ADOLF HITLER’S HEROIC WAR RECORD
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A MICHAEL WALSH EXCLUSIVE When the 1914-1918 war broke out, a war described by British Field-Marshall Lord Allenby as ‘a lengthy period of general insanity’, the 24-year old Austrian Adolf Hitler, believing in Imperial Germany’s cause, expressed himself thus: ‘For me, it was a deliverance. I am not ashamed to say it today: I fell on my knees and thanked God.’
Ordinarily, Hitler need not have been destined for the armed forces as for years he had been afflicted with tuberculosis. However, on February 5, 1914, months before war broke out and without the necessity for him to take up arms in defence of Germany, Adolf Hitler volunteered for military service. He was prohibited as ‘Unfit for the army or auxiliary corps; too weak, rejected.’
Passionate as always about the unification of Germany and Austria the landlord of his Munich lodgings, Herr Popp, recalled the small plaque posted over his young lodger’s bed. It read ‘freely with an open heart we are waiting for you. / Full of hope and ready for action. / We are expecting you with joy. / Great German Fatherland, we salute you’.
Doing all in his power to overturn this rejection, Adolf Hitler on the 3 August 1914 sent a personal letter to the King of Bavaria begging him to be allowed to enlist as a volunteer. His plea was accepted and he joined the 6th battalion of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment.
On October 20, 1914, during the German advance on France and confrontation with the 2,000,000 strong armies of the British Empire, Hitler in a letter to Frau Popp his landlady confessed: ‘I find it hard to contain my enthusiasm. How many times have I wished to test my strength and prove my national faith?’
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I, was around 40 million. There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded.
The total number of deaths includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 5.7 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million.
For four long years, Hitler fought along the frontline trenches of the Western Front’s most furiously contested battlefronts. These apocalyptic conflicts included the names of places still renowned for their valour and the sheer scale of lives lost by all sides.
All graced the colours of many German and British regiments, their valiant innocents massacred by the powerful banking elite: Yser, Ypres, Flanders, Neuve Chapelle, La Bassee, Arras, Artuis, Somme, Fromelles, Alsace Lorraine, Aillette, Montdidier, Soissons, Rheims, Oise, Marne, Champagne, Vosle, Monchy, Bapaume.
During those terrible years, the future leader of the German people displayed exemplary courage in a conflict that involved more than forty battles. Corporal Adolf Hitler was wounded on October 5, 1916, and hospitalised for two months. Then he was back at the front until October 15, 1918, when he was hospitalised again, this time for gas poisoning.
26-year old Adolf Hitler pictured in 1915
Throughout the course of the war, he was cited for valour and distinguished conduct in the field. Corporal Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class on December 2, 1914. He was also awarded the Bavarian Military Medal 3rd class with bar, and later the Iron Cross 1st class. Adolf Hitler received, as did all wounded soldiers, the Cross of Military Merit.
Lieutenant Colonel Godin, in his official request that Hitler be awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class, stated: ‘He was a model of coolness and courage in both trench warfare and assault combat. He was always ready to volunteer for carrying messages in the most difficult and dangerous situations.’
On awarding this recognition Colonel Anton Tubeuf further stated: ‘He was always ready to help out in any situation, always volunteered for the most difficult and most arduous, and the most dangerous missions, and to risk his life and wellbeing for the Fatherland. On a human level, I felt closer to him than to any of the other men.’
Of him, World War One veteran Colonel Spatny, then in command of the 16th Regiment, was equally affirmative: ‘Hitler inspired all his comrades. His fearless courage and devotion to duty, particularly in combat impressed them. His qualifications, modesty, and his admirable sobriety earned him the greatest respect of his comrades and superiors alike.’
Adolf Hitler revisits the trenches of his 16th Reserve Regiment
Werner Maser, former head of the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Munich, has written a large neutral biography called Hitler, Legend, Myth and Reality (Harper and Row, 1971).
The objective record is clear: ‘Hitler’s wartime record, campaigns, decorations, wounds, periods in hospital and on leave, is fully documented. In addition, there is evidence to show that he was comradely, level headed and an unusually brave soldier, and that a number of his commanding officers singled him out for special mention.
In 1922, a time when Hitler was still unknown, General Friedrich Petz summarised the High Command’s appreciation of the gallant and self-effacing corporal as follows:
Hitler was quick in mind and body and had great powers of endurance. His most remarkable qualities were his personal courage and daring which enabled him to face any combat or perilous situation whatsoever.’
Even those historians least favourably disposed towards Adolf Hitler, such as Joachim Fest, conceded that ‘Hitler was a courageous and efficient soldier and was always a good comrade.’
The same historian noted: ‘The courage and the composure with which he faced the most deadly fire made him seem invulnerable to his comrades. As long as Hitler is near us, nothing will happen to us, they kept repeating. It appears this made a deep impression on Hitler and reinforced his belief that he had been charged with a special mission.’
John Toland, another respected but hardly revisionist historian wrote: ‘In the course of the preceding months he had escaped death on innumerable occasions. It was as though he had been wearing a good luck charm.’
The noted French historian, Raymond Cartier ruefully mused that ‘Corporal Hitler was in all probability one of the German soldiers who got closest to Paris in 1918.’ In another of history’s ironies, Adolf Hitler was one of a patrol that nearly captured the French Premier Clemenceau, but that is another story.
The times that Hitler cheated death became a legend that has baffled historians ever since. Typically in one corner of conflict, the troops of List Regiment were held down in shell craters, the trenches having already been destroyed, among the ruins of a village called Le Barque.
Of the nine regimental couriers, seven had just been killed. In the command post, such as it was, there were ten officers and two couriers. Suddenly a British bomb exploded at the entrance to the refuge. There was just one survivor, Adolf Hitler.
During his years at the front, as many pictures testify, Corporal Adolf Hitler far from being a loner was very comradely. Ever his own man his daily routines were characterised by civility.
He never was known for embracing trench crudities or brothel humour, and was generous to a fault. Yet despite having a personality that usually draws disdain the soldier Adolf Hitler was highly respected by his comrades.
Even Sebastian Haffner, a Jewish writer and fanatical Hitler hater, was forced to admit ‘Hitler had fierce courage unmatched by anyone at the time or since.’
Another Jew by the name of Karl Hanisch, who shared lodgings with Hitler, recalled him as ‘a pleasant and likeable man who took an interest in the welfare of all his companions.’
He later recalled that his fellow lodger ‘was neither proud nor arrogant, and he was always available and willing to help. If someone needed fifty hellers to pay for another night’s lodging, Hitler would always give whatever he had in his pocket without another thought. On several occasions, I personally saw him take the initiative and pass the hat for such a collection.’ ~ Excerpt from Odyssey Adolf Hitler.
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MICHAEL WALSH is a worldwide journalist, broadcaster and author of 64 book titles with 36 years experience. Like other journalists of integrity, he no longer writes for corporate media, opting instead for true journalism.
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