Ian Kershaw: Hitler biography
IAN KERSHAW’S MOTIVES TO WRITE HITLER’S BIOGRAPHY
The first ‘Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris’ volume of Ian Kershaw’s study saw the light of the publishing date back in 1998, yet the researching-and-writing process had already covered a span of time of ten years since 1989. The author would need another two years of involvement to fully complete his second volume known as ‘Hitler 1936–1945: Nemesis’. We should praise the fact, that Ian Kershaw gained worldwide recognition for his studies about German history, the Third Reich years before the well-known biography of Hitler. This academic involvement and devotion and a sophisticated amount of collected materials did become a starting point for three decades of Kershaw’s historical activity and still shape his academic career. In this respect, I would define three phases of Ian Kershaw’s career as the recognized author and military history popularizer.
I had never thought, until a few years ago, that I would write a biography of Hitler. Biography had never figured in my intellectual plans as something I might want to write. If anything, I was somewhat critically disposed towards the genre.
1980-1989. It was the Cumberland Lodge conference back in 1978, that motivated Kershaw to shift his academic focus from Medieval History to Modern History. While the recognized historians made approaches to studying Nazi Germany a hot topic of dispute, a young academic, still in his 30s, re-visualized his future career. During this time period, Kershaw succeeded in presenting a number of works of pure academic nature about the Third Reich and the political mentality of the German people. It was at that time when he started writing about Hitler, an ‘inevitable’ character of any serious study on the topic. His first book completely devoted to Hitler was named ‘The ‘Hitler Myth’. Image and Reality in the Third Reich’.
1989-2000. Sophisticatedly detailed research of Adolf Hitler, covering two volumes, had occupied an impressive twelve years span of time. At the same time, that’s not to say that Ian Kershaw gave away some other studies and books during these years. His academic recognition as the top-ranked historian of the Third Reich and Hitler was onwards and upwards in the 1990s. Kershaw’s books of that period were challenged to examine the history of the rise and fall of the Weimar Republic, the ‘final solution’ issue, and to parallelize Hitlerism and Stalinism. ‘Hitler: A Profile in Power’ book came out already in 1991 and can be characterized as the scaled-down pre-version of the future detailed two-volume research.
2000 – now. Once acquired the status of the academic star thanks to his two-volume monographs, Ian Kershaw still widely uses his best practice and sources to address German and European history. He gives us the book on the ‘July plot’ in 1944 and Hitler’s last weeks within the bunker near the Chancellery. Challenges to analyze the mentality of ‘acceptance’ of the final solution in ‘Hitler, the Germans and the Final Solution (2008). Kershaw publishes a one-volume cut version of his famous ‘HITLER’ work on 1000 pages, including the appendix. Researches the final year of the Second World War in his ‘The End: Hitler’s Germany 1944–45’ and covers thirty-five years of European history in ‘To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914–1949’. At this point in time, ‘Roller-Coaster: Europe’ (2017) is the last published book by Kershaw.
It’s important to determine one obvious reason for the recognized historians to keep coming back to the topics, they have already studied years ago, which is the ever-increasing accessibility of sources. It away more than just memoirs of Hitler’s surroundings, which were still published even 50 years after the end of the war. Professor Ian Kershaw makes his appeal to us to treat these sources with caution. The motive to write another detailed research on Hitler was the unprecedented amount of primary sources of information about the Weimar Republic, the Nazi movement, Hitler himself, and the Third Reich. By way of example, we can praise the multi-volume stenography of Hitler’s speeches within his political career, from the Munich beer halls to the bunker in a sieged Berlin. In many respects, Ian Kershaw’s Hitler biography work managed to become among, if not, the best study of Hitler, with an incredible 120 000 works as a total amount.
From the early part of my scholarly career onwards, first as a medievalist, I had been much more drawn to social history than to a focus on high politics, let alone a focus on any individual.
HITLER’S BIOGRAPHY vs. SOCIAL HISTORY
Professor Ian Kershaw himself emphasizes the fact that he did not see any point in the years of work on the classic biography, some years before the initial phase of the work. To this extent, his two-volume study is academically close to the traditional work of Joachim Fest, which on the other hand was a means of motivation for Kershaw. The key empiric issue and the personal challenge for the author were “How Hitler become possible”.
What has continued in the writing of the book to interest me more than the strange character of the man who held Germany’s fate in his hands between 1933 and 1945 is the question of how Hitler was possible.
