Did Hitler have only one testicle? This legend has long been fodder for armchair psychoanalysis and mischievous children’s songs. But what are the facts behind Hitler’s supposedly singular gonad?
Now it appears that the mystery has been solved, thanks to recently discovered evidence. But before we uncover the mystery, it’s worth exploring the history behind Hitler’s testicle. Skimming the surface, it appears to be a tragicomic spectacle. But on closer examination, it’s as intriguing as the best political thriller.
Our tale of Hitler’s testicle is long and storied, and we begin with a song.
10 The British Military Song
In World War II, there was a bawdy anthem sung by British soldiers:
Hitler, he only has one ball.
Goering, he has two but small,
Himmler has something simmler,
But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all.
Hitler has only got one ball,
The other is in the Albert Hall.
His mother, the dirty bugger,
Cut it off when he was small.
These lyrics were set to the tune of the “Colonel Bogey March,” written in 1914 by Frederick Joseph Ricketts under the pen name Kenneth J. Alford. He was a British Army bandmaster, and his sheet music for the march became a big seller.
When the song earned its vulgar lyrics in World War II, it became a British classic. Many variations of the ballsy ballad evolved: “only one big ball,” “only one left ball,” and “only one meatball.”
The instrumental version was played in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, which was directed by David Lean in 1957. Lean used the tune because he recalled “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball” from his youth. He wanted the soldiers in the movie to sing the lyrics as they marched. Producer Sam Spiegel would have none of that as he found the lyrics offensive.
Later, Alford’s widow was also offended by the lyrics added to her husband’s tune. She granted permission to use only the melody without the lyrics. Reportedly, she told the producers of The Bridge on the River Kwai, “A lot of rude words have been made up around that song, and I don’t want my husband made a mockery of.”
9 Early Stories From World War I
The legend of the lonely testicle can be traced back to World War I when Hitler served in the German Army. In 1971, Hitler’s World War I company commander claimed that a VD exam revealed that Hitler had one testicle.
In 2008, another account from World War I made headlines. Apparently, in the 1960s, a former army medic named Johan Jambor gave a Polish priest a stunning confession. He claimed to have saved Hitler’s life in 1916!
It happened during the bloody battle of the Somme. Jambor said that he and his friend had searched for injured soldiers for hours. That’s when they came upon Hitler, his abdomen and legs covered in blood.
Hitler kept shouting, “Help, help!” He was so loud that he earned the nickname “the screamer.” Jambor claimed that Hitler asked him, “Will I still be able to have children?” Jambor noted that Hitler was injured in the abdomen and had lost his testicle.
8 Hanfstaengl’s Account
Ernst Hanfstaengl was a Harvard graduate who became the Nazi Party’s foreign press chief. He spent a lot of time with Hitler in 1922–1937. Then he fell out of favor with the dictator. Unlike most people in Hitler’s entourage, Hanfstaengl had a good sense of humor.
Hanfstaengl recalled a story told in Munich in the early 1920s. It involved Hitler’s old army buddies, who saw him in a washhouse. They noticed that his genitals were “freakishly underdeveloped.” Hanfstaengl said that this filled Hitler with shame and he compensated with his aggressive politics.
Hanfstaengl also blamed Hitler’s personality issues on impotence. He once said, “From the time I knew him, I do not suppose he had orthodox sexual relations with any woman.” He thought this turned Hitler into a sadomasochist with a tendency for drama.
Hanfstaengl was also a skilled piano player. He poked fun at Hitler while recalling the Wagner transcriptions he once played for him. Hanfstaengl said, “You see, all he could do was play the black notes, never the white.”
7 The Soviet Autopsy
After Hitler’s death in 1945, there were many who believed that he was still alive. To solve the mystery, England sent respected historian Hugh Trevor-Roper to Berlin. He interviewed guards, soldiers, and high-ranking Nazis who knew of the events surrounding Hitler’s death.
Trevor-Roper eventually published a book entitled The Last Days of Hitler, which concluded that Hitler had committed suicide. Although the book quieted some of the skepticism, rumors persisted that the dictator was still alive.
Then in 1968, Kremlin leaders electrified the press. They admitted that they had received the corpses of Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, five days after they died. Even more surprising, an autopsy had been conducted on their bodies.
The autopsy found pieces of a thin-walled capsule in each of their mouths, convincing the forensic specialists that the couple took poison. Since the bodies were charred, the specialists relied on dental records to positively identify the corpses. But there was another startling revelation: Hitler’s corpse had only one testicle!
According to the Soviet specialists, Hitler’s “left testicle could not be found either in the scrotum or on the spermatic cord inside the inguinal canal or in the small pelvis.”
6 Hitler’s Doctors Denied The Accusation
Hitler’s doctors would have none of this one testicle business. Theodor Morell, Hitler’s main physician, claimed to have examined his genitalia more than once. He told the US Commission: “The sexual organs showed no signs of abnormality or pathology, and the secondary sexual characteristics were normally developed.”
The last doctor to give Hitler a complete physical examination was Erwin Giesing. He gave this examination after a bomb plot that almost took Hitler’s life. Giesing completely denied the accusation that Hitler had only one testicle.
But Morell and Giesing weren’t the most persuasive witnesses. Leading Nazi Hermann Goering once called Morell “Herr Reich Injection Master.” The doctor had injected Hitler with meth and vaccines taken from the testicles and intestines of animals.
