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In addition to being a teetotaler (allegedly)[1] and a non-smoker,[2] Adolf Hitler is often said to have practiced some form of vegetarianism.[3] It has been theorized that Hitler's diet may have been based on Richard Wagner's historical theories[4] which connected the future of Germany with vegetarianism.[5] Hitler believed that a vegetarian diet could both alleviate personal health problems and bring about a spiritual regeneration.


Hitler as a vegetarian

According to stenographic transcripts translated by Hugh Trevor-Roper of conversations between Hitler and his inner circle which took place between July 1941 and November 1944, Hitler regarded himself as a vegetarian (however, British historian Alan Bullock argues that Hitler would not allow the use of a tape recorder and that the written transcripts were edited by Bormann).[6]

Do you know that your Führer is a vegetarian, and that he does not eat meat because of his general attitude toward life and his love for the world of animals? Do you know that your Führer is an exemplary friend of animals, and even as a chancellor, he is not separated from the animals he has kept for years?...The Führer is an ardent opponent of any torture of animals, in particular vivisection, and has declared to terminate those conditions...thus fulfilling his role as the savior of animals, from continuous and nameless torments and pain.

Neugeist/Die Weisse Fahne (German magazine of the New Thought movement)[7]

According to these transcripts dated November 11, 1941 Hitler said, "One may regret living at a period when it's impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there's one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian." On January 12, 1942, he said, "The only thing of which I shall be incapable is to share the sheiks' mutton with them. I'm a vegetarian, and they must spare me from their meat."[8]

In private conversations, Hitler often recited the benefits of eating raw vegetables, fruit, and grains, particularly for children and soldiers. In an attempt to disgust dinner guests and provoke them into shying away from meat, he reportedly told graphic stories of visits he had made to a slaughterhouse in Ukraine.

Food writer Bee Wilson is of the opinion that: "His distaste for meat knew no pity of animals." She went on to note that: "At mealtimes he often boasted - in graphic detail - of a slaughterhouse he had visited in Ukraine. It amused him to spoil carnivorous guests' appetites."[9] This idea, however, is not supported by the BBC series "The Nazis: a Warning from History". In this series an eyewitness account tells of Hitler watching movies (which he did very often). If ever a scene showed (even fictional) cruelty to or death of an animal, Hitler would cover his eyes and look away until someone alerted him the scene was over. The documentary also commented on the German animal welfare laws that the Nazis introduced, which were unparalleled at the time.

In a November, 1938 article for the English magazine Homes & Gardens describing Hitler's mountain home, The Berghof, Ignatius Phayrethe wrote, "A life-long vegetarian at table, Hitler's kitchen plots are both varied and heavy in produce. Even in his meatless diet Hitler is something of a gourmet — as Sir John Simon and Anthony Eden were surprised to note when they dined with him in the Presidial Palace at Berlin.

His Bavarian chef, Herr Kannenberg, contrives an imposing array of vegetarian dishes, savoury and rich, pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate, and all conforming to the dietic standards which Hitler exacts."[10]

In his table talks, Hitler spoke about vegetarianism on April 25, 1942 at midday, about Roman soldiers eating fruits and cereals and the importance of raw vegetables. He places the emphasis on scientific arguments such as naturalists' observations and chemical efficacy.[11]

In a diary entry dated April 26, 1942, Joseph Goebbels described Hitler as a committed vegetarian, writing,

"An extended chapter of our talk was devoted by the Führer to the vegetarian question. He believes more than ever that meat-eating is harmful to humanity. Of course he knows that during the war we cannot completely upset our food system. After the war, however, he intends to tackle this problem also. Maybe he is right. Certainly the arguments that he adduces in favor of his standpoint are very compelling."[12]

Martin Bormann, who as head of the Party Chancellery (and private secretary to Hitler) is considered by most historians to have been the second most powerful Nazi official in Germany, built Hitler a large greenhouse at Berchtesgaden in order to keep him supplied with fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the war. Personal photographs of Bormann's children tending the greenhouse survive, and by 2005 its foundations were among the only ruins associated with the Nazi leadership still visible in the area.