To search out those motivations and to fuse them with Hitler’s personal contribution to the attainment and expansion of his power to the point where he could determine the fate of millions is the aim of the study.
Kershaw examines German society to find his answers, what kind of person Hitler was, wherefore he became the person we all know, and how his unrestricted power in Europe was possible. Professor Ian Kershaw examines German society as a tree, which bore a Nazi regime’s fruit. We can afford to keep underestimating the meaning of Hitler and simplify his image to the extent of a madman, an obsessed speaker, a hobo from Vienna, a Bohemian corporal, or just a fanatic or antisemite. The expanded personality of Hitler, according to Kershaw, could only be successfully examined by means of socio-cultural, historical, political, economic, and military aspects. In the same respect, these aspects in the 1930s and 1940s could not be studied ignoring Hitler.
Has this been Hitler’s century? Certainly, no other individual has stamped a more profound imprint on it than Adolf Hitler. The twelve years of Hitler’s rule permanently changed Germany, Europe, and the world. He is one of the few individuals of whom it can be said with absolute certainty: without him, the course of history would have been different.
While getting into the Empire, then into the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw himself notes how important to respect a delicate balance when you deal with a specific personality. How big is the gap between the empathy, absolutely essential for the attempt to understand the inner motives of Hitler, and the sympathy with the getting into a particular state of mind, his passions, fears, convictions, and the most flaming dreams? Kershaw attaches Hitler’s era with a paradigm to the whole XX century in a number of aspects.
- The pretense of a modern society’s high state status.
- The highest level of the suppression of public opinion and violent actions against the citizens of the state.
- Mobilization of public consciousness by means of the media landscape with a never-before-seen scale.
- Constant cynical violation of the rules of international law and neglect of diplomatic ethics.
- Domination of the far-right nationalistic judgments, including international policy. Strong racial intolerance and the destructiveness of the racial superiority theory.
- Gradual conversion of a high-cultural society into an inner and international aggressor.
Hitler and Nazism amount, unsurprisingly, to a lasting trauma for German society and of course, though in very different ways, for the regime’s millions of victims. But the legacy of Hitler belongs to all of us. Part of that legacy is the continuing duty to seek understanding of how Hitler was possible. Only through history can we learn for the future. And no part of history is more important in that respect than the era dominated by Adolf Hitler.
IAN KERSHAW’S HITLER AND THE FOREGOERS
Next to no time within the very introduction, Ian Kershaw mentions two outstanding biographies of Adolf Hitler. still worldwide recognized and praised among the millions of people, excited with the military history. ‘Hitler, a study in tyranny’ by Alan Bullock published back in 1952 and the 1000-word-volume monumental HITLER by Joachim Fest (1973). Regardless of the tens of thousands of studies on the Third Reich, Nazi Germany, and Hitler, only a small amount of books have gained a military bestselling recognized status and are worth looking at. In this respect, I would like to consider five classical biographies of Adolf Hitler with a correlation with Ian Kershaw’s study.
An attempt to undertake a new biography of Hitler, bold though it may be, found further encouragement (as well, it must be admitted, as some discouragement or even dismay) through the massive outpouring of first-rate scholarly research on practically all aspects of the Third Reich since the major biographies of Fest – even more so of Bullock – were written.
‘HITLER, A STUDY IN TYRANNY’ BY ALAN BULLOCK. Professor Kershaw makes us clear that he himself was fascinated with Bullock’s work in his own student days. With great respect to his inspiration, Kershaw repeatedly emphasizes that the 1952 bestseller had inevitable historical limitations and weak points. Bullock did have a shortlist of primary sources at his disposal and used unreliable sources, such as Reinhold Hanisch’s testimonies and ‘Hitler Speaks. A Series of Political Conversations with Adolf Hitler on his Real Aims’( 1939) by Hermann Rauschning. Kershaw emphasizes that Bullock later reconsidered his approach to Hitler.
I had read as a student, with endless fascination, Alan Bullock’s early masterpiece. Alan Bullock, subsequently recognized that he had been mistaken, in the first edition of Hitler. A Study in Tyranny, in playing down the importance of Hitler’s ideas
‘HITLER’ BY JOACHIM FEST. Kershaw honors this more than monumental study, which once re-considered Hitler in the socio-cultural context, as it was never done before 1973 when the book was published. We can feel the influence of Fest’s book all way through Kershaw’s work. These two academic masterpieces have much in common in their format, and orientation on social, political, and historical aspects of German and European history. Nevertheless, the ‘more modern’ work of Kershaw by design provides stronger authority, thanks to the recently revealed primary sources and paying great attention to the doubtful sources, despite their awareness.
