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Hitler and Psychohistory Author(s): Hans W. Gatzke Source: The American Historical Review, Vol. 78, No. 2 (Apr., 1973), pp.

394-401 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 31/05/2013 12:03
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" In England there. Irrsinnund Ruhm (6th ed. which covers Hitler's whole career. one wonders.5 But 1 Karl-Heinz Wocker. this sudden quickening of interest? Is it.Hitler and Psychohistory A ReviewArticleby HANS W. LANGER. Sept.Genie.).381-88. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the preoccupation with the dead Fuhrer has thus far not produced anything that cannot already be fo-und in the still two best books about him. see Wilhelm Lange-Eichbaum and WolframKurth. 1967). New York. ed. though belated. because our age of highjackings. 394 This content downloaded from 24. $10. is stillvaluable. Der Fuehrer (New York. "Hitler is in. Waite. It. L. Rudolph Binion. WAITE. Munich. ifonly forthe debate it will cause. one of them written thirty years ago. Zeit (American ed. ix. Langer. kidnapings. 3 Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (New York. as some observers feel." and according to Hamburg's Die Zeit.653-54. 1970). The others are by Horst von Maltitz.2 Why. 1964).104.134 on Fri. and JoachimFest. and plays about the German dictator. ADOLF HITLER IS once again much in the news. 4 Konrad Heiden.Walter C. Langer's book is not the only work dealing with Hitler's psyche. iO. and such "entertainment" will no doubt soon spread to this country. entitled The Mind of Adolf Hitler. Dr. But publication..70. GATZKE WALTER C. 1972. L. including one entitled The Psychopathic God.has been a veritable rash of movies. 1972. Pp.00. LANGER. New York: Basic Books. Afterword by ROBERT G. which deals with Hitler's early years until 1934. 5 For a listing and discussion of some of the relevant literature. 1944).. television series. "Oscar fur Adolf. and Alan Bullock. the OSS. 269. Hitler-Boom im englischen Film und Fernsehen. with few exceptions. and murders can be traced back to "'Hitlerism" and its cult of naked force and ruthless aggression? Or is the Hitler boom merely due to the success of Albert Speer's memoirs3 and the realization that anything involving Hitler is sure of a large audience? The interestingpart is that."Die 2 By Robert G.John Toland. is not really new-it was first written in 1943 as a report for America's World War II intelligence agency.4 Among the exceptions is the work of an American psychoanalyst.. The London Daily Mail calls this "one of the best years Hitler ever had. too. Forewordby WILLIAM L. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report.' At the moment at least five full-lengthstudies of Hitler have been announced. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (rev. that subject has long fascinated historians and psychologists alike.

finishing just ahead of the deadline set by the OSS.70.104.C.M. The claims made on the dust jacket." he adds. Mind of Adolf Hitler.Hitler and Psychohistory 395 the book is the most detailed and. 8 Ibid. vi. Equally unfounded is the subtitleof the book. the material of the original has been rearrangedand much of it omitted. 130-93) of the book. "Hitler Source-Book." and the statementsby Walter Langer in his introductionand by Robert G. "automatically became the one and only draft. 9 Ibid. page 211. The Murray report upon examination proves to be an extensive document. 12 Langer.134 on Fri. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Y. with their parallels between Hitler's psyche and that of the German people. John Franklin Carter Folder. 7 Langer. the last sentence of the second paragraph is not in the original. Langer's introduction also tells how the original report came to be written.13 Yet neither Dr. "A PsychologicalAnalysisof Adolph [sic] Hitler: His Life and Legend. N. most thorough study of its kind published to date. however.D. Murray. 25." in Un-classified Historical OSS Records. Langer was writing his own report..9 Recent correspondence with the publisher. National Archives. 11Walter C. It seems that the book is actually the result of a collaborative effortby Langer and "three experienced psychoanalysts." The "Source-Book" is part of the original Langer report (see note 6). Langer. Ernst Kris. To give a quantitative sample: of sixty-three pages (pp. Langer. Langer. For example: page 155. This content downloaded from 24.D. most of section 7. Lewin seem to have been substantial.7 Also surprising is the fact that the published volume differs in many respects from the original Langer manuscript.8In his introduction Walter Langer tells of the pressure under which he wrote his report in 1943. 