You people who say that we would all be more peaceful if we ate a vegetarian diet always seem to forget that Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian. That pretty well destroys your belief system, doesn’t it?
The belief that Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian is widespread, and you are certainly not the only one who carries it. But that doesn’t make it true.
Robert Payne is widely considered to be Hitler’s definitive biographer. In his book, Hitler: The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler, Payne says that Hitler’s “vegetarianism” was a “legend” and a “fiction” invented by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. According to Payne:
“Hitler’s asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend, he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress, Eva Braun… His asceticism was fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self-control, the distance that separated him from other men. By this outward show of asceticism, he could claim that he was dedicated to the service of his people. In fact he was remarkably self-indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic.”
Rynn Berry is historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society and is on the Advisory Board of EarthSave. Publisher’s Weekly wrote of his thoughtful essay, “Why Hitler Was Not a Vegetarian,” that it “lays to rest the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian.” In the essay, Berry writes of the famous chef Dione Lucas:
“Dione Lucas was a sort of precursor of the popular television ‘French’ chef, Julia Childe. One of the first to open a successful cooking school in the United States, Lucas was also one of the first chefs to popularize French cuisine on television in the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1930s, prior to her coming to the United States, she had worked as a chef at a hotel in Hamburg, where Adolph Hitler was one of her regular customers.”
Indeed, Dione Lucas often cooked for Hitler. In her book, The Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook, she makes it clear that this despot was by no means the vegetarian Goebbel’s myth would have us believe. Writing of her recipe for stuffed squab, for example, she says:
“I learned this recipe when I worked as a chef before World War II, in one of the large hotels in Hamburg, Germany. I do not mean to spoil your appetite for stuffed squab, but you might be interested to know that it was a great favorite of Mr. Hitler, who dined at the hotel often. Let us not hold that against a fine recipe, though.”
Not only did Hitler eat meat, he went so far as to outlaw organizations that advocated vegetarianism, and harshly rebuked all proposals to ease Germany’s food shortages that involved reductions in meat consumption.
So the whole story that Hitler was a vegetarian is simply a myth, invented by the infamous Joseph Goebbels. This man, as you no doubt know, was not particularly loyal to the truth. In fact, one of his more famous sayings is that if you tell a lie often enough, and loud enough, people will believe it. Another was the bigger the lie, the easier it is to get people to believe it.
The fiction that Hitler was a vegetarian was just one more of the many lies that he told often and loud. It’s certainly time that it be seen for what it is — a falsehood deliberately constructed to advance the Nazi cause and to perpetrate an image of Hitler that obscured the reality of who and what he actually was.
Hitler was not a vegetarian. However, many remarkable human beings have been, including Mahatma Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci, Pythagoras, George Bernard Shaw, Leo Tolstoy, and Dennis Kucinich.
And let’s not forget Paul McCartney.
It’s going to take a lot more than a few of us giving up meat to arrive at a peaceful world, but everything we can do helps.
Thanks for writing and giving me the opportunity to address this question.