The Führer’s monologues (ix)

This edition

The texts published here are all part of Martin Bormann’s collection of Führergespräche (Führer talks). They are printed in unabridged form, retaining their chronological order. As a rule, Heim summarised the content in a note immediately after each conversation. Only in a few cases did he add statements to later notes, resulting in slight deviations in the chronology (e.g., table talk #91). Only the regularly recurring opening formulas were deleted: ‘The boss expressed himself at tea in approximately the following lines of thought’ or: ‘The boss expressed himself in the sense of, among other things, the following lines of thought’.

Spelling has been normalised; corrections of obvious spelling mistakes, especially in personal names, are not marked. The omissions in the text appear in the original. It is unclear whether Heim left the gaps because he did not remember the information correctly, or whether there are other reasons for the omissions.

The records of Heim’s conversations that Henry Picker transcribed and included in his edition of the Tischgespräche are all marked with an asterisk after the document number. Given the errors and oversights that Picker made in transcribing or printing his documents, these texts should in future be cited according to the edition available here. The editor did not consider it necessary to point out all the deviations and oversights, as this would have impaired the readability of the source and bloated the annotation apparatus.

Document 6 of 9 August 1941, which Picker included in his edition, is not in the collection of interview transcripts. Nor was it written by Heim, as Picker claims. Whether these Grundsätze der Offiziers-Ehrauffassung were formulated based on the keywords and guiding ideas given by Hitler himself must remain an open question. They do not belong in this collection and are not included in the first edition of Tischgespräche edited by Gerhard Ritter.

Four of Hitler’s monologues (#41, 61, 62 and 213) were recorded by Martin Bormann himself. In character, they are more file notes and were partly dictated as such. However, since the head of the Party Chancellery himself classified them as ‘Führer Talks’ and placed them chronologically in his collection, they have been included in this edition, as have documents #203 to 212, which were prepared by one of Bormann’s assistants after Heim’s departure.

All other documents were dictated and signed by Heim.

Our commentary on Hitler’s monologues has been kept deliberately brief. The editor has refrained from interpreting expressions of opinion on questions of history, politics, worldview or art, as this would have more than doubled the annotation apparatus.

Published in: on May 21, 2022 at 9:59 am  Comments Off on The Führer’s monologues (ix)  

The Führer’s monologues (iii)

Picker (pic left) pointed out in the introduction to the edition of his Table Talk that, apart from short walks, Hitler ‘only found the necessary mental and spiritual relaxation in private conversation at his table, i.e. in talking in a personal, convivial atmosphere’.[1] This purpose was best achieved the further the respective topic of conversation led away from the pressing tasks and decisions of the day. Since every effort and concentration was to be avoided, the guests refrained from deepening or continuing a topic by asking questions or raising objections. In addition, the commander-in-chief, who was cut off from many contacts and isolated from the people in his headquarters, also monologued to gain clarity for himself. He found it particularly helpful when the guests were open-minded and joined in. During the war, the small dinner party replaced the population, whose response Hitler had always so urgently needed for his decisions and whom he could not entirely do without.

The need for communication became even more obvious at the nightly teatimes. Hitler didn’t retire after the evening briefing to relax or reflect on current events, but invited a few confidants to his bunker, which also served him as a workroom, to shed the burden of the day and gain new energy. He attached particular importance to the presence of his secretaries, because he felt stimulated by this, but at the same time the informal atmosphere was preserved. Very different topics were often discussed than in the conversations in the larger circle.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
Editor’s Note: This is what those who do a detailed analysis of Mein Kampf fail to understand: the real Hitler is the one of his after-dinner talks. The other is the ‘PR Hitler’ for the masses.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
When assessing Hitler’s monologues, these aspects will always have to be taken into account. It corresponded to the need for relaxation and repression that in the winter months of 1941/42 the serious crisis on the Eastern Front, the hardships of the population in the increasingly severe war, the supply difficulties and the looming weakness of Italy weren’t mentioned at all. No less visible is the need for recreation in the reminiscences of a special past, the reports of interesting encounters and experiences, and discussions about questions of art. This is often matched by the style of relaxed chit-chat, whereby the topics changed quickly and easily and undoubtedly not every word and every opinion should be weighed on the gold scales.

Hitler sought contact with his aides and collaborators when fundamental questions of worldview and politics moved him and he wanted to gain clarity about his course of action, especially about the possibilities and limits he had for his actions during the war. The frequent discussions on questions of faith, the vitality of Christianity in Germany and Europe, the position of the churches on National Socialism and politics in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe belong in this context; and the same for his remarks on the administration of justice and the special problems of the penal system under the exceptional conditions of war. Hitler sensed in his conversations with the few people around him in the Führer’s headquarters that the readiness to take tougher and more uncompromising action against outsiders or enemies of the regime grew the more severe as the war unfolded, and the sacrifices it demanded. Even in the seclusion of his headquarters, he still had a feeling for the mood in the country and the state of consciousness of the individual groups and classes. Hence his repeated harsh criticism of the administration and its schematism, which was shared by parts of the population, his mockery of the concerns and objections of the experts in all areas of public life, and his anger at the Germans who showed fear and disgust given the deportations of Jews and the persecution measures in the occupied territories.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
Editor’s Note: This reminds me of American racialists that falter over the exterminationist measures that William Pierce fantasized about in both fiction and his story of the white race.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
Now, admittedly, the records convey only an inadequate picture of Hitler’s remarks. Heim did take notes at lunchtime and in the evening during the talks in the larger circle ‘to have a basis for the most important details’. But even then, after the board had been removed, he was only able to summarise on a few pages what sometimes had been discussed in great detail. For the very long monologues during the nightly teatimes, he had to rely entirely on his memory.

Furthermore, Bormann’s adjutant, who was interested in problems of art, refrained from the outset from ‘recording statements on military and questions of technology’ because he wasn’t competent and knowledgeable in this regard. He did this in wise self-restraint, although conversations about these topics at the table took up a great deal of space and Hitler had considerable knowledge in these areas. But beyond that, Heim didn’t jot down anything unless he was sure ‘that he had grasped the gist of it’. When reading these notes it must always be borne in mind that they contain by no means everything that concerned Hitler and what he talked about.

