History of the West

Central European History from Antiquity to the 20th Century

Month: January 2019

Valeria Messalina

Henrique Bernardelli - Messalina
Henrique Bernardelli – Messalina

[Many pics, please allow for download]

Valeria Messalina (AD 17-20? – 48) was the original Roman floozie and is immortalized in paintings, sculptures, stage productions, films and novels. As in the case of other scandalous women of the Roman world – Julia the Elder, Theodora and Cleopatra, it is hard to say how much in the historical reports is invective – slander for political gain – and how much is true, or, at least, probable.

Cameo

The present author somewhat tends to see the political (in her case, that is, murderous) incidents as more likely than the sexual allegations – sexual defamation and innuendo were par for the course in ancient Roman political discourse. Accusations of sexual misconduct and in particular of adultery were indeed rather suitable political weapons – in particular because of the incongruity of official Roman morals as declared in many laws – e.g. Imperator Augustus’ own Lex Iulia de adulteriis – when compared to Roman reality, which in this respect resembled a gigantic bordello – given that prostitution was always legal in the empire and sex with slaves was essentially unregulated and common.

The main source behind the allegations was, perhaps, originally Agrippina the Younger, who followed Messalina on the throne and into the emperor’s bedchamber. It remains an open question whether she was worse than her contemporaries or not – the ladies of the Julio-Claudian dynasties are generally not remembered for chastity and restraint.

Ms. Agrippina was a busy bee in her own right, and was later rumoured – with the aid of the famous preparer of poisons Locusta – to have poisoned not only her husband Claudius but Britannicus as well, on Nero (her son’s) behalf. It did not help her much in the end – Nero had her eventually removed.

“Locusta testing in Nero’s presence the poison prepared for Britannicus”, painting by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre, 1876

By all reports Messalina must have been quite the catch and a feast for the eyes. Her relation to the Imperial family was intimate. Her family, the gens Valeria, was one of the most ancient and honoured patrician families of Rome. She was the daughter of Domitia Lepida the Younger,  a great  niece of Augustus and her first cousin Senator Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus (the rest may be read on Wiki). Both her grandmothers had been not only half-sisters, but also nieces of Augustus Caesar.

Messalina by Eugène Cyrille Brunet
Messalina by Eugène Cyrille Brunet
Messalina and Britannicus (Louvre)

We do not know much of her life before she became the third wife to heir presumptive Claudius – who was her own cousin (once removed) – in AD 38. If one reads a bit about the whole Julio-Claudian dynasty, one may easily get the impression that it was but one incestuous clan – and may not be far off the truth. She bore Claudius two children – Octavia (later Nero‘s wife) and Britannicus. When Caligula was murdered in AD 41, her husband was made Emperor and she found herself Empress.

She realized early that Claudius’ adopted son Nero was a main competitor for her son Britannicus in the imperial succession (although we must remember here that adoption might change the order of succession at any time). What she did about it and what followed is, however, largely conjecture – based on somewhat dubious historical reports.

Hans Makart’s painting of Charlotte Wolter in Adolf Wilbrandt’s tragedy Arria und Messalina.

In general, historians blame her in three regards: that she mingled in the imperial succession to advance her son Britannicus respectively her lovers, that she conspired against various senators for financial gain and, it seems, out of sexual motives, and that she was both adulterous and promiscuous – crimes for which exile was the normal sanction – but for an empress, the death penalty was far more likely. “Adulterium” respectively “Stuprum” – the shame – were crimes of the woman in question only, not the man – apparently the Romans concluded that no “Latin lover” could resist the ladies’ allures …

She is blamed for the executions of Claudius’ nieces Julia Livilla and Julia Livia, of the prominent senators Appius Silanus and Valerius Asiaticus – the former actually being married to Messalina’s mother Domitia Lepida but apparently desired by the daughter, whom he refused – the poisoning of Marcus Vinicius (Consul AD 30) – who is said to have resisted her advances as well – and the execution of the freedman Polybius, Claudius’ private secretary.

Julia Livilla seems to have been involved (AD 39) in a conspiracy to overthrow Caligula and replace him with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, both her and her elder sister Agrippina‘s lover. She was punished by exile but returned after Caligula’s assassination, only to get in trouble with Messalina in AD 41 and was charged by Claudius (who was her paternal uncle) with adultery, committed, it was said, with Seneca the Younger, She was exiled again and apparently starved to death on Claudius’ orders sometimes in AD 42.

Julia Livia, granddaughter of Tiberius, fell the same way to apparently false charges of immodesty and adultery reported on orders of Messalina to Claudius’ ears by her palace spies, mostly freedmen, and was executed around the same time as Livilla. In both cases there seemed to have been no evidence to the alleged crimes and no official investigation was carried out.

A. Pigma (1911) – When Claudius is away, Messalina will play

The case of Appius Silanus was different. It seems that Messalina herself desired the highly honoured senator, who, as remarked, was married to her mother Domitia Lepida. On his refusal, Messalina and the aforementioned Narcissus reported an assassination plot, which they claimed to have seen in their dreams, to the emperor and the poor man was promptly executed for treason.

Messalina - painting by Joaquin Sorolla
Messalina in the arms of the gladiator – painting by Joaquin Sorolla

Not lust but greed seemed to have been the driving force in Messalina’s persecution of Valerius Asiaticus. He was one of the richest and most prominent men in Rome, having been consul not once but twice, and had bought and further developed the already famous gardens of the legendary Lucius Licinius Lucullus. It would seem that Messalina brought the notorious senator Publius Suillius Rufus (Claudius’ favoured prosecutor) – by what means we do not know, but we can guess – to indict Asiaticus on capital charges – along the usual conspiracy against the state also a charge of adultery with Poppaea Sabina the Elder, mother of the current empress Poppaea Sabina. He was duly found guilty and committed suicide in AD 47. Messalina inherited the gardens when she followed Poppaea Sabina as empress.

Marcus Vinicius was not so easy to crack. He had been consul twice and was a highly decorated officer – apparently above reproach – so he was poisoned. About the reasons for the execution of Polybius we do not know much – gossip holds that Messalina was tired of him as a lover and sought a secretary to Claudius who was more, er, pliable – in her expert hands.

