Δευτέρα, 22 Μαρτίου 2010

The Case for Adolf Hitler’s ‘Free Death’

IN THE MAY-JUNE 2007 issue of THE BARNES REVIEW, Harry Cooper, president of Sharkhunters, a respected submarine warfare-studying organization, reported on a letter by Spanish spy Don Angel Alcazar de Velasco claiming that Martin Bormann drugged his boss, Adolf Hitler, in May 1945 and escaped to South America. Hitler was, in effect, kidnapped by his own people. However, an alternative point of view is strongly argued by nationalist author John Nugent, who says that Hitler did indeed kill himself in the bunker.
Many “Nazis” and SS men did flee to South America, to Spain or to Arab countries to escape jail, torture and death. However, the facts point to Hitler’s suicide (Selbstmord) or, as Germans might call it, Freitod (“free-death”), a positive word for an honorable suicide, as do the decisions for “free-death” made by Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda.

Hitler’s decision was entirely in keeping with his character and his strategy for the resurrection of his movement: to die honorably as a commander in Berlin while his regime, army and people were perishing about him, and never to surrender or run for it.

Can Freitod be a supreme statement of heroism, defiance and dignity, even for generations to come? In many cases throughout history, Freitod has proved the ultimate statement to inspire others to stick to their post, no matter what happens.

David Irving holds the record among historians for the most first-hand interviews with the men, or the widows of the men, who made history in the Third Reich or who attended as young soldiers on those who did.

In his massive 1995 work Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich, Irving reports, based on such interviews and on Goebbel’s own voluminous private diaries, especially from the last months of the war.

According to the diary: “Hitler speculated: ‘I would think it a thousand times more craven to finish myself off down on the Obersalzberg [Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps] than to make a last stand and die in battle here.’ ” (p. 915)

And: Regarding Hitler’s pondering of his own image in history:

“ ‘Better to fight honorably to the bitter end than to live on a few months or years in disgrace and dishonor.’ If worse comes to worst, and the Fuehrer dies an honorable death in Berlin, and Europe goes Bolshevik, then in five years at most the Fuehrer will have become a legendary figure and National Socialism a mythos sanctified by a last grand finale, and all of its mortal errors that are criticized today will have been expunged at one fell swoop.” (p. 916)


One must remember that in Hitler’s “Political Testament” of April 30, 1945, he specifically praises those who fight to the death, especially in the German navy. He was doubtless thinking of the commander of the battleship Graf Spee, Capt. Langsdorff, who chose free-death in December 1939 after surrendering his crew and scuttling his ship, and Capt. Ernst Lindemann of the Bismarck in May 1941.

He was also perhaps thinking of the 10,000 officials of the NSDAP, Hitler’s party, who committed suicide, often with their families, to avoid being tortured and murdered by either the Soviets or the Western Allies.

Hitler would not live to see it, but within a week after his death (beginning on May 7, 1945) the Germans in the Sudetenland, now again part of Czechoslovakia, were killing themselves by the thousands—probably 3% of all the Sudeten Germans (perhaps 60,000) killed themselves to avoid the even more satanic fate then befalling their fellow ethnic countrymen.

To whom was Hitler truly closest in the last 15 years of his life? A case can be made that it was the beautiful, brilliant, dedicated Nordic, Magda Goebbels, born Magda Ritschel in 1901.

Her mother, divorced when Magda was 3, remarried two years later to a Jewish man named Richard Friedlander. Magda married multimillionaire Gunther Quandt in 1921. Magda eventually grew to despise being married to Quandt and divorced him in 1929, but they remained on friendly terms.

Magda began courting again and was on the verge of marrying a Mr. Hoover, nephew to President Herbert Hoover, but was too occupied with her new freedom that she said she would never marry again. At this point in her life she became interested in National Socialism.

One day, while still unmarried to Goebbels, she was introduced to Hitler over tea at the Kaiserhof Hotel [in Berlin]. Both Goebbels and Otto Wagener, who was a close member of Hitler’s entourage, arranged this invitation for Magda. Even at first glance, Frau Quandt (Magda) “made an excellent impression” wrote Wagener.

“She [had] bright blue, shining eyes and manicured hands. She was dressed well, but not excessively. She appeared calm in her movements, assured, self-confident with a winning smile. I am tempted to say ‘enchanting.’ I noticed the pleasure Hitler took in her innocent high spirits. I also noticed how her large eyes were hanging on Hitler’s gaze.”

