Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hitler's health has long been the subject of debate. He has variously been said to have had irritable bowel syndrome, skin lesions, irregular heartbeat, Parkinson's disease, syphilis, tinnitus, and Asperger syndrome. He had problems with his teeth and his personal dentist Hugo Blaschke stated that he fitted a large dental bridge to his upper jaw in 1933 and that on 10 November 1944 he carried out surgery to cut off part of the left rear section of the bridge that was causing an infection of his gums. He was also suffering from a sinus infection.
After the early 1930s, Hitler generally followed a vegetarian diet, although he ate meat on occasion. There are reports of him disgusting his guests by giving them graphic accounts of the slaughter of animals in an effort to make them shun meat. A fear of cancer (from which his mother died) is the most widely cited reason, though it is also asserted that Hitler, an antivivisectionist, had a profound concern for animals.Martin Bormann had a greenhouse constructed for him near the Berghof (near Berchtesgaden) to ensure a steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for Hitler throughout the war.
Hitler was a non-smoker and promoted aggressive anti-smoking campaigns throughout Germany. (See Anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany.) Hitler "despised" alcohol.


Hitler's tremors and irregular heartbeat during the last years of his life could have been symptoms of tertiary (late stage) syphilis, which would mean he had a syphilis infection for many years. Along with another doctor, Theodor Morell diagnosed the symptoms as such by early 1945 in a joint report to SS head Heinrich Himmler. Some historians have cited Hitler's preoccupation with syphilis across 14 pages of Mein Kampf, where he called it a "Jewish disease", leading to speculation he may have had the disease himself. His possible discovery in 1908 that he had the disease may have been responsible for his demeanor; while his life course may have been influenced by his anger at being a syphilitic, as well as his belief that he had acquired the disease from undesirable societal elements which he intended to eliminate. In several chapters of Mein Kampf, he wrote about the temptation of prostitution and the spreading of syphilis, specifically volume 1, chapter 10 "Causes of the Collapse". Historians have speculated he may have caught the affliction from a German prostitute at a time when the disease was not yet treatable by modern antibiotics, which would also explain his avoidance of normal sexual relations with women. However, syphilis had become curable in 1910 with Dr. Paul Ehrlich's introduction of the drug Salvarsan.
Since the 1870s, however, it was a common rhetorical practice on the völkisch right to associate Jews with diseases such as syphilis. Historian Robert Waite claims Hitler tested negative on a Wassermann test as late as 1939, which does not prove that he did not have the disease, because the Wassermann test was prone to false-negative results. Regardless of whether he actually had syphilis or not, Hitler lived in constant fear of the disease, and took treatment for it no matter what his doctors told him.
In his biography of Doctor Felix Kersten called The Man with the Miraculous Hands, journalist and Académie française member Joseph Kessel wrote that in the winter of 1942, Kersten heard of Hitler's medical condition. Consulted by his patient, Himmler, as to whether he could "assist a man who suffers from severe headaches, dizziness and insomnia," Kersten was shown a top-secret 26-page report. It detailed how Hitler had contracted syphilis in his youth and was treated for it at a hospital in Pasewalk, Germany. However, in 1937, symptoms re-appeared, showing that the disease was still active, and by the start of 1942, signs were evident that progressive syphilitic paralysis (Tabes dorsalis) was occurring. Himmler advised Kersten that Morell (who in the 1930s claimed to be a specialist venereologist) was in charge of Hitler's treatment, and that it was a state secret. The book also relates how Kersten learned from Himmler's secretary, Rudolf Brandt, that at that time, probably the only other people privy to the report's information were Nazi Party chairman Martin Bormann and Hermann Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe.


It has been alleged that Hitler had monorchism, the medical condition of having only one testicle. Hitler's personal doctor, Johan Jambor, supposedly described the dictator's condition to a priest who later wrote down what he had been told in a document which was uncovered in 2008, 23 years after the doctor's death.
Soviet doctor Lev Bezymensky, allegedly involved in the Soviet autopsy, stated in a 1967 book that Hitler's left testicle was missing. Bezymensky later admitted that the claim was falsified. Hitler was routinely examined by many doctors throughout his childhood, military service and later political career, and no clinical mention of any such condition has ever been discovered. Records do show he was wounded in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, and some sources do describe his injury as a wound to the groin.

Parkinson's disease

It has also been speculated Hitler had Parkinson's disease. Newsreels of Hitler show he had tremors in his hand and a shuffling walk (also a symptom of tertiary syphilis, see above) which began before the war and continued to worsen until the end of his life. Morell treated Hitler with a drug agent that was commonly used in 1945, although Morell is viewed as an unreliable doctor by most historians and any diagnoses he may have made are subject to doubt.
A more reliable doctor, Ernst-Günther Schenck, who worked at an emergency casualty station in the Reich Chancellery during April 1945, also claimed Hitler might have Parkinson's disease. However, Schenck only saw Hitler briefly on two occasions and, by his own admission, was extremely exhausted and dazed during these meetings (at the time, he had been in surgery for numerous days without much sleep). Also, some of Schenck's opinions were based on hearsay from Dr. Haase.

Other complaints

From the 1930s he suffered from stomach pains, in 1936 a non-cancerous polyp was removed from his throat and he developed eczema on his legs. He suffered ruptured eardrums as a result of the 20 July plot bomb blast in 1944 and 200 wood splinters had to be removed from his legs. Hitler's otologist observed that Hitler had developed tinnitus after the Röhm-putsch, and considered it psychogenic in origin.Hitler treated the condition with the prescription-free lipid lecithin.

Addiction to amphetamine

Hitler began using amphetamine occasionally after 1937 and became addicted after the late summer of 1942. Albert Speer stated he thought this was the most likely cause of the later rigidity of Hitler’s decision making (never allowing military retreats).

Historians' views

In a 1980 article, the German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler dismissed theories that sought to explain Nazi Germany as due to some defect, medical or otherwise in Hitler. In his opinion, besides the problem that such theories about Hitler's medical condition were extremely difficult to prove, they had the effect of personalizing the phenomena of Nazi Germany by attributing everything that happened in the Third Reich to one flawed individual. The British historian Sir Ian Kershaw agreed that it was better to take a broader view of German history by seeking to examine what social forces led to the Third Reich and its policies, as opposed to the "personalized" explanations for the Holocaust and World War II.

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