The interesting question is whether or not Claudius was clueless about his wife’s actions – he probably turned a blind eye since they were getting rid of his political enemies, and – simpleton that he was or seemed to be – he could later deny that he knew anything about her actions.

Executions for crimes against the state were everyday occurrences in Roman politics but as their occasions multiplied, senators fearing to share the fate of Silanus and Asiaticus seemed to have started their own smear campaign. A few juicy scandals might, perhaps, advance their designs.

The Orgies of Messalina by Federico Faruffini
The Orgies of Messalina by Federico Faruffini
Messalina working in the brothel of Lisisca, etching by Agostino Carracci, late 16th century
Messalina working in the brothel of Lisisca, etching by Agostino Carracci, late 16th century

Rumours and innuendo of sexual adventures was as common and prevalent in Rome as in any other place, but gossip about the orgies Messalina was reported to host privately and not-so-privately quickly spread everywhere. The story everyone recalls best is the one on the competition in regard to sexual stamina which Messalina reportedly fought out with the prostitute Scylla, to find out who could satisfy more men in twenty-four hours – which Messalina is said to have won with a score of twenty-five lovers – as Pliny the Elder‘s Natural History relates in Chapter 83, n. 237:

Messalina, the wife of Claudius Caesar, thinking this a palm quite worthy of an empress, selected, for the purpose of deciding the question, one of the most notorious of the women who followed the profession of a hired prostitute; and the empress outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at the twenty-fifth embrace.

Jan Stursa – Messalina, disrobing on the way to the competition …
Gustave Surand - The competition between Messalina and Scylla
Gustave Surand – The competition between Messalina and Scylla

Juvenal described her habits in Satire VI as follows:

Then look at those who rival the Gods, and hear what Claudius endured. As soon as his wife perceived that her husband was asleep, this august harlot was shameless enough to prefer a common mat to the imperial couch. Assuming night-cowl, and attended by a single maid, she issued forth; then, having concealed her raven locks under a light-coloured peruque, she took her place in a brothel reeking with long-used coverlets. Entering an empty cell reserved for herself, she there took her stand, under the feigned name of Lycisca, her nipples bare and gilded, and exposed to view the womb that bore thee, O nobly-born Britannicus! Here she graciously received all comers, asking from each his fee; and when at length the keeper dismissed his girls, she remained to the very last before closing her cell, and with passion still raging hot within her went sorrowfully away. Then exhausted by men but unsatisfied, with soiled cheeks, and begrimed with the smoke of lamps, she took back to the imperial pillow all the odours of the stews.

Messalina, by Édouard Henri Avril
Messalina, by Édouard Henri Avril

What seems to have broken her neck was a party she held on the occasion of a visit of her husband, Emperor Claudius, to the harbour and shipyards of Ostia he was building there. In his absence, his wife gave a lavish party. The freedman Tiberius Claudius Narcissus, another secretary and magistrate, decided to inform his boss about the licentious affair – he had his own reasons in regard to Britannicus, Messalina’s son (check the link, it is interesting).

We have reason to believe that, in his report, Narcissus took a few liberties with the facts or at least with what he could prove. He told his employer that his wife had indeed performed a wedding ceremony with a certain Gaius Silius, who happened to be a designated consul for the following year AD 49.

Marriage of Messalina and Gaius Silius
Marriage of Messalina and Gaius Silius

Whether it was true or not, we do not know. If true, it might have been a plot to tumble Claudius and install Silius as emperor – who might then adopt Britannicus as heir. Silius was not only popular with the people, but also the Praetorian Guard, which made him a true danger.

Claudius hesitated. Back on the way to Rome, he was met on the road by his wife and children in the company of the chief vestal virgin Vibidia who sought to arbitrate in the matter. Yet the horizon clouded when Claudius – while inspecting the house of Silius – found a number of Julio-Claudian family heirlooms that his generous wife had gifted to her lover.

It seems Claudius – still doubtful – lacked the willpower to do what was necessary in the interest of the empire, so Narcissus took it upon himself to order the execution of the empress. She had fled with her mother to the Gardens of Lucullus and was given the chance of an honourable suicide but could not bring it off. So a soldier ran his sword through her.

The Death of Messalina by Georges Antoine Rochegrosse
The-Death-of-Messalina-by-Francesco-Solimena
The Death of Messalina by Francesco Solimena

On hearing the news of his wife’s demise, the emperor is said not have shown a reaction but simply asked for some more wine. The senate, in a gasp of relief, ordered damnation memoriae, the removal of her name from all public places. Yet gossip remained through all those centuries and made her immortal.

Rest well, old girl!

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019)

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The Chastity of Julia

La Meditazione by Luigi Sechhi
La Meditazione by Luigi Secchi

In many respects, it is surprising that Hollywood has not yet identified the story of Julia the Elder (30 October 39 BC-AD 14), the only daughter of Emperor Augustus, and the House of the Julio-Claudians as the subject of a production which easily might rival “Game of Thrones”.

Her family entanglements alone were manifold and on the incestuous side: she was not only (1) the sole child and daughter of the Emperor Augustus, but also (2) the stepsister and second wife (yes!) of the Emperor Tiberius; the (3) maternal grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger as well as the (4) grandmother-in-law of the Emperor Claudius, and last not least (5) the maternal great-grandmother of the Emperor Nero

Like other famous and powerful women of antiquity, Cleopatra or Theodora, the light she was painted in by her contemporary historians is fluctuating between invective and accolade. We must keep in mind though, that scandalous writings, in particular of sexual or murderous nature, was par for the course in ancient politics – especially in the Roman Empire which was characterized by legal and public exhortations of virtue and chastity (countless laws were passed to fortify the public morals), but in reality was but one big brothel, as pretty much all contemporary sources agree. Prostitution was always legal in Rome and sex with slaves essentially unregulated.

