Ernst Hanfstaengl

Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl ([ɛʁnst hanf.ˈʃtɛŋl]; 2 February 1887 – 6 November 1975) was a German-American businessman and intimate friend of Adolf Hitler. He eventually fell out of favour with Hitler, however, and defected from Nazi Germany to the United States. He later worked for Franklin D. Roosevelt and was once engaged to the author Djuna Barnes.

Ernst Hanfstaengl
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R41953, Ernst Hanfstaengl
Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl

2 February 1887
Died6 November 1975 (aged 88)
Alma materHarvard University

Early life and education

Ernst Hanfstaengl, nicknamed "Putzi",[1] was born in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, the son of a German art publisher, Edgar Hanfstaengl, and an American mother. He spent most of his early years in Germany and later moved to the United States. His mother was Katharine Wilhelmina Heine, daughter of Wilhelm Heine, a cousin of American Civil War Union Army general John Sedgwick. His godfather was Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He had an elder sister, Erna,[2] two elder brothers Edgar and Egon, and a younger brother Erwine.[3]

He attended Harvard University and became acquainted with Walter Lippmann and John Reed. A gifted pianist, he composed several songs for Harvard's football team. He graduated in 1909.

He moved to New York and took over the management of the American branch of his father's business, the Franz Hanfstaengl Fine Arts Publishing House. On frequent mornings he would practice on the piano at the Harvard Club of New York, where he became acquainted with both Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt. Among his circle of acquaintances were the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, author Djuna Barnes (to whom he was engaged), and actor Charlie Chaplin.

Upon the outbreak of war, he asked the German military attaché in New York Franz von Papen to smuggle him back to Germany. Slightly baffled by the proposal, the attaché refused and Hanfstaengl remained in the U.S. during the war. After 1917, the American branch of the family business was confiscated as enemy property.

On 11 February 1920, Hanfstaengl married Helene Elise Adelheid Niemeyer of Long Island. Their only son, Egon Ludwig, eventually enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. A daughter, Hertha, died at the age of five.

Hitler's confidant

Putzi Hanfstaengl and Diana Mitford in 1934
Hanfstaengl with Diana Mitford at a 1934 Nuremberg rally.

Returning to Germany in 1922, he was living in his native Bavaria when he first heard Hitler speak in a Munich beer hall.[4] A fellow member of the Harvard Hasty Pudding club who worked at the U.S. Embassy asked Hanfstaengl to assist a military attaché sent to observe the political scene in Munich. Just before returning to Berlin the attaché, Captain Truman Smith, suggested that Hanfstaengl go to a Nazi rally as a favor and report his impressions of Hitler. Hanfstaengl was so fascinated by Hitler that he soon became one of his most intimate followers, although he did not formally join the Nazi Party until 1931. "What Hitler was able to do to a crowd in 2½ hours will never be repeated in 10,000 years," Hanfstaengl said. "Because of his miraculous throat construction, he was able to create a rhapsody of hysteria. In time, he became the living unknown soldier of Germany."

Hanfstaengl introduced himself to Hitler after the speech and began a close friendship and political association that would last through the 1920s and early 1930s. After participating in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hanfstaengl briefly fled to Austria, while the injured Hitler sought refuge in Hanfstaengl's home in Uffing, outside of Munich. Hanfstaengl's wife, Helene, allegedly dissuaded Hitler from committing suicide when the police came to arrest him.

For much of the 1920s, Hanfstaengl introduced Hitler to Munich high society and helped polish his image. He also helped to finance the publication of Hitler's Mein Kampf, and the NSDAP's official newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter (People's Observer). Hitler was the godfather of Hanfstaengl's son Egon. Hanfstaengl composed both Brownshirt and Hitler Youth marches patterned after his Harvard football songs and, he later claimed, devised the chant "Sieg Heil". Included among Hanfstaengl's friends during this period were Hanns Heinz Ewers and fellow Nazi Party worker and journalist Kurt Lüdecke.

