The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
Caesars in Goose Step
by William D. Bayles

[Page 2]

William D. Bayles
Portraits of leaders by former corresp. Life-Time personal observations.

Below normal height (5 feet 5 1/2 inches), awkward in his movements; encumbered with an excess of hands which he always seems at a loss to dispose of when not in uniform, ill at ease when meeting strangers socially or acting his part in polite society, Hitler is a typical example of Austrian Kleinbuergertum, or low-class bourgeoisie. The famous lip-teaser, which has been responsible for the Chaplin style throughout Germany, is not black but a faded brown, and deteriorated gradually from a walrus mustache before the war through a guardsman, following the Armistice to its present abbreviated state. The dank lock is also a dead brown with streaks of gray beginning to appear in it. Together they might be regarded as relics of the dandified age in which Hitler grew up, having their parallels in the plastered- down hair and waxed mustaches of the American prewar epoch. Women have indulged in rhapsodies over his blue eyes and their alleged hypnotic power, and Hitler himself seems to have faith in the effect of his piercing gaze, because it is a common practice of his to place a Balkan diplomat a few feet in front of him on an uncomfortable, straight-backed sofa in the Chancellery and then to transfix him with his eyes while belaboring him in rasping tones with alternate threats and cajolery. As a matter of fact, the power of his eyes is another aspect of the cleverly built up propaganda system, and numerous objective-minded foreigners have failed to notice anything other than faded blue eyes between colorless brows and sallow, puffy cheeks engendered by chronic indigestion and biliousness.

The Fuehrer possesses no aplomb or self-assurance of the type common to persons of good background and training, and his behavior on certain occasions has considerably embarrassed and humiliated his consorts. Particularly noticeable is his inability to cope with unexpected situations, this having been amusingly revealed when he laid the cornerstone of the House of German Arts in Munich. On this occasion he was handed a dainty, rococo hammer for delivering the three traditional strokes to the cornerstone, but, not realizing the fragility of the rococo, be brought the hammer down with such force that at the first stroke it broke into hits. Then, instead of waiting for another hammer, Hitler completely lost his composure, blushed, looked wildly about him in the manner of as small boy caught stealing jam, and almost ran from the scene, leaving the cornerstone unlaid. His enjoyment of the Berlin Olympic Games was completely spoilt when a fanatical Dutch woman who had achieved a personal presentation suddenly clasped him in two hefty arms and tried to kiss him in plain view of 100,000 spectators. Hitler could not regain his composure or stand the irreverent guffaws of foreign visitors, and left the Stadium.

His movements in public are nervous and jerky, many of them having been carefully learned through hours of practice. His nearest confidants have revealed that one of his greatest difficulties is walking singly through rows of enthusiastic adherents or along the front of drawn-up battalions. His gait was formerly uneven and quickened almost to a run as he approached the end, his feet had a tendency to overlap, and his movements were awkward and uncertain. To overcome this, he adopted a slow military march step which he executes with the greatest precision, counting as he walks. Certain persons did not hesitate to declare that the long hall in the Chancellery was built merely so that the Fuehrer could practice marching in it. When waiting for his turn on the speaker's stand, he is invariably nervous and agitated, fingering his cap [Page 3] and gloves, pressing his lock again into place, and crossing and uncrossing his legs. His poses while listening to other speakers are unique to say the least, and it is not uncommon to see him biting his fingernails or slouched down in his seat with his head between his hands. At official dinners he folds and refolds his napkin, fiddles with the table service and plays absentmindedly with his food rather than eating it.

His private life and diet have excited no end of comment and have resulted in a vegetarian cult springing up in Germany. It is no secret that he suffers from almost constant indigestion, which is not improved by the nervous tension and irregular hours characterizing his life. Four years at the front following his period of poverty and hunger in Vienna and Munich left his stomach practically beyond repair, and by force of necessity he became a devotee to vegetarianism, puddings, and nonalcoholic drinks. Two constant attendants are now his Austrian cook and his medical specialist, their task between them being to keep the Hitler mechanism in working order. His avoidance of meat, fish, delicacies and choice wines does not mean, as is commonly believed in Germany, that he lives frugally, and several persons who have attended private dinners at the Chancellery or at his mountain home have remarked that with such meals they would not mind being vegetarians themselves.

