Hans Mend, the son of a smallholder near Rothenburg ob der Tauber, was born on 16th March, 1888. After he left school he worked as an errand boy and stableboy. In 1908 he joined the 2nd Bavarian Lancers. He left in 1911 but continued to work with horses. Mend joined the reserve cavalry but was declared unfit for active service after a bad fall from a horse. (1)
In October 1914 Mend joined the 1st Company of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. Other members of this regiment included Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, Ernst Schmidt and Max Amann. After initial training in Munich Mend arrived on the Western Front on 21st October 1914, where his regiment took part in the Battle of Ypres. It has been claimed that Mend's regiment was reduced from 3,600 to 611 men during this first period of fighting. (2)
Mend was a dispatch-runner with Hitler. He later recalled that Hitler was "a peculiar fellow... but on the whole a good chap." Mend argues that Hitler was an isolated figure who spent long periods of time sitting in the corner holding his head in silence. "He sat in the corner of our mess holding his head between his hands, in deep contemplation. Suddenly he would leap up, and, running about excitedly, say that, in spite of our big guns, victory would be denied us, for the invisible foes of the German people were a greater danger than the biggest cannon of the enemy." (3)
Mend gave a different view of Hitler in his book, Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918 (1930): "I want to give the German people true and unvarnished information about Adolf Hitler as a front-line soldier. As a comrade I had many opportunities to hear his pronouncements on the war, witness his bravery, and became acquainted with his brilliant traits of character... I aim to prove that he was just the same in the field as he is today; courageous, fearless, outstanding.... Everyone who knew him in the field had to admit that he was a model front-line soldier... who... as a combat orderly in static warfare performed super-human feats in a dangerous and responsible position." (4)
According to Mend these outbursts were usually attacks on Jews and Marxists. Hitler claimed that they were undermining the war effort. Hitler went as far as to swear that he would not salute a Jewish officer. This was of course untrue as his commanding officer, Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann was Jewish. What is more, it was Gutmann who nominated Hitler for the award of the Iron Cross First Class.
Mend told Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr that he saw Hitler several times while he was living in Munich after the war. "I met Adolf Hitler again at the end of 1918. I bumped into him on the Marienplatz in Munich, where he was standing with his friend Ernst Schmidt.... Hitler was then living in a hostel for the homeless at 29 Lothstrasse, Munich. Soon afterward, having camped at my apartment for several days, he took refuge at Traunstein barracks because he was hungry. He managed to get by, as he often did in the future, with the help of his Iron Cross 1st Class and his gift of the gab. In January 1919 I again ran into Hitler at the newsstand on Marienplatz. Then, one evening, while I was sitting in the Rathaus Cafe with a girl, Hitler and his friend Ernst Schmidt came in." Mend claimed that after the two men left his girlfriend told him: "If you're friendly with people like that, I'm not going out with you anymore." (5)
Lothar Machtan, the author of The Hidden Hitler (2001) has pointed out: "After returning to civilian life he tried to earn a living as a horse trader, but failed miserably. In August 1919 he received a five-month prison sentence at Munich for theft and false pretenses, although the sentence appears to have been suspended. In the same year, by then the father of an illegitimate son, Mend was expelled from the Bavarian capital. His whereabouts in the ensuing period are unknown, but it is on record that he committed some offences against property in Nuremberg in 1920-1. In August 1921 the provincial court at Ansbach sentenced him to two years' imprisonment, and he was confined in the Liebtenau detention center until May 1923." He also worked as a jockey in Amsterdam and Brussels. (6)
