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Hitler’s Toilet Is in New Jersey: A Yacht’s Commode, in an Auto-Repair Shop

For half a century, Greg’s Auto Repair has housed the commode from Aviso Grille, the Führer’s biggest yacht

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The toilet in Florence, N.J. (Hana Hawker)
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Florence, N.J., isn’t too different from other small towns in the Garden State, one marked, if anything, by a slew of very ordinary sights—chain flower shops at every major intersection, decidedly lower gas prices, and a few cozy diners. But it is also home to something else, acquired by Greg Kohfeldt when he bought Sam Carlani’s auto-repair shop here almost 20 years ago: Adolf Hitler’s toilet.

According to Kohfeldt, the toilet came off of Hitler’s biggest private yacht, the Aviso Grille, which was between 400 and 500 feet long, and at the time one of the biggest private boats in existence. “He wanted to ride it down the Thames in London and go live in Windsor Palace when he invaded,” Kohfeldt told me on a subzero morning last week as he pulled a sink—also from the ship, and now in pieces—out of a box and laid them out for me to examine each of the maker’s stamps and faucets. Another resident of Florence, Dick Glass—an expert on Hitler’s yacht—told me that the ship was armed, had a crew of 245 men, a private room for Eva Braun, and was bigger than J.P. Morgan’s ship Corsair. The Aviso Grille also played a significant role in one particular moment in history: Hitler’s Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz stood on the deck of the ship on May 1, 1945, and gave the first word of the Führer’s death and took command of Germany.

After the war ended, the Aviso Grille was taken to the United States and ended up in the hands of New Jersey shipyard owner Harry Doan, who illegally charged visitors 25 cents to board and tour Hitler’s Yacht. However, according to Glass, both Doan and the federal government wanted to prevent the ship from becoming a memorial to Hitler, and so it was scrapped in Doan’s salvage yard in the early 1950s.

At that point, Sam Carlani needed a new toilet. Doan, his close friend and poker buddy, told him he had one available.

blackletter push-button on toilet

Kohfeldt pointed out to me that the toilet has all the traits of a toilet from a ship—including an open side slot for seawater to be pumped in. The knobs on the faucet bear text written in Blackletter—the famous and classically German family of typefaces that Hitler adored. (The Nazis, in 1933, chased typographer Jan Tschichold out of Germany for advocating use of sans-serif fonts instead of Blackletter, among other design travesties.) The toilet has been a “functional tourist attraction” since 1952, Kohfeldt said. People would take road trips—as I had—just to see it. (Indeed, the toilet is listed in Roadside America’s online guide.)

But last year, the toilet finally did make it to London as Hitler intended, when a British game show—Four Rooms, a lot like a British version of Antiques Roadshow—flew Kohfeldt and the toilet out to appear on the air to be sold. Although they couldn’t find a buyer, Kohfeldt said he was happy to accept the free trip and relished an opportunity to mock the Führer by taking the toilet to places Adolf only dreamed of.

While Kohfeldt seems proud of his object’s notoriety, he seems remarkably unexcited by the fact that he owns Hitler’s toilet. This may be because the story of Hitler’s possessions in Florence only begins with his toilet.

When the ship came to the United States, it was taken apart, and many of the pieces were distributed throughout Florence. One man took the teak wood from the paneling on the yacht and built himself a porch. The American Legion Post 194 in Florence still has one of the tables from Hitler’s ship in their office. The aforementioned Dick Glass used a port window for his own house; he also collected the brass screws from the Grille with his father to build their own yacht. Other bits and pieces of the Grille—the relics of Hitler’s great aspiration of taking over the United Kingdom—are scattered throughout nearby towns.

It’s hard to be jaded or unimpressed by items of historical significance, especially ones that aren’t in museums, or ones that were very personal. And yet if anybody is capable of this, it is the residents of Florence. Perhaps this is because the fragments of Hitler’s Grille have been seen for so long not as historical artifacts, but instead as functional objects used in daily routines. Or perhaps it is because it is easy to see Hitler’s uniform or decorative knives in a museum because we see him strictly as a historical being, but the moment we see his bathrobe or silverware—let alone wear it and eat with it—we stop believing that it belonged to Hitler. While we know he existed, it is still difficult to see such a broad historical figure as someone who lived outside of his speeches and parades. In fact, Kohfeldt’s toilet is a thing worth flying to London or a sight worth driving across the country to see precisely because even when standing before it we are unable to concretize in our minds the image of Hitler sitting on it. If we do that, we have to imagine which of his psychotic fantasies he was thinking about, or what the temperature of the cabin was, or even stranger, what it must have been like to sit there as Hitler. And so even when presented with the fact—the hard, white, glassy truth that is Hitler’s toilet—it is nearly impossible to accept the reality of what the object is simply because the notion of Hitler doing normal things feels apocryphal. Almost as apocryphal as the story of his toilet sitting for the last half-century in New Jersey garage.

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I hate to ask, but is there any, er residue that could be tested for DNA?

Next week: Andrew Sullivan’s commode.

Ah, and therein lies the plot for “The Boys From Brazil – Part 2: Number Two.”

Yes hitler never took a sh*t. He held it back all his life which made him angry. Then this guy took his toilet on a cruise to piss him off even more, though at that point he was already dead..hmm..well on top of that we now know Hitler ate a sandwich once, which is truly heartbreaking, and compels us to put all our efforts into imagining Hitler taking a crap, cause that’s what we Jews live for. I’m heading to London as soon as I can and when I get there I want to hear more about the wonderful nonsensical journey of this precious toilet!!

echosyst says:

New Jersey is Hitler’s toilet.

