New documents describe Adolf Hitler's time in prison
A personnel manager couldn't have been more well-meaning in his description. "He was always reasonable, frugal, modest and polite to everyone, especially the officials at the facility," prison warden Otto Leybold wrote about the inmate on Sept. 18, 1924. The prisoner, he added, didn't smoke or drink and "submitted willingly to all restrictions."
The prisoner to whom the warden was referring so reverentially was none other than Adolf Hitler. Still an ambitious beer-hall agitator at the time, Hitler was serving a prison sentence at Landsberg Castle for attempting to stage a coup against the Weimar Republic in November 1923, together with fellow right-wing extremists.
It was a defining period for Hitler and German history. According to his biographer Ian Kershaw, his time in prison Hitler served as the genesis "of his later absolute preeminence in the völkisch movement and his ascendancy to supreme leadership."
It is commonly known that the conditions of Hitler's incarceration in Landsberg am Lech were comfortable, and that he used his time there to write Mein Kampf. But historic documents now offer new insights into how he was able to continue to organize his network under the eyes of the prison management.
Intake Book and Visitors' Cards
The material, which probably stems from the former records office at Landsberg Prison, is to be sold at auction at the Behringer Auction House in the Bavarian city of Fürth on July 2. The bundle of paper includes 300 cards filled out by Hitler's visitors, as well as extensive correspondence from the prison management.
Some of the documents were previously unknown, while others are transcripts of papers that have already been analyzed. They include a copy of the excessively mild sentence imposed by the Munich People's Court: five years imprisonment at Landsberg Castle, with the possibility of parole.
One of the newly discovered documents is the prison's "intake book," which contains an entry that reads: "Hitler, Adolf." Date of admission: April 1, 1924. Medical examination results: "health, of moderate strength." Height: 1.75 meters (5'9"). Weight: 77 kilograms (169 lbs.) The names of the loyal followers who joined Hitler at Landsberg are listed on the same page: Friedrich Weber, Hermann Kriebel, Emil Maurice and his later deputy, Rudolf Hess.
Hitler began to receive visitors shortly after he was admitted to the prison. Erich Ludendorff, the strategist behind the Battle of Tannenberg in World War I who, to his outrage, was acquitted of charges of involvement in the Hitler-led coup attempt, visited several times. Hitler's other guests included "Captain Röhm, Munich," "Councillor Dr. Frick, Munich" and "Alfred Rosenberg, certified architect and writer, Munich," the inner circle of leaders of the young Nazi Party at the time. Röhm, Frick and Rosenberg later became head of the SA, interior minister of the German Reich and the Nazis' chief ideologue, respectively....
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