Fluent in English, with many connections to higher society both in the UK and the US, Hanfstaengl became head of the Foreign Press Bureau in Berlin. Aside from this official position, much of his influence was due to his friendship with Hitler, who enjoyed listening to "Putzi" play the piano. Hanfstaengl later claimed to have alerted Hitler and Hermann Göring about the Reichstag fire.

When Winston Churchill was staying at the Hotel Regina in Munich in late August 1932, Hanfstaengl introduced himself and said he could easily arrange a meeting with Hitler there since he came to the hotel every evening around five o'clock. At that time Churchill said he had no national prejudices against Hitler and knew little of his "doctrine or record and nothing of his character." In the course of the conversation with Hanfstaengl, however, Churchill said: "Why is your chief so violent about the Jews? I can quite understand being angry with the Jews who have done wrong or who are against the country, and I understand resisting them if they try to monopolise power in any walk of life; but what is the sense of being against a man because of his birth? How can a man help how he is born?" Hanfstaengl, according to Churchill, must have related this to Hitler because the next day, around noon, he came to the hotel to tell him that Hitler would not be coming to see him after all. In addition Hitler may not have wanted to meet with Churchill, who was then out of power and thought to be of no importance.[5] Churchill declined to meet with Hitler on several subsequent occasions.[6]

Fall from power

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-14080, Berlin, Hitler, Göring und Hanfstaengl
With Hitler and Göring, 1932

As the NSDAP consolidated its power, several disputes arose between Hanfstaengl and Germany's Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hanfstaengl was removed from Hitler's staff in 1933. He and Helene divorced in 1936. Hanfstaengl fell completely out of Hitler's favour after he was denounced by Unity Mitford, a close friend of both the Hanfstaengls and Hitler.

In 1937, Hanfstaengl received orders to parachute into an area held by the nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War, to assist in negotiations. While on board the plane he feared a plot on his life and learned more details from the pilot about the mission, who eventually admitted he had been ordered to drop Hanfstaengl over republican-held territory, which would have meant almost certain death. The pilot eventually landed on a small airfield nearby Leipzig after claiming an engine malfunction following a brief talk with Hanfstaengl, which allowed him to escape.

This version of the story was related by Albert Speer in his memoirs, who stated that the "mission" to Spain was an elaborate practical joke, concocted by Hitler and Goebbels, designed to punish Hanfstaengl after he'd displeased the Führer by making "adverse comments about the fighting spirit of the German soldiers in combat" in the Spanish Civil War. Hanfstaengl was issued sealed orders from Hitler which were not to be opened until his plane was in flight. These orders detailed that he was to be dropped in "Red Spanish territory" to work as an agent for Francisco Franco. The plane, according to Speer, was merely circling over Germany containing an increasingly disconcerted Hanfstaengl, with false location reports being given to convey the impression that the plane was drawing ever closer to Spain. After the joke had played itself out, the pilot declared he had to make an emergency landing and landed safely at Leipzig Airport.[7] Hanfstaengl was so alarmed by the event that he defected soon afterward.

In a late 1960s interview at his home in Schwabing (Munich), Hanfstaengl said he was convinced he was to be tossed out of the plane and parachute over northern Germany.

He made his way to Switzerland, and, after securing his son Egon's release from Germany, he moved to Britain, where he was imprisoned after the outbreak of the Second World War. He was later moved to a prison camp in Canada. In 1942, Hanfstaengl was turned over to the U.S. and worked for President Roosevelt's "S-Project", revealing information on approximately 400 Nazi leaders. He provided 68 pages of information on Hitler alone, including personal details of Hitler's private life, and he helped Professor Henry Murray, the director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, and psychoanalyst Walter Charles Langer and other experts to create a report for the OSS, in 1943, designated the "Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler". In 1944, Hanfstaengl was handed back to the British, who repatriated him to Germany at the end of the war. William Shirer, a CBS journalist who resided in Nazi Germany until 1940 and was in frequent contact with Hanfstaengl, described him as an "eccentric, gangling man, whose sardonic wit somewhat compensated for his shallow mind."[8]

Hanfstaengl wrote Unheard Witness (1957) (later re-released as Hitler: The Missing Years) about his experiences. In 1974, Hanfstaengl attended his 65th Harvard reunion, where he regaled the Harvard University Band about the authors of various Harvard fight songs. His relationship to Hitler went unmentioned.

