The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Hitler's Probable Behavior in the Future

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made] [Page 243: Title Page] [Page 244]

As the tide of battle turns against Hitler it may be well to consider very briefly the possibilities of his future behavior and the effect that each would have on the German people as well as on ourselves.

1. Hitler may die of natural causes.

This is only a remote possibility since, as far as we know, he is in fairly good health except for his stomach ailment which is, in all probability, a psychosomatic disturbance. The effect such an event would have on the German people would depend on the nature of the illness which brought about his death. If he would die from whooping cough, mumps, or some other ridiculous disease, it would be a material help in breaking the myth of his supernatural origins.

2. Hitler might seek refuge in a neutral country.

This is extremely unlikely in view of his great concern about his immortality. Nothing would break the myth more effectively than to have the leader run away at the critical moment. Hitler knows this and has frequently condemned the Kaiser for his flight to Holland at the close of the last war. Hitler might want to escape as he has escaped from other unpleasant situations, but it seems almost certain that he would restrain himself.

3. Hitler might get killed in battle.

This is a real possibility. When he is convinced that he cannot win, he may lead his troops into battle and expose himself as the fearless [Page 245] and fanatical leader. This would be most undesirable from our point of view because his death would serve as an example to his followers to fight on with fanatical, death-defying determination to the bitter end. This would be what Hitler would want for he has predicted that:

"We shall not, never. We my be destroyed, but if we are, we shall drag a world with us...a world in flames." .

"But even if we could not conquer them, we should drag half the world into destruction with us and leave no one to triumph over Germany. There will not be another 1918."

At a certain point he could do more towards the achievement of this goal by dying heroicily than he could by living. Furthermore, death of this kind would do more to bind the German people to the Hitler legend and insure his immortality than any other course he could pursue.

4. Hitler might be assassinated.

Although Hitler is extremely well protected there is a possibility that someone may assassinate him. Hitler is afraid of this possibility and has expressed the opinion that:

"His own friends would one day stab him mortally in the back... And it would be just before the last and greatest victory, at the moment of supreme tension. Once more Hagen would slay Siegfried. Once more Hermann the Liberator would be murdered by his own kinsmen. The eternal destiny of the German nation must be fulfilled yet again, for the last time."

This possibility too, would be undesirable from our point of view inasmuch as it would make a martyr of him and strengthen the legend. [Page 246]

It would be even more undesirable if the assassin were a Jew for this would convince the German people of Hitler's infallibility and strengthen the fanaticism of the German troops and people. Needless to say, it would be followed by the complete extermination or all Jews in Germany and the occupied countries.

5. Hitler may go insane.

Hitler has many characteristics which border on the schizophrenic. It is possible that when faced with defeat his psychological structure may collapse and leave him at the mercy of his unconscious forces. The possibilities of such an outcome diminish as he becomes older, but they should not be entirely excluded. This would not be an undesirable eventuality from our point of view since it would do much to undermine he Hitler legend in the minds of the German people.

6. German military might revolt and seize him.

This seems unlikely in view of the unique position Hitler holds in the minds of the German people. From all the evidence it would seem that Hitler alone is able to rouse the troops, as well as the people to greater efforts and as the road becomes more difficult this should be an important factor. One could imagine, however, that as defeat approaches Hitler's behavior may become more and more neurotic and reach a point where it would be well for the military to confine him. In this case, however, the German people would probably never know about it. [Page 247]

If they discovered it, it would be a desirable end from our point of view because it would puncture the myth of the loved and invincible leader.

The only other possibility in this connection would be that the German military should decide, in the face of defeat, that it might be wiser to dethrone Hitler and set up a puppet government to sue for peace. This would probably cause great internal strife in Germany. What the ultimate outcome might be would depend largely on the manner in which it was handled and what was done with Hitler. At the present time the possibility seems extremely remote.

7. Hitler may fall into our hands.

This is the most unlikely possibility of all. Knowing his fear of being placed in the role of the vanquished, we can imagine that he would do his utmost to avoid such a fate. From our point of view it would not be undesirable.

8. Hitler might commit suicide.

This is the most plausible outcome. Not only has he frequently threatened to commit suicide, but from what we know of his psychology it is the most likely possibility. It is probably true that he has an inordinate fear of death, but being an hysteric he could undoubtedly screw himself up into the super-man character and perform the deed. In all porbability, however, it would not be a simple suicide. He has too much of the dramatic for that and since immortailty is one of his dominant motives we can [Page 248] imagine that he would stage the most dramatic and effective death scene he could possibly think of. He knows how to bind the people to him and if he cannot have the bond in life he will certainly do his utmost to achieve it in death. He might even engage some other fanatic to do the final killing at his orders.

Hitler has already envisaged a death of this kind, for he has said to Rauschning:

"Yes, in the hour of supreme peril I must sacrifice myself for the people."

This would be extremely undesirable from our point of view because if it is cleverly done it would establish the Hitler legend so firmly in the minds of the German people that it might take generations to eradicate it.

Whatever else happens, we my be reasonably sure that as Germany suffers successive defeats Hitler will become more and more neurotic. Each defeat will shake his confidence still further and limit his opportunities for proving his own greatness to himself. In consequence he will feel himself more and more vulnerable to attack from his associates and his rages will increase in frequency. He will probably try to compensate for his vulnerability on this side by continually stressing his brutality and ruthlessness.

His public appearances will become less and less for, as we have seen, he is unable to face a critical audience. He will probably seek solace in his Eagle's Nest on the Kehlstein near Berchtsegaden. There among the ice-capped peaks he will [Page 249] wait for his "inner voice" to guide him. Meanwhile, his nightmares will probably increase in frequency and intensity and drive him closer to a nervous collapse. It is not wholly improbably that in the end he might lock himself into this symbolic womb and defy the world to get him.

In any case, his mental condition will continue to deteriorate. He will fight as long as he can with any weapon or technique that can be conjured up to meet the emergency. The course he will follow will almost certainly be the one which seems to him to be the surest road to immortality and at the same time drag the world down in flames.

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