Hanfstaengl composed both Brownshirt and Hitler Youth marches patterned after his Harvard football songs

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2024

In his recent Revisionist History podcast on Hitler’s Olympics, Malcolm Gladwell focuses on American journalist Dorothy Thompson, but he also mentions an unusual character nicknamed Putzi:

Hanfstaengl, nicknamed “Putzi”, was born in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, the son of a German art publisher, Edgar Hanfstaengl, and an American mother. He spent most of his early years in Germany and later moved to the United States. His mother was Katharine Wilhelmina Heine, daughter of Wilhelm Heine, a cousin of American Civil War Union Army general John Sedgwick. His godfather was Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.


He attended Harvard College and became acquainted with Walter Lippmann and John Reed. A gifted pianist, he composed several songs for Harvard’s football team. He graduated in 1909.

He moved to New York City, where he took over the management of the American branch of his father’s business, the Franz Hanfstaengl Fine Arts Publishing House. Many mornings he would practice on the piano at the Harvard Club of New York City, where he became acquainted with both Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt. Among his circle of acquaintances were the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, author Djuna Barnes, to whom he was engaged, and actor Charlie Chaplin.

At the outbreak of World War I, he asked the German military attaché in New York City, Franz von Papen, to smuggle him back to Germany. Slightly baffled by the proposal, the attaché refused, and Hanfstaengl remained in the U.S. during the war. After 1917, the American branch of the family business was confiscated as enemy property.


A fellow member of the Harvard’s Hasty Pudding club who worked at the U.S. Embassy asked Hanfstaengl to assist a military attaché sent to observe the political scene in Munich. Just before returning to Berlin, the attaché, Captain Truman Smith, suggested that Hanfstaengl go to a Nazi rally as a favor and report his impressions of Hitler. Hanfstaengl was so fascinated by Hitler that he soon became one of his most intimate followers, although he did not formally join the Nazi Party until 1931. “What Hitler was able to do to a crowd in 2½ hours will never be repeated in 10,000 years,” Hanfstaengl said. “Because of his miraculous throat construction, he was able to create a rhapsody of hysteria. In time, he became the living unknown soldier of Germany.”

Hanfstaengl introduced himself to Hitler after the speech and began a close friendship and political association that would last through the 1920s and early 1930s. After participating in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hanfstaengl briefly fled to Austria, while the injured Hitler sought refuge in Hanfstaengl’s home in Uffing, outside of Munich.


Hanfstaengl composed both Brownshirt and Hitler Youth marches patterned after his Harvard football songs and, he later claimed, devised the chant “Sieg Heil”.


  1. Jim says:

    Most people don’t understand the significance of the fact that Hitler & Co. essentially ripped off elite White Anglo-Saxon Protestant New England’s prevailing shtick and rebranded it with German colors. I didn’t know about this specific case, but it’s hardly surprising. They stole the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance salute from American (not yet U.S.) public schools; they stole their economic theory from Henry George et al.; they stole their eugenics theory from Lothrop Stoddard et al. (Lothrop Stoddard, a then-well-reputed Boston Brahmin and Harvard man, indirectly originated the now-infamous term Untermensch with his 1922 book, The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man.)

    It follows that The Jews’ March 24, 1933 declaration of war against Germany (not since retracted) was and is implicitly against their domestic competitors in the struggle for supremacy.


  2. Jim says:

    My sheer rhetorical dominance astonishes even myself.


    Truly am I beyond good and evil.

  3. Lu An Li says:

    And the United Farm Workers stole the German eagle and colors almost intact from the Nazi.

Leave a Reply