Can Adolf Hitler Really Have Existed? Jay Neugeboren's Revelatory Novel on Dr. Eduard Bloch

By Triebwasser, Joseph | Midstream, November-December 2008 | Go to article overview

Can Adolf Hitler Really Have Existed? Jay Neugeboren's Revelatory Novel on Dr. Eduard Bloch


Triebwasser, Joseph, Midstream


1940, a novel by Jay Neugeboren, Two Dollar Radio Publisher, 2008, 284pp., paperback, $15.00.

Even in a century that visited on the world Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, and Pol Pot, Hitler--that nobody from nowhere with no ideas other than an insane belief in his own limitless worth and an unquenchable will to avenge, millions of times over, some crime that had never been committed--seems uniquely implausible, unthinkable, impossible. He may be the human being about whom we can read the most and know the least.

One man, Eduard Bloch (1872-1945) may have known Hitler as no one else on Earth ever did. This was, literally, Bloch's salvation; some would say, his curse; and it is the springboard for 1940, the wonderfully layered and thoughtful new novel by the acclaimed author Jay Neugeboren.

A physician stationed in Linz during his service in the Austrian army, Bloch remained there after his return to civilian life; married Emilie Katka, a distant relative of Franz and, like her new husband, an assimilated Jew; and set up a medical practice. Bloch was, by all reports, an accomplished physician and a man of tremendous innate goodness. According to a future mayor of Linz, Bloch was held "in high regard, particularly among the lower and indigent social classes. It was generally known that even at may time at night he was willing to call on patients." (1) August Kubizek later wrote that Bloch was "very popular ... known in the town as 'the poor people's doctor,' an excellent physician, and a man of great kindness who sacrificed for his patients." (2)

Bloch nevertheless would be forgotten today if not for one family, living near Linz, for whom he became the family physician. He first treated Alois Hitler in 1903 and, after Alois died shortly thereafter, Alois's widow, Klara, and her son Adolf, then aged 15. In 1907, Klara came to Bloch complaining of pain in her breast. The biopsy showed cancer, and a prominent local surgeon, Karl Urban, performed a mastectomy at the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy in Linz. At Klara's request, Bloch was present, though it appears he did not perform the surgery, as some sources claim. Klara did well for a few months, during which Adolf went to Vienna and applied, unsuccessfully, for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts. Soon it became clear that Klara's cancer had metastasized, and Adolf lived with her during the months remaining to her. Bloch later remembered, "She bore her burden well; unflinching and uncomplaining. But it seemed to torture her son. An anguished grimace would come over him when he saw pain contract her face. There was little that could be done. An injection of morphine from time to time would give temporary relief; but nothing lasting. Yet Adolf seemed enormously grateful even for these short periods of release." (3) During these last months, Bloch apparently applied iodoform gauzes to the mastectomy scars, either as a post-operative dressing (4) or an early attempt at chemotherapy. (5) After the end finally came, on December 21, Bloch recalled years later, the 18-year-old Adolf was overcome. "In the practice of my profession it is natural that I should have witnessed many scenes such as this one, yet none of them left me with quite the same impression. In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler." (6)

In general, Bloch later said, Hitler's relationship with his mother was extremely close. "Outwardly, his love for his mother was his most striking feature. While he was not a 'mother's boy' in the usual sense, I have never witnessed a closer attachment. Some insist that this love verged on the pathological. As a former intimate of the family, I do not believe this is tree." (7) Bloch famously painted what historians have called "a remarkably positive picture of young Hitler" (8) as "a nice, pleasant youth" (9): "What kind of boy was Adolf Hitler? Many biographers have put him down as harsh-voiced, defiant, untidy; as a young ruffian who personified all that is unattractive. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Can Adolf Hitler Really Have Existed? Jay Neugeboren's Revelatory Novel on Dr. Eduard Bloch
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.