Chapter 3: Wolf
On November 10, 1918, Adolf Hitler, according to his own account in Mein Kampf, lost his eyesight for the second time in a month while he was in a hospital in Pasewalk in Pomerania. That experience made him decide to become a politician.
The fear of becoming blind for the rest of his life provoked a condition in him which strongly resembles the so-called Vietnam War Syndrome (since 1980 internationally categorized as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, abbreviated PTSD). During World War I the psychiatrists of that time described such nervous break-downs in front soldiers as "hysteria resulting from shell shock," and they believed that the best remedy would be to send the soldiers back to the front as soon as possible.
The cases were appraised somewhat differently in the United States in the 1970s. There was a public demand for an explanation of why otherwise sound American soldiers could suddenly lose their senses and start shooting wildly at innocent bystanders. This led to intensive research on war traumas (which has since then been extended to other types of traumatic diseases), and this has made it possible for us to understand some of the changes in the personality structure of the individual which are caused by these traumas
Today, from in-depth psychological interviews with PTSD-affected Vietnam war veterans, we do know something of what the person in question experiences when such a trauma breaks out. The brain is "short-circuited," as the consciousness of the person - the personality - is split into two in the attempt to repress the shock - and to survive. Some veterans have described their experiences of the intense occurrence as a vision, an encounter with God - or Satan. Others feel as if they have been looking sober-mindedly at themselves from outside.
By such a "short circuit" a new Ego is created, which in a moment integrates survival strategies from earlier and similar experiences of a more or less traumatic character. It is this new Ego which is perceived as God (or Satan) by the person - or which constitutes the consciousness with which the person looks at himself from without.
As the immediate shock passes off, a fusion between the two Egos take place, and the original Ego again takes over the everyday control of the person's consciousness and his perception of his surroundings. The person in question has apparently returned to his former self, but only on the surface; the "inner voice" still exists. If the person is exposed to outer impulses which will activate the trauma, a new splitting of the Ego will take place, and in severe cases he or she may change personality altogether.
Psychiatrists have described this condition as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), because the person can suddenly change personality without wanting to - and without being conscious of it. The new Ego, which has come into being as a result of the traumatic experience, simply assumes control over the person's relations with his surroundings.
The diagnoses of OCD, MPD and PTSD are closely related, as the cause in all three cases lies in a very violent occurrence which has violated the intimate sphere of the person in question.
From examination of Vietnam veterans suffering from MPD and PTSD, we know that they might seriously believe that they alone caused the defeat of the United States - and that they alone can redress that situation. They are convinced that they, by some personal offence against their own morals, have perpetrated the misfortune of the nation, and that they have an obligation to do something about it. Even though the person neither objectively nor necessarily has been the initiator or perpetrator of the occurrence which he understands as sinful, he regards himself as the real offender. This attitude is also seen in rape or incest victims.
On the basis of this knowledge, it will be natural to ask the question whether Adolf Hitler's decision to become a politician on that November 10, 1918 - and the course of his life after that - can be considered as a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Or whether the paradoxical difference between Adolf Hitler as a politician and as a private person which again and again has been demonstrated by eye-witnesses and historians should not really be seen as a measure of Multiple Personality Disorder? And would not the way, in which such a split personality came into being in Adolf Hitler, also be able to account for the condition of OCD, from which he, as mentioned earlier, probably also suffered?
There is much to indicate that such an interpretation could throw conclusive new light on the person Adolf Hitler and his part in World History. He himself spoke of an inner voice which guided him and which wrote his speeches. He maintained again and again that God or Providence had told him what to do.
In the beginning he regarded himself solely as a medium for something else - something greater. Only later, as a consequence of the many signs that he saw as confirmations of his election as The One Chosen, did he become identical with his own conception of the New Messiah.
When Adolf Hitler in the beginning of his political career used the cover name Wolf, he played on the signification of his first name which means "The Noble Wolf." At the same time, he suffered from a curious fear of being photographed - a fact that stands in glaring contrast to the "Führer Myth" of later years, which was created by his appearances on post-cards, pictures, and film.
Could the explanation be that his other Ego - Wolf - prevailed, when he appeared in political situations?
Something decisive did happen to Adolf Hitler in Pasewalk. From that moment on he went from being a very introspective person to becoming active and extroverted.
As far as it has been possible to reconstruct his world of ideas before and after November 10, 1918, it seems to have remained the same. This is natural, as his new Ego was composed of his thoughts and experiences up till then. The only documented difference in Adolf Hitler before and after that day is that, on that day, he actively began his insane attempt to adapt the world to his personal world-view.
The importance of the person Adolf Hitler to world history remains unintelligible unless it is accepted that he was a religious idealist who by degrees came to believe in his own message and his own second Ego only. He simply could not behave otherwise when he experienced the storming enthusiasm of the masses - and re-experienced it afterwards on film and in photos.
Again and again, throughout the 1930s, he publicly expressed that God - or Providence - had chosen him as the One who would lead Germany out of the crisis. He had to be the Saviour that the German-speaking peoples of Central Europe had dreamt of for centuries. The enthusiastic reactions of the masses constantly confirmed him in this view.
Thus it appears logical to describe Adolf Hitler's story, after his decision to become a politician, as a conflict between his two Egos - in which the new, traumatic Ego slowly, but surely, took over the control of his relations with his surroundings, and which at last even controlled German society in the shape of a self-reinforcing Saviour Myth.
This process took time. He first had to possess himself of the elementary social techniques required to to associate with and influence others, and he would have to put words and images on the task which his new Ego had assigned to him.
Our knowledge of his movements in the first year after the "vision" in Pasewalk reflects a searching soul. He returned to Munich on November 19, 1918 and witnessed - as a member of a red (sic!) soldier's council - the chaotic events, bordering on civil war, that took place in the beginning of 1919.
When the communist-inspired Council Republic had been quelled, he continued to serve in the army, and he ended up in the department which kept an eye on the political chaos of the city. He went to courses in agitation and soon found out that he could both address and fascinate his audience.
His superior also sent him on a course on German History, where the professor K. A. von Müller noticed him; a group of students had gathered and they listened with fascination to Hitler, who evidently let himself be carried away by the agitation that he himself had whipped up. The professor of history especially noticed the big blue eyes, with their "cold glow of fanaticism."
The atmosphere of the town evoked a response for visionaries like Adolf Hitler, who dared to - and could - put words to the frustrations and dreams of the ordinary German.
On September 12, 1919, he participated as an army observer in a meeting in a small room in Sterneckerbräu, and he could not refrain from taking part in the discussion. The chairman of the meeting afterwards asked him to become a member of the small German Worker's Party, because of his oratorical skills - and he accepted. Adolf Hitler had found his organizing platform.
Four days later Hitler wrote a report to his superior, who had asked him to comment on "the danger that Jewry constitutes to our nation today". The report is the oldest extant instance of the now radical character of Hitler's antisemitism:
This was a manifesto for the mission that "Providence" had entrusted him with in Pasewalk - and which in the time after World War II would make many people look upon the Führer of the Third Reich as Antichrist Incarnate. They wanted to repress the fact that he was also a human being of flesh and blood.
Last modified: January 2, 1999