A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend
Psychological Analysis and Reconstruction
The world has come to know Adolph Hitler for his insatiable greed for power, his ruthlessness, cruelty and utter lack-of feeling, his contempt for established institutions and his lack of moral restraints. In the course of relatively few years he has contrived to usurp such tremendous power that a few veiled threats, accusations or insinuations were sufficient to make the world tremble. In open defiance of treaties he occupied huge territories and conquered millions of people without even firing a shot. When the world became tired of being frightened and concluded that it was all a bluff, he initiated the most brutal and devastating war in history - a war which, for a time, threatened the complete destruction of our civilization. Human life and human suffering seem to leave this individual completely untouched as he plunges along the course he believes he was predestined to take.
Earlier in his career the world had watched him with amusement. Many people refused to take him seriously on the grounds that "he could not possibly last." As one action after another met with amazing success and the measure of the man became more obvious, this amusement was transformed into incredulousness. To most people it seemed inconceivable that such things could actually happen in our modern civilization. Hitler, the leader of these activities, became generally regarded as a madman, if not inhuman. Such a conclusion, concerning the nature of our enemy, may be satisfactory from the point of view of the man in the street. It gives him a feeling of satisfaction to pigeon-hole an incomprehensible individual in one category or another. Having classified him in this way, he feels that the problem is completely solved. All we need to do is to eliminate the madman from the scene of activities, replace him with a sane individual, and the world will again return to a normal and peaceful state of affairs.
This naive view, however, is wholly inadequate for those who are delegated to conduct the war against Germany or for those who will be delegated to deal with the situation when the war is over. They cannot content themselves with simply regarding Hitler as a personal devil and condemning him to an Eternal Hell in order that the remainder of the world may live in peace and quiet. They will realize that the madness of the part of wholly the actions of a single individual but that a reciprocal relationship exists between the Fuehrer and the people and that the madness of the one stimulates and flows into the other and vice versa. It was not only Hitler, the madman, who created German madness, but German madness which created Hitler. Having created him as its spokesman and leader, it has been carried along by his momentum, perhaps far beyond the point where it was originally prepared to go. Nevertheless, it continues to follow his lead in spite of the fact that it must be obvious to all intelligent people now that his path leads to inevitable destruction.
From a scientific point of view, therefore, we are forced to consider Hitler, the Fuehrer, not as a personal devil, wicked as his actions and philosophy may be, but as the expression of a state of mind existing in millions of people, not only in Germany but, to a smaller degree, in all civilized countries. To remove Hitler may be a necessary first step, but it would not be the cure. It would be analogous to curing an ulcer without treating the underlying disease. If similar eruptions are to be prevented in the future, we cannot content ourselves with simply removing the overt manifestations of the disease. On the contratry, we must ferret out and seek to correct the underlying factors which produced the unwelcome phenomenon. We must discover the psychological streams which nourish this destructtve state of mind in order that we may divert them into channels which will permit a further evolution of our form of civilization.
The present study is concerned wholly with Adolph Hitler and the social forces which impinged upon him in the course of his development and produced the man we know. One may question the wisdom of studying the psychology of a single individual if the present war represents a rebellion by a nation against our civilization. To understand the one does not tell us anything about the millions of others. In a sense this is perfectly true. In the process of growing up we are all faced with highly individual experiences and exposed to varying social influences. The result is that when we mature no two of us are identical from a psychological point of view. In the present instance, however, we are concerned not so much with distinct individuals as with a whole cultural group. The members of this group have been exposed to social influences, family patterns, methods of training and education, opportunities for development, etc., which are fairly homogeneous within a given culture or strata of a culture. The result is that the members of a given culture tend to act, think and feel more or less alike, at least in contrast to the members of a different cultural group. This justifies, to some extent, our speaking of a general cultural character. On the other hand, if a large section of a given culture rebells against the traditional pattern then we must assume that new social influences have been introducod which tend to produce a type of character which cannot thrive in the old cultural environment.
When this happens it may be extremely helpful to understand the nature of the social forces which influenced the development of individual members of the group. These may serve as clues to an understanding of the group as a whole inasmuch as we can then investigate the frequency and intensity of these same forces in the group as a whole and draw deductions concerning their effect upon its individual members. If the individual being studied happens to be the Ieader of the group, we can expect to find the pertinent factors in an exaggerated form which would tend to make them stand out in sharper relief than would be the case if we studied an average member of the group. Under these circumstances, the action of the forces may be more easily isolated and subjected to detailed study in relation to the personality as whole as well as to the culture in general. The problem of our study should be, then, not only whether Hitler is mad or not, but what influences in his development have made him what he is.
If we scan the tremendous quantities of material and information which have been accumulated on Hitler, we find little which is helpful in explaining why he is what he is. One can, of course, make general statements as many authors have done and say, for example, that his five years in Vienna were so frustrating that he hated the whole social order and is now taking his revenge for the injustices he suffered. Such explanations sound very plausible at first glance but we would also want to know why, as a young man, he was unwilling to work when he had the opportunity and what happened to transform the lazy Vienna beggar into the energetic politician who never seemed to tire from rushing from one meeting to another and was able to work thousands of listeners into a state of frenzy.
We would also like to know something about the origins of his peculiar working habits at the present time, his firm belief in his mission, and so on. No matter how long we study the available material we can find no rational explanation of his present conduct. The material is descriptive and tells us a great deal about how he behaves under varying circumstances, what he thinks and feels shout various subjects, but it does not tell us why. To be sure, he himself sometimes offers explanations for his conduct but it is obvious that these are either built on flimsy rational foundations or else they serve to push the problem further back into his past. On this level we are in exactly the same position in which we find ourselves when a neurotic patient first comes for help.
In the case of an individual neurotic patient, however, we can ask for a great deal more first-hand information which gradually enables us to trace the development of his irrational attitudes or behavioral patterns to earlier experiences or influences in his life history and the effects of these on his later behavior. In most cases the patient will have forgotten these earlier experiences but nevertheless he still uses them as premises in his present conduct. As soon as we are able to understand the premises underlying his conduct, then his irrational behavior becomes comprehensible to us.
The same finding would probably hold in Hitler's case except that here we do not have the opportunity of obtaining the additional first-hand information which would enable us to trace the history of his views and behavioral patterns to their early origins in order to discover the premises on which he is operating. Hitler's early life, when his fundamental attitudes were undoubtedly formed, is a closely guarded secret, particularly as far as he himself is concerned. He has been extremely careful and has told us exceedingly little about this period of his life and even that is open to serious questioning. A few fragments have, however, been, unearthed which are helpful in reconstructing his past life and the experiences and influences which have determined his adult character. Nevertheless, in themselves, they would be wholly inadequate for our purposes.
Fortunately, there are other sources of information. One of them is Hitler himself. In every utterance a speaker or writer unknowingly tells us a great deal about himself of which he is entirely unaware. The subjects he chooses for elaboration frequently reveal unconscious factors which make these seem more important to him than many other aspects which would be just as appropriate to the occasion. Furthermore, the method of treatment, together with the attitudes expressed towards certain topics, usually reflect conscious processes which are symbolically related to his own problems. The examples he chooses for purposes of illustration almost always contain elements from his own earlier experiences which were instrumental in cultivating the view he is expounding. The figures of speech he employs reflect unconscious conflicts and linkages and the incidence of particular types or topics can almost be used as a measure of his preoccupation with problems related to them. A number of experimental techniques have been worked out which bear witness to the validity of these methods of gathering information about the mental life, conscious and unconscious, of an individual in addition to the findings of psychoanalysts and psychiatrists.
Then, too, we have our practical experience in studying patients whose difficulties were not unlike those we find in Hitler. Our knowledge of the origins of these difficulties may often be used to evaluate conflicting information, check deductions concerning what probably happened, or to fill in gaps where no information is available. It may be possible with the help of all these sources of information to reconstruct the outstanding events in his early life which have determined his present behavior and character structure. Our study must, however, of necessity be speculative and inconclusive. It may tell us a great deal about the mental processes of our subject but it cannot be as comprehensive or conclusive as the findings of a direct study conducted with the cooperatlon of the individual. Nevertheless, the situation is such that even an indirect study of this kind is warranted.
