The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/h/hitler.adolf//oss-papers/text/oss-sb-hanfstaengl-04

00011258.gif  page 9

that speaking is really Hitler's chief form of exercise 
and after a speech, he is usually bathed in perspiration. 
He is probably only happy and at peace with himself
 when he has talked himself to the point of swooning 
from exhaustion.

When he becomes involved in an argument he shows an 
incredible lucidity. His thoughts are very concise and he 
presents his views like a sputtering machine gun. The 
cadence of his sentences are irresistably shaped and 
have a piercing power. He always looks for a dramatic 
phrase or a happy epigram which he can twist to his 
own use. [Unreadable]  In this connection he frequently 
uses the figure of speech that, "There is only so much 
room in a brain, so much wall space, as it were, and if 
you furnish it with your slogans, the opposition has no 
place to put up any pictures later on, because the 
apartment of the brain is already crowded with your 
furniture". He has always admired the use the Catholic 
Church made of slogans and has tried to imitate it.

Hitler has very good concentration if the subject is one 
that interests him. Under these circumstances, he has 
extraordinary capacity for work. In 1932, for example, 
he and his staff often worked twenty hours a day for 
weeks on end. He has a great deal of physical endurance 
so he would stand these ordeals better than his associates. 
However, he hates to read reports or to do any kind of desk 
work. His staff is usually in despair on account of his 
procrastination in dealing with this phase of his work. 
He never takes their protests in this respect very seriously 
and usually brushes them aside by saying, "Problems are not 
solved by getting fidgety. If the time is ripe, the matter 
will be settled one way or another.

During these periods, he is extremely gentle with his 
subordinates. He never curses them even if they make 
mistakes. For example, Hanfstaengl remembers making 
a hurried trip by automobile from Munich to Berlin in the 
middle of the night. On the way, the chauffeur took the 
wrong fork in the dark and drove some twenty miles 
before he discovered that his mistake was irreparable 
and that he would have to turn back. Although Hitler 
was in a great hurry on this occasion, he did not scold 
the chauffeur in the least. He simply said it was 
unfortunate and that there was nothing to do but 
turn around and try to make up the time they had lost 
when they got back on the right road. On long, hurried 
trips or at the end of a heavy day's work during which 
everyone had missed one or two meals, Hitler always 
insists that his chauffeurs or his staff be served first. 
He will not accept food until everyone else has been 
served. If food is placed before him by an over-zealous 
waitress, he will frequently get up and carry it himself 
to one of his subordinates.

On the whole, he is a strict vegetarian but upon rare 
occasions he will eat a little chicken with rice or 
smoked salmon as an appetizer. He is bothered a great 
deal with stomach disorders and always takes some 
kind of medicine to aid his digestion. His breakfasts 
usually consist

00011259.gif  page 10


00011260.gif  page 11

phies which lack a note of rebellion and a titanic 
protest against the existing world bore him.

Hitler has a great admiration for Frederick the Great. 
Hanfstaengl remembers the first time they saw the 
new version of the film on Frederick the Great. Hitler 
was completely entranced during the showing and had 
nothing but praise at the end. To Hanfstaengl's amazement, 
however, Hitler seemed to have partially identified himself 
with Frederick's cruel father. He thought the scene in 
which the father ordered Frederick to witness the execution 
of his conspirator was magnificent. He said to Hanfstaengl 
that the father was absolutely right in his treatment and 
the thing they must do was to bring up the German children 
of the future under discipline of this type. Before his 
imprisonment in Landsberg, Hitler was quite intrigued 
with, and willing to follow, Frederick;s tolerant attitude 
towards religion. His later totalitarian anti-Christianism 
is entirely due to the influence of Hess and Rosenberg 
while they were imprisoned together. Even then there was 
no overt expression of this change of attitude until 1934 
when the appointed Rosenberg as the Supreme Inspector 
for the spiritual-political training of German youth.

Hanfstaengl is convinced that Hitler actually believes in 
his destiny. He told Hanfstaengl that while he was in the 
infirmary at Pasewalk in the fall of 1918, he received a 
supernatural vision which commanded him to save his 
unhappy country. As a result of this experience, he resolved 
to become a politician and devote his energies to carrying 
out the command he received. In the early days, however, 
he did not conceive himself as the chosen leader, Even in 
1923 he still referred to himself in his meetings as the 
"drummer" marching ahead of a great movement of 
liberation which was to come. Even after this time he 
frequently used the words of St. Matthew and referred 
to himself as a voice crying in the wilderness and 
describing his duty as hewing a path for him who was 
to come and lead the nation to power and glory.

After his imprisonment, the "drummer" pattern dropped 
out very rapidly and he referred more and more to himself 
as the Fuehrer. This may have been due in part to Hess who 
coined the term and did his utmost to build a cult around it. 
But outside of this there was more and more evidence that 
he was thinking of himself as the Messiah and it was he 
himself who was destined to lead Germany to glory. He 
used quotations from the Bible more frequently when 
referring to himself and separated himself from the others 
as though he were a special creation. For example, 
Hanfstaengl remembers that there were rumors current 
that he was about to announce his engagement to 
Hanfstaengl's sister, Erna. When asked about this directly 
Hitler drew himself up in a sanctimonious manner and 
said, "I authorize you to tell the press that I shall never 
engage myself to a woman nor marry a woman. The only 
true bride for me is and always will be the German people".

