The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
The Foe We Face
by Pierre J. Huss
(Part 1 of 4)

[Page 1]

Pierre J. Huss: The Foe we face, 1942

In January of 1935 Adolf Hitler was sitting out the winter in his alpine chalet on the 0bersalzberg, above Berchtesgaden, somewhat tensely awaiting the outcome of the plebiscite .....He let Goebbels and others loudly beat the drum while he sat up there in the snow and went walking with the huge white Hungarian shepherd dog always at his side.

At such times the German Fuehrer strictly forbade his guards to follow; he relied entirely on the dog at his side, the heavy waking stick of knotted wood, and the rapid-fire luger automatic in his pocket. He wore a gray golf suit with heavy woolen socks stuck into snow boots and an old felt hat drawn over his right eye, and on days when the wind whistled sharply or snow whipped through the air, a gray mackintosh with a muffler around his neck. He'd crunch the snow with a slow step and proceed by a short cut over the hill back of his chalet toward a somewhat forsaken Bavarian-style cafe.

..... I had arranged through Karl Boemer and Alfred Rosenberg for an interview with Hitler on the day of the Saar pelbiscite [sic] returns, on the assumption that it would be an opportune moment sure to find him in the best of moods, provided everything went in his favor. I arrived there to find him in high glee, with Goering on hand in a huge white sweater to help celebrate the victory of the Saar with its overwhelming majority in favor of the immediate return to Germany. Hitler was in his golf suit, studying the latest returns, and his eyes were alight with joy. Without wasting time on ceremonies, he got his hat and stick and insisted that I accompany him on his usual walk before lunch. The big Hungarian dog plowed ahead of us through the snow, cavorting and barking with delight. But he seldom rushed further than ten yards away, turning back to see that his lord and master was following in good order. Later I was told that this dog could be relied upon to rip to pieces any stranger approaching Hitler unannounced.

We reached the crest of the hill at the edge of the pine woods and looked back. I was breathing hard, for this was not my customary daily routine. Hitler grinned slyly and said it was good exercise, this walking through thedeep [sic] snow, the only kind of exercise, he said, he had time or inclination to take. He pointed with his stick to his chalet below and to the sweeping hills around it.

"A good rifle shot, aiming through telescopic sights, could easily pick me off from here while I am sitting on the porch or in that back room there," Hitler said in a matter-of-fact way. "I am buying up all these hills and making it forbidden property so that Himmler can quit worrying. I have also had the road you came up on commandeered, closing it to public traffic so that in effect this whole section of the mountain will be closed off to any but authorized persons."

His walking stick pointed far across the valley to the distant city of Salzberg we could just make out under the clouds over in Austria. "Himmler and the army people got together sometime ago and figured out that a few well directed cannon shots from over there some dark night could blow us out of bed," the Nazi Fuehrer said with something of a forced laugh. He resumed the walk and added: "I cannot just walk over the border and take a piece out of Austria, and I will not move this house away or abandon it just to get out from under the range of Austria and cannons. I am a fatalist and all those things take care of themselves."

I thought to myself that Hitler was taking chances walking by himself in these lonely mountains, even if he did buy them by the mile in order to keep strangers at a distance. A legion of people would gladly have knocked him off. With this in mind, I pointed to two wood choppers making their way some hundreds of yards ahead of us toward the lonely Bavarian cafe and boldly said they could easily overpower him before he'd have a chance to defend himself or call for help. I wanted to hear [Page 2] what he'd say.

He nodded and whistled for the dog and held him by the collar,while he told me to press a hard snowball together and throw it high and afar. I did this, and the snowball went sailing off into the air.

Hitler whipped an automatic out of his pocket and with deliberate aim fired at my snowball. A split second after his shot rang out the snowball burst apart in midair, obviously torn by the passing bullet. I suppose I looked a bit skeptical, for Hitler asked me to throw a second snowball. He shot leisurely, and, it seemed to me, almost without aiming. The snowball broke violently to pieces in midair.

Hitler replaced the pistol in his pocket and tapped me on the arm. "Sehen Sie, I am not entirely defenseless" he smiled. "It is generally conceded in the S.S. and the army that I am a better pistol shot than most of their best ones. I also make it a point to know more about guns and weapons and bullets of all kinds than those who come to me to explain the intricacies of a new rifle note or a cannon's mechanism. I have read and studied many technical books on those subjects, including one or two by your American experts. I believe I can say with justification that I am one of the few all-around ballistic experts in the world today."

I checked up in German army circles on that claim and found it generally substantiated. He has a standing order out for every book on that subject and frequently reads deep into the night to absorb a new experiment with shells or bullets. He can draw a blueprint on the involved mechanism of German foreign large-and-small caliber guns and do it from memory. That is one of those things about Hitler one shouldn't forget in sizing him up as the man we now are about to beat.

He is a fanatic, every inch of him, going into a passion or fury when the occasion demands. I touched him off on that walk in the snow with a hint that some of his twenty-five-point program would set the world afire if carried out to the letter. He stopped dead in his tracks and like a flash he changed from the Bavarian alpine rambler to Adolf Hitler, dictator of flaring temperament and rabble-rousing fanatic. He stamped the snow with his boot and waved his walking stick in fervid agitation.

Pierre J.Huss, pp.l,2,3,4,5.

[Page 3]

March 1938: I had been sent to Vienna by Connolly and Faris to cover the story and to get our local correspondent there out of jail. He was a Jew, and it took some days and a lot of string pulling with key men around Hitler to get him out and across the border to Italy. But it provided me with an opportunity also to keep a finger on Hitler's activity, from talks with several of those always around him I pieced together his first night in Vienna.