Freud's earliest and greatest contribution to psychiatry in particular and to an understanding of human conduct in general was his discovery of the importance of the first years of a child's life in shaping his future character. It is during these early years, when the child's acquaintanceship with the world is still meagre and his capacities are still immature, that the'chances of misinterpreting the nature of the world about him are the greatest. The mind of the child is inadequate for understanding the demands which a complex culture makes upon him or the host of confusing experiences to which he is exposed. In consequence, as has been shown over and over again, a child during his early years frequently misinterprets what is going on about him and builds his personality structure on false premises. Even Hitler concedes that this finding is true, for he says in MEIN KAMPF:
Under these circumstances, it will be well for us to inquire into the nature of Hitier's earliest environment and the impressions which he probably formed during this period. Our factual information on this phase of his life is practically nil. In MEIN KAMPF Hitler tries to create the impression that his home was rather peaceful and quiet, his "father a faithful civil servant, the mother devoting herself to the cares of the household and looking after her children with eternally the same loving care." It would seem that if this is a true representation of the home environment there would be no reason for his concealing it so scrupulously.
This is the only passage in a book of a thousand pages in which he even intimates that there were other children for his mother to take care of. No brother and no sister are mentioned in any other connection and even to his associate he has never admitted that there were other chidren besides his half-sister, Angela. Very little more is said about his mother, either in writing or speaking. This concealment in itself would make us suspicious about the truth of the statement quoted above. We become even more suspicious when we find that not a single patient manifesting Hitler's character traits has grown up in such a well-ordered and peaceful home environment.
If we read on in MEIN KAMPF we find that Hitler gives us a description of a child's life in a lower-class family. He says:
In view of the fact that we now know that where were five children in the Hitler home and that his father liked to spend his spare time in the village tavern where he sometimes drank so heavily that he had to be brought horn by his wife or children, we begin to suspect that in this passage Hitler is, in all probability, describing conditions in his own home as a child.
If we accept the hypothesis that Hitler is actually talking about his own home when he describes conditions in the average lower-class family, we can obtain further information concerning the nature of his home environment. We read:
When we remember the few friends that Hitler has made in the course of his life, and not a single intimate friend, one wonders where he had the opportunity of observing these scenes personally, hundreds of times, if it was not in his own home. And then he continues:
All of this agrees with information obtained from other sources whose veracity might otherwise be open to question. With this as corroborating evidence, however, it seems safe to assume that the above passages are a fairly accurate picture of the Hitler household and we may surmise that these scenes did arouse disgust and indignation in him at a very early age.
These feelings were aggravated by the fact that when his father was sober he tried to create an entirely different impression. At such times he stood very much on his dignity and prided himself on his position in the civil serviceo Even after he had retired from this service he always insisted on wearing his uniform when he appeared in public. He was scrupulous about his appearance and strode down the viliage street in his most dignified manner. When he spoke to his neighbors or acquaintances he did so in a very condescending manner and always demanded that they use his full title when they addressed him. If one of them happened to omit a part of it, he would call attention to their omission. He carried this to the point where, so informants tell us, he became a source of amusement to the other villagers and their children. At home, he demanded that the children address him as Herr Vater instead of using one of the intimate abbreviations or nicknames that children commonly do.
Father's lnfluence on Hitler's character.
We know from our study of many cases that the character of father is one of the major factors determining the character of the child during infancy, particularly that of a boy. In cases in which the father is a fairly well-integrated individual and presents a consistent pattern of behavior which the small boy can respect, he becomes a model which the child strives to emulate. The image the child has of his father becomes the cornerstone of his later character-structure and with its help he is able to integrate his own behavior along socially accepted lines. The importance of this first step in character development can scarcely be over-estimated. It is almost a prerequisite for a stable, secure and well-integrated personality in later life.
In Hitler' s case, as in almost all other neurotics of his type, this step was not feasible. Instead of presenting an image of a consistent, harmonious, socially-adjusted and admirable individual which the child can use as a guide and model, the father shows himself to be a mass of contradictions. At times he plays the role of "a faithful civil servant" who respects his position and the society he serves, and demands that all others do likewise. At such times he is the soul of dignity, propriety, sternness and justice. To the outside world he tries to appear as a pillar of society whom all should respect and obey. At home, on the other hand, particularly after he had been drinking, he appears the exact opposite. He is brutal, unjust and inconsiderate. He has no respect for anybody or anything. The world is all wrong and an unfit place in which to live. At such times he also plays the part of the bully and whips his wife and children who are unable to defend themselves. Even the dog comes in for his share of his sadistic display.
Under such circumstances the child becomes confused and is unable to identify himself with a clear-cut pattern which he can use as a guide for his own adjustment. Not only is this a severe handicap in itself but in addition the child is given a distorted picture of the world around him and the nature of the people in it. The home, during these years, is his world and he judges the outside world in terms of it. The result is that the whole world appears as extremely dangerous, uncertain and unjust as a place in which to live and the child's impulse is to avoid it as far as possible because he feels unable to cope with it. He feels insecure, particularly since he can never predict beforehand how his father will behave when he comes home in the evening or what to expect from him. The person who should give him love, support and a feeling of security now fills him with anxiety, uneasiness and uncertainty.
His search for a competent guide.
As a child Hitler must have felt this lack very keenly for throughout his later life we find him searching for a strong masculine figure whom he can respect and emulate. The men with whom he had contact during his childhood evidently could not fill the role of guide to his complete satisfaction. There is some evidence that he attempted to regard some of his teachers in this way but whether it was the influence of his father's ranting or shortcomings in the teachers themselves, his attempts always miscarried. Later he attempted to find great men in history who could fill this need. Caesar, Napoleon and Frederick the Great are only a few of the many to whom he became attached. Although such, historic figures serve important role of this kind in the life of almost every child, they are in themselves inadequate. Unless a fairly solid foundation already exists in the mind of the child these heroes never become flesh and blood people inasmuch as the relationship is one-sided and lacks reciprocation. The same is also true of the political figures with which Hitler sought to identify himself during the Vienna period. For a time Schoenerer and Lueger became his heroes and although they were instrumental in forming some of his political beliefs and channeling his feelings, they were still too far removed from him to play the role of permanent guides and models.
During his career in the army we have an excellent example of Hitler's willingness to submit to the leadership of strong males who were willing to guide him and protect him. Throughout his army life there is not a shred of evidence to show that Hitler was anything but the model soldier as far as submissivehess and obedience are concerned. From a psychological point of view his life in the army was a kind of substitute for the home life he had always wanted but could never find, and he fulfilled his duties willingly and faithfully. He liked it so well that after he was wounded, in 1916, he wrote to his commanding officer and requested that he be called back to front duty before his leave had expired.
After the close of the war he stayed in the army and continued to be docile to his officers. He was willing to do anything they asked, even to the point of spying on his own comrades and then condemning them to death. When his officers singled him out to do special propaganda work because they believed he had a talent for speaking, he was overjoyed. This was the beginning of his political career, and here too we can find many manifestations of his search for a leader. In the beginning he may well have thought of himself as the "drummer-boy" who was heralding the coming of the great leader. Certain it is that during the early years of his career he was very submissive to a succession of important men to whom he looked for guidance - von Kahr, Ludendorff and Hindenburg, to name only a few.
It is true that in the end he turned upon them one after another and treated them in a despicable fashion, but usually this change came after he discovered their personal shortcomings and inadequacies. As in many neurotic people of Hitler's type who have a deep craving for guidance from an older man, their requirements grow with the years. By the time they reach maturity they are looking for, and can only submit to, a person who is perfect in every respect -literally a super-man. The result is that they are always trying to come in contact with new persons of high status in the hope that each one, in turn, will prove to be the ideal.
No sooner do they discover a single weakness or shortcoming than they depose him from the pedestal on which they have placed him. They then treat their fallen heroes badly for having failed to live up to their expectations. And so Hitler has spent his life looking for a competent guide but always ends up with the discovery that the person he has chosen falls short of his requirements and is fundamentally no more capable than himself. That this tendency is a carry-over from his early childhood is evidenced by the fact that throughout these years he always laid great stress on addressing these persons by their full titles. Shades of his father's training during his early childhood!
It may be of interest to note at this time that of all the titles that Hitler might have chosen for himself he is content with the simple one of "Fuehrer". To him this title is the greatest of them all. He has spent his life searching for a person worthy of the role but was unable to find one until he discovered himself. His goal is now to fulfill this role to millions of other people in a way in which he had hoped some person might do for him. The fact that the German people have submitted so readily to his leadership would indicate that a great many Germans were in a similar state of mind as Hitler himself and were not only willing, but anxious, to submit to anybody who could prove to them that he was competent to fill the role. There is some sociological evidence that this is probably so and that its origins lie in the structure of the German family and the dual role played by the father within the home as contrasted with the outside world. The duality, on the average is, of course, not nearly as marked as we have shown it to be in Hitler's case, but it may be this very fact which qualified him to identify the need and express it in terms which the others could understand and accept.
