Adolf Hitler, by John Toland

This weekend I finished up Adolf Hitler, the hefty, authoritative biography by John Toland.

It was published in 1978, at a time when many of the book’s major figures were still alive to be interviewed (the ones who hadn’t killed themselves, at least). As one might expect, the material was dense, dark, and disturbing.

A few items of note from the text:

-Hitler’s father Alois was born illegitimate, a heavy social stigma in those days. Until well into adulthood, he went by his mother’s name as Alois Schicklgruber, before later adopting his stepfather’s surname Hitler. This is noteworthy for two reasons – one, it would provide fodder for lingering rumors (still unsubstantiated) that Hitler had Jewish ancestry; and two, Hitler is probably lucky that his father was allowed to adopt a new name, as “Heil Schicklgruber!” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

-As a child, Hitler was regularly beaten by his father, and spoiled by his doting mother, which played no small part in the creation of his violent, narcissistic personality.

-As a teen, Hitler had fun, fun, fun till his daddy took the T-Bird away.

-It is believed that Hitler could count to a million.

-Many found Adolf Hitler to be a lazy, somewhat disagreeable youth. Though gifted, he showed little interest in others, and when conversational topics failed to involve or interest him, he grew sullen and detached. Throughout his life, his closest friends were those who indulged Hitler’s sense of his own genius by listening to him expound at length on topics of choice. (Incidentally, an interesting exception to this was during the final few years of his life, when Hitler seemed to enjoy disputes with military generals willing to forcefully defend their point of view, rather than offer meek objections.)

-Hitler composed the hit song “Under the Sea” for Disney’s animated feature The Little Mermaid.

-George W. Bush is exactly like Hitler.

-Hitler’s mother died of cancer when he was 18. In her final stages, she was cared for by a Jewish doctor who went to great lengths to save her. Hitler showed extraordinary tenderness toward this man for years. His mother’s death instilled in Hitler a lifelong fear of cancer – he seemed to spend his adult days in the constant belief that he had only a few years left before cancer would kill him.

-Hitler was a vegetarian, animal loving, neat-freak, like my wife Bridgette. Unlike my wife, however, he was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. Everybody’s different.

-As a young man, Hitler displayed no unusual level of anti-semitism for a person of that day and age. He later traced his virulent anti-semitism back to his days as a teen in Vienna, though there is little evidence to corroborate this. Instead, it appears that his racist attitudes can be traced to the bitter end of World War I, and the German capitulation and collapse that he blamed on leftist Jewish politics.

-Hitler loved studying architecture. He also loved nachos, as long as they weren’t Jewish nachos.

-Hitler seems to have lived a largely asexual adult life. He had no romantic relationships to speak of as a young man (save for the odd encounter with a prostitute, which some scholars speculate left him with unchecked syphillis leading to his eventual dementia), and later seems to have only half-heartedly involved himself with a mistress here and there. Of course, he eventually married his longtime mistress Eva Braun two days before killing himself, so that ended well.

-One time, Hitler bumped into Indiana Jones (who was dressed as a Nazi), and he autographed Indy’s grail diary without realizing what it was.

-During his final weeks in his bunker underneath Berlin, Hitler liked to spend his days being racist playing Skip-Bo.

-It is believed that Hitler’s last words were, “Who ate all the beef jerky? Seriously you guys, I was saving that!”

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8 Responses to Adolf Hitler, by John Toland

  1. Thom says:

    You know, Peter…I don’t think the most hardened Bush hater believes George bush is EXACTLY like Hitler. I mean, for one thing? No funny mustache.

  2. tim hopps says:

    Teacher of the Year Award, hands down.

  3. John Toland says:

    You know…I don’t remember writing half that stuff. Well, except that Indiana Jones part. My agent keeps saying I need to stop writing biographies when drunk. I still get grief for that chapter on Wedge Antille’s contributions to World War 1 in my book No Man’s Land.

  4. Tracey says:

    So would you recommend the book? And some nachos?

  5. peter says:

    Yeah, I’d definitely recommend the book – the final 400 pages or so were particularly compelling stuff.

  6. Renee says:

    my political psychology professor seemed to suggest that a very difficult potty-training experience was the major cause of adolf’s egomania and thus, the holocaust.

    all parents of children yet in diapers should take that as a serious warning.

  7. Chris B. says:

    I don’t like Jewish Nachos either, but you don’t see me going out and joining the Hitler Youth (real reasons: (1) there is no Hitler Youth, (2) I am thirty, (3) I don’t join stuff.)

  8. Don Roland says:

    Chris B.

    “I don’t like Jewish Nachos either, but you don’t see me going out and joining the Hitler Youth…”

    Yeah, exactly!! We don’t see you but we know you do.

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