Hitler’s IQ: How Intelligent Was Adolf Hitler?

Did Hitler have a high IQ score like other intelligent Nazi leaders?

What was Hitler’s IQ? All Nazi defendants’ intelligence levels were tested at the Nuremberg trials and except for Julius Streicher, they were all much more intelligent than average humans. Hermann Göring came in third with a 138 IQ score, while Hjalmar Schacht and Arthur Seyss-Inquart both scored above 140 on the test. But how intelligent was Adolf Hitler? Did Hitler also have a high IQ level? The short answer is that he almost certainly did not. But Hitler’s IQ was most likely above average. According to some arguments, he could very well have had a 120+ IQ. Let’s see the reasons.

What Was Hitler’s IQ Score?

The Nazi defendants all with high IQs at the Nuremberg trials.
The Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg trials all had high IQs.

A 110+ score signifies intelligence above average. A 130+ score is the hallmark of a high IQ, which usually falls in the top 2% of the population.

It is impossible to determine Hitler’s intelligence level with certainty. Real evidence is rare, and we can only speculate from various clues to find his IQ (as we did below). Yes, the chief ideologues of the Third Reich were geniuses and some of the greatest criminals in contemporary history. The IQ tests in question were conducted on 21 of the 24 Nazis. Martin Bormann was prosecuted in his absence because he was presumed dead, and Robert Ley was able to kill himself in jail.

Below is the list of Nazis whose IQ were tested, and depending on how you try to evaluate Hitler’s IQ, he either may have been in the top 10 with 130 or more IQ or in only the top 20 with slightly above average scores.

  1. Hjalmar Schacht – 143
  2. Arthur Seyss-Inquart – 141
  3. Hermann Göring – 138
  4. Karl Dönitz – 138
  5. Franz von Papen – 134
  6. Eric Raeder – 134
  7. Dr. Hans Frank – 130
  8. Hans Fritzsche – 130
  9. Baldur von Schirach – 130
  10. Joachim von Ribbentrop – 129
  11. Wilhelm Keitel – 129
  12. Albert Speer – 128
  13. Alfred Jodl – 127
  14. Alfred Rosenberg – 127
  15. Constantin von Neurath – 125
  16. Walther Funk – 124
  17. Wilhelm Frick – 124
  18. Rudolf Hess – 120
  19. Fritz Sauckel – 118
  20. Ernst Kaltenbrunner – 113
  21. Julius Streicher – 106
  22. Adolf Hitler IQ – 115 – 120?

Arguments Regarding Hitler’s High IQ

hitler with a smart stature

Hitler, despite his atrocities, was a skilled politician who rose from obscurity to become Germany’s leader. He had a talent for manipulating people and staying ahead of political plots. Though his vision was flawed and resulted in immense harm, Hitler was able to think in grandiose terms. In that regard, Hitler’s overall profile resembles that of a person with a high IQ, if not one in the range of 120.

Without intelligence, it is unlikely that Hitler could have gone from being one of the lowest members of society to becoming one of the most significant individuals on earth within around 10 years following the creation of the NSDAP. He was more sociable and imaginative than typical. However, characteristics like stubbornness and ignorance have a pronounced impact on one’s capacity to learn in relation to his IQ.

Adolf Hitler was a prolific reader with a voracious reading habit. He read extensively from a young age and would often devour entire libraries. In Vienna, he spent much of his time pouring over books, memorizing large portions of his favorites. It is estimated that Hitler read more books than anyone else in history, with over 16,300 books in his personal library. Despite being a soldier in World War I, Hitler prioritized books over other distractions, choosing to spend his limited funds on them instead of whores and cigarettes.

This reading habit may not necessarily indicate Hitler’s high IQ, but history shows that many of the most intelligent people were ferocious readers no matter of their profession and people with below average IQ often do not turn into bookworms. In the statistics holds true, Hitler could very well be the person who read the most books in history.

