Except for beer, which few Germans consider alcoholic, Adolf Hitler touches no alcoholic tipple. Neither does he smoke. Hot water he calls "effeminate." Last week, on the biggest morning of his life, this pudgy, stoop-shouldered, tooth-brush-mustached but magnetic little man bounded out of bed after four hours sleep, soaped his soft flesh with cold water, shaved with cold water, put on his always neat but never smart clothes and braced himself for the third of his historic encounters with Paul von Beneckendorf und von Hindenburg, Der Reickspräsident.
At their first meeting last August, upstart Herr Hitler was not so much as invited to sit down, despite the fact that he represented 230 Reichstag Deputies, by far the largest party in the Fatherland.
"With what power, Herr Hitler," growled Old Paul, "do you seek to be made Chancellor?"
"Precisely the same power that Mussolini exercised after his March on Rome!" chirped cheeky Adolf. (One scowling bust of Il Duce, two portraits of Frederick the Great adorn Herr Hitler's office.)
"So!" bristled Der Reichspräsident with the air of a Prussian schoolmaster about to squelch an urchin. "Let me tell you, Herr Hitler, if you don't behave, I'll rap your fingers!"
Thus a complete break last Augustat which time Adolf Hitler had been called in only to be asked by the President whether he would enter and support the "Cabinet of Monocles" headed by Lieut. Colonel Franz von Papen. With dejected, hangdog mien Der Osaf left Der Reichspräsident.
In November things were different. On the one hand losses in Germany's general election shrank the Hitler Party, still largest, from 230 to 195 Reichstag seats. On the other hand, popular hatred and unrest at the reactionary policies of the "Cabinet of Monocles" forced Chancellor von Papen to resign (TIME, Nov. 28). When Der Osaf* was summoned a second time to the Presidential Palace he was bidden to sit down by Der Reichspräsident for what Germans call a "conference of four eyes"i. e. not even a secretary was present. Called in for a moment, State Secretary Dr. Otto Meissner emerged to gasp, "Extraordinary cordiality!"
All the same, Herr Hitler was not given carte blanche to form a Cabinet. The President attached seven complex and, as events proved, impossible conditions. After 14 days of Cabinet crisis there emerged as Chancellor, out of a welter of intrigue, "His Field Grey Eminence," suave, sly Defense Minister General Kurt von Schleicher. By his friends the General's adroit scheming is said to have "made and broken" as Chancellor both fashionable, aristocratic Franz von Papen and his predecessor, pious, ascetic Dr. Heinrich Brüning.
Papen-Hitler Plot. First sign that the von Schleicher Cabinet might be cracked by the same, sort of intrigue that made it, came when Hitler & von Papen, both smarting in eclipse, met at Cologne for a night conference (TIME, Jan. 16). Soon afterward they were joined by "The Hearst of Germany," small, cyclonic Nationalist Party Leader Dr. Alfred Hugenberg and, reputedly, by Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, famed during his six years as president of the Reichsbank.