The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
by Janet Flanner

[Page 1]


Hitler has no valet. Adjutant Schaub..... acts as a majordomo. Though he lays out Hitler's clothes, neither he nor anyone around the palace has ever seen the Fuehrer in slippers and dressing gown; Hitler's modesty verges on the morbid. In the morning it takes him fifteen minutes, from the time he gets up, to get dressed and be ready for breakfast. He usually appears in his favorite costume - black trousers and khaki coat cut in the pattern of what German officers call a Litevka - the traditional military lounging jacket without insignia. He never wears jewelry. He has always been frantically neat, clean, and tidy of habits; his clothes wear for ever. Most of his wardrobe consists of uniforms, but there are a few civilian garments. He scrupulously chooses a second-rate tailor. Schaub orders most of his things. The. are sent to the palace where Hitler treis [sic] on and selects; he can't go into a shop without its being mobbed by his Nazi admirers and hasn't bought anything in the normal way for three years.

p. 378, Flanner, Fuehrer

He's crazy about films, especially when historical, sees all the news weeklies of himself, and occasionally earnest foreign films, and is apt to sit on the floor in the dark when they are being shown. When he takes a fancy to a picture, he has it repeated and invites those he thinks it should interest; he is sincere about trying to get the right films and guests together. When he discovered the Schubert "Unfinished Symphony" movie, he gave a party to bring it and Wilhelm Furtwaengler together.

pp. 380/81, Flanner, Fuehrer

When in Munich, he still goes to the quiet little Osteria Bavaria Restaurant, which he has used for years, and occasionally he drops in for Jause at the Carlton tearoom, which is the nicest in town. When he eats a mean [sic] at the elegant Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel, it's in the modest back room, not in its Walterspiel restaurant. The Walterspiel brothers, two of the greatest gourmets of Europe, are old friends of his, and concocted Hitler's onion soup recipe especially for him. When in Nuremberg, Hitler still stops at the second rate Deutscher Hof, which was grandeur for him in the old days [Page 2] and which he thinks today is grand enough. He likes places he's familiar with, where people know his habits and let him alone. With his shadows, the elegant Brueckner and the lowly Schaub, he often goes in Berlin to the Kaiserhof in the afternoon for a glass of milk and his favorite Linzertorte, a walnut cake. He has a sweet tooth.

pp. 379, 80, Flanner Fuehrer

Conversation excites him. In anything approaching serious talk, his changeable blue eyes, which are his only good feature, brighten, glow heavily as if words fanned them. His principal gesture is a shrug of the shoulders. If he's really interested, he is likely to walk up and down the room, and in arguments he becomes violent.

pp. 381/82, Flanner, Fuehrer

For the past fifteen years Hitler's greatest woman friend has been Frau Victoria von Dirksen, formerly a fashionable hostess in her Margaretenstrasse mansion in Berlin, and now stepmother of the German Ambassador at Moscow and widow of the magnate who helped to build the Berlin Untergrund. It was in her salon that the secret Frau Hermine Hohenzollern - Hitler meeting took place when the question arose of which should be presented to which - the second wife of the ex-Kaiser of the former German Empire to the Nazi Fuehrer of Germany's Third Reich, or vice versa. (Hitler tactfully kissed the lady's hand before anyone could introduce either, and then tactlessly refused her plea that her exiled hushed be allowed easier terms from the land he'd once ruled). Frau von Dirksen gave most of her late husband's fortune to promoting Hitler's career. Their friendship has not been interrupted by her recent quarrels with his Party. When in Berlin, he still loyally takes tea with her every fortnight.

pp. 382/82, Flanner, Fuehrer

Other exceptional figures commented on in Hitler's entourage are two English women, Lord Redesdale's daughters, the Honorable Mrs. Bryan Giunness, who in London had already been converted to Sir [Page 3] Oswald Mosley's Black Shirt Fascism, and her younger sister, the Honorable Unity Mitford. Both sisters are blonde, handsome, speak excellent German, and use the Nazi salute. The younger is Hitler's favorite, because more devoted to the German cause. She and he frequently lunch together at the Osteria restaurant whenever he's in Munich, as English, rather than German papers, point cub. Another admiration of Hitler's is Frau Viorica Ursuleac, dramatic soprano of the Unter den Linden Opera, who moved from Dresden to Berlin when the Viennese director Clemens Krauss became the more complacent successor to Furtwaengler .....

p. 384, Flanner, Fuehrer

Hitler prefers the Valkyere type of lady who gets around on the public heights. He also likes women who are well dressed. Though it would be officially denied, Hitler opposed Frau Goebbels' recent patriotic boycott of French dress models, a blacklisting which, since Germany has no dress designers, nearly ruined the foundation of Germany's ready-made garment trade ..... Owing to Hitler's pressure the ban was lifted ..... Having been recently argued into white tie and tails for his rare Opera appearances, Hitler nearly ordered the women auditors to dress also, but renounced the idea as Napoleonic. He has a holy horror of Bonapartism.

pp. 384/85, Flanner, Fuehrer

Adolf's mother's great-grandmother was his father's grandmother.

p. 389, Flanner, Fuehrer

Apparently, he was mostly detailed to the lonely, dangerous service of carrying front-line dispatches; there's a story that he used to embellish them with flourishing, patriotic phrases when he considered their style defeatist or dry. He was disliked in the trenches; the soldiers thought him courageous but queer.

p. 394, Flanner, Fuehrer

[Page 4]

