Alternatively: "Basically, Hitler was permanently looked after"

Whoever wants to understand Hitler has to understand his friends

The sentence has been quoted endlessly: “If Hitler had had friends at all,” said Albert Speer on June 19, 1946 at the Nuremberg Trial, “I would certainly have been one of his close friends.” This apodictic statement is in most biographies and others Interpretations of the dictator received.

But is the assertion contained therein actually true?

Was Hitler really unable to commit and was therefore a loner?


Documentary filmmaker Michael Kloft is now questioning this thesis with good reason in a two-part series for ZDF-Info.

The “Führer”, argues the award-winning expert for the Nazi era, based on the latest research by the Potsdam historian Heike Görtemaker, was surrounded by a circle of supporters, confidants and claqueurs without whom neither his rise nor his rule was are conceivable.

The historian Heike Görtemaker

Source: Heike Görtemaker / Photo: Birgit Blumrich

Görtemaker, who published the highly interesting book “Hitler's Hofstaat” in 2019, comes to a clear conclusion: “In Hitler's environment there was never a difference between political and private life.

There was no one in the court who was not involved. "

This is a refreshingly different, further perspective.

Could it be that Hitler wasn't the “lone wolf” when Speer and other witnesses from the inner circle portrayed him after 1945?

Not the unapproachable "leader" who hovered over his paladins and would actually have been incapable of friendly relations?

Was this twisting about a conscious or unconscious mechanism of self-protection on the part of those informants who were able to shift responsibility for the monstrous crimes of National Socialism onto the dead Hitler?

Hitler and Winifred Wagner 1937

Source: picture-alliance / akg-images


If you try to get involved with this idea, it is immediately apparent that you have to distinguish at least between those around Hitler before about 1932 and afterwards.

So on the one hand the time of his rise and on the other hand the time of his reign - although these twelve years are actually to be differentiated according to pre-war and war.

The first episode of Kloft's film, in which Nazi expert Ernst Piper has his say alongside Görtemaker, traces the rise of the World War II veteran (albeit not a real trenchman) to head of the party with the largest number of voters in Germany.

In 1919 in Munich, Hitler was actually a nobody, but then some patrons noticed him as a talented demagogue.

The man who was Hitler's mentor

The anti-Semite Dietrich Eckart was the ideological inventor of Adolf Hitler.

After his unexpected death he was buried in Berchtesgaden.

The grave is still paid for today - by strangers.

Source: The World

Among them was the ethnic writer Dietrich Eckart, who had been looking for a “savior of Germany” since the defeat.

He got to know Hitler in the autumn of 1919 and in the following months became something like the "ideological inventor" of the future NSDAP chief.

Another was Ernst Hanfstaengl, son from the Munich upper class, a third Helene Bechstein, wife of a Berlin piano manufacturer, others the publisher's wife Else Bruckmann and Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law, Winifred.


First of all, a circle is created around a capable speaker, summarizes Heike Görtemaker, “whom you accompany, whom you protect.

But it is also a circle in which political ideas develop. ”When exactly Hitler gives up the idea of“ only ”wanting to be a“ drummer ”for the supposed renewal of Germany, that is, its propagandist, and instead its“ leader ” not entirely clear.

It will have been sometime between mid-1921 and late 1922.

The closest circle around Hitler in 1939 - a kind of "surrogate family"

Source: picture alliance / prisma

At this time, a man rose to the closest circle around Hitler, who represents the constant before 1932 and afterwards (but only until May 9, 1941): Rudolf Hess.

The then student, five years younger, wrote an essay for a competition at the end of 1922 on the question: "What will the man be like who will lead Germany back up?"

The text certainly met Hitler's approval - the NSDAP published it in 1922 on a leaflet distributed in Munich.

Hess wrote about the “savior” in his essay, among other things: “He will bring Germany back to its senses like a doctor would make a half-mad - if necessary with the most brutal force.” Another passage a century later reads like a supposedly detailed description of Hitler: “Deep knowledge in all areas of state life and history, the ability to draw lessons from them, the belief in the purity of one's own cause and in ultimate victory, an irrepressible will power give him the power of ravishing speech, the masses cheer him leaves."

Hitler and Eva Braun on the outside staircase of the Berghof

Source: picture alliance / prisma

But that, according to Heike Görtemaker's interpretation, becomes the former soldier mainly through the circle of patrons, supporters and admirers.

The historian sums up her impression in the succinct formula: "The real Hitler is a poor sausage."

When the NSDAP was on the threshold of power over Germany ten years later, the circle around the "Führer" changed significantly.

One of the few Rudolf Hess remained, now as secretary and, after Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, as the de facto party leader.

The circle has also changed in other ways: The chief adjutant Wilhelm Brückner is now one of them, the photographer Heinrich Hoffmann has joined (and with him his employee Eva Braun, who will soon become the center of the court when he stops at Obersalzberg), Albert Speer, Joseph Goebbels, the doctor Karl Brandt, the bureaucrat (and Hess's successor) Martin Bormann, plus several secretaries and all kinds of adjutants.

Hitler with Joseph Goebbels at the fireplace in the Berghof

Source: picture-alliance / Mary Evans Pi

Even more than before, Hitler is practically never alone;

he is always surrounded by an entourage of confidants and helpers - whereby the boundaries are fluid.

Of course, Nikolaus von Below, for example, Hitler's air force adjutant since 1937, is a subordinate.

But one who spends several hours a day in the immediate vicinity of the dictator, and in the near future often with his wife will be among the regular listeners to the seemingly endless monologues.


"Basically, Hitler is permanently looked after", Görtemaker sums up this situation: "Everything he needs, including encouragement, he gets, he draws from this circle." The "Führer" must therefore be seen as "part of a group" .

The documentation by Michael Kloft and the underlying book by Görtemaker open up new perspectives - even if one does not want to share the further thesis that Hitler and Eva Braun had a secret love affair.

“Hitler's court”, ZDF-Info, February 23, 2021, from 7.30 p.m.

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