The Young Hitler I Knew: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Childhood Friend.
The subtitle of this edition and its cover photo of a decidedly pre-pubescent Adolf Hitler are deceptive. Yes, adolescence is the final phase of childhood, but it’s also the first phase of adulthood, and that is the period during which the author made his acquaintance with Hitler, not during Hitler’s childhood.
There are more detailed conversations than is plausible for anyone’s memory to accurately quote verbatim, but the situations the author describes do illustrate an aberrant psychological state that apparently persisted from Hitler’s youth. This insight refutes the popular belief that the First World War and its aftermath are what made Hitler into what he became.
Introductory front matter explains who the author was and puts his experiences into context. The last chapter is autobiographical for the author, and ties up the narrative with an anecdote about a meeting with Hitler during the Second World War. The few glossy pages of illustrations go beyond the baby picture that’s usually seen. The book possesses a brief index.
Taken with a grain of salt, this book can add to an overall understanding of the period leading up to the First World War, and it can help with fictional characterizations by novelists.