Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts

Great War Sites Relating to Hitler

Although outside the stated scope of this website which concerns what's left of the Third Reich within Germany, I thought it might be interesting to add some photos I took whilst cycling along the Great War battlefields for my website Echoes of War:
Hitler reminisced about the places described below in his Hitler's Table Talk (609-610):
When we went into the line in 1916, to the south of Bapaume, the heat was intolerable. As we marched through the streets, there was not a house, not a tree to be seen; everything had been destroyed, and even the grass had been burnt. It was a veritable wilderness.
In the present campaign I got my greatest surprise when I revisited Arras. In the old days it was just a mound of earth. And now— —! Fields filled with blossom and waving corn, while on Vimy Ridge the scars are much as they were, shell- holes and all. I believe it is much the same in the Champagne.
The soldier has a boundless affection for the ground on which he has shed his blood. If we could arrange the transport, we should have a million people pouring into France to revisit the scenes of their former struggle.
Marching along the roads was a misery for us poor old infantrymen; again and again we were driven off the road by the bloody gunners, and again and again we had to dive into the swamps to save our skins! All the thanks we got was a torrent of curses—"Bloody So-and-Sos" was the mildest expression hurled at us.
My first impression of Ypres was—towers, so near that I could all but touch them. But the little infantryman in his hole in the ground has a very small field of vision.
I shall send our people who have been given the task of rebuilding Lübeck to Ypres before they start work. Fifty different shades of tiles, from salmon-pink, through gold to deep violet ! The new Ypres is a city out of fairyland!
A few inhabitants of Fromelles and Fournes hold childhood memories of Hitler’s return in 1940. They recall a motorcade making its way down the Aubers road and stopping, while the leader alighted to inspect an old Great War blockhouse (known to this day as the blockhaus du fuehrer):

The "Hitler bunker"
About a mile south of Fromelles towards Aubers on the the D141 is this concrete shelter where it is claimed that Hitler spent time whilst serving with the Bavarian Infanterie-Regiment List and even had a plaque stating as much only recently removed.
Hitler in fact visited another site nearby in his tour as conqueror of France on June 26, 1940
According to the sign, the bunker was in the 5th German line during the battle of Fromelles. ‘The trenches and Fromelles were his world’, one former comrade wrote in 1931, ‘what lay beyond didn’t exist for him’. At Fournes, Hitler led the way to what had once been Black Mary’s and the nearby Art-Nouveau bandstand where, on Sunday afternoons, the List Regiment’s band played excerpts from the ‘Merry Widow’ or Der Rosenkavalier. The party also visited the local German war-graves cemetery, where Hitler saluted the graves of Bavarians who fell in May 1915 and July 1916. Among them was that created after a battle that would be called Langemarck by the Germans and First Ypres by the British.

Hitler in 1940 at his former billet, and the same building today.

After the Great War and today

The Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof when officially inaugurated on July 10, 1932 and during one of my visits. The total number of soldiers buried or commemorated in this cemetery is 44,234, situated north of Langemark village, about five miles north-east of Ypres. The cemetery started as a small group of graves in 1915 before its official opening. Roughly 3,000 graves are of the Student Volunteers who died in the battle of Langemark in October and November 1914 leading the cemetery to be dubbed Der Studentenfriedhof- the Student Cemetery.

Belgians hardly wanted Germans, dead or alive, on their land forcing Germany to economise. Here eight bodies lie under one stone.
The so-called Kameraden Grab ( 'Comrades Grave') where the remains of 24,917 unidentified German soldiers are interred.
Bronze statue of four mourning soldiers, by the Munich sculptor Professor Emil Krieger. Apparently it "was inspired by a photograph taken of soldiers from the Reserve Infantry Regiment 238, mourning at the grave of a comrade in 1918" shown on the right. The second soldier from the right was killed two days after the photograph was taken.
Holding a picture of Hitler and assembled Nazis standing in the same spot.

Hitler, later eulogised as an ‘Hero of Langemarck’, took only a peripheral part in the events of 9–11 November 1914 which created the ‘Langemarck Legend’ when young regiments sang “Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles” as they advanced and took the first line of enemy trenches.’
Just beside the German cemetery is the Memorial to the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers of the 34th Division next to the bunker they captured in September 1918 and used as an Advanced Dressing Station. The man put in charge was Lawrence of Arabia's brother. Apparently more men died of drowning than through artillery.

Nearby I found some remaining shells. When farmers find artillery they place it on the side of the road (or in this case, within an electricity pole) and alert the military who then collect it and eventually gather them together to detonate.
In Langemark village itself is this memorial to the 20th Light Division, shown between the wars and today, now surrounded by suburbia
Nearby on the main road from Ypres to Bruges, this most impressive memorial at St. Julien commemorates the "18,000 Canadians on the British left [who] withstood the first German gas attacks on the 22-24 April 1915. 2,000 fell and lie buried nearby." This had been the first gas attack of the Great War. "The Brooding Soldier" is almost 11 metres high and displays the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier in the position of "rest on your arms reversed."
Hitler’s 1940 battlefield excursion was part of a grand tour of defeated France, of which an early morning visit (in the company of Albert Speer and the official Nazi sculptor Arno Breker) to the architectural monuments of Paris was the highlight. Court photographer Heinrich Hoffmann turned Hitler’s excursion into a profitable propaganda set piece. The cover of the first edition (600,000) of his Mit Hitler im Westen shows Hitler posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, while other more deceptive pictures suggest that the warlord was leading from the Front during the French campaign. Hoffmann’s book is part travelogue, part propaganda. Its subject is the resolution of unfinished business from 1918, as is made clear in a foreword by Field marshal Keitel:
On the day of the summer solstice in the wood of Compiègne, the Führer erased the disgrace of the Armistice of 9 November 1918. Again I was permitted to be at [his] side during this unique victory campaign of our Wehrmacht . . . not only to seek out the battlefields on which our soldiers have been victorious in this war, but also those on which German men fought and died in the World War of 1914–1918.
Emphasising Keitel’s point, Hitler is shown at Fromelles, Vimy Heights and other sites where the List Regiment fought:
Two of the most telling images, placed together on a page, were taken in Fournes. At the top, over the caption Im Quartier 1916, a group photograph shows Hitler and other dispatch runners seated in front of a wall. Below it, in a photo from 1940 set in front of the same wall, Hitler stands with his former sergeant major, now Reichsleiter Amann, and former dispatch runner Ernst Schmidt.
These photographs were taken at Hitler's regimental headquarters in Fournes, now serving as the town hall
Hitler's wartime sketch Shelter in Fournes (considerably touched-up for publication when he assumed power) and video of the shelter today.

In Fournes itself, the most obvious sign of the presence of Hitler's regiment in the village for a year and a half is the German military cemetery in which so many of Hitler's comrades remain buried.
Weber (344) Hitler's First War
Demarcation Stone near Kemmel
On the side of the road is this Demarcation stone surmounted by a French helmet. One can still faintly read the legend Kemmel. Granite demarcation stones can also be seen at various locations throughout the Westhoek. First erected during the 1920’s at the initiative of the Touring Club of Belgium, these 1 metre-high stones are usually crowned with a military-style-helmet and bear the inscription (in three languages): ”Here the invader was brought to a halt”. During the Second World War this inscription was often defaced by the Germans. Nineteen of these stones still remain in the Westhoek, sometimes to be found at the corner of a street and sometimes on the edge of a field.

Hitler at Kemmel during his tour
Ypres Cloth Hall and Cathedral in 1918

Panoramic image of Ypres from 1919, showing the town's destruction.

The Cloth Hall Ypres, [ca. 1918] after J. Kerr Lawson with Canadian troops passing the ruins of the Cloth Hall.
 On the same road nine decades earlier, the same one Hitler was driven down in 1940.

Hitler and his entourage entering Ypres via a temporary wooden bridge built by German combat engineers through the Lille Gate, shown on the right after the Great War and with me today.

The site of the Menin Gate after the war.
Constructing the Menin Gate
The Menin Gate Memorial commemorates the missing of the Salient, and was designed by Reginald Blomfield with construction completed in 1927. It lists the names of 54,332 men of Britain and the Dominions (apart from New Zealand) who fell in the Salient and who have no known grave. The names represent the fallen of Britain, Ireland, and what were then the Dominions (apart from New Zealand which chose top have its own separate memorial) up until 16th August 1917 after which the other names are recorded at Tyne Cot CWGC.
The Gate in 1940 under German occupation

Hitler himself visited the site twice that year

  From Siegfried Debaeke's book Hitler in Vlaanderen
Hitler's first experience of fighting was in one of the fiercest and most critical engagements of the war, the First Battle of Ypres, when the British succeeded in stemming an all-out effort by the Germans to burst through to the Channel coast. For four days and nights the List Regiment was in the thick of the fighting with the British round Becelaere and Gheluvelt. In a letter to his old Munich landlord, the tailor Herr Popp, Hitler reported that when they were pulled out of the line and sent into rest billets at Werwick, the regiment had been reduced in four days from three thousand five hundred to six hundred men; only thirty officers were left and four companies had to be broken up.
Ypres was damaged by the Germans in the Second World War as well. Here is the Hotel t’Zweerd as photographed by a German soldier in May 1940, and the same site today.

A British pillbox; behind is the Bayershof German Headquarters near Bayershof (White Chateau, a unique German site located between the villages of Wijtschate and Voormezele consisting of two mine galleries, a mine shaft, a trench system and five bunkers. It is accessed via a footpath which passes through the restored network of trenches. A series of information panels give details of the events which took place here and explain what life at the front was really like. The site was restored in collaboration with the Association for Battlefield Archaeology ( It was known to the Allies as Croonaert Wood and to the Germans 'Bayernwald' because of the Bavarian troops stationed there - Adolf Hitler served here in 1914-1915, and was awarded an Iron Cross nearby. Private Hitler, serving with the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, was lightly wounded here on November 15, 1914 whilst rescuing his Lieutenant. He painted a view from Croonaert." He returned here on June 1, 1940 as Leader of the German Reich.

Displays along the road allow one to compare the panorama then and now from the German positions.

