The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

As His Associates Know Him

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This subservient attitude is also obvious in his use of titles. This is well described by Lania (148) reporting on Hitler' s trial:

"In the course of his peroration he came to speak of Generals Ludendorff and von Seeckt; at such moments, he stood at attention and trumpeted forth the words 'General' and 'Excellency'. It made no difference that one of the generals was on his side, while the other, von Seeckt, Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, was his enemy; he abandoned himself entirely to the pleasure of pronouncing the high-sounding titles. He never said 'General Seeckt', he said 'His Excellency Herr Colonel General von Seeeke, letting the words melt on his tongue and savoring their after-taste."

Many others have also commented on this tendency to use the full [Page 71] title. It also fits in with his very submissive behavior to his officers during the last war which has been commented upon by several of his comrades. It seems safe to assume that this is a fundamental trait in his character which becomes less obvious as he climbs the ladder but is present nevertheless.

The Fuehrer is also ill at ease in the company of diplomats and avoids contact with them as much as possible. Fromm (369) describes his behavior at a diplomatic dinner in the following words:

"The Corporal seemed to be ill at ease, awkward and moody. His coat-tails embarrassed him. Again and again his hand fumbled for the encouraging support of his sword belt. Each time he missed the familiar cold bracing support, his uneasiness grew. He crumpled his handkerchief, tugged it, rolled it, just plain stage-fright."

Henderson (124) writes:

"It will always be a matter of regret to me that I was never able to study Hitler in private life, as this might have given me the chance to see him under normal conditions and to talk with him as man to man. Except for a few brief words at chance meetings, I never met him except upon official, and invariably disagreeable, business. He never attended informal parties at which diplomats might be present, and when friends of mine did try to arrange it, he always got out of meeting me in such a manner on the ground of precedent... But he always looked self-conscious when he had to entertain the diplomatic corps, which happened normally three times a year."

Hitler also becomes nervous and tends to lose his composure when he has to meet newspapermen. Being a genius of propaganda he realizes the power of the press in influencing public opinion and he always provides the press with choice seats at all [Page 72] ceremonies. When it comes to interviews, however, he feels himself on the defensive and insists that the questions be submitted in advance. When the interview takes place he is able to maintain considerable poise because he has his answers prepared. Even then he gives no opportunity to ask for further clarification because he immediately launches into a lengthy dissertation, which sometimes develops into a tirade. When this is finished, the interview is over (0echsner, 665).

He is also terrified when he is called upon to speak to intellectuals (Wagner, 487) or any group in which he feels opposition or the possibility of criticism.

Hitler's adjustment to people in general is very poor. He is not really on intimate terms with any of his associates. Hess is the only associate, with the possible exception of Streicher, who has ever had the privilege of addressing him with the familiar "Du". Even Goering, Goebbels and Himmler must address him with the more formal "Sie" although each of them would undoubtedly be willing to sacrifice his right hand for the privilege of addressing him in the informal manner. It is true that outside of his official family there are a few people in Germany, notably Mrs. Bechstein and the Winifred Wagner family who address him as "Du" and call him by his nickname, "Wolf", but even these are few and far between. On the whole, he always maintains a considerable distance from other people. Ludecke, who was very close to him for a while, writes:

"Even in his intimate and cozy moments, I sensed no attitude of familiarity towards him on the part of his staff; there was [Page 73] always a certain distance about him, that subtle quality of aloofness...."(180)

And Fry (577) says:

"He lives in the midst of many men and yet he lives alone."

It is well-known that he cannot carry on a normal conversation or discussion with people. Even if only one person is present he must do all the talking. His manner of speech soon loses any conversational qualities it might have had and takes on all the characteristics of a lecture and may easily develop into a tirade. He simply forgets his companions and behaves as though he were addressing a multitude. Strasser (297) has given a good, brief description of his manner:

"Now Hitler drew himself erect and by the far-away look in his eyes showed plainly that he was not speaking merely to me; he was addressing an imaginary audience that stretched far beyond the walls of the living room."

