Hitler – der Soldat – 1914-1918

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Hitler and his fellow recruits did not have to worry that the war would end before they had a chance to do battle.

French Aircraft

Because of the help of a new invention called the aeroplane, the French were able to determine the basic, overall German battle plan.

In hopes of encircling and annihilating the French forces, the Germans, after advancing across Belgium and into northern France, had unexpectedly turned south just before reaching Paris. The German right flank, therefore, was exposed and within easy striking distance just east of Paris.

French Troops leave Paris – 1914

The French high command, therefore, quickly directed their armies in the field to new positions while French reinforcements were called out directly from Paris and delivered in taxi cabs to positions off the German exposed right flank.

French Infantry – 1914

The French, by concentrating their troops where needed, were able to strike back in force and upset the whole German battle plan.

By Sept 5, the German advance was nearly checked and the French, supported by the British, began an all-out attack.
The first “great” battle of W.W.I began in the vicinity of the river Marne.
Three days later the Germans grudgingly began a limited withdraw.
First Battle of the Marne
German Infantry

When the First Battle of the Marne ended a few days later, an additional 140,000 German and 160,000 French and other allied soldiers lay dead or wounded.

Their loss was only a prelude of what was to come.
As the opposing armies fought their way north in an attempt to get around one another, Hitler continued with his basic training.
As with many scrawny young men, the disciplined regular hours, good food, exercise and outdoor life brought about a new vitality to his appearance.
The five-foot- nine-inch Hitler appeared fit and healthy – one wonders why he had been rejected, before the war, by the Austrian Army.

Hitler’s Lodgings

At the beginning of October Hitler made a visit to his landlords, and told Mr. and Mrs. Popp that his regiment would soon be leaving Munich, and he would be sent to the front shortly after. 

Since his room was his official address, he asked the Popps to notify his sister if a message came that he been killed.
He told the Popps that if no one wanted his few possessions, they could keep them.
Hitler bid them farewell and, as he hugged the Popp’s two children in a farewell gesture, Mrs. Popp, aware of the heavy casualties at the front, burst into tears. Hitler, undoubtedly touched by such concern, turned tail and hurriedly took off down the street.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
König Ludwig III von Bayern

On Oct 8, Hitler, along with the other recruits of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, called the List Regiment after its first commander, swore allegiance to Ludwig III, head of the state of Bavaria, and Kaiser William of Germany.

Hitler and a few other Austrians were also required to swear allegiance to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria.
Hitler would later state in ‘Mein Kampf’ that he hated the Austrian state at the time and had “left Austria first and foremost for political reasons.”
It is ironic, however, that he didn’t remember anything about swearing allegiance to Franz Josef when questioned about this day years later, but, he distinctly remembered that his company has served an extra good meal that day consisting of “roast pork and potato salad.”

Imperial Russian Infantry

On Germany’s Eastern Front, the Russian Army, after some initial advances in the direction of Berlin, was soundly beaten by the Germans north of Warsaw within the first month of the war. 

Further south, however, the Austrian army was pushed back in some places over a hundred miles with especially heavy losses among “Germanic, as opposed to Slavic units.”
Czechs in the Austrian army deserted in great numbers to the Russians, and the South Slavs fought with great reluctance
German reinforcements were sent south and the tide began to turn. With the Eastern Front stabilized, most of the new German recruits were destined for the Western Front.
On Saturday, October 10, Hitler and his regiment completed their preliminary training and left the vicinity of Munich for training in large manoeuvres. 
After marching around in a cold pouring rain from dawn to dusk, Hitler spent his first night on the road soaking wet in a stable.
The following morning his regiment was on the march again.
At six o’clock that evening they made camp in the open.
The night was freezing cold,” Hitler would later write the Popps, “none of us got any sleep.”
By the third day Hitler would write that he and his fellow recruits were “dog tired” and “ready to drop.”

Lechfeld Barracks

Hitler’s regiment now headed west and after a seven hour march entered Lechfeld, near Augsberg, where they were to be given additional training in large maneuvers before being sent to the front.

At 1 p.m.,” Hitler would later write, “we marched through the French prison camp in the Lech valley. They all gaped at us…most of them were strapping lads. They were French shock-troops captured at the beginning of the campaign. Dead-tired though we were, we marched past them smartly. They were the first French I ever saw.”*
Hitler would describe the next five days of “strenuous exercises and night marches up to 42 kilometers followed by brigade maneuvers,” as the “most tiring of my whole life “.
Although he considered Lechfeld a “dull garrison” town, he was delighted with his lodging and the hospitality of the German people and would write: “We are quartered in the village of Graben, privately and with board. The latter is excellent. The people are almost stuffing us with food.”
On October 17, Hitler’s regiment completed its training, and the brigade received its colors.
It would be only a few days before they were sent off to the front.
Like two-million other German volunteers, Hitler was elated at the prospect of facing the enemy. “I am terribly excited,” he wrote the Popps, “I hope we shall get to England.”
While Hitler was taking his advanced training, the battle lines in France slowly began developing into static trench warfare as the opposing forces dug in.
Although the German army had been driven back forty miles from Paris, they had an unbroken front extending 450 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea not far from Dunkirk.

Ypres – Belgium

Except for a small area in the NW corner of Belgium, centered around the city of Ypres, under German control or within range of their guns was over one tenth of the richest territory of France.

Since the original German battle plan was shattered, the German Generals decided to launch a massive assault against Ypres, push on to the English Channel, seize the port cities and cut the connection between France and Britain.
Since the French had lost all of their iron fields, most of their coal mines, and much of their heavy industry, the German general staff hoped the maneuver would bring an end to the war in the west.

British Heavy Artillery

But, with new large guns able to deliver shells that kept the area above ground alive with shrapnel, and with the addition of new machine guns which were capable of firing up to 600 rounds a minute, anyone caught out in the open was torn to pieces.

A whole new kind of warfare was developing, yet, generals on either side carried on as though these new inventions did not exist.
On Oct 20th the German Generals launched the first Battle of Ypres.
It would be the first of the many stagnant, bloody battles of W.W.I where nothing was achieved except tremendous losses in life.
On the same day, Hitler and his Regiment were loaded onto trains and headed for the Western Front.
Rumor had it that their destination was Ypres.
The recruits were full of enthusiasm, and like Hitler, believed they were going to do battle to protect the Fatherland from “the greed of the old enemy.”

River Rhine Crossing

As they crossed the Rhine, “the German river of all rivers,” as Hitler called it, the recruits sporadically began singing German patriotic songs.

Hitler was overcome with emotion and felt his “heart would burst.”
While the troop train traveled through the Rhineland, it made occasional stops.
Hitler was overwhelmed by “the kindness and spontaneity of the Rhinelanders … [who] received us and feted us in a most touching manner.”
Wagnerian Hero

Hitler undoubtedly felt like some heroic knight on a holy mission out of one of Wagner’s operas.
The memory of the event stayed with him for the rest of his life.
A few days later Hitler and his regiment arrived near Ypres.
They were unloaded miles behind the front line.
As their regiment linked up with hundreds of others and proceeded west, the long column of men, horse drawn and motorized vehicles reminded Hitler of a giant snake inching forward. 
Hitler was amazed by the industriousness of the Belgium farmers in gathering fertilizer.
After a horse column had passed, he observed, children would gather up any manure that had fallen.
Such peaceful thoughts were soon drowned out, for as Hitler would write his lawyer friend: “From the distance we could hear the monotonous roar of our heavy guns.
He also added: ” … we encountered more and more horrors – graves.
As Hitler got closer to the front, his letter, describing the events, continued:

British Artillery

The thunder of gunfire had grown a bit stronger…. At 9 p.m. we pitched camp and ate. I couldn’t sleep. Four paces from my bundle of straw lay a dead horse. The animal was already half rotten. Furthermore, a German howitzer battery immediately behind us kept sending two shells flying over our heads into the darkness of the night every quarter of an hour. They came whistling and hissing through the air, and then far in the distance there came two dull thumps. We all listened. None of us had ever heard that sound before.

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

The next morning, Hitler and his regiment marched off in the direction of the enemy.
In the previous week of fighting nothing had been gained at Ypres except heavy loses on either side.
Nevertheless, on the 29th of October, Hitler and his unit were thrown into the battle as storm (front line attack) troops.

German Infantry – Ypres

In the morning fog they took up positions near the edge of a woods.

Their objective was to attack across an open field and dislodge the British soldiers who were dug in on the other side in the trees and beyond.
Hitler and his fellow recruits stood eagerly by ready to advance.
The area was under heavy bombardment.
Enemy shells splintered trees as if they were straws,” Hitler’s letter to his friend continued. 
We had no real idea of the danger. None of us is afraid. Everyone is waiting impatiently for the command: ‘Forward‘”.
At last the command rang out and Hitler writes about his first experience under fire:

We swarmed out of our positions and raced across the fields toward a small farm. Shrapnel was bursting left and right of us while English bullets came whistling through the shrapnel …. Good God, I had barely any time to think …. The first of our men began to fall. The English turned their machine guns on us. We threw ourselves down and crawled forward through a ditch …. We kept on crawling until the ditch stopped, then we were in the open field again. We ran fifteen or twenty yards and came to a big pond. One after another we splashed into it, took cover, and caught our breath. But this was no place to lie still. So we dashed out double quick to a forest that lay about a hundred yards ahead. There we regrouped, but it looked like we had really been pared down. We were now led by a mere vice-sergeant …. We crawled on our bellies to the edge of the trees. Above us are howls and hisses, splintered tree trunks and branches flew around us. Shells explode at the edge of the forest and hurl clouds of stones, earth and sand into the air and tear the heaviest trees out by the roots. Everything is choked in a terrible yellow-green, stinking steam. We couldn’t lie there forever. If we were going to be killed, it was better to die in the open….
Again we went forward. I jumped up and ran as fast as I could across meadows and turnip fields, jumping over ditches, wire, and hedges …. There was a long trench in front of me and in an instant I jumped in and countless others round me did likewise …. under me were dead or wounded Englishmen …. The trenches on our left were still held by the English …. [so] an unbroken hail of iron was whistling over our trench.
Finally at ten o’clock our artillery opened up …. again and again shells burst in the English trenches. The English swarmed out like ants and we rushed them. We ran into the fields like lighting, and after bloody hand-to-hand fighting in different places, we forced them out of one trench after another. Many of them raised their hands. Those who wouldn’t surrender were slaughtered. So it went on from trench to trench …. To the left of us lay several farms that were still in enemy hands so we went through a withering fire. One man after another collapsed around me.
Our major, fearless and calmly smoking, came up with his adjutant …The major took in the situation at a glance and ordered us to assemble … for another assault. We had no more officers, hardly any non-coms, so everyone of us who had any gumption left, ran back to get reinforcements. When I got back the second time with a scattered troop … the major lay on the ground with his chest blown open. A heap of corpses lay around him. The major’s adjutant was the only officer left. We were boiling with fury. ‘Lieutenant, lead us at them!’ we all shouted. So we went forward again….’

Hitler then relates the confusion of battle and the horrible toll on life: “Four times we advance and have to retreat.. From my whole group only one remains besides myself and finally he falls. A shot tears off my right coat sleeve, but like a miracle I remain safe and alive. Finally … we advance a fifth time and occupied the farm.”
On November 3, what remained of Hitler’s regiment was pulled out of the line for three days of rest and reorganization.
Once refitted and reinforced they were thrown back into the fray four miles south of Ypres, at Messines and Wytschaete, where they, along with other regiments, launched another two assaults.
The battle continued until Nov 22, and one of the fiercest, most wasteful, and most tragic battles of the war saw no gain on either side.

German Prisoners taken at Messines

The toll in dead and maimed was staggering.

The British regular army alone, which had been boosted to a 175,000, had 40,000 wounded and 10,000 killed.
Frontal attacks against machine guns and artillery brought the German casualties to twice that number.
Hitler’s regiment of 3600 suffered 722 dead (including Colonel Von List for whom the regiment was named) and two thousand wounded.
Whereas these losses would horrify a soldier of today, Hitler, like most of the soldiers during the early stages of the war, saw it as their duty.
To the Popps he wrote: “I can proudly say that our regiment fought like heroes.”
Hitler, however, acted more heroically than most and was a good deal more conscientious.
He carried out any and all assignments given him without question.
He never abandoned a wounded comrade and never wavered in his bravery.
Hitler was cautious, sensible, resolute, and quite fearless.
As one of his officers would state, he was “an exceedingly brave, effective, and conscientious soldier.
On one occasion when the commander of Hitler’s regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Engelhardt, stepped out of a woods to survey the situation, he was detected and enemy machine gunners opened up.
Hitler and another soldier leaped in front of the officer and pushed him into a ditch and shielded him with their bodies.

Hitler with Army Comrades

Hitler’s superiors quickly recognized his ability.

After fighting at Ypres he was promoted to lance-corporal.
After the first two assaults against Messines and Wytschaete, he was attached to the staff as regimental dispatch carrier.
While carrying dispatches near the front shortly after, Hitler found a seriously wounded officer and summoned a friend, a fellow dispatch runner named Schmidt.
The two dragged the officer out of danger while under heavy fire.
For his actions three officers recommended 

Das Eiserne Kreuz
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Hitler, along with four others in his regiment, for one of Germany’s highest military decorations: the Eiserne Kreuz – (Iron Cross), 1st class for “gallant conduct during the fighting“, however, since Hitler was attached to the staff by the time the request came through, his name was moved to the bottom of the list.

For that reason alone, he received (December 2, 1914) the much less coveted Iron Cross 2nd Class.
Hitler, nevertheless, was delighted and wrote the Popps: “It was the happiest day of my life,” but he added that his fellow recruits who also deserved a medal, “are mostly all dead.”
Lt. Col. Engelhardt, whose life Hitler had previously saved, was also seriously wounded and Hitler would write his lawyer friend: “It was the worst moment of my life. All of us worshipped Lt-Col Engelhardt.”
The unsuccessful attempt to take Ypres ended the German offensive.
Any thought of a quick victory faded away.
Hitler would later state that his “first impression of Ypres was – towers, so near that I could all but touch them.
He, like many of the young soldiers, thought that they would quickly overrun the place.
He soon came to realize that “the little infantryman in his hole in the ground has a very small field of vision.”

Großen Krieg deutschen Schützengräben

The elan that Hitler felt during his first battles quickly began to fade.

Hitler, like the millions of other young men on both sides, began to accustom himself to life in the trenches which would be his home for the next four years.
Trench warfare, many intellectuals noted at the time, was a prime example of Darwin’s survival of species.
If proof of the adaptive quality of the “human animal” were needed, it was born out in the manner in which soldiers burrowed into vermin infested earth and lived under conditions on a par with the lowest of animals.
The soldiers frequently endured long deprivations of food, fuel, medical supplies and suitable clothing while under constant bombardments from the ground and air.
During the early stages of the war, thousands died from enemy fire but thousands more died as a result of disease and exposure.
Thousands of others were incapacitated for life by hideous wounds and “trench foot,” a result of exposure to cold and the water which readily flowed through the trenches.
Yet in spite of these and other discomforts, in spite of the large rats that fed on the dead, in spite of the constant bombardments, in spite of the filth, lice, disease and aversion, men learned to survive.

Großen Krieg deutschen Schützengräben

At first the trenches were comparatively straight, shallow affairs.

As artillery searched them out, as machine gunners learned the art of looping their fire so that bullets would drop into hiding places, as sharpshooters zeroed in on anything moving, as night raiding became more sophisticated, it was seen that straight trenches exposed whole companies to enfilading fire and the trenches gradually became more involved.
Well protected and fortified positions were constructed and new defences were presented by zigzagging deep front-line trenches which were equipped with firing steps, sand-bag parapets, concerted pill-boxes, and other pitfalls.
Communicating trenches were dug, leading back to second line trenches, artillery stations, third line trenches, supplies, company kitchens, more trenches, field hospitals, and finally the open road and rest billets beyond.
Hitler described the life in the trenches to the Popps:

‘Because of the constant rain…and the low-lying terrain, the meadows and fields are like bottomless marshes while the roads are covered with vile mud. Through these swamps run the trenches of our infantry, a mass of shelters and dugouts with gun emplacements, communications ditches and barbed wire barricades, pitfalls, land mines; in short, an almost impregnable position.’

In earlier letters:

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

In a letter to his lawyer friend:

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

Of the artillery fire the men in the trenches were exposed to, one of the smallest calibres was on a par with a defensive grenade used by both sides.

German Infantry using Hand Grenades

It was about the size of an orange, made of nearly two pounds of cast iron and designed to burst into a hundred jagged pieces.

They wounded or killed within a radius of one-hundred and fifty yards.
Bigger shells could not only kill anything in an open area four or five times that area, but also obliterate an area 25 yards across at the point of impact.
It was not only the destructive element of the larger shells which caused such fear in men that their nerves shattered, but also the terrifying noises which accompanied their firing.
First, there is the explosion when the shell leaves the gun which can be heard for miles; second, is the peculiar rattling noise, like the passing of a freight train, when the shell passes overhead; third, is the explosion at the point of impact which produces a shattering concussion.
The combination of all three had a profound effect on many men.


The constant exposure to fear and terror resulted in a derangement of body and brain, paralyzing nerve and muscle centers, which frequently produced “shell-shock” (a form of psychosis) from which many men never fully recovered.

Besides artillery fire, the soldiers also had to contend with the airplane. In an early letter to his lawyer friend, Hitler related that while moving up to the front in daylight for his first engagement with the enemy: “We no longer moved as a regiment, but split up into companies, each man taking cover against enemy airplanes.
As the deadlock dragged on, bombing and machine gunning by air improved and ultimately changed the whole character of the war.
Pilots learned to run parallel with the trenches, bombing and strafing anything that moved.
The plane also helped extend the fighting far behind the front lines and brought the horrors of the fighting to supply troops as well as civilians.
The constant terror brought on by the continuous fighting took its toll on nearly every one.
Hitler was no exception.
There was one period during a heavy barrage, when fellow recruits remembered him pacing back and forth with his rifle in hand and his helmet pulled low over his eyes.
Hitler had no illusions about war once the initial bravado and valour faded away and, like any solider, had his bad days.
As another of Hitler’s friends remarked: “As soon as serious firing would begin on the front, Hitler acted like a racehorse before it has to start. He had the habit of walking around restlessly, buckling on his equipment.”
Unlike thousands of others, however, Hitler never cracked.
He performed his duties with distinction.
The constant artillery bombardments often caused communications lines, to command posts, to be put out of commission.
The need for dispatch runners increased.
During attacks their job was one of the most dangerous in the war for it was imperative that communications with front-line attacking storm troops be kept open.
Only the best and bravest men were chosen for the job since it often required them to cross open areas.
Even during quiet times they had constantly to be aware of lone planes, sniper fire or stray shells.

Adolf Hitler and ‘Runners’ and ‘Foxl’

The small group of “runners” were chosen from the more educated,  because “it was a job that required a high degree of resourcefulness and devotion to duty.”

Because of their high death rate, messengers had certain privileges and were left to do much as they wanted till they were needed.
However once given a message, much depended on their getting through because the orders were often critical.
They were obligated to deliver their messages no matter what the situation or the obstacles in their way.
The heavier the fire the heavier their burden.
Shortly after Hitler became a messenger, of the eight dispatch runners on duty in his regiment, three were killed and one seriously wounded during one day of battle at Wytschaete.
Hitler and the remaining three, were recommended for a citation (which was another reason why Hitler received his Iron Cross 2nd class).
Hitler and his fellow recruits still hoped for a quick victory, but unlike many of the others, the twenty-five year old Hitler had no grand ideas of what the war would accomplish.
Since Yugoslavians, Russians, French, Japanese, and British (with Canadians, Indians, Australians, etc.) had already declared war on Germany, and (as Hitler stated), “American-manufactured shrapnel was bursting above the heads of our marching columns, as a symbol of international comradeship,”.
Hitler saw his country in a nationalistic struggle against foreign enemies, foreign influences, and international visions which were intent on destroying Germany.
His closing sentences in a Feb. 1915, letter to his lawyer friend give a good insight to his beliefs at the time:

‘I often think of Munich and every man of us has one wish, that we will come to blows and settle the score once and for all with that gang out here. We want an all out fight, at any cost, and hope that those of us who have the good fortune to see their homeland again will find it purer and less riddled with foreign influences. That through the sacrifices and sufferings which hundreds of thousands of us go through everyday, that through the stream of blood that flows here daily against an international world of enemies, not only will Germany’s enemies abroad be crushed, but that our internal internationalism will also be broken. That would be worth much more than any territorial gains.’

Considering that “most statesmen and people saw in the war primarily the fulfilment of their national aspirations,” Hitler’s statements are moderate indeed.
There were those who had much broader visions.
They looked upon the conflict as a means to greatly extend their domains at the expense of other races.
The coming of Spring saw the continuation of the trench deadlock.
Although there were countless efforts to effect a breakthrough on either side, all resulted in insignificant gains of land and tremendous losses of life.
‘The British (in their quest to expand their empire) were shipping many of their troops to other parts of the world; so they wanted to reassure the mistrusting French that they were “pulling their weight.” 

Neuve Chapelle

On March 10, therefore, they launched an attack south of Ypres near the village of Neuve Chapelle where they pitted four divisions, 48,000 troops, against a weak point in the German line. Because it was believed at this time that the only method of fighting was to attack the enemy at her strongest point so as to destroy the bulk of her fighting forces, this was an unconventional attack.

German troops had recently been drawn away from Neuve Chapelle due to heavy French pressure further south.
Only one division, consisting of about 12,000 “Saxons and Bavarians,” defended the area. One of the Bavarian regiments making up the division at Neuve Chapelle was Hitler’s.
At seven o’clock in the morning the British artillery lazily began lobbing shells on the German lines.
It was the usual breakfast accompaniment, and Hitler and his comrades took no unusual notice of it.
The British however, had air superiority in the sector and had been able to move up a large number of heavy guns in secrecy.
The British artillery crews were taking turns bracketing the German important positions and making sure of their range.
At 7:30 the range finding ended and suddenly and surprisingly “the first really massive artillery barrage of the war” began.
Instead of the normal lengthy, preliminary bombardment that went on for hours across miles of trenches, the British laid down a very intense bombardment against a 2,000 yard frontage.
It lasted only 35 minutes but was an artillery concentration absolutely unprecedented.   Hundreds of 6-inch, 9-inch and 15-inch howitzers, lobbed their shells upon the doomed German trenches as other field guns, firing at point blank range, cut the barbed wire entanglements defending the German lines.

Neuve Chapelle

The British in the front trenches were deafened by the continuous roar of shells leaving their own guns.

The continuous eruption of exploding shells on the German side flung earth, rock, blood, and hideous fragments of human bodies onto the British troops in the forward positions.
The upper half of a German officer, his cap still on his head, was blown into one of their trenches.
As one British solider would later comment: “Words will never convey any adequate idea of the horror of those five and thirty minutes.”*
On the German side a curtain of fire, dust, debris and body parts filled the air.
Thousands of shells plunged screaming amid the pillars of smoke and flying fragments while “bombing airplanes” added their high explosives to the fray.
The earth shook and shuttered.
The sickening smell of exploded powder filled the air.
Suddenly, at 8:05, the shells “lifted” off the German trenches and began to fall upon the village of Neuve Chapelle beyond.
In perfect unison the British soldiers leaped out of their trenches and stormed the German front line.
The German machine-gunners left alive had not recovered from the shock and the British crossed No Man’s Land in almost complete immunity.
The German trenches had been blown to unrecognizable pits littered with dead and parts of dead.
Most of the Germans left alive were in a state of trauma and there was little resistance.
The British advance occurred so quickly that the artillery firing on the village had not completed its work and the British soldiers were held up momentarily.
One saw them standing out in the open, laughing and cracking jokes amid the terrible dim made by the huge howitzer shells screaming overhead and bursting in the village.”
The barrage soon moved off the village and beyond to roads leading into the area so as to hinder any German reinforcements from entering the battle zone.
The line of roads and streets was all but obliterated. 
The British soldiers stormed the shattered village and began “working with the bayonet.
The British drove forward for over half a mile and for the first and only time during the war broke the German lines.
But, the British were too slow in sending their second wave into the hole, and before the day was over the Germans quickly adjusted their line and brought up reinforcements at a terrible cost who plugged the gap.
Hoping that there might be a weak point in the new German line the British commanders ordered their soldiers to press on “regardless of loss.”
For two more days they went on battering against a wall they could no longer breach.
With 13,000 dead and seriously wounded British soldiers littering the battle zone, the assault was finally called off.

Prinz Rupprecht von Bayern

Prinz Rupprecht von Bayern – commander of the sixth army in the Neuve Chapelle sector, made a desperate attempt to counter-attack and recapture the village.

The Bavarian regiments sent into the battle were met by British artillery and machine guns already moved up in position.
The Germans were cut to pieces.
Before Prinz Rupprecht finally called off his fruitless counterattack the German losses exceeded that of the British.
Hitler took part in all phases of the five-day battle and came through it without a scratch.
Because the German line had been broken, the British commanders considered Neuve Chapelle a success and took confidence that, with a little better coordination and refinement, they might break through the next time.
For whatever reason they drew the wrong conclusion that “mere volume” of shell fire was the key to success.
The Germans also came to the same conclusions.
For the next two years Der Große Krieg would become primarily an artillery duel.
The true lesson, surprise attained by a short intense bombardment followed by numerically superior troops against a weak point, never occurred to them.
Considering, however, the “sudden and surprising” tactics Hitler would employ in another time and in another war, it is extremely likely the lesson was not lost on him.
A month after the battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Germans made another attempt to break the British and French line.
The spot chosen was fifteen miles to the north where a British and French “bulge,” five miles deep and four wide, penetrated the German line.

Deutsch Infanterie Zweite Schlacht von Ypres

It would become know as the Second Battle of Ypres and would have a profound affect on every soldier who served in W.W.I.

To prepare the way for the attack, the Germans decided to make use of a new technology; asphyxiating chlorine gas.
The gas was prepared and stored in large cylinders weighing ninety pounds each far behind the lines.

German Gas Cylinders

After being shipped to the front, the gas cylinders were carried to the front line by the infantry. 

The cylinders were then buried at the bottom of the front line trench with only a small “dome,” which protected the discharge valve, protruding out of the ground.
To protect against any leakage, a large flat bag, stuffed with a substance like peat moss and heavily socked with a potash solution, was placed on top.
To protect against shells or shell fragments, three layers of sandbags were built up around and over it.
Batteries” of twenty cylinders were strategically located so that once released the small gas clouds would combine to form a large cloud.
After waiting until air currents were moving steadily west, the protective coverings and domes were removed and lead pipes were connected to the cylinders, directed over the parapet and pointed to a sector defended by the French.

Poison Gas Attack

At 5 p.m. on April 22 (two days after Hitler’s 26th birthday). the Germans opened the valves.