And on its appearance in 1973 I immediately devoured Joachim Fest’s new biography, admiring as all did its stylistic brilliance.
‘HITLER: LEGEND, MYTH & REALITY’ BY WERNER MASER. Another recognized biography of Adolf Hitler from the 1970s. Kershaw frequently addresses Maser’s work, yet rather as an example of the usage of unreliable sources. Kershaw strongly examines a myth about the Jewish grandfather Hitler, and falsified testimonies of Patrick Hitler, Adolf’s nephew. Maser’s book does not stand against critical analysis and should be treated with a pinch of salt.
Since the various forms of the name had evidently been for decades interchangeable, it is unclear why Maser, Hitler, 31, can be so adamant that Nepomuk (who himself had used more than one form) insisted at the legitimation upon ‘Hitler’ rather than ‘Hiedler’ as being closer to his own name of ‘Hüttler’.
‘HITLER’S VIENNA: A DICTATOR’S APPRENTICESHIP’ BY BRIGITTE HAMANN was published in the same 1998 year as the first volume of Kershaw’s work. This monumental study represents an incredibly detailed overview of Hitler’s life before 1913, including a sophisticated insight into his childhood and youthhood. Professor Kershaw expresses his deepest gratitude to Brigitte Hamann for assistance in his own work. These two monumental studies treat doubtful sources of information with a reserve and, for example, cross-examine August Kubizek’s famous memoirs. The first chapters in Kershaw’s HITLER are academically similar to Hamann’s work and they complement each other. The pre-history of the socio-cultural environment, the history of particular historical places, connected with Hitler, and the examination of the far-right movements of the period.
Brigitte Hamann, also dismissive of the Frank story, speculates that his motive, as a long-standing Jew-hater himself, could have been to blame the Jews for producing an allegedly ‘Jewish Hitler’
‘ADOLF HITLER’ BY JOHN TOLAND. Another iconic biography of Hitler from the 1970s has gained a bestselling status and a Pulitzer Prize for its author. Kershaw repeatedly makes quotes of Toland’s work as his inspirational figure has once managed more than 200 interviews with people, who knew Hitler. In some wider sense, the book by Toland is alone a primary source. At the same time, Kershaw pays attention to the fact that some witnesses have changed their testimonies over the years and a span of 30-40 years after the events, left an indelible stamp. In this respect, any testimony should be treated with care.
In contrast, see Toland’s interpretation, which notably exaggerates the significance of the ‘Second Book’ as the point at which Hitler had ‘seen the light’ and ‘finally come to the realization that his two most urgent convictions – danger from Jews and Germany’s need for sufficient living space – were entwined’
DRAWING THE LINES. DEBUNKING THE MYTHS ABOUT HITLER
The way that Ian Kershaw’s 2000-pages study is now considered to be the most authoritative biography of Adolf Hitler, for many of us it may be obvious that the book has to draw the final lines in a number of disputed issues concerning Hitler. The author, in fact, challenges to battle the established myths, intentional falsifications, mistreatment of sources, human components, and speculations. Professor Kershaw talks his truth, that answers to some questions are doubtful to be found and all we have in this case is to keep to the facts, approved sources, and the methodology of historiography.
Kershaw cross-examines the ‘classical’ sources about Hitler, especially dealing with his early years before 1919. In particular, the testimonies of Hans Frank, a former Hitler’s lawyer, and the General-Governor in occupied Poland do not withstand even a moment’s criticism. Words of Hitler himself about his niece Geli Raubal are a little more than Frank’s insinuations. Kershaw closely treats August Kubizek’s and Reinhold Hanisch’s memoirs, dealing with the Viennese period of Hitler’s youthhood, defining inaccuracies and intended distortions. Hermann Rauschning’s book is reasonably considered a historical falsification, which has nothing in common with reality, given the fact that Rauschning never had a meeting with Hitler.
I have on no single occasion cited Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks, a work now regarded to have so little authenticity that it is best to disregard it altogether. Other sources, too, particularly memoirs but even the ‘table-talk’ monologues of the last months (the so-called ‘Bunkergespräche’), of which no original German text has ever been brought to light, have to be treated with due caution.
HITLER’S PATERNAL GRANDFATHER
Kershaw debunks a myth that Maria Schicklgruber, Adolf’s paternal grandmother, got pregnant to a young man from a Frankenberger Jewish family in Graz. Examining the historical documentation and doubting the rumors, the author gives us a number of arguments for the absurdness of this myth.
