Documentary shows Hitler soothed 'tortured soul' with riches
By Steven Erlanger
August 9 2002
Adolf Hitler died a rich man. The German leader liked money, both for the luxuries it bought him and the loyalties it ensured, and he amassed a lot of it, a German television documentary says.
Despite the continuing fascination with Hitler since his suicide on April 30, 1945, until now little attention has been paid to his personal finances.
Abstemious in his public image, Hitler liked to live grandly.
He paid much attention to his income from his own writing and from the copyright fees for his photographs, said Ingo Helm, 47, a freelance journalist and film maker who spent more than a year making Hitler's Money, to be shown this month on a state-owned station.
"Hitler saw himself as an unrecognised genius, and in order to change this situation he was very interested in power, money and social advancement," Mr Helm said yesterday. "All this was balsam for the tortured soul of the unrecognised genius."
Hitler described at great length his poverty and hardship as a struggling artist in Vienna before World War I, although he had a small inheritance. His poverty embarrassed him deeply.
In Mein Kampf, from which he would make millions, he emphasised the struggle for existence of the "upstart" who had risen "by his own efforts from his previous position in life to a higher one", which "kills all pity" and destroys "feeling for the misery of those who have remained behind".
As the historian Ian Kershaw notes, such feelings put "into context his professed interest in 'the social question' while he was in Vienna", which turned into a search for scapegoats to explain his own destitution. It may also help explain Hitler's affection for wealth.
But Hitler also spent millions in lavish gifts and payments to buy the loyalty of politicians and businessmen and to keep them dependent on him, Helm said.
"Influenced by his propaganda, I thought of Hitler as someone who wasn't selfish," Helm said.
"I knew he was a criminal but it surprised me to know that he was rich."
After the war, the Allied Control Commission gave Hitler's property and assets to the state of Bavaria as he had no children.
Although Hitler died without immediate heirs, his late half-sister, Angela Raubal, had children, and other descendants of his mother live in northern Austria.
The heirs had asked Werner Maser, a popular German historian of the Nazi period, to look into their rights. In particular, the heirs argued that copyright cannot be expropriated in the way physical property can.
They wanted the royalty income.
But the heirs disagreed among themselves, Helm said, and did not file a lawsuit to obtain the royalties.
New York Times
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