Being heavier then air, the gas swept slowly forward in a yellow-green cloud about six feet high and flowed into the enemy trenches.
Germans troops wearing special masks came with the gas-cloud.
Never before had any solider been intentionally exposed to a killing gas.
In the French front lines, unprecedented confusion resulted as the chlorine gas attacked the troops lungs and respiratory systems.
Some soldiers attempted to hold their breath.
Others tried burying their mouths and nostrils in dirt.
Many began coughing and vomiting blood.
Others felt pains in their chests and began suffocating.
The faces of the dead men “turned a sort of saffron-yellow which after a time changed to purplish blue.”
In some sections the gas killed 25% of the men exposed to it.
Panic soon spread among the French forces and the infantry in the line fled, opening up a four mile gap.
The Germans advanced about a half mile and captured fifty big guns.
They soon left the wall of gas behind them, which had begun to break up into patches, and it seemed that nothing was in the way to stop them.
But, just as with the British at Neuve Chapelle, by the time the Germans sent their second wave through the breach, the French brought up reinforcement and plugged the gap.
The advancing Germans were cut to pieces.
Two days later the Germans turned their gas on an adjoining section of the line defended by British troops.
Though death seemed certain, the British (mostly Canadians) attempted to protect themselves with makeshift “respirators” of handkerchiefs and rags moistened with salt water or experimental neutralizing chemicals.
They were able to hold their sector till the gas passed over, but suffered appalling causalities. The German drive was stopped.
With all hopes lost of obtaining a break-through by using gas as the primary weapon, the Germans launched an all out conventional attack supported by gas.
They began creeping forward, but by now, nearly every gas mask to be found in France and Britain had found its way to the front.
After four weeks the Germans finally called off the attack.
They had failed to take Ypres.
To advance roughly two miles along a four mile front, the Germans paid with over 34,900 men killed or seriously wounded.
The British, who launched a series of counter-attacks and gained nothing, had 10,500 dead and nearly 49,000 wounded.
Even though the use of gas did not bring the desired results, out of desperation both sides began using it in hopes of breaking the deadlock.
The French and British soon gained the ascendancy and the cumbersome cylinder and gas-pipe system, which depended on air currents, was abandoned in favour of the gas-shell.
Besides the first asphyxiating gas, both sides soon developed others more deadly.
Soldiers were instructed that the first breath produced a spasm in the throat, the second brought about mental confusion, the third produced unconsciousness and the fourth, death.*   There were also “mustard” gases, which were designed to blister and burn “moist” parts of the body, and produce blindness as an alternative if death didn’t occur.
Thirty percent of all causalities during the early stages of the war would be a result of one gas or another.
Gas masks, covering the whole face, were speedily perfected, and every command had a gong or siren which warned of approaching gas.
Masks were worn not only by troops, but by horses, pack mules, company dogs and civilians behind the lines.
Because of the mustard gases, soldiers were also forced to wear heavy clothes that covered the whole body even in the hottest weather.
During the war, front line soldiers on either side of ‘No Man’s Land’ looked like dreamlike figures.
Their heads were protected with a steel helmet covered with cloth so the glint of steel would not advertise their whereabouts.
Beneath the helmet they wore a close fitting woolen cap pulled down tightly over the ears and sometimes tied beneath the chin.
Attached to a dull-colored uniform were the soldiers’ belt, brace straps, bayonet, ammunition pouches, grenades, trench knife, and gas mask (which was normally carried on the chest).
A cloak, made of rubber without sleeves, was usually worn to keep off the rain.
High rubber boots, strapped at the ankle and upper thigh, covered the legs.
During attacks each soldier proceeded forward with his rifle, bayonet fixed, thrust out in front of him.
Just a few months before, the thought of a man so dressed appearing out of a greenish gas-cloud while peering through an insect-like mask, would have been the stuff of nightmares.
Because the British and French succeeded in stopping the nightmarish attack of the Germans at Ypres, their confidence was up.
The Germans, they believed, had exhausted themselves and were ready to crack.
All that was needed, they believed, was one great combined thrust which would drive the Germans back into Germany.
Though the British had consumed large amounts of men and material at Ypres, their plan was to penetrate the German line in a two-pronged attack, one to the north and one to the south of Neuve Chapelle.
Each prong was to be a mile wide. The main thrust however, was to be delivered further south by the French army.
The French massed nearly a quarter-million men for their assault along a ten mile front north of Arras. They had over 1100 heavy guns to “soften up” the German lines and were predicting victory within weeks.
The Germans, having learned from what had occurred earlier at Neuve Chapelle, had prepared a much more elaborate network of well protected shelters, dugouts, and machine-gun emplacements opposite the British and French lines.
The Germans manning the lines were nearly all hardened soldiers, and knew what to expect. One of the German regiments still defending the area between Neuve Chapelle and Arras was Hitler’s.
On May, 8th the British opened up with the same type of preliminary bombardment that had been so effective at Neuve Chapelle.
The French opened up the following day with a bombardment that consumed more than 300,000 shells the first day.
The German front line trenches from Neuve Chapelle to Arras were reduce to rubble intermixed with human debris.
Where aerial photographs the day before had shown perfect geometric patterns of zigzag trenches and an occasional village, there now existed a moonscape.
Beneath the carnage however, many of the German strong points were still intact.
As the combined Franco-British offensive got under way, the causality count soared as the surviving Germans in their well protected and camouflaged machine gun emplacements sprayed the unprotected attackers.
On the first day the British lost 8000 men in the first few hours and their offensive quickly stalled. 
Although the French were able to advance two miles at one point, the anticipated breakthrough never materialized.
Although the British attacks continued sporadically until the end of May, the determined French threw themselves continually at the German lines for another month until 60,000 German and 120,000  French soldiers had fallen.
During the battle, Hitler’s regiment was shifted back and forth where needed and fought against the British south of Neuve Chapelle at La Bassee and against the French at Arras.
Like most young soldiers, Hitler had to find justification for the agony, death and sacrifice he observed.  He also had to accept the fact that he could die violently for his country. He came to accept the idea that these sacrifices were necessary since he was fighting for a grand ideal. He believed that he and his fellow comrades were fighting for “the existence or non-existence of the German nation.
As the war continued and the causalities soared, the average soldier’s life took on a very simple course; the preservation of existence. 
There was fellowship, brotherhood, and a feeling of solidarity.
They stood together and depended on one another.
They shared the same life, the same fear, and the same ideas.
They protected one another, belonged to one another and loved one another.
One’s comrades became the most comforting things in the world.
“In my section there was a spirit of open larking,” Hitler would state. “Apart from the runners, we’d had no link with the outside world.
This strong unity greatly impressed Hitler and he would later state: “I passionately loved soldiering.
Although most who knew Hitler observed that he was somewhat “aloof and different from themselves,” by now “he had earned the respect of his comrades and officers.
Hans Mend, a fellow soldier, described him as a “born soldier.
In the throes of battle he never faltered.
He never pretended to be sick to avoid doing his duty and he got his messages through.
Although Hitler still worried that “the everlasting artillery fire” would ruin his nerves, he had proven himself.
His fellow messengers noticed a look of determination in his eyes and appreciated his fearlessness.
Whether it was the excitement of battle or nervous energy, Hitler developed a ravenous appetite and one of his fellow recruits considered him a “glutton.”
Even though Hitler received food parcels from the Popps, his lawyer friend and wife, the baker, and members of his own family, he was not beneath “requisitioning” food items from the food supplies when he was on guard duty and sharing them with his friends.
For a nominal cost he also purchased food from the cooks and kitchen help.
The sweet tooth he acquired in Vienna hadn’t abated and one of his favourite snacks was bread heaped with jam.
If he found a tin of artificial honey,” Mend would later write, “nothing could get him away from it, shells or no shells.”.
Although Hitler normally avoided trivial conversation, when the talk turned serious, he would be in the midst of it.
Ignaz Westenkirchner, a fellow dispatch runner, and also a close friend, remembered Hitler as a very serious young man concerned only with serious matters.
There is almost no subject” said Westenkirchner, “about which he did not talk. He mastered each theme and spoke fluently. We simple fellows were very much impressed, and liked it.” 
The List Regiment’s students and intellectual volunteers were also impressed with Hitler’s knowledge on a wide variety of subjects and considered him an “intellectual.”
Mend stated that “almost no one could withdraw himself from Adolf Hitler’s strong personality, and his opinions were accepted by most of us.”
Hitler was not always serious and would later state: “A sense of humour and a propensity for laughter are qualities that are indispensable to a unit.”
He could bring his fellow comrades to laughter by mimicking one of the officers who wasn’t particularly liked, and by also reading, in a deadpan manner, “housekeeping” regulations that armies of all nations are so fond of posting in environments where they have little bearing.
Most of his fellow soldiers considered him a “levelheaded” companion and his “comradely” manner earned him the nickname his mother had given him, “Adi.”
Unlike the other young men, Hitler seldom joined in any of the conversations about women. Although he felt that the “Flemish girls were most attractive,” according to Mend he never approached any of the girls they came in contact with.
In a war where front-line soldiers stood a good chance of being killed any day, about the only complaints Hitler’s comrades made about him was his “constant lectures on the evils of smoking and drinking.
There were also those who resented his dedication and commitment to duty.
As dangerous as his position was, if a fellow messenger was ill or unfit, not about, or argued whose turn it was, Hitler would deliver their messages.
When he returned he would lecture them on the value and importance of doing their duty. 
Unlike the other recruits, Hitler never applied for a leave, as though it was imperative to win the war first.
Consequently, some of the men considered him “odd.”
During quiet times in his sector, Hitler, one of his comrades noted, “always had a book spread out in front of him,” which he carried in his back pack.
He still refused to read popular novels or short stories, since he considered them frivolous.
I hated nothing more than trash literature,” Hitler would later tell an acquaintance.
As in all wars, young men who had never seriously thought about God, and even those who had claimed earlier to be atheists, turned to God for comfort.
Hitler was no exception. In an early letter to Mr. Popp, Hitler ask him to “please save the newspaper” that noted his Iron Cross award because he wanted to “have it as a keepsake if the Lord should spare my life.”
Hitler’s favorite writer during the war was the early 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
In contrast to the involved idiom of most German philosophers, Schopenhauer’s clear and expressive writing style won him a world wide audience.
His writing influenced much of the later philosophy of the 19th century.
Hitler, like Thomas Mann, was greatly impressed by Schopenhauer’s book: ‘The World as Will and Idea’.
Hitler read the book over and over again during the war and was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer’s teaching.
Schopenhauer taught that man lives in inner pain because he is unable to satisfy the wants of his “will.”
This will included all impulses, strivings, and desires which, Schopenhauer believed, are at the heart of all man’s actions.
Will is force, will alone rules, all else is illusion.
Even intellect, so highly lauded, is feeble in the overpowering sway of will which blindly and unconsciously dominates.
Because the will is obstinate, blind, impetuous, unreasonable and irresponsible, most men would never know true reality or peace.
Temporary escape could be found in pleasure, art and music when the will is momentarily canceled, but things would never improve.
The only exceptions were men who had within themselves the ability to grasp the meaning of life by using their feelings instead of reason and knowledge.
Schopenhauer dwelled with the misery of life and the aimless strivings and irrationality that exist on the earth.
In the end, however, Schopenhauer came to the same basic conclusion as all the great religions on the earth – to find true happiness and peace, man must deny his wants and give up all personal worldly desires.
So in the end, the “pessimism” of Schopenhauer, in a way, brings with it a means of escape from the worthlessness of existence.
On one hand, Hitler stated that he “learned a great deal from Schopenhauer“. 
Hitler, who saw men risk their lives for another and risked his for another on more than one occasion, also had his doubts about the survival of the fittest.
He saw the individual as a means of insuring the survival of the nation or people.
On the other hand, Hitler was no pessimist and stated: “Schopenhauer’s pessimism, springs partly, I think, from his own line of philosophical thought and partly from subjective feeling, and the experiences of his own personal life.”
As Hitler would later state: “Have pity on the pessimist. He spoils his own existence. In fact, life is endurable only on condition that one’s an optimist …. what would have happened to us soldiers by Heaven, if we’d been a group of pessimists …. One must have faith in life.”
As his dreary and sometimes. mundane life as a soldier continued, Hitler resumed his painting. He did over forty paintings during the war, and most of them show a marked improvement over his earlier works. 
Some were considered “remarkable artistic productions” by later observers.
Although he still possessed a talent for realistic renditions of buildings and churches, one of his best paintings during the war was not of a building, but a painting he titled ‘The Hohlweg at Wyschaete’.
He knew the lane well for he had travelled along it many times when it was under heavy fire.
On one day alone, 192 German soldiers were killed or wounded while passing through it.
He painted the scene with heavy thick strokes which “suggested the stark horror and menace of the landscape with a minimum of means.”
Because of his painting ability and understanding of colours  Hitler was called upon to offer suggestions on repainting the officer’s mess at a commandeered villa.
Hitler’s advice was accepted, and he was put to work repainting the room. (This incident along with the fact that Hitler’s comrade and friend, Schmidt, was a house painter, would later feed more rumours that Hitler had been a house painter.)
To spark a little humour in the drab life of the trenches, Hitler would also draw cartoons and caricatures of the men and their life in the trenches.
Many of his rough sketches were sent home and the humour is obvious in them.
While Hitler was taking a respite in a trench near the front lines one day, a stocky, white terrier leaped into the trench and started chasing a rat.
Hitler caught the dog and, although it attempted to get away, it soon accepted Hitler as its new master.
The dog obviously belonged to a British soldier, and according to Hitler, “didn’t understand a word of German.”
Hitler soon overcame all the difficulties and not only taught the dog to understand but to perform various tricks.
He named him ‘Foxl’ (Little Fox).
Fellow recruits marvelled at the attachment the dog showed to Hitler.
Little Fox seldom left Hitler’s side during the day, and slept beside him at night.
When I ate,” Hitler would later recall, “he used to sit beside me and follow my gestures with his gaze. If by the fifth or sixth mouthful I hadn’t given him anything, he used to sit up on his rump and look at me with an air of saying: ‘And what about me, am I not here at all?‘” 
With the summer of 1915 the tempo of the fighting increased to a never ending gas and artillery duel.
No “major” offense was launched by either side that summer, but both armies attempted to break the stalemate by obliterating opposing trenches.
Intense barrages, that went on for hours, regularly broke out along small sections of the line.
The “few thousand” troops sent “over the top” and across ‘No Man’s Land’ to see if the artillery had done its work were usually mangled.
The heavy shelling put communications out of commission and messengers were now stationed not only at regimental headquarters, but also at the front.
Still, no matter how bad the bombardment or how thick the fighting, the messenger’s job was to keep the front lines and headquarters linked.
During attacks the storm troops, with messengers on their heels, followed so closely behind advancing artillery shelling that it was expected that 5% of the attacking forces would be killed by their own shells.
Hitler’s job had become more dangerous than ever.
By the end of summer the British had built up their forces to nearly one million men and were determined to break the Germans.
On Sept 23 they launched a massive artillery and gas bombardment south of Le Bassee along a five mile front in coordination with a French offensive further to the south.
After two days of bombardment the British went forward at 6:30 in the morning.
By evening they had overrun the German first line along the whole five mile sector.
That night the artillery bombardment was so intense in Hitler’s sector around Le Bassee,* that the “English shelling” soon had communications with the front lines and regimental headquarters severed. 
Since no runners were at the front, or had been lost, Hitler and a companion were sent forward to find out what was going on.
Somehow they got through and reported back that their lines had been cut and a British attack in force was expected.
Although the barrage continued without letup, Hitler was sent out again to inform the other detachments what was coming.
The German second line held that night and the next morning the British broke before a German counter-attack.
For the next few days the battle wore on as the Germans tried to retake what little they had failed to reclaim, and the British died for what little they had taken.
When the heavy fighting began to die away in October, 50,000 British soldiers lay dead and maimed along with 20,000 Germans.
The French, however, continued with their offensive further south.
Hitler and his Regiment, consequently, were shifted to Arras.
From Arras south to Champagne, the French pressed their attack.
In Hitler’s sector the French attempted to take a strong point in the German line known as Vimy Ridge but were stopped in their tracks.
Vimy Ridge,” Hitler observed, was dotted with “scars … shell-holes and all.”
When the French offensive finally petered out early in November, 190,000 Frenchmen and 120,000 Germans were added to the casualty list.
Again, Hitler survived both battles without a scratch.
After one year in the front lines Hitler had cheated death on numerous occasions.
In 1914 Hitler had been standing in a dugout when the arrival of four officers caused the place to be overcrowded forcing Hitler and three companions to step out for awhile and wait.
We had been waiting there for less than five minutes,” Hitler wrote his lawyer friend, “when a shell hit the dugout … killing or wounding the rest of the staff.”
In another incident Hitler related how he was eating his dinner with several other soldiers when: “Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, ‘Get up and go over there.’ It was so clear and insistent that I obeyed mechanically as if it had been a officer’s order. I rose at once to my feet and walked twenty yards along the trench, carrying my dinner in its tin-can. I then sat down to go on eating, my mind once more at rest. Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening roar came from the part of the trench I had just left. A stray shell had burst over the men where I had been sitting, everyone was killed.
Even Hitler’s fellow soldiers noted his charmed life, and some believed that if they stayed around Hitler, “nothing will happen.”
After one notable attack which left the regiment decimated, one of Hitler comrades turned to him and declared: “Man, there’s no bullet made with your name on it!
A telephone operator at regimental headquarters would later relate another incident::

It was the day when the Brits attacked and we no longer had any communications to the front. No telephone functioned, the heavy fire had torn all cables, courier dogs and messenger pigeons no longer returned, everything failed, so Adolf had to dare it, and carry a message out in danger of his life. We all said to each other – he won’t come back ! – but he came back in good condition, and could give the regiment important information about everything.

Considering the death toll among the troops of W.W.I, Hitler’s “charmed life” was notable.
When Ernst Junger, as well as other writers, referred to the young men of W.W.I as a “generation destined for death,” it was not idle chatter.
Half of the French males who were of military age (twenty to thirty-two) in 1914 were killed during the war.
The German toll was little better, and Hitler’s regiment “achieved a mournful immortality.” Casualties in Hitler’s regiment, severe from the start of the war, mounted steadily.
The chances that a 1914 volunteer of the List Regiment would be killed or maimed was almost guaranteed.
Because of replacements, Hitler’s Regiment, which consisted of 3600 men in 1914, suffered 3754 killed before the war ended.
Mass burials of whole and partial corpses became commonplace.
Thousands of other recruits lost limbs, parts of torsos, sight, hearing and also their minds. “Thus it went on year after year,” Hitler would later write, “but the romance of battle had been replaced by horror.”
Living under the constant threat of death, all the men in the front lines continued to wrestle with their fears.
The soldiers lived under a network of arching shells where uncertainty and hopelessness reigned.
When a shell was heard coming in, all they could do was seek some kind of shelter for they did not know, nor could they determine, exactly where it would fall.
Soldiers came to see that no place was safe.
Men sitting in “bomb-proof” dugouts could be smashed into fragments, while another caught in the open could survive a two day bombardment.
For a soldier to keep his sanity he had to overcome his fear of death.
Depending on his point of view, each put his life in the hands of chance, providence, destiny, fate or God.
Every soldier came to believe in fate, and eventually that made him indifferent.
War was seen as a cause of death – like cancer, tuberculous, influenza or dysentery.
Deaths in the trenches were merely more frequent, more varied, more terrible.
Always present, however, was the terror of dying, but most overcame their fear of death.
After witnessing the horrors of war for over a year, Hitler describes the period when he was finally able to cross a mental barrier, and put aside his fear of death:

By the winter of 1915-16, this struggle had for me been decided. At last my will was undisputed master. If in the first days I went over the top with rejoicing and laughter, I was now calm and determined. And this was enduring. Now fate could bring on the ultimate tests without my nerves shattering or my reasons failing.’

As the war dragged on, Hitler, now a hardened soldier, felt that the civilians understood nothing of the agony of trench warfare.
The Western Front became a world of its own, and Hitler began to find it hard to communicate with civilians back home.
He answered his mail less and less, and received few letters and packages from home.
When one of his comrades asked if there wasn’t anyone to send him packages of food or items, Hitler answered: “No, only a sister, and heaven knows where she is by this time.”
But when the baker, Franz Heilmann (who Hitler befriended in Munich), sent him another food package, Hitler sent a note thanking him, but insisting that he send no more packages.
The war changed men and many soldiers went through periods where memories of former times became haunted and did not awaken pleasure so much as sorrow.
One of the officers who conversed with Hitler when he had painted the mess, stated later that he felt Hitler “was a serious person who obviously had been through quite a lot in life.”*
As the holidays approached, Hitler’s mates noticed that he became very withdrawn.
For three days he hardly spoke a word and took on “extra duty – particularly at Christmastime.
When his friends tried to cheer him up he would abruptly walk away. “I almost wept for him,” Mend would later write, “I thought; ‘The poor devil is going through plenty....'”
When his comrades offered him some of their food or other items they received from home, Hitler declined stating he could not repay the favor.
Then his friends took up a collection which would enable him to buy extra items from the kitchen mess, but he refused to except it.
Once the holiday was over however, Hitler became cheerful again and even smiled about comments on his silence during the holiday.
There can be little doubt that Hitler, with all the death around him, was still haunted by the death of his mother.
By the beginning of 1916 the trench systems had become thicker and now extended miles and miles behind the front line.
In many instances the front line was expected to be overrun and was held by fewer men while the second and third lines were made stronger since they were easier to reinforce.
The areas now targeted for bombardment by attacking forces extended along long and deep “belts.”
Both sides in the conflict built and perfected heavier and heavier “trench artillery” designed to hurl larger and larger “aerial torpedoes” containing great amounts of high explosives.
Their curved trajectories were effective against not only trenches but also reinforced pillboxes and even deep concreted dugouts.
Many of the shells were capable of penetrating two feet of protective concrete, six feet of earth and another two feet of concrete.
After causing tremendous damage with their weight and speed they were given a “second life” by means of a delayed fuse which would kill and maim those who had come to remove those previously killed and maimed.
The area above ground was continually reshaped into unrecognizable moonscapes.
During the bombardments, trenches ten feet deep disappeared, some little by little, others in a flash.
Soldiers dug deeper and deeper into the earth with the entrenching shovels nearly every man carried with him.
After a barrage lifted, the soldiers left alive quickly dug themselves out of their holes and used the huge craters created by the shelling for cover.
When linked by hastily dug temporary ditches, the craters made a fair substitute for the elaborate trench systems just destroyed.
Machine guns were quickly set up and the attacking forces were cut to pieces.
The deadlock continued and casualties soared.
The German High Command decided that Verdun, a strong point in the French defenses, would be the next point of attack.
In preparation for the attack the High Command ordered six major “feint” attacks to be carried out during January and the first weeks of February in order to draw French and British attention from Verdun.
Hitler’s Regiment, which had been shifted north, took part in the ruse.
At Verdun the Germans began, along a thirty mile front, one of the greatest mass attacks of the war.
Although Verdun had no real significance as a military object, prestige was at stake.
The French took up the call: “They shall not pass.”
Just as it became impossible to convince the French leaders that Verdun was not worth saving, it became impossible to convince the German leaders it was not worth taking.
Nearly 2,000,000 troops on both sides were thrown into the battle.
As attack followed counter-attack the slaughter continued for months.
During the fighting over 6300 shells were fired by the two sides every hour.*
The fighting at Verdun continued into June.
The French position became desperate when the Germans began to nibble their way forward. In an attempt to draw German troops and material away from Verdun, the British, with French support, decided to open a “great” offensive centred in the region of the Somme.
The British had been planning the attack for months and had moved up a large number of heavy guns and stockpiled acres and acres of artillery shells.
A fortune would be fired away – the cost of many of the larger shells was enough to raise a child, or send a youth to college, for a year.
Although the British commanders had air superiority in much of the area, their habit of keeping their troops “on their toes” with constant raids, alerted the Germans to the huge British build-up  The Sixth German army, the Bavarian (one of the two field armies in the area), had prepared an elaborate network of deep trenches linking concreted dugouts and shelters.
Troop strength was brought up, and Hitler and his regiment were ordered to the village of Fromelles, southwest of Lille, to take part in the battle.
On the eve of our setting out for the battle of the Somme, we laughed and made jokes all night,” Hitler would later state.
In my unit, even at the worst time there was always someone that would make us laugh.”
The British, while aware they had lost all possibility of surprise, were confident of victory.
The German trenches were not to be bombarded, but obliterated.
Besides thousands of regular artillery field pieces, the British had over 450 super heavy guns. Some were able to fire a shell 18 inches in diameter carrying nearly a ton of high explosives and metal.
It would be Neuve Chapelle all over again, but instead of mounting a 35 minute bombardment against a short front, the British would bombard seventy miles of the German lines, from Ypres to the Somme, for five days.
From the Somme southward the French would bombard twenty miles of the German lines.
It would be the fiercest artillery bombardment of the war up to that time.
Then, at the planned moment, the bombardment would lift along certain sections of the line and go into its “rolling barrage” phase moving slowly deeper into German territory.
The British and French hoped that their infantry would simply advance behind, clearing up the “few surviving Germans.”
In the preliminary bombardment that opened the battle in late June, the British and French fired over 40,000 shells ever hour in hopes of pulverizing the Germans and their defences.
As the shells came raining down on the German positions, the land itself seemed to burst open and flash.
As far as the eye could see fountains of mud, iron and stone filled the sky.
Gas moved across the land and filled the valleys and meadows.
Talk was impossible for one could not be understood.
Men huddled in their shelters as exploding shells cleared away the earth protecting them. Trenches disappeared. Dugouts vanished. Screams were heard between the explosions. Where men had sat only lumps of flesh and bits of uniform remained.
In the deeper shelters, old and battle-hardened troops peered through their masks at one another and shook their heads.
They all had heard the story of the French regiment at Verdun which fled under a heavy bombardment.
Suddenly, at 9:30 in the morning on July 1, the bombardment lifted along a twenty-eight mile section of the front where the French and British lines met.
As the curtain of fire fell behind them, German soldiers, who only moments before seemed ready to crack, sprung into action.
There was now something to do other than wait for death.
On an 18 mile front, from the Somme River north to Gommecourt, the survivors clambered out of their shelters to greet thirteen British divisions, over 150,000 men, who began to cross No Man’s Land in a solid line.
On a ten mile front from the Somme south, the Germans prepared to greet 50,000 French soldiers who were crossing in a similar fashion.
As German front line troops took up defensive positions, messengers hurried to the rear, passing through the curtain of fire, to inform their regimental headquarters that the attack had begun in their sector.
Though the French advanced with “acceptable losses,” the British were torn to pieces.
The Germans had constructed some shelters 40 feet deep and new armoured machine gun emplacements had been strategically located so as to put attacking forces in a murderous cross fire.
When the British bombardment lifted, not only were many of the German machine gunners still alive but many of their armoured machine gun emplacements were still usable 
Where their fortifications had been destroyed the machine gunners set up their guns in the same areas that had been “scientifically” chosen earlier.
The British had also concentrated most of their heavy shelling on the German trenches, and the wire protecting the German line was uncut in many places.
Where it was cut, the ground was so heavily pitted with shell craters that an orderly and speedy advance was impossible.
As the British picked their way through the wire, the German machine gunners opened up with a murderous spray. British troops fell by the thousands.
Many were literally cut in half; the top part of their bodies tangled up in the wire while the bottom part lay on the ground.
Within a short time the German messengers did their job and German artillery shells began falling on and behind the attacking British making it as unsafe for them to retreat as it was to go forward.
Nearly 20,000 British soldiers were killed or seriously wounded in the first two hours.
At the small village of Gommecourt alone, 1,000 British troops died along a 1,000 yard sector of the line.
Before the day was over the British suffered nearly 60,000 causalities – 40,000 seriously wounded and 20,000 dead.
Although the British had made some small gains in a few areas, they did not attempt to exploit the areas but ordered more uniform attacks along the whole line.
For the next two weeks the battle continued with nearly the same results.
The British pounded the German lines until it seemed nothing could be alive.
But, when the shell fire lifted off the German trenches, men, like ghosts, appeared from out of the ground.
As the British troops charged, German artillery, machine guns, rifles, hand grenades, mines, gas and bayonets thinned out their ranks until the inertia of the attack was blunted and it finally collapsed.
A British “success” was measured in ”yards.
The German Generals showed no more ingenuity than the British and demanded that every yard of territory lost be retaken.
With German artillery shells leading the way, counter-attacks were launched.
So it went back and forth until the German losses began to approach those of the British.
After two weeks the only noticeable gain the British had achieved was along a five mile section of their line north of the Somme River where they linked up with the French.
With little else to show for their losses, the British decided to “exploit” the area.
On the morning of July 14, 20,000 British troops delivered a major assault after a bombardment that lasted only a few minutes.
They consequently took the Germans by complete surprise.
The British advanced over a mile capturing a five mile sector of the German second line.
It appeared it would be a cake walk to break through the third line.
It was the moment that all British generals of W.W.I had dreamed of.
At seven o’clock in the evening, the British began sending in wave after wave of mounted cavalry. Horses, high off the ground with men on them, offered easy targets.
Most of the horses and men were mowed down by German machine guns. “The wonder was that any came back alive.”
While the dreamed-of breakthrough was disappearing in a pool of human and animal blood, the British launched attacks and bombardments all along the front to prevent German reinforcements from relieving the area.
Anything flammable was burnt black all along the front to a depth of four miles. The effects of the endless gas clouds were felt over seven miles behind the front lines.

That evening, the shelling was so devastating in the Fromelles sector that no one ventured to stick his head out of his hole.
All regimental field telephones were out. Hitler and another runner were sent out to deliver messages, according to their officer, “in the face of almost certain death.”
The barrage was so intense that every step forward was an act of suicide.
After diving, crawling, running, dodging and taking advantage of every shell hole and ditch, Hitler returned dragging along the other man who “collapsed from exhaustion.”
The officers were surprised and amazed that they returned alive.
On July l9, the Battle of Fromelles intensified and the area became a howling waste.
No place was safe and the life of a dispatch runner was “measured in hours rather than days.”
During one of the barrages the shell fire was so heavy that it was believed no single runner could get through.
It soon became commonplace to send off as many as six runners with the same message assuming “five would probably be wounded or killed.”
All through August the British continued their attacks with paralysing losses and with little to show for their effort except the gains made in coordination with the French.
The dream of forcing the Germans back along the whole British front was forgotten.
Hundreds of thousands of troops had been consumed.
Lacking sufficient battle worthy formations, the British shifted most of the heavy fighting along side the French.
Still hoping to gain something, the British set their sights on the town of Bapaume.
By sheer weight of artillery and men the British and French stumbled forward until they had extended their advances to four miles in some places.
Determined to break through the German line and reach Bapaume the British decided to unleash a surprise on the Germans.
Forty-five heavy artillery towing tractors, code named “tanks,” had been converted into “landships.”
With their caterpillar treads, armored plating and mounted machine gun, they would, it was hoped, provide the infantry with the close support needed to break through.
On Sept. 15 the tanks went forward.
Only a dozen got near the German line, but because of their surprise effect, and the fact that machine gun bullets failed to stop them, a few penetrated the German line.
Before the day was over, however, they were all disabled.
Undaunted, the British continued to pound the German lines and the Germans hammered back in their turn.
Every day in “the fight of man against man,” as Hitler called it, thousands of men were killed or wounded.
As the shells decimated the troops, fresh regiments were herded into the area.
On Sept 25 Hitler and his Regiment were brought south, and thrown into the midst of the heaviest fighting south of Bapaume.
Some of Germany’s best divisions were fighting in the sector and “compared with them,” Hitler would later state, “we felt we were the rawest of recruits.”
By now Bapaume itself had become an unrecognisable flaming abyss.
Hitler would later comment:
When we went into the line in 1916, south of Bapaume, the heat was intolerable. As we marched through the streets, there was not a house, not a tree to be seen; everything had been destroyed, and even the grass had been burnt. It was a variable wilderness.’
Because of the constant shifting of the front lines, and the heavy artillery bombardments, wired communications between regimental headquarters and the front lines were non-existent  Through the chatter of machine guns, the roar of exploding shells, the hum of shell fragments alive in the air, and the groans of suffering men, Hitler shuttled back and forth. “Then I saw men falling around me in thousands,” Hitler later stated. “Thus I learned that life is a cruel struggle, and has no other object but the preservation of the species. The individual can disappear, provided there are other men to replace him.
Even an arch-patriot like Hitler was appalled by the senseless losses.
Like many of his fellow recruits he slowly came to believe that the old leadership that he once thought so highly of, was failing them.
Hitler astonished a comrade by stating: “I would make the leaders responsible for these men who have fallen.”*
There would be few men who fought on the Somme who would ever wash away the memory of what occurred there.
Although Hitler had already fought in nearly 20 battles, and would fight in 20 more, nearly ten years later he would describe the Battle of the Somme as “more like hell than war.”
Although Hitler had been in the thick of the fighting on the Somme, the only injury he received was a minor shell splinter to the face.
On the night of October 7, 1916, however, his name was added to the casualty list.
During a rolling barrage of British artillery in the vicinity of Le Barque (two miles south-west of Bapaume) a shell landed near the spot where he and his fellow messengers were huddled waiting to run messages.
They were blown into a heap and Hitler survived with a serious wound to the left thigh.
What is strange,” Hitler would later say, ” is that at the moment of being wounded one has merely the sense of a shock, without immediate pain. One thinks that nothing important has occurred. The pain begins only when one is being carried away.”
Hitler did not want to leave his regiment and attempted to convince his superior to keep him at the front,  however, he was evacuated to a field hospital six miles behind Bapaume at Hermies. 

The Enigma of Hitler – Léon Degrelle

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

 Léon Degrelle

The mountains of books that have been written about Hitler  based on blind hatred and ignorance do little to describe or explain this enigmatic individual. How, I ponder, do these thousands of disparate portraits of Hitler in any way resemble the real man ? 
People have come to accept a fiction, repeated a thousand times over, as reality.
Yet they have never seen Hitler, never spoken to him, never heard a word from his mouth.
The very name of Hitler immediately conjures up a grimacing devil, the fount of all of one’s negative emotions.
Like Pavlov’s bell, the mention of Hitler is meant to dispense with substance and reality.
In time, however, history will demand more than these summary judgements.

Hitler was a man of peace in 1936,  a man of war from 1939
The first thing anyone noticed when he came into view was his small mustache.
Countless times he had been advised to shave it off, but he always refused: people were used to him the way he was.
He was not tall – no more than was Napoleon or Alexander the Great.
Hitler had deep blue eyes that many found fascinating and bewitching.
Some even said that there was an electric current that his hands were said to give off.
His face showed emotion or indifference according to the passion or apathy of the moment.
At times he was as though benumbed, saying not a word, while his jaws moved in the meanwhile as if they were grinding an obstacle to smithereens in the void.
Then he would come suddenly alive and launch into a speech directed at individual but, paradoxically, as though he were addressing a crowd of hundreds of thousands at Berlin’s Tempelhof airfield.
Then he became as if transfigured.
Even his complexion, otherwise dull, lit up as he spoke.
And at such times, to be sure, Hitler was strangely attractive, and as if possessed of magic powers.
Anything that might have seemed too solemn in his remarks, he quickly tempered with a touch of humor.
The picturesque word, the biting phrase were at his command.
In a flash he would paint a word-picture that brought a smile, or come up with an unexpected and disarming comparison.
He could be harsh, and even implacable in his judgments, and yet almost at the same time be surprisingly conciliatory, sensitive and warm.
After 1945 Hitler was accused of every cruelty, but it was not in his nature to be cruel.
He loved children.
It was an entirely natural thing for him to stop his car and share his food with young cyclists along the road. Once he gave his raincoat to a derelict plodding in the rain.
At midnight he would interrupt his work and prepare the food for his dog Blondi.
He could not bear to eat meat, because it meant the death of a living creature.
He refused to have so much as a rabbit or a trout sacrificed to provide his food.
He would allow only eggs on his table, because egg-laying meant that the hen had been spared rather than killed.
Hitler’s eating habits were a constant source of amazement to those around him.
How could someone on such a rigorous schedule, who had taken part in tens of thousands of exhausting mass meetings from which he emerged bathed with sweat, often losing two to four pounds in the process; who slept only three to four hours a night; and who, from 1940 to 1945, carried the whole world on his shoulders while ruling over 380 million Europeans: how could he physically survive on just a boiled egg, a few tomatoes, two or three pancakes, and a plate of noodles ? But he actually gained weight !
He drank only water.
He did not smoke, and would not tolerate smoking in his presence.
At one or two o’clock in the morning he would still be talking, untroubled, close to his fireplace, lively, often amusing.
He never showed any sign of weariness.
Dead tired his audience might be, but not Hitler.
Hitler’s most notable characteristic was ever his simplicity.
The most complex of problems resolved itself in his mind into a few basic principles.
His actions were geared to ideas and decisions that could be understood by anyone.
The laborer from Essen, the isolated farmer, the Ruhr industrialist, and the university professor could all easily follow his line of thought.
The very clarity of his reasoning made everything obvious.
His behavior and his lifestyle never changed even when he became the ruler of Germany.
He dressed and lived frugally.
During his early days in Munich, he spent no more than a mark per day for food.
At no stage in his life did he spend anything on himself.
Throughout his thirteen years in the chancellery he never carried a wallet or ever had money of his own.
Hitler was self-taught and made not attempt to hide the fact.
The smug conceit of intellectuals, their shiny ideas packaged like so many flashlight batteries, irritated him at times.
His own knowledge he had acquired through selective and unremitting study, and he knew far more than thousands of diploma-decorated academics.
I don’t think anyone ever read as much as he did.
He normally read one book every day, always first reading the conclusion and the index in order to gauge the work’s interest for him.
He had the power to extract the essence of each book and then store it in his computer-like mind.
he often talked about complicated scientific books with faultless precision, even at the height of the war.
His intellectual curiosity was limitless.
He was readily familiar with the writings of the most diverse authors, and nothing was too complex for his comprehension.
He had a deep knowledge and understanding of Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus Christ, as well as Luther, Calvin, and Savonarola; of literary giants such as Dante, Schiller, Shakespeare, and Goethe; and of analytical writers such as Renan and Gobineau, Chamberlain and Sorel.
He had trained himself in philosophy by studying Aristotle and Plato.
He could quote entire paragraphs of Schopenhauer from memory, and for a long time carried a pocked edition of Schopenhauer with him. Nietzsche taught him much about the willpower.
His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.
He spent hundreds of hours studying the works of Tacitus and Mommsen, military strategists such as Clausewitz, and empire builders such as Bismarck. Nothing escaped him: world history or the history of civilizations, the study of the Bible and the Talmud, Thomistic philosophy and all the master- pieces of Homer, Sophocles, Horace, Ovid, Titus Livius and Cicero. He knew Julian the Apostate as if he had been his contemporary.
His knowledge also extended to mechanics.
He knew how engines worked; he understood the ballistics of various weapons; and he astonished the best medical scientists with his knowledge of medicine and biology.
The universality of Hitler’s knowledge may surprise or displease those unaware of it, but it is nonetheless a historical fact: Hitler was probably one of the most cultivated men of this century.
Many times more so than Churchill, an intellectual mediocrity; or than Pierre Laval, with his mere cursory knowledge of history; or than Roosevelt; or Eisenhower, who never got beyond detective novels.
Even during his earliest years, Hitler was different than other children.
He had an inner strength and was guided by his spirit and his instincts.
He could draw skillfully when he was only eleven years old.
His sketches made at that age show a remarkable firmness and liveliness.
His first paintings and watercolors, created at age 15, are full of poetry and sensitivity.
One of his most striking early works, “Fortress Utopia,” also shows him to have been an artist of rare imagination.
His artistic orientation took many forms.
He wrote poetry from the time he was a lad.
He dictated a complete play to his sister Paula who was amazed at his presumption.
At the age of 16, in Vienna, he launched into the creation of an opera.
He even designed the stage settings, as well as all the costumes; and, of course, the characters were Wagnerian heroes.
More than just an artist, Hitler was above all an architect.
Hundreds of his works were notable as much for the architecture as for the painting.
From memory alone he could reproduce in every detail the onion dome of a church or the intricate curves of wrought iron, indeed, it was to fulfill his dream of becoming an architect that Hitler went to Vienna at the beginning of the century.
When one sees the hundreds of paintings, sketches and drawings he created at the time, which reveal his mastery of three dimensional figures, it is astounding that his examiners at the Fine Arts Academy failed him in two successive examinations.
German historian Werner Maser, no friend of Hitler, castigated these examiners: “All of his works revealed extraordinary architectural gifts and knowledge. The builder of the Third Reich gives the former Fine Arts Academy of Vienna cause for shame.”
Impressed by the beauty of the church in a Benedictine monastery where he was part of the choir and served as an altar boy, Hitler dreamt fleetingly of becoming a Benedictine monk.
And it was at that time, too, interestingly enough, that whenever he attended mass, he always had to pass beneath the first swastika he had ever seen: it was graven in the stone escutcheon of the abbey portal.
Hitler’s father, a customs officer, hoped the boy would follow in his footsteps and become a civil servant.
His tutor encouraged him to become a monk.
Instead the young Hitler went, or rather he fled, to Vienna.
And there, thwarted in his artistic aspirations by the bureaucratic mediocraties of academia, he turned to isolation and meditation.
Lost in the great capital of Austria-Hungary, he searched for his destiny.
During the first thirty years of Hitler’s life, the date April 20, 1889, meant nothing to anyone.
He was born on that day in Branau, a small town in the Inn valley.
During his exile in Vienna, he often thought of his modest home, and particularly of his mother.
When she fell ill, he returned home from Vienna to look after her.
For weeks he nursed her, did all the household chores, and supported her as the most loving of sons.
When she finally died, on Christmas eve, his pain was immense.
Wracked with grief, he buried his mother in the little country cemetery: “I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief,” said his mother’s doctor, who happened to be Jewish.
In his room, Hitler always displayed a picture of his mother.
The memory of the mother he loved was with him until the day he died.
She had blue eyes like his and a similar face.
Her maternal intuition told her that her son was different from other children
She acted almost as if she knew her son’s destiny.
When she died, she felt anguished by the immense mystery surrounding her son.
Throughout the years of his youth, Hitler lived the life of a virtual recluse.
He greatest wish was to withdraw from the world.
At heart a loner, he wandered about, ate meager meals, but devoured the books of three public libraries.
He abstained from conversations and had few friends.
It is almost impossible to imagine another such destiny where a man started with so little and reached such heights.
Alexander the Great was the son of a king.
Napoleon, from a well-to-do family, was a general at twenty-four.
Fifteen years after Vienna, Hitler would still be an unknown corporal.
Thousands of others had a thousand times more opportunity to leave their mark on the world.
Hitler was not much concerned with his private life.
In Vienna he had lived in shabby, cramped lodgings, but for all that he rented a piano that took up half his room, and concentrated on composing his opera.
He lived on bread, milk, and vegetable soup.
But he never stopped painting or reading.
Landlords and landladies in Vienna and Munich all remembered him for his civility and pleasant disposition. His behavior was impeccable.
His room was always spotless, his meager belongings meticulously arranged, and his clothes neatly hung or folded.
He washed and ironed his own clothes, something which in those days few men did.
He needed almost nothing to survive, and money from the sale of a few paintings was sufficient to provide for all his needs.
Hitler had not yet focused on politics, but without his rightly knowing, that was the career to which he was most strongly called.
Politics would ultimately blend with his passion for art.
People, the masses, would be the clay the sculptor shapes into an immortal form.
The human clay would become for him a beautiful work of art like one of Myron’s marble sculptures, a Hans Makart painting, or Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
His love of music, art, and architecture had not removed him from the political life and social concerns of Vienna.
When Hitler later said that he had formed his social and political doctrine in Vienna, he told the truth.
Ten years later his observations made in Vienna would become the order of the day.
Thus Hitler was to live for several years in the crowded city of Vienna as a virtual outcast, yet quietly observing everything around him.
His strength came from within.
He did not rely on anyone to do his thinking for him.
Exceptional human beings always feel lonely amid the vast human throng.
Hitler saw his solitude as a wonderful opportunity to meditate and not to be submerged in a mindless sea.
In order not to be lost in the wastes of a sterile desert, a strong soul seeks refuge within himself.
Hitler was such a soul.