- There is no factual evidence, that Maria Schicklgruber had ever visited the city of Graz.
- There were no Jews in the whole Styria area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire back in the 1830s and this demographic tendency was not to be changed until the 1860s.
- The residential records of the city of Graz did reveal an Austrian Frankenreiter family, not Jewish Frankenberger. The younger master of the family was only 10 years old when Alois Hitler was born in 1836.
- There is no single factual proof, that Maria Anna Schicklgruber did maintain a decades-long mailing correspondence with some family, which used to send her payments to raise a son until his fourteen. Frankenreiter’s family suffered poor living themselves and unlikely for them to ‘patron’ a boy, born outside marriage.
- The rumors on the so-called Jewish roots of Hitler originated from the opponents of the Nazi party back in the 1920s and later were chorused by the communists.
- The testimonies of Hans Frank, a former Hitler’s lawyer, which he revealed during the Nuremberg trials, do not hold against the facts and critics. More specifically, the supposed dialogue with Hitler about Adolf’s parental grandfather, secret investigation, and suppression of evidence is no more than Frank’s invention. By way of example, Frank stated that Hitler had revealed said to be a conversation with the grandmother. In fact, Maria Anna Schicklgruber passed away back in 1847, 42 years before Adolf was born and Hitler could not tell Frank such things.
- Frank’s testimonies about the so-called blackmail letter from Patrick Hitler, Adolf’s nephew in the mid-1930s had nothing in common with the facts. A young man by no means could reveal such intimate family ‘truth’ about Adolf’s ancestor. Patrick had lived in Germany unarmed until 1938 and his later ‘insights’ to the French newspaper in 1939 contained no stories about Adolf Hitler’s grandfather or some blackmail.
- The Gestapo was ordered to manage a secret investigation of Hitler’s genealogy and they failed to find any pieces of evidence that departed from the previously known facts.
The third possibility is that Adolf Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish. Rumours to that effect circulated in Munich cafés in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the foreign press during the 1930s. It was suggested that the name ‘Hüttler’ was Jewish, ‘revealed’ that he could be traced to a Jewish family called Hitler in Bucharest, and even claimed that his father had been sired by Baron Rothschild, in whose house in Vienna his grandmother had allegedly spent some time as a servant.
RELATIONS WITH THE FATHER
Professor Kershaw deeply puts to the test Adolf’s own words about his childhood and conflicts with Alois Hitler, as they were presented in ‘MEIN KAMPF’. The author puts in doubt the self-justifications of the future German Fuhrer, which were once meant to correlate a poor performance in school to a protest against the father. Ian Kershaw examines Hitler’s school certificate, as well as August Kubizek’s recollections, Alois Hitler’s pan-germanic beliefs, and the image of Klara Hitler, and altogether acknowledges a strained relationship between Adolf and his father Alois. A disbelieve in being a government servant indeed led Hitler to his future ambitions.
Whether the young Adolf, allegedly at the age of twelve, so plainly stipulated he wanted to be an artist may be doubted. But that there was a conflict with his father arising from his unwillingness to follow a career in the civil service, and that his father found fault with his son’s indolent and purposeless existence, in which drawing appeared to be his main interest, seems certain.
HOMELESS HITLER ON THE STREETS OF VIENNA
As it was with the early biographies of Hitler such as ‘Hitler, a study in tyranny’ by Bullock and ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by W. Shirer, the own words of Hitler from ‘Mein Kampf’ were generally used to shape Hitler’s Viennese period. Nevertheless, more modern studies sound reasonable doubts and examine Hitler’s 1907-1913 years with greater caution. At the same time, Kershaw gratifies arguments that Hitler’s needy situation back in Autumn 1909 and a ration of dry bread and milk hold validity. The author hits on the idea that Hitler indeed had no permanent residency between September and December 1909.
- There is no documentary record about Hitler between September 16 and his first registered night at the Meidlung shelter in December of 1909, including any records within a police register, an obligatory mean of the period in Vienna. This implies a strong possibility that Hitler did not have a registered accommodation within these three months of 1909.
- Adolf had received his orphan’s pension until 1911 and he was under one obvious obligation to inform Josef Mayrhofer, his guardian, of the actual address for the money (25 Kronen) to be sent to Vienna. This fact does not stand against the possibility of Hitler being homeless, as he could state any address to get money.
