Did Adolf Hitler smoke tobacco

The hour of the zealot

Finally make everything smoke-free! But it's not just about smoking. It's about the desire to prohibit. About the most radical sect of the health religion: the anti-smoking activists.

What would the world have been spared if Adolf Hitler had not given up smoking! In his youth he smoked 40 cigarettes a day, but then, in 1919, he threw his last pack of Tschick into the Danube. This was the only way, he later raved in one of his “table talks”, that he was able to rise to the position of Chancellor. In smoking he now saw a vice of the "lesser races". The body of the individual national comrade is "contaminated" by tobacco - like the "national body" by Jews and Gypsies. He would have loved to forbid everyone to smoke, including the German soldiers. But he wanted to keep them happy, if they should keep smoking until the "final victory", but after that it had to be over. He later realized that this indulgence had been a big mistake. Studies have shown how much tobacco weakened the fighting strength of the German soldiers, their stamina when marching and even their ability to shoot straight ahead.

The fact that Hitler stopped smoking was really bad for the world, but that he did not fight the smokers consistently enough, that was good for the world, because otherwise the German soldiers would have marched even more persistently and would still have More accurately shot and so presumably conquered the world domination for the Fiihrer. - A stupid argument?

No more stupid than so much in the current discussion about smoking bans. Some operate with the terrible numbers of those who died prematurely through tobacco smoke, others reply by pointing out that the consumption of fat stilts must also be prohibited for such health reasons, to which some, the tobacco-haters, counter that the eaters only harm themselves. Everyone should damage himself as much as he likes, but no one else should be harmed. This is how smoking bans are generally justified in publicly accessible areas. - This could of course also justify a ban on driving. And first the alcohol! Every evening drunken Lackeln come home from the inns and beat women and children. So why not also call for the fight against alcohol and drinkers? The answer is simple: Because it has been tried before - with fatal results. From 1920 onwards, the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating beverages were banned in the United States for 13 years. That made the mafia in America what it was for decades.

The war against smokers began in America, and that is where all sorts of delusional ideas are at home: that you can buy a house without a dollar of your own money; that carrying firearms is what makes the right man; that even in the 21st century law and order cannot be enforced without the death penalty. Hardly any European politician wants to embrace such thoughts, but almost everyone lets themselves be involved in the fight against smokers.

When several decades ago some puritan virtues in America declared the holy war against smokers, they first had to play off smokers and non-smokers, who until then lived peacefully with one another, against each other. The smokers had to be portrayed as anti-social and irresponsible. The non-smokers - until then unknown - had to be afraid of the smokers. Strategy papers suggesting this tactic are known.

In the search for a frightening catchphrase, a word invented during the Nazi era was found: "Passive smoking". Hitler himself promoted "research into tobacco dangers" with funds from his Reich Chancellery, and his scientists were actually able to prove a connection between smoking and lung cancer. A certain Fritz Lickint wanted to go further and prove that tobacco smoke was also dangerous for non-smokers. He did not succeed in doing so, but American anti-tobacco activists took up the term "passive smoking" he had coined decades later: "passive smoking".

Initially, it was sufficient to say that this was hazardous to health. Then should-
te - what Lickint had not achieved in Nazi Germany - this can also be scientifically proven. Scientific studies are now abundant, but we know that they usually “prove” what the financiers want to prove. (There are also peculiarities in "studies" in the medical field with much less controversial topics: After it was considered certain for decades that high salt consumption was harmful to health, a completely new study "proves" that a low-salt diet is unhealthy.)

There is actually evidence that more smokers than non-smokers die of lung cancer or cardiovascular disease. In the case of formerly heavy smokers, one can say - based on statistics - that they have died with a high degree of probability as a result of tobacco consumption. This is not so easy with deceased “passive smokers”. There are too many different factors that lead to the development of lung cancer or cardiovascular disease. And the numerical material that emerges from medical studies must be interpreted in any case, and everyone interprets them according to their ready-made beliefs. But the virtuoso tell us it is - over, that's it! - proved that so and so many people die every year as a result of "passive smoking". (Other virtues in the 19th century saw it as proven that masturbation led to the shrinking of the spinal cord and blindness.)

No misunderstanding: I consider smoking to be harmful and I assume that it is not healthy to inhale other people's tobacco smoke. Just as I don't really think it's healthy to live on a busy street or work as a farmer in the cowshed. (Is there actually a study on the health hazards of stable work? Cattle produce enormous amounts of methane, around 235 liters per cattle per day. The climate-damaging effect of this gas is 20 times as strong as that of carbon dioxide. In higher concentrations, methane has an anesthetic effect suffocating.)