10 Ibid.both in 1943 and again before publication. L." and he regrets that a revision of that draft was impossible. states that he only saw it some time after it was completed. Dr. page 206. Washington. where they will also find the massive "Hitler Source-Book" containing the raw material from which the analysis of Hitler's mind was made. therefore. in a foreword to his brother's book." Dr. despite its many flaws. Mind of Adolf Hitler. Copy in the President Secretary'sFile. Langer and others. Henry A. 232.. have been added." are hardly justified. pages 18o-82. Murray. The original OSS report was not declassifieduntil 1968. 20-21." Oct. Murray of the Harvard Psychological Clinic in fact wrote his "Analysis of the Personality of Adolph [sic] Hitler" at about the time when Dr. twenty-nine have major or minor changes to the original. Roosevelt Library. is not in the original.Hyde Park. "The first draft.10Serious students of Hitler will still have to consult the original OSS report in the National Archives. Franklin D. the last two paragraphs. "Analysis of the Personality of Adolph [sic] Hitler. a surprising fact considering the well-known historian's prominent role in the OSS and his interest in psychohistory. Waite in his afterwordthat the book presents a "historical document. This 6 Walter C."'12 The contributions of Drs. has revealed that the original manuscript was changed and edited several times by Dr.. 13 Henry A.6 Even William L. With Predictions of His Future Behavior and Suggestionsfor Dealing with Him Now and AfterGermany'sSurrender.that "here is the secret psychological report written in 1943. in its conclusions and language not unlike Langer's. 14. 1943. dealing with the eventualityof Hitler's falling into Allied hands. and Bertram D. and its existence was little known. Murray's name nor those of his two colleagues appear in Langer's book.

besides being pertinent. without a point of reference or orientation?'"17 One obvious answer would be. in conjunction with our knowledge of to convince us that Hitler's actions as reported in the news. 126). "a good deal can be done to study their character and make their actions more meaningful by gathering all pertinent data and subjecting them to the dispassionate evaluation of qualified persons who have clinical experience to draw upon. 17." The OSS. Murray." 221-27.396 Hans W.70. Gatzke similarityis especially strikingin the final sections of the two reports. 18 Ibid. we were able to evaluate the data in terms of probability. and he asks. "How does one screen the wheat from the chaff. they agreed among themselves "on the fundamental nature of the character structure [they] proposed to investigate" (that is. "although extensive. One wishes thisrelationship had somehow been clarified. 17 Ibid. in all probability.134 on Fri. Dr. "History: The Muse and Her Doctors. "Analysis. Mind of Adolf Hitler. This content downloaded from 24. In the main part of the book (p. 209-13. The collaboration between psychology and history. in analyzing historical figures. Those fragmentsthat 14Langer. the relevant from the irrelevant. or psychohistory. But historianscan evaluate the soundness of these sources. from natural death to suicide. "With this diagnosis as a point of orientation. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . where this assertion is repeated. employed some of the ablest scholars in this country on Hitler's Germany." they can hardly pass judgment on the conclusions the author(s) of The Mind of Adolf Hitler have drawn from the sources they have consulted. has been the subject of much debate. must also be reliable.104. Hitler's). "The literature [on Hitler]. "A survey of the raw material.. the rest was easy." Italics mine. 16 Langer. was mostly unreliable".14 Since Dr. etc."16 I would merely add that such data. "One consults a historian. 127-28) of the original OSS report: "There was general who have studied [OSS: unanimous] agreementamong the collaborators[OSS: four psychoanalysts the materiafl that Hitler is probably a neurotic psychopath [OSS: an hysteric]bordering on schizophrenia[OSS adds: and not a paranoiac as is so frequently supposed]." AHR. for instance. Mind of Adolf Hitler. vii.15But I also agree with William Langer's view that..the significantfrom the insignificant. he was. one cannot help wondering to what extent the Langer report is based on Dr. the text differs from the comparable passage (pp. Langer is much aware of the issue just raised.Jacques Barzun. a neurotic psychopath. after all. Instead. Note also the identical misspellingof Hitler's first name in the original OSS and the Murrayreports. 17.where the authors speculate on what possible fates might befall Hitler. I share many of the reservations held by some of my fellow historians about the fusing of these two disparate disciplines.. drawing on the wealth of clinical findingsthat psychoanalystshave accumulated since Freud's day. 15 See. 77 (1972): 36-64. But this solution does not seem to have occurred to Langer and his associates." he says. Since most historians are not "qualified persons" with "clinical experience. Murray's version. Murray wrote his paper at the time Langer did and since Langer states that pressure of time prevented him from showing his report to his collaborators. was sufficient "18 That hurdle cleared.fact from fiction. 10.