There is evidence that the only person in the world at the present time who might challenge Hitler in the role of leader is Roosevelt. Informants are agreed that he fears neither Churchill nor Stalin. He feels that they are sufficiently like himself so th at he can understand their psychology and defeat them at the game. Roosevelt, however, seems to be an enigma him. How a man can lead a nation of 150,000,000 people and keep them in line without a great deal of name-calling, shouting, abusing and threatening is a mystery to him. He is unable to understand how a man can be the leader of a large group and still act like a gentleman. The result is that he secretly admires Roosevelt to a considerable degree, regardless of what he publicly says about him. Underneath he probably fears him inasmuch as he is unable to predict his actions.
Hitler's mother and her influence.
Hitler's father, however, was only a part of his early environment. There was also his mother who, from all reports, was a very decent type of woman. Hitler has written very little and said nothing about her publicly. Informants tell us, however, that she was an extremely conscientitious and hard-working individual whose life centered around her home and children. She was an exemplary housekeeper and there was never a spot or speck of dust to be found in the house - everything was very neat and orderly. She was a very devout Catholic and the trials and tribulations that fell upon her home she accepted with Christian resignation. Even her last illness, which extended over many months and caused her great pain, she endured without a single complaint. We may assume that she had to put up with much from her irrascible husband and it may be that at at times she did have to stand up against him for the welfare of her children. But all of this she probably accepted in the same spirit of abnegation. To her own children she was always extremely affectionate and generous although there is some reason to suppose that she was mean at times to her two step-children.
In any event, every scrap of evidence indicates that there was an extremely strong attachment between herself and Adolph. As previously pointed out, this was due in part to the fact that she had lost two, or possibly three, children before Adolph was born. Since he, too, was frail as a child it is natural that a woman of her type should do everything within her power to guard against another recurrence of her earlier experiences. The result was that she catered to his whims, even to the point of spoiling him, and that she was over-protective in her attitude towards him. We may assume that during the first five-years of Adolph's life, he was the apple of his mother's eye and that she lavished affection on him. In view of her husband's conduct and the fact that he was twenty-three years her senior and far from having a loving disposition, we may suppose that much of the affection that normally would have gone to him also found its way to Adolph.
The result was a strong libidinal attachment between mother and son. It is almost certain that Adolph had temper tantrums during this time but that these were not of a serious nature. Their immediatel purpose was to get his own way with his mother and he undoubtedly succeeded in achieving this end. They were a technique by which he could dominate her whenever he wished, either out of fear that she would lose his love or out of fear that if he continued he might become like his father. There is reason to suppose that she frequently condoned behavior of which the father would have disapproved and may have become a partner in forbidden activities during the father's absence. Life with his mother during these early years must have been a veritable paradise for Adolph except for the fact that his father would intrude and disrupt the happy relationship. Even when his father did not make a scene or lift his whip, he would demand attention from his wife which prevented her participation in pleasurable activities.
It was natural, under these circumstances, that Adolph should resent the intrusion into his Paradise and this undoubtedly aggravated the feelings of uncertainty and fear which his father's conduct aroused in him.
As he became older and the libidinal attachment to his mother became stronger, both the resentment and fear undoubtedly increased. Infantile sexual feelings were probably quite prominent in this relationship as well as fantasies of a childish nature. This is the Oedipus complex mentioned by psychologists and psychiatrists who have written about Hitler's personality. The great amount of affection lavished upon him by his mother and the undesirable character of his father served to develop this complex to an extraordinary degree. The more he hated his father the more dependent he became upon the affection and love of his mother, and the more he loved his mother the more afraid he became of his father's vengeance should his secret be discovered. Under these circumstances, little boys frequently fantasy about ways and means of ridding the environment of the intruder. There is reason to suppose that this also happened in Hitler's early life.
Influences determining his attitude towards love, women, marriage.
Two other factors entered into the situation which served to accentuate the conflict still further. One of these was the birth of a baby brother when he was five years of age. This introduced a new rival onto the scene and undoubtedly deprived him of some of his mother's affection and attention, particularly since the new child was also rather sickly. We may suppose that the newcomer in the family also became the victim of Adolph's animosity and that he fantasied about getting rid of him as he had earlier contemplated getting rid of his father. There is nothing abnormal in this except the intensity of the emotions involved.
The other factor which served to intensify these feelings was the fact that as a child he must have discovered his parents during intercourse. An examination of the data makes this conclusion most inescapable and from our knowledge of his father's character and past history it is not at all improbable. It would seem that his feelings on this occasion were very mixed. On the one hand, he was indignant at his father for what he considered to be a brutal assault upon his mother. On the other hand, he was indignant with his mother because she submitted so willingly to the father, and he was indignant with himself because he was powerless to intervene. Later, as we shall see, there was an hysterical re-living of this experience which played an important part in shaping his future destinies.
Being a spectator to this early scene had many repercussions. One of the most important of these was the fact that he felt that his mother had betrayed him in submitting to his father, a feeling which became accentuated still further when his baby brother was born. He lost much of his respect for the female sex and while in Vienna, Hanisch reports, he frequently spoke at length on the topic of love and marriage and that "he had very austere ideas about relations between men and women". Even at that time he maintained that if men only wanted to they could adopt a strictly moral way of living. "He often said it was the woman's fault if a man went astray" and "He used to lecture us about this, saying every woman can be had." In other words, he regarded woman as the seducer and responsible for man's downfall and he condemned them for their disloyalty.
These attitudes are probably the outcome of his early experiences with his mother who first seduced him into a love relationship and then betrayed him by giving herself to his father. Nevertheless, he still continued to believe in an idealistic form of love and marriage which would be possible if a loyal woman could be found. As we know, Hitler never gave himself into the hands of a woman again with the possible exception of his niece, Geli Raubal, which also ended in disaster. Outside of that single exception he has lived a loveless life. His distrust of both men and women is so deep that in all his history there is no record of a really intimate and lasting friendship.
The outcome of these early experiences was probably a feeling of being very much alone in a hostile world. He hated his father, distrusted his mother, and despised himself for his weakness. The immature child finds such a state of mind almost unendurable for any length of time and in order to gain peace and security in his environmlnt these feelings are gradually repressed from his memory.
This is a normal procedure which happens in the case of every child at a relatively early age. This process of repression enables the child to reestablish a more or less friendly relationship with his parents without the interference of disturbing memories and emotions. The early conflicts, however, are not solved or destroyed by such a process and we must expect to find manifestations of them later on. When the early repression has been fairly adequate these conflicts lie dormant until adolescence when, due to the process of maturation, they are reawakened. In some cases they reappear in very much their original form, while in others they are expressed in a camouflaged or symbolic form.
In Hitler's case, however, the conflicting emotions and sentiments were so strong that they could not be held a latent state during this time. Quite early in his school career we find his conflicts appearing again in a symbolic form. Unfortunately, the symbols he unconsciously chose to express his own inner conflicts were such that they have seriously affected the future of the world. And yet these symbols fit his peculiar situation so perfectly that it was almost inevitable that they would be chosen as vehicles of expression.
His early conflicts expressed in symbolic form.
Unconsciously, all the emotions he had once felt for his mother became transferred to Germany. This transfer of affect was relatively easy inasmuch as Germany, like his mother, was young and vigorous and held promise of a great future under suitable circumstances. Furthermore, he felt shut off from Germany as he now felt shut off from his mother, even though he secretly wished to be with her. Germany became a symbol of his ideal mother and his sentiments are clearly expressed in his writings and speeches. A few excerpts will serve to illustrate the transfer of emotion:
It is significant that although Germans, as a whole, invariably refer to Germany as the "Fatherland", Hitler almost always refers to it as the "Motherland.
Just as Germany was ideally suited to symbolize his mother, so was Austria ideally suited to symbolize his father. Like his father, Austria was old, exhausted and decaying from within. He therefore transferred all his unconscious hatred from his father to the Austrian state. He could now give vent to all his pent-up emotions without exposing himself to the dangers he believed he would have encountered had he expressed these same feelings towards the persons really involved. In MEIN KAMPF he frequently refers to the Austrian state, for example, in terms such as these:
The alliance between Austria and Germany served to symbolize the marriage of his mother and father. Over and over again we find references to this alliance and we can see clearly how deeply he resented the marriage of his parents because he felt that his father was a detriment to his mother and only through the death of the former could the latter obtain her freedom and find her salvation. A few quotations will illustrate his sentiments:
When we have grasped the significance of this transference of affect we have made a long step in the direction of understanding Hitler's actions. Unconsciously he is not dealing with nations composed of millions of individuals but is trying to solve his personal conflicts and rectify the injustices of his childhood. Unable to enter into a "give-and-take" relationship with other human beings which might afford him an opportunity of resolving his conflicts in a realistic manner, he projects his personal problems on great nations and then tries to solve them on this unrealistic level. His microcosm has been inflated into a macrocosm.
