Black propaganda or fake news. It’s all the same.

Pauline Kohler

New interest in Pauline Kohler awakes

Since Donald Trump entered his Presidency and twittered about ‘fake news’ at the end of 2016, the catchword has become rampant across the internet.

In the past ‘fake news’ was known as black propaganda. According to Wikipedia, black propaganda is “false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass, or misrepresent the enemy”.

Donald Trump has used the word Nazi in a lot of his Tweets. Therefore, it is not surprising that, sooner or later, a link was made to Pauline Kohler, the author of the supposed autobiography “I was Hitler’s Maid” published in 1940.

In April this year the Danish journalist, Hans Hertel, wrote a long article in the online magazine Politiken about the book which he found in a second-hand book shop. He is surprised to see the Danish version called “Jeg var Hitlers kammerjomfru” was published in 1945 in an edition which had 30,000 copies. He asks why so many copies so late in the war against Nazism?

In many accounts this book is taken as truth, not propaganda. This is clear to see from the descriptions used for the book by booksellers online. A new English version was republished in 1993 with the original image of the alleged Pauline Kohler on the cover, an idealised photograph of a ‘typical’ German woman of the time. Comments related to the book in online forums and book reviews regularly express feelings of disgust at the way women in the book are treated, showing that the book is taken very seriously, and as truth.

Hertel is right to question the endurance of ‘fake news’.


Birdcages, flowers and music in the Berghof

Franklin Schneider wrote an article called “Hitler’s Hideaway: the Worst Real Estate Ever” in 2015 about an article which was written by Ignatius Phayre for “House and Garden” in 1938 and recently republished on holocaust denier David Irving’s website.

I agree it is true that Hitler’s taste is a bit questionable. But Scheider’s article makes me wonder more about Ignatius Phayre and his fascination with the  Berghof. Was he informed by the same people who helped Pauline Kohler with all the lively details she described about life in the Berghof in her so-called autobiography “I was Hitler’s Maid” which was published by John Long, London in 1939.

She also talks about the bird cages, the flowers and the music. She mentions his meatless diet, his passion for Alsatian dogs and his library.

One point that Schneider doesn’t get right in his article is the his comment that “the notorious suicide bunker where Hitler took poison was under the villa”. Hitler actually died in Berlin.