Roy Lewis says:

My father brought an enormous Nazi flag back from the war. It was about 25′ long, and was kept carefully rolled up under the workbench in the garage. Several times a year he would take it out, unroll it on the driveway, back the car out onto it, and change the oil. One must not stain the pavement!

valles says:

Has Marcel Duchamp been informed ?

Stormridercx4 says:

Wow I didn’t know Hurricane Sandy was that powerful ! Blew that sucker all the way from Germany. I think that story is better than the one written above. And this is news how?

Joli Furnari says:

I thought Weird NJ broke this story years ago.

http://theweirdusmessageboard.yuku.com/topic/3874#.UQlLSfJA4rM

Jeremy says:

Four Rooms isn’t a British Antiques Roadshow. Britain’s Antiques Roadshow is the original format, still made and originally aired in 1979. The PBS version started in 1997.

JungleCogs says:

Well, that explains King Obama’s sour attitude; must be something to do with Despots. I’ll bet Stalin, Marx and Mao had the same problem.

Plumbline says:

A fitting throne for such a despot of history……..

looles says:

You are so deeply stupid. Your type has this almost magical faith that reciting some litany of historic boogeymen out of Madame Tussaud’s will make President Obama into a hated dictator…when any normal person can see that he’s the usual milquetoast liberal.

“The knobs on the faucet bear text written in Blackletter—the famous and classically German family of typefaces that Hitler adored. (The Nazis, in 1933, chased typographer Jan Tschichold out of Germany for advocating use of sans-serif fonts instead of Blackletter, among other design travesties.)”

Not true, actually. Of course Fraktur (German-style blackletter) has an association with German tradition, but in 1942 the Nazis actually banned it for official use on orders of Joseph Goebbels, who considered it to be Jewish-inspired (!).

Tschichold was chased out of Germany as a radical, associated with the Bauhaus and similar movements, but there was a lot more to his New Typography than just sans-serif. In fact, his own work some employed serif and even script fonts alongside sansserif. No use of blackletter, as far as I know. And even the Nazis were known to use sansserif type on occasion.

In his Swiss exile he became a leader in the revival of traditional typography, exemplified in his late 1940s redesign of Penguin Classics. This wasn’t so much of a volte-face as it might appear: late 19th century typography was terribly and might best be termed degraded traditionalism. Jumping forward to something completely new or restoring old, high standards were both legitimate responses.

Better than wherever you came from no doubt

John Bossi says:

Make fun all you want but artifacts related to one of the most destructive regimes in history can be important without being worshipped.

There’s actually a toilet museum in Korea. This toilet belongs there.

This toilet should be enshrined as the birthplace of the jews and their big story. Total sh*t.

disqus_rCOBbiJUsR says:

The toilet may be from the ship, but given its size and the number of crew members, there is no way to know if Hitler actually used this toilet.

Also, I think that the characterization of the craft as a “private yacht” is probably not accurate.

Kazmyhre Florendo says:

I’m thinking the same too! If this is really Hitler’s toilet, it should be in a museum or something by now. They should test it for DNA! :)

Fireworks

SimonFraser4 says:

Heil Shitler? It’s just so easy to ridicule Nazis.

katgurl says:

Or as the cradle in which your mom rocked you.

2War Abn Vet says:

I’m the proud owner of a valve control wheel from the “Prinz Eugen”.

C. Rose says:

Who gives a crap?

Scheisse!

Marcus Aurelius says:

Sounds like a bunch of crap to me…

Destroy the toilet immediately so that with any modern technology it would never ever be possible to extract his DNA out ouf it for possible reproduction. However, DNA would give important information what may cause a person to become what this person was, perhaps there could be a resolution to how he got a full and total control of the minds of one big nation. Just a personal thought. Do not generalize. Cheers, Marko

Guest says:

Just to be clear, it’s Windsor Castle. Buckingham is the palace.

Null says:

The cheesy tourist ideas write themselves. ‘Scheisse! Sit and shit on Hitler’s Toilet!’

Null says:

This NJ-NY thing always struck me as kind of dumb. It’s like hearing the Bostonians protest that they’re really, really different from New Yorkers, when in fact what you have are two old Northeastern cities that are excessively proud of themselves.

You americans stole a lot of things, even in front of frightened children you took mementoes of their dead fathers. Disgusting lot, and then you have the balls to call germans thieves.

The Nazi regime was a criminal kleptocracy that specialized in the theft of lives, cultures, and nations. Those who participated were, and remain, thieves and murderers. Those who did not have the same chance of being decent human beings as anyone else.

Ulrich Hansche says:

The Nazis were bastards, ok, but nur13 years, the United States for centuries.

Since the Second World War: Korea. Vietnam, Chile, Africa, Iran, Iraq.

Not always right, but with their hybrids by the CIA

The Americans have served the Nazis as they needed it, think of Werner von Braun.

The Americans with Hitler well deserved (Ford, General Motors, Dupont, etc.)

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Hitler’s Toilet Is in New Jersey: A Yacht’s Commode, in an Auto-Repair Shop

For half a century, Greg’s Auto Repair has housed the commode from Aviso Grille, the Führer’s biggest yacht

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