Hitler’s book of accounts up for auction
Hitler’s personal account book is to be sold at auction in Connecticut. This 175-page handwritten ledger covers his expenses for the period 1 April 1944 to 16 April 1945, 14 days before his suicide in his Berlin bunker.
The journal, which the auction house, Alexander Autographs, claims has never been seen before, contains hundreds of entries, written in Hitler’s hand, detailing a whole range of expenses and cash payouts. Neatly organized, each page includes the date, a description, and the amount spent. Each expense is categorised and include ‘Theatre and Music, Education Facilities, Health, Paintings & Art, Buildings, Emergency Contributions, Donations, and Miscellaneous’, the latter being the most commonly used.
One of the prime beneficiaries of Hitler’s disbursements was his personal physician, Theodor Morell, reimbursed for items often listed as being ‘for the treatment of the Fuhrer’. Hitler became increasingly reliant on ‘my dear doctor’, who fed him a morning dose of stimulants to the point of dependency, injections and several sleeping pills at night. Morell was dismissed by Hitler on 22 April 1945, was captured by the Americans, interned but never charged with any crimes. In poor health, he died of a stroke in May 1948.
Hitler was always mindful of the widows of Nazi martyrs. One of his secretaries, Hedwig Gustloff, was one such recipient. Her husband, Wilhelm Gustloff, assassinated in 1936, was the leader of the Swiss Nazi party. Another was the widow of Julius Schreck. Schreck, an early convert of Nazism and long-term friend of Hitler’s, was a founding member of Hitler’s stormtroopers, the SA. Absurdly, he sported the same styled moustache as Hitler. A participant in the failed Munich Putsch of 1923, Schreck was incarcerated alongside his boss and Rudolf Hess in Landsberg Prison. He died in 1936 of meningitis and eight years later, Hitler was still compensating his widow handsomely.
Indeed, a surprising recipient was Ilse Hess, wife of Rudolf Hess. Hess had made a solo flight to Scotland in May 1941 on a hare-brained attempt to negotiate peace with the British. Hitler, on hearing of Hess’ treachery, stripped his old comrade of all positions and responsibility, and ordered him shot should he ever step foot back in Germany. To the German public, the Nazi party explained away Hess’ defection as being a result of his ‘mental illness’. Nonetheless, despite her husband’s perfidy, Ilse received her payout.
On 29 September 1944, Helene Schwaerzel was the beneficiary of a huge sum – one million marks. The reason for Hitler’s generosity was that she informed on the fugitive, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler. Goerdeler, a former mayor of Leipzig, had been one of the architects of the failed July Bomb attempt on Hitler’s life. (Had the plot succeeded, Goerdeler had named himself the future chancellor). Instead, the plot failed and Goerdeler went on the run, ending up in his parents’ hometown of Marienwerder in northern Poland. There he was recognized by Schwaerzel, an innkeeper who had known him 20 years previously, and reported. He was executed in February 1945.
The ledger shows Hitler to be a generous in handing out birthday presents. To Wilhelm Keitel, a trusted field marshal, 764,000 marks; and to Fritz Sauckel, Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment, 250,000 marks; and 200,000 marks to his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop (as well as enjoying rich birthdays, the three men had something else in common – they were all executed on the same day – 16 October 1946, hanged for war crimes).
The final entry, dated 16 April 1945, is for 1,200 marks to be given to Fraulein Fraass. But who Ms Fraass was, apart from being a Nazi party member, we do not know.
14 days later, at about 4 pm on 30 April, Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife of forty hours, shook hands with their entourage and retired to his study. A shot was heard. Hitler had shot himself through the right temple. Braun was also dead. She had swallowed cyanide.
The journal, which goes on auction on today, is expected to sell for $5,000 to $7,000 (£3,200 to £4,500).
Rupert Colley’s novella, My Brother the Enemy, set during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, is now available.