Facts I Bet You Didn’t Know About Adolf Hitler

World War II image from WikipediaToday is the anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 American, British, Canadian, and Allied troops launched one of the riskiest invasions in history to have ever worked, all in the name of freeing Europe from the tyranny of this man:

You may know him as "Pure Evil".

You may know him as “Pure Evil”.

I figured the anniversary of one of the most important battles in World War II was as good an occasion as any to do a World War II-related blog post. After all, I spent countless hours watching specials about the war on the History Channel before they were replaced with dumb reality shows.

No. Just.... no.

No. Just…. no.

So, to share some of my countless World War II trivia with you, today I’m going to share some of the oddest, most unusual facts I’ve learned about Adolf Hitler.

Hitler hated Berlin

Berlin downtown in the 1920s from Skyscraper City

If your goal is to become the supreme leader of a country, you should expect that you will be spending most of your time in that country’s capital. You know, governing. Yet Adolf Hitler could not stand Germany’s capital, and found as many excuses as possible to get away from it.

There was a reason that the annual Nazi Party rallies were held miles away, in Nuremburg. During the war, Hitler commanded the military from any one of a dozen “Fuhrer Headquarters” complexes built near the front lines, or from his private train as he shuttled back-and-forth between them. Hitler also spent much of his time governing Germany remotely from his private villa, the Berghof. A private house of Hitler’s that he owned as a vacation home before he took power, the Berghof came to house a telephone switchboard room, a landing strip for visiting Nazi officials and staff, and a barracks for an SS division assigned specifically to guard the complex. Further up the same hill as the Berghof, an additional “retreat” known as the Eagle’s Nest was built, so that Hitler could hold meetings with foreign leaders and dignitaries without going back to Berlin.

So what was Hitler’s problem with Berlin? Partially, the issue was aesthetic. Hitler thought Berlin looked too much like a run-of-the-mill, provincial, industrial town to service as the capital of the world empire he envisioned. Also playing a factor was the fact that many Berliners were not politically inclined to support the Nazis. The city was filled with artists, intellectuals, academics, communists, and free-spirited 1920s flapper-types.

"Nazis? Nah, they won't make it very far."

“Nazis? Nah, those racists won’t make it very far.”

Hitler was so embarrassed by the city that he planned to knock the whole thing down and build a new capital in its place, to be known as Germania. Of course, those plans came to moot when the city fell to the Allies at the war’s end.

The curious case of Hitler’s citizenship

German 1920s passport image from Profilm

Most of you probably already know Hitler was born in Austria, not Germany. He was an immigrant living in Munich when World War I broke out, and served in the German Army as an Austrian citizen.

And he wasn't killed in combat? Darn.

And he wasn’t killed in combat? Darn.

After the war, well, he started a long campaign to become dictator of Germany, as we all know. There was just one major difficulty – he was still not a German citizen. This was something of an embarrassment to the Nazi Party, as it was really easy for their opponents to point out that the Nazi’s Fuhrer wasn’t even German.

So why didn’t Hitler just apply for citizenship? Because he thought it was beneath him. No, really.

There was an alternative, though. Some German states gave automatic citizenship to people who took government jobs. Loyal Nazis who were elected to power in various local government offices began offering Hitler jobs in their districts… and promptly turned them all down.

Pictured: The Nazi leadership ca. 1930.

Pictured: The Nazi leadership ca. 1930.

Eventually, with an upcoming election and little time to spare, he accepted a job as a land surveyor in Braunschweig in 1932, officially becoming a German citizen. Then immediately asked for vacation time. Then kept taking time off until he could quit and run for office, effectively never working a single day as a surveyor at all.

He was an abusive, controlling boyfriend

Adolf Hitler und Eva Braun image from the German Federal Archive

This one probably isn’t that much of a surprise, really. It only makes sense that the sort of man who tries to impose tyranny on a continent would impose tyranny on the people in his life.

In his case, there is some dispute as to exactly how many women he had a romantic relationship with, but most scholars think he had six. Among them was his half-niece, Geli Raubal, who was practically Hitler’s prisoner. He refused to let her hang out with her friends, prevented her from completing her medical degree, and would not let her have any time alone and unsupervised. She committed suicide in 1931.

Another girlfriend of Hitler’s attempted suicide by hanging herself, but was saved by her brother at the last moment. A third ended up joining a conspiracy to overthrow Hitler.

Of course, Hitler’s most famous love interest was Eva Braun, who was never allowed to appear in public with him, and spent most of her time cut off from the world in the Berghof. Eventually, with the war lost, she committed suicide with him in a bunker beneath Hitler’s hated Berlin.

Hitler joined the Nazi Party as a government spy

Early Nazi Party meeting image from Student Handouts

This one, though, is VERY surprising. The reason Adolf Hitler became involved in the Nazi Party in the first place was as an undercover agent of the German military to investigate radical movements that could become threats to the new, still quite weak Wiemar government. If he had done his job properly, he might have been the guy that stopped Nazism in the bud before it grew too powerful. Instead, he liked the ideas that the party was throwing around, ideas about German nationalism, about race and blood, and about finding an alternative to capitalism and communism.

He became enamored of the party’s founder, Anton Drexler, and decided to leave the military and pursue a political career in the Nazi Party full-time. His infamous speeches began attracting followers to the Nazi cause, and through twice threatening to leave the still-quite-small movement in need of recruits, he was able to replace Drexler as the party’s leader. We all know the rest of that story.

Information mainly from various documentaries and books I’ve read on World War II, plus some supplementary help from Wikipedia and Der Spiegel.