HITLER’S first biography, which described him as Germany’s Messiah-like saviour, was secretly written by the Nazi leader himself in an act of “shameless publicity”, new research by an Aberdeen-based professor has found.
The book Adolf Hitler: Sein Leben und seine Reden (“Adolf Hitler: His Life and his Speeches”) was published in 1923, two years before his infamous Mein Kampf.
It was the first major profile of Hitler and helped propel him to power a decade later. The book was published under the name of north German aristocrat and war hero Victor von Koerber.
But evidence has now been unearthed from a South African archive which one historian has said demonstrates it was “almost certainly” written by Hitler himself.
Professor Thomas Weber, from the University of Aberdeen, said: “The book, which also includes a collection of Hitler’s speeches, makes some outlandish claims.
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“It argues that it should become ‘the new bible of today’ and uses terms such as ‘holy’ and ‘deliverance’, comparing Hitler to Jesus, likening his moment of politicalisation to Jesus’s resurrection.
“To find it was actually written by Hitler himself demonstrates that he was a conniving political operator with a masterful understanding of political processes and narratives long before he drafted what is regarded as his first autobiography, Mein Kampf.
“It also challenges the accepted view that at this stage in his life he did not see himself as the man to lead the German revolution … [the book] speaks to the fact that at a much earlier time he saw himself in this ‘saviour’ role and that he started in a very manipulative way to plot his way to the top.”
Prof Weber said the “shameless but clever act of self-promotion” was significant because the biography was crucial in helping Hitler build his profile among the more conservative elements of German society in anticipation of a national revolution.
It was for that reason Baron von Koerber – a blue-eyed, blond aristocrat and military hero – was handpicked as the writer and introduced to Hitler by General Ludendorff.
Prof Weber said that created the impression that Hitler was already in receipt of widespread support among traditional conservatives as he built his power base.
He made his historic discovery after coming across a reference to Baron von Koerber’s private papers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
He examined the papers and realised that Baron von Koerber – who later broke away from the Nazis – had been a front for the book and not its real author.