Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda (WikiCommons)
The infamous mouthpiece of German Nazism, Adolf Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, was once a shy, romantic college student with "Marxist leanings" according to an American auction company which is about to sell an archive of his early letters.
Bill Panagopolous, head of Alexander Historical Auctions in Stamford, Connecticut, said the collection shows Goebbels became a "radical Nazi and rabid anti-Semite" in just a few years.
The cache embraces every aspect of Goebbels' young life, from eerie, controlling love letters to letters from family and friends, dreamy poems to socialist dramas exploring the exploitation of a man in a capitalist society.
"It sums up the formative years of the No2 man in the Third Reich," Panagopolous told The Independent.
"It shows how this rather simple, shy and love-struck college student became radicalised".
In what Panagopolous calls "the most important cache of World War II autographs to ever become available for sale", Goebbels showed early signs of egotism, signing some of his writings with numerous personal signatures.
In a break-up letter with Anka Stalhern, a law student who ended her relationship with Goebbels in 1920, the jilted lover wrote: "If I had you here with me I would grab you and force you to love me, if only for a moment - then I would kill you."
The collection, which is expected to fetch more than $200,000, also includes narrative essays, novellas, drafts of Goebbels' semi-biographical novel, plays, and diary pages.
Although he would eventually call for "total war" against the enemies of Germany, noticeably Communism and the Jews, Goebbels' early writing was far softer, and often speculated on Goethe, literature and philosophy.
"My roof is the sky, My home is the world. And I sleep, then the forest is my tent..." he wrote.
A 26-letter correspondence with Richard Flisges, Goebbels' closest college friend, also reveals the latter's early left-wing leanings. Flisges, a veteran of World War I turned "ardent pacifist and anarchist", called on his fiend to read and explore socialism and Karl Marx. Goebbels' play Michael Voorman was lately dedicated to him.
But Goebbels early evidences of fanatic behaviour emerged in a reply to a teacher who offered condolences after the death of Goebbels' sister. The would-be Nazi leader said his loss was minor compared to the losses suffered by "Our Fatherland".
Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide after killing their six children with cyanide tablets at Hitler's Berlin bunker on 1 May 1945.
Ownership of the papers was placed in the hands of a third party, Goebbels' "literary executor", after they emerged years later.
Along with Goebbels' archive, the Alexander Historical Auctions is offering the archive of another enigmatic Nazi figure, Otto Skorzeny.
Skorzeny, Hitler's chief and favourite commando, became notorious after his daring mountain-top rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
To contact the editor, e-mail: