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Adolf Hitler: Taxpayer Author(s): Oron James Hale Reviewed work(s): Source: The American Historical Review, Vol.

60, No. 4 (Jul., 1955), pp. 830-842 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1844922 . Accessed: 29/12/2012 15:59
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YNotes

and

Suggestions

Adolf Hitler:Taxpayer
ORON JAMES HALE

HITLER'S tax files, maintained in the Munich Finance Office from I925 to I935, answer many questions with regard to the size of his income, his responsibility as a taxpayer, his claimed deductible expenses, his early indebtedness, his income from Mein Kampf, and his tax position during his first two years as Fiihrer and Reich Chancellor. They reveal also that he was negligent in filing returns, frequently in arrears,and that at the end of I934, when he was declared tax exempt by the Reich Ministry of Finance, he was delinquent in his tax payments in the amount of 405,494 Reichsmarks. His tax files also leave many important questions unanswered-the source and amount of income aside from his writings, his financial relations to the National Socialist party, and the number and amount of private gifts alleged to have been made to him.' In the tax files, and on all declarations,Hitler was listed as "Schriftsteller," or "Writer," until I933 when the occupational designation on the original file-folder was struck out and replaced by "Reichskanzler."Throughout the period the fiction was maintained by both Hitler and the tax authorities that his only income was derived from his work as a political writer. Only once was he queried as to the source of income-when he acquired an automobile, in Tg25, costing-20,00 RM. The figure reported on the tax declarations was always accepted as valid, and Hitler was held to the payment of the exact amount of tax, plus penalty assessments. But the files do not indicate that his finances were ever made the subject of inquiry or investigation by the Reich tax authorities.2 Whether Hitler was assessed for taxes prior to I924 is not revealed in the records. While he was confined in Landsberg prison (November ii, 1923, to December 20, I924), an assessment form was filled out in the Finance Office
1 Hitler's tax files for 1925-35 contain over two hundred items of which seventy-five are income and turnover tax returns and assessment forms; thirty are registry covers and receipts; and the remainder official notifications, account cards, correspondence, and memorandums. A microfilm copy of the records is in the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia. 2 German tax laws and procedures, at this time, did not require self-employed or professioinal persons to disclose in detail the sources of income or the nature of services rendered. Estimates of deductions, rather than provable figures, were also accepted. In general, investications, prosecutions, and penalties for tax avoidance and falsification were considerably lcss rigorous than under United States laws and regulations.

830

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Taxpayer

83I

but no data entered. It bore the notation, "presently in Landsberg Prison," and a later notation, "still in Landsberg."3 Upon release from confinement, Hitler withdrew to Berchtesgaden, where he lived at an inn for the greater part of the next two years. He was in fact on parole, fearful of deportation as an undesirable alien, and prohibited from making political speeches in Bavaria by order of the state authorities.4 During this period he completed and published the first volume of Mein Kampf, in July, I925, and composed the second volume, which was published

in December,I926.
On May I, I925, Hitler was notified by the Munich Finance Office that he had failed to file a return for I924, as well as the required quarterly declaration for the first period of I925. A blank form was enclosed, to be returned within eight days under a penalty of a io RM fine, or one day in jail. Hitler complied with the regulations by returning the filing notice with the following marginal note: "Munich, May I9, I925. I had no income in I924 or in the first quarter of I925. I have covered my living expenses by raising a bank loan."5 Although Hitler ignored the summons to file quarterly returns for 1925, he acquired in February a large automobile (costing 20,000 RM), which he used for his trips to Munich and for travel incidental to reorganizing the National Socialist party. The tax office was interested and wrote requesting Hitler "at the earliest possible, to inform this office of the source of the funds used to purchase this automobile." To this inquiry Hitler crisply replied that he had raised a bank loan for the purchase of the car.6 When Hitler continued to ignore his obligation to file quarterly returns, the Finance Office issued a penal order (Strafverfuigung) against him, imposing a io RM fine, or one day in jail. Hitler's explanation that he had been away from Munich for some months and upon his return the summons had gone undiscovered "under the mountain of mail," was brusquely rejected, as was also his request that the penal order be revoked.7 Fourteen days after the filing deadline, Hitler signed and returned from Dresden the required declaration for the third quarter of I925. This is the
3Tax Assessment Form 1924, in the name of "Adolph Hitler, Writer, Thierschstrasse4I; born 20 April, I889, Braunau; Catholic." 4To reduce the risk of deportation, Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship by letter of April 7, 1925, to the authorities of the city of Linz, his legal Austrian domicile. T'he declaration was promptly accepted by the Austrian government, but Hitler's announced intention to acquire German citizenship was not fulfilled until 1932. (Hitler's letter, and other documents are reproduced in facsimile in the pictorial weekly, Revue [Munich], No. 5I, Dec. 20, 1952.) 5 Tax Declaration Notice, May i, I925, and Hitler's marginal note. 6 Finance Officeto Hitler, July 23, and Hitler's reply, Aug. 14, I925. 7 Hitler's declaration form and attached statement, Sept. i6; Finance Office reply, Sept. 28, 1925. Hitler's explanation is not too credible as all tax communications were sent by registered post.