When asked what would happen if something interfered 
with his destiny or prevented him from carrying out his 
duties as Fuehrer, he replied, "If that should be the case 
or if I should die, it would only be a sign that my star had 
run its course and my mission is fulfilled." Hanfstaengl 
condemns as false all of the stories one hears about 
Hitler visiting or having

00011261.gif  page 12

anything to do with either clairvoyants or astrologers. 
He has never heard of any connection whatever between 
Herr Rath and Frau Benthiine, the Munich clairvoyants 
who are frequently mentioned as Hitler's advisers. The 
astrologer story he condemns as even more ridiculous 
since Hitler is fundamentally against horoscopes and 
has always refused to have one cast even in fun. He 
always said they were had and nothing to play with because 
no matter how hard one tried to discard them, there was 
always the danger that one might let them influence one's 
judgment and thereby be led astray. Hanfstaengl says that 
Hitler is far too smart and too wary to go in for anything of 
this sort, that he has steadfastly refused to ever consult a 
psychiatrist about his depressions because to do so would 
give the doctor a weapon which he might later use against 
him. He is absolutely certain that Hitler never went in to 
any of these things and says it would have been impossible 
for him to do so without Hanfstaengl's getting wind of it.

Napoleon is one of Hitler's great idols. He has read a great 
deal about Napoleon and has tried to imitate him in many 
ways. When the Germans occupied Paris, Hanfstaengl says, 
but cannot remember who told him that Hitler sent even his 
bodyguard away to stand at a great distance while he himself 
stood for one-half hour before Napoleon's tomb presumably 
to obtain inspiration. Hanfstaengl also points out that Hitler 
opened the Russian campaign on the same day, June 22, on 
which Napoleon crossed [unreadable]. Hanfstaengl insists 
that this is no coincidence and that Hitler had long striven 
not only to imitate Napoleon but to outdo him. He says that 
Hitler had identically the same distress, contempt and fear 
of legitimate monarchs that Napoleon had. He remembers 
when the former Empress came to Berlin and was given a 
reception. Hitler of course had to go but was extremely 
nervous for hours beforehand. He kept asking Hanfstaengl 
what she was like, what he should say and how he should 
behave. He made a great fuss about wearing evening clothes 
and wished, if possible, to avoid the situation. Hanfstaengl, 
too, was invited to the reception and dinner. He was, however, 
detained at his office and missed the dinner completely but 
hurried over in time for the reception. As he rushed into the 
corridor of the building in which the reception was being 
held, he was amazed to find Hitler and his bodyguard walking 
back and forth outside the door of the reception room. He was 
like a child and could not bring himself to go into the presence 
of the Great Lady. With Hanfstaengl as a support, he finally 
did go in and paid his respects to her but was extremely 
uncomfortable, nervous and unsure of himself and left 
just as quickly as he possibly could. Hitler is also a great 
admirer of Bluecher and frequently refers to his outstanding 
courage and his technique of perpetual attack which he feels 
to be exceedingly sound and which he has always tried to copy.

It is interesting how frequently Hitler associates crowds 
with women. "Do you know", he once said to Hanfstaengl in 
1923, "the audience as a circus is just like a woman (Die 
Masse, das Volk ist wie ein Weib). Someone who does not 
understand the intrinsically feminine character of the 
masses will never be an effective speaker. Ask yourself 
'what does a woman expect from a man?'. Clearness, 
decision, power and action. What we want is to get the 
masses to act. Like a woman, the masses fluctuate

00011262.gif  page 13

between extremes. Obviously if we want them to act, we 
cannot do so by appealing to their selfishness nor to their 
cowardice, but only by appealing to their idealism, their 
courage and their spirit of sacrifice. What has more the 
spirit of sacrifice than woman? If they are talked
to properly they will be proud to sacrifice because no 
woman will ever feel that her life's sacrifices have 
received their due fulfillment. The crowd is not only 
like a woman, but women constitute the most important 
element in an audience. The women usually lead, then 
follow the children and at last, when I have already 
won over the whole family - follow the fathers.