The lightning in Hitler’s life would come from the Word.
All his artistic talent would be channeled into his mastery of communication and eloquence.
Hitler would never conceive of popular conquests without the power of the Word.
He would enchant and be enchanted by it.
He would find total fulfillment when the magic of his words inspired the hearts and minds of the masses with whom he communed.
He would feel reborn each time he conveyed with mystical beauty the knowledge he had acquired in his lifetime.
Hitler’s incantory eloquence will remain, for a very long time.
The power of Hitler’s word is the key.

Did Hitler believe in God ?
He believed deeply in God.
He called God the Almighty, master of all that is known and unknown.
He acknowledged that every human being has spiritual needs.
The song of the nightingale, the pattern and color of a flower, continually brought him back to the great problems of creation.
No one in the world has spoke so eloquently about the existence of God.
He held this view not because he was brought up as a Christian, but because his analytical mind bound him to the concept of God.
Hitler’s faith transcended formulas and contingencies.
God was for him the basis of everything, the ordainer of all things, of his destiny and that of all others.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


 “At the age of twelve, I saw … the first opera of my life, Lohengrin. In one instant I was addicted.
My youthful enthusiasm for the Bayreuth Master knew no bounds.”

“When human hearts break and human souls despair, then from the twilight of the past, the great conquerors of distress and care, of shame and misery, of spiritual slavery and physical compulsion, look down and hold out their eternal hands to the despairing mortals. Woe to the people ashamed to grasp them !”

“He who would live must fight

And he who would not contend in this world of eternal struggle
Does not deserve to live.”

“I am founding an Order.
It is from the burgs that the second
stage will emerge – the stage of the Man-God, when Man will be the measure and centre of
the world. The Man-God, that splendid Being, will be an object of worship … But there are
other stages about which I am not permitted to speak …”

“It is my ultimate aim to perform an act of creation, a divine operation, the goal of a biological mutation which will result in an unprecedented exaltation of the human race and the appearance of a new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men”.

“Creation is not finished. Man is clearly approaching a phase of metamorphosis. The earlier human species has already reached the stage of dying out…. All of the force of creation will be concentrated in a new species… which will surpass infinitely modern man….  “

“We shall rejuvenate the world.  This world is near its end.”

“Do you now appreciate the depth of our National Socialist Movement?  Can there be anything greater and more all comprehending?  Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it.  It is more even than religion; it is the will to create mankind anew !”

“All of the force of creation will be concentrated in a new species… which will surpass infinitely modern man…. “

“The new man is living amongst us now! He is here!…I will tell you a secret. I have seen the new man. He is intrepid and cruel. I was afraid of him.” 

“We are at the outset of a tremendous revolution in moral ideas and man’s spiritual orientation. A new age of the magic interpretation of the world is coming, an interpretation in terms of will and not the intelligence.”

“The real destiny of man is something the average man could not conceive and would be unable to stomache if given a glance.

Our revolution is the final stage in an evolution that will end by abolishing history.
My Party members have no conception of the dreams that haunt my mind or the grand design for the foundations that will have been laid before I die.
The world has reached a pivetol point and will undergo an upheaval which you unititated people cannot understand” 

“The old beliefs will be brought back to honor again.

The whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the demonic.
We will wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race.”

for more information see
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
‘And the Will lieth therin, which dieth not.
Who knoweth the mysteries of the Will and its vigour ?
For God is but a great Will pervading all things by the nature of its intentness.
Man doth not yield himself to the Angels nor to Death uterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble Will !’

Joseph Glanvill – (1636–1680)

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Click here for August Kubizek’s own fascinating account of his friendship with Adolf Hitler
 Hitler Mein Jugendfreund
(Hitler – My Boyhood Friend)

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Sexuality and Gender in the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Sexuality and Gender in the Third Reich

It is often thought that National Socialist ideology was primarily focused on removing the influence of Jews from all aspects of German society, however, Völkisch ideas and attitudes towards race were far more complex.

For the National Socialists, establishing a pure and thriving volksgemeinschaft was crucial to the survival of Germany and subsequently, the German people, therefore, the National Socialists saw themselves responsible for ensuring that the Germanic Aryan race flourished.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Volksgemeinschaft is a German-language expression meaning “people’s community”. Originally appearing during World War I as Germans rallied behind the war, it derived its popularity as a means to break down elitism and class divides. Upon rising to power in 1933, the National Socialists sought to gain support of various elements of society. Their concept of Volksgemeinschaft was racially unified and organized hierarchically. This involved a mystical unity, a form of racial soul uniting all Germans. This soul was regarded as related to the land, in the doctrine of “blood and soil”. Indeed, one reason for “blood and soil” was the belief that landowner and peasant lived in an organic harmony.
In order to achieve their racial ambitions, the National Socialists introduced a number of reforms that redefined Germany’s existing social structures.
These reforms also drastically limited personal freedoms of both Jewish and non-Jewish German citizens.
Moreover, due to the authoritarian nature of Nazism, the regime sought to control the behaviour of people both in and out of the public sphere.
During the Third Reich a person’s body was no longer considered their own.
Instead, the body was recognized as a public site.
As a result, established social conceptions on gender and sexuality became susceptible to Völkisch influence.
To achieve their ideological objectives, the Third Reich instituted a number of policies regarding gender and sexuality.
Ultimately, these policies had a significant impact on German society.
Gender Roles in Nazi Germany
For the National Socialists, existing social and behavioural norms that delineated gender roles in Germany were not conducive to their ideological ambitions.
During their time in power, the National Socialists worked to establish their own conceptions regarding gender in German society.

Nationalsozialistische Soldat
Richard Scheibe – ‘Kneeling Warrior’ 1937
Nationalsozialistischen ‘Neue Mensch’
‘Aryan Man’ – Arno Breker

Like other traditional right-wing movements the National Socialists subscribed to the idea of creating a ‘new man’ that would function as a symbol of the state.

In promoting the concept of creating a ‘new man’, the National Socialists redefined existing notions on manliness and masculinity.
According to Völkisch ideology, manliness could not be ascertained through “virtues that could be expressed in ordinary life.”
Instead, a man could only achieve true manliness by engaging in heroic activities.
Moreover, the National Socialists believed that manliness was determined by a man’s willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the state.
For the National Socialists the soldier embodied all the ideal characteristics associated with the ‘new man’.
Men were expected to embrace the soldier mentality and join male dominated organizations, such as  the SS (Schutzstaffel).
Furthermore, in order to fulfil their racial duties, men were also encouraged to marry ‘hereditarily fit’ German women, and establish kinderreich (rich in children) families.

Reichsbund Kinderreich
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter

The Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter (Cross of Honour of the German Mother), referred to colloquially as the Mutterehrenkreuz (Mother’s Cross of Honour) was a state decoration and civil order of merit conferred by the government of the German Reich to honour a Reichsdeutsche (Imperial German) mother for exceptional merit to the German nation. Eligibility later extended to include Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) mothers from, for example, Austria and Sudetenland, that had earlier been incorporated into the German Reich.
The decoration was conferred from 1939 until 1945 in three classes of order, bronze, silver, and gold, to mothers who exhibited probity, exemplary motherhood, and who conceived and raised at least four or more children in the role of a parent.
It is estimated that up until September 1941 there were a total of 4.7 million recipient mothers honoured with the Mother’s Cross decoration.

In the family unit, men were expected to act as patriarchs, charged with instilling proper Völkisch values into their children.
Thus it is apparent that Völkisch attitudes towards masculinity and the role of the man subscribed to a Germanic ideal.
Völkisch views on the role of women also revolved around traditionalist ideals.

Deutsch Mutter und drei Kinder

According to National Socialist doctrine, “…to be a wife and mother is the German woman’s highest essence and purpose of life.” 

Essentially, it was the responsibility of the ‘hereditarily fit’ woman to birth and raise racially pure children.
As a result, femininity became synonymous with motherhood and fertility in the Third Reich. Furthermore, a high level of intelligence in a woman was no longer considered desirable trait.
For the National Socialists, “fertility, not intellectual abilities, was the key.”
It was also thought that women should remain inside the home or private sphere because the public realm strictly belonged men.
In penetrating the public sphere, it was understood that a woman would not be able to accomplish her stately duties of birthing and raising pure Aryan children.
In the home, women’s activities were regulated to “Kinder,” “Küche,” and “Kirche” (children, kitchen, and church).
By focusing primarily on the family and the home, the National Socialists believed a woman could simultaneously fulfill her own natural maternal instincts and serve the state to the best of her abilities. In National Socialist society, mothers were also to be accorded with the same honourable status as the soldier in the German Volk community.
For the National Socialists, in becoming a mother, a woman sacrificed her body and life for the good of the Fatherland, much like the soldier.
Motherhood was also compared to soldiering in that by brining a child into the world, a mother was thought to be fighting her own battle for the nation, therefore, in embracing motherhood, women were afforded due prestige in the Third Reich.
Origins of National Socialist Ideology on Gender
National Socialist attitudes towards gender and gender roles primarily stemmed from existing right-wing ideology and nineteenth century philosophy.
 Friedrich Nietzsche
One such philosopher that was fundamental in influencing the Völkisch view on gender, and the overall National Socialist rhetoric on the establishment of a ‘new man’ was Friedrich Nietzsche.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and composer. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.
Nietzsche’s key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the ‘Will to Power’, the “death of God”, the ‘Übermensch’, and eternal recurrence. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves questioning of any doctrine that drains one’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those ideas might be. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary and his influence remains substantial, particularly in the continental philosophical tradition comprising existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s views on women have attracted controversy, beginning during his life, and continuing to the present.
After his father died when he was only five, Nietzsche was left to be raised in a household solely occupied by women (his mother, his sister, and two maiden aunts).
How much of an affect this had on developing the young man’s lifelong attitudes towards women is impossible to tell, but it would be disingenuous to dismiss it as a triviality.
Throughout his life, Nietzsche had few companions (of either gender), and virtually no real romantic relationships 
He frequently made remarks in his writing that may be viewed as misogynistic.
Nietzsche’s quote on women include:

‘The sexes deceive themselves about each other – because at bottom they honor and love only themselves (or their own ideals, to put it more pleasantly). 
Thus man likes woman peaceful – but woman is essentially un-peaceful, like a cat, however well she may have trained herself to seem peaceable.’

‘Woman’s love involves injustice and blindness against everything that she does not love… Woman is not yet capable of friendship: women are still cats and birds. Or at best cows…’
‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ – On the Friend

Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything about woman has one solution – it is called pregnancy.’

Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Old and Young Women, Friedrich Nietzsche 

Nietzsche says much the same of love in general in ‘The Joyful Science’
Woman! One-half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, inconstant… she needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and being humble as divine: or better, she makes the strong weak–she rules when she succeeds in overcoming the strong… Woman has always conspired with the types of decadence, the priests, against the “powerful”, the “strong”, the men.’
‘The Will to Power’ – 864
However, Nietzsche’s apparent misogyny is part of his overall strategy to demonstrate that our attitudes toward sex-gender are thoroughly cultural, are often destructive of our own potential as individuals and as a species, and may be changed.
What looks like misogyny may be understood as part of a larger strategy whereby “woman-as-such” (the universal essence of woman with timeless character traits) is shown to be a product of male desire, a construct
Lou Andreas-Salomé

Луиза Густавовна Саломе – (Lou Andreas-Salomé), who knew Nietzsche very well, and claimed that he had proposed to her (according to her, she refused him) claimed there was something feminine in Nietzsche’s “spiritual nature“, and that he had considered genius to be a feminine genius.
Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche was two years younger than her brother.
Both were children of a Lutheran pastor in the German village of Röcken bei Lützen.
The two children were close during their childhood and early adult years.
There has been speculation that the relationship between Elizabeth and Fritz was so close that it was almost ‘incestuous’.
Nietzsche himself only ever had one romantic relationship with a woman – Lou Andreas Salomé (see above), and it is significant that Elizabeth did everything in her power to bring the relationship to an end.
Nietzsche’s only other intense relationship (apart from that with Richard Wagner) – even to the extent of being described as ‘homoerotic’, was with ‘Peter Gast’ – Johann Heinrich Köselitz (10 January 1854–15 August 1918) was a German author and composer. He is known for his long-time friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the pseudonym ‘Peter Gast’.

Peter Gast

In Basel, a friendship developed between Gast and Nietzsche.
Gast read for Nietzsche during the latter’s intermittent spells of near blindness, and also took dictation. Gast was instrumental in the preparation of all of Nietzsche’s works after 1876, reviewing the printer’s manuscript and sometimes intervening to finalize the text formatting.
Nietzsche’s break with Wagner and his search for a ‘southern’ aesthetic with which he could immunize himself from the gloomy German north led him to over-appreciate Gast as a musician.

Nietzsche states that a woman’s true source of power lies in her ability to bear children (essentially the power to grant life – which resonates with  Völkisch and National Socialist theories), and that this trait serves as her underlying motivation for dealing with men (who are dependent on women for the propagation of their bloodline – their physical immortality, so to speak).
Because of man’s dependence on woman in this regard, the masculine gender will readily deify womanhood (i.e. motherhood), to a higher realm of existence, a sentiment women will shrewdly use to “raise themselves higher,” to a plane of virtue that is beyond reproach.  

In the more general sphere, according to Nietzsche, willpower and healthy emotions should dominate over repression – even sexual repression.

In mastering his emotions, a man could then become ‘Übermensch’ or the “overman,” which is a type of superior human being that has achieved self-mastery and has balanced thoughts and feelings.

Italian Futurism
The idea of the ‘new man’ was first introduced in Italy by nationalists who wanted to establish a new Italy.
The ‘Futurists’, who had a significant role in the institution of fascism in Italy, also embraced the notion of creating a ‘new man’.
To the Futurists, the new Italian man was not weighed down by history “but could take off into uncharted spaces proclaiming Italy’s glory through his personal drive.
Furthermore, the Futurists believed that the ‘new man’ was to be disciplined, combative, and perceive the world in a way that accepted the new speed of time.
Therefore, in taking power, Mussolini adapted many of the existing theories on the ‘new man’ into fascist ideology.

Giovanni Papini
Benito Mussolini 

In creating a ‘Uomo Nuovo Fascista’ (fascist ‘new man’), Mussolini was also influenced by the work of Italian publicist Giovanni Papini who stated that men were to rid themselves of bourgeois icons such as family and love.

Giovanni Papini (January 9, 1881 – July 8, 1956) was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.

Papini also emphasised that men must be forceful and energetic and approach life in a sober, unromantic manner.
Thus, when Mussolini came to power in Italy, establishing a fascist ‘new man’ was fundamental to his political agenda.

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to his ousting in 1943. In 1926 Mussolini seized total power as dictator and ruled Italy as Il Duce (“the leader”) from 1930 to 1943. Mussolini was one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.

Uomo Nuovo Fascista

Consequently, the concept of the ‘new man’ became a significant aspect of fascist ideology as a whole.

The glorification of the war also had a considerable impact on Völkisch gender ideals.
After the Great War, there was an extensive effort to redefine masculinity in Germany, and other various countries.
Ultimately, the National Socialists saw themselves as the “inheritors of the war experience.”
As a result, war became a significant factor in determining masculinity in the Third Reich.
According to the National Socialist, the soldier represented true manhood because he was not afraid to face death and was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the nation.
It was also thought that a man who survived the war knew how to truly live because he defied death, resulting in the idolization of veterans in the Third Reich.


The wartime camaraderie felt between men also appealed to the National Socialists.

To the regime, male bonding was considered to be the foundation of the state.
As a result, the idea of the ‘Männerbund’ (Männerbund – bond of men; it was a distinctly masculine mystique which became an essential part of SA ideology) was heavily promoted in the Third Reich.
Many of the  National Socialists’ concepts on war and masculinity were also garnered from the writings of Ernst Jünger.
For Jünger, war represented the end of the bourgeois era.
Correspondingly, much of Jüngers writings glorified that act of war and emphasised its masculine qualities.

Kameradschaft – Arno Breker

In In ‘Stahlgewittern’ (Storm of Steel), Jünger describes man as being “a compulsive sexual being who proves himself in war.”

Jünger also states that “for war, viewed from its centre…there is only one standpoint.
It is the most masculine one.”
Ernst Jünger
Therefore, combined with the glorification of the war experience, Jünger’s writing had a significant influence on Völkisch ideals regarding manhood and masculinity.
Ernst Jünger (29 March 1895 – 17 February 1998) was a German writer and philosopher. In addition to his political essays, novels and diaries, he is well known for ‘Storm of Steel’, an account of his experience during World War I.
The ontology of war depicted in Storm of Steel could be interpreted as a model for a new, hierarchically ordered society beyond democracy, beyond the security of bourgeois society and ennui.
Wappen Deutsches Reich
Weimarer Republik

National Socialist attitudes toward gender and gender roles were also affected by the Weimar Republic.

For the National Socialists, the Weimar Republic represented the cultural decay of German society.
In order to prevent further cultural decomposition, the regime rejected all things associated with the Weimar period, including the new freedoms experienced by women.

Women Munitions Workers
During the Great War, women were allowed leave the confines of the private sphere and seek employment in war-related industries.
Following the war, women achieved a number of political gains including the establishment of female suffrage during the national election in November 1918, which led to the popularization of the women’s emancipation movement.
The new political empowerment of women at the beginning of the Weimar years led to dynamic changes in their conduct and behaviour throughout the 1920s.

The Threepenny Opera
Goldene Zwanziger

During the Weimar period, women were allowed to smoke, drink, and dance provocatively in public. Women also started to use cosmetics more regularly, cut their hair into styles such as the pageboy and the bob, and adopted male clothing into their wardrobes.

Since the National Socialists believed that racial purity would solve all of Germany’s problems, they saw the ‘masculinisation’ of women as a significant threat.

1920s Fashion

Consequently, the National Socialists promoted the idea that feminism would destroy the German race and lead to the introduction of Bolshevism.

The National Socialists also denounced the women’s emancipation movement as being a construct of the Jewish intellect, furthermore, with the onset of the depression, the National Socialists endorsed the notion that in order for the nation to recover economically, the family must be stabilized, which meant that women must return to the private sphere, therefore, National Socialist ideals on the role of women in society were developed in reaction to the freedoms experienced by women during the Weimar period.

Ideology and Sexuality
Sexuality was also a significant aspect of Völkisch racial ideology.

1920s Mercedes benz
German Birth Rate

During the Weimar era, there was a considerable drop in birthrates, from 36 births per thousand inhabitants to 14.7 births per thousand.

The National Socialists attributed this decline to the extravagant lifestyles of Germans during the Weimar period, which encouraged the promotion of the individual over the collective.
For the National Socialists, the low birthrate among the German population endangered the continued survival of the Germanic Aryan race.
In order to promote a higher birthrate, the National Socialists worked to control people’s sexual behaviours.

‘Du und Ich’ – Arno Breker

Under National Socialist rule, the politicization of the body was incorporated in German societal discourses.

According the National Socialists, an individual’s body is a public site “whose purpose was to further the larger social organism.”
As a result, private human activities were given public significance.
To ensure the perseverance of the Germanic Aryan race, the National Socialists embraced conservative sexual values, which emphasised heterosexuality and chastity.
When it came to the actual act of sex, the National Socialists believed that people should approach sex with the purpose of fulfilling national goals rather than pursuing their own pleasure.
Ultimately, ‘supposedly’ immoral sexual practices, such as passive homosexuality, were blamed on the Jews.
To the National Socialists, the Jews sought “to strike the Nordic race at its most vulnerable point: sexual life.”
The National Socialists also argued that the Jews disregarded spirituality in exchange for sensuality and physical contact.
Thus, the National Socialists advocated the idea that proper sexual behaviours were devoid of Jewish influences.
Sexuality for the National Socialists also represented an area in which the regime could further consolidate its power.
For the National Socialists, regulating public discourse on acceptable sexual practices allowed the regime to be associated with sexual gratification.
By enforcing the idea that sex was a public service, the individual would then recognize their sexual satisfaction as being a part of their patriotic duty in supporting the State and its endeavours.
As a result, sex was considered to be a reward for the regime to grant to its supporters.
The National Socialists also worked to eliminate the existing taboos associated with sexuality.
They claimed that sexual taboos associated with the body were introduced into German society by the Jews, in an effort to disturb the natural order and undermine institutions such as marriage and the family.

Karl Truppe
Karl Truppe

The goal of the National Socialists was to restore notions of beauty and nobility back to the body.

In order to accomplish this task, the regime instituted specific standards about how the body, particularly the female body, should be portrayed in paintings and other artistic creations.
To the National Socialists artists were to strive to represent the purity of the body in its natural form in their work.

Karl Truppe (* February 9 1887 in Ebenthal
† February 22 1959 in Viktring ) was an Austrian painter and university professor. He portrayed among others , Emperor Charles I of Austria and Adolf Hitler.

‘Dianas Ruhe’ – Ivo Saliger

Thus many state-commissioned paintings feature psychically attractive women lying naked in the sun or in the sea, such as in ‘Dianas Ruhe’ – Ivo Saliger

Ivo Saliger was known both for his original etchings and paintings. He moved to Vienna in 1908 at the same time as Adolf Hitler but unlike Hitler he was admiited and studied painting and etching techniques at the Academy of Vienna, under some of Austria’s finest artists such as Ferdinand Schmutzer. Saliger completed his studies at the Academie Moderne, in Paris. He returned to Vienna in 1920 to assume the post of professor of art at the Academy. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Ivo Saliger developed strong Art Deco elements within his art.

Entartete Kunst 
All forms of artwork that did not fulfill the standards set in place by the Nazis were classified as ‘Entartete Kunst’ (degenerate art) because of its supposed advocacy of sexual deviance, pornography, and nakedness, therefore, by imposing their own ideals on sexuality onto society, the National Socialists presented themselves as the protectors of sexual morality and good taste.

Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the National Socialist regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. These included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art entirely.
While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the “blood and soil” values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience.

Although the National Socialist stance on sexuality appeared to be regressive and rigid, there were a number of contradictions between what the Nazis outwardly promoted and what was actually practiced.
In order to achieve their racial ambitions, the regime encouraged premarital sex and extra-marital affairs.
Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

While the National Socialists heavily advocated the idea of chastity, by 1934, members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (Federation of German Girls) were instructed to engage in premarital relations

The Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) or the League of German Maidens was the girl’s wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
The League consisted of:
– Jungmädelbund ages 10 to 14
– Jungmädelbund ages 14 to 18
– Werk Glaube und Schönheit (added in 1938) ages 17 to 21

Although this directive was originally classified as “top secret,” by 1935 the population was well aware of what went on during meetings between the BDM and the Hitlerjugend (HJ) or Hitler Youth.

As a result of these illicit affairs, hospitals became overcrowded with adolescent girls, some as young as fifteen, who were pregnant.
Due to the influx of un-wed mothers during the mid to late 1930s, the National Socialists also worked to eliminate the stigma associated with single mothers and illegitimate children.
According to National Socialist Family Policy, “the National Socialist state no longer sees in the single mother the „degenerate’…It places the single mother who has given a child a life higher than the „lady,’ who has avoided having children in her marriage on egotistical grounds.”

Heinrich Himmler Reich führer SS

Moreover, during the war years, SS leader Heinrich Himmler even went as far as to endorse polygamy.

For Himmler, traditional marriages would not produce the amount of children needed to cement the future of the Germanic Aryan race.
Himmler believed that with having multiple wives, a man would be less tempted to stray because each wife would vie for his affections.
Therefore, it is evident that there was a specific duality between what the National Socialists preached and what they practiced in terms of sexuality.
This duality also existed when it came to Nazi attitudes regarding prostitution.
During the Nazi period, there was a wide-spread campaign to eliminate venereal disease (VD), which was deemed hazardous to the foundation of the state.
Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)

In May 1933, revisions were made to the VD law, which was included in the Decree for the Protection of the Volk and State, and Clause 361 of the criminal code that allowed the Nazis to punish those “who publicly and conspicuously or in a manner likely to annoy the public incites immoral acts or offers immoral services.”

Those who were considered promiscuous or engaged in sexually deviant activities, such as prostitutes, were categorized as ‘asocial’ or people unwilling to integrate themselves into society.
The National Socialist ideology outwardly idealized chastity and moral sexual practices, but did not ban prostitution entirely.
While the National Socialist imposed heavy penalties on prostitutes who did not comply with health regulations, the regime was much more lax in enforcing laws against the establishment of brothels and red light districts.
Although health care experts argued that brothels and red light districts raised the risk of spreading VD among the population, the National Socialists condemned these reports.
Instead, the regime insisted that brothels and controlled prostitution protected public health because it ensured that soldiers were strengthened through their encounters with prostitutes because it enabled them to fight with more vigor.
Consequently, in 1936 the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht declared military brothels to be a necessity and a state run brothel system was introduced.
In order to indoctrinate their ideals on gender and sexuality into society, the National Socialists used a number of different methods.
One such method was the institution of laws and policies aimed towards achieving National Socialist racial ambitions.

Between the period of September to October 1935, the regime introduced several laws that effectively eliminated the freedoms associated with marriage in Germany.

Under the “Marriage Health Law,” couples who wished to be wed were forced to provide evidence that proved their hereditary fitness in order to demonstrate that their marriage would produce racially pure children.
Furthermore, during the war, military marriage regulations were instituted and brides were subjected to additional physical examinations, however, men who were qualified to serve in the military were declared fit for marriage and were not required to submit to further testing.
In 1941, the National Socialists also introduced the “Marriage Clearance Certificate,” which was specifically aimed towards women.
Since men in the military were considered ‘hereditarily fit’, this directive was enacted to prevent marriage fraud by women whose offspring would be regarded as undesirable.
Laws and policies were also set in place in an effort to rmove women from the workplace.
Under National Socialist rule, the policy against Doppelverdiener or ‘double earners’, which was first established during the Weimar period, continued to be enforced.
According to the National Socialists, married women who were employed in heavy industry limited available job opportunities for men and as a result, those unemployed men would not be able to provide for their own families.
Although women were not entirely banned from working in the industrial sector, they were encouraged to work in areas more suited to their ‘biology’, or to participate in tasks that would not distract them from their family duties, such as working in assembly lines.
The National Socialists also heavily employed propaganda in the form of images, films, and other media-based sources in an effort to instill their ideals in the German population.
Like other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, the National Socialists understood the potential of propaganda to have a significant influence on the private lives of citizens.
In their propaganda campaign, the National Socialists idealized their ideology regarding gender and sexuality.
Mutter und Kind

In order to induce women to embrace motherhood and domestic life, propaganda materials, such as posters, often depicted women as mothers, basking in the joys of raising a family.

Women were frequently pictured breast-feeding a baby or surrounded by children in a traditional rural setting, which was meant to represent the National Socialist idea of ideal family life.
Men, on the other hand, were primarily depicted as soldiers prepared to go to war for the Fatherland, which emphasized the values of heroism and self sacrifice that the National Socialists associated with masculinity.
To symbolize the importance of family and racial purity, men with obvious Aryan characteristics were also included in pictures of the kinderreich family looking happy and healthy.
The National Socialists also published various kinds of propaganda literature in order to further indoctrinate the population.
Specialized women’s magazines that informed the reader about the joys of motherhood, gave marriage advice, and offered tips on how to manage the household were widely circulated.

Adolf Wissel

These magazines also included articles geared towards men, such as “The Happy SS Father.”

The National Socialists also distributed pamphlets, created traveling art exhibits, and made radio broadcasts and public speeches to further promote their ideology on gender and sexuality, therefore, one can see that the National Socialists employed a number of different mediums as tools in their propaganda efforts.

Adolf Wissel (19 April 1894 – 17 November 1973) was a German painter.
Wissel, who was born in Velber, was a painter in the genre of  Völkisch Folk Art, the idea being that these paintings should show the simple, natural life of a farming family. The phrase ‘union with the soil’ best describes the subject of his art. Wissel idealised farming life for predominantly urban viewers. Exhibitions of paintings of this genre were meant to show the peasants and working class that they were just as good as the wealthy, and that they too deserved a pleasant life. These paintings were part of the Third Reich ‘Blut und Boden’ (Blood and Soil) campaign, designed to associate the ideas of health, family and motherhood with the country.
‘Blut und Boden’ refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent (blood) from the volk, and homeland/Heimat (Boeden). It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places a high value on the virtues of rural living.
Wissel painted many pictures such as these, but his work contains subtle distortions and accentuations influenced by expressionism. He died in Velber in 1973.

The National Socialists also worked to indoctrinate German citizens through the use of educational programs.
According to Adolf Hitler, the goal of education was to teach girls and boys about becoming mothers and leaders.
As a result, the National Socialists established the HJ and BDM as institutions in which young Germans could be instructed on Völkisch ideology and molded into proper citizens of the Volksgemeinschaft.
In both organizations, girls and boys were instructed on their obligations to the Volk, and taught about health and racial purity, moreover, in the HJ and BDM, physical activity was emphasized with boys and girls being trained to endure a certain amount of physical activity.
Thus, members of the HJ and BDM were strictly disciplined into complying with organizational principles and National Socialist standards.
Educational programs were also directed towards adults, especially women.
Through the establishment of the NS-Frauenschaft, a Völkisch women’s organization, a “Mother Schooling Program” was introduced.

Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink
Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft

The Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft, abbreviated “NS-Frauenschaft” (National Socialist Women’s League) was the women’s wing of the NSDAP. It was founded in October 1931 as a fusion of several nationalist and National Socialist women’s associations.
The Frauenschaft was subordinated to the national party leadership (Reichsleitung); girls and young women were the purview of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). From February 1934 to the end of World War II in 1945, the NS-Frauenschaft was led by Reich’s Women’s Leader (Reichsfrauenführerin) Gertrud Scholtz-Klink (1902–1999). It put out a biweekly magazine, the NS-Frauen-Warte.
Its activities included instruction in the use of German-manufactured products, such as butter and rayon, in place of imported ones, as part of the self-sufficiency program, and classes for brides and schoolgirls. During wartime, it also provided refreshments at train stations, collected scrap metal and other materials, ran cookery and other classes, and allocated the domestics conscripted in the east to large families. Propaganda organizations depended on it as the primary spreader of propaganda to women.
The NS-Frauenschaft reached a total membership of 2 million by 1938, the equivalent of 40% of total party membership.
The German National Socialist Women’s League Children’s Group was known as “Kinderschar”.