Regardless of what the danger to life from "passive smoking" is, the argument - because it is frightening - pulls. But this does not mean that the war against smokers is won. They had been branded as an irresponsible rabble who harmed the health of others, but the defamation had to be carried on. And so the smokers are now portrayed as addicts in need of treatment - and thus more or less on a par with heroin addicts and other “poisoners”.

Tobacco (like coffee, tea or chocolate) has long been considered a luxury item. Once used to it, it is not easy to get away from it. The "Surgeon General", the highest official in the US health service, wrote in 1964 that in connection with tobacco one should speak of habit formation, "to be clearly distinguished from addiction, since the biological effects of tobacco, as well as of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, are not comparable to those of morphine, alcohol, barbiturates and other powerful addictive drugs ”. In 1988, a new surgeon general speaks of tobacco addiction. Has science now gained new knowledge that justifies this? No, not that, the terms addiction and addiction have simply been redefined. So it was officially from now on: Smoking is addicting.

Those who take terms too broadly tend to obscure relationships instead of illuminating them. If, as is now happening, the word addiction denotes the dependence on certain stimulants as well as the dependence on heavy, personality-deforming and even destructive drugs, what is the point?

It brings a lot to the virtuosos: They can now portray smokers as sick people who are helplessly exposed to their addiction, who - if necessary against their nicotine-fogged will - have to be helped, who have to be forced - if necessary with force - to their health happiness. Like so much in this war against smokers, this has religious dimensions. The human sin - say the Christian churches - cannot be saved on its own. He needs to be helped.

Nicotine is now - even this tendentious - referred to as a "severe neurotoxin". For many, it has long been a highly stimulating stimulant that stimulates the mind and the imagination. In a letter to Arnold Zweig, Sigmund Freud wrote when he was banned from smoking due to illness: “Since I can no longer smoke freely, I don't want to write any more.” Tobacco haters might wish that Freud had been banned from smoking earlier and thus spoil the desire to write, then psychoanalysis, which has a lot to say about smoking and especially about the neurotic aspects of the fight against smokers, might not have been developed at all. Countless writers have thought about tobacco in the same way as Freud did. Friedrich Torberg described cigarettes and black coffee as absolutely indispensable for his literary production. Jean-Paul Sartre even philosophized about the epistemological aspects of smoking. Incidentally, there is apparently no usable photo of him without a cigarette or a pipe. And so far we have come: When a large exhibition was held in the Paris National Library for his 100th birthday, people - political correctness and forgery - simply retouched the cigarette from a famous Sartre photo by Boris Lipnitzki.

We owe - at least indirectly - a not so small part of our culture to smoking and smokers (which of course will not impress the virtuosos). The anti-smoking activists have managed to turn non-smokers and smokers against each other and to scare many non-smokers into fear of "passive smoking". The smokers were defamed as insane addicts who actually cannot represent their own interests at all. The virtues have achieved a lot, but not everything. In Austria, for example, an absolute smoking ban has not yet been issued in the catering sector. That doesn’t let the virtuosos rest or rest. And so some go through the Viennese restaurants day after day, hour after hour, reporting any innkeeper who, in their opinion, violates the laws for the protection of non-smokers. Insidious hosts, say these informer souls, will also be reported five times a week. Are these the people you used to be wary of when you heard “enemy broadcasts”? Virtue terrorists become virtue terrorists. (Robespierre said: "Without virtue, terror is fatal; without terror, virtue is powerless.") - But across the country you can see: Non-smokers and smokers are still sitting peacefully next to each other. And if you don't want to “passively smoke” at all, you should go to a place where smoking is prohibited. (The argument that everyone should be able to visit every pub without being bothered by smoke is nonsensical. There are places whose essence is that very loud music is played there. I cannot ask that it be played quieter, only because I am sensitive to noise, but want to make use of my democratic right to go to this very place.)

The virtuoso cannot accept the not so unreasonable Austrian compromise because they are working towards the final victory. They now claim that they absolutely have to protect those who cannot avoid "passive smoking". An EU commissioner recently announced that if countries like Austria continue to prove to be unreasonable and insubordinate, the fight will be "played on the level of employee protection". So: The EU Commission has recently been very positive about nuclear power plants again, negating all the known dangers associated with them, but believes that waitresses and waiters must be protected from the dangers of "passive smoking" through absolute smoking bans.

