I recently visited Berlin for the first time to commemorate the 30th anniversary since the fall of the wall. While there I took several fascinating tours of this war-torn, politically complex, once divided, but now peaceful capital. (Incidentally, Berlin unexpectedly became one of my favorite European cities—right up there with Rome, Ljubljana, Budapest, and Paris.)
Although I’m usually not a history buff, while touring the capital I was struck by the swiftness of Hitler’s dictatorship, which was as breathtaking and brutal as it was conniving and sabotaging. Upon returning home, I was coincidently introduced to Secret Hitler (a very fun board game), which further piqued my interest in the reviled dictator.
To that end, I downloaded his personal biography (Mein Kampf) and read his entire Wikipedia profile. Here are some of the more interesting facts I’ve learned so far about the most hated villain the world has ever seen:
He was a baby at one time. Born in 1889, Hitler was the fourth of six Austrian children. Here is photographic proof.
- He was 24 when he moved to Germany. Shortly thereafter he fought for his emigrated nation in World War 1.
- He was a vegetarian from the 1930s until his death in 1945. Like Peta, he often gave graphical speeches about animal slaughter to dissuade audiences from eating meat.
- He was very charismatic. As seen in popular videos that demonstrate his impassioned charisma, he rose to power in a matter of months after being elected chancellor in January 1933. By spring he was already burning books. By summer, he was already killing what he called “subhumans” in prison camps.
- He was a psychopath. Researchers believe that Hitler suffered from psychopathy, borderline personality disorder, syphilis, irritable bowel syndrome, prescription pill abuse, and Parkinson’s to name a few.
- He was raised Catholic but did not believe in God. He did, however, view religion as an important conservative political tool. He even endorsed Shintoism and Islam over Christianity (the later which he called “meek and flabby”). After winning World War II, he planned to fully eradicate Christianity from the world with his “Nazi Master Plan.”
- He quit drinking and smoking as an adult. He called the latter habit a “waste of money.” But he was addicted to amphetamines (aka Adderall) for the last three years of his life. During the war, he was on 90 different medications prescribed by his personal physician.
- He killed nearly 50 million people. His fascist policies directly resulted in nearly 20 million civilian and prisoner murders—including over 5 million Jews alone—as well as an additional 29 million who died fighting in Europe during the second Great War that he purposly perpetuated. In terms of death count, only Chinese dictator Mao Zedong (50+ million) and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (23 million) come close. Coincidently, the latter occupied East Berlin after WWII.
- He was known to smile on occasion. Years ago I read an article about how evil people routinely do things such as opening doors for old ladies or saying please and thank you. Although our literature would have us believe otherwise, villains aren’t necessarily pure evil. More like 90-99% evil, as this photo indicates:
- He died by suicide at the age of 56. Few Germans mourned his death. They were too busy adjusting to the collapse of the country or fleeing the rubble to take any interest. “Never in history has such ruination—physical and moral—been associated with the name of one man,” one historian said.