Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 in Braunau am Inn in modern-day Austria. He was the fourth of six children born to Alois Hitler and his third wife/cousin, Klara Polzl. Three of his siblings died in infancy.
Alois Hitler, Adolf’s father, was quite the player. He was the illegitimate son of a common woman named Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Alois changed his name from Schicklgruber to Hitler in 1876. Hitler means “one who lives in a hut.”
There were tainted allegations that Alois’ father might have been one Leopold Frankenberger, a young Jewish man in the household where Maria was employed as a housekeeper. However, the possibility that Der Fuhrer might have had a Jewish grandfather, tantalizing though it might be, is likely apocryphal.
Alois tomcatted among sundry wives and mistresses before nominally settling down with Klara. He was a hard man who beat young Adolf regularly.
By contrast, Klara was a doting mother who cherished her son. Alois breathed his last over a morning glass of wine at the Gasthaus Wiesinger in 1903 at age 65. Adolf was fourteen at the time.
Adolf was almost pathologically attached to his mom, and her death from breast cancer at age 47 came as a terrible blow. His mother’s kindly Jewish physician, Eduard Bloch, attended Mrs. Hitler for free as they lacked the means to pay for her care. He was rewarded decades later in 1940 with permission to emigrate with his wife from Austria to the United States.
Dr. Bloch ultimately settled in New York City. Hitler called him a “Noble Jew.”
By 1940, being Jewish in the Third Reich was becoming hard. Their release at that time in history was truly remarkable. Bloch was subsequently interviewed extensively by the Office of Strategic Services in an effort at gathering usable intelligence regarding Hitler’s worldview.
Now It Gets Really Weird
Hitler had a tale of his service in World War 1 he would relate to friends at dinner parties. He served as a runner in the trenches and earned the Iron Cross before ending the war as a Corporal. After a protracted period without hot food, a field kitchen set up in the stretch of the trench where the young Gefreiter served and began doling out black bread and boiled cabbage.
Hitler waited in line to get his helpings, enraptured by the prospect of his first hot meal in weeks. His tray piled high with steaming cabbage he dropped down alongside his mates and prepared to dig in. In later years, Hitler described what he subsequently heard simply as the Voice. This disembodied Voice told him to stand up and walk around the corner.
He glanced about and could tell that no one else was privy to the spectral command. However, the Voice alarmed him, so he gathered his Mauser 98 rifle, stood up, and walked around the corner of the trench. The moment he rounded the corner, a French howitzer round landed where he had been sitting, killing everyone nearby. The young German Corporal was dazed and deafened but otherwise miraculously unhurt, inexplicably spared by a disembodied Voice heard only by him.
The Voice came to him many times after that as well, frequently awakening him from sleep in a state of abject panic. Adolph Hitler claimed that tale spoke to his inspired role as an agent of Providence. In retrospect, I do not debate the spiritual genesis of der Fuhrer’s supernatural protection. I might simply assert that the origin was perhaps more diabolical than divine.
Here’s the event in his own words–“I was eating dinner in a trench with several comrades. Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, “Get up and go over there.” It was so clear and insistent that I obeyed automatically. I rose to my feet and walked twenty yards. Then I sat down to go on eating. Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening report came from the part of the trench I had just left. Every member in it was killed”
The History of Hitler’s Combat Rifle
The brainchild of German firearms visionary Peter Paul Mauser, the Model 98 rifle the future dictator carried during WW1 was an evolutionary development of earlier Mauser designs. The Germans made more than nine million copies in eleven different arsenals. The gun remained in German service through 1935.
The same basic action went on to become the Model 98k that served the German Wehrmacht throughout the Second World War. The Model 98 Mauser ultimately inspired millions of similar weapons. Rebarreled versions were widely used by the Israelis during their War for Independence.
The 98 Mauser’s first combat use was during the Boxer Rebellion in China from 1898 until 1901. While not primarily remembered as a colonial power, Germany coveted colonies of its own in the latter parts of the 19th century just like everybody else on the planet. However, events soon to develop in Europe swallowed these ancillary pursuits up in the maelstrom of total global war.
Hitler’s Model 98 was a manually operated, magazine-fed, controlled-feed bolt-action rifle. The gun had a conventional open front sight and a tangent-type rear sight known as the Lange Visier. The weapon fed from 5-round stripper clips inserted from the top.
The M98 bolt included three locking lugs. Two lugs performed primary locking duties while the third lug served as a backup in the infrequent circumstance that the other two sheared under the extraordinary pressures generated by the gun’s advanced smokeless cartridge. This third lug did not typically support firing pressures unless the primary lugs failed.
There were two holes bored into the base of the bolt that were designed to direct escaping gases out the bottom of the gun and away from the firer’s face in the event of a cartridge rupture or primer failure. There was additionally a secondary component to the design that safely routed violent escaping gas down the locking lug raceway and out a cutout exit hole in the event of failure.
The M98’s controlled-feed action was composed of a large non-rotating extractor that engaged the rimmed base of the cartridge as it left the magazine and firmly managed the overall travel of the round throughout its cycle. This oversized component gripped the case positively until the empty cartridge struck the ejector and was discarded. There was also a scant cam built into the rear portion of the receiver bridge that gave the action a little boost at the final portion of the bolt-opening phase.
The timeless 98 Mauser armed the German military through two simply spectacular global defeats. At least eighty million people lost their lives in World Wars 1 and 2. Throughout it all, the Mauser 98 remained a remarkably competitive Infantry combat tool despite the breathtaking pace of technological evolution.
Adolf Hitler was arguably the most successful psychopath in all of human history. Others were responsible for larger body counts, but they were typically motivated by some misguided effort to establish a social utopia for the masses. Stalin and Mao, black-hearted devils that they were, generally killed out of stupidity.
By contrast, Adolf Hitler was the very embodiment of evil. He stole territory and murdered millions driven by the baseless idea that he was just better than everybody else. While hating people has fallen out of fashion these days, it yet remains perfectly OK to despise and denigrate Nazis in books and movies.
Speak up against Japanese wartime atrocities and you might be a racist. Call out Palestinian terrorists and you’re likely a bigot. However, it will forever be cool to hate the Nazis. As the diabolical face of the whole sordid mob, Hitler remains the modern era’s alpha thug.
Adolf Hitler was terrified of cats and would eat as much as two pounds of chocolate in a day. He regularly abused cocaine and, despite inspiring one of the worst genocides in human history, never once visited a concentration camp. Hitler collected tens of thousands of Jewish artifacts intending to create a museum to an extinct race after the war.
His nephew, William Patrick Hitler, served in the US Navy and fought against the Axis during WW2.
Hitler failed to gain entry into art school in Vienna twice. For a time he was destitute and lived in a homeless shelter.
Tales persist that Hitler had a single undescended testicle and was regularly injected with bull semen to enhance his virility. Regardless of whether that stuff was true or not, by his own admission, he did hear voices others could not. That makes him schizophrenic by definition.
The term “crazy” is mightily overused these days. So are comparisons of contemporary politicians to the unhinged Nazi Fuhrer. In the alpha lunatic Adolf Hitler, however, we see just how deep man’s capacity for darkness can become. No matter how you slice it, that guy was a lunatic.