Category Archives: Impact of Hitler’s Poor Health on World War II

Requesting Thoughts on “Prescription for Defeat: How Adolf Hitler’s Poor Health Led to the Defeat of Nazi Germany

My lack of posting of late in no way indicates my reduced interest, only a lack of time, as I have been writing extensively on the above noted book.

Recently I put together a synopsis of my book, and I would welcome your input. For example, does the topic generate interest? What questions arise that require answering? Are there any World War II historians out there in the blogosphere who would wish to be beta readers on the manuscript?

Below is the synopsis. I look forward to your thoughts.

Prescription For Defeat: How Adolf Hitler’s Poor Health Led to Nazi Germany’s Defeat in War II

A Synopsis:

On the 20th of April 1889 in the small, bucolic Austrian town of Braunau am Inn, Adolf Hitler was born. No one could have predicted the depravity the cherubic, blue-eyed child would one day unleash upon the world. Adolf with his father, Alois Hitler, an austere, alcoholic 52-year old minor customs official, and his mother, Klara, a 29-year old, socially adept, second cousin to Alois, resided for three years in the modest boarding house in Braunau.

One hundred years later the mayor of Braunau am Inn placed a telling Memorial Stone at the site of Hitler’s birth, eschewing forever the scourge of Fascism. The building where Hitler was born was later razed to assure it could never become a shrine to Hitler or Nazism.

What affected this child’s personality development such that Hitler could carry out such evil deeds? Which factors led to Adolf Hitler committing strategic blunders, leading to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II? This book explores the impact of his poor health and personality and how they worked in concert against Germany’s success in World War II.

One day the rebellious and abused adolescent, Adolf Hitler, resolved to run away from home. His father learned of his plans and to prevent this locked him in an upstairs room with bars on the windows. The slightly built Adolf tried unsuccessfully to wriggle through the bars. He then took off his clothing and re-attempted his escape. Just then he heard his father’s heavy footfalls clomping up the stairway. Adolf jumped to the floor and hid his nakedness by wrapping himself in an available tablecloth. On entering and seeing the strangely garbed boy, Alois gleefully shouted for Klara to come see the ridiculous appearing “Toga Boy.” Alois harshly belittled Adolf then and for weeks thereafter. Such scorn from the man whom Adolf most craved affection and recognition harmed his sensitive, artistic personality more so than the frequent thrashings he received from his father. Years later Adolf Hitler in a moment of self-reflection mentioned this “Toga Boy” humiliation and that it took him many years to recover from it.
Adolf received stubbornness, grandiosity, violent temper, and penchant for scapegoating from his father. He may also have inherited Jewish blood from his father. From his mother he gained unconditional love along with a charming social demeanor that would serve him well in politics. All four siblings of Adolf died young, prompting the distraught mother to place all her long frustrated aspirations for a purposeful life onto her sole remaining child, Adolf.

“My little Adolf, you will become such a great man,” she would whisper in the boy’s ear.
Such fawning contributed to the development of Adolf’s messianic complex as shown later when he determined that only he, and he alone, could lead Germany from the economic and military morass in which Germany found itself following World War I.

Adolf’s failure on two occasions to gain admission to the Vienna School of Art crushed his sensitive ego and vocational plans. Worse, his denial came from a largely Jewish faculty that along with unsettling experiences in multicultural Vienna ramped up his anti-Semitism. Adolf also refused his proud Austrian father’s wish for him to join the Austrian army in World War I and instead joined the German army. There he acquitted himself honorably, receiving not one but two Iron Crosses. The army proved important for his development and for the first time in Adolf’s life, he felt a part of something greater than himself.

Emotionally aimless and embittered following Germany’s defeat in World War I, Hitler drifted to Munich where for a time he spied for the Weimar Republic on politically suspect groups. His work included reporting on the nascent Nazi Party. Therein Hitler found affirmation for his own expanding anti-Semitic and pan-German viewpoints. He soon quit his work for the government, joined the Nazi party, and rapidly moved up within the party’s organizational structure. His rapid ascent resulted from his remarkable oratorical skills and the tumultuous Great Depression, conditions providing fertile soil for the rapid growth of his political ambition.

Adolf had always been a frail but healthy boy. While a tendency toward excessive dwelling on minor ailments existed, he maintained generally good health into the 1930s other than for the residual of of minor war wounds.