According to a Gestapo file Mend joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) "before it came to power". The file also records that Mend had meetings with Hitler. In 1931 the NSDAP owned Huber Verlag, published Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918. The Nazi Party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, described Mend's book as "the finest Christmas gift for any supporter of Hitler." It has been dismissed as a work of propaganda and it repeats the false story that he won the Iron Cross for capturing "ten Frenchmen, heavily armed". It obtained the seal of approval from Bernard Rust, the Minister of Education, when it was used as a textbook by "all the junior and senior high schools in Germany". The left-wing journalist, Egon Erwin Kisch, dismissed the book as the "military supplement" to Hitler's own book, Mein Kampf. (7)
However, Lothar Machtan has argued: "Mend and his ghostwriter did not keep strictly to their unofficial agreement with those who were employing them. For one thing, they laid on their hagiographic colors a little too thickly, even for the gullible reader, and sometimes failed to present their hero in the best possible light. For another, they did something which then verged almost on sacrilege: they made fairly outspoken references to Hitler's shabby appearance, his quirks and poses, and it is in these unintentionally comical passages that their portrayal of him seems most authentic." (8)
According to Rudolf Olden, the author of Hitler the Pawn (1936), Mend was an important witness of Hitler's involvement in the First World War: "He (Mend) is a supporter and admirer of the National Socialist leader. But all the same, he gives a good picture of Hitler's war years.... Mend wrote his book when Hitler was already a greatly admired Party Leader. After the event, it seemed to him as if the lower staff of the List Regiment had already admired Hitler as a politician. But we learn, too, from him that Hitler at the front was remarkable for not conforming to pattern." Olden, who was a long-term opponent of Hitler goes on to argue: "Hans Mend's sketch looks so genuine that we can well believe that it is drawn from life." (9)
The year after the publication of Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918, Mend fell out with Adolf Hitler. He told the journalist, Fritz Gerlich, the editor of Der Gerade Weg, on 9th October, 1932: "If my book had cited all the details of what I deliberately suppressed... Hitler would certainly not have emerged as a great hero. I advise him not to venture too far into higher spheres. It would be far better for him and his party if he remembered what he used to be." (10) On 1st December he issued a statement where he argued: "Adolf Hitler's entourage contrived to keep me from him although he had assured me of his friendship by letter." He claimed he did not deserve this rebuff because he had "selflessly supported and defended Adolf Hitler, my former wartime comrade, and his party, even at the risk of my own life." (11)
Max Amann sent out an internal memo "not to admit Dispatch Rider Mend" because the Führer "has refused to speak with Mend". He added: "I consider Mend to be an unmitigated rogue". In the summer of 1936 Mend was arrested and charged with "sexual offences against children". Mend claimed that it was a "trumped-up charge" and that he had been arrested so that the Gestapo could take away photographs that he had of Hitler. A female friend commented: "Mend said that the Gestapo were after him, and the Hitler wanted to get hold of the pictures at all costs." Mend was sentenced to two and a half years' hard labour. (12)
In December 1939, Mend was interviewed by Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr, a member of the German Resistance. He told a different story than the one that appeared in Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918 (1931). Mend claimed that Hitler had a homosexual relationship with Ernst Schmidt: "We noticed that he never looked at a woman. We suspected him of homosexuality right away, because he was known to be abnormal in any case. He was extremely eccentric and displayed womanish characteristics which tended in that direction. He never had a firm objective, nor any kind of firm beliefs. In 1915 we were billeted in the Le Febre brewery at Fournes. We slept in the hay. Hitler was bedded down at night with Ernst Schmidt, his male whore. We heard a rustling in the hay. Then someone switched on his electric flashlight and growled, Take a look at those two nancy boys. I myself took no further interest in the matter." (13)
In September 1940 Hans Mend was arrested and charged with various sexual offences against women. He was sentenced by a special court to two years' imprisonment. According to the prison authorities Mend died in Zwickau Penitentiary on 13th February, 1942.
