Towards the end of WWII, allied forces gained much-needed ground on diminished German forces while Adolf Hitler was carefully concealing a dark secret from his devoted followers.
Years prior, Hitler was seen in several propaganda films walking tall and strong. As time progressed, detailed media footage was limited as the Führer showed signs of a major debilitating disease.
The German leader tried to hide his declining posture, stumbling walk and hand tremors during his public appearances. Theodore Morell was Hitler’s devoted personal physician for nine years but missed the critical condition — Parkinson’s disease.
Theodor Morell is shown here standing behind his patient — Adolf Hitler. (Source: Smithsonian Channel/YouTube/Screenshot)
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder which disrupts the function of nerve cells in the brain.
After the bombing of Hitler’s East Prussia Headquarters in a plot to kill the Nazi party leader in 1944, his symptoms seemed to wane — but for only a short period.
At the time, Morell had already taken notice of Hitler’s condition, documenting it in a journal back in 1941 and years later labeling the neurological disorder as stress related.
Advanced Parkinson’s usually leads to slower reaction times and delusions — all requiring constant medical care. It wasn’t until the final days of the war that Morell would make the correct diagnosis.
As forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, Hitler’s delay in ordering a defense may have been a result of the Parkinson’s.
Ultimately, Adolf Hitler died on April 30th, 1945, as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Führerbunker in Berlin.
Check out the Smithsonian’s Channel video to view how Hitler attempted to mask his Parkinson’s in his last years of his rule.(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)