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World Neurosurg. 2015 Nov;84(5):1447-52. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Jun 18.

Understanding the Influence of Parkinson Disease on Adolf Hitler's Decision-Making during World War II.

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  • 1Department of Biology, College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey, USA.
  • 2Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Electronic address:
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
  • 4Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Parkinson disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies and a reduction in the number of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the basal ganglia. Common symptoms of PD include a reduction in control of voluntary movements, rigidity, and tremors. Such symptoms are marked by a severe deterioration in motor function. The causes of PD in many cases are unknown. PD has been found to be prominent in several notable people, including Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany and Führer of Nazi Germany during World War II. It is believed that Adolf Hitler suffered from idiopathic PD throughout his life. However, the effect of PD on Adolf Hitler's decision making during World War II is largely unknown. Here we examine the potential role of PD in shaping Hitler's personality and influencing his decision-making. We purport that Germany's defeat in World War II was influenced by Hitler's questionable and risky decision-making and his inhumane and callous personality, both of which were likely affected by his condition. Likewise his paranoid disorder marked by intense anti-Semitic beliefs influenced his treatment of Jews and other non-Germanic peoples. We also suggest that the condition played an important role in his eventual political decline.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Adolf Hitler; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson disease; World War II

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