by carefully selecting a differentkind of evidence. according to Langer and some other writers.There is nothing to indicate that the Fiihrer.. See also Gertrud M. Mind of Adolf Hitler. But even if one accepts it as (perhaps unconsciously) autobiographical..1967)..does not fundamentally differ from what certain Nazi "historians" did when.22 Hitler's cliched account of lower-class life actually reads not unlike similar such descriptions found in second-rate antiurban novels of the time. 151. the question remains whether it describes a primal scene: fightalmost daily. nor does the grim picture painted there agree with what we now know about Hitler's far from dismal childhood. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .21 The source for it is a passage in Hitler's Mein Kampf describing the unhappy life of an urban worker's family. instead of applying the basic rules of evidence that historians.20 This approach. Adolf Hitler: His Famlily. 22 The best book on Hitler's childhood is Bradley F.104. 28 (1971): 290-91. 143. which Launger's group initerprete(d in suchi a highly selective manner.. buit hardly a sexual. we find that the key expressions (italicized above) lose some of the connotations one might possiblyread into them: Actually the material. ii." Psychoanalytic Quarterly.23 Thus the passage quoted by Langer."Hitler's Character and Its Development: FurtherObservations. 143. 1 ibid."'19In other words.134 on Fri. Kurth. always most secretive about his early life. 17. their brutalityleaves nothing to the imagination. moreover. lawyers.the Langer group judged the reliability of their sources by the way they fittedthe group's preconceived image of Hitler. they made the Fiihrer into the greatest German ever. the careful wording of the passage just cited notwithstanding.Hitler and Psychohistory 397 could most easily be fitted into this general clinical category were tentatively regarded as possessing a higher degree of probability-as far as reliability and relevance were concerned-than those which seemed alien to the clinical picture.. was a primal scene between his parents that little Adolf supposedly witnessed at the age of three. Smith. If we compare the passage with the original German version. then the becomeapparentto the of such visual educationmustslowlybut inevitably results littleone.70."whose job it was "to comb the literatureoni file in the New lytically-traine(l York Public Library and excerpt or abstract those sections that they believed might be pertinent to our project. It is an imaginative but hardlyan exact mode of inquiry. Childhloodand Youth (Stanford. This content downloaded from 24."Amtericant IimagO. i6 (1947): 28-29. One of the crucial events in Hitler's life. or for that matter any unbiased person would use to get at the truth. Italics mnine. "The Jew and Adolf Hitler.of three. When the parents 19 Ibid. 20 Amonig the fivechildrenthereis a boy. 23 Quoted in Langer.let us say.especially when the mutual differences express themselvesin the formof bru-t-al attackson the part of the fathertowardthe motheror to assaults duie to (drunkenness. intended the passage to be autobiographical. and Norbert Bromberg.." Ibid. had already been preselectedfor them. A sordid. Those who are not familiarwith such conditionscan hardlyimagine the results. scene. Accordingto Langer it was gathered by "thlee psychoanaresearch workers.

