Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: The List Regiment

By John F. Williams | Go to book overview

8

NURSERY TALES OF 1915

Brandmayer returned to the regiment on 30 May 1915. Assigned to the orderlies, he handed in his rifle and collected a dispatch runner's kit of 'an army pistol, a dispatch case and a flashlight'. His new quarters were more comfortable than the trenches and his comrades greeted him with 'the loudest hullo, for they were happy to have a newcomer to initiate'. This initiation apparently included advice on how to deal with officers, particularly those who needed to be treated with caution. Lieutenant Eichelsdörfer, the regimental adjutant, seemed to be greatly admired but Eichelsdörfer's deputy, Hugo Gutmann - 'an officer of Jewish appearance and manners' - was regarded as 'panic-prone [and] unpopular'. Minutes later, Hitler 'stepped into the shelter'.

He had come back fatigued after a delivery. I looked at him for the first time in my life. We stood eye to eye facing one another… He was like a skeleton, his face pale and colourless. Two piercingly dark eyes, which struck me especially, stared out of deep sockets. His prominent moustache was unkempt. Forehead and facial expression suggested high intelligence. I can still see him today as he stood before me then, loosening his belt buckle. Along with Mund Max, Adolf Hitler became my inseparable comrade. 1

That night, accompanied by an experienced runner, Brandmayer delivered his first dispatch, an order to the pioneer company. 'The path offered little protection from artillery fire and one was not even covered against machine-gun activity.' On the way back they brought tea and sausage sandwiches for the 'hungry bellies'. But Hitler ignored them, as he sat huddled 'in a corner with his head buried in a newspaper, sipping from time to time from a field kettle filled with hot tea'. After his first day as a dispatch runner, Brandmayer bedded down in a straw-covered wooden trellis. 'Sleep overcame us and took us softly into its arms.'

After a few days, I got to know all of the dispatch runners. Their names were Schmied [Schmidt], a pleasant Franconian, Weiss Jackl, a publican's

-114-

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Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: The List Regiment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - A University of the Trenches 4
  • 2 - 1913-14: 17
  • 3 - Cannon Fodder 34
  • 4 - West Flanders 1914 50
  • 5 - Winter 1914-15 73
  • 6 - Neuve Chapelle 1915 86
  • 7 - Fromelles 1915 98
  • 8 - Nursery Tales of 1915 114
  • 9 - Hugo Gutmann and the Good Soldier Mend 128
  • 10 - Fromelles 1916 136
  • 11 - Hell on the Somme 147
  • 12 - Declining Fortune 161
  • 13 - 1918 178
  • Epilogue: 198
  • Notes 211
  • Selected Bibliography 226
  • Index 233
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