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Revealed! Hitler didn't drink, smoke

books Updated: Jul 25, 2012 08:31 IST

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Letters written by ordinary Germans to Adolf Hitler during the dark days of Nazi Germany, which have been discovered in a Russian archive, reveal that the feared leader neither used to drink nor smoke.

Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess responded to one such enquiry in 1925, which asked whether Hitler drank.

“Mr Hitler does not drink alcohol, except perhaps a few drops on very exceptional occasions. He does not smoke at all,” the Daily Mail quoted the letter as saying.

Another writer wanted permission to market ''Hitler Cigarettes'', but the offer was declined.

The fascinating correspondence, which could surprise many with their critical tone, begins in 1924 and goes right through to the Fuhrer’s last days as he cowered in a Berlin bunker in 1945.

The documents, which were found in a Russian archive and have now been translated into English, reveal a side of the Nazis that is rarely considered.

They show how the popularity of Hitler’s National Socialists party was carefully managed as support grew among the German population - and beyond.

But, more surprisingly, the letters also show how “shaky” Hitler’s hold on power was at times and how unpopular the Second World War became among the masses.

His office even received, and replied to, letters from Jews complaining about his party’s increasingly anti-Semitic stance.

Chillingly, the British editor of a book publishing the correspondence ‘Letter To Hitler’ claims that the collection shows how a similarly totalitarian regime could emerge today.

“Some letters from people who idolise him are totally fawning, but you get the impression from the others that he could easily lose his approval,” Dr Victoria Harris said.

“The biggest lesson I learned was how shaky his popularity was and how the regime had to work hard to maintain popularity.

“What is chilling is that you can see how he built his support and how you could see it happening elsewhere,” she said.

The Nazis carefully filed all the letters that their leader received, copied the replies and filed those as well.

The letters grew in number through the 1930s as the Nazi party became more powerful, and include thousands wishing Hitler a happy birthday.

The letters also show how well Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ was doing.

“Between the beginning of this year and 21 May we have been able to sell a total of 29,385 copies of your work. Therefore we are crediting you with a payment of 21,157.20 marks...” his publisher wrote to him in 1932.

As the Second World War headed to its conclusion many wrote to Hitler with ideas for new weapons, but the letters asking for autographs and showing declarations of support fell to zero.