ADOLF… WORLD STATESMAN… REALLY??
Adolf… from rum coot to world leader…incomprehensible steps.
It is with self disgust that I write about Adolf. But there you are… bit like pornography. One reason is to draw a line. I want to write about Adolf so I don’t have to think about him any more.
Apologies… this is very unacademic… relying on memories. I will edit this but I wanted to get it down quickly.
David Irving, the name you cannot mention if you want to be taken seriously. The problem is that he is a bit of a fuehrer fan, he knows more about Adolf than any man living, so every historian relies heavily on Irving… but cannot admit it.
Irving makes the point that Adolf was a physical person… He was five foot nine, had bad teeth. In later life he had bad breath, he had a bad pasty complexion, he was flatulent. He never took exercise apart from walking his dog. Towards the end of his life, aged 56, he could hardly walk and chairs had to be placed so he could get from one room to another. His memory was unreliable. He shook violently and he had some underlying illness… syphilis or more likely parkinsons. He was insomniac. Addicted to amphetamines and a range of quack medicines to function at all. A hypocondriac he took to remedies that accelerated his decline.
He had had a heart attack and his life expectancy was limited … his suicide accelerated the irreversible process. Towards the end he abandoned restraint and when presented with a dish of sugary cakes he would wolf them down regardless of guests spilling sugar over his clothes. Despite his deterioration , the destruction of his cities and the certainty of defeat he could still summons a commanding presence…
At times he crossed the line into madness. The most astonishing thing about Adolf is that a nation, the most advanced nation in the world put themselves in the hands of this entity who you would not leave in charge of a whelk . And the rise of Adolf was not inevitable, it was extremely evitable. It couldn’t happen. It was impossible. It has the strange feel of a fairy story or a myth gone wrong. Adolf overcame great adversity to bring misery to millions.
Just to make clear I don’t like Adolf. Given the opportunity I would consider it an honour to put him in a rubble bag and hit it with a baseball bat until there were no lumpy bits. Although I regard Adolf as an effectual clown… one of the strange reliefs about reading about Adolf is that he was funny… there are times when you feel a kind of satanic delight at the ease and confidence … the elan with which he devours experienced soldiers, diplomats, politicians… Much of the time Adolf was a rebel against a reactionary rigid elite… There is a delight in seeing this former tramp dispatching the best political minds of Europe without entirely noticing them.
Adolf overcame many obstacles to become for a moment the most powerful man in the world…
The single most puzzling thing… is how did this crazy neurotic with the people skills of a Ryanair Customer Care representative, a man who could guarantee an empty seat next to him on a crowded bus, how did this man the most unlikely person to ever do anything, how did this non-smoking, vegetarian, non-drinking, strange hobo get to be the leader of a party and then a country and then a continent?
Does history have lessons? Don’t get into any vehicle with a member of the Kennedy family. Only one I can think of. There’s that chestnut: those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. Or in the case of Afghanistan repeat it twice. But it seems to me that knowing history makes you more likely to repeat it. What happened was unlikely to have happened. It is common to blame politicians for not seeing it coming which is like blaming a donkey for being struck by lightening. So here goes…
A summary of the reasons Adolf should not be leader of… well anything…
ADOLF THE WEIRD
Aside from the obvious reason: Adolf’s weirdness, there are a number of reasons for his unsuitability.
He only became interested in a career in politics when he was thirty.
His previous experience as a tramp and a corporal were not the usual background for a German politician.
He was not German.
He had no education beyond secondary school.
He was not a member of any elite and Germany was a hierarchical and traditional society.
His career in the Army does not suggest leadership. The German Army was desperate for officers that it overlooked its traditional exclusiveness and combed the ranks for officer material. We do not know why Adolf was overlooked but his strangeness seems the most likely.
There are many memories of Adolf as a soldier including the one that he was a well-known homosexual. Possibly unreliable both admirers and detractors portray him as a solitary, odd and untypical figure. His bemused colleagues saw him explode with fury at the idea of going with a French prostitute.
His friendlessness and isolation make him an unlikely politician. There is as far as I know not a single personal letter of Adolf. He didn’t visit the wounded. He didn’t visit bombed cities. He didn’t have close friends. When a train of wounded soldiers pulled up next to his train Adolf wearily had the blind drawn down.
His friendship with Eva Braun is one-sided. He had little interest in his relatives being out of touch for years. His half-brother Alois worked as a waiter in Liverpool for many years and married an Irish lady. Besides his aloneness Adolf was unusual in that he never engaged in any normal pastime. You will not see him kissing babies or anybody. Or dancing. He didn’t engage in any activity apart from walking his dog. I do not know of a single picture of Adolf that hasn’t been subject to propaganda scrutiny or of any recording of his voice when he is not giving a speech… There is no photograph I know of him laughing.
This inability or refusal to engage with normal life would be a weakness in a conventional politician. Adolf was clumsy and gauche in normal circumstances. Maybe this is what focused his attention on a stylised simplified appearance.
These are some of the reasons that Adolf should not be the leader of a party , or the leader of Germany, or the most powerful man in Europe. These problems make it impossible for Adolf to become the central character in Germany and world history. But the elephant in the room Adolf’s weirdness… his unfathomable strangeness… should have made his impossibility as leader self evident. The notion of Adolf as leader is comical… or it would be if…
CRISIS IN THE GERMAN WORKERS PARTY
Adolf’s rise was based on his oratory. People who heard him were transformed. The German Workers Party was one of many Nationalist groupiscules… it was a drinking and talking club which made zero effort to build a following. The leaders realised that Adolf the speaker could propel their party to prominence… actually a prominence beyond the dreams of a demented fantasist… the German Workers Party was the germ of Nazi Germany and of Europe for a time. The German Workers Party believed that they could use Adolf for their ends… a belief that was to guide subsequent organisations and individuals. Early Adolf’s career was a repeating pattern… people recognised something in him and felt that they could easily use it to further their ends.
Adolf was an unequalled orator and propagandist. The Party grew but there was a crisis. . Members resented Adolf… he was too dictatorial, he was too anti-Semitic… he was too weird. To grasp the significance of this last criticism you have to recall that the GWP included alcoholics, pornographers, gay mercenaries, people who believed that they were living on the inside of a round planet, people who believed that Aryans were in psychic communication with Atlantis and/or Tibet… One critic of Adolf at this time suggested that he was in league with the Jews. To qualify as weird in the German Workers Party implies… something spectacular.
Let us visit early Adolf about this time. He is arriving at a dinner party: “Through the open door I could see him in the hallway politely and almost servilely greeting our hostess, laying aside riding whip, velour hat and trench coat’ finally unbuckling his cartridge belt with revolver attached and hanging it on the clothes hook.” From the same description: “But the protruding watery blue eyes sometimes stared with inflexible hardness.” Adolf was not auditioning for the role of Captain Hook in “Peter Pan,” he was the future most powerful man in Europe. When you’ve stopped banging your head on the wall… You’ve got to ask… How?
Aside from his unusual dress sense what other evidence that Adolf was as loopy as a bag of frogs? There was the incident when he was recovering from gas poisoning. According to Mein Kampf he heard of Germany’s defeat and he went blind. We do not know if this was emotional in origin but it sounds like it.
The most compelling evidence of loopiness is Mein Kampf. In this work, which sold 5 million copies in Germany, Adolf bares his soul… well not so much soul as… broiling mass of strangeness. Mein Kampf is so loopy that one assumes that nobody read it… if they had I do not think that they would have trusted their fate to Adolf. As far as I can tell there are these basic points: the Germans are really the Aryans who are the only creative race on the planet, the Jews are plotting to destroy the Aryans by polluting their racial purity for example by the “negrification” of France or by seducing pure Aryan maidens and polluting the Aryan blood, and finally Germany needs space to the East.
Those Jews use all manner of cunning tricks not least “modern art” which undermines the pure folkish wisdom of the Aryans.
But it doesn’t stop there. Jewish pimps thrive in the cities where the young overexcited by modern films instead of spending their time on military drills seek out prostitutes and the children of these unfortunate relationships contribute to the weakening of the Aryan bloodline. But there is worse… Syphilis… further weakens the Aryan bloodline. Of course the democrats… who are probably in league with etc etc… are feeble in dealing with syphilis which requires strong stern measures etc…
The crafty but subhuman Jews are actually Bolsheviks who are capitalists determined to overthrow the natural racial hierarchy ruled over by the Aryans. Bolsheviks are in league with the capitalists who are, obviously, Jews. And it goes without saying that the Social Democrats and kind of more or less everybody else but Adolf and his Party are in league with the Jews who are really Bolsheviks and Capitalists working together. But they are helped in this endeavour by the press which is really owned by… go on you know… Incidentally and just to put the record straight Jesus was an Aryan and executed by…
Given that Jewish people constituted maybe 1% of the German people you might think: “Jolly well done you Jews you’re certainly punching above your weight…” But Adolf did not take this view. He took the view that the Jewish people were: “vermin.”
