Piano-playing, Harvard-educated Putzi Hanfstaengl was Hitler’s foreign press secretary.

image of Putzi and British PM found here

Putzi excitedly told Adolf about the hypnotic effect of college cheering sections at U.S. football games and, at the piano, demonstrated the “buoyant beat” of U.S. brass bands. Recalls Putzi: “I had Hitler fairly shouting with enthusiasm. ‘That’s it, Hanfstaengl, that is what we need for the movement, marvelous,’ and he pranced up and down the room like a drum majorette.” The “Rah, rah, rah!” refrain of Harvardmen, by Putzi’s account, became the thunderous “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!” of the Brownshirt demonstrations.

image found here

An accomplished pianist, art dealer and amateur historian, Hanfstaengl looked down his cultural nose at Hitler. Not only did the man resemble a suburban barber on his day off; he could not tell a Caravaggio from a Michelangelo. Worse, he seldom paid his debts, loved to stuff himself with pastry and whipped cream, sat delightedly through three showings of King Kong. Hitler, says Putzi contemptuously, was a Muttersöhnchen (mamma’s boy).

Caravaggio or Michelangelo? (rhetorical question)

“I felt Hitler was man who was neither fish nor fowl, neither fully homosexual nor fully heterosexual,” he explained. “You can drink very weak tea, or very thin absinthe and you can suffer from very diluted sex inversion.”

Putzi was one of the many who believed that Hitler suffered from syphilis.  At the time of his supposed infection it was still thought that the pox could only enter through a flaccid penis, so men who practiced coitus interruptus would achieve some measure of safety.

One of the “cures” used on Hitler by his personal physician, syphologist Dr Theo Morrell, was the application of leeches to his head to alleviate buzzing in his ears.

Emo Hitler found here

He also gave him Homoseran, derived from human placenta and capsules of Mutaflor which contained bacteria cultured from the faeces of a vigourous Bulgarian peasant, after which, for a time, he felt better.”

care for a chocolate, dearest?

From the 15th century onwards, syphilis spread throughout Europe and beyond. Most of the supposed cures were almost as bad as the disease itself

image found here

It wasn’t until 1943 that penicillin became the standard, successful treatment. Until then, suggested remedies were creative if not bizarre. Unsuspecting wives were fed mercury-laced chocolates by their infected husbands, says Hayden.

Transylvania truffles found here

“Men were told to be sure after engaging in risky sex to wrap the endangered organ in a piece of cloth soaked in wine, shavings of guaiac (the wood of the guaiac tree was thought to penetrate areas of body mercury couldn’t reach), flakes of copper, precipitated mercury, gentian root, red coral, ash of ivory and burnt horn of deer.

Penis Gourd found here

“If a chancre (ulcer) did appear, the ulcerated part was to be covered with a spider’s web and a band of violet fabric.”

Beethoven’s hearing loss is believed to be due to syphilis. One doctor suggested to him that he grate fresh horseradish on a cotton cloth and insert it in his ears. Another recommended tincture of green nut-rinds in lukewarm water be dropped into the ear canal while yet another advised Beethoven to try direct applications of electric current.

Galvanic Life Renewer found here

Franz Schubert is also thought to have died from syphilis. In 1826, his friend Bauernfeld wrote “He is out of sorts and in need of young peacocks like those that cured Cellini”. In 1832 he consulted Professor Karl Kuhl who prescribed an “animal bath”

“Thierbäder” meant contact with animal warmth and substance. A Berlin dictionary of medical practice describes one simple method in use in 1830 as putting the affected part into the thoracic or abdominal cavity of a freshly-slaughtered animal and keeping it there as long as the natural warmth lasted. Schumann speculated (no doubt half humorously) that something of the nature of cattle might pass into his own. He added that he found the treatment invigorating.

The list of famous people who died from this insidious disease is a lengthy and depressing one. It includes Al Capone (perhaps we’re not so sad about his loss), whose photoshopped image appears below. Click the link to see some funny Charlie Chaplin photoshopping over at

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 7:36 am  Comments (42)  
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