Hitler's Piano Player
Pub date 1st August 2004
Publisher (UK) Duckworth
Publisher (US) Carrol & Graf
International publishers Jose Olympio (Brazil), Dita (Czech Republic), Eesti Paevalehe (Estonia), Minerva Kustannus (Finland), Scherz (Germany), Meulenhoff (The Netherlands), Materia Prima (Portugal)
The incredible story of Ernst Hanfstaengl, the only person to have worked directly for both Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt, who funded Mein Kampf and helped create the monster of Nazism before later working to destroy it. Ernst Hanfstaengl was court jester, pianist, and foreign press chief for Hitler during his political climb. He later played a lead role in Roosevelt's top-secret project to use disinformation and black propaganda against the Nazis. Filled with revelations about Hitler's personal and political life and descriptions of American psychological warfare, Hitler's Piano Player is a shocking story of a man torn apart by opposing loyalties.
A Harvard-educated German, Hanfstaengl was living in Germany in 1922 when he first heard Adolf Hitler speak in a Munich beer hall. Introducing himself after the speech, Hanfstaengl began one of the strangest relationships in 20th century politics. As he tried to introduce Hitler to Munich high-society and polish his image in the eyes of the world, Hanfstaengl also helped finance Mein Kampf, claimed to have devised the chant of Sieg Heil, and attempted to set Hitler up with the American ambassador's beautiful young daughter. But he fell out of the future Fuehrer's graces and fled to Britain, where he was interned, and then transferred to America. There, he worked for his old friend from the Harvard Club in New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The star of Roosevelt's 'S-Project,' Hanfstaengl provided the White House with biographical information on four hundred leading Nazis, analyses of Hitler's speeches, and a detailed psychological portrait of Hitler, describing his education, diet, and even his sex life. Through newly declassified documents, interviews with surviving members of Hanfstaengl's family, and original writing by Hanfstaengl himself, Peter Conradi recounts the remarkable life of history's personal link between Hitler and FDR.