Her mother was Augustus’ second wife Scribonia, but as the Emperor had divorced her (to add insult to injury Augustus remarried on the day Julia was born), she grew up with her then-stepmother Livia, the famous court manipulator …

It would appear that her father emphasized a good – if strict – education, and all sources agree on Julia’s ample knowledge of literature and culture. As it would be expected and was Roman custom, at the age of 14, in 25 BC, she was married to the current political favourite among Augustus’ assistants, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who, alas, died of an epidemic two years later.

A little party in the woods ...
A little party in the woods …

His death in no respect came unwelcome to Marcellus’ great rival and second lieutenant to Augustus, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who proceeded – two years later – to inherit Julia. And here it gets complicated from the start. Although the marriage resulted in five children, rumours of Julia’s lax interpretation of the holy vows began immediately. Not only did she apparently begin a long-time affair with a certain Sempronius Gracchus (from the famous Republican family, who was later banned for the affair by Augustus and, as it seems, executed by Tiberius after his becoming emperor in AD 14), but, so it was widely rumoured, in addition, developed a passion for the selfsame Tiberius, who, to complicate things, was her stepbrother by adoption.

Yet in 12 BCE, Agrippa suddenly expired as well, and Augustus, after the loss of the second heir presumptive quickly married off his daughter – after a period of mourning as brief as to border on the perfunctory – to the next in line, Tiberius, in 11 BCE.

Yet this marriage seemed to have been blighted from the start. Notwithstanding Julia’s earlier infatuation with Tiberius, he had since married Vipsania Agrippina, a daughter of  Marcus Agrippa, and was reported to be very fond of her. Yet by Imperial command, divorce and subsequent remarriage to Julia could not be circumvented. The union, however, produced no offspring except for a baby-son who died in infancy and after 6 BC, when Tiberius left Rome for retirement in Rhodes, the non-lovers had separated – apparently by mutual assent.

The reasons behind the retirement are somewhat unclear. Historians have speculated that it was motivated because Augustus had adopted his grandsons Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar by Julia and Agrippa, and Tiberius had accepted that they would rank before him in the order of succession. In the event, they died AD 2 and AD 4 – both of quick and mysterious illnesses, which caused only more gossip – and hence they subsequently did not matter. Velleius Paterculus and Cassius Dio, however, write that Julia’s “promiscuous and very public behaviour” may have played a role as well.

Reawakening by Giulio Aristide Sartorio

Now we get to the part where the story gets mysterious, for the real motivations for what happened now have never come out. Notwithstanding the rumours of her earlier infidelities (of which the whole Empire was reasonably aware and her father must have known from beginning to end), Pliny reports that in AD 2 she was actually arrested on Augustus’ orders for adultery and for having planed, with unnamed conspirators, the murder of her father and/or her husband Tiberius. As mentioned, Augustus’ motivation is not known – even Tiberius reportedly wrote from Rhodes in favour of Julia. No investigation was held, no Procès-verbal, no explanations given.

But Augustus found himself in a bind he had created himself. In 18 BC, he has passed, among some other bills sponsoring the moral superiority of the Roman race, the “Lex Iulia de adulteriis, which not only punished adultery with banishment, in which the two perpetrators were to be banned on two different islands and their property could be partially confiscated, but allowed fathers to kill guilty daughters and their lovers, if they could lay hands on them, and husbands, depending on the circumstances of the crime, to kill the culprits and required to divorce the wives. The responsibility for punishing a daughter lay with the paterfamilias, hence, in the present case, Augustus himself.

Julia as  Venus - Diego Velázquez
Without doubt, she may have made a fine model for Diego Velázquez

Now the Emperor had to prosecute the daughter, which he did. As Tiberius was absent from the capital, Augustus sent her a letter in his name, asserting that Julia had actually schemed against his life in addition to the sexual crimes and declared the marriage null and void.

Julia in Exile at Ventotene, by Pavel Svedomskiy

Julia was sent to banishment on the tiny island of Pandateria (today’s Ventotene), then a manless and wineless (for she was fond of wine) barren spot in the Tyrrhenian Sea. She was forbidden to receive visitors and spent her last years solely in the presence of her mother, who shared the exile. Later, two of her children were exiled as well, for various other offences.

Augustus moved her back to the mainland five years later and granted her a small allowance, favours which were repudiated when her former husband Tiberius became Emperor in AD 14. She died in the same year – probably starved to death, a favourite method of Imperial providence.

Golden Rain by Leon Francois Comerre
Or maybe a model for Leon Francois Comerre?

Why was Augustus so harsh – harsher, actually, than the law prescribed? He was entitled to do whatever he saw fit – he might simply have ignored the whole affair. Clearly, he did it for matters of state and his own image as a self-proclaimed moral renovator of the Empire. The suspicion of modern historians is that there is, however, a greater context to observe – an offensive against the tendency of Roman women of the late Republic to emancipate themselves from the tight male reign they were held in. Like Sulla, Octavian was an arch-conservative and as some historians have assumed, may have followed no lesser target than to establish himself as the moral paterfamilias of the whole Empire – as the personification of absolute authority.

Perhaps Augustus did indeed suspect a conspiracy against himself and the principate – that the alleged lovers of his daughter planned to replace Tiberius as heir presumptive with Iullus Antonius, the son of Marc Antony (who had been a praetor before, and also proconsul for Asia) – the more likely because important senatorial family members, namely former consul Titus Quinctius Crispinus Sulpicianus, a Scipio, the aforementioned Sempronius Gracchus and one Appius Claudius were implicated in the scandal and banned or drawn to commit suicide.

The drawback of the theory is that Julius Antonius’ succession would have disadvantaged Julia’s own sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, who had already been adopted by their grandfather Augustus (and were not dead yet at this time) and did have their own place in the pyramid of succession.