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first voluntary return, reporting income, made by Hitler after his release from Landsberg prison. He reported a gross income of I1,23I RM for the quarter, deductible professional expenses of 6,540 RM, and interest payments on debts of 2,245 RM, leaving a net taxable figure of 2,446 RM.8 The return was accompanied by a three-page typewritten statement, also signed and dated at Dresden, explaining and justifying the deductions for "professional expenses."9 While there is no reference to previous correspondence or discussions, the argumentative tone of the communication suggests that Hitler's dispute with the tax authorities over professional expenses, which continued for eight years, had already begun. In justifying his claimed deductions from income, Hitler stated that after his release from Landsberg he had raised a bank loan to cover his living costs. His trial had put him to great expense, and it was only by borrowing that he had been able to complete and publish his book. His deduction for interest on his obligations was therefore a justifiable professional expense. With regard to his other expenditures-travel expenses, and salaries of his private secretary, assistant, and chauffeur-he argued vehemently and at length that these were also deductible in as much as his political activity provided him with the materials he needed as a political writer, and also increased the sales of his book. "Without my political activity my name would be unknown, and I would be lacking materials for the publication of a political work." Maintaining that travel costs were a legitimate deduction for a writer of travel literature and that research expenditures were chargeable against a scientific book, he declared: "Accordingly, in my case as a political wr-iter,the expenses of my political activity, which is the necessary condition of my professional writing as well as its assurance of financial success, cannot be regarded as subject to taxation." In a concluding paragraphhe warmly affirmed his own probity: I am quite willing at any time to make a sworn statementwith regardto my personalexpensesand expenditures.The Finance Officecan then see that out of the income from my book, for this period, only a very small fraction was expended for myself; nowheredo I possesspropertyor other capitalassetsthat I can call my own. I restrictof necessitymy personalwants so far that I am a complete abstainerfrom alcoholand tobacco,take my meals in the most modestrestaurants, and aside from my minimal apartmentrent make no expendituresthat are not chargeableto my expenses as a political writer. I instance all this so that the Finance Officewill see in my representations an attempt to avoid a tax oblinot Also the gation, but rathera sober proven statementof the actual circumstances.
8 PreliminaryIncome Tax Declaration, third quarter I925, Oct. 3I1
1925.

9 The term is Werbungskosten,which was defined in German tax law as the costs of acquir-

ing, maintaining, or securing the reported income. It is roughly equivalent to "costs of doing business."

