Originally posted by Richard Kaufman at the request of Mel Gordon, the author of our article on Erik Jan Hanussen:
Richard Hatch wrote that Wilfried Kugel's HANUSSEN: DIE WAHRE GESCHICHTE DES HERMANN STEINSCHNEIDER appears to be the source of much of Gordon's information and documentation. This is not true. Although I praised Kugels work as a fine scholarly undertaking, almost all of my research was conductly independently of his some of which was flat out incorrect or ridiculous. For instance, Kugel strongly implied that CIA historians, German-haters all, must have altered the 1943 OSS report on Hitler when it was released in 1972. (I cross-referenced the OSS account against Otto Strassers writings on Hanussen and Hitler, which appeared in the American press in 1940. There was no 1972 anti-German conspiracy to distort the wartime documents.)
Most of Hanussens associates and critics were Jewish and went into exile after the Hitler coup. Between 1933 and 1942, they wrote thirty-some articles about Hanussen that appeared in British, French, and American publications. Kugel was unaware of these or discounted them possibly because they were authored by Jewish refugees. Also, oral history is not Kugels strong suit. Hanussens daughter and the nephew of Hanussens stage manager (who lived with the master for two years) both told me Kugels book was greatly flawed. I found their memories highly accurate and incorporated them into my book and the GENII article.
I welcome this opportunity to apologize to Professor Gordon for not properly acknowledging his extensive independent research in my reference to Dr. Kugels prior work on this fascinating topic. Gordon himself calls Kugels 1998 book the best source of documented Hanussenia (p. 243) and the first objective investigation of Hanussens life and a great scholastic undertaking (p. 266). Indeed, I would have thought Kugels 300 page work with its 644 source citations would have been happily acknowledged as a major resource for any subsequent researcher on this topic. I am surprised by the example Gordon cites as an instance where Kugel is flat out incorrect or ridiculous, since Kugels book makes no mention of a 1972 anti-German CIA conspiracy to distort wartime documents. Here is a rather free translation of the brief Kugel reference in question (Kugel, p. 185): Walter C. Langer reported in a psychological profile of Hitler published in 1972 but apparently written in 1942/43 at the request of the US government that, according to Otto Strasser, Hitler took lessons in mass psychology and public speaking from Hanussen in the early 1920s [Footnote 441 gives his source, Langers 1972 book, THE MIND OF ADOLF HITLER]. This cannot be confirmed by any other reports, and it is possible that Langer got his information from the imaginative but undocumented stories that Mueller-Schoenhausen published in 1959 [Footnote 442 gives the 1959 Mueller-Schoenhausen reference]. No corresponding references are to be found in Strassers numerous works. But there must have been a relationship between Hanussen and Otto Strasser, because DIE SCHWARZE FRONT [I assume this is a Strasser and pro-Nazi publication - rh] gave euphoric reports about Hanussen, for example on May 29, 1932. That is the extent of Kugels writing on this topic. Where is the implication that CIA historians, German-haters all altered the document? Kugel is clearly mistaken in believing Langer got his information from a 1959 source, but it seems an honest mistake, given he was apparently not familiar with Strassers 1940 book HITLER AND I and a series of articles Strasser wrote for TRUE DETECTIVE in 1942, both cited by Gordon, but not by Kugel (those Strasser publications both date the Hitler meetings to the summer of 1932 according to Gordon, a discrepancy of nearly a decade). Historians John Toland and Heinz Hoehne seem to be the only Hitler biographers of note to have taken the Hanussen/Hitler lessons seriously and their source was the 1959 work by Johannes von Mueller-Schoenhausen cited earlier. According to Kugel (p. 13), this work reproduces Hanussen documents supposedly from the Hitler collection of a Viennese lawyer, but Kugel examined some of these documents and found them to be forgeries.
Gordon says oral history is not Kugels strong suit and cites Hanussens daughters opinion that Kugels work is greatly flawed. Kugel acknowledged Hanussens daughters help with his research and reproduces an inscribed photo of Hanussen from her collection. My understanding is that she believed her father actually had psychic powers, so it is not surprising that she would be unhappy with Kugels conclusion that he did not. One wonders what weight should be given to her testimony, more than 65 years after the fact, considering she was only 4 when her parents divorced (she was raised by her mother and stepfather) and just 12 when her father died.
As pointed out by Gordon, he accessed thirty-some articles about Hanussen that appeared in British, French, and American publications that were not cited by Kugel. Here are some of the sources he cites: TRUE MYSTIC SCIENCE #1, SMASH DETECTIVE, TRUE DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, TRUE CRIME and REDBOOK MAGAZINE. The authors were often refugees from Nazism writing for the popular press. How seriously should one take these sources?
Let me try to put things in a contemporary perspective: The burning of the Reichstag was the Third Reich equivalent of our 9/11. It led immediately to Hitlers assumption of dictatorial powers. Hanussen becomes the equivalent of Osama bin Laden, as instigator of the burning, if Gordons version is accurate. That is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary proof. To accept migr rumors published in the tabloid press as documentary evidence seems to me like using a NATIONAL ENQUIRER article by Ahmad Chalabi as proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Both claims could well be true, but I find the evidence for both wanting at present.
Those interested in accessing Langers OSS document can find it online at http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/h/hit ... index.html
Incidentally, here is an interesting quote from that document, that has some relevance for this topic: Almost all writers have attributed Hitler's confidence to the fact that he is a great believer in astrology and that he is constantly in touch with astrologers who advise him concerning his course of action. This is almost certainly untrue. All of our informants who have known Hitler rather intimately discard the idea as absurd. They all agree that nothing is more foreign to Hitler's personality than to seek help from outside sources of this type. The informant of the Dutch Legation holds a similar view. He says:
"Not only has the Fuehrer never had his horoscope cast, but he is in principle against horoscopes because he feels he might be unconsciously influenced by them." (655)
It is also indicative that Hitler, some time before the war, forbade the practice of fortune-telling and star-reading in Germany.
Otto Strasser, incidentally, apparently also told Langer that Hitler enjoyed having his half-niece (with whom he co-habited until her death, an apparent though disputed suicide, in 1930) urinate on his chest and defecate on his faceanother extraordinary claim that might call Strassers reliability as a source into question.