On 18 September 1931, a 23-year-old woman was found dead in a sumptuous nine-room Munich apartment, a single shot wound into her heart. Her name was Geli Raubal, the apartment was rented to Adolf Hitler, and the young woman happened to be Hitler’s niece. Cause of death – suicide. Naturally.
Geli Raubal was the daughter of Hitler’s half sister, Angela. Angela and Adolf grew up together; both products of the same father, Alois Hitler, and his second and third wives respectively.
In 1928, Hitler offered his sister the position of housekeeper in his Bavarian mountain retreat. Angela arrived with her two daughters, Elfriede and nineteen-year-old Angela, known as Geli. Hitler immediately took a shine to the carefree Geli and, in order to remove her from her mother’s watchful eye, installed her into his Munich apartment. Nineteen years Hitler’s junior, she was, according to one of Hitler’s aides, ‘of medium size, well developed, had dark, rather wavy hair, and lively brown eyes… it was simply astonishing to see a young girl at Hitler’s side.’
Geli, who called Hitler ‘Uncle Alf’, had been born in Linz; the town Hitler always considered his hometown, on 4 June 1908.
Hitler liked to be seen with his attractive niece, taking her to meetings, and to restaurants and theatres, but their relationship was a stormy one. Both were consumed by jealousy – Geli of Hitler’s relationship with a seventeen-year-old Eva Braun, a model for Hitler’s photographer, Heinrich Hoffman; and Hitler by Geli’s flirtatious conduct and numerous admirers. Indeed, Hitler once told Hoffman, ‘I love Geli and could marry her.’
Instead, Hitler controlled her life and dictated whom she was allowed to see and when. Geli found her uncle’s overbearing influence suffocating. He refused Geli permission to move to Vienna to study music (Vienna was where, as a young man, Hitler twice unsuccessfully applied to the art academy).
Dated 16 September 1919, the ‘Gemlich letter’ is the first known written statement of Hitler’s anti-Semitism.
Following the end of the First World War, Hitler, based in Munich, remained in the army and was being groomed as a political instructor, to ensure that returning soldiers had not been overly influenced by the communists.
In August 1919, encouraged by his mentor, Captain Karl Mayr, the thirty-year-old Adolf Hitler went on a training course and there discovered his talent for speaking. His speeches were so well attended he became a star turn. When Captain Mayr was asked, by letter, by a fellow trainee, Adolf Gemlich, to clarify the position on the ‘Jewish question’, Mayr passed it on to Hitler for a response.
In his letter to Gemlich, Hitler writes that the ‘ultimate objective must … be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general,’ for which a ‘government of national strength … is necessary.’ He states, as ‘fact’, that ‘Jewry is absolutely a race and not a religious association.’
(Captain Mayr was later to renounce Hitler and died in Buchenwald concentration camp in February 1945).
The original letter is now stored at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Click for the full text of the Gemlich letter.
More than thirty years have now passed since I in 1914 made my modest contribution as a volunteer in the First World War that was forced upon the Reich.
In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life. They gave me the strength to make the most difficult decisions, which have ever confronted mortal man. I have spent my time, my working strength, and my health in these three decades.
It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted the war in 1939. It was desired and instigated exclusively by those international statesmen who were either of Jewish descent or worked for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers for the control and limitation of armaments, which posterity will not for all time be able to disregard for the responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be laid on me. I have further never wished that after the first fatal world war a second against England, or even against America, should break out. Centuries will pass away, but out of the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred against those finally responsible whom we have to thank for everything, international Jewry and its helpers, will grow.
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).