….Adolf Hitler, sensitive, conciliatory, peaceful, artistic, even shy — unless you were harming his people
Prince Louis Ferdinand von Preussen, 1907-94, was the grandson of the last German kaiser, and met Hitler in 1933 after returning from years spent in America, talking with him for an hour.
At age 6
He was an infantry officer in WWI, then a Luftwaffe officer, and he served as the heir to the German throne if the monarchy had ever been restored.
He spoke decades after the war on the personality of Hitler.
German transcription and English translation follow:
LFvP: Yes, but it did not turn my head. We had just gotten back from America.
*** This was in 1933, when Hitler was in his first year as Reich Chancellor — the German title meaning prime minister — under Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, and was not yet the absolute ruler of the country.
In 1932, Hitler had run against the rightwing conservative and nobleman von Hindenburg for Reich President. He lost, but entirely because ALL the other political parties — left, right and center — except the Communists, who put up their leader, Ernst Thälmann — had endorsed von Hindenburg, the very aged WWI war hero, all in order to stop Hitler.
But as the chaos and the Great Depression continued and the Communist Party grew to terrifying dimensions (with Joseph Stalin and his gruesome USSR literally next door), Field Marshall and Reich President von Hindenburg gave Hitler a chance and made him his chancellor (prime minister).
The two men began to gradually get along, though very different in every way.
In the end, with all Hitler’ projects succeeding, having “Made Germany Great Again,” so to speak, Paul v. H. began to see Hitler almost as a son.
And of course I was interested in this whole thing which had started up.
[ meaning interested in Hitler and his National Socialists, who had come to power saince he left for America.
As a member of the high nobility, of course he had every reason to fear the communists, the second-biggest party in Germany, especially given that his then future wife’s father was a member of the Romanov dynasty in Russia, the family of Tsar Nicholas II, who, with his German wife and children, were all murdered by the jewish bolsheviks in 1919].
And I compared it with America. And what I noticed was that these National Socialists were anti-communist, and were against class warfare. And that impressed me, I must say.
That is what I myself had just brought back from America, my experience that they had no class hatred there, and no class envy.
So I asked Putzi Hanfstängel if he could introduce me to Hitler. And he did that.
[Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstängel, who was 6’4″, was Hitler’s then press secretary, and, btw, he had an American mother and was a Harvard graduate. He is seen here on the left, with Hitler and Goering, in 1932.]
So I had a kind of one-hour audience with him.
AI: So by then Hitler was Reich Chancellor?
LFvP: Yes, Reich Chancellor but not yet the Führer [in the sense of absolute ruler] because von Hindenburg was still the Reich President.
So there he sat in the New Reich Chancellery [he meant the OLD Reich Chancellery, shown here, a mistake or misspeaking which the interviewer helpfully pointed out].
[Hitler] was sitting behind a big desk[ ….] So we had a conversation, and he asked me, because Hanfstängel had already told him some things [about my American plans], just whom I might be visiting [when I returned] there.
And then he brought up Henry Ford.
And he said he wanted to do something like Ford did here in Germany so that everyone could someday have a car.
And he thought that if everyone had a car, they would not feel class hatred for the other guy, no envy.
But if you were standing on the sidewalk, and you had no car, and some car drives by, plows through a rainpuddle, and mud and water are thrown on your clothes, you might feel some class hatred over that. So he really admired Henry Ford [for making cars affordable for the working class]
He asked me to please relay that to Ford when I traveled back to America.
*** and he did make an affordable car for the working-class people
My first car was a 1965 Beetle
It all sounded very reasonable.
AI: In your memoirs you let us see that you felt an understanding for why the majority of the German people succumbed to Hitler’s power of attraction.
LFvP: Yes, on me he had a kind of hypnotic effect. He addressed me by my title, Your Royal Majesty, and I called him Your Excellency. And back then he did not have this megalomania thing that he had later on.
[Sic — this was a very common way after the war, in Occupied Germany, to “excuse” having liked Hitler — ‘he seemed normal and okay in the beginning’]
So he was not yet the Führer. [Actually he was, but only within his party; Dietrich Eckart was calling him that way back in 1922.]
He had a pleasant Austrian manner, a peaceful way about him, and then also there were his hypnotic, dreamy eyes….
He was more a kind of romantic.
There was no kind of cruelty that came out in his face. He actually had kind of a soft face, not a martial look.
Hitler greeting a WWI general, Karl Litzmann, later an NSDAP official, on his 85th birthday