The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

As He Knows Himself

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made]

This sudden alternation from one to the other is not uncommon. Close asociates have commented on it time and time again. Ludecke (166) writes:

"There were times when he gave an impression of unhappiness, of loneliness, of inward searching .... But in a moment, he would turn again to whatever frenzied task with the swift command of a man born for action."

Rauschning (263):

"Almost anything might suddenly inflame his wrath and hatred .... But equally, the transition from anger to sentimentality or enthusiasm might be quite sudden."

Huddleston (759) writes:

"His eyes, soft and dreamy as he spoke to me, suddenly flashed and hardened..."

Voight (591) says:

"Close collaborators for many years said that Hitler was always like this - the slightest difficulty or obstacle could make him scream with rage or burst into tears."

Heiden has commented upon the duality of Hitler's character and has suggested that the procrastinating side is "Hitler" while the fiery personality which erupts from time to time is the Fuehrer. Although this may not be strictly true from a psychological point of view, it may be helpful to think of them in these terms.

[Page 132]

There is not, however, a complete dissociation of the personality. In such a case we would expect to find the personalities alternating with each other quite beyond the voluntary control of the individual. This is clearly not the case with Hitler who can adopt either role more or less at will. At least, he is able, on occasion, to induce the Fuehrer personality to come into existence when the occasion demands. This is what he does at almost every speech. At the beginning as we have mentioned he is nervous and insecure on the platform. At times he has considerable difficulty in finding anything to say. This is "Hitler". But under these circumstances the "Hitler" personality does not usually predominate for any length of time. As soon as he gets the feel of the audience the tempo of the speech increases and the "Fuehrer" personality begins to assert itself. Heiden says: "The stream of speech stiffens him like a stream of water stiffens a hose." As he speaks he seduces himself into believing that he is actually and fundamentally the "Fuehrer", or as Rausching (268) says: "He doses himself with the morphine of his own verbiage." It is this transformation, of the little Hitler into the great Fuehrer, which takes place under the eyes of his audience which probably fascinates them. By complicated psychological processes they are able to identify themselves with him and as the speech progresses, they themselves are temporarily transformed and inspired.

He must also undergo a transformation of this kind when he is expected to make a decision or take definite action. As we have seen, Hitler procrastinates until the situation becomes dangerous and intolerable. When he can procrastinate no longer, he is able to in-[Page 133]duce the Fuehrer personality to assert itself. Rauschning has put this well:

"He is languid and apathetic by nature and needs the stimulus of nervous excitement to rouse him out of chronic lethargy to a spasmodic activity." (269)

"Before Hitler can act he must lash himself out of lethargy and doubts into a frenzy." (262)

Having lashed himself into this state of mind he can play the "Fuehrer" to perfection. When the transformation takes place in his personality all his views, sentiments and values are also transformed. The result is that as "Fuehrer" he can make statements with great conviction which flatly contradict what "Hitler" said a few minutes earlier. He can grapple with the most important problems and in a few minutes reduce them to extremely simple terms, he can map out campaigns, be the supreme judge, deal with diplomats, ignore all ethical and moral principles, order executions, or the destruction of cities without the slightest hesitation. And he can be in the best of humor while he is doing it. All of this would have been completely impossible for "Hitler".

Hitler likes to believe that this is his true self and he has made every effort to convince the German people that it is his only self. But it is an artiface. The whole "Fuehrer" personality is a grossly exaggerated and distorted conception of masculinity as Hitler conceives it. Undoubtedly he would like to be such a person in reality and believes that he actually is that person - but he deceives himself. This personality shows all the ear-marks of a reaction formation which has been created unconsciously as a compensation [Page 134] and cover-up for deeplying [sic] tendencies which he despises. This mechanism is very frequently found in hysterics and always serves the purpose of denying the true self by creating an image which is diametrically opposite and then identifying with the image. The great difference between Hitler and thousands of other hysterics is that he managed to convince millions of other people that the image is really himself. The more he was able to convince them, the more he became convinced of it himself on the theory that eighty million Germans can't be wrong.

And so he has fallen in love with the image he, himself, created and does his utmost to forget that behind it there is quite another Hitler who is a very despicable fellow.

He is hardly more successful in this, manouvre than any other hysteric. Secret fears and anxieties that belie the reality of the image keep cropping up to shake his confidence and security. He may rationalize these fears or displace them but they continue to haunt him. Underneath, Hitler is a bundle of fears. Some are at least partially justified, others seem to be groundless. For example, he has had a fear of cancer for many years. Ordinarily he fears that he has a cancer in his stomach since he is always bothered with indigestion. The assurances of his doctors are all to no avail. A few years ago a simple polyp grew on his larynx. Immediately his fear shifted to the throat and he was sure that he had developed a throat cancer. When Dr. von Eicken diagnosed it as a simple polyp, Hitler at first refused to believe him.

Then he has fears of being poisoned, fears of being assassinated, fears of losing his health, fears of gaining weight, fears of treason, fears of losing his mystical guidance, fears of anesthe- [Page 135]tics, fears of premature death, fears that his mission will not be fulfilled, etc. Every conceivable precaution must be taken to reduce these dangers, real and imagined, to a minimnm. In later years, the fear of betrayal and possible assassination by one of his associates seems to have grown considerably. Thyssen (308) claims that it has reached the point where he no longer trusts the Gestapo. Frank (652) reports that even the generals must surrender their swords before they are admitted into conferences with him.

