What I learned about Adolf Hitler from Hermann Giesler

Published by carolyn on Wed, 2018-02-21 12:51

By Carolyn Yeager

THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING ADOLF HITLER'S BEHAVIOR AS A PEACE AND WAR LEADER lies in this sentence, quoted by Hermann Giesler from August 1943, after the devastating air attack on Hamburg. Hitler said, recalling his decision not to attack the remaining British troops at Dunkirk in 1940:

It didn't agree with my character to step on the one who lays on the ground.

He saw the British as essentially defeated, and that they must themselves recognize that fact. He followed up with this: “After awhile I had to rethink. I was mistaken—magnanimity will not be recognized. What you see there [in photos of the Hamburg victims] is destructive brutality. Again and again one tries not to believe this, now I know—no mercy.” (p50)

But character is not changed by events. Decisions may be made against one's own character, but it is not easy or natural. Adolf Hitler was resolute, firm in his opinions and beliefs; he could be hard when necessary, but he was not ruthless, as were his adversaries. There were lines he would or could not cross.

Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were all prepared to carry out whatever acts they thought would get them closer to their goal—unconditional victory. They brought into play the darkest of black ops, and had no regard for their own soldiers apart from public opinion – the perception the public had of them as leaders.

Adolf Hitler never intended to utterly destroy anything, except for Bolshevism. He wanted to negotiate with other nations, to make deals that freed Germany from the Versailles Dictate and gave her respect and a high standing in the world again. He seems to have genuinely believed others were reasonable because war was such an unthinkable prospect after the recent Great War in which he had been a participant. But if reason was not followed, then he was prepared to use the greater persuasive power of strength and even limited force of arms. But from everything he says according to Hermann Giesler's memoir, ruthlessness was not among his attributes or his options.

There are plenty out there who find that lack of ruthlessness a grave failing in Hitler, and the reason Germany was ultimately decimated. They may be right. They probably are right. All the winners were ruthless and they have gotten away with it in the official history so far because they won. They were devious, dirty and without scruples or conscience. Do we really wish Hitler had been the same because our race realist and nationalist views coincide with his? After consideration, I for one don't, but in any case, wishing doesn't change anything. I want to understand Hitler, not try to prop up a false idol. So I am going to share in this essay what I've discovered about the personality of Adolf Hitler as revealed by Giesler in his book Ein Anderer Hitler (Another Hitler), that also shines through in our English translation from that book, titled The Artist Within the Warlord.

The Hitler-Giesler Connection

The relationship between the two men in itself tells us a lot. I don't have any sense at all that Giesler is not recounting his conversations just as he remembers them—that he is not trying to convey a faithful account of his interactions with this powerful man. At the very beginning of his own book Ein Anderer Hitler, Giesler writes that in the Landsberg war crimes prison yard in 1948, his friend Prof. Franz Alfred Six once asked him:

Giesler, you were his architect - what impressed you most about Hitler?

– The compelling fascination! There was a radiation from him that I could not escape. How often have I seen this happen to others as well, when he spoke to soldiers he distinguished with medals, generals and field marshals to whom he gave orders. This charisma was extraordinary. Perhaps this explains why no one was able to face him openly with their weapon, to look at him and then to shoot.

Perhaps it also explains why all those who fear or hate what Adolf Hitler represents must denigrate him as a boring, bumbling failure who kept his position in Germany only because of pure police power and terror – two concepts that cannot possibly live together in one man.

Hitler looked to a future without war, or at least not being waged by him. He did not see himself as a permanent warlord. He gave Giesler the task of designing a retirement home for him and Eva Braun, who he said he intended to marry after he retired. Giesler quotes Hitler speaking about it:

The great hall with the terrace, it's sides framed by the bays, is the proper room for an 'Artus Runde' (King Arthur's Round Table). I like having it that way. You, as my architect, will be a member. (p123)

When Martin Bormann invited Giesler to accompany him on an inspection trip to the Obersalzberg farm that supplied the Fuehrer compound, he led him to a spot off the road and asked Giesler how he liked the view. [Chapter Eight, p 143-44] Giesler said “magnificent” and Bormann told him,

You are going to be settled here after the war so you are present for the Fuehrer at any time.

