How are Freudian analysis and Adolf Hitler linked? Despite being universally known as one of the fathers of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud's techniques are not without their critics. For instance, Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov said of Freudian analysis: "Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. I really do not care."
Nevertheless, the US government trusted Freudian analysis enough to contract a psychoanalyst named Walter C. Langer to investigate Adolf Hitler's childhood, speeches, and writing to try to guess what his final moves might have been toward the end of World War II. Langer's predictions, later published in a book called The Mind of Adolf Hitler, didn't ultimately impact military decisions, but they proved to be surprisingly accurate.Here's a look at the handful of things Langer got right about the psychology of Hitler and the Führer's final days.
That He Would Have Frequent Emotional Outbursts
The Prediction: "Each defeat will shake his confidence still further and limit his opportunities for proving his own greatness to himself. In consequence he will feel himself more and more vulnerable to attack from his associates and his rages will increase in frequency. He will probably try to compensate for his vulnerability on this side by continually stressing his brutality and ruthlessness."
How It Came True: "Emotional outbursts" may be understating things a bit - this is Adolf Hitler after all. In the final two years of Hitler's life, Langer predicted accurately that the Führer would become furious and increasingly paranoid about his crumbling military operation. According to the memoirs of his associates, Hitler would throw tantrums that would last for hours when he learned that his generals were tossing his orders out and making plans of their own. One historian describes these tantrums as "fits of screaming, uncontrollable rage."
That He Would Make Fewer Public Appearances
The Prediction: "His public appearances will become less and less for, as we have seen, he is unable to face a critical audience."
How It Came True: Following defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad and on the beaches of Normandy, Hitler went into hermit mode, dodging his generals and eating lunch solo (or with his secretaries) in his private quarters. His iconic public speeches became a thing of the past. Right-hand man Joseph Goebbels said that this seclusion was strategic: the sight of a defeated Hitler would suggest to the German people that the war was unwinnable. Langer further guessed that Hitler was waiting at this time for his "inner voice" to guide him and assumed that his "nightmares will probably increase in frequency and intensity."
That There Would Be an Assassination Attempt Made on His Life
The Prediction: "Although Hitler is extremely well protected there is a possibility that someone may assassinate him. Hitler is afraid of this possibility ..."How It Came True: Considering there were several attempts to assassinate Hitler prior to Langer's analysis, this prediction was a pretty safe bet. Regardless, Langer was correct that one final attempt would be made. In 1944 a few angry German ex-military officers tried to blow Hitler up with a suitcase bomb. It didn't work, obviously, but it did lead Hitler to state that surviving the blast meant he must be "immortal." He went into hiding shortly thereafter.
That He Would Not Surrender
The Prediction: "He will fight as long as he can with any weapon or technique that can be conjured up to meet the emergency. The course he will follow will almost certainly be the one which seems to him to be the surest road to immortality and at the same time drag the world down in flames."How It Came True: Langer was spot-on with his prediction that Hitler would think it was better to burn out than to fade away. After a final public appearance on April 20, 1944, Hitler literally went underground and hid in a bunker in Berlin with his command staff and a few private German citizens (including his bride-to-be, Eva Braun). After he learned one of his commanders refused to stage a last stand south of Berlin, Hitler declared that the war was over - but he did not surrender. He instead asked his private doctor about other options.