Hitler later told Wagener how taken he was with her. Later Hitler learned from the rest of his group who had visited Magda’s apartment that Goebbels had turned up there after midnight and let himself in with his own key—an unmistakable sign of intimacy. According to Wagener, Hitler said of Magda: “This woman could play an important role in my life, even without being married to her. In all my work, she could represent the female counterpart to my one-sidedly male instincts. Too bad she isn’t married. Indeed, if she were married to someone [resembling me] who was . . . wedded to politics, I could be permitted a platonic intimacy with her of a depth impossible with a single woman.”

Hitler depended on the political support of women. Almost half of those who voted for the NSDAP were female. Cynically he once remarked of the fairer sex: “Women will always vote for law and order and a uniform, you can be sure of that.”

It is even believed by some, including Otto Wagener (an early Hitler supporter, economic adviser and World War II general who wrote his memoirs in 1946, published as Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, Yale University Press, 1987), that Magda married—and then put up with—the gifted but self-centered Joseph Goebbels in 1931 mostly to be near Hitler and to help him in any way possible.

Finally, Magda was determined to make “the greater commitment”—and married Goebbels in December of 1931. Hitler was one of their two witnesses. Her value to the party was quickly recognized. She broadcast the first Mother’s Day address in May 1933 just after the party seized power.

“The German mother instinctively should place herself at the side of our Fuehrer,” declared this blue-eyed mother who was to have six children by her husband.

It is well known that Hitler was very close emotionally and spiritually to Joseph Goebbels’s wife, and to their children; he especially loved to bounce their daughter Helga on his knee.

Helga later became a classic dark-haired, pigtailed Teutonic beauty. (Hitler in effect put the propaganda minister “in the doghouse” for years after his affairs with actresses became well known in the 1930s.)

Just before Hitler chose free-death, he removed his own historic NSDAP party pin and pinned it on Magda’s blouse.

Thus it may be revelatory of the inner workings of Hitler’s mind to read a remark by Magda Goebbels toward the very end, found in Irving:

In Dresden Magda visited Ello Quandt at the White Hart sanitarium. “The new weapons will be our salvation,” she encouraged her sister-in-law [meaning the V-2 rockets, jets and other Third Reich inventions], then guiltily checked herself: “No, I’m talking nonsense. There is nothing else. Germany’s defeat is only a matter of weeks.” Ello asked what she intended to do. “We’re all going to die, Ello,” she replied. “But by our own hand, not the enemy’s.” (894)

They had been the leaders of the Reich, she explained; they could not duck the responsibility now. “We have failed.”

Of course, such a view would be in harmony with the “Fuehrer principle” Hitler enunciated in Mein Kampf: The leader has full authority to act and full responsibility for the outcome. And, whatever the extenuating circumstances, such as fighting a war against crushing international odds and treason within, the Third Reich did lose the war.

Why would Joseph and Magda have joined Hitler in Berlin, also choosing free-death (and euthanizing their children) on May 1, 1945, if Hitler, the day before, April 30, had escaped to South America?

Why would Eva Braun have joined Hitler in Berlin, married him, then taken poison if he had left behind a double and gone to South America? Would his mistress of 12 years have been convinced on the afternoon of April 30, 1945 at 3:30 pm when she and “Hitler” withdrew to their private quarters to end their lives if “Hitler” were an impostor?


The day before that, on April 29, with Stalin’s Guards Division firing directly into the once-beautiful Reich Chancellery—underneath which his bunker was located—Hitler stated that his preference was to die in actual combat against the raping, torturing enemy, and not by his own hand. In fact, American author and white activist leader Matt Koehl of Wisconsin says that Hitler’s pilot, Hans Baur, told him that Hitler, in retrospect, wished he had already died fighting with his men at Stalingrad. (See TWO WITNESSES, page 30.)

There were three grave problems with Hitler going out with a machinegun or a rifle and hand grenades or a Panzerfaust (bazooka) and facing the Soviet barbarians.

First, physically, the 56-year-old Hitler, who had served as head of state for the previous 13 years, six of them in wartime, was not the man he had been even one year before. (Even American presidents who have never faced a disastrous war on their own soil can age visibly and tremendously in just four years or less, with the stress of high office.)