Born into a smallholder's numerous family near Rothenburg ob der Tauber on March 16, 1888, Johannes Mend became inured to unremittingly hard work at an early age. He had to support himself as soon as he left school, and worked as an errand boy and stableboy for distinguished families. From 1908 to 1911 he served in the 2nd Bavarian Lancers, thereafter joining the Waldfried stud, near Frankfurt, as a so-called preparer, or trainer. On mobilization he reported to the army as a reservist, and from October 1914 to August 1916 he served as a dispatch rider in the List Regiment. It is an officially attested fact that he got to know the runner Adolf Hitler and was in close personal contact with him during this period. Mend was assigned to other units until his demobilization in December 1918. After returning to civilian life he tried to earn a living as a horse trader, but failed miserably. In August 1919 he received a five-month prison sentence at Munich for theft and false pretenses, although the sentence appears to have been suspended. In the same year, by then the father of an illegitimate son, Mend was expelled from the Bavarian capital. His whereabouts in the ensuing period are unknown, but it is on record that he committed some offences against property in Nuremberg in 1920-1. In August 1921 the provincial court at Ansbach sentenced him to two years' imprisonment, and he was confined in the Liebtenau detention center until May 1923.
In this book, I want to give the German people true and unvarnished information about Adolf Hitler as a front-line soldier. As a comrade I had many opportunities to hear his pronouncements on the war, witness his bravery, and became acquainted with his brilliant traits of character... I aim to prove that he was just the same in the field as he is today; courageous, fearless, outstanding.... Everyone who knew him in the field had to admit that he was a model front-line soldier... who... as a combat orderly in static warfare performed super-human feats in a dangerous and responsible position.
There were innumerable rats in the room where we slept. Hitler passed the time by putting them to flight with his bayonet when they kept him awake during the night. He was lying beside me, and he trod so hard on my feet whenever he jumped up abruptly, I could have yelled. I was so angry, I hurled a riding boot at his head. Things like that didn't annoy him, though-he persisted in his rat hunt regardless. He didn't react to a variety of military nicknames, either. In the end I simply let him carry on hunting.
A comrade of Hitler's on the staff of the Sixteenth Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, Hans Mend, the mounted orderly, has published his war memoirs. He is a supporter and admirer of the National Socialist leader. But all the same, he gives a good picture of Hitler's war years.
The "List Regiment," as it was called after its first commander, was one of the regiments that was thrown half improvised into the melting-pot of the Western front. There were not even enough helmets for its soldiers; they set out for the front in militia caps.
Hitler, as has already been said, was from the very beginning among the regimental orderlies. He must have given satisfaction, for after being wounded he was drafted back to the same post. The regimental clerk was a sergeant-major called Amann. He later became the managing director of the Volkischer Beobachter and of the Party publishing house, partner of the Party Leader and, after the Party's victory, head of the German press. There can be no doubt that he, the most important man on the "lower staff," held a good opinion of Hitler.
The German Leader and Chancellor is considered to-day as "the unknown soldier of the World War," as the embodiment of the front-fighters as a whole. From the point of view of the front-soldier, one reservation must be made. The work of dispatch-rider was dangerous in its way, above all in the later years of the war, when the effect of the artillery was making itself felt. But for the men in the trenches the position of the orderlies was always a "shirker's post." They felt no exaggerated respect for their more fortunate comrades, who usually had a roof over their heads, a room or a shed to sleep in, and always enough to eat. If anyone had tried to call a man so favoured an " old soldier," he would have been well advised to make himself scarce in time. This idea of the ordinary soldier may have been narrow and one-sided, but that it existed no one who knew the front will dispute.
But all the same, the truth has been distorted, and the most trustworthy witnesses perjure themselves in the end. There is nothing in which propaganda cannot triumph over public opinion.
Mend wrote his book when Hitler was already a greatly admired Party Leader. After the event, it seemed to him as if the lower staff of the List Regiment had already admired Hitler as a politician. But we learn, too, from him that Hitler at the front was remarkable for not conforming to pattern. "A peculiar fellow," he says, "but on the whole a good chap." Zunftig, his expression, means to southern Germans a man who is capable, useful and companionable. "Crooked helmet, a long moustache, a real Landsknecht." He mostly made a face "as solemn as an owl." War pictures show how exact this description is.