We can now understand why Hitler fell on his knees and thanked God when the last war broke out. To him it did not mean simply a war, as such, but an opportunity of fighting for his symbolic mother - of proving his manhood and of being accepted by her. It was inevitable that he would seek enlistment in the German Army rather than in the Austrian Army and it was also inevitable, under these circumstances, that he would be a good and obedient soldier. Unconsciously it was as though he were a little boy who was playing the part of a man while his mother stood by and watched him. Her future welfare was his great concern and in order to prove his love he was willing, if need be, to sacrifice his own life for her.
The effects of Germany's defeat.
Everything went smoothly as long as he felt sure that all would turn out well in the end. He never complained about the hardships that were imposed on him and he never grumbled with the other men. He was happy in what he was doing and met the trials and tribulations of army life with his chin up until he discovered that things were going badly and that his symbolic mother was about to be degraded as he had imagined his real mother had been degraded in his childhood. To him it was as if his mother was again the victim of a sexual assault. This time it was the November Criminals and the Jews who were guilty of the foul deed and he promptly transferred his repressed hate to these new perpetrators.
When he became fully aware of Germany's defeat he reacted in a typically hysterical manner. He refused to accept or adjust to the situation on a reality level. Instead, he reacted to this event as he probably reacted to the discovery of his parents in intercourse. He writes:
In another place he writes:
At the time this happened he had been exposed to a slight attack of mustard gas. He immediately believed that he was blinded and speechless. Although he spent several weeks in hospital, neither his symptoms nor the development of the illness corresponded to those found in genuine gas cases. It has been definitely established that both the blindness and the mutism were of an hysterical nature. The physician who treated him at that time found his case so typical of hysterical symptoms in general that for years after the war he used it as an illustration in his courses given at a prominent German medical school. We know from a great many other cases that during the onset of such attacks the patient behaves in exactly the same manner as he did earlier in his life when confronted by a situation with the same emotional content. It is as though the individual were actually reliving the earlier experience over again. In Hitler's case this earlier experience was almost certainly the discovery of his parents in intercourse and that he interpreted this as a brutal assault in which he was powerless. He refused to believe what his eyes told him and the experience left him speechless.
That this interpretation is correct is evidenced by his imagery in dealing with the event later on. Over and over again we find figures of speech such as these:
The origins of his belief in his mission and his longing for immortality.
It was while he was in the hospital suffering from hysterical blindness and mutism that he had the vision that he would liberate the Germans from their bondage and make Germany great. It was this vision that set him on his present political career and which has had such a determining influence on the course of world events. More than anything else it was this vision that convinced him that he was chosen by Providence and that he had a great mission to perform. This is probably the most outstanding characteristic of Hitler's mature personality and it is this which guides him with the "precision of a sleepwalker."
From an analysis of many other cases we know that such convictions never result from an adult experience alone. In order to carry conviction they must reawaken earlier beliefs which have their roots far back in childhood. It is, of course, nothing unusual for a child to believe that he is some special creation and destined to do great things before he dies. One can almost say that every child passes through such a period on his way to growing up. In many people remnants of such early beliefs are observable inasmuch as they feel or believe that Fate or Luck or Providence or some extra-natural power has chosen them for special favors. In most of these cases, however, the adult individual only half believes that this is really so even when a whole series of favorable events may make the hypothesis plausible. Only rarely do we find a firm conviction of this kind in adulthoed and then only when there were extenuating circumstances in childhood which made such a belief necessary and convincing.
In Hitler's case the extenuating circumstances are relatively clear. Mention has already been made of the fact that his mother had given birth to at least two and possibly three children, all of whom had died prior to his own birth. He, himself, was a frail and rather sickly infant. Under these circumstances, his mother undoubtedly exerted herself to the utmost to keep him alive. He was unquestionably spoiled during this period and his survival was probably the great concern of the family as well as of the neighbors. From his earliest days there was, no doubt, considerable talk in the household about the death of the other children and constant comparisons between their progress and his own.
Children first become aware of death as a phenomenon very early in life and in view of these unusual circumstances it may have dawned on Hitler even earlier than with most children. The thought of death, in itself, is inconceivable to a small child and they usually are able to form only the vaguest conception of what it means or implies before they push it out of their minds, for later consideration. In Hitler's case, however, it was a living issue and the fears of the mother were in all likelihood communicated to him. As he pondered the problem in his immature way, he probably wondered why the others died while he continued to live. The natural conclusion for a child to draw would be that he was favored in some way or that he was chosen to live for some particular purpose. The belief that he was the "chosen one" would have been reinforced by the fact that as far as his mother was concerned he was very much the chosen one in comparison with her two step-children who were also living in the home at that time.
This belief must have been strengthened considerably when, at the age of five, his baby brother was born. This baby brother has undoubtedly played a much more important role in Adolph's life than has been acknowledged by his biographers. The pertinent fact at the moment, however, is that this brother too died before he was six years old. It was Adolph's first real experience with death and it must have brought up the problem of death again in a much more vivid form. Again, we can surmise, he asked himself why they died while he continues to be saved. The only plausible answer to a child at that age would be that he must be under divine protection. This may seem far-fetched and yet, as an adult, Hitler tells us that he felt exactly this way when he was at the front during the war, even before he had the vision.
Then, too, he speculated on why it is that comrades all around him are killed while he is saved and again he comes to the conclusion that Providence must be protecting him. Perhaps the exemplary courage he displayed in carrying messages at the front was due to the feeling that some kindly Fate was watching over him. Throughout MEIN KAMPF we find this type of thinking. It was Fate that had him born so close to the German border; it was Fate that sent him to Vienna to suffer with the masses; it was Fate that caused him to do many things. The experience he reports at the front, when a voice told him to pick up his plate and move to another section of the trench just in time to escape a shell which killed all his comrades, must certainly have strengthened this belief to a marked degree and paved the way for his vision later on.
The Messiah. complex.
Another influence may have helped to solidify this system of belief. Among patients we very frequently find that children who are spoiled at an early age and establish a strong bond with their mother tend to question their paternity. Eldest children in particular are prone to such doubts and it is most marked in cases where the father is much older than the mother. In Hitler's case the father was twenty-three years older, or almost twice the age of the mother. Just why this should be is not clear, from a psychological point of view, but in such cases there is a strong tendency to believe that their father is not their real father and to ascribe their birth to some kind of supernatural conception. Usually such beliefs are dropped as the child grows older. It can be observed in young children, however, and can often be recovered in adults under suitable conditions. Due to the unsympathetic and brutal nature of his father we may suppose that there was an added incentive in rejecting him as his real father and postulating some other origin to himself.
The problem is not important in itself at the moment except insofar as it may help to throw some light on the origins of Hitler's conviction in his mission and his belief that he is guided by some extra-natural power which communicates to him what he should and should not do under varying circumstances. This hypothesis is tenable in view of the fact that during his stay in Vienna, when still in his early twenties, he grew a beard and again directly after the war when he again grew a Christ-like beard. Then, too, when he was a student at the Benedictine school his ambition was to join the Church and become an abbot or priest. All of these give some indication of a Messiah complex long before he had started on his meteoric career and become an open competitor of Christ for the affections of the German people.
Fear of death and desire for immortality.
Although beliefs of this kind are common during childhood they are usually dropped or are modified as the individual becomes older and more experienced. In Hitler's case, however, the reverse has taken place. The conviction became stronger as he grew older until, at the present time, it is the core of his thinking. Under these circumstances, we must suppose that some powerful psychological stream continued to nourish these infantile modes of thought. This psychological stream is probably, as it is in many other cases, a fear of death. It seems logical to suppose that in the course of his early deliberations on the deaths of his brothers his first conclusion was probably that all the others die and that consequently he too would die. His fear would not be allayed by his mother's constant concern over his well-being, which he may have interpreted as an indication that the danger was imminent. Such a conclusion would certainly be a valid one for a child to make under the circumstances.
The thought of his own death, however, is almost unbearable to a small child. Nothing is quite so demoralizing as the constant dread of self-annihilation. It gnaws away day and night and prevents him from enjoying the good things that life affords.