In enrolling in this program, women over the age eighteen were taught about their duties as a wife and mother, as well as instructed on how to properly care for their home and family.

By the end of 1936, over 150 schools were instituted, which eventually rose to 270, with 673 000 women attending.
The Reichsfrauenführung (National Women’s Leadership) also developed a new a branch within the Deutsche Frauenwerk (German Women’s Work) that worked to educate women about the regime’s autarky program.
Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the term is applied to political states or their economic systems. The latter are called closed economies. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance or international trade. Autarky is not necessarily economic. Autarky can be said to be the policy of a state or other entity when it seeks to be self-sufficient as a whole.
In lectures hosted by this new department, National Economics/Home Economics (Vw/Hw), women were instructed on purchasing products that would contribute to the national good, such as refraining from buying goods from Jewish shops.
Women were also told to purchase only locally grown produce, such as apples, instead of imported fruits, as well as encouraged to recycle old clothes and household products.
Thus, it is evident that educational programs were an important source for imposing
Völkisch ideals onto the German population.
Adolf Hitler and Child

Völkisch ideology regarding gender and sexuality had a number of effects on the German population. Although the National Socialists considered the family the foundation of the nation, Völkisch attitudes towards gender and sexuality worked in some ways to undermine the family unit.

Ultimately, the emphasis placed on fulfilling a triumphant form of masculinity created tension between men and their families.
More specifically, there was, in some cases, a distinct rivalry between all-male party organizations and family life.
In joining such organizations as the S.A. or Sturmabteilung, men often faced the dilemma of living up to Völkisch ideals, associated with masculinity, and also honoring their obligation to establish a family and father racially pure children.
For members of the S.A., a man’s loyalty belonged to the state and as a result, there was little concern for the family.
It was also commonly understood that a man’s purpose in life was to serve the state.
Thus, a man could not be contained within the confines of the home.
This rivalry between the state and the family was represented in the film ‘Kolberg’ (1945), in which a German officer forsakes the love of an idealistic woman because he prefers the masculine world of fighting for the Fatherland over settling down and starting a family.
Youth organizations also worked to undermine the institution of the family in the Third Reich.
While the HJ and the BDM were established with the intention of supporting the family unit, many youths saw these groups as a means to gain a degree of independence outside of their families and contribute to the adult world.
Children were subjected to strong parental discipline and scrutiny, with boys and girls often feeling intimidated by their fathers.
As a result, some children joined these organizations as an act of rebellion against their parent’s authority.
The youth leagues in the Third Reich also worked against the institution of the family in that members were used as informants.
In joining the HJ and the BDM, inductees were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the Führer.
Also, in these organizations, members were expected to accept Völkisch ideology and their obligations to the Volksgemeinschaft (national community) unquestionably.
When conflicts arose between family demands and Völkisch ideals, children involved in the HJ and the BDM were instructed to take actions against their parents and notify officials.
By indoctrinating the youth, the National Socialists stripped parents of qualities that garnered respect from their children.
National Socialist laws and policies regarding gender and sexuality also had a considerable impact on the German population.
As an incentive to promote more marriages between ‘hereditarily fit’ partners, the National Socialists established the Law for the Reduction of Unemployment in June 1933 which allowed couples to apply for interest-free loans of up to RM 1000.
In order to acquire a marriage loan, however, the women would have to give up paid employment. 
Therefore, this law was instituted with the hopes that it would remove women from the public sphere and increase available job opportunities for men.
The National Socialists believed that the establishment of marriage loans would reduce the male marriage age and decrease a man’s need to engage in illicit sexual activities, such as prostitution.
Also, the National Socialists introduced a number of changes to the existing divorce laws in Germany. 
One such change was dissolving marriages based on infertility or the refusal of a spouse to procreate. 
According to the National Socialists  marriages that did not produce racially pure children were useless to the national community.
If no children could be produced either by circumstance or by choice, a wife or husband had legitimate grounds to divorce their partner.
While the new divorce laws were not meant to be biased towards a particular sex, men were more successful in incorporating National Socialist ideals into their complaints.
As a result, men were frequently granted divorces against their reluctant spouses.
Furthermore, Germans who failed to marry or remained childless faced various penalties.
Un-wed or childless women were pitied in public and in private, as well as subjected to public stigmatization for working against the nation.
Unmarried men and childless couples who ‘refused to multiply’ (Fortpflanzungsverweigerung), however, were required to pay additional taxes that amounted to ten percent of their income as punishment, therefore, laws and policies concerning gender and sexuality further enforced Völkisch ideals on acceptable gender roles, sexual practices, and racial purity.
Since gender and sexuality was a significant aspect of the National Socialist population policy, it is also pertinent to discuss the different ways in which the German population was affected by Völkisch attitudes concerning racial hygiene.
According to the National Socialists controlling people’s reproductive capacities would allow for the growth of a healthier and productive nation due to the purity of population.
Consequently, the National Socialists introduced the Law of for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring in July 1933.
Under the jurisdiction of this law, those who were suffering from a ‘hereditary disease’, such as ‘congenital feeble-mindedness’, ‘chronic schizophrenia’, and ‘chronic manic depression’, were subject to compulsory sterilization.
Between the period of January 1934, when the law was officially implemented, and September 1939, approximately 320 000 Germans (0.5 percent of the population) were sterilized.
While compulsory sterilization applied to both of the sexes, more than two-thirds of people who were sterilized were women.
Völkisch  ideals concerning gender and sexuality also had a considerable effect on women in the Third Reich.
Although the National Socialist state was in many ways anti-feminist, they did provide welfare programs for mothers and their children.
Mothers, especially those who were unmarried, could apply for state welfare, although the assistance that was given to them was not in the form of financial aid.
Instead, the National Socialists supplied mothers with materials such as beds, linens, and children’s clothes.
Furthermore, women who were pregnant were visited by health care officials, such as nurses, and examined regularly in order to ensure that they did not miscarry. 
Despite the support provided by the state for mothers, a number of women still succumbed to the pressures of living up to the Nazi ideal.
Under the Nazi regime, recuperation centers were established for mothers who wished to leave their families for an extended period of time.
While women who attended these facilities were said to be on vacation, it is clear that many women were sent to recuperation centers because of their inability to fulfill all of their motherly duties.
As a result, these centers had a strong educational foundation in which women were instructed about their obligations to their families and the Volk community.
When these women returned to their families, it was thought they would have a renewed strength of spirit and a better understanding about their roles as wives and mothers.
National Socialists ideology on gender and sexuality also resulted in considerable consequences for homosexual individuals.
‘Homosexuell Kultur’ was a relatively new phenomena in Germany and Austria in the 1930s.
It was only with the growth of industrialized cities in the 1800 that large numbers of men, some of who would now be described as homosexual, began to gather in the large conurbations.
It is these facts that explain the first known appearance of the term homosexual in print, found in a 1869 German pamphlet ‘143 des Preussischen Strafgesetzbuchs und seine Aufrechterhaltung als 152 des Entwurfs eines Strafgesetzbuchs für den Norddeutschen Bund’ (“Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code and Its Maintenance as Paragraph 152 of the Draft of a Penal Code for the North German Confederation”).
The pamphlet was written by Karl-Maria Kertbeny, but published anonymously.

Karl-Maria Kertbeny

Karl-Maria Kertbeny or Károly Mária Kertbeny (born Karl-Maria Benkert) (Vienna, February 28, 1824 – Budapest, January 23, 1882) was an Austrian-born Hungarian journalist, memoirist, and human rights campaigner. He is best known for coining the words heterosexual and homosexual.
The Benkert family moved to Budapest when he was a child — he was equally at home in Austria, Germany and Hungary. He translated Hungarian poets’ and writers’ works into German, e.g., those of Sándor Petőfi, János Arany and Mór Jókai. Among his acquaintances were Heinrich Heine, George Sand, Alfred de Musset, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

The pamphlet advocated the repeal of Prussia’s sodomy laws.
Kertbeny had previously used the word in a private letter written in 1868 to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.
Kertbeny used Homosexualität (in English, “homosexuality”) in place of Ulrichs’ ‘Urningtum’; Homosexualisten (“male homosexualists”) instead of ‘Urninge’, and Homosexualistinnen (“female homosexualists”) instead of ‘Urninden’.
Uranian is a 19th-century term that referred to a person of a supposedly third sex – originally, someone with “a passive female psyche in a male body” who is sexually attracted to men. (This definition is important to subsequent developments in Völkisch attitudes towards homosexuality). The German word Urning, which was first published by activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–95) in a series of five booklets (1864–65) which were collected under the title ‘Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe’ (“Research into the Riddle of Man-Male Love”). Ulrich developed his terminology before the first public use of the term “homosexual”, which appeared in 1869 in a pamphlet published anonymously by Karl-Maria Kertbeny (1824–82 – see above).
The word Uranian (Urning) was derived by Ulrichs from the greek godness Aphrodite Urania, who was created by Uranus out of his own body parts.

Even among the most revered German cultural idols support for ‘Hellenistic’ attitude towards male sexuality could be found.

Richard Wagner
An example is a section in Richard Wagner’s ‘Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft’ (The Art-work of the Future), where he comments on the love of comrades in Sparta:
This beauteous naked man is the kernel of all Spartanhood; from genuine delight in the beauty of the most perfect human body – that of the male – arose that spirit of comradeship which pervades and shapes the whole economy of the Spartan State. This love of man to man, in its primitive purity, proclaims itself as the noblest and least selfish utterance of man’s sense of beauty, for it teaches man to sink and merge his entire self in the object of his affection. . . . The higher element of that love of man to man . . . not only included a purely spiritual bond of friendship, but this spiritual friendship was the blossom and the crown of the physical friendship. The latter sprang directly from delight in the beauty, aye in the material bodily beauty of the beloved comrade.
And it should be remembered, of course, that Wagner was Hitler’s favourite composer, and the source of much of his Weltanschauung.
Hans Blüher (1888-1955)

One of the most significant influences on the development of homoeroticism in Völkisch thinking was Hans Blüher (1888-1955).

Bluher was born in Freiburg in Schlesien in 17 February 1888. 
He was the first person to write a history of the ‘Wandervogel’ – the contemporary German youth movement.

Nackt Wandervogel Jungs

His history was published as a series of three pamphlets, the third of which was called ‘Die Deutsche Wandervogelbewegung Als Erotisches Phanomen’ (‘The German Wandervogel as an Erotic Phenomena’ – 1912).

In 1913 he set up the ‘Jung Wandervogel’ with Wilhelm Jansen, which, unlike most of the rest of the Wandervogel, was male-only.
In 1917 he wrote the first volume of his most important book, outlining his ‘masculinist’ theory in ‘Die Rolle Der Erotik In Der Mannlichen Gesellschaft: Eine Theorie der Menschlichen Staatsbildung’ The Role of the Erotic in Men’s Society: A Theory of Human State Education), followed two years later with the second volume.
As Bluher said at the time, “Before this book the idea of basing man’s existence in the State on Eros has never been coherently pursued”.
Bluher is generally thought of as within the ‘masculinist’, or ‘men’s movement’ tradition of thought.

Though largely neglected by historians, Blueher was enormously important to national Socialist Kulture. Blueher was adopted by the NSDAP as an apostle of social reform, and one of his disciples, Professor Alfred Bauemler became Director of the Political Institute at the University of Berlin.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Blueher’s teaching was systematically inculcated by the National Socialist Press, especially Himmler’s official organ, ‘Das Schwarze Korps’, and was adopted in practice as the basis of German social organization.
The National Socialist élite were brought up in segregated male communities called ‘Ordensburgen’. These are to replaced the family as the groundwork on which the state was to rest
The all-male societies of these ‘Ordensburgen’ (Order Castles) were fashioned after the Wandervoegel.

In Germany at the turn of the last century, there were three main groupings within the men’s movement: 
Firstly, the intellectual tradition derived from Otto Weininger and the teaching tradition from Dr. Gustav Wyneken, which Bluher was to revolutionize.

Der Eigene

Second, the ‘Gemeinschaft der Eigenen’, founded officially by Adolf Brand in 1902 and which published its own magazine, ‘Der Eigene’, from 1899-1931.

Brand and ‘Der Eigene’ championed the anarchism of Max Stirner, as well as Bluher’s theories about the decisive role of the ‘Mannerbund’ – ancient warrior-band – in the creation of the State.
Of course, no-one ever argued that these ‘Mannerbund’ were exclusively homosexual, but rather that homosexuality was not the moral issue it had become with the arrival of Judeo-Christianity.
Wilhelm Jansen, who co-founded the Gemeinschaft with Brand, was introduced to the Wandervogel by Bluher, where he later became an important leader.
The Wandervogel and the Völkisch movement were intimately associated with a movement called Lebensreform.

 Ludwig von Hofmann  – 1894

Lebensreform (“life reform”) was a social movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany and Austria that propagated a back-to-nature lifestyle, emphasizing among others health food/raw food/organic food, nudismsexual liberation, alternative medicine, and at the same time abstention from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and vaccines

Gusto Graeser

A significant member of the movement was Gusto Graeser, thinker and poet, who greatly influenced the German Youth Movement and such writers as Hermann Hesse and Gerhart Hauptmann.
Other groups which were inspired by völkisch Romanticism gradually became part of National Socialist ‘Blut und Boden’  ideology by the 1930s.


One of the most influential aspects of Lebensreform was Freikörperkultur or Nacktkultur (Nudism), and as early as 1907, Richard Ungewitter published a pamphlet called ‘Nacktheit und Kultur’ (Nudity and Culture) (which sold 100,000 copies), arguing that the practices he recommended would be “the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbours and the Jews, who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation’s blood and soil“.
The Nationalist physician Artur Fedor Fuchs began the ‘League for Free Body Culture’ (FKK), giving public lectures on the healing powers of the sun in the “Nordic sky”, which “alone strengthened and healed the warrior nation“.

Han Sùren

Ancient forest living, and habits presumed to have been followed by the ancient tribes of Germany, were beneficial to regenerating the Aryan people, according to Fuchs’ philosophy.
Han Sùren, a prominent former military officer, published ‘Der Mensch und Die Sonne’ (Man and the Sun) (1924), which sold 240,000 copies; by 1941 it was reissued in 68 editions.
Sùren promoted the Aryan ‘master race’ concept of physically strong, militarized men who would be the “salvation” of the German people.

Hermann Göring

Nudism was often associated with homosexuality, and this may have been the reason while it was initially banned by Hermann Göring in 1933.
Subsequently this ban was lifted, and Freikörperkultur and Nacktkultur was supported by Heinrich Himmler and the SS (who also controlled many aspects of Hitler-Jugend and the Napolas – Heinrich Himmler, second in power only to Hitler, was publicly opposed to homosexuality, but was probably a closet homosexual himself, and served Roehm – a known homosexual – faithfully and loyally until Roehm fell out of Hitler’s favor).
Hitler himself, while never, as far as is known, espousing nudism, had an ambivalent attitude towards homosexuality and homo-eroticism.
There is some evidence that the Vienna Police Authorities had records that indicated that Hitler may have been known as an active homosexual in his youth – and there are many aspect of his relationship with August Kubizek which indicate that the relationship between the two youths homoerotic and possibility homosexual.
Hitler was a dandy in his teens and had a dandified best friend (Kubizek).
Hitler wrote a petulant, jealous letter to Kubizek, in which Hitler wrote to his friend about how much it upset him to see Kubizek  talking to others.

Emile Maurice
Ernst Schmidt (Schmidl)

In addition most of Hitler’s longer-term relationships – with Reinhold Hanisch, Rudolf Hausler, Ernst Schmidt (Schmidl), Emil Maurice and Rudolf Heß – were homosexual ‘love affairs’, and that as a youth Hitler was known as “Der Schoen Adolf” (“the handsome Adolf”).
Germany, of course, was the birthplace of homosexual movements, well prior to the rise of the National Socialism, and there were a number of homosexual activists and movements in Germany at the beginning of the new century, most notably “Hellenic revival” movements that regarded super-masculinity combined with pederasty to be an  ideal.

Ancient Greek Pederasty
Thomas Mann and the Staufenberg Boys 

Pederasty is a homosexual or homoerotic relationship between an adult male and a pubescent or adolescent male outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) “love of boys”, a compound derived from παῖς (pais) “child, boy” and ἐραστής (erastēs) “lover”.
Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and practices within different cultures. The status of pederasty has changed over the course of history, at times considered an ideal and at other times a crime. In the history of Europe, its most structured cultural manifestation was Athenian pederasty, and became most prominent in the 6th century BC. Greek pederasty’s various forms were the subject of philosophic debates in which the carnal type was unfavorably compared with erotic yet spiritual and moderate forms.

Probably the most significant poet of the Weimar period was Stefan George.

Stefan George
George was born in Bingen in Prussia in 1868.
He spent time in Paris and began to publish poetry in the 1890s, while in his twenties. George founded and edited an important literary magazine called ‘Blätter für die Kunst’ (Magazine for the Arts).

Stefan George was also at the centre of an influential literary and academic circle known as the ‘George-Kreis’ (George Circle), which included many of the leading young writers of the day, (for example Friedrich Gundolf and Ludwig Klages).
In addition to sharing cultural interests, the circle reflected mystical and political themes.
Stefan George was a homosexual, yet exhorted his young friends to lead a celibate life, like his own.
In 1914 at the start of the war he foretold a sad end for Germany, and between then and 1916 wrote the pessimistic poem ‘Der Krieg’ (The War).
He died near Locarno in 1933.
George believed in the renewal of culture through the power of youth and beauty.
The strength of George’s belief in this cult of beauty is reflected not only in many of his later, quite monumental works, such as ‘Der Stern des Bündes’, and the prophetically titled ‘Das neue Reich’, but in the decisive `Maximin-Erlebnis,’ which provided the poet with inspiration and material for much of his later poetry.

Maximilian Kronberger

Some of his most significant work includes ‘Algabal’, and the love poetry he devoted to a gifted adolescent of his acquaintance named Maximilian Kronberger, whom he called “Maximin”, and whom he identified as a manifestation of the divine.-

Maximilian Kronberger, known familiarly as Maximin (April 15, 1888 — April 16, 1904), was a German poet and a significant figure in the literary circle of Stefan George (the so‑called George‑Kreis).

In 1903 George, during one of his frequent stays in Munich, became acquainted with the 15-year old Maximilian Kronberger: after encountering him on the street several times, George simply approached the young boy and introduced himself. Maximilian became George’s close friend and companion over the next year, and was admired by many members of the George-Kreis not only for his youth and beauty, but for his poetic talent as well. Indeed, George saw in Maximilian such perfection that he considered the boy to be an incarnation of the godhead, and worthy of absolute devotion. In 1904, Maximilian died of meningitis, an event which shattered George’s stability and drove him to the brink of suicide. Soon afterwards, however, a new focus for George’s work emerged: the series of Maximin-Gedichte center on George’s belief in the transcendence of Maximin’s earthy life – his idealized figure becomes for George the Stern des Bündes, “one of the new awakened spirits who would one day form the new kingdom on earth.”

He was idealized by George to the point of proclaiming him a god, following his death… the cult of ‘Maximin’ became an integral part of the George circle’s practice.

Albert Speer

George thought of himself as a messiah of a new kingdom that would be led by intellectual or artistic elites, bonded by their faithfulness to a strong leader.
In his memoirs, Albert Speer claims to have seen George in the early 1920s and that his elder brother, Hermann, was a member of his inner circle: George “radiated dignity and pride and a kind of priestliness… there was something magnetic about him.”
George’s late works include ‘Geheimes Deutschland’ (“Secret Germany”) written in 1922, and ‘Das neue Reich’ (The New Empire), which was published in 1928, which outlines a new form of society ruled by hierarchical spiritual aristocracy.

Claus von Stauffenberg

‘Das neue Reich’ (1928) is the title of the last published collection of poems by Stefan George .
Compared to previous works his these poems are less coherent in form and content, and its architecture looser. In addition to the role as time judge, George becomes the prophetic herald new values.
 Increasingly, Plato , and especially Friedrich Hölderlin become important influences..
The appreciation of irrational forces, and the ambiguous reference to the historical situation, led to George,   to be seen as an ideological precursor of the Third Reich.
These poems have always been associated with the brothers Berthold and Claus von Stauffenberg, Members of  George’s ‘circle’, and it was Claus von Stauffenberg’s disillusionment with the development of the Third Reich that led him to make an attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler.

Stefan George
and the Stauffenberg brothers

His poetry emphasized ‘self-sacrifice’, ‘heroism’ and ‘power’, and he thus gained popularity in National Socialist circles.
Along with the National Socialists, Stefan George had the ambition to revive a ‘Secret Germany’ that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic, and restore German life to its true spirituality.
Although many National Socialists claimed George as an important influence, George himself was aloof from such associations and did not get involved in politics. Although George was never a member of the NSDAP, his later works paved the way for the acceptance of National Socialist philosophy in upper class, intellectual circles, and his works were approved of by the hierarchy of the Third Reich, despite their obvious homoeroticism.

Not surprisingly, the core principles of the Völkisch movement were capable of arousing homoerotic tendencies, and many homosexual men were attracted to National Socialism because it emphasized virility, strength, and comradeship to forge a strong national polity.

The NSDAP actually began in what would now be termed a gay bar in Munich, and Ernst Roehm, Hitler’s right hand in the early days, was well-known for his taste in young boys.
William Shirer says in his definitive “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” not only that Roehm was “important in the rise of Hitler,” but also “like so many of the early National Socialists, he was a homosexual.”

The extreme masculinity of the Third Reich was based on the philosophical concept of the ‘Mannerbünd‘ (see above), a male-dominated elite united by devotion to a shared goal.

It is important to note, however, that for the National Socialists it was only men who engaged in passive homosexual activities who were considered to be ‘degenerate’, and ‘unhealthy‘.
As a result, such homosexuals were excluded from the Volksgemeinschaft because they could not fulfill their obligation to the nation by reproducing.
The National Socialists also believed that effeminate homosexual men were the antithesis of the masculine ideal because they lacked character and mental strength.
Passive homosexual men were also thought to be soft, effeminate, and unable to express the heroic and self-sacrificing qualities valued by the National Socialists.
People who were denounced as passive homosexuals often lost their jobs, homes and friends.
It was, however, not the goal of the National Socialists to eliminate homosexuals all together.
Primarily, the National Socialists promoted the idea that masculinity was determined by a man’s ability to express heroic and self-sacrificing qualities rather than his sexuality.
On the other hand, a woman’s femininity was defined by her embracing her maternal instincts and becoming a mother.
Völkisch attitudes towards sexuality were also conservative in nature, although there were numerous contradictions between Völkisch sexual ideals and what the regime actually practiced.
In order to enforce their gender and sexual values in the population, the National Socialists engaged a number of methods, including the institution of various laws and policies and the employment of propaganda.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The Nürnberg Reichsparteitag – The Nuremberg Rallies

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

click on images and open in a new tab to enlarge

The Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, meaning Reich Party Day was the annual rally of the National Socialist Workers Party in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938.

They were large propaganda events, especially after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
These events were held at the NSDAP rally grounds in Nürnberg from 1933 to 1938 and are usually referred to in English as the Nürnberg Rallies.
Many films were made to commemorate them, the most famous of which is ‘Triumph of the Will’.
History and Purpose
The first Party rallies took place in 1923 in Munich and in 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 on, they were held exclusively in Nürnberg.
Nürnberg was selected for pragmatic reasons: It was situated in the center of the German Reich and the local Luitpoldhain was well suited as a venue.
In addition, the Party were able to rely on the well organized local branch of the party in Franconia, then led by Gauleiter Julius Streicher.
The Nürnberg police were sympathetic to the event.
Later, the location was justified by putting it into the tradition of the Imperial Diet (German Reichstag) of the Holy Roman Empire, considered to be the First Reich.
After 1933, the rallies were held near the time of the Autumn equinox, under the title of “National Congress of the Party of the German People” (Reichsparteitage des deutschen Volkes), which was intended to symbolize the solidarity between the German people and the Party.
This point was further emphasized by the yearly growing number of participants, which finally reached over half a million from all sections of the party, the army and the state.

Each rally was given a programmatic title, which related to recent national events:

1923 – The First Party Congress was held in Munich on January 27, 1923.
1923 – The “German day rally” was held in Nuremberg on September 1, 1923.
1926 – The 2nd Party Congress (“Refounding Congress”) was held in Weimar on July 4, 1926.
1927 – The 3rd Party Congress (“Day of Awakening”) was held on August 20, 1927. The propaganda film Eine Symphonie des Kampfwillens was made at this rally.
1929 – The 4th Party Congress, known as the “Day of Composure”, was held on August 2, 1929. The propaganda film Der Nürnberger Parteitag der NSDAP was made at this rally.
1933 – The 5th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, August 30 – September 3, 1933. It was called the “Rally of Victory” (Reichsparteitag des Sieges). The term “victory” relates to the Nazi seizure of power and the victory over the Weimar Republic. The Leni Riefenstahl film Der Sieg des Glaubens was made at this rally.
1934 – The 6th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 5-10, 1934. Initially it did not have a theme. Later it was labeled the “Rally of Unity and Strength” (Reichsparteitag der Einheit und Stärke), “Rally of Power” (Reichsparteitag der Macht), or “Rally of Will” (Reichsparteitag des Willens). The Leni Riefenstahl film Triumph des Willens was made at this rally.
1935 – The 7th Party Congress was held in Nuremberg, September 10-16, 1935. It was called the “Rally of Freedom” (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit). “Freedom” referred to the reintroduced compulsory military service and thus the German “liberation” from the Treaty of Versailles. The Leni Riefenstahl film Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht was made at this rally, and the Nuremberg Laws were introduced.
1936 – The 8th Party Congress was known as the “Rally of Honour” (Reichsparteitag der Ehre). The remilitarization of the demilitarized Rhinelandin March 1936 constituted the restoration of German honour in the eyes of many Germans. The film Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage shot at this rally, as well as the rally of 1937.
1937 – The 9th Party Congress was called the “Rally of Labour” (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit). It celebrated the reduction of unemployment in Germany since the Nazi rise to power. This rally was particularly notable due to Albert Speer’s Cathedral of light: 152 searchlights that cast vertical beams into the sky around the Zeppelin Field to symbolise the walls of a building and the attendance of Prince Chichibu, a brother of theEmperor of Japan, who had a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler to boost relations between Japan and Germany. Festliches Nürnberg incorporated footage made at this rally.
1938 – The 10th Party Congress was named the “Rally of Greater Germany” (Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland). This was due to the annexationof Austria to Germany that had taken place earlier in the year.
1939 – The 11th Party Congress was given the name “Rally of Peace” (Reichsparteitag des Friedens). It was meant to reiterate the German desire for peace, both to the German population and to other countries. It was cancelled on short notice, as one day before the planned date on September 1, Germany began its offensive against Poland (which ignited World War II).


The primary aspect of the Nürnberg Rallies was to strengthen the personality cult of Adolf Hitler, portraying him as Germany’s saviour, chosen by providence.

The gathered masses listened to the Führer’s speeches, swore loyalty and marched before him.
Representing the Volksgemeinschaft as a whole, the rallies served to demonstrate the might of the German people.
The visitors of the rallies by their own free will were subordinate to the discipline and order in which they should be reborn as a new people.


The rally grounds of the National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP) covered about 11 square kilometres in the southeast of Nürnberg, Germany.
Six Party Rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938.

The grounds included:
The Luitpoldarena, a deployment area
the Luitpold Hall or “Old Congress Hall” (damaged during World War II, later demolished)
the Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) or Neue Kongresshalle (New Congress Hall) (unfinished)
the Zeppelin Feld (Zeppelin Field), another deployment area
the Märzfeld (March Field) (unfinished, later demolished), a deployment area for the Wehrmacht (army)
the Deutsche Stadion (German stadium) (never exceeded the state of foundation), which was to be the largest sports stadium in the world
the former Stadion der Hitlerjugend (“stadium of the Hitler Youth”, today Frankenstadion)
the Große Straße (“Great Road”), a (never used) parade road.
A “Haus der Kultur” (House of Culture) and a representative entrance portal towards the “Great Road” were planned at the northwestern end of the “Great Road”, near the (new) Congress Hall.
The grounds were planned by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, apart from the Congress hall, which was planned by Ludwig and Franz Ruff.
On 30 August 1933 Hitler declared Nürnberg the “Stadt der Reichsparteitage (Reich Party Congresses)”.  The Reichsparteitage were a self-portrayal of the National Socialist, state and had no programmatic task. The unity of the nation was to be demonstrated.
In a propagandistic way a relation was to be drawn between the Party and the glory of the medieval emperors and the Meetings of the Imperial States which were held in Nürnberg.

Reichsparteitagsgelände – Nürnberg
The Buildings
Luitpoldarena – Nürnberg

Since 1906 a parkway named “Luitpoldhain” (literally translated: “Luitpold Grove”, named after Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria) existed here.

Luitpoldarena – Nürnberg
During the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) the monumental “Ehrenhalle” (Hall of Honour) was built in the parkway.
In 1933 Hitler replaced the parkway by a strictly-structured deployment area, the so-called “Luitpoldarena” with an area of 84,000 m².
Opposite the “Ehrenhalle” the crescent-shaped “Ehrentribüne” (tribune of honour) or main grandstand which measured 150 m (500 ft) long with 6 m (20 ft) gold eagles on each end was built.
This structure, built by architect Albert Speer, could seat 500 dignitaries and represented the first permanent structure built by the Third Reich in Nürnberg.
The “Ehrenhalle” and the “Ehrentribüne” were connected by a wide granite path.
Ehrenhalle – Nürnberg

The “Ehrenhalle” was built by the city of Nürnberg according to a plan of German architect Fritz Mayer.

It was inaugurated in 1930, during the Weimar Republic.
It is an arcaded hall with an adjacent cobbled stone terrace with two rows of pedestals for fire bowls.
Originally the hall was to be a memorial site for the 9,855 soldiers from Nürnberg who were fallen in World War I.
During the Party Congress of 1929 the then unfinished “Hall of Honour” was used for the enactment of a cult of the dead by the National Socialists the first time.
During the Third Reich the site was used primarily as a commemoration for the fallen soldiers of World War I, and commemoration of the 16 dead of the “Hitlerputsch” (the so-called “Martyrs of the Movement”) (Beer Hall Putsch) which took place on 9 November 1923 in Munich.
Hitler, accompanied by SS-leader Heinrich Himmler and SA-leader Viktor Lutze, strode through the arena over the 240 meters long granite path, from the main grandstand to the terrace of the Ehrenhalle.
The ritual was the climax of the celebration.
During the party rallies, deployments of the SA and the SS with up to 150,000 people took place in this area.
The central “relic” here was the “Blutfahne” (Blood flag), which was carried by the Beer Hall Putsch rebels and was soaked with the blood of one of them.
At the “Blutfahnenweihe” (Blood flag consecration), new “Standarten” (flags) of SA- and SS-units were “consecrated” by touching their guidons with the “Blutfahne”.
Das Blutfahne
das Blutfahne

The Blutfahne (Blood flag) was a Swastika flag used in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923.

It subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Party.
 Andreas Bauriedl 

The flag was actually that of the 5th SA Sturm that was covered in blood from members of the Party who had been shot by the Munich Police (primarily from party member Andreas Bauriedl who fell on top of the flag when he was shot and killed).

Heinrich Trambauer (the flagbearer) took the flag to a friend where he removed the flag from the staff and left with it hidden inside his jacket.
Later, Traumbauer gave the flag to a Karl Eggers, who kept the flag safe.

Heinrich Trambauer

After Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg prison (after serving nine months of a five-year prison sentence for his part in the putsch), Eggers gave the flag to him.

It was then fitted to a new staff and finial, and just below the finial was a silver dedication sleeve which bore the names of the three dead participants of the putsch.
Bauriedl was one of the three honorees.


In addition, the flag was no longer attached to the staff by its original sewn-in sleeve, but by a red-white-black intertwined cord which ran through the sleeve instead.

The flag was thereafter treated as a sacred object by the Party, and it was carried by SS Sturmbannführer Jakob Grimminger at various Nazi party ceremonies.
One of the most visible uses of the flag was by Adolf Hitler, who at the annual party rallies at Nürnberg  touched other Nazi banners with the Blutfahne, thus ‘sanctifying’ the new flags with the old.

das Blutfahne
das Braune Haus

When not in use, the Blutfahne was kept at the headquarters of the Nazi Party, ‘das Braune Haus’ (the Brown House), in Munich, with an SS guard of honor.

The flag had a small tear in it that went un-repaired for a number of years.
The tear was believed to have occurred during the putsch.


The Blutfahne was last seen in public at the Induction Ceremony of the Volkssturm on 18 October 1944 (not at Gauleiter Adolf Wagner’s funeral six months earlier, as has frequently been reported).

This ceremony was conducted by Heinrich Himmler and attended by Keitel, Guderian, Lammers, Bormann, Fiehler, Schepmann and Kraus.
After this last public display, the Blutfahne vanished into history.
The Buildings – continued


Luitpoldhalle – Nürnberg

The Luitpold Hal (built 1906) had an outline of 180 m x 50 m (540 ft x 150 ft) featured 76 loudspeakers, 42 spotlights, the largest pipe organ in Germany and could seat 16,000 people.
Dating back to the Bavarian Exposition, the former machine hall was renovated and first used by the Party  Congress of 1934.
Its monumental neo-classical facade featured a shell limestone facing with three enormous entrance portals.