Here are additional examples of similarly unfounded assertions: Their immediatepurIt is almost certainthat Adolf had tempertantrums. When the parents almost daily.It would seem thathis feelings history were very mixed. 150. Ibid. Where information is lacking.134 on Fri. There is reason to suppose that condoned behavior of which the fatherwould have disapproved. not at all improbable. Italics mine. in thisrelationship. and knowledge.. he points to the fact that as a child he must have discoveredhis parentsduring intercourse. . A few pages later we learn of another important event in Adolf's early life and of that event's ultimate consequences: 24 25 26 Adolf Hitler. it would seem-gives the impression that the author is aware of the uncertain ground on which he finds himself.. But such uncertaintydoes not last long. and fromour knowledgeof his father'scharacterand past on thisoccasion it is not at all improbable.. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In discussing Hitler's Oedipus complex. it is the rule rather than the exception..104. we know next to nothing about its more intimate circumstances. A few lines furtheralong what had been surmise has become fact: "Being a spectator to this early scene had many repercussions. balanced by tentative expressions-must have. Those who are not familiarwith such conditions can hardly imagine the results. 1937)."These are then spelled out.of three.25 The use of exact and assertive terms like fact.32-33.let us say. pose was to get his own way withhis mother. she frequently . But this does not inhibit Langer. This content downloaded from 24. almost inescapable.70. data. 151. An examinationof the data [i. Life withhis motherduringtheseearlyyearsmusthave been a veritableParadise forAdolf.24 To interpret this as a description of a sexual attack seems farfetched indeed. Langer. the passagesjust quoted] makes this conclusion almost inescapable. Munich.. with an inward rudeness(innere Roheit) which leaves nothfight ing to be desired.398 Hans W.e.Inand fear [of his father] both the resentment stronger.. .especially when express themselvesin rude outrages (rohe Ausschreithe mutual differences (Misshandtungen) of the fathertoward the motheror lead to mistreatments lungen)due to drunkenness. Mind of Adolf Hitler.then the resultsof such visual education mustslowlybut inevitably become apparent in the little ones (bei den Kleinen).. imagination takes over. Gatzke Among the fivechildrenthereis a boy. Italics mine.Mein Kampf (276th ed. The example just cited of unwarranted conclusions based on insufficient evidence is unfortunately not unique. As he became older and the libidinal attachmentto his mother became undoubtedlyincreased..26 sexual feelings wereprobablyquite prominent fantile It should be noted that while we know a good deal about the outward events of Hitler's early life.. Yet this is what Langer does..

are two accounts of differentevents. Mind of Adolf Hitler. the more difficult it becomes to separate fact from fiction. again.'"28 As source for this revelation Langer cites Otto Strasser. But the more material there is.Even now.Between the adulation of his admirers and the abuse of his antagonists.29What we have.." gig.27 As Hitler grew older. Ibid. variously referred to as Rene or Renarte Mueller (actually her name was Renate). Hitler is unable to cope with frustrating experienceson a mature level. then. lazy.134 on becomes necessary to scrutinize every bit of evidence before fitting it into Hitler's characterstructure. after breaking with Hitler in 1930. to whom she told her story shortlybefore committing suicide. we may assutme that the experiencewas more intensein Hitler's case than in the averagedue to the strongattachment and spoilingof his mother in early infancy. 171. a prominent Nazi who. and especially after he entered the political limelight. i63. 134. both secondhand. "Hitler Source-Book. The authority in this case was her American director. especially when there are equally "reliable" accounts of other possible perversions and when Langer himself states earlier that nobody was Ibid. the other by a man who does not even remember the correct name of his alleged informant. This version again differsfrom the original OSS report (p..70.Unaccustomed to minor frustrations that most children must learn to endure prior to the toilet training. 27 28 This content downloaded from 24. 