On a staff of this sort, there is quite often a cheery atmosphere ; the men drink and get merry, if fighting on the front line does not happen to be giving them work at the moment. On these occasions, Hitler was there too, but, while he did not disturb the others, did not join in either. At the same time, his leaning towards politics comes out. Mend tells us, "He sat in the corner of our mess holding his head between his hands, in deep contemplation. Suddenly he would leap up, and, running about excitedly, say that, in spite of our big guns, victory would be denied us, for the invisible foes of the German people were a greater danger than the biggest cannon of the enemy." And now he started attacking the Jews and the Marxists. On one occasion he went so far as to swear that he would not salute a Jewish officer if he met him outside their position. But, luckily for him, he never got as far as that. For discipline in the old army took no account of differences of Weltanschauung, and Orderly Hitler would without more ado have been clapped into jail. Hans Mend's sketch looks so genuine that we can well believe that it is drawn from life.
Sometimes Hitler had a fit of humour, but it seems to have been an abstruse sort of humour. He scoffed at the dispatch-rider, took off his helmet, bowed to him "like a master of ceremonies before his King" and said solemnly: "May I wish the immortal knight of Messines a Happy New Year?" But Mend would not be drawn. Hitler, after all, as a telephonist on the staff briefly put it on another occasion, was a "crank."
He behaved quite differently from the other soldiers. He did not care about leave. He wrote no letters. He never received a single parcel.
The dispatch-rider was better off. He had been trainer to Weinbergs, a family of Jewish industrialists in Frankfurt, who owned Germany's biggest racing stable. Frau von Weinberg sent him baskets full of delicacies. While he was eating, he heard Hitler prove that even the generosity of Jews was only cunning scheming. Hitler did not want to have anything to do with delicacies, whether Jewish or Christian. He was also, as Mend observes, a woman-hater.
Mend's account makes it abundantly clear that Hitler's pathological depression was not cured by active service. Nervous disorders of this kind quite often vanish in the army. Proximity to others, the unambiguous hierarchy of commands, the carrying out of exactly defined duties, the regular routine acts as a sedative. Hitler was at one moment moody, at another passionate. On one occasion Hitler maintained, in a long harangue, that the honours with which enemy officers were buried were excessive. At another time, as Mend says, "he sat brooding in a corner." "He sat in a corner, with his helmet on his head, buried deep in thought, and none of us was able to rouse him from his listlessness."
Because he was an Austrian and physically unfit, Hitler had been rejected when he volunteered for service in August 1914. He was unemployed in Munich at the time, and his intention had simply been to get into the army so as to have a square meal again.... After being rejected by the medical board, he stationed himself outside the Wittelsbacher Palace in Munich at a time when he knew King Ludwig usually left the building. He managed to waylay the king as he emerged with his adjutant general, von Leonrod. Hitler barred Leonrod's path and accosted him: he was an Austrian, he said, but did not wish to serve in Austria. He had volunteered for wartime service in Munich, but had been turned down, so please would His Majesty endorse his request. Leonrod made a note of his name, and that, according to Hitler, was how he came to join the List Regiment.
Hitler never had anything to do with guns from the time he joined us at the front as a regimental orderly. He was never anything other than a runner based behind the lines at regimental headquarters. Every two or three days he would have to deliver a message; the rest of the time he spent "in back," painting, talking politics, and having altercations. He was very soon nicknamed "crazy Adolf" by all the men he came into contact with. He struck me as a psychopath from the start. He often flew into a rage when contradicted, throwing himself on the ground and frothing at the mouth. Private Ernst Schmidt (now a master builder at Garching, near Munich), with whom Hitler had been friendly earlier on, because he had sometimes worked on building sites with him, was his special pal. The others he was friendliest with were Privates Tiefenbock (now the owner of a coal merchant's in Munich) and Wimmer (now working as a Munich streetcar employee). All three were runners at regimental headquarters. The only one who had volunteered for combat duty was the Jew Lippert (a commercial traveler by profession; he later became a clerk at the Braunes Haus Nazi Party headquarters], where he worked from 1934 on - and still does, so far as I know, not being subject to the Jewish laws). The List Regiment's battalion adjutant was Lieutenant Gutmann, a Jewish typewriter manufacturer from Nuremberg (now emigrated), whom Hitler made up to whenever he wanted preferential treatment of some kind. It was also Lieutenant Gutmann who got him his Iron Cross 2nd Class at Christmas 1914. That was at Bezaillere ... near Ypres. Colonel Engelhardt of the List Regiment was wounded in this engagement. When he was carried to the rear, Hitler and Bachmann tended him behind the lines. Hitler contrived to make a big fuss about this exploit of his, so he managed to gain Lieutenant Gutmann's backing in the aforesaid manner.
