Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
Hitler's regiment, or not?
IN RESPECT of the two group photographs of German soldiers, and whether they show Adolf Hitler, I offer the following:
Hitler volunteered for service in the Bavarian Army in August 1914. He was promoted to Corporal in November 1914. It was his only promotion. In photo #3 (right), the men are wearing M1895 army tunics, except that two, including the possible "Hitler," are also wearing their M1907 gray "mantels" or overcoats. The button configuration on the sleeves of the visible M1895 tunics does not foreclose that the men are Bavarian, but it does not confirm it. For example, the sleeve button configurations for Baden and Wurttemburg look nearly identical in BW photos. On the two men wearing "mantels", the blocks on the collars are likely dark red rectangles indicating infantry. While M1895 tunics predate the M1910, M1910/15 and M1915 reworkings of the WW1 "German" uniform, Charles Woolley in his masterful two-volume, over 600-page, tome on Imperial Army uniforms, points out on page 61 of volume two that during the war, M1895 uniforms were often used for training. He also reprints photos from 1914, and one as late as 1917, showing men in M1895 uniforms. These facts lend credence that the soldier could be Hitler as a Bavarian infantryman wearing a M1895 uniform at the completion of his training in the fall of 1914.
More compelling to my mind, are two contrary observations:
- except for the 2 men in the "mantels", the other men are almost certainly officers with their white belts, brimmed caps, white gloves and - most importantly - white shoulder boards; and
- nothing supports a claim that "the tassels" indicate the soldier is a German WW1 corporal. According to Woolley, corporal or "gefreiter" was indicated by "a small button or disc bearing the state arms on both sides of the collar". No one in any of these group shots appears to be displaying any rank Hitler is known to have held. Every time I have seen either in photos or collections such a plaited cord from the shoulder to a button, as this "Hitler" wears, it has been termed a marksman's prize. You indicate that the full photo is not displayed, so I allow that the other parts of the photos may clarify or nullify what I propose.
IN my opinion, the man in question does not sport the mustache that Hitler is shown in other photos to have worn in this period. I believe that photo #4 (right) shows the man without a mustache, and that photo #4 only suggests the Hitler toothbrush mustache owing to the illumination used for the photo. We know from Heinrich Hoffman's photo in August 1914 in front of the Feldherrnhalle [in Munich] that Hitler then wore a broad mustache. In the known WW1 photos of Hitler, he wears the same broad mustache (and M1910 and M1915 uniforms). He also has the same broad mustache in the photo for his Bavarian gun permit dated November 26, 1921. The toothbrush came the following year.
Using the "Trevor Roper" historical inquiry method to review the Doctor's affidavit (incidentally, why in English?), I query where and when Hitler could give Kucera, his "academic friend", a painting that also included hidden snapshots of Hitler's family pre-1903 (when Hitler's father Alois died) behind a frame that was put on it to hide the name of the creator of the painting when Hitler came to power in 1933? Confused? I'd be very curious about the back of the painting, the back frame mat, and the photos' backs. Photos from this period, if left on nearly all typical paper of the time, tend to "bleed", that is they leave an impression - nearly a negative of themselves - on paper left firmly placed against them. That's why many old books with photographs, not prints or lithographs, had that flimsy white sheet just after the photo, between it and the next page. Do these appear? It's been seventy odd years, and some of the photos are as big as the painting. It's also strange that Kucera did not sell the work in NS time, when he could have made some money, but gave it away later.
Recall that the man who did the Hitler Diaries, also did paintings!
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