Hitler's painting of a trench in this sector in 1914 and , serif;">revisiting the site in 1940.
The fighting for Bayernwald was the List Regiment’s last major engagement for 1914 and one of the last German offensives of First Ypres. Two days later Falkenhayn called off the battle and this drew to an unsatisfactory (for the Germans) conclusion. Between Becalaere and the commencement of the fighting at Bayernwald, the regiment had been heavily engaged for 18 days. After Gheluvelt, the only men available to replace losses were those returning from wounds.
On 1 November alone, at Bethlehem Farm, the regiment lost 119 men killed, a ravine near Wytschaete being ‘filled with dead and wounded’. Carrying messages, across a landscape exposed to artillery fire, snipers and machine-gunners, dispatch runners were placed in a ‘most dangerous’ situation and many were lost. Hitler remained unscathed. ‘How he succeeded in getting through’, Mend wrote, ‘in spite of the incessant artillery fire, is to this day incomprehensible to me.’ He later expressed amazement at Hitler ‘still being alive and recalled, laughing: “Man, there’s no bullet with your number on it!” A grin was [Hitler’s] only answer.’
Overlooking the German positions taken by NZ troops to reach the ridge in 1919, showing Irish Farm from the Rossignol Hill 63, and with my students in 2013. The great Mine Battle of June 7 1917 here, in the sector known to the British as Messines Ridge and to the Germans as the ”Wijtschate Bogen,” quite literally made the world shake. 19 mines were detonated under the German lines, causing explosions which could be heard as far away as London. In the beginning, this British offensive was a success. This was the prelude to the ill-fated Third Battle of Ypres.

German pillboxes taken that remain on either side of the monument to the New Zealanders who took the town from the Germans.
The Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing is situated within Messines Ridge British Cemetery about five miles south of Ypres.
Hitler had described the outskirts of Messines whilst a soldier in a January 26, 1915 postcard to his landlord back in Munich, Joseph Popps, as "partly flat and undulating and covered with countless hedges and straight rows of trees." He went on to write that "Messines is a village of 2,400 inhabitants, or rather it was a village, for now nothing is left of it except an enormous heap of ash and rubble."

Hitler's painting of the church during the war

Standing inside the crypt where Hitler had been billeted.

Neuve Chapelle

On October 27, 1914, this village saw the first action taken by the Indian Corps which attempted to take it from the Germans. It was not until March 10, 1915 that the second attempt took place with the Indian Meerut Division assisting the 8th Division. This was to be the first time that aerial photography played a prominent role in a major battle with the entire German lines being mapped from the air. Losses sustained were immense, particularly to the Middlesex Regiment and the Cameronians, given the inadequate preliminary bombardment leaving the barbed wire in front of German positions uncut. After four days 2 kilometres were taken. 40,000 Allied troops had taken part in the battle and of these 11,200 (7,000 British, 4,200 Indian) were lost. What was left of the village was defended by the Portuguese Division of all groups during the 1918 Battles of Lys.

Indian Memorial to the Missing
This beautiful memorial is circular and has inscribed the names of many of the missing Indian soldiers on panels that are joined with regimental crests of Indian Army Units. Throughout there are Indian features and motifs, and in the foreground is a 15-metre high column surmounted by a Lotus capital, the Star of India and the Imperial Crown. On either side of the column two carved tigers guard the memorial.

Portuguese Military Cemetery
The two Portuguese divisions sent to the Western Front came under British command. They were badly beaten in the first of the German spring offensive in 1918. Besides this military cemetery there is a monument to the Portuguese Army in the French village of Couture in Flanders near the Belgian frontier. The war was not universally popular in Portugal with mobilisation failing top provide any economic boost. The military coups and other political upheavals sparked by the declaration of war continued after 1918, eventually resulting in the Salazar Dictatorship which lasted into the early 1970s. At Paris Portugal had been rewarded with a tiny piece of German East Africa along the northern Mozambique border known as the Kionga Triangle.

In his five months as a dispatch runner, Hitler had never experienced ‘such heavy fire’. His task was to bring messages from the regimental headquarters at Halpegarde through a ‘way that had literally been dug up by shells’ into the Bois du Biez. From there he had to find his way across the dangerously exposed country to the Bavarian assault battalions who were now mixed up with Prussians all the way to the British positions at Neuve Chapelle. Battlefield confusion was adding an extra dimension to the dispatch runners’ load...
Hitler seems to have thrived in this battle, going about his duties with ‘a spring in his step and unworried as always’. While he believed himself chosen by Fate for greater things, he was more than ready to give Fate a helping hand, never neglecting ‘to pick out on the map those points on the way that could be dangerous to him’. He was said to be ‘as cunning as a fox [who] knows exactly when to keep his head down. During a barrage on the position the day before one could have shown more care!’ Even so, the risks were considerable. ‘If anyone is sent out to the trenches today’, one orderly was quoted as saying, ‘he will be lucky to come back. The fire is fearsome. If I am caught today, I can only hope I do not have to suffer for too long.’ Hitler was unperturbed, strapping ‘his dispatch case on so tightly that it would take a day to get it off. He should get a decoration today. However, he has to be careful not to get his head blown off first.’ He did not win a decoration but did confirm his value. Petz stated that ‘when he needed a reliable man for an important report, [he] called for Hitler’: as well as bravery, a good dispatch runner needed ‘intelligence and sharp wits’. After Neuve Chapelle, Hitler’s virtues were ‘well known among the regimental staff’.
A monument to the slaughter is found further south along the D166 to Bethune: Le Touret CWGC and Memorial to the Missing

Above arches within the walkways, and elsewhere are engraved regimental insignia of the units whose men are commemorated here. This huge Memorial is in the form of a loggia lined with panels listing the names of the Missing on one side, and which are open with interspaced columns on the other side. It commemorates those with no known grave who died in the area. In the centre of the memorial, between the walkways, is a grassed area "courtyard" area containing a stone column, with the dates 1914 - 1918 etched on it in Latin numerals. Inscribed above the arches in this courtyard are the names of the battles and actions fought in the area:La Bassee, Festubert 1914, Givenchy 1914/1915, Cuinchy, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge and Festubert 1915.
In 1915, after a period at Tourcoing, the List Regiment was moved up towards Neuve Chapelle, again opposite British troops. In 1916 they took part in the heavy fighting on the Somme, and in October found themselves near Bapaume. Here on 7 October Hitler was wounded in the leg, and was sent back to Germany for the first time for two years.
Bapaume Post CWGC
This cemetery is right outside Albert to the east along the D929 road and was begun in July 1916 after the village of La Boiselle was taken. Just over 150 men were buried here between then and the end of January 1917, when the cemetery was closed for wartime burials. The location of the cemetery is on the west side of Tara Hill, and another 250 or so graves were brought in after the Armistice, many being men of the 34th Tyneside Division who attacked further along the Bapaume road from here on the 1st of July 1916.
In the futile attempt to save Bapaume, the List Regiment lost 700 men. Not all could be replaced, and those who were, according to Hitler, were supplanted by men of such poor quality ‘that their arrival meant, not a reinforcement but a weakening of our fighting spirit . . . As everywhere, the poison of the hinterland began, here too, to be effective. And the younger recruit fell down completely – for he came from home.’ By this time Monash had calculated that the company strength of the German infantry on the Western Front was ‘only 410,000’. Still, there was no hint of desperation in German reporting. Ludendorff, granting an interview to a Hungarian correspondent, was ‘glad’ that his visitor had ‘gained a good impression of our troops, who’ve been in heavy fighting for months’. Ludendorff dismissed the ability of the Americans to provide ‘significant help in men and material’. ‘We were ready for the Russian steamroller [and] will be ready for America. Our will to victory remains unbroken and we will break the destructive will of the enemy.’German newspapers still maintained that the army was invincible and defeat inconceivable. A month after the ‘black day’, the Morgen- Post described the post-8 August retreat ‘a masterpiece in the history of war’. The Germans had not ‘retired with pleasure voluntarily; it would be mad to pretend so. But militarily it was the only thing to do. Even, as must surely be expected, this has to continue to the Siegfried [Hindenburg] positions and beyond, we have no need to be anxious.’

Hitler's sketch of St. Martin's Church (Sint-Martinuskerk) in Ardooie, after the Second World War and today

Hitler's wartime sketch of Sint-Michiel church in Roeselare, a few miles away, and today.

A couple of miles from Roeselare is the smallest of the four German cemeteries in Flanders at Hooglede with 8,247 burials. In 1937, a chapel was built using stones from a German pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris. During World War II, an addition 29 German soldiers were buried at the cemetery. These soldiers were later sent to another cemetery.

Hitler in front of the church in Montbavin in 1940, which has hardly changed since

Hitler's painting of the church at Becelaere (Becelaire) and as it appears today

Notre Dame de Lorette

Notre Dame de Lorette is the name of a ridge, basilica, and French national cemetery northwest of Arras at the village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire. The high point of the hump-backed ridge stands 165 metres high and - with Vimy Ridge mentioned below- utterly dominates the otherwise flat Douai plain and the town of Arras. The ground was strategically important during the First World War and was bitterly contested in a series of long and bloody engagements between the opposing French and German armies. It was the focal point of the three battles of Artoise which were as costly in French lives as the better-known Battle of Verdun. As with numerous other sites across France, Notre Dame de Lorette became a national necropolis, sacred ground containing the graves of French and Colonial fallen, as well as an ossuary, containing the bones of those whose names were not marked. In total, the cemetery and ossuary hold the remains of more than 40,000 soldiers, as well as the ashes of many concentration camp victims.

The same view 90 years apart
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial overlooking the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about ten kilometres north of Arras. Carved on the walls of the monument are the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose final resting place was then unknown. Standing on the monument’s wide stone terrace overlooking the broad fields and rolling hills of Northern France, one can see other places where Canadians fought and died. More than 7,000 are buried in 30 war cemeteries within a 20-kilometre radius of the Vimy Memorial. Altogether, more than 66,000 Canadian service personnel died in the First World War.
On his return to the Front, Hitler found his comrades occupying trenches in a quiet sector on the heights of Vimy. During his absence it had been involved in little fighting, but had endured climatic conditions, on a wind-swept position in that most terrible winter of the war, which were harsher than any the men had known. Hitler, by missing the worst of these months, was living up to his ‘Lucky Linzer’ nickname.
Hitler's visit in June, 1940
My first pilgrimage to Vimy and exactly ten years later

Hitler at Reims Cathedral, 1940
In the Nazi film Sieg im Westen (1941),

[t]he finale shows Hitler, as triumphator Germaniae, and his entourage strutting through Reims Cathedral. The choral music from "Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein" ("Dear Fatherland, Rest Assured") reaches a crescendo. The viewers can now comfortably lean back in their seats. They knew they could rely on the Wehrmacht and its supreme commander Adolf Hitler.
Ironically, it was here that, on May 4, 1945, the “Instrument of Surrender of All German Armed Forces in Holland, in Northwest Germany Including All Islands, and in Denmark” was signed British field marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, on behalf of the Allies, and by a group of German commanders on behalf of Germany, having been authorised by Admiral Karl Dönitz, who had been designated by Adolf Hitler as head of state immediately before Hitler committed suicide.
Also at Reims on May 7, 1945, an Act of Military Surrender was concluded by the supreme allied commander (with U.S. and Soviet commanders present and a Free French commander witnessing) and signed by the German high command. The principal sentence ran simply: “We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command all forces on land, sea and in the air who are at this date under German control.”