138): "He is an extreme masochistwho derives sexual pleasure from having a woman squat over him while she urinates or defecates on his face.Hitler and Psychohistory 399 From what we know about his mother's excessivecleanlinessand tidinesswe may assume thatshe employedratherstringent measuresduringthe toilettrainingperiod of her children.104. One side of Hitler's personality that always aroused much speculation was his sex life. therefore. After examining the mass of contradictoryrumors on this subject. one by an enemy of Hitler's. Here. informationabout him became more plentiful until it turned into a veritable flood. where is the true Hitler? Leafing through the close to a thousand pages of the "Source-Book" that accompanied the original OSS report. became one of his most ardent opponents. and sexually normal statesman. Zeissler. Elsewhere Langer tells of a differentkind of masochistic incident involving a well-known Germnan movie actress. Historians would not accept such evidence as valid. Langer and his collaborators concluded that Hitler was subject to "an extreme form of masochism in which the individual derives sexual gratificationfrom the act of having a woman urinate or defecate on him. neat. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . dirty. hardworking. not defecation. gi. Dr. Geli Raubal. 29 Langer. he was poorlyequipped to deal witlh thisexperiencethat plays an important role in the life of all infants. Italics mine. and sexually perverted psychopath to attractive. More than ever." It should be noted further that Strasser only spoke of urination. one can find evidence to support almost any image of the man-from repulsive. Langer. who allegedly spoke from firsthand experience. as an adult. Strasserobtained his informationfrom Hitler's niece.

Robert G.63. show that some of the most important conclusionsof Langer's book are based on nonexistent. Instead Langer and his colleagues adopt a "where there'ssmoke there'sfire"approach and accept the perversion thatbestfits theirimageof Hitler. Childhood and Youth. The PsychoanalyticInterpretationof History (New York. 1942. Adolf Hitler: His Family. Waite in Langer.To ridicule the book. This content downloaded from 24.31 The examples here given. As this book and subsequent 31 Another informanton Hitler's sexual aberrationswas Ernst ("Putzi") Hanfstaengl (see the anonymous report. In the foreword to his brother's book. This holds especiallytrue for the book's earlysectionson how Hitler saw himself and how otherssaw him. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which could be multiplied many times.Still. If one bears in mind that much of the basic materialon Hitler. Waite. Gatzke reallyin a positionto knowabout Hitler'ssexual activities. "There are some who believe thathis Such a conclusion. 3. Washington Post. 30 Ibid. exceptperhaps his personaladjutant.much new material not available to the Langer group has alreadycorrected thepictureof a drunkenand brutalfather terrorizing his wife and children. There are some less startling statements in Langer's book that since 1943 have been confirmed by additional evidence.however. Wolman.. Hitler's 32See Smith.400 Hans W.Langer adds. as has been done. Dec. William Langer tells of an idea a collaborative he and Walterhad "of attempting studyof some historical in whichpsychological or movement could be blended with figure insights historicaldata to yield a deeper understanding of its significance. theycannot be accepted unless corroboratedby more reliable information. R. unreliable."30 seems to have been too simple. lo. 225 n. nothingnew has come to light to confirm the account of his masochistic perversion." great hesitation". and Franz Jetzinger. No matter how plausible the resultsmay seem.but also no more. 33See. L.or misinterpreted evidence. 1958). which contain some useful insights since borne out. 35 Ibid. and fromwhat we know about his relations withEva Braun (who playsonlya minor role in the book) theymay have been more nearly normal than assumed. In the case of Hitler's family and childhood. sex life is perfectly normalbut restricted. Franklin D.notablyhis "Table Talk. vi.this part of theirworkcommands considerablerespect. 34 Robert G." was not available to Langer and his colleagues.. for instance. 5780).33 is as uncalled foras it is to claim that it has stood "the testof time." in President Roosevelt's Personal File [PPF]. ed."35 Unfortunately theirschemenever materialized. 1971). 1972. Roosevelt Library.134 on Fri.70. that from internal evidence appears to be by Hanfstaengl). the fact that this question has now been raised so openly and answered so explicitly maylead to further information.104. Mind of Adolf Hitler.. 232. 91. Sept."34 In its as yet unpublished original version the Langer report is an interesting historical document-no less. see his "Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism: in Benjamin B. L. accepts Langer's evidence. though "after A Study in History and Psychoanalysis. Youth (London. Trevor-Roper in Book World.32 As for Hitler's sexual relations. "Adolf Hitler. At least one historian. the review by H.

