Google+ Followers

Friday, 22 November 2013

Adolf Hitler and Women

If you study the murder of Geli Raubal in the classroom, a follow up lesson could look at Hitler's relationship with other women. This is always taken into account when examing the death of Geli Raubal. Hitler's first significant relationship took place in 1927. Hitler, then aged 37, became involved with the sixteen-year-old Maria Reiter. Hitler appears to have been strongly attracted to teenagers. He later explained: "A girl of eighteen to twenty is as malleable as wax. It should be possible for a man, whoever the chosen woman may be, to stamp his own imprint on her. That's all the woman asks for." Maria later explained: "We went out into the night.... Hitler was about to put his arm around my shoulders and pull me toward him when the two dogs suddenly attacked each other.... Hitler suddenly intervened, like a maniac he hit his dog with his riding whip... and shook him violently by the collar. He was very excited.... I did not expect that he could hit his dog so brutally and ruthlessly, the dog which he had said he could not live without. Yet he beat up his most loyal companion." Maria asked him "How can you be so brutal and beat your dog like that?" He replied "It was necessary." 

Ian Kershaw has argued Hitler 1889-1936 (1998): "He (Hitler) was thirty-seven years of age; she was sixteen. Like his father, he preferred women much younger than himself - girls he could dominate, who would be obedient playthings but not get in the way. The two women with whom he would become most intimately associated, Geli Raubal (nineteen years younger than he was) and Eva Braun (twenty-three years younger), fitted the same model - until, that is, Geli became rebellious and wanted a level of freedom which Hitler was unwilling to permit." Ronald Hayman has pointed out that there was a regular patten to Hitler's relationships: "Though he found it easy during his twenties and early thirties to make friends with children and with women in their forties and fifties, he was nervous of being rebuffed or humiliated by women of his own age. But at thirty-seven he was old enough to treat a teenage girl as if she were a child. With Maria, once they were sufficiently relaxed in each other's company, there was nothing to stop them from making love."

For the rest of the article see:

Monday, 11 November 2013

Murder Cases in the Classroom

I first started teaching in 1977. The school was using some new Schools Council Project materials called "What is History?" It included the "Mystery of Mark Pullen". The lesson went really well until the end when the students were told that Mark Pullen was not a real person. They felt cheated that they had spent time investigating what they considered a murder case that was not true. My response to this was to create a lesson on a real mystery. I had recently read a book on the Mary Celeste. I therefore decided to create a lesson on a real-life mystery. The students loved it and a couple of years later the material became the first publication of Tressell, the teacher-run cooperative based in Brighton. For many years it was our best selling booklet. Children (and teachers) love mysteries. They especially love murder mysteries. Another best selling booklet was the "Assassination of John F. Kennedy".

One of the reasons that students are attracted to such issues is that it gives them a role in the learning process. Their opinion becomes important and they become active learners. It is also a marvellous exercise for inspecting the evidence. It gives them the chance to be a detective (or more importantly, an historian). The problem is finding enough time in the curriculum to spend on "mysteries". I recently came across a case which might indeed be worth spending a lesson on. 

The case involves the death of Hitler's young niece, Geli Raubal. Officially, Geli killed herself on 18th September, 1931. She was aged 23 and had been having a sexual relationship with her uncle for over two years. The anti-Nazi press published stories suggesting that Adolf Hitler was romantically involved with Geli and that he had murdered her because she was expecting a child by a Jewish music teacher. Hitler issued a statement denying any involvement in her death but the left-wing newspapers continued to carry these stories. Rudolf Hess claimed that Hitler became suicidal because of the rumours that he had shot Geli. "He was so fearfully vilified by this new campaign of lies that he wanted to make an end of everything. He could no longer look at a newspaper because this frightful filth was killing him. He wanted to give up politics and never again appear in public."

The rest of the article can be found here:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Major Truman Smith and the Funding of Adolf Hitler

I was reading Hitler: The Missing Years (1957) recently. The book is by Ernst Hanfstaengel, one of Hitler's first financial backers. Hanfstaengel became one of Hitler's inner circle. He was one of his earliest financial supporters and in March, 1923, provided $1,000 to ensure the daily publication of Volkische Beobachter. The newspaper, an anti-Semitic gossip sheet had previously appeared twice a week. With Hanfstaengel's money it was published every day. This was a real breakthrough as it enabled Hitler to build up both membership and funds. Hanfstaengel claims that he was encouraged to meet Hitler by Major Truman Smith, as assistant military attaché at the American embassy in Berlin. This might seem surprising but it reflects the role of intelligence agencies soon after the First World War. We now know that the head of MI6 in America, William Wiseman, was funding anti-Bolshevik groups in Russia since 1917. Was Truman Smith arranging funds for anti-socialist groups in Germany? 

I decided to do some research on Truman Smith. I found his papers are lodged at the the Hoover Institution Archives. In a biographical note it said he was involved with Charles A. Lindbergh in the 1930s. I have a copy of Lindbergh's Autobiography of Values (1976) and A. Scott Berg's biography Lindbergh (1998). These sources reveal that that Truman Smith was definitely working for military intelligence in the early 1920s. He completed a course at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. He then became an instructor at the U.S. Infantry School until 1932 when he attended the Army War College. He then served with the 27th infantry regiment in Hawaii. 

In 1935 Truman Smith was appointed as military attaché in Berlin. He was told that his chief responsibility was "to report to Washington about the growth of the German army, including the development of new weapons and new battle tactics." In 1936 he arranged for Charles A. Lindbergh to visit the country. Lindbergh wrote to his mother about the proposed trip: "Comparatively little is known about the present status of Aviation in Germany, so I am looking forward, with great interest, to going there. Even under the difficulties she has encountered since the war, Germany has taken a leading part in a number of aviation developments, including metal construction, low-wing designs, dirigibles, and Diesel engines. If it had not been for the war she would probably have produced a great deal more. On the other hand, if it had not been for the war it is doubtful whether aviation would be as far advanced as it is today."

For the rest of the article see: