Theodor Morell was born in Münzenberg on 22nd July 1890. After obtaining a medical degree he served as a ship's doctor. He eventually established a practice in Berlin as a specialist in skin and venereal diseases. Many well-known actors and film stars were his patients. He told Albert Speer that he studied with Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, the famous Russian biologist and Nobel Prize winner, who taught him the art of combating bacterial diseases.
In 1935 Heinrich Hoffman, who worked as a photographer for Adolf Hitler, was treated by Morell for gonorrhea. Franziska Braun, the mother of Eva Braun, was also treated successfully by him. Hoffman and Braun told Hitler about this doctor and in 1936 he was asked to examine the leader of the Nazi Party. At the time Hitler was suffering from stomach cramps. According to Morell, this was being caused by "complete exhaustion of the intestinal system" and recommended treatment of vitamins, hormones, phosphorus, and dextrose.
In 1937 Morell was appointed as one of Hitler's personal physicians. Christa Schroeder, Hitler's personal secretary, wrote in her autobiography, He Was My Chief: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Secretary (1985): "Morell was of average height, corpulent and wore a good-humoured expression. Hair sprouted from his ears and cuffs. On his thick fingers he wore exotic rings obtained during overseas voyages, on which he had also picked up some foreign eating habits. For example he would not peel an orange but bite into it until the juice squirted out."
Hitler's main physician, Karl Brandt, warned him he was in danger of being poisoned by these large dosages of drugs and vitamins. Hitler rejected Brandt's advice and replied: "No one has ever told me precisely what is wrong with me. Morell's method of cure is so logical that I have the greatest confidence in him. I shall follow his prescriptions to the letter." Later he was to remark: "What luck I had to meet Morell. He has saved my life."
Morell's biographer, Louis L. Snyder, has argued: "Morell took advantage of his relationship with his powerful patient to amass a fortune. He built factories where he manufactured patent remedies. He built factories where he manufactured patent remedies. His chocolate vitamins were a financial success. The use of Morell Russian Russian Lice Power was made compulsory for the armed forces."
It was not long before Hitler began to feel unwell again. As well as stomach cramps he also suffered from headaches, double vision, dizziness and tinnitus. Morell began treating Hitler with intestinal bacteria "raised from the best stock owned by a Bulgarian peasant". Morell tested dozens of unknown drugs on Hitler. This included biologicals from the intestines of male animals and amphetamines. Morell told Christa Schroeder: "I am giving him hormone injections from bulls' testicles, that should pep him up!"
Albert Speer admitted: "We never felt entirely easy about these methods. Dr. Brandt asked around among his specialist friends, and they all pronounced Morell's methods risky and unproved and foresaw dangers of addiction. And in fact the injections had to be given more and more frequently, and biologicals obtained from the testicles and intestines of animals, as well as from chemical and plant sources, were poured into Hitler's bloodstream... If Hitler had the faculty for placing others under his spell, in this case the reverse relationship developed: Hitler was completely convinced of his personal physician's genius and soon forbade any criticism of the man."
In 1943 Hitler's health deteriorated rapidly. He was constantly ill with stomach pains, headaches, nausea, shivering fits and diarrhoea and was now completely dependent on the treatment of Dr Morell. Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge, reported that he was very dependent on Morell: "He (Hitler) was taking any amount of medication. Either before or after meals Linge had to give him at least five different pills. One was to stimulate the appetite, another to aid digestion, a third to prevent flatulence, and so on. In addition Professor Morell, grunting and groaning, turned up in person every day to administer his usual miracle-working injections. The doctor had been suffering from particularly bad heart trouble recently. Once again he tried to lose weight by going on a diet, but his voracious appetite made it very difficult. When he came for tea in the evening it was usually only a few minutes before we heard his quiet snoring, which didn't stop until Hitler went to bed. Then Morell would assure us he had enjoyed the evening very much, but he was extremely tired. Hitler was never angry with him, but as solicitous as if he were a child. There was much gratitude and something like pity in his eves when he spoke of Morell." Hitler told Junge: "But for Morell I might have died long ago, or at least have been unable to work. He was and still is the only person who can help me."
At the end of the Second World War Morell was captured by the United States Army. He was also interrogated by British intelligence. Hugh Trevor-Roper was not very impressed with Morell: "A gross but deflated old man, of' cringing manners, inarticulate in speech and with the hygiene habits of a pig, and could not conceive how a man so utterly devoid of self respect could ever have been selected as a personal physician by anyone who had even a limited possibility of choice."
Morell was never charged with any crimes and he was eventually released. He later claimed that he was the true discoverer of penicillin and that his secret had been stolen from him by the British Secret Service.
Theodor Morell died at Tegernsee on 26th May 1948.