On another occasion, Hanfstaengl playfully said to him, 
"If not a bride, you ought to have at least a mistress." 
Hitler replied,  "Politics is a woman; he who loves her 
unhappily, she bites off his head (Die Politik ist ein Weib,
 wer sie ungluecklich liebt, dem boisst sie den kopf ad)." 
At another occasion, Hanfstaengl was joshing him and told 
him he should marry in order to fool his enemies. Hitler 
answered, "Marriage is not for me. My only bride is my 
motherland." Then seemingly, with no sequence of ideas, 
he added, "There are two ways in which a man's character 
may be judged, by the woman he marries and then by the 
way he dies." His attitude towards women is interesting. 
Frequently in speaking of women, he will use the Russian 
proverb: "If you go to a woman, don't forget your whip." 
It may be a coincidence but for years Hitler always carried
 his riding whip and never appeared at a meeting without it. 
Hanfstaengl says it was particularly conspicuous when he 
spoke to a woman. Even if it was a friendly conversation, he 
would constantly gesticulate with his whip and these became 
more and more violent as the conversation continued and his 
voice became louder and louder. He remembers one time at 
Berchtesgaden and there was a Frau Buechner who was 
visiting with her husband. Her husband was a political 
leader in some small town and Hitler paid very little 
attention to him during their visit but devoted himself 
almost entirely to his wife who was a large, blonde, 
peasant-type of woman. For hours he stood out on the 
lawn while Hitler bragged about what he was going to 
do. As he spoke, his voice became louder and louder, his 
speech faster and faster, and the whip came more and 
more into prominence. He worked himself into a state of 
great excitement and finally shouted, "When I came to 
Berlin a few weeks ago and looked at the traffic in the 
Kurteurstendamm, the luxury, perversion, iniquity, the 
wanton display, and the Jewish materialism disgusted 
me so thoroughly, that I was almost beside myself. I 
nearly imagined myself to be Jesus Christ when he came 
to his father's temple and found it taken by the money-changers. 
I can well imagine how he felt when he seized a whip and 
scourged them out." Hanfstaengl says that Hitler accompanied 
this speech with violent agitations with his whip as though 
to drive out the Jews and the forces of darkness, the enemies 
of Germany and German honor. Dietrich Eckart who was also 
a guest at Berchtesgaden and shared the room with Hanfstaengl 
said later that this was one of the most disgusting exhibitions 
of eroticism he had ever seen and Hitler should be ashamed of 
himself,especially in view of the woman to whom it was 
delivered. Furthermore, he said, "When a man gets to the 
point of identifying himself with Jesus Christ, then he is 
rope for an insane asylum like Nietzsche was". Hanfstaengl 
says that the identification, however, was not with Jesus 
Christ, the crucified, but with Jesus Christ, the furious

00011263.gif  page 14

lashing the crowds. It it also interesting that one of Hitler's 
favorite words is "brutal" which has a different connotation 
in German than it has in English. Whenever he has an 
opportunity he always seems to manage to get this word 
is somehow or other.

In spite of all this, Hitler frequently adopts quite the opposite 
technique when he is trying to win the affection of some girl. 
Hanfstaengl has frequently seen him act like an adolescent on 
these occasions. He is very shy and fidgety. He doesn't seem to 
know what to do with himself and waits for some [unreadable] 
that he is finding favor with the girl. Often he ends up sitting 
at the girl's feet, begging her to be kind to him and not to think 
too harshly of him. Hanfstaengl is of the impression that what 
Hitler is looking for in a woman is half-mother and half-sweetheart. 
Since he has not succeeded in finding this combination, he is 
always being disappointed and escapes into brooking isolation 
and artificially dramatizes public life.

His relationship to Frau Bechstein is unusual. She was smitten 
with Hitler quite early in his career and gave him considerable 
financial assistance to further his career. early in his career, 
when there was still considerable danger of arrest, he adopted 
the name Wolf as a type of camouflage in the party. Frau 
Bechstein adopted it as a nickname and up to the time that 
Hanfstaengl left Germany, she still called him Wolf or "Mein 
Woelfschen". She always has used the familiar "Du" when 
speaking to him and has really played a mother role towards 
him. She is one person who can scold him and he stands 
shamefacedly and says nothing while she does it. Hanfstaengl 
is under the impression that Frau Bechstein was grooming 
Hitler as a future son-in-law. According to him she made it 
very clear to Hitler that she expected him to marry her 
daughter and that Hitler finally asked the daughter to marry 
him. This he did from a sense of obligation to her mother and 
also for the prestige and advantages that it would bring him 
to become part of the wealthy and influential Bechstein family. 
Lottie Bechstein was far from attractive and Hanfstaengl is sure 
that no love was involved. In any case, it seems that Lottie 
refused him. Nevertheless, the relationship with the Bechstein 
family continued and he frequently called at their home.

A similar relationship existed with Winifred Wagner, the 
daughter-in-law of the great composer. He was a frequent 
visitor at Wahnfried, the Wagner home, and there were many 
rumors that he would marry Winifred after her husband died. 
She perhaps came closer to fulfilling his ideal of half-mother 
and half-sweetheart than any other woman of whom we have 
any knowledge. The relationship has continued unbroken from 
early 1923 until after Hanfstaengl left Germany and is 
presumably still intact.

Hanfstaengl is under the impression that a number of 
factors determined this attachment. First there is the 
fact that she was the daughter-in-law of his favorite 
composer. Then there was the fact that she belonged to 
a social class to which Hitler aspired and the relationship 
offered him considerable prestige as well as affording 
opportunities for contacts which he sorely needed. In 
addition she was English by birth and this in itself

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.