Hitler – Character

The Five Faces of Adolf Hitler.
An attempt to describe the character of the German leader or ‘Fuehrer’ of the Third Reich and supreme commander during WW2.

Hitler on D-Day
On the early afternoon of 6 June 1944, Alfred Jodl as the Chief of Staff of Operations of the Wehrmacht is showing Hitler on the map the Allied beachheads in Normandy. Bystanders heard this words from Hitler: ‘The messages could not be better ! As long as they were in Britain, we could not catch them. Now, finally, we have them there where we can beat them.’
Just as the fact that he needed reading glasses, just the same Hitler held his true goals hidden, too: ‘I’m here also very hard: if the German people are not ready to fight for their self-assertion, well, then they have to disappear.’

Whoever deals with Hitler has to visualize what Alfred Jodl wrote about Hitler in his cell at Nuremberg just before his execution:

‘Did I know this man really, with whom I lived over years an existence of such self-denial and full of privations ?
Did he be not played with my idealism and used it only for purposes which he hides in his deepest heart ?

Who wants to praise himself, that he knows another man, if he has not opened his most secret fold in his heart ?
So, I didn’t know not even until today, what he was thinking, knowing or what he wanted to do – I only knew what I have thought about it and suspected.’

Hitler’s Character
The pensive Hitler
The pensive Hitler in his aircraft during the winter of 1942-43, in the months when the 6th Army was destroyed in the pocket of Stalingrad. He feels what could happen now in the future ?

Once Hitler himself has revealed his subtlety. On 23 May 1939, Admiral Raeder was asking him what his intentions are. He replied that he had three types of confidentiality: ‘The first one is, when we are both speaking private, and the second one, which I keep to myself, and the third one, which are problems for the future, which I do not think about to their final end.’

This one of the few keywords spoken direct by Hitler, is the one that allows to come closer to the substance of his being. It comes down to it, that there were more than one Hitler:

  • The one, the public knows,
  • the one who was a ‘comrade’ in the diners circles, but who didn’t speak about much of the things on his mind.
  • The one who discussed problems be up for decisions with his staff members, which were bound to silence,
  • the one, who solitary walks ‘for miles’ in his room and tossed back and forth the next decision in his head without any advice,
  • and finally the one, who is described by Alfred Jodl as the one, who his ‘sending his restless spirit like a searchlight in the dark of the future, where he could see something tangible or threatening before anybody else could see it’. This uncanny Hitler of the last discretion, who was able to suspect the concerns of the future, but not thinking about them to the final end, particular when his restless spirit saw clearly more and more the abyss into his hubris will plunge him one day.

Hitler as demagogue
Adolf Hitler in his typical pose, the pose of the most powerful demagogue of his time, who won millions of Germans for him only with his voice and gestures.

Against this ‘last’ of the Hitler’s, the Hitler before the last braced himself with all his violence, the one who was walking up and down in his room and who did not want to see the inevitable fate, who was fighting against it with all his rigidity and willpower, whose motto was ‘fanatic’ because he still believed to the ideal image, that history will be decided by the strength of the character.

This penultimate Hitler had always to command the ‘final’ Hitler to be silence and to suggest the always smaller belief for the final victory.

Hitler in spring 1944
In spring 1944 the sorrows had left clearly their mark on Hitler’s face.

That he was able to this until the last day, this is a horrible and today an incomprehensible process, in the light of his decline a hardly credible process. But this it was: this ‘penultimate’ Hitler gave the power to this Hitler, who was discussing with his generals, or especially when he was speaking to the public. For that very reason, Hitler was able to become the ominous figure in German history, because he was so complex and profound.

Anyone familiar with Hitler, concerning with his words and his deeds, will always keep in mind that even Alfred Jodl, who lived and worked for years daily together with Hitler and who was one of the few with the opportunities to really discuss with him, had to explain, that this man remained for him a closed book.

Even a Hitler would never have been able to wreak so much havoc, if he didn’t have some unusual abilities at least.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

Beside the cold and cruel Hitler, whose favorite word was ‘brutal’, there was also the charming and amiable Hitler, the ‘Chief’ who carefully considered the welfare of the surrounding people. From a loner and nerd, who could only speak in front of a mass, he became more and more a man who could not live without companionship. Especially towards women, he was always very polite and courteous.

About these and other things, the following pictures:


t_arrow1see also: Hitler biography and course of life
see also: Pictures about Hitler

References and literature

Illustrierte Geschichte des Dritte Reiches (Kurt Zentner)
Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier (Henry Picker)

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