The Teppichfresser Incident

First, go read Carl’s comment to the last post, which contains a fantastic vignette from a John Cale concert.  I agree with you, Carl, that pairing John Cale with Level 42 was perverse.

Carl notes that Cale, after mutilating Heartbreak Hotel, crawled under the piano and began tearing at the carpet.  In the hallways of the Editorial Department at German Joys, you could hear cries of "Eureka" as the staff recalled another famous incident of carpet abuse.

Which leads me to the question for Joysters.  According to a war diary entry by the American journalist William L. Shirer, Adolf Hitler went one better than Cale and actually began to eat the carpet:

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.  [Here follows a passage in which Shirer criticizes Hitler’s walk.]  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.

[Gad, what awful prose.  And does Dresen have one or two S’s, sir?]  I believe the "Teppichfresser" incident also made it into Shirer’s later book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (a readable, if not particularly reliable, work of popular history).  There is much speculation about whether the Teppichfresser story is true, or whether it was the result of Shirer’s evident distaste for the Fuehrer and/or a mistranslation of some colloquial expression.

My query is this: does anyone know of any independent confirmation of this story?  That is, did anyone else see the leader of the Thousand-Year Reich chomping on Stainmaster, or did Shirer make this up?  Dear readers, let us jointly make a contribution to the historical record!  I will then forward out conclusions to the Carpet and Rug Institute.

13 thoughts on “The Teppichfresser Incident

  1. I have a first hand account of the Carpetbiter doing his thing. In the early 60’s my brother dated a girl whose mother had been a house keeper for hitler. My brother told me that his girls mother had told him that she had seen Hitler in a rage, get down on the floor and “chew on the carpet”. I was doubltful about the truth it, but now that I have seen the other reports, I am inclind to think it is true, particuarly since the girls mom and dad were both German imigrants and very credible intelligent people.
    I looked into this on the net for the first time just today, thinking that it was either untrue or unknown and if true but unknown, it should be preserved for historic reasons.



  2. 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.


  3. The tale about Adolf Hitles supposive carpet eating is simply a wrong interpretation.
    Some French journalists nicknamed Hitler ‘Teppichfresser’ because Hitler used to walk back and forth during his speeches. The journalists thought that, by walking around so much, he would destroy a lot of carpet. That’s how they came up with the nickname. Hitler might as well eat the carpet, because that way he would destroy the carpet much more efficient.

    A bit of an anti-climax, but you did ask for it!


  4. Well.. as to “Grandpa” stories from the Berghof… I guess you got your imagination from him as well… I have interviewed a considerable amount of individuals who had dealings with Hitler (and it is spelled Adolf) and that is about as ridiculous as I have ever heard. Are you really Michael Bey??? You are about that far off… “You missed the mark, about as much as Michael Bey did when he made Pearl Harbor, that was a terrible movie”

    I enjoyed reading as a child, and suffered through 4000+ pages of Shirer’s crap before I knew better… and years later when I proudly told one of my college profs that I had read it… he told me he was disappointed in me and understood now why I had so many facts wrong.

    Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is probably THE WORST book EVER written on WWII, the DATES are not even correct.. Shirer wrote just to hear himself make noise. Too bad he could not have written it BEFORE the events happened so it could have been the first book on the bonfire. GIVE ME A BREAK.


  5. I have to disagree with the assesment of Shirer. . One needs only to do a quick search to find the impeccable nature of this mans reputation.

    Shirer was a correspondant for CBS and spent MANY years in Europe until expelled before the US entrance in the European theatre. He is quite objective in his book “Rise and Fall. . ” and makes VERY clear when he is making opinion.

    The fact that these ‘Party Hacks’ (higher level members who worked in the Chancellery) were ‘whispering’ about it surely means that there is more to it than the French nickname.

    Hitler was always an unstable individual. It was very well noted when he put his revolver to his head and threatened to kill himself during the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’. Certainly not the actions of a man who has his wits about him. He had a very fragile temper as show by his repeated tirades in front of SEVERAL foreign dignitaries on numerous occasions.

    One can only conclude in light of what is known about the man, that there is probably quite a bit of truth to that story.


  6. No big deal, during the Watergate crisis ,Nixon did the same in the oval office.And Bill Clinton did it when angry
    only thing us that he munched on Monica’s undies.


  7. Your criticism of Shirer’s writing is laughable. Judging by the quality of the prose you posted here, you’re in no position to look down upon Mr. Shirer, an author who wrote one of the classic accounts of the power brokers of Nazi Germany. The passage referenced was a diary entry, not a term paper. His book is quite well-written, and certainly of higher quality than any published works you have (or, more to the point, haven’t) authored. Furthermore, you’re in no position to question the events recounted by a man who was actually on the scene. Shirer ate and drank with Hitler’s inner circle, spoke with the man himself, and was privy to much behind-the-scenes detail through the various contacts he cultivated in high Nazi circles. The author lived and worked in Germany before your parents were even a distant thought. His first-hand account carries infinitely more historical weight than any half-baked blog critique you might levy against it.


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