In my previous Blog, I described how Hitler was blinded by a British gas attack, on October 1918, while fighting with the List Regiment outside the Belgium town of Wervicq.
Hitler with some of his fellow ‘Runners’ in 1917. Hitler is seated on the right of the photograph
Doctors,at the Front-Line Aid Station, diagnosed his loss of sight as being due, not to physical injury but mental breakdown. To what, in the First War, was termed ‘hysteria’.
Hitler is Sent to a Mental Hospital
As a result of this diagnosis, Hitler was sent, not to the German army’s well-equipped military hospital in nearby Brussels, but more than 600 miles to a small mental hospital at Pasewalk, not far from the Polish border.
Such remote and isolated locations for their ‘nerve clinics’ were favoured by German doctors. It was harder for relatives or friends to visit patients and learn of the often harsh, even barbaric, treatments being practiced on their loved ones.
Five Days in a Train
Two days after being injured, Hitler was driven to Ghent station and placed aboard an overcrowded hospital train bound for Germany.
Loading a hospital train with wounded
Loading the wounded, with stretchers manhandled through the open windows of congested carriages, was time-consuming so it was not until late evening that the train steamed slowly out of the station.
Unable to leave his seat, without a nurse or orderly to guide him, Hitler spent most of the journey slumped on a hard, narrow, wooden seat. Struggling to sleep, he was only aware of the burning pain in his eyes and the cacophony of cries and groans from the seriously injured soldiers surrounding him.
With lengthy delays, in Bonn, Frankfurt and Berlin, to discharge some of the wounded, a journey that would normally take about fourteen hours, took almost five days to reach the small Pomeranian town of Pasewalk.
On arrival, he was led through its arched and creeper-covered exit and helped onto one of the horse-drawn ambulances drawn up in the tree shaded station yard.
Pasewalk railway station in 1918
The Shooting House
In 1914, on the basis of its remoteness and excellent rail links with the rest of Germany, the military authorities had selected the 12th Century walled town of Pasewalk on the River Ücker as the location for constructing small clinics or Lazarettes. They requisitioned seven properties including a school, a hotel and some large private houses for conversion. The most unusual was the Schützenhaus or Shooting House.
This mainly single-storied, grey stone, building with a three-storey addition at one end and a timber-framed annex at the other, was situated on the south-east fringes of the town.
Surrounded by extensive grounds, the Schützenhaus had views across open fields to the Pasewalker forest in one direction and, perhaps less encouragingly for its patients, the New Friedhof cemetery in the other.
A Restaurant with a Shooting Range
A former brick factory, the Schützenhaus had been purchased in September 1859 by Christian Darling, a local businessman and entrepreneur.
He converted it into a restaurant and bar surrounded by what his advertising leaflets described as ‘attractively laid out gardens.’
A few years later, he added a stage for variety entertainment and an indoor rifle range, from which the building derived its name.
This unusual combination of a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, rifle range and music hall theatre proved so popular that the Schützenhaus was among the first premises in Pasewalk to have a telephone, Pasewalk 363, on which to take bookings.
The Shooting House in 1917
In a 1913 advertisement, landlord Johannes Thom proclaimed: ‘I recommend my friendly hostelry with its garden, large room with a stage, shooting range etc. for Clubs and private hire. Good food and beverages with courteous service.’
A few months later, the hostelry was requisitioned by the military and converted into a Lazarette (clinic).
The restaurant, offices, shooting range and music hall were turned into wards with beds for around thirty patients, cared for by a staff of fifteen doctors, nurses and orderlies under the command of Dr Wilhelm Schroeder.
A group of doctors and patients at the Pasewalk clinic in 1918 with Dr Wilhelm Schroeder in the middle of the front row. Some have claimed that the man standing in the centre of the back row is Adolf Hitler, but I have been unable to confirm this.
Hitler Meets Dr Karl Kroner
On admittance, Hitler was bathed, issued with a clean hospital uniform and allocated an iron-framed bed in one of the five small wards.
The following morning, his eyes were examined by Dr Karl Kroner. This forty-year-old Jewish physician’s knowledge of gas poisoning was both professional and personal.
Dr Karl Kroner in 1917
While serving as a doctor, with the Third Husaren Cavalry Regiment, Kroner had seen action on the French front at Verdun and Sedan with the rank of Colonel General. In 1917, he had been temporarily blinded by gas, awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class, and invalided out of the army.
Kroner returned to Berlin and began working as a private clinician while also remaining a consultant to a number of military clinics, including the one at Pasewalk.
