Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hitler as a cheating vegetarian
Slate has a review essay on Hitler's vegetarian diet and his occasional cheating on it:

The generally accepted idea about Hitler's nutritional regime seems to be that he at least tried to be a vegetarian. Sometime in the early 1930s, after the mysterious death of his niece and confidant, Geli, Hitler swore off meat. Some say seeing her corpse turned his stomach away from flesh. Others say his doctors put the despot on a vegetable-only diet to relieve excessive flatulence and sweating.

Berry asserts that propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels furthered the notion of Hitler as a strict vegetarian to make the ruthless dictator seem like an ascetic without vices who neither drank, nor smoked, nor ate meat, and was devoted above all to his people. Most lies told by the Third Reich were exposed in the postwar years, but not this one, according to Berry. "It's too good a story for [historians] to spoil it with the truth," he says. "They relish the paradox that a genocidal tyrant might have observed a Gandhian diet."

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