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Useful Notes: Adolf Hitler

"That such a man could go so far toward realizing his ambitions—that is a phenomenon the world will ponder for centuries to come."
— Modern introduction to Mein Kampf

Born in 1889 in Braunau am Inn in Austria, Hitler was a man with an unhappy childhood. His fathernote  beat him frequently, inculturating young Adolf into violence and domination, before having the courtesy to die around his son's eleventh birthday. Adolf spent the rest of his childhood in Vienna with his mother, who led a Bohemian lifestyle, and his younger siblings, whom he bullied and bossed around.

With his mother dead and himself rejected from art school twice (which he blamed on Jews and modern art), he avidly took up arms in World War I and fought on the front lines, but joined the Imperial German army instead of the Austrian one, since he didn't want to fight side by side with Slavs. He was decorated with an Iron Cross for bravery, wounded, returned to the front lines, blinded by a gas attack, and returned to the front again. His war experiences would remain with him his entire life.

Except not really.

Hitler fabricated much of his war record, with the help of a few cronies who either were there with him or pretended to be, and the Nazis viciously sued anyone who remembered things differently for slander. He didn't join the Austrian army because when they caught up to him (he fled Austria to avoid conscription), he was rejected for being medically unfit; and he claimed rather audaciously that he had to get the personal approval of the King of Bavaria in order to serve in the German Forces (neither he, nor the hundreds of other Austrians in Bavaria who joined up, did or needed to do such a thing). Notably also, the famous picture of "war euphoria" (that was taken by Hitler's future personal photographer) where Hitler is seen cheering in the middle of a crowd was carefully edited to put him more centrally than he was, and most of the square was actually empty. War euphoria did happen and Hitler was just one of thousands who volunteered after it broke out, but it was also exaggerated, and the Nazis helped to do that for their own ends.

He served as a Regimental messenger runner (as opposed to the far more dangerous Battalion messenger runner), which meant he spent most of the war behind the front lines in relative comfort with regimental command. His Iron Crosses were almost certainly due to his proximity to a command position as many genuinely brave and heroic soldiers were overlooked where he was not, and many recipients had subsequently testified to that reality, that contacts determined reward. Most of the soldiers in his regiment hated him as a layabout, self-righteous sycophant and he avoided all but one of his regiment's reunions (the one where they made it clear they still didn't like him), though to be fair they weren't fond of any of anyone safe and secure in regimental HQ and only really turned on him when he started rising to power and began spreading lies about his military career and the war.

He also displayed a callous, frankly psychopathic indifference to the suffering around him in his letters from the period (to his landlord and his landlord's family- he had next to no contact with his siblings, except for money his sister sent him). His rank during this time is often mistranslated as Corporal, but was actually more equivalent to a high-ranked Privatenote ; despite an old myth, Hitler was offered promotion several times in spite of the belief of his superiors that he "lacked leadership qualities", but always turned it down because he liked where he was (and probably wanted to avoid too many responsibilities). When he did take part in combat, he displayed reckless bravery and got wounded at least 2 times: October 7, 1916 - Battle of the Somme, leg wound and October 14, 1918, Wervik - poison gas. His blinding after the gas attack was diagnosed as psychosomatic by the doctors. Maybe wounded a 3rd time on September 28, 1918, when Private Henry Tandey (future Victoria Cross recipient) had him in sights, saw him limping from a wound and refused to shoot him.

Despite his hopes, the war was lost... and lost in a way which did not see the German Army fully defeated in the field, but, in not only Hitler's mind but also those of the many who would later follow him, via the cowardly surrender of the nation's politicians. In the aftermath, the nation was forced to make concessions that would damage it for decades. German lands were stripped, and areas with German citizens who spoke German and wanted to remain German were seized and occupied. Germany refused to pay the reparation debt, and turned to inflationary monetary policy to pay Germans who refused to work in the occupied territories as a reward/incentive. And a few years later, the Great Depression came, plunging entire nations into hyperinflation and bringing Germany closer to being a Nation Half Empty. Long story short, Germany was a nation with a huge chip on its shoulder; the only thing it needed was a charismatic leader to stir up its xenophobic nationalism and get a really focused rebuilding effort started. Hitler was that man, and in 1938 he was named Time Magazine's Man Of The Year in recognition of his highly successful and (supposedly) peaceful reconstruction policies. Of course, this was before anyone knew he was a genocidal fuckhead (well, except paranoid scaremongers who read Mein Kampf, published 1925-26, and took it at face value), and, as always, it's worth noting that Time's "Man of the Year" designation recognizes a person's influence on the world and is not an award for good behavior.

