Did Hitler Have Parkinson's Disease? Three IBDP Internal Assessments

To what extent can we understand Hitler's conduct of the war in the light of his apparent Parkinson's disease?

A.Plan of Investigation

Hitler’s decision to invade Russia 66 years ago shocked not only the Russians with whom he had signed a non-aggression pact carving up Poland nearly two years previously, but also to the world at large. Hitler up to this time had been a coldly calculated man, and his biggest gamble according to Hitler himself was the invasion of the Rhineland on March 7, 1936. Historians thus have long been argued over the logic behind his decision to launch the invasion on the USSR that led Germany to a two-front war. In a provocative charge, world renowned Parkinson’s disease specialist Dr. Abraham Lieberman made the claim that Hitler’s Parkinson’s disease was responsible for “changing the whole course of World War II.” This investigation is aimed to examine the possibility that it was Hitler’s health that led to such a monumental decision, starkly illustrating the idea of a ‘Great Man’ manipulating the course of history. Focusing on the extent Hitler’s apparent Parkinson’s disease played a role in the decision-making may provide a solid ground to determine if Operation Barbarossa was indeed inevitable using records by Hitler’s physician and book by Dr. Lieberman main sources.

B.Summary of Evidence

1.Mein Kampf: Hitler’s Aims
a.To abolish the Treaty of Versailles. Militarily, Treaty of Versailles limited the German army to 100,000 men, conscription abolished, and tanks and aircrafts were prohibited. However, Hitler announced rearmament in 1935 and was left unpunished, and Anglo-German naval agreement was signed in the same year. Furthermore, Rhineland was agreed to be demilitarized in the Treaty of Versailles. However, on March 7, 1936, Hitler ordered the invasion of the Rhineland, and it was re militarised. League of Nations did nothing to punish him. Additionally, Anschluss was prohibited in the Treaty, yet in 1938, Hitler fulfilled his promise in stated Mein Kampf, “German-Austria must return to the great German mother country,” the League did not punish him.
b.To include all German-speaking people in the Third Reich and LebensraumBecause of the Anglo-French policy of appeasement, from 1936 to 1939, Germany gradually annexed its neighboring area—from Rhineland to Austria, to Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. Finally, when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.
According to Record, “World War II could have been avoided had the democracies been prepared to stop Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 or to fight for Czechoslovakia in 1938; instead, they did nothing.”

2.Ideological differences between the Soviet Russia (Communism) and Nazi Germany (Fascism)Communism and fascism are similar in that both were determined to destroy parliamentary democracy and its bourgeois values, and replace it with different political systems based on single party rule. They differed in the following aspects. Firstly, on the ideological front, communism has a systematic doctrine with clear origins, whereas, fascism lacks coherent and disciplined ideological structures. Its main theories are based on the two fascist leaders’ works according to Todd (214-217) as shown in Mussolini’s article in Encyclopedia Italiana and Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Secondly, theoretical communism was grounded on internationalism; contradictorily, fascism focused on glorifying the nation and calling for national rebirth. Thirdly, attitudes towards the state and its citizens are fundamentally different. Communism suggests state should ‘wither away’ as soon as the workers had taken power, but in fascism, state should be everything, and individual hold no importance when comparing to state. Fourthly, even though both detest capitalism, communism was committed to overthrow capitalism, but fascist government never promised to destroy capitalism.

3.Hitler’s Medical History Hitler was a “pronounced hypochondriac,” it was evident from the fact that since “his earliest youth he rarely traveled without his medicine cabinet and willingly believed himself incapable of survival without pills, injections and battalions of attendant doctors.” During the First World War, Hitler wounded his leg and was temporarily blinded by British gas attack. In his later life, it was said that he suffered from many different medical issues, e.g. skin lesions, irritable bowel syndrome and irregular heartbeats. It was even rumored that he had syphilis because Dr. Morell, Hitler’s most trusted physician, was a renowned venerologist. However, there is no concrete evidence that supports Hitler was definitely suffering from syphilis, but it was sure that his health slipped as World War II came to an end. He had tremors in his hands, his body was stiff, and he could not walk briskly as before. His handwriting became scrawnier and smaller (Appendix A), he was more lethargic and seldom appeared in front of the public.

4.Parkinson’s disease“Parkinson’s disease was described by James Parkinson in 1817 as a ‘shaking palsy’,” and it is a “chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by decreased production of dopamine,” and the lack of dopamine “disrupts [patients’] motor control, causing anything from uncontrollable tremor to muscular stiffness to slow as-molasses motions.” As the disease progresses, patients will “develop a peculiar shuffling walk and may suddenly freeze in space for minutes or hours at a time.” The criteria to diagnose Parkinson’s disease from the Core Assessment Program for Intracerebral Transplantations (CAPIT) “require a patient to have at least two of its four cardinal symptoms: resting tremor, bradykinesia, cogwheel rigidity and postural instability and at least one of the symptoms must be resting tremor or bradykinesia.”

