify with the "have or satisfied" classes, but he did not identify with the
lower strata of the industrialized working classes either. In the political discussions that continued in
the reading room, which at times had twenty debaters, Hitler, over the course of a year, became the
leading speaker for the people caught in between the two. Besides denouncing those of the upper
classes, Hitler continued to rail against the Marxists and their trade union organizations which preached
the brotherhood of man. As he would later state:
The eternal mouthings about the communal spirit which brings men together of their own free will,
makes me smile. In my own little homeland, when the lads of the village met in the local tavern,
their social instincts rapidly degenerated, under the influence of alcohol, into brawling, and not
infrequently, finished up in a real fight with knives. It was only the arrival of the local policeman
which recalled them to the realization that they were all fellow-members of a human community.*

In a place like the Mannerheim, where the lowest to the higher strata of individuals resided, Hitler was
exposed to all. He had learned that great differences exists between men, and he had nothing but
contempt for those who blindly followed the Socialist creed – which in Austria was the most Marxist
and leftist of all the Social Democratic parties of Europe. At times, the political discussions could get
very heated and the conversation would be taken to the street or the green space behind the building to
avoid the wrath of the Mannerheim administration. Although Hitler could debate in a logical and
dignified manner, still somewhat disillusioned and angry, he could be very antagonizing. He was not
beneath using vulgar and obscene language, and was particularly fond of the word, "shithead." There
were those who found him crude or offensive. He reportedly once suffered a beating from two Social
Democrat transport workers for calling them "idiots." For days, it was said, he nursed body bruises, a
swollen face and a large lump on the head.*
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Hitler remembered his father as a much respected official to whom people raised their hats and whose
word carried weight. His father however, had earned this respect. In the big city, Hitler was nobody and
unknown. He soon realized that to turn men's minds he needed a sound opposing argument to win them
to his point of view. In time, as he would later state, "I learned to talk less and listen more to those
whose opinions and objections were boundlessly primitive." At times he could still become belligerent,
but he knew when he had gone too far. With a wave of his hand, he would abruptly cut short his
remarks and return to his painting. At other times he would realize that he didn't know enough about
the topic, break off the conversation and then spend the next day or two reading about it. He was
learning that it was persuasion and tact that were needed to win men's minds to his views, not a temper
which would draw their hostility. He would then return another day to resume the battle.
Mentally (as more than one philosopher has noted), most people are authentically who they are by the
time they reach their early twenties. From then on they look only for confirmation of their views. Hitler
was no different. His reading tended to be only from the perspective of finding confirmation of those
principles and ideas he already had. After reading something that corresponded to his beliefs, he would
often read it aloud to others and state: "You see, the man who wrote this is of exactly the same
opinion."*
In time Hitler became one of the best debaters and most respected people in the Mannerheim reading
room. Gone was the beard of the rebel. He learned to listen. He did not try to antagonize people.
According to observers he was usually "polite," " friendly," " helpful," " goodhearted," "charming," and
"wasn't proud or arrogant". He took an interest in his companions and would always stop to help or
advise a friend. He contributed and even organized collections for men who had run out of money and
needed a quick helping hand to stay another day. On the other hand, he still never became overly
friendly and, unlike most men, seldom talked about himself. No one thought of taking his favorite chair
near the window and most placed the distinctive "Herr" (referring to a gentleman) before his name. As
one resident noted: "He seemed to understand everyone." In time, even the director of the Mannerheim
would occasionally stop to talk with him--"an honor seldom granted a resident."*
Hitler however, was not satisfied. "A feeling of discontent seized me," he stated in Mein Kampf. Like
many young people who find substance in posters and slogans that praise other places, over his bed
hung one that glorified Germany. Germany was a land that had been beckoning to him for years.
Although all of Europe was alive with counter-political beliefs, Vienna with its international flavor of
warring parties and nationalities, did not play well against Hitler's ideas of a strong German nation.
Hitler also believed the Habsburgs, in attempting to quell the unrest in Austria, were practicing an anti-
German policy by unfairly giving in to the other nationalities and minorities which sooner or later
would bring about the collapse of the empire. The lure of Germany finally won out. With some obscure
ideal of hopefully finding a position "as a designer" for a large architectural firm,* he decided to return
to the state of Bavaria where as a boy he had developed his dialect.
75

He had been at the Mannerheim for nearly three and a half years. In the end he had not only won the
respect of most of the men there, but also their friendship. There were those who were sorry to see him
go. On May 24, 1913, shortly after his 24th birthday, Hitler stuffed his few belongings into a single
suitcase and headed for the railroad station (Westbahnhof). He purchased a one-way ticket to Munich,
Germany.
(Interestingly, shortly before Hitler left Vienna,
Joseph Stalin (at age 33 just an up and coming
Bolshevik ) was sent to Vienna in January 1913 to
study the "Austrian situation." He rented a room
just off the NE corner of Schonbrunn Park for a
month and while there, working with the German
socialists, wrote a Marxist tract. Hitler continued
to visit Schonbrunn Park at that time. Perhaps the
two, who were to become adversaries exactly
twenty years later, crossed paths.)
76

7: A Real German

Hitler arrived at the main railroad station (Hauptbahnhof) in Munich on May 25, 1913.* He left the
station and began searching for an apartment. The speech of the people reminded him of his childhood
and he was "full of enthusiasm."*
Munich, though not as large as Vienna, was a thriving city with over 600,000 people. It had been the
capital of Bavaria since 1255, and past Bavarian kings had contributed greatly to its art and
architecture. Painting, sculpture, and architecture museums abounded. Munich was often referred to as
the "modern Athens." Besides being the center of German art, it boasted one of the best universities and
libraries in Germany and was the intellectual center of Bavaria.
A few blocks north of the railroad station, Hitler stopped
before a four-story building on Schleissheimer Strasse to
inquire about a posting: "Furnished rooms to let for
respectable gentlemen." After a short talk with the
landlady, he took a room for 20 marks a month, three
flights up, where his only window overlooked the street.
The owner of Hitler's new residence was a Paris trained
tailornamed Josef Popp who had his business on the
ground floor while the "first and second floors" were
occupied by himself, his wife, their two children and
their parents. When Mr. Popp first observed "the new
lodger" his wife had rented to, he was glad to see that
Hitler "was far from shabby."* His wife found Hitler to
be a well mannered "Austrian charmer."*
As required, Hitler registered with the local police
department, but this time as an "Architectural painter from Vienna." To show his contempt for Austria.,
or possibly attempting to emulate other "men of the world," he designated himself as "stateless" (as
Marx had done in his youth) though Hitler made no attempt to relinquish his Austrian citizenship.
Hitler's residence was located on the edge of the artist colony and student district in the Schwabing area
not far from the University. The area sprawled over the northern part of the city and bristled with art
shops, studios, book stalls, and cafes. During the days the streets thronged with young people and older
dreamers carrying sheet music, canvases or manuscripts to and fro in hopes of instant success. Most of
these would-be "great artists" were normally found in the numerous cabarets and beer gardens.
Brewing was Munich's major industry and life revolved around the beer mug. The atmosphere in the
Schwabing district also drew misfits, malcontents and rootless characters from all over Europe.
Twelve years earlier, Vladimir Ulianov, using the name Meyer, lived a few blocks up the street from
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Hitler's new address. During "Meyer's" stay he busily wrote inflammatory articles that were smuggled
into Russia under his underground name, Lenin. On the other hand, less ambitious but just as optimistic
people also passed through the area. Not far away in a room similar to Hitler's, Oswald Spengler had
begun writing The Decline of the West. Thomas Mann also lived in the district and was writing about
social disintegration and moral decay. (Twenty-five years hence, while in exile, Mann would write
(almost in admiration) about the man responsible for that exile – Adolf Hitler.)
For one who intended to make his livelihood as an artist, Adolf Hitler had picked a good time to
relocate. The tourist trade would soon reach its height. The cafes and shops offered ample opportunity
to sell his work.
Full of hope, Hitler began his painting the very next day. According to Mrs. Popp, within a few days,
Hitler completed "two lovely pictures," one of the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) and the other of
the Theatinerkirche (Church of the Theatines). Hitler, enthralled by his new environment, would rise
early in the morning in search of customers and take up the brush later in the day. He took his meals at
local restaurants for awhile but always the economizer he soon brought sausage,* bread and the like to
his room.
For a young man, Hitler surprised the Popps by his aloofness. Whenever they offered him the
advantage of joining them for supper or conversation he often found an excuse to refuse. As in Vienna
he never became overly friendly and could not be induced to talk about himself. Mrs. Popp noticed that
he seldom received mail from Austria and when he did it was usually from his "sister." There were
times when he would just stay in his room for days painting or "with his nose buried in heavy books"*
he obtained from the Bavarian State Library which was a fifteen minute walk from his room. Mrs.
Popp noted that he often "read and studied from morning to night." She noticed that the books covered
a wide variety of subjects including politics, and once asked Hitler what he expected to gain by all that
reading. Hitler, she said, smiled and took her by the arm and while walking beside her said: "Dear Frau
Popp, does anyone know what is, or what isn't, likely to be of use to him in the future?" The Popps
found Hitler to be a modest and charming young man who kept himself and his room very clean. The
Popps' children and parents were also "very fond of the young man"* and felt that Hitler was a "nice"
person.
Since Mr. Popp's livelihood depended on his reputation as a master tailor, he took an interest in how his
tenants dressed. For a modest fee he supplied Hitler with a couple of fitted suits and a well tailored
topcoat which Hitler kept, like his room, in impeccable order.*
To satisfy his sweet tooth, Hitler often purchased "day old" rolls and cakes for a reduced rate at a
bakery shop down the street and to the left on Gabelsberger Strasse. In time he befriended the baker,
Franz Heilmann, who purchased two of his paintings. In a 1952 interview Heilmann remembered Hitler
as a "sensible" and "respectful" young man who was always neatly dressed.
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As Hitler learned the in-and-outs of the Munich art business, his paintings began bringing in 10 to 25
marks apiece and he sold all he could paint. Since a bank clerk of his age made about 70 marks a month
while many metal workers, with families to provide for, made less than 100 marks a month, his success
as an artist was undeniable.
Hitler still did many of his paintings, after viewing the object when possible, from photographs or post
cards. His favorite spot when painting was at his window overlooking the street. As in Vienna, some of
his paintings were done on the scene. He painted the Hofbrauhaus (one of the biggest pubs in the world
and the most celebrated of Munich's beer halls) so many times he could paint it from memory with all
its details. Interestingly, some artists, like van Gogh, believed that one must see what one is painting,
while others, like Gauguin, believed that artists should paint from memory – Hitler didn't seem to have
a preference. Although Hitler did some work in oils, most of his works during this period were
watercolors.
He refused to hire an agent and sold his paintings to the Kunsthandlung Stuffle (an art shop) on
Maximilian Strasse* or to tourists and businessmen on the broad Leopold Strasse. That Hitler would
peddle his paintings on Leopold is noteworthy--Munich's Academy of Art rests right off Leopold and
there can be little doubt that some "customers" assumed that Hitler was a struggling art student and/or
might become famous some day. A doctor Schirmer remembered that Hitler approached him when he
was having a beer at one of the many beer gardens in the area at the time. Hitler, he said, was neatly
dressed and politely asked him if he was interested in purchasing a small oil painting he had with him.
The doctor purchased the painting for 25 marks and commissioned Hitler to reproduce two of his
favorite postcards in water colors. Hitler completed the paintings of Bavarian mountain lakes within a
week.
Hitler soon began making over 100 marks a month. Since he had few material aspirations (he admitted
to an acquaintance years later that one Mark a day was enough for lunch and supper and he could live
"very well" on 80 marks a month) he began to enjoy a very comfortable life style
Hitler however, was not proud and appreciated what people did for him. As time passed, Mrs. Popp
found him very helpful. Hitler would help her around the house and was not beneath beating carpets,
bringing in the coal or filling her list at the market. He may even have helped with bigger chores
because the later references to him as a housepainter or paperhanger stem from his residency with the
Popps.* He also entertained her son by reading "military books" to him. When Mr. Popp gathered with
friends for his weekly card game, Hitler, who never gambled, was not adverse to running errands for
them. When the card game ended, Hitler occasionally would join Mr. Popp and his friends in a certain
amount of socializing and conversation. Popp and most of his friends considered Hitler an
"emancipated, interesting figure."*
Most of these discussions covered art, music and Bavaria. During most of its history Bavaria had been
an independent kingdom but joined Bismarck's "Second Reich" in 1871. (The "First Reich" was the
"Holy Roman Empire" (962-1806) which Napoleon destroyed.) Of the 26 German states, Bavaria was
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second only to Prussia in size and influence. Prussian dominance however, angered many of the
Bavarians and although most accepted their status, there was a small though active group who
advocated an independent Bavaria. Another group favored separation from Germany and union with
their fellow Catholics of Austria. Bavaria, consequently, held a special independent position in
Germany, and politics were always a major topic. Hitler, as an outsider, found a ready audience and
was listened to with respect. Acquaintances reported that his political views were consistent and that he
liked to predict political developments.* In time Hitler and Mr. Popp used to have political
conversations almost every night. A fellow lodger who had no liking for politics found the discussions
insufferable and ended up moving.*
In his spare time, Hitler visited the local beer halls or cafes where he never had any trouble finding
someone to talk to. Three of his haunts were the Schwabinger Brauerei on Leopold Strasse, the
Mathaser Bierhalle on Bayer Strasse and the Schwemme – the huge low priced beer room in the
Hofbrauhaus on Brauhaus Strasse. The normal clientele of these haunts were usually working people of
blue and white collar, but he also met and befriended a lawyer, Ernst Hepp, and his wife at this time.*
Beer halls have always had a reputation as places where the sexes mix and in places like the Mathaser
and Hofbrauhaus its down right impossible not to. There can be little doubt that Hitler came into
contact with women. He however, never brought a woman to his room, even though he could have
entertained since the Popps had no objections. Social and religious pressures being what they were,
Germans, like the Austrians, outwardly adhered to a proper and acceptable form of conduct. Due to
Hitler's upbringing, which was dominated by the Victorian idea of strict morality, he was often
dismayed by the social changes he observed. He found Munich particularly tolerant and would later
say: "When I arrived there from Vienna, I was astonished to see officers in shorts taking part in a relay
race."* Hitler, consequently, would hardly have been the type to flaunt any encounters with women.
(Once, in Vienna, when Hitler walked in on Kubizek and a female classmate, who had stopped at their
apartment for an innocent meeting, Hitler was "furious.") In Germany, as in Austria, the rigid
observance of class distinctions also forced many unmarried middle class men to be secretive about the
women they associated with. If Hitler had any relationships with women at this time, he kept it to
himself. Those who remembered Hitler from these days however, were impressed by his eyes and by
the impressive vocabulary which he had gained from his constant reading and debates in Vienna.
The Schwabing district was considered the intellectual center of Munich, and the conversation in the
places Hitler frequented invariably got around to politics. Of the eight major parties in Germany, the
Social Democrats had taken over as the largest party the year before Hitler arrived (1912) and the
young flocked to its international banner. Hitler, consequently, found many adversaries. When taking
an opposite position and attacking the Marxists values that so many of the young clung to, he was
bound to offend some people. On the other hand, Hitler's ideas about curtailing the power and influence
of the rich, outlawing stock companies, and letting the state take over or share in the profits of big
industry* no doubt found a ready audience--even among the Marxists. As one listener would later
described him: "At first positively repulsive, somewhat nicer on further acquaintance." Many of Hitler's
80

other ideas were also far from outlandish, and since nearly everyone in the Schwabing area was against
something, he "was often listened to with respect by the laborers, clerks and drifters who populated the
pubs he usually favored."* Still, Hitler realized that his anti-representative and pro-national opinions
created hostilities on the part of some listeners. He was regarded as a "crank" by some of the
"educated" who have always viewed working class people, who do not accept their views, as
unsophisticated and stupid. See Appendix N (An Example of Hostilities)
Hitler however, was far from alone in his beliefs. Just as he and his schoolmates were taught in the
Austrian schools that they were to civilize the non-Germans within their empire, German school
children were taught much the same but on a world scale. Like the British upper crust (who had
nothing but contempt for the different "races" within their empire) the German upper crust portrayed
themselves as leaders and regenerators of mankind while other "races" were represented as incompetent
and decadent.
Culturally, German achievements compared favorably with those of any neighbor or rival and in some
categories were without peer. Germans were winning almost twice as many Nobel Prizes as any other
people and students flocked to German universities from all over the world. Germany gave many
outward signs of being a nation poised for further social and political progress, and even possibly
enlightened leadership of the western world.
German nationalists had declared that, "Germany was the center of God's plan for the world," and the
German Kaiser, William II, had recently declared: "God has called us to civilize the world; we are the
missionaries of human progress." A teacher, professor or any other propagandist who did not teach the
racial, moral, intellectual and physical superiority of the Germans, plus their destiny to lead Europe,
was doomed to obscurity. A whole generation of Germans grew up supporting these ideas and though
the Marxists could brag that they spoke for 4,000,000 voters, it was Marxist materialism that appealed
to their followers and little else. See Appendix O (German Nationalism)
Pan-Germanism (ultra nationalism) was not organized as a movement until 1894 by Ernst Hasse. "We
want territory," he stated in one of his books, "even if it be inhabited by foreign peoples, so that we may
shape their future in accordance with our needs." The Pan-Germans went on to claim large areas of
land in today's Russia, Poland, and Lithuania solely because these lands were inhabited by small
minorities of Germans. They had no patience with talk of internationalism. They clung to the dream of
a Great German Reich where "all men of German tongues" would one day gather.
The Pan-Germans also advocated a race program where those Semites and other non-Germans who had
not obtained German citizenship were to be expelled from the country--"ruthlessly and to the last man."
Those who were citizens were to be treated as foreigners, barred from public office, prohibited from
voting or owning real estate, and compelled to pay double taxes for the good of German national life.
Pan-Germanism was not an idea conceived by crackpots and radicals but by intellectuals, writers,
scholars and other "experts." A large portion of its membership consisted of teachers, professors and
those working in the news media.*
81

There were also others who were much more radical in their nationalistic fervor. They felt that most of
the intellectuals and other higher-ups where out of touch with the general populace. Many of these
men, like Richard Wagner before them, promoted "feel" and "intuition" as opposed to "reason" in
reaching the masses. Men like the writer, Alfred Schuler, damned representative governments and
joined the nationalists in looking forward to a day when a hero/leader—a Fuhrer-- would make
Germany the greatest country in the world. Schuler, like Lanz in Vienna, taught that any measures
could be justified in dealing with other nations or races for the sake of advancing the German nation.
Schuler often gave speeches in the many coffeehouses in the Schwabing and it is possible that Hitler
heard him speak. Although Hitler would also be accused of holding such visions at that time, there is no
evidence to support the rumor. "Hitler was then an enemy of any kind of terror," an acquaintance would
later state.* Others who knew Hitler at the time make no mention of any outlandish views. He was
realistic in his views and appeared content with his life.
Even Hitler's art continued to be pleasant, academic and realistic at a time when many artists in
Germany considered themselves "free from civilized restraint." Since the turn of the century, changes
in the practice of art had battered traditional and academic values of painting. While Vienna maintained
its mostly anti-modern stance, Munich (like Paris, Brussels, and Barcelona) had become an art center
which was world renowned for its varying experimental art. In large part, because of advances in
photography, painting was no longer seen as a mirror to be held up to the world, but a "language."
Artists throughout Europe were determined to remake art and wanted to move away from, as they saw
it, "European bad taste." Fauvism, cubism, futurism, and other art "movements" followed one another
in rapid succession.
The year before Hitler arrived in Munich, a Russian, Vasili Kandinsky founded an artistic movement in
Munich known as "The Blue Rider." Earlier (1910) Kandinsky came home and saw one of his paintings
leaning against a wall but on its side. Not recognizing it momentarily he saw "an indescribably
beautiful picture that glowed with an inner radiance ... I could see nothing but forms and colors, and
whose subject was incomprehensible..."* He claimed that this was the direction which he had long
been groping for and subsequently created one of the first "abstract" paintings – devoid of
representational content. He gave many of his pieces titles that did not refer to anything; such as:
"Composition VII, Fragment I."
Kandinsky and his fellow "nomads" (as the citizens of Munich called the long haired refugees from
Russia and the Balkans) caused artists from all over Europe to stream into the Schwabing district
looking for "artistic freedom." Many of the new hopefuls, the so-called avant-garde, ran around with
"uncut hair and loose cravats to advertise their genius." Excess, accompanied by an unexpected novelty
that startled and shocked, often launched those of mediocre or no ability into the limelight.
Although some critics would describe the non-objective movement as "the most decisive breakthrough
in twentieth-century art," Hitler avoided all tendencies of political expression, forcefulness,
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experimentation or radicalism. He never accepted the idea that an artist's "feelings," expressed by
unrecognizable forms and colors, was art.
Hitler's sentiments were not based on ignorance. Because of his many visits to excellent art museums,
and his reading on the subject, he had obtained an impressive amount of knowledge in art history.
Hitler considered "modern art" nothing but "deplorable smears." He believed that if people like
Kandinsky (who attended the University of Odessa and who had been offered a professorship in law
ironically) did not have the right connections, their "spiritual" ideas of art would have got them "locked
up in asylum." Hitler believed that the art critics who praised such "alien trash" were too "ignorant or
insecure" to state their true feelings. He also felt that the ruling "elite" knew absolutely nothing about
art and (as he may have put it in English) let themselves be screwed and swallowed all the crap.* Hitler
considered such art one of the "symptoms of a slowly rotting world." He despised all "modern art"
whether it came from the authoritarian right or the Marxist left.
On the other hand, Hitler's understanding of art
history gave him a keen perception into the value of
social comment through art. Although, for financial
reasons, he seldom painted such works, he did paint
one while still in Vienna which depicted a tranquil
street scene.* But, he painted in all the advertising
posters that were pasted all over the walls in the
foreground, reducing the painting to one of contrasts.
It is inconceivable that he painted the scene for
money; yet, he did an extensive detailed drawing
before painting it.* It appears that he was "commenting" on the excesses of advertisers who drew his
wrath at the time.
He titled the painting Alt Wien, Ratzenstadl. The last
word is slang for "rat infested, " or "hot with rats." If
one studies the painting and the drawing, it appears
that he was not commenting on Old Vienna, but on
those responsible for the posters.
During the winter months in Munich, as in Vienna,
the tourist trade dwindled and Hitler designed and
painted commercial posters for business and thereby
continued to keep his income at nearly 100 marks a
month. He put aside the "artist pride" so many are
noted for and even accepted the menial task of using his brushes to paint "signs" of the days bargains in
grocery stores and butcher shops.* He had told a friend in Vienna that he was leaving there in order to
enter the Academy of Art in Munich (and may have felt the need to since his aunt had bequeathed him
83

money for such studies), but he appears never to have tried since circumstances handed him such an
easy lot.
Hitler's easy life was abruptly shaken on Jan 18, 1914. The Munich police arrested him. They had
received a summons from the Austrian Government requiring Hitler to show himself in Linz in two
days. Hitler was tentatively being accused of leaving Austria to evade military service. If this was
found to be true, he could be fined up to 2000 kronen, sentenced to a year in prison, and he would still
have to fulfill his military obligations.
After being taken to police headquarters, Hitler explained that he was not trying to evade military
service. Draft dodgers at that time went to Switzerland, not to Germany, which had an extradition treaty
with Austria. The local authorities were sympathetic to Hitler's story and with the help of his lawyer
friend, Hepp, Hitler was granted an audience the next day with the Austrian Consulate General.
Hitler explained to the Consulate that he had not known that he was required to register for the draft in
the later part of 1909, but had registered in the early part of 1910 shortly after moving into the
Mannerheim. He stated that he had not heard anything till now and that it was impossible for him to
return to Austria in the one remaining day allotted. The Consulate was impressed with Hitler's
explanation and advised the Austrians to grant him an extension.
The following day (the same day Hitler was to report at Linz) the Consulate received a negative
response which stated: "Is to report on 20 January." The Austrian authorities, possibly slighted over
Hitler's statement of "Stateless" on his German registration card, wanted Hitler to be taken to the border
and handed over to them. The Consulate however, refused to repatriate Hitler and personally acted on
his behalf.
Since his lung affliction years before, Hitler had always been a lean and frail person suffering from
"bronchial catarrh."* Consequently the Consulate advised Hitler to send a letter to Linz and the Consul
himself sent an accompanying letter which stated that Hitler "was suffering from a condition which
renders him unfit for military service and at the same time removes all motive for evading it…. As
Hietler [sig] seems very deserving of considerate treatment, we shall provisionally refrain from handing
him over as requested...."*
Hitler's own rambling letter covered almost everything about his hard times in Vienna during the period
in question. He noted that he was not one to break the law despite his great need at the time amidst
often very "questionable surroundings." He also added: "I have always preserved my good name, am
untainted before the law and clean before my own conscience except for that one omission over the
military report, which at the time was not known to me."*
Although most historians like to point this mishap out as a lie on Hitler's part, his story is more than
credible. If he wanted to lie he only had to say that he signed up in the fall. However, by admitting that
he did not register till the following spring, he caused himself all kinds of trouble (which was the
reason for his lengthy explanation--three and a half pages of 16 x l3 inch paper). Hitler stated that he
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had reported in Vienna "to the Conscription Office IB Townhall" in February of 1910 and informed the
authorities that he was living at the Mannerheim. He was told to register in the XX District where the
Mannerheim was located. He reported there, he stated, signed the necessary papers and paid one Krone.
He further stated, that he was always on the register in Vienna. This without a doubt is the truth since
Hitler's registration cards still exist today. With the exception of the short period he spent living in
shelters or on the street, he had always filed his address with the local police. Hitler also stated that he
had been "in correspondence with the local court in Linz which was my guardianship office.
Accordingly my address could easily have been obtained through the latter at any time."* This
statement is verified by Hitler's testimony to the Vienna authorities concerning the fallout with Hanisch
where Hitler states that his home parish was "Linz." A man who would be trying to get lost in the
crowd and evade military service would hardly give as precise information to the police as Hitler did:
"Adolf Hitler, artist-painter, born in Braunau, 4/20/1889. Permanent address, Linz. Catholic, single.
Now resident [District] XX Meldemann Strasse 27."*
A bureaucratic error by the Austrian authorities also had Hitler's name recorded as "Hietler." Even after
an investigation that began in August of 1913, to track him down, the error was never corrected. "Law
enforcement in Austria was proverbially genial, if not sloppy."* The Consulate General, referring to
the summons, and no doubt trying to avoid another bureaucratic entanglement, spelled Hitler's name as
"Hietler"* even though Hitler signed all his correspondence in the case with his correct name and on
one occasion wrote "Hitler, Adolf"* as though to clarify the problem. The Austrian authorities, finally
seeing their error, dropped their insistence on his immediate return. All fines and all charges were
dropped. On Feb. 5, 1914 Hitler reported, not as a guarded deserter but as a regular recruit to Salzburg
(to save him the trouble of traveling all the way to Linz) to have a physical for possible army service.
Even though Hitler admitted to earning a "100 marks" a month, the Austrian embassy, realizing the
fault lay with them, paid for the trip. After a thorough examination which included "mental abilities,"
the five foot, nine inch Hitler was found to be "unfit" and like a large number of other conscripts, was
rejected because he was "too weak" for armed service.* (Although many historians have made much
about Hitler's "rejection," nothing was out of the ordinary. Even Marx noted in his book, Capital, that
in the later part of the 19th century, after a nine year study in Prussia, it was found that "out of [every]
1000 conscripts 716 were unfit for military service.")*
Under Austrian "recruitment law" Hitler would not have to report again for one full year. If his
condition had not improved he would still be required to report one more time. Only after being
rejected on the third occasion would he be exempt from military service.* Hitler returned to Munich
and his comfortable and respectable life style.
In April 1914, Hitler turned 25 years old. Like most men leaving their adolescence behind, he had
matured and most of the petty resentments of unfulfilled youth were left behind. He visited the many
art and technical museums throughout the city and repeatedly visited the German (Deutsche) Museum
located on an island in the Isar. He spent some of his spare time at the opera on Max-Joseph-Platz and
at the library on Ludwig Strasse. He spent most of his time reading books or magazines and painting
85

each day. He continued to visit the local cafes where he read the daily papers, ate pastries, sold his
paintings, and expounded on his views to those around him. Like millions of other law-abiding
Germans, he went almost unnoticed among the crowd.
On June 28, 1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austrian throne, and his wife
were visiting the Balkans. They were shot and killed in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. This
seemingly local incident would at first appear not to affect Hitler, however, this was not the case. See
Appendix P (The Balkans)
Because it was believed (and later confirmed) that the Serbian secret police played a hand in the
murders, the Austrian government worried that the incident would ignite revolts among the other
restless "races"* within the Empire. They therefore decided to take strong measures against the "unruly
Serbs" and reduce Serbia in power and land. Believing the incident would not go beyond a localized
affair, they nonetheless sought the approval of their major ally, Germany.
Germany's recent successes, however, had earned her the suspicion and hostility of the other world
powers. Germany's determination to build up a navy and compete for colonies, alienated an ambitious
Great Britain. Germany's founding of a few minor colonies in the Pacific, threatened the aspirations of
Japan. Germany's determination to build a Berlin to Baghdad railroad, threatened the goals of Russia.
By attempting to expand in North Africa, Germany outraged France. All of these "great" nations
viewed the newcomer as a threat to their economic, political and colonial self-interest.
Compounding matters, France had been Germany's bitterest rival ever since their first battle in the year
1214, and the French were still smarting over the defeat Bismarck had dealt them in 1870--symbolized
by Alsace-Lorraine. Since the fall of the Roman Empire the French had always viewed themselves as
the new inheritors of the continent and were very resentful of German power. France not only aimed at
recovering Alsace-Lorraine but dreamed of controlling the German Rhineland and so destroying
Germany as a rival forever. Because Germany had a "Triple Alliance" which included herself, Austria
and Italy, in 1902 France signed an agreement with Italy which seriously weakened the Triple Alliance.
A few years later, France brought about a reconciliation between Russia and Great Britain. The three
formed the Triple Entente. Militarily, Germany was becoming isolated and surrounded by rivals who
longed to see her reduced in wealth and power.
When Austria inquired as to whether Germany would support her, word was sent from Berlin that the
"blank. check" was still in effect (see The Balkans) and promised German backing if Russia, who
viewed herself as protector of the Slavs, threatened to support Serbia. But, the German government
"favored strictly limited military operations, which were considered justifiable, even in London."* The
German leaders also believed the war would not go beyond a localized affair.* However, because of
treaties, public and private, events took a different course.
When Austria declared war on Serbia on July, 28, 1914, Russia mobilized a large part of its regular
armies in support of Serbia. Germany demanded that Russia demobilize. With the encouragement and
86

advice of France,* which "in effect gave a blank check to Russia,"* (At the time, the largest recipient
of French loans was Russia – over 11 milliard – over 2 billion US dollars).* Russia answered on July
30 by ordering a "general mobilization" (including reserve forces) of the entire Russian army of
5,971,000 men. In the mind of several Russian diplomats, "this was no war for limited aims but a war
for the almost complete elimination of [Germany]."* Since Poland had been swallowed up (by Russia,
Prussia (Germany) and Austria) over a hundred years before, Russia rashly began placing troops along
the Austrian and German borders. Germany started its mobilization and on July 31st sent Russia an
ultimatum demanding that mobilization of Russian forces be stopped in twelve hours. Russia made no
reply so Austria called for the mobilization of its entire 3,000,000 man army.
Russia's mobilization, combined with knowledge that France was determined to take part in a European
war, ended any hope of a localized conflict and to many "forced Germany's hand."* Germany now had
to decide whether she was to abandon or to extend the advances she had made into southeastern Europe
over the preceding decades. The survival of the Austrian Empire as well as German's position as a great
nation were also at stake. Germany had either to fight a war for the mastery of Europe or abandon
central and southeastern Europe to independent national states and other world powers. Germany,
confident of victory, called for the full mobilization of its entire 4,500,000 man army and declared war
on Russia on August first. France (believing she and Russia could destroy Germany as a rival by
Christmas) ordered the mobilization of her 4,017,000 man army. The other declarations of war to
follow were only a formality. The leaders of all the belligerent nations went to war to settle old scores
and conquer new lands.
Among the general population, the fervor of the moment fed suppressed hostilities. The ultra-national
dream of "great nations" to fulfill their destinies grew into a vision. In the smaller nations, the dream
was that the national political map would be redrawn and each nationality would seek its own destiny.
Nearly everyone praised the coming war for one reason or another. Novelists, historians, theologians,
composers, poets and other persons of quality led the fervor.*
In Germany, when William proclaimed to tens of thousands assembled in the palace square in Berlin
that he no longer saw parties or denominations but only "German brothers," the nation's barriers
disappeared almost instantly. Considering the growth of the Social Democrats in Germany, some
experts predicted "that mobilization could be paralyzed by a general strike, and that social revolution
might raise its ominous head."* The opposite proved the case. Even the most leftist of the Marxists in
the German Reichstag forgot about their internationalism and voted for the war. The leaders of the far
right Pan-German movement (one-third of its 35,000 members were engaged in academic professions
at this time) officially proclaimed that "we must gather all men of German tongues into one Reich and
one people. An everlasting master race will then direct the progress of mankind."
In Berlin crowds marched down the Unter den Linden boulevard in impromptu gaiety, cheering,
waving flags, and singing patriotic songs. To the Germans it was a dream come true. A time to carry
forward old dreams. To expand. To become the greatest power in Europe. With victory, Germany would
87

unite all the Germans of Europe and be the undisputed master of the continent. Such diverse German
elements from the noted poet Rainer Rilke* to Adolf Hitler were overjoyed at the turn of events.
In Munich the declaration of war was read to the public on the steps of the Hall of the Field Marshals.
Hitler, well groomed and dressed in one of his tailored suits, stood before the Hall among an
enthusiastic crowd of thousands of Munich's "best." Like hundreds of other zealous onlookers he
waved his hat in approval. Hitler would later state: "I, overwhelmed by emotion, fell upon my knees
and from an overflowing heart thanked Heaven for granting me the good fortune of being allowed to
live in these times. A fight for freedom had begun, greater than the world had ever seen before."*
Before the echo of Germany's declaration of war on France faded that day, the twenty-five year old
Hitler, still an Austrian, applied for special permission to join the German army.
Even the "father of psychology," the Jewish Professor and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, who had been
studying the human mind for decades, fell under the spell of those primordial forces that lurk near or
within the limbic system. A Viennese, he also got caught up in the delirium. At fifty-eight years old,
and for the first time in years, he was conscious of being an Austrian.* He was proud that Austria had
demonstrated its virility to the world. The Austrian Empire, he believed, torn by dissension and
shrinking, would now regain its lost territories and once again become a major world power. He had no
doubts about the justification of the war – nor its outcome. He believed Austria had acted correctly and
Germany had done the proper thing in honoring its promise to Austria. To an acquaintance he stated
that all his "libido" was given to Austro-Hungary.
The nationalistic fervor that infected the Germans also had its counterpart in Russia and France. They
also had their nationalistic ideas of fulfilling their destinies. Crowds filled the streets and plazas in
Paris, St Petersburg and many other cities. People sang, cried and urged their leaders to "fight." The
coming war was viewed (even by such intellectuals as Thomas Mann) as a "purification" process.*
Millions of people thanked God that they were alive to witness such a glorious time. One observer
would later note that it was a time when "the world went mad."
Revolutionary Marxists leaders who had preached resistance to war a few weeks before, now became
propagandists for war. The socialists in every European congress voted for war credits except for a
dozen disunited socialists in Russia who were promptly jailed.* Throughout France enthusiastic
crowds sang the praises of the coming war and woe to the one who voiced caution. In Paris the wildest
enthusiasm was manifested on the boulevards. Men formed into companies in ranks ten across and
paraded through the streets waving French and Russian flags while singing the Marseillaise and the
Marxist Internationale. Crowds lined the streets shouting: "On to Berlin."
As the first 6,000,000 troops left for the front they were showered with flowers. This "beautiful...sacred
moment" (Thomas Mann) was probably expressed best by the German writer Ernst Junger:
We had set out in a rain of flowers to seek the death of heroes. The war was our
dream of greatness, power and glory. It was a man's work, a duel on fields
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whose flowers would be stained with blood. There in no lovelier death in the
world...*

Western Europe was the industrial center of the world and Germany was directly in the center.
Germany's vulnerable position dictated to all military strategists that she not take a defensive posture
and be slowly strangled into submission. "All military authorities in Europe believed that attack was
the only effective means of modern war, essential therefore even for defense."* The German war plan
therefore, was to prod Russia in the east and smash France quickly before the Russian colossus could
rumble into full action. Germany could then turn at its leisure to defeat the Russian giant.
The French defenses along the French/German border at Alsace/Lorraine were formidable and a long
campaign would be required to overrun them. The German government, therefore, asked the Belgians
for freedom to pass through their kingdom and promised full payment for any damages done. The king
of Belgium, Albert, would have granted the Germans the use of his roads, but fiery opposition by the
Socialist Party forced Albert to declare that his country was "not a road." The German Army, whose
plans were already made, was hurled against Belgium on August fourth.
The Germans expected the British to stay out of the war, but always one to look to their own ambitions,
and envious of German industrial competition, the British considered it compatible with their interest
that France not be defeated. In addition, if Germany won the war, Germans would be the "arbiter" of
Europe and the British habit of always dividing the continent into at least two hostile camps to serve
their own purposes would end. Prior secret agreements between the French and British governments
had already compelled Britain to come to France's aid, but, for propaganda reasons, the British
government needed an excuse to appease her more passive population. An almost forgotten 75 year old
treaty with "Little Belgium," that many believed was no longer in effect, came to her service and war
was declared on Germany. Bernard Shaw shocked the British when he argued in his pamphlet,
Commonsense about the War, that the German invasion of Belgium was a mere pretext for Britain's
entry into the war and the real aim was to destroy Germany as a trading rival. Shaw, nevertheless,
supported the war on this principle and became an active propagandist for Britain.* In London,
enthusiastic crowds urged their government on while they attacked shops with German sounding names
and dachshunds were killed in the streets. The highly educated English poet Rupert Brook praised such
a time and thanked the "war God" who had "wakened us from sleeping." As in Germany, France, and
Russia, the labor leaders in Britain, who were expected to oppose the war, wholeheartedly supported it.
Freud, whose aggression (whether conscious or unconscious) was in full bloom by now, thought the
British were driven by an "incredible arrogance." He felt that if the Germans sunk a few more British
battleships or landed some troops on British soil that it might open "their eyes."*
As German forces flowed into Belgium from the east, French armies poured in from the west to meet
the threat. Three days later the British began landing a contingent of 70,000 British soldiers in the ports
of Calais and Dunkirk near the Belgian/French border. The Belgians put up a furious resistance but on
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August 14, the Germans completed their mobilization. Two days later the Belgian Fortress of Liege,
one of the strongest positions in Europe, was in German hands. The road to France was opened.
On the same day, Hitler received word that his request to join the German army was accepted and he
reported to a Bavarian infantry regiment (set up in a large school on the corner of Elisabeth and Gentz)
for acceptance. In peacetime, armies are normally very selective in choosing their recruits, in war time,
a different set of standards apply. A "few days" later the 25 year old Hitler moved into the
Oberwiesenfeld Barracks on the outskirts of Munich and began his basic training.
Hitler's indoctrination into the army consisted of a two month extensive course in military formalities
(saluting, drilling, marching) along with bayonet and rifle practice. Hans Mend, one of Hitler's fellow
recruits was impressed by Hitler's "dynamic glance and by his unusual presence," even though Hitler
was dressed in his gray-green uniform like the other recruits. Mend stated, "I thought he might be an
academic because a lot of them had joined the...Regiment."* On the other hand, Mend almost laughed
out loud when he saw the look on Hitler's face the first time he was handed a rifle. Hitler, he said,
looked at it with the delight of a woman looking at her jewelry.
Although the French attempted to invade Germany through Alsace-Lorraine, they were quickly
repulsed and the Germans kept the initiative. The German army drove across Belgium and into France
along a front, two hundred miles wide, driving the Belgian, French and English armies before them.
Even though the French had known for years that the Germans would use Belgium as a road to France,
during one two-week period the Germans advanced 250 miles. The Germans crossed the French border
with hardly a pause. It seemed nothing could stop the Germans. At one point their army penetrated over
a hundred and twenty miles into France and was only twelve miles outside Paris. The French
government, with the members of Parliament on their heels, fled. The German high command was so
confident of victory they transferred two army corps, over one hundred and twenty thousand men, to a
proficient Russian front.
Although Professor Freud admired the speed with which the German army pulverized its opponents, he
feared that their rapid success, with little help from Austria, would end the war by Christmas and might
cause the Germans to become "haughty." Hitler also worried. Like most of the new recruits, he was
eager for battle and afraid the war might end before he saw action.*
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PART III
THE WWI SOLDIER
91

8: Early Months

Hitler and his fellow recruits


did not have to worry that the
war would end before they had
a chance to do battle. And,
professor Freud did not have to
worry that the Germans would
become haughty if they won the
war too quickly on their own.
Because of the help of a
marvelous new invention called
the aeroplane, the French were
able to determine the basic,
overall German battle plan.
In hopes of encircling and
annihilating the French forces,
the Germans, after advancing across Belgium and into northern France, had unexpectedly turned south
just before reaching Paris. The German right flank, therefore, was exposed and within easy striking
distance just east of Paris.
After being informed of the situation by their flying scouts, the French high command quickly directed
their armies in the field to new positions while French reinforcements were called out directly from
Paris and delivered in taxi cabs to positions off the German exposed right flank. The French, by
concentrating their troops where needed, were able to strike back in force and upset the whole German
battle plan.
By Sept 5, the German advance was nearly checked and the French, supported by the British, began an
all-out attack. The first "great" battle of WWI began in the vicinity of the river Marne. Three days later
the Germans grudgingly began a limited withdraw. When the First Battle of the Marne ended a few
days later, an additional 140,000 German and 160,000 French and other allied soldiers lay dead or
wounded. Their loss was only a prelude of what was to come.
As the opposing armies fought their way north in an attempt to get around one another, Hitler
continued with his basic training. As with many scrawny young men, the disciplined regular hours,
good food, exercise and outdoor life brought about a new vitality to his appearance. The five-foot-
nine-inch Hitler appeared fit and healthy.
At the beginning of October Hitler made a visit to his landlords and told Mr. and Mrs. Popp that his
regiment would soon be leaving Munich and he would be sent to the front shortly after. Since his room
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was his official address, he asked the Popps to notify his sister if a message came that he been killed.
He told the Popps that if no one wanted his few possessions, they could keep them. Hitler bid them
farewell and as he hugged the Popp's two children in a farewell gesture, Mrs. Popp, aware of the heavy
casualties at the front, burst into tears. Hitler, undoubtedly touched by such concern, turned tail and
hurriedly took off down the street.*
On Oct 8, Hitler, along with the other recruits of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, called
the List Regiment after its first commander, swore allegiance to Ludwig III, head of the state of
Bavaria, and Kaiser William of Germany. Hitler and a few other Austrians were also required to swear
allegiance to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. Hitler would later state in Mein Kamp that he hated the
Austrian state at the time and had "left Austria first and foremost for political reasons." It is ironic,
however, that he didn't remember anything about swearing allegiance to Franz Josef when questioned
about this day years later. But, he distinctly remembered that his company has served an extra good
meal that day consisting of "roast pork and potato salad."*
On Germany's Eastern Front, the Russian Army, after some initial advances in the direction of Berlin,
was soundly beaten by the Germans north of Warsaw within the first month of the war. Further south,
however, the Austrian army was pushed back in some places over a hundred miles with especially
heavy losses among "Germanic, as opposed to Slavic units."* "Czechs in the Austrian army deserted in
great numbers to the Russians, and the South Slavs fought with great reluctance"* German
reinforcements were sent south and the tide began to turn. With the Eastern Front stabilized, most of
the new German recruits were destined for the Western Front.
On Saturday, October 10, Hitler and his regiment completed their preliminary training and left the
vicinity of Munich for training in large maneuvers. After marching around in a cold pouring rain from
dawn to dusk, Hitler spent his first night on the road soaking wet in a stable. The following morning his
regiment was on the march again. At six o'clock that evening they made camp in the open. "The night
was freezing cold," Hitler would later write the Popps, "none of us got any sleep."* By the third day
Hitler would write that he and his fellow recruits were "dog tired" and "ready to drop."
Hitler's regiment now headed west and after a seven hour march entered Lechfeld where they were to
be given additional training in large maneuvers before being sent to the front. "At 1 pm.," Hitler would
later write, "we marched through the French [prison] camp in the Lech valley. They all gaped at
us...most of them were strapping lads. They were French shock-troops captured at the beginning of the
campaign. Dead-tired though we were, we marched past them smartly. They were the first French I
ever saw."*
Hitler would describe the next five days of "strenuous exercises and night marches up to 42 kilometers
followed by brigade maneuvers," as the "most tiring of my whole life "* Although he considered
Lechfeld a "dull garrison" town, he was delighted with his lodging and the hospitality of the German
people and would write: "We are quartered in the village of Graben, privately and with board. The latter
is excellent. The people are almost stuffing us with food."*
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On October 17, Hitler's regiment completed its training and the brigade received its colors. It would be
only a few days before they were sent off to the front. Like two-million other German volunteers,
Hitler was elated at the prospect of facing the enemy. "I am terribly excited," he wrote the Popps, "I
hope we shall get to England."*
While Hitler was taking his advanced training, the battle lines in France slowly began developing into
static trench warfare as the opposing forces dug in. Although the German army had been driven back
forty miles from Paris, they had an unbroken front extending 450 miles from Switzerland to the North
Sea not far from Dunkirk. Except for a small area in the NW corner of Belgium, centered around the
city of Ypres, under German control or within range of their guns was over one tenth of the richest
territory of France.
Since the original German battle plan was shattered, the German Generals decided to launch a massive
assault against Ypres, push on to the English Channel, seize the port cities and cut the connection
between France and Britain. Since the French had lost all of their iron fields, most of their coal mines,
and much of their heavy industry, the German general staff hoped the maneuver would bring an end to
the war in the west. But, with new large guns able to deliver shells that kept the area above ground
alive with shrapnel, and with the addition of new machine guns which were capable of firing up to 600
rounds a minute, anyone caught out in the open was torn to pieces. A whole new kind of warfare was
developing, yet, generals on either side carried on as though these new inventions did not exist. On Oct
20th the German Generals launched the first Battle of Ypres. It would be the first of the many stagnant,
bloody battles of WWI where nothing was achieved except tremendous losses in life.
On the same day, Hitler and his Regiment were loaded onto trains and headed for the Western Front.
Rumor had it that their destination was Ypres. The recruits were full of enthusiasm, and like Hitler,
believed they were going to do battle to protect the Fatherland from "the greed of the old enemy."* As
they crossed the Rhine, "the German river of all rivers," as Hitler called it, the recruits sporadically
began singing German patriotic songs. Hitler was overcome with emotion and felt his "heart would
burst."*
While the troop train traveled through the Rhineland, it made occasional stops. Hitler was
overwhelmed by "the kindness and spontaneity of the Rhinelanders... [who] received us and feted us in
a most touching manner."* Hitler undoubtedly felt like some heroic knight on a holy mission out of one
of Wagner's operas. The memory of the event stayed with him for the rest of his life.
A few days later Hitler and his regiment arrived near Ypres. They were unloaded miles behind the front
line. As their regiment linked up with hundreds of others and proceeded west, the long column of men,
horse drawn and motorized vehicles reminded Hitler of a giant snake inching forward. Hitler was
amazed by the industriousness of the Belgium farmers in gathering fertilizer. After a horse column had
passed, he observed, children would gather up any manure that had fallen.* Such peaceful thoughts
were soon drowned out, for as Hitler would write his lawyer friend: "From the distance we could hear
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the monotonous roar of our heavy guns." He also added: " ... we encountered more and more horrors—
graves."* As Hitler got closer to the front, his letter, describing the events, continued:
The thunder of gunfire had grown a bit stronger.... At 9 pm. we pitched camp and ate. I
couldn't sleep. Four paces from my bundle of straw lay a dead horse. The animal was
already half rotten. Furthermore, a German howitzer battery immediately behind us kept
sending two shells flying over our heads into the darkness of the night every quarter of an
hour. They came whistling and hissing through the air, and then far in the distance there
came two dull thumps. We all listened. None of us had ever heard that sound before.

While we were huddled close together, whispering softly and looking up at the stars in the
heavens, a terrible racket broke out in the distance. At first it was a long way off and then
the crackling came closer and closer, and the sounds of single shells grew to a multitude,
finally becoming a continuous roar. All of us felt the blood quickening in our veins.** The
word was that the English were making one of their night attacks. Anxiously we waited,
uncertain what was happening. Then it grew quieter and at last the sound ceased altogether
except for our own batteries which sent out their iron greetings to the night every quarter of
an hour."*

The next morning, Hitler and his regiment marched off in the direction of the enemy.
In the previous week of fighting nothing had been gained at Ypres except heavy loses on either side.
Nevertheless, on the 29th of October, Hitler and his unit were thrown into the battle as storm (front line
attack) troops.
In the morning fog they took up positions near the edge of a woods. Their objective was to attack
across an open field and dislodge the British soldiers who were dug in on the other side in the trees and
beyond. Hitler and his fellow recruits stood eagerly by ready to advance. The area was under heavy
bombardment. "Enemy shells splintered trees as if they were straws," Hitler's letter to his friend
continued. "We had no real idea of the danger. None of us is afraid. Everyone is waiting impatiently for
the command: 'Forward'" At last the command rang out and Hitler writes about his first experience
under fire:
We swarmed out of our positions and raced across the fields toward a small farm. Shrapnel
was bursting left and right of us while English bullets came whistling through the
shrapnel.... Good God, I had barely any time to think .... The first of our men began to fall.
The English turned their machine guns on us. We threw ourselves down and crawled
forward through a ditch.... We kept on crawling until the ditch stopped, then we were in the
open field again. We ran fifteen or twenty yards and came to a big pond. One after another
we splashed into it, took cover, and caught our breath. But this was no place to lie still. So
we dashed out double quick to a forest that lay about a hundred yards ahead. There we
regrouped, but it looked like we had really been pared down. We were now led by a mere
vice-sergeant.... We crawled on our bellies to the edge of the trees. Above us are howls and
hisses, splintered tree trunks and branches flew around us. Shells explode at the edge of the
forest and hurl clouds of stones, earth and sand into the air and tear the heaviest trees out by
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the roots. Everything is choked in a terrible yellow-green, stinking steam. We couldn't lie
there forever. If we were going to be killed, it was better to die in the open....

Again we went forward. I jumped up and ran as fast as I could across meadows and turnip
fields, jumping over ditches, wire, and hedges.... There was a long trench in front of me and
in an instant I jumped in and countless others round me did likewise.... under me were dead
or wounded Englishmen.... The trenches on our left were still held by the English.... [so] an
unbroken hail of iron was whistling over our trench.

Finally at ten o'clock our artillery opened up.... again and again shells burst in the English
trenches. The English swarmed out like ants and we rushed them. We ran into the fields like
lighting, and after bloody hand-to-hand fighting in different places, we forced them out of
one trench after another. Many of them raised their hands. Those who wouldn't surrender
were slaughtered. So it went on from trench to trench.... To the left of us lay several farms
that were still in enemy hands so we went through a withering fire. One man after another
collapsed around me.