Meantime, we had gotten to know Hitler better. We noticed that he never looked at a woman. We suspected him of homosexuality right away, because he was known to be abnormal in any case. He was extremely eccentric and displayed womanish characteristics which tended in that direction. He never had a firm objective, nor any kind of firm beliefs. In 1915 we were billeted in the Le Febre brewery at Fournes. We slept in the hay. Hitler was bedded down at night with "Schmidt," his male whore. We heard a rustling in the hay. Then someone switched on his electric flashlight and growled, "Take a look at those two nancy boys." I myself took no further interest in the matter.
Hitler could never forbear to deliver inflammatory political speeches to his comrades. He always described himself as a representative of the "class-conscious proletariat." Whenever he thought he was safe, he referred to his superiors as an "arrogant bunch of officers" and called them "robber knights," "highwaymen of the nobility," or "a clique of bourgeois exploiters." His oft repeated tirades included remarks like the following: "Those swine lie on horsehair mattresses, whereas we eat horseflesh soup."
I met Adolf Hitler again at the end of 1918. I bumped into him on the Marienplatz in Munich, where he was standing with his friend "Schmidt." He greeted me as follows: "Well, Ghost Rider, where did you spring from? Thank God the kings have toppled off their perch. Now, we proletarians also have a say." Hitler was then living in a hostel for the homeless at 29 Lothstrasse, Munich. Soon afterward, having camped at my apartment for several days, he took refuge at Traunstein barracks because he was hungry. He managed to get by, as he often did in the future, with the help of his Iron Cross 1st Class and his gift of the gab. He laid less stress on the fact that in 1915, when the List Regiment was terribly mauled, he had been promoted to lance corporal like every last one of the other survivors. It was striking, after all, that a man who had served throughout the World War from October 1914 to the very end should not have received any further promotion. In January 1919 I again ran into Hitler at the newsstand on Marienplatz. I couldn't help feeling ashamed for "Red Hitler," he looked so down at heel.... Then, one evening, while I was sitting in the Rathaus Cafe with a girl, "Adi" and his friend Ernst Schmidt came in. "Hello, Ghost Rider," Hitler said to me, "do you know of some lodgings for the two of us?" I offered to put him up for the night out of charity. Afterward my girl told me, "If you're friendly with people like that, I'm not going out with you anymore."
Next I heard that Hitler was appearing as a public speaker. The first time, so as not to run into him, I listened to him in secret at Geislgasteig. That was early in 1920. Later on I heard him speak at the Circus Krone and in various beer cellars. Aha, I said to myself, Hitler's singing a very different song these days. Adi the Red has changed color!
Then, one day in January 1920, Hitler came to my apartment on Schleissheimer Strasse and complained that he couldn't go home. When I asked why, he didn't answer. I didn't care in any case. "All right," I told him, "you can sleep here." ... He stayed at my place for a day or two.... But Hitler couldn't make out in Munich. He went to see Jakob Weiss at Abens in the Holledau ... who took him to his parents' house and fed him. It was this erratic roaming around that finally brought Adolf Hitler into contact with General Epp....
