10 Hotly Debated Theories About Adolf Hitler

10 Hotly Debated Theories About Adolf Hitler 

Adolf Hitler is history’s most reviled,  and perhaps even its most influential, figure.  He was, more than anyone else, the architect  of the Second World War, a conflict that changed  the world forever.  He has been the subject of more books, films,  and documentaries than any other individual,  living or dead.  However, despite this intense and enduring  interest, there is still a great deal about  Hitler that we do not know for sure.  These are 10 of the most debated theories  about the life and death of Adolf Hitler.    

10-Was Hitler a brave soldier?

In the Second World War, Adolf Hitler (pictured  above on the far right) was one of the most  powerful men in the world, but in World War  One he never rose beyond the rank of corporal.  Nonetheless, he served in the Imperial German  Army for several years, even being awarded  the Iron Cross, one of Imperial Germany’s  highest medals for valor.  While there isn’t much good to say about  Hitler, history does record that he was a  brave soldier who danced with death on a regular  basis.  This was certainly the version of history  put forward by the Nazis, but recent research  suggests his war record may have been vastly  inflated.  Dr. Thomas Weber of Aberdeen University tracked  down every diary entry and letter he could  find written by the men who had served in  Hitler’s regiment.  They revealed that Hitler may not, as previously  believed, have served as a regimental runner  – a dangerous job that would have seen him  delivering messages to the frontlines under  heavy fire.  It seems that he had instead been employed  to deliver messages between company headquarters.  This would have placed him several miles behind  the front-lines.  Weber argues that Hitler’s medals for bravery  were awarded simply because his job brought  him into contact with the officers who issued  the medals, rather than for any specific act  of heroism.  While this might not be enough to completely  overturn the general consensus concerning  Hitler’s military service, it certainly  brings it into question.
9-Was Hitler partly Jewish?

The details of Adolf Hitler’s family tree  on his mother’s side have been established  with a good degree of certainty.  The same cannot be said for his father.  Alois Schicklgruber, who later changed his  name to Hitler, was an illegitimate child.  Since nobody knew who the young Shicklgruber’s  father was, that space was left blank on his  birth certificate.  Historians have invested considerable effort  in attempting to work out the true identity  of Adolf Hitler’s paternal grandfather.  The mystery has never been solved, but one  of the potential candidates put forward was  a Jew by the name of Leopold Frankenberger.  The suggestion that he might be partly Jewish  dogged Hitler throughout his life, but thanks  to modern techniques scientists have been  able to attempt to provide an answer.  Some 39 of Hitler’s closest surviving relatives  gave saliva samples in order for their DNA  to be tested.  The results found a chromosome called E1b1b1,  which is very rare amongst Europeans, but  is associated with the Berbers of North Africa  and Jewish people.  This suggests that Hitler might well have  been related to the very people he despised.  
8-Did Hitler murder his niece?

Geli Raubal was said to be a beautiful young  woman.  Adolf Hitler apparently agreed, and in 1929  the pair became entwined in a love affair.  This was despite the fact that Hitler was  19 years her senior and also her half-uncle.  Hitler was by all accounts utterly besotted,  and Geli accompanied him everywhere.  For a time, it appears that Hitler’s infatuation  was reciprocated, but the future Fuhrer’s  obsession soon became suffocating.  He refused to let Geli leave his side and  became enraged if she dared to speak to another  man.  The couple shared an apartment in Munich,  and neighbors reported that on the evening  of September 18, 1931 a huge row erupted between  Hitler and his niece.  The next morning Geli was found shot dead  with Hitler’s revolver at her side.  Sections of the press speculated that Geli  had been murdered by her lover in a fit of  jealous rage.  Unfortunately, the truth will probably never  be known.  Hitler had not yet seized power, but his connections  and influence within Germany were considerable.  He had many friends in high places.  These included the pro-Nazi Minister of Justice  for Bavaria, who ensured that Geli’s body  was swiftly removed from the country for burial  in Austria.  Claims that she had suffered a broken nose  in addition to the gunshot wound that claimed  her life could no longer be verified one way  or the other. 
7-  Was Hitler really blinded by poison gas?