Our major, fearless and calmly smoking, came up with his adjutant ...The major took in the
situation at a glance and ordered us to assemble ... for another assault. We had no more
officers, hardly any non-coms, so everyone of us who had any gumption left, ran back to
get reinforcements. When I got back the second time with a scattered troop ... the major lay
on the ground with his chest blown open. A heap of corpses lay around him. The major's
adjutant was the only officer left. We were boiling with fury. 'Lieutenant, lead us at them!'
we all shouted. So we went forward again.... *

Hitler then relates the confusion of battle and the horrible toll on life: "Four times we advance and have
to retreat.. From my whole group only one remains besides myself and finally he falls. A shot tears off
my right coat sleeve, but like a miracle I remain safe and alive. Finally... we advance a fifth time and
occupied the farm."*
On November 3, what remained of Hitler's regiment was pulled out of the line for three days of rest and
reorganization. Once refitted and reinforced they were thrown back into the fray four miles south of
Ypres, at Messines and Wytschaete, where they, along with other regiments, launched another two
assaults.*
The battle continued until Nov 22, and one of the fiercest, most wasteful, and most tragic battles of the
war saw no gain on either side. The toll in dead and maimed was staggering. The British regular army
alone, which had been boosted to a 175,000, had 40,000 wounded and 10,000 killed. Frontal attacks
against machine guns and artillery brought the German casualties to twice that number. Hitler's
regiment of 3600 suffered 722 dead* (including Colonel Von List for whom the regiment was named)
and two thousand wounded. Whereas these losses would horrify a soldier of today, Hitler, like most of
the soldiers during the early stages of the war, saw it as their duty. To the Popps he wrote: "I can
proudly say that our regiment fought like heroes."*
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Hitler, however, acted more heroically than most and was a good deal more conscientious. He carried
out any and all assignments given him without question. He never abandoned a wounded comrade and
never wavered in his bravery. Hitler was cautious, sensible, resolute, and quite fearless. As one of his
officers would state, he was "an exceedingly brave, effective, and conscientious soldier."* On one
occasion when the commander of Hitler's regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Engelhardt, stepped out of a
woods to survey the situation, he was detected and enemy machine gunners opened up. Hitler and
another soldier leaped in front of the officer and pushed him into a ditch and shielded him with their
bodies.*
Hitler's superiors quickly recognized his ability. After fighting at Ypres he was promoted to lance-
corporal. After the first two assaults against Messines and Wytschaete, he was attached to the staff as
regimental dispatch carrier. While carrying dispatches near the front shortly after, Hitler found a
seriously wounded officer and summoned a friend, a fellow dispatch runner named Schmidt. The two
dragged the officer out of danger while under heavy fire.* For his actions three officers recommended
Hitler,* along with four others in his regiment, for one of Germany's highest military decorations: the
Iron Cross, 1st class for "gallant conduct during the fighting."* However, since Hitler was attached to
the staff by the time the request came through, his name was moved to the bottom of the list. For that
reason alone,* he received (December 2, 1914) the much less coveted Iron Cross 2nd Class. Hitler,
nevertheless, was delighted and wrote the Popps: "It was the happiest day of my life," but he added that
his fellow recruits who also deserved a medal, "are mostly all dead."* Lt. Col. Engelhardt, whose life
Hitler had previously saved,* was also seriously wounded and Hitler would write his lawyer friend: "It
was the worst moment of my life. All of us worshipped Lt-Col Engelhardt."*
The unsuccessful attempt to take Ypres ended the German offensive. Any thought of a quick victory
faded away. Hitler would later state that his "first impression of Ypres was--towers, so near that I could
all but touch them."* He, like many of the young soldiers, thought that they would quickly overrun the
place. He soon came to realize that "the little infantryman in his hole in the ground has a very small
field of vision."*
The elan that Hitler felt during his first battles quickly began to fade. Hitler, like the millions of other
young men on both sides, began to accustom himself to life in the trenches which would be his home
for the next four years.
Trench warfare, many intellectuals noted at the time, was a prime example of Darwin's survival of
species. If proof of the adaptive quality of the "human animal" were needed, it was born out in the
manner in which soldiers burrowed into vermin infested earth and lived under conditions on a par with
the lowest of animals. The soldiers frequently endured long deprivations of food, fuel, medical supplies
and suitable clothing while under constant bombardments from the ground and air. During the early
stages of the war, thousands died from enemy fire but thousands more died as a result of disease and
exposure. Thousands of others were incapacitated for life by hideous wounds and "trench foot," a result
of exposure to cold and the water which readily flowed through the trenches. Yet in spite of these and
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other discomforts, in spite of the large rats that fed on the dead, in spite of the constant bombardments,
in spite of the filth, lice, disease and aversion, men learned to survive.
At first the trenches were comparatively straight, shallow affairs. As artillery searched them out, as
machine gunners learned the art of looping their fire so that bullets would drop into hiding places, as
sharpshooters zeroed in on anything moving, as night raiding became more sophisticated, it was seen
that straight trenches exposed whole companies to enfilading fire and the trenches gradually became
more involved. Well protected and fortified positions were constructed and new defenses were
presented by zigzagging deep front-line trenches which were equipped with firing steps, sand-bag
parapets, concerted pill-boxes, and other pitfalls. Communicating trenches were dug, leading back to
second line trenches, artillery stations, third line trenches, supplies, company kitchens, more trenches,
field hospitals, and finally the open road and rest billets beyond.
Hitler described the life in the trenches to the Popps:
Because of the constant rain...and the low-lying terrain, the meadows and fields are like
bottomless marshes while the roads are covered with vile mud. Through these swamps run
the trenches of our infantry, a mass of shelters and dugouts with gun emplacements,
communications ditches and barbed wire barricades, pitfalls, land mines; in short, an almost
impregnable position.

In earlier letters:
We often spend days on end living knee-deep in water and, what is more, under heavy
[artillery] fire.*....The hellish noise begins at 9 a.m .... At 5 p.m. it's all over. What is most
dreadful is when the guns began to spit across the whole front at night. In the distance at
first, and then closer and closer with rifle-fire gradually joining in. Half an hour later it all
starts to die down again except for countless flares in the sky. And further to the west we
can see the beams of large searchlights and hear the constant roar of heavy naval guns.*

In a letter to his lawyer friend:


I must close now and beg you, dear [Hepp], to forgive my poor hand [writing]. I am very
nervous right now. Day after day we are under heavy artillery fire from 8 in the morning till
5 in the evening which is bound to ruin even the strongest of nerves.*

Of the artillery fire the men in the trenches were exposed to, one of the smallest calibers was on a par
with a defensive grenade used by both sides. It was about the size of an orange, made of nearly two
pounds of cast iron and designed to burst into a hundred jagged pieces. They wounded or killed within
a radius of one-hundred and fifty yards. Bigger shells could not only kill anything in an open area four
or five times that area, but also obliterate an area 25 yards across at the point of impact. It was not only
the destructive element of the larger shells which caused such fear in men that their nerves shattered,
but also the terrifying noises which accompanied their firing. First, there is the explosion when the shell
leaves the gun which can be heard for miles; second, is the peculiar rattling noise, like the passing of a
freight train, when the shell passes overhead; third, is the explosion at the point of impact which
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produces a shattering concussion. The combination of all three had a profound effect on many men.
The constant exposure to fear and terror resulted in a derangement of body and brain, paralyzing nerve
and muscle centers, which frequently produced "shell-shock" (insanity) from which many men never
fully recovered.
Besides artillery fire, the soldiers also had to contend with the airplane. In an early letter to his lawyer
friend, Hitler related that while moving up to the front in daylight for his first engagement with the
enemy: "We no longer moved as a regiment, but split up into companies, each man taking cover against
enemy airplanes."* As the deadlock dragged on, bombing and machine gunning by air improved and
ultimately changed the whole character of the war. Pilots learned to run parallel with the trenches,
bombing and strafing anything that moved. The plane also helped extend the fighting far behind the
front lines and brought the horrors of the fighting to supply troops as well as civilians.
The constant terror brought on by the continuous fighting took its toll on nearly ever one. Hitler was no
exception. There was one period during a heavy barrage, when fellow recruits remembered him pacing
back and forth with his rifle in hand and his helmet pulled low over his eyes. Hitler had no illusions
about war once the initial bravado and valor faded away and, like any solider, had his bad days. As
another of Hitler's friends remarked: "As soon as serious firing would begin on the front, Hitler acted
like a racehorse before it has to start. He had the habit of walking around restlessly, buckling on his
equipment."* Unlike thousands of others, however, Hitler never cracked. He performed his duties
with distinction.
The constant artillery bombardments often caused communications lines, to command posts, to be put
out of commission. The need for dispatch runners increased. During attacks their job was one of the
most dangerous in the war for it was imperative that communications with front-line attacking storm
troops be kept open. Only the best and bravest men were chosen for the job since it often required them
to cross open areas. Even during quiet times they had constantly to be aware of lone planes, sniper fire
or stray shells. The small group of "runners" were chosen from the more educated,* because "it was a
job that required a high degree of resourcefulness and devotion to duty."*
Because of their high death rate, messengers had certain privileges and were left to do much as they
wanted till they were needed. However once given a message, much depended on their getting through
because the orders were often critical. They were obligated to deliver their messages no matter what the
situation or the obstacles in their way. The heavier the fire the heavier their burden. Shortly after Hitler
became a messenger, of the eight dispatch runners on duty in his regiment, three were killed and one
seriously wounded during one day of battle at Wytschaete. Hitler and the remaining three, were
recommended for a citation (which was another reason why Hitler received his Iron Cross 2nd class).
Hitler and his fellow recruits still hoped for a quick victory, but unlike many of the others, the twenty-
five year old Hitler had no grand ideas of what the war would accomplish. Since Yugoslavians,
Russians, French, Japanese, and British (with Canadians, Indians, Australians, etc.) had already
declared war on Germany, and (as Hitler stated), "American-manufactured shrapnel [was] bursting
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above the heads of [our] marching columns, as a symbol of international comradeship,"* Hitler saw
his country in a nationalistic struggle against foreign enemies, foreign influences, and international
visions which were intent on destroying Germany. His closing sentences in a Feb. 1915, letter to his
lawyer friend give a good insight to his beliefs at the time:
I often think of Munich and every man of us has one wish, that we will come to blows and
settle the score once and for all with that gang out here. We want an all out fight, at any
cost, and hope that those of us who have the good fortune to see their homeland again will
find it purer and less riddled with foreign influences. That through the sacrifices and
sufferings which hundreds of thousands of us go through everyday, that through the stream
of blood that flows here daily against an international world of enemies, not only will
Germany's enemies abroad be crushed, but that our internal internationalism will also be
broken. That would be worth much more than any territorial gains.**

Considering that "most statesmen and people saw in the war primarily the fulfillment of their national
aspirations,"* Hitler's statements are moderate indeed. There were those who had much broader
visions. They looked upon the conflict as a means to greatly extend their domains at the expense of
other races. "Elements of the extreme right in France cherished the myth of a pure Gallic race, and La
Croix [the publication of the French clericals], in its issue for August 15th, 1914, found that the heroic
exertions of war are the
ancient elan of the Gauls, the Romans and the French resurging within us. The Germans
must be purged from the left bank of the Rhine. These infamous hordes must be thrust back
within their own frontiers. The Gauls of France and Belgium must repulse the invader with
a decisive blow, once and for all. The race war appears.*

The coming of Spring saw the continuation of the trench deadlock. Although there were countless
efforts to effect a breakthrough on either side, all resulted in insignificant gains of land and tremendous
losses of life.
The British (in their quest to expand their empire) were shipping many of their troops to other parts of
the world; so they wanted to reassure the mistrusting French that they were "pulling their weight." On
March 10, therefore, they launched an attack south of Ypres near the village of Neuve Chapelle where
they pitted four divisions, 48,000 troops, against a weak point in the German line. Because it was
believed at this time that the only method of fighting was to attack the enemy at her strongest point so
as to destroy the bulk of her fighting forces, this was an unconventional attack. German troops had
recently been drawn away from Neuve Chapelle due to heavy French pressure further south. Only one
division, consisting of about 12,000 "Saxons and Bavarians,"* defended the area. One of the Bavarian
regiments making up the division at Neuve Chapelle was Hitler's.*

At seven o'clock in the morning the British artillery lazily began lobbing shells on the German lines. It
was the usual breakfast accompaniment, and Hitler and his comrades took no unusual notice of it. The
British however, had air superiority in the sector and had been able to move up a large number of heavy
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guns in secrecy. The British artillery crews were taking turns bracketing the German important
positions and making sure of their range. At 7:30 the range finding ended and suddenly and
surprisingly "the first really massive artillery barrage of the war" began.* Instead of the normal
lengthy, preliminary bombardment that went on for hours across miles of trenches, the British laid
down a very intense bombardment against a 2,000 yard frontage. It lasted only 35 minutes but was an
artillery concentration absolutely unprecedented.* Hundreds of 6-inch, 9-inch and 15-inch howitzers,
lobbed their shells upon the doomed German trenches as other field guns, firing at point blank range,
cut the barbed wire entanglements defending the German lines. The British in the front trenches were
deafened by the continuous roar of shells leaving their own guns. The continuous eruption of exploding
shells on the German side flung earth, rock, blood, and hideous fragments of human bodies onto the
British troops in the forward positions. The upper half of a German officer, his cap still on his head,
was blown into one of their trenches. As one British solider would later comment: "Words will never
convey any adequate idea of the horror of those five and thirty minutes."*
On the German side a curtain of fire,
dust, debris and body parts filled the air.
Thousands of shells plunged screaming
amid the pillars of smoke and flying
fragments while "bombing airplanes"
added their high explosives to the fray.*
The earth shook and shuttered. The
sickening smell of exploded powder
filled the air.
Suddenly, at 8:05, the shells "lifted" off
the German trenches and began to fall
upon the village of Neuve Chapelle
beyond. In perfect unison the British
soldiers leapedout of their trenches and
stormed the German front line. The
German machine-gunners left alive had
not recovered from the shock and the
British crossed No Man's Land in almost
complete immunity. The German
trenches had been blown to
unrecognizable pits littered with dead
and parts of dead. Most of the Germans left alive were in a state of trauma and there was little
resistance.
The British advance occurred so quickly that the artillery firing on the village had not completed its
work and the British soldiers were held up momentarily. "One saw them standing out in the open,
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laughing and cracking jokes amid the terrible dim made by the huge howitzer shells screaming
overhead and bursting in the village."* The barrage soon moved off the village and beyond to roads
leading into the area so as to hinder any German reinforcements from entering the battle zone. The line
of roads and streets was all but obliterated. The British soldiers stormed the shattered village and began
"working with the bayonet." As one British observer would later comment: "The capture of a place at
the bayonet point is generally a grim business, in which instant, unconditional surrender is the only
means by which bloodshed, a deal of bloodshed, can be prevented. If there is individual resistance here
and there the attacking troops cannot discriminate. They must go through, slaying as they go...."*
The British drove forward for over half a mile and for the first and only time during the war broke the
German lines.* But, the British were too slow in sending their second wave into the hole and before
the day was over the Germans quickly adjusted their line and brought up reinforcements at a terrible
cost who plugged the gap. Hoping that there might be a weak point in the new German line the British
commanders ordered their soldiers to press on "regardless of loss." For two more days they went on
battering against a wall they could no longer breach. With 13,000 dead and seriously wounded British
soldiers littering the battle zone, the assault was finally called off.
Rupert, the crown prince of Bavaria and commander of the sixth army in the Neuve Chapelle sector,
made a desperate attempt to counterattack and recapture the village. The Bavarian regiments sent into
the battle were met by British artillery and machine guns already moved up in position. The Germans
were cut to pieces. Before Rupert finally called off his fruitless counterattack the German losses
exceeded that of the British. Hitler took part in all phases of the five-day battle and came through it
without a scratch.
Because the German line had been broken, the British commanders considered Neuve Chapelle a
success and took confidence that, with a little better coordination and refinement, they might break
through the next time. For whatever reason they drew the wrong conclusion that "mere volume" of
shell fire was the key to success. The Germans also came to the same conclusions. For the next two
years WWI would become primarily an artillery duel. The true lesson, surprise attained by a short
intense bombardment followed by numerically superior troops against a weak point, never occurred to
them. Considering, however, the "sudden and surprising" tactics Hitler would employ in another time
and in another war, it is extremely likely the lesson was not lost on him.
A month after the battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Germans made another attempt to break the British and
French line. The spot chosen was fifteen miles to the north where a British and French "bulge," five
miles deep and four wide, penetrated the German line. It would become know as the Second Battle of
Ypres and would have a profound affect on every soldier who served in WWI.
To prepare the way for the attack, the Germans decided to make use of a new technology; asphyxiating
chlorine gas. The gas was prepared and stored in large cylinders weighing ninety pounds each far
behind the lines. After being shipped to the front, the gas cylinders were carried to the front line by the
infantry.* The cylinders were then buried at the bottom of the front line trench with only a small
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"dome," which protected the discharge valve, protruding out of the ground. To protect against any
leakage, a large flat bag, stuffed with a substance like peat moss and heavily socked with a potash
solution, was placed on top. To protect against shells or shell fragments, three layers of sandbags were
built up around and over it. "Batteries" of twenty cylinders were strategically located so that once
released the small gas clouds would combine to form a large cloud.* After waiting until air currents
were moving steadily west, the protective coverings and domes were removed and lead pipes were
connected to the cylinders, directed over the parapet and pointed to a sector defended by the French. At
5pm on April 22 (two days after Hitler's 26th birthday). the Germans opened the valves.
Being heavier then air, the gas swept slowly forward in a yellow-green cloud about six feet high and
flowed into the enemy trenches. Germans troops wearing special masks came with the gas-cloud.
Never before had any solider been intentionally exposed to a killing gas. In the French front lines,
unprecedented confusion resulted as the chlorine gas attacked the troops lungs and respiratory systems.
Some soldiers attempted to hold their breath. Others tried burying their mouths and nostrils in dirt.*
Many began coughing and vomiting blood. Others felt pains in their chests and began suffocating. The
faces of the dead men "turned a sort of saffron-yellow which after a time changed to purplish blue."*
In some sections the gas killed 25% of the men exposed to it.** Panic soon spread among the French
forces and the infantry in the line fled, opening up a four mile gap.
The Germans advanced about a half mile and captured fifty big guns. They soon left the wall of gas
behind them, which had begun to break up into patches, and it seemed that nothing was in the way to
stop them. But, just as with the British at Neuve Chapelle, by the time the Germans sent their second
wave through the breach, the French brought up reinforcement and plugged the gap. The advancing
Germans were cut to pieces.
Two days later the Germans turned their gas on an adjoining section of the line defended by British
troops. Though death seemed certain, the British (mostly Canadians) attempted to protect themselves
with makeshift "respirators" of handkerchiefs and rags moistened with salt water or experimental
neutralizing chemicals. They were able to hold their sector till the gas passed over but suffered
appalling causalities. The German drive was stopped.
With all hopes lost of obtaining a break-through by using gas as the primary weapon, the Germans
launched an all out conventional attack supported by gas. They began creeping forward, but by now,
nearly every gas mask to be found in France and Britain had found its way to the front. After four
weeks the Germans finally called off the attack. They had failed to take Ypres. To advance roughly two
miles along a four mile front, the Germans paid with over 34,900 men killed or seriously wounded. The
British, who launched a series of counterattacks and gained nothing, had 10,500 dead and nearly
49,000 wounded.
Even though the use of gas did not bring the desired results, out of desperation both sides began using it
in hopes of breaking the deadlock. The French and British soon gained the ascendancy and the
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cumbersome cylinder and gas-pipe system, which depended on air currents, was abandoned in favor of
the gas-shell.
Besides the first asphyxiating gas, both sides soon developed others more deadly. Soldiers were
instructed that the first breath produced a spasm in the throat, the second brought about mental
confusion, the third produced unconsciousness and the fourth, death.* There were also "mustard" gases
which were designed to blister and burn "moist" parts of the body and produce blindness as an
alternative if death didn't occur.** Thirty percent of all causalities during the early stages of the war
would be a result of one gas or another.
Gas masks, covering the whole face, were speedily perfected and every command had a gong or siren
which warned of approaching gas. Masks were worn not only by troops, but by horses, pack mules,
company dogs and civilians behind the lines. Because of the mustard gases, soldiers were also forced to
wear heavy clothes that covered the whole body even in the hottest weather. When gas was present
soldiers not only found it almost impossible to eat or drink but also had to relieve themselves in their
pants because "getting caught with ones pants down" brought about excruciating pain and sometimes
death.
During the war, front line soldiers on either side of No Man's Land looked like dreamlike figures. Their
heads were protected with a steel helmet covered with cloth so the glint of steel would not advertise
their whereabouts. Beneath the helmet they wore a close fitting woolen cap pulled down tightly over
the ears and sometimes tied beneath the chin. Attached to a dull-colored uniform were the soldiers' belt,
brace straps, bayonet, ammunition pouches, grenades, trench knife, and gas mask (which was normally
carried on the chest). A cloak, made of rubber without sleeves, was usually worn to keep off the rain.
High rubber boots, strapped at the ankle and upper thigh, covered the legs. During attacks each soldier
proceeded forward with his rifle, bayonet fixed, thrust out in front of him. Just a few months before, the
thought of a man so dressed appearing out of a greenish gas-cloud while peering through an insect-like
mask, would have been the stuff of nightmares.
Because the British and French succeeded in stopping the nightmarish attack of the Germans at Ypres,
their confidence was up. The Germans, they believed, had exhausted themselves and were ready to
crack. All that was needed, they believed, was one great combined thrust which would drive the
Germans back into Germany. Though the British had consumed large amounts of men and material at
Ypres, their plan was to penetrate the German line in a two-pronged attack, one to the north and one to
the south of Neuve Chapelle. Each prong was to be a mile wide. The main thrust however, was to be
delivered further south by the French army.
The French massed nearly a quarter-million men for their assault along a ten mile front north of Arras.
They had over 1100 heavy guns to "soften up" the German lines and were predicting victory within
weeks.
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The Germans, having learned from what had occurred earlier at Neuve Chapelle, had prepared a much
more elaborate network of well protected shelters, dugouts, and machine-gun emplacements opposite
the British and French lines. The Germans manning the lines were nearly all hardened soldiers and
knew what to expect. One of the German regiments still defending the area between Neuve Chapelle
and Arras was Hitler's.*
On May, 8th the British opened up with the same type of preliminary bombardment that had been so
effective at Neuve Chapelle. The French opened up the following day with a bombardment that
consumed more than 300,000 shells the first day. The German front line trenches from Neuve Chapelle
to Arras were reduce to rubble intermixed with human debris. Where aerial photographs the day before
had shown perfect geometric patterns of zigzag trenches and an occasional village, there now existed a
moonscape.
Beneath the carnage however, many of the German strong points were still intact. As the combined
Franco-British offensive got under way, the causality count soared as the surviving Germans in their
well protected and camouflaged machine gun emplacements sprayed the unprotected attackers. On the
first day the British lost 8000 men in the first few hours and their offensive quickly stalled. Although
the French were able to advance two miles at one point, the anticipated breakthrough never
materialized.
Although the British attacks continued sporadically until the end of May, the determined French threw
themselves continually at the German lines for another month until 60,000 German and 120,000
French soldiers had fallen.* During the battle, Hitler's regiment was shifted back and forth where
needed and fought against the British south of Neuve Chapelle at La Bassee and against the French at
Arras.* Hitler was learning quickly that leaders (fuhrers), whether autocratic or democratic, were
willing to sacrifice much to pursue their dreams.

9: A Born Soldier
Like most young soldiers, Hitler had to find justification for the agony, death and sacrifice he observed.
He also had to accept the fact that he could die violently for his country. He came to accept the idea that
these sacrifices were necessary since he was fighting for a grand ideal. He believed that he and his
fellow comrades were fighting for "the existence or non-existence of the German nation."*
As the war continued and the causalities soared, the average soldier's life took on a very simple course;
the preservation of existence. The many standards, convictions and sentiments that make up such a
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large part of civilian thinking, and put people at odds, became almost meaningless to the front-line
soldier. There was little disagreement among the men in the trenches. There was fellowship,
brotherhood, and a feeling of solidarity. They stood together and depended on one another. They shared
the same life, the same fear, and the same ideas. They protected one another, belonged to one another
and loved one another. One's comrades became the most comforting things in the world.* "In my
section there was a spirit of open larking," Hitler would state. "Apart from the runners, we'd had no link
with the outside world."* This strong unity greatly impressed Hitler and he would later state: "I
passionately loved soldiering."*
Although most who knew Hitler observed that he was somewhat "aloof and different from
themselves,"* by now "he had earned the respect of his comrades and officers."* Hans Mend, a fellow
soldier, described him as a "born soldier."* In the throes of battle he never faltered. He never pretended
to be sick to avoid doing his duty and he got his messages through. Although Hitler still worried that
"the everlasting artillery fire" would ruin his nerves,* he had proven himself. His fellow messengers
noticed a look of determination in his eyes and appreciated his fearlessness.
Whether it was the excitement of battle or nervous energy, Hitler developed a ravenous appetite and
one of his fellow recruits considered him a "glutton." Even though Hitler received food parcels from
the Popps, his lawyer friend and wife, the baker, and members of his own family, he was not beneath
"requisitioning" food items from the food supplies when he was on guard duty and sharing them with
his friends.* For a nominal cost he also purchased food from the cooks and kitchen help. The sweet
tooth he acquired in Vienna hadn't abated and one of his favorite snacks was bread heaped with jam.*
"If he found a tin of artificial honey," Mend would later write, "nothing could get him away from it,
shells or no shells."*
Although Hitler normally avoided trivial conversation, when the talk turned serious, he would be in the
midst of it. Ignaz Westenkirchner, a fellow dispatch runner and also a close friend, remembered Hitler
as a very serious young man concerned only with serious matters.* "There is almost no subject." said
Westenkirchner, "about which he did not talk. He mastered each theme and spoke fluently. We simple
fellows were very much impressed, and liked it."* The List Regiment's student and intellectual
volunteers* were also impressed with Hitler's knowledge on a wide variety of subjects and considered
him an "intellectual."* Though some considered his beliefs primitive, "there were others whose
attention he caught and held."* Mend stated that "almost no one could withdraw himself from Adolf
Hitler's strong personality, and his opinions were accepted by most of us."*
Hitler was not always serious and would later state: "A sense of humor and a propensity for laughter
are qualities that are indispensable to a unit."* He could bring his fellow comrades to laughter by
mimicking one of the officers who wasn't particularly liked, and by also reading, in a deadpan manner,
"housekeeping" regulations that armies of all nations are so fond of posting in environments where they
have little bearing. Most of his fellow soldiers considered him a "levelheaded" companion and his
"comradely" manner* earned him the nickname his mother had given him, "Adi."*
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Unlike the other young men, Hitler seldom joined in any of the conversations about women. Although
he felt that the "Flemish girls were most attractive,"* according to Mend he never approached any of
the girls they came in contact with. In or near a war zone, soldiers outnumbered available women by a
hundred to one and it appears that Hitler never attempted to compete with such odds. As Hitler would
later state, "the girls" he observed were always "surrounded, of course, by a horde of soldiery."* It has
also long been known that many soldiers, who are exposed to the possibility of death for long periods
of time, put their urges to reproduce on the back burner. Hitler may have been one of them.
In a war where front-line soldiers stood a good chance of being killed any day, about the only
complaints Hitler's comrades made about him was his "constant lectures on the evils of smoking and
drinking."* There were also those who resented his dedication and commitment to duty. As dangerous
as his position was, if a fellow messenger was ill or unfit, not about, or argued whose turn it was, Hitler
would deliver their messages.* When he returned he would lecture them on the value and importance
of doing their duty.* Unlike the other recruits, Hitler never applied for a leave,* as though it was
imperative to win the war first. Consequently, some of the men considered him "odd."
During quiet times in his sector, Hitler, one of his comrades noted, "always had a book spread out in
front of him,"* which he carried in his back pack. He still refused to read popular novels or short
stories, since he considered them frivolous, and he had nothing but contempt for seedy works. "I hated
nothing more than trash literature,"* Hitler would later tell an acquaintance. As in all wars, young men
who had never seriously thought about God, and even those who had claimed earlier to be atheists,
turned to God for comfort. Hitler was no exception. In an early letter to Mr. Popp, Hitler ask him to
"please save the newspaper" that noted his Iron Cross award because he wanted to "have it as a
keepsake if the Lord should spare my life."* He also turned to the Bible for comfort and read the
"Gospels." Finding little comfort ("turning of both cheeks is not a very good recipe for the front" he
would later write), he abandoned the Bible and because as he said, "war forces one to think deeply
about human nature,"* turned to philosophy.
Hitler's favorite writer during the war was the early 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. In
contrast to the involved idiom of most German philosophers, Schopenhauer's clear and expressive
writing style won him a world wide audience. His writing influenced much of the later philosophy of
the 19th century. Hitler, like Thomas Mann, was greatly impressed by Schopenhauer's book: The World
as Will and Idea. Hitler read the book over and over again during the war and was greatly influenced by
Schopenhauer's teaching.
Schopenhauer taught that man lives in inner pain because he is unable to satisfy the wants of his
primitive "will." This will included all impulses, strivings, and desires which, Schopenhauer believed,
are at the heart of all man's actions. Will is force, will alone rules, all else is illusion. Even intellect, so
highly lauded, is feeble in the overpowering sway of will which blindly and unconsciously dominates.
Because the will is obstinate, blind, impetuous, unreasonable and irresponsible, most men would never
know true reality or peace. Temporary escape could be found in pleasure, art and music when the will
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is momentarily canceled, but things would never improve. The only exceptions were men who had
within themselves the ability to grasp the meaning of life by using their feelings instead of reason and
knowledge.
Schopenhauer dwelled with the misery of life and the aimless strivings and irrationality that exist on
the earth. Consequently he believed that practicality usurps the place of morality, and ethics rests only
on man's highest virtue: the "sympathy" one has for the pain of others. In the end, however,
Schopenhauer came to the same basic conclusion as all the great religions on the earth; to find true
happiness and peace, man must deny his wants (will) and give up all personal worldly desires. So in the
end, the "pessimism" of Schopenhauer, in a way, brings with it a means of escape from the
worthlessness of existence. Schopenhauer died in 1860, just as the ideal of the "survival of the fittest"
was rapidly gaining momentum. "Why is it?" Schopenhauer may have been asking the Darwinists,
"that a man will put himself in danger to save another if self-survival is the key?"
On one hand, Hitler stated that he "learned a great deal from Schopenhauer," and Mend noted that
Hitler was "always extremely thoughtful in his treatment of wounded prisoners and in his dealings with
the civilians who were within the battle area."* Hitler, who saw men risk their lives for another and
risked his for another on more than one occasion, also had his doubts about the survival of the fittest.
He saw the individual as a means of insuring the survival of the nation or people. "It's more important
to bring our messages to their destination," Hitler once lectured another messenger, "than for personal
ambition...."*
On the other hand, Hitler was no pessimist and stated: "Schopenhauer's pessimism, springs partly, I
think, from his own line of philosophical thought and partly from subjective feeling, and the
experiences of his own personal life."** As Hitler would later state: "Have pity on the pessimist. He
spoils his own existence. In fact, life is endurable only on condition that one's an optimist.... what
would have happened to us [soldiers] by Heaven, if we'd been a group of pessimists.... One must have
faith in life."*
As his dreary and sometimes. mundane life as a soldier continued, Hitler resumed his painting. He did
over forty paintings during the war and most of them show a marked improvement over his earlier
works.* Some were considered "remarkable artistic productions" by later observers.* Although he still
possessed a talent for realistic renditions of buildings and churches, one of his best paintings during the
war was not of a building, but a painting he titled The Hohlweg [sunken lane] at Wyschaete. He knew
the lane well for he had traveled along it many times when it was under heavy fire. On one day alone,
192 German soldiers were killed or wounded while passing through it. He painted the scene with heavy
thick strokes which "suggested the stark horror and menace of the landscape with a minimum of
means."*
Because of his painting ability and understanding of colors, Hitler was called upon to offer suggestions
on repainting the officer's mess at a commandeered villa. Hitler's advice was accepted and he has put to
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work repainting the room. (This incident along with the fact that Hitler's comrade and friend, Schmidt,
was a house painter, would later feed more rumors that Hitler had been a house painter.)
To spark a little humor in the drab life of the trenches, Hitler would also draw cartoons and caricatures
of the men and their life in the trenches. Many of his rough sketches were sent home and the humor is
obvious in them. On one occasion, a soldier going home on leave shot a rabbit and wrapped it up to
take with him (probably to make hasenpfeffer). One of Hitler's comrades exchanged the rabbit for a
piece of rubble. The victim of the prank was then sent two sketches that Hitler had drawn. One showed
the soldier at home opening up the rabbit-less package while the other drawing showed his friends at
the front eating the rabbit.* In another drawing Hitler portrays himself and seven other German
comrades jauntily marching through the rain. Hitler titled the caricature On the Way to Cannes.
Although the background shows the ruins of war, the drawing is comic, bold, full of life and
movement. He indisputably had a gift for caricature and his self-portrait, the only one known to have
been drawn by him, "admirably conveys the jaunty, irascible, somewhat aloof quality of the man as he
was known by his fellow soldiers."*
While Hitler was taking a respite in a trench near the front lines one day, a stocky, white terrier leaped
into the trench and started chasing a rat. Hitler caught the dog and, although it attempted to get away, it
soon accepted Hitler as its new master. The dog obviously belonged to a British soldier and according
to Hitler, "didn't understand a word of German."* Hitler soon overcame all the difficulties and not only
taught the dog to understand but to perform various tricks. He named him Fuchsl (Little Fox). Fellow
recruits marveled at the attachment the dog showed to Hitler. Little Fox seldom left Hitler's side during
the day, and slept beside him at night.* "When I ate," Hitler would later recall, "he used to sit beside
me and follow my gestures with his gaze. If by the fifth or sixth mouthful I hadn't given him anything,
he used to sit up on his rump and look at me with an air of saying: 'And what about me, am I not here at
all?'" *
With the summer of 1915 the tempo of the fighting increased to a never ending gas and artillery duel.
No "major" offense was launched by either side that summer, but both armies attempted to break the
stalemate by obliterating opposing trenches. Intense barrages, that went on for hours, regularly broke
out along small sections of the line. The "few thousand" troops sent "over the top" and across No Man's
Land to see if the artillery had done its work were usually mangled.
The heavy shelling put communications out of commission and messengers were now stationed not
only at regimental headquarters, but also at the front. Still, no matter how bad the bombardment or how
thick the fighting, the messenger's job was to keep the front lines and headquarters linked. During
attacks the storm troops, with messengers on their heels, followed so closely behind advancing artillery
shelling that it was expected that 5% of the attacking forces would be killed by their own shells. Hitler's
job had become more dangerous than ever.
By the end of summer the British had built up their forces to nearly one million men and were
determined to break the Germans. On Sept 23 they launched a massive artillery and gas bombardment
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south of Le Bassee along a five mile front in coordination with a French offensive further to the south.
After two days of bombardment the British went forward at 6:30 in the morning. By evening they had
overrun the German first line along the whole five mile sector. That night the artillery bombardment
was so intense in Hitler's sector around Le Bassee,* that the "English shelling" soon had
communications with the front lines and regimental headquarters severed. Since no runners were at the
front, or had been lost, Hitler and a companion were sent forward to find out what was going on.
Somehow they got through and reported back that their lines had been cut and a British attack in force
was expected. Although the barrage continued without letup, Hitler was sent out again to inform the
other detachments what was coming.* The German second line held that night and the next morning
the British broke before a German counterattack.
For the next few days the battle wore on as the Germans tried to retake what little they had failed to
reclaim, and the British died for what little they had taken. When the heavy fighting began to die away
in October, 50,000 British soldiers lay dead and maimed along with 20,000 Germans.* The French,
however, continued with their offensive further south. Hitler and his Regiment, consequently, were
shifted to Arras.
From Arras south to Champagne, the French pressed their attack. In Hitler's sector the French
attempted to take a strong point in the German line known as Vimy Ridge but were stopped in their
tracks. "Vimy Ridge," Hitler observed, was dotted with "scars... shell-holes and all."* When the French
offensive finally petered out early in November, 190,000 Frenchmen and 120,000 Germans were added
to the casualty list.* Again, Hitler survived both battles without a scratch.
After one year in the front lines Hitler had cheated death on numerous occasions. In 1914 Hitler had
been standing in a dugout when the arrival of four officers caused the place to be overcrowded forcing
Hitler and three companions to step out for awhile and wait. "We had been waiting there for less than
five minutes," Hitler wrote his lawyer friend, "when a shell hit the dugout ... killing or wounding the
rest of the staff."* In another incident Hitler related how he was eating his dinner with several other
soldiers when: "Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, 'Get up and go over there.' It was so clear
and insistent that I obeyed mechanically as if it had been an officer's order. I rose at once to my feet and
walked twenty yards along the trench, carrying my dinner in its tin-can. I then sat down to go on eating,
my mind once more at rest. Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening roar came from the part of
the trench I had just left. A stray shell had burst over the men where I had been sitting, everyone was
killed."* Even Hitler's fellow soldiers noted his charmed life and some believed that if they stayed
around Hitler, "nothing will happen."* After one notable attack which left the regiment decimated,
one of Hitler comrades turned to him and declared: "Man, there's no bullet made with your name on
it!"* A telephone operator at regimental headquarters would later relate another incident::
Well, it was the day when the [Brits] attacked and we no longer had any
communications to the front. No telephone functioned, the heavy fire had torn
all cables, courier dogs and messenger pigeons no longer returned, everything
failed, so Adolf had to dare it and carry a message out in danger of his life. We
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all said to each other--he won't come back!--but he came back in good
condition and could give the regiment important information about
everything."*

Considering the death toll among the troops of WWI, Hitler's "charmed life" was notable.
When Ernst Junger, as well as other writers, referred to the young men of W.W.I as a "generation
destined for death," it was not idle chatter. Half of the French males who were of military age (twenty
to thirty-two) in 1914 were killed during the war.* The German toll was little better, and Hitler's
regiment "achieved a mournful immortality."* Casualties in Hitler's regiment, severe from the start of
the war, mounted steadily. The chances that a 1914 volunteer of the List Regiment would be killed or
maimed was almost guaranteed. Because of replacements, Hitler's Regiment, which consisted of 3600
men in 1914, suffered 3754 killed before the war ended.* Mass burials of whole and partial corpses
became commonplace. Mead witnessed a mass burial in which corpses sprinkled with lime were placed
into a grave in a layer of thirty. Straw was placed over the dead and another layer of bodies was placed
over the first until the grave held over 100 bodies.* Thousands of other recruits lost limbs, parts of
torsos, sight, hearing and also their minds. "Thus it went on year after year," Hitler would later write,
"but the romance of battle had been replaced by horror."*
Living under the constant threat of death, all the men in the front lines continued to wrestle with their
fears. The soldiers lived under a network of arching shells where uncertainty and hopelessness reigned.
When a shell was heard coming in, all they could do was seek some kind of shelter for they did not
know, nor could they determine, exactly where it would fall. Soldiers came to see that no place was
safe. Men sitting in "bomb-proof" dugouts could be smashed into fragments while another caught in the
open could survive a two day bombardment. For a soldier to keep his sanity he had to overcome his
fear of death. Depending on his point of view, each put his life in the hands of chance, providence,
destiny, fate or God--A soldier can't burden himself with feelings that can "break" him. Every soldier
came to believe in fate, and eventually that made him indifferent. War was seen as a cause of death:
like cancer, tuberculous, influenza or dysentery. Deaths in the trenches were merely more frequent,
more varied, more terrible. Always present, however, was the terror of dying, but most overcame their
fear of death.*
After witnessing the horrors of war for over a year, Hitler describes the period when he was finally able
to cross a mental barrier and put aside his fear of death:
The time came when every man had to struggle between the instinct of self-
preservation and the admonitions of duty. I, too, was not spared by this struggle.
Always when Death was on the hunt, a vague something tried to revolt, strove
to represent itself to the weak body as reason, yet it was only cowardice, which
in such disguises tried to ensnare the individual. A grave tugging and warning
set in, and often it was only the last remnant of conscience which decided the
issue. Yet the more this voice admonished one to caution, the louder and more
insistent its lures, the sharper resistance grew until at last, after a long struggle,
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consciousness to duty emerged victorious. By the winter of 1915-16, this


struggle had for me been decided. At last my will was undisputed master. If in
the first days I went over the top with rejoicing and laughter, I was now calm
and determined. And this was enduring. Now fate could bring on the ultimate
tests without my nerves shattering or my reasons failing.*

As the war dragged on, Hitler, now a hardened soldier, felt that the civilians understood nothing of the
agony of trench warfare.* The Western Front became a world of its own and Hitler began to find it hard
to communicate with civilians back home. He answered his mail less and less, and received few letters
and packages from home. When one of his comrades asked if there wasn't anyone to send him packages
of food or items, Hitler answered: "No, only a sister, and heaven knows where she is by this time."*
But when the baker, Franz Heilmann (who Hitler befriended in Munich), sent him another food
package, Hitler sent a note thanking him but insisting that he send no more packages.* The war
changed men and many soldiers went through periods where memories of former times became
haunted and did not awaken pleasure so much as sorrow.* One of the officers who conversed with
Hitler when he had painted the mess, stated later that he felt Hitler "was a serious person who
obviously had been through quite a lot in life."*
As the holidays approached, Hitler's mates noticed that he became very withdrawn. For three days he
hardly spoke a word and took on "extra duty--particularly at Christmastime."* When his friends tried to
cheer him up he would abruptly walk away. "I almost wept for him," Mend would later write, "I
thought; 'The poor devil is going through plenty.…'" When his comrades offered him some of their
food or other items they received from home, Hitler declined stating he could not repay the favor.*
Then his friends took up a collection which would enable him to buy extra items from the kitchen
mess, but he refused to except it.* Once the holiday was over however, Hitler became cheerful again
and even smiled about comments on his silence during the holiday.* There can be little doubt that
Hitler, with all the death around him, was still haunted by the Christmastime death of his mother.
By the beginning of 1916 the trench systems had become thicker and now extended miles and miles
behind the front line. In many instances the front line was expected to be overrun and was held by
fewer men while the second and third lines were made stronger since they were easier to reinforce. The
areas now targeted for bombardment by attacking forces extended along long and deep "belts."
Both sides in the conflict built and perfected heavier and heavier "trench artillery" designed to hurl
larger and larger "aerial torpedoes" containing great amounts of high explosives. Their curved
trajectories were effective against not only trenches but also reinforced pillboxes and even deep
concreted dugouts. Many of the shells were capable of penetrating two feet of protective concrete, six
feet of earth and another two feet of concrete. After causing tremendous damage with their weight and
speed they were given a "second life" by means of a delayed fuse which would kill and maim those
who had come to remove those previously killed and maimed.
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The area above ground was continually reshaped into unrecognizable moonscapes. During the
bombardments, trenches ten feet deep disappeared, some little by little, others in a flash. Soldiers dug
deeper and deeper into the earth with the entrenching shovels nearly every man carried with him. After
a barrage lifted, the soldiers left alive quickly dug themselves out of their holes and used the huge
craters created by the shelling for cover. When linked by hastily dug temporary ditches, the craters
made a fair substitute for the elaborate trench systems just destroyed. Machine guns were quickly set
up and the attacking forces were cut to pieces. The deadlock continued and casualties soared.
In early 1916, the Germans were making steady progress in Russia but they had not attempted a major
offensive in France for a year. The German High Command decided that Verdun, a strong point in the
French defenses, would be the next point of attack. In preparation for the attack the High Command
ordered six major "feint" attacks to be carried out during January and the first weeks of February in
order to draw French and British attention from Verdun. Hitler's Regiment, which had been shifted
north, took part in the ruse.
At Verdun the Germans began, along a thirty mile front, one of the greatest mass attacks of the war.
Although Verdun had no real significance as a military object, prestige was at stake. The French took
up the call: "They shall not pass." Just as it became impossible to convince the French leaders that
Verdun was not worth saving, it became impossible to convince the German leaders it was not worth
taking. Nearly 2,000,000 troops on both sides were thrown into the battle. As attack followed
counterattack the slaughter continued for months. During the fighting over 6300 shells were fired by
the two sides every hour.*
As the war became more and more desperate, the line between soldiers and civilians began to
disappear. The nationalistic roots of the war deemed that civilians, who produced the weapons, also
were the enemy. The Germans had used long range zeppelins to drop bombs on Paris and parts of
England the year before. While the slaughter at Verdun continued, they began bombing London. The
British public, who had never experienced war at first hand, demanded reprisals. Before the war would
end, 750 German civilians,* over 500 English,* and over 250 Parisians alone* would lose their lives
through bombing.
The fighting at Verdun continued into June. The French position became desperate when the Germans
began to nibble their way forward. In an attempt to draw German troops and material away from
Verdun, the British, with French support, decided to open a "great" offensive centered in the region of
the Somme. The British had been planning the attack for months and had moved up a large number of
heavy guns and stockpiled acres and acres of artillery shells. A fortune would be fired away – the cost
of many of the larger shells was enough to raise a child, or send a youth to college, for a year.
Although the British commanders had air superiority in much of the area, their habit of keeping their
troops "on their toes" with constant raids, alerted the Germans to the huge British buildup. The Sixth
German army, the Bavarian (one of the two field armies in the area), had prepared an elaborate network
of deep trenches linking concreted dugouts and shelters. Troop strength was brought up and Hitler and
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his regiment were ordered to the village of Fromelles, southwest of Lille, to take part in the battle.*
"On the eve of our setting out for the battle of the Somme, we laughed and made jokes all night,"*
Hitler would later state. "In my unit, even at the worst time there was always someone that would
make us laugh."*
The British, while aware they had lost all possibi1ity of surprise, were confident of victory. The
German trenches were not to be bombarded, but obliterated. Besides thousands of regular artillery field
pieces, the British had over 450 super heavy guns. Some were able to fire a shell 18 inches in diameter
carrying nearly a ton of high explosives and metal. It would be Neuve Chapelle all over again, but
instead of mounting a 35 minute bombardment against a short front, the British would bombard seventy
miles of the German lines, from Ypres to the Somme, for five days.* From the Somme southward the
French would bombard twenty miles of the German lines. It would be the fiercest artillery
bombardment of the war up to that time. Then, at the planned moment, the bombardment would lift
along certain sections of the line and go into its "rolling barrage" phase moving slowly deeper into
German territory. The British and French hoped that their infantry would simply advance behind,
clearing up the "few surviving Germans."
In the preliminary bombardment that opened the battle in late June, the British and French fired over
40,000 shells ever hour in hopes of pulverizing the Germans and their defenses.* As the shells came
raining down on the German positions, the land itself seemed to burst open and flash. As far as the eye
could see fountains of mud, iron and stone filled the sky. Gas moved across the land and filled the
valleys and meadows. Talk was impossible for one could not be understood. Men huddled in their
shelters as exploding shells cleared away the earth protecting them. Trenches disappeared. Dugouts
vanished. Screams were heard between the explosions. Where men had sat only lumps of flesh and bits
of uniform remained.
In the deeper shelters, old and battle-hardened troops peered through their masks at one another and
shook their heads. They all had heard the story of the French regiment at Verdun which fled under a
heavy bombardment. The new recruits with big eyes and quivering bodies were watched with
apprehension. Some turned green and began vomiting. Some began sobbing. Those with haunted
protruding eyes attempted to dig deeper into the earth with their bare hands. Some snuggled up to their
stronger comrades and looked out from behind a kindly shoulder like frightened little children peeking
out from behind their mother's hip. As the shells tore apart the upper layers of concrete and began
working their way toward them, many lost control of their bowels. The smell of putrefaction mixed
with the stench of exploding powder. No one condemned them for in war it was a common thing. After
a hundred continuous hours of bombardment, even old soldiers experienced wet foreheads, damp eyes,
trembling hands and panting breath as spasms of fear fought their way to the surface. Men felt they
were already in their graves waiting only to be closed in.*
Suddenly, at 9:30 in the morning on July 1, the bombardment lifted along a twenty-eight mile section
of the front where the French and British lines met. As the curtain of fire fell behind them, German
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soldiers, who only moments before seemed ready to crack, sprung into action. There was now
something to do other than wait for death. On an 18 mile front, from the Somme River north to
Gommecourt, the survivors clambered out of their shelters to greet thirteen British divisions, over
150,000 men, who began to cross No Man's Land in a solid line. On a ten mile front from the Somme
south, the Germans prepared to greet 50,000 French soldiers who were crossing in a similar fashion. As
German front line troops took up defensive positions, messengers hurried to the rear, passing through
the curtain of fire, to inform their regimental headquarters that the attack had begun in their sector.
Though the French advanced with "acceptable losses," the British were torn to pieces. The Germans
had constructed some shelters 40 feet deep and new armored machine gun emplacements had been
strategically located so as to put attacking forces in a murderous cross fire. When the British
bombardment lifted, not only were many of the German machine gunners still alive but many of their
armored machine gun emplacements were still usable. Where their fortifications had been destroyed the
machine gunners set up their guns in the same areas that had been "scientifically" chosen earlier. The
British had also concentrated most of their heavy shelling on the German trenches, and the wire
protecting the German line was uncut in many places. Where it was cut, the ground was so heavily
pitted with shell craters that an orderly and speedy advance was impossible.
As the British picked their way through the wire, the German machine gunners opened up with a
murderous spray. British troops fell by the thousands. Many were literally cut in half; the top part of
their bodies tangled up in the wire while the bottom part lay on the ground. Within a short time the
German messengers did their job and German artillery shells began falling on and behind the attacking
British making it as unsafe for them to retreat as it was to go forward. Nearly 20,000 British soldiers
were killed or seriously wounded in the first two hours. At the small village of Gommecourt alone,
1,000 British troops died along a 1,000 yard sector of the line. Before the day was over the British
suffered nearly 60,000 causalities--40,000 seriously wounded and 20,000 dead.*
Although the British had made some small gains in a few areas, they did not attempt to exploit the
areas but ordered more uniform attacks along the whole line. For the next two weeks the battle
continued with nearly the same results. The British pounded the German lines until it seemed nothing
could be alive. But, when the shell fire lifted off the German trenches, men, like ghosts, appeared from
out of the ground. As the British troops charged, German artillery, machine guns, rifles, hand grenades,
mines, gas and bayonets thinned out their ranks until the inertia of the attack was blunted and it finally
collapsed. A British "success" was measured in ''yards." The German Generals showed no more
ingenuity than the British and demanded that every yard of territory lost be retaken. With German
artillery shells leading the way, counterattacks were launched. So it went back and forth until the
German losses began to approach those of the British.
As attacks alternated between counterattacks the battle became more and more desperate. On either
side, food could not be brought up. Safe water was lacking. Medical supplies were in short supply. Men
went for weeks without being able to wash. Clothes became heavily stained. Equipment became caked
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with mud. Filth, stink, decay, hunger, thirst, dysentery, influenza, and typhus became the soldiers' lot.
The shelling never ceased but alternated between scattered explosions and raging crescendos. Because
of the constant shifting lines, soldiers were often shelled by their own guns and there was always the
shifting gas--a silent, burning, choking, death. Soldiers came to believe they had only two possibilities
to look forward to: hospital or the common grave. In the heat of battle they became hunters, thugs,
murderers.* "I was boiling over with a fury which gripped me--it gripped us all--in an inexplicable
way," Ernst Junger would write. "The overpowering desire to kill gave me wings."* The troops
believed that they must kill, not only to save themselves but to be revenged.* It became "a soldiers'
battle, where rules and text-books were forgotten."* By now "the bayonet has used only to kill men
who had already surrendered."*
After two weeks the only noticeable gain the British had achieved was along a five mile section of their
line north of the Somme River where they linked up with the French. With little else to show for their
losses, the British decided to "exploit" the area. On the morning of July 14, 20,000 British troops
delivered a major assault after a bombardment that lasted only a few minutes. They consequently took
the Germans by complete surprise. The British advanced over a mile capturing a five mile sector of the
German second line. It appeared it would be a cake walk to break through the third line. It was the
moment that all British generals of WWI had dreamed of. At seven o'clock in the evening, the British
began sending in wave after wave of mounted cavalry. Horses, high off the ground with men on them,
offered easy targets. Most of the horses and men were mowed down by German machine guns. "The
wonder was that any came back alive."*
While the dreamed-of breakthrough was disappearing in a pool of human and animal blood, the British
launched attacks and bombardments all along the front to prevent German reinforcements from
relieving the area. Anything flammable was burnt black all along the front to a depth of four miles. The
effects of the endless gas clouds were felt over seven miles behind the front lines.*
That evening, the shelling was so devastating in the Fromelles sector that no one ventured to stick his
head out of his hole. All regimental field telephones were out. Hitler and another runner were sent out
to deliver messages, according to their officer, "in the face of almost certain death."* The barrage was
so intense that every step forward was an act of suicide. After diving, crawling, running, dodging and
taking advantage of every shell hole and ditch, Hitler returned dragging along the other man who
"collapsed from exhaustion."* The officers were surprised and amazed that they returned alive.
On July l9, the Battle of Fromelles intensified and the area became a howling waste. No place was safe
and the life of a dispatch runner was "measured in hours rather than days."* During one of the barrages
the shell fire was so heavy that it was believed no single runner could get through. It soon became
commonplace to send off as many as six runners with the same message assuming "five would
probably be wounded or killed."*
All through August the British continued their attacks with paralyzing losses and with little to show for
their effort except the gains made in coordination with the French. The dream of forcing the Germans
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back along the whole British front was forgotten. Hundreds of thousands of troops had been consumed.
Lacking sufficient battle worthy formations, the British shifted most of the heavy fighting along side
the French. Still hoping to gain something, the British set their sights on the town of Bapaume. By
sheer weight of artillery and men the British and French stumbled forward until they had extended their
advances to four miles in some places.
Determined to break through the German line and reach Bapaume the British decided to unleash a
surprise on the Germans. Forty-five heavy artillery towing tractors, code named "tanks," had been
converted into "landships." With their caterpillar treads, armored plating and mounted machine gun,
they would, it was hoped, provide the infantry with the close support needed to break through. On Sept.
15 the tanks went forward. Only a dozen got near the German line but because of their surprise effect,
and the fact that machine gun bullets failed to stop them, a few penetrated the German line. Before the
day was over, however, they were all disabled. Undaunted, the British continued to pound the German
lines and the Germans hammered back in their turn.
Every day in "the fight of man against man,"* as Hitler called it, thousands of men were killed or
wounded. The earth itself was twisted, blackened, fluid, dissolved and dripping – an oily and slimy
mass, pocked-marked with craters of yellow stagnate water pools topped with red spirals of blood. As
the shells decimated the troops, fresh regiments were herded into the area.
On Sept 25 Hitler and his Regiment were brought south and thrown into the midst of the heaviest
fighting south of Bapaume.* Some of Germany's best divisions were fighting in the sector and
"compared with them," Hitler would later state, "we felt we were the rawest of recruits."* By now
Bapaume itself had become an unrecognizable flaming abyss. Hitler would later comment:
When we went into the line in 1916, south of Bapaume, the heat was
intolerable. As we marched through the streets, there was not a house, not a tree
to be seen; everything had been destroyed, and even the grass had been burnt. It
was a variable wilderness.*