Nevertheless, the transcripts presented here are of great value because the man who made them, as a convinced National Socialist, tried to capture the ‘train of thought and the quintessence’ of what he heard. Particularly short, striking statements and remarks on ideological and political issues, that were familiar to Heim as an old party comrade, stuck with him. When talking about less familiar topics or events that were off the beaten track, on the other hand, sentences were sometimes recorded that no longer allow a full reconstruction of the course of the conversation and the train of thought.

No matter how hard Heim tried to convey the words of his leader as faithfully and accurately as possible, they remain subjectively filtered. Here, too, what Baroness Spitzemberg noted in her diary about a long conversation with Bismarck in Friedrichsruh after his resignation is true: ‘In writing all this down immediately after hearing it, with no other intention than to entrust the great man’s words to this book, I realise how inevitable the errors are… When I read over what has been written, I am well aware that I have not written anything wrong; but some things have nevertheless been left out, through the different order or it doesn’t appear as it was intended. Perhaps I put a different meaning in the prince’s words!’[2]

To leave no doubt that it was always only a summary of Hitler’s remarks, Heim introduced each interview note with a sentence such as: ‘According to the meaning, the chief expressed himself in approximately the following lines of thought’, or: ‘Among other things, according to the meaning, the chief expressed himself as follows…’ This practice was also adhered to by Bormann’s adviser, who recorded the few statements from the years 1943/44. His notes always began with the formula: ‘Today the Führer said roughly the following…’ This makes it clear that it is merely a reproduction, that long discussions were summarised, and that occasionally less important or very specific statements were omitted.

This finding must be particularly emphasized because Picker described Heim’s 36 conversation recordings, which he included in his edition of the Tischgespräche, as ‘original shorthand’.[3] This claim may be in private interest—shorthand notes are not protected by copyright to the same extent as memorial transcripts and memos, but it doesn’t serve the needs of science and the interested public at all. After all, there is a serious difference between a verbatim reproduction of Hitler’s remarks and a summary of his monologues.

Moreover, Picker’s assertion that he had received the express permission of Hitler and Bormann to take his own and some selected notes of Heim’s must also be questioned. According to Heim, Hitler knew nothing at all about his notes. He can therefore—at least in the case of Heim’s texts—hardly have had material at his disposal of which he had no knowledge. Furthermore, it is not evident why Bormann treated the Führer’s talks as a ‘secret’ party matter and carefully kept them safe, if at the same time he expressly released them as a private work.

For the evaluation of the source, it is of great importance whether Hitler carefully checked his statements in the knowledge of the transcripts and only said what was allowed to become known, or whether he was able to speak freely and relaxedly in a circle of confidants about questions that shouldn’t leak out, to which he didn’t yet have a clear answer. All the information suggests that the latter was the case. In any case, Hitler didn’t expect that what he said at the nightly meetings in his study would be recorded in writing. In this relaxed atmosphere he expressed himself more openly and informally than at the lunch and dinner table. Picker was well aware of this, because during his work on Bormann’s staff he mainly procured copies of these notes. Of the 36 notes he took from Heim’s inventory into his edition, 13 alone refer to the nightly teatimes, to which he was never asked.

___________

[1] Picker, Hitlers Tischgespräche, p. 24.

[2] Das Tagebuch der Baronin Spitzemberg. Ausgewählt und herausgegeben von Rudolf Vierhaus (The Diary of Baroness Spitzemberg. Selected and edited by Rudolf Vierhaus). Göttingen 1976, p. 291.

[3] Picker, Hitlers Tischgespräche, p. 33.

The Führer’s monologues (ii)

The majority of Hitler’s monologues, which are published in this volume, were handed down by Heinrich Heim (pic above). He was born in Munich on 15 June 1900, and grew up in Zweibrücken where he also attended school.

In keeping with his heritage—Heim came from an old and respected Bavarian legal family (his father was a judge at the Bavarian Supreme Court and from 1918 to 1925 a member of the Bavarian State Court and for a time of the Disciplinary Court)—he studied law at the University of Munich.

Heim met Rudolf Hess at an economics college and through him came into contact with the NSDAP, which he joined as early as 19 July 1920. After passing his exams for the higher judicial and administrative service, the young lawyer set up his own practice in Munich. He worked in an office partnership with Dr Hans Frank, who was already Hitler’s and the NSDAP’s preferred legal representative at that time. Heim, too, immediately became active as a lawyer for the party. He primarily represented the interests of the NSDAP’s relief fund, which was headed by Martin Bormann. This established a collaboration that lasted until 1945.

When Rudolf Hess was appointed Deputy Leader in 1933 and Martin Bormann appointed as his chief of staff, the systematic development of an efficient party headquarters began.

Bormann brought Heim onto his staff on 13 August 1933 where he worked, albeit initially on a fee basis without clearly defined responsibilities. Only after the National Socialist party leadership had been given a say in state legislation and namely in the appointment and promotion of civil servants, other lawyers and staff were recruited. In the newly established constitutional law department of the party headquarters, Heim was assigned the handling of all questions concerning the judiciary. He remained in this position of head of the Reich Office until the end of 1939. In 1936 he was appointed senior government councillor, and in 1939 he received the rank of ministerial councillor.

When, at the beginning of the war, Martin Bormann (who had already been in Berlin from time to time and had kept the connection between Hitler and the party leadership) followed the leader of the NSDAP to his respective headquarters, he took Heim with him as his adjutant. He remained in this position from the end of 1939 until the autumn of 1942. After that, when he returned to the Braune Haus in Munich, he headed a newly created department until the end of the war, in which fundamental questions of a reorganisation of Europe were dealt with.

The decisive factor for Heim’s command to the Führer’s headquarters was Hitler’s wish. If possible, he only wanted to see people he knew in his environment.