Whether this was only Bormann's idea at that time because he knew how beneficial Giesler's company was for his Chief, I don't know. But it is another indication of how comfortable Adolf Hitler was with Giesler around, and everyone knew it.

Hitler wanted peace so he could build

After winning the battle of France in June 1940, Hitler hoped to avoid further war. In Chapter One, page 21, he said, as if to himself in Giesler's presence, as though setting a task for himself:

I want peace – I know of better things than waging war – I do not need to make a name by warmongering like Churchill—I want to make my name as a steward of the German people, to secure its unity and Lebensraum, to achieve National Socialism and shape the environment—the rebuilding of the German cities according to modern knowledge.

These were Hitler's goals; war got in the way of accomplishing them. In Chapter Two, page 27, Giesler relays to us Hitler's attitude in the ongoing negotiations with Poland:

Until the last massive snub by the Polish leadership at the end of August 1939, he couldn't imagine that they would let it come to a fight.

Hitler thought he was negotiating in good faith with a stubborn Poland, who must realize the only sensible thing they could do in the circumstances was to accept a narrow corridor for Germany to East Prussia and release their claim on a totally German city, Danzig. For that, they got many assurances from Germany for years into the future. It was unthinkable that they would choose to go to war over it. But they did, disregarding common sense, which Adolf Hitler didn't expect. It was a trap set by the British Foreign Office, with Roosevelt in the background, and not only Hitler, but Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Polish leaders too, were fooled by it.

In Chapter Three, page 51, Giesler recalls in Fall 1942 that Hitler was still bound to what he called “peace tasks:”

During [our] hours of mutual planning, he saw himself bound to peace, and his real mission as forming a new social order of the German people and their environment. He found the answer to the challenge of the time, the challenge of (architectural) technique, and the challenge of the new social order. In those hours, he was lifted up.

In Chapter 5, page 87, speaking of his decision to invade Russia, Hitler says:

My only alternative was the defense by a preventive stroke. Not only Germany was at stake, but the very existence of Europe. Still the decision wasn't an easy one. Regardless of all other matters, it meant the postponement of the realization of the social part of the tasks I set for myself and which required a secure time of peace. To [that] belonged the reconstruction of German cities.

Now we learn why Adolf Hitler took on these wartime roles that he actually did not want. It was because his sense of responsibility to Germany and Europe gave him no choice. After the July 20th assassination attempt, he commented to Giesler (p 179-180):

Those were the worst days of my life. […] What is my life? – only struggle and worry and grinding responsibility. Fate and providence assigned those tasks and burdens to me—and doesn't the last assassination attempt just demand more steadfastness than ever, to continue the struggle with trust and confidence?

Many times, Hitler spoke of steadfastness as the most important trait for leadership. Isn't this why Will and Faithfulness were so important to him? Giesler quotes him at this time saying:

We have to create a new aristocracy, a value and rank order based on character, courage and steadiness. One sentence of Nietzsche's I identify with: “What today can prove if one be of value or not?—that he is steadfast.” (p 180)

Adolf Hitler admits his mistake

In chapter two, page 33, Hitler is quoted as saying in Fall 1944 (after 'Valkyrie') that at the time of his decision to invade the Soviet Union he thought the struggle to exist or not to exist could only be fought by a solid unity and with the hard will of the entire German Volk:

If we acquire that solidarity, then our strong will, our unity should overcome any peril. But in that, the solidarity, I misjudged. I underestimated the reactionaries.

On another occasion in 1944 (p 180), after the full extent of the treason was revealed, Hitler uses the word “misjudged” three times:

I misjudged the reactionaries. I misjudged their vain ambitions, their need for admiration and their intellectual shortcomings … all that I misjudged! I forgot that I am a revolutionary.

He chides himself for holding the German General Staff in too high regard:

I never believed it possible that a General Staff officer was able to commit such a characterless crime—even though due to my experiences since 1938 I ought to have expected it.