To rid himself of this devastating fear becomes his major objective. This is not easily accomplished, especially when all available evidence seems to corroborate the validity of the fear. In order to offset its potency he is almost driven to deny its reality by adopting the belief that he is of divine origin and that Providence is protecting him from all harm. Only by use of such a technique is the child able to convince himself that, he will not die. We must also remember that in Hitler's case there was not only the unusual succession of deaths of siblings, but there was also the constant menace of his father's brutality which helped make the fear more intense than in most children. This danger could easily be exaggerated in Hitler's mind due to a sense of guilt concerning his feelings towards his respective parents and what his father might do to him if he discovered his secret. These feelings would tend to increase his fear of death at the same time that they caused him to reject his father. Both tendencies would serve to nourish the belief that he was of divine origin and was under its protection.
It is my belief that this basic fear of death is still present and active in Hitler's character at the present time. As time goes on and he approaches the age when he might reasonably expect to die, this infantile fear asserts itself more strongly. As a mature, intelligent man he knows that the law of nature is such that his physical self is destined to die. He is still not able, however, to accept the fact that he as an individual, his psyche, will also die. It is this element in his psychological structure which demands that he become immortal. Most people are able to take the sting out of this fear of death through religious beliefs in life after death, or through the feeling that a part of them, at least, will continue to go on living in their children. In Hitler's, case, both of these normal channels have been closed and he has been forced to seek immortality in a more direct form. He must arrange to go on living in the German people for at least a thousand years to come. In order to do this, he must oust Christ as a competitor and usurp his place in the lives of the German people.
In addition to evidence drawn from experience with patients which would make this hypothesis tenable, we have the evidence afforded by Hitler's own fears and attitudes. We have discussed these in detail in Section IV. Fear of assassination, fear of poisoning, fear of premature death, etc., all deal with the problem of death in an uncamouflaged form. One can, of course, maintain that in view or his position all these fears are more or less justified. There is certainly some truth in this contention but we also notice that as time goes on these fears have increased considerably until now they have reached the point where the precautions for his own safety far exceed those of any of his predecessors. As long as he could hold a plebescite every now and then and reassure himself that the German people loved him and wanted him, he felt better. Now that this is no longer possible, he has no easy way of curbing the fear and his uncertainty in the future becomes greater. There can be little doubt concerning his faith in the results of the plebescites. He was firmly convinced that the 98% vote, approving his actions, really represented the true feelings of the German people. He believed this because he needed such reassurance from time to time in order to carry on with a fairly easy mind and maintain his delusions.
When we turn to his fear of cancer we find no justification whatever for his belief, especially in view of the fact that several outstanding specialists in this disease have assured him that it is without foundation. Nevertheless, it is one of his oldest fears and he continues to adhere to it in spite of all the expert testimony to the contrary. This fear becomes intelligible when we remember that his mother died following an operation for cancer of the breast. In connection with his fear of death we must not forget his terrifying nightmares from which he awakes in a cold sweat and acts as though he were being suffocated. If our hypothesis is correct, namely, that a fear of death is one of the powerful unconscious streams which drive Hitler on in his mad career, then we can expect that as the war progresses and as he becomes older the fear will continue to increase. With the progress of events along their present course, it will be more and more difficult for him to feel that his mission is fulfilled and that he has successfully cheated death and achieved immortality in the German people. Nevertheless, we can expect him to keep on trying to the best of his ability as long as a ray of hope remains. The great danger is that if he feels that he cannot achieve immortality as the Great Redeemer he may seek it as the Great Destroyer who will live on in the minds of the German people for a thousand years to come. He intimated this in a conversation with Rauschning when he said:
With him, as with many others of his type, it may well be a case of immortality of any kind at any price.
Closely interwoven with several of the themes which have already been elaborated is the development of his sexual life. From what we know about his mother's excessive cleanliness and tidiness we may assume that she employed rather stringent measures during the toilet training period of her children. This usually results in a residual tension in this area and is regarded by the child as a severe frustration which arouses feelings of hostility. This facilitates an alliance with his infantile aggression which finds an avenue for expression through anal activities and fantasies. These usually center around soiling, humiliation and destruction, and form the basis of a sadistic character.
Here, again, we may assume that the experience was more intense in Hitler's case than in the average due to the strong attachment and spoiling of his mother in early infancy. Unaccustomed to minor frustrations which most children must learn to endure, prior to the toilet training, he was poorly equipped to deal with this experience which plays an important role in the life of all infants. Even now, as an adult, we find Hitler unable to cope with frustrating experiences on a mature level. That a residual tension from this period still exists in Hitler is evidenced by the frequency of imagery in his speaking and writing which deal with dung and dirt and smell. A few illustrations may help to clarify his unconscious preoccupation with these subjects.
His libidinal development, however, was not arrested at this point but progressed to the genital level at which the Oedipus complex, already referred to, developed. This complex, as we have seen, was aggravated by his mother's pregnancy at precisely the age when the complex normally reaches its greatest intensity. In addition to accentuating his hatred for his father and estranging him from his mother, we can assume that this event at this particular time served to generate an abnormal curiosity in him. He, like all children at this age, must have wondered how the unborn child got into the mother's stomach and how it was going to get out.
These three reactions have all played an important part in Hitler's psychosexual development. It would seem from the evidence that his aggressive fantasies towards the father reached such a point that he became afraid of the possibility of retaliation if his secret desires were discovered. The retaliation he probably feared was that his father would castrate him or injure his genital capacity in some way - a fear which is later expressed in substitute form in his syphilophobia. Throughout MEIN KAMPF he comes back to the topic of syphilis again and again and spends almost an entire chapter describing its horrors. In almost all cases we find that a fear of this sort is rooted in a fear of genital injury during childhood. In many cases this fear was so overpowering that the child abandoned his genital sexuality entirely and regressed to earlier stages of libidinal development. In order to maintain these repressions later in life he uses the horrors of syphilis as a justification for his unconscious fear that genital sexuality is dangerous for him, and also as a rationalization for his avoidance of situations in which his earlier desires might be aroused.
In abandoning the genital level of libidinal development the individual becomes impotent as far as heterosexual relations are concerned. It would appear, from the evidence, that some such process took place during Hitler's early childhood. Throughout his early adult life, in Vienna, in the Army, in Munich, in Landesberg, no informant has reported a heterosexual relationship. In fact, the informants of all these periods make a point of the fact that he had absolutely no interest in women or any contact with them. Since he has come to power his peculiar relationship to women has been so noticeable that many writers believe that he is asexual. Some have surmised that he suffered a genital injury during the last war, others that he is homosexual. The former hypothesis, for which there is not a shred of real evidence, is almost certainly false. The second hypothesis we will examine later on.
The diffusion of the sexual instinct.
When a regression of this kind take [sic] place the sexual instinct usually becomes diffuse and many organs which have yielded some sexual stimulation in the past become permanently invested with sexual significance. The eyes, for example, may become a substitute sexual organ and seeing then takes on a sexual significance. This seems to have happened in Hitler's case for a number of informants have commented on his delight in witnessing strip-tease and nude dancing numbers on the stage. On such occasions he can never see enough to satisfy him even though he uses opera glasses in order to observe more closely. Strip-tease artists are frequently invited to the Brown House, in Munich, to perform in private and there is evidence that he often invites girls to Berchtesgaden for the purpose of exhibiting their bodies. On his walls are numerous pictures of obscene nudes which conceal nothing and he takes particular delight in looking through a collection of pornographic pictures which Hoffmann has made for him. We also know the extreme pleasure he derives from huge pageants, circus performances, opera, and particularly the movies of which he can never get enough. He has told informants that he gave up flying not only because of the danger involved but because he could not see enough of the country. For this reason, automobile travel is his favorite form of transportation. From all of this it is evident that seeing has a special sexual significance for him. This probably accounts for his "hypnotic glance" which has been the subject of comment by so many writers. Some have reported that at their first meeting Hitler fixated them with his eyes as if "to bore through them." It is also interesting that when the other person meets his stare, Hitler turns his eyes to the ceiling and keeps them there during the interview. Then, too, we must not forget that in the moment of crisis his hysterical attack manifested itself in blindness.
In addition to the eyes, the anal region has also become highly sexualised and both faeces and buttocks become sexual objects. Due to early toilet training, certain inhibitions have been set up which prevent their direct expression. However, we find so many instances of imagery of this kind, particularly in connection with sexual topics, that we must assume that this area has unusual sexual significance. The nature of this significance we will consider in a moment.
