Putzi Hanfstaengl

Found this in The Wise Men: Six Friends and The World They Made by Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas:

McCloy was also responsible for the construction of The Pentagon, which became known as “McCloy’s Folly.”  One of his greatest difficulties was getting the plans approved by Roosevelt, who fancied himself an amateur architect.  He finally resorted to extortion.  The President had gotten himself in a bind involving an old Harvard classmate, Putzi Hanfstaengl, a German refugee who had returned to his native country and acted for a while as a court jester for Hitler.  Thinking he could pump useful information out of Hanfstaengl, Roosevelt had hims ent to the U. S. from England, where he was being held prisoner.  Hansfstaengl, however, turned out to be a fool, and Roosevelt wanted to get rid of him.  McCloy told a White House staffer he would find a safe sinecure for Hansfstaengl at an army base in Texas if FDR would approve the Pentagon blueprints.  It worked.  At a Cabinet meeting the following week, Roosevelt turned to McCloy and growled, “You blackmailer!”

This raises more questions than it answers and sent me to Putzi’s wikipedia page.

Hanfstaengl was so fascinated by Hitler that he soon became one of his most intimate followers, although he did not formally join the Nazi Party until 1931. “What Hitler was able to do to a crowd in 2½ hours will never be repeated in 10,000 years,” Hanfstaengl said. “Because of his miraculous throat construction, he was able to create a rhapsody of hysteria. In time, he became the living unknown soldier of Germany.”

Throat construction.  You can also read there the somewhat confusing story of a “prank” played on Hansfstaengl that led him to think he was about to get killed.

In 1944, Hanfstaengl was handed back to the British, who repatriated him to Germany at the end of the war. William Shirer, a CBS journalist who resided in Nazi Germany until 1940 and was in frequent contact with Hanfstaengl, described him as an “eccentric, gangling man, whose sardonic wit somewhat compensated for his shallow mind.”

Looks like a charmer.

In 1974, Hanfstaengl attended his 65th Harvard Reunion, where he regaled theHarvard University Band about the authors of various Harvard fight songs. His relationship to Hitler went unmentioned.

Anyway, this is a bit of a bummer post so here is a photo of sunny Florida:


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