What about Julia’s alleged behaviour in the first place? Various ancient historians have criticized her sexual behaviour. For reasons of convenience. I will cite here the respective Wikipedia summary (which I very seldom do):

Odalisque by Jules Joseph Lefebvre
Odalisque by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Marcus Velleius Paterculus describes her as “tainted by luxury or lust”, listing among her lovers Iullus Antonius, Quintius Crispinus, Appius Claudius, Sempronius Gracchus, and Cornelius Scipio. Seneca the Younger refers to “adulterers admitted in droves”; Pliny the Elder calls her an “exemplum licentiae”. Dio Cassius mentions “revels and drinking parties by night in the Forum and even upon the Rostra”. Seneca tells us that the Rostra was the place where “her father had proposed a law against adultery”, and yet now she had chosen the place for her “debaucheries”. Seneca specifically mentions prostitution: “laying aside the role of adulteress, she there [in the Forum] sold her favours, and sought the right to every indulgence with even an unknown paramour.” Modern historians discredit these representations as exaggerating Julia’s behaviour.

Copperplate by Caracci

Macrobius provides invaluable details of her witticisms and personality.  … On her character, he writes that Julia was extensively celebrated for her amiable, empathetic nature and studiousness despite her profligacy; “She was abusing her standing as fortune’s darling, and her father’s, though in other respects she gained a great deal of credit for her love of literature and extensive learning… and her kindness, fellow-feeling, and lack of cruelty.’

We ought to see the whole picture perhaps within the background of the incessant succession conflicts that were legendary during the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The early Empire was notably different from later forms of dynastic inheritance that the concept of primogeniture did not exist and adoption was a common and entirely legal and accepted alternative in succession issues. Neither existed a legally prescribed formula on how to bequeath the Imperial succession. Since neither Augustus, Caligula or Nero fathered a legitimate son, adoption became the common way for the respective Emperor to manage his succession in the desired route.

Hence, positive selection – usually adoption – and negative selection – murder by poison or execution for treason – competed in a certain balance of which every member of the court was only too accurately aware of. Because so few plain opportunities of genuine succession occurred – normal father-son or grandfather-grandson relations – it was almost expected of family members to contemplate the murder of the heirs apparent to advance the chances of their own offspring, lovers or favourites.

In addition, the return to the Republic was never legally excluded – and always remained a bane to the Imperial family – hence the successively rising power of the Magistri militum, who, by the fifth century, reigned in realitas through tame puppet-emperors.

Whether Julia played the succession game in earnest or simply became the victim of a gambit by her father, we do not know. The real reasons for Julia’s downfall hence remain a mystery – Augustus certainly was a straight-laced sourpuss yet a canny politician.

She was witty. Macrobius writes:

At a gladiatorial show, her stepmother Livia and Julia drew the attention of the people by the dissimilarity of their companions; Livia was surrounded by respectable men, Julia by men who were not only youthful but extravagant. Her father wrote that she ought to notice the difference between the two princesses, but Julia wrote back, “These men will be old when I am old“.

One day she came into his presence in a somewhat risque costume, and though he said nothing, he was offended. The next day she changed her style and embraced her father, who was delighted by the respectability which she was affecting. Augustus, who the day before had concealed his distress, was now unable to conceal his pleasure. “How much more suitable”, he remarked, “for a daughter of Augustus is this costume!” Julia did not fail to stand up for herself. “Today”, she said, “I dressed to be looked at by my father, yesterday to be looked at by my husband.” *

[* Macrobius, Saturnalia 2.5.1-10. ca. AD 400. Tr. H. Lloyd-Jones. L]

Well remembered is the explanation she gave why all her children resembled Agrippa – her then-husband – so much; despite her alleged promiscuity:

“I take on a passenger only when the ship’s hold is full.” [Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book II, 5:9.)  


(© John Vincent Palatine 2019)

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No Country for Old Men*

Alexander von Kluck and the Staff of 1st Army
Colonel General Alexander von Kluck and the Staff of 1st Army

From “The Little Drummer Boy“, Chapter 18, ‘De Bello Gallico’

The opening battles of the Great War had made it plain to see that this conflict of industrialized nations had no resemblance to the short, victorious and honourable war patriots cheered for and generals had promised. Not only had the latter, in every country, gravely underestimated the expenditures of modern war in regards to ammunition, gear and victuals, it became shockingly clear that, in the age of mechanized war, infantry attacks over open fields would produce casualties in numbers never beheld before. Poison gas was soon to add one more horrific dimension to the suffering.
One of the great contrasts that this war produced was that of ages. While the industrialized countries of Europe conscripted their young men by the age of twenty, in war below that age, the chief generals of the Great War were of, comparably, biblical ages.

On the German side in 1914, Moltke was 66 years old, Hindenburg 67 and Kluck and Bülow both 68. On the side of the Allies, Joffre and French were 62 and Gallieni 68. Their advanced age was not a matter of chance, but the expression of the pre-War belief in “experience”, the preeminent value in what Stefan Zweig called the ‘World of
Security’ before the war.

The world about and above us, which directed all its thoughts only to the fetish of security, did not like youth; or rather it constantly mistrusted it. … Austria was an old state, dominated by an aged Emperor, ruled by old
Ministers, a State without ambition, which hoped to preserve itself unharmed in the European domain solely by opposing all radical changes. …
So arose the situation, incomprehensible today, that youth was a hindrance in all careers, and age alone was an advantage. Whereas today, in our changed state of affairs, those of forty seek to look thirty, and those of
sixty wish to seem forty, and youth, energy, determination and self-confidence recommend and advance a man, in that age of security everyone who wished to get ahead was forced to attempt all conceivable methods of masquerading in order to appear older.
The newspapers recommended preparations which hastened the growth of the beard, and twenty-four- and twenty-five-year-old doctors, who had just finished their examinations, wore mighty beards and golden
spectacles even if their eyes did not need them, so that they could make an impression of “experience” upon their first patients. Men wore long black frock coats and walked at a leisurely pace, and whenever possible
acquired a slight embonpoint, in order to personify the desired sedateness; and those who were ambitious strove, at least outwardly, to belie their youth, since the young were suspected of instability.

It didn’t occur to anybody’s mind that this was the first mechanized, “World War”, for any rank, corporal and general alike.
But as long as the generals insisted on sending unprotected men to attack, over open fields, other men, who had the advantages of being protected in entrenched positions, secured by barbed wire and supported by rapid-fire arms, casualties were to mount. This was “the simple truth of 1914-18 trench warfare.” What rankled the troopers was the Olympian aloofness shown by some of the principal commanders.

Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff
Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff loved to be portrayed as great strategists

The impassive expressions that stare back at us from contemporary photographs do not speak of consciences of feelings troubled by the slaughter over which those men presided, nor do the circumstances in which they
chose to live: the distant chateau, the well-polished entourage, the glittering motor cars, the cavalry escorts, the regular routine, the heavy dinners, the uninterrupted hours of sleep. Joffre’s two-hour lunch, Hindenburg’s
ten-hour night, Haig’s therapeutic daily equitation along roads sanded lest his horse slip, the STAVKA’s diet of champagne and court gossip, seem and were a world away from the cold rations, wet boots, sodden uniforms, flooded trenches, ruined billets and plague of lice on, in and among which, in winter at least, their subordinates lived.

Sooner or later, inevitably, the soldier will seek responsibility for the conditions he is exposed to not only with the enemy but his own higher-ups. All of the three early C-in-C’s on the Western front of 1914 were eventually replaced, Moltke in September 1914 [his successor Falkenhayn at the end of 1916, ¶], Sir John French in December 1915, and Joffre, who was promoted to the honourable but hollow position of “Marechal de France”, in December 1916.

Hindenburg und Hitler
Hindenburg’s final sin …

Alas, their replacements tended to be not much younger either of age or intellectual freshness. The British press coined the expression of
describing the BEF as “Lions, led by Donkeys,” and nobody mistook the generals for the lions. War, to paraphrase Yeats, is “no country for old men”, but, over most of its duration, the Great War was.

(© John Vincent Palatine 2015/19, Quotations etc. see The Little Drummer Boy, Chapter XVIII and Appendices)

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On Writing History – The Noble Quest

Clio - The Muse of History in Jan Vermeer's famous allegory
Clio – The Muse of History in Jan Vermeer’s famous allegory

“History is one of the indispensable studies. No person can be educated or civilized who does not make a study of history, and a habit of reading history. This is because it stands alongside literature and the arts as one of the richest and best sources of understanding human experience and the human condition, and it equips us to understand ourselves, to organize our lives and societies, and to meet the future as best we may. As the saying derived from Thucydides has it, history is philosophy teaching by examples.” A. C. Grayling

The statement seems quaint to the post-literate and post-factual generation of today. Education in the classical sense is labelled non-productive and hence unnecessary – we may find our way to disaster alone, won’t we? Why should it matter what happened before our all-important present existence?

History is important. In centuries past this statement would have seemed self-evident. Ancient cultures devoted much time and effort to teaching their children family history. It was thought that the past helps a child understand who he is. Modern society, however, has turned its back on the past. We live in a time of rapid change, a time of progress. We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going, not where we come from. Our ancestors hold no importance for us. They lived in times so different from our own that they are incapable of shedding light on our experience. Man is so much smarter now than he was even ten years ago that anything from the past is outdated and irrelevant to us. Therefore, the past, even the relatively recent past, is, in the minds of most of us, enshrouded by mists and only very vaguely perceived. Our ignorance of the past is not the result of a lack of information, but of indifference. We do not believe that history matters. But history does matter. It has been said that he who controls the past controls the future. Our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems. David Crabtree The Importance of History

Never has the statement that who controls the past controls the future been more blindingly obvious that in our time of the Internet, Wikipedia and omnipresent surveillance. One of the most important objectives of the total news and history control executed by China is the suppression of the knowledge of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests and the subsequent massacre. The Chinese government is mortally afraid of the emancipation of the Chinese people. Its propaganda projects an image of political unity which is far from true – the problem is that most western people have little idea of it.

I happened to have a Chinese girlfriend in the 1980s – she was the owner of two restaurants – one in my birth town and a bigger one in the next major city. I accompanied her on many business trips and received a thorough education in inner-Chinese matters.

She showed me how there is not one communist party – there is one in every province, every town, every village – fiercely competitive – as there are not one Chinese people – obvious enough if we recall that before the implementation of the Mandarin language and script as lingua franca every province had its own lingo and people in private conversations still prefer their local dialects – just for safety. She described how she could tell only from the way the omnipresent dragons in the restaurants faced she could tell whether the owner was a party member or not, and what wing he favoured, or how the inclusion or exclusion of a dish on the menu could point out political expressions.

Suppression of history is a standard method of political control and the incidents are omnipresent. Hence, those that write and teach us history are on a truly noble quest and deserve our support. The better their discourse, the more we profit.

Hence, I decided to compose this short introduction to the main considerations and instruments the aspiring writer of history in the English language (or, rather, any writer) should be familiar with – ideally, have on his mind and desk at all times.

First: Know what you want. Are you planning a monograph, an excerpt about a partial aspect of a historic theme, an essay which points out your view of a question, a Wiki-Type entry that should, as short as possible and as short as necessary give an overview of a specific theme, or a full-fledged book on a period, personality or phenomenon? There is no precise formula on what to write and what not; this is your artistic challenge – the “Tour d’Horizon” you must define for yourself.

Why not simply use Wikipedia a basis, many would ask? This is indeed useful, but there are indeed a few drawbacks for the inexperienced. One is that without a personal basis of general knowledge, the prospective author cannot truly judge whether what the Wiki article says is holy writ or not. There are many issues which are hotly discussed – but Wiki always feels it must present a “middle” point of view, which, however, may be tainted because the Wiki editors themselves, who are as fallible as the next pope, cannot get everything “right” – naturally – because the concept of “truth” or “rightness” in our field is a very questionable matter.

The second factor in favour of the old-fashioned “encyclopedia” type of books, of which I will recommend some below, is that we find ourselves leafing through them, scrolling and browsing, which we seldom do on Wiki. While I browse through Wiki an hour or more every day using the “Random Article” button, I am aware that not everybody has the time or inclination to do so. Naturally, the useful habit again depends somewhat on the extent of your basic knowledge of worldly, historical, geographical and intellectual affairs – for the greater they are, the more sense you can make of the possibly spurious information you are confronted with by simply browsing through.

