The Smoking German

Author: Søren Højbjerg
Article Published: 10 December 2008

From the annals of history we know that it takes courage to act in defiance against tyranny. Some of the most heartening examples of courage stem from the most hideous autocracy of the 20th century – Hitler's Nazi German regime of 1933 to 1945.

Not everybody under the Nazi regime fell to the spell of propaganda. There were individuals who saw through it. The best known example is that of Count von Stauffenberg. He was a high-ranking army officer who led a coup attempt against Hitler. In July 1944, von Stauffenberg planted a briefcase bomb in a conference room in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. The bomb exploded, but Hitler survived. The coup against Hitler's Nazi regime failed. Von Stauffenberg and his accomplices were summarily excecuted.

Thus even within the evil Nazi empire there were good Germans.

The Nazis were repressive in many ways. The Nazis started the first tobacco control program ever. It was quite similar to contemporary tobacco control. In 1939, the anti-smoking Nazis implemented the first ban against smoking in 'public places.' Of course a great many people hated the ban. Even in the face of the greatest tyranny ever known, individuals showed defiance against the Nazi smoking ban. High ranking military officers and servicemen of great competence openly defied the Nazi smoking ban.

One such man was a highly decorated Luftwaffe (Air Force) fighter ace. Meet Adolf Galland, cigar smoker.

When war broke out in 1939, Adolf Galland was an experienced military pilot, with combat experience from the Spanish Civil War. Originally he was a ground attack pilot, but managed to fib his way to becoming a fighter pilot in 1940.

In 1939, the Nazi regime banned smoking in many 'public places.' The Luftwaffe was especially adamant about banning smoking. This so infuriated Adolf Galland that he had an ashtray installed in his Bf 109 fighter.* It allowed him to smoke whenever he cared to during flight. Smoking his beloved cigars was not something the Nazis were going to stop him from doing.

Adolf Galland was a distinguished pilot, so Hitler ordered two portraits to be painted of him. The first one finished depicted Adolf Galland holding one of his beloved cigars. But Hitler detested smoking. With typical anti-smoking arrogance Hitler demanded that the second portrait of Adolf Galland be painted without the cigar! We see that contemporary anti-smokers are merely replicants of their Nazi predecessors. They too are intent on airbrushing smoking out of their field of vision.

Adolf Galland smoked cigars right through the war. He did not give a hoot about Nazi smoking bans. Highly decorated fighter aces were in short supply. So the anti-smoking Nazis could not touch Adolf Galland.

Adolf Galland surrendered to the Allies in April 1945. He had comitted no war crime, so was released in 1947. He lived peacefully after the war, and died in 1996, at the ripe old age of 83.

The lessons are clear. Anti-smokers are a bunch of Nazis. Their methods are the same. Adolf Galland knew how to deal with them. He defied them. If Adolf Galland could act in defiance of Nazi smoking bans, so can you. Just like other good Germans, Adolf Galland knew how to resist tyrants. So do we.

Keep on smoking. Break the bans.

* Len Deighton, Fighter, 1979, Panther Books, UK

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