Theo Morell had been appointed one of Hitler's personal physicians in 1937, an appointment - nobody has so far mentioned the fact - made thanks to Eva Braun, who was a close friend of Morell's wife Hanni who was nicknamed Pralinchen. The fat, good-natured doctor enjoyed a certain reputation in Berlin and Munich, chiefly because he specialised in the treatment of rich patients. For this reason, he was referred to as "Dr. Kurfurstendamm", after the smart Berlin street where his office was located. He had attended the Crown Prince and had served as ship's doctor on an ocean liner. But according to Hitler, his chief claim to fame was the discovery of a powder used to rid German soldiers of their fleas and other vermin. Eva had met Morell and his wife through the Hoffmanns, and it seems that her mother, Franziska Braun, considered the doctor a real magician. He had treated her successfully and had also cured Hoffmann of some pernicious complaint. It was therefore Eva who introduced him to Hitler and wangled an invitation for a weekend at Berchtesgaden. Hitler had some intestinal trouble at the time, and Morell prescribed a special treatment, consisting of powders and injections, that quickly eliminated the causes of the indisposition. Soon he managed to become Hitler's favourite medical man.
Eva's correspondence reveals that the Morells accompanied her on her journey to Italy and that they were present with her more than once at the Nuremberg Reichsparteitag. Eva wrote to her sister proposing that she should work for the wonder doctor. Use had been obliged to leave Dr. Marx by this time, at his request. The Jewish doctor realised that the association of the sister of the Fuhrer's mistress with a Jew could only cause trouble for the Brauns, while he himself ran the risk of being sent to a concentration camp, this being a convenient way of disposing of those whose discretion was not to be trusted. Use greatly regretted his decision that they should separate. She still speaks with nostalgic admiration of the Jewish laryngologist, who emigrated to New York and never betrayed the Brauns' secret.
To work for Morell seemed to use a betrayal of Dr. Marx, and she therefore refused - a refusal that probably saved her own life. The prospect of the three sisters surrounding Hitler would inevitably have intrigued the occasional visitor. For Gretl spent most of her time with her sister, and after flirtations or affairs with many of the Berchtesgaden clan, she finally married the SS general Fegelein, "Himmler's eye". Had Ilse become Morell's assistant, it might have been considered that Berchtesgaden had succumbed to "the Braun movement", as Goring once facetiously called it. This play on words was extremely distasteful to Hitler, who ordered his paladin to mind his own business.
In a letter dating from the end of August 1937, Eva remarks that "Morell must be eternally grateful to me when he comes to the Berg", in other words to the Berghof. Further on she writes that if Dr. Morell wants to treat the Fuhrer he must be quick, because later on Hitler will be involved with his speeches and will no longer have time.
Thus, thanks partly to the support of Eva, who was always very ready to help her friends, Morell succeeded in supplanting Dr. Brandt, Hitler's other personal doctor. By a curious twist of fate, Eva towards the end professed great admiration for Brandt and tried in vain to prevent his expulsion from Berchtesgaden or at least to palliate the effects of his disgrace. It may well be that Hitler was jealous of Brandt. The doctor was married to a delightful Olympic swimming champion, Anni Rehborn (before courting her, had saved her saucy profile with a nose operation), but this did not prevent him from paying considerable attention to Eva Braun. At the end Eva became increasingly distrustful of Morrell.
The personal physician (Leibarzt) was Dr Theodor Morell. Dr Morell had a luxury practice on the Kurfurstendamm in Berlin, most of his patients being from the artistic world. He originated from Hesse, was of average height, corpulent and wore a good-humoured expression. Hair sprouted from his cars and cuffs. On his thick fingers he wore exotic rings obtained during overseas voyages, on which he had also picked up some foreign eating habits. For example he would not peel an orange but bite into it until the Juice squirted out. He was also vain. If a photographer reached for his camera, Morrell was suddenly at Hitler's side. The Foreign Ministry Protocol Section, which was responsible for the award of foreign decorations, rightly feared that Morell was wearing medals to which he was not entitled, and this could compromise Hitler. Moreover, Morell was said to be a profiteer. Another quite special objection to him ",as the foul-smelling delousing powder he had patented and which he spread in large quantities around his barrack hut at FHQ.
How had he been appointed Hitler's personal physician? In 1936 when Hitler's chronic gastro-intestinal disorder would not respond to treatment, Heinrich Hoffmann had recommended a wonderful doctor of his personal knowledge, and he succeeded in overwhelming Hitler's aversion to having an unknown physician treat him. When Dr Morell brought about a decisive improvement in the complaint with the Mutaflor drug (used nowadays for ulcerative colitis), and which renewed the colonic bacteria, and also rid Hitler of the eczema on his legs, Morell won Hitler's total confidence. Hitler named him his Leibarzt and later made him a professor.
