With Hitler to the End

B1841

As Hitler’s valet to the very end, Linge did have a unique experience. What motivated the memoirs is almost irrelevant. The reader may feel that there are elements of self-justification, ego, regret and excuse. In many photographs of Hitler, Linge is a figure in the background dressed in an SS uniform. As a valet, he had a close personal experience of Hitler but was not in a position to influence Hitler in any significant way. However, he was often close to Hitler and his visitors, able to overhear what transpired in the meeting and like any servant treated as though he did not exist.

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NAME: With Hitler to the End
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1841
DATE: 240613
AUTHOR: Heinz Linge
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 224
PRICE: £12.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, NSDP. Hitler, domestic servants, valet, household, SS, Russian post 1945 POW camps, NKVD
ISBN: 1-84832-718-4
IMAGE: B1841.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/pl426uo
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Since 1945, there has been a steady flow of books by individuals claiming to have been very close to Hitler but also claiming that they knew nothing of the holocaust and were never members of the NSDP (Nazi Party) or the SS. How far they are believed will depend on the personal perspectives of each reader. Whatever the level of perceived honesty, each book paints a unique view of Hitler by people who formed part of his immediate household.

As Hitler’s valet to the very end, Linge did have a unique experience. What motivated the memoirs is almost irrelevant. The reader may feel that there are elements of self-justification, ego, regret and excuse. In many photographs of Hitler, Linge is a figure in the background dressed in an SS uniform. As a valet, he had a close personal experience of Hitler but was not in a position to influence Hitler in any significant way. However, he was often close to Hitler and his visitors, able to overhear what transpired in the meeting and like any servant treated as though he did not exist.

One of the difficulties in understanding Hitler and the period is that the victors wrote the history and their propaganda painted a picture of a monster. That is entirely understandable and strongly supported by the knowledge of the holocaust where people were exterminated on an industrial scale. That propaganda, and the response it generates, makes Germans of the period keen to claim non-involvement in all of the repulsive activities undertaken by Germany in the Nazi period. In 1945, almost the entire German population was keen to claim that they had never been Nazis but had been part of the German Underground fighting the Nazis. There were certainly a handful of Germans who never liked Hitler and did whatever they felt able, to work against him, but the German Underground was the product of a British SOE campaign that intended to encourage Nazis to devote men and effort to Homeland security hunting for a threat that was largely the creation of SOE imagination. In the final stages of WWII, a number of military officers did very actively try to kill Hitler to negotiate a peace with the Western Allies. A large number of Germans were very enthusiastic members of the NSDP and happy to agree with the wildest excesses of the Nazis. The majority of Germans may not have been aware of the worst excesses, but that was frequently by turning a blind eye to the details of something they were aware of in outline. It is to be expected that those close to Hitler were more likely to be Nazis and to understand much of what was being perpetrated, but it is also possible that some of them were patriotic Germans holding their noses or just studiously ignoring what was happening and refusing to listen to the most unpleasant aspects of Nazi rule.

Linge manages to both claim an intimate knowledge and yet by unaware of anything repulsive. Part of this may be a natural part of personal service. The world over, personal servants rejoice in the successes of the employer, try to be discrete, try hard not to hear anything unfavourable, and appreciate every small act of generosity by the employer. There is also a special form of friendship, where the servant takes as favour and friendship simple personal acts of the master/mistress that were never intended as a sign of friendship. Equally, even the most imperious master holds some affection for personal servants who do their job effectively and can be relied on. Linge’s memoirs therefore convey his perception, which may differ, possibly considerably, from the perceptions of others. This is something the reader can decide.

Linge joined Hitler’s personal staff in 1935 as the Nazis were still not at the height of their power. He remained with Hitler through to 1945 when Hitler and his wife Eva committed suicide. Linge then became a prisoner of the Russians and did not benefit from the amnesties of 1950-1953 when most surviving German prisoners were released by the Soviets. He remained in captivity for ten years because he was considered a Nazi and an enemy of the people. The Soviets initially held on to German POWs because they needed them as forced labour to rebuild Russia. As with Nazi concentration camps, most of the many deaths were due more to poor food, inadequate clothing and accommodation, over work and frequent beatings, rather a deliberate extermination process. Under pressure from the West and with a reducing need for German forced labour, the Soviets began from 1950 to return survivors, but staff officers and SS POWs were retained and there were some killings with consideration of a deliberate extermination program. Linge was therefore lucky to be amongst the final releases of survivors after ten years of Russian hospitality.

His memoirs seem most accurate in the banalities of Hitler’s life, his sleep patterns, breakfast choice and other personal matters of no real political or military value. Of course, Hitler was human and therefore his personal life could be far removed from his political and ideological actions. There were many aspects of his personal life that were almost a second character that was very different from the warlord and exterminator who created so much damage and pain across Europe.

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