C.Evaluation of Sources

-Irving, David. The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor. London, United Kingdom: Focal Point Publications, 2005.
Dr. Theodor Morell was Hitler’s personal and most trusted physician from 1937 till the end of April in 1945 Hitler did not like doctors to see his body. Only “Morell seems to have examined him in detail.” Besides showing the level of trust Hitler had in him, the resulting medical diaries provide invaluable information and the most authentic records regarding to Hitler’s health.
David Irving, “knows more about National Socialism [Nazism] then most professional scholars in his field.” His breadth of knowledge in the subject has been acknowledged over the past 25 years. However, he is now arrested for distorting history. History Professor Michael Greyer of the University of Chicago “believes that Irving’s bias is responsible for serious ‘flaws in his work,’” while Professor Lipstadt “had written that Irving was ‘one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial.’” Irving is a knowledgeable Nazi historian, although his bias in the Holocaust made him controversial and his opinions untrustworthy, he can still provide useful information regarding to Hitler’s health. However, it is also questionable as in how Irving chose the excerpts of Morells’s diaries: what was left out, and how important was the left out information.

-Lieberman, Abraham N. “Hitler, Parkinson’s Disease and History.” BNI Quarterly 11 (1996). 31 Jan 2007 Abraham Lieberman is an authority and an “internationally recognized expert on Parkinson disease and is the author of six books on the topic.” While his diagnoses are worthy of respect, he is only in the position to focus on the question about whether Hitler had Parkinson’s disease through eye-witness reports, photos and the Newsreels. He does not appear to offer other possibilities which could cause Hitler’s Parkinson’s symptoms. For example, General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is caused by excessive anxiety and worry for at least 6 months, and the symptoms include fatigue, irritability, muscle tension and depressive symptoms. There is a possibility that Hitler was suffering from GAD than Parkinson’s disease, and his anxiety could be caused by the war pressure and assassination attempts.
His attempts at diagnosing Hitler are based on the scant and unreliable information available, dismissing diagnoses when there is too little evidence (much of which is hotly debated by Hitler scholars) or the known symptoms are inconclusive, although given that there is so little information and that neither Hitler nor anyone surrounding him is a reliable source, it is still primarily speculation.

D.Analysis of the sources

Dr. Morell had never explicitly stated that Hitler was a Parkinson’s disease (PD) sufferer. However, he had subjected Hitler to daily doses of Homburg-680, a belladonna-type drug specifically indicated in cases of PD in Hitler’s last two weeks of life in April 1945. By then, he was demonstrating serious PD symptoms: “right hand shook uncontrollably…[and his facial expression was] mask-like.” This was resonant in Albert Speer’s memoirs, where one year before he noticed that “Hitler was shrivelling up like an old man. His limbs trembled, he walked stooped with dragging footsteps…His uniform, which in the past he had kept scrupulously neat… was stained by the food he had eaten with a shaking hand.” In fact, Schellenberg maintains that “from the end of 1943 [Hitler] showed progressive symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.” Bullock (who wrote the introduction to my edition of Schellenberg) in his own book uses Guderian to support this view. Redlich goes as far as to state matter-of-factly that Hitler suffered two somatic illnesses, “temporal arteritis” and PD. Hitler developed PD symptoms as early as 1934, “the initial symptom, bradykinesia of his left arm.” As Lieberman said, these symptoms “strongly suggest” that Hitler did have PD.
Lieberman also pointed out that “Professor Maximilian de Crinis, a German neurologist, after seeing a German newsreel in 1944 and without examining Hitler, informed W. Schellenberg, Himmler’s Chief of Staff, that Hitler had Parkinson’s disease.” Here we have the first example found of someone during Hitler’s lifetime reaching such a conclusion. Ironically, the person who apparently first diagnosed Hitler with PD was not even a personal acquaintance. Could it have been possible that Hitler and his physicians sought to cover up Hitler’s tremor because “Tremor, in the public mind, is erroneously associated with senility” ? For instance, in an earlier example of physical infirmity, when he had an attack of hysterical blindness several weeks after being wounded by poison gas in the trenches, his "miraculous" recovery of his sight added with auditory hallucinations contributed to Hitler’s delusions. This shows how he took steps to cover up the episode.
Furthermore, Morell continue testing new methods on Hitler with many different kinds of medicine and injections. “Morell administered tablets and gragess, uppers and downers, leeches and bacilli, hot compresses and cold poultices, and literally thousands of injections-litres of mysterious fluids that were squirted into his grateful and gullible Fuhrer each year, whose arms were punctured so often that even Morell sometimes could not find anywhere to insert the needle into the scarred veins.” With such a large amount and variety of medicines, Hitler’s tremor or sickness could be resulted from the reaction between these medicines. Although Morell had mostly prescribed harmless medicines to Hitler, it is unknown what could the mixture of these harmless medicines do to a patient.
Furthermore, Hitler had reasons to be stressed after Operation Barbarossa in 1941 because it was now having a two-front war. The combination of the stress coming from the reverses at Stalingrad and the July Plot with all the medicine he took and injected daily could cause side effects and affect the Fuhrer’s health and mental capacity, which might result in the symptoms of PD.