Fortunately for mankind the Jewish people had been tumbled. When the rabbis met in a Prague graveyard to plan their takeover of the world their plans were revealed. Comprehensive and cunning were those plans and most of all they were stealthy and secretive so that if something happened… say a factory closed… you might think it was to do with the economy… but there my friend you would be wrong. Ask yourself: who runs the economy…?
Of course the Aryans had a political system tried and tested by the pre-Roman Germanic tribes. Aryans recognise this intuitively because of racial memories written in their blood which the Jews are industriously polluting. The tribe choses a leader and the leader leads. None of this cabinets and parliaments and so on invented etc… to pollute the intuitive Aryan way of doing things. No… one leader ruling by decree. That’s the Aryan way.
And while we’re at it the Aryan people need land so that they can rear their offspring in proper folkish traditions… there’s quite a lot of land to the east of Germany. Of course there are people there but… well they aren’t Aryans so…
This might sound a little harsh but Nature… nature decrees that life is a merciless struggle between creatures where the successful creatures eat the unsuccessful creatures. Its not me Adolf saying this its Nature… And of course some christian types who try to mitigate this are really part of a Jewish plot to weaken the bloodline.
But of course to be realistic Germany… home of the Aryan… had been defeated in the First World War. Well no it hadn’t actually… No what had happened was that the Jews… fearful of a triumphant Germany… had arranged a stab in the back which had caused the defeat of Germany just at the very moment when Germany was about to triumph… They had arranged revolutions and rebellions and strikes and they had spread defeatism… So Germany won the War but was cheated of victory by etc etc.
Adolf greatly admired Allied propaganda and disparaged German Propaganda. Effective propaganda makes the difference between winning and losing. And here is an important point… believing with fanaticism can enable victory. The mistake that scientists make is that they believe that there is an objective world: in reality the world is determined by beliefs and the purpose of propaganda is to promote fanatical belief. Belief, fanatical belief, is creates reality. So Adolf could change the boiling point of water by fanatical belief. Obviously.
At this point you may think I am exaggerating. . Let’s look at Adolf’s own words. I hope you will agree that that if you could subtract Mein Kampf from its historical context and carry a savage editing Mein Kampf would be a comic masterpiece like Diary of a Nobody or Scouting for Boys. Actually more Scouting for Boys.
Here we go…
“If physical beauty were not forced today not forced entirely into the background by our foppish fashions, the seduction of hundreds of thousands of girls by bow-legged repulsive Jewish bastards would not be possible… Systemetically these black parasites of the nation defile our inexperienced young blonde girls and thereby destroy something which can no longer be replaced in this world…”
Or this about syphilis… one of Adolf’s very favourite topics…
“The struggle against syphilis and the prostitution which prepares the way for it is one of the most gigantic tasks of humanity…” You will not be surprised to learn that prostitution managed by Jewish people. By a kind of extended metaphor modern art is a disease which is spread by etc…
Adolf blames education… after school a boy should “harden his young body” by a military drill and physical exercise.
This focus on syphilis, prostitution and the seduction of blonde girls by bow-legged Jewish gentlemen suggests loopiness of an advanced order. There is a scent of sexual deprivation, inadequacy and envy… blonde girls being seduced by Jewish bastards… spot of lip-licking… for god’s sake is there no privacy in this Men’s Hostel?
Adolf was a close acqaintance of Julius Streicher whose paper Der Sturmer featured blonde girls with enormous breasts being ravished by Jewish gentlemen. One imagines that the readers combined outrage with arousal. If only I were a bow-legged Jewish bastard. Julius Streicher was a man so loathsome that Nazis rejected him but Adolf remained an admirer…
Such a concentration of drivel leaves you reeling… and the question how did this man become the leader of the Party and then of Germany and then of Europe. Did nobody spot… David Irving… .. makes the unconsciously telling comment when Adolf visited Finland… “None of the company thought he was insane.” (I’ve quoted this from memory… it’s something like that.)
A recurrent theme in Mein Kampf is that there is an endless struggle between the Aryans (good) and the Jews (bad). This is a cosmic eternal struggle and if the Jews win… and only an extraordinary leader kind of like Adolf… can ensure that they do not… well at the very least the Aryans will be enslaved… all those blonde girls… but it is the end of meaningful life on this planet. Again and again Adolf sees a specific issue as the focus of a conflict whose consequences are cosmically significant. Adolf believes he is the saviour of the Aryans.
To summarise Mein Kampf: there is a race called the Aryans. There isn’t. The Jews are a race. Jewish authorities consider that Judaism is a religion… not a race. Mein Kampf bases a world view on a cosmic conflict between imaginary entities.
Mein Kampf is permeated with images of violence, hatred, disease, invasion, enslavement, impurity. A feature of the work is that none of the opinions are argued from evidence. I will not… it just seems a waste of time… bother to point out the errors, except with regard to Adolf’s views about evolution. Adolf sees Nature, Providence and God as closely related. He sees evolution as a struggle to eat or be eaten. This is one aspect but a great deal of life is dependent on cooperative relationships: for example complex life including Adolf is only possible because of symbiotic relationship between single celled creatures. And we all depend on the activity of bacteria.
The Adolf of Mein Kampf is bitter, anxious and it seems to me envious of the sexually successful (he believed) bow-legged Jews.
Apart from that… spot on.
WAS ADOLF JEWISH?
Well of course he wasn’t. But there is something…
Let’s start with Wagner. If Adolf had a mentor it was Wagner. Wagner’s operas were a background to his existence. Picture Adolf’s last days. Birthday, marriage, suicide, cremation. All against a background of total destruction. And as he’s committing suicide his staff are getting drunk and dancing… danse macabre. And Adolf’s concern that his body does not remain. Isn’t Adolf arranging his disappearance to preserve a mystery… that he might rise again? Are we in real life or a Wagner Opera? Wagner was an anti-Semite. But Wagner was also half-Jewish. Go figure.
There was a mystery in Adolf’s ancestry. His paternal grandmother became pregnant when she was a servant. One of the obsessions of Adolf is that Aryan maidens are seduced by their Jewish masters.
Now it is unlikely that the mystery father was Jewish but, obsessed with race and the pollution of race, it must have provoked Adolf. The kindest person in the world would not recognise Adolf as Aryan. Modern DNA testing demonstrates that Adolf has characteristics more common amongst Berbers and Jews than among Austrians. In Mein Kampf Adolf talks about “bow-legged Jewish bastards…” But they were very unlikely to be bastards… unlike Adolf’s father…
One of the mainsprings of Adolf’s thinking was the Jewish Conspiracy. It has been debated whether Adolf actually believed in a Jewish conspiracy or whether it was part of his grasp of mass psychology to portray an enemy within as an incentive to solidarity. The answer is probably both especially because Adolf was always able to believe whatever suited him best. There are occasions when Adolf overlooked a person’s Jewishness. Heydrich, Himmler’s second in command in the SS, had Jewish ancestry and this was known. Much odder… and let’s look at this because it is contrary to our expectations. The case of Adolf’s chauffeur Emil Maurice. Emil had an affair with Geli… Adolf’s adored half-niece. Then Maurice took Adolf to court over a matter of wages. Then Maurice applied to join the SS. It was found that Maurice had Jewish ancestors. Himmler did not want him in the SS. So what do you think Adolf would do to a man who had an affair with Geli… probably the love of Adolf’s life, had taken Adolf to court and was partially Jewish? Answer Adolf overruled Himmler and Maurice joined the SS. Let’s not pursue this too far but… curious?? An indication that at least at times Adolf’s anti-semitism has a tactical element.
Another way of looking at the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the basis of the Jewish Conspiracy, is that Adolf took it as a manual of how to seize power. Just to explain a little the Protocols were a conspiracy dreamed up by the Czarist secret police to inflame anti-semitism and Russian Nationalism. The claim was that they were a blueprint by Jewish Leaders to seize power using deceit, subterfuge, deception, lies, propaganda, wealth, political parties, violence… The Protocols had been exposed by Adolf’s time as a forgery…
But hang on a second… don’t they describe Adolf’s own methodology for seizing power? Basically the Protocols are a manual for seizing power using any means and establishing a new order in which authority and obedience are the key components. Like Adolf…
Adolf did believe that there was a life and death struggle for the future of mankind between Jews and Aryans. Adolf came to see himself as the only person who could lead this struggle successfully so that the future of the world literally rested on his actions. He took the conspiracy to seize power described in the Protocols as a prescription for his Party. To take an example… when Adolf invaded Poland the excuse was a manufactured incident. Victims from concentration camps were shot and put into German uniforms and presented as victims of Polish aggression. This kind of thing might have been taken from the Protocols. Adolf’s embrace of deception could have been inspired by the tactics of the Protocols. Ideas which might have origins in Judaism are the “Chosen People” and the concept of racial purity which Adolf attributed to Judaism.