He took over the royal suite, a high ceilinged affair of three main rooms done up in much red drapery and furniture of white and gold. The bathroom was modernized,but not much else. The Imperial Hotel definitely had been coasting along on its reputation and made no attempt to rival the up-to-date Bristol and Grand across the way.

But Hitler had his reason for coming to the Imperial, and that night he gathered a small circle of intimates around him and talked to them until the small hours of Vienna and his days there. He had Schaub,the personal adjutant, pull the glossy boots off his feet and occasionally bring him a glass of warm milk. Then he reclined in loose comfort on the sofa and delved into reminiscences, waxing excited enough to sit up straight and rumple his hair when telling of some of the hard times he had seen in that city.

P.J.Huss: The Foe we face p.8.9.

He told them: "In the old days the Viennese used to have a sentimental way of saying: "And when I die I want to go to heaven and have a little hole among the stars to see my Vienna, my fair Vienna." I didn't feel very much that way. The Hapsburgs and the spendthrifts may have looked at Vienna as a playground and paradise, but to me it was a city going to decay in its own grandeur. Only the Jews made money, and only those with Jewish friends or those willing to do the work for the Jews made a decent living. I and a lot of others like me, practically straved [sic] and some went begging.

"I used to walk past the Imperial Hotel of nights when there was nothing else to do and I hadn't even enough money to buy a book. I'd watch the automobiles and the coaches drive up to the entrance and be received with a deep bow by the white-mustached porter out in front, who never talked to me if I came near him. I could see the glittering lights and chandeliers in the lobby but I knew it was impossible for me to set foot inside.

One night, after a bad blizzard which piled up several feet of snow, I had a chance to make some money for food by shoveling snow. Ironically enough, the five or six of us in my group were sent to clean the street and sidewalk in front of the Imperial Hotel.

"That was the night the Hapsburgs were entertaining-old Josef was still alive but he didn't appear. I saw Karl and Zita step out of their imperial coach and grandly walk into this hotel over the red carpet. We poor devils shoveled the snow away on all sides and took our hats off every time the aristocrats arrived. They didn't even look at us although I still smell the perfume that came to our noses. We were about as important to them, or for that matter to Vienna, as the snow that kept coming down all night, and this hotel did not even have the decency to send out a cup of hot coffee to us. We were kept there most of the night, and each time the wind blew hard it covered the red carpet with snow. Then I'd take a broom and brush it off, glancing at the same time [Page 4] into the brilliantly lit interior, which fascinated me. I heard the music and it made me wish to cry. It made me pretty angry, too, and feel the injustice of life. I resolved that night that someday I would come back to the Imperial Hotel and walk over the red carpet into that glittering interior where the Hapsburgs danced. I didn't know how or when, but I have waited for this day and tonight I am here.

"I shall have this hotel listed as our party hotel and I shall come here each time I am in Vienna, I shall have it renovated and modernized, but the name shall remain the same. And a red carpet shall be on the sidewalk every time I come so that I can walk over it into the hotel the same as those aristocrats did back in those days when I shoveled snow. I have never forgotten the resolution I made. Providence fulfilled my wish."

That is Hitler to the core. He can never forget or forgive, and everything he does has its motive. The conquest of Vienna and the Imperial Hotel in a way were to him the wiping of the slate, a settlement of scores.

He likes to gloat over his triumphs,and particularly to go back to places where he was spurned in the old days. There is there is a hotel in almost every large city in of Germany where he will stop and strut around because at one time or another he was boycotted and refused quarters in every hotel in that city except perhaps the one he now favors. Or he might have been given shelter and food by the individual who now owns the leading hotel in the city. All because that man did Hitler a favor in the days he became a power in the land.

In Weimar, for example, there is the White Elephant Hotel, rebuilt by the party in lavish style with the reserved Fuehrer suite. In Nuremberg, is the Deutscher Hof, an expensively rebuilt edifice. In Godesberg on the Rhine, a little distance above the fabled rock of Lorelei, there is the Dreesen, where he held his famous conference with Neville Chamberlain a few days before the signing of the fatal Munich Pact .....

The owner of the Dreesen snapped his fingers at the anti-Hitlers, and offered him sanctuary free of cost in the Dreesen Hotel in Godesberg. That settled it, and whenever Hitler thereafter toured the Rhineland,he spent days and days in the Dreesen with the man who had done him a favor in the face of public disapproval.

Hitler, after assuming power, did with the Dreesen what he did with hotels he fancied all over Germany. He took it under his official wing and partly remodeled it at the expense of the Nazi party for purposes of his own. He installed the usual Fuehrer suite of three rooms. That included a reception room of larger proportions, a sort of combination private office anti sitting room, and a comfortable bedroom. I had a chance to go through his suite in the Dreesen a few hours before he arrived for his conference with Chamberlain and thus had a good opportunity to size up the arrangements.

In the Berlin chancellery and at Fuehrer headquarters he makes it a point during the war to sleep on a camp bed, but in the hotels and castles he picks on he has a comfortable, wide bed. In the Dreesen it is low and stands next to a window of bulletproof glass overlooking the Rhine. A blood-red silken bedspread enlivens the pink-colored room. There is an enameled white telephone on the night table. I was told that the hook on the side, closest to the pillow is for a special pistol holster, which reminded me of the proverb that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. I also remembered at that moment that he had demonstrated himself some years before to me as quick on the draw and a crack pistol shot.

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