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automobileis for me but a means to an end. It alone makes it possiblefor me to accomnplish daily work.10 my Under date of November ii, I925, the Finance Office acknowledged receipt of Hitler's quarterly return and the explanation of deductions. But in the final audit and determination of Hitler's income tax for the year 1925, only one half of the deductions were allowed. Upon receipt of the final statement, Hitler protested the disallowance of his deductions and the matter went before the tax review committee of the Finalnce Office."1The committee upheld the original assessment and in rendering the decision stated the reasons quite bluntly: This taxpayertravels mainly in order to spread his political ideas among the people and to attend to Party affairs.Also his employeesare for the most part engaged in work of this kind. The stated expenditures not in and of themselves are professionalexpenseswithin the meaning of the income tax law. Since, however, this activity at the same time providesmaterialfor his work as a political writer and increasesthe sales of his book, one half of the claimedexpenditures travel for and salariesis allowed as a deductionfrom income.12 Although his protest was rejected, Hitler thereafter continued to claim deduction of the full amount of his travel, secretarial costs, and chauffeur's wages in each annual return. The Finance Office held just as firmly to the decision made in I926 and allowed only one half the deductions claimed. In addition to the income tax Hitler was subject to the property tax (Vermogenssteuer) and the turnover tax (Umsatzsteuer) on the sales of Mein Kampf. He was required to file a property return in December, I925, and in the section for reporting property used in professional work, he wrote: "Owned on i January, I925, besides a writing table and two bookcases with books, no property. Highest value iooo M." Filled out in his own hand and dated at Kissingen, it is the only property return in his tax files and presumably the only one he ever made.13 Publication of Mein Kampf and the semiannual receipt of royalties created a new tax obligation for Hitler. In I926, when he received his first turnover tax declaration form for reporting receipts from sales of his book, he signed and returned it blank to the Finance Office. Thereupon the tax
10 Hitler's italics. Itemized deductions for the quarter were: 2,245 RM interest on loans; 3,ooo RM repaymentof a loan; I,5oo RM travel expenses; goo RM salary of a private secretary;

6oo RM salary of an assistant;and 540 RM salary of a chauffeur. 11 Hitler to the Finance Office, Aug. I9, I926. He also protested the amount of the quarterly advance payments assessed for I926, pointing out that "In this year the author's advance honorarium, which I received in I925 for my book Mein Kampf, will not be received again." This protest was accepted and his advance payment reduced from I500 RM to 750 RM, for the year. 12 Tax Assessment Protest, Aug. Io, I926, and Assessment Decision, Jan. 27, I927. Hitler had to pay the costs of the appeal, amounting to 20 RM. 13 PropertyDeclaration for the calendar year I925, dated Dec. I5.

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834
1926.14

Oron James Hale


1925

inspector assessed him for back taxes in

as well as turnover tax due for

Hitler contested his liability for this tax and appointed one of his political henchmen, the lawyer Hans Franik,later governor general of Poland, to represent him in his disagreement with the Finance Office. Before entering a suit, Frank wvrote the Finance Office seeking clarification. In his letter he to argued that Hitler had never paid a turlnovertax and that from his activity as a writer he had no income that could be considered subject to that tax. All of Hitler's writings, he declared were handled by the Franz Eher Verlag, which concern p'aida turnover tax on the sales of Hitler's works. In view of this, Frank wished to know if the tax authorities still maintained that Hitler was subject to this levy. The issue was not put to a test, but after telephone conversations between one of Frank's assistants and the tax officials the complaint was withdrawn and the tax liability admitted.15Thereafter, until I934, the turnover tax was assessed and collected, with occasional penalty assessments for late filing and nonfiling.-6 The source of Hitler's income in these years was the subject of much speculation and gossip in Munich political circles. His income tax returns do not clarify the picture, for Hitler throughout the nine years of tax history recorded in these files reported as personal income only the payments received for his writings. Are we to assume, as did the Reich tax authorities, that he had no other income? Were all the gifts known to have been made to Hitler personally turned over to the party treasurer? Did he receive no salary, honorariums, or reimbursement for expenses from the party? From what sources did he pay off the bank loans which he contracted between 1925 and 1928, as reported in his tax returns? From what income did he rent, furnish, and staff the luxury apartment on Prinzregentenplatz in 1929? And, beginning in 1928, from what income did he lease and maintain Villa Wachenfeld on the Obersalzberg at Berchtesgaden? One must conclude that his reported income covered only a part of his actual expenditures, particularly between 1925 and 1930. And the assumption is strongly indicated that he reprortedonly his receipts as an author because the accounts of his publisher were subject to inspection. Hitler's known attitude toward financial affairs
14 1925 1927.