The area thundered and flashed--bombardments, barrages, curtain fires, mines, rifles, machine guns,
hand-grenades--a never ceasing steel net of shattering, corroding death, intermingled with poison gas,
flame throwers and plunging bayonets. Corpses lay everywhere. At the entrance to one little village lay
"more than 800 bodies, 'horribly mangled by the incessant shell-fire.'"*
Because of the constant shifting of the front lines and the heavy artillery bombardments, wired
communications between regimental headquarters and the front lines were nonexistent. Through the
chatter of machine guns, the roar of exploding shells, the hum of shell fragments alive in the air, and
the groans of suffering men, Hitler shuttled back and forth. "Then I saw men falling around me in
thousands," Hitler later stated. "Thus I learned that life is a cruel struggle, and has no other object but
the preservation of the species. The individual can disappear, provided there are other men to replace
him."*
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Because of the speed at which the men were fed to the guns it often became impossible to bring in the
dead for burial. Bodies lay scattered upon the field until the exposed flesh became the same color as
their gray-green uniforms.* Strange distorted, taut, dead faces, all alike, revealed terror, anguish and
suffering. Gases within swollen dead bellies, hissed, belched and made movements. Bodies and parts of
bodies were dumped into shell craters or abandoned trenches where huge gloated rats fattened
themselves. Huge shells fell upon the graves and lifted the rotting corpses back onto the earth.* Heads,
torsos, limbs, and grotesque fragments lay everywhere scattered among the scorched, torn and pitted
earth, rotting and stinking. A miasma of chloroform and putrefaction rose from the piles and shifted
back and forth over the living. Old cemeteries were not spared, and the stained bones and skulls of
those who had perished centuries before were heaved back upon the earth and scattered among the
fresher dead* as though to inquire about the progress of leaders.
For a hundred and fifty miles, from the Somme to Verdun, the land was a giant lunar-scape with dying
men, open grave-yards, and rotting corpses. At Verdun the Germans advanced about five miles, while
on the Somme the British advanced about the same. For this trade the leaders of the opposing countries
sustained over 600,000 casualties at Verdun and over 1,000,000 on the Somme. Even an arch-patriot
like Hitler was appalled by the senseless losses.* Like many of his fellow recruits he slowly came to
believe that the old leadership that he once thought so highly of, was failing them. Hitler astonished a
comrade by stating: "I would make the leaders responsible for these men who have fallen."*
There would be few men who fought on the Somme who would ever wash away the memory of what
occurred there. Eight years later, at a Christmas party, Hitler could still mimic "the noise of every
imaginable gun, German, French or English, the howitzers, the 75's, the machine guns, separately and
all at once," a friend noted, "we really went through about five minutes of the Battle of the Somme..."*
Although Hitler had already fought in nearly 20 battles, and would fight in 20 more, nearly ten years
later he would describe the Battle of the Somme as "more like hell than war."* As one historian noted:
"Verdun and the Somme opened the way to Auschwitz and Hiroshima."*
Although Hitler had been in the thick of the fighting on the Somme, the only injury he received was a
minor shell splinter to the face.* On the night of October 7, 1916,however, his name was added to the
casualty list. During a rolling barrage of British artillery in the vicinity of Le Barque (two miles south-
west of Bapaume) a shell landed near the spot where he and his fellow messengers were huddled
waiting to run messages. They were blown into a heap and Hitler survived with a serious wound to the
left thigh.
"What is strange," Hitler would later say, " is that at the moment of being wounded one has merely the
sense of a shock, without immediate pain. One thinks that nothing important has occurred. The pain
begins only when one is being carried away."* Hitler did not want to leave his regiment and attempted
to convince his superior to keep him at the front,* however, he was evacuated to a field hospital six
miles behind Bapaume at Hermies. There, for the first time in two years, Hitler heard the feminine
voice of a German nurse and later wrote: "I nearly jerked in alarm."**
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10: War Not Peace

The wound Hitler received was serious enough to cause him to be sent back to Germany for treatment.
Along with hundreds of other wounded he was loaded onto a transport train heading east. As the train
crossed the frontier into Germany, Hitler felt that every soldier "was happy that Destiny allowed him
once more to see what he had to protect so earnestly with his life."* It had been two years since Hitler
had seen the Fatherland and he was overcome by emotion. He avoided eye contact with his fellow
wounded so his teary eyes would not be noticed.*
Hitler was taken off the train at a military hospital at Beelitz, twenty-five miles southwest of Berlin.
After two years of living in the mud and filth of the trenches, he was given a "white bed" which he
"hardly dared to lie down on properly." It was like a "new world," Hitler would later write, and it took
him time to reaccustom himself to such "marvels."* His leg wound was serious indeed and would keep
him in the hospital for nearly two months.
Hitler believed that the comradeship, sense of togetherness, and unity which existed at the front, also
existed at home. He soon found however, that the almost unanimous enthusiasm of the early years of
the war had melted away. He was angered to find some "wretched scoundrels" who bragged about their
ability to avoid combat and who portrayed front line soldiers as fools. Hitler had seen "brave" soldiers
die by the thousands and consequently had nothing but contempt for such "spineless cowards," as he
called them. He was further upset to find that the "unprincipled agitators" were not repudiated but were
either listened to, agreed with, or at most, ignored.*
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His leg healed over the next seven weeks and during the last days of his hospital stay he got permission
to visit Berlin for a few days. There he found, among the general population, misery, hunger, and
discontent.
For much of its recent history, Germany had depended on imports to feed its population. The British
and their partners had agreed prior to the war that non-contraband goods, like food and medical
supplies, would flow freely even in times of war. Like all the belligerents now however, they chose to
ignore "international law" when it served their purpose. Soon after the start of hostilities, the British
announced a "new international law." They set up a blockade which prevented all sea-born imports into
Germany. They were determined to starve the German people into submission. Through a system of
quotas they also controlled imports into Germany's neutral neighbors so as to prevent them from selling
to Germany. The Germans, for example, took to buying large amounts of fish from the Norwegians.
The British, by rationing coal and tin to Norway, forced the Norwegians to stop trading with Germany.
The whole system was vigorously enforced by keeping neutral ships from German ports and examining
the cargoes of all ships heading for Germany's neutral neighbors. The policy was fruitlessly protested
by all "neutrals," including the United States, who demanded "freedom of the Seas."*
Although the German navy attempted to break the blockade, their endeavors proved fruitless. Besides
being hopelessly outnumbered in ships, a German naval code book was obtained early in the war by the
British who were thus able to decipher every German coded wireless message.* The German navy
proved no match against the British. After a few initial conflicts, and one major naval engagement in
early 1916, the Germans abandoned any hope of facing the British in open naval conflict. The noose
around Germany began to tighten.
Turkey had sided with the Germans in the early months of the war and a railroad, from Berlin-to-
Bagdad, was established after Serbia was overrun. The Germans however, never drew any supplies of
value from Turkey and the Turkish handling of the "Armenian Question" (deporting 600,000
Armenians and murdering another 600,000 would caused the United States to refer to the incident as
"one of the most shamelessly brutal race massacres of all time") would later come back to haunt
Germany.
Because of Britain's control of the seas, most of German's colonies were also overrun or starved into
submission and they supplied no support to Germany. Italy, formally allied with Germany,
unexpectedly joined Britain, France and Russia in 1915 and the four became commonly known as the
Allies. Although Italy's entry into the war was counterbalanced somewhat when Bulgaria sided with the
Germans, by 1916 Germany and her allies were surrounded by enemies and experiencing severe food
shortages.
By the time Hitler visited Berlin. bread and potatoes were scarce and meat was almost unattainable by
anyone but the rich. Turnips, once used primarily for animal feed was becoming the principal staple of
the working class. Nearly 100,000 German civilian deaths were already attributed to the blockade and
things were getting worse. Many among the working classes became disgruntled because the wealthy
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could get what they needed on the black market. "Food riots" had already taken place in Berlin,
Munich and thirty other major cities in Germany alone.
Hitler was released from the hospital on the first of December and reported to his replacement battalion
in Munich two days later. Hitler found that conditions among the people of Munich were worst than in
Berlin. "Anger, grumbling, and cursing met me on all sides." Hitler would later write, "...I hardly
recognized the town again."* Hitler was also aghast to find that the general mood among the new
recruits in his replacement battalion was deplorable. Besides the grumbling against the food shortages,
the new recruits had no more enthusiasm for the war than those at the hospital in Beelitz. As Hitler
would later write: "To be a slacker passed almost as a sign of higher wisdom, while loyal steadfastness
was considered a symptom of inner weakness and narrow-mindedness."*
Hitler believed that conditions in the barracks were made worse by the "clumsy manner in which the
soldiers from the front were treated [by the Army]."* Wounded or returning soldiers were under the
command of training officers who had never been in battle and Hitler felt it was impossible for them to
"establish good relations with the old soldiers." As Hitler saw it: "The returning soldiers could not help
but show certain peculiarities which were explicable by their service at the front, but which were and
remained entirely incomprehensible to the leaders of the reserve units."*
The only good news that Hitler heard came from the East. Russia appeared exhausted by the war.
Because of the Russian army's lack of artillery, machine guns, and its extensive front, trench warfare
did not apply. Early in 1915 the German army, supported by Austrian troops in the south, started a drive
along an 800 mile wide front from the Baltic south to the borders of Rumania. By December they had
driven the Russians back nearly three hundred miles at one point. In one battle alone over 250,000
Russian soldiers were either killed, wounded, deserted or were taken prisoner. The Germans moved
through "Russian Poland" and pressed on into Lithuania and White Russia occupying an area larger
than France. By the beginning of winter, the Germans took more than three-quarters of a million
prisoners and Russia sustained another 2 million in dead and wounded. Only the Russian winter finally
halted the German advance.
In early 1916 the Russians made an attempt to retake what the Germans had garnered and lost five men
to every German lost while barely budging the German line. Fighting against the Austro-Hungarian
troops in the south, however, the Russian achieved unbelievable results again. The multinational army
of the Austrian Monarchy, which had long since seen the best of its officer corps and most loyal units
decimated and destroyed, collapsed along the whole of its 200 mile front. After a three month battle,
Austria's army was driven back a hundred miles at one point and suffered the loss of 700,000 men, over
half of whom were "captured" by the Russians because of mass desertions. The Rumanian government,
sensing the defeat of Austria. and tempted by the promises of huge blocks of land at the expense of its
neighbors, declared war on Austria in August. With the addition of a new adversary on its borders, and
with the unrest of the minorities within its borders, Austria was from that time on of little worth to
Germany as a war ally.
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Seven German divisions were sent south and the German generals took nearly complete control of what
was left of the Austrian army. The Russian's were stopped in their tracks and suffered over one million
casualties as the Germans began to advance. Most of Rumania was overrun by the time Hitler returned
to the Munich barracks. With one million German troops stationed along its borders, Russia, though a
formidable threat, was from that time on incapable of a sustained major offensive.
Hitler, like most Germans, attributed the huge gains made in Russia to Lieutenant General Paul von
Hindenburg. After the initial Russian advances into Germany in 1914 (which left the German High
Command on the Eastern Front nearly hysterical), von Hindenburg was called in to turn the tide.
Hindenburg, who came from an old military family, was a man of sixty-seven and on the retirement
list, having served in two previous wars. He was brought back because of his calm temperament which
could be relied on to hold steady no matter what happened. After one of von Hindenburg's huge
victories in Russia, Hitler would close a letter to the Popps with: "long live our great German Field-
Marshall."*
Much of von Hindenburg's success was due to his chief of staff, Major General Erich Ludendorff who,
in the near future, would become a personal acquaintance of Hitler's. Ludendorff came from an
impoverished landowning family and at a very early age he was sent off to a military school. He later
joined the Prussian Army and climbed speedily up the ranks. To have advanced so far with no von in
his name, spoke for his abilities as a soldier. He was a prominent strategist with a quick mind. He could
grasp a military situation almost instantly and respond to it in innovative ways. At the very beginning
of the war Ludendorff became a national figure while commanding on the Western Front in Belgium.
After a massive assault on the fortress of Liege, it appeared that the Belgian forces were making a
withdrawal. Ludendorff, who had taken command of a brigade of infantry after its commander had
been killed, believed that the main fort, the Citadel, had fallen. He drove up to the front gate in his staff
car and got out. He found that the Citadel had not fallen and was still occupied by enemy forces.
Ludendorff, nevertheless, "pounded on the gates" and when they opened, he demanded that the fortress
surrender to him. It did. His single-handed feat made him a hero throughout Germany. His and
Hindenburg's huge successes on the Russian front only heightened their legend.
After the German failure at Verdun and the heavy losses on the Somme, the German Emperor William
II appointed Hindenburg chief of staff of the whole German army with Ludendorff as his first
quartermaster general. Although, the very reason for a united Germany rested on the shoulders of
William, heir of the House of Hohenzollern, his leadership over the military High Command grew less
and less as the war went on. With Germany stalled on the western front, discontent simmering at home,
and the possibility of victory slipping away, Germany reverted to an ancient custom. Von Hindenburg
and Ludendorff established a supreme war command which they headed in the name of the Kaiser. As
with the other belligerent nations, the "generals" were soon dictating policy.
Because of the food shortages, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian army, and the terrible casualties on
the battlefield, Ludendorff and Hindenburg viewed Germany's position as precarious. Hoping to draw
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tens of thousands of Polish troops to Germany's side, they issued a proclamation in November calling
for an independent Poland. The Poles had little faith in the German proclamation and only 1,400
enlisted in the German army. Since the Russians had dominated over a large portion of Poland, and
wanted more, the only outcome was to stiffen Russian resolve. With war weariness infecting both the
German army and the general population, Ludendorff lost confidence in Germany's ability to achieve
victory on the battlefield.*
Since there had been a German proposal for a "negotiated peace" a few months before (which the
French turned down because Germany would not "recognize herself as vanquished),* Ludendorff and
Hindenburg hoped their huge victories against Russia and Romania would bring the Allies to the peace
table.
A week after Hitler returned to the Munich barracks, the German Chancellor (chief minister of state),
announced to the world in the German Reichstag (congress) that "Germany and her allies offer to
negotiate for peace."* It came as a relief to many Germans. Those who had applauded so
enthusiastically for war 28 months before now applauded just as zealously for peace.
A "peace note" was issued informing the Pope and all neutral powers concerned that Germany desired
"to avoid further bloodshed and make an end to the atrocities of war."* The note, asking "for a
conference of the warring powers for the purpose of securing peace," was to be transmitted to the
Allies. Six days later President Wilson of the US, who had been trying for over a year to seek a
peaceful solution to the European struggle also issued a peace note and agreed to mediate between the
belligerents in hopes of securing "peace without victory." Although the Germans agreed to "a meeting
of delegates to discuss terms," Wilson's attempts were deeply resented by the Allies.*
Even though the German note listed no demands whatever,* "discussion of a compromise peace was
automatically ruled off the agenda" by France, Britain, Russia and Italy,* and they "rejected the offer of
negotiations out of hand."* In Russia, the Duma was "unanimously in favor of refusing .... to enter into
any peace negotiations with Germany." France declared that "it is impossible to take [the] request for
peace seriously." In Rome, Germany was accused of "boastfulness and the lack of sincerity."* In
England, the new head of Government, Lloyd George, called the German proposal, "a trap baited with
fine words,"* and "asserted that Great Britain, with its new cabinet, was not making peace, but war."*
If the Allies had waited for the Germans to list their demands, they may have found everlasting and
world wide justification for their refusal since the German initial expectations were ludicrous. The
reason, however, for the hasty and abrupt refusal was that the Allies were determined to win the war by
military force. With the German Army so deep in French, Russian and Rumanian territory, the Allies
could not impose their own terms, which was nearly the complete destruction of Germany. See
Appendix Q (Allied Dreams)
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The Allied generals and political leaders were now more confident of victory then ever. They saw the
German offer of peace as a sure sign of weakness. The Allied Generals began predicting victory in the
"next few months" or "sometime in 1917."* They began making plans for another "great offensive."
The failure of the peace proposals "to arouse any response" in the Allied countries induced Hindenburg
and Ludendorff to press for an "unrestricted submarine campaign" against Britain.* Since the British
navy was attempting to starve Germany into submission, Hindenburg and Ludendorff hoped to starve
Britain out of the war. Believing the submarines would soften Allied resolve, Hindenburg and
Ludendorff also discontinued offensive action on the French battlefield for 1917 (because the toll in life
was always more in attacking than in defending).
Hindenburg and Ludendorff's power would continue to grow until it was almost unlimited and they
were effectually heading a military and political dictatorship in hopes of rallying the Germans to
victory. "Constitutional procedures and civilian influences were shunted aside and virtually ignored."*
Nearly everything in Germany was subordinated to the needs of the war. All unessential consumer
production was converted to war production. Labor was directed to munitions factories. Committees
supervised the growing of food. Government sponsored collections were conducted to eliminate
shortages. The momentary euphoria for peace died away. In its place appeared a stern determination.
Although Hitler might have sat out the remainder of the war in safety, in January (shortly after the
peace proposal was rejected) he wrote his commander that he was fit for service and stated that he
longed "to return to my old regiment and old comrades."* Around the end of February he received
word that his request was granted and he could rejoin his regiment which was again stationed near
Ypres.
At the beginning of March, Hitler was back at the front. His comrades were delighted to see him and
Little Fox ran around in circles while jumping up and down. "It was crazy how fond I was of the
beast,"* Hitler would later remark. The company cook prepared a special meal in Hitler's honor* and
for dessert there was one of his favorites: jam and cake.
Shortly after Hitler returned, his regiment received orders to march to the coast for special training at
the naval base at Ostend. Hitler would later comment that his Regiment arrived at the base in
deplorable condition and looked like a “Russian regiment, after a. five-hundred mile retreat.” The
sailors stationed there, on the other hand, looked smart, efficient and even magnificent. “It made one
ashamed to be seen in their company,” Hitler would later state. “We had to cut up our greatcoats in
order to make puttees, and we looked like a bunch of tatterdemalion ballet-dancers! They, on the other
hand, looked frightfully smart in their belts and gaiters; and we were not sorry when we escaped to the
decent obscurity of our trenches once more."*
During Hitler's absence, Hindenburg and Ludendorff began a huge withdrawal along a seventy mile
front from Arras south to the Aisne River. In some areas they withdrew up to 25 miles. The "retreat," as
the Allies called it, was meant to straighten out the German line so it could be defended with fewer
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divisions. In the thousand square miles of territory the Germans left behind, nearly everything not
already destroyed by the fighting was intentionally destroyed. Mines were flooded, houses demolished,
orchards chopped down, farm land flooded and wells poisoned. Every movable article that could be of
use to the Germans was systematically packed up and carted away. One Allied witness thought that it
signified "the abyss in ideals that exists between the two races."*
The German army took up new positions behind an elaborate network of trenches and tunnels
connected by light railways. Although the new defensive position would became popularly known to
the Allies as the Hindenburg Line, the Germans called it the Siegfried Zone after the great hero of
Germanic and Wagnerian mythology.
Hitler undoubtedly considered the name of the new position a good choice, but he considered the
withdrawal foolish. As he would later state: "The soldier has a boundless affection for the ground on
which he has shed his blood."* The withdrawal demoralized the troops and Hitler began giving
lengthy speeches to "croakers" or "Calamity Janes," as he called them, who talked of defeat. Hitler
believed the Allies were only concerned with "distributing other people's property"* and felt the
Germans had to fight on to victory.
Although Hitler raged against the Allies, he blamed most of the defeatist talk and organized discontent
at home on the Marxists.* The new replacements coming up consisted of a number of Social
Democrats and Hitler lectured them on the evils of their ways. "It was like in the Reichstag,"* Mend
would later remark when Hitler took the floor .
Over a year before, a small minority of anti-war Marxists had met in Switzerland and called upon the
working classes everywhere to end the war without annexations or indemnities. Although they had no
immediate affect on most socialists in the belligerent countries,* their influence grew among the more
radical elements. When the war was going well for Germany they went along with the leadership or
abstained from voting. When things took a turn for the worse they spoke out openly of their
displeasure. Certain members of the Social Democrats in the German congress, who had expected a
quick victory, voted against war credits in early 1916. After the failed peace proposals, Hitler
considered such acts treasonous and felt that such men should be "put behind bars, brought to trial, and
thus taken off the nation's neck."* He lamented about the evils of the Marxists who he believed were
hurting the war effort. There were soldiers who listened and found substance in Hitler's views and he
even turned a few Social Democrats over to his beliefs.*
A month before Hitler's 28th birthday, his regiment headed for Arras in expectation of another British
and French offensive. On its arrival, the List Regiment was held in reserve behind the lines and Hitler
had leisure time to do some painting. On April 4, the front along a 20 mile sector north and south of
Arras erupted into fire and thunder of exploding shells. As the British shelling continued over the next
two days, the men of the List Regiment knew that it was the expected preliminary bombardment. It
would be only a matter of time before they were rushed where needed when the Allies launched their
new "great offensive."
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Hitler's job as messenger had evolved into a somewhat safer profession, in some respects, since the
early years of the war. As Hitler would later comment:
Men were uselessly sacrificed by employing them as runners on missions that could have
been equally well accomplished by night with less danger. How often I myself had to face a
powerful artillery barrage, in order to carry a single post card.*

Hitler's regiment now had a commanding officer who put a stop to such practices and there were other
changes which cut down on the loss of messengers. Because of the high death rate among runners
during battle, and the slowness in getting messages to the far flung rear in times of emergency, a system
of colored rockets and flares had been developed to signal observers in the rear of the general situation
on the front in times of heavy bombardments. The runners however, were still required to deliver
messages containing more detailed information no matter what the situation. Even far behind the lines
there was a constant possibility of death. There were the occasional barrages from long range naval and
land guns, and there was always the threat of gas. Nightly, British flyers dropped "tons of bombs"
behind the German lines,* and during the day there were constant air attacks by enemy flyers who
pounced on anything moving. To give the messengers a better chance of dodging bullets, shells and
bombs, Hitler and his fellow runners had turned in their rifles for side arms.
Since the Germans knew a British attack in force was coming, it was important they conceal their
activities. Some of the most desperate air-battles of the war took place when hundreds of planes fought
for mastery of the air space over Arras.* In one day's fighting alone over fifty planes on either side
were observed being shot down.
Protecting the air space over Hitler's sector was a squadron led by one of Germany's greatest aces –
Baron Manfred von Richthofen. Because of the squadron's brightly colored (especially red) airplanes it
was known to the Allies as the "Flying Circus," and Richthofen was known as the "Red Baron." Hitler
would later state:
...in 1917, at the battle of Arras, the situation was such that the Richthofen Squadron was
able to clear the sky of all enemy aircraft...I myself witnessed part of an engagement in
which the last remnants of a formation of ten aircraft were shot down. We had the sky to
ourselves.*

Hitler was learning the importance of air superiority and spoke highly of German pilots. He also spoke
admiringly of the courage of Allied air men. He approved of full military honors for dead enemy pilots
who fell into Germany territory and attended the funerals of British flyers.* He was also bothered that
German propaganda portrayed the French and English flyers and soldiers as contemptible and cowardly
foes who ran away at the first sign of danger. He knew they stood and fought till overwhelmed* and he
had great respect for his adversaries.
As the British preliminary bombardment continued into its third day, word arrived that the United
States had declared war on Germany. Although Hitler saw the "American Union" as a "sibling" coming
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to the aid of its "former parent," the choice had not been an easy one for most Americans. With
dogmatic patience and the right amount of propaganda, however, those who favored the Allied cause
silenced all their opponents. President Wilson was forced to declare war, but he questioned the morality
of the Allies and never completely tied America to them. The United States would remain only an
Associated Power throughout the war. See Appendix R (America’s Entry into WWI)
Although America's entry into the war succeeded in supplying the Allies with moral support, there was
no immediate affect on the battlefields. Although America had a large navy, she had virtually no army.
Millions of men had to be drafted and trained. She had few tanks, planes, field guns, or even rifles.
Although huge loans were extended to the Allies, what munitions factories there were had to stop
delivery to Europe so as to equip American forces. America would not be ready for war for a year. Her
entry into the conflict was but a promissory note for the future.
Two days after America's declaration of war, Easter Sunday was celebrated on the battle fronts of
Europe. In little villages behind the lines, bells in churches rang and priests recited words of faith.
German soldiers did what they could to brighten their spirits and Hitler used his artistic talents to paint
eggs "and placed them in the garden of the regimental commander, spelling out: 'Happy Easter 1917.'"*
There was little to be happy about though, for to the west the British preliminary bombardment
thundered into its fourth day.
Using heavy guns of all calibers, the British continued to pound the German front lines along the whole
Arras sector. The bombardment was as fierce as that of the Somme. Huge spurts of blood-red fame
hurled tons of earth, masonry and debris into the air. As one correspondent would write: "All the sky
was on fire with it."
The British, along with the French who were preparing to launch their own massive offensive 70 miles
south, were convinced that they could achieve a huge "pincer movement." The British, after hopefully
breaking through the German lines, were to head south while the French, who also expected to break
the German lines, would head north. Their hope was to link up, cut off hundreds of thousands of
Germans, break into the open plains to the east and force the Germans out of France. They were
confident of victory again and were sure the Germans would then seek an armistice on their terms.
After five continuous days of bombardment, the British shells lifted off the German front line. British
soldiers stormed across No Man's Land along a twenty mile front north and south of Arras. With news
of America's entry into the war the spirit of the British troops was high and hundreds of thousands went
forward almost in a lively step. Before the day was over, Canadian troops stood on the top of Vimy
Ridge to the north of Arras, a position the Germans had held for two and a half years against all
comers. In the next few days British troops advanced up to four miles along a 10 mile front. As always
the resistance stiffened as German reserves, including Hitler's Regiment, were shifted where needed.
British losses skyrocketed as they continued their advance at a snail's pace. Toward the end of April the
British paused momentarily to lay down another heavy bombardment. Hitler's regiment was in the thick
of it.*
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On May 1, 1917, in glorious spring sunshine, the British bombardment lifted and the second phase of
the battle of Arras was on. The attack was most intense along a twelve mile front still centered on
Arras. Above the flashing turmoil of bursting shells, mines and machine gun fire, German rockets shot
up, discharging red, white, green and orange bursts informing those in the rear that the attack had
begun and asking for support or a protecting barrage.*
By using mass formations of men, the British overran the forward German defenses and surged
forward. Although the "Prussian and Bavarian troops" in the area were outnumbered two to one they
fought desperately and launched countless counterattacks trying to recapture the ground lost. On May
the 15th they attacked in mass formations in hopes of pushing the British back. British artillery opened
up on the ground they attempted to cross and turned the area into a "mushroom-farm" as bulbs of shell
smoke sprouted up thickly over the entire area.* The German regiments sent into the fray were
decimated but they recaptured much of the ground they had lost. For miles around nothing was left
standing. Hitler would later describe the area as just a mound of earth pitted with shell holes.
Over the next five days the battle sporadically drew to a close as the supply of material and men were
consumed. Although the British were able to hold on to a few square miles of completely destroyed
territory, the only achievement of the battle of Arras was "a fresh butcher's bill: 150,000 British
casualties, 100,000 German."* Hitler survived the battle unscathed and, the day after the heavy
fighting ended, was shifted a few miles north to Artois.
British propaganda portrayed the offensive at Arras as a "great gain," claiming that only 30,000 British
soldiers had been killed and 70,000 wounded. The French in the south, however, received one of the
bloodiest repulses of the war which even the best propaganda could not conceal.
Using 1,200,000 troops, 7000 heavy guns and 200 tanks, the French had launched their attack on the
Aisne River along a 40 mile front between Soissons and Reims. Like the British, their main objective
was also a ridge of heights; this one was known as the Chemin des Dames. Like the British they also
started off in a lively step, but the Germans had expected the attack and were well prepared. They had
strengthened their defensive positions and also moved into position hundreds of fighter and spotter
planes which were equipped with short-wave radio. Within a few hours of the French attack, the
German pilots drove all of the French spotter planes out of the sky and the French artillery was forced
to fire "blind." The Germans pilots on the other hand, kept their artillery informed of every French
move, and German artillery gunners racked the advancing French troops and tanks. Many of the tanks
were knocked out while still on approach to the battlefield and troop divisions were unmercifully pelted
with high explosives and gas of all types. The French also stumbled into a trap as the Germans
skillfully withdrew in certain places causing the French to move forward into areas where they were
exposed to fire on three sides. French losses numbered 180,000 men in the first ten days.*
After three weeks of fighting, and with little to show for their losses, even the commonest French
soldier knew that the attack had failed, but their officers ordered them on. The French soldiers knew
they were being herded into a bloodbath. One regiment passed their commanders bleating like sheep on
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the way to slaughter.* The suicidal attacks continued for another two weeks. The French army was
reaching its breaking point.
The general condition of the common soldiers during WWI was deplorable. Armies were such that the
gulf between officers and common soldiers was as wide as the gulf that existed between the upper and
lower classes in civilian life. Of the men fighting in WWI the soldiers serving the French Republic
were in some respects worse off than anyone. Among the leaders of the French, the common soldier
barely qualified as a human being. The political philosophy held by the elite of the French "republic"
was that it was a citizen's "privilege to serve" his country. After all, the soldier was fighting to defend
"liberty and freedom." The French ruling strata, however, felt no obligation to the common soldier, or
his family, while he did the fighting. Even outside the trenches, common humanity for the soldier
barely existed and his misery was barely disturbed. There were few rest areas or leave facilities where
he could rekindle his humanity. He was forgotten by his superiors unless he failed to report back on the
date specified. If a soldier was lucky enough to get a long enough leave that he could return home, he
often found his visit consumed by the time required to get there. Once there he often found his family
destitute since the French leaders made nearly no provisions for his family while he was away fighting.
Although the republic paid him, what he received failed to cover the cost of a day's bread.* Once back
at the front he was herded around from one filthy holding pen to another till it was time to return to the
slaughter in the trenches. Many French soldiers saw themselves as nothing but "gun meat" or "cannon
fodder."
Spurred on by some newspapers which called for peace negotiations as the Germans had suggested,
thousands of French soldiers simply lay down their guns and started walking home. Mutiny followed
and rapidly spread behind the lines. By the end of May, French troops and officers of the lower ranks
turned on their commanding officers and took control of four towns behind the lines. Nearly three
quarters of a million men were involved in the mutiny. Though they refused to go on any more suicidal
attacks, the French soldiers in the front lines continued to hold their positions. The Germans,
consequently, never learnt of what was going on and never took advantage of the revolt. The mutinies
nonetheless, were officially blamed on paid "German agitators and newspapers" supported by German
funds. When the revolt was finally crushed by loyal French forces, over a hundred thousand French
troops were court-martialed, over 20,000 were found "guilty" and "many" were shot—though only "55"
were "officially shot." By mid-June the front between Arras and the Aisne lay quiet.
When the opposing armies counted up their losses, "not less than 600,000 casualties measured the cost
of the battles of Arras and the Aisne."* These great losses, like those on the Somme, convinced many
that the Allies had embarked on a new scheme – attrition.*
Since no sensible military strategy appeared to be able to break the deadlock, the French and British
leaders believed they could wear their opponents out by constant attacks. Even though the Germans, in
their defensive positions, were experiencing losses of only two men to every three Allied losses, the
Allied leaders believed attrition would work. The British, French, Russians and Italians alone could put
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35,000,000 men in the field, while Germany and all her partners could scrounge up only about half
that. The Allied leaders thus believed that, in the long run, they could "bleed the Germans white." In
reality all that attrition was accomplishing was "an obliterating of the able-bodied manhood of Western
Europe."*
Hitler remained stationed in the area of Artois until the last part of June. His regiment was then given
orders to head north where another British attack was expected. "Marching along the roads was a
misery for us poor old infantrymen," Hitler would later say, "again and again we were driven off the
road by bloody gunners, and again and again we had to dive into the swamps to save our skins!"*

11: Slaughter and Honor

At the beginning of July Hitler and his regiment found themselves back in the same area of Ypres
where the List Regiment had fought its first battle nearly three years before. Hitler would later write:
There, in October and November, 1914, we had received our baptism of fire. With the love
for the fatherland in our hearts and with songs on our lips, our young regiment had marched
into battle as to a dance. Valuable blood gave itself up joyfully in the belief that the
fatherland's independence and freedom would endure.

In July, 1917 we stepped for the second time on that soil that was sacred to us. For under it
there slumbered the best comrades, some little more than boys....The older soldiers among
us, who had been with the regiment from the beginning, were deeply moved as we stood on
this sacred spot where we had sworn 'Loyalty and Duty unto Death.' Three years before the
regiment had taken this position by storm: now it was called upon to defend it in a grueling
struggle."*

For months the British had been preparing to launch their largest offensive for 1917. The Third Battle
of Ypres (as it became popularly known) was to become "the blindest slaughter of a blind war."* The
British Generals were determined to bolster the lagging French morale and kill Germans. There were
those among the British officer class who were determined to achieve victory on their own before the
Americans arrived. The British preliminary bombardment began on the 16th of July and continue for a
full two weeks. It would be one of the longest continuous bombardments of the war.
The Germans had been forced, by the water soaked soil in the region, to abandon deep dugouts in favor
of small concreted pillboxes which held machine gun crews and twenty to thirty men during heavy
shelling. As the men huddled in their shelters the bombardment continued and churned the wet soil.
Between the rounds of exploding shells, the British also began hurling their latest inventions – new
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deadlier forms of gas and "cylinders of liquid fire." Although the pillboxes could resist the shells of
light artillery, many were engulfed by the early form of napalm or torn to shreds by the heavier shells.
For some of the lucky soldiers, death came quickly. Those in the area of an exploding shell, simply
vanished.* For others, all that was left behind were a few body parts. Most men however, did not die
so easily. Men who survived saw friends with half their legs missing running to the next shell hole on
splintered stumps. Between bursting shells they saw burning men running in circles. They saw men
running with their entails dragging twenty feet behind them. They saw living men without legs, without
arms, without jaws, without faces. They saw opened chests, opened stomachs, opened backs and
opened skulls. Clumps of flesh that no longer resembled anything human continued to breath.
Mercifully some men never knew how badly they were hit and died in the middle of a sentence. Others
died slowly as they looked on in shock at a large part of their body laying yards away. Some looked at
their deadly wounds in bewilderment and their long faces seemed unable to accept the fact that it had
happened to them. Others gasped in horror, looking and longing for help they knew would never come.
Hitler's regiment, incredibly, was moved up in the line during the bombardment to make up for those
already lost. For the next ten days he and his comrades lived under the net of arching shells. As Hitler
would later write: "The regiment dug itself into the mud, clung to its shell-holes and craters, neither
flinching nor wavering, but growing smaller in numbers day after day. Finally the English launched
their attack on July 31,1917."*
As the bombardment lifted off the German forward positions that morning, the British went forward.
The fighting was fierce along fifteen miles of front. The British never broke the elastic German line but
they made some advances here and there. The next day it began to rain. As the shells and bombs
churned the ground, the soil dissolved and the whole front became a slimy, sinking pit, dotted with
shell holes filled with murky water. As the British attack continued, so did the rain. More shells turned
the mud into an all consuming, semi-liquid slime. Movement became almost impossible as guns,
supplies, horses, and even tanks sank into the muck. Men carrying their heavy packs slipped off hastily
made wood covered pathways and disappeared. Bodies and parts of bodies became part of the trench-
works. A German soldier at a related site would later write:
We did not bury our dead [anymore]. We pushed them into the little niches in the wall of
the trench [that we earlier had] cut as resting places for ourselves. When I went slipping
and slithering down the trench, with my head bent low, I did not know whether the men I
passed were dead or alive; in that place the dead and the living had the same gray faces.*

Gas attacks caused additional burdens on the troops and the living were forced to keep their suffocating
gas masks on twenty-four hours a day.
With no objective, and for no other purpose but to "kill Germans and shake their morale,"* the British
soldiers were ordered to press on. The British leaders would sacrifice 325,000 of their soldiers before
calling off the senseless attack. Mathematically, however, attrition was working – the Germans would
suffer 200,000 casualties defending their positions.
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Hitler's shattered regiment could no longer sustain is losses and was relieved. "The regiment had been
reduced to a few companies," Hitler would later write, "these now made their way back, stumbling and
encrusted with mud, more like ghosts than human beings."* The Regiment was loaded onto a train and
shipped to a quiet section of the front south of Colmar,* Alsace for a months rest.*
During the fighting, at either Arras or Ypres, Hitler had been recommended for another citation. While
stationed in Alsace the decoration came through – the Military Cross for Merit, 3rd class with swords.*
"All Hitler's commanding officers agreed that he was a brave and exemplary soldier"* with an "upright
and honorable nature."* Yet, it was surprising to many that he still remained a lance corporal. With the
high casualties among the lower officer class, there had been more than one discussion among Hitler's
superiors about promoting him* to a rank equivalent with Sergeant. Although most biographers have
accused Hitler of joining the army to satisfy his "cravings for prestige" he never requested a promotion.
He was content with his job as runner and never applied for promotion to the rank of non-
commissioned officer let alone a commission.* As Ignaz Westenkirchner, his fellow runner and friend,
would later state: "He never wanted to be anything more than the others."* This may have been the
reason for Hitler's "unmilitary manner,"* and his refusal to snap heels at the approach of an officer,*
that later caused an adjutant to remark that he found "no leadership qualities in him."* The army,
therefore, never voluntarily promoted him and he remained a lance-corporal throughout the war.
A more likely reason why Hitler was not promoted was that he had made himself indispensable to
regimental headquarters and they didn't want to lose him. As one finds in any big organization, people
are apt to get pigeon-holed if they excel at their job. Advancement becomes almost impossible except
for the well-connected. The officers of WWI soon learned which soldiers were the most reliable and
Hitler's commanders considered him the best. As one of Hitler's officers, Reserve-Lieutenant Horn,
would state: "If Adolf Hitler had been promoted to the rank of sergeant, he could not have remained a
battle orderly and the regiment would have lost one of its best dispatch carriers."*
On the other hand, armies, since the beginning of time, have always had an aversion to men who
"think" for themselves, and "a bright button is weightier than four volumes of Schopenhauer."*
Consequently, it could have been as Erich Remarque stated in his novel, All Quiet on the Western
Front, when he referred to one of his front line characters as "the clearest thinker among us and
therefore only a lance-corporal."*
Hitler's position as a dispatch runner, nevertheless, gave him a very unique position in the war. As
neither an officer nor a common soldier, he was continually moving between the two. He came to
understand both points of view and, as in Vienna, was able to observe at first hand the wall that
separates one class from another. He also "gained inside knowledge of the way a regiment is
commanded and accumulated insights and a fund of experience such as no General Staff officer could
hope to acquire in peacetime."* In the course of his years on the battlefield he came to view military
matters on the level of one who leads a regiment. For the rest of his life "he always remained at heart a
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regimental commander who thinks it incumbent on him to know all, miss nothing and decide
everything, down to the smallest detail himself."*
While Hitler was still stationed near Colmar someone rifled his knapsack and stole his case containing
his art equipment and other personal items. Hitler was furious and the incident did nothing to diminish
his feelings against "criminals" and their "lack of morality." To make matters even worse, Hitler's dog,
Little Fox, disappeared. Although Hitler was "desperate" and did his best to locate Fuchsl he never saw
him again. Hitler was convinced that a "slacker," a railroad official who had offered him two hundred
marks for the dog, had stolen it. "The swine who stole my dog doesn't realize what he did to me,"*
Hitler remarked.
It may have been because of the loss of his dog, or that he had time to "wind down" after being out of
harm's way for two weeks, but Hitler's comrades finally convinced him to take a furlough. Hitler was
given eighteen days to do what he wanted. It was his first furlough in three years.
Towards the end of September, Hitler and his friend Schmidt boarded a train for Dresden where
Schmidt had relatives. Between stops along the way they went sightseeing in some of the German
cities. When they arrived in Dresden they visited its art galleries and Schmidt pointed out the city's
famous landmarks. Hitler was eager to attend an opera but three years of war can magnify the triviality
of most of man's entertainment and Hitler found nothing worth attending. He then went on to Berlin
where he stayed with another comrade, named Arendt. Before heading to Spital for a visit to the family
farm,* he sent a postcard to Schmidt, postmarked October, 6 (Saturday), 1917:
Dear Schmidt:

Did not get here until Tuesday. The Arendts are very kind, couldn't have wished for
anything better. The city is marvelous, a real world capital. Traffic is still tremendous. I am
out and about almost the whole day. At last I have a chance to study the museums a bit
better. In short; I am lacking nothing. My regards.

Yours, A. Hitler*

Considering the misery on the battle front, it is not surprising that Hitler's letter appears upbeat.
Conditions, however, were not as rosy in the 2nd Reich as Hitler's letter suggested.
When the United States entered the war the British naval blockade, which deprived the Germans of
everyday humanitarian essentials, was never discontinued. Although "freedom of the seas" was
supposed to be one of the main reasons America went to war, US leaders adopted, in full, the British
naval policies that US leaders had condemned so vehemently before entering the war. In Germany,
prices soared and the working classes suffered.
Working class children went barefoot in summer and wore shoes of wood in winter. Cloth was scarce
and they wore clothes made of rags. Rubber for rain gear was nonexistent. Medical supplies were
lacking. Milk and meat were almost unattainable and horse meat was becoming a luxury for the
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working classes. Turnips, mixed with other foods to "stretch" them, became the principle staple at
every meal. Bread made of wheat was a luxury, consequently, potato peelings, at times mixed with
sawdust, was used in its place. Birds, cats, and dogs were consumed whenever they could be caught or
bought. People roamed the streets looking for anything edible at any price. For the year of 1917,
260,000 additional civilian deaths would be attributed to the blockade.
As the war dragged on an increasingly belligerent attitude began to take shape within the German
Social Democratic Party. Earlier in 1917 the more left-leaning members formally broke away and
formed the Independent Social Democratic Party. They openly started agitation against the war and the
German government. Some of them worked alongside the more radical factory workers in Berlin and
other large cities to further revolutionary agitation.* Within the Independent Party was an even more
radical group calling itself the Spartacus League (Spartakusbund) which would help finance its
activities by robbing civilians on trains. The Spartacus (or Spartacists), were headed by two fanatical
communists named Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Karl, whose father had been a close friend
of Karl Marx, co-wrote the Spartacus Manifesto in tribute to Marx's Manifesto. Karl's co-leader, Rosa,
a Pole, was a tiny but explosive revolutionary agitator and a veteran of German and Russian prisons.
Like many of the Independent Socialists, Karl and Rosa did not hold the "moderate" socialist view of a
patient steady progress toward change. They believed in the Marxist view that any action was
acceptable if it promoted their ideas or helped them grasp power. Their actions, and those of the
Independent Socialists, had a tendency to pull the moderate Social Democrats further to the left. Unrest
reached new heights in the Reich.
Earlier in 1917 the Independent Socialists called on strikes to protest food shortages and the war. The
Social Democrats, afraid of further loss of membership, supported the action. Karl Liebknecht rose in
the Reichstag and shouted: "Down with the war!" The first great munitions strikes got under way. In
Berlin alone, 200,000 men and women stayed away from their jobs. Munitions factories and transport
facilities nearly ceased to function. In seven major war factories, striking workers were informed by the
government that they would be arrested and shipped off to the front if they didn't return to their jobs.
The strike was put down in a few days but beneath the surface the discontent was greater than ever.
The war was also having its impact in Bavaria and discontent was especially pronounced in Munich.
Berlin was blamed for the set backs at the front and the hardships at home. Long standing rivalries
between Bavaria and Prussia were "aggravated to a degree damaging to the whole war effort."* At one
point a delegation of noblemen and prominent citizens advocated the wresting of the leadership of the
Reich from Prussia so as to make Bavaria the determining voice in the conduct of the war and the goals
of the nation. Munich soon became the gathering place for extremist opposition from the left as well as
the right against the established order.
Hitler detested the "accursed feud between the German tribes,"* and with his rigid belief in nationalist
principles he regarded all the Marxists actions, especially the strike, as treasonous. "What was the army
fighting for if the homeland itself no longer wanted victory?" Hitler would write. "For whom the
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immense sacrifices and privations? The soldier is expected to fight for victory and the homeland goes
on strike against it."*
Hitler returned to his regiment which was stationed south of the Ailette River (seven miles north of the
Aisne River) on October seventeen. On the same day the French began a bombardment of intense fury
in preparation for a "minor offensive." Their point of attack fell on the Chemin-des-Dames, the scenic
chain of heights between the Ailette and the Aisne Rivers where suicidal attacks a few months before
had led to the French army mutiny. Held by the Germans, the hills were honeycombed with caves,
grottoes, and tunnels created by centuries of stonecutters extracting limestone. Since many of the caves
were 30 to 40 feet beneath the surface it was thought by the Germans to be an impregnable position.
Watching the French bombardment get underway was none other than John J. Pershing, Commander in
Chief of the first American forces which were just beginning to arrive in France. The French were
determined to show their new partner how it was done and were intent on victory. The French general
staff had provided the attacking forces with a number of batteries of their heaviest 15 and 16 inch
siege-artillery which fired a one ton shell with an armor-piercing point.
When the bombardment started the German soldiers fled to the caves expecting to sit out the fire storm.
The French, however, began firing salvos with their heavy guns on the same spot over and over until
the rock over the Germans began to clear away and finally collapsed in some places. The caves became
death traps as shells found their way into the grottoes and their killing power was increased by their
containment. The men above ground in their trenches and pillboxes fared little better. Besides being
deluged with all calibers of shell fire they were also bombarded with gas-shells to an extent never
before experienced. The whole Ailette valley lay under an almost unbroken cloud of poisonous gases.
In one four day period it was hardly possible for men to take off their masks or protective clothing in
order to eat, drink or relieve themselves. The once beautiful spot of nature became a dreary, forbidden
expanse of monotonous mud, pock-marked with craters and ragged ramparts. After six days, the
bombardment lifted and the French went forward along a five mile front.
When the surviving Germans crawled out of their holes to meet the attack they were greeted by a new
tactic. The attacking French infantry was supported by aviators who, flying all over the German
positions at an altitude of only 150 feet, used their machine guns against any German who poked his
head out of the ground.* With such close support the French drove the Germans from the heights and
advanced so quickly they took thousands of prisoners and captured 25 heavy guns within the first few
hours. The French drove forward over the next four days until the whole plateau was in their hands
down to the meadows bordering the Ailette. The hole they punched into the German line threatened the
German flank on either side. When German attacks failed to recapture the lost ground, the Germans
began to retreat to the north bank of the Ailette along a 15 mile front.
Hitler and his regiment fought a fierce rear guard action as the main body of Germans crossed the river.
On November third, what remained of the List Regiment also retreated to the north bank of the
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Ailette.* The effectiveness of planes used in close support of troops was an innovation Hitler would
never forget.
The German retreat to the Ailette was one of Germany's greatest defeats of 1917. Around 12,000
Germans were captured and another 30,000 lay dead or seriously wounded. In proportion to the battle
front, this "minor" engagement was one of the heaviest losses Germany had sustained in a single
military action. The "heights," which had been considered impenetrable two weeks before, were now in
French hands. The retreat not only reduced German moral but the loss of the heights jeopardized the
whole of the German defensives in the south. The French, however, had consumed a horde of men and
supplies and were forced to pause and replenish their loses.
As the French attack sputtered down, 50 miles to the north at Cambrai, the British attempted for the
first time to use tanks as they were meant to be used, on hard ground and in mass formation.
On November 20, 400 tanks went forward without a preliminary bombardment and took the Germans
by complete surprise. The tanks drove a gap in the German front four miles wide, broke three German
lines, and advanced five miles. At a cost of "only" 1500 men the British captured 200 German big guns
and 10,000 prisoners. It was the greatest success the British had achieved in three years of war in
France; but, no one knew how to take advantage of it. The infantry could not keep up with the tanks,
and the cavalry that had been standing by for two years to take advantage of another breakthrough was
easily mowed down by the German machine guns. A wide gap developed between the tanks and
infantry. The closely interlocking mutual support required between infantry and tanks was lost.
Unhampered by the British infantry, the Germans easily knocked out the tanks one at a time. They
plugged the gap, counterattacked, and after ten days of fighting recovered nearly all they had lost and
in some sections captured ground.
Because of the sacrifices of the German infantry at Cambrai, the German High Command failed to
appreciate the significance of the tank which heralded a new era of warfare. No one knew it better than
the German front line soldiers who opposed them. The tanks not only broke the German lines but their
spirit. As Hitler would later state:
In 1917 the military authorities refused to make available the men required for the
manufacture of tanks. In this the High Command committed a fatal error...for the decisive
factor in any war is the possession of the technically superior weapons....If during the
war...technicians had been released from the army at the appropriate moment--say after the
battle of Cambrai – for the construction of armored fighting vehicles, and particularly of
tanks, [they could have saved] the soldiers untold loss of life....*

The fact that there was no recognition of our side of the need for tanks, or at least for an
anti-tank defense, is the explanation of our defeat.*

The situation on the Western Front appeared bleak to the Germans in November of 1917. A ray of hope,
however, glittered again from the east. In the previous months, another 2,500,000 Russian troops had
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either been killed, wounded or captured as the Germans slowly continued to advance. Only the logistics
of transporting German supplies and troops kept Russia from falling apart. Four days after Hitler and
the German army retreated across the Ailette, a group of radical Russian socialists, Bolsheviks, effected
a coup and toppled the short lived previous revolutionary socialist government. They were led by the
rigid Marxist, Lenin. See Appendix S (Lenin)
Though the Bolsheviks had only 115,000 Russian adherents (in a population of 150,000,000), Lenin
acted quickly. A congress of soviets pronounced a new government led by a council of "People's
Commissars," and Lenin put Marxist ideology into action. Backed by Trotsky, Stalin, revolutionary
sailors, and a newly organized armed Red Guard, the "progressives," "intellectuals,"
"constitutionalists," "bourgeois democrats," "Liberals" and other "leftists," were either absorbed into
Lenin's party, imprisoned or shot. Shortly after, the Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist
Party.
Lenin's most pressing problem after taking power was to end the war. By now Russia was in complete
turmoil. The army was disintegrating, transport had broken down, farm production was at a standstill,
food shortages were worse than in Germany and the Germans were advancing. Civil strife was tearing
the country apart and Lenin's second in command, Trotsky (who unquestionably read his Marx) was
threatening to use the "guillotine" against any Russian who opposed them.*
In early November Lenin decreed at the Soviet Congress that there should be an immediate peace
among all the belligerents without annexations or reparations. The German government, with their
armies occupying foreign lands in the east, south and west, responded favorably. France, Italy and
Britain, on the other hand, still had big expansionist dreams and "peace without victory," was again,
unacceptable to them.
A few days later Trotsky began to publish openly the secret deals made between the former Russian
governments and the Allies. The Allies were outraged and turned their back on Russia. The
Government in London saw "victory in unity, without Russia." Italy urged America to "declare her
solidarity...by declaring war on Austria."* France claimed that her only policy was to "wage war."
President Wilson (although embarrassed and angered to find himself linked with such immoral and
obstinate allies) urged American leaders that "victory alone spells peace."*
Lenin's and Trotsky's "vain attempts to induce the Allies to consent to peace without annexations or
indemnities," failed.* On Nov. 27, therefore, three Russian envoys, under a white flag, crossed the
German lines to begin negotiations with the "Teutonic Allies." On Dec. 5, Germany recognized the
revolutionary Russian government. Ten days later an armistice (cease fire) was signed and negotiations
for peace between Russia and Germany began. Although the Allies and the Americans were invited to
the talks in hopes that they would lead to a general peace conference, the Allies and America declined.
Wilson chose this time (Jan 9, 1919) to announced to the world "Fourteen Points" which he hoped
would persuade Russia to continue the war on a defensive basis, and also to show that he did not
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support the Allied expansionist dreams. Although much of Wilson's Fourteen Points outraged the Allies
("the Lord God had only ten," remarked the French leader), the Allies took comfort in the fact that the
entire address rested on the defeat of Germany. As one American official pointed out, Wilson's address
"was an outline of war aims, not a peace address."*
Wilson's address also called for revolution in Germany. As with all the leaders of the western
"democracies" (they're really republics), America's leaders were also intent on forcing their political
system on others. The fact that Germany, while under a "monarchy," had placed herself among the
world's greatest powers while at the same time offering its common citizens abundant social programs,
made many prominent Americans nervous. How could the leaders of the "democratic" nations keep
telling their less fortunate citizens how glorious their form of government was if those living under a
different system had it bountifully better. From the day Wilson committed himself to the war, "his
speeches were one prolonged instigation [for Germans] to revolt. He and Lenin were the champion
revolutionists of the age."* In one of his speeches, for example, Wilson addressed the dissatisfied
elements among the German people and asked for whom their rulers spoke, for the "majority" or "for
the military party and the men whose creed is imperial domination."* Wilson's address, along with the
British and French unwavering position that "no fair or even tolerable peace was possible until
Germany had been defeated,"* effectively forced the German government into a corner. All attempts at
ending the struggle by negotiated compromise with the West ended again. From the German
standpoint, the only way to win the war on the fields of France, was to end it on the steppes of Russia.
(Hitler would take the same deadly course in WWII when Britain refused to mediate.)
With over a million Germans on the Russian border it became clear to Lenin and Trotsky that if a peace
was not reached with Germany soon, the armistice would end, and there would be nearly nothing to
prevent the Germans from overrunning all of Russia. During the past winter the German Army had not
only made great gains in Russia before the peace talks began, but the Italian front had also collapsed
when the Austrians (backed by six German divisions) inflicted 900,000 casualties on the Italians and
drove almost within shell shot of Venice. Von Hindenburg and Ludendorff were in no mood to be
conciliatory. The price Russia was to pay for peace was colossal.
Since the Allies had shown that a peace without annexations and indemnities was unacceptable to them,
Hindenburg and Ludendorff would let Germany's greatest dreams concerning the East run wild.
Besides turning over large chunks of land to Turkey and accepting the loss of Finland, Russia was to
give up the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), Poland, the Ukraine, and parts of White
Russia. These areas represented 15% of the Soviet Union's land, 30% of her industry and 32% of her
population. Besides an indemnity of six billion marks, the Germans also wanted large amounts of raw
materials and industrial goods.
When the Russians were presented with the harsh terms they refused to sign. Hindenburg and
Ludendorff would not be put off. They terminated the armistice and began to advance. They met almost
no resistance and drove deep into Russia. German soldiers joked that to advance, one boarded a train,
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went to the next stop and fired a shot; as the Russian army retreated, the Germans got back on the train,
went to the next stop and repeated the procedure over again. In the north, it seemed Petrograd itself
would fall. The communist government headed east and later moved their capital to the safety of
Moscow.
Lenin and Trotsky believed that after the communists rose to power in Russia, revolution would break
out in the other belligerent countries. Like Wilson, they especially appealed to the dissatisfied elements
in Germany. In support of their communist brothers, the Independent Social Democrats demanded
peace with Russia "without annexation or indemnities." With their organization now reaching all over
Germany, a renewed wave of strikes broke out. Supported by the Social Democrats, 400,000 strikers
left their machines and work stations in Berlin alone.
Although nearly a million workers were involved in the strike nationwide, Lenin's unveiling of the
Allies' intentions to tear Germany apart galvanized most other Germans. They viewed many of the
Communists and Socialists as defeatists, pacifists or outright traitors. Ludendorff and von Hindenburg
decreed a state of siege. The military moved into the cities and took control of the factories. Strike
leaders were arrested and sent to the front regardless of their condition or draft status. The strike was
over in a week.
In Russia, Lenin was ready to sign the peace treaty. Although Trotsky did not want to sign, Lenin
believed no matter what Russia gave up she would have back when the workers came to their senses
and revolutions in the other countries broke out in earnest. Although Allied and American forces
occupied sections of Russia in an attempt to force her back into the war, on March 3, 1918 Russia
signed the treaty with Germany. The Germans took away all the conquests the Tsars had gobbled up in
Europe in the last 200 years. The Baltic states, Poland and the Ukraine became "independent" states
under German domination. The Germans would moved east and south and linked up with the Turks on
the east side of the Black Sea and surrounded it like a German lake.
With 12,000,000 Russian soldiers no longer available as cannon fodder, the war of attrition lost its
glamour for the French and British. All Allied offensives were abruptly and "reluctantly" broken off. As
Hitler would write: "At the front sleepy silence prevailed. Suddenly their high mightinesses lost their
effrontery."* Hitler added:
Since the September days of 1914, when for the first time interminable columns of Russian
war prisoners poured into Germany...it seemed as if the stream would never end but that as
soon as one army was defeated and routed another would take its place. The supply of
soldiers which the gigantic Empire placed at the disposal of the Czar seemed inexhaustible;
new victims were always at hand for the holocaust of war. How long could Germany hold
out in this competition? Would not the day finally have to come when, after the last victory
which the Germans would achieve, there would still remain reserve armies in Russia to be
mustered for the final battle? And what then? According to human standards a Russian
victory over Germany might be delayed but it would have to come in the long run.

