Many strange, contradictory and often largely unsubstantiated rumours have arisen about Hitler, both in life and death. Of course many of these are little more than propaganda created by his enemies, in seeking to discredit him as a volatile madman.
Frequently these supposed ‘Hitler facts’ involve lewd allusions to his sexuality, issues of health and hypochondria, and not least his tenuous relationship with religion.
A particular favourite amongst mythologists is his alleged dearth of certain reproductive organs; this, however, would appear to owe more to the derogatory wartime songs of Allied soldiers than any firm evidence.
Another popular myth surrounding Hitler is his association with the occult and black magic, a subject addressed at length in a plethora of publications, many of which cite his fascination with ‘the Holy Lance’.
Both his time as a struggling artist in Vienna, and his encounters with Jews earlier in life, provoke considerable intrigue, as commentators seek to gauge the extent that these experiences shaped the thoughts of the future fascist dictator. Many, for example, have drawn attention to his Jewish heritage (his great-great-grandmother was a Jewish maid).
Military History Monthly has trawled through the wilderness, seeking to separate fact from fiction. We have selected a few of the more likely, yet equally beguiling, facts regarding the complex, tyrannical dictator.
1. Inspiration from cheerleaders
The Nazi rallying call, “Sieg Heil!” was inspired by American football cheerleading techniques, supposedly imported by his friend Ernst Hanfstaengl, who studied at Harvard. Hanfstaengl was so impressed by the rousing qualities and camaraderie inherent at American sporting events, that he passed this on to Hitler, who would in turn seek to emulate the atmosphere at his rallies.
2. The vegetarian dictator
Vegetarianism would not be typically associated with a man known for merciless killing on such a vast scale. However, Hitler’s dietary disposition did not stem for moral implications. Supposedly, Hilter made the decision to become vegetarian following the autopsy of former girlfriend (and niece) Geli, who committed suicide by shooting herself in the heart.
Incidentally, she was not the only women in his life to attempt suicide, in another bizarre association with Hitler: The British born Unity Mitford shot herself in the head upon the announcement of war, and of course, Eva Braun (who had earlier attempted suicide, following the Fuhrer’s neglect of his mistress) famously killed herself along with Hitler in his Berlin Bunker, once defeat was imminent.
3. The Swastika
For roughly six months during his childhood, Hitler’s family lived in the vicinity of a large Benedictine monastery. Its coat of arms was adorned with a prominent swastika – a possible inspiration in later life.
In fact, it is widely known that the swastika symbol has been used for thousands of years, in various incarnations. Dating back to the Bronze Age, it has been been a staple in cultures from India to Scandinavia, before finally being claimed by the Nazi cause in the twentieth century.
The name itself comes from the Sanskrit, combing su (‘good’) and asti (‘to be’), meaning ‘good luck’. The symbol was used by the British in WWI, adorning coupons and stamps of the British Saving Scheme.
4. Avoiding military service
Before the outbreak of World War I, in May 1913, the future dictator actually fled Vienna for Munich, seemingly in attempt to avoid military service. He was arrested in January of the following year, facing a fine and a year’s imprisonment if found guilty of seeking to circumvent enlistment.
Having studied Hitler’s handwriting in 1937, the psychologist Carl Jung concluded that “Behind this handwriting I recognise the typical characteristics of a man with essentially feminine instinct.”
6. Man of the Year
On 2nd January 1939, Hitler was declared Time Magazine’s ‘Man of the Year 1938’. However, far from a celebration of the man, Time noted that “Hitler became in 1938 the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.” The article continues: “The man most responsible for this world tragedy is a moody, brooding, un-prepossessing, 49-year-old Austria born ascetic with a Charly Chaplin mustache [sic].”
7. The Moustache
Hitler was advised to lose his trademark moustache by Dr Sedgwick, his press secretary, in 1923. Hitler’s steadfast response was that “If it is not the fashion now, it will be later because I wear it!”
Much discrepancy has arisen over the true origin of Hitler’s infamous moustache. His love of Charlie Chaplin is often cited as the chief inspiration. His contemporary Moritz Frey, however, claimed it derived from a more practical consideration, harking back to his time as a soldier during the Great War – an order from a superior officer to trim his whiskers to accommodate the regulation gas mask.
Nevertheless, the short, stubby style was fairly popular in the region of Austria where Hitler grew up. Others suggest it acted predominantly as a visual aide, in creating the instantly-recognisable larger than life persona; the ‘toothbrush’ has certainly become synonymous with oppression and fascism, even over half a century later. In 2010, a British comedian created a stage show specifically to raise the issue of its symbolic potency juxtaposed with its slapstick origins, seeking to claim it back for comedy.