Kongresshalle – Nürnberg
Kongresshalle – Nürnberg

The Congress Hall  was planned by the Nürnberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff.
It was planned as a congress centre for the NSDAP with a self-supporting roof, and should have provided 50,000 seats.
It was located on the shore of and in the pond Dutzendteich, and marked the entrance of the rally grounds. The building reached a height of 39 m (129 ft) (a height of 70 m was planned) and a diameter of 250 m (843 ft).
The building is mostly built out of clinker with a facade of granite panels.
The design (especially the outer facade, among other features) is inspired by the Colosseum in Rome.
The foundation stone was laid in 1935, but the building remained unfinished and without a roof.

Große Straße

The great road is almost 2 km (1.2 mi) long and 40 m (132 ft) wide.
It was intended to be the central axis of the site and a parade road for the Wehrmacht.
In its northwestern prolongation the road points towards Nürnberger Burg.
This was to create a relation between the role of Nürnberg during the Third Reich, and its role during medieval times.
The road reached from the Congress Hall to the Märzfeld, the construction work started in 1935 and was finished in 1939 (it has never been used as a parade road, as due to the beginning of World War II, the last rally was held in 1938).
The pavement was made of granite pavers in black and gray with edges of exactly 1.2 m (4 ft).
A representative entrance portal and two pylons were planned at the northwestern end of the Great Road. Near the entrance area of the Deutsch Stadion a grandstand with a hall of pillars was planned for the government leaders and generals who were to take the salute on Wehrmacht formations which were to march in direction of the parade ground Märzfeld.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer 
Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer 

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect.
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931.
His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle.
Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held.

Paul Ludwig Troost
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

When Troost, who had previously been Hitler’s main architect, died on January 21, 1934, Speer effectively replaced him as the Party’s chief architect.

Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934),[1] born in Elberfeld, was a German architect. An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament. Troost graduated from designing steamship décor before World War I, and the fittings for showy transatlantic liners like the Europa, to a style that combined Spartan traditionalism with elements of modernity.

Hitler appointed Speer as head of the ‘Chief Office for Construction’.

Zeppelinfeldeingang – Nürnberg
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

One of Speer’s first commissions after Troost’s death was the Zeppelinfeld stadium—the Nürnberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will. This huge work was able to hold 340,000 people.
The tribune was influenced by the Pergamon Altar in Anatolia, but was magnified to an enormous scale.
Speer insisted that as many events as possible be held at night, both to give greater prominence to his lighting effects and to hide the individual Nazis, many of whom were overweight.

Lichtdom – The Cathedral of Light
Zeppelinfeld – Nürnberg
Lichtdom – The Cathedral of Light
Zeppelinfeld – Nürnberg

Speer surrounded the site with 130 anti-aircraft searchlights.
This created the effect of a “cathedral of light” or, as it was called by British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson, a “cathedral of ice”.
Speer described this as his most beautiful work.

The cathedral of light [litchdom] was a main aesthetic feature of the Nuremberg Rallies that consisted of 130 anti-aircraft searchlights, at intervals of forty feet, aimed skyward to create a series of vertical bars surrounding the audience. The effect was a brilliant one, both from within the design and on the outside. The cathedral of light was documented in the Nazi Propaganda film ‘Festliches Nürnberg’, released in 1937.

Nürnberg was to be the site of many more official Nazi buildings, most of which were never built; for example, the German Stadium would have accommodated 400,000 spectators, while an even larger rally ground would have held half a million people.
While planning these structures, Speer invented the concept of “ruin value“: that major buildings should be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins for thousands of years into the future.
Such ruins would be a testament to the greatness of the Third Reich, just as ancient Greek or Roman ruins were symbols of the greatness of those civilizations.
Hitler enthusiastically embraced this concept, and ordered that all the Reich’s important buildings be constructed in accord with it.


Zeppelinfeldeingang – Nürnberg
Zeppelinhaupttribüne – Nürnberg

The Zeppelin Field is located east of the Great Road.
It consists of a large grandstand (Zeppelinhaupttribüne) with a width of 360 meters (400 yards) and a smaller stand.
It was one of Albert Speer‘s first works for the Party, and was based upon the Pergamon Altar.
The name “Zeppelinfeld” or “Zeppelinwiese” refers to the fact that in August 1909 Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin landed with one of his airships (LZ6) in this location.

Deutsches Stadion

Deutsches Stadion – Nürnberg

Along with his plans for the Welthauptstadt Germania (“world capital Germania”), Albert Speer made the plans for the world’s largest stadium which was to be located on the rally grounds.

Deutsches Stadion – Nürnberg

Derived from the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens, it would have offered 400,000 seats.
It was to get the shape of a horseshoe; planned dimensions: length: 800 m, width: 450 m, height: 100 m, building area 350,000 m².
The laying of the foundation stone was on 9 July 1937.
It was to be finished for the party congress in 1945.
In 1938, the construction began with the excavation.
It was stopped in 1939.


Märzfeld – Nürnberg

The Märzfeld (March Field) was to be a representation and parade ground for the Wehrmacht.
It was located at the southern end of the “Große Straße” (Great road).
Its dimensions were 955 x 610 meters (1,061 x 677 yards) or bigger than 80 football fields.
The name of the huge deployment area was supposed to recall the recovery of military sovereignty of the German Reich in March 1935.
As in English, the German name of the month “März” derives from the Roman Warrior God Mars.
The name Märzfeld thus also alludes to the Campus Martius, in Rome.)
The construction, never completed, began in 1938 with plans calling for 24 granite towers each at 125 feet in height.
Only eleven were ever completed.
Tribunes for about 160,000 people were planned around the field.
On the central grandstand a group of colossal statures was planned: a goddess of victory and warriors.

Reichsparteitag Films
‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’
“Victory of Faith” 
‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’
“Victory of Faith”
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Official films for the rallies began in 1927, with the establishment of the NSDAP film office.

The most famous films were made by Leni Riefenstahl for the rallies between 1933 and 1935.
Relating to the theme of the rally, she called her first film ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (“Victory of Faith”).
This movie was taken out of circulation after the Röhm-Putsch.
The rally of 1934 became the setting for the award-winning ‘Triumph des Willens’ (Triumph of the Will).
Several generals in the Wehrmacht protested over the minimal army presence in the film: Hitler apparently proposed modifying the film to placate the generals, but Riefenstahl refused his suggestion.
She did agree to return to the 1935 rally and make a film exclusively about the Wehrmacht, which became ‘Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht’.
The rallies for 1936 and 1937 were covered in ‘Festliches Nürnberg’, which was shorter than the others, only 21 minutes.

‘Triumph des Willens’

‘Triumph des Willens’
The Triumph of the Will
Leni Riefenstahl

‘Triumph des Willens’  (The Triumph of the Will) is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl.
It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters.
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including portions of speeches by Adolf Hitler, interspersed with footage of massed party members.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles.
The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the ‘True German Leader’ who will bring glory to the nation.

‘Triumph des Willens’
The Triumph of the Will
Opening Title

‘Triumph des Willens’ was released in 1935 and rapidly became one of the best-known examples of propaganda in film history.
Riefenstahl’s techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned ‘Triumph des Willens’ recognition as one of the greatest films in history.
Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries.
The film was popular in the Third Reich and elsewhere, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.
Frank Capra’s seven-film series ‘Why We Fight’ is said to have been directly inspired by and America’s response to ‘Triumph des Willens’.

Leni Riefenstahl

‘Das Blaue Licht ‘(1932)
The Blue Light
Leni Riefenstahl

undefinedHelene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl (22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, actress and dancer, widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker.

Early Life

Riefenstahl was born on 22 August 1902.
She was christened Helene Bertha Amalie.
She was born into a prosperous family.
Her father owned a successful heating and ventilation company and he wanted her to follow him into the world of business, however, her mother believed that Leni’s future was in ‘show busines’.
In 1918, when she was 16, she started dance and ballet classes at the Grimm-Reiter Dance School in Berlin, where she quickly became a star pupil.

‘Der heilige Berg’  (1926)
The Holy Mountain
Leni Riefenstahl

Riefenstahl gained a reputation on Berlin’s dance circuit and she quickly moved into films.
She made a series of films for Arnold Fanck, and one of them, ‘The White Hell of Pitz Palu’ (1929), co-directed by G. W. Pabst, saw her fame spread to countries outside of Germany.
Riefenstahl produced and directed her own work called ‘Das Blaue Licht ‘(1932), co-written by Carl Mayer and Béla Balázs.
This film won the Silver Medal at the Venice Film Festival.
In the film, Riefenstahl played a peasant girl who protected a glowing mountain grotto.
The film attracted the attention of Hitler, who believed she epitomized the perfect German female.
After that, she became famous as an actress, a film director, a film producer and a film reporter.
She also became world-renowned as an actress in the films ‘Der heilige Berg’ (The Holy Mountain) (1926), ‘Der große Sprung’ (The Great Leap) (1927), ‘Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü’ (The White Hell of Piz Palü) (1929), ‘Stürme über dem Mont Blanc’ (Storms Over Mont Blanc) (1930), ‘Der weiße Rausch’ (The White Noise) (1931), ‘Das Blaue Licht’ (The Blue Light) (1932) and ‘SOS Eisberg’ (1933).

Her greatest success she made with the documentary film ‘Triumph des Willens’ (The Triumph of the Will) named after the Reich Party Congress 1934 in Nuremberg which got the highest awards:

‘Olympia – Fest der Schönheit’
Festival of Beauty
Leni Riefenstahl
‘Olympia – Fest der Schönheit’
Festival of Beauty
Leni Riefenstahl

The gold medal in Venice in 1935 and the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937, however, at the end of the war this film destroyed Leni Riefenstahl’s career, for now it had no longer been recognized as a piece of art but been condemned as a National Socialist propaganda film.
Her world-famous film about the Olympic games was equally well received.
That film included two parts, part I ‘Fest der Völker’ (Festival of the Nations) and part 2 ‘Fest der Schönheit’ , (Festival of Beauty) and did also get the highest awards: the gold medal in Paris in 1937, the first price in Venice as the world’s best film in 1938, the Olympic Award by the IOC in 1939, and in 1956 it had been classified as one of the world’s best ten films.

Leni Riefenstahl and ‘Triumph des Willens’

Around the same time she first heard Hitler speak at a Nazi rally and, by her own admission, was impressed. She later began a correspondence with him that would last for years.
Hitler, by turn, was equally impressed with ‘Das Blaue Licht’, and in 1933 asked her to direct a film about the annual Nürnberg Rally.
The National Socialist Party had only recently taken power amid a period of political instability (Hitler was the fourth Chancellor of Germany in less than a year) and were considered an unknown quantity by many Germans, to say nothing of the world.
In ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler talks of the success of British propaganda in World War I believing people’s ignorance meant simple repetition and an appeal to feelings over reason would suffice.
Hitler chose Riefenstahl as he wanted the film as “artistically satisfying” as possible to appeal to a non-political audience, but he also believed that propaganda must admit no element of doubt.
As such, ‘Triumph of the Will’ may be seen as a continuation of the unambiguous World War I-style propaganda, though heightened by the film’s artistic or poetic nature.
Riefenstahl was initially reluctant, not because of any moral qualms, but because she wanted to continue making feature films.
Hitler persisted, and Riefenstahl eventually agreed to make a film at the 1933 Nürnberg Rally called ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ (Victory of Faith), however the film had numerous technical problems, including a lack of preparation (Riefenstahl reported having just a few days) and Hitler’s apparent unease at being filmed.
To make matters worse, Riefenstahl had to deal with infighting by party officials, in particular Joseph Goebbels who tried to have the film released by the Propaganda Ministry.
Though ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ apparently did well at the box office, it later became a serious embarrassment after SA Leader Ernst Röhm, who had a prominent role in the film, was executed during the ‘Night of the Long Knives’.
In 1934, Riefenstahl had no wish to repeat the fiasco of ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’ and initially recommended fellow director Walter Ruttmann. Ruttmann’s film, which would have covered the rise of the Nazi Party from 1923 to 1934 and been more overtly propagandistic (the opening text of Triumph was his), did not appeal to Hitler.
He again asked Riefenstahl, who finally relented  after Hitler guaranteed his personal support, and promised to keep other Nazi organizations, specifically the Propaganda Ministry, from meddling with her film.


The film follows a script similar to ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’, which is evident when one sees both films side by side.
For example, the city of Nürnberg scenes – even to the shot of a cat included in the city driving sequence in both films.
Furthermore, Herbert Windt reused much of his musical score for that film in ‘Triumph des Willens’, which he also scored, but unlike ‘Der Sieg des Glaubens’, Riefenstahl shot Triumph with a large budget, extensive preparations, and vital help from high-ranking Nazis like Goebbels.
The Rally was planned not only as a spectacular mass meeting, but as a spectacular propaganda film.
Albert Speer, Hitler’s personal architect, designed the set in Nürnberg, and did most of the coordination for the event.

Leni Riefenstahl

Pits were dug in front of the speakers’ platform so Riefenstahl could get the camera angles she wanted, and tracks were laid so that her cameramen could get traveling shots of the crowd.
When rough cuts weren’t up to par, major party leaders and high-ranking public officials reenacted their speeches in a studio for her.
Riefenstahl also used a film crew that was extravagant by the standards of the day.
Her crew consisted of 172 people, including 10 technical staff, 36 cameramen and assistants (operating in 16 teams with 30 cameras), nine aerial photographers, 17 newsreel men, 12 newsreel crew, 17 lighting men, two photographers, 26 drivers, 37 security personnel, four labor service workers, and two office assistants.
Many of her cameramen also dressed in SA uniforms so they could blend into the crowds.
Riefenstahl had the difficult task of condensing an estimated 61 hours of film into two hours.
She labored to complete the film as fast as she could, going so far as to sleep in the editing room filled with hundreds of thousands of feet of film footage.


Nürnberg Frauenkirche

Triumph of the Will is sometimes seen as an example of Nazi political religion.
The primary religion in Germany before the Second World War was Christianity.
With the primary sects being Roman Catholic and Protestant, the Christian views in this movie are clearly meant to allow the movie to better connect with the intended audience.
Religion is a major theme in ‘Triumph’.
The film opens with Hitler descending ‘god-like’ out of the skies past twin cathedral spires.
It contains many scenes of church bells ringing, and individuals in a state of near-religious fervor.
It is probably not a coincidence that the final parade of the film was held in front of the Nürnberg Frauenkirche.

Adolf Hitler with the Blutfahne

In his final speech in the film, Hitler also directly compares the National Socialist Party to a holy order, and the consecration of new party flags by having Hitler touch them to the “blood banner” has obvious religious overtones.
Hitler himself is portrayed in a messianic manner, from the opening where he descends from the clouds in a plane, to his drive through Nuremberg, where even a cat stops what it is doing to watch him, to the many scenes where the camera films from below and looks up at him: Hitler, standing on his podium, will issue a command to hundreds of thousands of followers.
It was very important to Adolf Hitler that his propaganda messages carry a unified theme.
Unity is seen throughout this film, even in the camps where soldiers live.

Nürnberg Reichsparteitag
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

The camp outside of Nuremberg is very uniform and clean; the tents are aligned in perfect rows, each one the same as the next.
The men there also make a point not to wear their shirts, because their shirts display their rankings and status.
Shirtless they are all equals, unified.
When they march, it is in unison and they all carry their weapons identically, one to another.
Hitler’s message to the workers also includes the notion of unity:

The concept of labor will no longer be a dividing one but a uniting one, and no longer will there be anybody in Germany who will regard manual labor any less highly than any other form of labor.

Adolf Hitler

‘Triumph’ has many scenes that blur the distinction between the Party, the German state, and the German people.
Germans in peasant farmers’ costumes and other traditional clothing greet Hitler in some scenes.
The torchlight processions would remind the viewer of the medieval Karneval celebration.
The old flag of Imperial Germany is also shown several times flying alongside the Swastika, and there is a ceremony where Hitler pays his respects to soldiers who died in World War I (as well as to President Paul von Hindenburg who had died a month before the convention).

Hitler’s Speeches

Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag
Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

Among the themes presented, the desire for pride in Germany and the purification of the German people is well exemplified through the speeches and ideals of the Third Reich in ‘Triumph’.
In every speech given and shown in ‘Triumph’, pride is one of the major focuses.
Hitler advocates to the people that they should not be satisfied with their current state and they should not be satisfied with the descent from power and greatness Germany has endured since World War I.
The German people should believe in themselves and the movement that is occurring in Germany.
Hitler promotes pride in Germany through the unification of it.
To unify Germany, Hitler believes purification would have to take place.

Adolf Hitler Speaking
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

Hitler preaches to the people in his speeches that they should believe in their country and themselves.
The German people are better than what they have become because of the impurities in society.
Hitler wants them to believe in him and believe what he wants to do for his people, and what he is doing is for the country’s and people’s benefit.

Hitler before his Final Speach
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag

In the closing speech of ‘Triumph of the Will’, Hitler enters the room from the back, appearing to emerge from the people.
After a one sentence introduction, he tells his faithful Nazis how the German nation has subordinated itself to the Party.

‘Triumph des Willens’
Final Scene

He promises that the new state that the Party has created will endure for thousands of years.
Hitler says that the youth will carry on after the old have weakened.
As the massed bands and choirs ring out the ‘Horst Wessel Lied’ the camera focuses on the large Swastika above Hitler and the film ends with the images of this Swastika imposed on party members marching in a columns.
His speech brought attention to the rally, and created a huge turnout in the following years.
He attracted many people in the way that he addressed the issues and his people.
He spoke to them as if it were a sermon and engaged the people.
In 1934, over a million Germans participated in the Nuremberg Rally.


Hitler’s Speach to Political Leaders of the NSDAP
Nürnberg -1936

‘My party comrades! Men of the National Socialist movement!
We meet here for the fourth time. How this field has changed! So has our Reich! And so, we can say with even greater pride, has our people!
We have experienced in these four years the miracle of a resurrection of a defeated and demoralized and suppressed people. Today this people stands before us once more, restored in outlook and heart.
Each time we come to this city, we can look back on a year of work, but also on a year of accomplishments. Three years ago as we met the world was in motion. There may have been some who thought the wheel of history could be rolled back. A year later, two years ago, we had just taken steps necessary to preserve the strength of the movement. A year ago the dark clouds of enemy opposition hung over Germany, foreign rejection and threatening misunderstandings. Now we are here once more and all of us, you and I and the nation, know that the time of inner turmoil is as much behind us as is the time of external threats.
As we have come together here, so too today the German people has come together. As you have marched here in columns beneath your flags, my flag bearers, the German people are behind you! I have reminded the German people in my proclamation of the wonders of the past four years. We are reminded at this festival what has become of the German people.
What a spirit seized our people! How proud and manly it has once more become. It has overcome all the powers of destruction, collapse and dishonor, and has found once again the path to honor! Today we can again be proud of our people! This miracle that has renewed our people, my fighting comrades, is not a gift from heaven given to those unworthy of it.
Never has there been a movement that struggled with more fanatic, devoted, sacrificial commitment to national resurrection than we have shown in the past eighteen years!
We have fought for our people for the souls of millions, of our workers, our farmers, our citizens! We have fought as one fights only for the most priceless gift that this world has to offer. What have we given over these years in work, in sacrifice, in devotion, in fanaticism, in contempt of death! We were successful not only because I was your leader, but rather far more because you were my followers. 
We feel once more in this moment the miracle that brought us together! You heard once the voice of a man that moved your hearts, that awakened you, and you followed this voice. You followed for years without even seeing the bearer of the voice himself. You heard only the voice, and you followed.
The miracle of our coming together moves us all. Not all of you can see me, and I cannot see all of you. But I feel you, and you feel me! The belief in the greatness of our people has made us small people large, it has made us poor people rich, it has made wavering, cowardly, anxious men brave and courageous, the blind to see. It has brought us together!
You have come to this city from your small village, from your market towns, from your cities, from mines and factories, from behind the plow. You have come from your daily routine and from your labors for Germany to share this feeling: We are together, we are it and it is us, and we are now Germany!
It is splendid to know that we are gathered here as representatives of the German nation. Everyone knows: These 140,000 have but one thought and their heart, one longing, they all think the same. That is the source of our movement’s strength that has brought us through all that fate had to offer toward the goal for which we strive, and which is now in reach.
It is wonderful for me to be your Führer.
Who can be prouder of his followers than he who knows that they are moved by nothing but the purest idealism!
Who forced you to follow me? What could I offer you, what could I gave you? We together agreed on one thing: on the struggle for a great shared idea! We grew in size and strength until we were the victors.
For years I could greet you only as my fighting comrades. Today I greet you as victors. You have built a new home for our people, and have given those who dwell in that house a new spirit and new meaning. All those who may think that they can shake this state, or even bring it to collapse, should take note. They should not deceive themselves! If our old enemies and opponents should seek to attack us once more, our battle flags will fly high and they will learn respect for us! 
They will have to learn that Germany is no place for them.
We had no prayer but this during our long years of struggle: Lord, give our people peace at home and abroad! Our generation has experienced so much that it is understandable why we long for peace. We want to work, to build our Reich, to build it according to our ideas and not those of the Bolshevist Jews.
We want to work for the future of the children of our people, for a future that will not only be safe for them, but easier as well. We have so much behind us that we have only one request for a gracious and good Providence: “Spare our children that which we have gone through!”
We desire nothing but peace and quiet in which to do our work. May others have the same wish, for we have not hesitated to give up our rest when it was necessary to deal with internal troublemakers. We have not aged during our struggle. We are as young as ever. What the years added our idealism subtracted.
With and behind our flags march our new youth.
We are happy and proud to see them. A new generation of leaders is maturing. What fate’s hard process of selection graciously granted us, that we want to guarantee for the future through our own tough selection.
To be a National Socialist is to be a man, it is to be a fighter, it is to be brave and courageous and sacrificial. We will be that for all eternity!
In this fourth Reich Party Rally since the seizure of power we can look calmly to the future. We are not careless and foolish. History has given us hard lessons. But we are calm and self confident. I am so when I see you. I know that there is a unique movement behind me, a wonderful organization of men and women. I see before me endless columns of the flags of our new Reich. I make this prophecy to you:
This Reich has the first days of its youth behind it. It will grow in the coming centuries, becoming strong and powerful! These flags will be borne by ever new generations of our people. Germany is healthy once more! Our people is reborn!
I greet you, my old fighting comrades, my flag bearers, my standard bearers of a new history, and I greet you and thank you for all the loyalty and faith that you have given me over the long years.
I greet you as the hope of the present and the guarantee of our future.
And I especially greet the youth who are present. Become men like those you see before you!
Fight as they have fought! Be upright and determined, fear no one and do your duty!
If you do so, the Lord God will never leave our people.

Heil Germany !’

Adolf Hitler

this post is in course of construction

Explaining Hitler

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

‘I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker.’

Adolf Hitler

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Adolf Hitler was, and is still, an unsolved mystery.  
Scholars call  the  rise  of  Hitler  ‘the most crucial and mystifying event of our century’, – ‘the seminal question of the twentieth century’. 
Percy Ernst Schramm speaks for all historians when he writes:
By virtue of his personality and his ideas Hitler poses an historical problem of the first magnitude‘.
H. R. Trevor-Roper writes that, despite the passage of half a century, ‘Hitler remains a frightening mystery‘.
The most fundamental and difficult question in the field of Hitler studies is the question of how this man came to be one of the most outstanding orators and political organizers in German if not all modern history.
Surely, unless there were some miracle in Hitler’s life at the age of thirty, when he apparently attended his first political meeting, any historian worth his salt would be looking into this man’s early life to find the secret of his success at gaining power.
Fortunately, there were several amateurs who stepped in to fill the gap, and it is to them that we owe most of everything that we know of the young Hitler other than what this most secretive of men chose to tell.
The first of these was Franz Jetzinger, author ‘Hitlers Jugend’ (Hitler’s Youth – 1956).
Jetzinger, however, was not a historian, but a Social Democratic politician who served as a deputy in the Provincial Assembly of Upper Austria  for  fifteen  years  before  the  Second World War, and had a deep-seated hatred of both National Socialism and Adolf Hitler.

 Brigitte Hamann
Despite his obvious bias, having been a member of the federal state government, Jetzinger had secured for himself the Austrian military file of Adolf Hitler, which included details on Hitler’s arrest in 1914, which took place because he fled from military conscription.
It is to Jetzinger that we owe much of our knowledge of the documents of Hitler’s family, his ancestors, his father’s change of name, and where the family lived.

August Kubizek
His attacks on Kubizek‘s reminiscences about Hitler, however, seem to be motivated by his personal bias, and have been seriously questioned by Brigitte Hamann.
Kubizek’s memoirs are important as the first and only insight into the incipient character of the man who, without any other natural advantage besides his own personality, became the most powerful leader in modern history.
It was only through the indefatigable work  of  Jetzinger, however, that  this  witness was discovered  and  his  testimony  obtained before he died.
If if it had been left to the professional historians, we would never have known  of  Kubizek,  and  his  memoirs  might never have been written and published.
A whole generation may well be named in history after him, and we shall speak of the ‘Age of Hitler’ as we speak of the ‘Age of Napoleon’ or the ‘Age of Charlemagne’.  
And yet, for all the obviousness of its imprint on the world, how elusive his character remains !
To the Marxists, the most old-fashioned of all critics, he was simply a pawn, the creature of a dying capitalism in its last stages.
Others have seen him as a ‘charlatan’ profiting by a series of accidents, a ‘consummate actor’ and ‘hypocrite’, or a ‘sly, cheating peasant‘.
Even Sir Lewis Namier endorses an account of him given by a disgusted German official as a mere ‘illiterate, illogical, unsystematic bluffer’.
Even Bullock seems content to  regard him as a ‘diabolical adventurer’, animated solely by an ‘unlimited lust for power’.
Trevor-Roper insists that these are not explanations, but evasions – negative labels that explain nothing.
In dismay he asks, ‘Could a mere adventurer, a shifty, scatterbrained charlatan, have done what Hitler did, who, starting from nothing nearly conquered the whole world ?’

Ron Rosenbaum
Bizarrely, some historians – mainly Jews or their sympathisers – seriously hold that any attempt to explain Hitler is ‘immoral
These historians insist that Hitler must forever remain a mystery, and that history must never attempt to explain him.
Any explanation is considered, reports Rosenbaum, ‘dangerous, forbidden, a transgression of near biblical  proportion‘.
Rosenbaum  also suggests that historians are unable to find any narrative into which Hitler fits, or any new theory to explain him.
It is suggested that the general consensus of historians is that Hitler is simply ‘not explainable by the systems of explanation, historical  and  psychological,  that we use to explain ordinary human behavior‘.
Thus it is considered ‘reasonable‘ to acknowledge the bankruptcy of imagination of the historical profession in its failure to find any narrative understandable to ordinary human beings, or any credible explanation of the most stupendous events of the twentieth century.

Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler
Ron Rosenbaum
‘Explaining Hitler’ – 1998
Ron Rosenbaum (born November 27, 1946) is an American journalist and author. Rosenbaum was born into a Jewish family in New York City. He graduated from Yale University in 1968. He wrote for The Village Voice for several years, leaving in 1975 after which he wrote for Esquire, Harper’s, High Times, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine and Slate.
Rosenbaum spent more than ten years doing research on Adolf Hitler, interviewing leading historians, philosophers, biographers, theologians and psychologists. The result was his 1998 book, ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil’.

One source of information about Hitler, of course, is ‘Mein Kampf‘.
This is often taken to be Hitler’s ‘autobiography’, whereas, in fact, it is a skilful piece of propaganda, with certain, in many cases distorted, biographical details inserted, to heighten the work’s general appeal.
click below for
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Explaining the life of Adolf Hitler is similar to exploring a fractal, as the further one travels into it, the more complex it becomes.

One of the major difficulties in achieving an authentic level of understanding of the Hitler phenomenon is the abundance of spurious sources.

The myths abound: Hitler was Jewish with a Rothschild ancestor; Hitler had only one testicle; Hitler had two testicles, but one was bitten off by a goat; Hitler once lived in Liverpool, England; Hitler was insane; Hitler contracted syphilis from a French prostitute during WW1; Hitler’s ‘real’ name was Schicklgruber; and so on.

Karl Heinrich Marx

Most of us have heard at least a few of these, and possibly believed a few as well.
The ambiguous and sometimes contradictory evidence is ready made for those who would tell the story with an agenda; German politicians – many of who are ‘closet’ Marxisit, and so-called ‘Revisionist’ historians, being two of the most obvious.

Ron Rosenbaum
Objectivity, the ideal of the true historian, is harder to come by in the field of ‘Hitler Studies’ than in nearly any other discipline not theologically based.
In a field that touches on such charged issues and events as Nationalism and Racism, the very nature of war and peace and good and evil, emotions tend to cloud, or at least effect, the judgement of even the most disciplined scholar.
Ron Rosenbaum called it a ‘terra incognita of ambiguity and incertitude, where armies of scholars clash in evidential darkness over the spectral shadows of Hitler’s past‘.
Hitler remains an enigma in spite of everything that has been written about him.
Historians like Alan Bullock, Ian Kershaw and Hugh Trevor-Roper confess their perplexity openly.

How was it possible that an unknown, solitary and future-less front-soldier, in 1918, became some years later the ‘Leader’ and ‘Messiah‘ of the German people ?

‘That is the miracle of our age:
that you have found me:
that you have found me among so many millions –
and that I have found you, that is Germany’s good fortune !’

Adolf Hitler

Sixty years after his death Hitler appears to be more popular than ever.
In India he symbolizes resistance, in Egypt prosperity, in Peru discipline.
The Senegalese celebrate him as a hero of anti-colonialism, and the Chinese in Hong Kong as a champion of style.
Presumably, Hitler is the only European who, more than half a century after his death, is still widely known around the world.

Other contemporary politicians, such as Churchill or de Gaulle, are merely remembered in the respective linguistic or cultural spheres; the same goes for intellectual heroes like Göthe, Kant, Cervantes, Shakespeare.
But only Hitler is part of popular knowledge in Korea, Japan, Namibia or Uruguay, even outside the academic islands.
Hitler, the German, is not only the most well-known European, but beside the religious founders Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, or the slayers Genghis Khan or Stalin, perhaps one of the most well-known figures of all time.
These are the results of various journalistic polls.
For Europeans, who like to view their continent as the cradle of the ‘Enlightenment’ and humanism, it is a rather embarrassing finding.
And a disconcerting, if not downright shocking one because Hitler is viewed in a positive light by millions of non-Europeans – who would have been viewed by Hitler as ‘untermenschen‘.
Most of the time, however, it is not the historical Hitler, who is celebrated, or even wished to reappear, but a figure of fantasy with few real attributes.
Hitler has a cathartic function, in which each culture projects its specific experiences, preferences and problems.
In the corrupt and chaotic economies of South America, Hitler is read as a code for order and national unity.
Africans, on the other hand, admire the strong man in him, the myth of power, but also the enemy of the former colonialists France and England.
Also in India, from whose history Hitler took his ideas of the Aryans and the Swastika, Hitler is transfigured into an aid in the national liberation struggle against the British Crown.
However, in East Asia, Hitler is merely present as an aesthetic influence in fashion collections, commercials and the restaurant business, uncoupled from Nazi policies or World War II.
This is not the case in the Arabic and Iranian centers of Islam.
Not only is Hitler celebrating a renaissance in the Middle East, but the modern view of Hitler is closest to the historical one.
In contrast to the West, however, the historical facts are evaluated 
Looked at objectively, it could be said that Hitler amazed the world in everything he accomplished.
To the great majority of the German people he was a ‘redeemer‘.

The German word Erlöser has two distinct connotations.
One refers to Jesus, dying on the cross to redeem the sins of the world.
The second refers to ‘Parsifal’, the eponymous hero of Wagner‘s opera – and this brings us directly to an association with Hitler.

Hitler gave the Germans real leadership, and motivated them to the greatest heights of achievement in every field of endeavour.

German Factory

Under his leadership Germany was a pulsating hive of industry.

Every section of the country responded to his ideas and encouragement.
He gave the German people joy of being alive, and a pride in simply being a German, instead of the humiliated broken people he had inherited.
There was an infectious feeling of excitement and expectancy in the land, as day by day and week by week, Hitler raised his people from the gutter, and freed Germans from humiliation in other lands.

Hitler Speaks

‘How could we not feel once again at this hour the miracle that brought us together.

You once heard the voice of a man, and it struck your hearts, it awakened you and you followed this voice.
You followed it for years, without even having seen the owner of the voice; you merely heard a voice and followed it.
When we meet here we are all filled by the miraculous quality of this meeting.
Not every one of you sees me, and I do not see everyone of you.
But I feel you, and you feel me.
It is the faith in our nation that has made us small people great, that has made us poor people rich, that has made us vacillating, despondent, frightened people brave and determined; that has given us blind wanderers sight and brought us together.
So you come from your little villages, your market towns, your cities, from mines and factories, away from the plow on one day to this city.
You come from the narrow environment of the struggle of your daily lives, and your struggle for Germany, and for our nation, in order to have the feeling: 
Now we are together; we are with him, and he is with us, and now we are Germany.
It is a wonderful thing for me to be your Führer.’

Adolf Hitler
Iron Cross – First Class
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

For Hitler, “National Socialism was natural socialism” and in his speeches he equated God with “the dominion of natural laws throughout the entire universe.”

This idea was attractive, and easily grasped by the German nation.
Today it is a very modern philosophy.
To his admirers, he was a real patriot and a war hero, having suffered in the horrors of trenches during the First World War, and having been awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.
The people sensed that at last they had found standing before them a man, in whom they could trust, and who believed in himself and in the talents and abilities of his own people.
Hitler created a Germany that influenced people from far beyond its borders.
During the Second World War, a million foreigners joined the Waffen SS simply because they believed in what he was trying to achieve, and willingly sacrificed themselves, for no reward except a profound belief in what they were fighting for.