The victory monument in June 1940 draped with the German war ensign and today. In 1916 the Germans tried to ’bleed the French dry’ in a battle that lasted for 10 months and which brought France to the verge of collapse. Both sides lost tens of thousands of soldiers. To reduce the pressure on Verdun, a joint Anglo-French attack was launched on the Somme. Tanks were employed for the first time but the offensive was a fiasco. On the first day of the battle alone, the British lost 60,000 men, killed, wounded or missing. By the end of 1916, casualties on both sides were horrendous. 
Between them both sides lost half a million men and how many still lie buried in that charnel soil may never be known. Verdun remained in French hands. For the French it was a magnificent victory, but one that had almost shattered their army. For the Germans it was their first undeniable setback, a heavy blow to the morale of both army and people.
Howard (77) The First World War
German victory march past the Memorial to Victory in June, 1940 and during the occupation

Nearby the Monument Maginot, erected to the memory of politician and soldier André Maginot and inaugurated in 1935. Maginot had served in the French army during the Great War and was badly wounded near Verdun – an event depicted in the sculptured group placed in front of the central symbolic shield. Maginot served as Minister of War three times between 1922 and 1932 and was the principal advocate of a new line of impregnable defences against a future German invasion, completed after his death and which bore his name. In the event, of course, the Germans bypassed the Maginot Line in 1940 as shown on the right.

 This nearby village was destroyed during the Great War. Today the Douaumont Ossuary, which contains the remains of more than 100,000 unknown soldiers of both French and German nationalities found on the battlefield, stands high above the landscape. The cemetery here holding the remains of the dead of the First World War was a target again of the Germans in the Second.  
 Rethondes France surrendered on 22 June in a humiliating ceremony in the very same railroad car that they had made Germany sign the armistice November 11, 1918.
From William L. Shirer's account in Berlin Diary (419–25):
On the exact spot in the little clearing in the Forest of Compiègne where at five a.m. on November 11, 1918 the armistice which ended the World War was signed, Adolf Hitler today handed his armistice terms to France. To make German revenge complete, the meeting of the German and French plenipotentiaries took place in Marshal Foch’s private car, in which Foch laid down the armistice terms to Germany twenty-two years ago. Even the same table in the rickety old wagon-lit car was used. And through the windows we saw Hitler occupying the very seat on which Foch had sat at that table when he dictated the other armistice.
The humiliation of France, of the French, was complete. And yet in the preamble to the armistice terms Hitler told the French that he had not chosen this spot at Compiègne out of revenge; merely to right an old wrong. From the demeanour of the French delegates I gathered that they did not appreciate the difference.
... The armistice negotiations began at three fifteen p.m. A warm June sun beat down on the great elm and pine trees, and cast pleasant shadows on the wooded avenues as Hitler, with the German plenipotentiaries at his side, appeared. He alighted from his car in front of the French monument to Alsace-Lorraine which stands at the end of an avenue about two hundred yards from the clearing where the armistice car waits on exactly the same spot it occupied twenty-two years ago.

The Alsace-Lorraine statue, I noted, was covered with German war flags so that you could not see its sculptured work nor read its inscription. But I had seen it some years before – the large sword representing the sword of the Allies, and its point sticking into a large, limp eagle, representing the old Empire of the Kaiser. And the inscription underneath in French saying: “TO THE HEROIC SOLDIERS OF FRANCE ... DEFENDERS OF THE COUNTRY AND OF RIGHT ... GLORIOUS LIBERATORS OF ALSACE-LORRAINE.”
I saw the Führer stop, glance at the monument, observe the Reich flags with their big Swastikas in the centre. Then he strode slowly towards us, towards the little clearing in the woods. I observed his face. It was grave, solemn, yet brimming with revenge. There was also in it, as in his springy step, a note of the triumphant conqueror, the defier of the world. There was something else, difficult to describe, in his expression, a sort of scornful, inner joy at being present at this great reversal of fate – a reversal he himself had wrought.
Now here aches the little opening in the woods. He pauses and looks slowly around.The clearing is in the form of a circle some two hundred yards in diameter and laid out like a park. Cypress trees line it all round – and behind them, the great elms and oaks of the forest. This has been one of France’s national shrines for twenty-two years. From a discreet position on the perimeter of the circle we watch...The time is now three eighteen p.m. Hitler’s personal flag is run up on a small standard in the centre of the opening. Also in the centre is a great granite block which stands some three feet above the ground. Hitler, followed by the others, walks slowly over to it, steps up, and reads the inscription engraved in great high letters on that block. It says: “HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE ... VANQUISHED BY THE FREE PEOPLES WHICH IT TRIED TO ENSLAVE.”
Hitler reads it and Goering reads it. They all read it, standing there in the June sun and the silence. I look for the expression on Hitler’s face. I am but fifty yards from him and see him through my glasses as though he were directly in front of me. I have seen that face many times at the great moments of his life. But today! It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph. He steps off the monument and contrives to make even this gesture a masterpiece of contempt. He glances back at it, contemptuous, angry – angry, you almost feel, because he cannot wipe out the awful, provoking lettering with one sweep of his Prussian boot. He glances slowly around the clearing, and now, as his eyes meet ours, you grasp the depth of his hatred. But there is triumph there too – revengeful, triumphant hate. Suddenly, as though his face were not giving quite complete expression to his feelings, he throws his whole body into harmony with his mood. He swiftly snaps his hands on his hips, arches his shoulders, plants his feet wide apart. It is a magnificent gesture of defiance, of burning contempt for this place now and all that it has stood for in the twenty-two years since it witnessed the humbling of the German Empire.
It is now three twenty-three p.m. and the Germans stride over to the armistice car. For a moment or two they stand in the sunlight outside the car, chatting. Then Hitler steps up into the car, followed by the others. We can see nicely through the car windows. Hitler takes the place occupied by Marshal Foch when the 1918 armistice terms were signed. The others spread them- selves around him. Four chairs on the opposite side of the table from Hitler remain empty. The French have not yet appeared. But we do not wait long. Exactly at three thirty p.m. they alight from a car... They too glance at the Alsace-Lorraine memorial, but it’s a swift glance. Then they walk down the avenue flanked by three German officers... The German guard of honour, drawn up at the entrance to the clearing, snaps to attention for the French as they pass, but it does not present arms.

Now we get our picture through the dusty windows of that old wagon-lit car. Hitler and the other German leaders rise as the French enter the drawing-room. Hitler gives the Nazi salute, the arm raised. Ribbentrop and Hess do the same. I cannot see M. Noël to notice whether he salutes or not. Hitler, as far as we can see through the windows, does not say a word to the French or to anybody else. He nods to General Keitel at his side. We see General Keitel adjusting his papers. Then he starts to read. He is reading the preamble to the German armistice terms. The French sit there with marble-like faces and listen intently. Hitler and Goering glance at the green table-top.
The reading of the preamble lasts but a few minutes. Hitler, we soon observe, has no intention of remaining very long, of listening to the reading of the armistice terms themselves. At three
forty-two p.m., twelve minutes after the French arrive, we see Hitler stand up, salute stiffly, and then stride out of the drawing-room, followed by Goering, Brauchitsch, Raeder, Hess, and Ribbentrop.

Hitler and his aides stride down the avenue towards the Alsace-Lorraine monument, where their cars are waiting. As they pass the guard of honour, the German band strikes up the two national anthems, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles and the Horst Wessel song. The whole ceremony in which Hitler has reached a new pinnacle in his meteoric career and Germany avenged the 1918 defeat is over in a quarter of an hour.
CBS News' William L Shirer reports the French surrender, June 21, 1940
On September 28, 1918, Private Henry Tandey, serving near the French village of Marcoing, reportedly encountered a wounded German soldier and declines to shoot him, sparing the life of 29-year-old Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler.
As Tandey later told sources, during the final moments of that battle, as the German troops were in retreat, a wounded German soldier entered Tandey’s line of fire. "I took aim but couldn’t shoot a wounded man," Tandey remembered, "so I let him go." The German soldier nodded in thanks, and disappeared.
Though sources do not exist to prove the exact whereabouts of Adolf Hitler on that day in 1918, an intriguing link emerged to suggest that he was in fact the soldier Tandey spared. A photograph that appeared in London newspapers of Tandey carrying a wounded soldier at Ypres in 1914 was later portrayed on canvas in a painting by the Italian artist Fortunino Matania glorifying the Allied war effort. As the story goes, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain travelled to Germany in 1938 to engage Hitler in a last-ditch effort to avoid another war in Europe, he was taken by the führer to his new country retreat in Bavaria. There, Hitler showed Chamberlain his copy of the Matania painting, commenting, "That’s the man who nearly shot me."