- Despite the doubtfulness in details of Reinhold Hanisch’s testimonies, his recallings of Hitler in Meidlung have a basis in fact by means of the cross-fact examination. As a matter of example, Hanisch’s words about Hitler who had to find a lodging for the night within cheap cafes near the Westbahnhof railway station may be attributed to Hitler’s first two homes in Vienna locations (STUMPERGASSE 31 and FELBERSTRASSE 22), as well as the Merciful Sisters Hospital at STUMPERGASSE 13.
- Nazi’s legend on the SIMON-DENK-GASSE 11 accommodation of Hitler in Vienna circumstantially gives credence to the fact, that German Fuhrer indeed had bad times without constant accommodation back in 1909. The Anschluss of Austria, among the other more obvious things, witnessed the taking of the residential register books by the NSDAP investigators. Later on, in fact, Hitler’s addresses in Vienna were not to be even mentioned by the ‘official’ press. Indeed and not in name Adolf Hitler had never lived in a house on Simon-Denk-Gasse 11, which he just couldn’t afford at the time. This building was a bit more convenient and close to the city center than the previous Hitler’s accommodations, which he had to live in because of the lack of money.
During the next months, Hitler did learn the meaning of poverty. His later recollection that autumn 1909 had been ‘an endlessly bitter time’ was not an exaggeration. All his savings had now vanished. He must have left some address with his guardian for his orphan’s pension of 25 Kronen to be sent to Vienna each month. But that was not enough to keep body and soul together.
HITLER’S FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE
While making academic maneuvering between Hitler’s own recalls, Kubizek’s memoirs, and a number of indirect sources, Kershaw admits that Adolf Hitler still had no sexual relations at the time of leaving Vienna back in 1913. Along with that, Ian Kershaw rejects the after-war speculations about Hitler’s homosexuality, sexual dysfunctions, or gender-based violence as myths that have no in common with reality.
- If to be of the view of August Kubizek, he had never seen Adolf with a girl within three years of their friendship in Linz and then in Vienna. Kubizek had once faced a long passage and frustration with Adolf when August took a student girl to their apartment. Kubizek also recollected Hitler’s voluminous stories about a girl from Linz, whose name was Stefanie, which whom Adolf was way in love with. According to Kubizek, Hitler cast himself aside from homosexuality, and masturbation and strongly criticized prostitution. Hitler ignored other girls in the opera shows and could talk for hours as a result of walking along the backyards of Vienna. At the same time, being self-suppressed from sexual relations, Hitler was fascinated with sexuality.
- The testimonies of the former residents of the Mannerheim hostel for men in Vienna revealed loads of information about Hitler and his thoughts on the disputes on politics and does not include debates about girls. Hitler did spend three years from February 1910 until May 1931 within the Mannerheim estate.
- Ian Kershaw analysis a kind of Hitler’s intended celibate through the prism of Adolf’s pan-germanic views, the Schönerer movement in particular, which had amazed Hitler during his Viennese years. Hitler considered this self-restricting to sexual activity, as well as alcohol and smoking as a means to harden spirit.
- Ian Kershaw examines Reinhold Hanisch’s recollections as a doubtful source of information, which still can confirm Kubizek’s memoirs on Hitler’s sexual experience, a lack of one.
- The after-war version of Hitler’s sexual dysfunctions and the absence of one testicular, which resulted in his personality, should be considered as no more than speculation and a myth. These yellow press statements were once based on the false Soviet sources of the ‘so-called’ autopsy of Hitler’s remains, which in fact had never been true. These historical falsifications do not stand against facts and the actual medical testing of Hitler when he was alive.
It can be said with near certainty, then, that by the time he left Vienna at the age of twenty-four Hitler had had no sexual experience. In a city in which sexual favours were so widely on offer to young men as the Vienna of that day, who were widely expected to visit prostitutes while publicly upholding a strict moral codex, this was in all likelihood unusual. Probably, he was frightened of women – certainly of their sexuality.
Every recognized biography of Adolf Hitler faces a dilemma of the authenticity of his own autobiographical passages on the formation of the racial vision already in the Viennese 1907-1913 period. The author examines this traditionally accepted conception by means of cross-examining the sources and socio-cultural life in Vienna. Whereas in contrast, the majority of books stand for earlier Hitler’s antisemitic nature, Kershaw determines a later period, after leaving Vienna in 1913.
