Les Lancaster – Young Hitler:

»There can be few mysteries that equate, so far as their consequences are concerned, with that surrounding Hitler’s exposure to mustard gas at Ypres during WW1 and his subsequent treatment at Pasewalk. In Hant’s convincing retelling of the young Hitler’s life, these events give birth to the Hitler who was possessed of his own destiny, the Messiah figure who could mesmerise those around him, and galvanise them into such potent action. Without these events, Hant implies, Hitler would have remained simply a small man with delusions of grandeur.

With all records having been meticulously destroyed by the Nazis, it is left to our imaginations to decipher the crucial trigger in bringing about this world-changing conversion. In psychological terms, the potential for near death experiences to bring about seismic changes in individuals is well documented. This may have combined with the (misguided?) psychiatric intervention at Pasewalk to create the possessed Hitler. Perhaps the use of hypnosis or electric shock treatment shifted a fragile personality sufficiently to produce the stuff of which unflinching leadership is made. Maybe these interventions catalysed Hitler’s own abilities to instil his will in others. The real story may never be known, but it must be the greatest irony in history that British gas mixed with the gross misunderstanding of the mind that seems to have characterised early psychiatry resulted in probably the greatest suffering our planet has known.«

Les Lancaster, PhD, is Chair of the British Psychological Society's Transpersonal Psychology Section, and Co-Director of the Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology Research Unit at Liverpool John Moores University. He is the UK’s first Professor of Transpersonal Psychology. An Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, Dr. Lancaster has been active in the area of inter-faith dialogue over many years, and frequently appears on BBC radio programs in the area of psychology and religion.