Everything You Need To Know About Hitler's "Missing" Testicle
And why we're so obsessed the Führer's sex life.
And yet once again there seems to be a longing to believe what may turn out to be a shabby hoax. I think a clue to it can be found in the alleged words of the alleged medic, the poor, addled Johan Jambor: According to his friend, "[W]hen the Nazis swept to power Johan began to suffer nightmares and blame himself for saving Hitler."
Here we can see the appeal of this story, fable, fabrication, or whatever you want to call it: It wasn't the Western democracies who failed to save the world from Hitler with their fatal appeasing weakness. It was Johan Jambor who could have spared us. Hitler wasn't the fault of the German people; he was the fault of this one German, Johan Jambor—and the one missing ball. If only Jambor hadn't "saved Hitler," all the millions of "good Germans" who, for some inexplicable reason, followed Hitler slavishly wouldn't have to find excuses.
This has always been my problem with films like the German-made Downfall, which while initially being taken seriously by many, many film critics has found its true level as a YouTube camp joke. Downfall purports to offer the "inside story" of the last days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker and implicitly makes the case that the Holocaust wasn't the fault of the German people—no, they were victims, too!—but rather of one man, Hitler, and the small coterie of madmen and evil women surrounding him. Nothing to do with Germany's eager reception of exterminationist anti-Semitism.
The only good use for scurrilous sexual rumors about Hitler was the use found for them by contemporary opponents of Hitler who sought to discredit him during his rise to power. In my book I wrote about the brave, almost-forgotten, anti-Hitler journalists of Munich, Hitler's hometown, particularly the reporters and editors of the Social Democratic paper the Munich Post. These journalists would exploit anything to smear Hitler and in fact found—and published—far more serious and disturbing grounds to fear and reject him (such as the initial blue prints for the Endlösung, or Final Solution). But if ridicule of his peculiarities, sexual and otherwise, would help, they were not above it. Either way, the German people managed to avert their eyes.
But that was then. There's no excuse now for this incessant dwelling on Hitler's sexuality, as if it tells us anything about the true nature of his evil. No, all the obsession can tell us about is the way the culture as a whole exhibits a refusal to face the profundity and complexity of evil and instead—with some honorable exceptions—prefers to escape responsibility for Hitler and the Holocaust by blaming it all on ludicrously unserious and ahistorical sexual mythologies, and the Freudian-influenced notion that all behavior has a sexual explanation at heart.
In a way, the focus on Hitler's alleged sexual abnormality becomes the missing testicle of the German nation: the monocausal monorchid exculpation for the guilt for mass murder. Let's not encourage it.
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.