Pittsburgh, Pa. (CBS DC) — Parkinson’s disease may have caused Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler to make reckless decisions due to the neurological disorder’s degenerative effects.
A new study, “Understanding the Influence of Parkinson’s Disease on Adolf Hitler’s Decision-Making During World War II,” was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Raghav Gupta and a team of researchers. Their recently published paper suggests Hitler suffered from the idiopathic disease throughout his life, and caused him to make irrational decisions such as the invasion of Russia.
“We purport that Germany’s defeat in World War II was influenced by Hitler’s questionable and risky decision-making and his inhumane and callous personality, both of which were likely affected by his Parkinson’s condition,” write the researchers. “Likewise his paranoid disorder marked by intense anti-Semitic beliefs influenced his treatment of Jews and other non-Germanic peoples.”
“We also suggest that the condition played an important role in his eventual political decline,” they add.
The researchers also point to video evidence of physical signs such as tremors indicating that Hitler’s motor skills were affected as well. Gupta and his team posit that Hitler developed Parkinson’s long before 1933. A pronounced tremor in his hands, particularly his left, is noted.
“The possibility of Hitler suffering from Parkinson’s has long been the subject of debate,”writes Gupta. “Video evidence depicts that Hitler exhibited progressive motor function deterioration from 1933 to 1945… Hitler began suffering from early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease sometime after World War I, including dyspepsia, colon spasms, and pathological sleep habits such as severe insomnia.”
Parkinson’s can also create a bent posture, slow gait and a dull stare. Cognitive disorders occur including that of general apathy and a lack of imagination.
The study notes Hitler’s bad decisions such as the failure to defend Normandy in the 1944 allied invasion, keeping his forces in the deadly Stalingrad stalemate and his decision to attack Russia without having defeated Great Britain – were linked to the degenerative effects of the neurological disease.