Adolf Hitler had a “messiah complex” and became increasingly obsessed with the perceived Jewish “enemy within” as World War II turned against Germany, according to a secret 1942 assessment unveiled on Friday.
The British intelligence report, which lay apparently unread from the war until its recent rediscovery, found that the Nazi dictator turned to “Jew-phobia” as the likelihood of defeat increased.
The wartime analysis, now made public by the University of Cambridge, was commissioned by social scientist Mark Abrams and written by his colleague, Joseph MacCurdy, a Cambridge academic.
Abrams, a world-renowned pioneer of market research and opinion polling, worked with the BBC’s Overseas Propaganda Analysis Unit and the Psychological Warfare Board during World War II.
“At the time that it was written, the tide was starting to turn against Germany,” said Cambridge historian Scott Anthony, who led research into Abrams which resulted in the paper being unearthed in a family collection.
“In response, Hitler began to turn his attentions to the German home front. This document shows that British intelligence sensed this happening,” he added.
“MacCurdy recognized that, faced with external failure, the Nazi leader was focusing on a perceived ‘enemy within’ instead — namely the Jews. Given that we now know that the ‘final solution’ was commencing, this makes for poignant reading,” Anthony said.
Abrams thought that transcripts of Hitler’s broadcasts could be close-read for propaganda and intelligence purposes, revealing hidden “latent content” and subconscious insights into the enemy’s state of mind.
His work was fed directly into Allied counter-propaganda.
The newly re-aired analysis covered a radio speech Hitler gave on April 26, 1942.
“Its content would presumably reflect his morbid mental tendencies on the one hand and special knowledge available to him on the other,” the opening lines said.
An earlier report found three such tendencies, termed “shamanism,” “epilepsy” and “paranoia.”
“Shamanism” referred to Hitler’s hysteria and compulsion to feed off whipped-up crowds, which was in decline. MacCurdy’s report pointed to the “dull flatness” of delivery in Hitler’s broadcast.
The other two were developing characteristics.
“Epilepsy” covered his cold and ruthless streak, combined with a tendency to lose heart when ambitions failed. MacCurdy’s analysis found Hitler’s speech showed him to be “a man who is seriously contemplating the possibility of utter defeat.”
“Paranoia” was the third and most worrying tendency, exposed through the dictator’s “Messiah complex,” in which Hitler thought he was leading a chosen people on a crusade against evil incarnate in the Jews, the paper said.
It notes an extension of the “Jew phobia” and says that Hitler now saw Jews not just as a threat to Germany, but as a “universal diabolical agency.”
It is now known that weeks before the speech, senior Nazis had started plans for the “final solution:” the attempted extermination of the entire Jewish population.
“Hitler is caught up in a web of religious delusions,” MacCurdy concluded.
“The Jews are the incarnation of evil, while he is the incarnation of the spirit of good. He is a god by whose sacrifice victory over evil may be achieved. He does not say this in so many words, but such a system of ideas would rationalize what he does say that is otherwise obscure,” MacCurdy said.
The document has been added to an archive on Abrams’ work held at Cambridge and is now available to researchers.