All the hopes that had been based on Russia were now lost.*
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A few days after Russia came to terms, Rumania, which had for the most part had been overrun by the
Germans, also came to terms. Germany now had only one front to contend with – the Western Front.
The German attitude concerning the war changed overnight. Germany appeared within sight of victory
which would make her undisputed mistress of Europe. Supplied with the corn and mineral wealth of
the Ukraine, the oil of the Caucasus, the inexhaustible supplies of iron ore from the Baltic, additional
heavy industry, and with her command of the Adriatic and the Aegean, with her dominant position in
Turkey penetrating to the Persian Gulf and to Suez, Germany would soon be in a position to break the
British naval stranglehold and if necessary to conquer Egypt and North Africa.* Talk of peace in the
Second Reich almost stopped except for the Communists. Even most of the Socialists were mute. If
Germany could break the French and British now, before America's millions could be brought into play
to make up for the loss of Russian bodies, might not a glorious victory, never seen in the modern
technical age, be hers?
Hindenburg and Ludendorff were generals and, like the Allied generals, were inspired to aim at
complete victory. They chose to have their showdown in France. They moved one million German
soldiers, 52 divisions, out of Russia. After learning what France and Britain were planning to do to
Germany, the thought of victory appealed greatly to them. They called the task ahead "the greatest in
military history."
German strength was brought up to the same level as that of the French and British for the first time
during the war – 3.5 million German soldiers in 200 divisions. In equipment and arms, however, the
German army was still inferior. They had no new offensive weapons, no tanks, no mechanized
transport, nor a superiority in artillery. Although the Germans had 14,000 heavy artillery pieces, the
Allies had 19,000. Because of the blockade, the British and French soldiers were also better equipped
and fed. Ludendorff believed, nevertheless, that what the German soldier lacked in material could be
made up in determination and innovation.
Unlike the Allies, who had thousands of men and boys to squander before Russia deserted them,
Hindenburg and Ludendorff were less prone to sacrifice their soldiers so readily. They developed new
tactics and brought back the art of surprise. There would be few lengthy preliminary bombardments
and attacking forces would take up their positions secretly by night. Selected light companies of Storm
Troops were to go forward undercover of a barrage to find weak spots to be attacked instead of mass
infantry throwing themselves against strong points. If resistance proved too stubborn, the area was to
be by-passed or the attack was to be broken off. Ludendorff declared that for Germany it was to be
"victory or doom."
While the Austrians and Bulgarians guarded the fronts with Italy and Greece, the millions of German
soldiers in France "were exulting over German power and burning with impatience for the attack."
After occupying their defensive positions against superior forces for three years, troop morale was
high. The decisive battle was about to be fought. At stake was the conquest of Europe. They were
"intoxicated with the fever to fight."* They believed in peace, striving, and brotherhood no longer,
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they believed in the war.* One solider would later write that war and the hope of victory is to man
what childbirth is to woman--a burden, a fount of suffering, and yet in the end, glory. As Hitler would
later write:
A sigh of relief went up from the German trenches and dug-outs when finally, after three
years of endurance in that inferno, the day for the settling of accounts had come.*

At 4:40 in the morning of March 21, six thousand German heavy guns opened up with high explosives
and gas shells along a 100 miles of front as the first of five massive assaults was about to be launched.
Over a million German soldiers eagerly awaited the word to attack. Five hours later, under cover of
fog, specially trained Storm Troops led the way. The German army drove forward on a front nearly a
hundred miles wide and overran the British forward machine gun posts almost unobserved. Within
hours the whole British line began to crumble.
In two weeks the Germans advanced up to 45 miles across much of the old battlefields of the Somme
driving the British and French armies before them. They inflicted over 160,000 casualties on the British
alone and captured 1,500 square miles of territory. German troops were advancing so quickly they
began outrunning their ammunition, guns, food, and everything else. Excited by success, Ludendorff
broke his own rule and went on attacking when the resistance stiffened.
Hitler's regiment, which had been pulled out of its position on the Ailette, was in the thick of it again.
In the first week of April they were thrown against Fontaine, one of the furthermost advance points two
miles west of Montdidier.* During the fighting they came under a heavy bombardment and could
neither advance or retreat. Their ammunition carts and field kitchens were lost and the soldiers were not
only in danger of running out of ammunition but of dying of starvation.* Rations were almost
nonexistent and the troops were forced to eat anything they could find, including cats and dogs.
Possibly because of Little Fox, Hitler's comrades recalled that he preferred the meat of cat to dog.*
One dark night Hitler and one of his comrades, Westenkirchner, decided to find something suitable to
eat. They crawled out of their trench and after stumbling around the shell holes for sometime, they
found a dead horse that didn't smell too bad. While Westenkirchner cut out a large chunk of its quarters,
Hitler found some drinkable water and filled a large gas can he was carrying. They returned
unscratched and handed over their find to the cook.*
Although the world looked for a German breakthrough any day the German advance gradually began to
run down. Allied reserves arrived faster by train far behind the lines than attacking German infantry
could move forward on foot over broken terrain. Ludendorff and Hindenburg shifted their main attack
north in hopes of finding another soft spot while Hitler's regiment endured another three weeks of
bombardments and gas as it pushed on toward Cantigny.
At the end of April Hitler and his regiment were pulled out of the line and sent back to their old
position on the Ailette to be refitted and reinforced. On May 9, 1918 Hitler received his third citation
for a feat performed at Fontaine:* the Regimental Decoration for "outstanding"* "bravery in the face of
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the enemy."* A week later he also received his Medal for Wounded (Category Black, for those
wounded once or twice) for his previous leg wound.*
Since the British and French appeared ready to crack, Hindenburg and Ludendorff continued their
attacks in quick successions. Near the end of May, Hitler and his regiment, along with thousands of
others, was brought into position along the Ailette for an attack meant to retake the Chemin Des Dames
with hopes of pushing on to Paris.* "We started our marching on the evening of the 25th." Hitler later
stated. "We spent the night of the 26th in a forest."*
At 1a.m. on May 27, over 5000 heavy guns opened up on a front forty miles across. For the first ten
minutes many of the guns fired gas shells to create panic and fear among the British and French forces.
Shell fire was then concentrated on the crest of the Chemin des Dames and was unprecedented in
previous German bombardments. Within moments French and British counter fire began to slacken.
For the next two hours an equal combination of gas and high-explosive shells were fired on the Allied
positions. At 3:35 am all German guns abruptly concentrated on the Allied front line. Five minutes later
the exploding shells began to creep back up the Chemin des Danes. Within minutes German storm-
troops swarmed across the Ailette and began climbing up the steep side of the ridge. Right behind
them, "at 5:00 A.M.," Hitler later recalled, "we attacked."*
The Germans quickly overran the Allied forward positions and arrived on the top to find the trenches in
complete shambles with resistance sporadic. The French and British soldiers were completely broken
by the intensity of the barrage. Any soldiers putting up resistance were quickly cut down.
Shortly after sunup ten miles of the Chemin des Dames was back in German hands and over it poured
the German regiments. They marched down the reverse slope and rolled up the British flank on the left
and the French flank on the right. By noon the Germans were strutting across the bridges of the Aisne.
By dusk they crossed the Vesle. The next day they passed through Soissons and were two miles from
Reims. On June 4 they were on the Marne which had not seen German troops for three years. In Paris,
panic reigned as thousands fled the city.
Hitler took part in all phases of the massive offensive: at Soissons, Reims, and in the Champagne; on
the Rivers Ailette, Aisne, and on the Marne. For three months his regiment was shifted from one
position to another in the giant salient.
With a war of movement, as opposed to static trench warfare, the lines were constantly shifting and
messengers found themselves at double risk since one never knew exactly where the lines were. In
June, while running a message, Hitler spotted what appeared to be a French helmet moving in a trench.
He drew his pistol and crawled forward like a cowboy he had read about in one of those "westerns" he
fondly used to read. There were four French soldiers of the avant-garde in the trench and they had not
noticed Hitler's approach. After making sure there were no other French in the vicinity, Hitler began
shouting orders as though he had a squad of men. He convinced the "surrounded" French to lay down
their arms and surrender. Hitler led his four prisoners back behind German lines and personally
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delivered them to Colonel Anton Freiherr von Tubeuf.* The esteem that Hitler's comrades felt for him
reached new heights. The story was repeated so many times over the years that the four French
prisoners grew to eight, twelve, and even twenty, who were sometimes describe as Englishmen.
During the same campaign a breakdown occurred between the German forward positions and the heavy
artillery in the rear. There had been a small German advance and German artillery was shelling their
own positions. In addition to the heavy bombardment, the area between the forward positions and the
artillery was under heavy English machine gun fire. Someone was needed to get a message to artillery
telling them to advance the shelling off the German positions. With the area above ground alive with
sheets of flame, shrapnel and bullets, the dispatch runner who crossed the area would have to be a very
courageous man indeed. Hitler volunteered and carried out his almost suicidal feat without a scratch.*
Lieutenant-Colonel von Luneschloss would later say of him: "Hitler never let us down and was
particularly suited to the kind of task that could not be entrusted to other runners."*
Although Hindenburg and Ludendorff were on the attack, their new tactics had created a war in which
their casualties were about even with the Allies. Few front line infantrymen, however, survived three
and half years of combat and much of Europe's manhood had been consumed in the fighting. Many
divisions on either side had been so decimated they were disbanded. For those destined to be rebuilt,
young German and French boys, fresh from school, were being conscripted and sent off to the front.
Even the British were sending hurriedly trained conscripts who had previously been rejected as
physically unfit.*
The new conscripts were fitted out with large boots, gray trousers and coats which hung on their frail
limbs. It was these newer, younger recruits who had not learned to take advantage of the terrain or use
their "instinct," that suffered the worst. They accounted for the overwhelming number of those killed or
maimed. Although the older soldiers showed them "all the tricks" that could save them from death,
when the bombardments and fighting began, excitement and fear overwhelmed their thinking processes
and the younger ones did everything wrong. Surprise gas attacks also carried off a lot of them for they
had not learned to act quickly, or they took off their masks too soon, had their lungs scorched, and
slowly choked to death. Their blue faces and black lips spoke for what happened.* As the attacks
continued, the "meat wagons" never ceased hauling the bodies and fragments to a common burial
dump.
There were those who were aghast at the price the belligerents were prepared to pay for victory. The
American ambassador in London wrote:
There are perhaps 10 million men dead of this war, and perhaps 100 million persons to
whom death would be a blessing. Add to these, many millions more, whose views of life
are so distorted, that blank idiocy would be a better mental outlook; and you'll get a hint,
and only a hint, of what the continent has already become --a bankrupt slaughter house.

Hitler saw the List regiment decimated, rebuilt and then decimated time after time. His "charmed life"
slowly began to solidify his long-held conviction that "fate" was watching over him. Every soldier who
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survived the List Regiment "could consider himself fortunate, enjoying the special protection of
Providence,"* and Hitler became convinced that he was being spared for a reason. "You will hear much
about me," Hitler told a comrade, "Just wait until my time comes."* When another comrade asked him
what he was going to do after the war, Hitler was letting fate decide the issue when he answered: "I'll
become an artist or go into politics." When asked which political party he liked, he quickly answered,
"none."
By mid-July the Germans had inflicted 600,000 casualties upon the Allies during their massive
offensive and as many on themselves. By throwing in most of their reserves they drove forward another
ten miles in the direction of Paris and within view of the Eiffel Tower. With over half a million
American troops now in France and tens of thousands arriving every week, the British and French
officers ordered their men not to retreat and to "fight to the end." These men sacrificed themselves as
they absorbed the brunt of the German offensive. On July 14 the German armies launched an offensive
that was supposed to carry them from the Marne into Paris. They were met by French and fresh
American troops. For the first time since the beginning of the offensive the Germans were halted.
Ludendorff's overall strategy from a military point of view had been "brilliant but hopeless."*
Technology had not given the generals what they needed most at this time – speedy, mechanized
vehicles carrying men and guns over open and torn country, vehicles that could push on through weak
defenses before enemy reinforcements could arrive by rail far behind the lines and plug the gaps.
Although Ludendorff's strategy had pushed the Allies back, the hoped for breakthrough, which alone
could bring victory, never materialized. What Ludendorff had acquired was a number of dangerous
bulges.
The artillery duels between the adversaries reached a crescendo in July as the Germans attempted to
break the stalemate. The Allies and Americans hammered back. Civilians in Paris 40 miles away were
awakened from their sleep by the magnitude of the exchange. During the fighting south of Courthiezy,
seven miles east of Chateau-Thierry, Hitler "saved the life of the commander of 9 Company when,
having found him severely wounded by an American shell, he dragged him to the rear."*
With US forces now up to battle readiness and adding moral support, the Allies were ready to take the
initiative. On July 19th, French and American troops launched a series of counterattacks on, and north,
of the Marne. The Germans were caught by surprise and many of their divisions were decimated or
badly mauled. Backed up by French tanks, and copying many of Ludendroff's tactics, the Allies began
to creep forward. As always the fighting was tremendous and the List Regiment was in the thick of it.
In August, Hitler received his fifth and sixth medals. One was the Military Service Medal, 3rd class, for
outstanding service. The other (recognizing his special mission to notify the artillery to advance their
fire plus other previous acts of bravery) was "one of the highest distinctions to which a common soldier
in the German army could aspire."* On Aug 4, Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class,* "for
personal bravery and general merit."*
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This was an uncommon decoration for a soldier of Hitler's rank since it was normally reserved for
officers. "Hitler was one of the very few common soldiers of World War I to be awarded the Iron Cross,
First Class"* Of the 11,000,000 men mobilized for the German army during WWI, only 163,000 first
class crosses were awarded during the war* and only a handful went to enlisted men. Colonel von
Tubeuf, the officer Hitler delivered his captives to, commented about Hitler:
There was no circumstance or situation that would have prevented him from volunteering
for the most difficult, arduous and dangerous tasks, and he was always willing to sacrifice
his safety and life and tranquillity for his fatherland and for others.*

Shortly after the war, when there was no reason whatever to refer to Hitler in glowing terms, one of his
officers, Colonel Spatny, would also recall:
Hitler set a shining example to those around him. His pluck and his exemplary bearing
throughout each battle exerted a powerful influence on his comrades and this, combined
with his admirable unpretentiousness, earned him the respect of superiors and equals alike.*

Major-General Friedrich Petz, a former commander of the List Regiment would also state:
Hitler...was mentally very much all there and physically fresh, alert and hardy. His pluck
was exceptional, as was the reckless courage with which he tackled dangerous situations
and the hazards of battle.*

The recommendation for Hitler's Iron Cross First Class was signed on July 17, 1918 by Lieutenant-
Colonel Michael Freiherr von Godin and read:
As a runner his coolness and dash in both trench and open warfare have been exemplary,
and invariably he has shown himself ready to volunteer for tasks in the most difficult
situations and at great danger to himself. Whenever communications have been totally
disrupted at a critical moment in a battle, it has been thanks to Hitler's unflagging and
devoted efforts that important messages continued to get through despite every difficulty.*

Even biographers who hated Hitler wrote that there was no disputing the fact that "Hitler was a brave
soldier,"* and that "he was entitled to the honor."*
The awarding of the Iron Cross was initiated and presented to Hitler by his battalion adjutant, First
Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann.* The Iron Cross was to be worn on the left side of the chest and if one had
been awarded a Medal for Wounded it was to be worn under the Iron Cross. Hitler seldom wore any of
his other four medals but when he wore these two, he wore them with pride for the rest of his life – he
knew he had earned them.
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12: Hate and Defeat

Four days after Hitler received his Iron Cross, the violent attacks of the Allies began to have more than
a limited effect. There were now over one and a quarter million American soldiers in France with
thousands more arriving each day. Their moral was high and they thought of nothing but victory. They
looked at themselves as "liberators" or "crusaders' who had come to save the world. Harry Truman,
future president of the United States, thought of himself as "Galahad." General Pershing was portrayed
as a "knight" on a white horse (holding a huge flag in one hand and a shield embossed with a cross in
the other) "crusading for a new world." (Hitler authorized a painting of himself portrayed in a similar
fashion during WWII. Historians have used the painting to "prove" that Hitler was "demented.") The
American presence reinvigorated the French and British troops and gave them back their hope that
victory was just around the corner.
On Aug 9, "the black day of the German Army," as Ludendorff called it, the German lines began to
give way as never before. The Germans fought a skillful rear guard action and when conditions favored
them they stood and struck back hard. In most cases they could only be dislodged by vicious, close-in
fighting. When withdrawing, they did their demolition work well and greatly slowed the Allied
advance. Although the German line was never broken, the retreats continued. After being pushed back
20 miles from the Marne and Chateau Thierry, Hitler and his Regiment were shifted north between
Arras and Bapaume.*
The failed offensive and the retreats shattered the German Armies' belief in victory as never before.
Much of the fighting spirit passed out of the German troops. The leaders of the strikes in Germany, who
were forcibly sent to the front, were now using their organizational abilities to rouse the men in the
trenches. The new replacements were especially vulnerable to their rhetoric. Most of the new soldiers,
unlike their Allied counterparts, became convinced that their position was hopeless. Disaffection grew
in leaps and bounds. Many soldiers refused to risk their lives for a cause they saw as lost and took the
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position: "Better a coward for three minutes than dead for the rest of your life."* Old front line soldiers
like Hitler were scorned as fools.
Hitler and his old comrades were devastated by the withdrawals. Four months earlier the Germans had
been on the threshold of conquering Europe and had marched toward the front lines with the cry,
"'Deutschland uber alles in der Welt,'" (Germany above all in the world). Now they were nearly back
where they had started. Hitler believed that the army should have stood and fought to the end. He was
convinced that the High Command's custom of constructing fortifications and defensive positions in the
rear had an unsettling effect on fighting troops who were drawn to them like a magnet. He believed that
huge withdrawals demoralized the troops as well as the civilians at home and built up the morale of the
enemy. "In 1918," he would later state, "victory was as nearly in our grasp as it was in that of our
adversaries. It was a battle of nerves."*
Hitler also believed that propaganda played a large role in the German failure. While he considered
German propaganda "a complete failure," he considered the "propaganda of the British and the
Americans" superior, highly skilled and truly inspired.
When the Germans had forced Russia out of the war and transferred their "undivided forces" to the
Western Front, the Allied troops "faith in victory gave way to fear," Hitler would later write, but, he
continued:
At the very moment when the German divisions were receiving their final orders for the
great offensive a general strike broke out in Germany....All of a sudden a means had come
which could be utilized to revive the sinking confidence of the [Allied]
soldiers...revolution...in the Fatherland.

British, French and American newspapers began to spread this belief among their readers
while a very ably managed propaganda encouraged the morale of their troops at the front.

'Germany Facing Revolution! An Allied Victory Inevitable?' That was the best medicine to
set the staggering [French and British troops] on their feet once again. Our rifles and
machine-guns could now open fire once again, but instead of effecting a panic-stricken
retreat they were now met with a determined resistance that was full of confidence.*

Hitler knew, as he put it, that the "munitions strike had...broke down too early to...sentence the army to
doom," but he lamented about the "moral damage which now had been done."* He would never forget
that it was the "Reds" and "Marxists" ("Socialists" and "Communists"), who had organized the
munitions strike.
After the failed offensive he became argumentative and "talked at length of the swindle perpetrated by
the Reds." He considered them "cowards," "traitors," "pacifists and shirkers," and unlike most men
was not afraid to voice his feelings even though the overwhelming numbers of the new replacements
disagreed with him. One day he "became furious and shouted in a terrible voice that the pacifists and
shirkers were losing the war."* Hitler got into a fist fight with one of the new recruits who thought
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Germany should capitulate. After taking a lot of punches, Hitler finally won the fight. While the older
soldiers respect of Hitler reached new heights, the new recruits despised him more than ever.* As one
would later comment:
We all cursed him and found him intolerable....There was this white crow
among us that didn't go along with us when we dammed the war to hell.**

Early in September, Hitler's Regiment was once again shifted north to their old killing ground around
Ypres and held in reserve. Hitler, took this time to take his second and last furlough. He and his friend
Arendt traveled to Berlin together and Hitler went on to visit his family at the farm in Spital. His
younger sister, Paula, who was now 21, and his stepsister Angela, found him quiet, withdrawn and
incapable of small talk.
After witnessing the horrors of war for years, many soldiers had trouble dealing with their civilian
relatives and friends. Those who had never experienced war at first hand could never comprehend what
life was like in the front lines. Most people had a tendency to ask about the conditions "out there" and
most soldiers found their curiosity stupid and distressing. What could a soldier say? Would their family
ever comprehend living under a gas and artillery bombardment for weeks? Would their friends
understand the overwhelming fear that makes one dirty his pants? Would they really want to hear about
the heaps of torn and pitted carcasses that once were human? What about a dead, open mouth collecting
rain? And, if someone changed the subject, what was there to talk about? What civilians consider
important means almost nothing to a soldier who must return to the killing arena. Life behind the lines
had become a foreign world to many soldiers. They belonged at the front.* Hitler spent only a few
days visiting his relatives. Before returning to the front he stopped in Berlin. He found the Capital
seething with unrest.
The cornucopia the Germans had expected from the conquered Russian lands had not matched
expectations. The conquered territories were ravaged by war and revolution. It would take time to
supply the bounty dreamed of. In Germany everything from fuel to medicine was almost nonexistent.
In the hospitals, newborn babies were wrapped in rags and bandages were made of paper. But, it was
the food shortages that were still the most pressing problem. Potatoes had become a luxury and turnips
were now the principle ingredient of every dish from sausages to marmalade. Before the year would
end the death toll caused by the blockade would surpass that of the previous year.
Because of the recent setbacks on the front and the suffering at home, the Socialists in the Reich had
switched back to their previous positions and came out in ever larger numbers against the war. They
were inspired, egged-on, and in many cases, financed by Russia. They began spreading rumors that the
only reason the war was continuing was because rich arms producers were bribing the high command
to keep the war going.
By now the war had become a "subversive operation," with the most respectable Allied and American
statesmen calling for revolution in the lands of their foes.* Using Allied and American propaganda the
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German Socialists and Communists appealed for the overthrow of the government. "At home one
quarreled," Hitler would later write. "...The people no longer had an interest in holding out any
further..."*
When Hitler returned to the area of Ypres at the end of September, even the normally placid Belgians
were beginning to show signs of animosity. "In 1918," Hitler would later say, "the population adopted a
hostile attitude towards German troops going up into the line. I remember a Town Mayor who urged us
to continue on our way when we wanted to chastise some blighters who stuck out their tongues at us."*
When Hitler rejoined his regiment in the front lines he found that the German army had abandoned all
of their gains made in their great offensive and more. Hitler would write:
Now in the autumn of 1918 we stood for the third time on the ground we had stormed in
1914. The village of Comines, which formerly had served us as a base, was now within the
fighting zone. Although little had changed in the surrounding district itself, the men had
become different, somehow or other. They now talked politics. Like everywhere else, the
poison from home was having its effect here also. The young drafts succumbed to it
completely.*

Except for the initial stages of the war and the recent German offensive, the Western Front had stayed
much where it was during the course of the war. The Germans had held out against all comers and had
never given up an inch of land without taking a greater toll on the enemy. With the renewed offensive
by the Allies, and with American strength now at one and a half million, the fighting spirit of the
German soldier reached a low point. They began to retreat from the positions they had held for four
years.
By the end of September, Germany's loss seemed imminent and Bulgaria asked for an armistice and
withdrew from the war. The incident had a great psychological effect and hastened the German
breakdown. Thousands of German soldiers surrendered to the Allies at any opportunity. Many refused
to follow orders which might put them in any kind of jeopardy. Where once soldiers, individually or in
small groups, refused to follow orders, they now revolted in mass. There were incidents of officers
being beaten, stoned, and even shot. By the beginning of October the German army was falling back
slowly along its front from Verdun to the coast.
Americans, Englishmen and Frenchmen alike could not believe their newspapers as day after day they
reported the capture of thousands of German prisoners with their weapons and big guns. In one week
alone, 60,000 German soldiers were "captured" by the Allies. No one was more surprised than the
Allied and American military experts who had all been predicting a few weeks before, in optimistic
fashion, that a German collapse was unthinkable anytime sooner than the summer of 1919 when the
United States would bring five million men and enormous resources into the conflict. They now saw
that they had clear superiority in material, troops, and troop quality. Instead of following the custom of
winding down the fighting as the weather turned foul, they pressed vigorously on. After smashing
through the Hindenburg Line east of the old battlegrounds of the Somme, the Allies turned their
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attention northward where Hitler and his regiment were stationed. Because of the growth of American
forces in France, a French army was moved north to join the British for a combined attack against the
Germans around Ypres again.
On September 29, the Allies opened up with a barrage of high explosives shells intermingled with
mustard gas. Short of troops, Ludendorff had been forced to take men from one part of his line to
protect another and there were now only five divisions left to defend the area. The Germans had no
choice but to fall back. After a few days of fighting along a twenty-mile front, the Germans were forced
back in some places eight miles and another 10,000 prisoners were taken along with scores of heavy
guns. The Allied soldiers advanced steadily but this time their most difficult opposition was the rain. It
rained nearly as hard as it had during the Third Battle of Ypres the year before. The troops moved
across an eerie, fog-shrouded wasteland.* "I remember well," Hitler would say, "that we had some
very hard fighting [in] October 1918, and then...came the rain, and everything was washed out."*
The Allies paused for a few days to consolidate their positions and on the night of October 13th began
lobbing high explosives and a new form of mustard gas on the German lines in preparation for a
another attack the next day. Hitler was near Werwick (today's Wervik), two miles northeast of Comines,
when the shelling began. He would later write:
In the night of October 13, the English gas attack on the southern front before
Ypres burst loose; they used yellow-cross gas, whose effects were still unknown
to us as far as personal experience was concerned. In this night I myself was to
become acquainted with it. On a hill south of Werwick, we came on the evening
of October 13 into several hours of drumfire with gas shells which continued all
night more or less violently. As early as midnight, a number of us passed out, a
few of our comrades forever. Toward morning I, too, was seized with pain
which grew worse with every quarter hour, and at seven in the morning I
stumbled and tottered back with burning eyes; taking with me my last report of
the War.

A few hours later, my eyes had turned into glowing coals; it had grown dark
around me.*

"Yellow cross gas" (like "green cross," "blue cross" or "white cross") was a German shell-marking
since the German gunners did not need to know the content of his gas shell so long as he could identify
the cross.* The German soldiers soon learned the effects the different "cross" colors had on their
enemies and naturally gave that name to Allied gases, though the Allies used a different name and their
compounds were somewhat different. "Yellow-cross gas" represented "mustard gas" to the English and
"Yperite," after Ypres where it was first used, to the French.* It was a "highly persistent type"
(meaning the substance (dichlor-diethyl-sulphide) remained active for days, weather permitting, on any
object it settled on).* It was capable of penetrating thick clothing, boots, and some masks,* and
produced vesicant – severe shin burning and blistering – especially on the eyes and throat which put a
man out of action but only irregularly produced death* (an incapacitated soldier is more of a hindrance
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to the enemy then a dead one). When exposed, there is no immediate effect on the eyes and throat, but
within seven hours of exposure, total (though usually temporary) blindness sets in* and talking
becomes almost impossible. For those exposed to "Yellow cross," the rate of death was two and a half
percent* while permanent blindness, for those who lived, was about the same. Hitler's description of
the effects are fairly exact except for his omission of the smell, which was something like horseradish.
Blinded, Hitler was evacuated 25 miles behind the lines to a field hospital at Oudenaarde for initial
treatment* and then to Ghent.* Within a week he was loaded onto a train with hundreds of other
wounded and shipped to a military hospital eighty miles north of Berlin, at Pasewalk. He would lay in a
bed for weeks, his eyes swathed in bandages, fearing whether his eyesight would ever return.
The recent defeats on the battlefield and the growing unrest at home convinced Ludendorff that the war
could no longer be won by military operations. He was finally able to convince a reluctant Hindenburg,
and they informed William II and the Reichstag in Berlin. Ludendorff was so alarmed over conditions
at the front that he suggested an immediate armistice with negotiations for peace to follow later.
The apparent reasonableness of President Wilson's Fourteen Points persuaded the German government
that their only chance for a fair peace was to be found through the United States. Because of Wilson's
insistence on a democratic government, William II found himself forced to sign a decree granting a
parliamentary government on the British lines. A liberal, Prince Max of Baden, was appointed
Chancellor and the Social Democrats entered the ministry to join the Liberals and Centrists in forming
a peace cabinet. The President of the United States was informed that a government of the "people"
was ready to seek a cease fire and negotiations began.
The British and French leaders, who had never accepted Wilson's Fourteen Points were outraged. They
believed they were going to be cheated out of the fruits of their victory at the last moment.* The French
still hoped to carry off the German Rhineland and the British were determined to "squeeze the German
lemon until the pips squeak."* They had no wish to negotiate. They were determined to dictate.
Because of Allied pressure, and fears that Germany might use a cease fire to rebuild its shattered
forces, Wilson's terms for an armistice were stern. On October 16 he demanded that all German
submarine operations cease immediately and unconditionally (which would allow the Allies to improve
their war situation while offering no offsetting conditions whatever to the Germans). Ludendorff,
consequently, had a change of heart and wanted to reject the proposal. Even the eminent German,
Walter Rathenau (Jewish industrialist & statesman) suggested a "'levee en masse'" so as to continue the
war.* The new government, on the other hand, felt that further resistance would make matters worse
and on October 20, agreed to Wilson's conditions. The subs were called off. Three day later, however, it
became apparent that Wilson wanted more. He was determined to destroy the German monarchy and
made it plain in a note that he and his democratic Allies "do not and cannot trust the word of those
["military masters and the monarchical autocrats"]* who have hitherto been the masters of German
policy."*
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Wilson's note was the death knell of the German monarchy. When Ludendorff and Hindenburg were
presented with the new condition they were outraged. They reevaluated their position on the battlefront
and, as with their own offensive a few months before, saw that the Allied offensive was also winding
down. Although the Germans had been pushed back as much as forty miles from the Hindenburg Line,
the German field commanders had not panicked "even while the country behind them collapsed into
chaos."* With the German line still holding on French and Belgium territory, it now appeared possible
to continue with a solid defense until an "unconditional armistice," as Ludendorff wanted, could be
worked out. On October 24, a telegram was sent to all army group commanders denouncing the terms
demanded by Wilson and ordering the troops to stand and fight to the finish. The new German
government, however, was so fearful that Wilson might call off the negotiations that they rejected the
idea of further resistance. There were also those who felt that if Ludendorff was dismissed, Wilson
might be satisfied and the Kaiser might survive the war. On October 27, Ludendorff was forced to
resign although von Hindenburg had been more insistent on continuing the fighting and had written and
signed the last "stand and fight" telegram.
By now Germany was in complete chaos and the entire country began to dissolve. Wilson's notes and
speeches fed the revolutionary fervor and inspired the more radical Socialists and Communists. They
saw the country as up for grabs to any party that could forcibly take it. Propaganda and revolutionary
agitation reached new heights. Two days after Ludendorff resigned, Turkey withdrew from the war and
the German navy, which was bottled up in the Black Sea, joined the revolutionaries. As in Russia the
previous year, Communists, Independent Socialists and their sympathizers had spent months organizing
secret action committees of sailors and stokers on ships. Before the mutiny was over only one ship, the
Koenig, failed to raise the red flag. The mutinous sailors forced a return to Kiel, the country's largest
naval port, and went ashore to join thousands of other navy personnel and shipyard workers. Organized
into Workers and Soldiers Councils, "on the approved Russia lines,"* they began a takeover of the city.
Officers were locked up or killed, armories were looted, and the food supply was brought under their
control. Most of the troops sent to suppress the uprising, deserted or joined it. By November 3, the
Reds had the city firmly under their control.
Thus was sounded the first military trumpet blast for armed revolution. Communist and Socialist
deserters and workers now moved inland and used the roads and waterways to smuggle revolutionary
propaganda throughout Germany. Activists and saboteurs went into action and sank cement barges in
canals to block the transport of war materials to the front. Political agitators at the front and at home
openly preached armed rebellion.
With the police watching closely for dissenters, the Socialists organized school boys to disrupt patriotic
meetings with itching powder or stink bombs and to sabotage the collections of metal, glass and other
collections that helped in the war effort. The children were taught to draw caricatures of the Kaiser
hanging from the gallows. Stones and dead rats were hurled at policemen and police stations.
Disrespect for law was condoned. One of the favorite songs taught to Socialist children was:
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Death! to hangmen, kings and traitors,


Give the people bread.
Freedom! is the people's slogan,
Free we'll be or dead.

Soldiers', Sailors' and Workers' Councils were formed throughout North Germany and revolution broke
out on a large scale. The naval revolt soon spread on to Wilhelmshaven, the second largest port, then to
Lubeck and Bremen. In Hamburg, Germany's second largest city (and the most Red), sailors and
workers were joined by army reservists. Officers were overwhelmed and murdered for almost no
reason. Policemen directing traffic or trying to keep people from riding on the sides of streetcars were
beaten or killed. Within a few days all the ports on the North and Baltic Seas were under the red flag.
Hitler, who was still recovering in the Hospital at Pasewalk, not far from the Baltic, would write:
During November the general tension increased. One day suddenly and without warning
the disaster came upon us. Sailors arrived on trucks and called out for the
Revolution....Now they put up the red rag here.*

Revolution also swept Austria-Hungary. Vienna became a hot bed of Socialist unrest and rebellion.
Street battles between the Marxists and the Catholic right were fought every day. Mutinous troops on
the front with Italy blew up ammunition dumps and so disrupted military morale that when the Italians,
with British help, launched an offensive it succeeded as never before. Within a few days they nearly
pushed the Austrians completely out of Italy and were soon bombing Munich from the air.
Austria had also asked Wilson for a cease fire on the terms of his Fourteen Points but Wilson refused
since he had already urged the Czechs, Poles, South Slavs, and Rumanians to free themselves from
"monarchical autocrats" and gain independence. His refusal was the signal for all out revolt. The 635
year old Hapsburg ruling house toppled and the empire fragmented into "republics." By November 4,
the former "oppressed nationalities" became Allies. Germany stood alone.
On Nov 7, one year after the Communists seized Russia, revolution swept through all parts of
Germany. Using the date as inspiration, Communists and Socialists, with the help of workers and
soldiers (who seldom knew whose cart they were pulling), took control as government after
government collapsed throughout the cities of Germany. The "red rag," as Hitler called it, went up in
Hanover, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
In Hitler's adopted city of Munich, a Jew named Kurt Eisner, an Independent Socialist and a drama
critic by trade (who had spent nine months in prison for his wartime strike activities), led an
insurrection. By dusk his supporters had seized every major military post, hoisted their red flag and
proclaimed a new Reich – a Bavarian People's Republic. It was to be, as Eisner saw it, a "Reich of
light, beauty, and reason," a "communism of the spirit."* Hitler saw it a different way and wrote: "I
could not imagine that the lunacy would break out in Munich also."*
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With all-out civil war threatening and its southern flank nearly unprotected, the German government
held that it had no other choice but to agree with any Allied and American demands. On the evening of
November 7, a government Armistice Commission, deliberately lacking any military representatives
who might raise difficulties and prolong the talks, crossed the fighting line to begin negotiations.
It soon became apparent that Ludendorff's dismissal was not enough and the negotiations stalled.
Because of "Wilsonian propaganda"* the Kaiser was regarded as an obstacle to peace and the new
German government was led to believe that they could obtain speedier and better terms if Germany
became a "republic."* Socialists in the government threatened to withdraw and end the government's
representative nature unless the Kaiser stepped down.* William II had no choice and his abdication
was announced on November ninth. Prince Max handed over his post as Reich Chancellor to Friedrich
Ebert the head of the Social Democrats.
Ebert, as head of the new Socialist Government, was immediately confronted with a major problem.
Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg had united with elements of the Independent Socialists and
along with Soldiers and Workers Councils succeeded in capturing a few posts and buildings in Berlin.
Liebknecht was about "to proclaim a German Soviet Republic on Lenin's [and Trotsky's] model."*
Ebert wanted no part of Liebknecht's Red Republic and while he sat in the Reichstag building
pondering what to do, one of his assistants, believing the Social Democrats had to show they were in
charge, quickly stepped outside and proclaimed a "German Republic." Wilson and his supporters
finally got what they wanted. So ended the Second Reich of the Hohenzollern kings which Bismarck
had pulled together in 1871 and which brought Germany to the forefront of the worlds greatest powers
in not only military strength but social progress. The next day, on November 10, in a special train in the
Compiegne Forest in France, the triumphant "democracies" finally agreed to an armistice.(Because of
formalities the slaughter at the front would not stop till 11am, French time, the following day.)
Although much of Hitler's eyesight had returned by this time, he was not able to read newspapers and
was exposed to more rumors than ever. He knew however, that the end was near for, as he wrote: "Even
in the hospital, people were discussing the end of the War which they hoped would come soon, but no
one counted on anything immediate."*
"On November 10," he would later write, "the [local] pastor came into the hospital for a short
address....In utmost excitement I, too, was present during the short speech. The dignified old gentleman
seemed to tremble very much when he told us that now the house of Hohenzollern was no longer
allowed to wear the German imperial crown, that the country had now become a 'Republic'....the War
was lost..."*
Hitler was crushed. Although he knew the loss was coming, the news that the Kaiser had been ousted
was a complete shock. The reign of William II had begun the year before Hitler was born and William
signified Germany. To the small group assembled at the hospital, William's resignation brought about
the "deepest depression." As Hitler would write: "I believe that not one eye was able to hold back the
tears."* That the Kaiser had been replaced by Marxists, had to Hitler, no justification.* Like most
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people of his day who did not support Marxists ideology, Hitler saw the Social Democrats, Independent
Socialists and the Communists as one and the same. He believed that this "gang of despicable and
depraved criminals" had fomented revolution and sacrificed the lives of "two millions," and "the
Germany of the past" for no other reason than "to lay hands on the Fatherland."* As he summed up his
beliefs:
Kaiser William II was the first German Emperor to hold out a conciliatory hand to the
leaders of Marxism, without suspecting that scoundrels have no honor. While they still held
the imperial hand in theirs, their other hand was reaching for the dagger....