Turnover Tax Declaration, 1926, filed Mar. I5, 1927; Turnover Tax Assessment Forms, and 1926, prepared July 28, 1927. 15 Hans Frank to Finance Office, Oct. 5; Frank's representative to Finance Office, Dec. 2T,
16

The assessed turnover tax amounted to 254 RM in I925, reached a low point of 9I RM rose in I930, with the issuance of a cheap edition of Mein Kampj, to 412 RM, and in 1933, when sales reached the million mark, amounted to 24,646 RM. The rate on gross receipts was 0.75 per cent until I930, 0.85 per cent from I930 to I932, when it was increased to 2 per cent. in
I928,

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suggeststhat all otherincomewent unreported because was undocumented. it

The years1925-1928 wereparticularly yearsfor Hitler,andhe had lean


difficultymeeting his tax assessments even on reportedincome.He secured two postponements the balancedue on his I925 taxes, and his quarterly of paymentsin I926 were made belatedlyand incompletely. January,I926, In Rudolf Hess, Hitler'sprivatesecretary, authorizedaccessto Hitler'stax was recordsand appearsto have handledthe detailsthereafter.17 Hess wrote to the Finance Office on July 24, acknowledgingthe payment-due notice for the second quartertaxes. A hundredmarks had been paid, he wrote, and "HerrHitler requests that paymentof the balancebe deferred."18 SeptemIn ber, a letter,signed by Hitler, acknowledged arrears 275 RM, as well tax of as the quarterly paymentcoming due within the next week. Hitler requested postponement the total until the beginningof December, which time he of at expectedto have the money in hand "from the publicationof the second volume of my book."He would pay all accumulated taxes,plus interest,at that time. "At the momentI am not in a positionto pay the taxes; to cover my living expensesI have had to raisea loan."19 Still without the means to pay at the end of the year,Hitler requested that the balancedue be deferred until the outstandingaccountswith the bookstores the sale of his book for were settled, "which is anticipatedin the near future."He explainedthat owing to the unexpectedly high extrachargeson his 1925 incomeand church taxes it had not been possiblefor him to meet his original commitment.20 Hitler was still in arrears I927, owing a finalpaymenton his 1926 taxes in as well as part of his currentquarterly payments. Octoberhe wroteto the In FinanceOfficestatingthat he had paid 300 RM on the currentaccountand requestingthat he be allowed to pay the balancein monthly installments.21 Beginningin I928, Hitler met his tax obligationswith less difficulty. While he was frequently overdue,this appears have been the resultof negligence to ratherthan inabilityto pay. From 1925 to 1928 Hitler also contractedconsiderable indebtedness. I1n 1925, he reported that his living expenseshad been coveredby a loan and he
17 I-litler to Finance Office, January, I926. Although Hitler was hard pressed financially, his later description of personal hardship suffered in this period-"For years I lived on Tyrolean apples, and so did Hess"-is hard to reconcile with his expenditures for a private secretary, a personal aide, and a 20,000 RM motor car. Hitler's Secret Conversations (New York, I953), p. i8o. 18 Hess wrote on an imposing letterhead: "Chancellery of Adolph Hitler, Munich 2, Schellingstrasse 50. Private Secretary(R. Hess)." 19 Hitler to Finance Office, Sept. 23, I926. Postponement to Dec. Io, with interest at 6 per cent, was granted. 20 Hitler to the Finance Office,Dec. 28, I926. 21 OCt. I, 1927. His request was granted. Hitler owed at this time I,245 RM on which he made a payment of 300 RM.

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Oron James Hale

had purchasedhis automobileon credit.In making his tax returnfor the sameyearhe claimeddeductions 2,245 RM intereston debtsand 3,oooRM of repayment a note. In 1926 he reporteda gross income of 15,903 RM and of expenditures 31,209 RM. The deficit,he stated,had been met by a bank of loan. Anotherdeficitof 1,958RM in 1927 had been coveredin the sameway. In that year he also claimeda deductionof 1,706 RM for interestpaid on loans.In the year following,his incomeexceededreported expenditures and in 1929 the item of intereston loansdisappears from his appended statement of deductions. Although Hitler'sreported gross income in 1929 was slightly