Hanfstaengl died in Munich in 1975. In 2004, his story was told by author Peter Conradi in his book Hitler's Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl, Confidante of Hitler, Ally of FDR.

See also


  1. ^ A nickname (which may have been acquired in youth) meaning "little fellow;" as an adult Hanfstaengl was 1.93 m (6'4") tall. Toland, John (1976). Adolf Hitler. Doubleday & Company. p. 128. ISBN 0-385-037244. (Toland)
  2. ^ Some authorities suggest that Hitler was romantically involved with Erna, a tall and stately woman, or had romantic affections for her. Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon and Schuster. p. 131. ("Shirer"). See also Wikipedia article on Geli Raubal. While some historians have written that Hitler was nursed by Erna (and her mother) at Uffing following the Beer Hall putsch, Toland claims that this is a myth, resulting from the misinterpretation of the American journalists who interviewed the three Hanfstaengl women (the mother, sister and wife of Ernst) immediately after Hitler's arrest by the authorities. Toland, p. 181 (footnote).
  3. ^ See A Sedgwick Genealogy: Descendants of Deacon Benjamin Sedgwick (p. 143) at (Sedgwick Genealogy). His elder brother Egon served in the German Army in World War I and was killed in 1915; his younger brother Erwine died of typhoid in the American Hospital in Paris in 1914.
  4. ^ The initial encounter was on 22 November 1922 at the Kindlkeller, a large L-shaped beer hall. Toland, p. 128.
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Gathering Storm. By Winston S. Churchill. Chapter V. 1948
  7. ^ Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, (Sphere Books, 1971), Chpt.9, pp. 188-9.
  8. ^ William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, (Simon & Schuster, 1960), Chpt.2, pp. 47.

Further reading

  • Hanfstaengl, Ernst 'Putzi'. Hitler: The Missing Years. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1957. Arcade Publishing, reprint 1994 ISBN 1-55970-278-8
  • Conradi, Peter. Hitler's Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl, Confidant of Hitler, Ally of FDR, Carroll & Graf, 2004 ISBN 0-7867-1283-X
  • Metcalfe, Philip. 1933. New York, The Permanent Press, 1988. ISBN 0-932966-87-X
  • Hanfstaengl, Ernst. "Zwischen Weißem und Braunem Haus". R. Piper und Co. Verlag Muenchen

External links

Alban Schachleiter

Alban Schachleiter (20 January 1861 – 20 June 1937) was a Roman Catholic Benedictine monk and musicologist. He was closely associated with the Nazis, and with Adolf Hitler personally.

Schachleiter first became closely associated with the NSDAP, and with Hitler, in late 1922. Originally from Mainz, he served as the long-time abbot of the Emmaus monastery in Prague before being forced out of that position in late 1918 following the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state. After brief stays at several Austrian monasteries, including St. Florian near Linz, by early 1920 he was at Munich's St. Boniface's Abbey. By September 1922 he was noticed for the radicalism of his anti-Semitic agitation and his involvement with groups like the volkisch Bund Bayern und Reich. He cultivated connections with members of Munich's Catholic elite, including w:de:Karl Alexander von Müller, professor of history at the University of Munich, and Helene Raff, whose father was the composer Joachim Raff. With Muller he discussed politics and Gregorian chant. Through these connections he first met Hitler in late 1922; the pair were observed by both Muller and Ernst Hanfstaengl engaging in lively and lengthy conversation. It was the beginning of a relationship that ended only with Schachleiter's death in 1937. The meeting opened the way for Schachleiter to play an important propagandist role on behalf of the NSDAP in the summer of 1923.