The fact that Heim was one of his earliest followers (he had the old membership number 1782) also established a special relationship of trust that made him seem suitable to record Hitler’s discussions and explanations. As Bormann’s adjutant, Heim not only ate regularly at Hitler’s table, but he was also frequently invited to the nightly teatimes in the Führer’s bunker, which were attended only by the closest political confidants and the secretaries. The circle was rarely larger than six to eight people. The records of these nocturnal monologues by Hitler make up the special value of Heim’s collection.

In spring 1942, Heim was commissioned to assist the painter Karl Leipold, to whom he was particularly close, in preparing an exhibition at the Haus der Kunst. For the time of his absence from the Führer’s headquarters from March to July 1942, Bormann was looking for a substitute. Since no one was available in the party chancellery, he turned to the Gauleiter of the NSDAP and asked them for suggestions. Among the names he was given was that of Dr Henry Picker, a senior government official. He had been proposed by the Gauleiter of Oldenburg, Karl Rover. The party chancellery made a preliminary selection, and the decision lay with Hitler himself.

Bormann accepted Picker as Heim’s representative because the proposal came from a proven Gauleiter and Hitler transferred the recognition he paid to Picker’s father to his son. Senator Daniel Picker had already promoted the NSDAP in Wilhelmshaven in 1929 and brought its leader into contact with representatives of the shipyard industry and the navy.[1]

During his visits to the port city, Hitler had repeatedly been a guest in the Picker house. For the sake of clarification, it deserves to be stated that Henry Picker did not come to the Führer’s headquarters as a civil servant or lawyer, but served there as Bormann’s adjutant on behalf of the Party Chancellery. His permanent duties therefore included recording Hitler’s conversations during the official lunch and dinner table.

____________

[1] Picker: Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier (op. cit.), page 12.

Published in: on January 6, 2022 at 12:37 pm  Comments Off on The Führer’s monologues (ii)  

The Führer’s monologues (i)

Editor’s note: This site has been promoting Richard Carrier’s work about the dubious historicity of Jesus. But Carrier is a typical neochristian. As Robert Morgan once said, the Christian influence on culture has been so profound that even atheists like Dawkins and Carrier accept the Christian moral framework without question. Carrier’s liberalism has gone so far that he even subscribes the psychosis en mass that a human being can choose his or her sex, disregarding biology.

Carrier also talks nonsense about Hitler, especially about the Führer’s after-dinner talks. All his rigour as a scholar of 1st-century Mediterranean religions goes out the window when he addresses Hitler’s anti-Christianity. Carrier cheats by deliberately using sloppy English translations instead of the originals (this video featuring David Irving and Richard Weikart explains it briefly).

Here is my hand holding one of the good German editions, Henry Picker’s, which, unlike the popular translations, wasn’t slightly altered. It is time to refute Carrier’s claim that Hitler wasn’t anti-Christian, although in this new translation I will be using another edition also mentioned in the above-linked video, not the book in my hand. However, the editor’s introduction is too long for a single blog post and I’ll have to divide it into parts (i, ii, iii, etc.). If you want to read it all in the original language, you can do so in the German section of this site.
 

______ 卐 ______

 

Adolf Hitler

Monologues at the Führer’s Headquarters 1941-1944

– The Records of Heinrich Heim Edited by Werner Jochmann –

 
Introduction

Shortly after the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann suggested recording Hitler’s conversations during breaks in the Führer’s headquarters. He was guided by the following considerations: After years of unprecedented restlessness with travels, visits, events, intensive consultations with architects, artists, party leaders, representatives of the state, the economy and the Wehrmacht, and after the major foreign policy actions and the first campaigns of the Second World War, the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht was now directing operations against the Red Army with his staff from East Prussia. To preserve for posterity the ideas and conceptions he developed in this seclusion and during the most decisive phase of the war so far, Bormann, as head of the party chancellery, asked his adjutant Heinrich Heim to set them down.

On the way home from a lunch meeting with Hitler at the end of June or beginning of July 1941, Heim reports, Bormann suggested that he ‘try to write down from memory an omission we had just heard. What I submitted to the Reichsleiter seemed to him to miss what he was interested in; he therefore made a transcript himself and submitted it to me; inwardly I held fast to my idea, even if I could not reprove his’. Some of the difficulties that had been encountered in this accidental recording of Hitler’s expositions could be overcome by proceeding according to plan. From then on, Heim concentrated intensively on the course and content of the conversations at the table; as far as possible, he also unobtrusively noted down a few keywords, occasionally even the one or other striking sentence. With the help of these notes, he then immediately dictated his notes of the conversation to one of Bormann’s secretaries. During the nightly teatimes, however, to which only a small and intimate circle was invited, there was no opportunity to record even a single word. Since this intimate circle often remained gathered around Hitler until the first hours of the following day, the record of the course of conversation could only be dictated the next morning.

In his casual chats, Hitler frequently changed the subject. Initially, therefore, an attempt was made to systematically summarise remarks on certain problem areas over several days.[1] However, since this procedure lost the immediacy of the statement and it was also impossible to reconstruct the context in which the remarks were to be placed, it was quickly abandoned. The conversations were recorded in their course and in the order in which they took place. As a rule, Hitler spoke alone, usually choosing topics that moved him at the time. In many cases, however, he evaded the pressing problems by distancing himself from the work of the day, for example, in reports from his school days or the early days of the NSDAP. Not every monologue Heim recorded advances the reader’s political insight. But all of them provide an insight into the everyday life of the Führer’s headquarters and the mentality and lifestyle of Adolf Hitler.

Martin Bormann was soon very satisfied with Heim’s work. He saw a collection of material emerging to which he attached great importance. In a memo to the Party Chancellery in Munich, he wrote on 20 October 1941: ‘Please keep these – later extremely valuable – notes very well. I have finally got Heim to the point where he is taking detailed notes as a basis for these memos. Any transcript that is not quite accurate will be corrected by me once again!’ As far as can be seen, there was little cause for correction. In the record published here, the head of the Party Chancellery added only a few additions, which are marked in the text of the edition. The extent to which individual objections and remarks were already taken into account in the final transcription of the notes cannot be established with certainty. According to Heim’s statements, this was not the case, and the findings in the files also speak against it. For each talk note, an original was made, which Heim revised and corrected once more. An original with two carbon copies was made of the final version. The first, signed by Heim in each case, was taken by Bormann, the carbon copies were kept by the heads of the political and constitutional departments of the party chancellery. Some notes dictated and signed by Bormann himself were added to the collection.

