The Last Temptation of Norman Mailer
What will he make of "Hitler's Chappaquiddick"?
She prompts grumbling in the Hitler party about public relations, prompts jealousy on the part of the party wives and women, all exacerbated by a secretiveness and ambiguity surrounding whatever went on behind closed doors between the two.
And whatever went on is much in dispute. Nothing? Something "normal"? Or something "nicht natürlich," unnatural, degrading, not voter-friendly. In any case, things end badly in a short time when Geli, according the official version, shoots herself because of "frustrated artistic ambitions," as Hitler's party flack put it.
The cops asked nothing about Hitler's attentions or his restrictions on her or his reported jealousy, all of which figure heavily in the Lustmord narrative. No, after a hasty suicide verdict (without an autopsy), her body was shipped off to be buried in Vienna, in her native Austria, leaving behind a trail of questions. When the fuss died down, what might have been Hitler's Chappaquiddick did not affect his political momentum.
I tried to find evidence for murder or a cover-up by Hitler or by somebody in his circle. And while there was certainly a cover-up of the closeness of their relationship and perhaps genuine ignorance of what it was, there did not seem to be a cover-up of a murder or indisputable evidence of the nature of their relationship.
But Hitler's alibi looked good, and no other suspect emerged. Biographer Ronald Hayman twisted himself into knots trying to discredit the alibi, mistakenly inserting an extra day into the chronology to allow Hitler time to kill Geli and scurry off to Nuremberg, but the theory was based, I believe, on a misinterpretation of Hitler's chauffeur's testimony. And novelist Ron Hansen bought the perversion story.
So, here are the temptations: Will Mailer be tempted by the murder narrative or the intimations of paraphilic sexuality, or both?
Will he attribute Hitler's moral deformity to his sexual proclivities? Or will they be the promptings of a devil as such promptings are in Castle in the Forest? Will he underpin it with some Maileresque version of the Freudian interpretation of Dr. Norbert Bromberg, an NYU professor who, in the first book-length "analysis" of Hitler by a credentialed psychoanalyst, Hitler's Psychopathology, attempts to link Hitler's exterminationist anti-Semitism to his relationship with Geli Raubal and the discredited "Jewish blood" legend (the rumor that Hitler was obsessed with the possibility there was a Jew in his family tree)?
Here's Dr. Bromberg's strained link:
In 1928, "Hitler was deeply and more openly involved with ... his niece Geli. About the same time he was preparing a work which became known as Hitler's Secret Book published for the first time thirty-three years later. In this book he associated his hatred of Jews with ideas about blood and race for the first time. His sexual interest in his niece must have inevitably stirred in Hitler thoughts of incest and fears of harming her and possible progeny by what he believed might result: the corruption of her blood [by the putative "Jewish blood" Hitler believed he'd been tainted with—in Bromberg's view]. All these ideas and wishes he projected onto the Jews ..."
And so by ignoring certain realities (Hitler had invoked blood and race long before 1928) and by making certain unwarranted assumptions (Hitler believed he had Jewish blood; he was sexually involved with Geli) ... Voila! Poor Geli Raubal becomes the unwitting cause of the Holocaust.
Ron Rosenbaum is the author of The Shakespeare Wars and Explaining Hitler. His latest book is How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III.