Hitler was not particularly gifted at mentally delving into an issue, exploring several scenarios, shifting views, or even thinking back on his deeds. His steadfastness, even stubbornness, in sticking to his once-conceived, improbable, and even illegal plans—as well as his willingness to frequently take the risk of a gamble—was what gave him his strength.

hitler intelligence

He maintained his resolve in the face of the complexity of the problem, when the majority of extremely brilliant individuals would have. More intelligent individuals like Goebbels, Heydrich, etc. were impressed by Hitler’s rigidity specifically. His speeches were rarely clever, allusive, humorous, or intellectually persuasive; instead, Hitler only tried to persuade the class of people who he thought needed to be persuaded. So, he did that.

But Hitler was unaware that his main initiative—the endeavor to acquire living space up to the Urals—could never have succeeded. An educated individual would have realized in 1939 that the Western countries could never have approved of the invasion of Poland, yet Hitler nevertheless made allowances for it. He stubbornly and foolishly prohibited any tactical withdrawal throughout the conflict, starting in 1942.

Regardless, Hitler’s IQ was sufficiently high for strategic foresight and cunning in the quest for world dominance. He was most likely smarter than many famous world leaders in history. After all, Hitler managed to gather many high intelligent people around him for many years.

The photographic memory is often a sign of exceptional IQ, and it’s said that Hitler, during his swift trip to Paris in June 1940, knew the Opera Garnier’s rooms, its tour guide, and even a secret room’s existence and location. This was despite the fact that his favorite composer, Richard Wagner, only had his pieces performed a few times in the opera house.

Arguments Regarding Hitler’s Only Average IQ

Hitler does not look particularly intelligent in this photograph.

Adolf Hitler descended from a long line of farmers dating back almost to the Middle Ages. This background alone does not provide concrete proof of his intelligence level, but it is one factor to consider in the larger picture. Hitler went to school in Linz, where he started well but ultimately struggled badly in high school. Hitler’s father was disappointed in him because he had anticipated his son would follow in his footsteps and become a government employee. He was a poor student, and his professional and military accomplishments up to 1920 are consistent with the label “dumb.”

According to other arguments, Hitler’s IQ was perhaps as low as 110, which is shockingly low for a non-monarchical European head of state. Indeed, several of the top Nazis were discovered to have IQ scores over 120, often even 130, but there is concrete evidence that they were cognitively superior to Hitler.

It is stated that Adolf Hitler was often one of the least knowledgeable people in a discussion. Long evenings spent talking with Hitler about politics, art, and anything else that came to mind are said to have made most people at the Berghof dreadfully bored.

After all, Hitler was a politician who rose from obscurity to become Germany’s ruler, so he surely wasn’t a total moron. He was able to manipulate people to his advantage and stay one step ahead of plots inside his own party. In his own way, Hitler was a visionary who relished thinking in big picture terms.

But when it comes to Hitler’s IQ, he left behind only a few marks of genius in his other endeavors apart from his political career. Hitler was not a successful soldier; he was an unremarkable painter and the author of a nearly incomprehensible book.

When it came to science and economics, Hitler was only interested when they could be applied to the military. The military is the only area in which he is known to have obtained substantial experience (apart from potentially in the arts), although he is often regarded as unstable and incompetent on the battlefield.

During the first six years of his presidency, Hitler earned a reputation for being lazyindecisive, and, once he made up his mind, exceedingly stubborn. He was pretty much a quick-tempered, superstitious man. Hitler mocked the smart people and said that IQ testing was a “Jewish invention.” His speeches were powerful but lacked insight and wit.

No one piece of evidence above regarding Hitler IQ is particularly strong, and some of it might just as well apply to someone who is very brilliant, but when considered together, they suggest that Hitler’s IQ was just slightly above average.

Hitler, where he appears to have a slightly above-average IQ. 

