“There is no complete evidence that Hitler died“, John F. Kennedy wrote in a diary in 1945 after a tour of Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, adding “the Russians doubt that he is dead.”
JFK also wrote about his grave doubts about the newly formed United Nations: “In practice, I doubt that it will prove effective in the sense of its elaborate mechanics being frequently employed or vitally decisive in deterring war or peace.”
In the aftermath of World War II, a young John F. Kennedy toured Hitler’s mountaintop retreat and recorded his thoughts about the German dictator. “Within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived,” the 28-year-old Kennedy wrote in a diary in 1945, per Newser.
Hitler, he added, “had in him the stuff of which legends are made.” The words should not be viewed as praise, say those who are auctioning the diary next month. “There’s no glorification,” says Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of Boston’s RR Auction. Kennedy was a historian, he says, and his assessment is in the context of Hitler’s place in history.
The diary was written in 1945 after Kennedy’s military service, when the 28-year-old was a correspondent for Hearst newspapers, rubbing shoulders with world leaders and traveling through a devastated Europe.
The 61-page diary, mostly typed but including 12 handwritten pages, is believed to be the only diary the future president ever kept.
Kennedy eventually gave the 61-page diary, about 12 pages of which are handwritten, to its current owner, Deirdre Henderson, a onetime research assistant for Kennedy. As CBS Newsnotes, she previously published it in book form.
While the information isn’t new, the original document is expected to fetch $200,000 when it goes up for sale on April 26. Other highlights, per the AP:
- Hitler’s death: “There is no complete evidence, however, that the body that was found was Hitler’s body,” he wrote. “The Russians doubt that he is dead.”
- The UN: “In practice, I doubt that it will prove effective in the sense of its elaborate mechanics being frequently employed or vitally decisive in deterring war or peace.“
- USSR: “Yet, if we pull out (of Germany), we may leave a political vacuum that the Russians will be only too glad to fill.”
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