" This change.37 Waite had already mentioned this fact in an earlier articleof his."38 In a subsequentarticlehe goes quite a bit further geststhat Hitler's monorchism (the lack of a testicle)was due to "partial self-castration. Waite. ." that is. found that he was sexually malformed.40 prove case. "Hitler's Character and Its Development: Further Observations". 1 (1g71): 236 n. who contributed an afterword to Langer'sbook. apprehensively"at the blood drawn from him by his doctor. the statement(p.But in this case the whole area was singed and burned.historyand psychology. Such personswill be hard to find. be it due to carelessness or a (perhaps unconscious) desire to his notsounduse ofevidence. 40 Waite's work suffers frommany similar instancesof inaccurate or impreciseuse of evidence. but in theireagerness to make a contribution and exciting field they often violatethebasicrulesofevidence. 227. 31 May 2013 12:03:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 237) that when Hitler "flipped a coin to determinewhetherhe would go on a picnic.workingindependently of each other. "Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism. This latterfactholds true not only for psychologists but also forsome of the historians who have triedtheirhand at psychohistory. 231) that Hitler "took special pains to dictate the precise language of the November Racial Laws of 1935" is not supported by the source cited.seem to produce mutually satisfactory results. only the right testicle and sugwas found. Italics mine. neither psychologists torians. Heads invariablylost.36 Not only do theylack the necessary trainingin each in a novel others'disciplines. the translation(p. An example is Robert Waite. 39 R. . 38 Waite.70. Italics mine. important fact . heads did not win. 235) of Abwdsseras "urine" is a bit free. The point is thatin making thatsuggestion he interprets the statement "singed but preserved"of the Russian autopsyreportto mean the same as "singed and burned.134 on Fri. that Langer did not know anything about. to write acceptable psychohistory. such speculation may be necessary and prove fruitful in psychohistory." 227.Until then. Mind of Adolf Hitler. Bromberg. 36 For examples see the workscited by Kurth. and one wonders about the source for the assertion (p. There he mentions"one critically discoveredwhen Russian doctors.who performed an autopsyon Hitler's body in May 1945." 37 Langer. G. It was only This content downloaded from 24. 33.104. which is singed but preserved. . a historian long interested in Hitler's psyche. L. "Adolf Hitler's AntiSemitism:A Study in Historyand Psychoanalysis." "If mutilationhad taken place one would normallyexpect to findevidence of scar tissue on the scrotum." There are many other examples. In the article just quoted. and Waite. nor is the fact that Hitler would "gaze .ProfessorLanger's suggestionof collaborationbetween scholars from both disciplinesremains the most promisingapproach if psychohistory is to take its place as a respectable fieldof scholarship." Journal of Interdisciplinary History. he had only one certainly It is conceivablethatsome day theremaybe scholars equally well versed in both disciplines.Hitler and Psychohistory 401 nor hiswork on Hitler's psychology has shown. "Adolf Hitler's Guilt Feelings: A Problem in History and Psychology. where he quotes fromthe Russian autopsyreport: "In the scrotum."The Jew and Adolf Hitler"."39The point here is not Waite's suggestionof Hitler's possible self-castration. . But in additionto being trainedpsychoanalysts theywill also need the "clinicalexperience"thatboth William and WalterLanger stress as an essentialprerequisite.