ADOLF AND SEX
Well as far as we know Adolf had about six relationships with women in his life. My friend had relationships with more women in his first week at university but I will not mention his name because he is now the Archbishop of Canterbury. I made that bit up to see if you were awake. By my count three of his girlfriends committed suicide more attempted suicide. The future Mrs Hitler scored three attempts and one success.
We deduce from this that Adolf wasn’t a ladies man. Well…
It does cross one’s mind that Adolf may have been gay. There’s all that stuff in Mein Kampf about “manliness.” A fellow runner in his regiment claims that he was widely seen as gay and had a boyfriend. If this is true it might explain why he was not officer material. Then again the accuser disappeared into a concentration camp pretty promptly.
Certainly in his younger more sartorially challenged career Adolf was heavily dependent on Rohm a kind of swashbuckling, mercenary, homosexual who organised the SA. The SA was the most distinct feature of the early Nazis… a kind of militarised street-fighting body. Rohm was one of Adolf’s few intimate friends. Adolf asked Rohm to return from Latin America an unfortunate choice because Adolf had him shot. So the early Nazis were extravagantly gay. After Rohm was executed Adolf… I was going to say turned his back on gays… unfortunate choice of language… Having killed Rohm Adolf went out of his way to persecute homosexuals… This was his tactical move to make himself more mainstream and reject the criminal violence of the past. The new respectable Adolf replaced the ruffian SA with the gentlemanly psychopathic SS.
From a political view the murder of Rohm was brilliant. It showed that Adolf was prepared to act against the lawless, violent, criminal SA which had actually been the basis of his early career. In doing this he won the approval of many law and order types and the Army. The impudence… establishing law and order by extrajudicial murder… is magical… a component of Adolf’s astuteness in his early career was his ability to make something look like its opposite.
Adolf the dodgy ladies’ man lived with his niece Geli Raubal who was the daughter of his half sister. He was recapitulating the sexual history of his father, Alois. Adolf’s mother Klara was his father’s cousin and many years younger than her thrice married husband. She called her husband “uncle.” Klara came to Alois’ household as a servant. Adolf’s sister, Geli’s mother, Angela, was employed as housekeeper by Adolf.
Geli committed suicide using a revolver that Adolf had given her. If I had a girlfriend I would give her flowers or something rather than a revolver.
An actress called Renata Muller committed suicide in 1937. She claimed that Adolf used to have her trample on him.
Earlier as a budding politician he had surprise Helene Hanfstaengl by putting his head on her lap and saying: “If only I had someone to look after me.” She told her husband that Adolf was: “an absolute neuter.”
Given Adolf’s awkward attitude to women and the kind of feeling that there was something unusual one could consider the possibility that he was close to asexual and that this lack of distinctive gender enabled him to occupy both male and female states of mind. Although he referred to his rapt audiences as “feminine” there is the feeling that he is behaving in a traditionally feminine way. When he tells off his generals he is shouting, screaming, accusing, crying and they are stoical, masculine… it is like they are husbands being scalded for misbehaviour. And Adolf’s epic strop when Jodl… who usually diplomatic… contradicted Adolf over an order… Adolf went into a hyper- sulk, refused to eat or shake hands with his generals, eating his meals alone and having a team of stenographers write down his every word.
Again Adolf had a range of ways to signal his favour or disfavour and so create competition amongst his courtiers. So his courtiers became like suitors searching for a token of his esteem, terrified of losing favour. It is comical to see Adolf playing the main courtiers against each other with a feline knowingness.
Adolf incomprehensibly had many female admirers and sackfuls of letters from women. Women were said to be amongst his early audience and Adolf’s oratory resembles an enactment of intercourse. The stages of a Hitler speech were a build up of tension, its release and euphoria.
So what to make of it all? My guess is that Adolf was very uncomfortable with physical contact especially because in all his appearances he sought an attitude of dignity and any sexual element would humanise him. His brilliance was to turn his weirdness into a mystical otherness.
In addition he had good reason to be afraid that any offspring from a relationship might be dodgy. For a man who emphasised blood and race and struggle to have a child was a risky business especially when you think that four of his siblings died in infancy or early childhood and some of the survivors were not a full shilling. A distant relative of Adolf was killed by the “euthenasia” he ordered.
In Mein Kampf , in fact in Adolf’s entire world view, enslavement is the theme. Either the Aryans are to be enslaved or they are entitled to enslave others on the basis of their cultural superiority. The image of the beautiful Aryan maiden being seduced by the “bow-legged Jewish bastard” is one of the uses of power to enslave and links enslavement and sexual gratification… one of the Nazi’s pet themes was that German maidens were used by Jewish Masters for sex. It is not difficult to see that this submissiveness/ dominance dialogue has a sexual basis. The same person can be both submissive and dominant in a sexual context. This is because the submissive can play the role of a dominant and identify with the submissive. Ian Brady was probably bisexual he enjoyed smacking Myra Hindley’s bottom with a hairbrush and taking photographs. But there is an ambiguity… is Myra really dominant because she manipulates by submitting? It is not a coincidence that Ian was an admirer of Adolf… he “got” the sexual tones of Nazism. Consider the state of mind of a dominant in a sexual context. He requires the submissive to obey… surely this points to lack of confidence. Adolf had two phases… overweening master and self effacing subservient… it was often noticed that he displayed the subservient face to… for example… Ludendorf. But aren’t they the same thing? The common factor is the Self and it is either glorified or denied as the case demands but in either case the Self is central.
With Adolf’s inability to grasp the notion of relationships between equals in any context it is not hard to imagine that he would think of sexual relationships in this way. When he speaks of his conquest of Europe he says: “I had to rape rather than seduce her.”
When Germany was close to defeat he cheers up his people by saying they will be destroyed and the women will become “barrack whores.” Isn’t he relishing this a trifle too much?
HAD ADOLF ONLY GOT ONE BALL?
Well no. But in Mein Kampf there is the shrill adolescent tone of sexual envy of the “bow-legged Jewish bastards” who are chirpily humping the blonde maidens by their hundreds of thousands. And in all this talk about disease and prostitution and decay and racial mixing meaning degeneracy and invasion and Adolf’s fear that he could be killed by “some nigger”… an underlying theme of unwilling penetration. This might account for Adolf’s sexual minimalism. Or it may be that he sublimated the sexual drive into a kind of emotional relationship exhibited most strongly in his speeches. Or it may be that he wasn’t well equipped. There is no evidence for this but there mini-clues . A recurring theme in Adolf is the desire to have the biggest… well anything. Over and over he boasts about having the biggest table, the biggest window… his plans for building for Germania with Speer…with the biggest public buildings… his only aesthetic seems a kind of gigantism… Compensating?
The long relationship with Eva Braun later Eva Hitler and within forty hours of the ceremony the late Eva Hitler seems to have been one-sided although she did fit into the standard model of Adolf girlfriends… much younger, blonde and dim. Adolf took up with her after a serious suicide attempt and she was obsessed with him. Possibly he couldn’t face another suicide and was behaving in a decent way.
Was it a reciprocal relationship?
Who knows, doubt it.
So Adolf and sex… let’s face it we don’t know. But everything we do know points to a strenuous effort to prevent us knowing… And why do you make an effort to conceal?
BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE HOW DID ADOLF GET TO BE LEADER OF GERMANY?
The totally unlikely, incredible rise of Adolf did not happen without unlikely and exceptional gifts on Adolf’s part. There were narrow fields in which he was a nonpareil. I think this goes a long way to explain his unprecedentedly rapid rise and fall…. if you cut Adolf’s life into three scenes: drifter in a shelter for homeless men: leader of an empire stretching from North of Russia to the Arabian desert: pale shambling near lunatic out of touch with his still huge army… six million men stretched from Denmark to Italy to Yugoslavia, casually lied to by his remaining officers, eating amounts of sugary cakes with the crumbs clinging to his uniform, drugged by a quack doctor and having to send his manservant to find the rare petrol to burn his corpse.
All the same man.
THAT BLOODY CHARISMA
Its time to face it. How did Adolf manage to overcome his multiple handicaps- awkward, clumsy, limited education, non-German, weirdness, lack of experience, drifter, lacking any evidence of purpose- a man whose highest possible reach would be to become under-manager in an off-licence, a man bound to end up in a managed institution lecturing his bored colleagues.
A glance at Mein Kampf shows a man oddly unlike his image. He is crackling with anxiety, hatred, sexual uncertainty and neuroticism, given to emphatic but unreasoned opinions, a mind full of imagery of decay and disease and parasitism, a man who sees the world and existence in terms of a final battle between good and evil, the kind of person who can confidently sit on his own in a crowded bus. On top of that he had a tendency to go into solipsistic rages when the spit would fly freely. And he is terribly indecisive… his first adventure… the dispatch of troops to Austria… he halted and started again and halted again… he was in a state of collapse and Goering took over.