Following the commemorative activities of 10 June 1923—which included a massive rally in honour of Albert Leo Schlageter, staged on Munich's Konigsplatz and attended by 20-30000 activists—a Catholic memorial Mass was held immediately after the rally in St. Boniface Abbey, organised exclusively by the NSDAP, which was presided over by Schachleiter. Hanfstaengl had sketched out for Hitler the symbolic impact a related Catholic-Nazi Mass for Schlagater would have on Munich's Catholic population—Schachleiter could also consecrate the standards of the SA. Hitler quickly agreed. Schachleiter delivered a eulogistic sermon that was remembered as having a powerful impact—a young and devoutly pious Heinrich Himmler joined the NSDAP in the wake of Schachleiters eulogy.A year later however, Schachleiter was writing to Oswald Spengler lamenting the impact of Erich Ludendorff and his anti-Catholic followers on the movement: following the refounding of the NSDAP in early 1925 the stronghold of the Nazi movement in Bavaria would no longer be Munich but rather the Protestant regions of Mittel- and Oberfranken. Schachleiter increasingly distanced himself from the NSDAP in the mid-1920s, although he maintained an idealised image of Hitler personally.

Schachleiter continued for years to be angry at Ludendorff's anti-Catholic crusade following the putsch of November 1923. After maintaining his weekly Schola Gregoriana at the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche in Munich until 1930, he then moved to a newly built country house in Bad Feilnbach where he was still living when Hitler came to power in 1933. In late spring Schachleiter wrote to Cardinal Faulhaber: "It seems to me to be a catastrophe that the Holy Church stands aloof from the new freedom movement, whose triumph I foresaw, and that the massive uprising of the volk, which is now lifting our poor fatherland out of its misery and shame, may well go down in history as a triumph of Protestantism." Faulhaber forbade Schachleiter from performing Masses within the archdiocese, and Schachleiter reluctantly refused Hitler's request for him to come to Berlin on 20 March 1933 to perform a personal Mass for the fuhrer. Hitler visited in mid-May to personally congratulate Schachleiter on his 50th anniversary as a Benedictine. His invitation to sit among the Nazi dignitaries at the Nuremberg party rally in 1934, which he accepted, (and an enduring image through Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will), showed him "on the sidelines as the Nazis' striking, yet thoroughly secularized, performative aesthetic played out before him." From 1933-1936 Schachleiter spent much energy campaigning against what he saw as peripheral Nazi personalities directing the Nazis in an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian direction—and particularly the ideology advanced by Alfred Rosenberg. Schachleiter regarded this as a restraint on a renewal of wide-ranging Catholic support for the NSDAP. Schachleiter eventually wrote more than two dozen appeals to a variety of Nazi officials, including Hans Lammers, but was ignored. In September 1936 he admitted privately to a friend that, "a believing Christian can no longer participate [in the NSDAP]; they do not want believing Christians in the party." Publicly he continued to profess loyalty to the Führer and to the church.Following his death in June 1937 the Nazis ordered a state funeral arranged by Bavarian minister-president Ludwig Siebert. A year later the editorial leadership of the Beobachter refused attempts to publish official commemorations. According to historian Derek Hastings, by 1937 Schachleiter's vision of a renewed Catholic-Nazi synthesis had become increasingly marginal.

Americans in Germany

Americans in Germany or American Germans (German: Amerikanische Deutsche

or Amerikodeutsche) refers to the American population in Germany and their German-born descendants. According to Destatis, 107,755 American citizens lived in Germany in 2013, and about 324,000 people with American ancestry.At the same time, more than 40,000 members of the US military and 15,000 civilian employees of American citizenship are permanently in Germany, with a strong presence in Kaiserslautern, which in the 1950s became the largest US military community outside of the United States. In addition, there are significant numbers of American expatriates in Germany, especially professionals sent abroad by their companies and an increasing number of college students and graduates (also due to the affordable higher education system and the favorable quality of life). By December 2013, the largest American diasporas in Germany are Berlin with over 16,000 people, and the area around Darmstadt with about 13,000 people.