Since the writing of history demands different qualities than the description of fictitious events, we need to build on a foundation of our own life experience and the underlying facts of the subject – or at least reasonable likelihoods.

In your romance, action or detective story you may invent persons or localities, give them the characteristics you feel necessary for the plot, kill them when they served their function or let them suffer every fate you see fit. Not so in our field.

History - by Frederick Dielman (1896)
History – by Frederick Dielman (1896)

In addition, history is subject to both official and unofficial peer review – for you will find out in a hurry that if your presentation, deductions and conclusions are debatable, you will realize, and be told, that you have may engaged, willingly or not, in superfluity or propaganda – which is an entirely different field.

So is speculation. On Facebook, for example, there are “History” groups who specialize in this exercise – military history mainly, in which there occurs a lot of discussions what would have happened if general X had ordered army Y to move to Z and so forth. Quite interesting at times – but somewhat off the mark unless it serves the inquiry why the general made the decision the specified way and not any other. The “What if?” scenario can be fascinating, but we must recall it is not history.

But now to the sine-qua-non list:

This list enumerates the standard reference books every history writer needs in print form – many similar compilations are to be found for free on the internet and may function as replacements. However, most of the works mentioned are to be found easily at very little cost (I acquired mine usually under $5) at used book shops and their acquisition is strongly suggested. Here’s a link to a comparison of the best online shops for used books.

In order of importance:

I. ROGET’s INTERNATIONAL THESAURUS 7th Edition or newer, Collins Reference (HarperCollins Publishers) ISBN 978-0-06-171523-5 (thumb-indexed)

Indispensable.

II. OXFORD DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS 7th Edition or newer, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-9237717-3,

History comes alive in winged words …

III. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – COMPLETE WORKS – The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Modern Library, New York (Random House modernlibrary.com), ISBN 978-0-679-64295-4,

The cradle of Modern English …

IV. DICTIONARY OF FOREIGN WORDS AND PHRASES 2nd Edition or newer, Oxford University Press, Andrew Delahunty (Ed.), ISBN 978-0-19-954368-7,

Nix speaking Frencho, nay?

V. LATIN CONCISE DICTIONARY – HarperResource, ISBN 0-06-053690-X,

… with Supplements on Roman History and Culture …

VI. OXFORD DICTIONARY OF ALLUSIONS, Second Edition or newer, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-860919-3,

Jehoshabeath – who?

VII. THE READER’S COMPANION TO WORLD LITERATURE, Second Edition or newer, Signet Classics, ISBN 978-0-451-52841-4,

Basic info about the masterpieces of writing in one small collection …

VIII. THE AMERICAN HERITAGE ABBREVIATIONS DICTIONARY, Third Edition or newer, Houghton Mifflin Company, ISBN 0-618-62123-7,

Especially useful for scientific texts with abbreviations galore …

The Writer's Desk - Unicorns Optional
The Writer’s Desk – Unicorns Optional

ADDENDUM: A LIST OF THE FUNDAMENTAL WORKS OF HISTORY EVERY WRITER SHOULD BE AWARE OF – with a slight Anglo-American bias:

ListMuse

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019)

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Procopius – The Secret History

Ancient Constantinople, by Giacomo Franco

Related Post: The Age of Justinian (The Gothic Wars, Theodora, The End of the Legions, The Rise of the Franks)

Mosaic - Acsibed to show Procopius of Caesarea
Mosaic – Ascribed to show Procopius of Caesarea

The PDF – File linked to this post represents the Gutenberg edition of the “Secret History” of Procopius, in the version of THE ATHENIAN SOCIETY of MDCCCXCVI, including an introduction and footnotes, edited and corrected to modern English spelling by John Vincent Palatine.

From Wikisource: Procopius – History of the Wars


Related Post: The Age of Justinian (The Gothic Wars, Theodora, The End of the Legions, The Rise of the Franks)


(© John Vincent Palatine 2015/19)

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Empire – Edward Gibbon and Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole - The Dream of the Architect
Thomas Cole – The Dream of the Architect
Portrait of Edward Gibbon (1737-94) c.1779 (oil on canvas) by Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723-92)
Portrait of Edward Gibbon (1737-94) c.1779
Thomas Cole

Paintings by Thomas Cole – The Course of Empire; et aliae

Video


Few historians indeed have been the subject of ongoing discussion as Edward Gibbon continues to be.

The subject of the work that was to earn him eternal fame – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – was by itself uncontroversial enough – hundreds of volumes had been written about the decay of Rome (fewer of that of Constantinople …) but the majority of them were deriving from modern, that is, Christian times.

The masters of antiquity had written without the benefit of a Christian education or indoctrination, and therefore the powers-to-be of the historical establishment of 18th Century England considered them of secondary importance – unaware of the glorious gospel the Lord of the Universe had brought to the progeny of Adam and uninformed of the noble achievements of British royalty.

While the Renaissance had pretty much gnawed away most middle-age certitudes of biblical teaching through Gutenberg’s invention and Luther’s and Calvin’s arguments, this was still a time in which the moral authority of the Anglican respectively Catholic Church went largely unquestioned.

Thomas Cole: The Course of Empire – The Savage State (1836)

Thus, it came to quite a shock when the 1776 publication of Volume I of the “History” and even more Volume II and III in 1781 clearly and unequivocally identified a Semitic Abrahamic religion, Christianity, as the third culprit in the decay of the great Empire. The main factor was, in Gibbon’s analysis, barbarian invasions, which, however, succeeded mainly because of a gradual loss of “civic virtue” among the citizens (by ‘civic virtue’, Gibbon referred to support of the common people for the government, which he saw presently as the strength of Great Britain):

Thomas Cole: The Course of Empire – The Arcadian or Pastoral State (1836)

The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.” [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 38 “General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West“]

Thomas Cole  - The Consummation of the Empire
Thomas Cole – The Consummation of the Empire

This alone many contemporaries might have swallowed, but the last quarto of Volume I (Chapters XV and XVI) contained a very controversial passage, which brought Gibbon the epithet of “paganist”:

As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.