Kroner confirmed the original diagnosis that Hitler’s blindness was due not to physical damage caused by Mustard Gas by a result of what doctors termed ‘conversion hysteria’. In this, intense anxiety is ‘converted’ into signs and symptoms which, typically, involve the loss of a physical function.
He recommended the patient be handed over to the clinic’s consultant neurologist Dr Edmund Forster.
While Kroner’s examination had taken only a few minutes, the fact he knew the true cause of Hitler’s blindness was sufficient to place his life in jeopardy once the Nazis came to power. Arrested by the Gestapo, he was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
In my Blog ‘Brave Diplomat Who Saved Life of Hitler’s Doctor (12 September, 2018), I describe his remarkable escape and life of exile in Iceland.
While in that country, Kroner contacted US Intelligence. In a report, declassified in the ‘seventies, he described Hitler’s time in Pasewalk and the real reason for his loss of sight.
Dr Edmund Forster Meets Lance-Corporal Adolf Hitler
Dr Edmund Forster, hysteria specialist
Even before Forster met Hitler for the first time, it is likely his opinion had been unfavourably shaped by other members of staff.
The lance-corporal was, they told him, a restless and agitated troublemaker. Each evening, a group of other patients would cluster around his bed to listen as he expressed his disgust for Austria. He loudly condemned the Austrians as weak and corrupt, whilst extolling the virtues of strong and virile Germany.
He would demand, rhetorically, why Austria was so decadent and effete. Then snarl out the answer – der Jude had infected and poisoned the nation.
Repeatedly, he returned to his belief that, for the strong individual and the strong nation, everything is possible and anything is permissible.
That one should never show even the slightest respect for a weak opponent.
By what right, he demanded, were crashed French pilots afforded the honour of a military funeral as if they had been German flyers?
Far better, their corpses were left to rot where they had fallen.
While speaking to his superiors, however, Hitler’s tone was completely different and utterly subservient.
Edmund Decides on a Treatment
Edmund Forster, a man of democratic views with many Jewish friends, must have been in equal measure repelled by Hitler’s opinions and intrigued by the psychiatric challenge his case represented.
The lance-corporal, he concluded, refused to see because he could not bear to witness the defeat of Germany. Whichever treatment was finally devised would have to take this fact into account.
The problem was, how?
With its armies being routed in the West and the civilian population rioting at home, Forster knew there was no way he could persuade Hitler that German victory was still possible.
By the first week in November, Forster had come to the conclusions that, for Hitler, there was no absolute truth. Only the truth of his imagination, prejudices and emotions. His ‘desire to be like a God.’
To that end the doctor determined that his only course of action was to start by confirming the lance-corporal’s worst fears.
He would tell him the injuries to his eyes were so serious that, under normal circumstances, blindness would be incurable. Then he would point out miracles can and do happen. But only to a very few, exceptional, individuals who have been chosen by a higher power for some world changing purpose.
If Hitler was one of the ‘chosen’ his sight would be restored.
If not, he must remain blind for the rest of his life.
The success or failure of this approach, Edmund recognised, would depend on whose will was the stronger.
His own or Adolf Hitler’s.
If he failed, the lance-corporal would never see again. If he succeeded, the return of vision should be almost instantaneous.
In my next Blog – ‘Hypnotising Hitler’ – I will explain what happened next and his treatment’s terrible, unintended, consequences.
Footnote: During the Nazi period the Shooting House, which had fallen into disrepair, was purchased by the Nazi Party and transformed into an SS shrine. It became a place of pilgrimage for Nazis from all over Germany.
The ‘Shooting House’ transformed into an SS shrine brought hordes of Nazi tourists to Pasewalk, whose counsel used it to promote their town by means of postcards like this.
The ‘Shooting House’ transformed by the Nazis in the ‘thirties
After Soviet troops occupied Pasewalk, In 1945, they demolished the Shooting House entirely. When I visited the town, in 2002, an abandoned and derelict sports hut was the only building on the site. It’s extensive cellars, where local children played, were all that remained of the Shooting House. Not long after my visit this too was demolished and, not long afterwards, new homes built on the site.
By 2002, this abandon sports hut was all that remained on the site of the former clinic
Where the’ Shooting House’ once stood looking towards the New Friedhof cemetery
For the full story of Hitler’s encounters with hypnotists, see my book Triumph of the Will? available as an e-book, paper back and hardcover from this web site and Amazon.
Dear Sir! Now in August I visit Pasewalk and was looking for the Place where Adolf Hitler was cured. When I asked an old couple in nearby they show me through Point out the direction wher I will find that area. What I found was a meadow with some housegrounds and four or five lindentrees, I think, What I probably hav missed is an area with approxamately 15 or 20 trees i line.