Hitler’s hands were shaking violently toward the end, probably from Parkinson’s disease; certainly he was under tremendous stress due to the military and humanitarian disasters his nation was suffering since Stalingrad (January 1943); and as a result of the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt by Count von Stauffenberg, a bomb blast that killed three associates standing next to him and temporarily blinded, deafened and wounded him.

Second problem: Hitler quite logically feared being merely knocked out in combat and then captured—for torture and death, possibly after a show trial, as indeed happened to most of his Cabinet at Nuremberg during 1945-46.

Third problem: If killed in combat, his body could be desecrated—as he knew had happened to Mussolini. Just the day before, on April 28, 1945, Mussolini’s body had been hung upside down on a meat-hook, with that of his mistress, at a Standard Oil gas station in Milan’s “Piazza of the 15 Martyrs.” (A dozen of the Duce’s staff had been shot in the back as well. Mussolini’s corpse, with arms flopping, was abused by a Communist mob.)

All three problems with respect to Hitler’s natural wish to charge out into a combat death were logically insurmountable. Regardless of Hitler’s strong desire to die “John-Wayne style,” so to speak, a “free-death,” with the body burned thereafter—using 180 liters of gasoline lit by SS valet Heinz Linge and/or chauffeur Erich Kempka—was the only absolute guarantee whatsoever of fully avoiding a humiliating spectacle.

Goebbels chose this solution: free-death and then burning. Ghoulishly and typically, the Allied media delighted in showing the Soviet-generated photos of his blackened, charred corpse.

As to why the Soviets did not display photos of the burned Hitler and his new wife Eva Braun-Hitler, the paranoid Stalin was convinced at the time, and for years thereafter, that Hitler had escaped. He wanted all Soviet troops and authorities, and the Western Allies, to keep searching for Hitler worldwide.

One may say, with the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, that Stalin was “projecting” his own anti-values. Stalin would indeed have run away and had a double killed to cover his tracks. It was typical of Stalin, for example, to have sat out the heavy fighting of the Bolshevik Revolution and CivilWar (1917-20) as the editor of Pravda and a member of the Politburo while letting Leon Trotsky do the fighting (and in due time, like a patient chess player, to have Trotsky expelled from the Communist Party of the USSR and eventually murdered). Only a wrongful equating of Hitler’s and Stalin’s characters and values makes a Hitler-on-the-run-as-his-people-die scenario even remotely plausible.1

For a man such as Hitler who all his life had been a master of mass psychology, his end had to be dignified and command respect, and for one main reason: Hitler believed in the eventual resurrection of his cause—but only if his final acts, and the final resistance of the Reich, were above reproach.


For this reason, Hitler was outraged at how Gen. Friedrich Paulus at Stalingrad had ended the debacle there with the even worse debacle of surrender. He had ordered the Sixth Army to fight literally to the end, in the style of the immortal Leonidas and his 300 Spartans—or, two years later on, the Japanese at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He promoted Paulus to the rank of field marshal on January 30, 1941, since no one of that rank has ever surrendered before, and promoted 118 other officers as well. But Paulus surrendered, dirty and unshaven. Hitler’s position was clear: the soldiers should have “closed ranks, formed a hedgehog and shot themselves with their last bullets.” (The Japanese would do similar things in the caves of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.)

On February 1, he told Gen. Zeitzler that he thought highly of those Stalingrad officers who had chosen free-death:

How easy it is to do that! And a revolver makes it easy. What cowardice to be afraid of that. Better to be buried alive. . . . And in a situation like this [Paulus] knows well enough that his death would set a sterling example for behavior in the [sectors] of the front alongside. But when he sets an example like this, he can hardly expect others to go on fighting. . . . He could have gone out of this vale of tears and into eternity and could have been immortalized by the nation [as Leonidas was among the Greeks and still is to this day worldwide—Ed.]. But he’d rather go to Moscow. What kind of a choice is that? It does not make any sense at all.2

The Soviets immediately went to work, setting afire the old Soviet military garrison building, which the Germans had converted to a hospital.

Hundreds of wounded were burned to death. Russian soldiers wandered around the town taking prisoners and stripping them of valuables. In a cellar north of the Red Square in Stalingrad, 50 German wounded were doused with gasoline and turned into human torches. After all was over, 91,000 had surrendered and were then in general starved and worked to death in the gulag. Only 5,000 returned to Germany in 1955.


