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Lewis Lapham: Hitler Tried Out Himmler’s Cyanide on Dog

'Hitler's Charisma'
"Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss," by Laurence Rees. Source: Pantheon via Bloomberg

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- With the Allies intensifying their bombing campaign in Germany and the Soviets marching on Berlin, Hitler’s charismatic rants could no longer keep the Nazi inner circle mesmerized. Most now fled the bunker -- “a rare case of the sinking ship leaving the rat,” observed Professor Ian Kershaw.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

On April 23, Heinrich Himmler told a Swedish diplomat the Germans would surrender to the Allies, but not to the Red Army. The Fuehrer was outraged by this betrayal from his “loyal Heinrich.”

Realizing the end was near, Hitler dictated a statement that blamed Jews for all of the world’s problems and emphasized his own innocence: He’d always been motivated by “love and loyalty to my people.”

Not trusting his aide any longer, Hitler tested the Himmler-supplied cyanide on his own favorite dog, Blondi. The animal died.

On April 30, Hitler ingested Himmler’s poison and shot himself in the head.

I spoke with Laurence Rees, author of “Hitler’s Charisma: Leading Millions Into the Abyss,” on the following topics:

1. Power of Hatred

2. Fear of Communism

3. Jewish Conspiracy

4. Visions, Not Policies

5. Failure at Stalingrad

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

Muse highlights include Amanda Gordon on Scene and Jeremy Gerard on theater.

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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