Finally, in his personal life Hitler showed anti-meat tendencies. Hitler disapproved of cosmetics since they contained animal by-products. He frequently teased his mistress Eva Braun about her habit of wearing makeup.[8] In his post-war reminiscence The Enigma of Hitler, Belgian SS General, and friend of Hitler's, Léon Degrelle wrote: "He could not bear to eat meat, because it meant the death of a living creature. He refused to have so much as a rabbit or a trout sacrificed to provide his food. He would allow only eggs on his table, because egg-laying meant that the hen had been spared rather than killed."[13]

Questioning Hitler's vegetarianism

"Hitler was in no way an ethical vegetarian," Berry asserts. He believes that it is important to counter the assertions of scholars that the chief Nazi abstained from meat "because nonvegetarians tend to use the Nazi issue to discredit vegetarianism in general."

—Deborah Rudacille[14]

Author Rynn Berry[15], a vegetarian and animal right advocate, maintains that although Hitler reduced the amount of meat in his diet, he never stopped eating meat completely for any significant length of time. Berry argues that many historians use the term 'vegetarian' incorrectly to describe someone who simply reduced their meat consumption.[3][16]

In 1991, upon the death of Isaac Bashevis Singer, criticism over the omission of Singer's vegetarianism in his obituary led to a debate regarding Hitler's alleged vegetarianism in the letters page of the New York Times. Letter writer Carol Jochnowitz wrote: "On page 89 of The Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook (1964), Dione Lucas, recalling her pre-World War II stint as a hotel chef in Hamburg, Germany, states: 'I do not mean to spoil your appetites for stuffed squab, but you might be interested to know that it was a great favorite with Mr. Hitler, who dined at the hotel often. Let us not hold that against a fine recipe though.'"[17]

Author Robert Payne, in his biography of Hitler, The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler (Praeger, 1973) theorizes that the image of Hitler as a vegetarian ascetic was deliberately fostered by Joseph Goebbels:

"Hitler's asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress....His asceticism was a fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self control, the distance that separated him from other men....In fact, he was remarkably self indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic. His cook, an enormously fat man named Willy Kannenberg, produced exquisite meals and acted as court jester. Although Hitler had no fondness for meat except in the form of sausages and never ate fish, he enjoyed caviar...." (p. 346)[18]

The April 14, 1996, Sunday magazine edition of The New York Times, includes this description of Hitler's diet in an article first published on May 30, 1937, 'At Home With The Führer.' "'It is well known that Hitler is a vegetarian and does not drink or smoke. His lunch and dinner consist, therefore, for the most part of soup, eggs, vegetables and mineral water, although he occasionally relishes a slice of ham and relieves the tediousness of his diet with such delicacies as caviar ..."[19]

Traudl Junge, who became Hitler's secretary in 1942, reported that he "always avoided meat" but that his Austrian cook Kruemel sometimes added a little animal broth or fat to his meals. "Mostly the Fuehrer would notice the attempt at deception, would get very annoyed and then get tummy ache," Junge said. "At the end he would only let Kruemel cook him clear soup and mashed potato."[20]

In 1943, Marlene von Exner became Hitler's dietitian and reportedly added bone marrow to his soups without his knowledge because she "despised" his vegetarian diet.[9]

There is also a question as to whether or not Hitler's state policies supported vegetarianism. It is claimed by British Vegetarian society that Hitler persecuted and closed German vegetarian organizations and associations like "Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands” (closed by Nazis in 1936).

However, this is due to Nazis' blanket ban on any independent society and not to do with any hostility toward vegetarianism, which Hitler personally endorsed. "Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands" only started its legal activities after the Nazis lost World War II in 1945.[21][22]

From 1936 almost until Hitler's death by suicide in 1945, Theodor Morell, his personal physician, gave him "quack supplements" which contained animal components.[16][23] Morell gave Hitler daily injections of various commercially prepared tonics containing animal by-products including Glyconorm, an injectable compound containing vitamins B1, B2 and C, cardiac muscle, adrenal gland, liver, and pancreas.