This inner tension… especially in a man who lacked releases… sex, alcohol, excercise… created a mysterious energy which was under partial control… this energy came across as compelling presence expressed in the eyes and the voice. Since his younger days, when he went around like a cross between Captain Hook and a lunatic on the run, he managed to organise and manage his own appearance. Imagine Adolf without the mustache and the haircut. He made himself recognisable, his appearance was a shorthand. He also learned to master his appearance. Early Adolf used to give speeches carrying a whip. Later Adolf simplified his appearance and dress to a severe minimalism. His appearance amongst medalled and uniformed officers conveyed modesty and purpose.
And let’s remember those eyes. There are dozens of people who speak of the experience of meeting Adolf and being changed completely. These were not always feeble minded. Goebbels was a clever and gifted man. He opposed Adolf’s vision: he envisioned a “socialist” National Socialism. He even thought of an alliance with Bolshevism. He questioned the link between Judaism, Bolshevism and big business. This “socialist” vision was expressed by George Strasser and threatened Adolf’s leadership. Goebbels was Strasser’s most capable adherent and a critic of Adolf who he called “reactionary.” Until Goebbels met Adolf.
This is from Goebbel’s diary: “I stand before him deeply moved. This is how he is: like a child, lovable, good, merciful. Like a cat, cunning, prudent and agile, like a lion roaringly great and gigantic.”
You might say that Goebbels was unusual… as indeed he was. But others fell under Adolf’s spell. Here is the Canadian Prime Minister McKenzie King in 1937 writing about his meeting with Adolf: “eminently wise,” “a mystic,” a “deliverer of his people from tyranny.”
This personal magnetism, this ability to attract devoted followers, arose from conflicts projected outwards so that people felt a piercing energy which they interpreted as truthfulness, sincerity… a kind of magical self-certainty that swept away doubt.
This mesmeric presence takes a bit of explaining. Here goes. The pre-war Adolf was a drifter with no sense of purpose. His war experience compelled him into a tougher more purposeful style. In doing so he tamed his demons to a very great extent. It may be that he became leader of the German Workers Party simply because there was nothing else he could do. He had shown little interest in politics before and often spoke disparagingly about politics. In this I think he was genuine. Even though he was a grandmaster of the game of politics it did not excite him on except as a means to an end.
I will not go into the byzantine world of German politics but Adolf was brilliant. A simple example is the murder of Rohm and the subordination of the SA. In an amazing coup Adolf achieved several aims. He won over the law-abiding disorder fearing public, he established himself as a law and order leader, he moved the Party away from the thuggish, gangster like SA, he further established his personal authority and he won over the Army who voluntarily agreed to swear a personal oath to him.
True he killed one of his oldest colleagues and inspired extra-judicial murders of enemies who had nothing to do with the SA. Adolf may have had conscientious regrets: he hesitated over the killing of Rohm and he always spoke of him with respect.
By a single unexpected act he changed the game and increased his authority. And further he endeared himself to lovers of order by extraordinary acts of illegal violence and, two birds with one stone, he bumped off kind of incidentally old enemies as well. This magnificent, breathtaking, insolent boldness typifies the style of the early Adolf and helps understand why he could run rings round his opponents. Most hesitant people act cautiously and conservatively… Adolf was cautious but acted decisively and radically.
And this was repeated. The German Workers Party and later Rohm and the SA thought they were using him as a means to gain power. So many people thought that they could tame or manipulate or do business with Adolf and they were all wrong. Well first they were wrong and then they were mostly dead.
MAGICIAN, PROPHET, PRIEST….
Part of Adolf’s ability to elicit approval was his shape-changing ability to occupy different positions at the same time. Or that his fluidity enabled people to project whatever they wanted to see there. Conservatives believed he represented a return to tradition, revolutionaries believed he would overturn the old order. Pagans, folklorists, cultists, Christians, revolutionaries, lovers of the modern, people longing for a change, people wanting to return to the past, lovers of drama, people who longed to belong to something bigger themselves, lovers of violence and people attracted to dark glamour, people who wanted peace…. Adolf was the perfect cocktail waiter… he concocted a mixture to appeal to all tastes…
Adolf drew on mythology folklore and religion to project an image as a prophet/ wizard. He cultivated and air of mystery and he was not above hinting that he was in regular communication with the Almighty. One particular advantage of this pose was that it vindicated his weirdness. You kind of expect your prophets to be unusual. Adolf’s non-drinking, non-smoking and apparent sexual abstinence all set him apart… He regularly pointed to himself as an instrument of Providence. Adolf frequently spoke of his admiration for the Vatican… one of the longest lasting human institutions on the planet. There are similarities… the rituals, the hierarchy… the infallibility… Nazi Rallies with singing and torches and martyrs and drama are remodeled Catholic Ceremonies with a spot of circus-parade and wagnerian opera thrown in. In a typical adroit way Adolf was able to benefit from religious belief and from the anxiety of those who had no faith and looked for a belief system to fill the gap.
It is easy to denigrate Adolf but that is with hindsight. Many people supported or joined the Nazis because they admired the activities they put on for young people and their charitable work. Many people saw the Nazis as agents of moral renewal. Students were early supporters of the Nazi movement. Lecturers, clergymen, doctors, philosophers, lawyers and especially teachers . The people who supported Nazis longed for renewal and to cast off a shameful past. The feeling of unity and a sense of purpose drew many people. The economy revived and the Nazis showed concern for areas that had been neglected… especially agriculture. Adolf’s popularity surged after he became chancellor.
There was no area of life in which Nazis were not represented. Before Adolf was chancellor there was a Nazi Chicken Breeder’s Group.
Of course Adolf was not a democrat but in his strange shape-changing way he appeared democratic. Adolf could plausibly represent himself as a “normal man.” a “man of the people” rather than the traditional elite. His war service was a guarantee of authenticity. For some reason the Army continued to be respected. Adolf’s non-officer status meant that he shared the experience of millions of former combatants.
The idea that Adolf was an “ordinary man” was untrue but Adolf could assume a very modest demeanour. Once he was leaving a building after a speech and he said to the caretaker: “Look don’t tell anybody I told you this but I’m thinking of compelling employers to provide playgrounds for the children of workers.” This wasn’t exactly what he said, I can’t recall it, but the point is that he could talk to ordinary people in a very charming and confiding way. His staff found him charming and affable and that he sought to create a “family” atmosphere. His favourite company was lower class and male. When his chauffeur died Adolf gave him a state funeral. And he kept a photo of his chauffeur along with one of Geli. All his life from Men’s Hostel to barracks to his career in politics he always had the same kind of entourage.
Another respect in which Adolf was democratic is that the Party with its multiple militarized sub-organisations found jobs for people who had never been involved in politics before. The Party was represented by somebody you knew and could go to with a problem.
Adolf did realise that he must take power legitimately and he did so with great agility… he was totally flexible and could charm crusty old school soldiers like Ludendorf. He could also appear much less clever than he was so that dimmish career politicians felt that they could use him for their own ends.
The Party provided something for everybody. The rallies were like circuses… the parades throught town, the music, the build up and release of tension. They were entertainment and enchantment and drama. People felt that they were part of something greater. An English diplomat who had seen the Russian Ballet of the Czars said that Nazi Rallies were more impressive. A French observer said that during the rally he (temporarily) became a Nazi. The cooperation of huge numbers in the service of one man was extraordinary. To live in early Nazi Germany was a succession of dramas, the rallies, the international crisis… instead of politics there was engaging spectacle. Drama was a key ingredient in the early Nazi years.
The Party of course had no democratic content. Its function was to carry out the will of the Fuehrer. The Party made no recommendations, it did not elect officers, it had no policies separate from the Fuehrer. You could ask why did it exist? Well it was there to arrange rallies and all the other activities… many of them charitable… that locked the people and the Party together. And the Party or more correctly Adolf did have the greatest public support that a Leader has ever had. After he became chancellor Adolf grew in popularity. People who had opposed him suddenly felt that they “got it.” Adolf was like a modern rock star… the nearest you will get to a Nazi Rally is a Rock Concert. The nearest thing I can think of to the ecstasy of Adolf is Beatlemania/ This sense that speaking directly to the people constituted a more modern direct kind of democracy which superseded that old fashioned and ineffectual democracy. This Party, this Adolf got things done. In point of fact Adolf who could be extraordinarily indolent took intense care over the staging of rallies. The one thing that seemed to get his full attention was the arranging of spectacles. In shared spectacles people felt that they were part of an enormous organised movement… that they… the people… had seized the state. This was part of Adolf’s conjuring… It is impossible to explain the success of Adolf’s oratory without the notion that there was a psychic bond between Adolf and his listeners.