Heim’s notes begin on 5 July 1941, are interrupted on 12 March 1942, then continued again from 1 August to 7 September 1942. During Heim’s absence, his deputy, Oberregierungsrat Dr Henry Picker, prepared the talk notes from 21 March to 31 July 1942. At the beginning of September 1942, a serious crisis occurred at the Führer’s headquarters. Hitler was disappointed by the lack of success of Army Group A in the Caucasus. He heaped reproaches on the Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal List, and his generals. The Chief of the Wehrmacht Joint Staff, Colonel General Jodl, therefore flew to the Field Marshal’s headquarters to get information about the situation on the fronts of the Army Group. On his return to the Führer’s headquarters on 7 September, he recommended to Hitler a cessation of the attack and a withdrawal of the Mountain Corps, which had been particularly far advanced and weakened by the hard fighting.[2] Hitler reacted angrily and accused Field Marshal List of not following his orders and therefore being responsible for the failure. When Jodl, on the other hand, claimed that the Army Group had strictly followed his instructions and thus indicated that the criticism fell back on Hitler, the rupture was sealed.

The consequence of this serious conflict was that from then on Hitler had the briefings recorded by Reichstag stenographers; did not leave his barracks in daylight for long periods and, in particular, no longer ate with the members of the Führer’s headquarters.[3] To what extent his self-confidence received a severe blow from this event, because he realised that his goals in Russia could no longer be achieved, may remain undiscussed in this context. What is decisive is that Hitler henceforth distrusted his officers and showered them with reproaches that shocked even his closest political confidants.[4] Martin Bormann, too, registered with concern that Hitler was closing himself off more and more from those around him.[5] The transcripts end with the abolition of the common table. If there were still conversations in a relaxed atmosphere afterwards, there was hardly any opportunity to record them. The few notes made in 1943/44 by one of Bormann’s advisers, who also added them to the collection of Führer conversations, are summarised – released for publication – in the fourth part of this volume. A glance at these few documents reveals the change in atmosphere that had taken place since September 1942. Hitler no longer spoke so freely, most questions were only touched on briefly.

Martin Bormann marked his collection of ‘Führer conversations’ as ‘secret’ and sent parts of it to his wife for safekeeping. Gerda Bormann left Obersalzberg on 25 April 1945, after the property had been destroyed in a bombing raid, and took not only her husband’s letters but also the conversation notes with her to South Tyrol. She died there in a prisoner-of-war camp in Merano on 23 March 1946.[6] After the German surrender, an Italian government official in Bolzano took over the entire collection and later sold it to François Genoud in Lausanne, who still owns it. It forms the basis of the present edition.

While Henry Picker has meanwhile repeatedly published his conversation notes from the Führer’s headquarters,[7] Heim’s much more extensive notes have so far only been published in foreign languages. A French edition was produced by François Genoud[8] at the beginning of the 1950s; the English edition, by H. R. Trevor-Roper at the same time. This first English edition was followed by a second in 1973; [9] two American editions identical to the English edition had appeared before that.[10] Since these translations of such a central source are much used by international researchers, it is about time that it is finally made accessible in the original text. This is all the more urgent because specific National Socialist terms and also some of Hitler’s linguistic idiosyncrasies can only be translated imperfectly. Attempts to retranslate his remarks have inevitably led to errors that have been to the detriment of the interpretation.

__________

[1] Cf. Gespräch Nr. 28, S. 74.

[2] Colonel General Haider, Kriegstagebuch Vol. III, edited by Hans-Adolf Jacobsen. Stuttgart 1964, p. 518 f. (8. 9. 1942).

[3] Notizen des Generals Warlimont. Kriegstagebuch des OKW, Vol. 2, 1st half volume. Compiled and explained by Andreas Hillgruber. Frankfurt/Main 1963, S. 697.

[4] Heinrich Hoffmann reports on a conversation with Hitler in late summer or autumn 1942, in which Hitler called his officers ‘a pack of mutineers and cowards’. Hoffmann notes: ‘I was deeply affected by this abrupt outburst of hatred. I had never heard Hitler talk like that before’. Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler, wie ich ihn sah. Munich-Berlin 1974, page 178.

[5] Bormann in letters to his wife Jochen von Lang, Der Sekretär. Stuttgart 1977, page 230.

[6] Death certificate of the registry office I in Berlin. Cf. Joseph Wulf, Martin Bormann. Gütersloh 1962, page 223.

[7] Henry Picker, Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier 1941-42 (Hitler’s Table Talks at the Fuehrer’s Headquarters 1941-42), ed. by Gerhard Ritter, Bonn 1951. The second edition was supervised by Percy Ernst Schramm in collaboration with Andreas Hillgruber and Martin Vogt. It appeared in Stuttgart in 1963 and was followed in 1976 by a third new edition edited by Picker himself, published by Seewald-Verlag, Stuttgart. The edition edited by Ritter was published in Milan in 1952 in an Italian translation Conversazioni di Hitler a tavola 1941-1942. Andreas Hillgruber supervised the edition published by Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich, in 1968, and in 1979 Goldmann-Verlag in Munich published a paperback edition edited by Picker.

[8] Adolf Hitler, Libres Propos sur la Guerre et la Paix, recueillis sur l’ordre de Martin Bormann. Paris, 1952 and 1954.

[9] Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-44: His Private Conversations. London 1953 und 1973.

[10] Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941-1944. New York 1953 and 1961.

Hitler’s table talks

by David Irving


David_irving

Hitler’s Table Talk is the product of his lunch- and supper-time conversations in his private circle from 1941 to 1944. The transcripts are genuine. (Ignore the 1945 “transcripts” published by Trevor-Roper in the 1950s as Hitler’s Last Testament—they are fake.)