In common sense, a person’s level of intellect can also be gauged by looking into their eyes. Despite the fact that this is a purely subjective measurement, it is hard to find any photograph of Hitler in which his eyes convey any sense of a deeper comprehension of the world, unlike the eyes of the other Nazi officials with much higher IQs.

Hitler came from a background that would be considered rather ignorant today. There are no reports regarding the young Hitler’s intellectual or creative prodigies. He most likely had the typical century-long dosage of parental beating, cruelty, and apathy as he grew up in Braunau, like many other rural citizens. The world was most removed from parental supervision during that period.

Hitler anticipated certain political responses right, but he miscalculated in terms of capital geostrategic. His inability to change his mind about England’s desire to make peace with Germany, the significance of the economic capacities of the USA and the USSR, and the utter miscalculation of Germany’s own strength is horrifying. Many politicians were and still are willing to use war as a tool for political ends. However, a characteristic of megalomaniacal fascists is often “total war.”

The question is: Can someone, who thinks a war against the USSR and the USA could be won, be intelligent? In this sense, it is reasonable to assume that Hitler lacked a high level of intelligence. Hitler’s life was molded more by his hatred than by his intellect.

Why the Nazis’ IQ Was Tested at Nuremberg

Why were the Nazis’ IQs tested in the first place at Nuremberg? Some individuals have had doubts regarding the Nuremberg IQ tests taken by the Nazis that were purportedly prepared by US agencies. But during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945, it was the Jewish American psychologist Gustave Gilbert who assessed the mental capacities of 21 Nazi defendants. The Nazi inmates had an average IQ of 128, with the exception of the owner of an anti-Semitic publication.

The accused were evaluated using the Wechsler-Bellevue IQ exam, a forerunner to the widely used WAIS test. The Nazi leaders had to be given an IQ test to prevent the “I was only following orders” defense.

Most people don’t realize that many Nazi leaders, including Hermann Goring, came from privileged homes and had high levels of education. This points to Hitler’s intellect since he was the one who kept everyone in line. It’s a common misconception that only dumb people can become Nazis, yet this is far from the truth. In order to avoid a replay of past mistakes, we must accept that intelligence is not always synonymous with goodness.

Do Intelligent People Tend to Lack Empathy?

hitler during a speech

After all, this is a question of a man’s IQ who did not place a high value on human life. But the world naturally wonders what was going through this man’s head. And belief in authority, a binary worldview, and a strong propensity towards social Darwinism don’t exactly point to a sophisticated knowledge of interrelationships, which is a sign of intelligence.

Heinrich Mann, a German author, wrote in “Der Untertan” (“Man of Straw”) with almost masterful conviction about how the typical upbringing of the time made a lot of authority-seeking mental cripples and sadistic jerks.

People like Goebbels, whose high intelligence, sadly, was only reflected in antisocial, inhumane thinking and action, are demonstrative of high, criminal intellect. But some people have a strong feeling that Goebbels himself didn’t believe in the nonsense that was the basis of the Nazi dictatorship. It’s fair to wonder how much Hitler truly believed his own folly, especially during a war that dispelled the myth of the master race for those who had previously been ideologically blind.

Is it possible to be considered intelligent if one believes that cruelty and jaded Darwinism are “purifying forces” in the development of humanity? A world that is explained by national socialism in simplistic categories grossly ignores the realities of society. The peasant-superior distinction and the killing of whole populations as treatments for “people’s bodies,” apparently suffering from “parasitic pests,” are not evidence of analytical intelligence but rather of a lack of empathy, a humanistic education, and a pathologically distorted social vision.

Some individuals believe that great intellect, as shown by figures like Einstein or Goethe, must go hand in hand with a humanistic outlook on life and a favorable attitude toward all living creatures. In addition, humor is also a crucial indicator of true intellect—things that one would have hoped to find in Hitler but probably couldn’t.

By Bertie Atkinson

Bertie Atkinson is a history writer at Malevus. He writes about diverse subjects in history, from ancient civilizations to world wars. In his free time, he enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and playing chess.