Giesing’s credibility was also about to fade fast. He dismissed the autopsy as a fraud and insisted that the Soviets had the wrong body. Using his own X-rays of Hitler’s head, he tried to prove that their dental records were inaccurate.
But a pioneering American forensic specialist was about to prove him wrong.
5 Hitler’s Teeth Were A Clue To His Testicle
Dr. Reidar Sognnaes was a professor of anatomy and oral biology. He stepped in to clear up the confusion over Hitler’s dental records.
He had come across transcripts of the interrogation of Dr. Hugo Blaschke, Hitler’s dentist. Blaschke had described Hitler’s teeth from memory. He said his X-rays of Hitler’s head perished in a fiery plane crash.
Undaunted, Sognnaes continued his investigation. This led him to the US archives building in Suitland, Maryland. There, he found the file of Theodor Morell. The table of contents listed: “Annex II: Five X-Rays of Hitler’s Head.” But it was missing from the document.
Sognnaes finally hit pay dirt when he noticed a worn pink envelope outside the document. These contained five X-ray plates from 1944. After comparing the plates to the postmortem photos, he concluded that the body was Hitler’s. He presented his results in 1972.
Giesing stuck to his assertion that it was the wrong body. But unlike Sognnaes, he wasn’t an expert in forensic dentistry. Giesing was an eye, ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Hitler’s teeth matched the corpse, so it follows that the rest of the Soviet autopsy was accurate. That means something was amiss with his left testicle. But more evidence was to come.
4 Hitler’s Odd Behavior
Historians have noted Hitler’s odd mannerisms. Without context, these could be mere quirks. But together with accounts of his missing testicle, such peculiarities start to make sense.
One example is how Hitler had a lifelong habit of repeatedly moving his hands over his crotch. This can be seen in home movies that Eva Braun made of Hitler. He also covered his crotch when confronted by other people. Then he fluttered his hands up to his face to cover his eyes and folded them back to his pelvic area.
In speeches, Hitler exhibited similar behavior. He gestured a great deal, and then his hands returned to the same position in front of his crotch. He displayed this stance in photographs as well.
Many people who were close to Hitler said that he never allowed anyone see him disrobe. Physician Hanskarl von Hasselbach said, “Hitler was extremely reticent over showing his body.”
3 The Historian Who Had A Freudian Field Day
From repressed homosexuality to syphilis, the possible motivations for Hitler’s behavior are endless. But history professor Robert Waite had a Freudian field day with the subject. He even wrote a book entitled The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler.
Waite concluded that Hitler had either monorchidism—the absence of a testicle—or an undescended testicle. Not a bad guess. But then he used psychology to make some sensational claims. One was that the Nazi stiff-armed salute was compensation for Hitler’s “flawed genitalia.”
Waite conceded that a missing or undescended testicle in itself was not “pathogenic.” But combined with a dysfunctional parent-child relationship, he believed it could lead to misbehavior.
He reported on young patients who thought they were “magical persons” on an unusual mission. He speculated that young Adolf had a fear of toilet training and spanking. Supposedly, both reminded Hitler of the missing testicle.
Waite also proposed that boys with one testicle favored symbolic substitutes for the testicle. These included breasts and eyes. He noted that Hitler’s eyes were important to him and that he liked to scare his mother with them.
Hitler also practiced “piercing stares” in the mirror. He slowly crossed his eyes when staring people down. To Waite, Hitler was communicating: “See, I do have two powerful [potent] testicles, and I can penetrate and dominate others.”
2 The Landsberg Documents
Following the Nazis’ failed coup attempt in 1923, Hitler served time in Landsberg Prison. There, he began writing Four and One Half Years of Battle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice: Account Settled. His publisher later shortened it to the snappier Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”).
In 2010, historical documents from Landsberg Prison surfaced, including 300 cards from Hitler’s visitors. Even more intriguing was an “intake book.” This was a document that contained details of Hitler’s medical examination.
The owner of a taxicab company had sold the documents. His father had bought them in the late 1970s at a Nuremberg flea market. They may have been stolen when Landsberg became a prison for war criminals or snatched during the Third Reich when Hitler’s fans turned his prison cell into a shrine.
In any case, the documents found their way to an auction. The Bavarian government confiscated them, and soon after, a professor made a startling discovery.
1 Hitler’s Condition Revealed
Professor Peter Fleischmann of Erlangen-Nuremberg University analyzed the documents of Hitler’s medical examination. Then Fleischmann confirmed that Hitler did have a medical condition.
Dr. Josef Brinsteiner had conducted the 1923 medical examination at Landsberg Prison. He wrote: “Adolf Hitler, artist, recently writer,” who was otherwise “healthy and strong” suffered from “right-side cryptorchidism.”
Cryptorchidism is a common genital condition where a testicle doesn’t descend. This can lead to a hidden or obscure testicle. If untreated, it could have a more destructive effect on the testicle over time. This could have been a possibility with Hitler.
This contradicts Johan Jambor’s account that Hitler lost his testicle during World War I. That would have been a case of monorchidism, an absent testicle caused by injury. Hitler’s cryptorchidism was an undescended testicle due to a birth defect. Jambor may have seen Hitler’s condition and mistaken it for a war injury.
But it also contradicts the reports of Hitler’s doctors, Giesing and Morell. Both claimed that there was nothing unusual with der Fuhrer’s testicles. They were wrong.
In the end, it seems the British were on to something with that old ditty.