Wills aren’t what they used to be…
15 April 2016 by Diane Rudd
These days Wills are mainly concerned with the disposal of assets, appointing Executors and perhaps Guardians for children but it has not always been like this. Many famous – or infamous – people have used Wills to try to make a point or to affect how they may be remembered. One example of this is Adolf Hitler’s Will, which he made the day before he committed suicide.
The Will appointed an Executor (Martin Borman) and left assets to his housekeeper, an art gallery and the Nazi Party. The Will also settled scores, for example expelling Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler from the party and sacking them from all offices, the latter because Himmler had attempted to negotiate peace with the Allies. Hitler also named Admiral Karl Dönitz his successor and appointed other to Cabinet positions.
Hitler also thanked the German people for their support, and also seemed to want to use the Will as an attempt to speak to the future. He claimed he had not wanted war in 1939 and expressed hope that the Nazi movement would rise again, which thankfully has never occurred.
Hitler’s Will contrasts with that of England’s King John who signed the Magna Carta and which is the first original Will we have of a British King or Queen. This Will has a section referring to distributing to the poor and also religious houses for the salvation of his soul. The Will also placed a curse on anybody who “infringed arrangements”.
Two Wills made by two infamous people with very different contents….