In an astonishing revelation found in the memoirs of Christa Schroeder, German dictator Adolf Hitler's secretary, Hitler often hallucinated about happier romantic times because his doctor often injected him with hormones procured from the testicles of bulls.
According to Schroeder's book, the Führer's mood was known to change in the blink of an eye, and his periodic bursts of bonhomie perplexed and overwhelmed most in his inner circle.
AdvertisementSchroeder worked for the Führer from 1933 until the end in May 1945.
She had replied to a tiny advertisement in a newspaper asking for a woman with secretarial skills. The job turned out to be in the Munich office of the Nazi party and after Hitler had been made Chancellor in 1933 she became his main secretary at the age of 25.
Hitler became so relaxed in Schroeder's company that he would talk with surprising openness about his childhood.
"Our room was a place where he felt unburdened... Often he would speak affectionately of his mother, to whom he was very attached, and also of his father's violence.
She recalled Hitler saying-"I never loved my father but feared him. He was prone to rages and would resort to violence. My poor mother would then be afraid for me. I had read that it was a sign of bravery to hide pain so I decided that when he beat me next time I would make no sound. When it happened - I knew my mother was standing anxiously at the door - I counted each stroke out loud."
"Mother thought I had gone mad when I reported with a beaming smile: 'Father gave me 32 strokes.' I never needed to repeat the experiment for my father never beat me again."
Schroeder found Hitler's eyes expressive, even friendly and warm-hearted, but in the last months of the war, they lost all expressiveness and became bulging and watery.
She was also able to tell his mood from his voice. It would start off as being unusually calm and clear, but suddenly it would increase in volume - even during normal conversation - and become overwhelmingly aggressive.
His most frequently used word was "ruthless".
He was also a health fanatic and set great store on personal hygiene. Hitler took as many as nine baths a day, particularly after meetings and speeches from which he would return perspiring.
He prided himself on seemingly endless reserves of energy about which he used to boast to Nazi underlings who could not keep up.
From 1944 onwards, Hitler was no longer master of his own body and his trembling left hand became a huge embarrassment.
When surprised visitors saw the shaking hand he would cover it instinctively with the other.
She also learned to read his reactions to bad news. Although, to the end, Hitler remained master of his emotions, his reaction to bad news was a slight movement of the jaw.
He clearly enjoyed showing off his knowledge. As a largely self-educated man, he had gleaned much information and was obsessive about looking up facts in an encyclopaedia.
This way he often managed to convince listeners that he was a profound thinker and the possessor of a sharp analytical brain.
But he could be caught out, Schroeder recalls.
His waffling cover-up silenced his critics.
Taking dictation, often straight to typewriter, posed problems for the spirited Schroeder.
Hitler would begin to dictate calmly, with expansive gestures.
Gradually he would speak faster and the keys of Schroeder's typewriter would tangle. But he chose not to notice and kept dictating.
Every so often, while pausing to fix the keys, a sentence might be missed and the text would not flow. Hitler would not be pleased.
Sometimes Schroeder went too far. On one occasion she did not like the way he had phrased something and pointed it out. He just stared at her neither angry nor offended and said: "You are the only person I allow to correct me."
Hitler was also fanatical about smoking and wanted a skull and crossbones printed on every packet of cigarettes made in Germany. He believed soldiers should be given chocolate instead of cigarettes.
He also insisted on huge vases of flowers on tables, as much apple pie as his chef could make and he would spend hours listening to classical music - Aryan composers only.
In addition to his hatred for smoking and alcohol he deeply disliked meat and, surprisingly, cats. They made him nervous and he would look horrified if he saw one.
One sure way to irritate the Führer was to make an excessive fuss of his pet dogs.
He was noticeably selfish in his desire for their unflinching affection and if they responded to stroking from anyone else, Hitler became visibly irritated.
Miss Schroeder was arrested at the end of the war and after being convicted as a war criminal, was reclassified as a collaborator and released from prison in 1948. She died aged 76 in June 1984.
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