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Post Hitler's Brain
Created by John Eipper on 10/02/16 11:42 AM

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Hitler's Brain (Leo Goldberger, USA, 10/02/16 11:42 am)

A question for Eugenio Battaglia: In you view, is the Hitler phenomenon beyond explanation--by anyone? Forget about psychologists--but what about historians, political scientists or other wise folks?

I am puzzled by your seemingly blanket dismissal of an explanation of Hitler's reign of terror.

JE comments: Conversely, we might say there is too much information on Hitler, which leads to a "paradox of choice" à la Barry Schwartz:  The more we explain Hitler, the less we understand him.

To my mind, the fundamental question is unanswerable:  Did Hitler cause WWII, or did the historical factors cause Hitler?  My tentative answer would be yes.  Imagine if Hitler had perished in the Great War trenches.  Then what?

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  • Hitler, the Nazis, and Methamphetamine (David A. Westbrook, USA 10/02/16 7:17 PM)

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this. The Guardian certainly believes that Norman Ohler has provided something new in our understanding of Hitler, and indeed of the Nazi machine. See Blitzed:


    I have to say I like Ohler's story--writer and Berlin club habitue rethinks Hitler in terms of, well, clubbing. Too perfect.

    JE comments:  Much food (and drugs) for thought.  The Wehrmacht's reliance on the methamphetamine Pervitin has always been known, but society in a sense has "caught up.":  With the current meth epidemic and shows like Breaking Bad, we now have a basis of comparison by which we can better understand what the Germans were up to in WWII.

    I Googled "High Hitler" and got 211,000 hits.

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    • Hitler and Amphetamines: Norman Ohler's "Blitzed" (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/06/16 11:20 AM)
      In my view the only new information in Norman Ohler's Blitzed is his revelation of the widespread use of methamphetamine throughout the Nazi regime--especially its administration to the troops as the war looked bleaker and bleaker near the end.

      As for Hitler himself, the book by Leonard D. Heston, MD and Renata Heston, RN, entitled The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler, ought to be mentioned. It was published as far back as 1980--with a foreword by Albert Speer no less! (A revised version came out in 1999 as Adolf Hitler: A Medical Decent That Changed History--His Drug Abuse, Doctors, Illness.) Admittedly. their book is a rather dry, poorly written account--a far cry from the sort of spellbinding "docudrama" writing and frequent "it may have been" speculation to be found in Ohler's current bestseller in Germany! Nevertheless, as Ian Kershaw rightly states in his blurb, Blitzed is definitely a "very interesting book."

      Thanks to David Westbrook for bringing it to our attention.

      JE comments:  Might we have found the definitive new take on Hitler and the Nazis?  It's a story of many things, but it's also a story of addiction.

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  • Hitler's Brain...and Mussolini's Penis (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/03/16 4:02 AM)
    In response to Leo Goldberger (2 October), some episodes of history can only be related as fairly as possible and by mentioning all real facts. But discussing on how many testicles Hitler had...

    This reminds me of the director Sandro Boerio of the Italian magazine Focus Storia, who wrote that Mussolini had a cold penis. In fact, he supposedly used a rabbit skin around it.

    History quite often is a tragedy. BS is another matter altogether.

    JE comments: We're usually a family-friendly website, but I must ask: how does the rabbit skin thing work? With or without fur? I suppose it would bring good luck, although not so much for the rabbit.

    In reply to Eugenio, I don't see why discussing the sexual antics and hang-ups of historical figures is "BS." Such inquiries are not voyeurism, as they can lead to deep insight about psychology and behaviors. There are real-world implications here.

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    • Reflections on Hitler's Anatomy; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/06/16 3:58 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Regarding Eugenio Battaglia's riposte (3 October) to Leo Goldberger on Hitler and the quantity and quality of
      what might be called totalitarian procreational ordnance, there is an arcane test of World War II-era
      street knowledge, resting on the movie Bridge over the River Kwai.

      Of course, everyone knows the
      tune whistled by the movie's stalwart British prisoners as they silently defy their Japanese captors.
      But in the movie the tune is only whistled, never sung--so we never hear its words--which could
      add a rich extra layer to the scene. Hence the test: What are the unsung words to the whistle-song
      of Bridge Over the River Kwai?

      For those left outside the barracks loop (get that whistling in your mind), it goes like this:

      Hitler--he had just one big ball.
      Goering--had two, but they were small.
      Himmler--well, he was simlar.
      But poor old Go-balls had no balls at all.

      JE comments:  Every British schoolboy knows that one--but there are variations.  "The other is in the Albert Hall" is one explanation for Hitler's lack of, ahem, symmetry.

      The original tune is the "Colonel Bogey March," which is of Great War vintage (1914).

      And don't forget "Comet," which makes your teeth turn green:


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      • Another Version of "Colonel Bogey" (Henry Levin, USA 10/07/16 1:21 AM)
        As a child during the war, we sang these words:

        Hitler has only got one ball,

        Goebbels has two, but very small.

        Himmler, has something simlar,

        But Mussolini has no balls at all.

        Perhaps the last line was because of the Italian reputation for retreat.

        JE comments: The tune has been in my head for the last 24 hours!  Nor have I been unable to shake the image of how Goebbels murdered all six of his children.

        Next up with a thought on Hitler's anatomy, Leo Goldberger.

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      • Ullrich's Biography of Hitler; Hitler's Sexuality (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/07/16 1:32 AM)
        Bringing to bear the factual history of Hitler's complex personality is actually the strength of the Ullrich biography. The prurient interest in Hitler's testicles (which the biopsy determined were in fact normal, according to Ulrich's evidential sources) is obviously as silly as the focus on the size of Trump's hands!

        In Ullrich's chapter 10 (pp. 267-280) you might find an impressive account of Hitler's manifold relationships with women, both sexual and non-sexual, that does cast an illuminating light on his being--beside simply calling him "psychotic," whatever that rather broad diagnostic term may mean to you.

        JE comments:  Perhaps these matters shed valuable light, perhaps not--but I recall it once being a commonly accepted historical fact that Hitler died a virgin.  This could be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways:  either that he was completely dysfunctional in the sexual sense, which would explain his diabolical actions, or else he was so dedicated to the German nation that he had no use for distractions or pleasures of the flesh.

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