E. Conclusion

All the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that Hitler was very likely a sufferer of PD. “Although the disease did not incapacitate Hitler mentally, tremors, and the lack of muscular control must have impeded his ability to mange the many details involved in directing the war.” At that time, being told as a PD sufferer was to have a sentence of death imposed. Without appropriate and effective medication at that time, he would have had four years to fulfil his plans as laid out in Mein Kampf. This would certainly have affected Hitler’s decision in attacking the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941.

F. Bibliography

Books in Print
1. Brezina, Corona. The Treaty of Versailles, 1919. New York, U.S.A.: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2006.
2. Broxmeyer, Lawrence. Parkinson’s Another Look. Chula Vista, U.S.A.: New Century Press, 2002.
3. Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. London, United Kingdom: Fontana Press, 1998.
4. Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York, U.S.A.: Harper & Row Publishers, 1964.
5. Dull, Ralph. Nonviolence Is Not For Wimps. U.S.A.: Xlibris Corporation, 2004.
6. Dunn, Walter Scott. Heroes or Traitors: The German Replacement Army, the July Plot, and Adolf Hitler. Connecticut, U.S.A.: Praeger Publishers, 2003.
7. Gottfried, Ted. Deniers Of the Holocaust: Who They Are, What They Do, Why They Do It. Connecticut, U.S.A.: Twenty-First Century Books, 2001.
8. Gun, Nerin E. Eva Braun: Hitler’s Mistress. London, United Kingdom: Leslie Frewin Publishers, 1969.
9. Irving, David. The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor. London, United Kingdom: Focal Point Publications, 2005.
10. Lieberman, Abraham N. Shaking-Up Parkinson Disease: Fighting Like a Tiger, Thinking Like a Fox. London, United Kingdom: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2002.
11. Macdonald, Hamish. Mussolini and Italian Fascism. United Kingdom: Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd, 1999.
12. Mandell, Richard. The Nazi Olympics. New York, U.S.A.: Macmillan, 1971.
13. Maris, Ronald, Alan Berman, Morton Silverman, and Bruce Bongar. Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology. New York, U.S.A.: Guilford Press, 2000.
14. McDonough, Frank. Conflict, Communism and Fascism: Europe 1890-1945. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
15. Mera, Steven L. Understanding Disease: pathology and prevention. London, United Kingdom: Nelson Thornes, 2003.
16. Nutt, David, Karl Rickels, and Dan J. Stein. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptomatology, Pathogenesis and Management. London, United Kingdom: Martin Dunitz, 2002.
17. Pleshakov, Constantine. Stalin’s Folly: the tragic first ten days of World War II on the Eastern Front. New York, U.S.A.: Houghton Mifflin Books, 2005.
18. Plotnik, Rod. Introduction to Psychology. Belmont, U.S.A.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.
19. Record, Jeffrey. Appeasement Reconsidered: Investigating the Mythology of the 1930s. U.S.A.:DIANE Publishing., 2005.
20. Saunders, Christopher D, and Kathleen Cahill Allison. Parkinson’s Disease: A New Hope. Boston, U.S.A.: Harvard Health Publications, 2000.
21. Schellenberg, Walter, and Louis Hagen. The Schellenberg Memoirs. A Deutsch, 1956.
22. Todd, Allan. The European Dictatorships: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
23. Victor, George. Hitler: pathology of Evil. Virginia, U.S.A.: Brassey’s, 2000.
Book Online1.Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. 1st ed. Vol. 1. 18 Mar.

History Internal Assessment

Did Adolf Hitler have Parkinson’s disease?