Why is it not forbidden to keep cattle in stalls? In the stable, the farmer (not a worker, I know, but a worker) often works in a stooped position, his nose at the height of a cow's ass. In contrast, the waiters are even in very smoky bars - pardon! - a lercherlschas.

Why is the EU Commission ignoring the fact that waiters don't even have to be in smoky bars? You can install ventilation systems. I am very much in favor of making this mandatory. (Incidentally, in the stables too.) There are ventilation and air purification systems that work extremely efficiently and are almost noiseless. Tests have shown that the air in smoking areas in which such a system works is much better than in normal non-smoking areas and also much better than in the pub garden in front of the restaurant. The solution to the problem of “smoking in the catering trade” would be very simple: Leave it to the landlords to decide whether and where you are allowed to smoke. However, where people smoke, the installation of an effective ventilation system is required - to protect employees and also for the benefit of the smokers themselves. Nothing more is needed.

Many innkeepers would already be willing to install such systems, but this is torpedoed by the reference that Brussels will soon be issuing a total smoking ban anyway. So there is no evidence that there is a reasonable and workable solution. And that is what counts for anti-smoking activists. They don't want a compromise, however useful it might be.

Whatever these virtuosos may claim, they are not primarily concerned with the protection of non-smokers, they are concerned with banning. And that's easy to prove. There is no reason, which can be derived from the protection of non-smokers, to ban smoking at airports, train stations or in underground stations. All these buildings are usually very high and drafty, which is why the smoke clears and evaporates so quickly that nobody is really bothered. There is also no reason that can be derived from the protection of non-smokers to ban smoking on the railways, at least not in long-distance traffic. You agree: The last two cars of the large passenger trains are smoking cars. No non-smoker would get on there, no one would have to cross it. So no problem far and wide. - Do you still need proof that the desire to prohibit is in the foreground? Here you go: In some parts of the United States, death row inmates are also banned from smoking, not even allowed one last cigarette immediately before the execution. The fanatical fight against smoking has unmistakably religious traits. It is led by fundamentalist followers of the health religion. The studied theologian and practicing psychiatrist Manfred Lütz described the appearance of this new religion as follows: "All the rites of the old religions have meanwhile passed into the health care system: demigods in white, pilgrimages to the ultimate expert, hospitals as the new cathedrals, which create a 'feeling of absolute dependence' which, according to Friedrich Schleiermacher, characterizes religion. The seamless transition from the Catholic procession tradition to the chief doctor's visit takes place. Diet movements go like wave-like mass movements across the country, in their severity surpassing the penitential and flagellant movements of the Middle Ages. "

Excessive exercise also has a lot in common with old penance exercises. When jogging, I hear, after tormenting yourself, there are almost infinite feelings of happiness. This is exactly how the flagellants, who scourged themselves for religious reasons, were rewarded. (Incidentally, there are no statistics on how many joggers die each year in their running shoes, but, as doctors tell me, their number is considerable.)

“Our ancestors saved their souls, we saved our characters,” writes Manfred Lütz, who incidentally is the chief physician of a clinic in Cologne. He considers the religion of health to be "a major attack on the lust for life".

This is what characterizes the most radical sect of this religion, the anti-smoking activists: hostility towards pleasure. Calvin, the reformer who almost 500 years ago wanted to help virtue (or what he thought it was) to break through with a regime of terror in Geneva, is one of the great apologists for the hostility to pleasure. With the English Puritans, Calvinist ideas came to America and were fruitful in many ways. Also in the campaigns and crusades against smoking and smokers.

The health craze of our time has never occurred in history. Living healthy has always been a goal, but to subordinate everything to that would have seemed absurd or even sinister to many at many times. Health is not a value in itself.

The anti-smoking sect shows (like radical sects so often) strong Manichean traits: the strict either-or is preached.The "children of light" fight against the "children of darkness". The dispute as to whether and how smoking is allowed in restaurants can be easily settled, for example, as shown. There are sensible alternatives to a total smoking ban. But it is precisely a characteristic of the Manicheans that alternatives are strictly denied.

Are we just helplessly exposed to such thinking? Unfortunately, yes, because of the cowardice in principle of the vast majority of politicians. If you persuade them that the trend is clearly going in a certain direction and that it cannot be stopped, no one dares to contradict. A few years ago I met an Austrian minister in a larger company - and she smoked. (No, you guessed it wrong, it wasn't Ms. Kdolsky.) I asked her to work in the government to ensure that non-smoker protection does not become a pretext for persecuting smokers in our country too. Then she looked at me for a long time and then just said: "I don't dare." ■

("Die Presse", print edition, May 2nd, 2009)