Sleep is no longer a refuge from his fears. He wakes up in the night shaking and screaming. Rauschning claims that one of Hitler's close associates told him that:

"Hitler wakes at night with convulsive shrieks; shouts for help. He sits on the edge of his bed, as if unable to stir. He shakes with fear, making the whole bed vibrate. He shouts confused, unintelligible phrases. He gasps, as if imagining himself to be suffocating. On one occasion Hitler, stood swaying in his room, looking wildly about him. 'He! He! He's been here!' he gasped. His lips were blue. Sweat streamed down his face. Suddenly he began to reel off figures, and odd words and broken phrases, entirely devoid of sense. It sounded horrible. He used strangely composed and entirely un-German word-formations. Then he stood still, only his lips moving... Then he suddenly broke out 'There, there!' In the corner! Who's that?' He stamped and shrieked in the familiar way."

Zeissler (923), also reports such incidents. It would seem that Hitler's late hours are very likely due to the fact that he is afraid to go to sleep.

The result of these fears, as it is with almost every hysteric, is a narrowing of the world in which he lives. Haunted by these fears, he distrusts everyone, even those closest to him. He cannot establish any close friendships for fear of being betrayed or being discovered as he really is. As his world becomes more and more [Page 136] circumscribed he becomes lonelier and lonelier. He feels himself to be a captive and often compares his life with that of the Pope (Hanfstaengl, 912). Fry (577) says, "spiritual loneliness must be Hitler's secret regret", and von Wiegand (491) writes:

"Perhaps the snow-crowned peaks of the Alps glistening in the moonlight remind Adolph Hitler of the glittering but cold, lonely heights of fame and achievement to which he has climbed. 'I am the loneliest man on earth' he said to an employee of his household. '"

Hysterics, however, are not discouraged by all this. On the contrary, they interpret their fears as proof of their own importance rather than as signs of their fundamental weakness. As Hitler's personal world becomes smaller he must extend the boundaries of his physical domains. Meanwhile, his image of himself must become evermore inflated in order to compensate for his deprivations and the maintenance of his repressions. He must build bigger and better buildings, bridges, stadia and what not, as tangible symbols of his power and greatness and then use these as evidence that he really is what he wants to believe he is.

There is, however, little gratification in all this. No matter what he achieves or what he does it is never sufficient to convince him that things are what they seem to be. He is always insecure and must bolster up his super-structure by new acquisitions and more defenses. But the more he gets and the higher he builds, the more he has to worry about and defend. He is caught in a vicious circle, like so many other hysterics, which grows bigger and bigger as time goes on but never brings them the sense of security they crave above everything else.

[Page 137]

The reason for this is that they are barking up the wrong tree. The security they seek is not to be found in the outside world but in themselves. Had they conquered their own unsocial impulses, their real enemy, when they were young, they would not need to struggle with such subterfuges when they are mature. The dangers they fear in the world around them are only the shadows of the dangers they fear will creep up on them from within if they do not maintain a strict vigilance over their actions. Denying does not annihilate them. Like termites, they gnaw away at the foundation of the personality and the higher the super-structure is built, the shakier it becomes.

In most hysterics, these unsocisl impulses, which they regard as dangers, have been fairly successfully repressed. The individual feels himself to be despicable without being conscious of the whys and wherefores of this feeling. The origins of the feeling remain almost wholly unconscious or are camouflaged in such a way that they are not obvious to the individual himself. In Hitler's case, this is not so - at least not entirely. He has good cause for feeling despicable and he knows why. The repression in his case was not completely successful and some of the unsocial tendencies do from time to time assert themselves and demand satisfaction.

Hitler's sexual life has always been the topic of much speculation. As pointed out in the previous section, ZZZ of his closest associates are absolutely ignorant on this subject. This has led to conjectures of all sorts. Some believe that he is entirely immune from such impulses. Some believe that he is a chronic masturbator. Some believe that he derives his sexual pleasure [Page 138] through voyeurism. Many believe that he is completely impotent. Others, and these are perhaps in the majority, that he is homosexual. It is probably true that he is impotent but he is certainiy not homosexual in the ordinary sense of the term. His perversion has quite a different nature which few have guessed. He is an extreme masochist who derives sexual pleasure from having a woman squat over him while she uriniates or defecates on his face. (Strasser, 919; see also 931, 932)*

Although this perversion is not a common one, it is not unknown in clinical work, particularly in its incipient stages. The four collaborators on this study, in addition to Dr. De Saussure who learned of the perversion from other sources, have all had experience with cases of this type. All five agree that their information as given is probably true in view of their clinical experience and their knowledge of Hitler's character. In the following section further evidence of its validition will be cited. At the present moment it is sufficient to recognize the influence that this perversion must have on the conscious mental life of Hitler.

Unquestionably Hitler has suffered severe guilt reactions

*Note: There may be some people who would question the reliability of any information given by Otto Strasser because of his reputation. It is perhaps because of his reputation that he came by this information which had been so carefully guarded. He also supplied the interviewer with a great deal of other information concerning Hitler which checked very closely with that of other informants. As far as this study is concerned we have no reason to question his sincerity.

[Page 139] from his perverse tendencies. We can easily imagine interminable struggles with his conscience which incapacitated him to a considerable extent. Surely Hitler has externalized his own problem and its supposed solution when he writes:

"Only when the time comes when the race is no longer overshadowed by the consciousness of its own guilt, then it will find internal peace and external energy to cut down regardlessly and brutally the wild shoots, and to pull up the weeds."

and again:

"We must be ruthless....We must regain our clear conscience as to ruthlessness.... Only thus shall we purge our people of their softness and sentimental Philistinism, and their degenerate delight in beer swilling."

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