He accepts violence as a detail of state; he says mercy is not his affair with men, yet he is kind to dumb animals. He becomes sick if he sees blood, yet he is unafraid of being killed or killing. He has mystical tendencies, no common sense, and a Wagnerian taste for heroics and death. He was born loaded with vanities and has developed megalomania as his final decoration. He is an unstereotyped statesman, a specialist in the unexpected; as a politician, he nullifies opposition by letting friends oppose each other and by suppressing enemies. As a bureaucrat, he dawdles for months over minor decisions, and overnight forces large issues; he dislikes paper reports and loves oral information. He is garrulous; in interviews, the interviewer often fails to get in a word edgewise. Momentarily influenced by colder, harder minds, he is ultimately convinced only by himself. His moods changes often, his opinions never,

p. 402, Flanner, Fuehrer

Alternately polarized, by indolence ,and furious energy, he can outwork his colleagues in a crisis. He has the mediumistic time sense of the imminent which is special to dictators. His disordered nervous system gives him a spychic [sic] superiority over the healthy and plodding. By his intimates, his fits of weeping are undenied and unexplained, and give none of them an advantage over him. At such moments, the neurasthenia of the Fuehrer, with tears on his cheeks, but life and death in his hands, is too serious to be trifled with.

p. 403, Flanner, Fuehrer

Today, music is the only medicine for Hitler's frayed nerves; it gives them their sole relaxation and gives him his greatest esthetic pleasure. He has a passion for the piano, used to be inclined to beat time with his head at concerts, loves Schubert in song, Beethoven in symphonies, Wagner in opera. He also likes manly marches. For safety's sake, he is now accompanied everywhere he goes by his officers or secret service men. Since he prefers to go alone to concerts. he therefore goes out increasingly rarely to good music. At the Munich Opera, the program, at his request, begs the audience to pay no attention to him if he is present. He has also had to give up his long, solitary walks which were his only sport.

p. 403, Flanner, Fuehrer

[Page 5]

Since he came into power his favorite plays have been the Lessing Theater's long-run peasant comedy Krach um Jolanthe (Jolanthe, the heroine, being a sow) which he saw twice. His other favorite was Tovarich, which the censor had first forbidden because it was by a Frenchman. When it finally was produced Hitler went to see it, but asked the management to warn him five minutes before the final curtain so that he and his row of secret police could depart privately in the dark. However, he became so enthusiastic over the plot, which concerned the superiority of the White over Red Russians, that he finally stayed on [unreadable] and applaud heartily.

p. 404, Flanner, Fuehrer

Hitler's knowledge of German eighteenth-century romantic art is considerable. He appreciates good canvasses. He recently gave Goebbels a canvas by Spitzweg a period painter now becoming the vogue. For a wedding present for General Goering and Frau Emmy Sonnemann Hitler ordered a copy painted of the Berlin Corregio called Leda with the Swan ....

While he is constantly giving presents to his friends, he himself has no acquisitive hobbies or collections. His only two volitional possessions are a couple of police dogs, whom he adores. He always remembers the birthdays of his early Party comrades with gifts of fine books or minor objects of art.

p. 405, Flanner, Fuehrer

In redecorating the Berlin chancellery palace for his use, Hitler's artistic ameliorations consisted mostly of a few fairly modernistic rooms, plus some Nordic mythological tapestries for the Great Hall which depict Wotan Creating the World. Last spring, with more enthusiasm, he redid his small Munich flat in his favorite baroque blue, white, and gold, according to plans he made and was proud of. This bourgeois flat in the unfashionable end of Prinzregentenstrasse is part of Hitler's odd passion for privacy is probably also a symbol of his loyalty to Munich .....

pp. 405/06, Flanner, Fuehrer

[Page 6]

Weekly news photos over the years show that Hitler's face has changed, and from month to month it still changing. The first official portrait (1921) shows a lean, serious, intent visage with nothing funny, fat or fatuous about it. It shows a portentous, determined mouth; a mustache, brief but without humor; hair without a forelock and neatly roached [sic] back in a straight brow line. In the last year alone, Hitler has gained fifteen pounds, less publicly visible in the waist (Since his uniforms now include a compassing jacket instead of the former revealing Nazi Brown Shirt) than in the face, where weight shows in ounces of pouches beneath eyes and mouth, caricaturing the facial construction. His receding hair, he has, like many mistaken middle-aging men, brought forward in a wig-like wad which nearly conceals the left eye. In photographs, his gold tooth fortunately does not show. Because of the nervous lines now drawing down his upper lip, his mustache has lately taken on a Kaiserlike tilt. In real life what is physically most noticeable about Hitler, especially at a distance, is his hurried dog trot and, close to, his quick, forced smile; both have that disjointed, rather comic quality see in a film which is being run too fast. In repose, Hitler locks his hands low over his abdomen. His best likenesses are the unofficial snapshots taken by his Berchtesgaden mountaineer neighbors of him and their offspring. When he alone and at ease with children, Hitler's face has the avuncular tenderness of the man who has not had babies of his own. After five minutes, little girls especially show a disposition, which petrifies their parents, to romp with the Fuehrer.

pp. 409, 410, Flanner, Fuehrer

Decades of his incessant speechmaking, last spring two nodules were cut from Hitler's vocal cords, an operation common to hard-working opera singers. There is now talk that another operation is imminent.

p. 414, Flanner, Fuehrer

Though he makes few gestures, his oratory used to wilt his collar, unglue his forelock, glaze his eyes; he was like a man hypnotized, repeating himself into a frenzy. Today, his goal gained, he is calmer on the speaker's tribune; his voice, restored by the operation from his former sinister screaming and croaking is now a pleasant barking baritone. His accent and vocabulary are still inelegant Austrian.

pp. 414/15, Flanner, Fuehrer

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