A: Plan of Investigation

Recent medical theories claim that Hitler’s uncharacteristically rushed decisions of the last war-time years can be put down to his diminishing health, specifically Parkinson’s Disease. This investigation will therefore attempt to answer the question “Did Hitler have Parkinson’s Disease?” To do this, Hitler’s health from 1934 – 1945 will be analysed, using sources by contemporaries like Albert Speer, whose observations are crucial in identifying Parkinsonian symptoms, as well as modern historians like David Irving and Parkinson specialist Abraham Lieberman, so as to offer a well-rounded assessment of Hitler’s condition. 
Two of the sources used in the essay, The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor by David Irving, and Abraham Lieberman’s Furor: Hitler and the Frog: A Medical Murder Mystery and Fairy Tale primarily feature. Irving offers primary sources on Hitler’s medical health, while Lieberman concentrates specifically on the Parkinson’s theory. Each will be investigated to find any correlating proof of Hitler’s Parkinson’s.
Word Count: 150

B: Summary of Evidence

Parkinson’s Disease
First mentioned in James Parkinson’s Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1871, Parkinson’s disease is a “progressive neurological disorder that results from the degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain that controls movement”, creating “a shortage of dopamine, causing the movement impairments that characterise the disease.” The main motor symptoms that characterise the disease are progressively developing tremors that “often begin on one side of the body, frequently in one hand”, rigidity, slowness of movement and postural instability.

Signs of Hitler’s Parkinson’s before 1940
    The first signs of Hitler’s symptoms start occurring in 1934. During the early 1930s, he gesticulates wildly with both hands, showing no signs of motor impairment or rigidity in movement. Photos from 1932 often show him with his left arm crossed over his right. However, come 1934, the first signs of Hitler’s symptoms are recognisable. Noticeably, he now always covers his left hand with his right, as opposed to his usual positioning, most likely to repress the trembling that has started to occur in his left hand. The first obvious occurrences of a trembling left hand and a rigid walk from 1934 onwards, shown in various video footage and increasing in severity throughout the years.

Signs of Hitler’s Parkinson’s after 1940
By 1940, Hitler’s health was deteriorating. He now no longer used his left hand – instead, it was often concealed behind his right arm, placed on his front, in a pocket or clenched in a fist. Consequently, he developed “micrographia, the cramped handwriting characteristic of PD”, seen in the evolvement of his signature over the years. By 1942, Hitler became “an ever more remote figure, making fewer major speeches. ” His contemporaries within the party started to take note of Hitler’s crumbling health. Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and “the nearest thing to friend Hitler ever found” wrote in 1944: “Hitler was shrivelling up like an old man. His limbs trembled; he walked stooped with dragged footsteps. His uniform, which in the past he’d kept scrupulously clean, was stained by the food he’d eaten with shaking hands.”
German neurologist Maximilian de Crinis declared Hitler had Parkinson’s based on a German newsreel in 1944, informing Schellenberg, Himmler’s Chief of Staff. Notably, however, after the July 1944 bomb plot, Hitler’s tremor reportedly vanished temporarily. Meanwhile, Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler’s personal physician, also took note of his client’s illness. In his diaries, there is evidence of Hitler’s Parkinsonism; Irving writes of Morell treating Hitler “regularly during the last two weeks of his life with a medication used only against Parkinsonism, daily increasing doses of a drug called Homburg 680.”  Daily entries into Hitler’s diary indicate for two to three daily injections of Homburg 680.” Irving further evidences that Hitler’s doctors, including Morell, observed the symptoms, and that Morell diagnosed Hitler with Parkinson’s: “All the doctors – Löhlein, Morell, and Stumpegger – noticed that during examinations of his retina Hitler kept his left hand quite still; the left leg’s tremor also ceased. Morell diagnosed these tremors as the first symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, and on April 8 1945 he began electrogalvanic therapy.”

Word Count: 495

C: Evaluation of Sources

Irving, David. The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor. Macmillan, 1983. Print.
Discovered only in 1981 by the German Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the diaries and correspondence of Hitler’s personal doctor, Theodor Morell, were accessed and translated by David Irving, in which he offers his own insight interwoven with observations of his staff, colleagues and other doctors on Hitler’s health.  The openness of a doctor-patient relationship means that the diaries could provide valuable information about his condition.  With this new information, parallels between Hitler’s health and the Nazi’s military success can be drawn, revealing a Hitler severely weakened by dysentery during the Battle for Russia in 1941, as well by hepatitis before the Battle of the Buldge in 1944. His paranoia about his own imminent death also becomes apparent, showing Hitler “obsessed by the idea that he did not have long to live.” Meanwhile, contemporary observations and medical reports that suggest drug abuse are crucial, as they do not limit themselves to symptoms of Parkinson’s but offer another important factor in understanding Hitler’s health.

Irving is a British historian specialised on WWII. However, Irving’s denial of the Holocaust, leading to a 13-month sentence in Austria, makes his work controversial and has led to doubts about his opinions. Evans expresses that “Irving was never a reasoned historian. His falsification of history and his obsession with denying the Holocaust was motivated by an uncontrollable hero-worship of Hitler.” Taking this into consideration, one questions the extracts chosen to be included, and what he may have left out. This source may therefore have severe limitations when considering Irving’s possible selective attitude towards the facts.

