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The painfully flawed writings of Adolf Hitler

October 5, 2011

The anti-woman, homo-phobic, and anti-Semitic writings of Hitler are painfully flawed and rather empty in their ideas and content.  Nonetheless, those who study how he tried to write, to spell, and to type note that Hitler was an embarrassment to German education.

Here, for example, are notes from Timothy W. Ryback, from pages 71-73 of his research, Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life:

When Hitler boasted of his education at state expense, he not only flaunted his disdain for the Bavarian penal system but also exposed his meager understanding of serious education, a fact that is revealed in Mein Kampf both in terms of its vacuous intellectual content and its painfully flawed grammar. In the surviving bits of unpublished Hitler texts I found in archives across Europe and America, [Hitler] the collector-cum-author emerges as a half-educated man who has mastered neither basic spelling nor common grammar. His raw texts are riddled with lexical and syntactical errors.  At age thirty-five, Hilter had not even mastered basic spelling. He writes “es gibt” — “there is” — phonetically rather than grammatically as “es giebt.” But the remnant pieces I studied, including Hitler’s original draft for the first chapter of Mein Kampf, as well as an eighteen-page outline to five subsequent chapters, demonstrate he took his writing seriously.

It has long been assumed that Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoners, in particular his personal secretary, Rudolf Hess, and his chauffeur and bodyguard, Emil Maurice. In fact, Hitler had begun work on his manuscript before either one of them arrived in Landsberg. This first draft, typed in Pica with faded blue ribbon, shows a fitful start to the four-hundred-page book that was to follow. A single line is typed across the top of the untitled page, “It is not by chance that my cradle,” then breaks off, drops two carriage returns, and begins anew. “It must be seen in my opinion as a positive omen that my cradle stood in Braunau since this small town lies directly on the boarder of two German states whose reunification we young people see as a higher goal in life,” Hitler writes with an evidently measured cadence, though he misspells higherhohre rather than höhere — before pulling two more carriage returns and plunging into an emphatic claim that this reunification is driven not be economic considerations — “Nein! Nein! he hammers — but by the common bond of blood. “Gemeinsames Blut gehört in ein gemeinsames Reich!” he writes. “Common blood belongs in a common empire.”

At some point in the opening paragraphs, Hitler paused, took a blue pencil, and went back to make amendments, striking out his first failed sentence, making one grammatical correction, but overlooking several others.

And here’s the last page of Hitler’s first letter, now “on permanent display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles”:

An anonymous commenter, so upset by the sloppiness of the Gemlich letter, which we all can see now, visited my blog Aristotle’s Feminist Subject today, and registered this complaint:

I am German and all I can say is, that this letter contains many errors, orthographic mistakes and even the signature has some very strange errors. The letter is typewritten, which is very strange. In 1919, Hitler was a young man and attested poor. To own a typewriter was luxury !
Space error, a lot of comma faults, use of smal and large words, the word UND in the beginning which is absolute not German style, the word UND after an comma which is absolute no German style, one sentence makes absolute NO sense and is too too long, the word Führernsicher does NOT exist in German language, sentences which are NOT German, but foreign script and style, some words to end a sentence are just missed !the writer was 100 % not a German and even misspelled the word Pogrom !!, and last but not least: The continental typewriter already had a German “ß”, “ä” and “ü”, but the writer of the letter didn´t use theese letters. My opinion as long time militariy collector. THIS letter is 100% FAKE !

While grateful for the careful attention to the painfully flawed writing in the letter, I was reminded that this is how Hitler actually cruelly butchered the German language. Alas, reading what Hitler wrote is always a terrible reminder of the pains of his pen, the wreck of his typewriter, and the horrors of his Reich.

Here are just a few more examples from Eugene Davidson’s, The Making of Adolf Hitler: The Birth and Rise of Nazism:

hitler-misspellings

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. jezibelle permalink
    October 5, 2011 5:47 pm

    Another example of ignorance breeding contempt (in so many ways). Thank you for sharing… well-written and thought-provoking.

  2. October 5, 2011 7:47 pm

    New York Times article on the letter:

    Letter of Hitler’s First Anti-Semitic Writing May Be the Original
    By JACK EWING

    FRANKFURT — In 1919, a soldier in Munich discovered that he could galvanize small groups of fellow trench warfare veterans with virulently anti-Semitic oratory. A superior officer, impressed with the soldier’s oral skills, asked him to commit his ideas to paper.