But it was not only Hitler who saw the Field Marshals and Generals as honorable men who would never knowingly do anything to harm their own soldiers. Giesler also said that he “could never have imagined that a German officer would agree to form a “National Committee for a Free Germany” when in Soviet captivity, as did Seydlitz-Kurzbach. (p 190) And the security officers who briefed Giesler about the bomb plot—Hoegl of the SD said, “It is pretty hard to believe that such a contemptible infamy is at all possible—for us they were sacred cows.” (p 150)  Major General Rattenhuber, head of Hitler's Security detail, remarked: "Just the thought than an officer, even a general, could commit treason or assassinate the Fuehrer was, until now--how do you call it--a sacrilege." (p 154) This is how the Germans were—they held their fighting men and especially commanders in the highest esteem. That they would commit the treason of passing top-secret information to the enemy during wartime was unthinkable.

But still, as Hitler said himself, he should have known better. And he did know that treason was occurring at various times, but he did not, or could not, or would not, investigate the incredible extent of it. If he did do something (he questioned people, fired a few), it wasn't enough. He knew many opposed him, even in the military, but I believe he took it as something he must endure and work to change. Contrarily Stalin, when he became suspicious of anyone he had them “disappeared” or arrested and put into prison. Hitler operated differently; he believed it was his job to persuade top-staff, not to order, which he thought was counter-productive. And he did have a lot of success with that. For Churchill and Roosevelt, they were not in control of their governments in the same way, but were controlled by forces behind the scenes who made many of the decisions for them.

Was Hitler too soft?

Hitler was an ethical man who was trying to guide his nation through an immoral time when Germany was surrounded, both within and without, by conspiring enemies who indulged in lies and hypocrisy. He had to make existential decisions based on whether Germany would continue to exist or not. If he had exhibited the same disregard for life and property as did his enemies, would the outcome have changed at all? The resources available to that group enemy were far greater than those available to him. In the end, the one with the greater resources wins.

What I do know is that Hitler

  • was an artist and innovative thinker = Creativity

  • had a powerful desire to lift up his people = Compassion

  • exhibited natural bravery that was apparent in WWI and during his political career = Courage

This is the man who took on the immense responsibility to defend all of Western Europe (against it's own will) since that was part and parcel of defending Germany.

Did he fail? I say no, because Western Europe did remain free of Bolshevism and Soviet domination. Perhaps the limited nature of his success was the most that could ever have been hoped for, considering the circumstances prevailing at the time (the pendulum was swinging toward the left) and the weakness and rot in the Western ruling classes. As Adolf Hitler said before he took his own life to deprive the Russians from taking it from him, his ideas would live on and we who follow him must not give up, but continue the struggle.

Hitler taught us that life is struggle, but it is also sublime. He personified and lived both extremes. I am glad that Adolf Hitler was exactly who he was: a principled man, a self-sacrificing man, a steadfast man, a man of the West who left us an amazing legacy—not one of those inferior ruthless men.



Ms. Yeager,
A few days ago, I received the book- 'The Artist Within The Warlord, An Adolf Hitler You Have Never Known' from TBR.  I have only perused it.  It appears to be well-researched, well-written, and interesting.  I look forward to reading it soon!
May I order 'Hitler's Table Talk' by snail mail and pay by check?  I am out of function for electronic means of payment for another two weeks.  I can wait until then, if need be.
Duncan Edmister


Are you talking about our CDs of Hitler's Table Talk, with commentary? If so, I don't have those in my possession; they must be purchased through the company that produces them: https://www.trepstar.com/purchase.asp?idprod=225920&mode=itemlist

If you're meaning the book Table Talk, I of course am not a bookseller and don't have those either.

Take advantage of your two-week wait and read The Artist Within the Warlord carefully, and comment here if you wish. You are right in your assessment - it is a book that should not be read quickly, for it gives you plenty to think about.

Thank you very much for your interest in my work.

