Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler’s Sexuality

Nearly 60 years after his death, Adolf Hitler continues to hold a perverse fascination for the public, with more than 125,000 books about his deeds and dementia, and numerous films and TV shows seeking to uncover the hidden motives that may have fueled his madness. But could the Nazi dictator – who was responsible for one of the worst campaigns of anti-gay persecution in history — have concealed one explosive secret? Could Adolf Hitler have been homosexual?

From the filmmaking team of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, THE HIDDEN FUHRER: DEBATING THE ENIGMA OF HITLER’S SEXUALITY uses recently discovered archival documents, rare footage and photos, and interviews with authors and experts to examine the revelations about Hitler that were made in the best-selling book “The Hidden Hitler,” by German historian Lothar Machtan. When Adolf Hitler’s dream of a thousand-year empire crumbled nearly 60 years ago, many of the Fuhrer’s secrets – especially those predating his rise to power in the 1930s appeared to die with him. According to Machtan, Hitler particularly wanted to bury suspicions that he was a longtime homosexual. When Machtan’s book was published in 2001 it created an explosion of controversy, from mainstream scholars who saw no “smoking gun” pointing to Hitler’s homosexuality, to gay advocates concerned that people would somehow link Hitler’s murderous legacy to his homosexuality.

Machtan spent five years uncovering extensive evidence to support his theory that Hitler and many of his closest friends and generals were gay. He also notes that some of Hitler’s most infamous crimes may have been desperate attempts to cover up his youthful sexual explorations and shield himself from blackmailers. Among those crimes were the liquidation of Ernst Rohm’s Storm Troopers in 1934 (Rohm was openly homosexual), the destruction of Magnus Hirschfeld’s fledgling gay-rights movement in Germany, and the roundup and murder of thousands of German gays in concentration camps. Machtan’s conclusions aren’t universally embraced. Particularly harsh are gay critics, who fear Machtan’s thesis could be misused to imply that the roots of evil in the century’s greatest villain grew from his homosexuality.

Among those who debate Machtan’s assertions in the film are Michael Bronski, author of “The Pleasure Principle”; Laurence Mass, author of “Confessions of a Jewish Wagnerite”; Frederic Spotts, author of “Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics”; Geoffrey Giles, author of “Students and National Socialism in Germany”; and Michaelangelo Signorile, author of “Queer in America.” Also interviewed are Paul von Grozsheim, a gay Holocaust survivor; Rocas Meich, a former member of Hitler’s SS; and Rudiger Lautman, a sociology professor and Machtan’s colleague at Bremen University.

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s other CINEMAX Reel Life credits include THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, 101 RENT BOYS, and PARTY MONSTER as well as the HBO documentary MONICA IN BLACK AND WHITE.

THE HIDDEN FUHRER: DEBATING THE ENIGMA OF HITLER’S SEXUALITY is directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato; produced by Gabriel Rotello. For CINEMAX Reel Life: supervising producer, John Hoffman; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.