The date is 8 November 1939, the location – the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall in Munich. With their uniforms freshly-pressed, their buttons gleaming, their shoes polished, Hitler’s longest-standing comrades filed into the hall, their chests puffed-up with pride, their wives at their sides. This event, on this day, had become an annual occasion in the Nazi calendar, a ritual of celebration and remembrance. The climax of the evening, awaited with great anticipation, would be Hitler’s appearance and his speech in which he would praise and pour tribute on these self-satisfied men, his old-timers.
But there was one man who awaited Hitler’s appearance with equal anticipation – but for entirely different reasons. This man was 36-year-old Johann Georg Elser, a carpenter. For Elser, a long-time anti-Nazi, had planted a bomb with the full intention of killing Adolf Hitler. And his bomb was due to explode half way through the Fuhrer’s speech.
Georg Elser had always been quietly defiant in his hatred of the Nazi regime – he’d supported the communists and, once Hitler was in power, refused to give the Nazi salute. He feared Hitler’s aggressive warmongering and foresaw the coming of war and resolved himself, in his own way, to do something to prevent it – and that was to kill Hitler.
Exactly a year earlier before the fateful night, on the 8 November 1938, Elser attended the same annual commemoration in Munich marking the anniversary of Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. And it was this annual event, he decided, that would provide the perfect opportunity to implement his audacious plan. The following night, he witnessed first-hand the vicious Kristallnacht, when Nazis throughout the country terrorized Germany’s Jews in a concentrated orgy of killing and violence. Seeing for himself this state-sponsored anarchy merely confirmed for Elser that what he was doing was right.
Paul von Hindenburg, the last German president before Hitler’s Third Reich took over, was the man who was never allowed to retire. Born 2 October 1847 into an aristocratic Prussian family, he had had a successful if not spectacular career in the army, decorated in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and then, aged 64, retired in 1911.
But with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Hindenburg was recalled to service. With Erich Ludendorff as his deputy, he scored an impressive double victory on the Eastern Front against the Russians at the Battles of Tanneburg and Mausaurian Lakes (August and September 1914). But a total victory against the Russians was not forthcoming which Hindenburg blamed entirely on his counterpart on the Western Front and the German Army’s Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, and his excessive need for troops.
Chief of Staff
In August 1916, Hindenburg replaced Falkenhayn as Chief of Staff. Ludendorff, in theory, remained his deputy but in practice became more of a partner – all orders were issued under their joint names. With the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, increasingly sidelined during the war, the duo ran a virtual military regime. Hindenburg implemented Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, allowing his subs to attack civilian as well as military targets; dictated the harsh terms of the Treaty of Brest Litoski, in which Russia, having rid itself of its Tsar, Nicholas II, accepted defeat in the war under instruction from its new leader, Vladimir Lenin; and helped Ludendorff launch Germany’s last throw of the dice against the Allies, the Spring Offensive of 1918.
A fine-looking silver teapot is expected to fetch up to $1,500 (£920) at a US auction this week. Add another $300 (£185), and you could bid for a silver dessert fork. The appeal, albeit a warped one, is that they once belonged to Adolf Hitler.
Hitler, whose diet was often poor, especially in his latter years, was an avid tea drinker and consumer of cake. The teapot, seven inches tall, is embossed with the Nazi eagle and swastika combined with his initials, while the delicate three-pronged fork with its beaded edge also bears his ‘AH’.
These macabre items are to be sold by auctioneers Alexander Historical Auctions based in the Connecticut town of Stamford.
Also on sale are a serving bowl with lid, a serving platter and a soup bowl, which, between them, could fetch up to $2,000 (£1,230). All three pieces of dinnerware are adorned with a gold-embossed Nazi eagle and are rare pieces of Allach porcelain.
August Kubizek provides the only substantial witness account of Adolf Hitler’s early years in Linz and Vienna between 1907 and 1912. Born within nine months of each other they met in their hometown of Linz where a shared love of art and music, especially the operas of Richard Wagner, brought them together. They became firm friends to the point Hitler became resentful if Kubizek paid too much attention to anyone else. While Hitler dreamt of being a great artist, Kubizek, or ‘Gustl’ to Hitler, dreamt of becoming a famous conductor.
In 1912, Hitler moved to Vienna while August Kubizek remained in Linz to work as an apprentice for his father’s upholstery business which was destined to become his trade. But Hitler somehow managed to persuade Kubizek’s father to allow Gustl to join him in Vienna and be allowed to pursue his musical ambitions.
Thus the two friends were reunited and sharing a room in Vienna. But while Kubizek was successful in his application to the Vienna Music Conservatory, Hitler failed twice to get a place at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. So ashamed of his failure that for a while Hitler managed to keep it hidden from his friend.