The mouth, too, seems to have become invested as an erogenous zone of great importance. Few authors or informants have neglected to mention Hitler's peculiar dietary habits. He consumes tremendous quantities of sweets, candies, cakes, whipped cream, etc., in the course of a day in addition to his vegetable diet. On the other hand, he refuses to eat meat, drink beer or smoke, all of which suggest certain unconscious inhibitions in this area. In addition, he has a pathological fear of poisoning by mouth, and has shown an obsessional preoccupation at times with mouth washing. These suggest a reaction formation or defense against an unacceptable tendency to take something into his mouth or get something out which from one point of view appears to be disgusting. In this connection we must not forget his resolve to starve himself to death after the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch, his hysterical mutism at the end of the last war, and his love of speaking. The significance of these we shall consider later on.
Disturbance of love relations.
The second effect of his mother's pregnancy was his estrangement from her. The direct result of this was, on the one hand, an idealization of love but without a sexual component and, on the other hand, the setting up of a barrier against intimate relationships with other people, particularly women. Having been hurt once, he unconsciously guards himself against a similar hurt in the future. In his relationship to his niece, Geli, he tried to overcome this barrier but he was again disappointed and since then has not exposed himself to a really intimate relationship either with man or woman. He has cut himself off from the world in which love plays any part for fear of being hurt and what love he can experience is fixated on the abstract entity - Germany, which, as we have seen, is a symbol of his ideal mother. This is a love relationship in which sex plays no direct part.
Origin of his perversion.
The third outcome of his mother's pregnancy was to arouse an excessive curiosity. The great mystery to children of this age, who find themselves in this situation, is how the unborn child got into the mother's stomach and how it is going to get out. Even in cases where the children have witnessed parental intercourse, this event is rarely linked with the ensuing pregnancy. Since, in their limited experience, everything that gets into their stomach enters by way of the mouth and everything that comes out usually does so by way of the rectum, they are prone to believe that conception somehow takes place through the mouth and that the child will be born via the anus. Hitler, as a child, undoubtedly adhered to this belief but this did not satisfy his curiosity. He evidently wanted to see for himself how it came out and exactly what happened.
This curiosity laid the foundation for his strange perversion which brought all three of his sexualized zones into play. In her description of sexual experiences with Hitler, Geli stressed the fact that it was of the utmost importance to him that she squat over him in such a way that he could see everything. It is interesting, that Roehm, in an entirely different connection, once said:
Hitler, who was present, did not stir a muscle but only stared at Roehm with compressed lips.
From a consideration of all the evidence it would seem that Hitler's perversion is as Geli has described it. The great danger in gratifying it, however, is that the individual might get faeces or urine into his mouth. It is this danger that must be guarded against.
Return to the womb.
Another possibility in infantile thinking presents itself in this connection. When the home environment is harsh and brutal, as it was in Hitler's case, the small child very frequently envies the position of passivity and security the unborn child enjoys within the mother. This, in turn, gives rise to fantasies of finding a way in to the longed for claustrum and ousting his rival in order that he may take his place. These fantasies are usually of very brief duration because, as the child believes, he would have nothing to eat or drink except faeces and urine. The thoughht of such a diet arouses feelings of disgust and consequently he abandons his fantasies in order to avoid these unpleasant feelings. In many psychotics, however, these fantasies continue and strive to express themselves overtly. The outstanding bit of evidence in Hitler's case that such fantasies were present is to be found in the Kehlstein or Eagle's Nest which he has built for himself near Berchtesgaden. Interestingly enough, many people have, commented that only a madman would conceive of such a place, let alone try to build it.
From a symbolic point of view one can easily imagine that this is a materialization of a child's conception of the return to the womb. First there is a long hard road, then a heavily guarded entrance, a trip through a long tunnel to an extremely inaccessible place. Then one can be alone, safe and undisturbed, and revel in the joys that Mother Nature bestows. It is also interesting to note that very few people have ever been invited there and many of Hitier's closest associates are either unaware of its existence or have only seen it from a distance. Extraordinarily enough, Francois-Poncet is one of the few people who was ever invited to visit there. In the French Yellow Book, he gives us an extremely vivid description of the place, a part of which may be worthwhile quoting:
If one were asked to plan something which represented a return to the womb, one could not possibly surpass the Kehlstein. It is also significant that Hitler often retires to this strange place to await instructions concerning the course he is to pursue.
We can surmise from the psychological defenses Hitler has set up, that there was a period during which he struggled against these tendencies. In terms of unconscious symbolism meat is almost synonomous with faeces and beer with urine. The fact that there is a strict taboo on both would indicate that these desires are still present and that it is only by refraining from everything symbolizing them that he can avoid arousing anxieties. Rauschning reports that Hitler, following Wagner, attributed much of the decay of cur civilization to meat eating. That the decadence "had its origin in the abdomen -- chronic constipation, poisoning of the juices, and the results of drinking to excess." This assertion suggests decay (contamination, corruption, pollution, and death) as the resultant of constipation, that is, feaces in the gastro-intestinal tract, and if this is so, decay might be avoided both by not eating anything resembling feaces and by taking purges or ejecting as frequently as possible. It has been reported that Hitler once said that he was confident that all nations would arrive at the point where they would not feed any more on dead animals. It is interesting to note that according to one of our most reliable informants Hitler only became a real vegetarian after the death of his niece, Geli. In clinical practice, one almost invariably finds compulsive vegetarianism setting in after the death of a loved object.
We may, therefore, regard Hitler's perversion as a compromise between psychotic tendencies to eat faeces and drink urine on the one hand, and to live a normal socially adjusted life on the other. The compromise is not, however, satisfactory to either side of his nature and the struggle between these two diverse tendencies continues to rage unconsciously. We must not suppose that Hitler gratifies his strange perversion frequently. Patients of this type rarely do and in Hitler's case it is highly probable that he has permitted himself to go this far only with his niece, Geli. The practice of this perversion represents the lowest depths of degradation.
In most patients suffering from this perversion the unconscious forces only get out of control to this degree when a fairly strong love relationship is established and sexuality makes decisive demands. In other cases where the love component is less strong the individual contents himself with less degrading activities. This is brought out cleariy in the case of Rene Mueller who confided to her director, Zeissler (921), who had asked her what was troubling her after spending an evening at the Chancelllory, "that the evening before she had been with Hitler and that she had been sure that he was going to have intercourse with her; that they had both undressed and were apparently getting ready for bed when Hitler fell on the floor and begged her to kick him. She demurred but he pleaded with her and condemned himself as unworthy, heaped all kinds of accusations on his own head and just grovelled around in an agonizing manner. The scene became intolerable to her and she finally acceded to his wishes and kicked him. This excited him greatly and he begged for more and more, always saying that it was even better than he deserved and that he was not worthy to be in the same room with her. As she continued to kick him he became more and more excited...." Rene Mueller committed suicide shortly after this experience. At this place it night be well to note that Eva Braun, his present female companion, has twice attempted suicide, Geli was either murdered or committed suicide and Unity Mitford has attempted suicide. Rather an unusual record for a man who has had so few affairs with women.
Hanfstaengl, Strasser, and Rauschning, as well as several other informants, have reported that even in company when Hitler is smitted with a girl, he tends to grovel at her feet in a most disgusting manner. Here, too, he insists on telling the girl that he is unworthy to kiss her hand or to sit near her and that he hopes she will be kind to him, etc. From all this we see the constant struggle against complete degradation whenever any affectionate components enter into the picture. It now becomes clear that the only way in which Hitler can control these copraphagic tendencies or their milder manifestations is to isolate himself from any intimate relationships in which warm feelings of affection or love might assert themselves. As soon as such feelings are aroused, he feels compelled to degrade himself in the eyes of the loved object and eat their dirt figuratively, if not literally. These tendencies disgust him just as much as they disgust us, but under these circumstances they get out of control and he despises himself and condemns himself for his weakness. Before considering futher the effects of this struggle on his manifest behavior, we must pause for a moment to pick up another thread.
We notice that in all of these activities Hitler plays the passive role. His behavior is masochistic in the extreme inasmuch as he derives sexual pleasure from punishment inflicted on his own body. There is every reason to suppose that during his early years, instead of identifying himself with his father as most boys do, he identified himself with his mother. This was perhaps easier for him than for most boys since, as we have seen, there is a large feminine component in his physical makeup. His mother, too, must have been an extremely masochistic individual or she never would have entered into this marriage nor would she have endured the brutal treatment from her husband. An emotional identification with his mother would, therefore, carry him in the direction of a passive, sentimental, abasive and submissive form of adjustment. Many writers and informants have commented on his feminine characteristics - his gait, his hands, his mannerisms and ways of thinking. Hanfstaengl reports that when he showed Dr. Jung a specimen of Hitler's handwriting, the latter immediately exclaimed that it was a typically feminine hand. His choice of art as a profession might also be interpreted as a manifestation of a basic feminine identification.
