Historian: Sexual disorders led to Hitler's rise to power

Historians in the News

It's difficult to find a bookstore without a shelf dedicated to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. Leonid Mlechin's "The Fuehrer's Biggest Secret" is the latest addition. Mlechin, a renowned historian, author and TV host, discusses Hitler and why he remains such a puzzling and prominent historical figure decades after his death.

KP: Don't we already know all there is to know about Hitler?

Mlechin: In world history there are certain personalities responsible for such heinous crimes that they will always attract attention. I addressed many questions about Hitler in my book, but there's still much we will never fully understand. Of course, this is enchanting for any researcher. But honestly all too often this leads to false perceptions about the scale of these personalities.

Essentially, Hitler was a nobody as an individual. But the scale of his misdeeds was so immense that his personality was magnified, as if under a lens. He is often attributed to bearing traits he didn't actually possess.

Q: Meaning, we haven't put together a final picture of Hitler?

A: All Germany's archives about the 13-year reign of Hitlerism were immediately opened after 1945. A huge collection of books were written as a result. However, even today books are constantly being published on the subject in Germany. I just read a thick scholarly work about Germany's economy under Nazism. For the first time in 60 years, detailed explanations were made about how the Third Reich was able to establish a powerful military machine with relatively low resources, and to threaten the entire world. This subject is simply inexhaustible.

Q: What was Hitler's biggest secret? Did you unravel it?

A: The fuehrer had many secrets beginning with his lineage – who his grandfather was. The question is unanswered today. Most probably there was an incident of incest in his family. His father married his own niece. Hitler hid this fact his whole life. He was terribly afraid the truth would be uncovered. The second secret is Hitler's relationship with both men and women – his suppressed homosexuality and fear of intimacy with the opposite sex. The result was a general discord with his being, and resentment against the entire world. It seems the only person Hitler experienced feelings for (including sexual) was his own niece Geli Raubal. Raubal committed suicide in 1931....

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