There is part of us that likes authority. Many people like to be told what to do especially by a charismatic leader… it takes away the anxiety of choice and conscience and thought… this mesmerised robotic state is relaxed and peaceful. Above all Adolf aimed at states of robotic obedience for his people but at some level he seems to have been a self-induced trance: “I go forward guided by Providence in a somnabulistic state.” Had the mesmerist hypnotised himself?
The mesmerised sense of unity exemplified by Nazi Rallies with their awesome organised power appeared a metaphor for the Nazi State.
There is no doubt that Adolf had the highest levels of support that any leader has enjoyed at least for a time. His first year as chancellor was a series of triumphs. A sense of a new kind of more streamlined democracy was kindled by endless campaigns with a military flavour. Great projects saw the actual landscape change. His adroitness enabled him to deliver of coups to the German people. The typical Adolf coup… like the Night of the Long Knives when Rohm was killed would involve a unexpected highly prepared and coordinated action. Adolf would typically have two alternative plans and would decisively carry out one at the last moment. Within five years Adolf could claim that he had overturned the Versailles Treaty, disrupted relations between France and England, re-occupied the Ruhr, eliminated unemployment, ended civil unrest and disorder, occupied part of Czechoslovakia where German was spoken, formed a partnership with Austria, Germany was the most powerful European Country. And most of all this had been achieved without bloodshed. Adolf was a man of peace. He could credibly present himself as a lover of peace. And all these moves had made on his own initiative… often against advice. A group of officers had planned to kidnap and kill him during the Czech crisis because they believed he was about to cause a European War for which Germany was unprepared. And Germany was unprepared. During the Czech crisis three German divisions faced seventy French divisions. I can’t remember the actual figures but it was of this order.
Adolf was a risk-taker and it paid off. Nobody, probably least of all the German people, wanted a war. Adolf had an acute sense of the breaking point and would push his demands to the point where the British would accept them and the French reject them. In this way he broke the alliance of France and Germany. A typical piece of clever Adolf footwork was discussing arms limitations with the British. Discussing the number of aircraft Adolf casually mentioned that Germany had already exceeded the limitations and moved on to discuss Naval limitations.
Diplomats and politicians who met Adolf said he was relaxed, clever, witty and entirely in possession of all the details. Adolf had an extraordinary memory.
Adolf had a deep awareness that the Germans did not want war and he did not like it. When the first military campaigns were successful many Germans accepted quick economic campaigns as worthwhile. Adolf strove to avoid a sense of anxiety and keep life as normal. In Berlin there were many domestic servants… women were not recruited for war industries… life was normal…
When war came Adolf was unhappy. His foreign policy was expansion in the East and an alliance with Britain in the West. However Germany enjoyed striking success. Some credit belongs to Adolf, he grasped the importance of mechanised warfare. He adopted against advice the successful plan for the the campaign against France. He subsequently wrongly claimed that it was his plan. He stunned the world with his pact with the Soviet Union. Veteran Nazis resigned from the Party because of this alliance with the Bolsheviks. Startlingly unexpected, game-changing: it was Hitler’s style. It went against all Adolf’s previous utterances and in another characteristic move he violated the agreement. .
The Gods of War were on his side. Some features of his successes… they were quick, and had a defined end, they involved unexpected actions and Adolf had a gift for understanding how his opponents would behave.
There were two features working together which led to Adolf’s success and later to his failure. One was his growing personal power. This increased with each victory. The second was his increasing self-confidence. The image of the Fuehrer, monumental and curated, had involved an image of decisiveness. In fact Adolf was neurotically torn and suffered physical and psychological damage when making decisions. The successes contributed to Adolf’s conviction that the Adolf that had been created by propaganda was real. That he was infallible. And this led to catastrophic deterioration of his abilities and judgement. Early Adolf was deeply flexible, whilst he made decisions he listened and judged. There are endless paradoxes about Adolf but one is that he detested what he did best, manipulating a route through competing claims. He loathed criticism or debate. Since it was difficulties which had sharpened his wits and his skills so that he could achieve total power he was left with total power which did not require the skills he had used to obtain it.
One consequence was that his courtiers… what else were they… quickly learned to “manage” Adolf by telling him what he wanted to hear. Goering claimed he could supply the troops at Stalingrad by air. He couldn’t. But Goering… a tough man… was sick when Adolf scalded him. He sometimes resolved to tell Adolf the situation and when he saw him found that he couldn’t. Adolf’s deep belief that reality could be altered by fanatical belief meant that facts could be ignored. Reality was changed to suit Adolf , which resulted in a distorted view.
A trivial but funny example of Adolf’s belief in his infallibility: in an interview Adolf claimed he was one of the greatest musicians in the world. He whistled a tune. The interviewer told Adolf that he had got it wrong. Adolf said no, the composer had written it wrong.
Adolf as opposed to his public image had spells of melancholy, spells of bone-idleness… long spells of strange detached torpor. He was able to conjure up an inward world… Wagner… planning gigantic cities: Germania the renewed Berlin… which provided an escape. When he first became chancellor he made an attempt to work normal hours but he ended up reading the entire works of Karl May… the cowboy writer he admired… and then he gave up. Strange as it was he was kind of living the same life he had in the Men’s Hostel in Vienna. Intense fantasising followed by spells of work.
The series of victories convinced him that he was actually an embodiment of Providence. When he started off Adolf had seen himself only as an orator, it was others who had seen him as a leader or actually the Leader. Now with countries falling with ridiculous ease before him he began to think…
And at that point his judgement started to go… This began at the Czech Crisis and the later Adolf has much in common with the earlier Adolf but with less of the astuteness that had made him Fuehrer in the first place. When Adolf reminisced he often settle on the “years of struggle”… his earlier years before he was chancellor. This was the time when he was using his abilities to the full, when he was most engaged.
I will be brief. Until the invasion of the Soviet Union (as Goebbels noted in his diary on the same day of the year that Napoleon had invaded Russia) Germany had won a series of rapid victories. The pace of life in Germany was hardly altered. In Berlin there were thousands of domestic servants. Adolf pinned his hopes, gambled, that the Soviet Union would collapse. It didn’t. There are many indications that the invasion was caused by restlessness on Adolf’s part. Britain was unconquered and on an island protected by the Navy plans for invasion were fairytales. Where else could he go? Adolf’s argument at the time was that defeating the Soviet Union would deprive Britain of its reason for continuing the struggle… the hope that the Soviet Union would take Britain’s side. It does not take much thinking to realise that this was daft. Britain welcomed the invasion. It was also a case where Adolf’s thinking was, as his Army soon would be, over-extended. He had lost a sense of the immediate. He was fatally doing something because it was what he wanted to do and inventing reasons to justify it. It had also been a favourite tactic of Adolf to deal with one crisis… and he was a master of crisis… by starting another one.
The attack on Russia was unprecedented: there was no disagreement, there were no territorial demands, there was no diplomatic exchange, Germany and Russia had a non-aggression pact.
Cards on the table I am an admirer of the Soviet Union’s recovery and defeat of Nazi Germany but it is also true that the Soviet Union was socialist only for rhetorical purposes and had begun to act like any other imperial power… Britain for example. Britain was acting to hold onto the Empire and was as opposed to democracy as Hitler and Stalin.
It must have become clear early in the campaign that the Soviet Union was not going to collapse and it recovered from early defeats. The German Army was forced back from Moscow… the first time in this conflict that the German Army had retreated. For the Soviet Union it was costly but there had been some coherent responses… most significantly the movement of weapons production out of the range of German aircraft. German economists first warned that Germany had not the resources for a long war.
The long war with the Soviet Union took a toll on Adolf. He had never shown much capacity for sustained work. Now he took command and his decisions grew less reliable. Given his bohemian temperament the strain of long days must have damaged him. Instead of lightening successes delivered to an adoring nation he was locked into a mincing machine that was destroying his Army and Airforce and the only option after Stalingrad was a long retreat. After twelve week victories with few casualties he faced years of retreat. After Stalingrad Adolf had lost the initiative. He never got it back.
The man who loved dramatic coups and basked in the admiration and adoration of his people was in charge of an army in dreary retreat in which millions were dying. Adolf somehow distanced himself. When one of his staff talked of the loss of young officers Adolf… dismayed said: “That is what they’re for.”
And Germany’s cities were being destroyed. Adolf secluded himself in the weird environment his military headquarters: “half monastery, half concentration camp” as I think Goebbels called it.