Hitler believed in one of the since-disreputable major assumptions of the late-19th century eugenics movement, that of the supposed inherent genetic superiority of the North Europeans supposedly descended from pseudo-historical "Aryan" forebears; he really, really believed in it. At the time, genetic science was in its infancy and was poorly understood even by the finest minds in the emerging field. The Nazi leadership in fact sent sample collection teams to Tibet on the theory that "Aryan" seeds would result in crops that were hardier, more resistant to disease, and more fruitful than non-Aryan seeds. The general idea that the strong had to conquer, subdue and/or kill the weak was the foundation of Hitler's thinking. But it's not entirely clear what he imagined to be the purpose of this conquering and killing. A better world for the strong? The birth of a "superior" species? The fulfillment of some natural law? He said different things at different times.

There can be no doubt that Hitler loved Germany — or at least, the Germany of his imagination. The tribal Germany that smashed the Roman Empire and superseded it, the Germany of pagan myth — strong, respected, and grandiose. He commissioned great public works in Berlin seeking to dwarf the capital cities of other nations. Hitler's dream Germany was pure and unsullied, strong in body and mind, without Jews or blacks or homosexuals or gypsies or Poles or communists or disabled people or "asocials" or "loose" women or jazz or... well, you get the idea. Adolf was obsessed with notions of purity. Racial purity, political purity, even religious purity. Everything and everyone that was less than perfect by Hitler's standards, simply had to go. And he saw himself as a hero, a savior, perhaps even something like a god. When he finally realized he had lost the war — about a year after everyone else in the world realized it — he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, and take all of Germany with him. At the end of the war, Hitler killed himself just as his greatest enemies, the Soviets, were advancing to within a stone's throw of his bunker. The whole thing must have seemed to him like Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung come to life. To the rest of the world, it seemed like an apocalyptic effort to take down a sort of Lucifer-esque figure — a madman who believed himself superior to everyone and everything.

When he shot himself with a Walther PPK—the very same one his niece killed herself with (or possibly / probably, the one he killed her with), the remaining senior Nazis burnt his body, but didn't do it successfully. When the Red Army arrived, they finished the job off and chucked the ashes in a river, deciding that they didn't want a shrine to the guy (though they did keep fragments of what they believed was his skull archived somewhere in Moscow... and they seemed to have been mistaken.)

An estimated 29 million people died because of him, and his genocidal insanity is legendary to this day. There are at least 553 published works of written fiction involving him, as well as over 10,000 nonfiction works of differing levels of detail. Hitler might have been TIME magazine's first choice for Person of the Century, as the most influential single human being in the twentieth century, dismissed either due to political influence or a criterion technicality.

Compare/contrast to Josef Stalin. See Benito Mussolini for his less famous and considerably more incompetent Italian counterpart, and Hideki Tojo for his Japanese ally and partial counterpart.

See the Nazi Germany page for the rest of the most (in)famous Nazis.

In contention for the "worst person in the world" award, as is Darth Vader. Here is where you go to watch the two rap battle, and here is the rematch.

Some side notes:
  • Hitler's famous rasping voice was the result of the injuries sustained in World War One.
  • It is not clear whether he was complete in the genitalia department, as few people really got to check, and Eva Braun was silent on the issue. Given that enemies of England tend to suffer the same injury, (Napoleon was rumored to be monorchid as well) this was likely Allied propaganda of an informal sort.
  • He had no children.note  Of course, no one's about to openly admit being directly related to Adolf Hitler, let alone be able to prove it.
  • Under the direction of his private brain care specialist, Theodor Morell, he was reputedly on a dozen doses of intravenous meth and cocaine ether a day by the end of the war.
  • He invented the term "assault rifle", once he was presented with the Sturmgewehr 44.