Interest still exists today regarding Hitler’s sexuality and the possibility of his having a Jewish ancestor. Although extravagant claims have been made about Hitler’s sexuality, most likely in reality Hitler had diminished heterosexual urges but was sexually potent. Evidence for and against Hitler’s Jewish grandfather is presented and this narrative leans toward a conclusion that some truth likely exists for this claim. In any event Hitler felt considerable unease as shown by his ordering both an SS investigation and another performed by his private attorney. His deep-seated concern gave rise to an overwrought defense mechanism, contributing to his anti-Semitism as well as increasing his hatred for his presumed half-Jewish father.

This narrative also analyzes the contention that Hitler suffered from advanced syphilis (the so-called Jewish disease). But following a review of the neurological and laboratory evidence, this supposition is largely debunked. Better and convincing evidence exists from both historical and medical records for coronary artery disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Adolf Hitler always assumed he would die young. His belief stemmed from the early deaths of his siblings and mother. Hitler also had moderate high blood pressure and received a diagnosis of coronary sclerosis from Dr. Hasselbach in 1936 or 1937. By then Hitler had learned not to climb up to the Kehlstein House that lay at 6000 feet and nearby the Berghof, his Bavarian retreat, as the combination of vigorous exercise and oxygen-thinning altitude aggravated his symptoms of coronary artery disease.
A clear-cut episode of angina pectoris occurred in the summer of 1941 when Hitler became enraged over his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, questioning his attack on the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). Suddenly the color drained from Hitler’s face, he clutched his chest, and collapsed into a nearby chair. Following the episode Hitler attested that he had thought he was having a heart attack. A series of electrocardiograms are reported here and demonstrate the telltale signs of coronary artery disease. Theodor Morell, his private physician, prescribed digitalis and nitroglycerine, both heart medicines.

Coronary artery disease shortens life expectancy, a fact especially true in the early part of the twentieth century. Adolf Hitler likely understood that he could not be expected to live beyond 1944 or 1945. Furthermore Hitler’s second major illness, Parkinson’s disease, likely began even earlier in 1933 or 1934 based on videotape evidence. Historical, contemporaneous reports along with video and photographs provide convincing evidence (stooped posture, hand tremor, abnormal hand positioning, loss of facial expression, handwriting difficulty, and slow movements) for Hitler’s Parkinson’s disease. Hitler demonstrated the classical findings and belatedly Dr. Theodor Morell assigned the diagnosis and began treatment with two minimally effective medicines. Parkinson’s disease (so-called Paralysis Agitans in those days) like coronary artery disease shortened life expectancy such that Hitler predictably would likely not have survived beyond 1945.

Hitler’s limited life expectancy likely caused him to prematurely launch Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941 despite not having fully stockpiled the necessary armaments, having established a pact with Japan, having defeated Great Britain, and not yet having his super weapons (due out in 1944 or 1945) that included V-1 and V-2 rockets, sound activated torpedoes, and jet airplanes. Nevertheless, his lifelong dream of Lebensraum for the German people coupled with his belief that he alone could lead Germany drove the plan rashly ahead.

The behavioral changes that accompany chronic Parkinson’s disease are presented, most noteworthy of which are mental inflexibility and difficulty in concept formation. These symptoms in Hitler are well described in contemporaneous reports and exemplified by his dithering and recalcitrance in June of 1944 at the Battle of Normand and during December 1945 and January 1945 at the Battle of the Bulge.
While other factors most certainly including the Allied military might and intelligence operations greatly influenced the outcome of World War II, too little attention has been paid to Adolf Hitler’s poor health and restraining personality traits. Better understanding of these features assists in understanding why Hitler prematurely launched Operation Barbarossa and demonstrated during decisive battles an inability to change his mind in the face of new and compelling evidence.

It needs to be stressed that Hitler’s illnesses in no way reduce his culpability. His abnormal and long-standing personality flaws consisting of genocidal anti-Semitism, violent inclinations, scapegoating, and failure to accept blame preceded his illnesses by many decades. His poor health in no way mitigates the evil that Hitler unleashed upon the world.

A full understanding of Adolf Hitler’s depravity is required so that such wickedness never again will be loosed upon an unsuspecting world.