In these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for this deed.*

"Something clicked in the Pasewalk Hospital"* and Hitler found an outlet for his hate. To Hitler,
"Marxism" became "synonymous with 'Jewry,'"* and his "deadly hate for 'the Jew'...can be dated quite
precisely from his hospitalization of October-November 1918."*
Because of heavy Jewish participation in the Socialist and Communist parties of Russia, Austria and
Germany, large number of Jews held leadership roles in the Marxist movements. As Heiden (who's
mother was Jewish) pointed out: "The relatively high percentage of Jews in the leadership of the
Socialists parties on the European continent cannot be denied."* Joachim Fest also notes: "It is
characteristic of a minority outcast for generations that it will incline toward rebellion and dreaming of
utopias. Thus Jewish intellectuals had indeed flung themselves into the socialist movement and became
its leaders."* The heavy Jewish involvement in the revolution had a tendency to turn many Germans,
who were indifferent or even benevolent to the Jewish cause, against the Jews. Anti-Jewish fervor was
spreading all over Germany. "Hitler was only one among millions of other patriots who learned to fear
Jews and Reds (almost as a single unity) during this period."*
Although many historians like to state that Hitler was a Jew hater during and before the war, the
evidence is to the contrary. His comrades at the front, including Schmidt, never heard Hitler make any
serious anti-Jewish remarks.* In discussions with his other messenger friend, Westenkirchner, about
the great influence the Jews had in Vienna politics, Hitler never spoke about it with "spitefulness,"*
even though Vienna was one of the first places where strikes broke out against the war and which had a
large Jewish participation. As for other people, like Hans Mend, who accused Hitler of being anti-
Semitic during the war, their comments came much later when they had some political advantage to
gain.* The only reliable negative comment Hitler ever made to his comrades about the Jews during the
war concerned a Jewish telephone operator named Stein whom Hitler considered not too bright and
said: "If all Jews were no more intelligent than Stein, then there wouldn't be trouble."* Such a
statement shows that Hitler was well aware of the large part that Jews played in the leadership of the
Socialists and Communists parties. He, nonetheless, did not single out the Jews at that point or rail
against them. As Lieutenant Wiedemann stated later: "It really seems impossible for me to believe that
Hitler's hatred for Jews dated back to that time."* As Dr. Rudolph Binion wrote: "On balance, the
evidence that he was not an anti-Semite until after World War I, despite his own account in Mein
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Kampf, is compelling."* Hitler also served side by side with Jewish soldiers and was often under
Jewish officers; yet, no one of Jewish decent ever came forward to state that Hitler was "anti-Semitic"
during the war. Hugo Gutmann, the officer who initiated and presented Hitler with his Iron Cross First
Class was a Jew.**
Besides the ousting of William II, there were two other incidents of Jewish involvement in the
revolution that also triggered Hitler's "hate."
The first, was the day Red soldiers raised their "rag" over the hospital. Hitler is literally dripping with
hate as he recounts further:
A few Jew boys, however, were the 'leaders' in the fight that now started also here, the fight
for 'freedom,' 'beauty,' and 'dignity' of our people's existence. None of them had been at the
front. By way of a so-called 'gonorrhea-hospital' these three Orientals had been sent home
from the base behind the front. Now they pulled up the red rag here.*

That both Rosa and Karl were Jewish and were the two most visible persons behind the revolt in Berlin
only heightened his hate. Hitler considered Karl to be nothing but a "shirker"* and, like those
associated with Karl, "ripe for the rope."*
The second incident, and the one that Hitler would never forget, was Kurt Eisner's takeover of Hitler's
adopted state of Bavaria and the setting up of the "Jew-Republic" as many Germans and Hitler called it.
"The loyalty towards the honorable... [old government] seemed to me to be stronger than the will of a
few Jews," he would later write.* He considered the act "high treason" and would also write: "It was
the duty of a prudent government...to root out without pity the instigators....If the best were killed on
the front, then one could at least destroy the vermin at home."*
To Hitler the "instigators" were the "Jews," and the vermin was: "Marxism, the ultimate aim of which
was and will always be the destruction of all non-Jewish national States."* As Hitler summed up his
feelings: "With the Jews there is no bargaining, but only the hard either—or."* Hitler would always
"remember a Jewess who wrote" at the time in the Bayrischer Kurier:* "'What Eisner's doing now
will recoil upon our heads.'" Twenty-four years later (Jan.31,1942), shortly before the first gas
chambers went into operation, as Hitler repeated the women's words, he could not resist adding: "A rare
case of foresight."*
Nine days after the war ended most of Hitler's eyesight had returned and he was discharged from the
hospital. He was twenty-nine years old and had spent the last four years under some of the worst
conditions ever known in warfare. Of the millions of German young men who had marched off so
confidently to do battle for the Fatherland, nearly two million were killed in action or would later die of
wounds. Germany's allies: Bulgaria, Turkey and Austria, lost an additional million and a half troops
while the Allies lost nearly five million. Three million more on both sides were reported as "missing"
since enough pieces of them were never found. Four million others were totally disabled either
physically or mentally while another sixteen million suffered wounds of one degree or another. It was
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the most indiscriminate slaughter that ever occurred on the earth. Hitler, who had roamed where the
bullets and shells flew the thickest, was spared. The gas would slowly vanish from his lungs and eyes,
but its traces would remain. "A strange hoarseness of the voice" was "an inheritance the war...left to
Adolf Hitler."*
(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)

13: Revolution

Although the army failed to give Hitler his back pay, he had only a few days to return to his
replacement regiment in Eisner's new Bavarian People's Republic. When Hitler arrived in Munich two
days later, he checked in at the List Regiment barracks on Turken Strasse. He was immediately
repulsed by the mostly younger and rebellious soldiers in the replacement battalion. His hate for
"democratic principles" reached new heights by what he saw of the newer recruits and their "Soldiers
Council" which had little or no control over them. Hitler teamed up with a few old front-line comrades,
including Schmidt, and for the most part they kept to themselves.
Most of the new recruits had been drafted and never saw combat. They had no respect for army
tradition and treated seasoned soldiers like Hitler with contempt. They had been the first to join Eisner's
Red revolution and were under "voluntary obedience." Many of them only remained in the barracks to
take advantage of the food and shelter. Hitler felt that the "best human material....volunteers" had been
"sacrificed" during "four and half years' blood-shedding" while "a society of pimps, thieves, burglars,
deserters, duty shirkers, etc....elements of baseness, depravity, and of cowardice....had meanwhile
preserved itself in the most wonderful manner." Hitler felt that "this well-preserved scum" had followed
the Jews and other Marxists leaders and "made the revolution."* As Schmidt would later comment:
"The place was full of laggards and cowards."*
Hitler had other reasons to be disgruntled when he learned of the humiliating armistice terms the new
government had agreed to. Since a peace treaty had not been signed, the "conditions" were designed to
make sure Germany would be in no position to resume a defense should the peace terms be
unacceptable to her. The Germans were forced to turn over nearly all of their operational big guns,
airplanes, machine guns, and other heavy ordnance along with 5000 locomotives, 150,000 rail cars and
5000 trucks, all "in good order." The treaty the Germans had signed with Russia was renounced. All
Allied and American prisoners of war were to be released "immediately," but German prisoners were to
be held till the peace treaty was signed.
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The blockade that was starving German civilians by the thousands was also to remain in effect till the
treaty was signed. The winter of 1918-19 would consequently be the worst of the war with "widespread
starvation, particularly in the large cities."* (A British war correspondent reported from Cologne:
"Although I have seen many horrible things in the world, I have seen nothing so pitiful as these rows of
babies feverish from want of food, exhausted by privation to the point that their little limbs are like
slender wands, their expression hopeless and their faces full of pain."* In Vienna also, one out of four
babies died as a result of the blockade. The Germans, and the children growing up during this period,
would not forget.)
Hindenburg and the German generals also had the almost impossible task of getting their huge armies
out of Austria, the Balkans, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Alsace-Lorraine, the German Rhineland and
three 25 mile deep bridgeheads on the east bank of the Rhine in 31 days.
As the German troops returned from the front, there were no flowers to greet them as when they had
departed. Hitler's reception in Munich was mild in comparison to what greeted the soldiers in the more
heavily socialist and communist cities in the North.
Where the Reds, including organizers from Russia, were strong, the returning troops were scorned and
harassed (by "loafers and deserters for the most part").* In Aachen, Cologne, Essen and other Red
strongholds, Socialists and Communists insulted, spit on, or stoned the returning troops. Officers and
soldiers were grabbed and held while street thugs and "Red soldiers," who had never been at the front,
cut or ripped off their insignias, shoulder bands and medals. In Bremen, soldiers returning home found
themselves surrounded by Reds entrenched in machine gun nests on roofs and balconies. The officers
and troops were disarmed and if any of them failed to praise the "glorious revolution" they were treated
savagely. The Reds also fell upon civilians who appeared in any way to support the old government.
Anyone wearing a combination of red, white and black, the colors of the old government, were
insulted, spit on or beaten, including children.
Many of the soldiers coming home saw Germany on the brink of chaos with its social structures
crumbling. Order and discipline had been the rule when they left, now, nothing but disorder reigned.
Russians, who had lost on the battlefield, were now within the leadership ranks of the revolutionaries
and in charge of large sections of the country. Everywhere, Soviets and Workers' Councils were in
control. Millions of returning soldiers saw the "Red scum" who joined the revolt as traitors who had
turned on their country in its hour of need.* Many saw the revolutionaries as the reason for Germany's
defeat.
Within a few weeks of returning to the Munich barracks, Hitler, like the rest of the soldiers, was forced
to wear the red brassard of the revolutionary army. As Schmidt remembered later: "[Hitler] hadn't much
to say about the revolution, but it was plain enough to see how bitter he felt."* At the beginning of
December, in an attempt to get away from the "cowards and traitors," Hitler, Schmidt and a few other
soldiers volunteered for guard duty at a Russian prisoner-of-war camp near the Austrian border at
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Traunstein. Although some of the younger draftees also volunteered, they were sent back to Munich
when they refused to follow orders. Hitler and his friends were kept on.
Soon after their arrival in the sleepy little town, Hitler and Schmidt were given the duty of guarding the
main entrance to the camp. A full twenty-four hours of duty followed twenty-four hours of off-duty.
Hitler had ample time to wander about the camp and converse or observe the Russian prisoners who
were always looking to beg or barter for extra food. Although German propaganda had portrayed the
Russians as cruel and murdering Mongols,* Hitler took a liking to his charges and would later remark:
"We knew, during the first World War, a type of Russian combatant who was more good-natured than
cruel."*
Hitler kept up with the political situation throughout Germany by reading two or three day old
newspapers. He brooded over what he read and wrote a few poems. In one he lamented over Germany's
plight while in another he scorned the German people for believing that Marxism, with its ideas of class
warfare, held any answers for them.*
In Berlin, Friedrich Ebert, the head of the new German Republic, was also becoming disillusioned
about what was occurring in Germany. Ebert was a moderate Social Democrat and the thought of Reds
in control of German cities was as unacceptable to him as it was to Hitler and the majority of German
citizens. Ebert was the son of a Heidelberg tailor and had been a saddle maker by trade. Raised a
Catholic he had a natural tendency to view socialism as a way to bettering conditions for the general
population. Marxist ideology, however, and its demand for the total destruction of the established order
was foreign to him. He would do his best to undo what was done by the more radical elements. For his
Executive Council, the body set up as a control over government, Ebert succeeded in gathering mostly
moderate members.
Understanding that the more radical members within his party were now a small minority, Ebert
refused to call up the last Reichstag which had been elected in 1912 (before the Independent Socialists
split from the Social Democrats). He succeeded in fixing a date of Jan 19, for elections for a National
Assembly. With most of the more radical Socialists going over to the Independents and the
Communists, Ebert was able to moderate the Social Democratic program to appeal to Germans of a less
radical nature. As the leaders of the United States and most of the allied leaders wanted, he was
determined to establish an essentially "bourgeois republic" (like the US and France) with a minimum of
socialist trappings.
Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, however, had tightened their grip on much of Berlin. They
knew they could never win an election and were determined to overthrow the Ebert government, set up
a dictatorship of various revolutionary councils, and proclaim a German Soviet Republic in tune with
Russia. Karl and Rosa had formed a "Council of Deserters, Stragglers and Furloughed Soldiers" to be
used as Red Fighters for their revolution. On Jan 6, 1919, Liebknecht and Rosa openly called for
revolution and publicly proclaimed the new name of their organization--The "Revolutionary
Communist Workers' Party of Germany."
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Angered with Ebert's moderate stand, the independent Socialists had resigned from the government the
week before and although they fell short of publicly joining Karl and Rosa, many members participated
in the revolt. With their organizations tightly controlled and operated, Workers' and Soldiers' Councils
sprang up throughout Germany. Armed soldiers drove around in trucks flying red flags with the
hammer and sickle while revolutionary civilians shouldered rifles. Hundreds died as radical Socialists
and Communists (Red) fought against their more moderate Socialists (White) counterparts.
In Berlin, Karl and Rosa prepared their putsch. They had over 100,000 supporters and in Spandau
fortress alone they had no less than two thousand machine guns and thirty pieces of artillery. At first
they carried everything before them and took most of city's government buildings. They also managed
to capture the Vorwarts, the newspaper of the Social Democrats, and declared the Ebert government
overthrown.
Ebert and his government, along with a few followers and loyal troops, barricaded themselves in the
Chancellery. Ebert knew if the Capital fell, other inspired Communists would take all of Germany. He
and his minister of defense, Gustav Noske, were determined to save their leftist government from the
extreme left. They fled the city and appealed to the army for help.
Rather than see Germany fall to the communists, Hindenburg had earlier gave assurances to Ebert that
the army would support the new government, and in return, the army had got assurances that the
government would support the Officers Corps. By now, however, the disbanding army was in total
disarray and so infiltrated with Reds that few of the detachments available were trustworthy. The only
troops the army could provide were the "Free Corps."
The Free Corps were formed from returning army veterans who, like Hitler, opposed the idea of
Germany going Red. As the discharged soldiers began coming home in larger numbers, many were
angered over the treatment they received from the Reds in the northern cities of Germany. They began
joining bands for protection. In a short time the bands grew until they formed a strong opposition to the
Reds. Their models were Free Corps troops operating in the Baltic area where Trotsky's new Russian
Red Army was attempting to stamp out claims of independence, and in the border areas with the new
independent Poland which was attempting to encroach on German territory. Since the armistice
restricted the German Army in many areas of the Baltic and Poland, the slack was taken up by the Free
Corps who were financed secretly by the army along with landowners, businessmen, and other
conservative organizations. Just as the conservative element in Germany saw it as imperative to support
the Free Corps on Germany's eastern frontiers, they believed it imperative to support the "young
patriots" within Germany.
Led by a Fuhrer, the Free Corps consisted of tough veteran officers and troops. Many of them had
fought the greatest and bloodiest battles the world had ever seen. Many had gone off to war in their late
teens and early twenties and knew no other way of life. They considered themselves professionals,
preferred army life, and after years of battle, took a stern pleasure in being soldiers. Like the "Red
Council of Deserters and Stragglers" their ranks were often swelled by citizens who also shared their
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ideals. The "anarchic weaponry" of the Free Corps, including a wide assortment of rifles with varying
cartridge sizes,* left much to be desired; but, unlike their Red counterparts, they were well-disciplined
and well led.
By the second week of January, Karl and "Red Rosa," or "Bloody Rosa," as she was now called, had
nearly complete control of Berlin. With the support of additional numbers of Berlin workers, their
ranks had swelled to 200,000. Confident of their swift and easy victory, they expected little opposition.
Their communist revolution seemed about to succeed. They sat back waiting for the rest of Germany to
follow in their footsteps.
On the morning of January 10, with little warning, ranks of field-gray attired Free Corps "troops"
appeared on the outskirts of Berlin. Led by Noske, 30,000 ex-soldiers, trained in street fighting and
supported by a variety of machine guns, howitzers and armored cars, swiftly entered the city. The "Red
Army," even with all their weaponry, was no match for the highly disciplined Corps. With rapid and
brutal proficiency the Corps easily broke the communist ranks. With the hoard of Reds in full retreat
the Free Corps professionally deployed throughout the city. In a matter of days they retook all the key
buildings and crushed the Red uprising in a most brutal manner. Cheered on by a population aching for
the restoration of peace and order, the Free Corps hunted down many of the leaders and shot or
bayoneted many on the spot.
On January 13, Rosa and Karl were captured and turned over to a body of regular troops which had
been placed in charge of the city. Rosa, defiant with a forward thrusting chin, denied nothing. Karl,
broken by failure and fear, denied everything, even his name. Two days later, after being brutally
beaten, both Rosa and Karl were finished off with a bullet to the head. Karl was dumped off at a
morgue and Rosa was dumped into a canal.
The Communist/Spartacist revolution in Berlin was over in less than a week. The new Socialist
government, shored-up by an alliance with the Army and Free Corps, was in complete control. Because
the police could not be counted on to keep Germany from falling to the communists, the rightist Free
Corps were given reign to operate throughout northern Germany with the blessing of the infant leftist
Republic. A recruiting poster outside of Berlin at Potsdam read:
COMRADES!
The Spartacist danger has not yet been removed.
The Poles press ever further onto German soil.
Can you look on these things with calm?
NO!
What would your dead comrades think?
Arise! Prevent Germany from becoming
the laughing stock of the earth.
161

Enroll NOW in the


HUELSON FREECORPS.
Recruiting Offices
Bauer Cafe,
Potsdam Beer Gardens.*

In the election that followed that January, thirty million of the eligible thirty-five million Germans
voted (first time for women). The Democrats, supported by the liberal left capitalist class, won almost
19%. The Center, Catholics representing all classes, won 20%. Ebert's Social Democratic Party, city
working classes for the most part, won 38%.* The three groups (capitalists, Catholics and workers)
formed a coalition and assembled the first parliamentary elected German government.
On the other hand, the "far right" anti-republican parties, including one that wanted to bring back the
Kaiser (supported for the most part by peasants and rural laborers) won 15% of the vote. The big
surprise to many people however, was the "far left" (represented primarily by the Independent
Socialists and supported by workers and so called "intellectuals" and "progressives") which won only
7.6% of the vote.*
The election pointed out to Hitler and the Germans how a small group of vocal, violent, radical leftists
had nearly taken control of the country. Because of the voting results (and that new Free Corps and
Nationalists units were forming all over Germany) most of the "Red governments" collapsed. Unrest,
nevertheless, lay right beneath the surface in many German cities. Communists fought Social
Democrats and in many cases, both fought Nationalists and Free Corps. Since Berlin was a hot spot of
communist activity the new Government assembled in Weimar, a hundred miles away, to draw up the
new Republic's constitution and make peace with the Allies and the United States.
With the government and most Free Corps units absent from Berlin, the left rose up again. The Free
Corps' victory had taught them nothing and the election the month before meant nothing to them. The
Communists were well aware that their counterparts in Russia had been supported by only 5% of the
population, yet they had taken control of the country after taking Petrograd and Moscow. What worked
in Russia they believed, could surely work in Germany. Lenin and Trotsky were determined that
Germany should follow in their steps. Trotsky believed that, unless the victorious Russian revolution
was followed with revolutions in other countries, the Communists in Russia would not be able to retain
power in the face of a conservative Europe. With Russian insistence, money and agitators, the new
revolt in Berlin was soon on the verge of success again.
Reinspired by the Berlin revolt, communists groups throughout Germany rose again. Saxony fell, then
Dresden and other major cities came under Red control. Noske, and his 30,000 Free Corps, were
ordered back to Berlin. A government order was issued proclaiming that anyone caught resisting was to
be shot immediately. The Free Corps entered the city again on March the 5th and repeated their
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previous action. Fifteen hundred Reds were killed while thousands more were seriously injured.
Although Reds were still in control of large parts of Germany, Berlin was back in government control
in a week.
In Bavaria, recent state elections had nearly duplicated the results of the National election. Eisner's
version of "communism" won him only 2.5% of the vote. By refusing to step aside, by doing almost
nothing but talk, and by claiming that Germany was solely responsible for the war, he alienated nearly
everyone. By condoning the Allied policy of delaying the return of German war prisoners, he brought
on himself the hate of all those waiting for their sons and loved ones – including fellow Jews.
The moderate and conservative press became increasingly violent in its attacks on the "dictatorship" of
Eisner. He and his fellow "utopians" were classified as "strangers, carpetbaggers, Jews." The battle cry
of the press became "Bavaria for the Bavarians!" The Frankischer Kurier went so far as to print
arguments justifying the act of killing a tyrant.* As with Rosa and Karl, political murder was seen as
an acceptable political tool in dealing with the opposition.
On February 21, 1919 Eisner was gunned down by army lieutenant, Count Anton von Arco-Valley who,
like Hitler, was an Austrian who had adopted Germany as his home. Arco-Valley was one of those
decorated and wounded soldiers who returned from the front and was attacked by Reds in the street.
Although his mother was Jewish, his killing of Eisner made him a champion to almost all Bavarians.
Students at the University publicly proclaimed him a hero.
Eisner on the other hand, was made a martyr and glorified by his followers who were still in control of
Bavaria. On orders of the Workers' and Soldiers' Council, Christian church bells throughout Munich
tolled his passing and official mourning was proclaimed throughout Bavaria. The University was shut
down. Prominent citizens were arrested and held as hostages. Banks, public buildings, and the best
hotels were occupied by Red troops and armed workers. Leftists broke into conservative newspapers,
hauled hundreds of bales of paper into the street, set them on fire and "danced wildly amidst the
flames."* Reds, on trucks with mounted machine guns, roamed the streets looking for vengeance.*
In the midst of this turmoil, on March 7, Hitler and Schmidt returned to Munich.* The prisoner of war
camp where they were serving was emptied at the end of January 1919 and it took a couple months to
shut it down. Soon after checking in at the Munich barracks of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, they were
assigned to sorting mountains of old army equipment. One of their jobs was to examine old gas masks.
They had to unscrew the mouth pieces, determine whether they were operational, and tag them.*
Schmidt became bored with army life, got discharged, and resumed his life as a house painter. Over the
next few months he occasionally met Hitler and they visited the local cafes in the center of town or
attended the opera on Max-Joseph Platz – which continued to carry on in such circumstances.
With the war over, Hitler believed that his days in the army were also numbered. Schmidt, as well as
other comrades, were convinced that Hitler had artistic talent and urged him to continue painting. Hitler
now made a further attempt to realize his youthful ambitions of becoming an artist. He resumed his
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painting in his spare time and his old army buddy, Hans Mend, sold the pictures for him.* Hitler also
made contact with a successful local artist and asked for an opinion on his work. Despite getting a very
favorable judgment he could not be persuaded to leave the army.*
In keeping with the new revolutionary era, troop pay had dramatically increased and Hitler was now
being paid three Marks a day. Since the army provided lodging and food, Hitler had enough money, by
purchasing the cheapest seats, to attend the opera nearly every night. When Schmidt came along, he
observed that Hitler wasn't aware of anything but the music.*
As for the political situation in the barracks, it had moderated because of the return of large numbers of
front-line soldiers and the flight of the more leftist soldiers to the Red cause. Outside the barracks,
however, Hitler felt that conditions were still moving "towards a further continuation of the
Revolution."*
Two weeks after Hitler returned to Munich, word arrived that the Hungarian government had been
taken over by left wing Socialists and Communists that were supported and financed by Russia. The
group was led by a Jew named Bela Kun who set up a Soviet-style dictatorship with 25 of his 32
commissars also being Jews. Using terror to subdue the population, Kun** called for all the states of
Europe to join in the rebellion. The London Times called him and his gang the "Jewish Mafia."*
Bela Kun's success rejuvenated the far left and inspired the Reds throughout Germany as never before.
Surely what Kun had done in Hungary, they believed, could be done in Germany. Although Red revolts
broke out all over north Germany, what occurred in Bavaria would not only turn millions of Bavarians
against the Reds but against the Jews. "Eisner's death," as Hitler saw it and would later write, "only
hastened developments and led finally to the Soviet dictatorship, or to put it more correctly, to a
passing rule of Jews, as had been the original aim of the instigators of the whole revolution."*
The government Eisner left behind was temporarily taken over by the moderate Socialists who received
32% of the vote in the recent election. The new government however, had no Free Corps troops to
shore it up and within three weeks it fell into the hands of a group dominated by two Jewish
Independent Socialists*-- the "Toller-Landauer regime."*
Ernst Toller, a twenty-six year old dramatist, sat at the head of government, but Gustav Landauer, a
theater critic and anarchist, wielded the most power. Landauer was determined to follow the Russian
example and decided to "conform to the will of the masses" (2.5% of the population) by proclaiming a
"Bavarian Soviet Republic."
The first proclamation of the new government, was to state that "the dictatorship of the proletariat has
become a reality," a red army would be organized, the press would be socialized, and a revolutionary
court would "ruthlessly" deal with all who opposed them.* The University was permitted to reopen but
it was to be run by a Soviet of Students (and there would be no more examinations or awarding of
degrees). Because the new government believed that all written history reflected the views of the upper
classes, traditional history courses were forbidden until they decided on the right teaching. All church
164

connections with government were discontinued, but when the new "Bavarian Soviet Republic" was
proclaimed, Christian church bells were ordered to toll the great event. The new Foreign Affairs
Deputy, who had been confined to more than one insane asylum in the past, became unhinged again
and promptly declared war on Switzerland "because these dogs refuse to lend me sixty locomotives."*
The new government then wired their cohorts in Hungary and assured them that "Germany will soon
follow in your footsteps." They also wired Moscow to inform them of the political situation.
Lenin and Trotsky had already poured millions of marks into Bavaria to turn it into a communist
satellite. Lenin, who wanted to know how his new Soviet Republic was doing, responded himself. A
week later, Eugen Levine, a Russian Jew, who had been sent to Bavaria by the new head of the
Communist Party of Germany, Paul Levi, took charge. The Communist Party was now in charge of
Bavaria.*
Levine was a hard-core Marxist who like Lenin and Trotsky saw socialism as a joke. Almost every one
of his top deputies were affiliated with Moscow to one degree or another, and only one was a
Bavarian.* Their ultimate aim was the complete destruction of established society. One of their first
acts, ordered by Levine's right hand man, Max Levien (another Russian Jew* who called himself a
"German Lutheran"*) was to shut down the Munich cathedral (Frauenkirche) and transform it into a
revolutionary temple--"presided over by a woman dressed as the Goddess of Reason."* They also shut
down all schools until they decided what should be taught. A second "genuine" Bavarian Soviet
Republic was proclaimed and they called for all of Bavaria to join them and their "Russian and
Hungarian proletariat brothers."
Since the Levine regime "rejected" all aspects of "bourgeois society," they rejected any links with the
regular army and never established any authority over the troops garrisoned about the city. Instead, they
began forming their own Red (Workers) Army. Volunteers were offered eight times the amount paid to
the regular army troops.*
Thousands of factory workers, the unemployed, and deserters flocked into the Red ranks to enjoy the
easy life in the new Red Army barracks. There, food and shelter were assured and long duty-free hours
were often enlivened with free liquor and free prostitutes.* Convicts were set lose from the prisons and
52 remaining Russian prisoners of war, from a nearby camp at Puchheim, were released to form a
special unit.* The Bavarian Red Army soon numbered 20,000 volunteers. A "class struggle" was
proclaimed and all enemies of the new regime were threatened with death.
Levine introduced a program of ruthless nationalization and expropriation to pay for his "social
programs" and "army." Sweeping decrees were passed to allow for the confiscation of private and
corporate property. Armed patrols fanned out through Munich looting and plundering to fill the coffers
of the new government. Grim workmen and thugs, with red arm bands and rifles, stood on every street
corner while truckloads of armed rabble drove up and down the streets flying red flags to show who
was in charge. Anyone possessing so much as a fruit cart or shabby store front was considered an
enemy. Any home that looked above the proletarian (wage earner) type was broken into at will. A state
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of panic gripped the upper, middle and lesser middle classes along with nearly everyone else not
associated with the new government. People cowered in their homes behind barricaded doors. At night
the dark city became silent.* The stillness was broken occasionally by Red Army trucks roaring up and
down the streets with "trigger-happy communist militia" firing at shadows.*
The Socialists (Whites) in Bavaria were finally moved to act. They called all Bavarian citizens to arms
and began assembling troops and volunteers at Nuremberg to overthrow the "Levine dictatorship."
(Rumors have persisted that there was a time when Hitler considered joining the "Socialist" cause. If
the rumor has any validity, this must surely have been the time.)
Civil war in Bavaria began in mid-April as a hastily assembled force of 9000 "White Guards of
capitalism," as the Reds called them, left Nuremberg and moved on Munich. They were met at Dachau,
ten miles north of Munich, and were solidly defeated by Levine's Red Army which was under the
command of Ernst Toller. The Red victory at Dachau had a profound effect on Hitler and he would
never forget that a Jew sat at the head of government while another Jew led the victorious forces.
(Nuremberg would later become the gathering point of Hitler's Party. Dachau, would become the site of
the first concentration camp.)
Hitler's hate for Reds and Jews was reaching new heights and while sorting through the pile of gas
masks he began "wondering whether there was a dark Jewish plot to seize power all over the world."*
Hitler sat out the period of "Soviet" rule in complete obscurity, but it was now that "his resolve to
become a politician and somehow shatter a system he loathed was hardened."* "At this time," Hitler
would later write, "plans chased themselves through my head, one after the other. For days I pondered
what could be done, if anything at all. But at the end of every deliberation came the sobering thought
that I, in my utter obscurity had not even the slightest basis for any practical action."*
Throughout Germany many had become appalled by what was taking place in Berlin and other north
German cities. In Bavaria however, an entire state seemed to be "swept by turmoil that no longer was
merely revolutionary but was carrying disorder to the point of madness."* With Russian Communists
in command, proclamations of Soviet Republics, and a Red Army victory, something, even the Social
Democrats believed, had to be done before the whole of Germany fell to a small group of radicals.
When the ousted and defeated Social Democrats of Bavaria, who were seen as the only legitimate
government, finally appealed to north Germany for help, their request fell on receptive ears. "The
Munich insane asylum," stated Noske, "must be put in order."*
Moderate and right wing Socialists, nationalists and Free Corps were called upon to assemble in the
state of Thuringia at Ohrdruf 400 miles north of Munich. The assembling force, along with trustworthy
regular army detachments, was placed under the command of a Prussian major general. The tactical
plan for the move south and the conquest of Munich was promptly concluded. When the ranks of the
Free Corps neared 20,000, the force headed for Munich. Along the way no one opposed them and they
picked up additional numbers of anti-left volunteers, including some newly formed Bavarian Free
Corps. (One of the volunteers was Fritz Braun, father of (at the time) seven year old Eva Braun.)
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As the Free Corps neared Munich, a state of alarm seized the Levine government and they began
issuing orders of such lunacy that Toller himself resigned. Chaos reigned among the remaining Red
commanders and most of them cursed Levine for bringing them to this point in the name of class
warfare.* Levine, undeterred, instituted a Red terror program.* Hundreds of middle and upper-class
Bavarians, "enemies of the new Soviet," were rounded up and held as hostages.
Dachau fell to the Free Corps after a disorganized and disorderly resistance by the "Red Army." Since it
was reported that the Reds shot forty hostages* during their retreat from Dachau, the Free Corps
detachments were more brutal then normal. They showed no mercy to their captives and many were
shot out of hand. Scores of citizens, some completely innocent, were shot simply because they were
thought to favor the Red cause. By the end of April the Free Corps had Munich surrounded.
The Red Army in Munich was urged to prepare for "a battle to the death." In the face of defeat, it began
to melt away. Panic sized the Levine regime and they began looking for support. Red Workers and
Soldiers committees were dispatched throughout the city in hopes of getting anyone to join them. In
desperation, and counter to all their ideals, they even implored the detested troops of the regular army
to turn out for a last ditch battle. Their appeals fell on deaf ears. There was virtually no response from
the regular troops.
At Hitler's barracks (as in a few others) the soldiers were called together to vote on the appeal. There
was a loud debate between those who favored joining the Reds and those who wished to remain
neutral. Hitler, who had turned thirty a week before, had recently been "elected" as one of the barrack's
representatives. Surprisingly, he had little to say. The debate went on for some time. Finally, Hitler,
wearing his Iron Cross First Class (in defiance of the Red cause),* climbed on a chair and shouted:
"Those who say we should remain neutral are right. After all, we're no pack of Revolutionary Guards
for a gang of vagrant Jews."* The soldiers were persuaded and the barracks remained neutral.*
With all avenues of escape cut, the Levine regime, in a last bit of vengeance, ordered the murder of
their hostages. Red sailors, who had joined their leaders in Munich, went about fulfilling their orders.
In one school building, Luitpold High, there were a number of hostages from rightist elements,
including some from the upper class and some captured Free Corps soldiers. Two by two, the hostages
were taken out. Some were placed up against a wall in the courtyard and shot. Others were "killed by
having their heads smashed in with rifle butts."* Levine's men succeeded in killing ten at Luitpold
High before they were stopped by Ernst Toller. Among the victims were three Free Corps men and a
young and pretty Countess, Heila von Westarp, who was a secretary for the Thule Society – a volkisch
anti-Semitic group whose symbol was the swastika.*
Angered by Toller's actions, "someone of higher authority" ordered the killings to resume. Munich
school boys however, sneaked through the Red lines and informed the Free Corps about the killings.
Although not completely in position, the Free Corps launched their attack on the first of May. Over
20,000 men stormed the city as Rightist sympathizers within the city engaged the Red units in guerrilla
skirmishes. The communists outer ranks were quickly overrun. Parts of the city came under artillery
167

fire. In the Schwabing area, Hitler's old stomping grounds, there was vicious fighting. Flame throwers
were used in house to house fighting. The Free Corps soldiers were in a state of fury because Russians,
who had been defeated on the battlefields of Russia, were now operating in Bavaria. The unit of
Russian war prisoners were rounded up and slaughtered in a stone quarry. The Bavarian Soviet
Republic was doomed. The next day the city was secured and the Munich Revolutionary temple
became the Munich Cathedral again. Cheered on by relieved citizens, one brigade of Free Corps,
wearing swastika designs on their helmets and armbands, goose-stepped through the city.
The Free Corps, along with vengeful Munich citizens, hunted down and murdered hundreds of
"suspected" Red leaders or resisters. Lucky ones were shot. In retaliation for the murders of the
hostages (especially the Free Corps men) Landauer and most of the other members of the "Soviet"
government were beaten to death. Levine was captured, tried and shot even though the government in
Berlin attempted to save him. Toller was captured but because of his actions in stopping the "Soviet
executions," he was sentenced to five years in prison. (Toller would later depart for the United States.
He committed suicide in 1939 while living in New York city.) Within a week it was all over.
When the Free Corps were fighting their way into Munich, they had been greeted by gun shots from the
barracks where Hitler was quartered. Only a few shots had been fired by a few Red sympathizers who
hoped to draw the barracks into the fray, but the anger of the Free Corps troops had been aroused. The
"neutrality" of the regular army detachments in Munich during the political crises did not fare well with
the Free Corps and they distrusted the Munich garrison. The short tempered troops stormed the
building. Everyone in it, including Hitler, was arrested and marched through the streets, hands above
their heads, and imprisoned at a local high school.
The officers of Hitler's regiment, who were forced to flee Munich during the Soviet period, returned
with the Free Corps and were soon in control of the city. An investigation was started to determine who
had sided with the Reds. When they began to investigate the incident that occurred at Hitler's barracks,
some officers recognized Hitler, testified to his character and war record, and ordered his release.*
Hitler, nevertheless, was worried. Investigators were beginning to ask why the soldiers in the regular
army, who claimed to be loyal to the rightist cause, did not join the guerrilla skirmishes within the city,
or earlier flee Munich and join the rightist forces. "A few days after the liberation of Munich," Hitler
would later write, "I was ordered to appear before the Inquiry Commission."* Hitler's unwavering
hostility to Marxism and his cooperation with the Commission soon placed him above reproach.
Many of the leaders of the revolution had been imprisoned at one time or another for their political
activities. Hitler, consequently, felt the revolution had little to do with equality or freedom and was
nothing but "a vast riot” led by “thugs, tramps and typified by lootings and extortions."* His account,
consequently, to the commission about officers and troops sympathetic or supporting the Red cause was
"mercilessly exact."* Hitler's cooperation during the investigations caught the attention of his
superiors. He subsequently joined the investigating commission and appeared repeatedly as a witness
against the accused.
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"On one occasion," Hitler would later say, “I was called as a witness in a case against an army deserter
– a first class swine named Sauper. The [lawyer] rose and asked me a few questions, to which, like a
silly fool, I answered quite frankly....I told him in unmistakable terms what I thought of the swine. The
[lawyer] smiled. ‘I object to this witness on the score of personal prejudice,’ he declared solemnly. The
objection was upheld and the filthy Sauper got off scot-free. When the case ended, an officer who was
in the public gallery came up to me with outstretched hand. 'For God's sake, let's get out of here!' he
cried."*
The officer had reason to worry about Hitler. The Reds had been driven from the streets but there was
still a teeming underground opposition. Those like Hitler, who had the courage to testify against the
Reds, were often badly beaten or died mysteriously. Schmidt, who met Hitler shortly after he began
giving testimony, stated that Hitler looked haggard and nervous.* Hitler nevertheless, continued to
give testimony until it came to the point where he lost nearly all faith in the legal system and would
later state: "I had no idea that a [lawyer] is a private individual who makes his living by defending
scoundrels."* He felt that lawyers were "irresponsible and useless" in obtaining justice, and that they
shared a "kinship" with criminals because of their mutual need for one another.*
Hitler, nevertheless, continued to supply information and give additional testimony. He also supplied
information on the whereabouts of soldiers and officers who had taken part in the soviet regime. As
many as ten Reds were executed because of the information Hitler supplied.* As one admiring officer,
A.V. von Koerber, would state: "After joining the investigating commission, [Hitler] produced
indictments which threw a merciless light on the unspeakably depraved military betrayals perpetrated
by the Jewish dictatorship at the time of the Munich Soviets."* As Hitler would later write: "This was
my first more or less purely political activity."*
"A few weeks later," Hitler would write, "I was given orders to take part in a 'course' which was being
held for members of the army."*
The "course" lasted for about two months and was conducted by General staff Officers who attempted
to instill within the students a political philosophy favored by the Right. Socialist and Communist
agitators had been spreading their gospel ceaselessly and the army was infected with it. The program
came under a branch of the army known as the Information Section (also known as Press and
Propaganda, or Educational Section)* and was meant to counteract the Red propaganda.
Hitler and his fellow students were also obliged to attend lectures and studies, held during June and
July, at the University of Munich on Ludwig Strasse. The classes were conducted by professors,
doctors, writers, journalists, and bureaucrats. The studies were meant to give the students a foundation
on which to build their political views. Some of the courses Hitler attended included:
German History After the Reformation.
Germany from 1870-1900.
Bavaria and the Unity of the Reich.
The Political History of the War.
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The Significance of the Army.


German Economic Conditions and the Peace Terms.
State Control of Production.
Price Policies in the Economic System.
Russian and Communist Rule.
Socialism in Theory and Practice.
Foreign Policy.
Correlations Between Domestic and Foreign Policy.*

All of the lectures and studies combined were meant to train students in political instruction and
propaganda, and "were intended for specially picked officers and men"* who would be trained as
"reliable soldier-speakers."*
Because the majority of the troops the students would be speaking to were of the "less educated,"
without University induced "sophistication and depth," the students were taught to deliver their talks in
an easily comprehendible form which could be understood by everyone. They were taught to appeal to
nationalistic and patriotic feelings held by the majority of Germans. Hitler was being trained to fashion
clear and inventive dialogues, dialogues which liberate what is already in most people's minds.
Shortly after the classes began, one of Hitler's lecturers, Professor Karl Alexander von Muller, would
be the first to notice Hitler among the crowd. Von Muller later described his first impression of Hitler:
My lecture and the lively discussion that followed it were over and the students had already
begun to leave when my attention was caught by a small group of people in the hall. They
were standing spellbound round a man who was vehemently haranguing them in a
curiously guttural voice and with ever mounting passion. I had the peculiar feeling that he
was feeding on the excitement he himself had whipped up. His face was pale and thin, his
forehead partially concealed by an unmilitary lock of hair. He wore a close-cropped
mustache and his striking large, clear-blue eyes had a cold passion in them."*

At the next class, Captain Karl Mayr, the General Staff officer in charge of the soldier-speaker
program, was present. The Professor asked Captain Mayr if he was aware that he had among his
students "a natural-born speaker." The Captain asked who the person was, and the professor pointed to
Hitler.
"That's Hitler from the List Regiment," the Captain said and called out, "You Hitler, come up here."
The Professor remembered that Hitler, still ill at ease among superiors, approached the Captain
"awkwardly, with a kind of defiant embarrassment."* Nothing came of the talk between Mayr and
Hitler immediately, but Hitler was beginning to attract attention.
During the last days of June, Hitler sat in class listening to von Muller's version of history in which the
German's were exalted as a "master race." Because Hitler had been exposed to such teaching in
Austrian schools, and since Europe was alive with nationalistic fervor, he took offense when after von
Muller's speech, a student delivered a speech protesting the professor's negative version of the Jews.
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Hitler, therefore, entered his name "as wishing to take part in the discussion,"* and when he got his turn
to speak, he defended the professor's opinion with such passion that he held his audience and swayed it.
This was Hitler's first and self admitted "anti-Semitic" speech, and as he would later write: "The
overwhelming majority of the students present took my standpoint."*
Because of the large part the Jews had played in the Bavarian Soviet regimes, and their high profile in
top leadership roles of the Socialists and Communists parties, it is not surprising that Hitler was able to
sway his listeners. "Once the Soviets had been overthrown, 'saviours of the Fatherland' appeared all
over Germany, rallying to the standards of antisemitism and anti-Bolshevism."*
By the time Hitler made his first public "anti-Semitic" speech, nationalist, conservative and moderate
newspapers were flooded with stories that the Communist (Bolshevik) Party in Russia had fomented
the revolution in Germany. The top leadership of the Bolshevik party was reported to be made up
almost entirely of Jews. The Times on March 29, 1919, reported that of the "leaders who provide the
central machinery of the Bolshevist movement, not less than 75 per cent are Jews." Winston Churchill
would shortly call for action against Lenin, Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein), "and the sinister gang
of Jewish anarchists around them."* Such reports caused many Germans to believe that a dark sinister
Jewish plan was afoot.
What also bolstered Hitler's stance was that the gruesome details of the "hostage murders of Munich"
had been well publicized as early as April. Anti-Jewish sentiment, fired by moderate and conservative
papers, swept Bavaria. The incident provided fuel for a fierce anti-Jewish campaign which "now was
assured a sympathetic hearing by the people of Munich....against the deposed 'racially alien
government.'"* Leaflets were distributed by newly organized propaganda centers of the Right, which
depicted the unpopular short-lived Soviet "revolutionary government as a pogrom against the German
people staged by Jews."* "Angered and embittered citizens were now willing to ascribe all evils to the
Hebrew race."* The antisemitism that was always there, "particularly among the German
Bourgeoisie,"* now came pouring out. Hitler simply climbed on the bandwagon, and echoed the
popular sentiment.

(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)
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14: A Star Pupil

Shortly after Hitler delivered his speech, the anti-Jewish wave sweeping over Germany was halted
momentarily – The new German government signed and ratified the Versailles Peace Treaty. Germans
of every class and occupation were stunned. "In 1919," Hitler would later state, "I stood for so little."*
The Allies had now given Hitler something to stand for – a "fight against 'Versailles.'"*
Considering that the Germans had got rid of their Kaiser, declared a republic, and signed a surrender
when the German Army stood well outside of Germany, they had expected the terms of the Treaty to be
reasonable. Most Germans thought they had surrendered on the basis of President Wilson's Fourteen
Points, a new Europe based on fairness and national aspirations, but it soon became obvious that the
Allies, especially France, sought retributions. As though the victors were completely innocent and
sinless, Germany was to accept full responsibility for the war and acknowledge her "war guilt."
Under the terms of the Treaty, the Germans were to be forced to admit their "war crimes" by turning
over to the Allies those designated as "war criminals" for judgment. Because of "German aggression,"
she was also to be made defenseless and was allowed no air force, no submarines, no tanks, no heavy
guns, virtually no navy, and her army was forbidden to number more than a 100,000 men. All of
Germany's principle inland waterways were to be internationalized. The Allies also expected Germany
to pay for all "war damages" and though the Germans offered to repair all physical damage in Belgium
and France caused by the war, their proposal was rejected. The Allies, keeping in tune with their earlier
dreams, came up with a unique scheme. Since the idea was to keep Germany from ever experiencing a
revival, the cost to the Germans would not be set, but would function along a sliding scale. Anytime in
the future that it appeared the Germany economy was gathering strength, a new payment scale would
transfer more money to the Allies. If Germany was incapable of paying, goods would be demanded.
As a first payment, Germany was forced to turn over to the Allies every merchant vessel over 1600
tons, half of her merchant fleet between 1000 and 1600 tons, one fourth of her fishing fleet and one
fifth of her canal and river fleet. German shipyards were ordered to start building 200,000 tons of ships
a year for the Allies. All property owned by German businesses abroad was seized. Huge amounts of
coal and other raw materials were to be delivered to the Allies at German expense. Even though
Germany was unable to feed herself, she was also to turn over much of her livestock and raw
foodstuffs.
The Allies also demanded land. France and Britain took most of the German colonies. Because "little
Belgium" had suffered, she got a few German towns along her border. Denmark was allowed to extend
172

her border forty miles into Germany. France got Alsace, Lorraine and for fifteen years, complete
control of Germany's Saar Valley with its huge coal fields. The remainder of West Germany, however,
was not torn apart as France wanted.
With the German navy no longer a threat, Britain's fear of Germany had shifted to fear of Communism,
and with American backing, France's demands for the German Rhineland were refused. To appease
France, the whole Rhineland, plus a belt 30 miles east of the entire length of the Rhine, was to be
demilitarized forever. France also got the right to occupy the richest and most developed areas of the
Rhineland for fifteen years.*
The German population on the whole would have settled, however unhappily, for the treaty; but, the
distribution of German land and German people in the east aroused bitter resentment.
The Allied announcement earlier in the war that they were fighting for the "national self-determination"
of peoples, found a practical solution for the Allies. In the East they wished to create a "belt," or a
"sanitary zone," to prevent the westward expansion of communism. Consequently, the most general
principle of the peace settlement was to recognize the right of national self-determination in Europe.*
"Each people or nation, as defined by language, was in principle to be set up with its own sovereign
and independent national state."* In keeping with the idea, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia, became independent "nations." (Ironically, the creation of
Yugoslavia fulfilled the aims of radical Serbs who had sparked the war in 1914.) The Germans had
expected the same treatment. They soon learned that the right of national self-determination, the
promised "new world order," was reserved for nearly all the people of Europe except themselves.
The State of Prussia was to be cut in two so as to give Poland a "corridor" to the Baltic Sea. The Treaty
did not finalize all of Poland's borders, but in the end, Poland would end up with millions of German
citizens and thousands of square miles of German land which Poland had no historical or political
rights to whatever.
Three million Germans living in the Sudetenland in Bohemia wanted to be annexed to the new German
republic. Although they had been Austrian subjects for 400 years, they were incorporated into the new
nation of Czechoslovakia along with those Germans living on 110 square miles of German territory
near the Oder river. Most of these Germans, along with an additional six million within the new borders
of Poland, Denmark, Belgium and France would soon come to see themselves as "oppressed
minorities."
The seven million Germans of Austria also wished to join Germany now that their empire had vanished
and they were bound to suffer economically. Although "there could be no clearer case for national
unification,"* France objected. Germany and Austria were forbidden to unite.
The 16,000,000 Germans taken away or forbidden to unite with Germany would cause most Germans
to view the Versailles Treaty as a stab in the back. As Hitler would later state:
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A people has the right to self-determination, as we were solemnly assured in Wilson's


Fourteen Points which served as the basis of the Armistice. This cannot be overlooked
simply because the people in question happen to be Germans!"*

The Versailles treaty and the "lost" Germans were to become the basis of Hitler's future political career.
The first German representatives sent to sign the treaty in May argued for concessions. When the
German foreign minister lashed out at the victors for continuing the "murderous blockade,"* which had
killed "hundreds of thousands of noncombatants," the French leader, who felt that there were "twenty
million Germans two many," glowed "with anger," the British leader "laughed," and the British
chancellor "yawned."* The German representatives resigned rather than sign, Ebert's new Chancellor
resigned, and the members of the liberal German Democratic Party, which held almost one out of five
seats in the new government, temporarily withdrew rather than accept any responsibility. All the
German delegates, except the Independent Socialists, called for the treaty's rejection. "Hate and
revenge," wrote future president of the US Herbert Hoover, ran through the whole treaty. Even
President Wilson of the United States remarked to his Secretary of War: "If I were German, I think I
should never sign it."
When the Germans refused to sign, the Allies threatened to take away more German territory. The
French were determined to march on to Berlin and rule from there. The German High-Command was
actually consulted about the feasibility of continuing the war. Hindenburg informed the Assembly that
opposition was hopeless. Defenseless, a second German delegation was given the unwanted task of
signing the Treaty.
Since "national self-determination" permeated the treaty, the Allies made only one noteworthy
concession – they would let the people in certain areas taken from Germany vote in a plebiscite
(popular vote) whether they wanted to remain outside of Germany after the treaty was signed. (When
the vote was conducted, with the exception of the area bordering Denmark, Germany's neighbors and
the Allies used every conceivable scheme in denying Germany what was rightfully hers under the terms
of the Treaty. As an example, when the people in Upper Silesia voted overwhelmingly to return to
Germany (707,000 to 479,000) the vote was ignored and the richest area was annexed by Poland.
Danzig and Memel (-land), whose inhabitants similarly wished to return to Germany were given
"international status." In other areas, where the Allies had assured plebiscites, they were arranged in
only truncated areas. Hitler was learning that "treaties" mean nothing to unscrupulous adversaries.
In the end the triumphant Allies forced the same type of treaty on the new German Republic that they
would have forced on the old Monarchy. Germany was saddled with a debt (equivalent to 40% of her
national wealth) which she could not pay. All her economic ties outside of Germany were taken away.
She lost three/fourths of her iron ore, one/third of her coal reserves, one/eighth of her industry, over
one/eighth of her land, over one/tenth of her population and even the property that individual German
citizens owned outside of Germany was confiscated.
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The Center (liberal middle class for the most part) and the Social Democrats ratified the treaty, but so
did the Independent Socialists which made the treaty suspect to many Germans. Resentment grew and
mass demonstrations were conducted which denounced the treaty, those who supported it, and the
government who signed it. Although the government attempted to relieve pressure on themselves by
pointing to the treaty the German Army had forced on Russia, their attempts failed. Two wrongs don't
make a right and they would bear the "shame of Versailles."
In the latter part of July, Hitler finished his special training in political instruction, propaganda and
public speaking. Staff officer, Captain Mayr had not forgotten him and on July 21, Hitler along with
twenty-two others received orders to join an "Educational Detachment." The next day they left for
Lechfeld, the large military camp thirty miles west of Munich where Hitler, five years before, had
practiced large maneuvers.
Lechfeld was now being used as "transit center" and was receiving a regular flow of freed prisoners of
war who were to be discharged or reassigned. The huge camp was freely accessible to the many
civilians employed there. Consequently, Independent Socialists and other Marxist agitators were
getting into the camp and were spreading their gospel. The camp commander requested the Educational
Section for the purpose of countering the Red propaganda with troop debriefings, or as Hitler put it:
"The soldiers had to be taught to think and feel in a national and patriotic way."*
When Hitler and his group arrived, they split into groups and set up shop in the various squad rooms
scattered about the base. Because Allied and communist propaganda was depicting Germany, the old
Monarchy, and the army as those solely responsible for the war, the leader of Hitler's group would
begin the proceedings with a speech titled: "Who Bears the Guilt for the World War?"* In an informal
way, the other soldier-speakers were expected to add their bit to the proceedings.
Speaking before a public speaking class, with mostly like minded acquaintances, is a task that even
timid people can surmount with training. Speaking before a strange audience of undisciplined,
disillusioned and embittered men is another matter. Most of the soldier-speakers fell by the wayside.
Hitler, though he was worried his voice might not be strong enough, distinguished himself from the
beginning. In one of the first reports sent back to Captain Mayr, Hitler was mentioned as a
"straightforward speaker" who knew how to take charge and did an "excellent" job in guiding the
discussions after the group leaders had delivered their speeches.*
As with anything Hitler believed in, he threw himself into his new task. "I started full of ambition and
love," he would later write. "For thus I was at once offered the opportunity to speak before a large
audience; and what previously I had always presumed, merely out of pure feeling without knowing it,
occurred now: I could 'speak.'"*
As the reports continued to come in to Mayr, it soon became apparent that Hitler had become the "star"
of the program.* Although there were times when Hitler could not be heard in the furthest corners of
the larger squad rooms, "Herr Hitler," commented one observer, "is a born people's speaker, and by his
175

[zealotry] and his crowd appeal he clearly compels the attention of his listeners and makes them think
his way."* Another observer commented that he had the "ability to carry away his audience" with
him.*
Most of Hitler's speeches during this period concerned the "Peace Treaty of Versailles." At the heart of
these speeches were not only attacks against the Allies but attacks on the Liberals, Socialists and
Communists who, beginning in November 1918, had fomented revolution, taken over the government,
surrendered to the Allies, and signed a treaty which reduced Germany to a "beggar nation." By
applying his beliefs to "current events," one observer noted, Hitler was able to confirm his arguments in
an easily comprehensible presentation. Hitler was, consequently, able to arouse real enthusiasm among
the demoralized troops and succeeded in instilling within them "not only fresh hope but also
impatience, hatred and a thirst for revenge."*
Hitler carried out his duties with such competence, eventually a soldier was put as his disposal to relive
him of the more trivial duties like the distribution of leaflets.* "I thus led back many hundreds,
probably even thousands, in the course of my lectures to their people and fatherland," Hitler would
later write, "I 'nationalized' the troops."*
By August 25, the camp was in the act of processing the last of the returning prisoners of war and
Hitler gave his last speech titled "Capitalism." Although the officer in charge of troop indoctrination at
the camp rated the talk as "attractive, clear, passionate," he found reason to be concerned when Hitler
"came to the question of the Jews."* The "concern" the officer voiced was not due to what Hitler had
said, but how "clear" he had said it. As the officer wrote to Mayr: "If the question of the Jews were
presented in a very clear way, with respect to our Germanic standpoint, if it were done like that, it could
give Jews reason to regard these speeches as Jew-baiting."*
Even though "anti-Semitism" was alive throughout Germany, and was especially pronounced in
Bavaria because of the short lived "Jewish Soviet," the officer had reason to be concerned. Since the
1880's German leftists had courted German Jews. The Social Democrats dominated over a coalition
government which included the Independent Socialists. Because of the "many Jews in the ruling Social
Democratic party"* and the Independent party, the Army General Staff (who for the most part relished
thoughts of bringing back the monarchy) was in no position to alienate a government which
Hindenburg pledged to support. The officer advised Mayr that Hitler's obvious "hints about a strange
race should be avoided".*
At the beginning of September, Hitler was back in Munich and was assigned his own room on the
second floor of the barracks. By now his superiors had become so impressed with his ideas, and his
ability to present them in simplified form, that he was asked to write an "official report" on troop
resettlement problems. When Hitler completed his analysis, his superiors were so impressed that
Captain Mayr commended Hitler in writing and also informed him that "Headquarters proposes...to
release your official report to the Press."* Because the Army was looking for an "appropriate patriotic
176

attitude to take toward the Jews,"* Mayr also went on to request a written analysis of Hitler's views on
the Jews.
Within a week Hitler handed in his analysis which started out by stating that "Jewry" constituted a
threat to the German nation because of their harmful and destructive endeavors, "whether conscious or
unconscious."* He then went on to state that an anti-Jewish attitude would never succeed unless it was
based on "facts." He then picks up on the traditional nationalistic point of view and continues:
Jewry definitely describes a race, not a religious community....There is scarcely
a single race whose members belong so exclusively to a single religion....In
general the Jew has preserved his race and character through thousands of years
of inbreeding...Thus we are faced with the fact that there lives among us a non-
German, alien race which does not want and is not in a position to sacrifice its
racial characteristics or to renounce the emotions, ideas and aspirations peculiar
to it, yet nevertheless possesses the same political privileges that we do.*

Hitler undoubtedly knew that the last part of this paragraph would attract the attention of his superiors.
A few weeks before, when he was "nationalizing" the men at Lechfeld, the new German republic
adopted a new constitution. Under, "Laws affecting aliens," Jews were excluded as aliens and granted
equal rights with all "German" citizens, while (as most Germans saw it) other "non-Germans" were not.
Because many Jews sat in high visible places (e.g. Paul Hirsch, a Jewish Social Democrat, became the
first Prime Minister of Prussia and Hugo Preuss was the "author of the Weimar Constitution,"*), many
Germans found the new constitution suspect and were convinced that Jews were granting themselves
special privileges. Hitler's statement: "POSSESSES THE SAME POLITICAL PRIVILEGES THAT
WE DO," was a classic example of Hitler's ability to "apply his ideological obsessions to current events
so that the principles seemed to be irrefutably confirmed and the incidents of the day swelled to
portentous vastness."* Hitler's report continued:
Rational anti-Semitism must be directed toward a methodical legal struggle
against [the Jews] and the elimination of the privileges they posses, which
distinguish them from other aliens living among us. (Laws affecting aliens.)
The final aim must be the deliberate removal of the Jews* from our midst.*

Hitler then goes on to describe the new "Republic" as a moral-less and spiritual-less state waiting to be
toppled "by the ruthless intervention of national personalities possessing leadership and profound inner
feelings of responsibility." He concludes:
The present leaders of the nation are compelled to seek support from those who draw and
continue to draw the exclusive profit from the change of the German situation and those
who were the driving forces of the revolution--the Jews. Without regard for the known
dangers...our contemporary leaders are compelled in their own interest to accept Jewish
support granted to them willingly, and to deliver the goods demanded in exchange. And this
return payment demands that they give every possible assistance to the Jews, and above all
prevents the betrayed people from fighting against the betrayers, thus paralyzing the anti-
Semitic movement.
177