The single most jaw-dropping example of the decay of Adolf’s mental capacity… even now I am stunned when I think about it. On December 11, 1941 Adolf declared war on the United States. This competes with his invasion of Russia for the title of the daftest decision in the history of the world. It was Adolf’s last important strategic decision. There was no need for it. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbour four days previously but Germany was only obliged by treaty (not that Adolf ever took any notice of treaties) to support Japan if Japan were attacked. The sheer productive capacity of the United States, the fact that Germany was at war now with: the British Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States… I am guessing the figures but I believe that Germany was facing enemies that had seven times her population and ten times her economic capacity.
The decision was made in an offhand way. Churchill was delighted. So was Roosevelt who had to deal with stolid isolationists.
I have four suggestions. One is that Adolf was facing increasing difficulties in the Soviet Union which had not collapsed as he had predicted and was swallowing lives and resources. Of course declaring war on the US could not solve this but it was a distraction… a propaganda distraction deflecting attention from the Eastern Front. Adolf placed great importance on propaganda… master illusionist mistook illusions for reality. Adolf was pulling off his old trick of creating a crisis to distract from another crisis. Two is that Adolf was no longer in charge of events… events were in charge of Adolf and it is a short straight run to the bunker and the cremation. A third explanation is that Adolf’s strategic acuteness was limited to countries close to Germany and he had very little understanding of more distant countries. The gap was filled by mythology and stereotype… the Soviet Union was a Jewish Bolshevik state and therefore would collapse, the USA was a hotbed of racial mixing and soft living and negrified music. Final suggestion is that Adolf had switched from seeking a victorious peace to seeking an spectacular suicide. His new priority was not to repeat the shame of 1918… if Germany was going down it would go down in a Wagnerian melodrama… It was about this time the Holocaust began to take on its mechanised form. As Adolf once said nothing binds people together like criminal acts. One motive for the Holocaust was to make surrender impossible not only for himself but for foreign allies and for the upper reaches of the regime. Himmler made sure that the Holocaust was known by the German elite.
WHAT WAS GOING ON? WHAT MADE ADOLF ADOLF?
Shelley said that ” The poet is the unacknowledged legislator of mankind.” If we extend the meaning of poet to include artist what you get is Adolf. Adolf saw himself as an artist. Adolf himself never made much of his paintings. Historians often belittle Adolf’s artistic skills but his works were executed quickly and show skill. Adolf was no shrinking violet. At one point he claimed that if he had not gone into politics he would be Germany’s leading architect. This was a bold claim since he had been turned down for an architecture course. Adolf had a keen interest in architecture. Adolf’s closest colleague… as close as he got to having a friend… Albert Speer was an architect and he escaped the pressures of being the leader of a nation that was being demolished by looking at Speer’s scale models for Germania. There is a hint of romance about Adolf and Speer, no doubt Adolf does see Speer as his alter ego. Adolf was absolutely fascinated by images… he was more at home with images that with the realities they represented. Every day he studied the situation map. Did he see the map itself as the reality?
Adolf had always wanted to be an artist. In Mein Kampf he records his resolution to be an artist was the cause of a violent row with his father when he was very young. Adolf’s career was the antithesis of his father’s. His father had worked his way up through conscientious effort and hard work and by conformity. His father had been a servant of the multi-national Austrian Empire. His father had put great store by regularity and order and discipline. Adolf loathed the multi-national Empire with its racial mixing, he detested the civil service, and the bourgeoisie, Adolf was undisciplined, aimless, following enthusiasm after enthusiasm… given to rages and outbursts of energy followed by spells of languor and indifference. Adolf disliked regularity in his own life preferring the inspiration of his “genius.”
Adolf showed an early adoration of Wagner’s operas. Adolf identified with characters in the Opera. My point here is that consistent with his image of himself as an artist Adolf saw the world in the form of images. When creating images Adolf was at his most original and bold. The Swastika… is surely the most powerful brand identifier in the history of the world. And Adolf’s branding of himself… the mustache and the floppy hair… made him identifiable. The styling of the Nazi Rallies was down to Adolf. The styling of the SS and the quasi pagan rituals… officers had a dagger which had a skull and when the officer was killed Himmler collected the daggers. The black uniform, the sigils, the skull…
Adolf was both a master of and a captive of imagery… like an artist he saw the world expressed in images.
WHAT KIND OF ARTIST WAS ADOLF…?
What kind of artist? One aspect of Adolf is his extraordinary skill as an actor. Take Adolf’s famous rages… there is an account of Adolf having one of his extraordinary rants at a foreign ambassador and shortly afterwards laughing and joking. Adolf’s tirades were not something to take lightly. The Czech prime minister had a heart attack, Goering who was no sensitive plant was sick and retired to bed after an Adolf telling off. Were these rages staged for intimidation? Adolf said: “I am the greatest actor in Europe.”
We are told that young Adolf was good company and one of his party pieces was to mimic people he had met. This combination of close observation and imitation could reproduce. Actor’s skills. And wasn’t Adolf playing the part of the Leader rather than being the Leader for much of his early career? Part of Adolf was a strange absence into which any convenient persona could be projected. The number of roles he could play was legion and he could slip between them fluidly. Speer recalls Adolf talking glumly about suicide and immediately afterwards addressing a meeting of gauleiters who were understandably despondent. One of them talking about having only a tank without fuel to guard a major town against thousands of Russian tanks. Adolf speaks and they are aglow with enthusiasm back to defend their areas. Like all truly impressive actors there is part of Adolf that is always acting and part of Adolf that is not acting at all. He is a man who is always monitoring and adjusting himself. Like all impressive actors he has the capacity to bemuse… to cast a spell… Adolf is always watching but most of all he is watching Adolf.
Jodl who worked with him closely for years said that he never had a clue what he was really thinking… This mysteriousness was part of his spell…
Adolf cultivated the man of mystery/ conjuror image. He was quite aware of it. Another of his fall-back persona was the “Great Man.” He saw himself as a historically significant figure, and of course he was right, he also saw himself as somebody who could comment on the world from a god-like detachment. It must have been disconcerting for his colleagues when he said that Stalin was a truly great man (one hears him saying… like me… like me…) or that he admired the Jews for keeping their race intact… he said that if a two thousand Jews went to Sweden pretty soon they would be running the place.
Adolf’s ability as an actor are never more clear than in his oratory. Peoples lives were changed. There is reason to think that his later speeches were more stylised… that when he had learned the skill he could perform on demand.
There are many things I do not understand but one is that Adolf clearly was the most powerful orator in the history of the world. And yet his staff dreaded an evening with Adolf when he would hold forth on his pet subjects. Well if he was sensitive to an audience as he had to be for his oratory to work… how come he didn’t realise that he was boring his guests to death? My explanation is that when speaking he was self-intoxicated. He was simply addicted to talking irrespective of whether anybody was interested. When he met Mussolini who again was no shrinking violet he managed to talk for ninety minutes non-stop without the Duce being able to get a word in.
It goes without saying that Adolf was an assemblage of strangenesses… possibly dozens of conditions manifested themselves in an individual who learned to manage them. There have been other charismatic nutters… Charles Manson. It may have been some tragic ill fortune that Adolf was born with a collection of disorders that were sub-clinical and that through enormous self discipline especially after his army service enabled him to impersonate characters as situations demanded. There is a suspicion that great actors are only real when they’re acting. The oddest thing about Adolf is that he had no reality outside of the roles he was playing. The most common explanation… narcissism… only goes part of the way… The absence of many normal characteristics may have enabled him to focus on the pursuit of power in the same way that Newton is said to have had no close friends. In strange ways Adolf was a non person. No friends, no affection, no hobbies or interests except the pursuit of power so that he could become his own image. Adolf created his image and then inhabited it became the puppet of his image.
So what kind of artist was Adolf? He brought an artistic temperament to the diplomacy, politics and war. In doing this his judgement was exquisite. Often he performed spectacular reversals. In diplomacy and in war he brought a quality of imagination and innovation that upset expectations. But if I had to say I would say that Adolf was an artist using the media of politics and war to create an operatic stage in which he could annihilate himself.
We are more forgiving of artists than we are of politicians. This is because we are trained to believe that part of being an artist is a licensed madness and we don’t have to take an artist’s expressions as being important because they do not have lethal consequences in the real world.
I think that Adolf brought an artist’s consciousness to the world. And Percy Bysshe Shelley when you said that the poet… lets say artist… was the unacknowledged legislator of the world… well Percy you were right. But do you like what you see? Do we want to be ruled by artists? Think Salvador Dali…
In the end I cannot think of a word that describes Adolf… ” knob end ” might do until I think of one.
Adolf’s guide to life was his understanding of evolution which he took to mean that there were not rules except the survival of the fittest. This was supplemented by Nietzsche who had an ethic of rule by the Superman. This does not do justice to this explosive philosopher… for my money the most fun philospher to read despite the danger of apoplexy. A characteristic of Nietzsche which was shared by Adolf was his view of the warrior. Bluntly Nietzsche liked the image of the warrior. And so did Adolf. Nietzsche and Adolf also enjoyed portraying themselves as people who understood women. “You go to woman. Take your whip,” whispers an old lady in “Thus spoke Zarathusta. ” This is not to say that Nietzsche did not have great courage… but warrior? womaniser? Really?
