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December 21, 2011

Adolf Hitler, the carpet eater (Teppichfresser)

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am

A big THANK YOU to Herbert Stolpmann, a reader of my blog, who directed me to William Shirer’s book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which is the source of the claim that Adolf Hitler was a Teppichfresser.

Shirer first wrote about this in his 1941 book Berlin Diary.  

This quote is from his diary:

Sept. 22, 1938. This morning, I noticed something very interesting. I was having breakfast in the garden of the Dresen Hotel, where Hitler is stopping, when the great man suddenly appeared, strode past me, and went down to the edge of the Rhine to inspect his river yacht.


I think [Hitler] is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And now I understand the meaning of an expression the party hacks were using when we sat around drinking in the Dressen last night. They kept talking about the “Teppichfresser”‘, the “carpet-eater”.  At first I didn’t get it, and then someone explained it in a whisper. They said, Hitler has been having some of his nervous crises lately and that in recent days they’ve taken a strange form. Whenever he goes on a rampage about Benes or the Czechs he flings himself to the floor and chews the edges of the carpet hence the Teppichfresser. After seeing him this morning, I can believe it.

Shirer later included this story in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which was first published in 1961.

Here is the exact quote from page 391 of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

“Hitler was in a highly nervous state. On the morning of the twenty-second [of September 1938] I was having breakfast on the terrace of the Hotel Dressen, where the talks were to take place, when Hitler strode past on his way down to the riverbank to inspect his yacht. He seemed to have a peculiar tic. Every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so. He had ugly, black patches under his eyes. He seemed to be, as I noted in my diary [Berlin Dairy] that evening, on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

“Teppichfresser!” muttered my German companion, an editor who secretly despised the Nazis. And he explained that Hitler had been in such a maniacal mood over the Czechs the last few days that on more than one occasion he had lost control of himself completely, hurling himself to the floor and chewing the edge of the carpet. Hence the term “carpet eater.” The evening before, while talking with some of the party leaders at the Dreesen, I had heard the expression applied to the Fuehrer — in whispers, of course.”

The quote above is from Chapter 12, The Road to Munich.  The sub heading is Chamberlain at Godesberg: September 22-23.  This section of Shirer’s book begins with this explanation of what is happening:

Though Chamberlain was bringing to Hitler all that he had asked for at their Berchtesgaden meeting, both men were uneasy as they met at the little Rhine town of Godesberg on the afternoon of September 22nd.

So both Hitler and Neville Chamberlian were “uneasy.”  Shirer wrote that it was “an editor who secretly despised the Nazis,” who told him about Hitler’s habits.  I wonder what the editor who despised the Nazis said about Chamberlain.  If we only knew his name, maybe we could ask him.

According to Mr. Stolpmann, who is a native German speaker, the term Teppichfresser has no other meaning. It is not like the English expression “chewing the fat,” which does not mean literally chewing fat.  However, the German language has two different words for eat:  essen and fressen.  The word “fressen” is used to refer to the way an animal eats, and when used in reference to a human, it is a grave insult.

Hitler was from Austria, where the natives are noted for their nice table manners.  To call an Austrian a “fresser” would be the worst possible insult.  I once went on a guided tour of Austria, and the guide felt the need to tell me (a boorish American) to watch my table manners while in Austria.

Shirer also wrote on page 518 in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich about how

“the S.S.-Gestapo would stage a fake attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, using condemned concentration camp inmates outfitted in Polish uniforms.”

On page 519, Shirer wrote:

On October 19, 1944, [Alfred] Naujocks deserted to the Americans and at Nuremberg a year later made a number of sworn affidavits, in one of which he preserved for history the account of the “incident” which Hitler used to justify his attack on Poland.

I previously blogged about Alfred Naujocks and the start of World War II here.

I wish that Eva Braun were still alive so that we could ask her why a beautiful young woman like her would stay with a man like Hitler who was a Teppichfresser.  And even worse, a man who faked an attack on a radio station to start a world war.


  1. Articles about historical subjects should always be accurate. The “Neujocks” in the article above was
    actually Naujocks. One may easily ascertain this by checking the index of The Rise and Fall…

    Comment by Denis Bolger — November 11, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    • Thank you for catching this error. I have corrected the spelling.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 11, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  2. Hitler’s half-Jewish personal physician Dr.Theodr Morell in The Guardian, May 22, 1945:

    “He denied that Hitler chewed carpets, but said that he flew into rages”

    Found on The Black Rabbit of Inlé’s extraordinary site.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — December 24, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  3. All these people still hate hitler , he was very much loved in his time right till his death …it is also worth noting that after the war the leaders that were left , there were no calls for lynchings or death squads …only at NUREMBERG …whom i think were the real criminals they broke many laws with that farcical “TRIAL” ALONE !!

