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With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet (Pen and Sword Books, 2009; 224 pages)

Discussion in 'Biographies and Everything Else' started by dgmitchell, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. dgmitchell

    dgmitchell Ace

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    Most of the people who truly knew Adolf Hitler did not survive May of 1945. There were suicides, executions, disappearances and general mayhem. Over time, however, some of the less well known members of Hitler’s followers did emerge to contribute their personal memoirs to the history of the Second World War, Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. Earlier this year, Pen and Sword Books released the first English translation of Christa Schroeder’s He Was My Chief: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Secretary and now Pen and Sword has followed that successful release with the publication of an English translation of With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet (Pen and Sword Books, 2009; 224 pages) by Heinz Linge.

    Linge joined the Waffen-SS in 1934 and was quickly assigned to work at the Reich Chancellery. In 1935, he was attached to Hitler’s personal staff and in 1939 rose to serve as Hitler’s sole valet. As such, Linge had responsibility for ensuring that all of Hitler’s immediate needs were satisfied. Accordingly, it was Linge’s responsibility to ensure that Hitler had pocket money when he needed it, extra reading glasses, extra overcoats and every other item of personal property or source of information that Hitler might request. As a member of Hitler’s personal staff, Linge was rarely outside of the range of Hitler’s voice and from 1939 until the moment of Hitler’s death six years later, Linge was Hitler’s constant companion. On May 1, 1945, it was Linge who oversaw the hasty cremation of both Hitler and Eva Braun in the minutes after they had committed suicide.

    Following the collapse of the Third Reich, Linge was captured by Soviet forces in Berlin and quickly transported to Moscow where he was tortured and repeatedly interrogated by Soviet intelligence officers who were convinced that Hitler had not died and was in hiding somewhere. Eventually, in 1950, Linge was tried in Moscow as a war criminal (although it is never made clear what war crimes, if any, he might have committed) and sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor. After serving five years in prison, the Soviets released him in 1955 as part of the general amnesty given to Nazi war criminals. Linge moved back to Germany but did not publish With Hitler to the End until in 1980, shortly before his death.

    Linge was not politically motivated in his service to Hitler and it is clear from his memoirs that he was loyal to the man much more than he was loyal to the Reich. For Linge, Hitler was not perfect, but his loyalties transcended even those imperfections that Linge did perceive. Even in the final hours of the Reich, Linge would not abandon his Fuhrer. The day before Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide, Hitler had approached Linge and, as Linge recounts:

    "After I had entered and reported myself in military fashion he [Hitler] said without any preamble: ‘I would like to release you to your family.’ I now did something I had never done before by interrupting him to declare: ‘Mein Fuhrer, I have been with you in good times, and I am staying with you also in bad.’ Hitler looked at me calmly and said only: ‘I did not expect anything else from you.’ (page 192)

    Despite being witness to the rise and fall of Hitler’s star, Linge was more of an observer of the daily personal life of Hitler than he was a participant in the military success and failures of his Fuhrer. Linge readily admits that he was not even familiar with most of Hitler’s philosophies until 1945 and later. Rather, Linge was the observer of the minute details that defined Hitler as an individual person more than they identified him as a political leader, and it is those personal details which make Hitler all the more chilling.

    To read With Hitler to the End is to read description after description of Hitler as a charming host, flirt and scholar. Whether Hitler is kissing the hands of the married ladies as they leave his dinners or officiating at meatball cooking competitions in his private residence, or changing a light bulb on his own rather than calling for assistance, Linge portrays Hitler as a normal, engaging human being and only occasionally hints at the ruthlessness by which Hitler has come to be known.

    Any study of Hitler must include With Hitler to the End because, more than any other official history, it demonstrates that Hitler made conscious decisions about his every action. The focus that he could bring to the selection of a menu for a luncheon serves to underscore the ease by which he sent millions to death in the gas chambers. His discourses to guests about the evils of smoking and the cancers that smoking would cause fly in the face of his personal decisions to kill so many of his political enemies. Indeed, it is far too easy to explain Hitler as a mad man and to console ourselves that such madness could never again rise to power. To read With Hitler to the End, however, is to realize that evil need not be ushered to fruition by the insane and that perfectly normal people can quickly be seduced by the greatest of evil-doers.

    With Hitler to the End is a true page turner – part chronicle of Hitler’s daily life and part gossip (as when Martin Bormann ran into conflict with Erwin Rommel and vowed revenge, a revenge that Linge noted years later when Bormann ordered Rommel’s suicide). Linge was not a war criminal. Indeed, to read his memoirs is to realize that he was little more than a dutiful dog, trying to make his master happy, and without the ability to truly recognize the great evil that his master represented, both to humanity and to Germany. Students of Nazi Germany in particular will want to read With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet (Pen and Sword Books, 2009; 224 pages), just as they should read He was My Chief and the forthcoming Pen and Sword publication of I was Hitler’s Chauffeur by Erich Kempka (2010).
     
  2. bob7708

    bob7708 recruit

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    I just read Linge's book and he had some interesting things to relate about Hitler. He was very loyal to Hitler but didn't stop at criticizing him when he felt it necessary. Linge faulted Churchill and others in the British Isles for not cutting a deal with Germany (Hitler) so their two countries could unite against the rest of the world and ultimately rule the world. It didn't occur to Linge that:
    (A) Nobody at that time would ever dare trust entering into any kind of agreement with Hitler after he broke all of his agreemnts with Chamberlain and other foreign leaders.
    (B) It never occured to Linge that Churchill, Roosevelt and the others would find Hitler's policies regarding the mass extermination of the Jews and other non-aryan types extremely repugnent and deeply morally offensive would NEVER have any part in such policies.
    Linge should have been aware of both these points by the time he wrote this book. I guess that a part of him was still a Nazi and thought like one during the time he wrote this book and probably up to the time of his death.
    He told us some facinating things about Hitler and it is a book I would recommend to anyone who is interested in Hitler's private personality.
    You can but it on Amazon.com and other sites at a good price.
     
  3. John B

    John B Member

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    Thank you dgmitchell, for this interesting review of a book I was not aware of....I think I'll have to put it on my reading list.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I just finished reading this book. Very readable and highly recommended - you won't find any contrition or deep philosophy, but you will find some very interesting insights into life among Hitler's inner circle.
     

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