The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
by Konrad Heiden
(Part 1 of 4)

[Page 1]

HITLER by Konrad Heiden

In the life history of Adolf Hitler no mention is ever made of the grandparents on his father's side; the details invariably refer only to his mother's relations. There are many things to suggest that Adolf Hitler's grandfather was not Johann Georg Hiedler, but an unknown one. (Hitler - Heiden-p. 8)

Alois Hitler has been described as a stern, correct, industrious, punctual, and clear-headed man; in many things, the exact opposite of his son. In his struggle to attain the dignity of an official is expressed the yearning and the fear of life of that huge section of the population which was later to support National Socialism. Alois Hitler, with his longing for rank and an assured livelihood [unreadable] part of the Hitler movement. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 8)

His father wanted him to study. He was to be a higher-grade civil servant. Adolf did not want this. "I felt sick and bored at the thought of having one day to sit in an office, deprived of freedom, no longer master of my own time, but forced to expend the energies of a lifetime in filling up forms." This horror of regular work remained with him. But he never ventured to oppose his father openly: II could be rather reserved about my private views; there was no need to contradict at once every time. My own firm determination never to become an official sufficed to reassure me inwardly." (Hitler-Heiden-p, 11)

...Of course, I always got the worst of it in such arguments; since the old gentleman proceeded to exert his authority unsparingly; so in future I held my tongue" --opposition cringed once more before the paternal stick -- but I put my threat into practice." (Hitler-Heiden -p. 11)

[Page 2]

"...What I enjoyed, I learned--above all, anything which, in my opinion, might be of use to me later, when I was a painter. Anything which seemed to me meaningless from this point of view or which otherwise did not attract me I sabotaged completely." (Hitler-Heiden-p. 11-12)

Meanwhile his performance at school became worse and worse, and the conflict with his father more and more acute. Alois Hitler had a stroke when his son was twelve years of age. His most fervent desire--namely, to procure his son a means of livelihood which would safeguard him from the hardships of his own career--certainly did not at that time seem likely to be granted. Alois Hitler dies full of doubts as to his son's future. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 12)

Hitler did not, however, pass his final examination. Whether he failed or whether he never took it he does not make clear. He only admits that he had to atone later for "what I had hitherto neglected at the Realschule out of defiance." For five years he lived with his mother, who, to judge by the portraits of her, was a beautiful and lovable woman; according to his own testimony, he was very fond of her and wore her picture on his breast in the field.

The mother spoilt her scapegrace son; for five years he lounged about the house idly and aimlessly as a "mother's pet" in "soft down" and the "hollowness of an easy life," frittering and dreaming away his youthful existence. (Hitler-Heiden-p, 13)

...Among these dregs of society he learned to know the people as a factor in politics; on this human refuse a precocious youth formed his lasting conceptions of the value of humanity and the folly of the masses. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 16)

Hanisch describes the young Hitler as unpractical and with a distaste for work; he found an opportunity to earn money only when some other person helped him; thus the young man was, to a great extent, himself to blame for his material distress.

Hanisch relates that whenever the young Adolf had earned a few kronen, he gave up work, seated himself in a cheap cafe, and regaled the guests with political harangues. He had a talent for lecturing, however, and they were content to listen. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 16)

[Page 3]

Shrewd sentences, especially for an orator. But also telltale, especially for a prophet. This is perhaps the most illuminating passage that Hitler has ever written about himself. It reveals the fanatical narrow-mindedness of a man who only wants to learn what he already knows, only courts the pleasant sensation of being in the right. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 18)

But the most important thing that Hitler perceived in Lueger, the never-to-be-forgotten lesson he learned from him, was this: "In the same way he was disposed to make use of any available means of power to secure the favor of any existing powerful institutions, in order that he might derive from these old sources of strength the greatest possible advantage for his own movement."

Gaining over of classes whose existence is threatened! Secure the favor of any existing powerful institutions! (Hitler-Heiden-p. 22)

"My inward aversion to the Hapsburg state grew more and more during those years.

"The conviction gained ground in me that this form of State could only bring disaster to the German nationality.

"The racial conglomeration which ruled the Imperial capital was repugnant to me. Equally repugnant was the whole national hotchpotch of Czechs, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Serbs, Croat, etc.--and in the midst of it all that eternal split fungus of humanity, Jews and again Jews.

"The huge city seemed to me the embodiment of incest." (Hitler-Heiden-p. 23)

"The struggle of the year 1914 was, forsooth, not forced on the masses, but desired by the whole people." Desired by the whole people? No, but by a class, which might be termed the Hitler class: "To myself those hours came like a redemption from the vexatious experiences of my youth. Even to this day I am not ashamed to say that, in a transport of enthusiasm, I sank down on my knees and thanked heaven from an overflowing heart..." (Hitler-Heiden-p. 26)

[Page 4]

The editor of the History of the List Regiment, D. Fridolin [unreadable]., says in reference to this: "Since 1915 the statement had been repeated in almost every published work on the subject that the List men sang the Deutschland song during the attack on Ypres. This is a historical error. The List men sang the defiant old German song: Die Wacht am Rhein." (Hitler-Heiden-p.27)

...his captain said: "I'll never make that hysterical fellow an officer!"

Subordination he took seriously down to the smallest details: "To respect one's superior officers, never to contradict, to submit blindly"--that is his ideal, as he declared before... (Hitler-Heiden-p. 29)

His failure in personal intercourse misled him more and more into contempt for his fellow-men. This contempt increased in proportion as he discovered how amenable these men were to simple tricks. He observed the effect of broadsheets which the enemy smuggled in among the German troops; and at the same time he observed the ineffectiveness of Germany's own propaganda among her own people; (Hitler-Heiden-p. 31)

One of the earliest National Socialists, Dr. Georg [unreadable] declared: "Hitler is the opposite of a man of brains. He is a man of heart, a man of blood, a babbler of dreams." (Hitler-Heiden-p. 37)

The great modern mass-parties, first and foremost the Fascist, have rediscovered an old historical truth which seemed long since buried: that men often and masses almost always pay service not to their interests but to their illusions. This fact is something greater and mightier than mere folly or deception; it is based on the human craving for devotion and self-sacrifice, which play as big a part in history as hunger and love. Hitler is not lying when he proudly declares that he has demanded nothing but sacrifices from his adherents. (Hitler-Heiden-p. 41)

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