Adolf Hitler is one of the most studied and written-about figures in history. But that doesn’t mean new facts aren’t constantly being found out about him. In February 2016, a book was released that all but confirmed the long-standing rumors that he suffered from a condition that gave him an abnormally small penis (aka micropenis), along with only having one testicle.
The Hitler biography is full of strange anecdotes and historical oddities, especially about his childhood. Far from making the monstrous dictator sympathetic, they somehow make his evil even more apparent. He was from a huge mess of a family, with an elderly father who had uncertain parentage. He was impossibly vain and paranoid about his image and the sound of his voice. He was both a teetotaler and a drug addict. He had a taste for young women, yet was totally uninterested in sex. And he was a tax cheat, skimming money from the Nazi party to buy luxury goods unavailable to most Germans.
Here are some truly bizarre Adolf Hitler facts – not the fascist dictator as much as the person, in all of his paranoia and loathing.
He Likely Had Both a Deformed Penis and One Testicle
Adolf Hitler’s sexuality, specifically possible deformities related to his genitals, has fascinated and mystified observers since the 1930s, when English schoolchildren sang a dirty song called “Hitler’s Only Got One Ball.” Newly unearthed evidence suggests that the rumors about Hitler having an undescended testicle were true. Not only that, but records from German doctors show that he had a rare condition called penile hypospadias – when the penis is fused to the body.
The organ would have been so small and deformed that basic urinary and sexual function would have been all but impossible. Historians have long believed that Hitler detested sex, feared being seen naked, and likely had no sex drive. These deformities would go a long way to explaining Hitler’s attitudes toward sex and sexuality, and how they drove his personality in general.
Hitler’s Family Tree Is a Mess
Both genealogists and historians are endlessly fascinated by Hitler’s family, and what about it turned him from failed artist to soldier to political agitator to ruthless dictator. Like many families of the era, it’s a confusing tangle of marriages, re-marriages, step-siblings, half nieces and nephews, and adoptive parents.
It’s made all the more opaque by conflicting spellings of names, and identically named relatives. There are real questions about who Hitler’s grandfather was, with the two candidates being brothers, and each named Johan Heidler – though they had different middle names. Hitler’s father, Alois, was married three times, confusing matters even further, and giving Hitler a clutch of half-siblings who would be in and out of his life until the very end.
By Age 18, Hitler Was a Homeless Orphan
Hitler’s father, Alois, was married three times, and it was the third marriage, to Karla, that produced Adolf. Alois was already in his fifties and uninterested in raising more children, so the two had a combative relationship. Alois was a heavy drinker, cared more about his hobby of beekeeping than raising children, and would beat both Adolf and his older son, Alois, Jr.
Alois died in 1903, leaving Hitler’s mother a small pension. In 1907, when the dictator was only 18, Hitler’s mother died – crushing him emotionally and leaving him a homeless orphan. He likely forged his anti-semitism in the drifting, shiftless years between his mother’s death and his moving to Munich in 1913.
He Took Selfies While Practicing Speeches
After being released from prison in 1925, Hitler was keen to increase the popularity and power of the Nazi Party. He intended to use his natural talent for oratory for these purposes, but was self-conscious about his facial expressions and hand movements. So he arranged for a photographer named Heinrich Hoffman to take pictures of him as he rehearsed his screeds, intending to use them to refine his persona.
The pictures are humanizing and bizarre, showing the dictator in a variety of exaggerated poses, like a madman snapping pics with his phone in a mirror. Needless to say, Hitler ordered them destroyed, but Hoffman hung on to them. The photographer was arrested by the Allies for war profiteering, and the nine pictures became public after his death in 1957.
It’s Possible He Had a Sexual Relationship with His Niece
While Eva Braun is the woman most linked to Hitler, he also had a bizarre and likely sexual relationship with his half-niece, Geli Raubal. She was 19 years younger than Hitler, and her uncle gave her mother a job as a housekeeper at Hitler’s mountain retreat. Raubal moved into Hitler’s Munich apartment, where he kept a tight leash on her. She was forbidden to leave without escort, couldn’t see friends, and wasn’t allowed to conduct even basic errands.
After about two years as a virtual prisoner, Raubal and Hitler had an argument after he forbade her from going to Vienna. After he left for a meeting, she’s thought to have shot herself in the chest, though some have speculated that Hitler had her killed. Whatever the cause, the death devastated Hitler and sent him into a deep depression. He kept her room exactly the way she lived in it, and declared her to be the only woman he ever loved. It’s never been confirmed that the two had an intimate relationship – only a controlling and possessive one.