Adolf used to carry a dog whip around in his early days.
Wagner… Wagner was a musician and a crook. This is difficult for us geography teacher types . It may be that Wagner saw himself as an artist as a kind of Superman entitled to ignore morality. In dealing with Adolf people like me suffer from the “geography teacher problem.” Basically we are well-meaning, rational, kindly in a feeble kind of way… we haven’t got the cognitive equipment to understand Adolf… or Wagner… or Dali. We expect consistency so that people are good or bad and find it hard to comprehend that bad people can be extraordinarily gifted
Adolf does refer often to “fate” and to “providence” and to the “Gods of War.” He did not have a sense of anything that existed independently of himself and by extension Germany. He had an intense sense of the weaknesses, limitations, sensitivities and incoherence of others. His exploitation of a sense of guilt over the terms of Versailles was masterly but did not extend to his own treatment of defeated nations. Alongside and imcompatable with his darwinian vision of life as an endless struggle played out in an indifferent universe Adolf had an infantile system of ethics where his own person was sacred. When he survived the bombing he ordered the strictest measures against the conspirators on the basis that they had sought to interfere with providence. The craziness of this formula borders on the comic. Alongside a granite indifference to the fate of others Adolf nursed a consuming regard for the fate of Adolf.
Adolf’s late proposal to try enemy pilots as “war criminals” is consonant with this: war crimes are what “they” do. One paradox of Adolf… one reason we can regard him as hopefully a singularity… is that his clairvoyant sense of the inner core of other people and nations combined with indifference to those people.
ADOLF AND SEX… WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE?
Lets get this straight… we don’t know. But not knowing is a kind of clue that there is something hidden. First there is the gay theory. At least one of Adolf’s war companions thought he was gay… and disappeared into a concentration camp… probably more of them did. The SA who were instrumental in Adolf’s early career was led by an open gay. The Nazi’s later prosecution of gays may have been an attempt to distance themselves. Throughout his life from the Homeless Men’s Hostel to the bunker Adolf’s preferred company was that of men. There is the odd case of Hitler’s. They were close companions and Adolf gave him a state funeral when he died and was inconsolable for weeks.
Although we think of sexuality mostly in terms of gay or straight another dimension is dominance and submissiveness. Amongst Ian Brady’s possessions were photographs of Myra Hindleys freshly beaten bottom. Brady was an admirer of Hitler and also a visitor to gay pubs. Is it possible that Brady intuited the sexual dimension of Nazism? The Brady Hindley case also shows the nature of the sadist/masochist relationship. Who is controlling who? Wasn’t Myra really the stronger character and in allowing Brady to beat and manipulate her Myra was really expressing dominance. And wasn’t Brady’s realisation of this the real reason that they finally fell out.
But enough. My point is that there is dominance submissiveness which can transcend gay straight relationships. For example a man could enjoy dominating both men and women. Also the sadist may not be a defined identity. Many sadists also enjoy being submissive. One reason is that the sadist identifies with the aggressor so when being submissive the sadists imagines he is the one being dominant. In general a person who tends to masochism is more manipulative than a sadist because he needs to set up situations. In other words masochism requires a better understanding of other people. And a masochist may well enjoy playing a dominant role and identifying with the victim. The whole game is about power. Something about which Adolf knew a great deal.
Well is there evidence? First of all there is Geli Rubal, Adolf’s half niece, who lived with him for over a year in Munich. She committed suicide. I make it that six of the women associated with Adolf committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide. Faced with the sobering fact that his beloved preferred to be dead than to be with him Hitler contemplated suicide. Geli became part of his cult of the dead and her room was left as it was. It is said that Geli’s complaint about her uncle was that he was controlling. If we take it that attractive young women don’t commit suicide except for a reason…
More directly Renate Muller an actress claimed that Adolf knelt at her feet and made her kick him. She died aged 31, her death is disputed, suicide, epilepsy or the Gestapo?
To me the strongest evidence that Adolf was orientated towards dominance submission is in his words. There is a litany of slave/ master situations. Adolf intended the non-master race subjects in Eastern Europe to become dead, to make room, or slaves. And there is Adolf’s warning that in the event of defeats German women will become “barrack whores.” Isn’t Adolf relishing this a tad too much… And there is Mein Kampf which apart from providing evidence of Adolf’s profound strangeness is an almost comic display of sexual neuroticism. There is so much: try this: ” If physcial beauty were not today forced into the background by our foppish fashions the seduction of hundreds of thousands of girls by bow-legged Jewish bastards would not be possible. Systematically these black parasites of the nation defile our inexperienced young blonde girls etc etc…” Can we detect a certain amount of lip licking. Those innocent blonde girls… oh for gods sake is there no privacy in this Men’s Hostel…
The infinitely reproduced images in the Streicher Press of blonde maidens being seduced by Jewish men helped boost the circulation. One assumes that not all readers were all conscientiously informing themselves about miscegenation.
Adolf has an obsession with syphilis and prostitution:
“No, anyone who wants to attack prostitution must first of all help to eliminate its spiritual basis. He must clear away the filth of the moral plague of big-city ‘ civilization ‘ and he must do this ruthlessly and without wavering in the face of all the shouting and screaming that will naturally be let loose. If we do not lift the youth out of the morass of their present-day environment, they will drown in it. Anyone who refuses to see these things supports them, and thereby makes himself an accomplice in the slow prostitution of our future which, whether we like it or not, lies in the coming generation. This cleansing of our culture must be extended to nearly all fields. Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral political, and cultural idea. Public life must be freed from the stifling perfume of our modern eroticism, just as it must be freed from all unmanly, prudish hypocrisy. In all these things the goal and the road must be determined by concern for the preservation of the health of our people in body and soul. The right of personal freedom recedes before the duty to preserve the race.” Whew!
The passages about syphilis are the clearest evidence that even in his early days Adolf was more than a touch bonkers and that he regarded sexuality with a prurient seething interest. His droning about infection and purity and decay… are they metaphors by which he tries to locate all that’s feared and loathed in himself in “the other.”
There is something mirthful about Adolf’s recipe for dealing with syphilis. Boys should: “after his days work he should steel and harden his young body.”
The strange flavour of Adolf’s sexuality is inherent in Adolf’s outlook on the world. One point he says of the “conquests” in Europe: “I had to rape them rather than seduce them.”
Probably hardly anyone read Mein Kampf even though it sold 5 million copies. One wishes Germans had read it. A reading confirms that Adolf was an exceeding rum coot.
Early Adolf was much adored by women and it was through women that he was introduced to society. His awkwardness and uneasiness might have added to his attractiveness. His complex deep neediness translated into a kind of intensity and his famous eyes could transport into another realm. Adolf always had this strange quality… something like say Lawrence Olivier had… that even when you despise him you are also watching keenly… even people who loathed him were anxious to please.
So what happened with all this adoration. Adolf fully appreciated the allure of his single status and his oratorical performances have a sexual quality. Enormous arousal and then release of tension in himself and his audience followed by exhaustion and stupor. Maybe he was thinking of those blond girls being ravished by hump-backed Jews. Adolf’s adoration by audiences and his enactment of sexual intercourse as part of his performance may have substituted for actual relationships.
As far as we know Adolf had eight close relationships in his life. My mate… I will not give his name because he is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury (sorry I made that up….) had eight close relationships in his first week at university and he had maybe a millionth of Adolf’s opportunities. Probably Adolf wasn’t much interested in relationships with other people. After all who else could Adolf desire when Adolf had Adolf? One feels a suspicion that Eva Braun was there to reassure observers of Adolf’s “normality” in the masculine barracks atmosphere that always seemed his milieu from the Men’s Hostel to the bunker. For more thoughts about Adolf’s sexuality please read my last sentence.
There is no politician… no historical character… about whom we know less, particularly in the field of sexuality. The lingering suspicion that something is being concealed. And that could only be because there is something to conceal.
WHERE DID ADOLF’S IDEAS COME FROM?
Adolf had two fixed ideas: one was that the Jews were bad and the other was that Germany needed to expand to the East. The British Empire was the model for the Eastern Empire and Adolf frequently referred to his admiration for Britain, his basic plan was that German and Britain should amicably enjoy Empires. Adolf’s view that the British Empire was a facade to rob others is accurate. The British Empire was exploitative, ethnically based and it shortened more lives than Hitler and Stalin put together by a considerable margin. Adolf, but I hope I have made it clear that Adolf is never to be believed, claimed that he allowed the British withdrawal at Dunkirk in order to allow an agreement (he uses the term “sporting” as far as I know uniquely) and it is true that he longed for an alliance with Britain.
