The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
Recollections of Adolf Hitler
Edward Deuss
(2 of 2)

[Page 6]

in order to make him lose himself in an oration. He was no good at argumentation. In fact, Hitler was an extremely easy person to know well. I once wrote an 800-word interview, discretely worded but containing what I thought were the aims and ultimate purposes of the Nazi movement -- European domination. He sent the interview back with a note of apology for changing one word.


Much has been written concerning Hitler's being a teetotaler, a non-smoker and a vegetarian. He at that time slept not more than four or five hours a night, are sparingly and seemed to live on his nerves, or better said, on his spirit. Flying frightened him yet he put up with it because it was the only way he could get around quickly to all the out-of-the-way corners of Germany. He couldn't bear to look down out of the windows and always sat in the middle because he thought it safest. On these tours he spoke an average of five times a day, a total of at least six hours. His lunch, usually at an airdrome restaurant, consisted of two slices of buttered bread and a glass of milk. Since he ate in ten minutes, all other members of the party had to stuff their pockets with sandwiches.

At lunchtime in Kiel in August, 1932, the local Nazis presented the party with a small wooden case of smoked spratts. The ever-hungry Brueckner lost no time in prying open the lid as the airplane was taking off. He handed the box first to Hitler. The Fuehrer peered at the artistically-arranged fish and asked what they were. Brueckner assured him that the fish were the original famous Kieler Sprotten. "How am I supposed to eat them?" "Why," gasped the astonished Brueckner, "you take one [Page 7] of the wooden forks on top, spear a fish and eat it." Hitler's face turned positively green. "You mean to suggest," he said, "that I am to eat head, tails ad entrails of these things?" "Of course," laughed Brueckner, "they are considered a great delicacy in these parts." Hitler shook his head and passed the box back to me.

Hitler's aversion to the smell of tobacco was so intense that nobody was allowed to smoke in any room he might perchance enter. If there was a wait on airdromes, Press Chief Dietrich used to lead me off by the arm, away from the main group as if he wanted a few confidential words. Several hundred yards away he drew out his cigaret case and offered me a smoke. If the wind was in Hitler's direction, we moved round. In the beer cellar of the Brown House in Munich, hearing Prussian election returns one Sunday night, in the fall of 1932, Hitler noticed that many of the same people went out every hour or so. He asked why. Goebbels assured the Fuehrer that they went to the toilet. Actually they went for a smoke.

If he was a celibate, as all the members of his entourage averred, it was, I should say, because he never gave women a thought. Women were a distraction. In his youth he was most likely too shy to go out with girls, and in his manhood he was far too busy. Neither was he a homosexual.

Nothing demonstrated the quality of his person -- the character self-made for the people to follow and the grown-up boy who just couldn't fit into society -- better than his relationship with his entourage, that is to say, with about fifty members of the "old guard" from Hess and Goering and Rosenberg down to his bodyguard and chuaffeur [sic]. To them he very wisely never attempted to play the role of the God-sent savior. He always assumed that they knew the game that he was playing and had to play to gain [Page 8] power. His attitude towards them was comradely, rarely convivial. He never seemed to trust any one of them implicitly. He knew that they were an inchoate group of thugs, gangsters and high-minded idealists, each of whom he exploited for the benefit of the cause because he felt he he needed thugs to kill the opposition and idealists to win over the meek. Each one of them was pigeon-holed in his mind for a particular job. He picked them for a particular purpose, they swore an oath of personal allegiance to him and if they did their jobs well they remained . Murder and robbery were not evils in themselves. The cause counted. Personal likes and dislikes were never taken into consideration. He didn't care for friendship; he wanted loyalty and ability. Nor did he like flunkies. Fulsome praise to his face from one of his followers would have made him suspicious. If they praised him as the son of God to the masses, that was another matter, but even then he never bothered so much about what they said as about its effectiveness -- whether the people believed it.

In conference Hitler always respected others' superior specialized knowledge, technical training or education. If, for example, his pilot said that the weather reports were unfavorable and a flight would be dangerous, Hitler never insisted on taking off. Formal conferences on matters of policy and tactics were at times exceedingly stormy. But Hitler held his tongue until rivals had argued themselves out and the participants became rather bored. Then he had the last word, not in any oracular sense but as an impartial judge who had listened to all the arguments. As likely as not [Page 9] he would say, "Let's come back to this subject another time." He seemed oblivious to incessant intrigues between individuals and groups. Possibly he affected this aloofness in order to remain unsullied. He never seemed to bother about personal quarrels as long as they did not take the form of a conspiracy against him or against the party. He seemed to have no particular favorite, [unreadable] listened more to the advice of some. But his [unreadable]

The attitude of his followers towards him was remote from hero worship or religious adoration. They had staked their fortunes and future on his success and they believed that his gifts would lead the party to power in Germany and Germany to power in the world. Their faith in victory was at times sorely tried as in August, 1932, after Hindenburg for the first time had refused to appoint Hitler chancellor and Hitler refused the demand of Roehm and others for a coup d'etat. His followers were always cynical about the circuses and fireworks of giant mass meetings. They never seemed impressed by Hitler's speeches, except in the sense of the speeches being effective or ineffective. The talk after a meeting always concerned its success or failure -- size of the crowd, enthusiasm, number of persons who fainted, whether Hitler put over well this point or that point, what line of argument seemed to create the deepest impression, number of flags, uniformed detachments, the liveliness of the military band, etc.

Brueckner used to time on his watch the moment "the holy ghost would enter Hitler's body." He meant the time when Hitler would begin shout- [Page 10] ing and gesticulating after a rather slow and hushed beginning. Brueckner said the time averaged about three minutes from the beginning of the speech.

Once Brueckner, seated on the platform, showed me his watch at the moment Hitler began speaking and asked me to note the time. About three and one-half minutes later Brueckner nudged me. Hitler had pushed both hands, fingers extended, upwards along the side of his head and started bellowing for reasons wholly unrelated to the context of his speech. "See," whispered Brueckner, "the holy ghost has taken hold of him." That was also the moment when men and women began to faint and were carried off by stormtroop stretcher bearers.

Hitler always seemed pleased at the plaudits of the crowd but never without smirking as if to say, "the poor saps are being taken in." He despised the masses as so many sheep. They have always in his mind been led for causes almost always profane, but whatever the cause the leader must never forget to impress upon the masses that God has thus commanded and molded him in His image, though the truth be the reverse. The secret of Hitler is found not in him, but in history.

February 1943

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