Allegedly, Adolf Hitler was something of a prankster. On one occasion, his propensity for rambunctious behaviour backfired on him, when his confidant Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl mistook a harmless practical joke for an attempt on his life, and promptly defected to the Allies.
I’m hungover today, and tender as an infant, so here’s how it’s going to work: you listen, I’ll explain.
What you need to realise is that Hitler considered himself quite the joker. In 1937, upset by his less than flattering comments about the fighting spirit of German soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, Hitler stitched up his old mess mate proper like by issuing him pretend orders to parachute into an area of Spain held by the Communists (the baddies).
Not surprisingly, our hero began to fear he was being sent on a suicide mission. As his pilot, apparently rather a lad himself, always eager for a bit of banter and in on the joke, circled Germany, Hanfstaengl grew more and more disconcerted. Convinced that he was on his way to Communist Spain, where his number was sure to be up, he struck a desperate bargain with his pilot and the plane landed safely at Leipzig Airport.
The nightmare over, Putzi fled to Switzerland, and, later England. He was imprisoned as an enemy alien after the outbreak of the Second World War and sent to a prison camp in Canada. In 1942, he was turned over to America, where he worked for President Roosevelt’s “S-Project”, revealing information on approximately 400 Nazi leaders including 68 pages about Hitler alone.