    Comment by Robert Schmidt — December 22, 2011 @ 3:27 am

    • All nazis deserve the rope. Are you a nazi Schmidt?

      Comment by dan — December 24, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  4. “I wish that Eva Braun were still alive so that we could ask her why a beautiful young woman like her would stay with a man like Hitler who was a Teppichfresser”

    Why wouldn’t a beautiful young woman want to stay with a Teppichfresser?

    Comment by littlegreyrabbit — December 21, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    • Eva Braun was not only beautiful, she was also very athletic. She was a good skier and she could have trained to be in the Olympics in gymnastics. She was also very smart and was making films with her movie camera. She was not the kind of person who would have lived with a man who threw himself on the floor and chewed the carpet.

      Comment by furtherglory — December 22, 2011 @ 8:14 am

      • FG-little greyrabbit
        Follwing is a readers comment on German Joys’ Blog Posted by: Boige | January 22, 2008 at 11:30 PM
        D. Richards

        Yes, sir! My grandfather, a joyous man, was part of Hitler’s wait staff at The Fuhrers beloved Berghof. Grandfather told us many stories about ‘Adolph’, one including a serious bout with depression in which Hitler tried to elope with a female German Shephard simply named, ‘Frau’. Seems ol’ frau had the most glorious of tongues and was beneficent towards the Fuhrers buttochs.

        Anyway, I was particularly stunned to find that other people quieried if the ‘teppichfresser’ was true; because my grandfather mentioned it regularly, before he became too ill to speak. Then he wrote it, constantly.

        As grandfather was serving the Fuhrer cupcakes one afternoon, a telegraph was sent to Berghof via Berlin. My garandfather wasn’t able to decipher the voices coming through the receiver, but he did notice that Adolph’s mannerisms went from almost happy seeming, to positively bizarre.

        Without notice, Hitler arose from his seat tenaciously, screamed the name of his beloved mother twice — ‘Klara, Klara’ — Fell to the floor and, well, my grandfather told it that Hitler began ‘teppichfresser’, while sobbing violently.

        Granfather also told anybody that would listen, that, not only did Adolph ‘eat’ carpet that day, but that he licked the rug like ‘a cat after a fine meal’. And that, ‘Hitler emmitted the most horrendous of noxious fumes while carpet-eating.

        My grandfather died in 1998.

        Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 22, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

        • “La vieillesse est un naufrage” (Old age is a shipwreck)
          Charles de Gaulle

          (furtherglory is one brilliant exception)

          Comment by Eager for Answers — December 22, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

          • Épaves renferment des trésors secrets (Shipwrecks hold secret treasures)

            Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 24, 2011 @ 1:48 am

        • “”””””herb”””””” do we have to spell it to you g a m e o v e r (your last option being a video of yourself on youtube showing decent 83 old in regalia)
          what a comedian that hitler fellow, even on private homemovies he had to continue playing a decent man, boring! >

          Merry Christmas to all!

          Comment by wolf — December 22, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

          • Wolf
            I do not know if you are able to understand German and the doubling meaning of “Weihnachtsmann” (Father X-mas). The joke was and others may pick it up: During one of the festivities while Hitler entertained the children, Goebles made a short speech: “Mein Führer, wenn ich in die Augen der Kleinen sehe, sehe ich den größten Weihnachtsmann aller Zeiten!”
            Loosely translated: My Führer, when I look into the eyes of the little ones, I see the greatest (Weihnachtsmann) Father X-mas of all times!
            Have a festive season

            Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 22, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

            • I’m fluent in german but you’re not in french apparently, eagers quote was for you ‘herbie’ and yes teppichfresser is an expression i’ve always heard for someone walking around with too much worries. it is obvious that some journalist mad eup a story by directly translating an expression he could not make sense of. so when are we getting a bunch of recent photos on your blog?

              Comment by wolfgang — December 23, 2011 @ 11:20 am

              • Mon masque de la mort seront publiées de sorte que vous devez attendre un peu plus longtemps

                Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 23, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  5. No, he didn’t smoke the carpet. Don’t you think, there are better stuff to smoke, one could find in Chicago, which would help to write the pseudo-historical folio.

    Comment by Gasan — December 21, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  6. Bravo FG!
    Your blog today is just brilliant.

    Comment by Gasan — December 21, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    • Like every day!

      Comment by Eager for Answers — December 22, 2011 @ 5:54 am

  7. I have always know the expression carpet eater in my native germanIC language as meaning someone very restless or always making worries or arguing about every detail, something like that.

    Comment by wolf — December 21, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    • Wolf
      I do not know which hillbilly mountain village you are coming from, where they inter-marry and produce idiots that are Teppichfresser. Your distorted comments point that way, Isn’t about time you grow up?

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 22, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  8. Did Shirer smoke the carpet while writing his book?

    By the way, you can read it here.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — December 21, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

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