That is to say that, basically, that the Christian religion had corrupted and emasculated the people of the empire – yet, “Thank God”, one is tempted to comment – had also curtailed the rampancy of the barbarians who at length accepted the gospel as their own.

Thomas Cole  - Destruction of the Empire
Thomas Cole – Destruction of the Empire

Worse it might look to the devout follower of Christ, that Gibbon favourably compared the tolerance of pagan societies and the wisdom of their rulers (i.e. Roman emperors before AD 300 as well) with the inflexibility of Christian (or Muslim, for that matter) doctrine and their historic predilection to internecine aggression (which clearly was critique on a few British kings as well, say Edward VIII):

The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.

Another most unsavoury blow to the holiness and spirituality of the Church was found in the scandalous fact that Gibbon dared to judge the multitudinous reports on Christian martyrdom as self-serving fabrications – deriving from secondary sources which could not stand independent verification. That is – he said – they might simply be fictitious – Christian propaganda.

Worse, for that part of Christian persecution which could reasonably be assumed to have some actual basis in history, Gibbon pointed out that it was not based on religious or spiritual issues, but on the Romans’ practice of state religion – the Roman state did not care what one believed – and the importance that was placed on the rather perfunctory sacrifices the ordinary citizen was required to perform.

The Caesarian sacrifice was not a matter of religion or belief – it was the demonstration of loyalty to the empire – and who refused was not an unbeliever – he, the Christian, was presumably a terrorist.

While Gibbon mostly (and perhaps wisely) refrained from too obvious commentaries on various Biblical stories or to discuss the vagaries of Jewish prophets and Christian evangelicals, he did not hold back on the – in his opinion – secular origin and intellectual burglary of the Quran and the holy earthly recipient. In a famous passage he relates the story of the Seven Sleepers (which everybody knew since more than two hundred years) and comments:

This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced, as a divine revelation, into the Quran.

Thomas Cole - Desolation of the Empire
Thomas Cole – Desolation of the Empire

Gibbon’ s presentation of Muhammad’s life again reflects on the holy prophet’s secular and very practical approach to life who, he thinks, …

… in his private conduct … indulged the appetites of a man, and abused the claims of a prophet. A special revelation dispensed him from the laws which he had imposed on his nation: the female sex, without reserve, was abandoned to his desires; and this singular prerogative excited the envy, rather than the scandal, the veneration, rather than the envy, of the devout Mussulmans.

Gibbon clearly had an issue with the Prophet’s dispensations of the common laws and his followers’ emancipation of the sexes, or, rather, the absence of it. Even the terror of Muslim hell could not entirely daunt him, yet neither could the pleasures of Muslim paradise entirely convince him:

The doom of the infidels is common: the measure of their guilt and punishment is determined by the degree of evidence which they have rejected, by the magnitude of the errors which they have entertained: the eternal mansions of the Christians, the Jews, the Sabians, the Magians, and idolaters, are sunk below each other in the abyss; and the lowest hell is reserved for the faithless hypocrites who have assumed the mask of religion. After the greater part of mankind has been condemned for their opinions, the true believers only will be judged by their actions.

The good and evil of each Mussulman will be accurately weighed in a real or allegorical balance; and a singular mode of compensation will be allowed for the payment of injuries: the aggressor will refund an equivalent of his own good actions, for the benefit of the person whom he has wronged; and if he should be destitute of any moral property, the weight of his sins will be loaded with an adequate share of the demerits of the sufferer. According as the shares of guilt or virtue shall preponderate, the sentence will be pronounced, and all, without distinction, will pass over the sharp and perilous bridge of the abyss; but the innocent, treading in the footsteps of Mahomet, will gloriously enter the gates of paradise, while the guilty will fall into the first and mildest of the seven hells.

The term of expiation will vary from nine hundred to seven thousand years; but the prophet has judiciously promised, that all his disciples, whatever may be their sins, shall be saved, by their own faith and his intercession from eternal damnation. It is not surprising that superstition should act most powerfully on the fears of her votaries, since the human fancy can paint with more energy the misery than the bliss of a future life. With the two simple elements of darkness and fire, we create a sensation of pain, which may be aggravated to an infinite degree by the idea of endless duration.

John Martin - Pandemonium
John Martin – Pandemonium

But the same idea operates with an opposite effect on the continuity of pleasure; and too much of our present enjoyments is obtained from the relief, or the comparison, of evil. It is natural enough that an Arabian prophet should dwell with rapture on the groves, the fountains, and the rivers of paradise; but instead of inspiring the blessed inhabitants with a liberal taste for harmony and science, conversation and friendship, he idly celebrates the pearls and diamonds, the robes of silk, palaces of marble, dishes of gold, rich wines, artificial dainties, numerous attendants, and the whole train of sensual and costly luxury, which becomes insipid to the owner, even in the short period of this mortal life.

Seventy-two Houris, or black-eyed girls, of resplendent beauty, blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite sensibility, will be created for the use of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years; and his faculties will be increased a hundred fold, to render him worthy of his felicity. Notwithstanding a vulgar prejudice, the gates of heaven will be open to both sexes; but Mahomet has not specified the male companions of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of their former husbands, or disturb their felicity, by the suspicion of an everlasting marriage.

This image of a carnal paradise has provoked the indignation, perhaps the envy, of the monks: they declaim against the impure religion of Mahomet; and his modest apologists are driven to the poor excuse of figures and allegories. But the sounder and more consistent party adhere without shame, to the literal interpretation of the Koran: useless would be the resurrection of the body, unless it were restored to the possession and exercise of its worthiest faculties; and the union of sensual and intellectual enjoyment is requisite to complete the happiness of the double animal, the perfect man. Yet the joys of the Mahometan paradise will not be confined to the indulgence of luxury and appetite; and the prophet has expressly declared that all meaner happiness will be forgotten and despised by the saints and martyrs, who shall be admitted to the beatitude of the divine vision.