The table talk notes were originally taken by Heinrich Heim, the adjutant of Martin Bormann, who attended these meals at an adjacent table and took notes. (Later Henry Picker took over the job). Afterwards Heim immediately typed up these records, which Bormann signed as accurate.

François Genoud purchased the files of transcripts from Bormann’s widow just after the war, along with the handwritten letters which she and the Reichsleiter had exchanged. For forty thousand poundspaid half to Genoud and half to Hitler’s sister PaulaGeorge Weidenfeld, an Austrian Jewish publisher who had emigrated to London, bought the rights and issued an English translation in about 1949.

Uncle-AdolfFor forty years or more no German original was published, as Genoud told me that he feared losing the copyright control that he exercised on them. I have seen the original pages, and they are signed by Bormann. They were expertly, and literately, translated by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, though with a few (a very few) odd interpolations of short sentences which don’t exist in the originalthe translator evidently felt justified in such insertions, to make the context plain.

The Table Talk’s content is more important in my view than Mein Kampf, and possibly even more than his Zweites Buch (1928). It is unadulterated Hitler. He expatiates on virtually every subject under the sun, while his generals and private staff sit patiently and listen, or pretend to listen, to the monologues.

Along with Sir Nevile Henderson’s gripping 1940 book Failure of a Mission, this was one of the first books that I read, as a twelve year old: Table Talk makes for excellent bedtime reading, as each “meal” occupies only two or three pages of print. My original copy, purloined from my twin brother Nicholas, was seized along with the rest of my research library in May 2002.

I have since managed to find a replacement, and I am glad to say thatnotwithstanding the perverse judgment of Mr. Justice Gray—Hitler’s Table Talk has recently come back into print, unchanged.

What is the best Hitler biography?

by Andrew Hamilton




I’m not a National
Socialist, but…
I have read a few
books on Hitler.

Regarding Hitler,
I agree with
Irmin Vinson:



I consider Hitler less a model to be followed than an avalanche of propaganda we must dig ourselves out from under. Never in human history has a single man received such sustained vilification, the basic effect and purpose of which has been to inhibit Whites from thinking racially and from acting in their own racial self-interest, as all other racial/ethnic groups do. Learning the truth about Hitler is a liberating experience. By the truth I mean not an idealized counter-myth to the pervasive myth of Hitler as evil incarnate, but the man himself, faults and virtues, strengths and weaknesses. (“Some Thoughts on Hitler”)

Since literally thousands of worthless books have been churned out about Der Boss, how does one sift through the massive pile of crap on the hopeful assumption that, “Hey, with all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”?

A “good” biography by my definition is an objective, truthful account, not a comic book fabrication about a lunatic, one-testicled rug chewer, or a thinly-disguised religious fable in which Hitler (= Satan/Nazis/Germans/white people) crucifies 6 million Jews (= God’s chosen people, elbowing the Lord Jesus Christ aside) by fantastic and diabolical means before efficiently employing the grisly remains to manufacture bars of soap and lampshades for the amusement of Hitler and his henchmen, or to lighten the burden of wartime rationing.

Hopefully, the book would be well-written and fun to read, as well.

If there’s a reliable bibliographical essay along these lines, I am unaware of it.


Ian Kershaw’s biography

What brought this perennial question—What is the best Hitler biography?—to mind recently was an article about English historian Sir Ian Kershaw in the Guardian (UK) newspaper asserting that the author’s two-volume, 2,000-page (prolixity is the norm in Hitler studies) biography of Hitler published to wide acclaim a decade ago, “is likely to remain the standard life for a generation.”

The biography is: Volume 1, Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris (London: 1998), and Volume 2, Hitler, 1936–1945: Nemesis (London: 2000). A single-volume abridgement, Hitler: A Biography, appeared in 2008.

This pattern of two-volume books and abridgements, plus multiple translations, editions and printings of the same book at different times, often with different titles, continually bedevils the researcher.

Kershaw, who comes from a white, working-class background, does not inspire confidence. Among other things, he’s a knight (OBE), though he claims to be “embarrassed” by the “neo-feudal title.”

During the so-called Historikerstreit (Historians’ Dispute) in Germany from 1986 to 1989, Kershaw teamed with academic mentor Martin Broszat, an anti-German German, to publicly attack other German historians—Ernst Nolte, Andreas Hillgruber, Michael Stürmer, Joachim Fest and Klaus Hildebrand—as apologists for the German past.


“Comic Book” Titles as a Screen

One heuristic I use is to reject any book with a ridiculous or patently propagandistic title.

Using that guideline, the New York Times did Kershaw no favor when it titled its shallow reviews of his two Hitler volumes “The Devil’s Miracle Man” and “When Depravity Was Contagious,” respectively.

Examples of other self-destructive titles are The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler (1977; 1993), Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (1998), Hitler: The Pathology of Evil (1998), Adolf Hitler: A Chilling Tale of Propaganda as Packaged by Joseph Goebbels. (1999), Adolf Hitler: A Study in Hate (2001), and Hitler and the Nazi Leaders: A Unique Insight into Evil (2001).


Books I own

I read Konrad Heiden’s critical Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power (1944) in high school. Its first chapter, “Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion,” was my introduction to Alfred Rosenberg. I remember being enthralled by the book. Heiden was at least half-Jewish (his mother). He eventually fled Germany and settled in the United States, where he died in 1966. In Hitler’s War David Irving warns against reliance upon Heiden’s and several other biographies “hitherto accepted as ‘standard’ sources on Hitler” without further elaboration.

Another book I read while young is journalist William Shirer’s 1,245-page The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (1960). It sold more than 2 million copies and won the National Book Award. I read the whole thing, but with nothing like the zest I read Der Fuehrer. Unfortunately, Shirer’s work is empirically and ideologically flawed.