On November 11, 1918 the slaughter of World  War One finally came to an end as the armistice  came into effect.  For the vast majority of soldiers on either  side the overriding emotion was of relief  that they had survived.  That was not the case for Adolf Hitler.  Having been caught in a poison gas attack  some weeks earlier he had been temporarily  blinded and was undergoing treatment in a  field hospital.  When news reached him of what amounted to  Germany’s capitulation, he fell to his knees  and broke down in tears.  At least, that’s the story that Hitler always  told, and despite him being one of history’s  most prolific liars it went unchallenged for  almost a century.  In 2011 the historian Thomas Weber decided  to take a closer look into Hitler’s claims.  Hitler’s Great War medical records had long  since been lost or destroyed.  However, a renowned German neurosurgeon named  Otfrid Forster claimed to have seen them.  Weber found letters that Forster had written  to his American colleagues during the 1930s.  According to Forster, Hitler had been hospitalized  due to hysterical blindness and not poison  gas.  If this is accurate, then it would not be  at all surprising that Hitler invented a different  narrative to portray himself in a more heroic  light. 
6-Did A British soldier spare Hitler’s life? 

Henry Tandey was a war hero, one of the most  decorated soldiers in the entire British Army,  and perhaps a man who unwittingly missed an  opportunity to prevent the Second World War.  Legend has it that Tandey and Hitler met face-to-face  on a World War I battlefield.  Tandey allegedly had Germany’s future leader  at his mercy, but he chose to let him live  rather than gun down a defenseless opponent.  It’s a remarkable story, even more so since  its source can be traced back to none other  than Adolf Hitler himself.  In September 1938 Britain’s Prime Minister,  Neville Chamberlain, flew to Germany in an  optimistic but ultimately doomed attempt to  secure peace in Europe.  While there he noticed a picture of a British  soldier, Henry Tandey, displayed on the wall  of Hitler’s study.  It seemed very odd indeed that an arch-nationalist  such as Germany’s Fuhrer would choose to  display a picture of a British soldier.  Hitler explained that he’d noticed Tandey’s  photograph in the press and recognized him  as the man who spared his life during the  Great War.  It may be that Hitler was mistaken.  Perhaps he even invented the story to bolster  the myth of himself as a man protected by  providence and destiny.  However, Tandey confirmed that he had indeed  spared the lives of several Germans.  It is possible that one of those men was Adolf  Hitler.
5-Was Hitler a weak dictator?

At the height of his power Adolf Hitler presided  over a vast empire that spanned almost all  of continental Europe, and a sizeable chunk  of North Africa.  The conventional image of Hitler is as the  overlord at the center of this vast web, making  all the important decisions and pulling all  the strings.  Some historians, most notably Hans Mommsen,  have argued that this picture credits Hitler  with far more control than he ever actually  wielded.  Advocates of the weak dictator theory accept  that Hitler was the most powerful man in the  Reich, but they argue that he was either unable  or unwilling to exercise the kind of direct  control over his subordinates that the likes  of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin insisted  upon.  Rather than Hitler dictating his decisions  from above, many policies were implemented  from below as his henchman, such as Himmler  and Martin Bormann, fought turf wars amongst  themselves and attempted to dream up schemes  to please their Fuhrer.  On this reading Hitler never really had a  grand plan, he was instead buffeted around  by the forces of history and the chaotic nature  of the brutal party apparatus he had created. 
4-Was Hitler obsessed with the occult?

Nazis are one of the go-to staples for any  fiction writer in need of a baddie.  Frequently, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark,  those Nazis are attempting to harness supernatural  powers.  This isn’t actually a million miles from  reality.  Several members of Hitler’s inner circle  were fascinated by and firmly believed in  the power of the supernatural and magic.  Heinrich Himmler created a special unit within  the SS to collect information on witches and  magic, and the German Navy even set up the  National Pendulum Institute in Berlin.  While the British used sonar to hunt down  German U-boats, the Germans attempted to locate  British shipping by dangling pendulums over  maps of the Atlantic Ocean.  The biggest believer of all was Rudolf Hess,  Hitler’s second in command, who in 1941  stole a Messerschmitt fighter aircraft, flew  to Scotland, and attempted to broker a peace  deal between Nazi Germany and the thoroughly  bemused British.  It seems that Hess’s astrologer had convinced  him he was destined to be the man to bring  the war to an end.  Quite how convinced Hitler was of the existence  of supernatural powers is debatable.  However, there is no question that he often  spoke of a force he called “providence”  protecting him and guiding his actions.    

