Hitler’s Money and How He Stole It – WW2 Special

OK, like any German in the 1930s knows full
well, the Führer is focused on the betterment of the German Race, with little time for frivolity,
luxury, and comfort. He’s is a modest and sober-living leader. Any money the Nazi party gets, goes right
back into the movement… for the cause you know. OK, that’s not at all how it was, the reality
is that the party has wealthy aristocratic and capitalist benefactors from the start,
and Hitler himself enjoys an upper class lifestyle, living large in several homes, with banquets,
fancy hotels, and chauffeur-driven Mercedes. I’m Spartacus Olsson; This is a World War
Two in Real-Time special about Adolf Hitler’s homes and finances. Now you might wonder why I'm sitting
in the Between Two Wars set. Well, there's two reasons for that.

First of all, this episode largely takes part in
the era between 1919 – 1939 – Between the Wars. Second of all, it's corona time so Indy Astrid and I,
are alone shooting all of this and chaning sets takes a little bit too much time. Right now we're shooting the second season of B2W,
which you can check out with link in the description Hitler will one day be a Crassus of Germany,
but everything has its modest beginning. In the early days of the 1920s money is scarce
for the Nazis and their emerging leader. But Hitler is a very talented networker, and
soon a growing inner-circle of well-connected patrons forms. It’s in part flamboyant characters like
the wealthy playboy Kurt Lüdecke, and high society roller Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl,
but also includes members of the Bavarian upper-middle-class, aristocracy, and industrial
magnates like Fritz Thyssen, Ernst von Borsig, and right-wing foreign admirers in the Czech
Republic, Switzerland, and France.

Most of that funding goes into the Party’s
coffers though, and Hitler hopes that personally he will strike gold for himself with Mein
Kampf. But in 1925, the first edition only sells
9,473 copies, with Hitler receiving 10% of the revenue. He declares to have made 19,843RM for that
year, although the same year he acquires a supercharged Mercedes, which at 20,000RM is
more than he has earned before taxes. Hitler confidante Otto Dietrich later will
say this about that: “He considered the Mercedes the foremost
German quality automobile; moreover, at the beginning of his political career the firm
had obligingly permitted him to acquire his first automobile by installment payments.”. And perhaps he’s living by the adage that
one rather cries in a Mercedes Benz than on a bus, because financially speaking as the
20s proceed there isn’t that much to laugh about for Herr Hitler. Yes, at this point his political rise also
seems less than a happy matter. His doomsday apocalyptic populism doesn’t
gain as much traction as he’d like during the German ‘Golden Twenties.' Mein Kampf sales continue to dwindle, with
6,607 sold in 1927.

The audiences for his speaking performances
decrease as well. This is reflected in the tax filing of 11,494
for 1927 and a similar amount in 1928. Party membership stagnates as well. Aside from some ever-loyal patrons, income
seems to dry up. Some industrial investors are hesitant to
give their unconditional support to the Nazis. It’s easy to understand why. Until 1927, the Nazi ideology is still heavily
influenced by the more economically-left-leaning nazis Otto and Gregor Strasser. Generally seen as anti-business by the business-community. Hitler defeats the Strasser ideology and changes
the direction of the party in 1927. But there has always been an undercurrent
of Socialist sounding rhetoric, as evident by the party’s and movement’s name; National
Socialism. Hitler wants to abandon any such rhetoric,
but he’s reminded by his Propaganda expert Joseph Goebbels, himself a convert from Starsserism
to Hitlerism that the reason behind the rhetoric in the first place is that this is how they
have created a solid base of violent working class supporters by siphoning off left leaning
nationalists from the radical left.

Goebbels fundamentally reverses the rhetoric
so that it becomes nothing but new speak where anti-Semitic ideas are conflated with Socialist
sounding rhetoric. Capitalist now becomes Jew, the international
banking system is now the imagined global Jewish conspiracy, and so on. Hitler is meanwhile working behind the scenes
to convince the actual capitalists and bankers that he and the Nazis are their friends. But with Goebbels’s continued confusing
language, and lingering suspicions created by the Strasserites, Hitler faces an uphill
battle. Publicly he also promotes his own humble taste
for food and clothing and repeatedly tells his audiences at speeches that he doesn’t
receive any salary from the NSDAP or any compensation for his speeches. But there’s something fishy going on. Behind the scenes Hitler is already living
a fairly luxurious life. In 1929, he rents a sprawling apartment in
Munich at the upscale address Prinzrergentenplatz 16, complete with housekeeper, manservant,
and cook. In the summers, he rents a villa, Haus Wachenfeld,
in Oberrsalzberg in the Bavarian Alps. In 1930, he buys yet another supercharged
Mercedes. He attends soirees, private dinners, and public
events that are a staple of social life in Munich's high society. But he still only declares an income of 15,448
RM in 1929.

