If there was going to be an Internet scandal this week about the deformed genitals of a racist, megalomaniac politician, of course it was going to be about . . . Hitler?
Um . . . okay, maybe not the name we were expecting. But sure, let’s go with it.
Here’s what we know: Last year, historians Jonathan Mayo and Emma Craigie published a book called Hitler’s Last Day: Minute by Minute. Among other topics, the book contained this shocking paragraph:
“Hitler himself is believed to have had two forms of genital abnormality: an undescended testicle and a rare condition called penile hypospadias in which the urethra opens on the under side of the penis.”
It’s a salacious historical fun fact, until you start asking questions like, “According to who?” But the Internet moves fast, and it doesn’t have time for things like “fact-checking” and “Maybe we Google it first.”
Based on not all that much, the online headlines jumped to weird conclusions like “Hitler had a micropenis” and “Historians: Hitler’s Manhood Was Small, Deformed.”
And the puns—oh, sweet Moses, the delicious puns—they rolled out like bombs during wartime. “Adolf Littler!” one source giggled. “Hitler’s Penis Gets The Short End Of History!” another guffawed.
Hilarious, sure. But the problem is, there’s not much evidence (i.e. no evidence) to support any of it.
In fact, one of the “historians” behind this revelation is also a novelist, and her last book is called Chocolate Cake with Hitler. So, maybe we don’t get too excited about Hitler’s mangled penis just yet.
Let’s start with Hitler’s balls. (There’s a sentence we never thought we’d be writing.) Or rather, his supposed missing ball.
“That rumor has been around for awhile,” says Dr. Arthur Lurigio, Ph.D., a Professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago. “It dates back to World War II.”
For as long as toothbrush mustaches have been ruined for the rest of us, there’ve been stories about Hitler’s absentee testicle, and not a lot of documentation to back it up.
Eduard Bloch, Hitler’s childhood doctor, once declared that the Führer’s sack was “completely normal.” But the Soviets, who claimed to have done an autopsy on Hitler’s remains after the fall of Berlin, insisted that his left testicle was MIA.
But that was (kinda) contradicted by Dr, Josef Steiner Brin, the prison medical officer who examined Hitler in 1923 after a failed coup, and found that the future despot had “right-sided cryptorchidism,” which means the ball on his right side was hiding inside his body like a nervous hamster.
Except we don’t know if that’s what he really said, because those prison records were lost, until they turned up at an auction in 2010, where they were quickly confiscated by the Bavarian government, except maybe German historian Peter Fleischmann had a peek at them, or at least that’s what he claimed this past December, but really we just have to take his word on that because nobody’s seen the actual documents.
Long story short, nobody knows jack crickity crack about Hitler’s balls.
While allegations of Hitler’s hypospadias are a little more recent, they’re just as unsubstantiated. And considerably more misunderstood.
For one thing, Hypospadia is hardly “rare,” says Brian Steixner, M.D., Director of the Institute of Men’s Health at Jersey Urology Group in Atlantic City.
“It occurs in about one percent of male births,” he says. “That means one in a hundred guys is going to have this issue.”
What’s more, hypospadias is not the same thing as a micropenis, nor does one thing cause another.
Hypospadias, says Steixner, describes a condition in which “The hole at the tip of the penis, which is the meatus, is in a non-anatomically correct position. Basically, the hole at the tip of the penis is in the wrong spot.”
There are mild cases, in which the hole “is a centimeter or two away from where it should be,” Steixner says. And then there are more severe forms of hypospadias, in which a guy might be pissing out of his scrotum.
“If you were ten feet away from the penis of somebody with a hypospadias and it was non-erect, you could not tell the difference,” Steixner says.
“But if you were to get close up to Hitler’s penis, and you were to look on the underside of it, it would be very clear to you that the hole that he urinates and ejaculates out of is not in the right spot.”
And that, in a nutshell, is why the Internet is full of Hitler penis stories in 2016. Nobody in Nazi Germany bothered to get a good sightline of the Führer’s schlong.
Steixner adds, “The interesting thing would be to know if anybody ever saw Hitler pee.”
We wholeheartedly agree. Forget these “Hitler had a micropenis” urban legends. Find a 90-plus year old German who can tell us whether Hitler peed with the accuracy of a lawn sprinkler. There’s something worthy of a viral news story.
Another thing stuck out for us during this week of “let’s talk about Hitler’s junk.”
The Telegraph article from this past Monday, the one that launched the avalanche of speculation and misunderstood science, opened with this curious line: “It has long been suspected that Hitler’s conquest of Europe was an attempt to compensate for a lack of potency elsewhere.”
It that so? It’s been “long suspected” that Hitler was a dick because he didn’t have much of a dick? By who, exactly? And why are we just hearing about this now?
It’s a question that most serious historians won’t touch. (We know, we asked them.) But some psychologists, and at least one urologist, were willing to ponder whether messed-up genitals could mess up a future dictator’s head.
“If a man’s penis is deformed, that would absolutely have a negative psychological effect on him,” says Lurigio.
“When you’re growing up, the penis takes center stage,” he continues. “It’s a huge part of your sense of self. If your penis looks different from the other guys in the locker room, that could feasibly do a lot of damage to your self esteem.”
Enough that he might orchestrate one of the worst genocides in human history?
“There is a confidence that comes with having a normal-looking penis,” says Steixner. “Would that confidence stop a person from murdering a large population of the world and becoming one of the most ruthless psychopaths in history? I hope not. It’s just a penis. But I don’t know. Guys get really worked up about their penises.”
Hitler isn’t alone. There’s been recent speculation—as of 2009—that Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco only had one testicle. And Napoleon’s reportedly miniscule penis has been on a global tour since the French emperor’s autopsy in 1821. It currently resides with a New Jersey urologist—he paid $3,000 for it—who says the penis is “Very small, but it’s famous for being small.” (Nobody has ever photographed it, so we have to take him on his word.)
Is it possible that the less-than-perfect penises of history’s biggest pricks are what made these men such cold-blooded monsters? Probably not, says Lurigio.
The abnormal brain of a Hitler or a Napoleon “is caused by an imbalance in neurochemicals, or an aberration in the transportation of chemicals from one nerve cell to another,” he says. “Psychosis is a brain disease. It can’t be caused by a person’s feelings about their small or damaged dick.”
Okay, so having an aesthetically unpleasing penis won’t drive you to exterminate six million Jews. But could it give you some Hitler-esque qualities? Like being such a megalomaniacal asshole that nobody wants to be around you?
“Oh yeah, I’ve definitely seen that,” says Dr. Stanley Siegel, LCSW, a psychotherapist and author of Your Brain on Sex: How Smarter Sex Can Change Your Life.
“I’ve had several patients with micropenises and abnormal penises, and they definitely compensate for it in aggressive and competitive ways. In fact, any time I see somebody being combative for no reason, I assume they’re compensating for the size of their penis.”
And that may be the ultimate lesson of the latest Hitler penis news cycle.
Did Hitler have a micropenis or an undescended testicle or a pee-hole in a really weird or inconvenient spot? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll likely never know. Doesn’t matter, really.
But we do know this: Guys who are insecure about their genitals act like dickheads. Even if that’s not true, thanks to Hitler, that’s what everyone thinks now.
So don’t act like a jerk. It’s not worth it.
If you’re an unapologetic douchebag to anybody—seriously, anybody—just know that the rest of us think you probably have a penis like Hitler.
It’s your choice, Führer dick.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in Men’s Health.)