Hitler's record in WW I

The Wikipedia article notes that 'Dolf was a runner, the “most dangerous job on the Western Front.” Could someone with a better knowledge than my own of what that job entails describe the duties of a runner on the Western Front? I’ve seen many references to Hitler having an exemplary record as a soldier in WWI. What, exactly, was he doing?

My grandfather was a runner in WWI in the mid-east. His job was to run messages from one person to another. Yes, actually run. I still have his dispatch can.

Correct. He carried messages from the general staff to the front lines and back. This was extremely dangerous - I read somewhere that the average span between becoming a messenger and becoming a casualty was thirty days. Old Dolfie was a genuine, certified war hero - Iron Cross, First and Second Class.

After the war, he was assigned to military intelligence to infiltrate the Nazi party. Well, he certainly did that, didn’t he?

If only someone had a little better aim…


See the movie Gallipolifor a depiction of an (Australian) runner’s job.

…or had deigned to purchase a painting or two.

He came pretty close to snuffing it twice - he was hospitalized for shrapnel wounds (from a mortar shell) sustained at the Battle of the Somme, and was blinded and nearly killed by mustard or chlorine gas near the end of the war.

Here’s the definition from “The Long Trail: Soldiers Songs and Slang, 1914-1918” by John Brophy and Eric Partridge:

Runner: A private soldier employed chiefly for bearing written messages between a platoon and Company Headquarters (platoon runner), between CHQ and Batallion Headquearters (company runner), or between BHQ and Batallion Headquarters (batallion runner). Runners were particularly in demand when telephone or telegraphic communication broke down, i.e. when shelling and machine-gun fire were heavy. Consequentially, the job, although it offered reliefs from routine tasks, was a dangerous one.

Benny Hill had a bit about an old Colonel Blimp reminiscing about his WWI days, describing how, on the last day of hostilities, he had “this little guy, with a mustache and his hair hanging down over his eyes” (gesturing to make it clear he was referring to Hitler’s hairstyle) in his sights, but, just then the all-clear sounded, and “he just couldn’t pull the trigger”. “Always wondered what happened to him.”

I know it’s a joke, but Hitler had a big brush of a mustache back then. I don’t recall what the corporal’s hair looked like, though. I doubt it was the rakish down look.

Yeah, not entirely relevant.

Looks like he was sporting a Kaiser Bill style of soup strainer.

I get the impression that he trimmed it down to the now famous style shortly after the war.

Adolf Hitler or Michael Palin?

Even the dog in the photo posted previously seems to have a mustache.

He should have won the German election. He was a war hero. What else do you need to know.

Hitler may have been decorated, but he never was promoted. Normally, with the attrition on the Western front, a guy like Hitler should have mde segeant at least. I recall reading that Hitler’s company officer was a Jew (a Captain Hugo Guttman), and that Capt. Guttman never saw any initiative or leadership capabilities in cpl. Hitler.
BOY was HE wrong!:smack:

More importantly, he had the Brownshirts to terrorize the populace and the government’s habit of ignoring right-wing violence while coming down hard on left-wing violence. It’s ever so much like America right at this moment.

OMG. Next you’ll probably claim that we have National Socialism for the rich when they need $700 billion in handouts and nothing put prose and solgans for the working class poor. :rolleyes: Or that we should just invade other countries that present us no harm merely because it our rightous duty to instill our way of life on other backward nations. Come on, the poor love fighting for the Fatherland.

Well, if you were Guttman, would you promote a guy who rambled on about the need for less Jews in his sleep? Also, I wouldn’t doubt if he just had some little voice in the deep recesses of his soul stopping him from doing any favors for that Hitler guy.


It seems to me that before the Great War, Hitler was a shiftless idealistic youth, unclear as to where to go in life.

When war broke out, he volunteered for service in the German Army, possibly caught up in the nationalistic fervor of the time. (He was Austrian, but was granted permission to join a Bavarian regiment in the German army.)

I think the war and army life (and possibly the shared combat experience bonding) finally made him feel part of (and doing) Something Important. (Wiki says that Hitler was not promoted because he did not display any leadership skills at the time. Heh. He found his niche, and stayed in it.)

The surrender of Germany (and the Army) must have been a shock to him. his whole world order changes, as well as his place in it.

To state my case clearly: I think it’s pretty goddamned stupid to compare America, now or ever, to Weimar Germany because America has never been that screwed up. We’ve never had anything like the Brownshirts here because none of our crazy violent political nutballs were ever that organized, widespread, or successful. Our political psychos have always been fairly far into the margins and while some very dramatic acts of terrorism have happened here (Oklahoma City, the Olympic Park bombings, various abortion clinic bombings, etc.) not even the Klan was ever strong enough to do to us what the Brownshirts enabled the Nazis to do to Germany.

Man. Talk about Godwinizing.