Lieberman, Abraham. Furor: Hitler and the Frog: A Medical Murder Mystery and Fairy Tale. Publish America, 2009. Print
Lieberman’s book draws an interesting connection between modern neurology and Hitler’s corresponding thinking, mood, behaviour and physical appearance. Doctor Abraham Lieberman is an internationally recognised leader in Parkinson’s and the Medical Director at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre. His contemporary medical knowledge and technology give him an advantage in his assessment of Hitler’s health, while his respected status gives him the notion of credibility. In his preface, he writes of his professional motivation as a Parkinson’s specialist, to investigate the effects the disease had on this particular case. His Jewish background and resultant “fascination of Adolf Hitler” also play a role in the creation of the book; Lieberman concluding that the message he wishes to convey is that, “Disease humbles everyone, even awful people.”
However, without examining Hitler directly, Lieberman is not necessarily in a position to make such medical claims.  He is limited to individual reports and footage, neither of which guarantee reliability and could be considered insufficient evidence – making his analysis nothing more than speculation. 
Critically, being a Parkinson’s specialist, Lieberman’s book lacks any alternative illnesses that may have been the reason behind Hitler’s symptoms.
Word Count: 448

D: Analysis

Lieberman’s theory is based on Hitler’s deteriorating physical health, notably the tremor in his left hand. He sources this on individual accounts of Hitler’s contemporaries and on video footage, having studied approximately 300 hours of video material to pinpoint Hitler’s symptoms, example being Hitler’s previously mentioned habit of clenching his right fist, which Lieberman recognises as a common method among Parkinson’s sufferers to supress visible trembling. For Lieberman, the tremor, rigidity, and slow movement are indications of Parkinson’s. Various other historians have taken up this theory to explain Hitler’s condition; such as Evans’s description of Hitler’s “Parkinsonian tremor.” While the temporary disappearance of his tremor after the previously mentioned failed July 1944 bomb plot seem at first to point against Parkinson’s, several cases have shown that after sudden, traumatic events, Parkinson tremors can cease for a period of time.
Based on Crinis’s analysis, obtained from newsreels of Hitler’s tremors of the left hand and his general motility, Klaus Fischer states “Hitler definitely had Parkinson’s.” Irving’s book further confirms this, in which Morell’s regular prescription of the drug Homburg 680, used only for treatment against Parkinson’s, supporting Lieberman’s theory. His book is therefore crucial in its synthesis of all available evidence of Hitler’s Parkinson’s.
Others, however, disagree, arguing that there are a number of other reasons for Hitler’s poor condition. Martyn Housden dismisses the Parkinson’s theory by saying that tremor was only noticeable on the left side of his body, while Parkinson’s affects both. Instead, he suggests a cardiac condition, which symptoms include “a strong heart beat, troubled breathing, sweats, pressure in the chest and throat, and the sensation that the heart could stop.” Proof of this is an examination conducted in 1940 that “indicated high blood pressure associated with some damage to the heart. The next month an electrocardiograph indicated progressive arteriosclerosis.”
 Another school of medical thought is that Hitler suffered from tertiary syphilis, which shows similar symptoms to those of Parkinson’s. This claim originates from Ernst Hanfstängl, who writes that Hitler contracted syphilis in Vienna around 1908. However, the credibility of Hanfstängl’s original argument is questionable, considering that he continues to accuse Hitler of being a “repressed homosexual”, a “sadist and masochist”, and of having an “Oedipus complex.” Furthermore, neither Hanfstängl nor any other historian writing about this provides any scientific evidence to this claim. Once more in support of Lieberman, Irving condemns Hitler’s syphilis as an “American myth”, providing urinalyses and blood serologies that rule out any such infection, while Kurt Krüger, a doctor who had inspected Hitler for the disease, also dismisses it.

Hitler’s mental instability is a further argument supported by Lieberman that corresponds with the mental symptoms of Parkinson’s. In June 1944, Hitler’s contemporaries complained of their leader’s loss of “mental flexibility” during the Allied D-Day attacks in Normandy. By this time, 12 years of Parkinson’s would have taken its toll, clouding his judgement and remaining adamant that the attack would occur in Calais, refusing to move his Panzer divisions.  According to Dr Hutton of the Neurology Research Centre in Texas, "Hitler's slowness to counterattack at Normandy may have been secondary to mental inflexibility and difficulty in shifting concepts due to Parkinsonism." Characteristically, Hitler had always been a careful strategist, his slow consolidation of power and strategically timed invasions illustrating his patience: As AJP Taylor argues, “Hitler was unusually cautious and unprovocative in every outstanding step he took” It therefore seems illogical for him to have suddenly changed his plan of action – unless one recognises it as a common symptom of advanced Parkinsonism.
However, Morell’s diaries are vital in giving a broader view of Hitler’s medical situation, rather than a narrow focus on Parkinsonian symptoms. Evidence given in Irving’s book additionally suggests a possibility of drug dependency and abuse, fuelled by Morell, “administering liberal amounts of sulphonamide drugs to treat even the common cold.” Instead of supporting the mental impact of Parkinson’s disease, Irving declares, “It is certain that the daily dose of drugs hastened the collapse of Hitler’s personality.” In particular, his possible misuse of cocaine has been a source of great speculation, Hitler becoming increasingly reliant on Morell’s cocaine-infused concoctions to relieve him of his physical and mental complaints. Personal correspondence with David Irving, however, has confirmed the historian’s belief in the Parkinson theory despite the various possibilities offered in his book, saying that based on Morell’s diaries, “there is no doubt” about it.