Hitler created visual images of National Socialism and the Third Reich that are so outstanding, that to this day no person or country, has ever surpassed its artistic and spiritual influence.
These powerful images of the Third Reich have been so effective that even today Hollywood film studios have made billions of dollars since the end of World War II, and still continue to fill theatre seats just on the power of Hitler’s name.

His use of the ancient sign of the Swastika is the most famous and easily recognized emblem around the world today, and memorabilia of the Third Reich changes hands for high prices at public auctions or private sales rooms.
Tens of thousands of people purchase copies of Third Reich archive material, and in the privacy of their own homes, watch in fascination at the man who attempted to change the world and bring back simplicity to its organization.
Endless books have been published on the Third Reich.
Even today, debates take place at every level continuing to try to understand this phenomenon.
Hugh Trevor Roper

Some years ago the German historian Rainer Zitelmann, in a scholarly study established that Hitler’s outlook was “rational, self-consistent, and modern, and as early as 1953, the respected British historian Hugh R. Trevor Roper, evoked the image of Hitler as a kind of “synthesis of Napoleon and Spengler, noting that of all the world conquerors Hitler had been the most ‘philosophical’.

But none of this really ‘explains’ Hitler.

One of the main stumbling blocks to a true understanding of this unique individual, for us in the twenty-first century, is the fact that Hitler was born a long time ago – in fact on 20th April, 1889.
While Zitelmann may describe Hitler’s outlook as “modern” – he does not mean ‘contemporary’.
‘Modernity’, in this case, typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance.

Charles Pierre Baudelaire 

Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

Conceptually, modernity relates to the modern era, and to ‘modernism’, but forms a distinct concept.
Whereas the ‘Enlightenment’ (ca. 1650–1800) invokes a specific movement in Western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism.

Picasso – Cubism
In art, however, ‘Cubism’ may be seen as a feature of ‘modernity’, and yet it began in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Cubism is an early-20th-century movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of works produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s. Variants such as Futurism and Constructivism developed in other countries. A primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of three-dimensional form in the late works of Paul Cézanne, which were displayed in a retrospective at the 1907 Salon d’Automne. In Cubist artwork, objects are broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form.

The Wright Flyer – 1903
Equally the world’s first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight took place on December 17, 1903 – a ‘modern’ event that stirred the imagination of the young, fourteen year old Adolf Hitler.

The Wright Flyer is the first successful powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as “...the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.” The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as “the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.

Hitler was born into a Europe dominated by Empires – some ancient, like the Hapsburg and Russian Empires, and some relatively new, although based on an ancient concept, like the German Empire (founded in 1871 – just 18 before Hitler was born).

Wappen des Reiches Österreich
Wappen von Österreich-Ungarn

The Austro-Hungarian Empire – more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe, which operated from 1867 to October 1918, following the end of World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status.

Kaiserliche Flagge des deutschen Kaisers
Wappen Deutsches Reich

Das Deutsches Kaiserreich – the German Empire is the common name given to the state officially named Deutsches Reich (literally: “German Realm”), designating Germany from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Kaiser (Emperor) on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.
The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent territories (most of them ruled by royal families). While the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the population and most of the territory of the Reich, the Prussian leadership became supplanted by German leaders and Prussia itself played a lesser role.

Николай II
Николай Александрович Романов
Tsar Nicholas II
Greater Arms of the Russian Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

When Hitler was a boy the Soviet Union didn’t exist, and Russia was rule by Tsar Nicholas II, the supreme autocrat of the Russian Empire, who had absolute control over all matters both secular and spiritual.

Николай II – Nicholas II (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. As with other Russian Emperors he is commonly known by the monarchical title Tsar (though Russia formally ended the Tsardom in 1721). Nicholas II ruled from 1 November 1894 until his enforced abdication on 2 March 1917.

Europe then was a very different place to Europe today, or even the the Europe Hitler came back to after his time in the trenches.

Before he moved to Linz, Hitler grew up in a relatively rural, backward area of Austria.
The population was basically made up of farmers and peasants and, with the absence of mass communications, and relatively poor literacy, the area existed in a kind of ‘time-warp’, where life carried on much as it had done at the start of the nineteenth century.
Even after Hitler moved to Vienna, and then Munich, he was still living in a world in which only the very wealthy could afford such new inventions as the Gramophone (12″ records only became available around 1910), and the wireless (radio).


From the mid-1890s until the early 1920s both phonograph cylinder and disc recordings, and machines to play them on were widely mass-marketed and sold.
The disc system (the gramophone gradually became more popular because of its cheaper price, and better marketing by disc record companies. Edison ceased cylinder manufacture in the autumn of 1929, and the history of disc and cylinder rivalry was concluded. Early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm, and a variety of sizes. As early as 1894, Emile Berliner’s United States Gramophone Company was selling single-sided 7-inch discs with an advertised standard speed of “about 70 rpm”. One standard audio recording handbook describes speed regulators or “governors” as being part of a wave of improvement introduced rapidly after 1897. History does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.

Equally film, that great moulder of popular culture, was black and white, silent, and short, around the turn of the century

‘The Student of Prague’ (1913) 

On November 1, 1895 Max Skladanowsky and his brother Emil demonstrated their film projector the Bioscop at the Wintergarten music hall in Berlin. A 15-minute series of eight short films, it was the first screening of films to a paying audience in Europe. Other German film pioneers included the Berliners Oskar Messter and Max Gliewe, two of several individuals who independently in 1896 first used a Geneva drive (which allows the film to be advanced intermittently one frame at a time) in a projector, and the cinematographer Guido Seeber. In its earliest days, the cinematograph was restricted to upper class audiences, however, soon, trivial short films were being shown as fairground attractions aimed at the working and lower-middle class. Film-makers with an artistic bent attempted to counter this view of cinema with longer movies based on literary models, and the first German “artistic” films began to be produced from around 1910, an example being ‘The Student of Prague’ (1913) which was co-directed by Paul Wegener and Stellan Rye, photographed by Guido Seeber.  The first standalone, dedicated cinema in Germany was opened in Mannheim in 1906, and by 1910, there were over 1000 cinemas operating in Germany.

Adolf Hitler

When he was a young man Hitler was often referred to as ‘schöne Adolf’ – ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’ Adolf.

To many people today, seeing photos and film of Hitler, that may seem incomprehensible, but then we are forgetting how time has changed our perception of beauty.
Take, for example, Charles Chaplin.
Chaplin and Hitler resembled one another, (enough for Chaplin to impersonate Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator’ in 1940), particularly with regard to the moustache they both favoured – which today seems to many to be ridiculous – although it was a fashionable style at the time.

Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator

Chaplin made ‘The Great Dictator’ in 1940 as a “satirical attack on fascism” (did he mean National Socialism ?), and is his “most overtly political film“. There were strong parallels between Chaplin and Adolf Hitler, having been born four days apart, and raised in similar circumstances. It was widely noted that Hitler wore the same moustache as the ‘Little Tramp’, and it was this physical resemblance that formed the basis of Chaplin’s story. Chaplin spent two years developing the script, and began filming in September 1939. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin’s financial independence allowed him to take the risk. The response from critics was not enthusiastic. Although most agreed that it was a brave and worthy film, many considered the ending inappropriate. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked straight at the camera and professed his personal (left wing) beliefs. The monologue drew significant debate for its overt preaching, and continues to attract attention to this day. It has been identified as triggering Chaplin’s decline in popularity.

Adolf Hitler – 1920
The Little Tramp

We now think of Chaplin’s ‘little tramp’ as equally ridiculous and pathetic in appearance, but that is not what people thought who saw the character at the turn of the century, (the ‘tramp’ was first seen in 1914 in the Keystone comedy, ‘Kid Auto Races at Venice’) – their perception of the ‘tramp’ was of a young man who was ‘down on his luck’ – but a ‘good-looking’, handsome, one may almost say ‘cute’ character.

And in the same way, Hitler, with a similar hairstyle and similar moustache was seen as ‘good-looking’ – hence ‘schöne Adolf’.

So Hitler came form a world very different from our own, and yet in some respects his ‘weltanschauung’ seems almost contemporary – which is an obvious paradox.
One explanation for this derives from the fact that Hitler lived through what has been described as the ‘Watershed of the Epoch‘ – which he would have remembered as der große Krieg‘ – the great war.

click below for more information about
Der Große Krieg 1914-18
Causes of the Great War
It was the Great War that effectively divided off the new, ‘Modern’ epoch of history from the previous ‘Traditional’ epoch – and it created a paradox in Hitler’s thinking and, significantly, in the nature of National Socialism.
This paradox relates to the complex relationship between ‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ which informs the fundamental nature of Völkisch thought and philosophy.
click below for a discussion of
‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ in National Socialism
Adolf Hitler – Herr Wolf
The name Adolf (Adolph) comes from the Old High German , and is composed of adal (edel – noble, noble) and wolf (wolf).
In his early days Hitler referred to himself as ‘Herr Wolf’ and changed his sister’s name to ‘Frau Wolf’.
He was called ‘Wolf’ by close relatives, as the name Adolf is derived from an old German word for wolf.
He even named three of his military headquarters ‘Wolfsschanze’, ‘Wolfsschluch’t and ‘Werwolf’.
His favourite dogs were wolfshunde, and he referred to his SS as “my pack of wolves.”

“Come what may, my heart remains ice-cold.”
Adolf Hitler
Few explanations for the phenomena of the rise of Adolf Hitler are in any way adequate or convincing.
As a result many unconventional theories have been put forward – including occult explanations, aliens, and possession.
This is, of course, a fertile area for wild speculation, and many have elaborated various unlikely scenarios, however, despite this there is reliable documentary evidence which points to a likely, occult explanation for the phenomena of Hitler and National Socialism.

Hermann Rauschning

Either with individuals, or before a multitude, Hitler revealed a great hypnotic power, and for this reason it is often proposed that he was possessed by invisible powers, his “unknown superiors” referred to by Hermann Rauschning.
In his work ‘Hitler Told Me’, he describes the Führer as ‘an antenna in touch with frightening, superior beings’.
Hitler’s words, ‘I follow the way that Providence points me with the confidence of a sleep-walker,’ indicates the lines of his supra-normal powers.
But, from whom did he receive those powers ?
Would it be ‘per chance’ from the Thule group that had initiated him into the occult ?
Or would it be from an older revelation ?
One thing seems certain about Hitler and National Socialism – the Gnostic and occult character of the man and his thought.

Gnosticism (from gnostikos, “learned”, from Ancient Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge; Arabic: الغنوصية‎ al-ġnūṣīh) is the belief that the material world created by the demiurge should be shunned, and the spiritual world should be embraced, Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions. In Gnosticism, the world of the demiurge is represented by the ‘lower world’ which associated with matter,  flesh,  time, the imperfect and ephemeral world. The world of God is represented by the upper world, and is associated with the soul and perfection. The world of God is eternal and not part of the physical. It is impalpable, and time there doesn’t exist. To rise to God, the Gnostic must reach the “knowledge” which mixes philosophy, metaphysics, culture, knowledge, and secrets of history and the universe.

So, was Hitler possessed ? – this is a question that is often asked. 
Carl Jung, the well known, German speaking, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist certainly thought so (see below – ‘Essay on Wotan’).

Carl Jung 

Carl Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. Jung believed in the “complex” or emotionally charged associations. He collaborated with Sigmund Freud, but disagreed with him about the sexual basis of neuroses. He founded analytic psychology, advancing the idea of introvert and extrovert personalities and the power of the unconscious. He wrote several books before his death in 1961.

Lance of Saint Maurice
Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 book, ‘The Spear of Destiny’, as well as a later book, ‘The Mark of the Beast’, claims that Adolf Hitler was possessed by an entity connected to the Lance of Saint Maurice (also known as the ‘Spear of Destiny’), which Hitler first saw in the Weltliche Schatzkammer in the Hofburg in Vienna.
Trevor Ravenscroft repeatedly attempted to define the mysterious “powers” that the legend says the spear serves.
He states that  it is a hostile and evil spirit of immense power.

Trevor Ravenscroft

He never actually referred to the spear as spiritually controlled, but rather as intertwined with all of mankind’s ambitions.
However, Ravenscroft very quickly moves away from reasonably well researched material into the sphere of wild speculation which does little to shed any real light on Adolf Hitler, or the true nature of National Socialism.

Trevor Ravenscroft was born in England in 1921. He was educated at Repton and Sandhurst Military College before serving as a Commando officer in World War II. He was captured on a raid which attempted to assassinate Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa and was a POW in Germany from 1941 to 1945, escaping three times but each time being recaptured. After the war he studied at St Thomas’ Hospital, later becoming a journalist on the Beaverbrook press. He studied history under Dr Walter Johannes Stein for twelve years and carried out intensive research for his books ‘The Spear of Destiny’ and ‘The Mark of the Beast’. Before his death in 1989, he also lectured on history in London and Edinburgh.

But to start at the beginning, there was a tradition of spirit possession in the area where Hitler was born.

The Schneider Family
Willi and Rudi Schneider were born in Braunau.
Their father was a Linotype compositor who lived with his wife and six sons, close by his workshop.
Willi, the elder brother, first went into trances in 1919, when he was sixteen.
Willi’s control was ‘Olga’, who claimed to have been Lola Montez, the mistress of Ludwig I of Bavaria.

Klara Hitler
Willi was capable of producing materialisations of spirits and despite being tested under rigorous scientific conditions in Munich, Vienna and London from 1922 until 1927, no explanation has been advanced for such phenomena.
Willi’s powers faded after 1927, but Rudi’s then began to develop.
Rudi was also tested under rigorous scientific conditions in Munich,Vienna, Paris and London and no evidence of fraud was ever forthcoming.
After 1934 Rudi’s powers also began to fade, and he died in obscurity in Braunau in 1957.
Strangely, Hitler’s wet-nurse was also wet-nurse to the Schneider brothers.
At eight years of age Hitler was sent to the school of the Monastery of Lambach, where he reveled in the pomp and solemnity of Catholic ritual.

Arms of Bishop Hagen
Monastery of Lambach
Klara Hitler had hopes of her son becoming a priest. 
(It was at Lambach that Hitler first saw the swastika, which appeared on the heraldic arms of Bishop Hagen, which decorated the Baroque choir stalls, where he sang in the Monastery Church on feast days) 
Interestingly, Hitler was not considered suitable for a religious life, despite the fact that at that time he was top of his class.
Related to this may be the fact that while Hitler was a at the abbey, a Cistercian monk named Adolf Joseph Lanz (Liebenfels) made a stay at Lambach.
He stayed for several weeks, shut up in the monastery, thoroughly researching and studying Bishop Hagen’s personal papers.
The monks affirm that during his research he evidenced the signs of great agitation, like of a person who had made a great discovery.
After his visit to Abbey, Lanz returned to Vienna, where the following year (1900) he founded the Order of the New Templars.
The question remains – did the young Adolf and the monk Joseph Lanz meet during that time ?
 Alois Hitler
Apart from these facts, there seems to be little evidence that young Adolf was anything other than a fairly normal boy, despite his difficult family situation.
On 2 February 1900 Hitler’s younger brother, Edmund, died of measles.
Adolf was also ill, but recovered, although for the rest of his childhood and boyhood he was considered a ‘sickly youth’.
To Klara, the death was like a hammer blow and brought back the memories of the three children she had lost twelve years before.
She suffered terribly, and neighbours were shocked when she failed to attend the funeral.
To the ten year old Adolf, who had been very close to his younger brother, the death left a lasting wound.
After the church service he stood in a driving snowstorm and watched while his little brother was lowered into his grave.
In the future, any-time Adolf looked out of his bedroom window he was reminded of Edmund, who’s grave was visible from his window.
He became moody, dispirited and withdrawn.
The death of Edmund deeply affected Hitler, whose character changed from being confident and outgoing, and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers.
Years later when Adolf Hitler would become famous, journalists and reporters would flock to the area to see what people remembered of him.
Although the local population would repeat the stories of his Indian games, how quickly he ran if called by his father, how well he did in the Leonding school, or how spoiled he was, they also remembered a very curious thing.
They said Adolf was sometimes seen, late into the night, sitting on the high cemetery wall “gazing up at the stars” or talking to the “windblown trees.”
Some of Adolf’s playmates remembered that Adolf would also climb the hill behind his house late at night, and talk to a “nonexistent audience.”
It is at this point in his youth that the young Adolf passed for the first time through those unseen portals into the world of the occult.
After Edmund’s death, religion lost its glamour for the young Adolf and he never again talked about becoming a priest.
It appears that Edmund’s death haunted Hitler all his life.

August (Gustl) Kuzibek

Three years later Alois, Hitler’s father, died.

Then there was another indication that there was something strange about this young adolescent.
Adolf Hitler’s only real friend – August (Gustl) Kuzibek, met Hitler in 1904.

August (“Gustl”) Kubizek (3 August 1888, Linz – 23 October 1956, Eferding) was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. August was the first born and only surviving child of Michael and Maria Kubizek. His sisters Maria, Therese and Karoline died in early childhood. Kubizek later wrote that this was a striking parallel between his own life and that of Adolf Hitler, whose mother had lost four children prematurely. As the surviving sons of grief-stricken mothers, August and Adolf could not help but feel they had been spared or “chosen” by fate. Kubizek and Hitler first met while competing for standing room in the Landestheater in Linz, Austria. Because of their shared passion for the operas of Richard Wagner they quickly became close friends and later room-mates in Vienna while both sought admission into college. The two shared a small room in Stumpergasse 29/2 door 17 in the sixth district of Vienna from 22 February to early July 1908.
In 1951, Kubizek, who had rejected other post-war offers for his memoirs, agreed to publish ‘Adolf Hitler, mein Jugendfreund’ (‘Adolf Hitler, My Boyhood Friend’) through the Leopold Stocker Verlag.

In his account of his friendship with Adolf Hitler Kubizek describes his friend’s physical appearance, with particular emphasis on Hitler’s eyes’

‘In his countenance the eyes were so outstanding that one didn’t notice anything else.
Never in my life have I seen any other person whose appearance – how shall I put it – was so completely dominated by the eyes.
Landestheater – Linz,
And does the nickname of ‘Wolf’ for Hitler come from this pseudo-canine ‘dominance’ trait of the eyes ?
Here, possibly, is another hint of some mediumistic or ‘spirit possessed’ nature with regard to Adolf Hitler.
Another incident that indicates that something had happened to the young Hitler occurred after the two boys had attended a performance of Richard Wagner’s Opera ‘Rienze’ in Linz.
On this occasion the young Adolf spoke with a voice that seemed to have its origins and meaning from another place – but more of that strange night and Adolf’s strange speech later(see below).

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
At the same time, young Adolf was spending many hours in the public library in Linz, filling his mind with books on such varied subjects as Ancient Rome, Eastern Religions, Yoga, Occultism, Hypnotism, and Astrology.
Many people today are not aware of the deeply Occult basis that these religions and practices contain, and they formed a tremendous early influence on Hitler.
Adolf was also deeply influenced by Hegel, that German Philosopher and University Professor, whose concept of ‘Thesis’ battling ‘Antithesis’, producing the hybrid, ‘Synthesis’, was so influential on European philosophy, and the general flow of history in the 20th Century.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and a major figure in German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism. Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or “system”, of Absolute Idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. 

Alice Bailey
Madame Blavatsky
Between 1903 and 1913 Hitler began to delve into the works of Madame Blavatsky, the head of the Theosophical Society.
Blavatsky wrote ‘Isis Enthüllt (Isis Revealed) and ‘Die Geheimlehre‘ (The Secret Doctrine, from which Hitler developed his views on the Ur-Rassen – (Root Races) and  the Jews, considering them to be an inferior race which were threatening the “purity” of the German race.

Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская – Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891) was a scholar of ancient wisdom literature and established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky defined Theosophy as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization.” Blavatsky’s extensive research into the many different spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnus opus, ‘The Secret Doctrine’, which collates and organizes the essence of these teachings into a comprehensive synthesis. Blavatsky’s other works include ‘Isis Unveiled,’ ‘The Key to Theosophy’ and ‘The Voice of the Silence’.

Alice Bailey, writing in her book ‘Die Externalisierung der Hierarchie’ (The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy), calls the Jews a ‘race of lower evolution’, a theme Hitler struck often with his statement ‘The Jew is the anti-man, the creature of another god‘.

Hitler was also deeply involved in achieving ‘transcendent consciousness‘ through meditations and drugs, so critical if he was to open his Pineal Gland, or the ‘Third Eye‘.
Hitler was also deeply interested in the Akashic Record and Reincarnation.
The women of Germany found him to be “polite, charming, polished and very handsome. Perhaps it was his hypnotic eyes that led many of them into a fatal attraction.
As also noted, Hitler changed from a shy, timid speaker, who seemed to stumble over his words, to a most powerful orator, who seemed to be able to weave a spellbinding effect over his audience.
Yet, his voice was not his own, and he seemed to be transfixed by a strange force, as he was speaking
Many people believe that the poorly trained Adolf Hitler became the most accomplished orator who ever lived … His technique has been compared to the gradual seduction of a beautiful woman applied to a whole nation.”

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Dietrich Eckhart

Hitler also became deeply immersed in stories of Pan-Germanic and Völkisch mysticism, and old Nordic legends.

All of this was a heady brew for young Adolf’s mind and soul, but it prepared him for the ultimate experience of all, – joining the Thule Society, in 1919.
At the same time Hitler met Dietrich Eckhart, who exercised a deep influence over him.
As Eckhart lay dying in December, 1923, he uttered a most prophetic statement,
Follow Hitler! He will dance, but it is I who have called the tune! I have initiated him into the ‘Secret Doctrine’, opened his centres of vision and given him the means to communicate with the Powers. Do not mourn for me: for I shall have influenced history more than any other German.”
Eckhart repeatedly told his fellow adepts in the Thule Group that he had received an occult annunciation, that he was
destined to prepare the vessel of the Aeon, the man inspired by  the higher powers, to conquer the world, and lead the Aryan race to glory“.
With the aid of Eckart, Hitler, in 1921, at age 33 years of age, was totally ‘possessed‘ and prepared to take the leadership of the National Socialist Party.


But what is meant by the term ‘possession‘ ?
One of the manifestations of occult power in the earth-plane is possession of the human consciousness by non-material entities.
This is where an entity supplants the will of an individual, to a greater or lesser degree, and performs its own will in the human consciousness.
This is the essence of the mechanism of possession, and this explains how there are very powerful occult entities influencing human behaviour, and  human events.
Jung considered theses occult entities to be the ‘archetypes‘.
Jung developed an understanding of archetypes as being “ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective unconscious“.
These are different from instincts, as Jung understood instincts as being “an unconscious physical impulse toward actions, and saw the archetypes as the psychic counterpart“.
There are many different archetypes, and Jung has stated they are limitless, but they have been simplified; examples include the ‘persona‘, the ‘shadow’, the ‘anima‘, the ‘animus‘, the ‘great mother’, the ‘wise old man‘, the ‘hero‘, and the ‘self‘ – to name but a few.
Jung proposed that the archetype had a dual nature: it exists both in the psyche, and in the world at large.
Archetype of Time
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
He called this non-psychic aspect of the archetype the “psychoid” archetype.
He illustrated this by drawing on the analogy of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The part of the spectrum which is visible to us corresponds to the conscious aspects of the archetype.
The invisible infra-red end of the spectrum corresponds to the unconscious biological aspects of the archetype that merges with its chemical and physical conditions.
He suggested that not only do the archetypal structures govern the behaviour of all living organisms, but that they were contiguous with structures controlling the behaviour of inorganic matter as well.
The archetype was not merely a psychic entity, but more fundamentally, a bridge to matter in general.
This theory allows for the existence of independent archetypal entities – occult entities.
Such entities in occult tradition are known as Æons, a class of sentient spiritual beings of varying attributes and powers.
Incarnated Æon
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Their own qualities, the regions they occupy, the dimensions in which they function, and the time-span of their operations, all likewise become actualized, take on independent existence, and form links in the chain of emanation.
The occult spirit hierarchy includes many entities, amongst which, in Gnostic classifications, are Æons, Archons (rulers – archontes) principalities (archat), powers (dynameis), thrones (thronoi), dominions (kuriotetes), and lesser gods (theoi).
The most common spirit entities,  those contacted by Willi and Rudi Schneider of Braunau (see above), are known technically as ‘Daemons’, who are spirit ‘guides‘ – although their guidance is often spurious and malignant, and they sometimes masquerade as the ‘gods‘ themselves (see Plato’s ‘Symposium’).
Daemons, despite their lowly status, are often attributed to nations and races, although such functions properly attach to the Archons.
The most powerful non-material entities are the Æons, which many humans have taken to be ‘gods‘.

A fundamental concept relating to existence is that of a projecting forth (probole), or out-raying of qualities from the divine unity, commonly known as ’emanation’.
The divine unity generates or causes existence, not through the intermediary of another, or an opposite, not by creation, reproduction or evolution, but by a unique manifestation that brings into existence a complex, and at times paradoxical, chain of being, forming a descending hierarchy of spiritual entities.
The divine attributes of the divine unity , that is, the abstract qualities, mental states, spiritual concepts and metaphysical ideas, constituted the divine unity’s thoughts and designs, which lay hidden, known to the divine unity  but unknown to themselves.
Then the divine unity  gave them existence, and they flowed forth from the divine source.
The externalization of the divine attributes in this manner constitutes the first stage of a long process resulting from the overflow, or outpouring, of the fullness (pleroma) of the divine unity.
The entities that emerge from this process are known as Æons, a class of sentient beings of varying attributes and powers.
Their own qualities, the regions they occupy, the dimensions in which they function, and the time-span of their operations, all likewise become actualized, take on independent existence, and form links in the chain of emanation.
In the material world, or ‘Kingdom’, the Æons manifest as Nature.
The Æons may also manifest within the human psyche.
In esoteric terms, the Æons  are not the lifeless idols they are so often accused of being by the spiritually blind and ignorant.
Rather we can see these images as reflections of a greater Unseen.

The Germanic Wotan is one such Æon who is described by Jung (see below) as an independent archetypal entity, which Jung postulated had possessed the person of Adolf Hitler
Wotan ( oʊdɨn; from Old Norse Óðinn) is a major god in Germanic mythology, and the ruler of Asgard.
His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation,” besides “mind,” or “poetry.”
His role is complex.
Wotan is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Germanic  pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom,  magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt.
Most significantly Wotan is cited as the discoverer, or even creator of the sacred runes.
The poem Hávamál describes  how Odin received the runes through self-sacrifice, and how he once sacrificed himself to himself by hanging on the tree Yggdrasill.

The stanza reads:

‘I know that I hung on a windy tree

nine long nights,
wounded with a spear,
dedicated to Wotan,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.’

‘No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.’

‘Wotan’s Wolves’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
 Huginn and Muninn

Wotan has two ravens, Huginn (from Old Norse “thought”) and Muninn (Old Norse “memory” or “mind”)  that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring the god Wotan information.

In Germanic mythology, Geri and Freki (Old Norse, both meaning “the ravenous” or “greedy one”) are two wolves which accompany the god Wotan.
They are attested in the Poetic Edda, a collection of epic poetry compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds.
The pair has been  connected to beliefs surrounding the Germanic “wolf-warrior bands”, the Úlfhéðnar.

Geri and Freki 

‘Freki and Geri does Heerfather feed,
The far-famed fighter of old:
But on wine alone does the weapon-decked god,
Wotan, forever live.’

And so we come back to the ‘noble wolf’ – Adolf.
Now Jung’s theory about Wotan is very interesting, but it is simplistic.
Wotan is a storm god of war, rage and frenzy, who can ‘seize‘ and ‘posses‘ his followers – but this does not really relate to Hitler’s behaviour, or his conception of himself.
To begin with Hitler envisioned himself as the ‘drummer‘ – a sort of ‘John the Baptist’ figure – preparing the way for a German messiah.
Later he saw himself as ‘Führer‘.

Führer is a German title meaning ‘leader’ or ‘guide’ – someone who ‘shows the way‘.
The word Führer, in the sense of ‘guide’, remains common in German, but because of its strong association with the Third Reich, it comes for some people with some stigma and negative connotations when used as the meaning of leader.
Wotan can be seen in only a very limited sense  as Führer.
Hitler was recorded as having a low opinion of Völkisch followers of Wotan.
If we want to discover Hitler’s own feeling about mythological identification then we have to consider the name he chose for himself – Wolf.
He even used to whistle the song ‘Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’.
Big Bad Wolf

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” is a popular song written by Frank Churchill with additional lyrics by Ann Ronell, which originally featured in the 1933 Disney cartoon ‘Three Little Pigs’, where it was sung by Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig (voiced by Mary Moder and Dorothy Compton) as they arrogantly believe their houses of straw and twigs will protect them from the Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Billy Bletcher). The song’s theme made it a huge hit during the 1930s and it remains one of the most well-known Disney songs, being covered by numerous artists and musical groups.

The Wolf has a long and distinguished career in mythology – and mythology is the haunt of most of the significant archetypes.

The wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the animals that has been most consistently emblematic of Europe, being a common motif in the foundational mythologies and cosmologies of peoples from present-day Spain to far Eastern Europe.
In various European mythologies, the wolf is equated with creativity, fertility and protection, as well as with destruction, usually in association with the sun and the heroes in relation to the Greek god of Belen.
Before the development of farming and agriculture, when hunting and gathering formed the basis of survival, the wolf held a place of great importance.
Some European peoples considered themselves descended from wolves, and thus worshipped the wolf as both a god and an ancestor.
In European Antiquity, seeing a wolf before the beginning of a battle was an omen of victory, the wolf being symbolic both of the hunter and warrior.

Romulus and Remus and the Wolf

According to the Roman tradition, a wolf was responsible for the childhood survival of the future founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
The twin babies were ordered to be killed by their great uncle Amulius.
The servant ordered to kill them, however, relented and placed the two on the banks of the Tiber river.
The river, which was in flood, rose and gently carried the cradle and the twins downstream, where under the protection of the river deity Tiberinus, they would be adopted by a she-wolf known as Lupa in Latin, an animal sacred to Mars – the god of War.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Hitler and Blondi

Norse mythology prominently includes three malevolent wolves, in particular: the giant Fenrir, eldest child of Loki and Angrboda who was feared and hated by the Gods.
Fenrir is bound by the gods, but is ultimately destined to grow too large for his bonds and devour Odin during the course of Ragnarök – the Twilight of the Gods – Götterdämmerung, which takes us to Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer.
Fenrir’s two offspring will according to legend, devour the sun and moon at Ragnarök.
On the other hand, however, the wolves Geri and Freki were the Norse god Odin’s faithful pets, (like Blondi, Hitler’s wolf-hound), who were reputed to be “of good omen.”(see above).
In one mythology, however, the wolf is seen as a guide.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Egyptian Wolf

In Egyptian mythology, Upuaut, was a deity whose cult centre was Asyut in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis in the Greco-Roman period).
His name means, ‘opener of the ways’.
Upuaut was seen as a scout or guide, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed forward.
One inscription from the Sinai states that  Upuaut “opens the way” to king Sekhemkhet’s victory.
Wepwawet was a wolf deity, thus the Greek name of Lycopolis, meaning city of wolves.
Upuaut was said to accompany the Pharaoh on hunts, in which capacity he was titled ‘the one with sharp arrows, more powerful than the gods’.
Over time, the connection to war, and thus to death, led to Upuaut also being seen as one who opened the ways to, and through, Duat, for the spirits of the dead.

Ancient Egyptian Duat

In Egyptian mythology, Duat (also Tuat and Tuaut) is the underworld. The Duat is a vast area connected with Nun, the waters of the primordial abyss. The Duat is the realm of the god Osiris and the residence of other gods and supernatural beings. It is the region through which the sun god Ra travels from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep. It also was the place where people’s souls went after death for judgement, though it was not the full extent of the afterlife. Burial chambers formed touching-points between the mundane world and the Duat, and spirits could use tombs to travel back and forth from the Duat.

Carl G Jung

Having shown the connection between Adolf Hitler, (who called himself ‘Wolf’), and the archetype of the wolf, we need now to consider whether such archetypes have any actual existence, and if that is so, whether Adolf Hitler was possessed by such an archetype in the manner that Jung (we would suggest wrongly) thought that Adolf Hitler was possessed by the archetype of Wotan.

Elemental archetypes are said to be created through the power of thought and ritual.


This theory rests on the belief that the material world is supported and brought into being by a non material mode of existence commonly known as a Platonic World of Forms, (or ‘astral plane’).

Plato’s Theory of Forms asserts that non-material abstract forms, and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.
Plato suggests that these Forms (εἶδος or μορφή) are the only true objects of study that can provide us with genuine knowledge, however, they exist on a non-material plane which some describe as the ‘astral plane’.
The astral plane is intertwined with the quotidian human world and is inhabited by many  entities, including the Platonic Forms and the Archetypes.

Incarnated Aeon

Some suggest that included amongst these entities are ‘nature spirits‘ (elementals),  and ethereal beings immersed in macro divisions of an interwoven universe.

In Gnostic teachings these entities are termed Æons and Archons, but in modern terminology they are often referred to as ἀρχέτυπον (Archetypes).
Numbered among the archetypes are the ‘gods‘ of the ancient religions.

The most universal of these are the ‘divine‘ archetypes of the Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Nordic religions.
We would suggest that if Hitler was possessed, then it was by the Aeon known to the Ancient Egyptians as Upuat.
Upuat was the guide, (führer in German), – leading the devotees to the gods – or to victory.
Assuming this to be the case, it is possible to suggest when this possession took place.