My impression of Adolf Hitler in those early postwar days in Munich thoroughly confirmed my countless experiences with him in the field. Hitler struck me as a book with a thousand pages. He had always been two-faced. He was hypocrisy personified. One of his faces was that of the self-important busybody he impersonated to his superiors, and, if need be, to his comrades. When Hitler was off duty behind the lines or at headquarters and he heard that some success had been gained at the front, it was quite usual for him to burst in on the other men waving his arms and shouting, "We've won! We've given the French (or British) another bloody nose!" But with his superiors he always played the ingratiating telltale as soon as he saw it might benefit him in some way. That's why his comrades were wary of him.... Hitler's other face was that of a secret, sinister criminal. His whole attitude was that of a ruthless person who knows how to wrap himself in a halo. He has always, ever since I've known him, been... a great actor. Not a word he uttered could be trusted. He lied whenever he opened his mouth, always did the opposite of what he said....
When Hitler returned to Munich in the winter of 1918 he made persistent attempts to obtain a senior position with the Communists, but he couldn't get into the Munich directorate of the Communist Party although he posed as an ultra-radical. Since he promptly requested a senior Party post that would have exempted him from the need to work - his perpetual aim - the Communists distrusted him despite his mortal hatred of all property owners. They stalled him, and he may have thought they were spying on him from a certain stage onward. At all events, he took his revenge by joining the Freikorps Epp and gained Epp's confidence because of his Iron Cross 1st Class. Epp made it Hitler's first job to boost the troops' morale and paid him for it. He was soon able to call himself an "officer instructor." In that capacity he visited all kinds of hostelries at night and came across Anton Drexler... Hitler thereupon joined Drexler's party and was assigned Party Membership No. 1512.. But he promptly set about splitting the party by accusing Drexler's secretary, a man named Harrer, of complete incompetence and thrusting him aside. Drexler, who hated disputes of any kind, gave way to Hitler out of weakness. Hitler immediately made use of the burglar's tactic he later employed with such success, which entailed sticking his foot in the door and refusing to yield until he was on the inside. That was how he managed to smash Drexler's party. And then he opened his own shop with seven men.
Although Mend's portrait of Hitler could hardly be blunter or more direct, let us summarize the most important points he seems intent to convey. Between the ages of twenty-five and thirty Hitler had successfully contrived to ingratiate himself with the Bavarian military; he performed his military service without any front-line ambitions and killed time in the rear echelon; and his favorite companions were Tiefenbock, Wimmer and Schmidt, the last of whom was on intimate terms with him. When the war ended Hitler and Schmidt looked for lodgings together. Hitler did not set foot in the extreme right-wing camp until he had been rejected by left-wing groups. This was where, with characteristic cunning and bombast, but also with the aid of "burglar's tactics," he finally made it as party leader.
Lothar Machtan maintains in The Hidden Hitler that he has marshaled convincing evidence that Hitler was a homosexual and that his homosexuality explains much about who Hitler was and why he did what he did. Does Machtan, in fact, marshal such evidence? And if Hitler was indeed a homosexual, would that provide a key to the psychology of the man or to the ways in which he convulsed the human and moral foundations of the 20th century?
Assertions of Hitler's homosexuality, active or latent, are hardly new. They dogged him during his rise to power and after he gained it. They are made in a number of biographies.... What Machtan adds to this legacy of assertions and speculations is, he says, historical evidence. He acknowledges that some of the evidence is only circumstantial. But some, he insists, is not only hard but also new, at least in the way in which he brings it forward and defends its reliability.
Machtan, who teaches history at the University of Bremen in Germany, suggests that Hitler probably had a homoerotic relationship with his friend August Kubizek, with whom he lived in Vienna in 1908; that he had a blatant sexual affair with a fellow soldier during World War I; that he may have had homosexual contacts with young men in Munich after the war; and that he may have engaged in homosexual activities right up to his assumption of political power in 1933.