less thanin

1925-1926,

a financial miracle beenwrought he had had and

liquidatedhis indebtedness.22 As to Hitler's claimeddeductionsfor professional expenses,the amount and the items remainedfairly constantuntil 1930. His privatesecretary received 300 RM monthly, an assistant200 RM, and his chauffeur200 RM. Social insurancepayments amounted approximately 8oo RM annually to and automobileinsuranceand tax to about2000 RM. His travelcosts were by far the largestitem. In 1926 and 1927 he deducted240 RM for "continuation of professional training"(Ausgabenfur die Fortbildung dem Beruf). in He deducted I,692 RM for the purchase booksin 1930, and similar of

amounts I93I andI932. Hitlergreatly in increased deductions travel his for


in
1930,

claiming 4,980 RM for transportation 12,000 RM for general and

travel expenses. Comparable expenditures claimed 193I, andin 1932 were in


a total of 26,ooo RM was reported travelcostsand expenses.23 itemizing as In his claimed deductions,Hitler always maintainedthat the travel item was ''only a fraction" his actualexpenditure. of In 1930, Hitler and the Nazi party skyrocketedto national and irlnnationalprominence they began to harvestthe politicalfruits of the ecoas nomic collapseof Germany.With the September electionsto the Reichstag, in which the National Socialistswon 107 seats, Hitler became a leading politicalfigurein centralEurope.This yearalso marksa turningpoint in his financialfortunesas Mein Kampf suddenlybecamea best sellerin the G(,rmanbookstores. Through a fortunate circumstance is possible to determineexactly it Hitler'sincomefrom salesof Mein Kampf, and to comparehis royaltiesac22 The improvement in Hitler's personal financial position corresponded to the improvement in the Nazi party's fortunes. In 1929 the Nazis joined Hugenberg's Nationalists in a campaign to defeat the Young Plan and thereby gained access to the financial resourcesof the Hugenberg group. In the same year Hitler moved from his rooms in the Thierschstrasseto a nine-room apartment on Prinzregentenplatz in the fashionable Bogenhausen section of Mtunich. 23 Income tax declarationsand attached statementsfor the years indicated. Hitler's declaration for 1928 is missing but part of the data is given on the income tax assessment form.

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count with his tax returns.Among a small quantityof recordsof the Eher at Verlag,confiscated the end of the war, is a royaltiesledgerin which payments to authorswere recordeduntil 1933.24Hitler'saccountshows that the first editionof Mein Kampf, which sold for 12 RM per volume,had a satissale. By 1928 sales were down to 3000 copiesfor factorybut not spectacular both volumes. (Volume II had very low sales.) However, in May, 1930, a cheap one-volumeedition, selling for 8 RM, appearedand immediately found a broadmarket.On this edition Hitler receivedroyaltiesof ten per
I, cent,andafterJanuary 1933,

of edition fifteen cent.An evencheaper per

the separatevolumes, selling for 2.85 RM each, was issued in September, this edition 1932, on the same royaltybasis.In the first year of distribution salesin all sold 480,000copies,and in the firstyearof Hitler'schancellorship editionsexceededa million copies.Hitler'sincome from these phenomenal Germanyis shown in the table below. The table sales in depression-ridden purposeshis reportedannualgross receipts,the also shows for comparative royaltiesreceivedfrom the Eher Verlag, the numberof copiessold of Mein Kampf, andlother taxablereceiptsnot accountedfor by paymentsfrom his publisher. Ieaz
I925 1926
I927

Sales of Royalties Reported grossreceipts credited MeinKampf (in RMs)


I9,843
I5,903
I

Other receipts
I,196
3,500 3,000
14,352 2,299

20,352

9,473
699I3
5,607 3,015

I4,707
I I494

I494

I928

II,8I8

I929
I930 1931 I932 I933

I5,448
48,472
55.132

8,38 I5,448
45,472

7,664
54,o86 50,808 90,35I

40,780

64,639
I,232,335

62,340
*86I,I46

*854,I27

to November I7,

I933

With his income tripled in 1930, and tax rates considerablyincreased, bill Hitler was presentedwith a substantial in excessof advancepayments and filed an amended made during the year. He protestedthe assessment which left less than half his incomesubjectto tax. statement expenditures, of Hitler rejectedthe offer and the When the officials proposeda compromise, appeal went to the tax review committee.As in 1926, and on the same grounds,the committeeupheldthe officialassessment.25
24Eher Verlag Honorar-Buch,Hitler's account, pp. 101-19, 360-63, Adolf Hitler Collection, ManuscriptsDivision, Libraryof Congress. 25 Hitler to Finance Office, July I4 and Sept. 15; Finance Office to Hitler, Sept. I9; Tax Assessment Decision, Dec. 30, 1931.