As soon as Hitler reported any discomfort, Morell would be on the spot with his injections. Any cold, even amongst Hitler's close staff, was suppressed before it developed. Hitler had "no time to be ill" he repeated over and over, and Morell based his treatment on that dictum. He began with harmless glucose, vitamin and hormone injections. Then he went over to "Vitamultin", a wonder-drug he had produced in his own pharmaceutical laboratory, available in ampoules and gold-wrapped tablet form. Hitler became increasingly dependent on this drug until one day it no longer had the desired effect and Morrell had to look for something stronger.
I saw that Hitler kept his left hand motionless behind his back all the time. He was very anxious that no one should see its constant tremor. I noticed that his state of health wasn't very good anyway. He was taking any amount of medication. Either before or after meals Linge had to give him at least five different pills. One was to stimulate the appetite, another to aid digestion, a third to prevent flatulence, and so on. In addition Professor Morell, grunting and groaning, turned up in person every day to administer his usual miracle-working injections. The doctor had been suffering from particularly bad heart trouble recently. Once again he tried to lose weight by going on a diet, but his voracious appetite made it very difficult. When he came for tea in the evening it was usually only a few minutes before we heard his quiet snoring, which didn't stop until Hitler went to bed. Then Morell would assure us he had enjoyed the evening very much, but he was extremely tired. Hitler was never angry with him, but as solicitous as if he were a child. There was much gratitude and something like pity in his eves when he spoke of Morell. He trusted him so completely that he said, "But for Morell I might have died long ago, or at least have been unable to work. He was and still is the only person who can help me." However, no one knew what Hitler was really suffering from. No definite diagnosis was ever made.
For almost two years, until the arrival of Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal physician and a former ship's doctor, Brandt remained the unchallenged authority and first point of call in all questions relating to Hitler's health and well-being and that of his staff. In practical terms this had little meaning, because there was hardly anything to do in the early years of Brandt's assignment, except that Hitler became increasingly concerned with his own mortality. Hitler must have felt a sense of exhaustion after those frantic years in opposition, and the need to press on if he wanted to achieve his monumental goals. Despite an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise, his health remained relatively good, except for the stomach spasms which plagued him for years. In December 1934, Hitler poisoned himself with neo-Ballistol, a kind of oil hunters use to clean their rifle barrels. A medical variant of this oil existed, and Hitler must have been under the impression that it would help him to overcome his constant gastrointestinal troubles. His symptoms were headaches, double vision, dizziness and tinnitus. The SS physician, Ernst Robert Grawitz, who later became the President of the German Red Cross, diagnosed neo-Ballistol poisoning. In total secrecy, Hitler was rushed to the Westend Sanatorium, where he was X-rayed and his stomach was emptied. It was one of the few instances where Hitler readily complied with his doctor's advice.
Hitler generally exhibited an extraordinary shyness when it came to undressing in front of physicians. To be examined by Brandt or any other of his doctors became a major undertaking; he, the man in charge of Germany's future, could hardly bear the idea of being the object of a medical examination. Whenever Hitler fell ill, Brandt and his colleagues needed all available diplomatic skills to rescue a situation which could easily develop into a national crisis. By 1942, the health of Hitler had reached such a level of strategic importance that every person who came into direct contact with the Fuhrer, or was working in his immediate vicinity, needed to prove themselves absolutely free of illnesses or disease-causing agents.
Hanni Morell, the wife of Theodor Morell, compared his eccentricities in all matters concerned with his body with those of an old virginal spinster. To conduct a thorough medical examination was almost impossible; X-ray pictures were out of the question. Morell had enormous difficulties in fulfilling his medical duties. Comprehensive neurological or internal examinations were never carried out. Hitler's lungs and abdomen were never examined. Until the last days of the Reich, Morell tried persistently, but unsuccessfully, to persuade Hitler to have a full X-ray of his body. Whenever Hitler was in pain, Morell would arrive with his doctor's bag in Hitler's sleeping quarters, the only place where examinations were permitted, and felt or touched the area of Hitler's body where it hurt. Further chemical and radiological tests could only be carried out after persistent persuasion. To a limited extent the measuring of blood pressure, pulse, heartbeat and temperature were possible, as were standard reflex tests. Yet Hitler disliked finding himself in a potentially compromising position, for example when he needed to vomit. The administration of drugs by injection (because parts of his body had to be exposed) needed great diplomatic skill. Even being measured by a tailor produced major problems because Hitler hated to be touched. All such eccentricities suddenly had no meaning when parts of his head or face were injured, especially those organs such as his voice or eyes which Hitler regarded as instrumental in controlling the people and the masses. He was hypersensitive to the slightest idea that these organs might be defective - and undermine the popular image and impact of the Fuhrer cult - so the best experts in the country would be ordered to treat him with all available skills. At these times Hitler made no fuss.