    Thus came into existence the first written record of Adolf Hitler’s obsessive hostility toward Jews, an embryonic form of the worldview that would later lead to the Holocaust and millions of deaths.

    Now, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles has acquired what it believes may be the original version of the document, known as the Gemlich letter. In July, the center plans to put it on public view for the first time, at its Museum of Tolerance, making the letter the centerpiece of its Holocaust exhibit.

    The text of the letter is well known to scholars. It is considered significant because it demonstrates just how early in his career Hitler was formulating his anti-Semitic views.

    “It is his first written statement about the Jews,” said the historian Saul Friedlander, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his study of the Holocaust. “It shows that this was the very core of his political passion.”

    The version of the letter best known to scholars is in an archive in Munich, and news that another copy had made its way to Los Angeles met with some skepticism among historians. The market for Hitler memorabilia is notorious for forgeries.

    “It has to have very good provenance,” said Klaus Lankheit, deputy director of the archive at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. “From my experience, I would be very skeptical.”

    But Othmar Plöckinger, an expert on early Hitler documents, says it appears that the document acquired by the Wiesenthal Center is the original letter written by Hitler and that the one in Munich is a copy made about the same time. “There are a lot of points that make me believe it could be the original,” Mr. Plöckinger said of the Wiesenthal Center’s document.

    This week, Mr. Plöckinger compared a copy of the document acquired by the center with the version of the Gemlich letter at the Bavarian State Archives in Munich. Mr. Plöckinger, who is working on an annotated version of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” for the Institute of Contemporary History, cautioned that more research would be needed to be 100 percent sure.

    Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and director of the Wiesenthal Center, says he is convinced that the four-page letter, acquired by the organization for $150,000 last month through a dealer, is genuine. “I am absolutely certain our copy is signed by Adolf Hitler,” Rabbi Hier said.

    Rabbi Hier provided records indicating that the document was found in the final months of World War II by a U.S. Army soldier named William F. Ziegler. In a handwritten letter in 1988 provided by the dealer who sold the document to the Wiesenthal Center, Mr. Ziegler said he had found the document among others scattered on the floor of what appeared to be a Nazi Party archive near Nuremberg.

    Rabbi Hier also provided documents from the dealer showing Hitler’s signature on the letter was validated in 1988 and again in 1990 by Charles Hamilton Jr., a New York handwriting expert and dealer who was famous for exposing fake Hitler diaries in 1983. Mr. Hamilton died in 1996.

    Rabbi Hier said he had a chance to acquire the letter when it first came on the market in 1988, but was skeptical of the document because it was typed. That seemed odd to him for the period in question, when Hitler was an ordinary soldier in a country devastated economically by war. Typewriters were very costly in 1919 and even many military units did not have them. “How did he get hold of a typewriter?” Rabbi Hier asked.

    This year, Rabbi Hier learned that there was a plausible explanation. In 1919, during the upheaval that followed Germany’s defeat in World War I, Hitler was attached to a military propaganda unit of the Bavarian Army in Munich that was trying to stamp out Bolshevik sentiment carried home by prisoners of war in Russia.

    Hitler’s ability to hold the interest of his listeners drew him to the attention of a superior officer, Capt. Karl Mayr. When a soldier named Adolf Gemlich, who was doing similar propaganda work for the army in Ulm, wrote asking for a clarification of “the Jewish Question,” Captain Mayr gave Hitler the assignment.

    Hitler wrote to Mr. Gemlich that occasional pogroms against the Jews were not enough — the Jewish “race” must be “removed” from Germany as a matter of national policy.

    Ian Kershaw, a British author of best-selling Hitler biographies who was knighted for his studies of Nazism, says it is very unlikely that Hitler already envisioned the industrialized extermination of the Jews that he would pursue.

    “Not even Hitler was capable of imagining in 1919 what could be done,” Mr. Kershaw said.

    But the letter, Mr. Kershaw said, showed that “already in 1919 Hitler has a clear notion of removal of the Jews altogether.”

    Hitler either wrote the letter in longhand and it was typed by someone in Captain Mayr’s office, or Hitler dictated the letter, according to a 1959 article in a German historical quarterly, which appears to be the first scholarly mention of the document.

    Captain Mayr later turned against Hitler and died at the Buchenwald concentration camp during the final months of the war.

