Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Letters to Hitler

Dear Mr Hitler...letters to the Nazi leader reveal a nation in love with a monster | the Daily Mail
The violin maker's address to his Fuhrer was embarrassingly obsequious.

But Ernst Selbac, a lowly hotel worker and Nazi Party member from the Ruhr valley, was in deadly earnest as he proffered his gift, the product of all his spare time, to the leader he idolised.

"To mein Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, Reichs Chancellor!" he wrote. "After many long hours, I succeeded in making this violin for you — work that mirrored the rebuilding of the nation under your leadership.

"I built it by hand and decorated it with ivory and ebony.

"The inlaid swastikas alone have 245 pieces of ivory. If God wills it, I would like to hear my Fuhrer play it just once in this life!"
One woman wrote 200 letters of adoration, and carried on writing though not a single one of them received a reply.

They piled up in the Chancellery in Berlin and remained there remarkably undamaged as the battle for the German capital raged in April 1945.

Soldiers of the Red Army found the hoard and scooped it up along with everything else they could lay their hands on among the rubble of the Third Reich for dispatching back to Moscow.

More than 60 years later, they have come to light in the Russian military archives and are being published this week for the first time.

Pathetic, poignant, drooling, funny and sometimes just plain bonkers, they are an intimate insight into a nation that sold its collective soul to a madman.
For us today, brought up in a culture that rightly demonises Hitler, the coquettish love he inspired is so incongruous as to be almost shocking.

"My dear, my eternal, my lovely Adolf," shrieked one female admirer, "I would like to make you my little puppy."

Puppy? Wolf, perhaps — and not just for the aptness of the animal's rapacious nature but because that was the cover name Hitler went by in his early, underground political career and was a nickname used by his inner circle thereafter.

A young Berlin girl pleaded: "Dear Fuhrer! I really want to see you. I love you so much. Write to me. Really. Heartfelt greetings, Gina."

Nor was he the focus of just schoolgirl crushes. A mature woman threw herself at him.

"Everything in my life is lit by a great love, love for my Fuhrer, my teacher, that I sometimes want to die with your picture in front of me, so I will not ever see again anything which is not you."

And a little old lady from Munich thought so tenderly of him she left him a giant potted palm tree in her will.

Hess wrote back to her lawyer: "Herr Hitler would be delighted to accept the palm. Please arrange to have it collected."
Ambitious parents encouraged their children in these acts of adulation.

Little Heinz Hartmann wrote that he wanted "to give uncle Hitler something on his birthday but I don't have anything. Mummy had to write this as I am only four. Keep well, Hitler!"

Proud fathers like Rolf Menger announced the birth of "a small, strong Hitler youth. We have named him Adolf!"

A guard in a concentration camp was one of many inviting the Fuhrer to be godfather to a new-born Nazi.

An aide wrote that Hitler was so swamped with such requests that he would perform such a function for only the seventh and ninth sons of any family.
Not surprisingly, the fan mail was onesided. It would be a brave or foolish person who wrote a letter of complaint. Once in power, the Nazis were ruthless in stamping out any whiff of dissent.

Communists and liberals alike quickly disappeared into labour camps.

When students in Munich dared to form an infant opposition group known grandly as "the White Rose", they got only as far as handing out a few protest leaflets before they were arrested and sent to the guillotine.

But, as in all totalitarian states, it was possible to stray over the line without knowing it.

A woman who sent silk handkerchiefs with the Fuhrer's face sewn into them was warned off.

Was Herr Hitler's likeness to be used for wiping noses?

Over-enthusiasm could also get you into trouble.
The most poignant letters in the collection come from Jews.

An optimistic Heinrich Herz thought he could reason with the dictator and begged him to stop the terror campaign against them.

"Very dear Reich Chancellor," he wrote, "the storm has broken over me like a lightning bolt from a clear sky.

"My customers have vanished. No authorities will deal with me, not even a private citizen will place an order with me."

It was 1934 and Hitler's thugs were beating Jews and smashing up their shops and businesses.

Herz asked Hitler to rein in the violence. "I call on you to speak a word calling for order, for without that we have no chance of life. If you can do this I will thank you a thousand times and a hundred thousand times."

But not even a thousand million thanks would change anything.

The round-ups and the arrests, the torture and massacres, were only just beginning. The letter was filed without answer.

Herz is believed to have died in a concentration camp.

Agonisingly, others begged the Fuhrer's forgiveness for being Jewish.

"Remove the undeserved stain of my wife's Jewish descent"' pleaded one Aryan male.

"I throw myself at your feet."

Another, a Nazi Party member, discovered to his horror that he had a Jewish grandmother.

"I knew nothing about this. Must I resign from the party? Must I give up everything?" he wrote, as if to an agony aunt.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sphere: Related Content