There are definite indications of such an emotional adjustment later in life. The outstanding of these is perhaps his behavior towards his officers during the last war. His comrades report that during the four years he was in service he was not only over-submissive to all his officers but frequently volunteered to do their washing and take care of their clothes. This would certainly indicate a strong tendency to assume the feminine role in the presence of a masculine figure whenever this was feasible and could be duly rationalized. His extreme sentimentality, his emotionality, his occasional softness and his weeping, even after he became Chancellor, may be regarded as manifestations of a fundamental feminine pattern which undoubtedly had its origins in his relationship to his mother. His persistent fear of cancer, which was the illness from which his mother died, may also be considered as an expression of his early identification with her.
Although we cannot enter into a discussion concerning the frequency of this phenomenon in Germany, it may be well to note that there is sociological evidence which would indicate that it is probably extremely common. If further research on the subject should corroborate this evidence, it might prove of extreme value to our psychological warfare program insofar as it would give us a key to the understanding of the basic nature of the German male character, and the role that the Nazi organization plays in their inner life.
The great difficulty is that this form of identification early in life carries the individual in the direction of passive homosexuality. Hitler has for years been suspected of being a homosexual, although there is no reliable evidence that he has actually engaged in a relationship of this kind. Rauschning reports that he has met two boys who claimed that they were Hitler's homosexual partners, but their testimony can scarcely be taken at its face value. More condemning would be the remarks dropped by Foerster, the Danzig Gauleiter, in conversations with Rauschning. Even here, however, the remarks deal only with Hitler's impotence as far as heterosexual relations go without actually implying that he indulges in homosexuality. It is probably true that Hitler calls Foerster "Bubi", which is a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners. This alone, however, is not adequate proof that he has actually indulged in homosexual practices with Foerster, who is known to be a homosexual.
The belief that Hitler is homosexual has probably developed (a) from the fact that he does show so many feminine characteristics, and (b) from the fact that there were so many homosexuals in the Party during the early days and many continue to occupy important positions. It does seem that Hitler feels much more at ease with homosexuals than with normal persons, but this may be due to the fact that they are all fundamentally social outcasts and consequently have a community of interests which tends to make them think and feel more or less alike. In this connection it is interesting to note that homosexuals, too, frequently regard themselves as a special form of creation or as chosen ones whose destiny it is to initiate a new order.
The fact that underneath they feel themselves to be different and ostracized from normal social contacts usually makes them easy converts to a new social philosophy which does not discriminate against them. Being among civilization's discontents, they are always willing to take a chance of something new which holds any promise of improving their lot, even though their chances of success may be small and the risk great. Having little to lose to begin with, they can afford to take chances which others would refrain from taking. The early Nazi party certainly contained many members who could be regarded in this light. Even today Hitler derives pleasure from looking at men's bodies and associating with homosexuals. Strasser tells us that his personal body guard is almost always 100% homosexuals.
He also derives considerable pleasure from being with his Hitler Youth and his attitude towards them frequently tends to be more that of a woman than that of a man.
There is a possibility that Hitler has participated in a homosexual relationship at some time in his life. The evidence is such that we can only say there is a strong tendency in this direction which, in addition to the manifestations already enumerated, often finds expression in imagery concerning being attacked from behind or being stabbed in the back. His nightmares, which frequently deal with being attacked by a man and being suffocated, also suggest strong homosexual tendencies and a fear of them. From these indications, however, we would conclude that for the most part these tendencies have been repressed, which would speak against the probability of their being expressed in overt form. On the other hand, persons suffering from his perversion sometimes do indulge in homosexual practices in the hope that they might find sexual gratification. Even this perversion would be more acceptable to them than the one with which they are afflicted.
Early school years.
The foundations of all the diverse patterns we have been considering were laid during the first years of Hitler's life. Many of them, as we have seen, were due primarily to the peculiar structure of the home, while others developed from constitutional factors or false interpretations of events.
Whatever their origins may have been, they did set up anti-social tendencies and tensions which disturbed the child to a high degree. From his earliest days it would seem he must have felt that the world was a pretty had place in which to live. To him it must have seemed as though the world was filled with insurmountable hazards and obstacles which prevented him from obtaining adequate gratifications, and dangers which would menace his well-being if he attempted to obtain them in a direct manner. The result was that an unusual amount of bitterness against the world and the people in it became generated for which he could find no suitable outlets. As a young child he must have been filled with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and guilt which made him anything but a happy child.
It would seem, however, that he managed to repress most of his troublesome tendencies and make a temporary adjustment to a difficult environment before he was six years old, because at that time he entered school and for the next years he was an unusually good student. All of the report cards that have been found from the time he entered school until he was eleven years old, show an almost unbroken line of "A's" in all his school subjects. At the age of eleven the bottom dropped right out of his academic career. From an "A" student he suddenly dropped to a point where he failed in almost all his subjects and had to repeat the year. This amazing about-face only becomes intelligible when we realize that his baby brother died at that time. We can only surmise that this event served to reawaken his earlier conflicts and disrupt his psychological equilibrium.
In Hitler's case we may suppose that this event affected him in at least two important ways. First, it must have reawakened fears of his own death which, in turn, strengthened still further the conviction that he was the "chosen one" and under divine protection. Second, it would seem that he connected the death of his brother with his own thinking and wishing on the subject. Unquestionably, he hated this intruder and frequently thought of how nice it would be if he were removed from the scene. Unconsciously, if not consciously, he must have felt that the brother's death was the result of his own thinking on the subject. This accentuated his feelings of guilt on the one hand, while it strengthened still further his belief in special powers of Divine origin on the other. To think about these things was almost synonomous with having them come true. In order to avoid further guilt feelings he had to put a curb on his thinking processes. The result of this inhibition on thinking was that Hitler the good student was transformed into Hitler the poor student. Not only did he have to repeat the school year during which the brother died, but ever after his academic performance was mediocre, to say the least. When we examine his later report cards we find that he does well only in such subjects as drawing and gymnastics, which require no thinking. In all the other subjects such as mathematics, languages or history, which require some thinking, his work is on the borderline - sometimes satisfactory and sometimes unsatisfactory.
We can easily imagine that it was during this period that the father's ire was aroused and he began to bring pressure on the boy to apply himself in his school work and threatened dire consequences if he failed to do so. From sociological evidence it would seem that this is about the age at which most German fathers first take a real interest in their sons and their education. If Hitler's father followed this general pattern, we can assume that he had cause to be irate at his son's performance. The constant struggle between himself and his father, which he describes in MEIN KAMPF, is probably true although the motivations underlying his actions were in all likelihood quite different from those he describes. He was approaching the adolescent period and this, together with his little brother's death, served to bring many dormant attitudes nearer the surface of consciousness.
Many of these attitudes now found expression in the father-son relationship. Briefly enumerated these would be (a) rejection of the father as a model; (b) an inhibition against following a career which demanded thinking; (c) the anal tendencies which found an outlet of expression in smearing; (d) his passive, feminine tendencies, and (e) his masochistic tendencies and his desire to be dominated by a strong masculine figure. He was not, however, ready for an open revolt for he tells us in his autobiography that he believed passive resistance and obstinacy were the best course and that if he followed them long enough, his father would eventually relent and allow him to leave school and follow an artist's career. As a matter of fact, his brother Alois, in 193O, before the Hitler myth was well established, reported, that his father never had any objection to Adolph's becoming an artist but that he did demand that Adolph do well in school. From this we might surmise that the friction between father and son was not determined so much by his choice of a career as by unconscious tendencies which were deriving satisfaction from the antagonism.
Later school career.
He carried the same pattern into the schools where he was forever antagonizing his teachers and the other boys. He has tried to create the impression that he was a leader among his classmates, which is most certainly false. More reliable evidence indicates that he was unpopular among his classmates as well as among his teachers who considered him lazy, uncooperative and a trouble-maker. The only teacher during these years with whom he was able to get along was Ludwig Poetsch, an ardent German Nationalist. It would he an error, however, to suppose that Poetsch inculcated these nationalist feelings in Hitler. It is much more logical to assume that all these feelings were present in Hitler before he came in contact with Poetsch and that his nationalist teachings only offered Hitler a new outlet for the expression of his repressed emotions. It was probably during this period that he discovered a resemblance between the young state of Germany and his mother, and between the old Austrian monarchy and his father. At this discovery he promptly joined the Nationalist group of students who were defying the authority of the Austrian state. In this way he was able to proclaim openly his love for his mother and advocate the death of his father. These were feelings he had had for a long time but was unable to express. Now he was able to obtain partial gratification through the use of symbols.