Maintaining command was so important to Hitler that he had ordered deserting SS officer Hermann Fegelein executed on April 29, 1945—and he was Eva Braun’s brother-in-law. In his Political Testament of April 30, the day he died, he expelled his longtime associates Reich Marshal Hermann Goering and SS chief Heinrich Himmler from both the party and the government for their unauthorized contacts with the western Allies, Britain and the U.S. Previously, he had stripped Waffen-SS general Sepp Dietrich (highly popular within the Waffen-SS) and his division of special honors for not fulfilling an order adequately in a battle in Hungary; Dietrich had been with Hitler for 17 years, since 1928, and was a bearer of the Knight’s Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds. (When Dietrich died in 1966, 7,000 comrades attended his funeral.)

Theo Junker, the former Waffen-SS soldier with the Viking division who set up a Hitler- and Waffen-SS Memorial on his farm in Wisconsin (see May-June 2007 TBR), told this writer in May of 2007 that while he was held at a British POW camp for SS and Waffen-SS in Neuengamme after the war, he met a former SS telephonist in the Fuehrerbunker, who told him that Hitler was basically cool, calm, collected—and very much in command—right up until his last day. Despite all the stress, he never “cracked up,” Juenker quoted the man as saying.

For these reasons, it is hard to imagine how Martin Bormann—a man unusually subservient to Hitler, albeit high-handed toward others—could have dared to drug and abduct Hitler and spirit him somehow out of surrounded Berlin to a U-boat (and thence to South America). Once Hitler came to, he would have had Bormann shot on principle if he had any SS guards with him, or he would have shot him himself. (On June 30, 1934 Hitler personally arrested, and then had shot, his longtime friend Ernst Roehm.)

There can be no question of Hitler’s courage to engage in a final act of combat or to end his own life. The two-time Iron Cross winner in World War I, as even the most hostile English and postwar German historians have conceded, was a man of exemplary courage during 1914-1918.

As British activist-writer Michael Walsh wrote, in “Hitler’s War Record” (Historical Review Press Online): Werner Maser, former head of the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Munich, although very hostile to Hitler, wrote a large neutral biography calledHitler, Legend, Myth and Reality (Harper and Row, 1971).

The objective record is clear: “Hitler’s wartime record—campaigns, decorations, wounds, periods in hospital and on leave, is fully documented. In addition there is evidence to show that he was comradely, level headed and an unusually brave soldier, and that a number of his commanding officers singled him out for special mention.” . . .

In 1922, at a time when Hitler was still unknown, Gen. Friedrich Petz summarized the High Command’s appreciation of the gallant and self-effacing corporal as follows:

“Hitler was quick in mind and body and had great powers of endurance. His most remarkable qualities were his personal courage and daring which enabled him to face any combat or perilous situation whatsoever.”

Even those historians least favorably disposed toward Hitler, like Joachim Fest, conceded that “Hitler was a courageous and efficient soldier and was always a good comrade.” The same man noted: “The courage and the composure with which he faced the most deadly fire made him seem invulnerable to his comrades. ‘As long as Hitler is near us, nothing will happen to us,’ they kept repeating. It appears this made a deep impression on Hitler and reinforced his belief that he had been charged with a special mission.”

Even Sebastian Haffner, a Jewish writer and fanatical Hitler hater, was forced to admit “Hitler had a fierce courage unmatched by anyone at the time or since.”

Hitler’s war heroism is a matter of record and it was only when he entered politics, in a bid to stem his rising popularity, that it was ever questioned. Typically, however, detractors were forced to recant and pay damages.

In his massive and hostile Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), the first volume of his two-part Hitler biography, Prof. Ian Kershaw admits (88):

 “From all indications, Hitler was a committed, rather than simply a conscientious and dutiful soldier, and did not lack physical courage. His superiors held him in high regard. His immediate comrades, mainly the group of dispatch runners, respected him and, it seems, even quite liked him. . . .”


It is well known that Hitler adored the heroic operas of Richard Wagner, and there was mutual adoration between Hitler and the next generation of the Wagner family running the festivals at Bayreuth in Bavaria.3

What is less knowable—although very probable—is that Richard Wagner was the primary influence on Hitler’s view of how a Germanic leader should die.