Now I have same questions about these two places. First the meadow, what has been placed here and second the area that I probably missed, what has been placed there?
I will be most grateful to You for the answer about these questions and look forward to hear from You.
Thank You very much in advance.
Vielen Dank für die Kontaktaufnahme. Ich besuchte Pasewalk im Jahr 2002 während der Erforschung des Lebens von Dr. Edmund Forster. Zu dieser Zeit war alles, was auf dem Gelände des “Schießhauses” blieb, eine verlassene Sporthütte. Der Kurator des Stadtmuseums erzählte mir, dass er als Kind in den Kellern unter diesem Gebäude gespielt habe, ohne zu wissen, dass es einst Teil der Klinik war. Ich habe Bilder von der Hütte zusammen mit einigen Bildern von der Website. Zu dieser Zeit wurde mir gesagt, dass es eine Absicht gab, auf dem Gelände zu bauen, aber das scheint offensichtlich nicht passiert zu sein. Wenn Sie die Bilder sehen möchten, lassen Sie es mich wissen und ich werde Sie auf der Triumph des will Facebook-Seite posten.
Bitte entschuldigen Sie meinen Armen deutschen.
I thank You very much for Your answer in my e-mail. I have even an other quastion about dem Geländes “Schiesshouses” blieb. Where was that Sporthütte situated? And is it still there today?
I look forward to hear from You and You can write Your answer in Englisch because my German language is not so good, and not so good as Yours.
With Great Regards
Thanks for your comments. I am most grateful. My apologies for the delay in replying but I have been lecturing abroad.
I last visited Pasewalk in 2004 while researching my first book on Dr Edmund Forster. At that time the sports hut was still standing and I was able to photograph it. The curator of the museum, whose name was I seem to remember Herr Bose told me that as a child he had played in the hut’s cellar, without realising it was the only remaining part of the old Shooting house to have survived. At that time, I understood, from locals, that there were plans to develop a housing estate of the site and to demolish the sports hut , so I would assume it no longer exists. Which language is your native tongue? I only asked because I was born in France and did not learn English until around the age of 10.
Thanks for your encouraging comments. I am most grateful. My apologies for the delay in replying but I have been lecturing abroad. I will be happy to help in anyway I can. What is the URL of your site?
A Mega-Great Thank You for Your answer. You are very suitable for me in my searching for Adolf Hitlers stay in Pasewalk. When I was there in early autamn I met a coupe of elder persons living a block from the Place I was looking for thay show me the Place where the hospital and later on a memoryhouse from 1934. When I have looked at serveral Pictures in the computer perhaps it confused me, but as the elder says that it was the Place when I show them the Picture of the older Schützenhaus and the Place/- remains at the area I Want to see. They even said that I schould leave the main road walk to the left and see a parkingplace for cars. And even they told me that I schould see some “mours” in the ground. And that was right! That was now even a sort of playgrund perhaps for childrens and I was even told that I schould´nt go over the meadow where this remain was situated. I am satisfied with what I have found anyway, but I have notised that it is rather complicated to talk with the germans about the nazitime, so I am very grateful to these two Couples for there help! An other Place that I saw when I went back to Berlin and looked into my map, “Am Wiesengrund”, close to the area I visited. Do You know what that palce had been. In the map it seems like some remains like it is in the first area I visit, but it looks like a bigger remains than in the the first area.
Well, that is a long story and I even like to say that I am a Swedish elder man and I speak English and a little bit of German to.
I hope that we shall have Contact further in because of our interest in that horrible time.
With Many Great Regards
I send You a message yesterday in leave a reply. When I was looking today I can´t see that the message is under leave a reply, so I try again. What I wish to have a reply yesterday was if You have received my earlier letter concerning the Shooting house and most interest where the hunting hut were placerd in the area where the remain still are today in the meadow I earlier wrote about.
Very Grateful for Your answer, David
Sorry for the delay in responding but I have been away on lecture tour in the US and out of communication. I will get back to you very shortly with a response.
Antibiotics are medications used to treat infections that are caused by bacteria. There are several classes of antibiotics—some that only target specific bacteria and others that can be used against a wide range of organisms.
Special offer: Buy antibiotics online – https://softlips.ca/tmb/buy-antibiotics-online-no-prescription.html and get discount for all purchased! Two Free Pills (Viagra or Cialis or Levitra) available With Every Order. No prescription required, safe & secure payments, fast & free Delivery.
Special offer: Save up to 129$ (only $0.25 per pill) – https://avodartcheap.tumblr.com buy avodart online and get discount for all purchased! Two Free Pills (Viagra or Cialis or Levitra) available With Every Order. No prescription required, safe & secure payments, fast & free Delivery.