On 2 February 1900 Hitler’s younger brother, Edmund, died of measles.
This had a profound effect on the young Adolf, causing a psychic shock which undermined his previously normal, outgoing and optimistic character.
Up until that time young ‘Adi’ had been a co-operative young boy at home and an excellent student at school .
Subsequently Hitler became a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers.
This was undoubtedly the outward manifestation of a turbulent conflict, as the alien entity began to take over the young boy’s psyche, as shown by his unusual behaviour at the time – (speaking to unseen individuals)
The wolf-like entity, while lying dormant did however, reveal itself in one significant way.
To quote Gustav Kubizek, Hitler’s only friend:

‘In this countenance the eyes were so outstanding that one didn’t notice anything else.
Never in my life have I seen any other person whose appearance – how shall I put it – was so completely dominated by the eyes.
They were the light eyes of his mother, but her somewhat staring, penetrating gaze was even more marked in the son and had even more force and expressiveness.
It was uncanny how these eyes could change their expression, especially when Adolf was speaking.
To me his sonorous voice meant much less than the expression of his eyes.
In fact, Adolf spoke with his eyes, and even when his lips were silent one knew what he wanted to say.
When he first came to our house and I introduced him to my mother, she said to me in the evening, “What eyes your friend has!”
And I remember quite distinctly that there was more fear than admiration in her words.
If I am asked where one could perceive, in his youth, this man’s exceptional qualities, I can only answer, “In the eyes.”

Many years passed, however, before the ‘entity’ was finally able to speak through Hitler for the first time.
It was in 1905, and Hitler had just seen the opera ‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ by Richard Wagner at the Linz Opera House.

‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’  – (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer’s first success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.
Magnanimous at first, he is forced by events to crush the nobles’ rebellion against the people’s power, but popular opinion changes and even the Church, which had urged him to assert himself, turns against him. In the end the populace burns the Capitol, in which Rienzi and a few adherents have made a last stand.

That was the catalyst that revealed his possession and his subsequent role as führer.

 Gustav Kubizek

Fortunately Gustav Kubizek, Hitler’s boyhood friend, was with Hitler at the time, and later recorded the event for posterity.
According to Kubizek :

It was a cold, unpleasant November evening.
Hitler waved to me impatiently. I was just cleaning myself up from the workshop and getting ready to go to the theatre.
‘Rienzi’ was being given that night.
We had never seen this Wagner opera and looked forward to it with great excitement. In order to secure the pillars in the Promenade we had to be early.
Adolf whistled, to hurry me up.

 ‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ 

Now we were in the theatre, burning with enthusiasm, and living breathlessly through Rienzi’s rise to be the Tribune of the people of Rome and his subsequent downfall.
When at last it was over, it was past midnight.
My friend, his hands thrust into his coat pockets, silent and withdrawn, strode through the streets and out of the city.
Usually, after an artistic experience that had moved him, he would start talking straight away, sharply criticizing the performance, but after Rienzi he remained quiet a long while. This surprised me, and I asked him what he thought of it. He threw me a strange, almost hostile glance. “Shut up !” he said brusquely.
The cold, damp mist lay oppressively over the narrow streets.
Our solitary steps resounded on the pavement. Adolf took the road that led up to the Freinberg. Without speaking a word, he strode forward. He looked almost sinister, and paler than ever. His turned-up coat collar increased this impression.
I wanted to ask him, “Where are you going ?” But his pallid face looked so forbidding that I suppressed the question.
As if propelled by an invisible force, Adolf climbed up to the top of the Freinberg.
And only now did I realize that we were no longer in solitude and darkness, for the stars shone brilliantly above us.
Adolf stood in front of me; and now he gripped both my hands and held them tight.
He had never made such a gesture before.
I felt from the grasp of his hands how deeply moved he was.
His eyes were feverish with excitement.
The words did not come smoothly from his mouth as they usually did, but rather erupted, hoarse and raucous.
From his voice I could tell even more how much this experience had shaken him.
Gradually his speech loosened, and the words flowed more freely.
Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour, as we stood there alone under the stars, as though we were the only creatures in the world.
I cannot repeat every word that my friend uttered.
I was struck by something strange, which I had never noticed before, even when he had talked to me in moments of the greatest excitement.
It was as if another being spoke out of his body, and moved him as much as it did me.
It wasn’t at all a case of a speaker being carried away by his own words.
On the contrary; I rather felt as though he himself listened with astonishment and emotion to what burst forth from him with elementary force.
I will not attempt to interpret this phenomenon, but it was a state of complete ecstasy and rapture, in which he transferred the character of Rienzi, without even mentioning him as a model or example, with visionary power to the plane of his own ambitions.
But it was more than a cheap adaptation. Indeed, the impact of the opera was rather a sheer external impulse which compelled him to speak.
Like flood waters breaking their dikes, his words burst forth from him.
He conjured up in grandiose, inspiring pictures his own future and that of his people.
Hitherto I had been convinced that my friend wanted to become an artist, a painter, or perhaps an architect. Now this was no longer the case.
Now he aspired to something higher, which I could not yet fully grasp.
It rather surprised me, as I thought that the vocation of the artist was for him the highest, most desirable goal, but now he was talking of a mandate which, one day, he would receive from the people, to lead them out of servitude to the heights of freedom.
It was an unknown youth who spoke to me in that strange hour.
He spoke of a special mission which one day would be entrusted to him, and I, his only listener, could hardly understand what he meant.

This, it seems, was an eruption of the dæmonic, of the hidden Æon, that was triggered by the intense stimulus of Wagner’s opera, combined with Hitler’s obvious frustrations with his somewhat pointless life in Linz.
Subsequently the ‘possessing entity’ was less obviously active – but was undoubtedly responsible for the way Hitler managed to survive the many difficulties he encountered in Vienna.
However, while living in Vienna Hitler’s mental state took a a turn for the worse.
He increasingly demonstrated obvious signs of mental instability, including instances of pressured, grandiose speech, and an inability to sleep for days on end.
It was not uncommon for Adolf to suddenly begin haranguing even complete strangers with violent speeches, which would end as abruptly as they began (Payne, Shirer ).
Adolf might be reading the newspaper and then suddenly erupt, or he could be lounging in the shelter or the lobby of the Mannerheim, slumped in a somewhat stuporous state, only to suddenly jerk upright, raging, and making accusatory and political speeches in the presence of astonished strangers.
He appeared to be suffering from a manic-depressive psychosis, which waxed and waned in severity.
Also, in this period, Hitler believed his thoughts could penetrate walls, or that he could communicate with others by thought alone – which suggests he may have been delusional and hearing voices.
These symptoms, of course, were examples of his adult psyche struggling to accommodate and come to terms with the non-human intelligence which was beginning to control him. 
Later, when Hitler had adjusted to the entity, it gave Hitler the ‘lupine’, (from ‘canis lupus‘ – referring to the wolf), instincts that enabled him to survive the appalling vicissitudes of trench warfare.
For example, he relates the following experience during the first World War.

I was eating dinner in a trench with several comrades.
Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, “Get up and go over there.”
It was so clear and insistent that I obeyed automatically.
I rose to my feet and walked twenty yards.
Then I sat down to go on eating.
Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening report came from the part of the trench I had just left. Every member in it was killed.’ (Price)

Then, once again, the ‘entity’ didn’t just ‘guide‘, but appeared.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

In October Hitler was blinded in a gas attack at Ypres, and subsequently sent to a military hospital at Pasewalk, a small town north-east of Berlin.
In ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler describes, in detail, his physical pain along with the anguish and despair he felt when he learned of Germany’s defeat.
While initially the effects of his gassing must have caused him considerable pain, what he fails to tell us is that once the physical pain had subsided, he found himself in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation; known to para-psychologists as ‘the ganzfeld effect’; confined to his bed, unable to see and in the hushed atmosphere of a hospital ward.
Compared to the living hell of the front, with its screaming shells combining with the screams of the mutilated and dying, and the everlasting thundering of the guns, Hitler’s new silent, stimulus free environment was tailor-made for the psychic experience that came to him.
According to Hitler, he experienced a ‘vision‘ from ‘another world‘ (the ‘astral plane‘ inhabited by the Æons) 
while at the hospital.
It was not a vision in the form of a ‘wolf’, however, but rather in the form of the Übermensch.

The Exaltation of the Human Race
Thule Gesellschaft

In that vision, Hitler was told that he would lead Germany back to glory so that he would then be able to
perform an act of creation, a divine operation, the goal of a biological mutation which would result in an unprecedented exaltation of the human race and the appearance of a new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men.’
After this eruption of the dæmonic (dæmon in this usage refers to a non-material entity – it is not related to the christian term ‘demon’), Hitler was left alone to pursue his post war activities, until his involvement in both the German Workers Party, and more significantly, the Thule Gesellschaft.
It is at this point that the predatory instincts of the ‘wolf’ begin to manifest, as Hitler ousted Karl Harrer and Anton Drexler, and took over effective leadership of the Party.


Carl G Jung

Carl G Jung
Carl Gustav Jung  (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology.
Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the ‘extroverted’ and the ‘introverted’ personality, ‘archetypes’, and the ‘collective unconscious’.
His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.
Individuation is the central concept of analytical psychology.
Jung considered ‘individuation’, the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, to be the central process of human development.
Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the ‘archetype’, the ‘collective unconscious’, the ‘complex’, and ‘synchronicity’.
Jung saw the human psyche as “by nature religious“, and made this religiosity the focus of his explorations.
Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolization.
Though he was a practising clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of his life’s work was spent exploring tangential areas, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts.
His interest in philosophy and the occult led many to view him as a mystic.

With regard to Adolf Hitler Jung stated that:
Hitler seemed like the ‘double’ of a real person, as if Hitler the man might be hiding inside, and deliberately so concealed in order not to disturb the mechanism…. You know you could never talk to this man; because there is nobody there…. It is not an individual; it is an entire nation.’

This essay by Jung is included in order to show that the concept of  psychic possession was considered a real possibility by one of the most astute academic minds of the time.
Unfortunately, Jung did not have much of the information about Hitler that has since become available – and this may account for the fact that he was mistaken in his identification of Wotan as the entity that was responsible for the possession of Hitler, however, many of his insights into Hitler and his relationship with the German people are highly relevant and revealing.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Carl Gustav Jung

First published as ‘Wotan, Neue Schweizer Rundschau’ (Zurich). n.s. –  III March, 1936

Carl Gustav Jung
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

When we look back to the time before 1914, we find ourselves living in a world of events which would have been inconceivable before the war.

We were even beginning to regard war between civilized nations as a fable, thinking that such an absurdity would become less and less possible in our rational, internationally organized world.
And what came after the war was a veritable witches’ Sabbath.
Everywhere fantastic revolutions, violent alterations of the map, reversions in politics to medieval or even antique prototypes, totalitarian states that engulf their neighbours and outdo all previous theocracies in their absolutist claims, persecutions of Christians and Jews, wholesale political murder, and finally we have witnessed a light-hearted piratical raid on a peaceful, half-civilized people.
With such goings on in the wide world it is not in the least surprising that there should be equally curious manifestations on a smaller scale in other spheres.
In the realm of philosophy we shall have to wait some time before anyone is able to assess the kind of age that we are living in.
But in the sphere of religion we can see at once that some very significant things have been happening.
We need feel no surprise that in Russia the colourful splendours of the Eastern Orthodox Church have been superseded by the ‘Movement of the Godless’ – indeed, one breathed a sigh of relief oneself when one emerged from the haze of an Orthodox church with its multitude of lamps and entered an honest mosque, where the sublime and invisible omnipresence of God was not crowded out by a superfluity of sacred paraphernalia.
Tasteless and pitiably unintelligent as it is, and however deplorable the low spiritual level of the “Scientific” reaction, it was inevitable that nineteenth-century “scientific” enlightenment should one day dawn in Russia.
But what is more than curious – indeed, piquant to a degree – is that an ancient God of storm and frenzy, the long quiescent Wotan, should awake, like an extinct volcano, to new activity.

Wandervogel auf dem Berggipfel
Deutsch Jugendbewegung
We have seen him come to life in the ‘German Youth Movement’, and right at the beginning the blood of several sheep was shed in honour of his resurrection.
Armed with rucksack and lute, blond youths, and sometimes girls as well, were to be seen as restless wanderers on every road from North Cape to Sicily, faithful votaries of the roving god.
Later, towards the end of the Weimar Republic, the wandering role was taken over by thousands of unemployed, who were to be met with everywhere on their aimless journeys.

Wandervogel Jungen Camp
Nackt Wandervogel Jungen
By 1933 they wandered no longer, but marched in their hundreds of thousands.
The Hitler movement literally brought the whole of Germany to its feet, from five-year-olds to veterans, and produced a spectacle of a nation migrating from one place to another.
Wotan the wanderer was on the move.
He could be seen, looking rather shamefaced, in the meeting-house of a sect of simple folk in North Germany, disguised as Christ sitting on a white horse.
I do not know if these people were aware of Wotan’s ancient connection with the figures of Christ and Dionysus, but it is not very probable.
Wotan is a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Franz von Stuck – ‘Die Wilde Jagd’
He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night.
The German youths who celebrated the solstice with sheep-sacrifices were not the first to hear the rustling in the primeval forest of unconsciousness.

Stefan George
They were anticipated by Nietzsche, Schuler, Stefan George, and Ludwig Klages.
The literary tradition of the Rhineland and the country south of the Main has a classical stamp that cannot easily be got rid of; every interpretation of intoxication and exuberance is apt to be taken back to classical models, to Dionysus, to the peur aeternus and the cosmogonic Eros.
No doubt it sounds better to academic ears to interpret these things as Dionysus, but Wotan might be a more correct interpretation.
He is the god of the storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover he is superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature. Nietzsche’s case is certainly a peculiar one.

Also Sprach Zarathustra
He had no knowledge of Germanic literature; he discovered the “cultural Philistine”; and the announcement that “God is dead” led to Zarathustra’s meeting with an unknown god in unexpected form, who approached him sometimes as an enemy and sometimes disguised as Zarathustra himself.
Zarathustra, too, was a soothsayer, a magician, and the storm-wind.
 ‘And like a wind shall I come to blow among them, and with my spirit shall take away the breath of their spirit; thus my future wills it. Truly, a strong wind is Zarathustra to all that are low; and this counsel gives he to his enemies and to all that spit and spew: “Beware of spitting against the wind.” And when Zarathustra dreamed that he was guardian of the graves in the “lone mountain forest of death,” and was making a mighty effort to open the gates, suddenly a roaring wind tore the gates asunder; whistling, shrieking, and keening, it cast a black coffin before me. And amid the roaring and whistling and shrieking the coffin burst open and spouted a thousand peals of laughter. The disciple who interpreted the dream said to Zarathustra: Are you not yourself the wind with shrill whistling, which bursts open the gates of the fortress of death? Are you not yourself the coffin filled with life’s gay malice and angel-grimaces ?

In 1863 or 1864, in his poem:
To the Unknown God’, Nietzsche had written: ‘I shall and will know thee, Unknown One, Who searchest out the depths of my soul, And blowest through my life like a storm, Ungraspable, and yet my kinsman! I shall and will know thee, and serve thee. Twenty years later, in his Mistral Song, he wrote: Mistral wind, chaser of clouds, Killer of gloom, sweeper of the skies, Raging storm-wind, how I love thee! Are we not both the first-fruits Of the same womb, forever predestined To the same fate ?

In the dithyramb known as Ariadne’s Lament, Nietzsche is completely the victim of the hunter-god:
Stretched out, shuddering, Like a half-dead thing whose feet are warmed, Shaken by unknown fevers, Shivering with piercing icy frost arrows Hunted by thee, O thought, Unutterable! Veiled! Horrible one! Thou huntsman behind the cloud. Struck down by thy lightening bolt, Thou mocking eye that stares at me from the dark! Thus I lie. Writhing, twisted, tormented With all eternal tortures. Smitten By thee, cruel huntsman, Thou unknown – God !

Elizabeth Nietzsche
This remarkable image of the ‘hunter-god’ is not a mere dithyrambic figure of speech but is based on an experience which Nietzsche had when he was fifteen years old, at Pforta.
It is described in a book by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche.
As he was wandering in a gloomy wood at night, he was terrified by a “blood-curdling shriek from a neighbouring lunatic asylum,” and soon afterwards he came face to face with a huntsman whose “features were wild and uncanny.”
Setting his whistle to his lips “in a valley surrounded by wild scrub,” the huntsman “blew such as a shrill blast” that Nietzsche lost consciousness – but woke up again in Pforta.
It was a nightmare.
It is significant that in his dream Nietzsche, who in reality intended to go to Eisleben, Luther’s town, discussed with the huntsman the question of going instead to “Teutschenthal” (Valley of the Germans).

Reich ohne Raum
Richard Wagner
No one with ears can misunderstand the shrill whistling of the storm-god in the nocturnal wood.
Was it really only the classical philologist in Nietzsche that led to the god being called Dionysus instead of Wotan – or was it perhaps due to his fateful meeting with Wagner ?
In his ‘Reich ohne Raum’, which was first published in 1919, Bruno Goetz saw the secret of coming events in Germany in the form of a very strange vision.
I have never forgotten this little book, for it struck me at the time as a forecast of the German weather.
It anticipates the conflict between the realm of ideas and life, between Wotan’s dual nature as a god of storm and a god of secret musings.
Wotan disappeared when his oaks fell and appeared again when the Christian God proved too weak to save Christendom from fratricidal slaughter.
Arms of the Holy See
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
When the Holy Father at Rome could only impotently lament before God the fate of the grex segregatus (separated flock), the one-eyed old hunter, on the edge of the German forest, laughed and saddled Sleipnir.

In Norse mythology, Sleipnir  is an eight-legged horse. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Sleipnir is Odin’s steed, is the child of Loki and Svaðilfari, is described as the best of all horses, and is sometimes ridden to the location of Hel. The Prose Edda contains extended information regarding the circumstances of Sleipnir’s birth, and details that he is grey in color.

We are always convinced that the modern world is a reasonable world, basing our opinion on economic, political, and psychological factors, but if we may forget for a moment and lay aside our well-meaning, all-too human reasonableness, may burden God or the gods with the responsibility for contemporary events instead of man, we would find Wotan quite suitable as a casual hypothesis.
In fact, I venture the heretical suggestion that the unfathomable depths of Wotan’s character explain more of Völkisch philosophy than all three reasonable factors put together.
There is no doubt that each of these factors explains an important aspect of what is going on in Germany, but Wotan explains yet more.
He is particularly enlightening in regard to a general phenomenon, which is so strange to anybody not a German that it remains incomprehensible, even after the deepest reflection. Perhaps we may sum up this general phenomenon as ‘Ergriffenheit’ – a state of being seized or possessed.
The term postulates not only an ‘Ergriffener’ (one who is seized) but, also, an ‘Ergreifer’ (one who seizes).
Wotan is an ‘Ergreifer’ of men, and, unless one wishes to deify Hitler – which has indeed actually happened – he is really the only explanation.
It is true that Wotan shares this quality with his cousin Dionysus, but Dionysus seems to have exercised his influence mainly on women.
The maenads were a species of female ‘storm-troopers’, and, according to mythical reports, were dangerous enough.
Wotan confined himself to the ‘berserkers’, who found their vocation as the Blackshirts of mythical kings.
A mind that is still childish thinks of the gods as metaphysical entities existing in their own right, or else regards them as playful or superstitious inventions.
From either point of view the parallel between ‘Wotan redivivus’ (come back to life; revived) and the social, political, and psychic storm that is shaking Germany might have at least the value of parable.
But since the ‘gods’ are without doubt personifications of psychic forces, to assert their metaphysical existence is as much an intellectual presumption as the opinion that they could ever be invented.
Not that “psychic forces” have anything to do with the conscious mind, fond as we are of playing with the idea that consciousness and psyche are identical.
This is only another piece of intellectual presumption.
“Psychic forces” have far more to do with the realm of the unconscious.
Our mania for rational explanations obviously has its roots in our fear of metaphysics, for the two were always hostile brothers.
Hence, anything unexpected that approaches us from the dark realm is regarded either as coming from outside and, therefore, as real, or else as a hallucination and, therefore, not true.
The idea that anything could be real or true which does not come from outside has hardly begun to dawn on contemporary man.
For the sake of better understanding and to avoid prejudice, we could of course dispense with the name “Wotan” and speak instead of the ‘furor Teutonicus’ (furor – violent anger or frenzy; a state of intense excitement).
But we should only be saying the same thing and not as well, for the furor in this case is a mere psychologizing of Wotan and tells us no more than that the Germans are in a state of “fury.”
We thus lose sight of the most peculiar feature of this whole phenomenon, namely, the dramatic aspect of the ‘Ergreifer’ and the ‘Ergriffener’.
The impressive thing about the German phenomenon is that one man, who is obviously “possessed,” has infected a whole nation to such an extent that everything is set in motion and has started rolling on its course towards perdition.
It seems to me that Wotan hits the mark as an hypothesis.
Apparently he really was only asleep in the Kyffhauser mountain until the ravens called him and announced the break of day.

Kyffhäuser Berg

The Kyffhäuser is a range of hills located on the border of the German state of Thuringia with Saxony-Anhalt. It stands on the southern edge of the Harz. The range has a length of 19 kilometres (12 mi) and a width of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). It reaches its highest point at the Kulpenberg (473.4 metres (1,553 ft)), situated in Thuringia. The Kyffhäuser has significance in German traditional mythology as the resting place of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who drowned on June 10, 1190 in the Göksu River near Silifke during the Third Crusade.

He is a fundamental attribute of the German psyche, an irrational psychic factor which acts on the high pressure of civilization like a cyclone and blows it away.
Despite their apparent crankiness, the Wotan-worshippers seem to have judged things more correctly than the worshippers of reason.
Apparently everyone had forgotten that Wotan is a Germanic ‘datum’ of first importance, the trust expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain is a symptom which arouses suspicion that other veiled gods may be sleeping elsewhere.

Alexander Rothaug
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
The emphasis on the German race – commonly called “Aryan” – the Germanic heritage, blood and soil, the Wagalaweia songs, the ride of the Valkyries, Jesus as a blond and blue-eyed hero, the Greek mother of St. Paul, the devil as an international Alberich in Jewish or Masonic guise, the Nordic aurora borealis as the light of civilization, the inferior Mediterranean races – all this is the indispensable scenery for the drama that is taking place and at the bottom they all mean the same thing: a god has taken possession of the Germans and their house is filled with a “mighty rushing wind.”
It was soon after Hitler seized power that a cartoon appeared in Punch of a raving berserker tearing himself free from his bonds.
A hurricane has broken loose in Germany while we still believe it is fine weather.
Things are comparatively quite in Switzerland, though occasionally there is a puff of wind from the north or south.
Sometimes it has a slightly ominous sound, sometimes it whispers so harmlessly or even idealistically that no one is alarmed.
Let the sleeping dogs lie” – we manage to get along pretty well with this proverbial wisdom.
It is sometimes said that the Swiss are singularly averse to making a problem of themselves.
I must rebut this accusation: the Swiss do have their problems, but they would not admit it for anything in the world, even though they see which way the wind is blowing.
We thus pay our tribute to the time of storm and stress in Germany, but we never mention it, and this enables us to feel vastly superior.
It is above all the Germans who have an opportunity, perhaps unique in history, to look into their own hearts and to learn what those perils of the soul were from which Christianity tried to rescue mankind.

Germany is a land of spiritual catastrophes, where nature never makes more than a pretence of peace with the world-ruling reason.
The disturber of the peace is a wind that blows into Europe from Asia’s vastness, sweeping in on a wide front from Thrace to the Baltic, scattering the nations before it like dry leaves, or inspiring thoughts that shake the world to its foundations.
It is an elemental Dionysus breaking into the Apollonian order.
The rouser of this Tempest is named Wotan, and we can learn a good deal about him from the political confusion and spiritual upheaval he has caused throughout history.
For a more exact investigation of his character, however, we must go back to the age of myths, which did not explain everything in terms of man and his limited capabilities, but sought the deeper cause in the psyche and its autonomous powers.
Man’s earliest intuitions personified these powers as ‘gods’, and described them in the myths with great care and circumstantiality, according to their various characters.
This could be done the more readily on account of the firmly established primordial types or images which are innate in the unconscious of many races and exercise a direct influence upon them.
Because the behaviour of a race takes on its specific character from its underlying images, we can speak of an archetype “Wotan.”

An archetype is a universally understood symbol, term, statement, or pattern of behaviour, –  a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.

Archetypes are often used in myths and storytelling across different cultures.
In Jung’s psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex ( e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype). Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological constructs that arose through evolution.

As an autonomous psychic factor, Wotan produces effects in the collective life of a people and thereby reveals his own nature.

For Wotan has a peculiar biology of his own, quite apart from the nature of man.
It is only from time to time that individuals fall under the irresistible influence of this unconscious factor.
When it is quiescent, one is no more aware of the archetype Wotan than of a latent epilepsy. Could the Germans who were adults in 1914 have foreseen what they would be today ?
Such amazing transformations are the effect of the god of wind, that “bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth.” It seizes everything in its path and overthrows everything that is not firmly rooted.
When the wind blows it shakes everything that is insecure, whether without or within.
Martin Ninck has recently published a monograph which is a most welcome addition to our knowledge of Wotan’s nature.
The reader need not fear that this book is nothing but a scientific study written with academic aloofness from the subject. Certainly the right to scientific objectivity is fully preserved, and the material has been collected with extraordinary thoroughness and presented in unusually clear form. But, over and above all this, one feels that the author is vitally interested in it, that the chord of Wotan is vibrating in him, too.
This is no criticism – on the contrary, it is one of the chief merits of the book, which without this enthusiasm might easily have degenerated into a tedious catalogue.
Ninck sketches a really magnificent portrait of the German archetype Wotan.
He describes him in ten chapters, using all the available sources, as the berserker, the god of storm, the wanderer, the warrior, the Wunsch- (wish) and Minne -god, the lord of the dead and of the Einherjar, the master of secret knowledge, the magician, and the god of the poets. Neither the Valkyries nor the Fylgja (a supernatural being or creature which accompanies a person in connection to their fate or fortune) are forgotten, for they form part of the mythological background and fateful significance of Wotan.
Ninck’s inquiry into the name and its origin is particularly instructive.

Wotan’s Runes
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

He shows that Wotan is not only a god of rage and frenzy, who embodies the instinctual and emotional aspect of the unconscious.
Its intuitive and inspiring side, also, manifests itself in him, for he understands the runes and can interpret fate.
The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but his character does not really corresponded to any Roman or Greek god, although there are certain resemblances.
He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rules over the dead like Pluto and Kronos, and is connected with Dionysus by his emotional frenzy, particularly in its mantic aspect.
It is surprising that Ninck does not mention Hermes, the god of revelation, who as ‘pneuma’ (ancient Greek for breath, spirit or soul) and ‘nous’ (Greek – intellect or intelligence) is associated with the wind.
He would be the connecting-link with the Christian ‘pneuma’ and the miracle of Pentecost.
As Poimandres (the shepherd of men), Hermes is an ‘Ergreifer’ like Wotan.
Ninck rightly points out that Dionysus and the other Greek gods always remained under the supreme authority of Zeus, which indicates a fundamental difference between the Greek and Germanic temperament.
Ninck assumes an inner affinity between Wotan and Kronos, and the latter’s defeat may perhaps be a sign that the Wotan-archetype was once overcome and split up in prehistoric times.
At all events, the Germanic god represents a totality on a very primitive level, – a psychological condition in which man’s will was almost identical with the god’s and entirely at his mercy.
But the Greeks had gods who helped man against other gods; indeed, ‘All-Father’ Zeus himself is not far from the ideal of a benevolent, enlightened despot.
It was not in Wotan’s nature to linger on, and show signs of old age.
He simply disappeared when the times turned against him, and remained invisible for more than a thousand years, working anonymously and indirectly.
Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any-time. 
An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself.
The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return to its old bed.
The life of the individual as a member of society and particularly as a part of the state may be regulated like a canal, but the life of nations is a great rushing river which is utterly beyond human control, in the hands of ‘One’ who has always been stronger than men.
The League of Nations, which was supposed to possess supernatural authority, is regarded by some as a child in need of care and protection, by others as an abortion.
Thus, the life of nations rolls on unchecked, without guidance, unconscious of where it is going, like a rock crashing down the side of a hill, until it is stopped by an obstacle stronger than itself. Political events move from one impasse to the next, like a torrent caught in gullies, creeks and marshes.
All human control comes to an end when the individual is caught in a mass movement.
Then, the archetypes begin to function, as happens, also, in the lives of individuals when they are confronted with situations that cannot be dealt with in any of the familiar ways.
But what a so-called Führer does with a mass movement can plainly be seen if we turn our eyes to the north or south of our country.
The ruling archetype does not remain the same forever, as is evident from the temporal limitations that have been set to the hoped-for reign of peace, the “thousand-year Reich.”
The Mediterranean father-archetype of the just, order-loving, benevolent ruler had been shattered over the whole of northern Europe, as the present fate of the Christian churches bears witness.
Fascism in Italy and the civil war in Spain show that in the south as well the cataclysm has been far greater than one expected.
Even the Catholic Church can no longer afford trials of strength.
The nationalist God has attacked Christianity on a broad front.

Deutsche Glaubensbewegung

In Russia, he is called technology and science, in Italy, ‘Duce’ (leader), and in Germany, ‘Deutsch Glaube’ (German Faith), ‘German Christianity’, or the State.
“The German Christians” are a contradiction in many terms, and would do better to join Hauer’s ‘Deutsche Glaubensbewegung’ (German Faith Movement).
These are decent and well-meaning people who honestly admit their ‘Ergriffenheit’ and try to come to terms with this new and undeniable fact.
They go to an enormous amount of trouble to make it look less alarming by dressing it up in a conciliatory historical garb and giving us consoling glimpses of great figures such as Meister Eckhart, who was, also, a German and, also, ‘ergriffen’.
In this way the awkward question of who the Ergreifer is is circumvented.
He was always “God.”
But the more Hauer restricts the world-wide sphere of Indo-European culture to the “Nordic” in general and to the ‘Edda’ in particular, and the more “German” this faith becomes as a manifestation of ‘Ergriffenheit’, the more painfully evident it is that the “German” god is the god of the Germans.
One cannot read Hauer’s book without emotion, if one regards it as the tragic and really heroic effort of a conscientious scholar who, without knowing how it happened to him, was violently summoned by the inaudible voice of the ‘Ergreifer’ and is now trying with all his might, and with all his knowledge and ability, to build a bridge between the dark forces of life and the shining world of historical ideas.
But what do all the beauties of the past from totally different levels of culture mean to the man of today, when confronted with a living and unfathomable tribal god such as he has never experienced before ?
They are sucked like dry leaves into the roaring whirlwind, and the rhythmic alliterations of the ‘Edda’ became inextricably mixed up with Christian mystical texts, German poetry and the wisdom of the Upanishads.
Hauer himself is ‘ergriffen’ by the depths of meaning in the primal words lying at the root of the Germanic languages, to an extent that he certainly never knew before.
Hauer the Indologist is not to blame for this, nor yet the ‘Edda’; it is rather the fault of kairos – ‘the present moment in time’ – whose name on closer investigation turns out to be Wotan.
I would, therefore, advise the ‘German Faith Movement’ to throw aside their scruples.
Intelligent people will not confuse them with the crude Wotan-worshipers whose faith is a mere pretense.

Jakob Wilhelm Hauer
Emblem of the
Deutsche Glaubensbewegung
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The Deutsche Glaubensbewegung was closely associated with Jakob Wilhelm Hauer during the Third Reich (1933–1945), and sought to move Germany away from Christianity towards a religion based on “immediate experience” of God. Hauer was a professor at the University of Tübingen.

Instead of the Bible,[citation needed] a combination of Indian (Hindu)[citation needed] and German literature was used as scripture. Hauer had worked as a missionary in India and was influenced in particular by the Bhagavad Gita[citation needed]. Ceremonies of the movement involved sermons, German classical music and political hymns.
Hauer was considered by contemporary observers as a genuinely religious man, though his political sentiments were also commented on.
The movement had around 200,000 followers at its height. Following the Nazi accession to power, it obtained rights of civil tolerance from Rudolf Hess, but never the preferential treatment from the Third Reich, for which Hauer campaigned.
The development of the German Faith Movement revolved around four main themes:
the propagation of the ‘blood and soil’ ideology
the replacement of Christian ceremonies by pagan equivalents; the most favoured pagan deity being the sun, as can be seen from the flag of the faith movement
the rejection of Christian ethics
the cult of Hitler’s personality.
Similar movements have remained active in Germany since 1945 outside mainstream educational and social structures.

There are people in the ‘German Faith Movement’ who are intelligent enough not only to believe, but to know, that the god of the Germans is Wotan and not the Christian God.
This is a tragic experience and no disgrace.
It has always been terrible to fall into the hands of a living god.
Yahweh was no exception to this rule, and the Philistines, Edomites, Amorites, and the rest, who were outside the Yahweh experience, must certainly have found it exceedingly disagreeable.
The Semitic experience of Allah was for a long time an extremely painful affair for the whole of Christendom.
We who stand outside judge the Germans far too much, as if they were responsible agents, but perhaps it would be nearer the truth to regard them, also, as victims.
If we apply our admittedly peculiar point of view consistently, we are driven to conclude that Wotan must, in time, reveal not only the restless, violent, stormy side of his character, but, also, his ecstatic and mantic qualities (relating to, or having the power of divination) – a very different aspect of his nature.
If this conclusion is correct, National Socialism would not be the last word.
Things must be concealed in the background which we cannot imagine at present, but we may expect them to appear in the course of the next few years or decades.
Wotan’s reawakening is stepping into the past; the stream was dammed up and has broken into its old channel.
But the Obstruction will not last forever; it is rather a reculer pour mieux sauter, (go back to have a better jump) and the water will over-leap the obstacle.
Then, at last, we shall know what Wotan is saying when  he “murmurs with Mimir’s head.

