The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Office of Strategic Services
Hitler Source Book
Interviews with Friedlinde Wagner
New York City
(2 of 2)

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great concern but it was several days before they were able to get in touch with him. His only explanation: was that he wanted to be alone and had taken a trip into the country. The following Christmas Eve he was again absent without explanation. Late on Christmas night he called from Dresden and asked to speak to Winifred, saying it was Doctor Wolf. It so happened that she knew a Doctor Wolf in Dresden with whom she did not wish to communicate and told Friedlinde to say she was not at home. This disturbed him greatly and he wanted to know where she went and if she could be reached. His voice now became normal and Friedlinde recognized him and then called her mother. When she answered, he said he was in great despair and could he come to Wahnfried, even if it was late. For several days he was very much distressed and stayed a good deal by himself.

Friedlinde is convinced that his tirades are only acts by which he hopes to gain his own way. She told of an incident in which he staged one to order. Herlittle [sic] sisters' school was due to open several days before the festival. She had begged her mother to permit her to remain at home and miss school until after the festival was over. Her mother insisted that she must go to school and be there for the opening day. Hitler happened to stop in at Wahnfried and the two girls cooked up a plot to get Hitler to speak to Winifred and persuade her to let the child remain for the festival. Friedlinde approached Hitler with her sister's predicament and advanced arguments why she should be permitted to remain at home.

Hitler promised to cooperate and later, when the whole family was assembled, he suddenly asked Winifred if it were true that she was sending the child back to school. Winifred insisted that it was the child's duty to be in school when it opened just like other children. Hitler then started one of his tirades which lasted for twenty minutes. He stamped back and forth across the room, shouting at the top of his voice that this was nonsense and what did duty to the school mean in comparison to duty to the culture. He maintained that this was a crime and called forth all kinds of arguments to prove his point. The family was just overwhelmed by his display and said that if he felt that way about it the child could naturally remain at home. The minute they had said this, Hitler stopped his tirade and began to indulge in a conversation about other topics in a normal tone of voice just as though nothing had happened.

On another occasion, when she was present with other guests, Hitler for some unknown reason became dissatisfied with Schaub and called Schaub in and began to scold him before the assembled company. Evidently Schaub was not duly impressed and Hitler worked himself to a higher pitch until his eyes rolled and spit formed at the corners of his mouth. For a few moments he acted like an insane animal and he ordered Schaub from his sight. At the moment Schaub had disappeared, Hitler returned to a friendly conversation with his guests just as though nothing had happened.

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Hitler enjoys imitating people. One of his favorite caricatures is a take-off on Phipps. He does this extremely well and when he is in good spirits, he likes to perform in this way before small selected groups. During the first years as Chancellor, he frequently visited the opera or the theatre, but by 1935 he gave this up in large part and spent most of his time visiting operettas and comedies which he seemed to enjoy much more. On an average he attended performances of this sort at least once or twice a week. Miss Wagner also spoke of his extreme passion for moving pictures which are shown almost every evening in the Chancellery. According to her he is particularly fond of French films and up to the time of the war, he had all of them shown in his private theatre. He used to say, "Die Schilderung des Kleinbuergerlichen Milieud ist einfach genial in diesen Filmen." Ordinarily he does not permit people to smoke near him during performances of this sort because he claims that it irritates his throats and prevents him from speaking effectively.

Hitler has a mania for long tables. He has one which is at least 15 meters long and is made out of one piece of wood. He takes great pride in these tables and often consults with von Troost who manufactures them. Contrary to reports Hitler hates to fly in airplanes. He only does so when the matter is extremely urgent or when he wants to create an impression. Otherwise he uses a special train and limits the speed of this to 60 kilometers per hour. He claims that he can sleep better when the train is moving slowly but on several trips that Miss Wagner has taken on this special train, during the daytime, he would not permit the engineer to exceed that speed.

During 1935 Miss Wagner was invited to dinner at Hitler's house in Munich. At table she sat opposite the fireplace over which hung a large mirror and on the mantle a bronze bust of Geli. She examined the bust very closely because from all reports she believed Geli to be an unusual beauty but in the bust she was quite common looking with low forehead, high cheekbones, broad fat stub nose, and a large mouth. On the whole the face looked rather coarse. She remembered as she sat there the story Hitler had told them earlier about Geli's accident. His version was that several years before her death, Geli has gone to fortune teller who told her that her life would end with a revolver bullet. Since that time, until she died, she had an hysterical fear of every revolver or irfle [sic]. Inasmuch as she was living in Hitler's apartment and was constantly exposed to danger, she naturally had to have a revolver on her night table.

On the evening of her death Geli was alone in the apartment since Hitler had to make a trip to Erlangen to give a speech. During his absence, she must have tried to put the safety catch on the revolver. It would seem however, that the safety catch was already on and she took it off and thereby accidentally, shot herself. Theneighbors [sic] heard her shot followed by a cry and tried to break into the apartment. They intercepted Hitler on his way to Erlangen and he returned immediately. Whether this report is true or not, Miss Wagner is sure that it is since this time that he became a vegetarian and gave up alcohol and smoking. He also stopped celebrating Christmas for several years and only since 1934 has he joined the "alten Kaempfern" in Munich on Christmas Eve.

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On both sides of the fireplace hung Hitler's prized possessions, the paintings of Spitzweg. Hehhad [sic] ordered all art dealers to make a hunt for Spitzweg's pictures and the six that were hanging there were his prized possessions. Miss Wagner commented it seemed that the great Dictator who was always striving to make everything he did of monumental size should worship the painter who glorified "Des Spiessburgertums".