CORPORAL HITLER AND THE GREA T W AR 1914–1918 Adolf Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian Army in August 1914 as a war volunteer. Fanatically devoted to the German cause, between 1914 and 1918 Hitler served with distinction and sometimes reckless bravery, winning both classes of Iron Cross. Using memoirs, military records, regimental, divisional and official war histories as well as (wherever possible) Hitler’s own words, this book seeks to reconstruct a period in his life that has been neglected in the literature. As a front- line soldier Hitler began his ‘study’ of the black art of propaganda; and, as he himself maintained, the List Regiment provided him with his ‘university of life’. This is not only an account of the fighting, however. Some of the most profound influences on Hitler occurred on home leave or as a result of official wartime propaganda, which he devoured uncritically. His conversion from passive to pathological anti-Semitism began while he was invalided in Germany in 1916–17. Hitler is here presented less as the product of high cultural forces than as an avid reader and gullible consumer of state propaganda, which fed his prejudices. He was a ‘good soldier’ but also a ‘true believer’ in fact and practice. It is no exag- geration to say that every military decision made by Hitler between 1939 and 1945 was in some way influenced or coloured by his experiences with the List Regiment between 1914 and 1918. John F. Williams is a research fellow in the Department of Germanic Studies, University of Sydney, Australia. CASS MILITARY STUDIES INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES IN ANCIENT ROME Trust in the Gods, but Verify Rose Mary Sheldon CLAUSEWITZ AND AFRICAN W AR Politics and strategy in Liberia and Somalia Isabelle Duyvesteyn STRATEGY AND POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1954–60 Defending the Northern Tier Michael Cohen THE CUBAN INTERVENTION IN ANGOLA, 1965–1991 From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale Edward George MILITARY LEADERSHIP IN THE BRITISH CIVIL WARS, 1642–1651 The genius of this age Stanley Carpenter ISRAEL’S REPRISAL POLICY, 1953–1956 The dynamics of military retaliation Ze’ev Drory BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR Enver Redzic LEADERS IN W AR West point remembers the 1991 gulf war Edited by Frederick Kagan and Christian Kubik KHEDIVE ISMAIL’S ARMY John Dunn YUGOSLAV MILITARY INDUSTRY 1918–1991 Amadeo Watkins (Continued) CORPORAL HITLER AND THE GREA T W AR 1914–1918 The List Regiment John F. Williams FRANK CASS LONDON AND NEW YORK First published 2005 by Frank Cass 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Frank Cass 270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to” Frank Cass is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group © 2005 John F. Williams All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Williams, John Frank, 1933– Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914–1918 : the List Regiment / John F. Williams. — 1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–415–35854–X (hardback) — ISBN 0–415–35855–8 (pbk.) 1. Hitler, Adolf, 1889–1945. 2. Soldiers—Germany—Biography. 3. World War, 1914–1918—Regimental histories—Germany. 4. Germany. Heer. Bayerisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 16—History. 5. World War, 1914–1918—Campaigns—Western Front. DD247.H5W483 2005 940.4′13433′092—dc22 2004015482 ISBN 0-203-00476-0 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0–415–35854–X (hbk) ISBN 0–415–35855–8 (pbk) I. Title. CONTENTS Introduction 1 1 A university of the trenches 4 2 1913–14: The curative power of war 17 3 Cannon fodder 34 4 W est Flanders 1914 50 5 Winter 1914–15 73 6 Neuve Chapelle 1915 86 7 Fromelles 1915 98 8 Nursery tales of 1915 114 9 Hugo Gutmann and the good soldier Mend 128 10 Fromelles 1916 136 11 Hell on the Somme 147 12 Declining fortune 161 13 1918 178 Epilogue: The greatest commander-in-chief of all time 198 Notes Selected bibliography Index 211 226 233 v INTRODUCTION A book dealing with the experiences and Western Front battles of a German regiment in the Great War must, by its nature, be primarily a work of military history – primarily in this case, but not exclusively, for elements of biography are also present. The regiment in question is, after all, the sixteenth Bavarian Reserve Infantry, or List Regiment (so named after its first commander); a regiment whose principal claim to fame is the fact that Adolf Hitler served in its ranks for four years in the Great War. Although this work cannot claim (perhaps merci- fully) to be yet another Hitler biography, it still has Hitler as its raison d’être. Without the presence of this Austrian-born Infanterist (soon to be corporal) in its ranks, the List Regiment merits no more attention than any one of the 800 or so German regiments that served on the Western Front in the Great War. Yet Hitler did serve in its ranks and that fact alone makes its story important. Between 1914 and 1918, Hitler claimed, he changed from a self-confessed ‘weak-kneed cosmo- politan’ into an anti-Semite and ardent pan-German nationalist. Again according to Hitler, he decided in the trenches that for Germany’s sake he must place what- ever dreams he held of architectural or artistic glory on hold, and instead devote his immediate post-war future to politics. As an adjunct – and there is no reason to disbelieve (in this case) his word – as a front-line soldier he began his ‘study’ of the black art of propaganda. And, as Hitler himself maintained, the List Regiment provided him with his university of life. Much, but not all, which Hitler wrote or said about himself, his past and his struggles can be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. As for the words of first-hand witnesses, these too are often contradictory and sometimes driven by motives in which truth does not always figure prominently. None more so perhaps than some of the self-styled acquaintances from his Vienna days between 1908 and 1913. But the post-war memoirs of his former trench comrades of 1914–18 must also be treated with circumspection, even if the Führer and his Gestapo did find some observations revealing enough to warrant pulping editions and meting out varying degrees of punishment to the authors. Such negative observations, it must be said, always relate to Hitler’s eccentricities, personality and sexuality, 1 INTRODUCTION never to his courage or soldierly virtues. Doubt no longer attaches to Hitler’s courage under fire or his record as a Great War soldier. He was awarded both grades of the Iron Cross and deservedly so. There can be no doubt that he was a brave and fanatical soldier, and that his fanaticism stemmed from the (widely held) media-inspired belief that the Reich was ringed by enemies and must fight and win to achieve its rightful place in the sun. As for Austria-Hungary, his nominal homeland, Hitler had only contempt. By 1914 he already saw the future of German Austria (including much of Bohemia and Moravia) lying in an Anschluss with Germany, with the rest of the Habsburg domains being left to fragment as they may. The degree to which Hitler was an active anti-Semite in 1914, and how much his potentially eliminationist post-1919 attitudes grew, either out of belief or from political opportunism, will always be open to doubt. The evidence (apart from what he himself claimed) is inconclusive. What does seem certain is that by August 1914 he already favoured a pan- German, anti-Marxist and anti-Socialist worldview. It is also apparent that, during the war, he was prepared to harangue any comrade, or group of comrades, willing to listen to his monologues. Hitler was neither a good observer nor a good listener. His mind was fixed and he was willing to see, read or hear only what further confirmed him in his prejudices. In the mostly volunteer List Regiment of October 1914, his was hardly a unique case. Most of these volunteers were like- minded, being patriotic true believers, to the point of gullibility, in the official Reich propaganda espoused in governmental, semi-governmental or independent right-wing newspapers of the day. Thus, we can be sure as to sources (newspapers primarily) influencing Hitler and motivating him to become the good soldier that he undoubtedly was. We can also be sure not only from the testimony of Hitler himself, but through the confirmatory sources of both friend and foe that in subsequent years he saw himself uniquely qualified – by virtue of his front-line service, self-belief in his talent for command and his dilettante’s theoretical knowledge of the conduct of war – to dismiss men he sneered at as staff college strategists and assume the role of supreme commander of all Germany’s forces. In Hitler’s case, his Great War knapsack contained no marshal’s baton, but the tunic of an all-powerful warlord. It hardly exaggerates to say that every military decision made by Hitler between 1939 and 1945 was in some way influenced or coloured by his experiences with the List Regiment. In 1939–40 this may have worked in his favour. His first- hand field knowledge of French and Belgian Flanders (where the water table always lies just below ground level and the countryside is criss-crossed with drainage ditches and narrow lanes) must have told him that this was no country to employ a major panzer thrust. Instead of adopting a kind of mid-century Schlieffen Plan – using tanks and Stukas to follow the old German invasion route of 1914 – he chose to back a panzer thrust through the allegedly impassable Ardennes forest. Even Hitler’s enthusiastic adoption of the concept of blitzkrieg itself can be seen to originate in his battle experiences in July 1918, when the regiment was forced into a headlong retreat, harassed in a co-ordinated counter 2 INTRODUCTION offensive by marauding French fighter-bombers backed up by artillery and Renault light tanks. The List Regiment’s greatest, in fact its only, serious successes were in defensive actions, particularly those short, sharp, violent, almost nineteenth-century-style battles on the Aubers Ridge in 1915–16. Given these experiences, it was easy for Hitler to believe that the well-entrenched and well-supplied German soldier, suitably motivated and ideologically reinforced, was invincible. What was true for most of 1914–18 on the Western Front was inappropriate when applied to the Eastern Front after 1943, a fact compounded by Hitler’s total ignorance of the qualities of the Russian soldier. Hitler was surely proud that his regiment (unlike one of his division’s sister regiments) was never sent East, for in the Great War the Eastern Front was the soft option; a front for much of the time – except in occasional moments of dire emergency – more than adequately entrusted to 3rd or 4th class divisions, many of them Landsturm or Landwehr units. Hitler never, fully appreciated that the inadequately supplied and led ill-trained Tsarist army of 1914–17 bore only a nominal resemblance to the Red Army of 1941–45, although this reality should have dawned on him well before Stalingrad. Yet his miscalculations based on obsolete 1914–18 prejudices were not limited to gross underestimations of an opponent’s military worth. At a more banal level, until Stalingrad, Hitler saw no reason why the carbine that had served the German soldier so well in the Great War would not continue to function just as adequately in the Second World War. Until the mass manufacture of a similar weapon was undertaken, German soldiers were always at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Soviet troops abundantly equipped with light, robust, reliable and frost-resistant sub- machine guns. For four years the List Regiment provided Hitler with a surrogate family, a home and a university. In these years he learnt to love soldiering and find confir- mation for his social-Darwinist belief in war as a necessary and indispensable racial hygiene, as much as it was the sole and rightful means available to a German Reich bent on achieving its rightful place in the sun. The subsequent career of Adolf Hitler the soldier – as distinct from the career of Adolf Hitler the criminal and sociopath – is thus irrevocably intertwined with the experiences of his years serving in the List Regiment, the kinds of battles in which it fought and, most importantly of all, his role as a dispatch runner, battlefield guide and observer in those battles. 