Robert Payne, author of The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (1973), was a freelance writer, not an academic or journalist. He was enormously prolific. I looked him up in Contemporary Authors and learned that he authored over 110 novels, biographies, and histories. If he began at age 20, he wrote (and published) more than two books per year until he died at age 72. Evidently his pace exacted a price on accuracy. Besides purveying conventional ideological and racial animus, the biography contains glaring factual errors, some very big indeed.

Two spurious memoirs frequently cited by mainstream historians are Hermann Rauschning’s Conversations with Hitler (1940) (US title: The Voice of Destruction and Fritz Thyssen’s I Paid Hitler (1943) (neither of which I own), both published by a Hungarian Jew, Churchill confidant, and world federalist named Emery Reves.

Rauschning’s fabricated Conversations with Hitler has been relied upon by William L. Shirer, Robert Payne, Jewish historians Leon Poliakov, Gerhard Weinberg, and Nora Levin, Alan Bullock’s Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1952) (the first comprehensive biography, Bullock’s Hitler dominated scholarship for years; it also possesses the kind of title that’s a red flag to me; I do not own it), and Joachim C. Fest’s Hitler (Germ. 1973, Eng. trans. 1974), among others. For background on this see Mark Weber, “Rauschning’s Phony Conversations With Hitler: An Update,” Journal of Historical Review (Winter 198586), pp. 499 ff.

Nevertheless, as David Irving points out, “Historians are quite incorrigible, and will quote any apparently primary source [memoirs, diaries, autobiographies, etc.] no matter how convincingly its false pedigree is exposed.” When “serious” biographers rely upon works like Rauschning’s, their books should be approached cautiously, if at all.

Fest’s Hitler, the first major biography since Alan Bullock’s in 1952, and the first ever by a German author, became the bestselling book in Germany upon its publication; the next year it was translated into 17 languages. A prominent German journalist, broadcaster, and anti-Nazi, Fest was one of a troika of Establishment editors who re-wrote, or co-wrote, German armaments minister Albert Speer’s famous memoir, Inside the Third Reich (Germ. 1969; Eng. trans. 1970). (Speer was imprisoned at Spandau from 1946 to 1966.) The book, a worldwide bestseller, made a fortune for Speer and earned widespread praise for its disavowal of Hitler. According to David Irving, Speer had a secret agreement with his German publisher, Ullstein Verlag, to pay 25% of all royalties and proceeds to the State of Israel.

About Fest’s Hitler Irving wrote, “Stylistically, Fest’s German was good; but the old legends were trotted out afresh, polished to an impressive gleam of authority.”

As noted above, Fest fought on the conservative side of Germany’s Historian’s Dispute in the 1980s, denying the “singularity” of the Holocaust (which, however, he believed in). His Wikipedia entry provides lengthy quotations that strike a contemporary reader as heretical.

Finally, a friend kindly gave me his copy of Timothy W. Ryback’s Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life (2008), which is both interesting and informative.


Recommendations of a dissident: William Pierce’s National Vanguard Books Catalog (December 1988)

I’ve often used this valuable reference over the years. It is essentially an elaborate college syllabus. Subdivisions include “European Prehistory, Archaeology, & Folkways,” “European Legend, Myth, and Religion,” “History of Western Civilization,” “Western Art,” and so on. Its 125 carefully-selected titles provide in-depth knowledge and a comprehensive overview of the white race and Western civilization.

With the exception of Mein Kampf, only three Hitler biographies are included in Pierce’s catalog, none of them standard ones. Two are: Heinz A. Heinz, Germany’s Hitler (London: 1934), and Hans Baur (Hitler’s personal pilot), Hitler at My Side (1986).

The third, Otto Wagener’s Hitler–Memoirs of a Confidant (1985), was written in 1946 when Wagener was a British prisoner. It was not published until many years after his death by the late Yale historian Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. Pierce described the book as “By far the most informative and positive memoir by a confidant of Hitler since August Kubizek’s The Young Hitler I Knew” ([German 1953, English 1955], another memoir NV had previously sold).

A notable feature of Wagener’s memoir is that, according to historian Gordon Craig’s New York Times review, it strongly emphasizes Hitler’s pro-British views and depicts the Führer as “an ‘unwitting prisoner’ of Göring, Goebbels and Himmler, powerless to prevent his true intentions from being distorted by evil associates for their own criminal purposes”—claims by an eyewitness that parallel David Irving’s controversial views.


Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and Zweites Buch (Second Book)

Though not biographies, strictly speaking, I own 1950s-era drugstore paperback copies of Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941–1944 (1953) and Felix Gilbert, ed. and trans., Hitler Directs His War (1950).

According to David Irving, the transcripts published as Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941–1944 are genuine. (Though Irving doesn’t say it, the book he discusses, Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941–1944, is the same as mine, but with a different title—I warned you it’s complicated!)

I recommend clicking on the preceding link to get a feel for how important it is to understand the provenance and reliability—the evidentiary basis—of even “mainstream” books and texts you might otherwise assume are problem-free. To his credit, Irving is keenly aware of the difficulties posed by mainstream books and official documents housed in archives. They cannot simply be accepted at face value.

I should nevertheless quote the following from Irving’s web page:

The Table Talks’ content is more important in my view than Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and possibly even more than his Zweites Buch (1928). It is unadulterated Hitler. He expatiates on virtually every subject under the sun, while his generals and private staff sit patiently and listen, or pretend to listen, to the monologues.

Along with Sir Nevile Henderson’s gripping 1940 book Failure of a Mission: Berlin, 1937-1939, this was one of the first books that I read, as a twelve year old: Table Talk makes for excellent bedtime reading, as each “meal” occupies only two or three pages of print. My original copy, purloined from my twin brother Nicholas, was seized along with the rest of my research library in May 2002.

He adds: “Ignore the 1945 ‘transcripts’ published by Hugh Trevor-Roper in the 1950s as Hitler’s Last Testament [The Testament of Adolf Hitler—Ed.]—they are fake.” That book purports to be Martin Bormann’s notes on Hitler’s final bunker conversations.

Mein Kampf was originally published in German in two volumes, the first in 1925 and the second in 1927. English translations combine both volumes into one.