Four of His Lovers Attempted or Committed Suicide
Speculation about Hitler’s sex life has been rampant ever since his rise to power. As far back as 1943, the US commissioned a study by the forerunner to the CIA that used information from an anti-Nazi politician to label him as impotent, possibly gay, and being sexually aroused by human feces.
While much of this was probably exaggerated or misinformation, it’s true that he had a profound, often shattering effect on the women in his life. As many as four women he was known or thought to be sexually involved with tried to kill themselves. His half-niece Geli Rabual committed suicide in 1931 at the age of 23. His girlfriend and wife on the last day of his life, Eva Braun, killed herself alongside Hitler in 1945. Two other women linked to Hitler, Maria Reiter and British socialite Unity Mitford, survived suicide attempts that might have been related to Hitler.
Hitler Was a Late Riser, a Drug Addict, and a Smug Vegetarian
As Führer, Hitler had a veritable book of insecurities and maladies. He was paranoid about food, his image, and the sound of his voice. He disdained modern art, cosmetics, animal products, and became a teetotaler – often smugly belittling those around him who smoked, drank, or ate meat. At the same time, he was likely addicted to amphetamines to stay awake and to pain meds for his stomach issues. In fact, he might have been on as many as 90 medications for everything from IBS to Parkinson’s disease. It’s thought that he took a huge hit of methamphetamine before delivering a two hour rant to Mussolini, and was strung out during his last days in Berlin.
One of his most infuriating habits was his penchant for sleeping late and exhibiting thundering anger when awoken early. He often slept as late as noon, and this habit came back to haunt him during the D-Day invasion. Allied units were making headway on the beaches of Normandy, and while German armored divisions were standing by to counter-attack, they required approval from Hitler personally. Nobody dared wake him, so the tanks sat idling.
Hitler Wasn’t Just a Failed Artist, He Was Also a Failed Architect
Hitler’s failed attempts at a career in art are well documented. He was rejected by the derivative sketches and paintings, and likely would have created nothing of note had history not taken his life in another direction. But Hitler’s first artistic love was Academy of Fine Arts Vienna twice, produced a variety of architecture, which is what he intended to study in Vienna. A such, he had no qualms about modifying the look of buildings in pictures he painted.
His affections trended toward ugly, grandiose, massive structures modeled after ancient Rome. Once Führer, he found a like-minded architect in Albert Speer, and tasked him with carrying out his grand visions for a monstrous German capitol featuring a great hall so cavernous that the water vapor in the breath of those inside would have formed rain clouds.
He Skimmed Donations to the Nazi Party to Buy Nice StuffWhile Germany’s economy was wrecked by the Great Depression and hyperinflation, the Nazi Party raked in massive donations from prominent German industrialists. Rather than going to support the Party in general, much of this money was siphoned off by Hitler himself. He used it to pay for extravagant personal projects, such as his famed retreats the Berghof and the Eagle’s Nest. He also used party slush funds for luxury cars, expensive wines, and shopping sprees.
Taxes Were of No Concern to Hitler
Between his substantial royalties for Mein Kampf, his salary as Führer, and the donations he skimmed from the Party, Hitler had a large personal income. But being Führer had perks, and one of them was that nobody bothered collecting taxes from him.
He spent much of the ’20s and early ’30s battling tax authorities over Mein Kampf residual income, and the dictator owed as much as $8 million in 2016 money. Shortly after being voted Fuhrer, he received a letter from the tax office in Munich fining him a large amount of money for undeclared income. Hitler ignored it, had his taxes written off, and gave the Munich tax collector a fat raise for playing along with the scam.
The Iconic “Hitler Mustache” Began as a War AccomidationPhotos of Hitler in the German army during World War I often show him with a handlebar mustache, which was the the style at the time. Such extravagant mustaches couldn’t fit under gas masks, so Corporal Hitler was ordered to trim it down. Hence the iconic ” toothbrush mustache” that would become his signature was born – though the toothbrush had been fashionable in Europe long before the war.
He Was a Big Disney Fan – Especially of Snow White
Adolf Hitler loved the cartoons of Walt Disney, and was a huge fan of the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He was reportedly entranced by its sophisticated animation, was jealous that German animators could produce nothing like it, and admired the film for its origin as a German folk tale – as he hated anything that smacked of modernity.
The Nazi propaganda ministry bought dozens of prints of Disney films, and Hitler wasn’t above getting out his watercolors and sketching some Disney characters to blow off steam while he was setting the world on fire. One Disney character Hitler didn’t care for was Mickey Mouse; Hitler considered him a degenerate.