Machtan further argues that much of what Hitler did while in power was driven not by the reasons historians have generally offered but by his effort to eliminate evidence of his homosexuality. Thus, Machtan says that in 1934 - when Hitler ordered the killing of, among many others, his longtime colleague and head of the SA paramilitary organization, Ernst Röhm, an avowed and well-known homosexual - he was primarily motivated by the wish to obliterate potentially damaging evidence of his homosexual past, not to rid himself of a political or military threat. And the Nazi regime's persecution of homosexuals was, Machtan says, essentially caused by Hitler's desire to silence or destroy the people from a demimonde he had once inhabited, some of whom might ''yield up disreputable secrets'' about him. As for Hitler's involvements with various women - particularly Eva Braun and his niece Geli Raubal - Machtan argues that these were mere camouflage for his fundamental homosexuality.
The circumstantial evidence of Hitler's homosexuality that Machtan cites - and which he assembles with considerable industry - consists in large measure of the real or presumed homosexual milieu to which Hitler gravitated at various times during his life; the homosexuals or possible homosexuals with whom he associated; and a variety of facts that could be explained by Hitler's homosexuality, like his superiors' failure during World War I to give him the promotions that might have been expected.
The hard evidence that Machtan presents is a number of documents that, he contends, have been unjustifiably dismissed or ignored. The main such document is the so-called Mend Protocol, a statement made in 1939 by Hans Mend, a dispatch rider who had served with Hitler during World War I. Mend testified that during the war he had seen Hitler ''bedded down at night with 'Schmidl' '' - Ernst Schmidt - his male whore.''
Machtan also cites notes left by Eugen Dollmann, Hitler's interpreter. Dollmann wrote that he had heard Otto von Lossow, a Reichswehr general in Munich after World War I, read from what Lossow claimed was a police file containing statements by young boys in Munich. Those boys, according to Lossow, said that Hitler had paid them to spend the night with him.
But the circumstantial evidence Machtan offers is just that - circumstantial. And the hard evidence seems far less reliable than he would have us believe. Hans Mend was a habitual liar and blackmailer. And General Lossow had participated in crushing Hitler's 1923 putsch. As a result, his life had been threatened by Hitler's supporters, and he was desperate to convince them that he had incriminating evidence against their leader.
But the biggest problem with Machtan's book (which has been translated by John Brownjohn) isn't the reliability of his sources but his mode of argumentation. He accepts what fits his thesis and rejects what doesn't. One feels, at times, that one is reading an internal F.B.I. report from the J. Edgar Hoover era rather than an evenhanded work of scholarship in which the author is ready to be led by the facts.
To interpret evidence his way, Machtan employs innuendo and insinuation. He asks rhetorical questions designed to lead the reader to answer them in a manner that supports his argument, even when alternative explanations are at least as plausible. He introduces possibilities that are then assumed to be probabilities and, indeed, certitudes. By the use of quotation marks, he highlights what are probably innocuous comments so that they seem loaded with homoerotic meaning. In short, he has written a tendentious book that is more a brief for the prosecution than a work of balanced history.
Machtan says that he wants to understand ''the Hitler of Auschwitz,'' and regrets that we know so little about the man who produced that greatest desecration of human history and morality. But he certainly doesn't come close to explaining any of Hitler's depredations by exploring his sexuality.
Though Machtan doesn't succeed in proving that Hitler was an active homosexual, he does demonstrate that his life, in both the personal and the political spheres, was suffused with homosexual themes and personalities. In some odd way, this may actually serve to humanize Hitler. But it doesn't serve to explain him.
(1) Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler (2001) page 72
(2) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) page 90
(3) Hans Mend, interviewed by Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr (December 1939)
(4) Hans Mend, Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918 (1931)
(5) Hans Mend, interviewed by Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr (December 1939)
(6) Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler (2001) page 72
(7) Egon Erwin Kisch, The Blue Issue (15th July, 1933)
(8) Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler (2001) page 76
(9) Rudolf Olden, Hitler the Pawn (1936) page 69
(10) Hans Mend, interviewed by Fritz Gerlich, the editor of Der Gerade Weg (9th October, 1932)
(11) Hans Mend, statement (1st December, 1932)
(12) Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler (2001) pages 84-86
(13) Hans Mend, interviewed by Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr (December 1939)