Yours respectfully,

Adolf Hitler*

The main substance of Hitler's concluding paragraph is not as unique as it may sound. The situation
exists in every democratic society because of competing parties vying for votes and support. As an
example, old US politicians had a saying that if you run for election with an equally matched opponent,
40% of the voters will be for you, 40% will be against you, and the other 20% don't really give a damn.
So, to win, what one has to do is convince 11% of the last group to vote for them, or pull special
interest groups (blocks) away from their opponent by offering them something. Everyone in politics
knows how the system works and accepts it as a part of the democratic process. However, to those
groups or blocks not benefiting from such politicking, anger begins to smolder. Unfortunately that
anger is usually always directed against those benefiting from such an arrangement instead of the
politicians responsible for it. Hitler believed that the Social Democrats were using the Jews for their
own purposes, and the Jews were (wisely) taking advantage of it.
Before passing Hitler's report on to Headquarters, Mayr added the comment: "I am in complete
agreement with Herr Hitler's view that...Social Democracy is indissolubly linked with Jewry." He also
added that within the army, "all harmful elements must, like viruses, either be eliminated or
[contained]."*
In the meantime, under the terms of the treaty, the Army had been given only three months to make
their first reduction and get troop level down to 200,000 officers and troops.* With socialists and
communists still urging revolt and discord, the new army (Reichswehr) was determined to keep its new
ranks free from their influence. Because Hitler was still the Army's star speaker around Munich, his
main task, by way of his speeches now, was to weed-out Mayr's "viruses" (a word Hitler would become
particularly fond of in the future).
"No other task could make me happier than this one," Hitler would later write, "because now I was
able, even before my discharge, to render useful services to that institution which had been infinitely
near to my heart, the army."*
As always, Hitler was able to make contact with the troops and "enthrall them." The heart of Hitler's
speeches continued to be on the "Versailles disgrace." He also showed the troops how the Socialists'
and Communists' "Social and Political Slogans" appeal to the ear but have no relationship to facts. He
also talked on the nearly hopeless "Reconstruction" of Germany under the terms of the treaty. His
appeal lay in his ability as a natural speaker and he could launch into a speech without the slightest
preparation. "My voice," Hitler would write, "had become so much better that I could be well
understood, at least in all parts of the small hall where the soldiers assembled."* The program was
successful and most of Hitler's colleagues acknowledged that he deserved the "lion's share" of the
credit for their success.* Hitler was soon considered good enough to venture outside of Munich and
was sent as far away as 100 miles to Passau where he had once lived as a boy.* Under the direction of
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the army, Hitler had finally slipped out of obscurity. He was now considered an "Information Officer" –
a leader and shaper of men.
Hitler's small step up the social ladder fed his self-respect and he began looking for that something
special that would distinguish him from other men. During the war he had experimented with several
types of mustaches and by the end of the war was wearing one that was fairly bushy and ran along the
whole of the upper lip almost concealing it. During his training in propaganda and speaking, he thinned
out his mustache and wore it close-cropped. Around this time he chose to clip the ends which made it
narrower than the width of his lips. This type of mustache was more prominent among the British, but
some German officers (like Ernst Rohm) and right wing "intellectuals" (Dietrich Eckart, Gottfried
Feder, etc.) to whom Hitler had been exposed in his speaker training period, sprouted such clumps of
hair over their upper lip. Hitler was undoubtedly attempting to emulate them; and like them, when he
was off the military base, he dressed in a suit, white shirt and tie with overcoat and broad brimmed hat.
The Army in Munich, as well as the police, were still jumpy over the fact that a handful of radicals had
taken over Bavaria a few months before. The turbulent political situation had fostered over fifty
political parties, associations, and societies which had formed as a direct challenge to government or
simply to get their ideas aired. They covered the political spectrum from rabid communists to rabid
nationalists. All of them, whether left or right, were subject to surveillance by the police or the army.
When Hitler wasn't lecturing troops, one of his other duties was to report on such organizations.
On September 12, Hitler was ordered to check-out an organization calling itself the German Workers'
Party. That evening, dressed in a dark blue suit, he attended the group's meeting which was held in one
of the meeting rooms of the Sternecker Brewery on the corner of the Tal and Sternecker Strasse.
(Biertischpolitik (Beer-table politics) was an important factor in the political life of Germany.) The
revolution had given the soldiers the right to participate in politics, and that "right," as Hitler put it, was
still in effect at the time. Hitler, consequently, had nothing to hide and signed the party's register as:
"Gefreiter Munchen 2. I. Rgt." (Lance corporal, Munich, 2nd Infantry Regiment).*
Hitler's first impression of the party was "neither good nor bad; a new foundation like so many
others."* The main speaker that night was to have been the nationalist poet and playwright Dietrich
Eckart. When he fell ill, Gottfried Feder (engineer, amateur economist and brother-in-law of von
Muller) substituted for him.* Hitler, who had been exposed to Feder's speeches about the evils of
capitalism and the "yoke of high finance" during his training at the University, was free to concentrate
on the gathering. Over forty people had signed the register that night and Hitler noted that most of the
participants were workers or soldiers-- "chiefly from among the lower walks of life."* Present also
were five students, a doctor, a writer, a pharmacist, two bank employees, four businessmen, two
engineers, a daughter of a judge and a professor.*
Feder spoke for nearly two hours and by the time he finished, Hitler was dying of boredom. Although
Hitler would have preferred to leave, he was obligated to make a report of the gathering to the army. An
open discussion followed, and as Hitler expected, nothing of importance was mentioned. After a while
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the "professor" rose and, after refuting Feder's anti-Capitalist stand, called on the party to support the
"movement" which favored Bavaria's separation from Germany and union with Austria.*
Hitler considered such talk "nonsense" and asked to be recognized. After introducing himself, he
delivered a short opposing opinion of a strong united Germany with such passion that nearly everyone
present was impressed with his sincerity and speaking abilities. Anton Drexler, a co-founder of the
party holding the meeting, and the so-called head of the "Munich District," was so impressed he
whispered to the party secretary: "This one has a great mouth, we could use him!"
When the meeting ended, Drexler, who made his living as a skilled worker for the railroad, approached
Hitler and invited him to come again. He gave Hitler a copy of his 40 page pamphlet, "My political
Awakening – From the Diary of a German Socialist Worker," which he described was the basic outline
of the party's position. As Hitler would later write: "This was very agreeable to me, for now I could
hope that perhaps in this way I could become acquainted with this boring society in an easier manner,
without being forced again to attend such interesting meetings."*
Returning to his room at the 2nd Infantry barracks, Hitler retired for the night. He had trouble sleeping
and awoke early in the morning. "Since I could not go to sleep again," he wrote, "I suddenly thought of
the previous evening, and now I remembered the booklet which the worker had given me. And so I
began to read."*
Drexler was not against many of the socialist ideas, especially the economic ones, or against being
associated with the "Left."* He made it clear however, that he was a nationalist and an anti-communist
who rejected Marxism and its international stance. He also rejected democracy and had been a
passionate wartime supporter of the Kaiser. Drexler believed in an authoritarian but benevolent
government. Hitler, always pleased to find material that already confirmed his own convictions wrote:
"Once I had started, I read the entire little document with interest....involuntarily I saw thus my own
development come to life before my eyes."*
Drexler's goal was to capture the disillusioned among the German workers, soldiers, civil servants and
lower middle class and draw them away from the Marxists and what he termed the "Jewish spirit." He
predicted the rise of a new political party, based on "National Socialism," which would create a "new
world order" where laborers and tradesmen would be allied with farmers, shopkeepers, office workers
and even members of the intellectual and professional classes.
Hitler's thoughts darted back to 1907 (when he arrived in Vienna and became acquainted with the
successes of Karl Lueger) and he could not resist adding that he had come to the same conclusion
"twelve years ago."*
For nearly a week Hitler was unable to get Drexler's pamphlet out of his mind, when unexpectedly, he
received a "postcard" from Drexler. Hitler was informed that he would be welcomed as a member of
the German Workers' Party and was invited to attend a meeting of the officers the coming Wednesday.
Although Hitler didn't know exactly what to make of the invitation, the fact that he had been invited to
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the party committee meeting indicated that the party officials intended to offer him something –
possibly a leading position. The party appeared to conform to Hitler's political ideals and the gathering
at the meeting he attended the week before was far from shabby. Hitler undoubtedly felt he was being
invited into the inner ranks of a fairly influential circle. His "curiosity" won out and he decided to
attend. Hitler would later write:
Wednesday came. The restaurant in
which the said meeting was to take place
was the Alte Rosenbad in the
Herrenstrasse; a very run-down place, to
which only once in a blue moon
somebody seemed to find his way by
mistake....I passed through the sparsely
lit dining room where not a soul was
present, looked for the door to the back
room, and the 'meeting' was before me.
In the dim light of a broken-down gas
lamp four young people sat at a table....I
was somewhat taken aback.*

Drexler soon appeared and his demeanor betrayed his eagerness to have Hitler as a committee member.
Hitler was shortly introduced to the other five members of the "Party Executive," including the so-
called "National Chairman" who arrived late. By the time the "executive meeting" got under way,
Hitler's disappointment had turned into resignation. He "smiled" in amusement at the pretentiousness of
the little group. Hitler continued:
The minutes of the last meeting were read and the secretary was given a vote of confidence.
Next came the treasury report – all in all the association possessed seven marks and fifty
pfennigs – for which the treasurer received a vote of general confidence. This too, was
entered in the minutes. Then the first chairman read the answers to a letter from Kiel, one
from Dusseldorf, and one from Berlin, and everyone expressed approval. Next a report was
given on the incoming mail: a letter from Berlin, one from Dusseldorf and one from Kiel,
whose arrival seemed to be received with great satisfaction. This growing correspondence
was interpreted as the best and most visible sign of the spreading importance of the German
Workers' Party, and then – then there was a long deliberation with regard to the answers to
be made.

Terrible, terrible! This was club life of the worst manner and sort. Was I to join this
organization?*

By the time the "Executive Committee" came around to discussing "new memberships," Hitler had
"stopped smiling."* The "absurdity" of the so called "party" was too much. He nevertheless asked
questions and discussed matters about the organization. He found that the party members, all from
Munich, basically adhered to Drexler's pamphlet. Because the "National Chairman," Karl Harrer, was
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also a member of the Munich Thule Society (whose captured seven members had been murdered in the
Jewish led revolt in April), the group was intensely anti-Jewish.
Hitler also noted that the "party," was disorganized and although the leaders claimed to have around
fifty members, the six committee members were the only ones active. As Hitler would later write:
"Apart from a few general principles, there was nothing: no program, no pamphlet, nothing at all in
print, no membership cards, not even a party stamp, only obvious good faith and good intentions."*
The "treasury" of the party was kept in a cigar box and there wasn't enough money to have leaflets or
posters printed to announce the party's next public meeting. The party's meetings normally attracted,
other than the officers, fewer than a dozen visitors while a crowd of 40 was considered large. Their
largest gathering* was the open meeting Hitler attended where the main speaker was to have been one
of Munich's best anti-leftist speakers.* By now Hitler was completely let down and concluded that the
organization would never amount to anything. He felt that the committee members had no
"organizational abilities," no "adequate grasp" of the situation and had no idea how to "develop a club
into a party or a movement." He felt the party would "simply disappear silently after a time." Although
Hitler was offered a position in the party, he left the meeting without making any commitment.
Over the next few days, Hitler had time to think and began to feel that he understood what the members
of the party wanted to accomplish. "The feeling which had induced those few young people to join in
what seemed such a ridiculous enterprise was nothing but the call of the inner voice which told them –
though more intuitively than consciously – that the whole party system as it had hitherto existed was
not the kind of force that could restore the German nation or repair the damages that had been done to
the German people by those who hitherto controlled the internal affairs of the nation."*
The "little formation," Hitler also observed, "seemed to have the unique advantage of not yet being
fossilized into an 'organization' and still offered a chance for real personal activity on the part of the
individual. Here it might still be possible to do some effective work; and, as the movement was still
small, one could all the easier give it the required shape. Here it was still possible to determine the
character of the movement, the aims to be achieved and the road to be taken."*
Over the next two weeks Hitler met with Drexler and attempted to help the party recruit new members.
Hitler wrote and typed "invitations" on the barracks typewriter, then handed them out to army buddies,
friends (like the Popps), or passers-by. "I still remember how I myself in this first period," Hitler would
later write, "once distributed about eighty of these slips of paper, and how in the evening we sat waiting
for the masses who were expected to appear."* The net increase of guests was a disappointing one or
two new faces. Remembering his early days in advertising, Hitler realized that a little sophistication
might offer better results. Using his own money and funds other members of the party had contributed,
he had hundreds of fliers announcing the next meeting printed at a local print shop. He helped post
them about the city, handed them out at street corners, and placed them in mailboxes. By the time the
"National Chairman" began to speak at that meeting, around thirty new faces were present. Hitler,
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nevertheless, could not make up his mind to join the party or not, until "Fate," as he later wrote,
"pointed out the way."*
The Army at this time, regarded it as a patriotic duty* to support "German nationalism" as a
counterweight to "Communist internationalism." Only paramilitary groups like the Free Corps were
capable of putting down Red uprisings, so members of the Officers' Corps in Munich decided that the
only other alternative to keep Bavaria from moving too far to the left was to support right wing political
organizations.* The army was speedily reducing to the 200,000 men in its first reduction step, and was
beginning to resemble an elite corps of officers. The need for soldier-speakers trained in lecturing
troops was fast coming to an end. The men from the "Education Section" would be more valuable
working outside the army as propagandists of nationalist views* in their spare time. Their army salary
of twenty golden marks would give them the time and ability to help expand acceptable organizations
or parties.
Even though there was great competition for the few places available in the new army,* Hitler was
considered too valuable to let go. In keeping within the spirit of the Versailles Treaty, Hitler was
actually discharged around this time but within one month he was accepted for re-enlistment into the
new army.* Hitler, then received orders from Mayr to report on political parties with the hope of
joining a "worker's party" and helping in its expansion.*
At the beginning of October, Hitler attended another meeting of the German Worker's Party. For the
next two days he pondered on what "step" to take. There can be little doubt that Hitler would have
preferred to have joined a larger and more established party, but he soon came to the conclusion that
within a larger institution, he could never hope to rise to any important position because of his lack of
"schooling." Coarse language, candidness, and appeals to the emotions are assets that have always
troubled persons of "education or quality." Hitler (possibly remembering that the professor he had
opposed at the first meeting of the German Workers' Party walked out before he finished his rebuttal)
would write:
The so-called 'intellectuals' always look down with infinite condescension on anyone who
has not been dragged through the obligatory schools and had the necessary knowledge
pumped into his brains. The question has never been: What can this man do? but, What has
he learned? To these 'educated' people, the greatest empty-head, if he is wrapped in enough
diplomas, is worth more than the ablest young fellow who happens to lack these precious
paper rags. I could therefore easily imagine how this 'educated' world would confront me.*

On October 4, Hitler concluded his brief summary of the party to Mayr and added: "I request the
Captain's permission to join this association or party."* Permission was quickly granted and Hitler
became the 55th member and number 7 in the parties executive committee in charge of "recruitment
and propaganda."* National Chairman Harrer, a journalist and the most "educated" within the
committee, failed to see any value in the acquisition of Hitler, but Drexler was overwhelmed. To a
fellow committee member he commented: "Now we have an Austrian with a great mouth."
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The German Workers' Party, had been established earlier that year and started out vigorously by
holding an open meeting every two weeks. Because of all the competing political parties, its attempts to
attract more then nominal interest among the working classes proved a "perfect failure."* By the time
Hitler became involved with the "party," it had become little more than a debating society which held
committee meetings "once a week....each Wednesday"* with open meetings about once a month. Hitler
was determined to turn the little group around and change it into a major political force.
The only income the party had at the time was what the membership contributed and the small
donations collected at its rare open meetings. Hitler persuaded the committee members to risk the
whole lot. He proposed that they rent a larger meeting room to hold a public meeting and advertise the
upcoming event in a well circulated nationalist newspaper. His arguments were so effective that the
party gave him free reign and he spent almost every penny of the Party's funds on the idea. By the night
of the meeting (Thursday, October 16, 1919) the ad had been placed, fliers had been handed out and the
message had been spread.
In a room (left), capable of holding 130 people,
in the Hofbrauhauskeller on Wiener Platz ("not
to be confused," as Hitler put it, with the huge
"Hofbrauhaus" on Brauhaus Strasse) the party
leaders waited nervously. "To me personally,"
Hitler would write, "the room seemed like a big
hall and each of us worried whether we would
succeed in filling this 'mighty' edifice with
people."*
The main attraction that night was Doctor Erich
Kuhn, the editor and co-publisher of a national
magazine, who was to speak on "The Jewish
question a German Question."* For the first time, Hitler was formally scheduled to speak outside of
army circles. He was to follow the Doctor and emphasize some of his points. By the time the Doctor
began to speak, the meeting room was nearly filled with 111 people.* Present were seventy new faces
including Karl Brassler, a writer for the Rightist newspaper Munchener Beobachter (Munich
Observer).*
When Hitler's turn came he stepped quietly behind the podium. After a subdued beginning, which was
to become one of his trademarks, he abandoned all restraint. He let his emotions take over and spilled
out a stream of denunciations and threats against Germany's internal and external enemies. Within
minutes the audience was enthralled. Hitler did not appeal to reason nor did he ask his listeners to
think. He pointed to the wrongs done Germany and released within the audience passions they already
felt and made them angry. He attacked the Marxist and the "Jewish-controlled newspapers" which he
stated "suppressed" the truth.* He looked forward to the day when Germany would again recover her
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greatness. After a speech of a half hour, which left Hitler exhausted with perspiration covering his face,
he appealed to his listeners for funds so that the party could continue its mission. He sat down to loud
applause. He had upstaged the main speaker.
"At this first meeting, which could truly be called public..." Hitler would later write, "I spoke for thirty
minutes, and what formerly I had simply felt without really knowing it, was now proved by reality: I
could speak [to the public]."**
As the enthusiastic audience filed out that evening, they donated generously to the party. In less then a
month, Hitler had turned the little group around. He had shown that he could not only organize large
meetings but that he could also arouse a civilian audience. Karl Brassler, the writer for the Observer
noted that "Herr Hitler" spoke "with passion."* It was the beginning of Hitler's political career.
A month later the Party scheduled another open meeting at a tavern called the Eberlbraukeller in the
same part of town. Four nationalist speakers were scheduled to speak, with Hitler being the main
attraction. Hitler was so confident of success that he convinced the Committee to charge 50 pfennigs
admission – an innovation in Bavarian politics.*
Hitler now had to move cautiously for clashes between the Right and Left were a normal part of
Bavarian politics. Rivals normally ignored the smaller or less threatening parties operating within their
areas, but if a party opposed to their views seemed a threat, hecklers were sent to discredit the speaker
or make sure he wasn't heard.* If heckling didn't have the desired result, agitators and thugs attempted
to create disturbances and breakup the meeting in more violent ways. Word had already got around
about Hitler's anti-Marxist stand, and trouble from the Left was expected. Hitler knew that if he asked
for police protection they would cancel the meeting as a "'precautionary measure for the prevention of
an unlawfulness,'"* and he would never be heard. Hitler wanted his message spread and consequently
arranged for a few of his army buddies from a trench mortar company to "monitor" the upcoming
meeting.
By the time the meeting got under way on Thursday Nov, 13th about 300 people were in the hall.*
Most of the party members were present and 129 guests had paid their half Mark.* The audience for
the most part consisted of students, army officers, and shopkeepers. Present also were some Leftists
who intended to intimidate the group of "anti-Semitic, anticommunist speakers" with Hitler being their
main target.*
Hitler was only to speak for 15 minutes but when his turn came he spoke for over an hour. Again he
enthralled his listeners. Although he spoke with unprepared primitive force and emotion that set him
apart from other speakers,* he delivered his speech in such a comprehendible manner that an
undercover police investigator described him as a "businessman." Hitler blamed "the Jews Liebknecht
[and] Luxemburg" (Karl and Rosa) for the uprising in Berlin. He denounced "the Jew Landauer, the
Jew Levien, the Jew Levine...[and] also Eisner was a Jew" as "the leaders of the bloody Soviet
government in Bavaria."* In the middle of his speech hecklers and agitators tried to disrupt him. Most
185

were quickly overpowered and thrown out. The interruption only spurred Hitler to greater heights.* He
appealed to people's hearts concerning their love for their nation, and the enemies that threatened her.
He portrayed the treaty the Germans had forced on Russia as reasonable and humane while the treaty
the Allies had forced on Germany as miserable and oppressive. He denounced the "hunger blockade"
that the Allies enforced during and after the war as "inhuman." French Premier Georges, "the Tiger,"
Clemenceau's remark that there were "twenty million too many Germans" brought outrage.* Hitler
carried the audience with him. As those in the room stood up and cheered, he closed with the forecast:
We must stand up and fight for the idea that things cannot go on this way. German misery
must be broken by German iron. This day must come.*

The end of Hitler's speech was met with "tumultuous applause." Even "National Chairman" Harrer
appeared aroused and he closed the meeting by commenting that Germany's problems were not caused
by war and defeat, but by Jewish Marxists. He urged the audience to come to the next meeting and
bring "at least three others along." The undercover policeman reported that Hitler's speech was
"masterful"* and that he was sure to become a "professional propaganda speaker."*
Three days after the meeting, Hitler was invited to participate in an "inner circle" meeting with Drexler
and Harrer. Discussions were carried on as to what new directions the group hoped to move. Against
the wishes of Harrer, who preferred a low profile "conspiratorial right-wing network,"* Hitler
convinced Drexler that the party stay public and hold an open meeting every two weeks. Harrer
reluctantly gave in. Drexler also acknowledged that Hitler was the party's main attraction and was to be
one of the main speakers at future meetings. It was also decided that a platform, expressing the small
groups principles and policies, would be drawn up. Hitler was named as one of the drafters.
Hitler, sensing that he could get nearly anything he wanted from Drexler at this point, made
arrangements to do away with his position as Propaganda Chairman, and at the next officer's meeting
was named Propaganda Chief. Hitler no doubt accomplished this by pointing out, that except for scanty
notes, he spoke unprepared and getting the approval of a "committee" as to the content of his speeches
was meaningless. This was a giant step upward in the party for Hitler. Now, he was not only the driving
force behind the party, but its "philosophical mentor."
On November 26, Hitler scheduled his third open meeting and 170 people showed up at the
Eberlbraukeller to hear him speak. At the beginning of December another open meeting was scheduled
on the other side of town on the road to Dachau. The earliest surviving notice of a Hitler meeting ran as
follows:

German Workers' Party


Munich Group Munich, 2 December 1919

We hereby request you to be sure to attend a


186

MEETING
to take place on Wednesday 10 December 1919
at 7 p.m. in the German Reich Tavern,
143 Dachauer Street (tram stop 24 Lori street)

Speaker: Mr. Hittler on

'Germany in her deepest humiliation'.

This invitation serves as a ticket. The hall is heated.


The Committee*
(Note the double "t" in Hitler's name. In his early days with the party, his name was often spelled with
two T's. It appears that Hitler deliberately let the misspellings go unchallenged so as to create confusion
as to his background.)
For this meeting the crowd fell to 140 and at
the following committee meeting some of
the officers used the poor showing to attack
Hitler.* Many were bitter of Hitler's rapid
ascendancy in the party and resented him.
They were men who sat around debating
minor points and sharing responsibilities in
common. They had been thrust into the
background since Hitler "had more ideas,
was more adept and more energetic."* They
pointed to Hitler's way of doing things and
complained. No doubt edged on by Harrer,
they accused Hitler of moving too fast along
lines not consistent with theirs and holding
too many meetings.
Hitler, not one to be put on the defensive, struck back. After arguing that an open meeting every two
weeks was nothing in a city of 700,000, he pointed out that the party operated along lines not consistent
with its professed aims and was totally democratic in its internal procedures. He attacked the
democratic concept, the "tea-club" mentality, that the party followed where, as he put it, "the answer to
a safely arrived letter let loose an interminable argument."* As with most democratic organizations,
where debating and issuing reports are the normal alternative to action, Hitler saw the constant debates
as a hindrance to growth. He called for a complete reform of the party where those voted as officers
would make decisions without having to seek the approval of those beneath them. "Each member of the
187

committee," Hitler ended, "should obtain a feeling for his own value and usefulness for the
movement."* Hitler's demands were rejected at this time but Drexler, who saw Hitler as the only hope
of the group, continued to back him. Those committee members opposed to Hitler's way of doing
things took no action but sat back and waited for Hitler to over reach himself.
Instead of taking a cautious approach, Hitler was determined to show the committee that his views
were the correct course to follow. Pushing his new position as "Propaganda Chief" to the limit, he
began taking action. Understanding that an organization needs to appear respectable and established, he
rented a cellar room, without electric lighting, at the Sternecker Brewery on the Tal. The rent was only
50 marks a month but the party still possessed a measly treasury and Hitler's Commander, Captain
Mayr, came up with the funds to give the party a permanent address.
To gain access to the party's first
"headquarters," one had to enter the
narrow Sternecker Alley and descend a
steep flight of stairs. "It was a small
vaulted, dark room with brown wooden
paneling, about six yards long and three
broad." Hitler would later state: "On
overcast days everything was dark."*
Using some of his own money and
some funds from the party, Hitler had
electric light installed. He also acquired
a table, a few chairs, a book case, two cabinets, a typewriter, a safe for the party records, and had a
phone installed – a sure sign of an established organization.
Hitler knew that the attack against him concerning the attendance at the last meeting had merit. The
hall at Dachauer Street had been close to an army barracks and the drop in attendance was undoubtedly
a greater shock to Hitler than anyone. Like most men with a mission, Hitler believed that all he had to
do was get the word out and people would flock to his meetings. He was now shaken out of his
complacency.
Hitler scheduled the next open meeting, to be held shortly after Christmas, and set about making sure
that he did not suffer another reversal. For the upcoming meeting Hitler used his past experience in
advertising to the utmost. The days of such complacent advertising as the one announcing the previous
meeting were discarded. Imitating (and outraging) the Communists, Hitler had new posters printed on
flaming red paper. Large headlines and eye catching words were set apart which shouted out at the
passerby. Understanding the power of condensed hard hitting written material (which he had read in
abundance in his youth) Hitler also had hundreds of pamphlets ("recruiting material," as he called it)
printed which stated the groups goals. The pamphlets were to be made available to guests at party
functions or left in the beer gardens after meetings with the hope that they would be passed around and
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read by potential recruits. All of the party's members were also encouraged to pass the material around.
Hitler also had membership cards printed and to give the impression of a large and growing
organization he had the numbering begin with 500. The first original member became 501 and Hitler
became member 555. "Propaganda, propaganda," Hitler stated. "Everything depends on Propaganda."*
Hitler's methods paid off. Over 200 people showed up at the next meeting on Dachauer Strasse to hear
him speak. Hitler had proven himself right. The party was breaking out into the open. Harrer resigned
and all of Hitler's detractors within the committee were temporarily silenced. The only person wielding
more power than Hitler was Drexler.

(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)

15: Helping Hands

At the beginning of 1920 the German Workers' Party had 190 dues paying (a half mark monthly)
members. Their ranks were made up of fifty-six skilled tradesman from the railroad shops along with a
sampling of minor civil servants, grade school teachers, shopkeepers, salesmen and office workers.
There were also twelve university students, six engineers, three doctors, and seven members associated
with journalism and publishing. There were also nineteen women; occupations not given. The military
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was represented by four Army officers along with twenty soldiers.* Because the military made up only
13% of the membership, and there were only four unskilled members that could truly be called
"workers," the party was in reality a lower middle class party and, contrary to popular belief, would
continue to remain so during its entire existence.
"In 1920," Hitler would later recall, "when I organized my first big assemblies in Munich....I was in
search of starched collars, in the hope that they'd help me to reach the intellectual class."* Hitler now
had second doubts. Since his Vienna days he had always had contempt for the intellectual class, and
that included the Right as well as the Left and Center. He saw the intellectuals of the Right as a bunch
of "wandering German folkish scholars" who had been doing the same thing for "thirty or even forty
years" while the country became more Marxist every year.* He believed that most of the upper classes
were driven by "stupidity and pride,"* and that they really"believed in nothing."* Because of his earlier
dealings with the legal system, he especially singled out lawyers and judges and felt that "jurists are
either born defective or become so through practice."* Hitler often talked about the "stupidity of
Lawyers" and pointed out that: "They're the people who used to burn witches!"* Hitler, consequently,
took one of the most decisive steps in his political career. Instead of attempting to find acceptance
among the upper classes at this time, he decided to do what Lueger had done years before and reach out
for more of the crowd.
Hitler knew that to succeed in the politics of the time, sooner or later, he would have to take his
"struggle" out into the streets. Large outdoor meetings, rallies and marches announced the success of a
political group. A hall or meeting room could be defended by a hand full of "buddies," however, the
streets were controlled by the Socialists and Communists. The Social Democrats had their "defense
organizations" (united under the Reichsbanner in 1924) while the Communists had their
Rotfrontkampfer (Red Front Fighters). These gangs not only fought against one another, but raided the
meetings and street rallies or anyone else who opposed them. The Communists were especially skilled
at assembling unemployed workers and these groups seldom broke up peacefully. Many of the
participants were former soldiers and sailors who were now trained organizers and street fighters. They
gathered together with short pieces of lead pipe, wood clubs, knives and guns. They did not hide their
intentions of clashing with any opponent and that included the police. Hitler felt that the "cowardly"
intellectual and upper classes (who "lived in perpetual fear of irritating the Reds"* and fled at the "sight
of every communist blackjack"),* would never succeed in attracting a mass following with their
"weapons of the mind."* He had great admiration for many of the Communist and Socialist party
members who were willing to fight, physically, for what they believed in.* He was determined to
attract those men to him.
With the National Chairman gone, the first thing Hitler did in reshaping the movement was to set about
getting rid of any "intellectual" airs. To appeal to the working classes Hitler wore "disheveled clothes"
and "made sure that all the members of the movement came to meetings without fancy clothes and ties,
but in casual dress so as to win the trust of the working class."* To appeal to the ex-soldiers, who made
up a large part of the Marxist parties, Hitler never attempted to hide the fact that he had served in the
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army. Like any common soldier he used gutter language and "latrine" phraseology in his speeches that
ex-soldiers understood immediately.* For as much as to attract the workers, as well as to rid the party
of "scared rabbits” or “fraidy-cats,"* Hitler also adapted the slogan: "Whoever attacks us with
violence, we will defend against with violence."* On the other hand, Hitler never attempted to reach
down to the lowest strata of society. He was determined to attract the "better elements of the working
classes."* As he would state, "we do not want millions of indifferent rabble, we want a hundred
thousand men – headstrong, defiant men. Our success will force the millions to follow us."*
Hitler, with his anti-Jewish anti-Marxists outcries, was from the very beginning, as he saw it, an
attempt to "educate"* the workers and change "public opinion." He was determined to drive a wedge
between the Marxist parties leaders (many of whom were Jewish) and the workers. Unlike most "Jew
baiters," Hitler had nothing against Jews he met personally and behaved the same toward them as he
did anyone.* Most of his attacks against the Jews were, as one observer saw it, "not so much on a
racial basis, as on an accusation of black marketeering and waxing fat on the misery round them, a
charge which was only too easy to make stick."* As Hitler saw it, "constant grumbling against the
Jews succeeded in alienating the working class from their Jewish leaders."*
In Jan 1920 Hitler held his sixth and seventh meetings at the German Reich Tavern. Hitler's speeches
remained unprepared and he spoke with primitive force and emotion. Moderation in politics suggests a
lack of conviction and in this matter Hitler was not lacking. He hammered home the inability of the
new liberal government's policies, he attacked Germany's enemies, he degraded the peace treaty, he
defended the army, and his attacks against the Reds were unrelenting. His attacks against the Jews were
directed against those of wealth, recent immigrants from Russia and especially those who played a
leadership role in the Marxists parties during and after the war. Over 250 people attended the first
meeting, over 400 attended the second. "The hall," Hitler would later state, "could barely hold the
crowd." Shortly after, thirty-seven new members joined the party in one day.*
Bavaria offered unusual fertile ground for Hitler's beliefs. Unlike northern and central Germany,
Bavarians rejected most of the Socialist ideals and considered the Communists "traitors." Bavaria had
become a safe haven for those with nationalist sentiments and was awash with national parties, volkish
groups, monarchists, right wing defense leagues, and other conservative organizations. For the most
part, Bavarian newspapers glorified the actions of the Right while any actions taken or supported by the
socialists or communists were portrayed as unpatriotic or treasonous. Some of Bavaria's parties were so
adverse to the direction that northern Germany had taken that the old movement that favored separation
from Germany and an independent Bavaria, or one in union with Austria, was growing. Other groups,
including Hitler's party and fractions within the army, believe that Bavaria should march on Berlin,
overthrow the republican government, and establish a nationalist government.
One of those army officers who wished to overthrow the Republic was staff officer, Captain Ernst
Rohm. Impressed by the ideals of the German Workers' Party and Hitler's oratorical talents, he had
joined the group shortly after Hitler to become member "623."* Around the beginning of the new year
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he replaced Captain Mayr as Hitler's new commander. Rohm, who had a flair for politics and
organization, did his best to help expand Hitler's group and steered politically motivated ex-soldiers
and officers his way. Unlike Mayr, Rohm also invited Hitler into his circle and introduced him to
members of the higher officer class.
Outside of army and party circles Hitler was also widening his contacts. With little organized
opposition in the party, Hitler and Drexler became close friends and Hitler became a steady visitor at
the Drexler home in the Nymphenburg area. "My little girl used to climb on Hitler's knee," remembered
Drexler, "she knew she was always welcome."* Drexler helped Hitler expand his circle of politically
motivated contacts, including a few with properly starched collars. Hitler was not opposed to recruiting
sympathizers of the upper classes as long as they were "real fanatics" as he put it.* One of those who
fulfilled his requirement was Dietrich Eckart.
Eckart was a large balding man with a boisterous humor and a quick and course tongue in the Bavarian
manner. He was the son of a lawyer and had become a sought after nationalist speaker who, at the time,
could hold his own against Hitler. He was also nearly everything Hitler wanted to be in his youth--a
writer, a playwright, a composer, a drama critic and a poet. His brilliant translation of Ibsen's "Peer
Gynt" (a poetic drama about a simple and self made man with will power) became the standard version
in Germany. The work not only brought Eckart national attention but a steady income in royalties. With
his own money he published a weekly paper with a readership of 30,000.* The paper, In Plain German,
took the nationalist, anti-Jewish, anti-communist line. Though Eckart was a nonconformist like Hitler,
his outgoing personality, wit and intelligence made him a welcome addition at the better cafes and beer
gardens where he spent much of his time. There he ate and drank excessively and did most of his
writing* which was characterized by "bluntness and coarseness."* Hitler was thirty-one when he met
the fifty-two year old Eckart and they immediately got along. Hitler considered Eckart "a writer full of
idealism."*
Eckart's interest in Hitler went beyond casual. In 1919, shortly before he met Hitler, Eckart gave a brief
description of the man he believed could return Germany to greatness. The "man" had to be a nameless,
common soldier "with burning eyes, moving among the people with a terrible power of conviction."*
He had to be one who knew how to talk, and could scare the shit out of the rabble.* He had to be
someone who "could stand the sound of a machine gun," could "give the Reds a juicy answer, and
doesn't run away when people start swinging table legs."* The final requirement was that the man had
to be a bachelor who appeared so dedicated to his mission that he felt no need for women.* "Then,"
Eckart concluded, "we'll get the women."*
Eckart was the first truly educated and somewhat cultured man to see potential in Hitler. He became
Hitler's tutor, coach and friend. Hitler visited the Eckart home so many times that he and Eckart's live-
in girlfriend, Anna, got to know one another on a first name basis. Eckart however, was not one to sit
ideally at home and he and Hitler were often seen out on the town. The Weinstubble Brennessel
(Stinging Nettle Wine Room) in the Schwablng district and the Bratwurstglockl in the Frauen Platz
192

were two of their favorite haunts. Hitler felt that Eckart always "outshone" all the other people because
of his "wit and common sense."
Eckart also had access to the drawing rooms and social functions of the wealthy and aristocratic
classes. He instructed Hitler in the proper forms of protocol, mannerisms, and dress. He was soon
introducing Hitler around as the "long-promised savior."*
High society was something new to Hitler, and after a dinner meeting with a wealthy family, he
reported "wide-eyed" to an acquaintance:
I felt quite embarrassed in my blue suit....The servants were all in livery and we drank
nothing but champagne before the meal. And you should have seen the bathroom, you can
even regulate the heat of the water.*

In such company Hitler was always respectful and polite. He also was very careful to adhere to the
proper forms of address* used between "people of the lower rank" and "those of better education, title
or academic attainment"* ("persons of quality"). Try as he may, Hitler never felt completely at ease at
formal functions and normally appeared awkward and out of place. He had a "winning way"* about
him nevertheless, and one woman found him "charmingly clumsy."
Eckart not only guided Hitler through the labyrinth of Munich society but he also picked up most of
Hitler's bills.* He contributed generously to the party and would also write a battle song for the group
("Storm! Storm! Storm!") which glorified revenge. Each verse ended with the words "Germany,
awake."* Hitler would adapt those two words as a party slogan and use it in many of his speeches.
Hitler had nothing but praise for Eckart and would later state: "How I loved going to see Dietrich
Eckart in his apartment on Franz Joseph Strasse. What a wonderful atmosphere in his home! How he
took care of his little Anna....He shone in our eyes like the polar star...At the time, I was intellectually a
child still on the bottle."* Six years later Hitler would end the second volume of Mein Kampf with the
words: "I want also to count that man, one of the best, who devoted his life to the awakening of his, our
people, in his writing and his thoughts and finally in his deeds: 'Dietrich Eckart'"** Twenty-two years
later Hitler would look back at some of the suggestions and actions Eckart promoted (which Hitler saw
as insignificant) and state: "It's only with time that I've come to realize my mistake."*
However important the outside help, "Hitler's success was his own energy and ability as a political
leader."* Hitler studied his profession almost scientifically. He studied the beer halls for their
acoustics, their colors, the best place from which to speak. He watched the entrances and exits so as to
judge the crowd. He learned to get the attention of the audience and how to keep it. He learned to feel
the crowd and judge whether, or when, they could be worked up to fever pitch. He also visited the
opposition's meetings, sometimes wearing a fake goatee, and learned their methods. He learned at first
hand, as a spectator within a crowd, what worked and what didn't. He studied the opposition so well
that, in the lectures he was still required to give for the army, "Political Parties and Their Significance"
193

became one of his main topics.* He knew what men on the street thought, what they wanted, what they
expected, and what they would settle for. He learned, as he put it, "how to win over the worker."*
Hitler and Eckart (along with some "economic" input by Gottfried Feder) began to work on the official
party program that had been sketched out by Drexler. When Hitler had just about what he wanted, he
showed up on Drexler's door step one evening. The two began boiling down the program to twenty-five
points. (Another "point," not added till 1926, was a preface that made the party program unalterable.
This would not only give Hitler's party a "granite foundation" (like the 'Communist Manifesto' gave the
Communists), but would save uncounted hours of time and energy that is normally wasted within
organizations arguing over whether something ought to be added or deleted. Hitler, like constitutional
interpreters, knew that times change and "points" can be "bent" to take advantage of changing
situations.) By the time the sun rose in the morning they had finished. "These points of ours," Hitler
declared, "are going to rival Luther's placard on the doors of Wittenberg."*
Hitler now set to work organizing the parties first mass meeting to present the parties twenty-five point
program. Hitler wanted the "people" to pronounce judgment on them. The Fest Room of the
Hofbrauhaus, capable of holding over 2000 people was rented for 700 marks for Tuesday Feb. 24, 1920
at 7:30pm. Hitler believed that if this meeting was successful the party would "burst the narrow bonds
of a small club" and in the future would be able to have "influence on the mightiest factor of our time,
public opinion."*
Drexler set about trying to find a well know speaker as a drawing tool who could warm up the crowd
before Hitler took the stage. His search, however, proved difficult when it was learned that the
communists were threatening to shoot Hitler and whoever appeared on the stage with him.* Hitler
thought of putting the meeting off but understood that if he did, the communists would never cease to
threaten him. "The struggle had to be carried through," Hitler would write: "...If not now, a few months
later....I knew above all the mentality of the adherents of the Red side far to well, not to know that
resistance to the utmost not only makes the biggest impression but also wins supporters."*
Drexler finally contacted a prominent nationalist, Dr. Johannes Dingfelder, who wrote for national and
volkisch publications and often gave anti-Jewish speeches. Although Drexler informed Dingfelder that
the expected crowd at the meeting might be "partly hostile," the communist death threat was never
mentioned. Dingfelder agreed to be the first speaker, but he was never informed that Adolf Hitler was
to follow him.* Hitler, meanwhile, set about getting the word out on the upcoming meeting.
Bright red posters and leaflets along with newspaper ads, addressed to "The Suffering Public,"* with
headlines like "The True Causes of the World War," "The Peace Treaty of Versailles'" and "War Guilt"
announced the coming event.* Possibly because Hitler still did not consider himself a big enough
draw, or because of the communist death threat, his name did not appear on any of the promotional
material; nor was there any mention of the 25 point program.
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Like all people on the eve of their first big night, Hitler began to have second doubts. He pondered over
his "boldness" in attempting to hold such a huge meeting, then he worried that only a small number of
people would show up. He then worried that if the meeting was a success his reception might be a
failure. Although Hitler never referred directly to the death threat against him, he also worried that the
meeting might be "broken up."*
Three days before, the communists had called for demonstrations to commemorate the death of Kurt
Eisner. Fighting between the Left and Right broke out in the streets and beer halls of Munich.* The
atmosphere was still explosive and trouble was expected.
Hitler arrived at the Hofbrauhaus (left) at 7:15
on the night of the meeting and to his delight
found the large hall to be packed. The crowd,
however, included about 400 Communists and
Socialists* who had come to disrupt the
meeting.* Drexler, who was to chair the
meeting, suffered a "nervous collapse" and
failed to show up. Hitler, nevertheless, was
confident that if things got too rough his boys
from the mortar company could control things.
"I had taught them the technique of
concentrating their efforts on limited
objections," Hitler would later state, "and at
meetings to attack the opponent table by table."* Hitler also believed that if he had a chance to "finish"
his speech he could win over many of the more zealous Marxist followers to his viewpoint.
A large heavy table had been pushed up
against the wall on the long side of the hall
near a huge tiled stove and the meeting began
with Teutonic punctuality. A substitute for
Drexler, Marc Sesselmann, a Thule member
and editor for the Observer, stepped up on the
table and announced Dingfelder. The tension
in the large hall was obvious as Dingfelder
took his place on the platform. He spoke in a
grave but calm manner and stated that
humanity was on the verge of doom because
of its rejection of religion and natural law. He spoke of order, work, and sacrifice. Unaware of the
communist death threat, Dingfelder make a few comments about the killing of the Munich Hostages,
but stopped before any tempers were roused. He made no direct comments about the Jews,* but stated
that the government in Berlin was "under the influence of foreign races."* He stated that Germany's
195

only hope for regeneration was a return to racial and national principles. He concluded by stressing the
need for strong nationalistic leadership and forecast the coming of a German "savior."* He received a
hardy round of applause as he left the stage but the speech was basically the same one he had given
many times before.* He did little to arouse the crowd.
As Dingfelder took his seat, the announcer thanked him and also the Communists for keeping quiet.*
Hitler was then announced and as he made his way to the platform in his old blue suit the hall fell
silent. Hitler opened quietly. With little emotion he outlined the events leading up to the war and the
last few years of German history. When he reached the period ending W.W.I and the Red revolts,
passion crept into his voice, his eyes flashed, his arm flung up, and he began to gesture.* His voice
blared and echoed through the hall. He damned profiteers, German war guilt and the Versailles Treaty.
He attacked the liberal Berlin government and denounced its unmoral attitudes. He accused the
Republic of tolerating all types of perversions so as to draw attention away from itself. He also accused
it of fermenting a "hothouse of sexual imagery and stimulation" which threatened traditional values. "It
is no accident," Hitler charged, "that more and more kinds of diversion are constantly being invented."*
He suddenly assailed the leftist Jews from Russia (Ostjuden) living in Germany and their "lying press"
which supported the leftist Weimar government.
The Reds in the audience, caught off guard momentarily, now attempted to shout him down. As Hitler
continued, beer mugs and cups flew in his direction. Hitler stood his ground and the mortar company
quickly went into action with rubber clubs and riding whips. Hitler carried on as clashes continued in
various parts of the hall.* Hitler's "courage," under such circumstances, would win for him the
admiration of men for many years to come.*
"At all my meetings," Hitler would later say, "I always spoke unrehearsed. I allowed, however, party
members in the audience to interrupt along lines carefully prepared to give the impression of a
spontaneous expression of public opinion. These interruptions greatly strengthened my performance."*
With members of the party in the audience shouting their approval, many of the nationalist and neutral
observers warmed to Hitler's spirit. Their cries of approval mixed with the catcalls. Shouts of: "Down
with the Jewish press" and "Get out" (directed against the Reds) merged with the heckling.
Hitler abruptly shifted his attack against "all leftist parties." and all hell broke loose. "There was often
so much tumult," an undercover police investigator noted, "that I believed that at any moment they
would all be fighting."* After about an hour, the most violent of those opposed to Hitler were thrown
from the hall. The cheers and applause nearly drowned out the scattered disturbances. Hitler suddenly
stopped his one hour harangue, and the announcer trumpeted the submission of the party's twenty-five
points.
As Hitler read each point, he would pause and ask if everyone agreed and understood, then ask the
audience for their reaction. The majority roared their approval. Many hecklers still remained in the hall
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and they occasionally shouted their disapproval or jumped on tables to hurl insults in Hitler's direction.
The mortar company kept their clubs and whips visible should any further violence erupt.
The individual points were phrased like slogans and many were drawn along the "anti" position on
which the party thrived. The program was anti-parliamentarian, anti-capitalistic, anti-Jewish, and anti-
Marxist. Many of the points were vague, and Hitler wanted them that way so that they could be
flexible. Most of the points were found in the programs of other German, Austrian and
Czechoslovakian national reform movements as well as in the Marxist program.
Unlike the other German political parties, who centered their attention on certain groups of one extreme
or another, Hitler, appealed to all Germans. To the patriotic he demanded that the Versailles Treaty be
torn up and discarded. He demanded union of all Germans in one German Reich and equality for
Germany in world affairs, including a demand for "colonies." To the workers he offered profit sharing
in large industries and generous old age benefits. To the lower middle class he offered government
subsidies to small businesses and the break up of large department stores which small businessmen
could not compete against. To the farmers he offered more land, the abolition of ground rents and land
speculation. To the volkisch groups he demanded that all "non-Germans" who emigrated into Germany
after August 2, 1914, be expelled immediately and that all Jews be denied the right to hold public
office. To the socialists he promised the nationalization of trusts, the abolition of incomes not earned by
physical or mental work, the end of child labor, and free higher education for "specially talented
children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation."* To the religious, Hitler promised
"freedom of all religious faiths," but specified that the "party...represents the point of view of a positive
Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession."* To the sick and aged he
promised health reform. To women: "maternity welfare centers." Because Hitler believed that the
masses would not follow "anything that is half-hearted and weak," he also promised law abiding
citizens a "ruthless war...against those who work to the injury of the common welfare." Even "usurers"
and "profiteers" were to be "punished with death regardless of religion or race."*
The two most powerful points of Hitler's program was first, his demand for "the union of all Germans
in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all people."* The ideal of
self-determination, fueled by the Allies and Woodrow Wilson during the war, would forge one of
Hitler's "sharpest and most effective weapons"* in his struggle to attract a following. The other point,
though not specific, permeated much of the program. Hitler knew at first hand that, with the exception
of economics, the majority of the lower middle class (the "respectable" working class) and the workers
(the "common" working class) are normally quite conservative. His program, therefore, unlike the
Marxist, did not call for the destruction of classes or society. Though the program "promised" to break
the back of capitalistic "bondage," it did not call for the destruction of capitalism. Hitler knew that one
of his points, which called for the "continuance of a sound middle class," would raise suspicion among
the workers, but he did not omit it. He looked back to Lueger (the Mayor of Vienna) and how he "made
use of all existing implements of power, to incline mighty existing institutions in his favor, drawing
from these old sources of power the greatest possible profit for his own movement."* Hitler took the
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same position because he knew that the working classes (whether respectable or common) are not
intolerant of existing institutions, whether monarchical or bourgeoisie, as long as there is a minimum of
economic injustices.* His program therefore, basically promised to eliminate economic grievances--
"common good before individual good"--and unite the people of all classes in one unified and mighty
"people's community."
The program "expressed the sprite of the time" and the "needs" of society at that time. It, consequently,
appealed to socialists and nationalists alike.* (The party in the future, consequently, would often be
split into Socialist and Nationalist wings.)
Toward the end of Hitler's two-and-a-half hour discourse he attacked the liberal Jews again and
promised that his 25 points would one day become the law of the land. He then savagely attacked the
Berlin government and accused it of responsibility for the hunger spreading over the land and the
mounting inflation that was affecting nearly everyone. Because most Bavarians believed that the
government in Berlin was corrupt and ineffective, his attacks were well received. He sat down to
thunderous applause.
An open discussion followed, but the majority in the hall, with shouts of "Get out," gave the radical left
little chance to voice their opposition. When a motion was made that the party go on record in opposing
the sharing of a relief shipment of flour with Munich's Jewish community, leftists sprang on tables and
chairs to voice their opposition. The motion, nevertheless, passed unanimously because "none" of the
leftists had the courage or conviction to vote against it.*
When the meeting ended, about a hundred Communist and Independent Socialists formed into ranks
outside the hall and marched off toward Marien Platz loudly singing the Communist International* and
cheering the Soviet Republic* with intermittent shouts of "down with...the German Nationalists."*
Many others, however, who had come to listen or heckle, were won over.
Hans Frank, a twenty year old law student was overwhelmed by Hitler's deep sincerity and
fearlessness: "The first thing you felt," stated Frank, "was that there was a man who spoke honestly
about how he felt and was not trying to put something across of which he himself was not absolutely
convinced."* Frank also felt that Hitler made his beliefs understandable and went to the core of things.
He was convinced that "if anyone could master the fate of Germany, Hitler was that man."*
The communists mouthpiece in Munich, Der Kampf (The Struggle), would call the 25 points "a stolen
program," however, around forty more people joined the party by the next day.* Before the next open
meeting was held, party membership would rise by an additional hundred. Although Hitler's speech
was played down in the major Munich newspapers,* Hitler had won the hearts of hundreds of converts.
Many saw the beginning of a speaker who knew how to "move" the masses. Word of the new party
began to spread, but it was not the program that received the most attention, it was Adolf Hitler.
When Hitler wasn't involved in party matters he was still called upon by his army superiors to deliver
pro-German, anti-communist speeches to groups of officers and soldiers. In January and February of
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1920 "Herr Hitler" was listed besides such dignitaries as Munich University historians K A von Muller,
and other notables as one of the main lecturers in the army's continuing patriotic course. On the
afternoon following his presentation of the party program, he delivered one of his lectures at the local
barracks* where he still lived. Though many of his lectures took place at the Munich barracks, he also
lectured at the University and, still on occasion, traveled outside the city. In mid March Hitler was to
take his last trip outside of Munich as a member of the army.
A sense of stabilization appeared to be settling over Germany, and the liberal government leaders in
Berlin felt confident. They were determined to show their more radical leftist brothers, who frowned on
the Republic's cozy relations with Rightist groups, that they could manage without Free Corps support.
The government began disbanding the Free Corps again. The Right, unhappy with the direction the
country was moving, staged a putsch. The army in Berlin appeared to stay neutral but the officers
backed the uprising. Their anger was sparked by a whole series of Allied demands including one which
demanded that 900 top German military and civilian leaders be turned over for trial as war criminals.
Hindenburg, Ludendorff, the former crown princes of Bavaria and Prussia, and a whole series of
nobility and influential people, who had nothing to do with the action of the war, were on the list.
On March 13, fearful that the government might give in to Allied demands, Free Corps groups marched
into Berlin. Without a shot being fired (Noske's troops refused to fire on the advancing Corps), the
Weimar government fled. The Pan-German nationalist, Dr. Wolfgang Kapp, was installed as
Chancellor.
News of the Kapp Putsch was acclaimed among military and rightist groups throughout Germany.
Because of the action in Berlin, the Right in Munich, backed up by the military, gave the Social
Democrats an ultimatum to relinquish their offices. Finding little support among the people, they got
out the same day. A party of the "center" (Bavarian People's Party), headed by arch-conservative Ritter
Gustav von Kahr, was installed and all parties of the left were excluded from the government.
The army in Munich wanted a liaison man in Berlin in order to coordinate the two revolts. Hitler and
Eckart volunteered and their help was immediately accepted. Eckart's connections among the well-bred
and well-fed, along with Hitler's power of arousing the working classes, was more then they could ask
for. The two where each provided with two sets of credentials. One was to be used if they fell into the
hands of leftist sympathizers. The other was to introduce them to any rightist supporters. A plane and a
military pilot were put at their disposal. On the morning of March 17, Eckart and Hitler took off for
Berlin.
It was Hitler's first flight and the weather was rough. He became air sick and started vomiting. Short of
fuel, the pilot was forced to land at Juterbog, about 40 miles short of Berlin. The airport was in the
hands of leftists and Hitler, taking no chances that he might be recognized, put on his fake goatee.
Eckart posed as a paper manufacturer on business. Hitler posed as his accountant. After some touch and
go negotiating they were supplied with fuel and allowed to proceed. Hitler resumed vomiting.
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After landing at Tempelhof in Berlin they proceeded to the Reich Chancellery where they met with
Kapp's press secretary. They learned that Kapp's Putsch had turned into a fiasco. The Socialist
government had called for a general strike to protest the Putsch. The Communists, who knew their
movement would suffer under a rightist regime, now wholeheartedly supported the ousted Socialist
Republic. Red workers and their trade unions united with the Socialists. Electricity and water were
turned off, transportation stopped, industry shut down, garbage piled up in the streets, and even small
shops kept their doors closed. The civil servants in the ministries refused to cooperate with Kapp. No
one of importance would accept a position in his cabinet. Kapp's position became hopeless and his
movement collapsed. The German democratic Republic, was in affect this time, saved by the
Communists. Hitler and Eckart were informed that Kapp was already on his way out of the country.
There was nothing for them to do.
In the demilitarized Ruhr, the Communist, smarting over their victory in Berlin, arose and 50,000
staged a revolt. After murdering 300 people, many of them policemen, they occupied most of the
region. Their newspapers proclaimed that "Germany must become a Republic of Soviets in union with
Russia." In Saxony the Communists proclaimed a Soviet Republic and took control of part of the state.
They threatened to "slaughter the middle class regardless of age or sex" if troops dared interfere.
Throughout the country the Communists stirred up revolts and a wave of looting, murder, and arson
spread over the country.
The Weimar government, lacking sufficient trustworthy troops, began searching frantically for anyone
to help them restore "law and order." President Ebert was forced to beg General von Seeckt, who had
walked out on the government a few days before, to return. Seeckt was given almost unlimited powers
to put down the Communist revolts. One of his first acts was to recommission all the Free Corps units
that had just been disbanded – the outcasts and rebels of a few days before were now called on to save
the Republic again. Within a short time the militarists did the dirty work and the Weimar government
was firmly in control again. The Free Corps (now sometimes called the "Republican Army"), never
received any punishment for the part they played in the putsch. The Republic even paid the troops the
bonus that the Kapp regime had promised them to overthrow the Republic.*
In the meantime Hitler and Eckart had adopted the role of tourists and remained in Berlin for over a
week. The city was home to many nationalist and volkischorganizations, as well as wealthy anti-leftist
whom Eckart knew well. Hitler, who at this stage, could never hope to enter such circles on his own,
must have been greatly impressed. Though Hitler never mentioned his first introduction into Berlin's
high society, it is highly likely that he was introduced to General Ludendorff at this time.* What Hitler
was very outspoken about, however, was, as he put it: "the great Babylonian whore....Red Berlin."
Hitler's disgust at what he had seen in Munich, concerning morals, sex, and tradition, seemed trivial to
what he observed in Berlin. Since the days of the Roman circuses, inadequate governments have
always looked for ways to defuse the public's attention. The Weimar government was "corrupt,"
"confused," "inept," "shaky," and "self serving." Its capitol had become a cesspool of super liberal
200

permissiveness. As Marx had wanted, nearly "all morality" was "abolished,"* and in its place reigned
lawlessness and perversion. Berlin had become the center of the Dadaist movement,* and writers and
artist wrote "manifestos" against civilization and tradition.* Destructive antisocial and anti-cultural
tendencies were viewed as natural. The streets had become unsafe and criminals went unpunished.
Dope pushers openly sold cocaine, called 'Schnee' (snow), or any other drug one wanted in the streets.
From dusk to dawn girl prostitutes, ten and eleven years old, heavily rouged and wearing short baby-
doll dresses, competed against lush blondes and whip toting Amazon types.* The Marquis de Sade had
been rediscovered and his views that sexual cruelty was "natural" opened the closets of sadist and
masochists alike who preached an alternative way of life. Nudity became boring and heterosexuals,
homosexuals, and bisexuals did what they could to shock the "philistine" and "good" citizens. Sexual
licentiousness became "a triumph of chaos over law and order."* Hitler believed that the only way to
"cleanse" Berlin was to "destroy" the Weimar Republic.
On March 29, Hitler and Eckart were back in Munich. Kapp's failed putsch convinced Hitler that a
military backed uprising against the government would never succeed without the support of the
worker. He was certain from what he witnessed, that Berlin, and then all of Northern Germany would,
sooner or later, fall to the Communists. Hitler called the party committee members together at the
Sternecker Brewery and on three consecutive evenings, March 29-31,* lectured them on the
importance of his views. The only way to save Germany, he believed, was to unite the common
workers and those engaged in the more respectful occupations. With their backing, Hitler believed, a
popular nationalist party could take control of Bavaria's government and then march on Berlin. (This
was the reason for Hitler's attempted putsch in 1923.)
Hitler was aware that his present connection with the army, if known, would be a stumbling block in
attracting followers. Because of the army's connections with the failed putsch, it had become
discredited among most north Germans and even many southerners regarded it with suspicion. Hitler
had already taken steps to disguise his position (he registered with the party as an "artist"), but if he
continued with his political career, his position was bound to become public knowledge. There can be
little doubt that Hitler had considered resigning from the army, but he was reluctant to do so. Outside of
the barracks millions of unemployed were experiencing hunger and uncertainty. The army not only
provided Hitler with a comfortable and secure lifestyle, but a prestigious position. Leaving the army
was not a decision Hitler could make on his own. "Fate," however, would again come to his aid.
The Treaty forced on Germany by the Allies in 1919, demanded that the German army (after reducing
to 200,000) "by a date which must not be later than March 31, 1920... must not exceed 100,000 men,
including officers."* Although the army had been stalling on its reduction commitments and would fail
to reach its obligations by the proscribed date, it now had to accelerate its demobilization because of
rising pressures by the Allies and the Berlin government. Hitler may have been considered too
important to the 200,000 man army a year earlier to let go, but an army reducing to 100,000 hardly had
room for Hitler on its roll books. Hitler's decision was made for him.
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On March 31, 1920, after over four years on the front lines and a year and a half as a propagandist, he
received his "discharge."* To take him in to civilian life the army officially provided Hitler with fifty
marks along with a suit of clothes: cap, shirt, jacket, coat, underwear, pants, socks and shoes.*
Unofficially however, the army had been providing financial support to right wing groups and
individuals since the end of the war. They were not about to abandon anyone who served their purposes
as well as Adolf Hitler.

