Shortly after the New Yorker piece appeared, I received a letter from one Gertrude Kurth, a psychoanalyst who during the war had participated in an OSS-sponsored attempt to evaluate "the mind of Adolf Hitler." In conjunction with the study's author, Walter C. Langer, she had tracked down Hitler's family doctor, Dr. Eduard Bloch, then a Jewish refugee living in the Bronx, N.Y. Bloch had unequivocally affirmed that he had examined Hitler during his childhood and found him "genitally normal."
End of story? Unfortunately, no. Now comes a reporter from the London tabloid the Sun, one Alex Peake, who in a Nov. 19 issue claims a new document has surfaced, the alleged testament of a priest who took the confession of one Johan Jambor. Jambor, we are told, was a German battlefront medic serving with Hitler during the 1916 battle of the Somme. According to Mr. Peake, Jambor "died aged 94 in 1985, but had told his secret to priest Franciszek Pawlar, who kept a note of their conversation."
Peake's story goes on:
Johan's friend Blassius Hanczuch confirmed the priest's account of how the medic saved Hitler's life. He said: "In 1916 they had their hardest fight in the Battle of the Somme.
"For several hours, Johan and his friends picked up injured soldiers. He remembers Hitler.
"They called him the 'Screamer.' He was very noisy. Hitler was screaming 'help, help.'
"His abdomen and legs were all in blood. Hitler was injured in the abdomen and lost one testicle. His first question to the doctor was: 'Will I be able to have children?' "
Blassius said that when the Nazis swept to power Johan began to suffer nightmares and blame himself for saving Hitler.
Astonishingly—though Peake neither produced the priest's document nor gave any further evidence of the existence of the supposed corroborating witness, Hanczuch—serious broadsheets such as the Telegraph in the United Kingdom, as well as print and electronic media on both sides of the Atlantic, picked up his story and repeated it as gospel along with sniggering headlines and references to the dirty wartime ditty (sung to the tune of "The Colonel Bogey March") that begins with the line "Hitler has only got one ball. ..."
It is true that Hitler was wounded during the battle of the Somme. The most reliable recent biographer Ian Kershaw says he was wounded in "the left thigh," not "the abdomen" as the Sun's perhaps mythical medic Jambor has it. And it's not unlikely this injury was the source of the dirty ditty.
But that's the only nugget, so to speak, of Peake's tale that appears to have any substantiation. I've e-mailed him twice asking where this alleged priestly document may be found and why it couldn't be photocopied. Asked him as well where this alleged corroborating friend Hanczuch might be reached and interviewed. No reply from Mr. Peake so far. The literature about Hitler is littered with hoaxes and urban legends, and so I call on Mr. Peake and the Sun to prove that this is not another one of them, that they haven't been taken in their eagerness.
But I'm still left wondering about the source of this eagerness. Why are so many so eager to believe, as the Sun's headline put it, that "Hitler HAD only got one ball"? Even if it were true, what would it prove?
The nonsensical Freudian theories about Hitler's monorchism are generally based on the idea that it was a condition he had from birth or one that developed in his pubescence, as is true for many males, mostly with little consequence. (Monorchism can refer to a testicle that never descends into the scrotum or one that descends but later retracts into the body.) It hardly needs to be pointed out that we'd live in a much more dangerous world if all monorchid youths grew up to be Hitlers.
Here's an example from one of the leading psycho-historians, the late Williams College history professor Robert Waite, author of The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler. After detailing a host of supposedly deleterious consequences monorchism may have on the emerging character, he adds, "Monorchid boys favor symbolic substitutes for the missing testicle. … Patients may be excessively concerned about eyes. Hitler's eyes were particularly important to him. … The adult Hitler was aware of their power and practiced 'piercing stares' in front of the mirror. He also played games with his eyes. He would slowly cross them in looking at people or would stare them down." Ooh, scary, people.
Even if the Sun document is not a hoax, it complicates these theories, because it posits that Hitler lost his testicle as an adult and thus presumably developed much of his character in a blissfully two-balled state. Of course, the supposed battlefield injury itself sounds painful, even traumatic, but again: enough to make Hitler Hitler? A factor of his character or ideological formation? In fact, Ian Kershaw in his biography makes clear that Hitler "came to hate Jews during his time in Vienna," years before the war.