Did Hitler Really Have Only One Testicle?
Did Adolf Hitler, widely considered to be one of the most evil, despicable people who ever lived, really have only one testicle?
Fans of the 1957 Bridge over the River Kwai no doubt remember the jaunty tune whistled by the British POWs as they marched into captivity:
But film buffs may not be aware that the WWI-era tune, “Colonel Bogey’s March,” developed an alternate set of lyrics in WWII:
There are a seemingly infinite number of variations, but the most popular goes like this:
Written in 1939, the ditty no doubt sparked the widespread belief that Hitler had monorchism, the medical term for having only one testicle.
The conspiracy theory version, though, didn’t kick off until after the war, and boy, have there been loads. The Soviets reportedly exhumed Hitler’s remains when the Red Army captured the Führerbunker in May 1945, and eventually word leaked out to the West about the Russians’ post-mortem findings. Hitler’s left testicle, they claimed, was missing-in-action.
There has since been considerable debate about the truth of the claim. Straight Dope summarized the arguments against the “lone-nut theory” in 1987:
None of Hitler's doctors or attendants had ever mentioned anything about a missing testicle, and his medical records were silent on the subject. A woman who claimed to have been his lover said he was normally equipped.
Nonetheless, a whole cottage industry has sprung up around the notion that Hitler was either born lacking one testicle or lost it early in life—how else to explain the rage that dwelt within him? One particularly bizarre theory postulates that a young Hitler “took part in an ill-advised barnyard prank in which he attempted to urinate down the mouth of a billy goat.” This, despite testimony from one of Hitler’s childhood doctors that he was ‘ “‘genitally normal.’”
But it turns out Hitler may actually have only had one testicle when he was der Führer, but if so, he lost it under far more mundane circumstances. The British tabloid The Daily Mail (it’s up to the reader to decide whether The Daily Mail constitutes a reliable news source—suffice to say that notion has its own skeptics) reported in 2008 that Hitler lost his left testicle during the Battle of the Somme.
The source was Johan Jambor, who served as a medic in Hitler’s unit. He supposedly made this revelation to his priest, Franciszek Pawlar, in the 1960s, who wrote that particular tidbit down for posterity.
Is it true? Possibly—Hitler was wounded in the leg by shrapnel in October 1916 at the Somme, and it’s conceivable that the shrapnel hit more than his leg, but a secondhand testimonial written fifty years after the event and made public 23 years after Jambor’s death is hardly conclusive.
Incidentally, similar claims have been made about Hermann Goering (he supposedly lost one of his jollies during the Beer Hall Putsch) and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. So far, the reputation of Stalin's testicles appears to be intact.
comments powered by Disqus
- Richard Hofstadter’s insights into the "paranoid style in American politics” lauded in the NYT
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- Researchers have discovered a previously unknown 149-page manuscript defending homosexuality.
- What Counts as Historical Evidence? The Fracas over John Stauffer’s Black Confederates
- Israeli journalist-turned-biographer, Shabtai Teveth, is remembered for his attack on the New Historians