8. Hitler the Prankster
Allegedly, Hitler was a serial prankster, often playing jokes on his ministers and generals. This would backfire on him tremendously, when a stunt on Hanfstaengl (who believed he was being set up for a suicide mission, whilst headed to Spain on a plane full of Gestapo men), let him to escape to Switzerland. He would then seek refuge with the Allies, revealing vital information on his former friend and leader.
9. Sweet Tooth
Hitler had an incredibly sweet tooth, eating up to two pounds of chocolate per day, and even adding sugar to red wine before consuming it.
10. Very superstitious?
The superstitions of great dictators often rouse much interest. A secret profile compiled by the OSS in 1942 found that Hitler would never remove his coat in public, however hot he may have been. Whether this stemmed from a particular superstition, or simply his greater mission to maintain his ordered, authoritative presence remains to be substantiated.
See our other fact-files
What you didn’t know about Churchill
History is written only by the winner, of course, so you can bet that most of this is baloney or hearsay. Go read Mein Kampf and get it straight from the horses mouth.
A very interesting statement…you’ve implied. I very much find this article quite ironic.
Exactly. Learn how to be good by looking at the worst…
so your saying that his biography are facts. Really its thought processes such as yours that reflect our continued battle with human insecurities..
Well said my friend
Yes because none of mein kampf is nonsense is it?
this makes me know about hitler
I love this to pieces! The only thing I’m a little skeptical on the the red wine part because with further research I have found that Hitler swore not to drink alcoholic beverages after an incident early in his life. It could be that he’d only drink sweetened drinks or that he only abstained himself from hard liquor, but still it doesn’t keep me from liking this article all the more!
it was sweet because he added sugar and wine isn’t that alcoholic it is the least alcoholic of all alcohol beverages
Wine is the least alcoholic of all alcoholic beverages??? lol!!
Of course it is low in alcohol because Hitler being such a quality human that he would never put hard liquor or drugs in his his body. That temple of humanity who….. What killed millions for no other reason than the man fricking hated himself and made the world pay…
Wine can have as much alcohol in it as any other alcoholic drink – beer, vodka, whisk(e)y etc., etc. Have you tried non alcoholic (alcohol free) wine recently?
@mona you are so right! the germans loved hitler, he did alot of good for germany. ie rebuild the country, make jobs, made patriotism very strong. although what he did was awful. BUT if people had power to stop him, why didnt they stop him?
Because they didn’t have the power to stop him…
You seem to forget that 70 million people died in WWII – 35 million Russians – 2.5 Million Germans, and don’t forget the 6 million Jews – My Mother-In-Law grew up in Nazi germany and has some interesting stories to tell. The main thing is that NO one was allowed to criticize Hitler – if you did you disappeared – !
The German people loved Hitler ?? No they feared the man. People c/mon some of you seem to admire or in some way respect Hitler. Very few if any human in history has proven to be as evil and inherently despicable as that man..
They can say what they like about Hitler. He was a great man with the brush. Forget about your Rembrandt, your Van Gogh, your Manet, your Monet, your Picasso and the
rest of your talentless and
Now Hitler, he was a REAL painter.
Two rooms in one day!! That’s what I call painting!!! Although he did have no sense of perspective and got carried away on occasions.
I mean just look what he did to Czechoslovakia and Poland.
wow I would call Hitler many things but I certainly never had him down as a prankster…
i think he was just extemely offended by the term “Gentile” for those who arent jewish, as well as some of the seemingly descriminatory things that follow suit with it.
if America did,nt get involved in the war he would have taken Europe and England. but he underestimated stalins Russia … what do you think.?
His great-great grandmother was not Jewish.
My opinion… I am glad that he is dead…
Hitler wanted to serve in the Imperial German Army, and not the Austro-Hungarian army. He made a personal appeal to a prince in Bavaria.
Hitler was Austrian and a draft dodger. Since when do draft dodgers get to choose what army they want to join?
Hitler was not the first to want the elimination of the Jewish race. The Romans wanted the elimination of the Jewish race centuries before Hitler.
Hitler was too aggressive. If his would have stayed out of Russia, most likely he would rule most of Europe now, except for England and France, which would have called for America too defend them.
By the way, hard liquor is usually 70 to 80 proof, wine is 15 to 17 proof, and American beer is 5-7 proof.