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83 8

Oron James Hale

A new chapterin Hitler's recordas a taxpayeropens with his appointon ment as Chancellor January 1933. At that time Hitler'sadjutant, 30, Julius for Schaub,assumedresponsibility the details of his employer'stax affairs. Tax favorswere immediately requestedand securedthroughthe Nazi State Fritz Reinhardt,in the Reich Ministryof Finance.Reinhardt,a Secretary, formerteacherin a schoolof accountingand taxationin Thuringia,was an old partymemberappointedto the Ministryof Financeto effect its political co-ordination. Becauseof his politicalconnections, Reinhardtwas the dominant figure in the ministryand was responsible the specialtreatment for accordedHitler and other partyleadersin mattersof taxation. The first problem that arose in connectionwith the Chancellor's tax affairsconcernedHitler'sstate salary.Shortlyafter his appointment, was it announcedin the pressthat Hitler would donatehis salaryas Chancellor to a fund for assistance dependentsof membersof the SA, SS, and police to who had been killed in politicalriots of the precedingyears."At the end of Marchthe FinanceOfficeMunich-East, where Hitler continuedto make his returns,took cognizanceof the reportand the tax problemraised by this well-publicized gesture. The question now arises whether ReichChancellor taxable his salary the is for in addition his otherincome. to The increase the totalincome give rise,as in will a resultof the higherbracket, a considerable in the income assessment, to rise tax whichwouldimposean unjusthardship sincethe Chancellor designated has his salary,in a magnanimous manner, charitable for purposes.27 The concernof this soft-hearted collectorhad been anticipated Berlin, tax in where the chief of the Reich Chancellery, State Secretary Lammers,had informedthe Ministerof Finance,Schwerinvon Krosigk,of Hitler'sdecision. Krosigkthereuponwrote to Lammersthat in view of Hitler'scharitable action his salarywould not be subjectto the varioustaxes on income.28 This action had the effect of separating tax purposesHitler'sprivateincome for from his salaryas Reich Chancellor. had the additionalresultthat Hitler's It quarterlyadvancepaymentsfor I933 were assessedon the basis of his I932 income, thus greatly increasingthe amount of his final paymentfor 1933 taxes. Until i933 Hitler'sgross income from his writings were modest indeed.
26 The party press bureau had announced early in February that Hitler would renounce the Chancellor'ssalary since he earned his own income as a writer. VdlkischerBeobachter,Berlin ed., Feb. 7, 1933. 27 Memo. Finance OfficeMunich-Eastto State Finance Office,Mar. 31, 1933. 2S`Letter of Mar. I5, in reply to Lammers' communication of Mar. 8, 1933. In later years, however, Hitler received the salary of his office, which in 1934 amounted to 29,200 RM salary, and I8,ooo RM for official expenses. Pay card issued by Reich Central Fiscal Office, Jan. 29,

I935.

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althoughhe did not think He was treatedfairlyin the matterof deductions, upon his net incomewere by no meansexorbitant. so, and the taxesassessed his But in 1933, owing to the masssalesof MeinKampf, grossincomefor the

incometaxesamountyearroseto 1,232,335 RM,on whichhe was assessed RM.29 ing to 297,005