One of his favorite dishes is asparagus tips and artichoke hearts with cream sauce, and he is fond of cauliflower prepared in a number of ways. Spinach, spaghetti, and green vegetables form a staple part of diet, and eggs served in all the hundred and one recipes of a Viennese cookbook are an indispensable item. For the ethereal Mehlspeisen, which many a visitor will assert are worth a return trip to Austria, Hitler has the best cook in the Ostmark. His favorite drink is chocolate made in the strong Viennese manner and until recent!y he confined himself to mineral waters from various German springs, but when presented some time ago with a sparkling herb drink which tastes like dealcoholized champagne, he immediately adopted it. At the time of his fiftieth birthday a Munich brewery sent him cases of special beer containing only 1 per cent alcohol, and the reception was so favorable that the Chancellery has now become a regular customer.

His working day when he is in Berlin begins at about nine in the morning and continues until three the next morning with only slight interruptions for meals and strolls in the Chancellery Park. As the day is usually taken up with conferences and audiences, he does not get down to real work until the official life in the capital ceases. Then begin hours of dictating, note-taking, and perusing of reports. Towards eleven o'clock he takes a solitary walk in the Chancellery Park, usually with his hands clasped stiffly behind his head, returns, dismisses the S.S. guards at his study door with a "good night, boys; go to bed." and continues his work through the small hours of the morning. The insomnia with which he has been afflicted for years is attributed by physicians to the state of his stomach. He is a confirmed hypochondriac, believing perhaps with some justification that his digestive trouble is due to cancer, which caused the death of his mother. His great fear is that he will be taken off before his work is complete, and according to reliable reports, he has been engaged for the last several years in composing a sequel to Mein Kampf - an elucidation of his ideas and theories with directions for carrying them out and warnings against pitfalls, which may be encountered. This he intends as the Bible of National Socialism, which he has declared is bound to endure for a thousand years.

His principal form of relaxation is still music and in addition to frequent attendance at the opera he is now finding the radio an increasingly satisfactory source of pleasure.

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When in his mountain home, he spends his evenings either listening to German or Italian concerts or having his favorite films projected by a full-sized apparatus with himself and his house personnel as audience. Three films in a row are not exceptional, and his preference runs to heroic productions such as Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Viva Villa, and Mutiny on the Bounty, all of which he has seen many times over. An Austrian film actor who was once invited to an official reception was speechless with surprise when Hitler came up to him, called him by name, and thanked him profusely for coming, telling him in a typical film-fan manner that he never missed one of his films and greatly admired his dramatic talent. Then, while the actor was endeavoring to recover his presence of mind and stammer his thanks, the Fuehrer proceeded to discuss films with him, revealing a wealth of information and data that far surpassed his own.

Unlike his Italian counterpart, Hitler has not yet found time for women, but during the past two years has given indications of a late awakening of interest. He has hitherto regarded women as vital elements in his political system but as nothing personal that one might enjoy, desire, or love. Once when he spoke to a group of German girls between six and fifteen years of age he began his speech, "Future German Mothers!" You have a mission to perform." Different girls have been mentioned in his life and both Hostess Goebbels and Hostess Goering have endeavored from time to time to bring him into feminine company in the hope that he would react normally. Although his reaction may be regarded as normal it has always been that of a courteous but shy bachelor aware of his desirability but determined not to fall into any net set for him.

He has maintained close friendships with a few girls and has evidently enjoyed their company to the fullest extent, though always in a purely platonic manner. Many people affirm that Hitler would gladly marry the granddaughter of Richard Wagner, twenty-year-old, vivacious Verena Wagner, who is a frequent visitor and vacation guest at his mountain snuggery, were he not opposed in principle to marriages between persons of such unequal ages. She has the reputation of being his most outspoken critic, telling him in unflattering words simple truths that no Cabinet member would dare utter. Then there is legendary Eva Braun, who is now twenty-eight and buxom but still entertaining the fond hope that Adolf will marry. her within the next year or two. She is a soul mate from his earlier days and possesses photographs of herself in a dirndl dress and Hitler in Bavarian leather shorts, both of them in high spirits and bound for a picnic. Since 1928 she has sat like the fair Elaine waiting for her knight to return to her bower in Munich, but she possesses one material advantage over the maid of Astolat in that her Lancelot pays the rent for her flat.