Word Count: 733

E: Conclusion
While no definite proof of Hitler’s Parkinson’s exists, the personal observations of his contemporaries, modern medical evaluation of his posture, tremor and mental instability, and particularly Morell’s administration of Homburg 680, all strongly imply Parkinson’s. Furthermore, the medical advancement on Parkinson’s has provided experts with knowledge about the illness that now corresponds with Hitler’s symptoms. This revelation perhaps offers a reason behind Hitler’s baffling decision to launch Operation Barbarossa in 1941. However, although there is no doubt that Hitler was sick, other medical conditions should not be ruled out. While his supposed syphilis may well have simply been an Allied myth and has been disproved by Morell’s medical examinations, stress induced conditions such as General Anxiety Disorder or cardiac problems also seem probable. With no officially documented diagnosis of any specific illness, there can be no certainty in answering this question, but Hitler’s specific symptoms and their progress over time certainly seem to point towards Parkinson’s Disease.
Word Count: 157

F: Bibliography

Barrow Neurological Institute. Abraham Lieberman, MD. 23. Oct. 2012

Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. Harper Row, Publishers, Inc., 1964. Print

Evans, Richard J. Telling Lies about Hitler: The Holocaust, History and the David Irving Trial. London: Verso, 2002. Print.

Dull, Ralph. Nonviolence Is Not For Wimps. U.S.A.: Xlibris Corporation, 2004. Print.

Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2009. Print.

Fischer, Klaus. Hitler and America. U.S.A.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Print.

Gray, Charles High Court Judge. The Ruling against David Irving: Excerpts from High Court Judge Charles Gray’s Ruling in the David Irving Libel Suit. The Guardian, 2000.
23. Oct. 2012 < http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/apr/11/irving1>

Hutton, Thomas. Parkinson’s Part in Hitler’s Downfall. BBC News: Health, 1999
24. Oct. 2012 < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/406713.stm>

Irving, David. The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor. London: Focal Point Publications, 1983. Print.

Irving, David. Hitler’s War and The War Path. London: Focal Point Publications, 2000.

Jablonsky, David. Churchill and Hitler: Essays on the Political-Military Direction of Total War. Routledge, 1994. Print.

Kurt Krüger and Sinclair, Upton. I Was Hitler’s Doctor: His Intimate Life. U.S.A.: Kissinger Publishing, 2005. Print.

Lieberman, Abraham. Adolf Hitler had Post-encephalitic Parkinsonism. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders Vol. 2, 1996. 24. Oct. 2012

Lieberman, Abraham. “Hitler, Parkinson’s Disease and History”. BNI Quatery 11 (1996). 21 Oct. 2012

Lieberman, Abraham. Shaking up Parkinson Disease: Fighting Like a Tiger, Thinking Like a Fox. Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2002. Print

Lipstadt, Deborah. History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving. New York: ECCO, 2005. Print.

Lönker, Julia. Personal Interview. 21. November, 2012.

Nicholls, David. Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion. California: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Print.

Portman, Michael E. Generalised Anxiety Disorder Across the Lifespan. U.S.A.: Springer, 2009. Print.

Raico, Ralph. AJP Taylor and the Causes of World War II. New Individualist Review, 1961. 24. Oct. 2012

Ronken, E., and G.J.M. van Sharrenburg. Parkinson’s Disease: Volume I of Solvay Pharmaceuticals Conferences. IOS Press, 2002. Print.

Winters, Adam. Syphilis. U.S.A.: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2006. Print.