Beer Hall Putsch

The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, and, in German, as the Hitlerputsch, Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch, Bürgerbräu-Putsch or Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle ("March on the Field Marshals's Hall"), was a failed coup d'état by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler—along with Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders—to seize power in Munich, Bavaria, which took place from 8 November to 9 November 1923. Approximately two thousand Nazis were marching to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, when they were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the death of 16 Nazis and four police officers. Hitler, who was wounded during the clash, escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was arrested and charged with treason.The putsch brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation and generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world. His arrest was followed by a 24-day trial, which was widely publicised and gave him a platform to publicise his nationalist sentiment to the nation. Hitler was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoners Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess. On 20 December 1924, having served only nine months, Hitler was released. Hitler now saw that the path to power was through legal means rather than revolution or force, and accordingly changed his tactics, further developing Nazi propaganda.

Edgar Hanfstaengl

For other individuals with the same surname, see Hanfstaengl family.

Edgar Hanfstaengl (15 July 1842, in Munich – 28 May 1910, in Munich) was a Chief Clerk and Commercial Purchaser, and an Art Publisher. He is a significant figure because he was the son of a famous Bavarian court photographer connected with the circle of Ludwig II, and became a close confidant of the Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria. He was also the father of Ernst Hanfstaengl, the political figure.

Eidgenössische Sammlung

Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.

Erna Hanfstaengl

For other individuals with the same surname, see Hanfstaengl family.Erna Hanfstaengl (1885–1981) was the elder sister of Ernst ("Putzi") Hanfstaengl and was an acquaintance of Adolf Hitler. She also befriended Unity Mitford, who lived with Erna for a period.

Faith and Beauty Society

The BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit (German for BDM Faith and Beauty Society) was founded in 1938 to serve as a tie-in between the work of the League of German Girls (BDM) and that of the National Socialist Women's League. Membership was voluntary and open to girls aged 17 to 21.


Hanfstaengl (or Hanfstängl) is a German surname, meaning "hemp stalk". Notable people with the surname include:

Franz Hanfstaengl (1804–1877), German painter, lithographer, and photographer; father of Edgar

Edgar Hanfstaengl (1842–1910), son of Franz; art publisher and father of Erna and Ernst

Marie Hanfstängl (1848–1917), German soprano

Erna Hanfstaengl (1885–1981), daughter of Edgar, sister of Ernst, and confidant of Adolf Hitler and Unity Mitford

Ernst Hanfstaengl (1887–1975), son of Edgar, brother of Erna, and confidant of Adolf Hitler and Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Hirden (the hird) was a uniformed paramilitary organisation during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, modelled the same way as the German Sturmabteilungen.


Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power is a 2012 book by the journalist Andrew Nagorski.

The book covers the years before and during Hitler's ascent to power in Germany—roughly 1922 through 1941, focusing on widely varying impressions of Hitler by Americans who managed to observe him close up. Few outsiders took the man himself seriously even whilst acknowledging the steadily growing power and popularity of the National Socialist Party.

Figures who appear include:

William Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany.

Martha Dodd, daughter of the Ambassador, had numerous affairs with renowned figures in Berlin, became a Soviet agent.

W.E.B. Du Bois

Ernst Hanfstaengl, German/American close friend of Adolf Hitler. Sometimes known as "Hitler's Piano Player"

Richard Helms Later head of the CIA

Ben Hecht

Adolf Hitler

Philip Johnson Future influential American architect, and admirer of the Nazis.

H. V. Kaltenborn, famed American radio announcer, doubted Nazi brutality until he and his son were beaten for not giving the Nazi salute in 1933.

George F. Kennan Later famous as the architect of containment

Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker, journalist

Sinclair Lewis

Charles Lindbergh An admirer of the Nazis, though he spied on them to report to Roosevelt on their air power.

Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Chicago Daily News Berlin bureau chief, one of the first to report Nazi atrocities, lived in daily peril due to his reports of Nazi atrocities. Eventually forced to flee Germany due to threats on his life.

