Why Did Hitler Wear that Strange Mustache?

atkins bookshelf triviaNo mustache style is so recognizable and a symbol of evil than the Hitler mustache. The Hitler mustache is a variation of the toothbrush mustache that became popular in America in the early 1900s. You read that correctly — that strange toothbrush mustache was an American invention. During the early part of the century, in the era of silent movies, Charlie Chaplin popularized the style since he wore one in many of his acclaimed comedies. Almost a decade later, the mustache style jumped the Atlantic, and became the fashion in some European countries — much to the chagrin of women. In an article entitled “Toothbrush Mustache: German Women Resent its Usurpation of the Kaiserbart,” published in the New York Times in 1907, a journalist wrote that the toothbrush mustache was “an American importation” in Germany that had “been met with widespread resentment on the part of the fair sex.” Clearly, woman, unlike men who are blind to fashion, were quick to point out a butt-ugly mustache style when they saw one.

Interestingly, prior to 1915, you wouldn’t recognize Adolf Hitler. Unlike the iconic portrait that is emblazoned on our collective consciousness with his distinctive sinister Hitler mustache and harsh undercut-styled hair, the young, pre-Nazi-crazed Hitler wore a traditional Kaiser mustache (also known as kaiserbart, named after Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German emperor). His signature style toothbrush mustache (referred to by the Bavarians as a Rotzbremse, German for “snot brake”) was not a fashion statement or an attempt to emulate Charlie Chaplin, but rather a direct result of Great Britain’s use of mustard gas during World War I.

Thanks to an essay written in 1915 by writer Alexander Moritz Frey, who was a private alongside Hitler in the Bavarian infantry division, we learn that the future Fuhrer was ordered to dramatically trim his kaiserbart mustache so that he could wear the newly introduced German army gas mask properly, requiring a tight seal around a soldier’s nose and mouth. Frey first met Hitler in 1915; in the essay titled “The Unknown Private: Personal Memories of Hitler,” he wrote: “A pale, tall man tumbled down into the cellar after the first shells of the daily evening attacks had begun to fall, fear and rage glowing in his eyes. At that time he looked tall because he was so thin. A full moustache, which had to be trimmed later because of the new gas masks, covered the ugly slit of his mouth.”

Determined to be truly unique, Hitler did not wear the toothbrush mustache like any other German. He made it distinctive, and in the process it, defined what we now call a “Hitler mustache.” Although the typical toothbrush mustache extends just beyond the bridge of the nose, Hitler trimmed his mustache even narrower. Furthermore, he grew the mustache bushier. To be sure, Hitler’s mustache was just as ugly as the maniacal dictator. Hitler’s intimate friend, Ernst Hanfstaengl, once dared to ask him why he wore such an ugly mustache. Hitler, ever the narcissist, replied: “If it is not the fashion now, it will be later because I wear it.” Sure, Adolf.

History, of course, showed that the popularity of the toothbrush mustache took a different course. The toothbrush mustache became extremely unpopular due to its association with one of the most evil tyrants in history. A century later, the Hitler mustache continues to evoke the ugliness, hatred, and evil that festered inside Adolf Hitler.

Read related posts: Who is the Biggest Mass Murderer in History?
Doublets: The Lessons of History
Best Books for History Buffs

For further reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1550768/Hitler-was-ordered-to-trim-his-moustache.html

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