Trope Namer for:

Other tropes involving Hitler in some way:


Works of fiction in which Hitler appears as a Historical-Domain Character:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Hitler is ubiquitous in American comic books as the number-one villain of The Golden Age of Comic Books.
    • In The DCU, Hitler supposedly got hold of the Spear of Destiny (the lance that pierced Christ on the cross), which gave him power over any superhuman who set foot in the Nazi sphere of influence; this was used as an in-universe explanation for why the Justice Society of America didn't simply march into Berlin and have the Spectre turn him into a bug and step on him. Granted, they -tried-, but one foot onto Axis territory and the heroes become just regular joes.
    • In the Marvel Universe, Hitler got punched out by Captain America. He was also cloned and came back as "the Hate-Monger", a supervillain dressed in a purple KKK outfit, before being Killed Off for Real. He was also shown explicitly as the Red Skull's benefactor — something that makes the Red Skull really unpopular with the rest of the supervillain community.
    • Also, Hitler didn't die by his own hand, but was instead burned alive by the Human Torch and his sidekick Toro. Hardly Inglorious Basterds, but it works.
    • In Hellboy, Hitler was Rasputin's benefactor (and thus indirectly responsible for "Project Ragna Rok", which brought Hellboy to Earth), but otherwise history went the same as in our world for him. In The Movie, on the other hand, it's noted that he faked his death and waged an invisible war against American supernatural agents until being killed in the 1950s.
    • Not quite, in the comics Hitler does fake his death only to battle Hellboy sometime after the war. While Hitler's body was destroyed in the fight, his head was left intact and found by Nazi loyalists who managed to save Hitler's brain like in the eponymous film. In a twist, his brain is placed in a jar, mounted on the body of an ape and gains Psychic Powers, and would go on to become The Savage Dragon villain, Brainiape (Hitler's brain also gained the ability to survive without a body and move about on it's own, for some reason).
    • They cloned Hitler in the DC Comics as well. Early issues of Outsiders. Only thing is, they got a really young version, one who still had his morals. Once he figured out what the heck happened, he killed himself.
    • And he was cloned - twice - in the abysmal Elseworlds story Superman at Earth's End.
    • The reason Hitler was used as a villain so often in Golden Age comics is because the comics industry in the 1930's and 1940's was one of the few illustrating jobs available to Jews, so many of the first comics writers were first or second generation American Jews with family still in Europe.
  • In the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic book, Hitler's brain is used by villain Armaggon in order to power a time machine. In a latter arc, the brain is revealed to be capable of independent function, and it activates the time machine in order to travel to the tail end of World War II, where he teams up with...Adolf Hitler. After the turtles arrive to retrieve the brain, Raphael punches out Hitler Classic while saying "This small gesture is for the millions, perv... For the millions!" Afterwards, as the turtles are preparing to leave, Hitler holds them at gunpoint, accusing them of being demons, and leading to the following conversation:
    Leonardo: Welcome to hell.
    Hitler: Ja... You, demons, you...you do not speak German? You speak English like the Americans...? So, the subtleties of hell are laced with irony. No matter. You...you have come for my soul, ja?
    Leonardo: We already own your soul, fool. We have come here for your brain.
    Hitler: [Point gun to his head] Nein. Nein. You shall not take my mind... You shall not take my b—
    Hitler's gun: BLAM
  • The New Adventures of Hitler is a comic written by Grant Morrison about Hitler briefly living in Liverpool with his Half-Brother.
  • The comic book Fallen Angel features Dolf, the German-speaking bartender and proprietor of Furor's, the bar in which Liandra, the eponymous fallen angel hangs out. He is revealed to be a racist. He introduces himself thusly:
    "I've been a painter, a writer...dabbled in politics. Made some enemies."
    • He is also presented as being one of the good guys within the story, and is probably Liandra's only friend.

