Hitlerís Speeding Ticket
At 1:37 pm on Saturday, September 19, 1931, Hauptwachtmeister -- Police Sergeant Major -- Probst of the Bavarian Gendarmerie wrote in his notebook about a Mercedes speeding through the tiny hamlet of Baar-Ebenhausen, south of Ingolstadt, on the road to Munich. He noted that the velocity of the vehicle was determined by two officers with stop watches, who timed it as moving through a measured distance of 200 meters in 13 seconds, for an average of 55.3 km per hour (c. 34 mph), over twice the permitted speed, and added that the license plate number was “II A – 19357”.
Probst notified his superiors in Munich about the moving violation. Three days later Probst was informed that the car belonged to one Adolf Hitler, who lived at Prinzeregentstrasse 16, in Munich. Probst promptly issued a speeding ticket.
Hitler, then merely the leader of the growing National Socialist movement, responded by claiming that the car was being driven at the time by his chauffeur Julius Schreck, a storm trooper who rather looked like the Nazi leader, save for a pronounced cleft chin. Hitler then added, however, that he had instructed Schreck “to drive as fast as possible”, though he didn’t say why.
At some point the ticket was resolved, because while no record of payment or dismissal exists, there is a copy in the Bavarian archives that is stamped with the word “settled”.
Now oddly, Hitler’s little brush with the law seems to get him off the hook for murder. Some time on September 18th, while Hitler was attending a party meeting in Nuremberg, his 25-year old half-niece and probable lover Angelika Maria Raubal, died in his apartment of a shot to the chest from his pistol, which he had left behind. The body and pistol were discovered on the morning of the 19th, and Hitler was notified; which is why he was speeding back to Munich. Although there’s been much speculation that Hitler killed “Geli”, or had her murdered, he seems to have been extremely devoted to her. The most likely cause of her death was suicide. In any case, if Hitler had killed her or ordered her death, albeit not yet the leader of Germany, he certainly was powerful enough as Führer of the Nazi Party to get someone to dispose of the evidence.
After his brief brush with history, Hauptwachtmeister Probst slips back into the mists from which he emerged, and one hopes didn’t suffer for his due diligence to duty.
As for Hitler’s apartment, the building is still there, and houses a police station.
"We are Not Amused"
During the U.S. Fleet’s unprecedented visit to the Antipodes in 1925, America’s sailors and marines were greeted with open arms wherever they went, in Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. There were banquets, parades, receptions, ball games, dances, and more. Among the events in New Zealand was a visit to Rotorua, a city on the northern coast of the country’s North Island, on August 19th. The American party was led by the fleet’s Commander-in-Chief, Robert E. Coontz, and included many senior officers, some of whom were accompanied by their wives, who had followed the fleet by commercial steamer or in the case of Mrs. Coontz aboard the flagship, the old armored cruiser Seattle (CA-11).
Rotorua was the site of a “traditional” village of the Awara, one of the Maori nations. The Awara put on quite a show. The men, among whom were lawyers, stock brokers, entrepreneurs, government officials, and professionals of various sorts, donned traditional dress and, armed with clubs, performed a war dance that culminated in an impressive “attack” on the American party, which the Admiral later wrote was most intimidating. Then the Awara women performed a number of ritual dances.
This was followed by some ceremonies. Chief Kiwi Amohau presented the Admiral with a model canoe, as well as a decorative chest to be passed on to President Calvin Coolidge, with the suggestion that it be used hold a future “treaty for world peace between the United States and Great Britain", a not-so-subtle hint that an Anglo-American alliance was viewed as a good idea in the Commonwealth.
At the climax of the ceremonies, a sturdy Maori warrior presented Mrs. Coontz with a tiki and a traditional cloak. Then, an attractive Maori maiden presented the Admiral with a tiki and war cloak. In addition, the young woman gave Coontz a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting involving the pressing of one's nose and forehead on the visitor’s nose and forehead.
By chance, Coontz’ aide, Lt. Tully Shelley, an inveterate shutterbug (his pictures and clippings from the voyage fill three large albums), captured the hongi on camera, which quite clearly shows a very happy admiral, though in the background one can espy a very dour-looking Mrs. Admiral.
|ADM Coontz receiving a hongi from a Maori maiden. Note the smiles on the faces of those present, save Mrs. Coontz, standing in her newly acquired cape, just behind the Admiral.
Tully Shelley Collection, U.S. Naval War College Library
FootNote: Tully Shelley (1892-1966). A 1915 Annapolis graduate, his first assignment was to the USS Wyoming (BB-32), then flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. He was aide-de-camp to Adm. Coontz as CINCUS, 1923-1925, and also Fleet Athletics Officer. After the Antipodean cruise, Shelley served in the Asiatic Fleet for time, as exec of the USS Marblehead (CL-12), taught Spanish at the Naval Academy for several years, and then went to Spain to improve his command of the language, thereby becoming an eye-witness to the Spanish Revolution of 1931. During the mid-1930s Shelley served in the Richmond (CL-9), in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and became a specialist in radio communications. He commanded Augusta (CA-31) in 1943-1944, flagship of Rear Adm. Alan G. Kirk, and carried Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley to Normandy on D-Day, and served as naval attaché in London with the rank of commodore, 1945-1947. Shelley retired from the Navy as a rear admiral, becoming an oil industry executive and an inventor of the Rube Goldberg sort.