Your article is excellent and is very useful for the main takeaways from your book about Hitler's moral character and thinking. Even despite his ultimate defeat, he is clearly heroic and the greatest man of the 20th century. Here is my own review of The Artist Within the Warlord:
The Artist Within the Warlord: An Adolf Hitler You’ve Never Known (2017) by Carolyn Yeager and Wilhelm Kriessmann Ph.D., is a book that should be read both by scholars and biographers of Hitler as well as by those just curious to learn about the “real” Hitler.
The book contains translations of pertinent portions of the memoirs of architect Hermann Giesler in Ein Anderer Hitler (“Another Hitler”). It is a fascinating read which is interspersed with enlightening commentary and footnoted just enough by the authors to make the flow of the read more illuminating. There are also many interesting photos throughout.
Giesler spent a lot of time with Hitler concerning the architectural reconstruction of Germany after the war as well as the Linz redevelopment project. Linz was Hitler’s boyhood home. Hitler would often speak to Giesler about the war as well as his architectural and artistic thoughts.
Chapter 1 is entitled “With Adolph Hitler in Paris”. Hitler the artist appears in his respectful visit to Paris in 1940, beginning with an early morning flight and a prearranged tour of Paris in the early morning darkness beginning with the Imperial Opera House and continuing to other architectural landmarks. His knowledge of the architecture of Paris seemed very thorough.
Hitler was most upset by the treason of his military. The enemy was often appraised of German military actions before they started. Those led to the needless deaths of a million or more young German soldiers. Hitler could barely believe that unknown high German military officers would be capable of such treason that knowingly led to the carnage of their own young soldiers.
It is virtually impossible for a book such as this to be published by a major publisher in the English-speaking world. A quite successful criticism of the major Hitler biographers was made by R.H.S. Stolfi (professor emeritus at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California) in Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny (2011), published by Prometheus Books. He takes exception to the many common, mindless, facile criticisms of Hitler by explaining Hitler’s youthful background and the conditions of Germany before and after his rise to power. Apparently, even to get his book published, however, he had to put some obligatory criticism of Hitler, so the knowledgeable reader must read between the lines.
Therefore, thanks go to The Barnes Review for publishing The Artist Within the Warlord,a seminal, truthful book about Hitler, the man, the artist and the warlord. It should be in every modern history thinker’s library.

Thanks Raymond (Not Raymond Goodwin, another Raymond), for your review. Very good.

In this essay, I tried hard to get beyond the words and so common phrases we who are positive about Adolf Hitler are used to using, and seeing others use, too. I revised my wording a number of times in an effort to convey just my most recent impressions from Hermann Geisler's writing. I admit to a greater familiarity with the text than you who have read it for the first time and that makes me look deeper.

One night several weeks ago, I sat reading over it (proofing) and was struck by Hitler's seeming failure to follow up on all his, not only premonitions but actual knowledge of secret military plans being passed to the enemy. This bothered me at the time a lot. How could he say "I knew treason was being carried out" but just carry on with the same people??  Of course, just because he didn't discuss it with Giesler doesn't mean he wasn't doing something about it. However, obviously his security operatives never got to the bottom of it. This is what I'm trying to grapple with in this essay. Why?

My own thinking process led me, while writing it, to accept Hitler as he was, and to actually celebrate that, since I don't know all there is to know about him and about the war, and never will. But just pointing to the ridiculous stories and myths perpetrated about him by the dummies out there is not enough for me any longer. I want to go beyond that into a more advanced conversation.

I thought I should read the Stolfi book (did you read it?) and I googled it tonight and read Greg Johnson's review of "Hitler: Beyond  Evil and Tyranny". It was pretty thorough, thus I now feel I know what Stolfi has said so I'm not going to waste my time reading it. Lol. Not that interesting. I'd rather read his book, "Hitler's Panzers East." I really like learning more about the actual war battles. I read a few books  some years back by German air aces and tank soldiers and loved them. I don't need to read anymore about other's views of whether Hitler was evil or not. Hermann Giesler is the best source,  I'm sure, and that suffices.

You are right. Everyone with any interest in Hitler should get this book! It's the best.

l read Stolfi's book in 2012.  It took me four months to read it, 20 pages a day.  It was marvelous for the first 460 pages because Stolfi defends Hitler and his personality against all the previous, rotten historians like Ian Kershaw who want to condemn him, calling him a visionary like Lohengren in Wagner's opera and saying he was a world-historic personality as rare as Julius Caesar and Napoleon, but then in the last page and a half, Stolfi, suddenly, calls Hitler a "dark world-historic personality" responsible for the "unimaginatively cruel systematic killing of European Jews."  He offers no evidence or explanation for his reversal.  Stolfi died soon after publishing this book.  The Artist Within the Warlord is superior to Stolfi's book, no question.    

