I always thought it was interesting that the main character of A Farewell is an American driving for the Italians. Recently, I found after watching a WWI documentary, another person we all have heard of had a similar WWI experience.
Hitler attempted to enlist in the Austrian army (the country of his citizenship) during WWI but failed the physical exam. In desperate attempts to enlist, Hitler requested to join the Bavarian army with special permission from Bavarian authorities.
So we have an American serving with the Italians and an Austrian serving with the Bavarians. The lengths some men go to enlist (but if we’re talking about Frederic Henry, just forget everything. He just happened into it).
Ever since someone posted about Hitler being involved in The Great War on the blog, I’ve been intrigued. I never knew (as much sense as it makes that he was) that he was involved much less that his experiences shaped some of the ways he could approach World War II.
In that earlier post on the blog, it was said that Hitler had been the victim of gas attacks and vowed not to use gas warfare in WW2 because of its devastating effects (ironic). Well, I was doing some further research on it and apparently the infamous mustache Hitler dons also resulted from gas warfare.
Apparently Hitler had sported the typical German style before the war of a long and thin facial hair above his upper lip and upon joining the war, was constructed to clip it into the infamous toothbrush shape in order to able to better fit into a gas mask.
Historians came to the conclusion about this upon the publication of Alexander Moritz Frey’s biography who, according to an article done by The Telegraph, “came to know [Hitler] when both were lowly privates in a Bavarian infantry division.”
Later in the same article Frey is quoted further describing Hitler’s appearance saying,
“At that time he looked tall because he was so thin. A full moustache, which had to be trimmed later because of the new gas masks, covered the ugly slit of his mouth.”
It’s odd how far-reaching some of the effects of this war are. I went from not even knowing Hitler had been a part of the war to now seeing how such identifying stylistic choices were shaped by it.
I never knew that the Germans weren’t the first to make chemical gas for fighting. I was also really surprised that Hitler never used chemical gas on the battlefield, though I doubt he did so purely for humane reasons as he was, y’know, Hitler, so in my mind he most definitely had other motivations to not use gas attacks. On the topic of Hitler as a WWI soldier, I got interested and decided to look up some more about that. Here
Apparently, he was a very lucky soldier, in his first battle in the Bavarian Regiment, of the 3,000 men that were in the army, 2,500 survived and he happened to escape without a freaking scratch. Him being uninjured became a Thing, it was often that he would move a tiny bit then a shell would come down and kill everyone where he just was. Though, he did get wounded in his leg once which actually gave him a break from the Front and when he went back he got caught in a chlorine gas attack. He also painted whenever the fighting ceased (though he was apparently not good enough for art school, but that’s a whole other story.)
I found this cool video about Hitler almost dying on the battlefield here but I can’t quite confirm or deny it. From what I could find it seem’s to be that Hitler says it happened but some people think he made it up to show that this great war hero for the British saved him. I like to think it’s true because of the craziness of it.
I can’t confirm or deny this next thing, but I remember hearing that he cut his mustache like how we know it, so that it would fit into his gas mask during WWI but I couldn’t find sources.
If you know more on any of this I’d love to know.