    Film 
  • The Great Dictator is a classic Charlie Chaplin film parodying Hitler and Nazi Germany. It's been stated that the dictator saw the film. Twice.
  • The first American comedy film to mock Hitler, however, was You Nazty Spy, which both Moe and Larry considered their best film. Interestingly, the film shows Moe/Hitler being given power by powerful munitions concerns and things spiraling out of their control. This was a common idea among Americans at the time, based around Hitler's plans for the re-armament of Germany.
  • In the bad movie They Saved Hitler's Brain Hitler's followers try to find a new body for the preserved brain (in the original film actually Hitler's head) into a new body. Parodied and copied often enough (as in Irregular Webcomic!) to have turned into a sub-trope in itself.
  • Little Nicky: Hitler, quite aptly in Hell, appears briefly in a French Maid's outfit and getting a pineapple forced in his ass.
  • The 2004 German film Der Untergang / Downfall is remarkable for depicting Hitler during his final days as a human being instead of a scarecrow. It took some flak for the possibility of inspiring neo-Nazis by portraying him too sympathetically and daring to show him having a measure of compassion for his secretary and underfellows. This seems to have been avoided, as a realistically depicted Führerbunker!Hitler is still a failed human being by all accounts.
  • Rat Race has Jon Lovitz and his family stealing Der Führer's car from Neo-Nazis. After a long and tragical series of events, he ends up crashing a WWII veteran convention, with a lipstick moustache and speaking in German-sounding gibberish.
  • Inglourious Basterds involves the eponymous basterds' covert mission to kill Hitler and much of the Nazi senior brass before the D-Day invasion. His first, very marked appearance in the film is him slamming his fists on the table and screaming "<NO!>" repeatedly (in full uniform, complete with a pristine white cloak for good measure).
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and his father infiltrate a Nazi book-burning rally in order to recover the father's stolen diary. Indy does get it, but is accidentally shoved before Hitler himself, who autographs the book.
  • The Confederacy in CSA: The Confederate States of America is an Axis power, but Hitler is unable to reach an agreement on whether or not to go through with the final solution or keep its victims alive as slave labor.

    Literature 
  • The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin. Hitler is not directly a character in the book, but his surviving followers, Dr. Mengele among them, have cloned Hitler, placed the boys referred in the title in various families with a husband much older than his wife, as in real Hitler's family. And to finish it off, they plan to kill the surrogate fathers while the Hitler-clones are still young. In a Twist Ending, it appears that it succeeds with the last clone.
  • The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad, presented as a novel written by Science Fiction writer Hitler, in a different world than ours. Intended as a satire of crypto-fascist Speculative Fiction, but apparently the American Nazi Party didn't get the joke and put it on their recommended reading list.
  • In the alternate Magitek universe novel Operation Chaos, the protagonists are in Hell and at a loss to understand the identity of a mustached man with a strange armband who speaks with a strong German accent, and why the most powerful demons tremble at sight of him, or why he uses the "ancient and honorable symbol of the fylfot (swastika)". Their alternate history never had a Nazi Germany.
  • The short story Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky by Ken Scholes imagines a world where Hitler's Abusive Father had a change of heart and showed his son some love, which encourages Hitler to pursue a career as an artist. It's actually a pretty good story; there's even a creepy lampshading of Hitler's true history, where this "Good Hitler" has a nightmare about being a genocidal dictator and wakes up in a cold sweat afterward.
  • Naturally he appears a lot in the Alternate History of Harry Turtledove:
    • In Worldwar, Hitler leads Germany through the expanded WW2 as the aliens invade, and is succeeded by Himmler upon his death.
    • In TL-191, where Germany won WW1, he makes a brief appearance as Guderian's staff sergeant, with the implication that he would stayed an unremarkable antisemitic NCO without the public anger at the loss of the war. Unfortunately, his Expy Jake Featherston is there to start the war as leader of the Confederate States of America.
    • In the Presence of Mine Enemies had him win the war, though through unspecified means. The United States was never involved in the original conflict, allowing Nazi Germany to grow stronger and obtain nuclear weapons — which were used against the United States in a crippling surprise attack a decade later.
    • The short story Ready for the Fatherland is about General Manstein assassinating Hitler in 1943 in the heat of the moment (after Hitler refused to allow him to retreat from the Soviets in order to set up an encircling attack). Manstein takes over Germany and forces a stalemate peace resulting in a four-way cold war.
  • Appears in the Animorphs Megamorph #3 (involving a great deal of time travel) as a lowly jeep driver during D-Day. The Animorphs discuss killing Hitler, but are unable to resolve the moral issue of killing a man who — in that time line — was innocent.
  • In the short story "Southern Strategy" by Michael F. Flynn, in which Germany won WW1, Hitler has become a major political leader in Germany, and has gained massive support for his cause through his speaking skills and charismatic personality. His cause is the furthering of animal rights and the banning of tobacco.
  • The Castle In The Forest by Norman Mailer presented Hitler's origins with a heavy dose of Brother-Sister Incest: A brother rapes his sister; in time he then rapes their daughter, and the product of that union is Hitler. It gets worse from there.
  • A dystopian Alternate History Europe where Hitler won the war is the premise of Brad Linaweaver's novel Moon Of Ice.
  • The core of Len Deighton's novel 'XPD' is the conceit that Hitler and Churchill had a conference to negotiate a cease-fire in France in 1940. This secret can not be allowed to spoil the history as agreed upon, so we get a settling of old scores in a thinly-disguised James Bond-ish romp through Europe, London and Hollywood.
  • The insanely controversial novel The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. In this novel Hitler escapes to South America, grows old and is finally captured and put on an impromptu trial in the jungle by Jewish Nazi Hunters. What made it controversial is Hitler's speech which he gives in his own behalf, claiming (among other things) that he is the Messiah and should be honored as he lead to the creation of Israel. Incidentally the author, George Steiner, is a British Jew whose parents had escaped Nazism.
  • The Man in the High Castle is a 'Nazis won WW2' Alternate History with a difference: in 1962, the Nazis have thrown Hitler in a lunatic asylum, and part of the horror of the Crapsack World is that even the Nazis now realise that their empire was built on insanity, but no-one dares to confront it.
  • In Robert Ludlum's Apocalypse Watch novel, Hitler was still alive by 1995 [judging by the publishing of the book, and is the head of the neo-Nazi movement the protagonists had to deal with.
  • Appears in Herman Wouk's ''The Winds of War'' and ''War and Remembrance'' epic. He is shown giving speeches, and Victor Henry meets him at least once.

