As one of history’s most famously evil figures, there’s plenty we all know about Adolf Hitler. But much of the Nazi leader’s existence was shrouded in secrecy while he was alive – and it’s only over the subsequent decades that historians have uncovered just how odd Hitler really was. Indeed, from dietary requirements to embarrassing illnesses, the details of the Fuhrer’s private life are astonishing.
20. He had a crush on a Jewish girl
In 2006 August Kubizek’s memoir of Hitler’s early life was finally published in English, 70 years after being written. His account detailed the future Fuhrer’s teenage obsession with a girl named Stefanie Isak, whom he supposedly stalked and fantasized about – despite her Jewish origins.
19. He had a real problem with wind
One of Hitler’s more embarrassing health problems was a digestive illness he apparently suffered from. Indeed, according to a war diary from an anonymous German officer, Hitler’s penchant for “prodigious amounts of cake” left him particularly flatulent.
18. He hated smoking
Despite enjoying cigarettes in his younger years, by 1919 Hitler had quit smoking for good. And his belief that the practice was bad for your health influenced Nazi policy and research, leading to the first discovery of a link between smoking and cancer. A sophisticated anti-smoking campaign was also launched to protect Aryan Germans’ health.
17. He was a vegetarian
Unsurprisingly, Hitler’s paranoia meant he had a whole team of food testers making sure his meals weren’t poisoned. And in 2013 one revealed just what the Fuhrer’s diet consisted of: vegetables, and nothing more. In fact, Hitler once told Joseph Goebbels that he planned to impose vegetarianism on the entirety of Germany after the war.
16. Confusion surrounds whether or not Hitler could drive
Adolf Hitler may have been one of the driving forces behind both the creation of Germany’s autobahns and the development of Volkswagen, but some claim he never actually got behind the wheel himself. But if that was the case, how on earth did he manage to get a speeding ticket in 1931?
15. He had some strange fetishes
According to a wartime report compiled by a U.S. intelligence agency, Hitler enjoyed some odd kinks in the bedroom. The report, entitled “A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler: His Life and Legend,” claims that he was a coprophiliac, meaning he derived sexual gratification from feces. Most disturbingly, though, he apparently acted out his fantasies with his niece, Geli Raubal, who later committed suicide.
14. He wanted to become a priest
It may seem inconceivable based on his later life, but in his younger years, Hitler dreamed of becoming a priest. He sung in the choir at a local monastery, where he looked up especially to the Abbot, the “head monk” who wielded power over the others. Moreover, his fascination may have started when he was as young as four, after a priest saved him from drowning in a lake in Passau.
13. He was prescribed bull’s semen by his doctor
According to the diaries of Hitler’s personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell, the Fuhrer was not only a severe hypochondriac, but was also administered bulls’ semen to give him testosterone boosts. The strange treatment came to light in 2014 after Morell’s journals and some declassified U.S. wartime documents were made public.
12. His nephew joined the U.S. Navy during World War Two
While Adolf Hitler never had any children, he did have a nephew – William Patrick Hitler, the son of his half-brother, Alois Hitler. Born in Liverpool, England, William’s relationship with his uncle was fraught, and he eventually ended up in the U.S. when the Second World War started. And despite his surname, he was eventually allowed to join the U.S. Navy, after writing to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
11. There were 42 known assassination attempts on Hitler’s life
Of course, not a single one of them worked. In the end, Hitler took his own life, doing what 42 different plots couldn’t. But perhaps the most famous one, Operation Valkyrie, supposedly would have worked, had Hitler’s briefing remained in the underground bunker. Instead, it was moved to a conference room above ground, where the planted explosives had far less impact.
10. He had an insane plan for Moscow
As part of Hitler’s Lebensraum plan, all Slavic people were to be “exterminated” by way of enslavement or starvation. But Moscow was to be saved as the capital of the new, post-war Eastern region – until, afraid that the people would revolt, Hitler revised his plan. Instead, every last Moscow resident would be killed, and the city turned into a giant lake.
9. He may have become addicted to drugs in 1944
Following Hitler’s narrow escape from death in Operation Valkyrie in 1944, he became a “nervous wreck” – and turned to drugs to cope, according to Norman Ohler, a German writer. Indeed, the Fuhrer’s addiction to Eukodol, a substance not dissimilar to heroin, is apparently the reason behind his unpredictable behavior in the final year of the war.
8. He practiced speeches by taking photos of himself rehearsing them
It’s no secret that Hitler’s speeches were particularly rousing – after all, being a good public speaker is the base line of any politician. But quite how he managed it is another story entirely. Indeed, the Fuhrer apparently had photos of himself taken so he could see how he looked to the public, like the one above, shot in the 1920s by Heinrich Hoffman.
7. He was a big spender, despite his frugal facade
Like most dictators, Hitler of course claimed to be a “man of the people” – but in secret, he used his extraordinary wealth to live a life of luxury. A paper trail of receipts and expenses uncovered by historian Volker Ullrich prove Hitler spent much of his riches on fancy cars, clothes and hotels, despite what German propaganda at the time claimed.
6. He was ordered to trim his mustache
While Hitler’s mustache may now be the most iconic – and despised – style of facial hair in history, it didn’t always resemble a toothbrush. In fact, he was actually ordered to trim it during the First World War so that it would fit under his gas mask. Before then, Hitler’s mustache was much larger and arguably far less sinister.
5. He loved Snow White
One of Hitler’s favorite movies was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – a fact less surprising when you realize there’s a German fairy tale with the same name as the main character. But despite his contempt for Mickey Mouse, he loved Snow White so much that the Nazi’s Propaganda Ministry bought it from Disney in 1938.
4. He was obsessed with Wagner
Hitler’s infatuation with opera, and German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner, started when he was just a boy, aged 12. And the music had a profound impact on him: Wagner’s themes of nationalism and anti-Semitism are said to have been the basis for Hitler’s own views of racial purity.
3. He was training an army of “talking” dogs
In 2011 Dr. Jan Bondeson, of Cardiff University in Wales, presented research that suggested Hitler and the Nazis were trying to train an army of intelligent dogs. The Fuhrer even set up a dog school, where clever canines were taught to communicate by tapping their paws. And supposedly, one even managed to bark “Mein Fuhrer.”
2. He only had one testicle
Rumors of Adolf Hitler’s solo testicle have been circulating for decades – but in 2015, new evidence came to light apparently confirming it once and for all. Indeed, medical records discovered by a German historian state that the Nazi leader was afflicted by “right-side cryptorchidism,” meaning his right testicle had failed to descend.
1. He was named Man of the Year
In 1938, Time magazine declared Adolf Hitler “Man of the Year,” pointing to the way he nullified the situation in Czechoslovakia, where war was seemingly bubbling under the surface. “Without loss of blood he reduced Czechoslovakia to a German puppet state, forced a drastic revision of Europe’s defensive alliances, and won a free hand for himself in Eastern Europe,” the magazine wrote.