(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)
202

Part IV

THE FLEDGLING POLITICIAN


203

16: The Civilian

On leaving the army, Hitler took up residence in a lower middle class


district on Thiersch Strasse. The neighborhood, located a short
distance from Maximilian Bridge, was dominated by four and five
storied buildings with stores and shops on the ground floor and rooms
and apartments above. The ground floor of Hitler's building (left) held
a drug store and directly across the street was a produce store where
Hitler bought apples nearly everyday.
The builder of the establishment Hitler chose had preserved an old
German tradition that was dying within the larger cities. On the front
of the building, directly above the ground floor shop entrance, a small
niche had been constructed where a statue of the Madonna, as
protector of the building and those living there, was placed. Hitler
would live in the building for nearly ten years, during a period when
thousands of political enemies wished him bodily harm, and never suffer a serious pain or illness.
Hitler chose a furnished sleeping room, two flights up, in the rear of the building. The room was only
eight feet wide by fifteen feet deep with a single window opposite the door. At the window end of the
room a bed occupied one corner, while on the opposite wall were some makeshift shelves. A rough
table, a single chair and a small cupboard took up most of the space at the entrance end of the room.
The floor was covered with worn linoleum and a few shabby rugs. To brighten up his humble abode,
Hitler decorated the walls with drawings and a picture of his mother.* According to one visitor: "Hitler
used to walk around in carpet slippers, frequently with no collar to his shirt and wearing suspenders."*
In all the years Hitler lived in the establishment, the only major change was an addition of an adjoining
room.
In accordance with the custom of many German rental establishments, Hitler also had the use of a large
entrance hall where people gathered and entertained. Against one of the walls sat an old upright piano
which residents or guests occasionally played. Hitler enjoyed listening to the music of Schumann,
Chopin and Richard Strauss, but his favorite pieces were still by Wagner which he occasionally
whistled along to.* The only pieces Hitler was ever known to have played were by Wagner or Verdi.
Hitler's landlady found him to be a "nice man," but untalkative. "Sometimes weeks go by when he
204

seems to be sulking and does not say a word to us," she would state. "He looks through us as if we were
not there."* She noted that Hitler always paid his rent in advance and never caused any problems. The
owner of the building, who was Jewish, often passed Hitler in the hall and they occasionally exchanged
greetings. He noted that Hitler was usually lost in thought or was jotting something down in a small
note book he carried with him. Hitler, he later stated, "never made me feel that he regarded me
differently from other people."*
Hitler spent most of his time at the party headquarters on Sternecker Strasse and ate meager meals in
the brewery/cafe above.* He also acquired a large dog (and books on the care of German shepherds)
which, besides guarding his sleeping room door at night, often accompanied Hitler to and from party
headquarters.
A month before leaving the army, Hitler and Drexler had changed the party's name from the German
Workers' Party to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische (later
abbreviated NAZI by foes and friends) Deutsche Arbeiterpartei).
National Socialist parties were not unknown before Hitler. There was a National Socialist group in
Austria and one in the German speaking area of the new state of Czechoslovakia. There were also rival
national socialist groups in Bavaria as well as other parts of Germany. Drexler originally wanted to call
the party the "German National Socialist Party" but the word Socialist scared him off. By 1920
"national socialist" was becoming identified with any group or person that was anti-Marxist, yet anti-
capitalist. As one noted nationalist stated: "The politics of the nationalist opposition can't be
communistic....but it also can't be capitalistic." "National," which expressed the dream of a united
German people (even under a monarchy) countered "Marxist," while "Socialist" countered "capitalist."
Hitler, who would have preferred a monarchy to the present government,* wanted the new title so that
there would be no misunderstanding as to where the party stood.
The change of the party's name was well timed. Fed up with the inept Weimar Republican government,
German sympathies were taking a notable turn toward the right. In the elections held on June 6, 1920
the government parties (capitalists, Catholics and workers) suffered and received only 11 million votes
as opposed to 19 million eighteen months before.* (Although the Center (Catholics) only lost 15% of
their supporters, the Social Democrats (workers) lost nearly half, while the left liberal Democrats
(capitalists) lost almost 60%.)* Never again would the founders and supporters of the Weimar
Republic ever achieve a majority.* In addition, the Communists (including the Independent Socialist)
more than doubled their vote to over five million, while the Right (the Nationalists and the People's
Party) nearly doubled theirs to over nine million.* The Weimar Republic would stumble along for
twelve more years, governed by unpopular minority cabinets, weak coalitions and finally authoritarian
Presidential decrees. Each, driven by greed or power, would prove as inept as its predecessor (until
Hitler took control and used the Weimar body of laws with such effectiveness). More and more, the
German people began looking for a savior.
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By the end of Spring, Hitler's days of talking to small audiences were over. By holding weekly public
meetings at different locations about the city, the crowds seldom fell to less than 1200. After each
meeting it was not unusual for thirty or forty people to join the party. After one meeting ninety-two
newcomers signed up.* By the beginning of summer Hitler was speaking to over 1800 people at an
average meeting.* In his speeches Hitler continued to attack the "iniquities" of the Versailles Treaty,
"Jewish Marxism" and the "founders of the Weimar Republic" who had giving in to the Allies. He
called on his audience to join him and his party in helping to build a new, proud, national Germany,
which would tear up the Treaty and fight, if necessary, to restore Germany to its "proper place" in the
world. He lambasted the "cowardly" new Center government and predicted the certainty of "Germany
awaking" once the Republic have been swept away. He assaulted the Liberals, the Democrats, the
Socialist, the Communist and the Jews. More and more Hitler hammered home his belief that the
Marxist revolutions in Europe, and their success in Russia, was but a first step in a Jewish/Marxist plot
to control the world.
In support of Hitler's beliefs, a document, The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, had been published in
various European newspapers in the early part of 1920. The Protocols were declared to have been
written by Jewish leaders from all over the world who gathered in Basel Switzerland in 1897 to discuss
the conquest of the world. The Protocols did outline a very real and logical method for achieving world
domination. They demonstrated that if carried to its extreme, democracy provides fertile ground for a
usurper to establish a dictatorship. Once firmly established in one country, the document revealed with
what ease a dictator, willing to take the chance, could influence other countries. Society and morality
would be undermined, Christianity would be destroyed, and governments would be overthrown. "By all
these methods," state the Protocols, "we shall so wear down the nations that they will be forced to offer
us world domination."*
In May the London Times had ran an article reporting that the Protocols should be taken seriously and
"appeared" to be a genuine document written by Jews for Jews.* The Protocols were soon published in
16 other countries.
In America, Henry Ford included the Protocols in his paper the Dearborn Independent, and later in his
book: The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem. The book was printed in three separate
volumes, and three million copies were distributed with many given or sold to city, school and college
libraries. Ford's analyses (which Hitler would pay tribute to a few years later)* was not much different
than many of the "anti-Semitic" publications in Germany.
"Of English Protestant stock," Ford used promotional methods to sell his ideas which were comparable
to some of the promotional posters used by Hitler to sell his ideas.* In Volume III of Ford's book,
"Jewish Influences In American Life," a small sheet of light, blue promotional material (Hitler would
have used red) was placed between the pages of copies "presented" to those who had previously
ordered or accepted volumes one and two. The "ad" explained that additional copies of all three
volumes could be had for "25 cents each." It also encouraged readers to subscribe to Ford's newspaper,
206

the Dearborn Independent by baiting: "Discussion of the Jewish Question is but one of the many
interesting and worth-while features of America's most talked-of weekly."

On the reverse side of the ad,


testimonials, which Hitler also liked to
use,* were provided which did little to
camouflage where the "paper" stood:
I feel that it is a
matter of the
highest
importance to the
future welfare of
this country that
its citizens be
enlightened and
informed on the
greatest menace
that threatens its
very existence.

--A colonel of the U.S. Army


Allow me to
congratulate you
upon the fearless
manner in which
you are attacking
the Jewish
problem.

--Department Head in a State College


I heartily
congratulate you
on the noble and
absolutely necessary articles on the Jewish question you have written. I admire
your deep insight and your thoroughness--and your courage. You will be up
against the greatest power in the world today.

--Professor Theological Seminary*


In addition to Ford, and his supporters, there were many others outside of Germany who saw Jews in a
sinister light. Even before the publication of the Protocols in western Europe, Winston Churchill
publicly referred to the Jews as "a most formidable sect, the most formidable sect in the world."*
207

With such respectable personalities voicing their beliefs, a wave of anti-Jewish sentiment swept
through America and Europe in 1920. In Germany, anti-Jewish sentiment reached new heights. In
Berlin, noted one Jewish reporter, "passions were whipped up to the boiling point."* In Bavaria,
passions were fueled by the memory of the short lived "Jewish dictatorships" and "hostage killings"
which added a very sinister touch to the Protocols. Anti-Jewish feelings grew in leaps and bounds, with
even members of respectful right wing political parties and the Church taking part. Hitler was not about
to let such an opportune moment slip by.
Starting in June, Hitler dropped his normal attacks against "Marxist Jews" and began to encompass
them all. At one mass meeting in late June, where a reporter described the audience as "middle class,"
Hitler was constantly interrupted by applause and shouts of approval in his attack against the Jewish
community. At one point when Hitler shouted: "Out with the Jews who are poisoning our people!" there
was "sustained wild applause." At another meeting, when Hitler asked the audience how they were to
"protect themselves" against Jewish domination, shouts of "Hang them!" and "Beat them to death!"
rose from the audience.* In a July meeting, when leftist hecklers protested against Hitler's anti-Jewish
remarks and shouted "Human Rights!" Hitler shouted back: "The Jew should look for them where he
ought to go, where he belongs, in his own state of Palestine."* In another July meeting at the
Hofbrauhaus, when a Jewish woman attempted to voice her opposition to one of Hitler's comments, she
was shouted down and was unable to finish her remarks. In August, at another meeting at the
Hofbrauhaus, Hitler's attacks against the Jews went on for over two hours. In a speech titled "Why We
Are Against the Jews," there was no longer a difference between East and West Jews, poor or rich,
intellectuals or commoners, but a struggle of the "Aryan race" against the "Jewish race." Hitler now
portrayed the Jews as outsiders who had no respect for the morals and traditions of Germany. He
portrayed them as nuisances, conspirators, robbers, and destroyers of nations. He called for "the
removal of the Jews from the midst of our people." On numerous occasions, Hitler was interrupted by
applause, shouts of approval, or laughter.
The center newspapers which usually ignored or belittled Hitler now saw the effect he had on many
people. Though most reporters and undercover investigators noted that the majority of Hitler's
audiences were of the "lower middle class" or "middle class," the Munich Post called him (in the
tradition of America's early "firebrands") a "rabble rouser."* The Party, nevertheless, continued to
grow. By August it had 725 dues paying members* and new followers now began signing up at the rate
of 70 a week.
Money for expansion was the Party's greatest problem at this time. Hitler was receiving some financial
support from the army* (of which part was undoubtedly used for his personal needs), but the party
lived from hand to mouth. The monthly dues paid the rent at the Sternecker and some of the
administration costs, but most of the party funds came from the "one mark" admission fee that Hitler
now charged to his meetings. Rent for a meeting hall however, cost 700 marks an evening, while
promotion and other costs nearly equaled that.
208

"To be sure," Hitler would later state, "the party did have one big backer at that time, our unforgettable
Dietrich Eckart."* It was through Eckart's endeavors that Hitler began receiving funds from a "group
of wealthy men."* Like Eckart, most of these men were Munich "outsiders" who didn't support the
socialist republic. They were anti-Communists "headstrong individualists" who owned "small and
medium-sized" businesses.* Hitler wisely hired a business manager and was consequently able to
expand the party on a limited basis.
The first new local was established at Rosenheim (Hermann Goering's birth place), a small town 40
miles south-east of Munich. When Hitler appeared at the inauguration festivities to speak, the largest
beer hall in town could not accommodate all those who wished to attend--"friends as well as foes."*
That summer Hitler introduced the swastika as the party emblem. He recognized the importance of
symbolism for the young movement. An effective insignia alone, he once said, can spark interest in a
movement. The swastika had been used by people around the world, including Semites, for thousands
of years. It represented many things to different people, but in Germany it had recently come to
represent the "struggle of Aryan man." One of the main reasons Hitler chose the swastika was, as he
said, "to outdo" the Reds with their "hammer and sickle."
There were numerous renderings of the swastika. Some had curved arms, some straight arms. Some
pointed to the right, some to the left. Some had thick arms, some had thin. Some were red, some were
black. Some were placed in a square, some in a circle. Those placed in a circle sometimes touched the
edge, sometimes not. Hitler wasn't happy with any of the designs. Using his artist background, Hitler
altered the swastika in relation to thickness and size to get the best effect. He finally came up with a
bold black swastika whose arms pointed to the right. This design was to decorate party stationary,
membership cards, party pins, arm bands, and promotional material.
Hitler also wanted his swastika incorporated into a party flag, and the colors were a matter of great
concern to him. He thought of using white and blue, because of "their wonderful esthetic effect," as he
put it,* but the Bavarian Separatists used a blue and white banner. He finally decided to use the colors
of the old Imperial flag of red-white-black. "In 'red' we see the social idea," Hitler stated, "in 'white' the
nationalist idea, in the 'swastika' the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man."* He
finally decided on a red field (to counter the "red rag" of the Communists), and in the center placed a
large white circle. His swastika design was placed neatly within the circle. After hundreds of trials and
errors in relation to size of swastika, circle and field, he finally got what he wanted. A "female party
comrade" stitched the flag together and Hitler now had a symbol that no other party could match. His
arrangement was one of the most eye-catching, memorable, and effective designs ever created. At the
"Sternecker brewery," Hitler would later write, "we brightened up the walls...and for the first time hung
up our new party flag....it remained always before our eyes."*
Though Hitler's party was expanding, most people in Munich had never heard of him, and his
demeanor and appearance off the speaking platform betrayed his abilities. Though many observers still
noted that Hitler's eyes were his most captivating quality, many felt that he looked like a common
209

"waiter" or an "office clerk." In early August, when Hitler and Drexler traveled to Salzburg, Austria to
attend a meeting of various National Socialist groups, Hitler was treated like a junior partner. In a
group photograph of twenty-one National Socialist "leaders," of which three were women, Drexler was
in the front row center while Hitler was conspicuously absent.* Hitler undoubtedly felt slighted and
realized that, on paper, he held no significant position within the party. His name did not even appear
among the six who were listed as the party's board of directors. On the train ride back to Munich
(which stopped at Traunstein where seven years before Hitler guarded Russian prisoners of war) the
cozy relationship between Drexler and Hitler began to crumble.*
Once home in Munich, Hitler began spending most of his time with his own circle of followers.
Besides Eckart, Hitler had attracted a few other disciples who would do much to further his position.
One of Hitler's new followers was 26 year old Rudolf Hess, a shy, but well-spoken student of
philosophy, economics, and geophysics. The son of a prosperous and respected international merchant,
Hess had attended schools in Egypt and Switzerland. He enlisted in the military during the first days of
WWI and had risen to the rank of lieutenant. Twice wounded, he returned to Bavaria after the war and
entered the Munich University. Determined to play a part in returning Germany to her former greatness
he joined the Thule Society and narrowly escaped death at the time of the "soviet republic."* He
developed into a fanatic anti-Semite and anti-Communist. He fought with the Free Corps and was
wounded in the leg. When the hostilities ended, Hess took a job as salesman for a furniture company
since the British had confiscated his father's business. He nevertheless established some solid
connections with members of the Bavarian government and became an excellent recruiter and fund
raiser for nationalist organizations. During May of 1920, Hess heard Hitler speak for the first time and
became a instant disciple. He was introduced to the 31 year old Hitler shortly after and they
immediately got along. Hess joined the party in July and by the end of summer became part of Hitler's
inner circle. "Rudi," as Hitler called him, would shortly become the second most powerful man in the
NAZI party.
Hess began meeting with Hitler and Eckart at their nightly gatherings at the Bratwurstglockl near the
Dom or the Brennessel in the Schwabing. During the course of an evening they would often move on to
various other medium priced beer gardens or coffee houses around town because such places kept
Hitler in touch with the feelings of the population. Hess and Hitler normally nursed a beer or coffee at
each stop while the fun loving Eckart indulged himself and picked up the bills.*
Contrary to the "speaker" on the stage, when in small gatherings, whether social or party business,
Hitler normally talked in a soft, though low-keyed, voice. Though many of his ideas were radical, he
spoke reasonably, simply and earnestly, and was always convincing.* An assistant US military attaché
in 1922 noted: "Have rarely listened to such a logical and fanatical man."* Others found him
"pleasant," " modest," "friendly"* and a person who was interested it them.* Outsiders, who
occasionally glimpsed the "distant political figure" were "greatly impressed by the human qualities
Hitler revealed in the inner circle of his associates: by the good will he showed the younger among
210

them, by his readiness to laugh, and by the magnanimity he demonstrated.... Within this circle, in fact,
Hitler...was a good comrade."* Hitler used the company for sounding out his ideas and debating on
how best to take advantage of any changing political situation. He would continue to hold such
informal meetings for the rest of his life.*
These informal gatherings were usually joined by other members of Hitler's inner group. Besides
Rohm, who kept Hitler informed on military matters, there was Max Amann. During the war Amann
had been one of Hitler's sergeants and performed courageously until he lost an arm and became the
regiment's historian. Two years younger than Hitler, Amann was a former university student who now
held a good position in a Munich mortgage bank. Amann was one of those who always found
something to laugh about and Hitler enjoyed his company. "What a jolly chap he is," Hitler would
state.* Amann was the man Hitler had hired as the party business manager. He would not only prove
himself more than capable of managing the finances of the party, but also Hitler's personal finances.
Amann would later prod Hitler into writing a book to defray his personal expenses. Mein Kampf would
turn Hitler into a millionaire.
Another who frequently joined Hitler's group during these early days was Alfred Rosenberg. The son of
middle-class German Balts, Rosenberg was born in Estonia but later moved on to Russia to complete
his education. He received a diploma in architecture from the Moscow University and read all the best
German and Russian classics. He had witnessed the development of the Russian revolution at first hand
and was convinced that it was the work of Jews. He fled Russia and ended up in Munich where he
wrote articles and books expounding his view on the coming danger of "Jewish communism." One of
his pamphlets reached an audience of 100,000. Multilingual, highly educated, and unusually well read,
Rosenberg, though four years younger than Hitler, would become known as the party's first
"philosopher."
Another belonging to Hitler's inner circle was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter. Of middle-class
origins Scheubner-Richter was a small, well dressed man who held a degree in engineering. Five years
older than Hitler, he had traveled widely, spoke many languages and had a gift for conversation. Born
Max Richter in East Prussia, he had married the daughter of a titled industrialist and taken his wife's
title and name. During WWI he served in several diplomatic positions and later played a part in the
Kapp Putsch. He was brought into the party by Rosenberg in early 1920 and by September had
endeared himself to Hitler. As with anyone with a "von" in his name, Scheubner-Richter had important
contacts and it was probably through his efforts that Hitler now began receiving occasional funds from
one or two "national-minded Bavarian industrialists."* Later, as the party continued to expand,
Scheubner-Richter's contacts with Church dignitaries, monarchist high society, and other German
industrialists would provide not only recognition for Hitler but larger sums of money.* Hitler felt real
gratitude to these early contributors and would praise them for years to come.* For the present,
however, the party still lived from hand to mouth.*
211

When party problems were not pressing down on Hitler, he enjoyed going to the movies in the
evenings and normally part of his inner circle accompanied him.* Silent films, with their international
appeal, were beginning to encroach on opera and theater and Hitler enjoyed American films. By 1920
silent screen star, Charles Chaplin, had become world famous and was instantly recognizable on screen
for his little mustache. Chaplin's characterization of a comic, but also tragic figure who championed the
underdog and small man found a devoted following in financially devastated Germany. Members of
Hitler's circle had tried to convince him to extend the width of his mustache but Hitler wouldn't hear of
it. The symbolism of Chaplin may of had something to do with his decision.
Hitler had never lost his belief in "fate" and was undoubtedly delighted to find that Chaplin (born April
16, 1889) was only four days older than himself. Such coincidences of birthdays always fascinated
Hitler and would later feed false rumors that he was a believer in astrology. In reality Hitler considered
astrology nothing but "another swindle" and would later state:
In judging any question concerning superstition, it should always be
remembered that prophecies may be wrong a hundred times (these are forgotten
or kept from the believers). Yet, if one prophecy comes “true” because of
resulting events, it will be handed down from generation to generation as an
unalterable fact to be believed forever.*

After the movies, Hitler and his friends would head for the Cafe Osteria-Bavaria on Schelling
Strasse,** or the Cafe Heck on Galerie Strasse where Hitler enjoyed the coffee and cake. Some
evenings they would even stop at the fashionable Tea Room in the Carlton Hotel. During these outings
Hitler normally wore one of his old blue suits with white shirt and tie. On many occasions he also wore
a belted trench coat (that Eckart had given him) with a large brimmed hat that he kept pulled down over
his eyes all night. Observers stated that he looked like an American gangster, but that he was a good
tipper.*
Since his new found fame, Hitler enjoyed having people around him, and his friends often introduced
him to others. Hitler particularly liked the company of show people, good storytellers and artists in
general. He got to know these people well and kept a special place in his heart open to them. Years
later, when he came to power, one of his advisers would suggest that he take action against a group of
artists who had signed a Communist proclamation. Hitler, with brilliant thoughtfulness and perception,
answered:
Oh, you know I don't take any of that seriously. We should never judge artists
by their political views. The imagination they need for their work deprives them
of the ability to think in realistic terms.... Artists are simple-hearted souls.
Today they sign this, tomorrow that; they don't even look to see what it is, so
long as it seems to them well-meaning.*

The company Hitler enjoyed most of all, however, was "pretty"* or "beautiful women,"* and despite
his lack of sophistication, women of all ages, and classes, were attracted to him.*
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The daughters of "quality people," who have been taught for the most part to look for security and
stability in a man, have a tendency to throw caution to wind occasionally. Many like their interim men
a little cruel and masterful. A flamboyant man, with an air of excitement and danger about him, can
often attract women of seemingly exquisite taste. Hitler was a rising rebellious political figure who
dredged up primitive emotions while on the speaking platform. As one observer noted, women sniffed
"the smell of a barbaric wildness"* about Hitler that aroused them like their proper and tamed men
never did. As another observer noted: "The women were crazy about him."*
When meeting women on a personal basis, Hitler's normally low rough voice became soft and gentle.*
Although he played the part of the strongman on the speaking platform he always greeted women
politely and charmingly with an awkward bow or kiss of the hand.* He would always stand on
introduction and remain so until they sat down.* Hitler never made risqué remarks in the presence of a
woman and became embarrassed when others did.* If a woman appeared suffering from the slightest
discomfort, Hitler showed nothing but concern.* Whereas he would show signs of irritation when most
men disagreed with him, he would hear a woman out quietly and with patience* and answer her in
sweet tones. He still possessed the sense of humor he had during the war and enjoyed laughing* and
making others laugh. He was a "gifted mimic" and could bring his guests to "tears of laughter" by
embellishing the actions and words of noted personalities. He was also superb at mimicking children
and women.* Women who expected to meet someone crude and vulgar when introduced to Hitler,
usually came away charmed and gratified.* A young female university student found Hitler "charming,
tender" and "modest."* Another young woman stated: "I felt myself melt in his presence."* A more
sophisticated lady reported that he had "a remarkable charm despite all the reports of his
ruthlessness."*
Hitler, on the one hand, was not attracted to most upper class women. As he would state years later:
"My own particular tragedy is, that, as head of state, I always have the most worthy ladies as my dinner
partners! I'd far rather...pick out some pretty little typist or sales-girl as my partner."* He particularly
did not like cultivated and intellectual types and never felt at ease among them. "Educated, intellectual
women,” he once said, “are not essential....My mother, for example, would of had a difficult time
interacting at social gatherings with cultivated women."* In addition, Hitler was building an image of
a Lohengrin; a man so dedicated to his mission of "saving" Germany that he had to forsake women.*
(As an example, Eva Braun, the daughter of lower-middle-class parents, became Hitler's mistress in
late 1931, over a year before he became Chancellor. Yet, very few people knew anything of the
relationship until 1937.) An affair with a "woman of breeding," even if Hitler could have found one
who appealed to him, would have been impossible to conceal.* With the exception of a few "motherly
types," which never went beyond a platonic friendship, he kept his distance from women of quality. On
the other hand, Hitler had an eye for beautiful, uncultivated, younger women* who were, as he put it,
"weich, suss und dumm" ("gentle, sweet and dumb")* and, he knew where to find them.
Among Hitler's circle were men without refined manners, cultivated airs or polished vocabularies.
Although disliked and mistrusted by the more sophisticated of Hitler's inner circle, they were the men
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who kept Hitler in touch with the people of less modest means and backgrounds. Hitler, who never
passed up a chance to mingle with the lower class, was often seen in their company at the less
pretentious beer rooms and cafes of Munich.
One of these men was Ulrich Graf, a noted Munich wrestler who also held a minor position for the city
council. Graf was an honest and decent fellow* who once worked as a meat cutter. He was also a
renowned bar room brawler and was a good man to have on one's side when "stepping down" for the
evening. His appearance in the less sophisticated bars and cafes normally attracted the attention of men
as well as women. There was also Christian Weber, a mountain of a man, but goodhearted to his
friends. A horse dealer and part-time bouncer for one of the rougher bars of Munich, Weber normally
consumed more than his share of beer in an evening. He fancied himself a ladies' man and was
suspected of being a part-time pimp.* Another of these men was Emil Maurice, a WWI and Free
Corps veteran who worked as a clock-maker. Partly of French extraction, Maurice liked to laugh and
had a mischievousness about him that appealed to Hitler.* Maurice looked like the leader of a Latin
band* and in fact could play the mandolin and enjoyed chasing the ladies.* All three men were
responsible for leading the protection squads during Hitler meetings and played alternating roles as
Hitler's bodyguard, secretary and valet. At least one of them was always lurking in the background
wherever Hitler went. When the nightly get-togethers broke up, and the more genteel of the inner circle
withdrew, Hitler, along with Graf, Weber or Maurice would often head for the more worldly spots of
Munich.
The "decadence" of the Weimar Republic was having its effect on the character of nearly every man
and woman in Germany and Hitler was a man of his time. Although Hitler still considered marriage and
sex to be inseparable for most people,* he no longer spoke unfavorably about "loose women" in
private. As he later stated: "I have more respect for a young woman who has an illegitimate child and
raises it than for an old maid."* He openly scorned the "pretentious upper ten thousand"* for their
moral "hypocrisy" and the Church for its prudishness* and held them "responsible for mass
abortions."* "There is no more primitive instinct than love," Hitler would say,* and he talked often
about "wonderful," "dazzling,"* and "ravishing" beauties.* "What beautiful women there are,"* he
would state, and "he certainly had an eye for good-looking women."* He felt that there was something
unhealthy about men who failed to "respond accordingly to the smiles of inviting maidens."*
According to Maurice, he and Hitler would sometimes drift from one night spot to another looking for
women.* Besides liking his women beautiful, young, sweet and dumb, Hitler also liked them full
figured, especially big busted.* Otherwise he had few other preferences. Many of Hitler's favorite
paintings were of dark haired Latin beauties* and his later mistresses would range from those of
"distinctly Slavonic appearance" to fair skinned blondes.* Hitler however, was a man who liked to be
in control and the one thing that put him off was a woman who was too easy or too experienced.*
Because of Maurice's good looks and personality, he and Hitler had little trouble finding what they
wanted.
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When meeting a woman who appealed to him, Hitler took on the old, but rewarding, role of the
attentive admirer. "He always gave a woman the impression that he thought her beautiful and worthy of
his admiration."* He fussed over them with an adoring look in his eyes, kissed their hand and always
offered flowers, especially orchids.* The role fit Hitler well during this period since one acquaintance
described him as looking like a "hairdresser on his day off."* Whereas more sophisticated suitors have
alternate ploys to enhance their biological urges to reproduce, the "entranced admirer" act was the only
one Hitler ever used. "We chased the girls together and I used to follow him like a shadow,"* recalled
Maurice. Some nights the evening would end with Hitler escorting a young woman to his room.*
Hitler had no interest in committing himself to any deep attachments, but he had the prudence to send
or bring women, who had caught his eye, flowers, candy, knickknacks and other items of modest
value.* Such chivalrous acts were undoubtedly appreciated by the women Hitler met and he
doubtlessly reaped the rewards. Years later, while discussing relationships between men and women,
Hitler would state: "The bad side of marriage; it creates rights. Believe me, it is much better to have a
lover. The stress is lightened and everything remains on the level of a gift."*
Hitler was so successful at hiding his relations with women that many of his more sophisticated
associates were gullible enough to believe him when he made the comment: "The masses, the people,
that is a woman for me," or "I have only one love and that is Germany"* (which incidentally is a line
out of Wagner's Rienzi). Hitler built his reputation so well that in later years, when he turned his
"entranced admirer" act on a few cultivated and/or educated ladies of quality, they naively came away
believing that they had been the only woman who had ever "entranced" the Fuhrer.
At other times Hitler and Maurice would walk the streets admiring the women or stop in at places were
women were known to gather.* Women boxers, in their skimpy trunks and shirts, was daring stuff for
its day and although Hitler feigned indifference around his more sophisticated circle,* he enjoyed
watching such fair. He and Maurice would also stop in the art Academy or artists' studios to check out
the models posing in the nude and "Hitler circulated quite at his ease in the mist of all this nudity."*
Another frequent stop of Hitler's was the Cafe Weichard opposite the National Theater* where the
show people he liked to be around gathered. He got to be on intimate terms with some actresses and
also dancers* who he felt were underpaid and mistreated.* At the time it was considered scandalous
for women to smoke in public, yet Hitler, who promoted non-smoking among his male followers,
voiced no objection when around such liberated ladies.* On one occasion Hitler raised some eyebrows
when he was seen being driven around Munich by "smoking ladies."* Hitler never let women or sex
consume him, however, and it normally wasn't long before he returned to his political ambitions.
Hitler, often with his friends, attended various lectures and theater performances around town. Hitler
soon discovered that such entertainment offered other benefits. Unlike the intellectuals who held that
the written word was the most powerful force on the earth, Hitler felt it was the spoken word. He
believed that every great movement in history owed its success to great speakers who were capable of
spilling out "volcanic eruptions of human passions." Ulrich Graf, who had watched Hitler sway people
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by the thousands, was surprised one evening when Hitler began demeaning his own abilities as a
speaker.* In company with his friends, or on his own, Hitler began attending the performances of the
top comedians, actors and personalities of the day so as to learn from them. He studied their timing,
wording, body movements, and their strong points in holding the attention of the crowd. Hitler began
practicing his body, head and hand movements before a full length mirror and later had pictures taken
of himself so that he could better study his speaking gestures.
Donning his phony beard, Hitler also continued to attend the rallies and meetings of rival speakers,
Communists and Nationalists alike, and also learned from them. Although he admired some of the
Communist speakers, he found most of the Nationalists to be little more than "sleepwalkers," whose
dreams where out of touch with the majority. "These Germans of the old school were fine fellows,"
Hitler would later say, "but their specialty was literature. Their audience was twenty thousand readers
of their own stamp. None of them knew how to speak to the people."* Hitler was especially
contemptuous of the upper-class (bourgeois) national speakers and would later write: "I had the same
feeling towards these as towards the compulsory dose of caster oil in my boyhood days. It just had to
be taken because it was good for one; but it certainly tasted unpleasant."* He then added:
I once attended a meeting in the Wagner Hall [on Sonnenstrasse] in
Munich....The speech was delivered or rather read out by a venerable old
professor from one or other of the universities. The committee sat on the
platform: one monocle on the right, another monocle on the left, and in the
centre a gentleman with no monocle. All three of them were punctiliously
attired in morning coats, and I had the impression of being present before a
judge's bench just as the death sentence was about to be pronounced....After the
professor, whose voice had meanwhile become more and more inaudible,
finally ended his speech, the gentleman without the monocle delivered a
rousing peroration to the assembled 'German sisters and brothers'....and
emphasized how deeply the professor's words had moved them all....The
proceedings finally closed with the [National] anthem....It appeared to me that
when the second verse was reached the voices were fewer and that only when
the refrain came on they swelled loudly....After this the meeting broke up and
everyone hurried to get outside, one to his glass of beer, one to a cafe, and
others simply into the fresh air.*

Hitler now understood why the Nationalists were failing so miserably in their desire to attract the
crowd. "Out into the fresh air!" he would add, "That was also my feeling.*
Hitler learned a lot from his contemporaries, but most important he learned what not to do. He was glad
he did not posses an educated accent or vocabulary because he felt the crowd would sense he was not
one of them and drift away. He found that people became bored with sophisticated speakers and
believed that "the cruder and more brutal the language," the larger the crowd that would be willing to
listen. He felt that most political speeches were "too professional [or] too academic. The ordinary man
in the street cannot follow and, sooner or later, falls a victim to the slap-bang methods of Communist
propaganda."* Instead of using "reason" to support his viewpoint, Hitler learned to use "facts" that
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invoked emotions. He also learned to keep his speeches centered on a few points and to keep them
simple. As Hitler would later ask a female friend: "Fraulein...why do you use your brand of
toothpaste?" "Because I like it," she answers."False," Hitler replies, "it is because you see that name
everywhere – on posters, on theater programs, in magazines. The public must know in order to
understand. That's why in politics we have constantly to repeat the same things. Then the people will
realize that what we're saying must be true, since we say it over and over again."*

(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)

17: The Struggle

As Hitler became more and more visible he began attracting more and more risky attention from the
Communist opposition.* "Indeed," Hitler would later write, "how often in those days were they led in,
literally in columns, those supporters of the Red Flag with instructions to smash up everything and put
an end to our meetings. And how often was everything touch and go, and only the ruthless
determination of our meetings' leaders and the brutal handling by our guards was able again and again
to thwart our adversaries intentions."*
Because of the attacks launched against the party by the "Left"* (usually the Red Front), Hitler was
forced to take more elaborate precautions to safe guard himself and his meetings. At this time there
were about one hundred and fifty ex-service men who belonged to the party who could be relied on
occasionally to act as bouncers against "Communist and Social Democrat intruders."* Because each
man had to earn a living they could not be on call all the time. Hitler, therefore, organized them into
squads responsible for certain sections of Munich. When a meeting was held in their part of town they
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were required to be ready on short notice to support Graf, Weber or Maurice in defending Hitler and the
meeting.
The squads became known as Ordnentruppe (Order Troops) and their first uniform was little more than
a swastika arm band. In August of the following year, Hitler would rename the group Sportabteilung
(Sport-Section or SA) so as to disguise their true function. Although many historians contend that the
SA was created as a paramilitary group to be used against political rivals, the reverse was the purpose
at its creation. As Hitler would later state. "The SA was born in 1920....but I had no ideas concerning
paramilitary organizations. I began by creating a service to keep order....It was confined to that."*
(Later as the party became more powerful and the ranks of the SA grew, the squads would be used to
protect NAZI outdoor activities and also "storm" the meetings of Communist and other rivals who used
to threaten Hitler meetings. The SA would then come to stand for Sturm-Abteilung (Storm-Section).
"Terror will be smashed by terror," Hitler would later tell an acquaintance, "I learned that principle in
the street battles between the SA and the Red Front."*)
In 1920, most people had no qualms with Hitler's Order Troops beating up on Communists, Social
Democrats or "Marxist Jews" who had come to disrupt his meetings. But, when it was reported that the
Order Troops were also beating up on "harmless" Jews, Hitler used the occasion to bar all Jews from
attending any future meetings. "Jews only go to the meetings," Hitler would state, "in order to provoke
trouble, and thus try to portray the party as a brutal rapist of 'harmless' participants."* In one of his
speeches shortly after, Hitler voiced the same opinion and a few nationalists in the audience shouted
out that "Negroes" should also be banned. Hitler shouted back: "I would rather have one hundred
Negroes in the hall than one Jew."* The audience erupted into applause. All future advertisements for
party meetings would carry the notation: "Jews not admitted."* Opposition groups and newspapers,
already incensed over Hitler's swastika flag, saw grave undertones in Hitler's proclamation. Rumors
began circulating as to the extent of his "anti-Semitism." Hitler was unmoved and considered his
proclamation to be a positive act. Opposition only fed his growing antisemitism (See appendix T).
The party was now holding a public meeting in Munich nearly every week, and Hitler was the featured
or supporting speaker at over 60% of the meetings.* When Hitler was not speaking in Munich he was
normally out of town giving speeches at the four other locals the party had established by this time. His
ability as a nationalist speaker became sought after and he was also paid, in a private capacity, by
various veteran or nationalistic groups to deliver his message. Drexler, Eckart, Feder or invited
outsiders were normally the main attraction at party functions when Hitler was not scheduled.
With the exception of Eckart, Hitler felt that most of those who spoke for the party were tiresome
"preachers" who failed to arouse the people. He understood that if the party was to continue to grow, he
could not do it all on his own. Speakers like himself, capable of "moving the crowd," as he put it,
would have to be found.
As the party's propaganda Chief, Hitler began coaching a few men who he felt showed promise. One of
these was twenty year old Hermann Esser who had joined the party around the same time as Hitler. The
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son of a railroad official, Esser had been a "press secretary" for the army propaganda group Hitler had
joined after the war and Esser now wrote for various newspapers and magazines. His writings,
normally attacks against Jews and liberals (he harbored ideas of hanging the bourgeoisie)* were
capable of rising the eyebrows of even the most staunch nationalists. Esser, as well as the other early
followers of Hitler, would later become known as "those Bavarian vulgarians" by newer members of
Hitler's circle.* Next to Hitler, however, Esser was the only other effective speaker in the party capable
of appealing to the lower classes. Some of his speeches however, were of such a "primitive" nature that
even Hitler found him embarrassing at times.* Esser however, was intelligent, persuasive, and had a
gift for reaching the younger lower class workers that Hitler never truly reached down to. Handsome
and sophisticated looking, Esser could have passed himself off as a romantic film star. A great lady's
man* he often boasted of his ability to live off his mistresses.* Esser become part of Hitler's inner
circle and would shortly become one of the party's main speakers; second only to Hitler.
In October of 1920 Hitler could take satisfaction in his year with the party. He had raised the small
group of six part-time debaters to a party with over a thousand dedicated dues paying members and
tens of thousands of sympathizers. Hitler's effect was now becoming felt and when he returned to
Austria on a speaking tour (including a stop at Braunau where he was born), it was he and not Drexler
that drew the attention. After a speech in Vienna, a newspaper for the working classes wrote that Hitler
spoke for two hours but the audience "could have listened to him for days."* When he got back to
Munich, Hitler held a mass meeting at the Kindl Keller, a beer garden and eating establishment, which
had the largest single feast hall in Munich. He nearly packed the place with 3500 people.
Rohm, Hess, Eckart and Scheubner-Richter made certain that Hitler's achievements did not go
unnoticed by military and government leaders who now began to take serious notice. Hitler however,
had not as yet linked himself with a prominent personality (or group) that would give him the
credibility he sought. (As one of Hitler's friends later remarked: "There was still no room for self-made
men in the Germany of those days and Hitler's fight against this attitude was to take him years.")*
Such a link would not only open the doors to respectability but large sums of money. In Germany, at
the time, the real big money for political purposes did not come so much from individuals, but from
large associations of big industrialists, employers and bankers* who considered it beneficial to
establish links with any group or individual which might become politically powerful.*) Hitler did not
have long to wait. He was about to receive some unexpected assistance from Moscow – the "worker's
paradise."
In the early Fall of 1920, Grigor Zinoviev, president of the Communist International, met with the
leaders of the German Independent Socialist Party ninety miles outside of Berlin. Zinoviev had been
sent by Lenin and Trotsky to get the Independent Socialists to join with Moscow and ferment
revolution throughout Germany. The ranks of the Independent Socialists were composed primarily of
workers which Moscow believed held the key to revolution – the strike.
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Lenin and Trotsky regarded strikes as a weapon to be used against all non-Communist governments. A
continuous wave of strikes would disrupt Germany's system of industrial production and deepen the
nation's economic crisis. The brutal breakup of strikes by the Free Corps and other forces did not deter
Moscow which viewed any strike, even the hopeless ones, as a victory. That men lost their jobs, were
put in jail, or ended up dead meant nothing. Continual waves of even minor strikes, which heaped
additional hardships upon the lower classes, would lead to upsurges of popular discontent. Every strike,
no matter how it ended was seen as a political triumph or training for civil war. With enough strikes the
rift between the lower and upper classes would deepen and the influence of the present "false leaders"
would be destroyed. Then, Lenin and Trotsky believed, the victory of a Communist takeover would be
assured.*
Zinoviev's appeal to the Independent Socialist fell on receptive ears and he was embraced
enthusiastically. Most Communists decided to come out of the closet and over 60% of the 393
delegates voted to join with Moscow. For various reasons the remaining delegates walked out, but the
Communists picked up over a half a million new converts in one meeting. It appeared to many that it
would be only a matter of time before Moscow dominated, to one degree or another, over Germany.
General Ludendorff, hero of WWI, a fierce anti-communist and the symbol to all patriotic and
nationalist groups, was convinced that there was not a single political party in Germany which could
turn the tide of communist growth. He believed that a new nationalist party had to be found which
could appeal to the millions of nationalistic minded ex-soldiers who were now part of the working
class.
After the failed Kapp Putsch, Ludendorff had fled northern Germany for Munich. He did not fail to
notice that throughout Germany all of the conservative politicians were failing to establish any contact
with the ex-soldiers and ordinary people. Hitler, on the other hand, was not only attracting ordinary
people, but was "clearly succeeding in presenting a non-Communist program."*
Ludendorff was closely associated with Scheubner-Richter* and the important contact between Hitler
and Ludendorff was established.* The plan that Ludendorff revealed to Hitler was simple. Five months
after the Kapp Putsch and the last communist revolt, the Weimar Republic in Berlin disbanded the Free
Corps again. Bavaria, consequently, had become home to thousands of ex-Free Corps troops who had
poured into the various Bavarian militias and private armies which now numbered 300,000 men. Their
ranks were made up for the most part of ex-soldiers, but also disgruntled idealists, nationalists
revolutionaries, and disillusioned socialists. They were united in their hatred of the communists and in
their determination to overthrow the existing government in Berlin which they referred to, like millions
of other Germans, as the "Jews' Republic."* (By 1922 the reference to the Weimar Republic as the
"Jews' Republic" or "Jew Republic" became so commonplace that a "Law (for the Defense of the
Republic)" was actually passed making it an offense punishable by a stiff prison sentence. There were
also "serious prison sentences" for anyone referring to the President as a "brothel-keeper" or the
Republic's flag as "a filthy rag."*) The inept Weimar government, and the Allies, had demanded that
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these para-military groups be disbanded, but the Kahr government in Bavaria considered them a "Civil
Guard" against the Left and refused. Ludendorff's idea, therefore, was to unite all of the nationalist
groups in Bavaria using Hitler's party as a core on which to build an even larger following. Ludendorff
would then take over the military leadership with Hitler as political head.*
A few days after Moscow had captured the majority of the Independent Socialists, Ludendorff brought
Hitler, dressed in his old blue suit, to meet with Gregor Strasser at Landshut forty miles NE of Munich.
Strasser had a small but vigorous following, including his own Free Corps-type army with infantry,
artillery and machine gun companies. A twenty-eight year old pharmacist and former soldier, Strasser,
like Hitler, had performed heroically during the war and had also won the Iron Cross First Class.
Opposed to both communism and capitalism, Strasser sought a "German type" of socialism free of
foreign interference. Most of his followers were like himself, nationalistic ex-military men from the
trenches who desired a form of government based on the wartime comradeship of brotherhood and
patriotism. Although many among the upper classes laughed as such ideas, Strasser spoke for many of
the ex-servicemen who now made up a substantial part of the civilian population. Ludendorff revealed
his plans to Strasser while Hitler promised to make him the first "national" party district leader of the
NAZI party. Strasser was not particularly impressed with Hitler (nor was his brother Otto who found
Hitler too "servile" toward Ludendorff who Hitler repeatedly addressed as "your excellency") but he
had great "trust" in Ludendorff and made up his mind to join Hitler's party before the day was over.
Hitler had accomplished what only a year before seemed impossible. He had not only linked himself to
one of Germany's most revered men among upper military, nationalist and conservative circles, but also
a group whose leader, Strasser, was highly respected among lower circles.
By December the party had established ten locals in different Bavarian towns and could boast of over
2,000 dues paying members.* The membership numbers, however, veiled the true strength of Hitler
and the NAZI party. As an example, Strasser (like other group leaders) may have joined the party, but
his followers were under no obligation to do so. This was especially the case with the members of the
para-military ranks which normally functioned as fairly independent groups. The NAZI party
consequently, would primarily continue to consist of members of the lower middle class with para-
military (SA) members normally accounting for only 10 to 15% of party strength. But, because of
Hitler's links with "Civil Guard" organizations, his influence was far reaching and he would shortly be
in a position to call on thousands of ex-soldiers and Free Corps troops who were never members of his
party.
In Bavaria, there were about twenty right-wing organization and their "newspaper of record,"* so to
speak, was the Volkischer Beobachter (German-People's Observer). (Because of the difficulties of
translating volkisch, some publications use "Racial," others "National" in the place of Volkischer. Both
terms, as with the one used, (German-People's) are "inadequate, but suggestive.") Because Ludendorff
had made Hitler responsible for the "political training" of the groups which were expected to be
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associated with his party, Hitler wanted to buy the newspaper. The Observer was located on Thiersch
Strasse, only two blocks from his apartment and had been up for sale for months.
Anti-Marxist and anti-Jewish to the extreme, the Observer appeared twice a week and had a
subscription of about 7,000 with an additional 4,000 through street-sellers and newsstand sales.* With
250,000 marks of debt against it, the paper was on the verge of bankruptcy. The sale price was 120,000
marks, in full, which equaled the yearly wages of nine average Germans.* The Army gave Hitler a
"loan" of 60,000 marks (which was never repaid) and Eckart raised the remainder, most of which came
from an industrialist who had links with the army. The Ludendorff connection was paying dividends
undreamed of just weeks before.
As Propaganda Chief, the paper fell completely under Hitler's control and he replaced the old
management with members of his inner circle. Hermann Esser was made the First Editor and he and
Hitler retained the paper's hate peddling, anti-Left, fanatical style as an opposition to Marx's hate
peddling Manifesto and current hate peddling anti-Right publications. As 1920 drew to an end, Hitler
and his friends took up the pen (for which each received a small salary) and spewed out their own
version of events.
As with his speeches, Hitler also took his writing seriously. During this period (1919-1921) he
borrowed over 100 books and pamphlets from one source alone. As any public speaker or writer
quickly learns; when you start speaking or writing to thousands of people, your "facts" better have a
sound foundation. Some of the books Hitler read (or skimmed-through) during this period were: Luther
and the Jews, Schopenhauer and the Jews, Wagner and the Jews, Henry Ford's The International Jew,
Bolshevism and Jewry, also books on medieval and modern Germany, Church history, the Talmud,
Montesquieu (a political philosopher) and Rousseau (philosopher and composer).*
Hitler's articles, like those in the Communist press, appealed to emotion and were merciless against
opponents. Leftists often called on boycotts of the paper and its street sellers were often beaten up.*
When Hitler was later criticized for his journalistic talents, he asked what someone would say about an
advertisement that was intended to promote a new soap but also described competing soaps as good.
The crowd, Hitler insisted, could only be won over by a "ruthless and fanatical one-sided orientation"
and not by "a so-called objective viewpoint."*
The huge debt that came with the paper would burden party finances for years. With the expert
guidance of Max Amann, and by exhorting members to subscribe and encouraging them to solicit
subscribers, Hitler would finally turn the paper into a profitable venture. The experience filled a void in
Hitler's knowledge that would later pay huge dividends. As he would later say: “I would understand
nothing about business methods if it had not been, thankfully, for the constant worries about the Party
press."* ("Hitler...anticipated modern economic policy,"* and when he came to power (1933) his
knowledge of "business methods" turned a bankrupt nation into a respected economic power in three
years while most nations languished in the world wide "Great Depression.")
222