3 1 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES If I were twenty to twenty-five years younger, I’d be in the front line. I passionately loved soldiering. – Adolf Hitler (1941) I wouldn’t feel I had the right to demand of each man the supreme sac- rifice, if I hadn’t gone through the whole 1914–18 war in the front line. – Adolf Hitler (1942)1 While the Wehrmacht was bringing Poland to its knees in 1939, Nazi propaganda sought to justify the renewal of warfare as the second and conclusive phase of an ongoing 25-year struggle for Germany’s survival and place in the sun, a struggle (Kampf ) which had only commenced with the inconclusive Great War (Grosse Krieg) of 1914–18. In this thesis, the Armistice that ushered in the false peace of 1919–39 had been the work of Germany’s weak-willed ‘November criminals’, politicians and not soldiers, acting as little more than puppets manipulated by unpatriotic Judeo-Marxist and Socialist elements on the home front. This Dolchstoss or ‘stab-in-the-back’ myth had been reinforced by the fact that Germany’s supposedly ‘invincible’ armies had been able to march home, unmolested and with banners unfurled, from the battlefields. The November 1918 spectacle of returning divisions of comparatively well turned out German troops, marching proudly through the towns and villages of the Reich, was an illusionary one. It provided, however, admirable fodder for the Dolchstoss myth. It was easy to believe that this was no defeated army, rather an army betrayed, whereby the German soldier had been forced – with victory in sight – to lay down his arms, not because of enemy superiority, but through an act of treachery by political traitors on the home front. This was nonsense. Although it was far from obvious in the comportment of the returning troops, the sorely tried, demoralized, outnumbered, ill-fed and materially inferior German Army could not have survived far into 1919 without being overrun, and with that 4 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES opening the way for an Allied invasion of the Reich itself. Knowing this, the all- powerful military duumvirate of Hindenburg and Ludendorff had demanded that the Kaiser seek an armistice; a fact left unreported by the media of the day. On every count the Dolchstoss was myth. Yet a convenient and comforting myth will always win out, in the short term, over an unpalatable truth. Although the Dolchstoss was regarded by liberal-democratic elements within Germany as a dangerous lie, there were more than enough festering support for the idea as a historical fact that it became a causal factor, 14 years after the armistice, in the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler. It was still being pressed into service, as a revanche-driven motivational device for German soldiers in 1939, by which time it was no longer necessary to utilize the idea as a means of achieving the political changes that would make Germany great again. Hitler and his National Socialists had seen to these, suppressing Germany’s fragile democracy and bringing in its train measures repressing or even eliminating Jews, Socialists, Marxists and others deemed to be undesirable or opponents of the Hitlerian new order. Never- theless, with revenge for the betrayal of November 1918 still treated as an article of faith, the Dolchstoss had an important role to play. Official Nazi propaganda was seeped in Hitler’s brutally social-Darwinist (but unoriginal) worldview, based on the thought processes of what H.R. Trevor-Roper called his ‘coarse, powerful mind’. In 1939, at the forefront of propagandists taking their inspiration from the violent bricolage of chaotic, half-digested ideas that Hitler grandly called Weltanschauung was Werner Beumelburg. A Great War veteran, by the end of the Weimar era, Beumelburg had won a reputation as a serious, if Dolchstoss-besotted, military historian (most notably, perhaps, for his 1927 Reichsarchiv monograph on Third Ypres). Of no less interest to the Nazis were his aggressively right-wing critiques of Weimar art and culture and his prolific output of chauvinistic war poetry and novels. Beumelburg did not join the Nazis until after Hitler’s rise to power, but in 1934 was granted honorary SS rank and became secretary of the National Socialist Academy for Literature. In 1939 he was commissioned to write a patriotic handbook for the soldiers of the Wehrmacht. His significantly titled Von 1914 bis 1939: Sinn und Erfüllung des Weltkrieges (From 1914 to 1939: Meaning and Significance of the World War) is a slim volume of 60 pages, tailored to fit (along with radically condensed and bowdlerized editions of Neitzsche’s Zarathustra and the New Testament) in a Wehrmacht soldier’s tunic pocket.2 Beumelburg’s pamphlet (for it is hardly more) fulfilled the basic role of a lot of twentieth-century military propaganda; to convince young men of the righteousness of the cause for which they fight and the glory attached to death in battle. War, as presented here, was no longer the simple Clausewitzian pursuit of politics by other means, but a biological necessity. War provided stronger nations with their God-given right to expand at the expense of weaker ones, while guaranteeing – contradictorily given that war took the bravest and most vigorous soldiers – that the healthiest breeding elements survived to ensure the strength and vitality of future generations. Beumelburg was not original. His ideas derived, through Hitler, 5 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES from such nineteenth-century sources as the social-Darwinist theoretician Otto Ammon, the official Prussian historian Heinrich von Treitschke, as well as his former students Heinrich Class (the pan-German leader) and the influential General Friedrich von Bernhardi. Still, the ultimate and most significant adherent to this barbaric belief in war as a biological necessity was Adolf Hitler. A peace ‘that lasts more than twenty-five years is harmful to a nation’, he stated in 1942. ‘Peoples, like individuals, sometimes need regenerating by a little blood-letting.’3 Among the young men for whom Beumelburg was writing in 1939 were many whose deaths would aid in this miraculous national regeneration. It was part of his function to convince them that death in battle was the sweetest of all and that the life of the individual counted for naught when weighed against the continuing existence and increasing greatness of the Fatherland. Beumelburg also recog- nized that young men would only be enthusiastic about laying down their lives for a leader in whom they had unconditional trust. He thus promoted his Führer’s infallibility in much the manner that Hindenburg (and to a lesser extent, Ludendorff) had been exalted in the Great War and which helped them to become a de facto military dictatorship of two. The image of a powerless Kaiser under the thumb of his military chiefs was not lost on Hitler or Beumelburg. No Prussian field marshal would steal the glory or overrule the decisions of this supreme war- lord. In 1932, even before he had become Chancellor, Hitler was already cham- pioning his potential to be ‘a great strategist of a new kind, a future war-lord in a sense and to a degree hitherto unknown’. In 1941 he boasted that ‘A war-leader is what I am [because] I know that nobody would succeed better at this than I can.’4 It is scarcely open to doubt that many professional soldiers of the Wehrmacht – while owing personal allegiance to Hitler as Führer and supreme commander-in- chief – were far from prepared in August 1939 to accept their Führer’s immodest assessments of his military genius. For them, there was no gainsaying the fact that the German armies in the field were under the final control of a south German dilettante, with little formal education (military or otherwise) to speak of, and who had never risen above the rank of corporal in the Great War. The bulk of the German people might be intoxicated by the peacetime achievements of their Messianic Führer, but how would professional officers or professionally trained conscripts respond to the leadership of such a neophyte in war? Beumelburg, with some skill, sought to turn Hitler’s apparent deficiencies into advantages. For this new war, a different kind of leader was demanded; not one schooled in staff- college theory, but a leader of men with an insight into the national soul as could only stem from extended combat experience in the Great War. Metamorphosed into first soldier of the Reich and blessed with his ‘steel-hard heart of field-grey’, this former corporal would realize the unfulfilled expectations of 1914–18 and lead an awakened and purified Germany to its rightful place in the sun. Or, as Beumelburg described it: In the midst of the fighters at Langemarck in October and November of 1914 was the war volunteer Adolf Hitler, who today, based on a calling 6 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES he received in that year and on an attitude he acquired at that time, stands at the head of the Greater German Reich. Beside him [in] that field-grey army of the best the world has ever seen, stood those who today assist him in his work. Generals who serve him today were young officers then. Politicians carried rifles...None among them could pre- dict what Fate had in store, but all acquired the soldier’s immortal heart, without which they would not be what they are today.5 Beumelburg was also concerned to draw firm distinctions between the Third Reich and its post-1870 forerunners. ‘We brought the idea of community (Gemeinschaft) back with us from the war. We held it holy in the unconscious foundations of our hearts. It only needed to be awakened and made visible to enable achievements that would result in the final victory over our enemies from that time.’ The Germany of 1870–1933 had been divided by ‘parliamentarianism’ and weakened by Judeo Marxism and Social Democracy. Political parties had encouraged class war, which tore at the fibre of the old Reich and enfeebled its ability and will to overcome the enemies without. All that changed in January 1933. In the ensuing six years, Hitler had eliminated parliamentary democracy, purged those deemed to be enemies of the state and re-established the meaning of duty and the Volksgemeinschaft (people’s or racial community). In February 1920 he announced the Party program of the NSDAP in the Munich Hofbräuhaus. Not until April of that year did the corporal take off his field-grey uniform, in order to dedicate himself to politics. He took off the field-grey uniform but kept his field-grey heart and field- grey mind. None of his speeches as propagandist for the movement, as party leader, from the dock, before the workers, before the middle class, before the old soldiers, before the youth – until finally these all merged together as a single block – as statesman, as Reich Chancellor and finally as the guiding hand of the Greater German Reich and as its advocate before the whole of humanity is without the deep inward declaration of his origins in the battlefields, without a moving thanksgiving to the Creator who had allowed him to pursue this path, along which all good Germans of his generation have passed.6 The Leitmotiv that this present war was no new war but the logical continuation of the war that began in 1914 dominates Beumelburg’s text, just as it did Hitler’s thinking. Hitler had dropped out of high school recording a failure in German. Like many self-made men, he blamed teachers for his lack of scholarly achievement and retained a lifelong contempt for academics: ‘entrust the world for a few centuries to a German professor’, he once said, ‘and you’ll soon have a mankind of cretins, made up of men with big heads set upon meagre bodies’. His distrust 7 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES of formal education extended to staff colleges, which merely produced graduates with ‘exaggeratedly theoretical minds. I’d like to know what becomes of their theories at the moment of action.’ For Hitler, the autodidactic, self-made and self- appointed commander-in-chief, there was no substitute for empirical front-line experience gained, in his case, in the ranks during the Great War. Every utterance and every subsequent action suggests he honestly believed that he had learnt more about the ‘problems of life’ serving with the List Regiment in the Great War than would have been possible ‘during thirty years at university’. Militarily the deficiencies of this ‘education’, while serving him in good stead in 1939–40, soon became apparent, for it was ultimately too limited and riddled with knowledge gaps to befit a true commander-in-chief.7 Adolf Hitler was an able and courageous soldier in the Great War, possessed of a fanatical devotion to Germany’s cause. By the war’s end he was entitled to wear both grades of the Iron Cross, awards won wholly on their merits. That much is certain. Further progress entails entering more obscure territory. While his letters and postcards sent from the Front in 1914 and early 1915 carry convic- tion, unfortunately he soon dropped the writing habit, leaving the Führer mono- logues from the 1930s and 1940s as a kind of ersatz evidence. The official archives are not of great use, for a corporal with two Iron Crosses and still only a corporal, and files on corporals are rarely extensive or informative. The little left over (in Hitler’s case) after the attentions of the Gestapo, or Allied bombers in the Second World War, is unrewarding – which is not to say that there is a paucity of material describing Adolf Hitler’s first great war. Indeed, in the early 1930s there was a proliferation of trench memoirs by former comrades, whose raisons d’être were inevitably their recollections of Hitler the front-line soldier. Subse- quently, his former regimental adjutant wrote a memoir in the 1960s, which looks at his performance in the Great War and attempts to relate this to his subsequent conduct as a warlord. All of these works are politically tainted, either by self- justification or the propaganda and political dictates of the era. In the 1930s this implied an obligation to portray the Nazi leader as a wartime superhero, and by the 1960s to distance oneself from the monster by proclaiming astonishment at his post-1919 anti-Semitism and allege ignorance about the Holocaust that occurred as a consequence. While some of the more hagiographic passages in the 1914 –18 trench memoirs can seem laughable, there is nevertheless within them a leavening of verifiable material (particularly battle descriptions and depictions of the tedium and frightfulness of life at the Front) where the authors felt free of the need to glorify Hitler. At these times the memoirs by Adolf Meyer and Balthaser Brandmayer are convincing and accord with other descriptions, while even Hans Mend’s controversial (but often quoted) work cannot be dismissed. Although it is not always possible to determine Hitler’s actual actions in the battles in which he was engaged in, the German record of these battles, through regimental histories, monographs and official history, is fulsome. It is thus possible to decipher, broadly, the part Hitler most likely played in them and the dangers he shared and 8 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES faced; at least one can tell, with reasonable certainty, where he was on any given day of the war. While regimental histories (in the German case, often written by former senior officers who seek to put their own achievements in the best possible light) are never completely objective and naturally seek to glorify the regiment’s achievement, the List Regiment history, published in 1932, is still one of the better written and more comprehensive examples of its kind. It can not be accused of pro-Hitler hagiography. The Nazi leader’s former presence in its ranks is acknowledged on two pages only, the first acknowledging him as (in 1932) the leader of one of Germany’s largest political parties, and the second for helping save the life of a recklessly foolish regimental commander in 1914. This particular act, for which Hitler and a fellow dispatch runner won the Iron Cross Second Class (EK2), was not the last piece of command stupidity for which the regiment was made to suffer. To a Briton, a Canadian or an Australian (brought up in the belief that all the ‘donkeys’ were British and that the Germans, by implication, were led by skilled professionals in an army that ran as a well- organized model of Teutonic efficiency), the story of the List Regiment and its suffering at the hands of bungling and even incompetent regimental, divisional and corps commanders might almost come as a relief. In fact the List Regiment was born in a muddle. Few in positions of authority believed that those untrained volunteers who, like Hitler, sought to enlist in August 1914 would ever be needed for a war that was expected to be over by Christmas. These volunteers were treated accordingly, given a perfunctory ill-organized period of training and equipped with obsolescent, barely functional and often incompatible technology. Yet when the war turned against Germany in September 1914, these enthusiastic amateurs were the only reserves available to help force a decision on the Western Front. They were now thrown into battle in Flanders, as veritable cannon fodder on a mission that in hindsight seems hopeless. The List Regiment – officially the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment (RIR) – was a Munich-based unit and one of four (later three) average regiments in the second-class Sixth Bavarian Reserve Division or 6th BRD, a division which, after 1915, was never used in a lead-assault role. Its recruits were hardly the crème de la crème of German manhood, rather a motley assortment of callow youths and not always young, or fit, men from a range of backgrounds. Few of them – due to a curious and self-defeating German peacetime conscription policy – had even seen the inside of a military barracks. In Germany in August 1914, there were some two million such men, eligible and fit for military service, but completely untrained; enough men indeed, had they all volunteered and been accepted at the outbreak of war, to fill at least 60 reserve divisions. Despite the myth to the contrary (propagated in the press and ardently believed by Hitler), there was no rush of men in August 1914 to enlist. Rather than two million (or one million in less extravagant claims) enough young men turned up and were accepted to form a baker’s dozen of divisions, including two from the Kingdom of Bavaria. Among those who did volunteer were many, like Hitler, who were idealistic true believers in the German cause. That the List Regiment 9 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES became his surrogate home is no surprise. For the first time in his life, he found himself among men who shared his Bayrisch dialect and worldview.8 Hitler later wrote that the ‘volunteers of the List Regiment may not have learned to fight properly, but they knew how to die like old soldiers’. Élan and fanaticism were not enough. Yet in October 1914, the 6th BRD and similar all- volunteer reserve divisions were thrown into the breach near Ypres in a last futile attempt to regain the initiative lost at the Marne. Pitted against the sharpshooters of what remained of the old regular British Army, these half-trained troops were asked to capture Ypres and then hack their way to the nearby Channel ports. In this last, full-scale German Western Front breakthrough offensive (Verdun being attritional in aims) for three-and-a-half years, they were cut down en masse. After his regiment’s first days’ bloodletting, Hitler was chosen to be a dispatch runner and, shortly afterwards, promoted to corporal. In this brief period, the List Regi- ment had lost 20 per cent of all those killed in its ranks during the Great War. By the time Hitler won his Iron Cross Second Class in November 1914, the regiment was down to one-third combat strength. Few of the reinforcements now filling the gaps were volunteers.9 The slaughter near Ypres was a prelude to what was to come. The chart below illustrates how most of the regiment’s losses occurred in four distinct periods. The first of these relates to the fighting near Ypres in October/November 1914, the second at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers in March/May 1915, the third at Fromelles and on the Somme in July–October 1916, while the last coincides with the fighting at Montdidier and the Marne battle of May–September 1918. 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Montdidier Marne Fromelles/ Somme Neuve Chapelle/ Aubers Ridge 1st Ypres List regiment: Killed in action or died of wounds 1914–1810 10 Sep. 14 Dec. 14 Mar. 15 Jun. 15 Sep. 15 Dec. 15 Mar. 16 Jun. 16 Sep. 16 Dec. 16 Mar. 17 Jun. 17 Sep. 17 Dec. 17 Mar. 18 Jun. 18 Sep. 18 Dec. 18 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES With more than 3,700 men killed, the List Regiment’s loss almost equals those of the entire kingdom of Bavaria in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. While these figures are some 50 per cent higher than the German regimental average in the Great War, they are not uncommon for a regiment that first saw action in 1914 and continued to function as a fighting unit for the duration of the war. In terms of casualties, the first two years of the war were by far the worst: two-thirds of total casualties were accounted for by the Battle of the Somme, halfway through the war. Casualty rates, however, do not tell the whole story. Evidence suggests that this capable defensive regiment suffered a blow to its morale in the last weeks of the Somme battle – its first actual experience of true modernist warfare – from which it never recovered. Much of 1917 was spent recuperating, but when sent to hold the trenches near Ypres in mid-July 1917, the already under-strength regiment was all but exhausted by a demoralizing two-week-long British artillery and gas barrage. When the British attack was finally launched, the regiment was in the process of being relieved. Forced back into the trenches and facing tanks for the first time, it crumbled and was withdrawn on, or immediately after, the first day of battle, 31 July 1917. Yet for the sheer intensity and gruesome nature of the fighting, perhaps the regiment’s worst experience was in the attritional defensive action at Montdidier against a crack and much feared unit of French Zouaves in April 1918. Later still, in July that year, it trailed the attacking storm- troop divisions only to be routed by superior Franco-American forces and tactics devised around light (Renault) tanks and low-flying aircraft armed with anti- personnel bombs.11 Hitler was involved in all the List Regiment’s major actions, as an Infanterist for the first two days and as a dispatch runner for the rest of the war. Despite what has sometimes been inferred, the dangers faced by dispatch runners could be extreme; at one time a regimental commander sent six men out with the same message in the hope one would get through. Hitler led a charmed life but his survival was not merely due to luck. Officers and men acknowledged his field- craft and his skill in detecting and avoiding dangerous hot spots. Sometimes the risks were not commensurate with the importance of the message. Hitler later complained of having ‘to face a powerful artillery barrage, in order to carry a simple post-card!’ Otherwise, for much of the war, the job of dispatch runner, being only occasionally arduous (albeit sometimes highly so), appears to have offered Hitler a privileged overview, giving him time to study battlefield tactics and an opportunity for measuring the consequences, at the Front, of decisions taken at regimental headquarters. He could thus observe tactical cause and effect without knowing the hell of a seemingly endless artillery bombardment in a claustrophobic shelter surrounded by men in various stages of nervous break- down. He was never obliged to help defend a fortified position day after day, week after week, comrades dying all around, only to see it abandoned as part of a general withdrawal.12 With all his defects, there are no recorded signs in the soldier of 1914–18 of the megalomania, psychopathology or criminality that would later emerge. Even 11 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES with hindsight, it is difficult to recognize in the apparently unambitious corporal of the Great War anything beyond the pan-German and anti-Semitic convictions common to many an enthusiastic war volunteer of 1914. As a soldier, Hitler was nonetheless (and this emerges even from the most hagiographic passages of his former comrades’ memoirs) admired rather than liked. His eccentricity was not entirely likeable or always tolerable. He could also be malicious, was humourless, prudish, aloof and arrogant in manner, as well as self-righteously inflexible and driven by faith in his own destiny. Yet he was a cool and courageous comrade, respected for having helped save at least two men’s lives and for being a good man to have at one’s side. A good soldier Hitler? What motivated this Austrian draft dodger, once war was announced, to seek royal dispensation allowing him to serve in a Bavarian regiment and, once this was granted, to become a devoted soldier for the German Reich he considered to be his true Fatherland? Only a mercenary can be a good and effective soldier without the ideological support that belief in the nation and the righteousness of its cause provides. In the case of the conscript soldier, these beliefs may have to be inculcated by means of propaganda and indoctrination, but in the case of the war volunteer, it can only be assumed that they are already present. Since Hitler was surviving quite well in prewar Munich, the idea that he enlisted for purely pecuniary interests is preposterous. Hitler was born, as he often liked to boast, a few hundred metres from the German border in a region of upper Austria that had been Bavarian until 1813; a region where the Austro pan-Germanism of the Graf von Schönerer flourished and was even promoted by school teachers and minor state functionaries, Hitler’s father among them. Thus there was nothing unusual for a young petit bourgeois from the region around Linz to be, like Hitler, dedicated to the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the ‘return’ of his German Austrian homeland to a Greater German Reich. If the List Regiment provided him with his ‘university’, then his prewar experiences and the material he chose to read in Linz, Vienna and finally Munich provided him with the raft of ideas that he carried in his head, as self-motivational material, onto the battlefield. This inelastic young man had, by about 1914, probably assembled most of what would serve throughout his life as a core belief structure, based, he would have us believe, on the works of the great thinkers of Germany’s recent past. Ralph Manheim, an early translator of Mein Kampf, is one of many scholars to dispute this claim. Classing Hitler as a ‘poor observer’, Mannheim thought it unlikely – based on Hitler’s command of the German language – that he had ‘ever read any of the German, let alone foreign clas- sics’. Albert Speer also recalled him having no passion for philosophy or even history, listing Hitler’s main interests as ‘military literature, naval almanacs or tracts on architecture’. Military books, racist and right-wing political pamphlets, the ersatz wild-west novels of Karl May and above all newspapers – from which he 12 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES pastiched most of his ideology – were his staple. Hitler is on constant record as having been an avid newspaper reader, even as a youth in Linz.13 This autodidact was a war-lover who was good at what he loved. A good soldier can be a fearless and unfeeling killing machine; a state-sanctioned murderer no less, but society tends to celebrate his image based on more humane qualities: self-sacrifice, dependability, loyalty and steadfastness in adversity. Hitler’s career as an Infan- terist was brief, but he appears to have joined in the fighting on at least one other occasion, on the Aubers Ridge in May 1915. Even so, there is no record that Hitler killed anyone. Rather, he won his Iron Crosses helping to save lives or delivering messages. While the idea that the man who came to epitomize twentieth-century evil was a devoted soldier who saved lives may not be a comfortable one in societies that idolize and erect monuments to war heroes, he nevertheless won both grades of the Iron Cross deservedly and not as part of some ‘crooked swindle’. All the same, Hitler’s bravery demands qualification. When medals are awarded, who can say if the recipient has conquered the fears within in an act of selfless devotion? – Or if he is unstable, suicidal, indulging in an act of crazy bravado? – Or whether, like Hitler, he has a pathological belief that Destiny had chosen him for future greatness and will see him through the dangers of modern war? We have more than Hitler’s word for this, since at least two other sources suggest as early as 1915 that Hitler believed in his invulnerability: ‘you will hear much more about me later. Just wait until my time comes.’ His comrades reputedly laughed. Hitler shook his head.14 The child is the father of the man, and no more so than in the case of Adolf Hitler. Like so many others of his generation, Hitler may be seen to have passed through a period of over-prolonged and self-indulgent adolescence (which he immodestly described as his ‘years of hardship’) into adulthood on the Western Front. Yet, despite the significance of his years with the List Regiment, this seems to be the least discussed period of Hitler’s adulthood, and has even, in the hands of Lothar Machtan, Werner Maser and René Mathot, become a field for sensational, if unproven, improbable and unnecessary speculation about his sex life. On a sounder basis, we can state that Hitler put on a soldier’s tunic in 1914 because he believed he could help make Germany great, and in 1939 he repeated the act because he believed that he alone could make Germany great. Making Germany great meant ridding first Germany and subsequently Europe of its Jews. Hitler’s name is justly synonymous with the theory of eliminationist anti-Semitism and the practice of genocide, the one leading inexorably to the other. There are those who claim that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was pure post-1919 political opportunism: indeed the intensity of his attacks on the Jews in the 1920s supposedly came as a surprise to Friedrich Wiedemann, his former regimental adjutant. Other com- rades, however, remembered Hitler as a wartime prophet of the ‘evils’ of Judeo- bolshevism and even of the Dolchstoss to come. The decision by Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) in mid-1916 (at the instigation of such anti-Semites as Ludendorff and the pan-German leader, Heinrich Class) to conduct an enquiry into the loyalty of Jews must have suggested to men like Hitler that where there 13 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES was smoke there was fire. In fact the enquiry drew the opposite results to those hoped for and was quietly hushed up. For Hitler, anti-Semitism went hand in glove with his pan-Germanist worldview and belief in war as the logical means of settling international disputes and asserting a nation’s greatness.15 One might question the degree and nature of his, doubtless evolving, 1914–18 anti-Semitism, but not his patriotic conviction. He had no time for those Bavarians from his regiment who fraternized and exchanged gifts with British soldiers during the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914, and was bitter about men who, as early as 1915, aired the possibility of German defeat or indulged in the traditional soldier’s right to complain. Corporal Hitler was probably not much fun to be around, but even so he was more individualist than loner. A man who needed an audience as much as companionship, he jealously guarded privacy and personal space. Those who came reasonably close were less than entranced with his holier-than-thou prudery and judgemental attitude. As late as 1918, he was still treated as a virgin and his guarded responses to teasing suggest he was; his attitude to women earned him the nickname ‘women hater’. He bore other nicknames as well, all attesting to his ability to come through hazardous assignments without a scratch. What Hitler put down to proof of the guiding Hand of Providence, destining him for future greatness, comrades attributed to field-craft: ‘You don’t need to worry about Hitler’, one said, ‘he always gets through, even if he has to crawl like a rat up to the trench’. Hitler’s ability to crawl, rat- or snake-like on his belly, was aided by his physique. Tall enough to stand out in group photos among the stocky Bavarians, he was thin to the point of emaciation; a situation exacer- bated by a diet of Barras (army bread), marmalade and weak tea, supplemented (if he could find them) by potato dumplings and a slice or two of canned bacon (he was yet to become a vegetarian). Photos from 1915 to 1916 show a gangling form in a baggy uniform. A serious-looking narrow head topped off his lopsided stance, his facial features dominated by a sometimes straggly, sometimes Kaiser- like and sometimes droopy moustache. Although his uniform hung around his frame, both uniform and frame were as clean as he could make them; his obsession with hygiene was a byword. Those who failed to match his standards were treated with contempt. He christened one soldier the ‘human dunghill’.16 ‘The trenches and Fromelles were his world’, one former comrade wrote in 1931, ‘what lay beyond didn’t exist for him’. Hitler received few parcels or letters from Austria or Germany and, after early 1915, scarcely bothered to write. In the 18 months at Fromelles and Fournes, he never sought a 24-hour or weekend leave pass for Lille, just 10 miles away. Nor did he seek home leave. He had been at the Front two years before his wounding at Le Barque demanded repatriation to Germany. Incapacitated by the kind of ‘Blighty’ most soldiers dreamt of, he pleaded unsuccessfully to remain with a disintegrating regiment during its last, ghastly, week on the Somme. Recuperating in Germany and having been advised that he had been transferred, in fact promoted, to a first-class regular Bavarian division, he appealed (successfully) for the right to rejoin his old regiment and his comrades. His devotion and loyalty to regiment and Fatherland was complete. 14 A UNIVERSITY OF THE TRENCHES In power after 1933, he rarely said ‘no’ to any former Lister who he remembered with admiration or affection. Thanks to Hitler’s largesse, former List Regiment veterans formed a veritable clique at the heart of the Third Reich. As well as his former sergeant major and subsequent Nazi press baron Max Amman and Hitler’s personal adjutant Friedrich Wiedemann, his deputy Führer Rudolf Hess was also a former Lister. Officers, whom he liked, such as a former regimental com- mander, Freiherr von Tubeuf, were fast-tracked for promotion in the post-1933 Wehrmacht, often to positions beyond their talents.17 This apparent post-war generosity, which Wiedemann claims extended to Jews, was out of character with the steel-hard image Hitler wanted to project an heterosexual, but a homosexual who had an open affair with his fellow dispatch runner Ernst Schmidt (‘Schmidl’). As proof, Machtan cites the ‘protocol’ of another former comrade, Hans Mend, a ‘document’ that is only known in hearsay. In this, Mend is quoted as stating that Hitler, in 1915, spent his nights in Fournes fornicating with his ‘male whore’ (Schmidt). Mathot, Au ravin, p. 27. Maser, ‘Vater eines Sohnes’, pp. 173–202. Machtan, Geheimnis, p. 84. Hitler the ‘loner’ in Knopp and Remy (eds), Profile. Mend, Hitler im Felde, pp. 75, 114. 16 Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 135. 17 Brandmayer, Meldegänger Hitler, p. 82. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 179. 18 Ibid., p. 55. 19 Fischer, Betriebsunfall, p. 180. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 115. Wiedemann, Feldherr, pp. 24–29. 