Hitler's Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl, Confidant of Hitler, Ally of FDR
Ernst Hanfstaengl (Putzi) was court jester, pianist, and foreign press chief for Hitler during his political climb, and later played a lead role in Roosevelt’s top-secret project to use disinformation against the Nazis. An urbane Harvard-educated German, Putzi was living in Germany in 1922 when he first heard Hitler speak in Munich. Introducing himself after the speech, Putzi began one of the strangest relationships in twentieth-century politics. As he tried to introduce Hitler to Munich high-society and polish his image in the eyes of the world, Hanfstaengl helped finance Mein Kampf, claimed to have devised the chant of “Sieg Heil,” and attempted to set Hitler up with the American ambassador’s beautiful young daughter. But he fell out of Hitler’s graces, fled to Britain where he was interned, and then transferred to America. There, he worked for his old friend from the Harvard Club, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The star of Roosevelt's "S-Project," Putzi provided information on four hundred leading Nazis, analyses of Hitler’s speeches, and a sixty-eight-page psychological portrait of Hitler. Through newly declassified documents, photographs, interviews with members of Hanfstaengl’s family, and original writing by Hanfstaengl, Peter Conradi recounts the remarkable life of history’s personal link between Hitler and FDR.