Thanks for this, Joey. You know, Stolfi's sudden turnaround may be similar to Giesler's account of Dr. Sauerbruch, pages125-129, wherein Dr. Handloser tells Giesler that the interviewer must have written the crazy lies about Hitler and his dog in Sauerbruch's memoir, "according to the fashion of the present time." Not that Giesler accepted that, he still thought it was Sauerbruch himself.

In Stolfi's book, being he was so close to death, it was probaby the publisher who added that stuff. In Sauerbruch's  case, he had developed dementia and died two years after publishing his memoir.

I read and carefully studied Stolfi’s book in 2012 before Greg Johnson published his May 2013 article on Stolfi’s book in Counter-Currents. Because Carolyn mentioned his article, I read Johnson’s article yesterday. His article is a good outline of Stolfi’s major arguments, and I can only disagree with him on one point: in my opinion Hitler was a superior artist to Churchill!  I do believe and recommend that every student or scholar of Hitler should read Stolfi’s book in its entirety. The book is very rich with details and episodes from Hitler’s life. Furthermore, it’s now 2018 and I do not expect to see a biography of Hitler published in the foreseeable future that will equal the insights that Stolfi has already provided for us.  

Carolyn, thank you for this marvelous essay.  What you say that you learned here is what I also learned from reading The Artist Within the Warlord (without the ability to express it) and is, I think, what all readers learn or will learn once they read the book. 
What you've done here is compress and summarize the essence of your book loaded with well-described difficulties that Hitler faced – thus, showing Hitler as a high-minded, moral man possessed of a noble soul who loved Europe and his race and who wanted in final to fight for a world of peaceful relations among all nations in the West without any Bolshevik or Communist control. 
 You quoted one passage from your book that when I first read it in your book left me breathless:  "I was mistaken—magnanimity will not be recognized."  That one statement redounds to his entire circumstance in strategizing the war and in dealing with the treasonous officials who surrounded him.  It underscores, too, how cruel Fate killed this last remnant of the noble Greek and Roman warrior in Germany’s Third Reich. 
Hitler believed in human decency and in man's magnanimity to such an extent that it was not possible for him to see how low man had already descended into barbarism -- until it was too late. 
And your book shows how paltry were his resources in contrast to the monstrous enemy who deceitfully overcame him with their innumerable soldiers and fiat money.  Hitler was no monster.  Hitler was not the “human, all too human” type condemned by Nietzsche.  He was one of the best examples of being human – artistic, cultured, intellectual, and a warrior.  The truth is it was the Allies, sadly, who revealed to humanity their evil souls and their utter lack of magnanimity while heaping scorn and vitriol on Hitler’s true character and his high-minded, civilized goals for the good of European men and women of the future. 

Ms. Yeager,
Today, I have finally made arrangements with my mother for the acquisition of a copy of this book. Undoubtedly a must-have for all serious students of Hitler.
It is perfectly true that it was not in Hitler's character to be cruel or ruthless. Bormann/Saur furnish an excellent example of ruthlessness. Hitler relied on such people, but he certainly did not share in that quality. As he said in Platterhof talks and table talks, he did not force Jews out cruelly, he merely told them to leave. He confined himself to legal measures.
Yes, there were and are many who believe Hitler was too gentle or naive in his treatment towards the Jews and Allied forces. What these people fail to take into account is that the war was lost not due to incidents such as Dunkirk or the invasion of Russia, but by deeply encrenched subversion and fatal sentimentality. All the stale, withering corpses on board the sinking ship of the democratic Weimar Republic came together in the July 20 plot. Had these elements been rooted out sooner, Hitler's purges would have had more impact on the war's outcome. I've read some of the comments on this book, they really helped me understand how many traitors and reactionaries Hitler was surrounded with. Also, Bormann and Goebbels regularly had complaints about the Air Force and Goering.
Hitler's apparent naivety could be attributed to his early years of unrelenting studying. However, it's also clear that he also had experience on his side, as seen in his clever use of his oratory gifts and analysis of the German mentality.
I hadn't ever conceived of Hitler making a reference to the British legend of King Arthur's Round Table. That's really interesting.
The radiance Giesler speaks of is best described in Heinz Linge's memoirs, where Mr. Linge brings up an incident occuring at Zaporozhe and later, a 1943 flight. Hitler's enemies only dimly realize the significance of his incarnation, which is why they feel the need to tear away all outstanding qualities from this man especially. On my site, I have been compiling an arrangement of quotes to showcase Hitler's core beliefs. If knowledge is recollection, then Hitler can be re-awoken, if he returns or if he has already come.
Unfortunately, I don't actually know much about Giesler's relationship to Bormann, but if Bormann approved of him, then he absolutely checks out. What a burden Hitler must have carried throughout the war. Both Bormann and Goebbels, who were called his most loyal, noted this burden in their respective writings.
Hitler's mistake:
The betrayal was evidently one that hit the soldiers the hardest. I recently read Otto Ernst Remer's account of the July 20 plot. He didn't at all suspect General von Hasse to have been involved.
Hitler's qualities:
An excellent summary, those three Cs, as well as the concluding words.
As he put it himself: "The significance of a political philosopher does not depend on the practical success of the plans he lays down but rather on their absolute truth and the influence they exert on the progress of mankind."
Otherwise, we would have to admit that all reformers have failed in the long run. Their success is in the foundation they lay down for future successors and the effect these teachings they have on human development. Such has been the actual merit of Jesus' teachings (not to be confused with Christianity or the churches), such will be the merit of Hitler's racial doctrine.