When the time came for filing the annualreturnfor I933, anotherfavor was requestedof the Ministryof Finance-the deductionof one half the Whether the apexpensesand expenditures. gross income for professional proachwas made directlyby Hitler, or throughhis adjutantSchaub,cannot be determined, the proposalwas agreedto by Reinhardt,who wrote to but expendituresinHitler as follows: "With referenceto the extraordinary curredby you in your capacityas Leaderof the GermanNation, I declare myself in agreementwith your deductionof 50 per cent of grossincomefor

in expenditures the tax period1933."30 professional


Even with his assessmentthus reducedby one half, Hitler had a large followed estabfinal paymentto make on his 1933 income.The tax officials the dispatching final tax noticeat the end of August.Paylished procedures, A ment becamedue at the end of September. reminderwas sent to Hitler's privateofficeat the end of October;and on November7, 8, 9, and io Inin spectorVogl, who handledHitler'sreturnsand assessments the Finance to Office,endeavored contactSchaubon the telephone,but withoutsuccess.3' The tax officialswere now in a delicate,if not dangerous,position.A notice of tax delinquencyhad been preparedbut not dispatched,pending or instructions guidancefrom higher authority.This highly explosivedocument showedthat Hitler was delinquenton his final paymentsfor 1933 and
29 The following consolidated table shows Hitler's reported income, deductions claimed and allowed, and annual taxes assessedon income from 1925 to 1934: Accessed taxes Net Deductions Deductions Gross and penalties income allowed claimed inconme (in RMs)
1925

T9,843
15,903
1I,494

10,285
31,209 13,452

1926
1927

6,265 6,9I6
7,979

13,578 8,987
3,5I5

1,552
922 351

1928
1929

1030
193 1

II818 15,448 48,472


55,132

9 991
9,41I

5,493 4,613
I 4,292

6,325 10,835
34,179

605
1,264

1932 1933

64,639
I,232,335

26,892 26,488 35,I88


6I6,I67

6,575
9,130
12,130

I4,644 I9,894
6I6,I67

40,488 44,745
6I6,6I8

297,005

30 Reinhardt to Hitler, Jan. 30; action copy to the State Finance Office Munich, Mar. 29, 1934. In Hitler's tax declaration for 1933, filed on March 22, 1934, the following explanation of the deduction was made: "Wegen des Abzugs von 50 V. H. Werbungskosten weise ich auf 30. (lie Entscheidung des Reichsministersdes Innern rsic] V7om Januar 1934 hin, die sich beim Steuieraktbefindet." 31 Memo. by Dr. Lizius, cliief of Finance Office Munich-East, middle November, 1934.

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Oron James Hale

his quarterly advance payments for 1934 in the amount of 405,494 RM.32 Except for some minimal quarterly payments based on I932 income, Hitler had ceased to pay taxes after becoming Chancellor. Normally the delinquent account would have gone to the collections branch for action. However, on November I3, Schaub wrote direct to Inspector Vogl: "With regard to the Reich Chancellor's tax affairs, I wish to inform you that as soon as State Secretary Reinhardt returns from sick leave you will have further information. Until then I beg you to be patient." Schaub also got in touch with the Ministry of Finance in Berlin and secured its intervention. This gave rise to a cautious letter from Oberregierungsrat Herting, in Reinhardt's office, to Dr. Lizius, stating that he understood from Schaub that "with regard to the Fiihrer's tax affairs some kind of decisions are be taken or payments made." Schaub wished to discuss the matter with Reinhardt, who unfortunately would not be back in his office for some time. "I would be grateful to you," Herting concluded, "if postponable decisions could be delayed until then."33With this, Lizius referred the problem to his superior, Dr. LudwvigMirre, president of the State Finance Office Munich. At the same time he took care to record in memorandums for the files the final disposition of this unique tax case. On December I9, Mirre wrote to Lizius as follows: I have discussed the F'iihrer's affairs informally with the State Secretary tax constitutionalposition IReinhardt].We were agreed that in view of the Fuihrer's he is not liable to taxationand that it is a constitutionalquestion whether and to what extent the Fiihrer is on the same footing with a person liable to taxation. and serving of a tax assessmentnotice wouildnot in Moreover,the preparacion and of itself establisha legal tax obligation.All tax notices, so far as they would I establishan obligationfor the Fiihrer, are without legal efTect. thereforerequest that until further notice nothing be undertakenin the matter, but that care be exercisedto keep the recordsunder lock and key and that the estimatedtaxes not be indicatedas delinquent. Thus without any action of a more formal nature Hitler was declared tax exempt and action to collect back taxes estopped. Perhaps with the historical record in mind Lizius recorded final action in the case: with PresidentMirre,I urged him to On the occasionof a recentconversation see that the Fiihrer was informedof the plannedtax exemption,since he certainly would not be indifferent to what happened to his tax affairs. President Mirre promisedto speak to Herr Reinhardtabout it. On February25, 1935, President Mirre informed me by telephone that State SecretaryReinhardthad reportedto of the Fuihreron the legal and constitutionalinterpretation his tax exemptionin
his position as Chief of State, and that the Fiihrer was in agreement with the
32 33