- Ian Kershaw takes August Kubizek’s memoir with great accuracy to details and authenticity and considers his passages on Hitler’s anti-semitic nature the most arguably within the whole testimonies. Almost every state of Kubizek on the issue should be considered questionable. According to Kubizek, Alois Hitler, Adolf’s father, had strong pan-germanic views until his death in 1903 and Adolf had become a strong antisemite already in 1907. Kubizek all but certain invent or exaggerate a story on visiting the Jewish synagogue and expanded Hitler’s own passages from the MEIN KAMPF, including the infamous story about a ‘Jew in black caftan’.
- In March 1938 and as unobvious aftermath of the Anschluss of Austria, Gestapo confiscated some belongings of doctor Eduard Bloch from Linz, a man who had treated Klara Hitler until her death. The investigators found two 1908 new year’s postcards of Hitler to Dr. Bloch with the warmest thanks for his care for Adolf’s mother. Thirty years after Klara’s death, Adolf Hitler, the German Fuhrer, gave an order to protect Jewish doctor Eduard Bloch and to assist his emigration to the USA.
- Reinhold Hanisch’s testimonies, as was repeatedly stated before, should be treated with academic caution, in the meantime, go to show, that Hitler had no severe anti-semitic views back in his Viennese period. Adolf did make friends with some Jews in the Mannerheim hostel for men and gave a spoke favorably on the Jewish art dealers, whose services he himself preferred. In due course of the heated debates within the Mannerheim reading hall, Adolf Hitler expressed his attitude on the racial matters of disputes, yet without a hatred passages against Jews. This argument contradicts Hitler’s own recollections of his strong anti-semitic nature already in 1910. At the same time, the accounts of Josef Greiner should not be considered truthful sources.
Here is, therefore, no reliable contemporary confirmation of Hitler’s paranoid antisemitism during the Vienna period. If Hanisch is to be believed, in fact, Hitler was not antisemitic at all at this time. Beyond that, Hitler’s close comrades during the First World War also recalled that he voiced no notable antisemitic views.
RELATIONS WITH GELI RAUBAL
Professor Ian Kershaw draws the line of maybe the most scandal issue in Hitler’s biography. Indeed, there are no actual facts that Adolf Hitler had sexual relations with his niece, as well as the facts against this supposition. In this respect, the author examines rumors, in fact, sources of information, and dissociates history from allusions.
- Anni Winter, Hitler’s housekeeper of the apartment, which was a residence and the last suicide harbor for Geli Raubal in Munich, dismissed the argument that Hitler had had sexual relations with his niece. These rumors have roots in the critics of Otto Strasser, Hitler’s political opponent.
- The after-war false sensation, that it was either Hitler himself or the SS guards who killed Geli Raubal and fabricated the suicide to avoid the sexual scandal, has no in common with the facts. Despite the anti-nazi rumors, there were found no additional traces of violence on Geli’s body, except the bullet hole. Hitler was in Nuremberg at the time of the accident and had a strong dependence on Geli that it’s unlikely for him to order Raubal’s assault. The rumors that Geli was pregnant with a child of a Jewish student in Munich or of an officer, are no more than inventions of Hans Frank and Bridget Hitler, the first wife of Hitler’s half-brother, Alois.
- The actual nature of Hitler’s relations with his niece would not probably be submitted in the long run, and all the history has is doubtful accounts and speculations. At the same time, it’s beyond argument that Hitler had emotional dependence on a woman, Geli Raubal for the first time in his life (apart from his love for his mother Klara)
It was different with Geli. Whatever the exact nature of the relationship – and all accounts are based heavily upon guesswork and hearsay – it seems certain that Hitler, for the first and only time in his life (if we leave his mother out of consideration), became emotionally dependent on a woman. Whether his involvement with Geli was explicitly sexual cannot be known beyond doubt
Despite the after-war speculations and the well-known historical ‘Reichstag fire’ euphemism, Ian Kershaw did not find strong proofs that the sabotage itself was fabricated by the Nazis. The book deepens into the issue and takes us to a conclusion that the Nazi powers used the accident and distorted the motives of Marinus van der Lubbe, who was a fanatic indeed. Hitler fell into a hysterical state and formed a myth about the communist revolution and an assault on the German nationality, which in this respect has to be defended.
Diels tried to say that the fire was the work of a ‘madman’ (einen Verrückten). But Hitler brusquely interrupted, shouting that it had been planned long in advance. The Communist deputies were to be hanged that very night, he raged. Nor was any mercy to be shown to the Social Democrats or Reichsbanner.