This is not only true in connection with political matters. Even when he is alone with his adjutants or immediate staff and tries to be friendly he is unable to enter into give-and-take conversation. At times he scans to want to get closer to people and relates personal experiences, such as, "When I was in Vienna," or "When I was in the Army,". But under these circumstances, too, he insists on doing all the talking and always repeats the same stories over and over again in exactly the same form, almost as though he had memorized them. The gist of most of these stories is contained in MEIN KAMPF. His friends have [Page 74] all heard them dozens of times but this does not deter him from repeating them again with great enthusiasm. Nothing but the most superficial aspects of these experiences are ever touched upon. It seems as though he is unable to give more of himself than that (Hanfstaengl, 898).

Price (230) says: "When more than two people are present, even though they are his intimate circle, there is no general discourse. Either Hitler talks and they listen, or else they talk among themselves and Hitler sits silent." And this is the way it seems to be. He is not at all annoyed when members of the group talk to each other unless of course he feels like doing the talking himself. But ordinarily he seem to enjoy listening to others while he makes believe that he is attending to something else. Nevertheless, he overhears everything which is being said and often uses it later on. (Hanfstaengl, 914) However, he does not give credit to the individual from whom he has learned it and simply gives it out as his own.

Rauschning (266) says:

"He has always been a poseur. He remembers things that he has heard and has a faculty for repeating them in such a way that the listener is lead to believe that they are his own."

Roehm also complained of this:

"If you try to tell him anything, he knows everything already. Though he often does what we advise, he laughs in our faces at the moment, and later does the very thing as if it were all his own idea and creation. He doesn't even seem to be aware of how dishonest he is." (176)

[Page 75]

Another one of his tricks which drives people and particularly his associates to distraction is his capacity for forgetting. This trait has been commented upon so much that it scarcely needs mentioning here. We all know how he can say something one day and a few days later say the opposite, completely oblivious to his earlier statement. He does not only do this in connection with international affairs but also with his closest associates. When they show their dismay and call his attention to the inconsistency he flies off into a rage and demands to know if the other person thinks he is a liar. Evidently the other leading Nazis have also learned the trick, for Rauschning (266) says:

"Most of the Nazis, with Hitler at their head, literally forget, like hysterical women, anything they have no desire to remember."

Although Hitler almost invariably introduces a few humorous elements into his speeches and gives the impression of considerable wit, he seems to lack any real sense of humor. He can never take a joke on himself. Heyst (600) says, "He is unable to purify his gloomy self with self-irony and humor." Von Wiegand (492) says he is extremely sensitive to ridicule and Huss says (408) "He takes himself seriously and will flare up in a tempermental rage at the least impingement by act or attitude on the dignity and holiness of state and Fuehrer." When everything is going well he sometimes gets into a gay and whimsical mood in a circle of close friends. His humor then is confined almost wholly to a kind of teasing or ribbing. The ribbing is usually [Page 76] in connection with alleged love affairs of his associates but are never vulgar and only hint at sexual factors (Hanfstaengl 910). Friedelinde Wagner provides us with an example of his teasing. Goering and Goebbels were both present at the time that he said to the Wagner family:

"You all know what a volt is and an ampere, don't you? Right. But do you know what a goebbels, a goering are? A goebbels is the amount of nonsense a man can speak in an hour and a goering is the amount of metal that can be pinned on a man's breast." (632)

His other form of humor is mimicking. Almost everyone concedes that he has great talent along these lines and he frequently mimics his associates in their presence much to the amusement of everyone except the victim. He also loved to mimic Sir Eric Phipps and later Chamberlain.

Hitler's poor adaptation to people is perhaps most obvious in his relations to women. Since he has become a political figure, his name has been linked with a great many women, particularly in the foreign press. Although the German public seem to know very little about this phase of his life, his associates have seen a great deal of it and the topic is always one for all kinds of conjectures. Roughly speaking, his relations to women fall into three categories; (a) much older women; (b) actresses and passing fancies, and (c) more or less enduring relationships.

A. As early as 1920 Frau Carola Hofman, a 61 year old widow, took him under her wing and for years played the part of [00010083.gif">[Page 77] foster mother. Then came Frau Helena Bechstein, the wife of the famous Berlin piano manufacturer, who took over the role. She spent large quantities of money on Hitler in the early days of the party, introduced him to her social circle and lavished maternal affection on hm, She often said that she wished that Hitler were her son and while he was imprisoned in Landsberg she claimed that she was his adopted mother in order that she fight visit him. Strasser (300) says that Hitler would often sit at her feet and lay his head against her bosom while she stroked his hair tenderly and murmured, "Mein Woelfchen".

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