Christmas at the Berghof
‘It was, I believe, my most beautiful Christmas.’[i]It was on 25th December 1936 that Hitler met the man into whose incompetent hands he placed the safeguarding of his health. Hitler already had a personal doctor, Karl Brandt,
Theodore Morell was a skin specialist with a successful practise on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. His patients included stars of the stage and screen. Morell was recommended to Hitler by Heinrich Hoffmann, his personal photographer and a friendship had grown up between Frau Hanni Morell and Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress.Trevor-Roper described Morell, when interned after the war, as;
‘A gross but deflated old man, of cringing manners, inarticulate speech and the hygienic manners of a pig…..He was totally indifferent to science or truth.’[ii]Certainly his hygienic practises were unacceptable;
‘He was known to have wrapped a patient’s arm with a bandage he had just used to wipe a table; and to inject the same needle without sterilisation into two patients.’[iii]
1936 was a stressful year and by its end Hitler was suffering from stomach cramps, uncontrollable flatulence[iv] and eczema[v]. He was impressed by Morell’s cure of Hoffman earlier in the year and when, on 25th December, Morell offered to cure him within the month Hitler took him up on the offer. Just over a month later Hitler was announcing;
‘Both Grawitz[vi] and Bergmann let me go hungry, I was only allowed tea and zwieback[vii]……I was so weak I could hardly work at my desk. Then came Morell and made me well.’[viii]For the flatulence Morell prescribed Dr Köster’s antigas pills, which contained nux vomica, a source of strychnine. Hitler was to take two to four pills with every meal; Morell was totally unaware that the pills contained poison. For the stomach cramps Morell prescribed Mutaflor and Gallestol[ix].
Morell had prescribed Mutaflor injections[x] for Hitler’s gums and the improved conditions in his mouth were ascribed to these, rather than the brushing and massaging of his teeth and gums as prescribed by Hitler’s dentist Hugo Blaschke[xi]. For Hitler Morell was a miracle worker and from now on Morell’s word was taken as law; which was to have serious repercussions in later years.
According to Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet, Morell believed that Hitler’s stomach problems would disappear if he had vegetables grown under conditions prescribed by Morell himself.
‘In a special vegetable garden the plants would have to be correctly manured in a mixture of soils to be converted into material which in Morell’s opinion would not damage Hitler’s organism.’[xii]Morell’s influence over Hitler was retained despite the aversion felt for him by many of Hitler’s personal staff. When the efficacy of his treatments wore off, as Hitler’s body became used to the multifarious pills and injections, Morell became ever more adventurous.
One afternoon, in the autumn of 1944, Hitler surprised his secretaries, Christa Schroeder and Gerda Christian, by talking of love. The pair of them cornered Morell to ask about their boss’s odd behaviour.
‘So you’ve noticed? Yes, I am giving him hormone injections from bulls’ testicles, that should pep him up.’[xiii]
By this time Hitler was taking up to sixteen antigas pills a day, much to the horror of his physicians; Brandt and other of Hitler’s medical staff tried to persuade Hitler that Morell’s regime was deleterious to his health and that Morell was a quack. The result was that Hitler dismissed Brandt, after the machinations of Martin Bormann who had long been trying to get rid of Brandt who was a counter to his own influence.Morell was not dismissed by Hitler until the 21st April 1945; under the impression that Morell was trying to knock him out to enable the staff to smuggle the Fuhrer out of Berlin to continue the fight from the Alpine Redoubt. Morell had been offering Hitler a morphine injection. Although arrested by the Allies after the war Morell was never charged with any crimes and died of a stroke in 1948.
BibliographyHitler 1936-1945 Nemesis – Ian Kershaw, Penguin 2001
With Hitler to the End – Heinz Linge, Frontline Books 2009Karl Brandt – Ulf Schmidt, Continuum Books 2007
He was My Chief – Christa Schroeder, Frontline Books 2009Adolf Hitler – John Toland, Book Club Associates 1977
The Last Days of Hitler - Hugh Trevor-Roper, MacMillan 1995www.en.wikipedia.org
[i] Adolf Hitler - Toland
[ii] The Last Days of Hitler – Trevor-Roper
[iii] Adolf Hitler - Toland
[iv] Exacerbated by his vegetarianism
[v] This was so bad that putting on boots was exceptionally painful
[vi] The Chief doctor of the SS
[vii] A sweetened bread normally cut into slices and toasted
[viii] Adolf Hitler - Toland
[ix] This appears to be a medication with glucose as a major ingredient
[x] A probiotic
[xi] Blaschke was also Himmler’s dentist and a member of the SS
[xii] With Hitler to the End - Linge
[xiii] He was my Chief - Schroeder