George S. Messersmith, U.S. Consul in Berlin who very early signaled to American officials the dangers of Nazism and Hitler.

Jesse Owens Winner of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics

Franz von Papen, Vice Chancellor under Hindenburg.

Sigrid Schultz, popular hostess in Berlin

William Shirer, foreign correspondent for the International News Service and later for CBS.

Howard K. Smith

Truman Smith The first American official to meet Hitler.

Dorothy Thompson

Karl Henry von Wiegand First American reporter to interview Hitler, in 1922, his views became enormously influential in American views of Hitler

Thomas Wolfe

Sherwood Eddy The Protestant missionary who in the first year of Hitler's reign, visited Germany and spoke against Nazi atrocities.

Karl Alexander von Müller

Karl Alexander von Müller (20 December 1882 - 13 December 1964) was a German historian. His immediate disciples were National Socialist politicians and academics such as Baldur von Schirach, Rudolf Heß, Hermann Göring, Walter Frank, Wilhelm Grau, Wilfried Euler, Clemens August Hoberg, Hermann Kellenbenz, Karl Richard Ganzer, Ernst Hanfstaengl and Klaus Schickert. However, due to his political openness, other non-Nazi historians such as Karl Bosl, Alois Hundhammer, Heinz Gollwitzer and even Wolfgang Hallgarten also studied under Müller.

Liechtenstein Homeland Service

Liechtenstein Homeland Service (German: Liechtensteiner Heimatdienst, LHD) was a political party in Liechtenstein that advocated corporate statism and the abolition of party politics.Established in the autumn of 1933, the party's positions began to radicalize and move toward National Socialist ideas within a few months of existence. By December 1933, this radicalization caused some members (such as co-founder Eugen Schafhauser) to abandon the party.LHD merged with the Christian-Social People's Party (VP) in 1936 to form the Patriotic Union (VU).

National Union (Switzerland)

The National Union (French: Union Nationale) was a French-speaking fascist political party in Switzerland between 1932 and 1939.

The Union was formed in Geneva in 1932 by Georges Oltramare, a lawyer and writer. Noted for his anti-Semitic writing, Oltramare founded the Order Politique Nationale in 1931 but merged it with the Union de Défense Economique the following year to form the National Union. The group continued under Oltramare's leadership until 1940 when he moved to Paris in order to co-operate more closely with the Nazis. Oltramare spent four years as a member of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland representing the National Union.The Union became notorious for a demonstration in Geneva on November 9, 1932 when their march to the city's Salle Communale was counterdemonstrated by the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. In the resulting trouble the Swiss army opened fire on the Socialists resulting in 13 deaths.

Nationale Jeugdstorm

The Nationale Jeugdstorm (English: National Youth Storm; NJS) was a Dutch youth movement that existed from 1934 to 1945, organized as the Dutch equivalent of the German Hitlerjugend and as a Nazi counterpart of Scouting Nederland.


Putzi may refer to:

a nickname of Ernst Hanfstaengl, an American-German diplomat

Putzi, an opera in one act with music and libretto by Argentine composer Eduardo Alonso-Crespo

Putzi fly, a type of fly responsible for myiasis

Religious views of Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler's religious beliefs have been a matter of debate; the wide consensus of historians consider him to have been irreligious, anti-Christian, anti-clerical and scientistic. In light of evidence such as his fierce criticism and vocal rejection of the tenets of Christianity, numerous private statements to confidants denouncing Christianity as a harmful superstition, and his strenuous efforts to reduce the influence and independence of Christianity in Germany after he came to power, Hitler's major academic biographers conclude that he was irreligious and an opponent of Christianity. Historian Laurence Rees found no evidence that "Hitler, in his personal life, ever expressed belief in the basic tenets of the Christian church". Ernst Hanfstaengl, a friend from his early days in politics, says Hitler "was to all intents and purposes an atheist by the time I got to know him". However, historians such as Richard Weikart and Alan Bullock doubt the assessment that he was a true atheist, suggesting that despite his dislike of Christianity he still clung to a form of spiritual belief.Hitler was born to a practicing Catholic mother, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. From a young age, he expressed disbelief and hostility to Christianity. But in 1904, acquiescing to his mother's wish, he was confirmed at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Linz, Austria, where the family lived. According to John Willard Toland, witnesses indicate that Hitler's confirmation sponsor had to "drag the words out of him ... almost as though the whole confirmation was repugnant to him". Rissmann notes that, according to several witnesses who lived with Hitler in a men's home in Vienna, Hitler never again attended Mass or received the sacraments after leaving home.