Adolf Hitler is considered the 20th century’s most evil man according to a Facebook poll run last month by History in An Hour. Asking, “Who, in your opinion, was the 20th century’s most evil dictator?”, the April 2012 poll attracted over 12,000 responses, with the Nazi leader considered far ahead of the four choices.
Altogether, 12,236 people responded, for which – many thanks.
The choices and results were:
Eva Braun was born 6 February 1912. She first met her future husband, Adolf Hitler, while working as an assistant and model to Hitler’s official photographer, Heinrich Hoffman. It was 1929 and she was 17, Hitler 40.
At the time Hitler had taken upon himself the responsibility of looking after his 21-year-old niece, Geli Raubal. The exact relationship between uncle and niece has never been properly ascertained except that Hitler was overly-possessive and jealous of the company she kept. On 18 September 1931, Raubal committed suicide by shooting herself with Hitler’s pistol.
Hitler’s relationship with Eva Braun began soon after Raubal’s death and possibly before. Raubal’s jealousy of Braun has been mooted as a possible cause of her suicide.
The Invisible Woman
Germany, as a nation, never knew of Braun’s existence as Hitler went to great lengths to keep her hidden from view. He was, as he often remarked, primarily wedded to the German people and wanted to maintain his popularity amongst German women, whose adoration for Hitler sometimes contained a sexual dimension.
Three mountain scene watercolours are up for auction in Shropshire, UK this Thursday, 27 September 2012. As works of arts they are pleasant enough to the eye but, being almost instantly forgettable, don’t linger too long in the memory. Painted almost a century ago in Vienna, they were probably sold to a middle-class family or a local business where, hung on a wall, they were promptly ignored for years to come. But this week, they are expected to fetch about £2,000 each. The price tag reflects not the works’ artistic value but the notoriety of the man who painted them – for they were created by a young Adolf Hitler.
So how did the future dictator start off as an artist?
‘Artist? No, never as long as I live’
Hitler fared poorly at school. One teacher in Hitler’s Austrian hometown of Linz later described the schoolboy as ‘argumentative, autocratic, self-opinionated, and bad-tempered and unable to submit to school discipline.’ Art was the one subject Hitler enjoyed but when, as an 11-year-old, he approached his father and declared his ambition to become an artist, Hitler Snr took it badly. ‘Artist? No, never as long as I live.’ (Pictured – the first of the three watercolours on auction. Please click to enlarge).
Originally published on 18 July 1925, Adolf Hitler’s semi-autobiographical rant, Mein Kampf, sold moderately at first. A second book, a follow-up written in 1928, was never published. However, by the end of 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, Mein Kampf had sold over a million copies. By 1939, at the outbreak of war, it was outselling all other titles in Germany with the exception of the Bible. Honeymooning couples were given a copy of Mein Kampf to savour, and no patriotic German home could be seen without a copy taking pride of place on the bookshelves. Although Hitler later claimed he regretted writing it, Mein Kampf made the German dictator a very rich man.
Now, 87 years on from its first appearance, excerpts from Mein Kampf are set to be published in Germany by a British publisher, Albertus Press. The book has not seen the light of day in Germany since the end of the Second World War but, contrary to popular belief, it is not banned there. Using the Swastika and the Nazi salute for non-educational purposes are forbidden in Germany but not the purchase or reading of the central ideological tenet of Hitler’s thinking. However the state of Bavaria, which seized the copyright to Mein Kampf after the war, has steadfastly refused to re-publish the book fearing it could fuel racial tensions and be exploited by neo-Nazi groups.
‘The unreadable book’
Alois Schicklgruber’s only claim to fame was that he was the father of Adolf Hitler.
Born 7 June 1837, Alois Schicklgruber was the son of a 42-year-old unmarried farmhand by the name of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. The identity of his father remains uncertain: on Alois’ birth certificate the space for the father’s name was left blank and the word illegitimate was scrolled across the certificate.
When he was five-years-old, Alois’ mother married Johann Georg Hiedler. Five years later, following his mother’s death, the 10-year-old Alois went to live with his stepfather’s brother, his uncle, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler.
Aged 13, Alois found employment as an apprentice cobbler before joining the Austrian Customs Service at the age of eighteen, an organization that was to remain his employer for the rest of his working life.
Schicklgruber becomes Hitler
Alois changed his name to Hitler, a variant of his stepfather’s name, Hiedler, in January 1876. Johann Georg Hiedler had died nineteen years earlier but his name was added to the birth certificate as the father of the 39-year-old Alois. Thus Alois Schicklgruber became Alois Hitler.
Alois married three times, the first time in 1873 to Anna Glassl, 14 years his senior. But immediately Alois began having a series of affairs, including with one Franziska ‘Fanni’ Matzelberger, a household servant.
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.