Section A: Plan of Investigation
61 years after his death, Adolf Hitler is still considered one of the most evil men of the last century. However, an increasingly more discussed issue is Hitler’s health and how it may have affected his decisions. While several diseases and illnesses have been blamed for his declining health, especially Parkinson’s has been investigated as a possibility. Several Historians and Doctors have taken this idea into consideration and have evaluated this. Therefore, to research this topic, I will use the book Furor: Hitler and the Frog: A Medical Murder Mystery and Fairy Tale by Dr. Abraham N Lieberman and Dr Morells secret Diaries. Additionally, the Bavarian State Library is in possession of many diaries and books written by leading Nazis whose eyewitness reports are invaluable. Lastly, newsreel footage of Hitler especially in his last years and months will be used to evaluate whether Hitler had Parkinson’s Disease.
Section B: Summary
Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is considered to be a “degenerative neurological disorder” of the central nervous system which is generally characterized by four main symptoms. These four symptoms include the Tremor at rest, Rigidity, Slowness in movement and postural instability. Of these four symptoms, the tremor of the hand is the generally most recognized one.  These main motor dysfunctions are grouped under the term Parkinsonism, and specifically the tremor at rest often warrants a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. However, the parkinsonian Tremor defines a tremor caused by damage to the Cerebellum and is not necessarily limited to cases of Parkinson’s. While a small percentage of cases of Parkinson’s can be linked to Genetic factors, the majority of cases are idiopathic cases.
Signs of Hitler’s Parkinson’s before 1940
Initial signs of Hitler’s Parkinson’s can be found as early as 1934. Dr Abraham Lieberman head of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center states that the first symptoms became visible in 1934 and began to progress rapidly in the following years. After carefully analyzing approximately 300 hours of video materials, he concluded that by 1945 Hitler had had Parkinson’s for at least 11 years. Primarily he bases his conclusion on two main symptoms of Parkinson’s, the slow, shuffled walk and the tremor in his left arm. The infamous Leni Riefenstahl movie “Triumph of the Will” features Adolf Hitler giving several speeches. As one of the earliest witnesses to Hitler’s Parkinson’s, the movie shows the extremely reduced or non existent movement in Hitler’s left arm. Combined with the knowledge of later symptoms it can be justified to say that first indications of Parkinson’s disease were present in 1934. Nevertheless, any disease which Hitler may or may not have had in the 1930s was not made public and no written correspondence or diary entry’s related to this have ever been found dating back to these years.
Signs of Hitler’s Parkinson’s after 1940
Beginning in 1940, the senior Nazi elite became aware that Hitler’s medical condition was declining. Amongst those detailing his diminishing capabilities was Hitler’s Chief of Staff, General H. Guderian. He noted in February 1943 in his book “Guderian: Panzer General” that “Hitlers left hand trembled, his back was crooked and his gaze was rigid”. Additionally, Albert Speer wrote in his book “Inside the third Reich” that in the year 1944 Hitler was an old shriveled man. His limbs , his movements were slow and his walk was shuffled”. Furthermore, General von Cholitz stated after meeting Hitler in 1 944 that “He [Hitler] held his left hand with his right to conceal his shaking hand”. While according to Lieberman, these eyewitness reports strongly suggest that Hitler had Parkinson’s, the most damning evidence is an uncensored Swedish newsreel from 1945. The newsreel shows Hitler in a deteriorated state; all four decisive symptoms are depicted in the footage. From the combined sum of this evidence, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is possible, as today two from four symptoms suffice to warrant a diagnosis.

Hitler’s Medical History
Adolf Hitler was a known hypochondriac. While being treated for a range of diseases, infections and illnesses, it is not known how many of these medications were actually necessary. In fact, by 1945, Hitler was taking 28 different pills per day and was regularly injected with an unknown amount of drugs by his private physician Dr. Morell. While the exact number of injections is unknown, the quantity is speculated as extremely high due to the nickname of “Reichsspritzenmeister” given to him by Goering. While these extreme amounts of drugs were likely to cause side effects these were never specified by any of Hitler’s doctors. Among his other suspected illnesses, was syphilis. While this would explain why Hitler chose a venereologist as his private doctor, proof for syphilis was never found and in fact Hitler had a negative Wassermann test, which at the time was the most common method of testing for syphilis.

Section C: Evaluation of Sources
Source 1: Furor: Hitler and the Frog: A Medical Murder Mystery and Fairy Tale by Dr. Abraham N Lieberman

Dr Abraham Lieberman is considered one of the most influential members of the scientific community in respect to movement disorders and especially Parkinson’s disease. Having treated persons such as Muhammad Ali and having been the executive director at the Muhammad Ali Centre and the Medical Director at the National Parkinson’s Foundation, his claim that Hitler had Parkinson’s is respected by both colleagues and Historians. However, Lieberman’s diagnosis is based solely on reviewing eyewitness reports and visual materials.  Never once did he have a chance to diagnose Hitler himself.  Additionally, Dr Lieberman does not consider alternatives to Parkinson’s. Focusing purely on Parkinson’s disease , he refuses to consider possible alternatives as the cause of his symptoms such as syphilis or the July Plot.
Source 2: The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor by Dr. Theo Morell, edited by David Irving
The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor is considered to be an essential source when studying Hitler’s Medical decline throughout the 1940s. Having been Hitler’s primary source of medical attention, he had a unique perspective on the Führer of the Third Reich. However, Morell is considered to be one of the most controversial doctors, having been called a “quack” and a “pig” by leading Nazis. Nevertheless, while his methods were considered barbaric and uncalled for even at the time, the large amount of injections and treatments including E coli bacteria kept Hitler alive until he took his own life.