Other injected preparations contained placenta, bovine testosterone and extracts containing seminal vesicles and prostate to combat depression. At the time, extracts from animal glands were popularly believed to be "elixirs of youth".[24]

See also


  1. ^ "He drank beer and diluted wine frequently" "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover". World: USA. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  
  2. ^ van der Vat, Dan (1997). The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer. Houghton Mifflin Books. pp. 62. ISBN 039565243X.  . See "Hitler's Mountain Home", Homes & Gardens, Nov 1938, pp. 193-195: "Hitler himself never smokes, nor does he take alcohol in any form." See also: Adolf Hitler's medical health, and Smoking ban. The first tobacco ban was imposed by the Nazi Party under direct orders from Adolf Hitler.
  3. ^ a b Rudacille 2001, p. 88.
  4. ^ Proctor 1999, p. 136. "Several of [Hitler's] biographers point to the influence of nationalist antisemitic composer, Richard Wagner." See also: Moore, Gregory. (2002). Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521812305. pp. 155-157:
  5. ^ Arluke & Sanders 1996, pp. 144, 150.
  6. ^ Bullock, Alan (1993). Hitler and Stalin : Parallel Lives. Vintage. p. 679. ISBN 0-679-72994-1.  
  7. ^ Arluke & Sanders 1996, p. 148. Quoted from Wuttke-Groneberg, W. (1980). Medizin im Nationalsozialismus. Tübingen: Schwabische Verlaggesellschaft.
  8. ^ a b Hitler, Adolph; Hugh Trevor-Roper (trans.) (2000). Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944. Enigma Books. ISBN 1-929631-05-7.  
  9. ^ a b Wilson, Bee (October 9, 1998). "Mein Diat". New Statesman (London) 127 (4406): 40+. Retrieved 2009-07-17.  
  10. ^ Phayre, Ignatius (November 1938). "Hitler's Mountain Home". Homes & Gardens. pp. 193–195.  
  11. ^ Hitler, A., & Cameron, Norman (2000). Hitler's Table Talk. Enigma Books. ISBN 1-929631-05-7
  12. ^ Goebbels, Joseph; Louis P. Lochner (trans.) (1993). The Goebbels Diaries. Charter Books. p. 679. ISBN 0-441-29550-9.  
  13. ^ Degrelle, Léon. "The Enigma of Hitler". "Friends of Léon Degrelle" Cultural Association. Retrieved 2007-09-18.  
  14. ^ Rudacille 2001, p. 89.
  15. ^ Author of The New Vegetarians (1993) ISBN 0962616907, Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes (2002) ISBN 0962616915, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism and the World's Religions (1998) ISBN 0962616923 , and the monograph, Why Hitler Was Not a Vegetarian (2004) ISBN 0962616966; co-author of The Vegan Guide To New York City (2004) ISBN 0962616982; co-founder of the Big Apple Vegetarian Society; historical adviser to the North American Vegetarian Society; commissioned to write an entry on the history of vegetarianism in America for the The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004) ISBN 0195154371
  16. ^ a b Berry 2004
  17. ^ "Don't Put Hitler Among the Vegetarians; He Loved His Squab". World: USA (New York Times). 1991-09-05. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  
  18. ^ "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover". World: USA. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  
  19. ^ "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover". World: USA. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  
  20. ^ "Hitler's final witness". World: Europe (BBC News). 2002-02-04. Retrieved 2007-09-18.  
  21. ^ "History of the German Vegetarian Societies". International Vegetarian Union. Retrieved 2007-09-18.  
  22. ^ See also: Barkas, Janet; Jan Yager (1975). The Vegetable Passion. Scribner. ISBN 0684139251.  
  23. ^ Wilson, 1998: "His diet thereafter was free of flesh, but bolstered with a medley of quack supplements, administered with zeal by Theodor Morell."
  24. ^ Doyle 2005, pp. 75-82


  • Arluke, Arnold; Clinton Sanders (1996). Regarding Animals. Temple University Press. ISBN 1566394414.  
  • Berry, Rynn (2004). Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover. Pythagorean Books. ISBN 0-9626169-6-6.  
  • Doyle, D. (February 2005). "Adolf Hitler's Medical Care" (PDF). : J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 35 (1): 75–82. PMID 15825245.'s_medical_care.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-18.  
  • Proctor, Robert N. (1999). The Nazi War on Cancer. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07051-2.  
  • Rudacille, Deborah (2001). The Scalpel and the Butterfly: The War Between Animal Research and Animal Protection. University of California Press. ISBN 0520231546.  

Further reading

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