    Live Action TV 

    Music 
  • In the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's "The Intro and the Outro," the lyrics say that Hitler plays the vibes on the song. He really doesn't; this was a joke on the part of the band.

    Video Games 

    Web-based Media 
  • A one-off joke in Ansem Retort explains Hitler's anti-Semitism...well...
    DiZ: You turned into a rabbi and laughed at Hitler's paintings. YOU FUCKED UP PRETTY BADLY!
  • In Supernormal Step, Hitler was a little green gremlin.
  • Naturally appears a lot in the various works on AlternateHistory.com:
    • In A Greater Britain, after the Anschluss is contested by Austria and Hitler's bluff is called, war comes before Germany is ready and it does not go well. He gets assassinated in a military coup in 1938.
    • In Weimar World he dies as an unknown during the Austrian Civil War.
    • In Holding Out For A Hero Gustav Stresemann Survives he never becomes Chancellor thanks to, well, what it says in the title.
    • AH.com: The Series, in the episode "Dinos and Nazis and Deroes, Oh My", had a surviving Third Reich in the centre of the Hollow Earth, led by an aged Hitler plugged into a cyborg throne. He gets killed at the end by an exploding robot herald reprogrammed by Landshark.
  • Hitler battles Darth Vader in Epic Rap Battles of History.

    Western Animation 
  • During World War II Hitler was mocked repeatedly in several Looney Tunes shorts, most notably Russian Rhapsody in which his plane is hijacked by gremlins.
  • When Histeria! did an episode about World War II, they of course had Hitler as the villain in it. He looked like Satan and sounded like Dr. Claw.
  • The Simpsons. Bart wrecked Hitler's car. Cue Nelson's question "What did he ever do to you?"
    • It was also implied (in the episode Bart makes a crank phone call to Australia) that Hitler is living in Argentina.
    • Other episodes showed Hitler in Abe Simpson's flashbacks of WWII.
    • Hitler's head appears in a Duff bottle on a brewery conveyer belt.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Never named and with a less distinctive moustache in 'A Good Bomb Is Hard To Find', in which two of the supervillains travelled back in time to sell the Nazis atomic weapons. He apparently was filled with so much hate that he could hurt Captain Planet just by staring at him. Talk about strong mojo...
  • Numerous appearances in Family Guy. Hitler's anti-Semitism was caused by jealousy over a Jewish bodybuilder who attracted all the women.
  • Hitler had recurring appearances in Robot Chicken.

Hattori HanzoHistorical-Domain CharacterHonda Tadakatsu
Abdul Aziz Ibn SaudUseful NotesAugusto Pinochet
William FaulknerUsefulNotes/World War IParade's End
Urban WarfareImageSource/PhotographyFascist Italy

alternative title(s): Hitler; Adolph Hitler; Adolf Hitler
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