Ходжа Н. (hojja_nusreddin) wrote,
Ходжа Н.

Гитлер о вегетарианстве (из "Застольных бесед")

Although he may not have been a true veggie, it's a world he wanted to impose on others.

"One may regret living at a period when it's impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there's one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian."
- November 11, 1941. Section 66

"If I offer a child the choice between a pear and a piece of meat, he'll quickly choose the pear. That's his atavistic instinct speaking."
- December 28, 1941. Section 81

"The only thing of which I shall be incapable is to share the sheiks' mutton with them. I'm a vegetarian, and they must spare me from their meat."
- January 12, 1942. Section 105

"At the time when I ate meat, I used to sweat a lot. I used to drink four pots of beer and six bottles of water during a meeting. … When I became a vegetarian, a mouthful of water was enough."
- January 22, 1942. Section 117

"When you offer a child the choice of a piece of meat, an apple, or a cake, it's never the meat that he chooses. There's an ancestral instinct there."
- January 22, 1942. Section 117

"One has only to keep one's eyes open to notice what an extraordinary antipathy young children have to meat."
- April 25, 1942. Section 198

"When I later gave up eating meat, I immediately began to perspire much less, and within a fortnight to perspire hardly at all. My thirst, too, decreased considerably, and an occasional sip of water was all I required. Vegetarian diet, therefore, has some obvious advantages."
- July 8, 1942. Section 256

"I am no admirer of the poacher, particularly as I am a vegetarian."
- August 20, 1942. Section 293
On May 30, 1937 The New York Times reported, "Hitler is a vegetarian, ... although he occasionally relishes a slice of ham and relieves the tediousness of his diet with such delicacies as caviar...". How can such allegations of Hitler "occasionally" eating meat be reconciled with the apparent fact that Hitler was a vegetarian?


Whenever people make an extreme change in diet it is entirely normal for them to "occasionally" suffer from a lack of willpower during which they will temporarily revert to their old eating habits. As time goes by, the frequency of their backsliding diminishes until eventually the transition to their new diet is complete. It's a natural weaning process: three steps forward for every one step backward until the goal is reached. Accordingly, there is nothing damning nor surprising in any allegations that Hitler "occasionally" ate meat, as was claimed in The New York Times article dated 1937. Such unsubstantiated claims, if accurate, merely indicate that Hitler's transition to vegetarianism was a routinely gradual one that may not have reached completion until the 1940's,* (by all accounts, Hitler's lasting effort to go vegetarian began in the 1930's). All things considered, there is nothing to suggest that Hitler's vegetarianism was anything less than a sincere struggle marked with honest failings in its formative stages.
*Notice that all of Hitler's vegetarian remarks quoted throughout this webpage are from the 1940's.


If Hitler was really a vegetarian then why did his Nazi party close down vegetarian societies?


The Nazis were intent on stamping out all manner of potentially subversive organizations. Vegetarian societies fell victim to that blanket policy -- undoubtedly because of their suspected pacifist ideals. However, individual vegetarians were not persecuted unless for some reason unrelated to their diet. In fact, they were given special allowance to take credit notes that had been issued for meat and use them for dairy products instead. About 83,000 vegetarians freely participated in this program. Significantly, one vegetarian magazine, (THE VEGETARIAN PRESS), was even allowed to continue publication as long as it did not use the term "vegetarian movement" and did not advertise vegetarian meetings. These glaring allowances plainly demonstrate that Hitler's Nazis were never against vegetarianism in and of itself.


Is it logical to speculate that Hitler's vegetarianism was purely a propaganda myth spread by his Minister of Information -- as uniquely theorized by biographer Robert Payne three decades after Hitler's death?


No. Germany had always been a nation overwhelmingly comprised of die-hard meat eaters -- people who tend to have a predictably negative reaction to vegetarians. Hitler therefore had nothing political to gain by claiming to be a vegetarian. If anything, he was at risk of offending the bulk of his followers by admitting to a dietary philosophy that was in direct opposition to their national traditions -- a consideration which perhaps explains why no other western leaders have ever dared to go vegetarian! We can therefore logically conclude that Hitler's vegetarianism was as real as it was radical.

Historians Alan Bullock, Ian Kershaw, and John Toland are indisputably the three most highly acclaimed Hitler biographers. Each of their extensive Hitler biographies was written after Robert Payne had published his speculative denial of Hitler’s vegetarianism. Neither Bullock, Kershaw, nor Toland gave any credence to Payne's unfounded theory. On the contrary, all three concluded that Hitler became a vegetarian.


If Hitler was really a vegetarian, why didn't he pressure the Germans to stop eating meat?


Hitler understood that if he had pressured the German people to abandon their traditional diet then they would have opted to abandon his movement instead. Here, Hitler explains the dilemma to one of his navy admirals:
"Above all, don't go believing that I'll issue a decree forbidding the Navy to eat meat! Supposing the prohibition of meat had been an article of faith for National Socialism, it's certain our movement wouldn't have succeeded."

- Adolf Hitler. January 22, 1942. Section 117, HITLER'S TABLE TALK

Elsewhere, Hitler explained that he faced a similar dilemma with regards to prohibiting hunting:
"Personally, I cannot see what possible pleasure can be derived from shooting. … I have never fired at a hare in my life. I am neither poacher nor sportsman. …[But] if I excluded poachers from the Party, we should lose the support of entire districts."

- Adolf Hitler. September 2, 1942. Section 308, HITLER'S TABLE TALK


Even if Hitler was a vegetarian, isn't it true that it was purely for health reasons?


Hitler identified his vegetarianism with his disdain for hunting:
"I am no admirer of the poacher, particularly as I am a vegetarian."

- Adolf Hitler. August 20, 1942. Section 293, HITLER'S TABLE TALK

From that, it is logical to infer that Hitler's vegetarianism was in part a reflection of his well-known love for animals.
Janet Barkas, "THE VEGETABLE PASSION: A History of the Vegetarian State of Mind", Scribners, New York, 1975
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