As 1921 began, Hitler felt that it was time for the party to begin to do more than "just talk." He knew
that most ordinary Germans were "full of disgust and revulsion" because of the "cowardice"* displayed
by the middle-class parties who refused to take a stand against unpopular causes and endeavors.
Although Hitler had no direct control over Strasser's Free Corps, or any of the other para-military
groups at this time, his association with them was enough to give him the courage to set the party on a
revolutionary course. Hitler understood, even in these early days, that one had to have some control of
the streets since that is where the "reporters" where. In the first week of January he gave a speech at the
Kindl Keller to two thousand enthusiastic listeners and promised that in the future the party would
"ruthlessly prevent – by force, if necessary – all meetings and lectures intended to have an undermining
effect on our already sick fellow Germans."*
Hitler was in no position at this early stage to carry out his threat against any political party, but he
understood that threats in themselves produced effects. The Left had, on more than one occasion, been
responsible for the police informing Hitler, "in writing,"* to cancel his meetings because of "possible
violence." Hitler hoped that his threats would have the same affect on his adversaries until his party
was strong enough to take the threatened action. The ordinary citizens of Bavaria knew the tactics of
the Left and were pleased to hear of a nationalist politician who was not only willing to fight back but
take the offensive. In the meantime, Hitler satisfied himself with having the SA section of his party
disrupt or picket controversial plays and performances* that the majority of Germans found offensive.
After a few NAZI demonstrations and "minor" brawls,* Hitler undoubtedly took great satisfaction
when later, even the threat of a protest from his group, was enough to cause the Munich police to close
down, under the guise of preventing "possible violence," performances that the majority of people
found offensive.* Hitler's action had a positive effect among the majority of Bavarians who had heard
of him, and did much to enhance his popularity in Munich. Shortly after, the Allies handed Hitler an
issue that would send his popularity soaring.
Because of Allied policy, the winter of 1920-21 was severe with large segments of the German working
population going hungry. Food riots erupted and soon spread throughout Germany. Public indignation
reached the boiling point at the end of January when the Allies forced on Germany a new "reasonable"
formula for paying her war debts. Besides staggering annual fixed payments which threatened to
bankrupt the nation, Germany was also expected to hand over to the Allies 12 percent of her exports for
the next forty-two years. Such reparations would not only aggravate the already horrid plight of the
working classes but would also create hardships for volatile members of the middle class.
In Munich the "great parties," ignored the Allied ultimatum.* The conservative, center and liberal
parties believed that to refuse payment would give France the excuse it was looking for to invade
Germany, while the Communists, even though their worker members would bear the brunt of the
reparations, supported any Allied demand that created discontent. The nationalist parties, on the other
hand, were outraged. A "Workers' Community" of "'folkish associations,'" Hitler wrote, decided to have
a combined "demonstration of protest."*
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The nationalist coalition first considered holding their demonstration on the Konigsplatz, but the wide
open space was too difficult to defend and the idea was called off because of fear it would be "broken
up by the Reds."* The coalition next proposed holding their demonstration in front of the
Feldherrnhalle (which was protected by buildings on three sides) but this idea was also abandoned.
They finally decided to hold their protest indoors at the Kindl Keller but wavered as to the exact date.
Hitler, no doubt sensing that public indignation was high, would later write. "I decided to carry out the
demonstration of protest on my own."*
At noon, on Wednesday, February 2, Hitler reserved the largest auditorium in Munich, the Zirkus
Krone. The building, located north-west of Munich's main railroad station, sprawled over an entire
block. The central arena was capable of holding 9000 people. Hitler quickly had posters printed,
announcing the meeting for the next day, Thursday, February 3, 1921, at 9 pm. Never before had the
party attempted to attract such a large audience, and never before on such short notice.
Party members were shocked at Hitler's audacity and knew that the action could set the party back by
years if the gamble failed. Two thousand people jammed into the Hofbrauhaus, or three thousand in the
Kindl Keller gave an image of a huge crowd. But, in the Zirkus, they would seem insignificant and the
Party might lose its credibility. Party members, as well as Hitler, also worried that the Order Troops,
which consisted of no more than 250 men at this time, would not be able to protect such a large hall.
(Even as late as the summer of 1922, there were only around 400 SA men.*) By evening, nevertheless,
some of the posters were already going up around town and Hitler was confident that his posters would
bring success.
The poster headlines proclaimed that "with diabolic cunning" the Allies had perpetrated a "swindle of
honesty" on the German people and now, after two years, were going to "rape" them. "We, to, are
human beings and not dogs," proclaimed another headline, "there is no place for negotiations." Hitler
then invited all Germans--"manual and white collar workers, laborers and students, officials and
employees"--to attend his meeting so as to show German politicians that if they agree to the Allied
terms they would lose their jobs. For "1 Mark," the poster proclaimed, those that attended would hear
"Herr Adolf Hitler" speak on "FUTURE [PROSPECTS] OR DECLINE."*
By the next morning Hitler's optimism had waned. Bad weather had moved into Munich and Hitler
worried "whether under such circumstance many people would not prefer to stay at home instead of
going to a meeting in rain and sleet where it was possible that assault and murder would take place."*
Determined not to be "disgraced in the eyes of the Workers' Community,"* Hitler decided to adopt a
few more tactics used by the Marxists.
Hitler hurriedly dictated some leaflets and had about 20,000 printed. He then rented two trucks and had
them draped in as much red material as possible. The party possessed about fifteen large swastika flags
at this time and Hitler had them mounted on the two trucks. That afternoon, each truck was loaded with
fifteen to twenty men who were given instructions to drive through the streets, shouting slogans and
catchwords while throwing the leaflets from the trucks. "It was the first time that flag-adorned trucks
224

on which no Marxists were found, where driven through the streets of town," Hitler would later write.
The upper classes "gaped" at the trucks, Hitler stated, while the "Marxists" raised their fists in anger as
though they were "the sole owners of this monopoly."*
Hitler knew that his daring tactics would outrage the Communists and become the talk of the town
within hours. With enough public attention, a sufficient number of people might be persuaded to attend
his meeting. Even with the bad weather, the one thing Hitler had going for him was that all of Munich's
trolleys stopped at the Hauptbahnhof (the main rail station) and the Zirkus was only three blocks up
Mars Strasse.
For most of the day Hitler sat nervously at party headquarters. Starting around seven in the evening he
was kept informed, by telephone every ten minutes, as to what kind of a crowd was entering the Zirkus
Krone. At 7:45 he left party headquarters and was driven to the Zirkus. He would later write:
Two minutes past eight, I arrived in front of the circus....Upon entering the
enormous hall I was seized with the same joy as a year previously on the
occasion of the first meeting in the Munich Hofbrauhaus. But only after I had
pushed my way through the walls of people and had reached the high stage, I
saw the success in all its greatness. Like a gigantic shell the hall lay before my
eyes, filled with thousands and thousands of people. Even the arena was black
with crowds. More than five thousand six hundred tickets had been issued, and
if one included the entire number of unemployed, of poor students and our
supervising troops, about six and a half thousand people may have been
present.*

This was Hitler's first truly mass meeting and the audience for the most part consisted of members of
the lower middle class.* The majority of the men, wearing suits and ties, represented the small-
shopkeeper or concierge class. (As an example, Hitler's former landlord, Mr. Popp, joined the party and
began attending meetings around this time.) There was also a scattering of former army officers, minor-
civil servants, young people, and skilled workers.* Women, many wearing the latest fashion in hats,
accounted for about one in five of those in attendance.
Hitler's ability to appeal to women at this time in German politics was noteworthy. One woman would
join the party without ever having hear a Hitler speech. The positive air of the party's members, that she
saw in the streets, was enough to win her over.* One of every seven members of the party were women
and they contributed more generously per capita than the men.* Women also played a very active part.
As Hitler would later state: "The Communist and ourselves were the only parties that had women in
their ranks who shrank from nothing."*
The meeting got underway and Drexler introduced Hitler to the audience. Within minutes Hitler began
to establish a "connection" between his listeners and himself. Any possibility of Red violence was also
quickly put to rest. Hitler observed that in an enormous coliseum it "was actually easier to overpower a
group of disturbers than was the case in tightly crowded halls."* Within a half hour of beginning his
speech, Hitler had the absolute attention of the audience.
225

"Someone who does not understand the intrinsically feminine character of the masses," Hitler once
said, "will never be an effective speaker."* Hitler consequently worked his audience as though it was
a woman. "Only he who harbors 'passion' in himself can arouse 'passion,'"* Hitler stated, and on this
night he was at his best. As one women stated after a similar speech. "The erotic character, not only of
the words but also the accompanying gestures, was unmistakable."*
Within an hour Hitler had complete control over his listeners. Like a great lover, he raised their
emotional level to the point where they rejoiced, he wrote, "in ever greater spontaneous outbursts." He
then let the passion "ebb" until nothing but the sound of heavy "breathing" filled the void. Nearing the
end of his two and a half hour performance, Hitler raised their passions to the bursting point. When he
spoke the last word, the "connection" between him and the audience was one and they erupted with joy.
Before the passion subsided someone started leading the audience in singing the national anthem. Only
them, Hitler wrote, did the audience find its "relaxing conclusion."*
A professor who attended the meeting found that Hitler "controlled the many-thousand-headed
audience completely." Although he would have a change of heart later, he found it strange that ordinary
people could be "enthusiastic about nationalism" and be opposed to "democratic and socialist
dreams."**
The professor, like many educated people, could not understand that ordinary people need to attach
themselves to something they know, trust and believe in. Like the Jews who experienced thousands of
years of persecution, when it would have been easy for them to set aside their beliefs and except a new
and progressive philosophy, the Germans were not willing to have a new philosophy forced on them.
They had always distrusted the West, and their hostility toward western ideas of enlightenment and
civilization were drawn out by Hitler. Like the Jews also, "the Germans preferred to retain their
loyalties to the past and resisted accommodation of their customs and folkways....[and with Hitler's
help] they romanticized the values and ideas of their remote past."* As one educated German of a
different persuasion than the professor stated: "I felt that everything which was old and reminded me of
the old days was good and the new things which did not fit into that conception were bad."*
The huge success of the meeting launched Hitler into the limelight. The party had truly broken the
bonds of an insignificant group and as Hitler later wrote: "We could no longer be ignored."*
Hitler now began holding meetings in Munich about every five days. Whether at the Hofbrauhaus, the
Kindl Keller or the Zirkus, the place was usually packed. Hitler also began holding meetings at the
Burgerbrau Keller on Rosenheimer Strasse near the Platz, "an eminently respectable beer hall much
frequented by a better class of people."*
On March 6, 1921, at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning Hitler held another meeting at the Zirkus Krone.
Eight thousand people paid a mark to hear him speak. It was the largest gathering he had drawn up till
that time.
226

The day after Hitler's largest mass meeting, the French ignited the flames of nationalism throughout
Germany. Still looking for an excuse to fulfill their prewar dreams, the French army began the
occupation of three north German cities east of the Rhine. The action was made under the guise that
Germany had failed to deliver reparations payments, but was in reality a preliminary move to occupy
Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr. Even in Bavaria, which by now was at serious odds with
north Germany, Hitler was still able to draw 5000 paying men and women into the Zirkus a week later
to protest against France's "'breach of the Peace Treaty'" and the "NATIONAL CRIMINALS" who
were selling out Germany "in doglike submissiveness."*
At the end of the month the Allies fanned the flames of German nationalism again. The long awaited
plebiscite in Upper Silesia was held with the majority in favor of remaining with Germany. The Allies
appointed their own "Commission" which began looking for loop holes to deny Germany as much as
possible. In April Hitler was able to pack the Hofbrauhaus, and "educate," as he saw it, his "fellow
citizens" as to how they were being robbed of their "freedom." In a speech, on April 9, 1921, he
accurately predicted that the Allies would ignore the Treaty and the coal producing areas of Upper
Silesia would be lost to Germany. "GERMANY AWAKE" proclaimed his poster.*
For the next four weeks Hitler turned his attention to attracting the "thinking" Red worker. His posters,
advertising upcoming meetings, proclaimed that the worker's dream of a "Dictatorship of the
Proletarian" had been supplanted by a "capitalist constitution." He blamed the Jews for the "fraud" and
asked the workers to "recognize the Jewish democratic swindle." Still determined to drive a wedge
between the Marxist leaders and the workers, his poster proclaimed that "a workers movement has to
keep itself free from Jews and capitalists," His posters stated that only the "national Socialist movement
of Greater Germany" could give the workers what they wanted. Hitler also appealed to the German
"youth," especially students, and welcomed them to his meetings. Four-thousand-eight-hundred people,
attended one of the meetings.*
By now the military, para-military, and the lower middle classes in Bavaria looked upon Hitler with
favor. He was also beginning to make noticeable inroads among the workers. As he proved himself
increasing successful, the government in Munich felt it could no longer ignore him. Rudolf Hess,
whose Bavarian family was known to minister president von Kahr, established the important
connection. On May 14, shortly after Hitler's thirty-second birthday, Kahr received Hess, Drexler and
Hitler. Although Kahr was not particularly impressed with the "Austrian," he felt Hitler could be used
as a propagandist in Bavaria's struggle with the Weimar regime. The reception gave notice that Hitler
was becoming a respectable political force.
Hitler began receiving support from the police president and the head of the departments Political
Division. They did what they could to suppress complaints against the Party and promote its expansion.
"We did do that," a spokesperson would later testify, "...because we were convinced from the start that
this movement was the one most likely to take root among the workers infected with the Marxist
227

plague and win them back into the nationalist camp. That is why we held our protecting hands over the
National Socialist Party and Herr Hitler."*
With his sudden jump up the social ladder, more important doors began to open to Hitler and he began
to move among circles far more influential than any that the old party committee members provided.
There were many among the upper crust however, who were repulsed by Hitler. They sneered at his
place of residence, his clothing, his vocabulary and his background. Hitler was aware, from the
beginning, what the upper crust thought of him and he had nothing but "contempt" for them.* He knew
that from their point of view he lacked those "outward qualifications" of formal education and family
background which mean so much to them.* He scorned their pretentious ways and phony airs and
stated: "Hasn't everyone in this land sprung from the peasantry."*
In order to compensate for Hitler's background, Hess wrote a letter to Kahr shortly after their reception
in an attempt to enhance Hitler's position and background. In part he wrote:
The central point is that [Hitler] is convinced that a recovery is possible only if
it proves possible to lead the masses, particularly the workers, back to the
nationalist cause....I know Herr Hitler very well personally and am quite close
to him. He has a rarely honorable, pure character, full of profound kindness, is
religious, a good Catholic. His one goal is the welfare of his country. For this he
is sacrificing himself in the most selfless fashion.*

Hess then gave an account of Hitler's war record and stated: "Your Excellency can unconditionally trust
Hitler."*
Hess was stretching things when he referred to Hitler as a good Catholic. Hitler privately criticized the
church (especially the Jesuits) and the Pope more than he praised them. However, he openly scorned
the Bavarian separatist movement (with its religious overtones) which undoubtedly appealed to Kahr.
Shortly after, Kahr mentioned Hitler "in terms of praise" in the Bavarian congress.*
The praise bestowed upon Hitler had the effect of opening a few more heavy doors, but Hitler hated the
idea of having to put himself in a "subordinate" position when dealing with the bourgeoisie.* He knew
that their main objective was to use him and the thought embittered him.* "The elite," Hitler would
later groan, "whatever they do is a result of calculation. Some of them see me as an attraction to their
drawing-rooms, others seek various advantages."* He nevertheless was learning what any aspiring
politician in a Republic must accept--hobnobbing with members of the upper crust, however regretful,
is the only way to power--no revolution has ever occurred strictly from the bottom up. Hitler would
later excuse his association with such people by stating: "The bourgeois with whom we flirted at the
time of our struggle were simply aesthetes."*
By the Summer of 1921 Hitler had turned the Party into a fairly respectable right wing force. Since he
was the driving force behind the party he ran it as he pleased. The six members of the executive
committee, including Drexler, were resentful. Thrust into the background they became dissatisfied with
the direction the party was going. They knew that Hitler was intent on embarking on a more radical
228

revolutionary course which they had no taste for. Drexler's highest ambition was a seat in congress and,
like the rest of the Committee, he wished to project the image of a mainstream nationalist party so as to
further his own ambitions. Drexler had made an attempt to get Hitler to listen to the Committee, but
Hitler ignored them. Fearful of Hitler's strong personal following, the Committee began plotting to
weaken his position.
Hitler's legitimate position within the party was not one of strength. He had abandoned his place on the
executive committee and the only position he held was that of Propaganda Chief. It was Hitler
however, who found the party funds, who brought in new members, who wrote the party propaganda,
who designed the party regalia, who brought the party its publicity, and who had a hand in every other
branch of party activities. His name and the party had become inseparable. The Committee had to be
careful not to overstep themselves. Hitler could call for a vote of the membership, and since Germans
normally voted for "lists" of candidates, Hitler and his inner circle might oust them. If the vote went
against Hitler, however unlikely, he might just take his followers with him and start his own party.
Whatever the outcome, the Committee knew that without Hitler, they would end up in the back rooms
where they started. They consequently did not have the courage to attempt to get rid of Hitler, but were
intent on using him to further their ambitions.
To assure their positions and recapture the direction of a much enhanced party, the Committee had
offered Hitler the position of "First Chairman," but with Drexler as "coadjutor in the executive
committee."* Hitler knew that the old democratic principle of six against one would prevail and
ignored the offer. Undaunted the Committee embarked on another scheme.
Since Hitler's association with Ludendorff, negotiations aimed at consolidation had been going on
between the Party and other right wing organizations. Hitler insisted that the other groups dissolve
and/or their members join his party on an individual basis. Outside of Munich a few small groups had
been induced to abandoned their party platforms and, like Strasser, become locals of Hitler's National
Socialists. With its acquisition of individuals and groups, the party had acquired certain "officers and
men of academic education," the "so-called fine people" of the movement, who secretly despised Hitler
"for his lack of higher education"* and background. They began conspiring with the Committee
members to attempt a merger with a rival nationalist group. A merger, they felt, would curb Hitler's
freedom of action,* while still giving them the advantage of using him for their own purposes. The
Committee, consequently, began talks with the German Socialist Party (Deutsch-Sozialistische Partei).
The German Socialist Party had been founded in north Germany shortly after the war and was larger
than Hitler's Party which confined its activities primarily to Bavaria. The German Socialists had thirty-
five locals throughout Germany, including one in Munich.* Because the ideas and goals of the German
Socialist leaders were similar to Hitler's, the Committee, and the quality people associated with them,
were ecstatic over the possibilities. If a merger was concluded, the main office of the combined group
would shortly be shifted to Berlin. All of the locals, along with the Munich group, would be answerable
to Berlin. Hitler, the undisputed best speaker, would most likely be kicked upstairs to become a main
229

speaker for the combined party. The Committee members in Munich would then recapture their
prominent positions. Certain that Hitler would not pass up the chance to find a nationwide audience, the
Committee notified him of their plan.
Hitler was not enthusiastic. A merger called for concessions which would threaten his platform and also
jeopardize his fragile leadership role. He knew that with a merger the "western," as he called it,
democratic concept of debate and compromise would prevail. He would also have to fight his way up
the ranks of an already established pecking order in an attempt to find a place at the top. He had the
perception (which is something he had in abundance)* to know that the academic and quality people
within the combined movement would never let him enter the higher ranks. Like the great "rabble
rousers" of the French and American revolutions (who were used so successfully and then quickly
forgotten), Hitler knew that he would only be used to further the ambitions of "people of quality."
Hitler demanded that all talks of merger be stopped. When the Committee balked, Hitler threatened to
resign. The committee now faced a dilemma. If Hitler resigned and took the party faithful with him,
there would be little to negotiate and they would be right back where they started. All open discussions
of mergers ceased.
In early June Hitler left Munich on an extended trip to Berlin. The anti-Hitler fraction saw their chance
to cut the "would-be big shot," as they saw it, down to size.*
In the previous year the party had established a local in Augsburg, a town 35 miles NW of Munich.
Some of the "fine" members of the Augsburg local were critical of Hitler and were determined to curb
his influence. Working with the Committee in Munich, they resumed negotiations with the German
Socialists, but this time in secret. The Committee, headed by Drexler (who was "weak and uncertain"
according to Hitler),* empowered the Augsburg local to hold the negotiations on behalf of the party.*
If the merger could be completed in Hitler's absence, he would almost certainly be forced into the
position where his enemies wanted him. By the second week of July, negotiations were well under way.
In Berlin, in the meantime, Hitler was spending his time taking advanced lessons in public speaking,
establishing ties with other rightist groups and raising money. He addressed the prestigious National
Club of industrial figures and upper-class landowners (Junkers) where he tossed about the possibility of
transferring his Party headquarters to Berlin. Hitler, however, did all the talking and the Junkers, "who
had expected to do all the talking," were forced into the demeaning position of having to listen. The
meeting led to nothing.*
Someone in Hitler's inner circle found out about the negotiations in Augsburg and tipped Hitler off.
Smelling a rat, Hitler hurried back to Bavaria. He went straight to Augsburg on July 10, and descended
on the hall where the negotiations were taking place. He found leading representatives of the German
Socialist and his party's Augsburg delegation discussing a prearranged plan which had been worked out
in detail.* By now the German Socialists were negotiating from strength and their aim was no longer a
merger but a complete takeover of Hitler's party.* Their plan basically called for the same conditions
that Hitler expected from groups which joined his party. Hitler's National Socialist program as well as
230

the party name was to be abandoned and all members and locals were to accept the name and program
of the German Socialists.
After arguing for hours against the proposed plan, Hitler found that the "official representatives of the
Party who were present not only did not support me, but on the contrary continued the negotiations."
Unable to accomplish anything in Augsburg, Hitler departed for Munich.
(One asterisk is for a footnote, two asterisks are for additional information.)

18: Der Fuhrer

Hitler arrived home the next day and immediately confronted the Committee which, during his
absence, had gained some self-assurance. They not only refused to listen to Hitler but called on him to
justify his single-minded past actions.* Confronted by six incompetents--who, if not for him, would
still be toting their treasury around in a cigar box – Hitler promptly resigned from the party.
Because Hitler was capable of taking most of the party members with him, the Committee lost its
negotiating strength and the talks with the German Socialists stalled. Worried that they might lose
everything, the Committee quickly lost their new found self-assurance and sent an emissary to find out
what Hitler's conditions were for returning to the party.
Three days later, in a lengthy written statement, Hitler accused the Committee of a lack of leadership
and summarized his conditions. He demanded the immediate resignation of the Committee from their
"offices" and the expulsion of all "foreign elements," especially the Augsburg group from the Party.*
He insisted that any talk of altering the party program be stopped, and any one supporting such a
measure in the future be purged from the party. "Concessions on our part," Hitler wrote, "are totally out
of the question."* He demanded that there be no more talk of mergers in the future but only
"annexations" of other groups.
231

The main point of Hitler's letter however, was a "demand" for complete power. He insisted on the sole
right to make all future decisions and appointments within the party and without mincing words wrote:
"I demand the position of First Chairman with dictatorial authority."*
"I make these demands," Hitler wrote, "not because I am power hungry, but because recent events have
more than convinced me that without an iron leadership, the party...will within a short time cease to be
what it was supposed to be: a national socialist German Workers Party and not a western association."*
He therefore called for a special meeting of all party members where a majority vote would give him
the powers he wanted.
The Committee, fearful of being ousted and replaced by Hitler's inner circle, refused to call a special
meeting. Instead, the very next day they wrote Hitler an intentionally submissive letter which was
leaked to the general membership. Their hope was to turn the general membership against Hitler by
making themselves look rational and giving. In part the letter read: "The committee is prepared--in
acknowledgment of your tremendous knowledge, your singular dedication and selfless service to the
Movement, and your rare oratorical gift--to concede to you dictatorial powers, and will be most
delighted if after your reentry you will take over the position of First Chairman, which Drexler long
ago and repeatedly offered you."* The letter then goes on to make it appear that Hitler wanted to purge
Drexler, the founder of the party, from the movement and continues: "If you should consider it
desirable to have him [Drexler] completely excluded from the Movement, the next annual meeting
would have to be consulted on that matter."*
The committee's answer to Hitler was little more than an attempt to make him appear unreasonable,
power hungry, and irrational. About the only thing the Committee was really sincere about was not
calling up a special meeting. The "annual meeting" was not to be held for six months. The Committee's
only goal was an attempt to silence Hitler so they could conclude the stalled merger.
The Committee persuaded Dietrich Eckart, Hitler's closest friend, to act as moderator* but Hitler would
not compromise. He had made up his mind to take the party in a direction that the Committee and the
fine people in the movement would never understand, yet alone approve. Hitler knew that men like
Drexler and his circle lacked the temperament and courage to embark on a new course. Hitler
accurately saw that millions of Germans, from the Right and the Left, were becoming disillusioned
with the "bourgeois-romantic sectarian groups" with their western styled "pseudo-democratic"
organizations.* He was determined to "cash in on the trend of the times toward a 'strong man''' who
could reshape the "shattered postwar world by a 'dictatorship of order.'"*
Hitler's thinking (which would later be exposed in Mein Kanpf) was dominated by the class theme
again. He believed that most "ordinary people" could be productive and law abiding citizens. But, the
intellectuals and other malcontents, for their own gains, were leading the people into "decadence,
idleness and selfishness." He also knew that the interest of the working class was not that of the upper
class and he sought to curb "upper class government." To achieve that goal he was determine to unite
232

the working masses and the lower middle class (which together could check the power of "quality
people").
The common thread that drew the masses and the lower middle class together was their service in the
trenches. Hitler knew these men were looking for a leader to point them in the right direction. He knew
that Drexler and his circle were unable to understand the passions of the ex-soldier and even looked on
him as a "stranger."* Drexler, Hitler felt, had never been a soldier, "even during the war," and like the
other founders of the party lacked the necessary qualities, as he wrote, "to stir up an ardent and
indomitable faith in the ultimate triumph of the movement and to brush aside, with obstinate force and
if necessary with brutal ruthlessness, all obstacles that stood in the path of the new idea. Such a task
could be carried out only by men who had been trained, body and soul, in those military virtues which
make a man, so to speak, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel." On the other
hand, Hitler wrote of himself: "Physically and mentally I had the polish of six years of service....I had
forgotten such phrases as: 'That will not go', or 'That is not possible', or 'We ought not to take such a
risk; it is too dangerous.'"*
By the 16th of July, Hitler was pressing hard for the special meeting of the membership but the
Committee kept stalling. It soon became apparent why. Thousand of leaflets were circulated about
Munich attacking Hitler.* A leaflet, titled "Adolf Hitler. Traitor," a concoction of fact and fancy,* was
clearly an attempt to turn the membership against him.
The leaflet defended the Committee and accused Hitler of using the party "as a springboard for his own
immoral purposes."* It stated that when questioned about his background Hitler "became agitated and
flew into a rage."* It accused him of being a secret supporter of the monarchy. It claimed that he
associated with "criminal elements"-- namely Hermann Esser.* It implied that he was embezzling
party funds to spend on his "excessive relations with ladies." It claimed that when it came to women,
Hitler referred to himself as the "King of Munich."*
The leaflet also accused Hitler of "personal ambition and a lust for power" who was "relying only on
his gift as a speaker."* Hitler, the leaflet charged, "believes the time has come to introduce disunity and
dissension into our ranks at the behest of his shady backers...and thus to promote the interest of Jewry
and its henchmen....And how is he conducting this struggle? Like a real Jew."*
The insinuation that Hitler might be working for the Jews, or even be Jewish, was the standard practice
of moderate and rightist elements, including the fine ones, for casting doubt on their rivals. It would be
the first time, of many, that Hitler's political enemies would use the big lie in an attempt to discredit
him. That Hitler's enemies could make such statements was because Hitler's attacks against the Jews, at
the time, were not extraordinary. He held most of the traditional anti-Semitic ideas and conceptions of
the German and Austrian Pan-Germans,* and other European nationalists. Hitler, however, knew that
a movement could not be built on racial issues alone and his anti-Jewish rhetoric ebbed and flowed in
relation to current events. As an example, when anti-Jewish sentiment reached a peak after the
publication of the Protocols, Hitler hopped on the bandwagon; but, once the Protocols were exposed as
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a hoax (even though he refused to believe it), he concentrated for the most part, on attacks against "the
Jewish millionaire"* and "Jewish international stock exchange capital."* Such a theme found a ready
audience throughout Europe and was used by a wide range of political thinkers – Even Jewish Marxists
(Socialists and Communists) sought the destruction of "Jewish Millionaires" and "Capital." Attacks
against rich Jews did not automatically eliminate one from being accused of being a tool of the Jews, or
a Jew. (So called "anti-Semitic Jews," labeled even by Jews, had been around for decades.) That Hitler
was pursuing a revolutionary course and beginning to go after the masses added validity to the charge.
The leaflet was the first in a series of rumors (that persisted throughout the 1920s and into the 30s) that
Hitler was a Jew and/or Communist working for the Jews.
The rumor of "Hitler's Jewish descent" quickly spread though Munich that July.* Hitler was outraged
and took a bold and unauthorized move. Without party sanction, posters appeared announcing a
meeting of "NATIONAL SOCIALISTS, MANUAL AND WHITE COLLAR WORKERS" at the
Crown Circus.*
Though Hitler continued to use the typical "stock of antisemitic catchphrases,"* never before had a
Hitler poster struck out so hard against the Jews. "Like a giant spider," read the first line of text, "the
Jewish international world stock exchange capital creeps over the peoples of this earth, gradually
sucking their marrow and blood." The poster then suggests that 300 Jews, "who know one another,
dominate the world." Hitler then warns that an "inexorable war of destruction against our people has
already set in,"* and uses the fighting in Upper Silesia between Germans and Poles to prove his point.
He then scolds the German people for their lack of concern. He charges that they are being misled by
"thousands and thousands" of Jewish agents who "are untiringly active in the press and in political
parties."* To exemplify his charges he points to a recent happening in Hungary where the new
government (sensitized by what occurred under Bela Kun and his "Jewish Mafia") was taking harsh
measures:
If the Hungarian government hangs ten Jewish stock exchange profiteers,
whose money is sticky with the blood and the sweat of hundreds of thousands
of honest people, we protest, we cry about pogroms and we demand the boycott
of an entire State. In this way one has made fools of our people.*

Hitler proclaims that while the German people's attention is directed toward such events, "Germany's
merciless oppressors" were tearing the country apart. He denounces the present republic form of
government and the men behind it for the deteriorating state of the nation. He then states that the
National Socialist Party is the "only" true anti-republican movement and the nation needs to follow its
"iron-like" principles.
After giving a hint of the infighting within the movement, he calls on those who are opposed to
republican principles to attend the meeting as a show of support for his ideas. "To harden the principles
of the movement from which alone we hope for the resurrection of the German people."*
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Angered over the charges against him, Hitler used his poster to show that he was not a Jew or working
for the Jews. In addition, by attacking democratic principles he hoped to show the anti-Hitler faction
that many people supported his philosophy. Hitler knew that if his poster attracted a large enough
audience his position would be greatly enhanced. On the other hand, if he failed to attract a large crowd
he would look like a fool and his chances of ousting Drexler and his circle from their leading positions
would never succeed. Calling such a meeting was a great gamble.
Hitler however, possessed the gambler's instinct to know when to play his hand. He had not given a
speech in Munich for nearly two months and undoubtedly knew that thousands of admirers, and
opponents, wished to know what he had to say. By the time the meeting got under way on Wednesday,
July 20, 1921, at 9 pm, over 6000 people had paid a mark to hear him speak.
Many of the people who attended Hitler meetings had served in the army or had loved ones who did.
They were resentful of the contempt shown the men who fought in the war and also the path the Berlin
government had embarked on. Under democracy they had seen the values they believed in as well as
their economic condition deteriorate. They had seen their country reduced from one of the greatest
powers in the world to one where hunger and chaos reigned. They attended Hitler's meetings because
he addressed issues they believed in. Other people attended out of curiosity, concern, or because they
saw the beginning of a new political force. Whatever their reasons, most people came under the spell of
Hitler's oratorical gifts and encouraged others to attend. One man, who was encouraged to attend a
Hitler speech, would later give an analogy of a friend's impression of Hitler:
Hitler puts signs up saying 'No entry to Jews,' but he is most persuasive with his
audience about German honor and rights for workers and a new society.... I
have the impression he's going to play a big part and whether you like him or
not he certainly knows what he wants. He says the people in Berlin will never
unite the nation the way they are going on at the moment. The first thing he
wants to do is to get the Red rabble off the streets and the youngsters away from
the street corners, instill some sort of order and discipline into them again and
restore a measure of self-respect into the army and the people who fought in the
war. He really seems to have a sense of direction which none of the others
have.*

Much of Hitler's appeal as a speaker lay in his choice of words. Every generation develops is own
phrases and catchwords and since most of his audience served or had loved ones in the war, Hitler
adapted the casual camaraderie of the trenches. He never talked down to his audience and never used
words they were unfamiliar with. He seldom used slang, except for effect, but his speeches continued to
be peppered with trench jargon and vulgarity. He could express his audiences feelings and thoughts in
the same words they would have used if they were capable of formulating such views.*
Hitler's greatest appeal however, was that he had no need for a prepared speech because, unlike most
politicians, he seldom said anything that he did not absolutely believe in. As one historian noted: "He
meant what he said, he lived up to his ideals, he practiced what he preached."* He did use notes to jog
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his memory and keep the continuity of his speeches flowing, but he was always able to engage his
listeners. A good speaker, Hitler wrote:
is able to read from the expressions of his listeners, firstly, whether they
understand what he speaks, secondly, whether they are able to follow what has
been said, and thirdly, in how far he has convinced them of the correctness of
what has been said. If he sees – firstly – that they do not understand him, then
he will become so primitive and clear in his explanation that even the least
intelligent is bound to understand him, if he feels – secondly – that they are not
able to follow him, then he will build up his ideas so carefully and slowly that
even the weakest among them all does not remain behind any longer, and –
thirdly – as soon as he guesses that they do not seem to be convinced of the
correctness of what he has said he will repeat this so often and in so many new
examples, he himself will bring in their objections which he feels although they
have not been uttered, and he will refute them and disperse them till finally
even the last group of an opposition, merely by its attitude and its expressions,
lets him recognize its capitulation in the face of his argumentation.*

Hitler was often amused by "bourgeois intellectuals" who attended his meetings and later criticized the
contents of his speeches for their crudeness, simplicity, or lack of rationale. Hitler accurately saw that
when dealing with the masses one had to overcome their preconceived or instilled prejudices
("subconscious feeling") which could not be overcome by "reason." He scorned the uselessness and
stupidity of "those bourgeois simpletons"* who, once out of their class, had no idea of the way other
people thought.
There were also quality people in the party who opposed Hitler's style and thought he should speak on
a higher level, but Hitler knew that most people would be bored to death by such "shit"-- as he referred
to it. He understood that the objective of a political speech at a mass meeting was not for the
"amusement of people who are already disposed towards" ones ideas but the "winning of the
enemies."* Hitler saw, like a religious preacher, that there are basically only two methods of
"proselytizing." One is to evangelize the general masses and then work upward. The other is to aim at
the elite, or even powerful individuals at the top, and then work down with authority or force. Since
the intellectual and privileged classes of any nation make up a very small part of the population,
Hitler's speeches were never directed toward them in the hope that the "other classes" would be
dragged along. Hitler spoke to the crowd knowing that sooner or later the privileged class would be
dragged along. (And in the end, they were.)
To attract more of the crowd, the atmosphere at Hitler's meetings had evolved and taken on a natural
and easy style. There were very few formalities and the halls began to be decked out with swastika
flags and banners. Small amateur bands were formed which livened up the place and lead the audience
in singing folk and patriotic songs before and after a Hitler speech. Congenial as the atmosphere was
however, everyone knew it was a serious affair.
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Hitler, like the communists he studied, placed great emphasis on the mass meeting. He knew that the
average person is normally fearful of voicing their own opinion in the company of "higher-ups," or they
believed the propaganda of higher-ups (which is normally fed to them in the form of "news"). At a
mass meeting, Hitler noted, the audience could see "thousands and thousands of people with the same
conviction" they held. At that point he wrote, they began to doubt the "truth" of their previous
convictions and each "succumbs to the magic influence of what we call mass suggestion....the force of
thousands accumulates in every individual."*
During these early years, Hitler normally stood off to the side of the speaking platform with friends
until the preliminaries were over. After an initial introduction he would straighten up, and with a swift
controlled step, walk over and quickly mount the platform. With the poise of the unmistakable soldier*
he appeared to stand at attention* until the last remnant of applause had died away. He would stand
momentarily gazing out over the audience, studying its makeup, demeanor, and temper. He knew that
many of the people present did not share his opinions and that he had only "two hours to lift [them]," as
he saw it, "out of their previous convictions, to smash blow by blow the foundations of their previous
opinions and finally lead them over to the soil of our convictions and of our view of life."*
He would start his speech hesitantly, quietly, making everyone strain to listen. To quickly silence the
scattering of opponents who had come to interrupt or heckle, Hitler had found a way to "snatch away,"
as he put it, their cries of opposition. He had learned to open with themes that nearly no German could
disagree with. He would sometimes begin his speech by softly describing the difficulties of the average
housewife in procuring food or pointing out other domestic problems that affected her home.* Since
distinguished politicians seldom address such unsophisticated issues, Hitler would often find his first
body of support among the wives, sweethearts and sisters of opponents. He would sometimes break the
ice with the men by depicting the poverty that honest artisans and workers found themselves in, or he
would refer to the rising inflation that was crippling them all. Since even Communist opponents could
find little to criticize, many who had come to disrupt the meeting began to listen.*
Hitler's opening remarks were not only meant to get his audience on his side but to show them how
much they had in common. Nothing troubled Hitler more then the class divisions that existed. He knew
that even the small businessman and shop owner considered themselves a "better class" than the
general worker. Through his speeches, Hitler attempted to break down the class consciousness of his
audience and make them think as "brothers and sisters." Nearly all of his opening themes achieved their
purpose but his favorite, and most effective opening was Germany history.*
With the overthrow of the monarchy, the new middle-class order had installed their own "historians in
residence." Old German history was being altered or discarded. Hitler understood that a people without
a common history are little more than a mob. In his "brilliantly formulated" speeches,* he used the old
history to instill a feeling of longing in his audience. One observer would later refer to the beginning of
a Hitler speech as a "kind of historical lecture."* One sentence that usually occurred in the early part of
all his speeches was: "When we ask ourselves today what is happening in the world, we are obliged to
237

cast our minds back to..."* Although nearly all history reflects the concepts of the upper-classes (which
can loom very weary to the average person), Hitler would portray it in a manner that appealed to the
average man. Whatever period of the past he used, he described it in glowing and nostalgic terms which
inevitably lead up to the war and the gloom of Germany's "lost honor." Because most of his audience
still harbored the feelings that led them off to war eight years before, and still felt the pain of defeat and
what they saw as "Allied betrayal," Hitler was able to connect with them.
With the audience under his control and feeling out their mood, he would find the right tone, the right
note. He knew that a two hour continuous speech by one person could become boring so he had learned
to interject anecdotes and humor into his speeches. He used irony people never hear matched. Using his
abilities of mimicking, he would also impersonate imaginary opponents, interrupting himself with
counter-arguments or questions which his opponents held. After completely annihilating his supposed
adversaries he would return to his original line of thought.* The questions not only added richness to
Hitler's performance but normally cut off the last hope of his adversaries to heckle or interrupt. After
two years of speaking, Hitler would later write, "I was master of this craft."*
The gestures Hitler employed were as varied and flexible as his speaking. They were not, as with most
politicians, stereotyped uncoordinated movements of body and hands to make the speaker seem
potent.* Hitler's hand and body movements were a reflection of his true feelings. On the stage he
radiated passion, strength, and especially sincerity. One observer, who had lived in the United States,
compared him to former president Theodore Roosevelt who also had "vigor and courage, a vitality and
familiarity with all manner of men, with a direct style of action and utterance, which had endeared him
to plain folk."* (T. Roosevelt, president of the US (1901-9) was mistrusted by liberals and feared by
conservatives; yet, he won one of the biggest election landslide ever.)
After a while Hitler's voice would rise and his hands would move. As his intensity increased his body
would stiffen as his arm swept the area before him. The speech would gather pace, assurance,
momentum. His words came faster and faster. Cocking his head, with eyes ablaze, he would stare into
the audience while hammering home his beliefs. When he felt his audience was ready, which Hitler
acknowledged was the hardest part to determine,* he would strike out against Germany's enemies in a
sharp and fierce denunciation. Using a combination of envy, rage and hate, delivered with eloquence
and vulgarity,* he gave expression and direction to primal passions.* He would then work the
audience up to fever pitch. His body would be "fuming and flailing."* His hand would clutch his heart,
move upward with widespread fingers, pierce the air, tremble, and then the whole arm would come
thrusting down before him. He would depict a downtrodden Germany with enemies all around her and
Communists, Socialists and Liberals tearing the country apart from within. His words would come
thundering down upon the audience, overwhelming, subduing, and overcoming all resistance.* Words,
sentences, emotions, tumbled over one another leaving spectators awed. He would attack the ruling
classes for giving in to the Allies, their class prejudices and their economic system, to the applause of
the Left.* He would then attack those who were prepared to destroy Germany's old morals and
traditions, to applause from the Right.* He stormed against anyone for desiring the disruption of
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German tradition. "All these enemies of the people," he declared, "would one day be beseitigt –
literally 'removed' or 'done away with.'"* His speeches were filled with words like "smash," "fight,"
"crush," and "hate."
"The day will soon come when the people, the Volk, rises up against the despoilers of Germany," Hitler
would cry, "When sixty million people have the one single will to act together in a fanatically
nationalist way [they will not need weapons]--the weapons will well up out of their fists...!"*
One listener stated: "His words were like a scourge. When he spoke of the disgrace of Germany, I was
ready to spring on any enemy....The intense will of the man, the passion of his sincerity, seemed to flow
from him to me....he was the man of destiny....I had given him my soul."*
Another witness stated that Hitler made him see "Germany trodden in the mud, Its weak government,
the nation surrounded by foes bristling with weapons and ready to hurl themselves on us afresh, the
people led astray by maundering about peace and the criminal policy of... [Allied demands]."*
Suddenly Hitler would stop. Sometimes, when the emotional level was high, he would just stand there,
sometimes for minutes, and stare into the audience. The chatter of voices and human movement would
have long since ceased under his spell. People sat transfixed, expectant, hypnotized. They stared at
Hitler, one man noted, "with wide-open distorted mouths....others, pale desperate, hollow-
eyed....others...quivered with emotion."* One observer noticed others who appeared in a state of
"devotional ecstasy."*
By now perspiration would be running down Hitler's face and his hair would be plastered to his
forehead. His collar (normally fastened with an imitation gold pin)* was visibly soaked. "Whenever I
have to make a speech of great importance I am always soaking wet at the end," Hitler would later say.
"The only thing that always worried me was the fact that my only [suit] was a blue one, and it
invariably stained my underclothes!" (Hitler dressed-down to get the lower class, then dressed-up to
get the middle class.) Sometimes a large mug of beer would be passed up to him and after wiping the
perspiration from his face he would take a deep gulp. "Local custom," Hitler stated, "'insists' on it."* It
supplied a touch that all "malt-minded Munichers" could relate to.*
Hitler would resume again and reach levels of passion never before witnessed by spectators. He created
grand visions of the future and offered assurances of "Germany's future greatness." His sincerity was
unmistakable and he would carry the people with him. He fed their emotions, their desires* and he
fused the people into a single mass.* Finally he would reach a pitch of almost uncontrollable emotion.
"The last eight to ten minutes of a speech resembled an orgasm of words."* He made people believe in
themselves and their heritage. He appeared the personification of a mythical hero leader.* For the sake
of national survival he would destroy "Jewish-Marxism" and "democratic liberalism." He would then
unify "all breeds of Germans"* and restore order and prosperity. All they had to do was follow him and
he would lead them to the promised land.
239

By the time Hitler left the platform he had everyone agreeing with everything he said.* Police reports
from the time are riddled with, "long raging cheers" and "thunderous applause." Onlookers reported
"enthusiastic applause," and "frenzied cheering, hand clapping." Ernst Hanfstaengl, educated at
Harvard, aristocratic, and from a rich family of art dealers came away, "really impressed beyond
measure."* Otto Strasser noted that Hitler liberates "the mass unconscious, expressing its innermost
aspirations, telling it what it most wants to hear."*
Critics also fell under Hitler's spell and described his speeches as "intoxicating" and "overwhelming."
Even those who hated him were captivated. William Shirer wrote in his diary: "Hitler's voice 'sounds'
tremendously sincere and convincing." Konrad Heiden (whose mother was Jewish) stated: "In this
unlikely looking creature...there dwelt a miracle: his voice."* Heiden heard Hitler speak many times
and wrote:
This miserable human nothing could think only in public terms, feel only the
feelings of the mass, and when the nothing spoke with the people, it was as
though the voice of the people were speaking....One scarcely need ask with
what arts he conquered the masses; he did not conquer them, he portrayed and
represented them. His speeches are day-dreams of this mass soul; they are
chaotic, full of contradictions, if their words are taken literally, often senseless,
as dreams are, and yet charged with deeper meaning.

Vulgar vilification, flat jokes alternate with ringing, sometimes exalted, phrases.
The speeches began always with deep pessimism and end in overjoyed
redemption, a triumphant happy ending; often they can be refuted by reason,
but they follow the far mightier logic of the subconscious, which no refutation
can touch.*

Many times a Hitler speech still had its affect long after Hitler had left the platform. The audience
would file out of the meeting halls and carry the emotion with them into the streets. Columns would
form and march through Munich singing patriotic songs.
Before the meeting ended on the 20th of July in the Circus, Hitler viciously attacked the Berlin
government. He accused the politicians, "those swindlers and time-servers,"* of allowing Germany to
be exploited by "Jewish-Allied interest." He also lashed out against the anti-Hitler faction which wrote
the pamphlet condemning him. What disturbed him most was the charge that he was a Jew working
secretly for the Jews.* He had little trouble convincing the audience of his "honor." Although the
rumors of Hitler's "Jewish descent" refused to go away,* the meeting was a brilliant success. He had
shown Drexler and the Committee where the only strength of the party lay.
Over the next few days Hitler pressed the Committee hard to call a special meeting where his demands
would be met. Because of the rumors started by the pamphlet, he also demanded a public apology from
the anti-Hitler faction. When the Committee balked, Hitler himself called for a meeting of the
membership.
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Drexler, sensing that his days were numbered, went to the Munich police to complain that Hitler had no
right to call such a meeting. In attempting to gain sympathy he pointed out that he and his circle were
attempting to carry out party aims by "legal, parliamentary procedures," while Hitler and his circle
were "aiming at revolution and violence."* The police refused to get involved since it was an inner
party matter. Knowing that Hitler's request for "papal" powers would probably be accepted by the rank
and file, Drexler began to weaken. Over the next few days negotiations were carried out and little by
little Drexler and the rest of the anti-Hitler faction caved in.*
During the afternoon of Friday, July 29, 1921 the special meeting finally took place in the hall at the
Sterneckerbrau above the party office.* Since Friday was a working day, only 544 party members were
present but Hitler was greeted with applause that would not stop.* Hitler's version of the party
infighting was so masterful he swung nearly everyone over to his side. He then stated his goals which
included the annexation of other parties and not their destruction. His most poignant statement left little
doubt as to what he intended to accomplish:
We will proceed ruthlessly. The salvation of Germany can be brought about
only by Germans, not by parliament, but by revolution.*

When the vote was taken 543 members voted to give Hitler dictatorial powers. Only one person (a
librarian) voted against him. Few parties ever gave its leader the powers that the Nazi Party gave Adolf
Hitler, and they would continue to elect him every year (as original party statutes specified) till he
became ruler of all Germany.* Drexler was kicked upstairs to become "honorary chairman for life" and
Hitler's inner circle took over all major posts. As in the Church, Hitler had attended as a boy, a "party
papacy" began to take shape.*
On the evening of the same day, another mass meeting was held at the Circus Krone. For the first time
ever, Hitler was introduced as the Fuhrer.* The next day Hitler wrote a letter to one of his
acquaintances and for the first time confidently signed it: "der Fuhrer..."
241

AFTERWARD

Not long after Hitler became Fuhrer of the party, his


activity diminished and Eckart introduced him to the
lovely village of Berchtesgaden (left) nestled in the
Bavarian Alps. Located near the Austrian border and
only a two hour train ride south-east of Munich,
Berchtesgaden was a small farming, mining and
resort community. Since about 1850 the area had been
one of the summer stomping grounds for Germany's
royalty and high society. Since WWI it had fallen on
leaner times. Under the influence of Eckart, Hitler
adapted the custom of spending weekends, holidays,
and vacations at the mountain retreat. Hitler stayed with Eckart in a house, called the Sonnenhauesl, or
as Hitler called it, the "Sonnenkopfl," at Lockstein.*
About a year after his introduction to Berchtesgaden, Hitler and a friend made a two mile hike up to
Obersalzberg (High-salt-mountain). Dotted with a few small farms and summer guest-houses, the area
offered some of the most spectacular scenic views of the German and Austrian Alps. Hitler described
the region as "a countryside of indescribable beauty."* He soon began spending most of his free time
there and normally took a room at the Pension Moritz.* There (after a stint in Landsberg prison for his
attempted coup on Nov. 9, 1923), he would finish the first volume of Mein Kampf. A short walk below
the Moritz was the Turken Inn (named after an innkeeper who fought the Turks) where Hitler and his
friends enjoyed the "genuine goulash"* and often lingered in one of the small public rooms lost in
conversation. It no doubt impressed Hitler to learn that the Moritz and Turken had once been the
242

meeting places of such dignitaries as Prince-Regent Luitpold of Bavaria, the composer Johannes
Brahms and even Crown prince Wilhelm of Prussia.*
Hitler and his friends soon adopted the old habit of the late 19th century gentry and, weather
permitting, donned leisure clothes and took up hiking for entertainment and exercise. On one occasion
Hitler and Eckart were hiking up the higher reaches of Hoher Goll mountain and got caught in a storm.
They took shelter at the Purtscheller hut (today the Purtscheller haus). The wind was so fierce, Hitler
later recalled, "we thought the hut was about to fly away."*
Not long after, a new owner took over the Moritz and Hitler became dissatisfied with the service. A
stones t