The death of his father.
This probably served to increase the friction between father and son, for in spite of what Hitler says the best evidence seems to indicate that the father was anti-German in his sentiments. This again placed father and son on opposite sides of the fence and gave them new cause for hostility. There is no telling how this would have worked out in the long run because while the struggle between the two was at its height, the father fell dead on the street. The repercussions of this event must have been severe and reinforced all those feelings which we have described in connection with the brother's death. Again, it must have seemed like a fulfillment of a wish and again there must have been severe feelings of guilt, with an additional inhibition on thinking processes.
His school work continued to decline and it seems that in order to avoid another complete failure, he was taken from the school at Linz and sent to school in Steyr. He managed to complete the year, however, with marks which were barely satisfactory. It was while he was there that the doctor told him that he had a disease from which he would never recover. His reaction to this was severe since it brought the possibility of his own death very much into the foreground and aggravated all his childhood fears. The result was that he did not return to school and finish his course, but stayed at home where he lived a life which was marked by passivity. He neither studied nor worked but spent most of his time in bed where he was again spoiled by his mother who catered to his every need despite her poor financial circumstances.
One could suppose that this was the materialization of his conception of Paradise inasmuch as it reinstated an earlier childhood situation which he had always longed for. It would seem from his own account, however, that things did not go too smoothly, for he writes in MEIN KAMPF:
We can imagine the deaths of his brother and his father in rapid succession had filled him with such guilt that he could not enjoy this idyllic situation to the full. Perhaps the situation aroused desires in him which he could no longer face on a conscious level and he could only keep these in check by either remaining in bed and playing the part of a helpless child or absenting himself from the situation entirely. In any case, he must have been a considerable problem to his mother who died four years after his father. Dr. Bloch informs us that her great concern in dying was: "What would become of poor Adolph, he is still so young." At this time Adolph was eighteen years of age. He had failed at school and had not gone to work. He describes himself at this time as a milk-sop, which he undoubtedly was.
Admission examinations to Academy of Art.
Two months before his mother's death he had gone to Vienna to take the entrance examinations for admission to the Academy of Art. At this time he knew that his mother was in a critical condition and that it was only a matter of a few months before death would overtake her. He knew, therefore, that this easy existence at home would shortly come to an end and that he would then have to face the cold, hard world on his own. It is sometimes extraordinary how events in the lifetime of an individual fall together. The first day's assignment on the examination was to draw a picture depicting "The Expulsion from Paradise". It must have seemed to him that Fate had chosen this topic to fit his personal situation. On the second day he must have felt that Fate was rubbing it in when he found the assignment to be a picture depicting "An Episode of the Great Flood". These particular topics in his situation met have aroused such intense emotional reactions within him that he could hardly be expected to do his best. Art critics seem to feel that he has some artistic talent even though it is not outstanding. The comment of the examiners was: "Too few heads." We can understand this in view of the circumstances under which he had taken the examination.
Death of his mother.
He returned home shortly after the examinations. He helped to look after his mother who was rapidly failing and in extreme pain. She died on December 21, 1907 and was buried on Christmas Eve. Adolph was completely broken and stood for a long time at her grave after the remainder of the family had left. Dr. Bloch says: "In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolph Hitler." His world had come to an end. Not long after the funeral he left for Vienna in order to follow in his father's footsteps and make his own way in the world. He made a poor job of it, however. He could not hold a job when he had one, and sunk lower and lower in the social scale until he was compelled to live with the dregs of society.
As he writes about these experiences in MEIN KAMPF one gets the impression that it was a terrific struggle against overwhelming odds. From what we now know of Adolph Hitler it would seem more likely that this existance yielded him considerable gratification in spite of its hardships. It is perfectly clear from what Hanisch writes that with a very small amount of effort he could have made a fair living and improved his condition by painting water-colors. He refused to make this effort and preferred to live in the filth and poverty which surrounded him. There must have been something in this that he liked, consciously or unconsciously.
When we examine Hanisch's book carefully, we find the answer. Hitler's life in Vienna was one of extreme passivity in which activity was held at the lowest level consistent with survival. He seemed to enjoy being dirty and even filthy in his appearance and personal cleanliness. This can mean only one thing, from a psychological point of view, namely that his perversion was in the process of maturation and was finding gratification in a more or less symbolic form. His attitude during this period could be summed up in the following terms: "I enjoy nothing more than to lie around while the world defacates on me." And he probably delighted in being covered with dirt, which was tangible proof of the fact. Even in these days he lived in a flophouse which was known to be inhabited by men who lent themselves to homosexual practices, and it was probably for this reason that he was listed on the Vienna police record as a "sexual pervert."
Nobody has ever offered an explanation of why he remained in Vienna for over five years if his life there was as distasteful and the city disgusted him to the degree that he claims in his autobiography. He was free to leave whenever he wished and could have gone to his beloved Germany years earlier if he had so desired. The fact of the matter is that he probably derived great masochistic satisfaction from his miserable life in Vienna, and it was not until his perversion became full-blown and he realized its implications that he fled to Munich at the beginning of 1913.
With the development of his perverse tendencies we also find the development of his anti-Semitism. There is absolutely no evidence that he had any anti-Semitic feeling before he left Linz or that he had any during the first years of his stay in Vienna. On the contrary, he was on the very best terms with Dr. Bloch while he was in Linz and sent him postcards with very warm sentiments for slome time after he went to Vienna. Furthermore, his closest friends in Vienna were Jews, some of whom were extremely kind to him. Then, too, we must remember that his godfather, who lived in Vienna, was a Jew and it is possible that during his first year there he might have lived with this family. Most of the records of his mother's death are incorrect and place the event exactly one year after it had happened. During this year Hitler lived in Vienna but we have no clue as to what he did or how he managed to live without money during this intervening year.
All we know is that he had time for painting during this period for he submitted the work he had done to the Academy of Art the following October. He was not admitted to the examination, however, because the examiners found the work of this period unsatisfactory. Shortly afterwards, he applied for admission to the School of Architecture but was rejected. The cause of his rejection was probably inadequate talent rather than the fact that he had not completed his course in the Realschule. It is only after this happened that we find him going to work as a laborer on a construction job, and from then on we have a fairly complete picture of his activities.
We know that he had very little money when he left Linz, certainly not enough to live on for almost an entire year while he spent his time in painting. Since the date of his mother's death has been so universally distorted, it would seem that efforts were being made to cover something which happened during this intervening year. My guess would be that he lived with his Jewish godparents who supported him while he was preparing work for the Academy. When he failed to be admitted at the end of a year, they put him out and made him go to work. There is one bit of evidence for this hypothesis. Hanisch, in his book, mentions in passing that when they were particularly destitute he went with Hitler to visit a well-to-do Jew whom Hitler said was his father. The wealthy Jew would have nothing to do with him and sent him on his way again. There is scarcely a possibility that Hitler's father was a Jew, but Hanisch might easily have understood him to say father when he said godfather. This would certainly make much more sense and would indicate that Hitler had contact with his godparents before the visit and that they were fed up with him and would help him no further.
Hitler's outstanding defense mechanism is one commonly called PROJECTION. It is a technique by which the ego of an individual defends itself against unpleasant impulses, tendencies or characteristics by denying their existence in himself while he attributes them to others. Innumerable examples of this mechanism could be cited in Hitler's case, but a few will suffice for purposes of illustration:
From a psychological point of view it is not too far-fetched to suppose that as the perversion developed and became more disgusting to Hitler's ego, its demands were disowned and projected upon the Jew. By this process the Jew became a symbol of everything which HitIer hated in himself. Again, his own personal problems and conflicts were transferred from within himself to the external world where they assumed the proportions of racial and national conflicts.
Forgetting entirely that for years he not only looked like a lower class Jew but was as dirty as the dirtiest and as great a social outcast, he now began to see the Jew as a source of all evil. The teachings of Schoenerer and Lueger helped to solidify and rationalize his feelings and inner convictions. More and more he became convinced that the Jew was a great parasite on humanity which sucked its life-blood and if a nation was to become great it must rid itself of this pestilence. Translated back into personal terms this would read: "My perversion is a parasite which sucks my life-blood and if I am to become great I must rid myself of this pestilence." When we see the connection between his sexual perversion and anti-Semitism, we can understand another aspect of his constant linking of syphilis with the Jew. These are the things which destroy nations and civilizations as a perversion destroys an individual.
Source: The Nizkor Project