So he makes fun of it, but easy it was indeed. It was a mark of Gibbon that he took liberties with his opinions and judgements that previous historians had not dared. It was held much against him, in the sense that it was unbecoming for a historian – who should be “fair” – if there were such a thing …

The poor Jews did not fare much better – they were called “a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but also of humankind“.

Thus, by our politically correct standards of today, there is much to criticize in Gibbon. But there is much to admire – not the least his audacity of judgement. But perhaps unsurpassed in English historiography is his sheer dexterity of style, accuracy in diction and – to the everlasting amusement of the disciple – inexhaustible supply of irony, satire and sarcasm. Considering the amazing supply of human folly our contemporaries evidence daily, writing history might as well be fun.

And fun Gibbon is.

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019)

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Luigi Albertini and the Outbreak of the War

Luigi Albertini
Luigi Albertini

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019 – Book Three “Risico” (PDF) of “The Little Drummer Boy” contains in chapters XIII to XVII a 150-page summary of Albertini’s findings.)


For everybody who is concerned with the causes of the First World War, the research of Luigi Albertini (19 October 1871 – 29 December 1941) , long-time editor of the famous Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera“, is the foundation of factual knowledge. He was able to talk or correspond to many witnesses while they were still alive – even to some of the conspirators of Sarajevo. He published his findings in The Origins of the War of 1914. The last available edition by Enigma Books may still be found at discount stores or flea markets (regular market prices start at $250 for used specimens, but one can get lucky – book store link – or borrow from a library).

In the words of John Keegan:

The bedrock of all discussion remains L. Albertini’s The Origins of the War of 1914… which provides a detailed chronology of the crisis and excerpts from the most important documents.” [The First World War, ISBN 0-375-70045-5, p. 450]

At 2120 pages (in the Enigma-Books Edition pictured above) the work presents not only reproductions of many original documents – diplomatic cables, treaties, memoranda and newspaper articles, Albertini and his German-speaking co-author Luciano Magrini interviewed many of the true protagonists of the drama – from ambassadors, politicians, fellow journalists, university researchers up to a few of the actual conspirators and perpetrators of the Sarajevo assassination and their puppet-masters or svengali.

Although many statements of the involved are – naturally – of self-serving character, they do provide fascinating insights. The lecture of Albertini is the principal homework for every writer aspiring to close in on the difficult subject – one must observe with dismay that some aspriring “historians” refrain from the burden.

The circumstances of the period of his writing were – contingent on the imbalance of available documents (many German and Russian documents were unavailable due to the revolutions in their homelands, the Austrians, as usually, misplaced a lot, a good portion of others – especially French and Italian ones – proved doctored) to some extent coined by “anti-German” and especially “anti-Austrian” sentiments – quite understandably – but his reasoning is always impeccable and his judgements just – as far as the sources allowed.

Albertini took over the Corriere della Sera in 1900 and in the following 25 years developed it into the most modern, widely read and respected newspaper of Italy. He was sacked by the owners in 1925 due to his anti-Fascist views as a life-long liberal. Between 1914 and 1922 he was a member of the Italian Senate.

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019 – Book Three “Risico” (PDF) of “The Little Drummer Boy” contains in chapters XIII to XVII a 150-page summary of Albertini’s findings.)

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Anton Joachimsthaler – The private life of Adolf Hitler

Many posts in this blog’s category “Adolf Hitler” feature his work – please check the Main Menu!

Anton Joachimsthaler is the researcher who has done by far the most to furnish us with accurate data about two periods of Adolf Hitler’s life about which we know least – his adolescence and early years before he entered the limelight of being party boss – and his last days at the bunker of the Reichskanzlei in Berlin.

He was born 1930 at Hohenelbe in what was at that time the Sudetenland, formerly a province of Austria-Hungary, then Czechoslovakia, then of Nazi Germany and is now part of the Czech Republic.

By training an electrical engineer, he worked for the Deutsche Bundesbahn from 1956 on and has written extensively about railroad studies – in particular the standard work on Hitler’s planned broad-gauge railway through Europe – with a track width of 3000 millimetres more than twice as wide as the European standard track of 1435 millimetres (“Die Breitspurbahn”, see the picture in the gallery above).

Together with Brigitte Hamann, he has provided since – by meticulous research – most of the details of Hitler’s early days that we know. In 1989, he published “Korrektur einer Biographie” (‘Correction of a Biography’, Langen Müller Verlag, ISBN 3-7766-1575-3), in which many details were brought to attention for the first time – details about the name change of Hitler’s father Adolf Schicklgruber, for example, and a plethora of facts previously unknown. In agreement with Hamann, he argued most convincingly that Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” story of developing his anti-Semitism in Vienna before the war of 1914 was simply a fairytale for posterity – nothing anti-Semitic has been passed on by Hitler before 1919 in Munich or reported by anyone else.

This he followed up with a much-extended version in 2000, named “Hitler’s Weg begann in München 1913 – 1923” (‘Hitler’s Way began in Munich’, F.A. Herbig, München, ISBN 3-7766-2155-9).

In 2003, he published “Hitlers Liste. Ein Dokument persönlicher Beziehungen” (‘Hitler’s List. A document of personal relationships’, München, Verlag F.A. Harbig, ISBN 3776623284) – a meticulous report on all known relations Hitler’s to women.

His conclusion is that Hitler never entertained any sexual relationship to a woman – a deduction contradicted by Heike Görtemaker, who published in 2011 the most recent major biography of Eva Braun.

In 2004, he followed with “Hitler’s Ende”, a collection of the testimony of fifty witnesses of the dying minutes of the dictator, which was praised by Ian Kershaw as a “meticulous study of the testimony and forensic evidence” as to Hitler’s last days and death” [Kershaw, Ian (2001) [2000]. Hitler, 1936–1945: Nemesis. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN978-0-393-32252-1.)

This book is also available in English – Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth. Brockhampton Press. ISBN1-86019-902-X.

As a publisher, he released 1985 the memoirs of Christa Schroeder, one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries.

(© John Vincent Palatine 2019)

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