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18 Strange and Startling Facts About Hitler

Updated October 1, 2019 1.4m views18 items

Adolf Hitler is one of the most studied and written-about figures in history. But that doesn't mean new facts aren't constantly being found out about him. In February 2016, a book was released that all but confirmed the long-standing rumors that he suffered from a condition that gave him an abnormally small penis (aka micropenis), along with only having one testicle.

The Hitler biography is full of strange anecdotes and historical oddities, especially about his childhood. Far from making the monstrous dictator sympathetic, they somehow make his evil even more apparent. He was from a huge mess of a family, with an elderly father who had uncertain parentage. He was impossibly vain and paranoid about his image and the sound of his voice. He was both a teetotaler and a drug addict. He had a taste for young women, yet was totally uninterested in sex. And he was a tax cheat, skimming money from the Nazi party to buy luxury goods unavailable to most Germans.

Here are some truly bizarre Adolf Hitler facts - not the fascist dictator as much as the person, in all of his paranoia and loathing.
  • Hitler's Family Tree Is a Mess

    Both genealogists and historians are endlessly fascinated by Hitler's family, and what about it turned him from failed artist to soldier to political agitator to ruthless dictator. Like many families of the era, it's a confusing tangle of marriages, re-marriages, step-siblings, half nieces and nephews, and adoptive parents.

    It's made all the more opaque by conflicting spellings of names, and identically named relatives. There are real questions about who Hitler's grandfather was, with the two candidates being brothers, and each named Johan Heidler - though they had different middle names. Hitler's father, Alois, was married three times, confusing matters even further, and giving Hitler a clutch of half-siblings who would be in and out of his life until the very end.
  • By Age 18, Hitler Was a Homeless Orphan

    Hitler's father, Alois, was married three times, and it was the third marriage, to Karla, that produced Adolf. Alois was already in his fifties and uninterested in raising more children, so the two had a combative relationship. Alois was a heavy drinker, cared more about his hobby of beekeeping than raising children, and would beat both Adolf and his older son, Alois, Jr.

    Alois died in 1903, leaving Hitler's mother a small pension. In 1907, when the dictator was only 18, Hitler's mother died - crushing him emotionally and leaving him a homeless orphan. He likely forged his anti-semitism in the drifting, shiftless years between his mother's death and his moving to Munich in 1913.
  • He Took Selfies While Practicing Speeches

    Photo: Heinrich Hoffmann / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

    After being released from prison in 1925, Hitler was keen to increase the popularity and power of the Nazi Party. He intended to use his natural talent for oratory for these purposes, but was self-conscious about his facial expressions and hand movements. So he arranged for a photographer named Heinrich Hoffman to take pictures of him as he rehearsed his screeds, intending to use them to refine his persona.

    The pictures are humanizing and bizarre, showing the dictator in a variety of exaggerated poses, like a madman snapping pics with his phone in a mirror. Needless to say, Hitler ordered them destroyed, but Hoffman hung on to them. The photographer was arrested by the Allies for war profiteering, and the nine pictures became public after his death in 1957.
  • It's Possible He Had a Sexual Relationship with His Niece

    Photo: Pinterest

    While Eva Braun is the woman most linked to Hitler, he also had a bizarre and likely sexual relationship with his half-niece, Geli Raubal. She was 19 years younger than Hitler, and her uncle gave her mother a job as a housekeeper at Hitler's mountain retreat. Raubal moved into Hitler's Munich apartment, where he kept a tight leash on her. She was forbidden to leave without escort, couldn't see friends, and wasn't allowed to conduct even basic errands.

    After about two years as a virtual prisoner, Raubal and Hitler had an argument after he forbade her from going to Vienna. After he left for a meeting, she's thought to have shot herself in the chest, though some have speculated that Hitler had her killed. Whatever the cause, the death devastated Hitler and sent him into a deep depression. He kept her room exactly the way she lived in it, and declared her to be the only woman he ever loved. It's never been confirmed that the two had an intimate relationship - only a controlling and possessive one.