And fact is that in 2021, we still don’t
know exactly how Hitler finances his lifestyle, especially before 1933. He’s notoriously secretive about it and
there are no other records beyond his tax returns that we know of. Even Franz Xaver Schwarz, the Treasurer of
the NSDAP, doesn't have any access to Hitler's private businesses. We do know that he had a bunch of loyal admirers,
quite a few of them women, like Hélène Bechstein, Elsa Bruckmann, and Gertrud von Seidlitz,
all very well off, and we have anecdotal evidence that he did rake in personal donations on
the side of his fundraising for the NSDAP form day one.

But actual evidence of the details is lacking. By 1930 though, as his political popularity
increases, so do his finances. In that year, Hitler's taxable income is 45,472RM. Mein Kampf sales increase, and revenue from
its publisher, Eher Verlag, which becomes a hugely-lucrative venture for both the nazis
and Hitler personally, starts to take off. By 1930, Hitler's speaking gigs also increase,
and so does the paying audiences. Here again we have little evidence, but it’s
likely that he receives a percentage of the box office. In the first years of the thirties his declared
income continues to rise, but it still doesn’t amount to enough money to pay for his evident
expenditure. Not only are we historians unable to understand,
so are the German tax authorities at the time, who simply don’t buy it and based on what
they can clearly see just by reading the news estimate his income and slap him with tax
arrears well above what he is earning.

Hitler just refuses to pay, and continues
to rack up a tax debt. But even more golden days lay in store for
Adolf once he assumes the role as Germany’s chancellor in 1933. That year, a whopping 854,127 copies of Mein
Kampf are sold. It helps considerably that under Hitler’s
new German government, every newlywed couple is gifted an edition of Mein Kampf by the
local municipality. They in turn of course have to buy it, with
parts of the proceeds going to Hitler personally, who also by now controls publishing and distribution. By 1945, Mein Kampf will have been ‘sold’
just shy of 10 million times. In 1933, he reports an income of 1,232,355RM. He still owes the German state hundreds of
thousands of Reichsmark in taxes though. But now his cronies are running the tax department,
and it doesn’t take long before the debt is forgiven and Adolf Hitler is officially
tax exempt.

The involvement of German industry in the
funding of the Nazi Party and Hitler himself has by now increased manyfold. It starts shortly before they seize power,
and is largely the work of one man: Hjalmar Schacht. He intercedes with German capitalists on Hitler’s
behalf and cements credibility for Hitler's anti-Socialist stance that he’s been trying
to sell. Schacht introduces Hitler to the top echelons
of German business and finance, and together they forge an alliance between the Nazis,
and the German Industry, banking, and service sectors.

We’ve covered this in detail in our Between
Two Wars series, there will be a link at the end of the video and in the description. In any case, beyond supporting the Party financially,
a collective of industrial and business leaders pledges three million RM directly to the Führer
in early 1933. It is the beginning of what will become the
Adolf-Hitler-Spende, Hitler's own private trust fund, championed by Gustav Krupp of
Krupp Steel, saying that the fund is there 'to represent a token of gratitude to the
leader of the nation.’ The AH Spende will grow to become the primary
source of Hitler's personal wealth, leaving even Mein Kampf in the dust. But Hitler wants more. If you know anything about Nazi propaganda,
and the public material of the Nazis Reich, you’ll know that it features Hitler’s
likeness quite liberally. Now, that’s not just a way to create the
cult of personality for the Führer. It’s a business venture. Hitler actually charges licensing fees to
the German state for use of his image, even when used on stamps and propaganda posters.

But as Hitler strikes gold, he’s clever
enough to create a trickle-down system of corruption for his inner circle and key supporters
to profit with him. As we’ve explained in our special on the
'System of Nazi Government,’ he becomes the embodiment of the destiny of the German
people, justifying any expenses made in favor of his person. He uses this untouchable status to use the
German state to award friends and financial backers with lucrative contracts or government
jobs. Those who remain loyal to Hitler are rewarded
with power and riches. And there is enough to go around, the NSDAP
leadership now use their influence to construct palaces and private vanity projects such as
museums and statues. In contrast to the actual Socialists in, for
instance, the Soviet Union, the Nazis make sure to not destroy the system of capital,
finance, and private venture.