Mímir (Old Norse “The rememberer, the wise one”) is a figure in Norse mythology renowned for his knowledge and wisdom, who is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War.

Afterward, the god Odin carries around Mímir’s head, and it recites secret knowledge and counsel to him.


„Ich gehe manchmal in rauhen Nächten 
Zur Wotanseiche in den stillen Hain, 
Mit dunklen Mächten einen Bund zu flechten – 
Die Runen zaubert mir der Mondenschein. 

Und alle, die am Tage sich erfrechten, 

Sie werden vor der Zauberformel klein! 
Sie ziehen blank – doch statt den Strauß zu flechten, 
Erstarren sie zu Stalagmitgestein. 

So scheiden sich die Falschen von den Echten – 

Ich greife in das Fibelnest hinein 
Und gebe dann den Guten und Gerechten 
Mit meiner Formel Segen und Gedeihn.“

Adolf Hitler 1915
I often go on bitter nights 
To Wotan’s oak in the quiet glade 
With dark powers to weave a union— 
The runic letters the moon makes with its magic spell

And all who are full of impudence during the day 
Are made small by the magic formula! 
They draw shining steel—but instead of going into combat 
They solidify into stalagmites. 

So the false ones part from the real ones— 
I reach into a nest of words 
And then give to the good and just 
With my formula blessings and prosperity.

©© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Adolf Hitler – The Rise to Power



(Adolf Hitler – the Rise to Power)


Adolf Hitler’s rise to power began in Germany (at least formally) in September 1919 when Hitler joined the political party that was known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (abbreviated as DAP, and later commonly referred to as the Nazi Party).

This political party was formed and developed during the post-World War I era. It was anti-Marxist and was opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles; and it advocated extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism.

Hitler’s “rise” can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag (see right) adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month; President Paul von Hindenburg (see left) had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on January 30, 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backstairs intrigues.

The Enabling Act — when used ruthlessly and with authority — virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.
Hitler rose to a place of prominence in the early years of the party.
Being one of the best speakers of the party, he told the other members of the party to either make him leader of the party, or, he would never return.

He was aided in part by his willingness to use violence in advancing his political objectives and to recruit party members who were willing to do the same.
The Beer Hall putsch in 1923 and the later release of his book ‘Mein Kampf’ (usually translated as ‘My Struggle’) introduced Hitler to a wider audience. In the mid-1920s, the party engaged in electoral battles in which Hitler participated as a speaker and organizer, as well as in street battles and violence between the Rotfrontkämpferbund (see right) and the Nazi’s Sturmabteilung (SA). Through the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Nazis gathered enough electoral support to become the largest political party in the Reichstag, and Hitler’s blend of political acuity, deceptiveness and cunning converted the party’s non-majority but plurality status into effective governing power in the ailing Weimar Republic of 1933.
Once in power, the Nazis created a mythology surrounding the rise to power, and they described the period that roughly corresponds to the scope of this article as either the Kampfzeit (the time of struggle) or the Kampfjahre (years of struggle).

The Beginning (1918-1924)

From Armistice (November 1918) to party membership (September 1919)

For over four years (August 1914 – November 1918), the Deutsches Kaiserreich (Germany) was a principal belligerent in World War I, on the Western Front (see right).

German: Deutsches Kaiserreich (The German Empire)  is the common name given to the state officially named the Deutsches Reich (literally: “German Realm”, designating Germany from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.

Wilhelm II (27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. His “New Course” in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to World War I. An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.

Soon after the fighting on the front ended in November 1918, Hitler returned to Munich (see right) after the Armistice with no job, no real civilian job skills and no friends.

He remained in the Reichswehr and was given a relatively meaningless assignment during the winter of 1918-1919, but was eventually recruited by the Army’s Political Department (Press and News Bureau), possibly because of his assistance to the Army in investigating the responsibility for the ill-fated Bayerische Räterepublik (Bavarian Soviet Republic).

The Jewish led Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic (German: Bayerische Räterepublik or Münchner Räterepublik) was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in the form of a democratic workers’ council republic in the Free State of Bavaria.
It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed Weimar Republic. Its capital was Munich.

Apparently his skills in oratory, as well as his extreme nationalism, caught the eye of an approving army officer and he was promoted to an “education officer” — which gave him an opportunity to speak in public.
One of his duties was to report on “subversive” political groups, as ordered by his superiors. Any group which contained the word “Workers” in its name was certainly suspicious to the Political Department, and his commanders assigned Hitler, in his role as investigator, to attend a meeting of the small Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers’ Party, abbreviated DAP) on 12 September 1919.

The German Workers’ Party (German: Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated DAP) was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP).

The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel “Fürstenfelder Hof” on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler (see right), a member of the occultist Thule Society (see left).
It developed out of the “Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden” (Free Workers’ Committee for a good Peace) which Drexler had also founded and led. Its first members were mostly colleagues of Drexler’s from the Munich rail depot. Drexler was encouraged to found the DAP by his mentor, Dr. Paul Tafel, a leader of the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-Germanist Union), a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, also a member of the Thule Society, and his wish was for a party which was both in touch with the masses and nationalist, unlike the middle class parties.

The initial membership was about forty people.
On March 24, 1919, Karl Harrer (a sports journalist and member of the Thule Society) joined the DAP to increase the influence of the Thule Society over the DAP’s activities, and the party name was changed to the “Political Workers’ Circle”.

During the 12 September meeting, Hitler took umbrage with comments made by an audience member that were directed against Gottfried Feder (see right), the speaker, an economist with whom Hitler was acquainted as a result of a lecture Feder delivered in an Army “education” course.
The audience member asserted that Bavaria should be wholly independent from Germany and should secede from Germany and unite with Austria to form a new South German nation.
The volatile Hitler arose and castigated the audience member, employing his oratorical skills and eventually causing theman to leave the meeting before its adjournment.
This bold (and typical) action by Hitler deeply impressed DAP founder Anton Drexler, who promptly handed Hitler a political pamphlet.
Soon, Drexler or his designate sent Hitler a postcard that invited him to join the party and to attend a “committee” meeting.
Hitler attended this meeting, held at the Alte Rosenbad beer-house, and initially concluded that the party was too muddled and disorganized to merit further attention: It had neither membership numbers nor membership cards, and had a treasury of about seven Reichsmarks, however, on further reflection Hitler realized that because the party was neither well established nor particularly organized, he could exercise a greater influence on its direction.
After two days in thought, Hitler decided to join the DAP; he was the party’s fifty-fifth member.

The First Two Years: Party Membership to the Hofbrauhaus Melee (November 1921)

By early 1920 the DAP had swelled to over 101 members, and Hitler received his membership card as member number 555 (the group started the counting at number 500).
Hitler’s considerable talents were appreciated by the party leadership and in early 1920’s he was named as its head of propaganda.
Hitler’s actions began to transform the party.

On 20 February, the party added National Socialist (Nationalsozialistische) to its name and became the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) (see left).
Four days later Drexler, Feder and Hitler announced the party’s 25-point program (see National Socialist Program).

In August Hitler also organized a group of “security men” under the guise of a party “Gymnastics and Sports Division.”
The group was named at first the Ordnertruppen and it may well be that their principal intended purpose was, in fact, to keep order at Nazi meetings and to only suppress those who disrupted the Nazi meetings.
In early October the group’s name was officially changed to the Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment) (see right), which was certainly more descriptive and suggested the possibility of offensive, as well as solely defensive, action.

Throughout 1920, Hitler began to lecture at Munich’s beer halls, particularly the Hofbräuhaus (see left and right), Sterneckerbräu and Bürgerbräukeller.
By this time, the police were already monitoring the speeches, and their own surviving records reveal that Hitler delivered lectures with titles such as Political Phenomenon, Jews and the Treaty of Versailles.
At the end of the year, party membership was recorded at 2,000.
On 11 July 1921, Hitler resigned from the party after Drexler, the party’s nominal leader, proposed merging the party into a larger Kampfbund coalition.

The Kampfbund was a league of patriotic fighting societies and the German National Socialist party in Bavaria, Germany, in the 1920s. It included Hitler’s NSDAP party and their Sturmabteilung or SA for short, the Oberland League and the Reichskriegsflagge. Its military leader was Hermann Kriebel (see right), and its political leader was Adolf Hitler. It was Captain Ernst Röhm (see left) who proposed that Hitler be the political leader of the Kampfbund.
The Kampfbund conducted the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 in Munich, Germany.
Kampfbund is German for “Battle League”. The league was created on 30 September 1923 at Nuremberg.

Hitler rejoined once the policy was abandoned, and on 28 July assumed control of the party by outcasting Drexler.
On 14 September 1921, Hitler and a substantial number of SA members and other Nazi party adherents disrupted a meeting at the Lowenbraukeller of the Bavarian League.
This federalist organization objected to the centralism of the Weimar Constitution, but accepted its social program.
The League was led by Otto Ballerstedt, an engineer whom Hitler regarded as “my most dangerous opponent.”
One Nazi, Hermann Esser, climbed upon a chair and shouted that the Jews were to blame for the misfortunes of Bavaria, and the Nazis shouted demands that Ballerstedt yield the floor to Hitler.
The Nazis shoved Ballerstedt off the stage into the audience.
Both Hitler and Esser were arrested, and Hitler commented notoriously to the police commissioner, “It’s all right. We got what we wanted. Ballerstedt did not speak.
Hitler was eventually sentenced to 3 months imprisonment and ended up serving only a little over one month.
On 4 November 1921, the Nazi Party held a large public meeting in the Munich Hofbräuhaus. After Hitler had spoken for some time, the meeting erupted into a melee in which a small company of SA defeated the opposition.

From Famous Hall Melee to Famous Hall Coup D’État – the Abortive Putsch and the Trial

In the few months between the end of 1922 and the beginning of 1923, Hitler formed two organizations that would grow to have huge significance.

The first was the Jungsturm and Jugendbund, which would later become the Hitler Youth.
The other was the Stabswache, the first incarnation of what would later become the Schutzstaffeln (SS).
Inspired by Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome Hitler decided that a coup d’état was the proper strategy to seize control of the country.
In May 1923, elements loyal to Hitler within the army helped the SA to procure a barracks and its weaponry, but the order to march never came.

A pivotal moment came when Hitler led the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempted coup d’état on 8–9 November 1923.

After it failed, Hitler was put on trial for treason, gaining great public attention.
In a rather spectacular trial in which Hitler endeavored to turn the tables and put democracy and the Weimar Republic on trial as traitors to the German people, he was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
He was eventually paroled, served only a little over eight months after his sentencing in early 1924.

He was well-treated in prison, had a room with a view of the river, wore a tie, received visitors to his chambers and was permitted the use of a private secretary.

Hitler used the time in Landsberg prison to consider his political strategy and dictate the first volume of ‘Mein Kampf’, principally to his loyal aide Rudolf Hess.
After the putsch the party was banned in Bavaria, but it participated in 1924’s two elections by proxy as the National Socialist Freedom Movement.
In the German election, May 1924 the party gained seats in the Reichstag, with 6.55% (1,918,329) voting for the Movement. In the German election, December 1924 the National Socialist Freedom Movement (NSFB) (Combination of the Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP) and the Nazi Party (NSDAP)) lost 18 seats, only holding on to 14 seats, with 3% (907,242) of the electorate voting for Hitler’s party.
The Barmat Scandal was often used later in Nazi propaganda, both as an electoral strategy and as an appeal to anti-Semitism.
Hitler had determined, after some reflection, that power was to be achieved not through revolution outside of the government, but rather through legal means, within the confines of the democratic system established by Weimar.
For five to six years there would be no further prohibitions of the party.

The Move Towards Power (1925–1930)

In the German election, May 1928 the Party achieved just 12 seats (2.6% of the vote) in the Reichstag.
The highest provincial gain was again in Bavaria (5.11%), though in three areas the NSDAP failed to gain even 1% of the vote.
Overall the NSDAP gained 2.63% (810,127) of the vote.
Partially due to the poor results, Hitler decided that Germans needed to know more about his goals.

Despite being discouraged by his publisher, he wrote a second book that was discovered and released posthumously as Zweites Buch (see left)
At this time the SA began a period of deliberate antagonism to the Rotfront by marching into Communist strongholds and starting violent altercations.
At the end of 1928, party membership was recorded at 130,000. In March 1929, Erich Ludendorff (see right) represented the Nazi party in the Presidential elections.
He gained 280,000 votes (1.1%), and was the only candidate to poll fewer than a million votes.
The battles on the streets grew increasingly violent.
After the Rotfront interrupted a speech by Hitler, the SA marched into the streets of Nuremberg and killed two bystanders.

In a tit-for-tat action, the SA stormed a Rotfront meeting on August 25 and days later the Berlin headquarters of the KPD itself.
In September Goebbels (see left) led his men into Neukölln, a KPD stronghold, and the two warring parties exchanged pistol and revolver fire.
The German referendum of 1929 was important as it gained the Nazi Party recognition and credibility it never had before.

On 14 January 1930 Horst Wessel got into an argument with his landlady about rent, but the Communists alleged it was over Wessel’s soliciting of prostitution on her premises — which would have fatal consequences.
The landlady happened to be a member of the KPD, and contacted one of her Rotfront friends, Albert Hochter, who shot Wessel in the head at point-blank range.

Wessel had penned a song months before his death, which would become Germany’s national anthem for 12 years as the Horst-Wessel-Lied.
Goebbels also seized upon the attack (and the two weeks Wessel spent on his deathbed) to premier the song.
Along with Horst Wessel, the year 1930 resulted in more deaths in political violence than the previous two years combined.
On 1 April Hannover enacted a law banning the Hitlerjugend (the Hitler Youth), and Goebbels was convicted of high treason at the end of May. Bavaria banned all political uniforms on 2 June, and on 11 June Prussia prohibited the wearing of SA brown shirts and associated insignia.
The next month Prussia passed a law against its officials holding membership in either the NSDAP or KPD.
Later in July, Goebbels was again tried, this time for “public insult”, and fined.
The government also placed the army officers on trial for “forming national socialist cells”.
Against this violent backdrop, Hitler’s party gained a shocking victory in the Reichstag, obtaining 107 seats (18.3%, 6,406,397 votes).
The Nazis became the second largest party in Germany.
In Bavaria the party gained 17.9% of the vote, though for the first time this percentage was exceeded by most other provinces: Oldenburg (27.3%), Braunschweig (26.6%), Waldeck (26.5%), Mecklenburg-Strelitz (22.6%), Lippe (22.3%) Mecklenburg-Schwerin (20.1%), Anhalt (19.8%), Thuringen (19.5%), Baden (19.2%), Hamburg (19.2%), Prussia (18.4%), Hessen (18.4%), Sachsen (18.3%), Lubeck (18.3%) and Schaumburg-Lippe (18.1%).
An unprecedented amount of money was thrown behind the campaign.
Well over one million pamphlets were produced and distributed; sixty trucks were commandeered for use in Berlin alone.
In areas where NSDAP campaigning was less rigorous, the total was as low as 9%.
The Great Depression was also a factor in Hitler’s electoral success.
Against this legal backdrop, the SA began its first major anti-Jewish action on 13 October 1930 when groups of brownshirts smashed the windows of Jewish-owned stores at Potsdamer Platz.

Hitler Takes Power (1931–1933)

On March 10, 1931, with street violence between the Rotfront and SA spiraling out of control, breaking all previous barriers and expectations, Prussia re-enacted its ban on brown shirts. Days after the ban SA-men shot dead two communists in a street fight, which led to a ban being placed on the public speaking of Goebbels, who sidestepped the prohibition by recording speeches and playing them to an audience in his absence.
Ernst Röhm, in charge of the SA, put Count Micah von Helldorff, a convicted murderer and vehement anti-Semite, in charge of the Berlin SA.
The deaths mounted up, with many more on the Rotfront side, and by the end of 1931 the SA suffered 47 deaths, and the Rotfront recorded losses of approximately 80.
Street fights and beer hall battles resulting in deaths occurred throughout February and April 1932, all against the backdrop of Adolf Hitler’s competition in the presidential election which pitted him against the monumentally popular Hindenburg. In the first round on 13 March, Hitler had polled over 11 million votes but was still behind Hindenburg.
The second and final round took place on 10 April: Hitler (36.8% 13,418,547) lost out to Paul von Hindenburg (53.0% 19,359,983) whilst KPD candidate Thälmann gained a meagre percentage of the vote (10.2% 3,706,759).
At this time, the Nazi party had just over 800,000 card-carrying members.
Three days after the presidential elections, the German government banned the NSDAP paramilitaries, the SA and the SS, on the basis of the Emergency Decree for the Preservation of State Authority.
This action was largely prompted by details which emerged at a trial of SA men for assaulting unarmed Jews in Berlin.
But after less than a month the law was repealed by Franz von Papen, Chancellor of Germany, on 30 May.
Such ambivalence about the fate of Jews was supported by the culture of anti-Semitism that pervaded the German public at the time.
Dwarfed by Hitler’s electoral gains, the KPD turned away from legal means and increasingly towards violence.
One resulting battle in Silesia resulted in the army being dispatched, each shot sending Germany further into a potential all-out civil war. By this time both sides marched into each other’s strongholds hoping to spark rivalry. Hermann Göring, as speaker of the Reichstag, asked the Papen government to prosecute shooters. Laws were then passed which made political violence a capital crime.
The attacks continued, and reached fever pitch when SA storm leader Axel Schaffeld was assassinated.
At the end of July, the Nazi party gained almost 14,000,000 votes, securing 230 seats in the Reichstag.

Energised by the incredible results, Hitler asked to be made Chancellor.
Franz von Papen (see right) offered the position of Vice Chancellor but Hitler refused.
Hermann Göring, in his position of Reichstag president, asked that decisive measures be taken by the government over the spate in murders of national socialists.
On 9 August, amendments were made to the Reichstrafgesetzbuch statute on ‘acts of political violence’, increasing the penalty to ‘lifetime imprisonment, 20 years hard labour or death’. Special courts were announced to try such offences.
When in power less than half a year later, Hitler would use this legislation against his opponents with devastating effect.
The law was applied almost immediately but did not bring the perpetrators behind the recent massacres to trial as expected. Instead, five SA men who were alleged to have murdered a KPD member in Potempa (Upper Silesia) were tried.
Adolf Hitler appeared at the trial as a defence witness, but on 22 August the five were convicted and sentenced to death.
On appeal, this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in early September.
They would serve just over four months before Hitler freed all imprisoned Nazis in a 1933 amnesty.

The Nazi party lost 35 seats in the November 1932 election but remained the Reichstag’s largest party.
The most shocking move of the early election campaign was to send the SA to support a Rotfront action against the transport agency and in support of a strike.
After Chancellor Papen left office, he secretly told Hitler that he still held considerable sway with President Hindenburg and that he would make Hitler chancellor as long as he, Papen, could be the vice chancellor.

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of a coalition government of the NSDAP-DNVP Party.
The SA and SS led torchlight parades throughout Berlin.
In the coalition government, three members of the cabinet were Nazis: Hitler, Wilhelm Frick (Minister of the Interior) and Hermann Göring (Minister Without Portfolio).
With Germans who opposed Nazism failing to unite against it, Hitler soon moved to consolidate absolute power.



Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps

It is located in the south district ofBerchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich.

To the south of the city the Berchtesgaden National Park stretches along three parallel valleys.
Berchtesgaden is often associated with the Mount Watzmann, at 2713 m the third-highest mountain in Germany (after Zugspitze and Hochwanner), which is renowned in the rock climbing community for its Ostwand (East Face), and a deep glacial lake by the name ofKönigssee (5.2 km²).

Another notable peak is the Kehlstein mountain (1835 m) with its Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest * see below), which offers spectacular views to its visitors.
Berchtesgaden’s neighbouring towns are Bischofswiesen, Marktschellenberg, Ramsau and Schönau am Königssee.
The first historical note dates back to 1102 and it mentions the area because of its rich salt deposits.
Much of Berchtesgaden’s wealth has been derived from its salt mines.
The town served as independent Fürstpropstei until the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803.
During the Napoleonic wars, Berchtesgaden changed hands a few times, such as in 1805 under the Treaty of Pressburg, when the area was ceded to Austria.

Berchtesgaden came under Bavarian rule in 1810 and became instantly popular with the Bavarian royal family, which often visited Königssee and maintained a royal hunting residence in the town itself.

Nascent tourism started to evolve and a number of artists came to the area, which reportedly gave rise to “Malereck” (literally painter’s corner) on the shore of Königssee.
The most famous author who lived in Berchtesgaden was Ludwig Ganghofer.


The area of Obersalzberg was purchased by the Nazis in the 1920s for their senior leaders to enjoy.
Hitler’s mountain residence, the Berghof, was located here.
Berchtesgaden and its environs (Stanggass) were fitted to serve as an outpost of the German Reichskanzlei office (Imperial Chancellery).
Some typical Third Reich buildings in Berchtesgaden include the railway station, that had a reception area for Hitler and his guests, and the post office next to the railway station.
The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel was a hotel where famous visitors stayed, such as Eva Braun, Erwin Rommel, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler, as well as Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd George.

Not long after Hitler siezed the leadership of the party and became it’s Fuhrer, his mentor, Eckart, introduced him to the lovely village of Berchtesgaden that was nestled in the Bavarian Alps.

Located near the Austrian border and only a two hour train ride south-east of Munich, Berchtesgaden was a small farming, mining and resort community.
Since about 1850 the area had been one of the summer stomping grounds for Germany’s royalty and high society.
Since the first world war it had fallen on leaner times.
Under the influence of Eckart, Hitler adapted the custom of spending weekends, holidays, and vacations at the mountain retreat.
Hitler stayed with Eckart in a house, called the Sonnenhauesl, or as Hitler called it, the “Sonnenkopfl,” at Lockstein.
About a year after his introduction to Berchtesgaden, Hitler and a friend made a two mile hike up to Obersalzberg.
Dotted with a few small farms and summer guest-houses, the area offered some of the most spectacular scenic views of the German and Austrian Alps.
Hitler described the region as “a countryside of indescribable

He soon began spending most of his free time there and normally took a room at the Pension Moritz (see right).
A short walk below the Moritz was the Gasthof zum Turken (see left) (named after an innkeeper who fought the Turks) where Hitler and his friends enjoyed the “genuine goulash” and often lingered in one of the small public rooms lost in conversation.
It no doubt impressed Hitler to learn that the Moritz and Turken had once been the meeting places of such dignitaries as Prince-Regent Luitpold of Bavaria, the composer Johannes Brahms and even Crown prince Wilhelm of Prussia.
Having taught Hitler the oratory skills to manipulate an audience through the techniques of hand gestures, voice control and timing, Eckhart now presented his prodigy with a place that would overwhelm him with majestic and inspiring grandeur.
Little wonder that Hitler later said that it was here that he had spent his most pleasant times, and conceived his greatest ideas.
And opposite the Eckart’s Sonnenhauesl (The Little House of the Sun) was the mighty Untersberg (see right) – the massive mountain that dominates the Obersalzburg.
Interetingly, the Untersburg is no ordinary mountain, and one reason Hitler became intrigued by the mountain is because of re-occuring events, legends and tales of people gone missing, people experiencing missing time, encounters with elves and extraterrestrials and passageways to what Hitler called “the inner earth”.
Often noted by occultists as an “energy spot” or “magnetic geo-node,” many seekers came to the Untersberg to be refreshed by the water and drawn to over 400 caves and tunnels by what is described as a “strong magnetic anomaly.”
The Untersberg has been characterized by the Dalai-Lama as the “sleeping dragon,” the “heart-chakra of the world.”
The legends of time portals, missing expeditions, tunnel systems leading to fountains, temples, forests and marble rooms go back hundreds of years.
One of the most persistent rumors involves the legend of Karl the Great (of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation), known in the west as Charles the Great or Charlemagne.
Though physically buried in the German village of Aachen, it is believed that the “astral form” of this emperor sleeps in the mysterious depths of a subterranean throne room, surrounded by his strongest knights, gnomes, frost giants and fire giants, Valkyries and other “Volk,” awaiting the final liberation of his country and kinsmen; that he will rule over a thousand year kingdom of Aryan dominion.

Other accounts maintain this entity is the spirit of the emperor Frederich Barbarossa.
Within the ancient mythologies of the Nordic People are the prophecies that at a future point in time, though time itself is a variable, the “Watcher-god”, Heimdall, will sound his horn to summon the children of Loki (see right).
This semi-divine/human Sixth Race will break their bonds and unite with mystical forces to sail from the land of the Niflheim, located in an astral plane beyond the auroras, waging the final battle with the current “usurpers” of the planet to culminate in the enthronement of their vaticinated king.
It is this anticipated kingdom and its preparation that has been the goal of the ancient spirits. This is the heart of ‘The Awakening of the Black Sun’.
The Untersberg is known to be inhabited by certain kinds of elemental spirits of Nature, some of which are good and benevolent, others of a wicked and malicious nature, and inimical to mankind; and there are innumerable tales circulating among the people in the neighborhood, telling about the doings of the gnomes, fairies, and giants, dwelling within caves and in gorgeous marble halls and grottoes filled with gold and precious stones that will turn into dead leaves and stones when seen in the light of day.
“Some of the friendly tribes come out of the Untersberg on certain occasions, and they are said to have sometimes associated with the inhabitants of our plane of existence, partaking in the dances and amusements of the peasants, and even taking stray children with them into the Untersberg; and, incredible as it may appear, it is even asserted by, “those who know” that marriages have taken place between citizens of our world and the inhabitants of the kingdom of gnomes.
Of course it is well known that within the mysterious depths of the Untersberg there dwells the soul of a great emperor in his astral form.
There, together with his retinue, he sleeps an enchanted sleep, waiting for the liberation of his country.
Sometimes very suddenly, even on a clear summer day, clouds are seen to issue from the sides of the mountain; grotesquely-formed ghost-like mists arise from the caverns and precipices, crawling and gliding slowly upwards toward the top, and form on the neighboring peaks also, clouds of monstrous shapes and sometimes of gigantic proportions floating on, until the head of the Untersberg is surrounded by a surging sea of vapours growing dense and dark.
Seldom included in historical analysis of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler, is the spiritually mesmerizing impact of Mount Untersberg.
Hitler’s first direct encounter took place in 1923, upon which date the future führer would describe his feelings, “It was so wonderful! A view of the Untersberg! Indescribable!”
While not specifically recorded, it is unlikely that the youthful Hitler would have been unaware of the writings of Franz Hartmann.
His obsession with occultism and theosophy, now well documented, would explain the peculiar fascination with the “sleeping dragon” as described by the Dalai Lama.
Having rented Haus Wachenfeld, a small vacation villa across the valley from Mount Untersberg, for four years, it was in 1932, with proceeds earned from royalties from Mein Kampf, that Adolf Hitler purchased what would become the Berghof.

A major renovation of the house soon followed, including a series of extensions, a bowling alley, a library and a basement.
(see Grundstein – Foundation Stone of 1936 – left – with Thule Swastikas)
Most importantly, however, was the construction of a huge picture window, providing a completely open view of the Untersberg.
Hitler was deeply affected by the legend and remarked to Albert Speer, his architect and armaments minister:
Look at the Untersberg over there.It is not just by chance that I have my seat across from it.
In February of 1942, the Fuhrer commented to Heinrich Himmler, “Charlemagne was the one of the greatest men to ever live.”
It may well have been that Adolf Hitler had hoped to see some type of manifestation: his telescopes were specifically designed for earth observation.
Those were the best times of my life,” he would later say. “My great plans were forged there.”
So magnetic was the mountain that the Führer later explained,
I basically built the house around the window,” and he even named the structure Berghof: “The Mountain Court.”
The Berghof has been described as a “Bavarian country house guarded by 2,000 SS troops,” with Adolf Hitler gazing from a “gigantic window… across a valley to the Untersberg massif, a sheer wall of mountain that looms large in Teutonic myths.”
For almost a decade Obersalzburg had become the Holy Mountain of the Third Reich, drawing thousands of pilgrims to pay homage to their Führer.
On February 2, 1942, Hitler said that his residence in Obersalzberg – Berghof, was “Gralsburg”. This indicates a certain connection to the Holy Grail and the Templars.
Just a few days before the end of war some local people reported seeing strange SS convoys that headed toward the Zillertal Alps (a mountain range on the Austrian-Italian border) where they, on their way to the Schleigeiss Glacier, allegedly buried some boxes deep in ice somewhere near a precipice.
Some esoteric authors write that the Holy Grail is here.


A recent expedition (August 2008) into the gigantic cave-system under the mountain revealed that it goes down so far, that its lowest point had not been reached yet.The cave explorers had to return from their expedition without knowing how far down it goes.According to a German newspaper report they had gone down 1056 meters before being forced to return at an abyss-like precipce.This had been accomplished by being able to pass an extremely narrow passageway that had been previously unpassable.They also discovered more than 800 new passageways and a lake in 930 meters depth.
Initially Hitler rented a chalet called Haus Wachenfeld – a holiday home built in 1916 by Otto Winter, a businessman from Buxtehude.

Winter’s widow rented the house to Hitler in 1928, and his half-sister Angela (see right) came to live there as housekeeper, although she left soon after her daughter Geli’s 1931 death in Hitler’s Munich apartment.
By 1933 Hitler had purchased Haus Wachenfeld with funds he received from the sale of his political manifesto Mein Kampf.
The small chalet-style building was refurbished and much expanded during 1935-36 when it was re-named The Berghof.
A large terrace was built, a dining room was panelled with very costly cembra pine.
Hitler’s large study had a telephone switchboard room.
The library contained books “on history, painting, architecture and music.”

A great hall was furnished with expensive ‘Nordic’ style furniture, a large globe and an expansive red marble fireplace mantel.
Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films.
A sprawling picture window (see right) could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open air view of -the Untersberg. – And on the terrace Hitler installed the finest, very large terrestial telescopes (see left) so that he could observe the mysterious Untersberg in detail.
In his own memoirs, Nazi Germany’s court architect and minister of armaments, Albert Speer, recalled his evening at Hitler’s retreat in the Alps above Berchtesgaden, right after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact that — with its secret clause giving the Soviet Union part of Poland — opened the way to the Nazi invasion that triggered World War Two.
Speer wrote :

In the course of the night we stood on the terrace of the Berghof with Hitler and marveled at a rare natural spectacle. Northern lights of unusual intensity threw red light on the legend-haunted Untersberg across the valley, while the sky above shimmered in all the colours of the rainbow. The last act of the Götterdämmerung could not have been more effectively staged. The same red light bathed our faces and our hands. The display produced a curiously pensive mood among us. Abruptly turning to one of his military adjutants, Hitler said: ‘Looks like a great deal of blood. This time we won’t bring it off without violence.’” 


Haus Wachenfeld – Later known as the Berghof 

Haus Wachenfeld – Terrace

Haus Wachenfeld – Terrace 

Haus Wachenfeld 

Haus Wachenfeld and the Untersberg

Haus Wachenfeld – the Telescope

The Berghof – Final Form 

Berghof – Terrace

Berghof – Salon

Berghof – The Picture Window

Berghof – Sitting Area

Berghof – Living Room

Berghof – Study

Berghof – Salon

Berghof – Dining Room

Berghof – Dining Room

Berghof – Dining Room

Portrait of Adolf Hitler in Eva Braun’s Bedroom

 *(Adlerhorst – The Eagle’s Nest)

The Kehlsteinhaus – ‘Adlerhorst’ (the Eagle’s Nest) is a chalet-style structure erected on a subpeak of the Hoher Göll known as the Kehlstein.
It was built as an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected in the mountains above Berchtesgaden.
The Kehlsteinhaus was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler to serve as a retreat for Hitler and place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries.
The Kehlsteinhaus was commissioned by Martin Bormann, with construction proceeding over a 13-month period.

It was completed in the summer of 1938, prior to its formal presentation to Hitler on his 50th birthday on April 20, 1939.
It is situated on a ridge at the top of the Kehlstein mountain 1,834 m (6,017 ft), reached by a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long and 4 m (13 ft) wide road that cost 30 million RMs to build (about 150 million euros in 2007, adjusted in line with inflation).
It includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn and climbs 800 m (2,600 ft).

The last 124 m (407 ft)[1] up to the Kehlsteinhaus are reached by an elevator bored straight down through the mountain and linked via a tunnel through the granite below that is 124 m (407 ft) long.

The inside of the large elevator car is surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors and green leather.
The main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble, presented by Mussolini.
Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
A significant event held at the Kehlsteinhaus was the wedding reception that followed the marriage of Eva Braun’s sister Gretl to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944.
The building is often mistakenly referred to as a “tea house”, a corruption of its abbreviated name, “D-Haus”, short for “Diplomatic Reception Haus”.
As a result it is frequently confused with the actual tea house at Hitler’s Berghof, the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus he visited daily after lunch.
Although the site is on the same mountain as the Berghof, Hitler rarely visited the property.

It has been suggested he only visited the Kehlsteinhaus around 10 times, and most times for no more than 30 minutes, however he did receive André François-Poncet (the departing French ambassador to Germany) there on October 18, 1938.
As a result of the lack of close association with Hitler the property was saved from demolition at the end of the war.
A trail leads above the Kehlsteinhaus towards the Mannlgrat ridge reaching from the Kehlstein to the summit of the Hoher Goll.
The route, which is served by a Klettersteig, is regarded as the easiest to the top.

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