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Taste

Turns Out Hitler Might've Been Particular About How He Took His Tea

We'll take ours with milk.

This is the first story in a series called "Eating History," exploring the eating and drinking habits of history's most famous heroes and villains. First up: Adolf Hitler.

Hitler drinks tea at a hotel in Germany while meeting with the French Ambassador Andre Francois-Poncet in 1937.
Hitler drinks tea at a hotel in Germany while meeting with the French Ambassador Andre Francois-Poncet in 1937.

When you think about tea drinkers, you probably picture someone, maybe your grandmother, sipping from a delicate cup with her pinky in the air before dabbing her lipstick on a handkerchief -- not the world's most destructively evil fascist.

But Hitler liked his tea -- and apparently took it "the Russian way."

In a 1938 column in "The Nabour Chronicle," titled "Tea with Hitler" (a puff piece, if you can believe it, published in the same year Time dubbed Hitler its Man of the Year), the writer Jean Merrill du Cane describes the time she met the dictator in his Alpine home, Haus Wachenfeld:

"If any inspiration is needed from Nature, Hitler gets it here. The mountain slopes on the other side rise sheer from the water's edge to over 5,000 feet," where she met Hitler and described him as "a man with red cheeks, a hearty handshake, a genuine smile. The mountain air had invigorated him."

Hitler and Benito Mussolini drink tea in Munich in 1937.
Hitler and Benito Mussolini drink tea in Munich in 1937.

"I noticed that he took his tea in the Russian style," Merrill du Cane wrote. "With lemon and no milk."

At the time, Russians drank tea with a sugar cube in their mouth, but we don't know if Hitler did that, or if this description should be taken as gospel. In "Hitler At Home," a new book by Despina Stratigakos published by Yale University Press, Stratigakos claims Merrill du Cane was an occasional plagiarizer.

Either way, he clearly drank tea, as we can see in the picture -- and it's an understatement to say it's unnerving to think about how Hitler relaxed or even enjoyed himself, let alone took his tea.

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