So good to hear from you, Janus. Glad you are getting the book. Your very perceptive comments are much appreciated. Also your amazing memory of details. Tell me (us) about Heinz Linge and the Zaporozhe and the 1943 flight. I have his book and read it, but of course don't remember specifics it contains now. I looked for that reference but didn't find it right away, so am asking you.

It's good to hear from you too Ms. Yeager. How have you been doing? Thanks for the compliment! I actually haven't memorized that quote verbatim, but I do remember the basic gist of it. That event should be under Chapter 16, Reflections on Russia.

On page 175, the Fuehrer makes his last drive to the Front in March 1945 and the car crosses over fields and pastures to stop at a Luftwaffe command post at Stettin. Linge writes that the farmers and their wives somehow got word of it and gathered around as close as they could, and one felt the effect he still had on them, just like he always had. Hitler did not speak, but gave a jovial wave. One could see the hope in their faces, the excitement.

We have a photo in our book (p 231) of that last visit to the Front. Hitler is seated, which is unusual, with all the generals standing attentively around him. He looks fine, but being seated tells us he was too weak or too tired to stand.

He took a longer trip to the Front in 1943 by plane (p 177-8) They walked the last distance on a dirty road. He just kind of suprised the officers and men, right up where the bullets were whistling, and Linge says they reacted as if they were electrified when they saw him.

Thanks for reaquainting me a little bit with Linge's book.

I must have missed that in my selective reading. It's another fine example of his mystique.
I'm looking forward to viewing that photo you mentioned!
You're welcome.

Have thoroughly enjoyed the articles and comments. Many good points made and the honest approach concerning Der Fuehrer are refreshing. Not much I could add, but will make comments that have been known by thinking people for ages!
Hitler's mission (which he knew to be) - that so took away from his artistic talent - was to protect Europe from the Bolshevic Beast to the east. He died having done his best in that mission. Many do not stop to think, however, that Hitler also recognized the capitalist beast as a deadly threat to his country. He wrote Mein Kampf and birthed National Socialism as the only way to make his nation sovereign and free from BOTH poisons. The key element in THAT mission was to free Germany from capitalism and communism - the two-headed snake whose goal was, and still is, total control of all nations of the world via finance. Hitler knew there was very little difference in the two - both were controlled by Jews, and still are. Jews in Russia, England, and the USA knew that the National Socialist ideology represented, for the first time, a threat to their goal of world domination. Thus from the start of WW2, there was never any chance for German peace initiatives to succeed. Unconditional surrender and total destruction of Germany was the GOAL from the beginning.
The fact that Hitler's Germany fought off the world for 6 years - especially considering the treason from within Germany - speaks to the greatness of the Leader, and is testament to his standing as the greatest warrior for truth and justice in history.
Ray Goodwin      

You only have to compare Hitlers refusal to deploy nerve gas on military targets during the Normandy Invasion or at anytime, V 2's had been outfitted for the purpose, with Trumans willingness to drop atomic bombs on civilian targets in a war already won to see the stark differrence in charactar. Both weapons were a quantum leap in weaponry.

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