According to Miss Wagner Hitler maintains s very peculiar relationship to Mrs. Bechstein, the wife of the piano manufacturer. During the early years she undoubtedly helped Hitler a great deal both financially and socially. He was a constant visitor at her home and she was thoroughly convinced that he was a genius and the savior of Germany. As soon as he became Chancellor, however, her attitude seemed to change. It seemed that everything he did was wrong, foolish or stupid, and she did not pull her punches in telling him so. Miss Wagner was present on several occasions when she upbraided him for some of the reforms he was trying to put into effect. She says that Mrs. Bechstein opened up with the big guns just as soon as the salutations were over. Usually she started in by asking him ifhe [sic] were crazy and would then talk so fast and furiously that Hitler couldn't get a word in in self-defense. During these violent scoldings Hitler would stand there like an abashed school-boy who had committed a misdemeanor. She is the one person who would carry on a monologue in Hitler's presence and who would tell him what she thought. She always calls him Wolf and addresses him with the familiar "Du".

In later years, it reached the point where Hitler dreaded meeting her and yet he felt duty-bound to call on her, particularly when they were both present at the Wagner Festival. Even the prospect of meeting her worried him no end and he kept postponing on his visit from one time to another on the slightest pretext. He even tried to bribe the Wagner children to accompany him on the theory that she would not be too harsh on him in the presence of children. Having lived through a few such experiences, however, the Wagner children would not be bribed into such a mission. Miss Wagner is also of the opinion that Mrs. Bechstein had designs on Hitler as a future son-in-law.

She denies that there was anything beyond friendship in her mother's relationship to Hitler and does not believe that Hitler had any designs on her. She says he just seemed to enjoy the home atmosphere of Wahnfried. She says that the fact that her mother was English fascinated Hitler as other English women have fascinated him but that there was nothing more. He was particularly lenient with the children and exceeded almost all their wishes even to the extent of permitting her brother to withdraw from the Hitler Youth because he did not like it. Nevertheless, he had a tremendous influence on Winifred Wagner, even to the point where she threatened the life of Friedlinde if she did not return to Germany and accede to Hitler' s wishes.

She spoke of her first visit to the new Chancellery buildings and how Hitler escorted her through the entire place. He seemed to get his greatest thrill out of the size of the rooms and corridors and reception halls and kept telling her how much larger these were than the old ones and how much larger he would like to have [Page 8] then when he built a new Chancellery building befitting to the Third Reich. She remembers his bedroom very well since it was such a shock to her. After seeing all the extravagance of the new building, she had expected his bedroom to be in keeping with the rest. To her amazement she found a relatively small room painted in light pink, or flesh color, and saw nothing but a white iron bed with ribbons draped around the head, a white dresser and a couple of straight chairs. There was a painting of his mother over the head of the bed and no other decorations. She is sure that at that time there was no picture of Geli or anyone else. As she turned around she noticed that the closet door had been left open and she glanced in casually as she passed it. To her amazement and amusement, she discovered that the closet contained only khaki shirts all nicely pressed and hung on hangers from a central rod. Each had a beautiful swastika armband sewn on the sleeve. Sheestimated [sic] that there must have been at least 40 of them and she wondered at the time why anyone would want so many. Her impression of Hitler's bedroom was that it was more of [unreadable] fitting for a maid than it was for a Chancellor.

Friedlinde was studying in England in 1937 and 1938. In order to keep her mother quiet she usually stopped in Berlin to visit Hitler on the way to and from London. Although they had never gotten on well together, Hitler always seemed very happy to see her and insisted that she remain and join him at a meal. She says she often tried to tell him about English sentiments but he always refused to listen on the grounds that von Ribbentrop was sending detailed reports. When she tried to point out that Ribbentrop's reports were not in accordance with the facts, he always brushed it aside and treated her as a small child and advised her not to get mixed up in politics. Several times she says she lost her temper and was very outspoken in her condemnation of what he was doing but he took these good-naturedly and usually brushed them aside.

This was particularly true in connection with the Jewish pogroms for which Hitler assumed full responsibility and was certain that neither the Germans nor the English as a whole felt as she did about them, whereas her friends seemed to feel. He always insisted that the proper way to rule was through terror and that underneath the people really liked it. On one occasion when he was speaking of his views on justice he said, "Wenn zwei Burschen sich um ein Maedel raufen, und der eine den anderen aus versehen ersticht, was in Bayern nur allsu leicht passiert, dann lasse ich denjenigen hinrichten. Ich gebe ihm 15 Jahre Bewaehrungsfrist mit sofortiger Freisetsung. Mann hingegen irgendein Kerl es sich enifallen laasst, ein Maedel zu ermorden, nachdem er ihr ein Kind aufgehaengt hat, so lasse ich ihn ruecksichlos hinrichten."

According to Miss Wagner Hitler's parties are exceedingly dull since he always likes to be the center of attraction. Most of the people he invites, and particularly the actors and actresses, find him exceedingly dull and although they go because it is diplomatic to do so, they are only too ready to seize the opportunity of sneaking out on the first occasion. Hitler usually tells the same stories over and over again and most of his guests have heard them many times.

Hitler hates the atmosphere of a hospital and almost never will go there to visit a sick friend. He tried to make up for this deficiency by sending lots of flowers and occasionally a card.

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