Adolf was familiar with death. Surviving for four years on the front line… unlike Churchill… he had seen almost all of his companions die. On a single day he was the only runner in his regiment to survive. This was a first-hand demonstration of a Darwinian struggle for life that always fails. Adolf saw individuals as essentially meaningless and utterly expandable in the service of greater entities such as nations or races. Curiously and contradicting this belief was the idea of the later Hitler that he was chosen by Providence and Destiny. Hitler accepted that he was totally vulnerable and on the other hand he was the only person who could take Germany to its fate. Adolf wasn’t above hinting that he had intimate conversations with the Creator.
HE DO LIKE A FUNERAL DOES ADOLF
Death was an abiding part of Adolf’s mental furniture. When combined with his operatic capacity for large-scale ceremonies funerals and celebrations of martyrs were the most awe inspiring spectacles of the Nazi era. Often taking place at night and lit by torches the ceremony around the martyrs at Nuremberg… We are tempted to over-state this as if fascination (fascination has the same root as Fascism) with Death were an exclusively Nazi phenomena… but for example Christianity? More likely Death is an activating factor uniting the massed ranks by fear and celebration. Adolf’s pictures of his niece Geli Rubal who committed suicide and his keeping her room exactly as it was point to a preoccupation with Death. An advantage to Dead People is that they don’t argue… in other words there are no messy realities to upset idealisations. Adolf often talked about death and suicide and madness… there are times when he was like a mass-homicidal Hamlet of the banal. The Nazi preoccupation with death… possibly a revitalisation of a Christian tradition… took on pagan forms. Himmle gave officers a dagger with a skull motif which belonged not to the officer but the SS and which were collected after the officer’s death.
SO HOW DID IT GO?
My view about Adolf’s career is that an unprecedented was followed by a spectacular and rapid deterioration of his faculties. What would be amusing… if it were not for the suffering, is that the deterioration was accelerated by his achievement of unquestioned power. At his sharpest Adolf thrived on opposition. All his brilliant coups and his sharpest military victories were achieved in the face of opposition. Before the invasion of Czechoslovakia officers in the army planned to kidnap and kill him. He browbeat the German High Command to promote the plan for the invasion of France that he favoured. The boldness and flair of the German military was stunning. An impregnable strong point in Belgium was subdued when German Paratroopers landed on top of it. The victory of the German Army… it’s reputation for fed the morale of the German People and the Army. It has to be said that the German Army and the German People displayed reluctance to go to war… but became enthusiastic after a series of inexpensive victories.
The tide turned decisively at Stalingrad although there were indications that the resistance of the Soviet Army had disrupted German Military plans. For the Soviet Army it was like learning to box by sparring with Mike Tyson. The defeat was the overshadowing of the German Military Reputation and from there on it was a long tedious but brilliantly managed retreat by the German Army. Economic advisors had already warned that defeat was inevitable. The German Economy was geared to rapid production of war material for rapid campaigns which would pause between campaigns. More critically essential war materials… steel, magnesium and above oil were only available through trade or in precariously loyal territories. The frivolity of Adolf speaks of blind spots in his often keen understanding of foreign policy. The invasion of Russia besides contradicting his own strictures against a two-front war has the flavour of a conqueror who has run out of things to do. Is it entirely a coincidence that he launched the invasion on the same date as Napoleon? When Germany declared war on the United States…( yes that’s right)… it was not under any treaty obligation. One pictures Hitler and Goebbels looking at their maps… “What major global power are we not at war with yet?”
It is difficult not to conclude that there was a suicidal intent. “Let’s go out in a blaze.”
Adolf often talked of suicide. His beloved Geli Rubal had committed suicide which may have hinted to him the limitations of his personal charms. Eva Braun was another and one story is that he put up with her to avoid another suicide. Delay is the appropriate word. I make the number of women involved with Adolf who committed suicide at six. Considering the early death of his mother and the death of his Driver Julius Schreck… so close that Adolf was inconsolable and ordered a state funeral (something odd there?) it is clear that death was very often on Adolf’s mind and the operatic manner of his death and the care taken to avoid human remains seems to be an attempt to create mythology.
But did Adolf actually chose to carry on the war as a means of grandiose suicide. My guess would be that he did although I think Adolf’s mind was highly compartmentalised so that he could be exude confidence in victory to a gauleiter and the next moment be talking about his suicide plans. Consistency was not a notable feature of Adolf’s character.
The latter part of the war was marked by a very steep decline in Adolf’s faculties. The final Adolf could barely walk down a corridor, he lived underground, he was notably spitty in conversation, given to incoherent rages, he could not see well, had bad breath, was flatulents… He was maintained by amphetamines and hocus pocus medicine. He shook sometimes uncontrollably. He never seems to have taken any excercise in his later years. He had been diagnosed with a heart problem which would have killed him whatever happened. People who saw him were shocked by his premature ageing. And yet he retained something of his capacity to intimidate and control. Partly he was living off the capital of the past and partly he was difficult to remove from within the structure because he was the only thing holding it together.
The man who in his early days was the only politician who could charge to attend his meetings bored his guests to death as they listened to his endless dreary monologues. His guests were bitterly resentful of people who copped out of these marathons. How could Adolf who was acutely sensitive to his listeners in his heydey be unaware of his narcolepsy inducing repetitive effect? I think the answer is that Adolf was self intoxicated by his own rhetoric and also that he was actually addicted to speaking… he couldn’t shut up… he couldn’t listen.
The late Adolf was unable to defend the people against huge bombing raids day and night which kept the population sleepless and frequently homeless or dead. His generals… well aware of the difficulties of telling the truth… presented a version of events that pleased him. In the end they gave up telling the truth at all.
If he cared to look, and he didn’t, as German cities became rubble, Adolf could see a representation of his own incapacity. But he didn’t. Instead he became increasingly radical, shrill, lacking in self-control, in denial of reality. He did not visit bombed cities or wounded soldiers. It is said that his train once passed a train carrying wounded soldiers and a weary-looking Adolf pulled down the blind.
SO WHAT WAS ADOLF ALL ABOUT?
It is deeply disconcerting this but here goes…
Percy Bysshe Shelley said that the poet was the unacknowledged legislator of mankind. If we extend the word “poet” to include artist we have a clue to the character of Adolf.
Adolf regarded himself as an artist. It is customary to disparage Adolf as an artist but I think he was a pretty good architectural artist and some of his early sketches show vitality and even wit. Adolf made no claims for his efforts but they were executed at speed for money.
Adolf’s antagonism to his father is one key to much of his life. His father was a hard-working bureaucrat, steeped in an inter-racial monarchical Austrian Empire. His father had risen in the ranks of the civil service. Adolf relished the rage his father flew into when Adolf announced that he was going to be an artist. Adolf’s ideological positions were the opposite of his father’s. In other respects… his liking for young female relatives… near incestuous… he took after his father.
The stylistic impact of the Nazi Party is undeniable. The swastika… Adolf didn’t discover it but immediately realised its potential and later convinced himself that it was his creation… was a PR coup. The impact of the rallies was another triumph and were micro-managed by Adolf. I once saw film of a carnival in Jamaica where the participants dressed in SS uniforms. This had no political significance the participants were impressed by the style.
Adolf repeatedly talked about his vocation as an artist and often expressed his wish to retire and pursue art. His criticism of Himmler… that he would never be a suitable leader because he was “not artistic.” One can think an infinity of reasons why Himmler was an unsuitable leader… his inartistic nature would be far down the line.
One factor which probably protected the earlier Adolf from the pain of his early descent from respectable middle class to unemployed tramp was his ability to lose himself in contemplation. His retreat with Speer to study architectural models for Germania was an escape from the defeats and betrayals. Adolf fancied himself as an architect and was not above claiming that he had sacrificed becoming Germany’s chief architect to lead Germany.
Music played a key part in holding the Nazi leadership together. This alleged sensitivity may have been a narcotic which protected them… and Adolf in particular… from reflection.
Adolf claimed he read a book every day. Most of the evidence is missing. He does seem to have had a capacity to take what reinforced his ideas from a wide variety of sources. In the section of his library that still remains there were a surprising number of volumes about religion and a well worn book about magic.
Linked with this artistic conception and the suicidal tendencies of Adolf is the operatic quality of his life… the self-mythologising… which accelerated towards the end. It is difficult not to see in leading Nazis a kind of excitement as their country was destroyed by allied bombing as if the dissolution of all boundaries released a nihilistic glee.
Key to an artistic understanding of the world is the power of the image. In later years images seem to replace reality. Adolf spent time studying maps which were no longer representative of reality.
With an artist such as Wagner a good deal of eccentricity or bad behaviour is allowed… indeed it is an accepted part of the artistic character.
So Percy Bysshe Shelley look your dream has come true. You have an artist who is the acknowledged legislator of mankind. How do you like it?