Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant

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Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant are the published memoirs written by Otto Wagener about Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party's early history. A German major general by the end for World War II and, for a period, Wagener was Adolf Hitler's party economist, chief of staff of the SA, and confidant,[1] whose career was derailed by rival Hermann Göring.[2] Wagener wrote his memoirs in 1946 while being held by the British, filling “thirty-six British military exercise notebooks.”[3] His work was not published until seven years after his death, in 1978 in German.[4] The English edition was published in 1985 by Yale University Press. His memoirs are used, to some degree, by Third Reich historians.

Wagener’s memoirs were first published in Germany under the title Hitler aus nächster Nähe: Aufzeichnungen eines Vertrauten 1929-1932, but was somewhat abbreviated in the 1985 English version which was edited by Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. and translated by Ruth Hein.[5]


The book was considered different from most memoirs written by Hitler's confidants because of their hostility towards Hitler in later years. Wagener never rejected or was adversarial to Hitler, appearing to show an “unbroken faith in Hitler” as if he were "in contact with a demigod."[3] Since Wagener was a close associate of Hitler from 1929 to 1933[1] his memoirs have provided historians with invaluable information about Hitler and the National Socialist movement before they had come to power. For instance, during intense debates in 1931 and 1932 over how Hitler should oversee the German economy, Wagener revealed his attempts "to persuade Hitler to abandon economic liberalism and follow a socialist-corporatist line."[6]

When Hitler bid Otto Wagener farewell in early 1933, he swore him to "hermetic silence," declaring: "During so many nights we discussed... so many things, and I have revealed to you... my innermost thoughts and my most fundamental ideas, as I have done perhaps to no one else. Please keep this knowledge to yourself and thus become the guardian of the grail whose inmost truth can be disclosed only to a few."[7]


Gordon A. Craig, writing in The New York Times, found Wagener’s book a story that “comes powerfully to mind”, writing:

Historians are not oversupplied with source materials on the years immediately before Hitler's accession to power in 1933, and despite its weaknesses, this record tells us a good deal we did not know about currents of thought, unresolved issues and conflicts of personality within the Nazi party during these critical years.[6]

R. Z. Sheppard wrote in Time magazine:

We've grown accustomed to his faces: Hitler the buffoon, Hitler the madman, Hitler the monster. Memoirs of a Confidant introduces us to Hitler the misunderstood idealist whose vision of peace and prosperity was distorted by his gangster lieutenants. The author of this benign nonsense was Otto Wagener, a forgotten Nazi who served as storm trooper chief of staff and party economist until his career was derailed by Rival Hermann Göring.[2]


  1. ^ a b Mitgang, Herbert (August 22, 1985) "Books of the Times" The New York Times
  2. ^ a b Sheppard, R. Z. (April 18, 2005). "The Man Who Loved Children". Time.
  3. ^ a b Turner, Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. (1985) "Editors Introduction" to Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp.xiii, xxi
  4. ^ Whetton, Cris (2004) Hitler’s Fortune, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword Military. p.345
  5. ^ Redles, David (2005) Hitler's Millennial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation, New York: New York University Press. p.252
  6. ^ a b Craig, Gordon A. (August 25, 1985). "Enshrining the Furhrer". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Tyson, Joseph Howard (2010) The Surreal Reich, Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse. p.49

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