I read Mein Kampf thoroughly in 1988, as my well-marked copy indicates. (The fact that it was ’88 is coincidental!) However, the book did not have an impact on me intellectually or emotionally. I wasn’t a national socialist then (much less a National Socialist) and am not one now. Nor do I view Hitler as a quasi-sacred figure.

Part of the reason for the book’s lack of effect may be due to the particular translation I purchased. In the original German the book was a runaway bestseller and the source of much of Hitler’s private fortune. Even acknowledging the political factors involved, one cannot dismiss the possibility that it reads better in German than in its English translations. The quality of a translation determines how well a book “travels” from one language to another. Both fidelity to the original (accuracy) and transmission of the spirit or feel are necessary. I have experienced translations that capture the originals marvelously, and others where even classic works appear dead on the page.

I bought my copy of Mein Kampf without prior research and ended up purchasing the 1939 Hurst and Blackett translation by James Murphy.

Murphy, a former Irish Catholic priest, was hired by the German government to make the official English translation, but the project was scuttled after a dispute. Murphy continued the translation nevertheless, and it appeared independently in Britain in 1939.

I later learned that many English-speaking National Socialists prefer Ralph Manheim’s 1943 Houghton Mifflin translation (which I have not read). It is possible that Manheim better catches the spirit of Hitler’s original, because he was also the translator of Konrad Heiden’s Der Fuehrer which so enthralled me as a boy.

In his catalog, William Pierce categorized Mein Kampf as “semi-autobiographical,” calling it “a beacon and a guide to every healthy soul in this dark age, to everyone who seeks understanding and light.” He described the differences between the English translations this way:

Manheim translation: Accurate, but marred by anti-Hitler introductions and derogatory footnotes.

Murphy translation: No hostile comments, but the translation is not as faithful to the original text.

After Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote what has become known as the Zweites Buch (Second Book) (1928), an extension and elaboration of his foreign policy aims. It also sets forth his views of the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and the United States. The book was written to clarify his foreign policy objectives for the German public after the 1928 elections. However, his publisher advised him that, from a sales point of view, the time was not propitious for bringing it out. By 1930 Hitler had decided that it revealed too much about his intentions, so it was never published.

In 1935 it was locked away at his order in a safe inside an air raid shelter. There it remained until the fall of Germany in 1945, when it was discovered by the American invaders. Its authenticity was reportedly vouched for by Josef Berg and Telford Taylor.

In 1958 the manuscript of the Zweites Buch, having again fallen into obscurity, was rediscovered in American archives by Jewish historian Gerhard Weinberg. Weinberg, whose family left Germany for the United States in 1938, is the author of numerous anti-German academic books and articles and a vigorous Holocaust promoter. He is Shapiro Senior Scholar in Residence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Weinberg strongly supported the ethnic cleansing of Germans from Eastern Europe after WWII, which resulted in an enormous number of white deaths.

Unable to find a US publisher for the book, Weinberg turned to a fellow Jew in Germany, Hans Rothfels; a German edition of the Second Book was issued in 1961. (A pirated copy translated into English appeared in New York the following year.) An authoritative English edition did not appear until 40 years later: Gerhard L. Weinberg, ed., Hitler’s Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf (New York: Enigma Books, 2003).

Because I had never heard of this book until 2003, I thought the whole story a bit strange. It is unclear how many scholars apart from Weinberg have examined the original manuscript, or what methods of authentication were used. However, David Irving sold the 2003 edition at one of his lectures, and has indicated at least implicitly on several occasions (some quoted here) that he accepts the book as genuine.


David Irving

David Irving’s Hitler’s War is interesting on several levels.

An independent, non-academic historian, Irving has been victimized to an unimaginable degree over many decades by the Jewish power structure, including a global panoply of government agencies, apparatchiks, courts, police, and academic and media shills eternally at its beck and call. His suffering is mind-numbing proof of the bizarre, Orwellian world we live in. Blacklisted and bankrupted, his personal prosperity and former high reputation are in ruins.

His book, as usual, is long: 985 pages (2002 ed.), and again there is the thorny problem of multiple volumes and editions of a single biography floating around. Hitler’s War was first published in 1977, and its prequel, The War Path, in 1978. In 1991 a revised 1-volume edition incorporating both books was issued as Hitler’s War. In 2002, a revised “Millennium Edition” was published under the title Hitler’s War and the War Path, incorporating the latest documents from American, British, and former Soviet archives. This is the one I own.

In an introductory Note Irving states that in the Millennium Edition he has not revised his earlier views, but merely refined the narrative and reinforced the documentary basis of his former assertions.

Famed for working almost exclusively from official archival documents, diaries, private letters, and other original source material, his method has the downside of somewhat impeding smooth narrative flow. However, this is compensated for by the rich source material. Almost incredibly, Irving admits:

I have dipped into Mein Kampf but never read it: it was written only partly by Hitler, and that is the problem. More important are Hitlers Zweites Buch, (1928) which he wrote in his own hand; and Hitler’s Table Talk, daily memoranda which first Heinrich Heim (Martin Bormann’s adjutant, whom I interviewed) and then Henry Picker wrote down at his table side, and the similar table talks recorded by Werner Koeppen (which I was the first to exploit, in Hitler’s War).

In his introduction, notes, and on his website, Irving reveals the care necessary in dealing with even supposedly reliable documentary materials, never mind historians’ work (which he typically ignores). German memoirs, for example, have been extensively tampered with by publishers, Allied authorities, and others. When using them Irving attempts to work from the original typescripts rather than published texts. Even documents contained in government archives have been altered, removed, or otherwise manipulated. His many discussions about such issues are highly instructive.

Irving is not a “Holocaust denier” as Jews claim, though he does not believe in every jot and tittle of their religious narrative as everyone else does.

One of Irving’s most controversial claims is that “antisemitism” in Germany was “a powerful vote catching force,” “an evil steed” that Hitler had no compunction in riding to the chancellorship in 1933. But once in power, “he dismounted and paid only lip service to that part of his Party’s creed.” The “evil gangsters” under him, however—Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, and Joseph Goebbels—continued to ride it even when Hitler dictated differently.

