The amount of fan mail sent to Adolf Hitler rivalled that of The Beatles and included not only fawning pledges of allegiance and declarations of love but bizarre requests from ordinary Germans for permission to bake cakes named after the Nazi leader.
The contents of many of the up to 1,000 letters a month written to Hitler during the course of his political career have been published in a new book by Henrik Eberle, a German historian who unearthed a rich source of hitherto unseen Nazi fan mail in historical archives in Moscow.
Excerpts from Dr Eberle's book, Letters to Hitler – a People Writes to its Leader, were published yesterday in Germany's Bild newspaper. Although they were written only early in Hitler's career, shortly after he was released from jail in 1923, they show that he was already being deluged with fan mail.
A telegram written by a Walter Zickler, dated June 1925, is typical of the thousands more that were to follow: it pledges "unalterable allegiance and unshakeable faith in our leader, Adolf Hitler", on behalf of the "College of German Farmers".
Although nearly half of all Hitler's post amounted to letters in a similar vein or were written by besotted women declaring undying love for their leader, some contained what, for their time, amounted to probing questions about Hitler's personal tastes and habits.
"How does HE stand regarding the question of alcohol?" asks Alfred Barg, in a letter written to Hitler in May 1925. Dr Eberle notes in his book that Hitler rarely set eyes on any of the letters himself but relied primarily on Rudolf Hess, his deputy, to read and reply to them.
To Barg's letter, Hess replies nine days later: "Herr Hitler does not drink any alcohol, except for a few drops on very special occasions. He does not smoke at all."
Another letter written by a loyal National Socialist baker asks for permission to bake a new variety of cake which would in future be honoured with the name "Hitler Cake". Hess sniffily refuses because Hitler's strategy is to strictly avoid "kitsch" publicity gimmicks.
Likewise, to a woman devotee who has sent the Nazi leader handkerchiefs embroidered with his images, he writes: "I am returning the hand-sewn handkerchiefs. Herr Hitler does not give permission for the manufacture of handkerchiefs with his picture on them."
However, in another letter, a woman bequeathes her potted plant to Hitler and Hess writes back asking how it will be delivered.
The letters used for the basis of Dr Eberle's book were kept in files in Hitler's Reich Chancellor's office in Berlin but removed by the Red Army and taken to Moscow at the end of the Second World War.
Predictably, the most obsequious mail came from Nazi Party members. One letter from P F Beck, a Nazi official in Silesia, written a year before Hitler became German leader, provides a chilling insight: "We don't want anyone else in government, we want only ADOLF HITLER ... as the dictator," adding: "We National Socialists want the prohibition of all newspapers that have spread poison about our leader, and the expulsion of all Jews."
What the admirers wrote
From Alfred Barg, May 1925 (eight years before Hitler becomes Chancellor)
"Assuming that we are going to get a National Socialist Greater Germany some day, does the NSDAP (Nazi party) favour the colours black, white and red with a Swastika?
Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, replies
"You should know that we will never betray the colours black, white, red nor the Swastika."
From R Niedermayer, a lawyer, on behalf of his client, the recently deceased Mrs Margarete Meindl, July 1925
"I have the honour to inform you that the deceased (Mrs Meindl), who was a great admirer of your political aims, expressed the wish that a large potted palm she kept in her apartment until her death, should be left to you."
"I write to inform you that Herr Hitler would like to have the palm. I look forward to receiving details regarding its collection."Reuse content