“Accusing Hitler” by Michael Dean
In the late spring of 2006, I was sitting in a Munich library reading a handwritten statement by Hitler’s cook. Her name was Theresa Linke. She worked at Haus Wachenfeld, Hitler’s chocolate-box hideout in the Bavarian mountains. The housekeeper there, Linke’s boss, was Hitler’s half-sister, Angela Raubal. Angela was Geli Raubal’s mother. Geli, Hitler’s half-niece, lived in his apartment in Munich, her bedroom separated from his only by a small utility room.
Linke’s statement was over twenty pages long, written in pencil in Gothic script, so at first all my effort went into just deciphering it. As it grew clearer, I felt mild nausea at page after page of the cook’s hysterical enthusiasm for the Führer. But then …
Linke attested that Geli was pregnant when she was found shot to death in her bedroom. This was 1931, two years before the Nazi takeover of Germany. The emerging Nazi Party had only just survived a major sex scandal – Ernst Röhm’s homosexual orgies, exposed by the brave journalists of the Munich Post. If Geli was pregnant, and news of that had got out, Hitler would have been finished politically, and the Nazis with him.
And it got better. As I soon as I started reading again, a phrase leaped up at me: ‘3 Tage lag sie in ihrem Blut’ – She (Geli) lay in her (own) blood for three days. Linke had just blown Hitler’s alibi for Geli Raubal’s death out of the water.
Just being in the Munich library was deeply fulfilling for me. I had given up teaching, lecturing and writing textbooks to write novels full-time. I was becoming obsessed by the Jewish Experience – the richness of it, the sheer bloody injustice of it. I had a list of novels I wanted to write about it, but before I could convey anything I had to understand it. And where better to start than the personality of Adolf Hitler and the nature of the society which shaped him, Munich in the 1930s.
I had some advantages, in my investigation: I lived in south Germany for five years. I speak German. I had experienced how modern Germany, starting in the 1960s, had painfully come to terms with its Nazi past, and repudiated it. I had actually lived in Ludwigsburg, the home of the Centre for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes.
So I knew from early on that my novel would include the Programme of Restitution, Germany’s active attempt to remember, restore and repair, for which she has been given shamefully little credit. One last advantage, if you can call it that: I’m a secular, agnostic, disbelieving, unbelieving, non-membershipping …. Jew.
Back to Hitler: Over the four years or so it took me to write the novel, which was eventually published as The Crooked Cross (Quaestor2000), I discovered two aspects of Hitler I regard as new.
I believe that art is far more central to Hitler’s psyche than is commonly supposed. I believe that Adolf Hitler was an autistic artist savant, a rare condition caused, in his case, by testosterone in his mother’s womb. It became neuro-toxic because his father was beating her. It is the same chemical cause as his psychopathy.
The evidence for this is in the way he did his drawings (not the watercolours) and in the drawings themselves. The way the drawings were executed is attested by witnesses. It was an aspect of Hitler’s life they had no reason to lie about – as with Linke, they were loyal Nazis who did not realise they were dropping him in it. The Crooked Cross goes into this theory. I also wrote an essay, Hitler as Artist, which gives more detail and more evidence. It is on my website.
The second belief I transmuted into fiction is this: I believe that Hitler killed Geli Raubal. I can substantiate part of this argument – that Hitler’s alibi does not hold up. The rest – exactly what happened to poor Geli – is necessarily conjectural, but my conjecture does at least fit the known facts.
But first, as ever with Hitler, you have to deal with encrusted misinformation; what the distinguished historian Ian Kershaw, in a brilliant phrase, called ‘The Hitler Myth.’ This part of the Hitler myth could conveniently be called the Geli myth. It runs like this: Geli was a simple rural girl, madly in love with her uncle, dazzled by him. He got jealous and possessive about her, wouldn’t let her go out, so she shot herself.
This really is … well, I’ll say ‘rubbish’ but there are ruder ways of putting it. And the many films and TV series which have peddled this myth to the public are, in my opinion, serving an aspect of the Hitler myth, albeit not a major aspect.
Geli had an Austrian Abitur, a qualification high enough to get her into Munich University, one of the best in the world, to study medicine. She was in love with Emil Maurice, commonly described as Hitler’c chauffeur, which is true, but misses the point: Maurice was one of Hitler’s few close personal friends. He was a significant enough Nazi to have founded the SA. His SS number was two. If Geli was pregnant, Maurice was the father, because he was Geli’s only sexual partner.
It is true that Hitler was jealous and possessive about Geli. This indicates that he loved her, in a perverse way, but not that she loved him. He did pornographic drawings of her – that’s reliably attested. And he forcibly broke up her engagement to the only man she ever loved – Emil Maurice. We have a reliable witness to the relationship – Geli’s closest girlfriend. She confirms that the love was all one way – Hitler loved Geli.
So the idea that she broke off writing a letter to a friend in Vienna, outlining her future plans (the letter actually stops in the middle of the word und) in order to commit suicide in a particularly painful way, is, frankly, absurd. (Incidentally, plenty of women were committing suicide in Munich in 1931, most of them Jewish. They used Veronal, you could get it at any pharmacy. Geli would have known that.)
Geli was found lying face down, having been shot with Hitler’s gun. Hitler’s alibi depends on the time he left the apartment for a trip to Nuremberg. The Munich police investigation was either slipshod, corrupt or both. Hitler did not give a specific departure time in his statement. Neither his chauffeur at the time, Julius Schreck, nor his travelling companion, the Nazi Party photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, were even interviewed.
It is accepted that the witness statements by Hitler’s house-servants show collusion and evidence of a cover-up. The medical evidence that has been held to clear Hitler was written after Geli’s body had been whisked back to Vienna without a post-mortem.
I regard Hitler’s so-called alibi as conclusively blown. It bewilders me that it has been given credence for so long. There is more detail in my essay Did Hitler Kill Geli Raubal?, on my website. My theory as to how Hitler killed Geli is in the article and in The Crooked Cross.
I had thought that the first part of my self-imposed task to write about the Jewish Experience was complete when The Crooked Cross was published. But it really ended for me a little later:
My wife and I were sitting high above the Stuttgart hills, drinking wine with a German professor. He is a leading expert on the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. We were discussing my second novel, Hirschfeld’s Friends (Quaestor2000), forthcoming, which is set in Nazi occupied Holland.
But then the conversation turned to Ludwigsburg, and I was telling the professor that at the end of The Crooked Cross, one of the characters expresses the wish that more Jews would one day live in Germany than the number before Hitler.
‘It’s happened,’ said the professor. ‘Just about.’
I didn’t know that. We went back to talking about Hirschfeld’s Friends. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Thank you very much, Michael!