TV’s fascination with the Nazis shows no sign of abating. And tonight Channel 4 pore over the private records of Adolf Hitler’s personal physician Theodor Morell, a vain, squat, fat and unpleasant quack doctor (pictured above behind the German dictator).
Morell was a fanatical note taker and carefully recorded every detail of Hitler’s physical condition on an almost daily basis (it is thought to protect himself in case his boss happened to die and the dictator’s henchmen wanted a scapegoat).
So what was Hitler’s health like? Bad does not even get close. And there is a ghoulish fascination to be had in being told in the programme that the chief proponent of Aryan supremacy was a profoundly sick man with bad breath, chronic flatulence and stomach cramps who used pills made from the faeces of soldiers to keep him going.
Yes, the chief of a land of supposedly great warriors was a physical wreck and a nervy hypochondriac who relied on 74 different kinds of medication at one point of his life.
More bizarrely, the cocktail of drugs he was on included crystal meth which is thought to have powered his crazed speechifying and once saw him rant, without interruption, at fellow dictator Benito Mussolini for four hours on end. And he was treated with leeches at various points in his life.
It’s a fascinating film showing how the madness of Nazism extended even into the arena of the physical well-being of its figurehead, a man sick in body as well as mind.
The sometimes breathy narration tells us that Morell’s actual journals have “never been seen on British television before” but the juicy information is already there in the history books. But that doesn’t stop this being a well-assembled, diverting and intimate insight into the corporeality of evil. And yes, Morell’s notes testify that Hitler did have two testicles.
Hitler’s Hidden Drug Habit: Secret History is on Channel 4 on Sunday October 19