It’s Friday evening, and along with two friends, I’m hunched over my laptop in the research lab, scanning pages and pages of information on the most popular demagogue of the twentieth century, none other than Adolf Hitler. Classes have ended for the day, and we’re are parched, each of us wishing we had a softmint to chew on. Thanks to the young lab technician we can no longer sip on our Cokes as we work. My two friends are busy cutting, pasting, paraphrasing and working Microsoft Powerpoint to the core, trying out all it’s themes and features. How snazzy can you make your presentation look? we ask each other between laughs and furrowed-brow Google-ing.
The other lab technician, the older man, occupies a seat in the same row as us, towards the very end and he constantly disrupts our concentration. After all, he’s got earphones wrapped around his head, a hat pulled down low as he sings along to the latest Justin Bieber mix. Baby baby baby oooh, like baby baby baby nooo. Won’t you always be mine? How could we resist the random giggle, as we lost control of our composure? While we worked, so did he, right through renditions of N’Sync‘s I want it that way, and Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life, head bobbing back and forth, foot swaying and tap-tapping to the beat.
Our presentation is scheduled for Monday, which we were all hoping was a holiday since it is Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto‘s death anniversary. Surprisingly, we did not get the day off, and with this grief weighing heavily in our hearts we set to work, determined to get at least something done.
Hitler. Hitler. Adolf Hitler. Amid photos of soldiers performing the Hitler salute Heil! and women crying into swastika-printed handkerchiefs, I came across some interesting facts:
1. Young Adolf‘s mother developed terminal breast cancer and was treated by a Jewish doctor who served the poor.
2. ‘Hitler’ was Adolf’s mother’s maiden name. Adolf’s father’s surname was Schickelgruber, and he was illegitimately born.
3. As a young boy, Adolf dreamed of entering the priesthood. For six months, the family lived across from a large, Benedictine monastery whose coat of arms featured a large, bold swastika. (Ooh, I wonder where he got the idea for the Nazi symbol!)
4. Virtually penniless in 1909, he wandered Vienna as a transient, sleeping in bars, flophouses, and shelters for the homeless, including, ironically, those financed by Jewish philanthropists. He existed in a hand-to-mouth fashion on occasional odd jobs and the hawking of sketches in low taverns.
5. Hitler was married! His long-time mistress, Eva Braun became his wife in a short, civil ceremony. She remained his wife for 40 hours, at the end of which she ate a cyanide pill and committed suicide along with her husband, as they were cornered by the opposing forces. Hitler’s officers no longer stood with him, and the couple decided to kill themselves in Hitler’s bunker. The German public was wholly unaware of Ms. Braun’s existence until after her death.