Section D: Analysis
By April 1945, Hitler was a man punished by physical and mental decline. There can be no doubt that he was suffering from at least one illness. As Hans Wilhelm Gatzke put it: “Hitler was sick, both in mind and, as he grew older, in body.” However, in this case the question lies specifically from what Hitler was suffering that was causing the variety of symptoms he displayed. During the 1930s, research into Parkinson related diseases flourished, with leading scientists living and conducting trials in Germany. However, it was both incurable and untreatable and was considered to be a death sentence. This creates the grounds for a significant historical rethinking. If Hitler, a man thinking of himself as the only one capable of leading Nazi Germany, knew that he would rapidly lose control of his body and soon die, how would this influence his decisions? Nevertheless, when looking at the primary symptoms of Hitler’s declining health, Hitler’s tremors in his left hand and shuffled walk strongly indicate Parkinson’s disease. For a positive diagnosis of Parkinson’s, 2 of the 4 main symptoms have to be present in a patient. The four symptoms include Tremor at rest, Rigidity, Slowness in movement and postural instability. Especially footage of Hitler in his last months strongly indicates a tremor in Hitler’s hand and his incapability of walking normally. It is especially these two symptoms which Dr Lieberman uses as the foundation for his diagnosis. Additionally, Ian Kershaw uses eyewitness reports in his book “Hitler” to reason his Parkinson’s Diagnosis. While not having the credentials or medical expertise of Lieberman, Kershaw is considered one of the best historians dealing with the nazi time period and was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the highest civilian award given by the German president, for his outstanding services for German history.
While as previously  stated, Dr Abraham Lieberman  and Sir Ian Kershaw argue a case of Parkinson’s Disease, Alan Bullock suggests the possibility that Hitler had Syphilis in his book “Hitler: A Study in Tyranny”. He writes that “Hitler contracted syphilis while he was a young man in Vienna.” Neurosyphilis, like Parkinsonian diseases, can affect a person with a wide range of symptoms such as tremors and muscle weakness. This creates a medical explanation for Hitler’s symptoms outside of the Parkinsons theory. Nevertheless, Bullock’s theory was based on a single sentence from the book “Hitler: The Missing Years” by Ernst Hanfstaengl. In only one sentence, Hanfstaengl states that Hitler was suffering from syphilis since his years in Vienna, while in the same paragraph claiming that Hitler had been a homosexual, had an Oedipus complex, was incapable of having “orthodox relationships” and was a “sadist and masochist”. Considered as a collective, given no explanation by the author and  no sources, Hanfstaengl’s statement about Hitler’s syphilis can hardly be taken as fact as Hanfstaengl has no scientific reason or medical expertise to base his claims on. Therefore, not only must Hanfstaengl’s and Bullock’s statements be questioned, but almost all other diagnosis of syphilis as they are mostly based on Hanfstaengl’s or Bullock’s word.
Alternative theories surrounding the medical mystery that is Adolf Hitler include speculations of­ Medicinal abuse. Dr Morell frequently injected Hitler with a wide range of drugs. While it has been alleged that such an abuse of drugs could lead to mental issues and explain many of h8is symptoms, it is not even known how many injections Hitler received each day. While some of the contents of his injections are known such as ecoli bacteria, the exact composition of Hitlers treatment was never recorded. If this had been otherwise, a complex diagnosis could be made as we know how different kind of chiral drugs can interact with each other to cause side effects. Nonetheless, it is unlikely, that all the gradually worsening symptoms of a parkinsonian disease could be explained through Morells drugs, as he frequently adopted new and increasingly wide spread of dugs he could apply to keep Hitler alive.
Section E: Conclusion
Nonetheless, the question of whether Hitler had Parkinson’s cannot be answered with certainty as None of Hitler’s Physicians diagnosed him with it. While it can be suggested that he Parkinson’s, the search for answers is made difficult by the Nazi elite which did everything in their power to cover up evidence relating to Hitler’s health. Video Footage of Hitler was censored, public appearances made rare and carefully orchestrated to prevent Hitler’s tremors from being seen. However, despite their best efforts, the collective sum of the remaining footage, images and eyewitness reports presents an airtight argument in favour of a parkinsonian Disease. Only such a Disease can affect a man with this specific set of symptoms over the time period in question.