London: Adolf Hitler’s temporary loss of sight was actually caused by a mental disorder known as ‘hysterical blindness’, and not by a British mustard gas attack as a heroic First World War soldier as he had claimed, a new research has revealed.
The Nazi leader described in his book Mein Kampf how the British had attacked in October 1918 south of Ypres using a “yellow gas unknown to us”.
By morning, his eyes “were like glowing coals, and all was darkness around me,” he wrote in the book.
But now historian Dr Thomas Weber, of the University of Aberdeen, has uncovered a series of unpublished letters between two American neurologists from 1943, which debunk Hitler’s claim.
The letters revealed that Otfried Foerster, a renowned German neurosurgeon, had inspected Hitler’s medical file.
He found that Hitler had been treated for hysterical amblyopia, a psychiatric disorder that can make sufferers lose their sight.
“There were rumours suggesting that his war blindness may have been psychosomatic, but this is the first time we have had any firm evidence,” the Daily Mail quoted the Dr Weber as saying.
He said discovering the letters was ‘crucial’ because Hitler’s medical file, at the Pasewalk military hospital in Germany, was destroyed.
“Hitler went to extreme lengths to cover up his First World War medical history,” Dr Weber said.
“The two people who had access to his medical files were liquidated as soon as he took power and the other people who knew of it committed suicide in strange circumstances,” he claimed.
The letters could help to explain Hitler’s radical personality change after the war, Dr Weber said.
He said the evidence also gave a crucial insight into Hitler’s mental state during his leadership.
The historian’s described details of Hitler’s blindness in a new edition of his book Hitler’s First War.