"Delinquent Taxes for I933/1934," Herting to Lizius, Nov. 27, 1934.

prepared by the cashier section, OCt.

20,

I934.

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Adolf Hitler:

Taxpayer

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views of Herrn Mirreand Reinhardt.The orderto declarethe Fiihrer tax exempt was thereforefinal. ThereuponI withdrew all the Fiihrer'srecords,including the tax cards,from officialcirculationand placed them under lock and key.34 Through a clerical error a tax declaration form was mailed to Hitler's private office in January, 1935. Down through channels came an inquiry as to why a declaration form had been sent when Hitler was tax exempt. Lizius' investigation, which he carefully recorded, revealed that the form had been dispatched at the usual mailing time because Hitler's tax exempt position had not been finally established at the end of January.35To prevent future embarrassment, Hitler's mailing address plate and his name card in the taxpayers' file were withdrawn on March 12, 1935-thus ending Hitler's history as a German taxpayer. After the agreement between Hitler, Reinhardt, and Mirre that the Fiihrer was not constitutionally liable to taxation, the Fiihrer and Reich Chancellor enjoyed free of taxes the income from the books of Hitler the political writer and author. While the records are not available, we know that his gross income was high in subsequent years. In I933, Mein Kampf had sold over a million copies in all editions. By 1940, six million copies had been issued in Germany and the book had been published in twelve foreign editions. Since 1933 it had been selling close to a million copies annually, not including its sales abroad. In 1942, Hitler boasted that AMein Kampf, which had just been translated into Japanese, had the largest sales of any book except the Bible and that from this income he had been able to make his handsome gifts to art galleries and museums, and to his native city of Linz.36 He did not tell his audience that these gifts were made at the expense of the German taxpayers. On every occasion, even though he paid no taxes, Hitler would rail at the German tax administration, its officials, and their procedures and requirements.37 "Tax fixing"-the use of political influence to secure or extort tax favors -was not original with Hitler and other Nazi leaders, who also sought and secured deductions and exemptions in violation of the tax laws. In the case of Hitler and his lieutenants it stemmed to a large degree from Hitler's indif34Memo., Feb. 25, I935. Mirre later became president of the Reichsfinanzhof, highest appellate court for disputed cases arising from the application of the tax laws. Taschenbuch Ilir p. 3I. Verwaltungsbeamte(Berlin, I943), 35 Memo., beginning of March, I935. 36 Henry Picker, Hitlers Tischgespriche im Fiihrerhauptquartier(Bonn, i951), pp. 435-36; Organisationsplandes Eher Verlags Miinchen, p. 3, Eher Verlag Collection, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. 37 "The fiscal system is uselessly complicated.... a tax which is easy to collect doesn't suit these gentlemen of the administration. . . . everything could be done by means of an extremely simple piece of apparatus,and the Chinese puzzle of declaring one's taxes would be done away with." Hitler's Secret Co2versations,p. I95.

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842

Oron James Hale

ference to corruptionand his personalattitude of contemptfor financial probity,fiscal soundness,and orthodoxfinance.This was expressed one on occasionby Hitler when he quipped that "the ancientRomanswere right when they createdin Mercurya commongod for bankers, thieves,and pros38 titutes."
University of Virginia
38 Karl M. Hettlage, financial adviser to Albert Speer, "Impressionsof the Reich Ministry of Finance and the Attitude of the Nazi Party toward Financial Problems," report of Oct. i, 1945, for the Historical Commission, U. S. War Department.

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