Instead, they take them in on the scam. The owners of big business profit from Hitler
and Shacht’s abolition of all anti-trust laws and most state regulation of the economy,
as well as tax policies that favors big business and capital owners. But it is a scam, because like any economy,
Germany is not made of endless money. Someone has to pay for all of this – and that
is the German people who never see their share of GDP grow significantly during the Nazis
years, and who unknown to themselves are being burdened by a rampant increase in national
debt, are having their national industry sold off to private interests at rebates, and are
even directly scammed out of their savings by projects like the MEFO bills – a Ponzi
scheme set up to circumvent arms production financing limitations from the Versailles

Last but not least, the money flows in from
the expropriation of anyone deemed to be undesirable by the Nazis. Jews, ethnic victims, political dissidents,
and social undesirables see their property vanish into the pockets of the Nazi leaders. When that isn’t enough, they often simply
steal or extort what they want from “Aryan” Germans. We’ll get to their projects in the resort
of Berchtesgaden in a moment, but there for instance, when some land owners refuse to
sell to any of the Nazi leaders looking to get in, the owners are simply put in concentration
camp until they change their mind.

When the war breaks out it is all of Europe
that will now contribute to Hitler and the other Nazis’ riches as we have seen in our
video about their art and valuables looting scheme. That Hitler benefits from it all is clear
by just the simplest observation – he’s now living like a king in an absolute monarchy. He owns six or seven supercharged Mercedes
limousines, a private train with eleven coaches, and three airplanes.

He’s advancing with the Führermuseum in
Linz in Austria, where he plans tos how off the most extensive and most valuable private
art-collection anyone has ever seen. Again covered in our video about Nazi looting. And he has a real estate portfolio that expands
and improves throughout his rule. First of all – though it’s not technically
his own property – he has access to the luxurious Old Chancellery in Berlin, which he has remodeled
to fit his personal needs.

But he has immediate ownership as well. After renting the luxurious 9-room apartment
on Prinzregentenplatz in Munich for almost ten years, he buys it in 1938 for 175,000RM
– most likely directly with money from the AH Spende. And he also has several other apartments in
Munich that he puts at the disposal of his closest and dearest, among others his girlfriend,
Eva Braun. But Hitler’s most valuable private real
estate begins construction in 1935. Or rather reconstruction. Remember the residence in Obersalzberg in
the Berchtesgaden valley, Haus Wachenfeld, which Hiter would rent to spend his summers
in the Bavarian Alps? He buys the house, and starts remodeling it
in 1933 to accommodate some guests. It still more or less fits the modesty of
a writer and ‘self-made’ politician. But then, in 1935 – he goes all-out. Haus Wachenfeld turns into the Berghof, a
gigantic estate with a great many rooms, decorated with the most delicate art, made to accommodate
the creme de la creme of the Nazi scene. In 1936, a complex of SS Barracks, Kitchens,
staff quarters, a farm, and a communication center are added.

It includes cinemas, pools, libraries and
sports facilities. A small building is added way above the Berghof,
the Kehlsteinhaus, or Eagle’s Nest, where a tunneled gilded lift takes visitors to the
stunning summit of a 1.837-meter high mountain. Its addition alone costs 30 million RM. Most of Hitler’s buildings in Berchtesgaden
are gone in 2021, but you can still visit the Eagle’s Nest, it’s a rather spartan
café on a hiking path nowadays, but the building and elevator is still there and the view is
quite stunning. In any case, in total, the Berghof complex's
construction, which continues all the way into 1944, is believed to cost over 100 million
RM – though some estimates come closer to 150 million RM.

Again, most of the funding comes from contributions
of wealthy industrialists through the Adolf-Hitler-Spende. It also doesn’t take long for the rest of
the Nazi leadership to start their vanity projects in Berchtesgaden, with villas, country
houses, and ranches for Goering, Himmler, Bormann, Goebbels and the others soon dotting
the mountainsides of the otherwise quiet valley of the mountain resort. From the moment Hitler gains some popularity,
he seeks ways to live the most comfortable life possible while deceiving the public with
a facade of a modest lifestyle. When he rises to power in 1933, his private
projects shoot from the ground like toadstools. They are paid for by his book sales, by the
state's finances, and by private donations from big business.

Because of the secretive nature of his finances,
especially during the 1920s and early 1930s, it’s hard to put an exact number on Hitler’s
personal worth. That his persona conflates with the German
state from 1933 onwards makes that even more difficult. Estimates range well into the hundreds of
millions of Reichsmark, but it might even be well more than that. A fortune built by corruption, fraud, theft,
expropriation, wars of aggression, plunder, and mass murder. Hitler’s understanding or rather lack of
understanding of macro-economics is also quite interesting, to say the least.

You can watch our Between Two Wars Episode
on that right here. Unlike Hitler we here at TimeGhost don’t
have access to an entire national economy, so make sure that we can continue putting
out these little gems of knowledge to the world, and join the TimeGhost Army over at
timeghost.tv or patreon.com. Like, subscribe, ring the bell! Never forget..

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