We might laugh at Hitler’s mustache now, but many German men copied his style. Wikimedia Commons. Old timey mustache.
9. Adolf Hitler was so loved by many German people that men styled their mustaches to look like their crazed leader
Adolf Hitler’s mustache has long been a source of ridicule – and fascination. For a few short years in Germany, however, it was regarded by many as a stylish form of facial hair. What’s more, in a bid to emulate their charismatic leader, many German men in the 1930s and 40s shaved their mustaches in a similar style. So, why did Hitler have such strange facial hair?
The thing is, the ‘toothbrush mustache’ was not born with Hitler, even though it most definitely did die with him. The style for shaving all of the facial hair except for a small, three-to-five-centimeter strip directly above the lip first became popular not in Germany but in the United States. At the end of the 19
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century, a number of men adopted the unique style. According to the thinking of the time, the toothbrush was neat, easily-maintained and nowhere near as fussy or flamboyant as most other mustache styles of the period. After the gentlemen came the comics: both Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy sported a toothbrush mustache, both in the belief that it gave them a comical appearance.
It wasn’t until the turn of the century that the style was introduced into Germany, most probably brought there by holidaying Americans. It became so popular in the European country that even the Kaiser’s dashing son, Crown Prince Wilhelm himself, was pictured with a toothbrush moustache in 1918. It was probably around this time that Hitler, who had originally sported a bushy, unruly ‘Kaiser moustache’, adopted the style. Quite why, nobody can agree. Some say it was because he needed to trim his ‘tache in order to secure his gas mask while serving in the trenches, while other historians even argue he was copying Charlie Chaplin in an effort to win popularity.
Whatever the reason, Hitler had his iconic moustache from the very beginning of the Nazi rise to power. As he became increasingly popular, so too did his style. Men right across Germany got their moustaches trimmed in a similar style. Even movie stars and sports stars copied the look. But, of course, once the war was over and the horrors of the regime became apparent to all, the style – as with the once-popular name Adolf – fell swiftly, and terminally, out of fashion.
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