3-Was Hitler suffering from Parkinson’s disease?

During his rise to power Hitler proved himself  to be an exceptionally shrewd, manipulative,  and cunning politician.  He later demonstrated these same abilities  on the international stage as he routinely  outmaneuvered the established statesmen of  Europe.  As World War Two progressed, Hitler’s agility  of mind abandoned him as his mental and physical  health deteriorated rapidly.  His decision making became so poor that the  Allies abandoned plans to assassinate him,  on the grounds that his mistakes were helping  to shorten the war.  By 1945 visitors to Hitler’s Berlin bunker  were shocked to find their Fuhrer had become  a physical wreck.  His left hand shook uncontrollably, and he  dragged his leg behind him as he walked.  The stress and strain of directing a world  war that seemed increasingly certain to lead  to his death no doubt played their part in  Hitler’s dramatic decline, but some neuroscientists  believe Hitler was suffering from the degenerative  mental and physical impact of Parkinson’s  disease.  Bruno Ganz, the actor who played Hitler in  the 2005 film Downfall, was convinced this  was the case and attempted to portray this  in his performance. 
 2-Was Hitler a junkie? 

Adolf Hitler didn’t smoke, didn’t touch  alcohol, and didn’t eat meat.  He reportedly even abstained from coffee.  Nazi propaganda portrayed him as having dedicated  his entire life in the service of Germany:  he had neither the time nor the inclination  to pursue Earthly pleasures.  The reality, which has only recently begun  to emerge, was that Hitler spent much of the  war doped up on a terrifying cocktail of drugs.  Hitler’s slide into addiction began when  he fell ill in 1941, and his personal physician,  Theodor Morell treated him with a course  of injections of methamphetamine.  Hitler, not surprisingly, found this perked  him up to no end.  Morell soon became indispensable to Germany’s  leader; accompanying Hitler everywhere he  would administer opiates to help his Fuhrer  sleep and cocaine to pep him up before important  meetings.  While Hitler didn’t see himself as a junkie,  he needed drugs in order to function and was  almost certainly severely addicted.  In early 1945 the factories that produced  the drugs he relied on were destroyed by Allied  bombers, cutting off much of his supply.  Hitler was forced to go cold turkey and some  historians have speculated that it may have  been this, and not Parkinson’s disease,  that accounted for his mental and physical  deterioration as the war in Europe approached  its end.
1-Did Hitler survive the war?

Of all the theories swirling around Adolf  Hitler perhaps the most infamous, and the  most persistent, is that he may have somehow  survived the destruction of his murderous  Third Reich.  We know with a good deal of certainty that  Hitler was still in Berlin on his birthday  of 20 April 1945, just two weeks before the  city fell.  However, Berlin was ultimately captured by  the Soviets, and Stalin’s secret police  prevented even Georgy Zhukov, the senior Soviet  commander on the entire Eastern Front, from  inspecting Hitler’s bunker beneath the Reich  Chancellery.  By the time the Americans and British were  finally allowed access, Hitler, whether alive  or dead, was long gone.  With the lack of any physical remains to examine,  the FBI and the CIA initially remained open  to the possibility that Hitler may just have  escaped.  It was by no means entirely implausible; even  in the final months of the war Hitler still  had the ability to call upon immense resources  had he chosen to attempt to flee.  However, the weight of evidence indicates  this was most likely not the case.  Dozens of mutually corroborating eyewitness  accounts place Hitler in Berlin as the Soviet  Red Army closed in around his bunker.  The U-boat in which he was rumored to have  escaped was recently found wrecked in the  North Sea between Denmark and Norway, and  in 2018 the Russian National Archives allowed  experts to study a set of teeth said to belong  to Hitler.  A team of French pathologists compared them  with x-rays taken of Hitler’s teeth in 1944  and found them to be an exact match.  Most World War Two historians believe that  Adolf Hitler committed suicide amidst the  ruins of his shattered Reich in April of 1945,  but rumors that he escaped to South America,  or even Antarctica, do not easily die.
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