    The document in the state archives in Munich is not the original and is not signed by Hitler, said Johann Pörnbacher, a representative of the archives. He says the archives has no record of where the original is.

    Mr. Plöckinger, the historian who examined both versions, said that the copy in the Munich archive corrected some typographical and punctuation errors in the Wiesenthal Center document. At the same time, the Munich copy adopted some nonsensical commas written by hand in the Wiesenthal Center document.

    “This wouldn’t make sense to a forger,” Mr. Plöckinger said. “So structural aspects speak in favor of the authenticity” of the document acquired by the Wiesenthal Center.

    The implication is that the signed version in Los Angeles was the letter originally sent to Adolf Gemlich.

    Mr. Plöckinger, who two years ago was involved in authenticating newly discovered pages from “Mein Kampf,” said that to be absolutely sure it would be necessary to do more thorough research by, for example, analyzing the age and composition of the paper in the Wiesenthal Center’s document, and trying to trace the journey the letter made after 1919.

    “If you want to have 100 percent certainty,” he said, “then you have to do a lot of other things.”

    Rabbi Hier said he jumped at the chance to buy the letter when it was offered for sale recently by Profiles in History, a dealer in Calabasas Hills, California, that normally specializes in historical documents associated with the likes of Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein as well as Hollywood memorabilia. The dealer has been in the news recently as the auctioneer of a collection of Hollywood costumes owned by the actress Debbie Reynolds.

    Rabbi Hier said he had persuaded members of the Wiesenthal Center board of trustees to donate the $150,000 purchase price for the Gemlich letter.

    Joseph Maddalena, president of Profiles in History, said he first acquired the letter two decades ago from a small-time dealer in Kansas, who in turn had bought it from Mr. Ziegler, the soldier who is said to have found the letter. Mr. Maddalena said he never met Mr. Ziegler and did not know if he was still alive.

    “In terms of the Holocaust,” Rabbi Hier said, “we have nothing that would compare to this document.”

  3. October 6, 2011 9:35 am

    Another example of ignorance breeding contempt (in so many ways).
    Well put, jezibelle!

    Notice how Hitler misspells “Pogrom” on the first page of his letter to Adolf Gemlich:

    Und daraus ergibt sich folgendes: Der Antisemitismus aus rein gefühlsmäßigen Gründen wird seinen letzten Ausdruck finden in der Form von Progromen [sic].

    In English translation, that misspelling of “pogroms” comes out this way:

    And this has the following result: Antisemitism stemming from purely emotive reasons will always find its expression in the form of progroms [sic].

    Below, reviewing the significance of this letter, is a transcript of a video released by the Museum of Tolerance:

    [comment in background: Was it written on his typewriter at home? On camera: Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Director of the Wiesenthal Center, speaking

    “This is a seminal document because nothing exists showing that Hitler ordered the extermination. There’s no Hitler letter which is a smoking gun. And for future generations, this [original Gemlich] letter is of crucial importance because it shows he was obsessed with the Jews as early as 1919 when he wrote this. ‘Entfernung’ – ‘The complete removal or the deliberate removal of the Jews’ – He says, ‘We don’t want an emotional anti-Semitism, which will leads to a street-corner pogrom. What we need is a strong government, a government that will not be one of national impotence but that will be ruthless enough to remove the Jews altogether.'”

    Rabbi Hier also says (in the MOT online announcement of the exhibit):

    “What began as a private letter, one man’s opinion, twenty-two years later became the ‘Magna Carta’ of an entire nation and led to the nearly total extinction of the Jewish people. This is an important lesson for future generations. Demagogues mean what they say and given the opportunity, carry out what they promise.”

  4. susan veres permalink
    February 22, 2012 1:08 am

    as the previous german commentor said—-this is a fake letter—-someone made a lot of money pretending it was hitlers—-theres a fool born every minute.

  5. February 22, 2012 10:43 am

    Dear Susan Veres,

    You are right to suspect that money may motivate a forgery. Nonetheless, the Simon Wiesenthal Center director and trustees and researchers have been careful to scrutinize the Gemlich letter publicly, investigating not only the secondary literature and other historical artifacts around it but also using the best forsensics on the document itself.

    And I hope all can see that Timothy W. Ryback, working on many more works of Hitler than just the Gemlich letter shows how Hitler was a very poor writer of the German language. His sloppiness with spelling and with typing is shown to be consistently worse than that of forgerers.

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