In October (or November) of 1906 Hitler, then 17 (he was born in 1889 in Austria, in Braunau on the Inn River, the border between Austria and Germany), was living in Linz, the capital of upper Austria, and with his close boyhood friend August Kubizek, who was studyingmusic, they went to see a performance of Wagner’s earliest (1840) opera, Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (“Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes”).4

 He had been attending Wagner opera productions at the Linz Opera Theater, “religiously” and told Kubizek he had read everything that the master wrote (including his 1850 “anti-Semitic” monograph, Jewry in Music.)

In 1953, eight years after Hitler’s death, Kubizek published the only extensive first-hand account of Hitler, the teenager: Adolf Hitler, Mein Jugendfreund, 1953 (in English, Young Adolf Hitler, the Story of Our Friendship, 1955, 1976). Much of it has since been documented, and the mistakes appear few and trivial. Kubizek pursued his music and got a local civil service job; he never joined the NSDAP; and he and Hitler saw each other only a few times during the Third Reich, once for a Wagner festival at Bayreuth.

For this and other reasons his book has been considered fair, partial and very revealing by both Hitlerophobes and Hitlerophiles. And it reveals how Wagner became the primary source for Hitler’s values of racial heroism and racial community.

While many Wagner operas feature a hero who dies (notably Siegfried in Goetterdaemmerung, “The Twilight of the Gods,” stabbed literally in the back by Hagen and Parsifal in the opera of that name), it is clear from Kubizek’s book that Wagner’s early opera, Rienzi, was the critical formative experience, a mystical turning point, in young Hitler’s life—just a few months before his beloved mother Klara got the cancer verdict that would rob Hitler of his last anchor in the world of mundane concerns—money, career, women and pastimes.

First, a plot summary: Cola di Rienzo, a real medieval Italian populist figure (1313-54), outwits and defeats the corrupt, selfish Roman nobles and their followers and raises the power of the people, dreaming of restoring the long-vanished Roman Republic and its glories. Magnanimous at first, he is forced by events to crush the nobles’ rebellion against the people’s power, but popular opinion changes and even the church, which has earlier urged him to assert himself, turns against him. In the end the populace burns the capitol, in which Cola and a few adherents have made a last stand; he dies with his beloved sister and her lover by his side.

Specifically, there are repeated, serious assassination attempts against Cola.
In the end, Cola hears a malediction and sees the ecclesiastical dignitaries placing the ban of excommunication against him upon the doors. Adriano hurries to Irene, Cola’s sister, to warn her of her brother’s danger, and urges her to seek safety with him in flight. She, however, repels him, and seeks her brother, determined to die with him, if need be.

She finds him at prayer in the capitol, but rejects his counsel to save herself with Adriano. Cola appeals to the infuriated populace, which has gathered around the capitol, but they ignore him. They fire the capitol with their torches, and hurl stones at Cola and Irene. As Adriano sees his beloved one and her brother doomed to death in the flames, he throws away his sword, rushes into the capitol and perishes with them.

To anyone familiar with Hitler’s last days with his inner circle in Berlin, the opera seems prophetic indeed.


Hansig, Ron T., Hitler’s Escape, Athena Press Pub. Co., 2004-5, 136

Thomas, Hugh, Doppelgangers, Fourth Estate, 1995 & 1996, 320 pp. Yeadon, Glen, The Nazi Hydra in America: Wall Street and the Rise of the Fourth Reich, Progressive Press, 2007, 670 pp.http://www.blackraiser.com/nredoubt/identity.htm


1. The following summary of Trotsky’s role in 1917 was given by Stalin himself in Pravda (Nov. 6, 1918): “All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the president of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going-over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.”

2. John Toland, Adolf Hitler, Doubleday, New York, 1976, vol. II, page 834.

3. Winifred Wagner (1897-1980), who was on very close terms with Hitler, also warmly greeted the American neo-National Socialist leader Matt Koehl, as seen in photos on his website www.theneworder.org.

4. Written in 1840, Rienzi was first performed in 1842.—Ed.

JOHN NUGENT majored in German at Georgetown University, participated in NATO exercises with the Marines in northern Germany, and has undertaken numerous trips and lengthy stays in Germany and Austria. He speaks fluent standard German and one of the Tyrolean dialects.

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