Hitler Might Have Been a Jew
Since the 1920s through today’s Internet rumors, people have speculated that Hitler was actually Jewish, with his father actually fathered by a wealthy Jew, or even a member of the famous Rothschild banking family. These rumors are as old as Hitler’s rise to power, as historian Ian Kershaw writes in his book, Hubris:
Rumours [that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish] circulated in Munich cafes in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the foreign press during the 1930s. It was suggested that the name `Huttler’ was Jewish, `revealed’ that he could be traced to a Jewish family called Hitler in Bucharest, and even claimed that his father had been sired by Baron Rothschild, in whose house in Vienna his grandmother had allegedly spent some time as a servant.
To spread misinformation, Nazi stooge Hans Frank allegedly concocted a theory that Hitler’s grandmother Maria (mother of Hitler’s father Alois) had been employed as a housekeeper for the Jewish Frankenberger family in Graz, Austria. While there, she was impregnated by the family’s 19-year-old son, Leopold – making Hitler one-eighth Jewish.
However, there’s no subsequent evidence that Leopold Frankenberger actually existed, that there was a family of that name living in Graz at the time of Alois’s birth, or that Maria had ever been to Graz. Beyond that, Jewish descent is passed down by the mother.
Despite Soccer Being Germany’s National Sport, Hitler Hated It
Hitler had extremely divided views on sports – he pushed physical readiness and activity for German youth, but took no interest in playing or watching sports themselves. Soccer was a beloved pastime in Germany, with a thriving national league, and smaller leagues around the country. But even though German professional soccer continued until nearly the end of the war, Hitler had no team he supported, didn’t care for the sport itself, and likely only watched part of one German soccer match – an Olympic match between Germany and Norway.
Legend has it that after Norway scored a goal, Hitler stormed out of the stadium in a rage, and never watched another game.
He Never Allowed His Speaking Voice to Be RecordedvHitler’s paranoid control over his public image extended to his speaking voice. There doesn’t exist a single purposefully-made recording of Hitler speaking in a normal, unofficial tone – only of his speeches. The only known recording of Hitler’s speaking voice at a normal pitch is the so-called Mannerheim Recording, a conversation between Hitler and Finnish Commander in Chief Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim that was made in secret by a Finnish sound engineer.
After 11 minutes, SS guards realized Hitler was being recorded and demanded it be stopped. The recording was allowed to exist, but only in a sealed container never to be opened. It was made publicly available in the early ’60s.
He Created a Nazi Nobel PrizeAfter an anti-Nazi German writer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935, Hitler forbade Germans from accepting any Nobel Prize. Instead, he created a Nazi equivalent: the German National Prize for Art and Science. Nine were awarded from 1937 to 1939, when the award was discontinued due to the war. This makes it one of the rarest medals in German history, and even just one of the award documents was valued at over $22,000 in a 2015 auction.
Despite His Anti-Semitism, He Gave Indulgences to Jews He Liked
Hitler was known for his varied feelings on individual Jews. He gave special protection to Eduard Bloch, a Jewish doctor who was the personal physician of the Hitler family; as well as Emil Maurice, an early SS member and Hitler’s personal driver, who was found to have Jewish roots. For anyone else, such ancestry would be cause for expulsion from the SS, and possibly for arrest, but Hitler intervened and had him declared an “honorary Aryan.”
Both Bloch and Maurice survived the war.
While in Jail He Wrote a Mercedes Dealer Begging for a Loan
In 2010, a letter from Hitler was found at a German flea market. It was written to a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Munich, asking them to advance him money to purchase a limousine, with the promise to pay the dealer back with royalties from Mein Kampf.
In the letter, Hitler claims that money is on the way, but he’s “compelled” to ask for a loan. “Naturally,something in the order of several thousand marks would be a big help” he wrote. Whether or not the dealer wrote back is lost to history.
His Life Was Saved Several Times
Residents of Passau, Germany buzzed for decades about an urban legend involving Hitler nearly drowning as a 4-year-old boy, but being saved by a priest. Newspaper clippings were found in a German archive in 2010 that confirmed the story – and it wouldn’t be Hitler’s last brush with death.
As a soldier on the Western Front in World War I, Hitler was wounded several times, and gassed at one point. A story has circulated for decades that in September 1918, a wounded Hitler wandered into the line of fire of a British soldier named Henry Tandey – a soldier who not only didn’t shoot Hitler, but allowed him to escape and might have even carried him to safety. While Tandey was a real soldier (indeed, he was the most decorated British enlisted man in the war), there’s little evidence that this encounter between him and Hitler actually happened.