Although Irving maintains that a Jewish Holocaust of sorts did occur (unfortunately, he is exceedingly vague, evasive, and even contradictory about its details, and denies any interest in it), he says that Hitler’s evil henchmen dreamed it up and carried it out entirely without Hitler’s knowledge or approval. Thus, while Irving is a Hitlerphile, he is extremely harsh toward “bad guys” like Himmler (in particular), Heydrich, and Goebbels. The reader may perhaps see how Irving’s central thesis is hard to… accept.

Irving has published a critical biography of Goebbels and is currently working on one about Himmler. Himmler’s elderly daughter Gudrun has publicly expressed her fear that Irving will perform a hatchet job on her father in an attempt to salvage his (Irving’s) reputation.

In fairness to Irving, Jewish historian Felix Gilbert, editor of Hitler Directs His War (above), wrote that “during the war, Hitler cut himself off from all his former associates and interests and closed himself in at his headquarters with his military advisers. The center of Hitler’s activities became then the daily conferences on the military situation.” This suggests possible great autonomy on the part of Himmler and others, at least after the inception of the war. Irving, however, tends to emphasize disloyalty, deceit, and manipulation by Himmler and others rather than Hitler’s isolation or distraction. Still, as previously noted, Otto Wagener’s Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant also presents a picture of Hitler’s relationship to his top lieutenants even in the early days of the regime that is similar to Irving’s.

The most important thing to note is that Hitler’s War is not a biography per se, but a military history of WWII from Hitler’s perspective. My primary interest, however, apart from biography, is the racial, political, philosophical, and social aspects of Hitler’s Germany rather than the conduct of the war.


John Toland’s Hitler

La Crosse, Wisconsin-born John W. Toland is another independent scholar who wrote a major biography of Hitler: Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography. Something of an intellectual renegade in his later years, he managed to stay beneath the radar screen of controversy. His books remain popular and highly regarded. His best-known book, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945 (1970), won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Based upon extensive original interviews with high Japanese officials who survived the war, it was the first book in English to tell the history of the war in the Pacific from the Japanese rather than the American point of view. (Toland married a Japanese woman.)

Toland’s mildly controversial Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (1982) offered a quasi-revisionist view of the Roosevelt Administration’s scapegoating of the Pearl Harbor commanders and subsequent cover-up. The Pearl Harbor book led to Toland’s association with the Holocaust revisionist Institute for Historical Review (IHR), at whose meeting he spoke.

After Jewish terrorists firebombed the Institute on the Fourth of July, 1984, destroying its warehouse and inventory of books (American authorities “never found”—or punished—the perpetrators), Toland wrote to the IHR:

When I learned of the torching of the office-warehouse of the Institute for Historical Review I was shocked. And when I heard no condemnation of this act of terrorism on television and read no protests in the editorial pages of our leading newspapers or from the halls of academia, I was dismayed and incensed. Where are those defenders of democracy who over the years have so vigorously protested the burning of books by Hitler? Are they only summer soldiers of democracy, selective in their outrage? I call on all true believers in democracy to join me in public denunciation of the recent burning of books in Torrance, California.

Toland’s Adolf Hitler was based upon a great deal of original research, including previously unpublished documents, diaries, notes, photographs, and interviews with Hitler’s colleagues and associates. I have had difficulty identifying a good copy of the biography for sale on Amazon due to the headache of multiple editions and reprints I mentioned earlier.

As near as I can determine, the initial publication was Adolf Hitler, 2 vols. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1976). However, sellers often list it for sale on Amazon while really having only one volume (which one is usually undeterminable) in stock. On the other hand, one seller informed me that he checked his 1976 edition in the warehouse, and it appeared to be a complete book in one volume. My impression is that the reprint (I assume it is unrevised), Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography (Doubleday, 1992), is the same book in a single volume.

Toland’s biography was well-received by both reviewers and the public. In his autobiography Toland wrote that he earned little money from his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Rising Sun, but was set for life thanks to the earnings from Adolf Hitler.

Patrick Buchanan penned a column about the book in 1977, after which he was widely condemned for “praising Hitler.” Daniel Weiss of the Virginia Quarterly Review wrote that “In some respects the Hitler who emerges is almost too human, too normal.”

Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review and a longtime WWII revisionist who reads German, writes:

I’m sometimes asked which biography of Hitler I think is best, or which I recommend. In my view, the best single biography of Hitler, and the one I most often recommend, is the one by John Toland, Adolf Hitler. It’s especially good in helping the reader to understand Hitler’s personality and outlook. Kershaw’s biography is detailed, but it’s also very slanted and leaves out a lot.

It would be a mistake to assume that Weber’s recommendation is the result of Toland’s brief connection with the IHR. Adolf Hitler was written several years before that relationship developed. Moreover, in 1977, when David Irving offered a thousand pound reward to anyone who could produce a single wartime document showing that Hitler knew anything about the Holocaust, Toland published an emotional appeal in Der Spiegel urging his fellow historians to refute Irving.

It is unlikely that Toland’s book is “pro-Hitler.” Certainly, reviewers have not attacked it as such.


Conclusion

I guess I’ll go with Toland’s biography, evidently the most objective, despite owning several others instead. Although I’ve only scratched the surface, it is apparent that enormous effort is required to merely survey the field before diving in to actually get a handle on The Most Evil Man Who Ever Lived.

And what is the likely outcome of such an effort? Well, David Irving, who has spent the better part of a lifetime studying the Führer, concluded:

What is the result of twenty years’ toiling in the archives? Hitler will remain an enigma, however hard we burrow. Even his intimates realised that they hardly knew him. General Alfred Jodl, his closest strategic adviser, wrote in his Nuremberg cell on March 10, 1946: “I ask myself, did you ever really know this man at whose side you led such a thorny and ascetic existence? To this very day I do not know what he thought or knew or really wanted.”

_____________________

Fifteen comments about this article can be read at Counter-Currents Publishing.