20 Amman quoted in Wiedemann, Feldherr, p. 249. 2 1913–14: THE CURA TIVE POWER OF W AR 1 Class cited in Fischer Krieg der Illusionen, p. 144. 2 Bernhardi, Next war, p. 24. 3 Mein Kampf, pp. 145, 159. Bauer and Piper, München, p. 244. Joachimsthaler, Korrek- tur, p. 100. 4 Benz, Graml and Weiss (eds), Nationalsozialismus, p. 679. Weyerer, München 1933–1949, pp. 117–19. Hoffmann, Hitler Was My Friend, pp. 16–17. 5 Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. 2. 6 Film shown in Knopp and Remy, Profile. 7 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 25 May 1913. 8 Wilhelm to Lord Stamfordham, cited by Röhl, ‘Vorsätzlicher Krieg?’ p. 214. Davidson, Making Hitler, p. 46. Maser, Legend, Myth & Reality, p. 70. 9 Table Talk, p. 97. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 126–27. 10 Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 3–4, 126. Bauer and Piper, München, p. 205. 11 Knopp, Bilanz, p. 120. Maser, Legende–Mythos–Wirklichkeit, pp. 118–22. 12 Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 155. Maser, Legend, Myth & Reality, pp. 73–76. Maser, Letters and Notes, pp. 34, 88. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 163. 13 Maser, Letters and Notes, p. 88. 14 Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna, p. 401. Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 126, 155. Maser, Letters and Notes, pp. 34, 74. Maser, Legende–Mythos–Wirklichkeit, pp. 118–22. Knopp, Bilanz, p. 120. Anna Popp in Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, p. 77. 15 Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna, p. 401. Police registration in Jones, Hitler in Vienna, p. 255. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 126. 212 NOTES 16 Bauer and Piper, München, pp. 210–19. Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, p. 77. Hale, Captive Press, p. 4. Manheim in Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. xi. Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna, pp. 21–22. Kershaw, Hitler: 1889–1936, p. 41. 17 Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna, pp. 392, 200–201 and citing Christa Schroeder, p. 233. Frank, Im Angesicht des Galgens, p. 46. Trevor-Roper in Hitler’s Table Talk 1941–1944, p. xxxii. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 245. 18 Bauer and Piper, München, pp. 210–19. 19 Maser, Legend, Myth & Reality, pp. 73–76. Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, pp. 76–98. Machtan, Geheimnis, pp. 67–76. 20 Maser, Legend, Myth & Reality, pp. 73–76. 21 Fischer, Illusions, pp. 161, 190–94. Manheim in Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. xii. Kölnische Zeitung, 10 March 1913. 22 Frankfurter Zeitung, 11 March 1913. Rheinisch-Westfälische Zeitung, 12 March 1913. Vorwärts, 11 March 1913. 23 Post, 25 April 1913, 28 January and 24 February 1914. Fischer, Illusions, p. 372. Kölnische Volkszeitung, 26 February 1914. Kölnische Zeitung, 2 March 1914. 24 Frankfurter Zeitung, 4, 14 March 1914. Germania, 2, 3 March 1914. Fischer, Illusions, pp. 375–79. Bernhardi, ‘Militärischen Lage’. ‘Germanicus’, ‘Michel, wach’ auf!’, Post, 11 March 1914. 25 Berliner Tageblatt, 9 March 1914. Vorwärts, 14 March 1914. 26 Fischer,Illusions,pp.90–94,190–91.HamburgerNachrichten,31November1911. 27 Fischer, Illusions, p. 191 and Illusionen, p. 298. Churchill, World Crisis, pp. 105–106. 28 Trachtenberg, History & Strategy, p. 56. Hans von Schoen, Bavarian chargé d’affaires in Berlin to Count Georg Hertling, Bavarian prime minister, 18 July 1914, Geiss, July 1914, p. 128 and quoting Wilhelm, p. 256. Berliner Letztenachrichtendienst, 1 July 1914. Bremer Bürger-Zeitung, 9 July 1914. Vossische Zeitung, 12 July 1914. Churchill, World Crisis, p. 112. Times, 3, 13 July 1914. 29 In Paris, the Figaro’s comment that there was ‘nothing to be anxious about’ (written two days after the murders) captures the mood of the first week. Maurice Barrès at the Echo de Paris was less sanguine, warning that if the Central Powers were to risk a full- scale continental war, their timing could hardly be better. Figaro, Echo de Paris, 30 June 1914. Hale, Publicity and Diplomacy, p. viii. Vorwärts, 29 June 1914. Germania, Tag, National Zeitung, 1 July 1914. 30 Albertini, Origins, vol. 2, p. 307. Times, 16 July 1914. Norddeutsche Zeitung, 19 July 1914, cited and translated in Geiss, July 1914, p. 142. 31 Jagow to Lichnowsky, German ambassador in London, 18 July 1914, in Geiss, pp. 122–23, 132. 32 Deutsche Tageszeitung, 29 June 1914. Kölnische Zeitung, 10 July 1914. Vossische Zeitung, 12 July 1914. Frankfurter Zeitung, 20 July 1914. Times, 22 July 1914. 33 Sozialdemokratische Korrespondenz, 23 July 1914 in Kuczynski, Chronik und Analyse, p. 32. 34 An observation in the Echo de Paris’ that the German press ‘without much enthusiasm perhaps, by necessity’ supports Austria is a fair summation. Echo de Paris, Post, 24 July 1914. 35 Vorwärts, 25 July 1914. 36 Berliner Tageblatt, Kölnische Zeitung, 24 July 1914. Münchner Neueste Nachrich- ten, Kruez-Zeitung, 26 July 1914. Weser-Zeitung, Hamburger Fremdenblatt, 26 July 1914. 37 Nicolson to Grey, 26 July 1914, Hollweg to Tsirschky und Bögendorff, German Ambassador in Vienna, 30 July 1914, Grey to Goschen British Ambassador in Berlin, 30 July 1914 in Geiss, July 1914, pp. 235, 301, 305, 307. Norddeutsche Zeitung (Flensburg), 26, 27 July 1914. 213 NOTES 38 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 27 July 1914. Times, Norddeutsche Zeitung, National Zeitung, 29 July 1914. 39 Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, Vossische Zeitung, 30 July 1914. Geiss, pp. 270–71. On the day Britain declared war on Germany, Moltke was still assuring Jagow it was inconceivable that ‘England will be willing to assist, by becoming an enemy of Germany, in destroy- ing this civilization – a civilization in which England’s spiritual culture has for ages had so large a share.’ Moltke to Jagow 4 August 1914. Also Hollweg to Bögendorff, 30 July 1914, Grey to Goschen, 30 July 1914 in Geiss, July 1914, pp. 301, 305, 307, 357. 40 Frankfurter Zeitung, 31 July 1914. Vorwärts, 1 August 1914. Norddeutsche Zeitung, 31 July 1914. Vorwärts, 1, 31 July 1914. Bavarian Socialists in Norddeutsche Zeitung, 31 July 1914. 41 Recently, this view has come under vigorous scrutiny. Niall Ferguson accepts the presence of crowds ‘but to describe their mood as simply one of “enthusiasm” or “euphoria” is misleading . . . feelings of anxiety, panic and even millenarian religiosity were equally common responses’. Ferguson, Pity of War, p. 177. Verhey, The spirit of 1914. Wolff in Berliner Tageblatt, 31 July 1916. 42 Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 161–63. Hitler to Hepp, 5 February 1915 in Maser, Letters and Notes, p. 90. Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, pp. 102–107, 116. 3 CANNON FODDER 1 Hitler to Popp in Gilbert, Great War, p. 92. For example, ‘abonnement’ coupon in the Norddeutsche Zeitung, 8 November 1914. 2 Edmonds to Bean, AWM 38 3DRL7953, item 34, 19 September 1927. Norddeutsche Zeitung, 20, 27 October 1914. Gibbs, Adventures, p. 217. Knightley, First Casualty, p. 86. 3 Cummings, The Press, p. 24. 4 Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. xi. Varley, The spirit of 1914, pp. 206–207. 5 Bavarian official history, p. 4. 6 Einem in Förster, ‘Military Planning’, p. 466. Official figures quoted by Bernhardi show ‘22.34 per cent. from the small or country towns, 7.37 per cent. from the medium-sized towns, and 64.15 per cent. from the rural districts’. Bernhardi, Next War, p. 243–44. Hüppauf, ‘Myth of the New Man’, p. 72. 7 Kriegrfreiw. Sachse, ‘Vom Regiment “List” ’, in Peter (ed.), Unsere Bayern, p. 257. 8 Wiedemann, Feldherr, pp. 8–17. 9 Meyer, Mit Adolf Hitler, p. 17. Wiedemann, Feldherr, pp. 18–19. 10 Wiedemann, Feldherr, pp. 18–20. 11 Manvell and Fraenkel, Hess, p. 19. Brandmayer, Meldegänger Hitler, pp. 8, 10–11, 41. Brandmayer’s use of ‘du’ cited in Kershaw, Hitler: 1889–1936, p. 634. 12 Schmidt in Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, p. 115. 13 Later Brandmayer was forgiven and, in 1939, Hitler even helped organize a loan of 5,000 Reichsmarks for his old comrade. Schmidt’s career and Brandmayer’s loan in Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, pp. 115, 148. Brandmayer’s problems with Schrifttum- skammer in Kershaw, Hitler: 1889–1936, p. 634. Mend’s experiences in Maser, Legend, Myth & Reality, pp. 87–88 and in Joachimsthaler, Korrektur, p. 271. 14 Mend, Hitler im Felde, pp. 11–14. 15 Ibid. Mein Kampf, p. 164. Norddeutsche Zeitung, 12, 13 August 1914. 16 Berliner Tageblatt, 15 August 1914. 17 Gerlach, Zeit der Lüge, p. 74. Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten, 20 August 1914. Hofer Anzeiger, München-Augsburger Abendzeitung, 21 August 1914. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 164. Deutschen Tageszeitung, Post, 21 August 1914. 18 Berliner Tageblatt, 22 August 1914. 19 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 1 September 1914. Berliner Tageblatt, 4 September 1914. 214 NOTES 20 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 3 September 1914. Berliner Tageblatt, 9, 14 September 1914. 21 Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 1914. Berliner Tageblatt, 14 September 1914. 22 General Joseph Simon Galliéni quoted by Sir James Edmonds in October–November 1914, p. 126. 23 Figaro, 11, 14 October 1914. 24 Berliner Tageblatt, 14 October 1914. 25 Ibid. 26 Berliner Tageblatt, 21 October 1914. Times, 15, 24 October 1914. 27 Hitler cited in ‘Adolf Hitler: ils étainent cinq dans les tranchées’, Historica 1914–1918, Bayeux October–November 1993, p. 25. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 15. 28 Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. 8. Hitler to Frau Popp, Maser, Letters and Notes, pp. 44–47. 29 Solleder (ed.), ibid., pp. 10–11. Table Talk, p. 325. 30 Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 16. Hitler to Popp, Maser, Letters and Notes, p. 50. 31 Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. 12. 32 Maser, Letters and Notes, pp. 68–71. 33 Ibid., pp. 50, 71. Sachse, ‘Vom Regiment List’, in Peter (ed.), Unsere Bayern, p. 258. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 17. 34 Rubenhauer in Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. 13. Mend, Hitler im Felde, p. 17. 35 ‘Parade in Lille vor Sr. Majestät dem König Ludwig III von Bayern’, in Peter (ed.), Unsere Bayern, p. 33. 36 Berliner Tageblatt, 21, 28 October 1914. Letter to Popp, Maser, Letters and Notes, p. 53. Rupprecht in München–Augsburger-Abendzietung, 27 October 1914. 4 WEST FLANDERS 1914 1 Solleder (ed), Vier Jahre Westfront, p. 32. 2 Cited in Wiedemann, Feldherr, pp. 20–21. 3 Edmonds (quoting General Galliéni) in Military Operations France and Belgium, October–November 1914, pp. 126, 197. 4 Ibid., p. 127. 5 Falkenhayn in Neillands, Attrition, p. 56. German official history, vol. 5, p. 318. 6 Asprey, German High Command, p. 122. Cited in Gilbert, Great War, p. 93. 7 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 23, 24 October 1914. Pürkel and Ungern-Sternberg, Aufruf an die Kulturwelt. Gilbert, Great War, p. 100. Delage in Figaro, 27 October 1914. Berliner Tageblatt, 26 October 1914. Falkenhayn, General Headquarters, p. 33. 8 Asprey, pp. 110, 121. Bernhardi, Denkwürdigkeiten, pp. 396–97. 9 Falkenhayn, General Headquarters, p. 11. 10 Times, 17 October 1914. 11 Gilbert, Great War, pp. 92, 94. 12 Bayern im Grossen Krieg, p. 136. Meyer, Mit Adolf Hitler, pp. 18–20. 13 Times, 13, 15 and 24 October 1914. 14 Norddeutsche Zeitung, 22 October 1914. 15 Berliner Tageblatt, 5 November 1914. 16 Ibid. 17 Mein Kampf, pp. 144–45, 181. 18 Fabeck in Gilbert, Great War, p. 96. 19 Letter to Hepp, 5 February 1915 in Maser, Letters and Notes, pp. 68–90. 20 Ibid. 21 Mend, Hitler im Felde, pp. 19–20. 22 Ibid. 23 Solleder (ed.), Vier Jahre Westfront, pp. 21–22. 24 Ibid., pp. 24–27. 215 NOTES 25 Mend’s memory may have already been playing tricks. Hitler certainly could not have worn a helmet nor did he become a company runner until after his promotion to corpo- ral and the award of his 2nd Class Iron Cross. Mend, Hitler im Felde, pp. 24–25. 26 Ibid., pp.