Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Irish Soldier: 'I Saved Hitler's Life In 1919'

There is an abbreviated version of this story in The Daily Mail. Note that it is not implausible for a Irishman to join the German army in WWI. Relations between Ireland and Britain were at that time -- shall we say: "strained".

The principal interest for me in the story is that Keogh found Hitler "likeable" when he met him during WWI. That is the exact opposite of the received story about Hitler at that time. I have always had severe doubts about the received story. How Hitler could morph from a loner to a charismatic leader of his nation was a great mystery and the loner story seemed to me to be most probably just disinformation dating from Hitler's rise to prominence. Hitler had plenty of enemies in the Germany of the '20s and 30s who would be motivated to discredit him -- and Soviet disinformation at some stage cannot be ruled out either, in my view. Soviet disinformers never had much trouble fooling historians


By Terrence Aym

In one of those odd quirks of history, World War II and the 70 million lives lost could have been averted if, on a fateful day during 1919, a young Irishman had let Adolf Hitler die … Instead he unwittingly saved the life of Germany's future F├╝hrer.
This amazing revelation came to light only recently—it lay buried for decades in the obscure memoirs of a remarkable, but little known, Irishman named Michael Keogh.

When the family took possession of Keogh's memoirs—authenticated by historians—they decided to release the important details to the world.

Michael Keogh was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life filled with odd twists and turns. Perhaps strangest of all: despite his impact on the modern world he's barely a footnote in history.

It's all the more astounding when considering that in the space of a few brief minutes Keogh forever changed the destiny of millions and the face of the future.

All the stunning events were meticulously written down in his diary—memoirs that are so astounding they read more like fiction than fact. Yet experts confirm every word is true.

Decades followed before a family member was approached by archivists that had retained it. After reading some of the entries, they realized the importance the memoirs would have to the world at large: for Keogh not only met Hitler once, but twice, and the second time saved the future dictator from certain death.

Media knew nothing of Michael Keogh. Born into modest circumstances in Tolow County Carlow, Ireland, Keogh lived an unremarkable life until his 22nd year. It was then, during 1913, that young Keogh joined up with the British army's Royal Irish Regiment.

Records show he was later brought up on charges for sedition. Although branded as a troublemaker by some of his superior officers, Keogh was nevertheless shipped off to France to fight the Germans in Europe's Great War.

When he arrived he was assigned to a regiment near the front and before the end of August 1914—barely a month after arriving there—he was captured by the German army and held as a prisoner of war. The turn of events that followed is what eventually set him on the path towards shaping the destiny of the entire human race.

Restless and unhappy at being held in a prison camp, Keogh talked the German commandant into allowing him to join the German army.

By 1916 they agreed and Keogh was given a uniform, an assignment and orders to join the Sixteenth Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Things went well for Keogh. His German comrades liked and respected him, and he received praise for valor shown on the battlefield.

Time passed and the war dragged on until September 1918 when he found himself posted on the front and had a chance meeting in Ligny, France with a young Lance-Corporal named Adolf Hitler. Later, Keogh recalled the young Hitler as being intense and serious, but likeable.

Nothing important happened during that meeting except Keogh knew Hitler existed, who he was, and what he looked like. But their second meeting in 1919—and the circumstances under which it took place—were to change the future face of Europe for generations.

After the war, Germany was torn by political upheavals. The Bolshevik-inspired Marxist revolution took root in Germany and sought to undermine its democratic Weimar Republic.

Keogh, fiercely anti-communist and keenly aware of the subversive threat to the weakened Germany, volunteered for, and was accepted into, the politically active "Freikorps" (Free Corps) as an officer. The para-military organization set as its sworn duty the goal to crush the Marxist movement and drive them out of the Fatherland.

Fate's huge hand moved inexorably and Keogh and Hitler met again under the most dire of circumstances.

"I had fought my way into Munich as a captain in the Freikorps Epp," Keogh recalls in his diary. "A few weeks later, I was the officer of the day in the Turken Strasse barracks when I got an urgent call at about eight in the evening." That call to action set events into motion that literally changed the entire course of history.

"A riot had broken out over two political agents in the gymnasium," his memoir continues. "These 'political officers' were allowed to approach the men for votes and support.

"I ordered out a sergeant and six men and, with fixed bayonets, led them off. There were about 200 men in the gymnasium, among them some tough Tyrolean troops."

As he explains, two politicians that were giving speeches were roughly grabbed and thrown to the floor. A crowd surrounded the two viciously beating them.

And then, several furious Tyrolean troopers politically opposed to the politicians, moved in to finish the helpless men off. Bloodlust swirled in the air and the angry mob sought to kill both men. Keogh decided to act as "Bayonets were beginning to flash."

The two politicians—one clean-shaven, the other with a small moustache—were overcome and being stomped and beaten to death. The mob's bayonets were closing in and the men wielding them had every intention of gutting the two helpless politicians.

"I ordered the guard to fire one round over the heads of the rioters. It stopped the commotion," recalled Keogh.

His soldiers carried out the two badly beaten and bloody politicians. According to Keogh, both needed immediate medical attention. That their deaths were imminent was obvious.

It was only the intercession of Michael Keogh and the quick orders he gave his men that stopped the killing of the politicians. He wrote: "The crowd around muttered and growled, boiling for blood."

But Hitler had been saved. Of course, Keogh had instantly recognized the man with the moustache—former Lance-Corporal Adolf Hitler whom he'd met a year earlier in Ligny, France.

On the way towards medical treatment, Hitler chatted with his savior. The young, up-and-coming politician thanked Keogh for saving his life, and then he shared some of the details of his new party with the Irishman—the Party would become the salvation of the Fatherland, Hitler said—the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZI).

Adolf Hitler survived his injuries. And the two men never directly crossed paths again.

Keogh wrote he next saw Hitler during 1930. The up-and-coming political figure gave a rousing speech to a huge, enthusiastic crowd at an outdoor theater in Nuremberg.

SOURCE

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