The best sleuthing that journalists have been capable of has not revealed anything other than the most highly circumspect and chivalrous conduct of Hitler so far as women have been concerned. During the past few years, however he has stepped out of the monastic role commonly assigned to him by gossips and German publicists and has evidenced a strong interest in pretty girls as a group. After throwing a party for the German film colony in his new Chancellery and having had a genuinely good time in the company of vivacious Viennese screen stars, who afterward declared enthusiastically that he was "sehr lustig und galant (very amusing and gallant), he succumbed in quick succession to the twinkling legs and enticing smiles of two American dancers. After paying a cool thousand dollars and the cost of sending a private airplane to Cannes just to enjoy the additional spirit that nimble Marion Daniels was able to inject into a Munich performance of the Merry Widow, [Page 5] he became a stage-struck fan of pretty Miriam Verne who was dancing at the time, in a Berlin musical comedy. Unable to satisfy his appetite for Miss Verne's dancing by attending three performances of the show, he invited her to the Chancellery to dance at a private party, and when the show closed in April he sent her to Munich to do her act in the Merry Widow. His attendance at the Merry Widow that year numbered six.

Always awkward when in the company of foreigners, he has avoided direct social contact since 1936, confining his associations to formal receptions and visits to the opera where he is flanked by supporters. The last time that he accepted an invitation from a foreigner was in 1935 when he attended a gala dinner given by the then pro-German English newspaper king, Lord Rothmere. The dinner, which is still recalled with some degree of pain by the few persons who were present, took place in the Adlon Hotel, where the British host had commanded that the largess of Germany and Europe be spread before his guest.

Finally Hitler arrived in his brown coat, and brushing aside the customary few minutes of getting together and chatting before beginning dinner, immediately placed himself at the table. Then Lord Rothmere was to learn to his astonishment and embarrassment that the Fuehrer is truly a rare avis. Not only did he decline to drink, but also refused to eat anything. Moreover, Lord Rothmere spoke no German and the table had been so disadvantageously arranged that it was only with difficulty that an interpreter could operate. The meal was distinctly unpleasant for all present and the courses were hurried through while Hitler indifferently sipped at his glass of water. Suddenly he began to speak, the words pouring forth like a torrent and literally engulfing his hapless host, who could not understand a word and did not dare interrupt or disturb him by appealing to the interpreter.

At the end of twenty minutes the whole company was obviously uncomfortable and after forty minutes the Fuehrer was still going strong while those in the room sat petrified in miserable silence. Not until he had spoken in his loudest, harshest platform voice for forty-five minutes did Hitler get his message out of his system, and then he made abrupt signs of wanting to depart. In their haste to get up from the table, the victims of the ordeal pushed chairs helter-skelter and one of them inadvertently tipped over a large china vase, which fell with a crash. At that moment all of the doors leading into the dining room burst open and uniformed S.S. guards sprang into the room with drawn pistols.

Members of his entourage report a similar situation when Hitler visited Italy for the first time. An outspoken gourmet himself, Benito Mussolini believed he would be doing his guest a favor by providing him with Italy's best. To the Duce's consternation, Hitler refused both Italian wine and food, until his host finally inquired in desperation, "Well, what would you like to eat?" And Hitler replied by asking if he might have some scrambled eggs.

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That Hitler is aware of a deep cleft between himself and his nearest followers is evident at any public reception. His collaborators that he sees perhaps daily receive the same impersonal, unseeing stare, automatic flick of the right hand, and loose handshake as the diplomats from the small countries of Central America and the provincial Nazi leaders, who are probably having the greatest thrill of their lives in meeting Der Fuehrer face to face. Once in an unguarded moment he revealed that he is aware of a distinction and is prone to look down upon his purely human cohorts. "I am different from those others," he confided to an astonished woman visitor, "I can hold my arm up for an hour without tiring: They can't. Time means nothing to me, but they are never able to hold out." p.55

(Munich 1919) Hitler himself was neither vegetarian nor nonalcoholic in those days and in the smoke-clouded, pungent atmosphere of back street Munich beerhalls he found that under the guidance of Rosenberg his fantasy soared to delirious heights. p. 203.

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