Several eyewitnesses who lived with Hitler while he was in his late teens and early-to-mid 20s in Vienna state that he never attended church after leaving home at 18.In Hitler's early political statements, he attempted to express himself to the German public as a Christian. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches prior to and in the early years of his rule, he described himself as a Christian. Hitler and the Nazi party promoted "Positive Christianity", a movement which rejected most traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus, as well as Jewish elements such as the Old Testament. In one widely quoted remark, he described Jesus as an "Aryan fighter" who struggled against "the power and pretensions of the corrupt Pharisees" and Jewish materialism.While a small minority of historians accept these publicly stated views as genuine expressions of his spirituality, the vast majority believe that Hitler was skeptical of religion and anti-Christian, but recognized that he could only be elected and preserve his political power if he feigned a commitment to and belief in Christianity, which the overwhelming majority of Germans believed in. Privately, Hitler repeatedly deprecated Christianity, and told confidants that his reluctance to make public attacks on the Church was not a matter of principle, but a pragmatic political move. In his private diaries, Goebbels wrote in April 1941 that though Hitler was "a fierce opponent" of the Vatican and Christianity, "he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons." Hitler's remarks to confidants, as described in the Goebbels Diaries, the memoirs of Albert Speer, and transcripts of Hitler's private conversations recorded by Martin Bormann in Hitler's Table Talk, are further evidence of his irreligious and anti-Christian beliefs; these sources record a number of private remarks in which Hitler ridicules Christian doctrine as absurd, contrary to scientific advancement, and socially destructive.Once in office, Hitler and his regime sought to reduce the influence of Christianity on society. From the mid-1930s, his government was increasingly dominated by militant anti-church proponents like Goebbels, Bormann, Himmler, Rosenberg and Heydrich whom Hitler appointed to key posts. These anti-church radicals were generally permitted or encouraged to perpetrate the Nazi persecutions of the churches. The regime launched an effort toward coordination of German Protestants under a unified Protestant Reich Church (but this was resisted by the Confessing Church), and moved early to eliminate political Catholicism. Hitler agreed to the Reich concordat with the Vatican, but then routinely ignored it, and permitted persecutions of the Catholic Church. Smaller religious minorities faced harsher repression, with the Jews of Germany expelled for extermination on the grounds of Nazi racial ideology. Jehovah's Witnesses were ruthlessly persecuted for refusing both military service and allegiance to Hitler's movement. Hitler said he anticipated a coming collapse of Christianity in the wake of scientific advances, and that Nazism and religion could not co-exist long term. Although he was prepared to delay conflicts for political reasons, historians conclude that he ultimately intended the destruction of Christianity in Germany, or at least its distortion or subjugation to a Nazi outlook.

SS Education Office

The SS Education Office (SS-Schulungsamt) was one of the Nazi organizations responsible for the ideological indoctrination of members of the SS. The office operated initially under the jurisdiction of the Reich Race and Settlement Office (RuSHA) but was later subordinated to the SS Main Office (SS-Hauptamt).

The Immortals (neo-Nazis)

The Immortals (German Die Unsterblichen) was a neo-Nazi organization based in Germany that uses flash mobs to coordinate, gather and demonstrate. The members wear black clothing with white facial masks and carry torches when they march.

Party offices
Notable members
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