Adolf Hitler's Toilet
Florence, New Jersey
Adolf Hitler -- is there anything we don't we know about this megalomaniac? Thousands of books, millions of Web pages, and countless grueling hours of derivative cable TV programming have led us to believe that no secrets are left to reveal about madman Adolf.
But precious little has been written about his toilet.
Hitler's dreams of world conquest were thwarted; his toilet was his only throne. Who knows how many of the Fuhrer's half-baked schemes were hatched on his hopper? Yet this priceless artifact is not displayed behind velvet ropes in some big city toilet museum. It is instead still on the job, flushing strong and steady, in the quiet Delaware River town of Florence, New Jersey.
The late King of Toilet Seat Arts once painted Hitler on a toilet seat, but probably never dreamed that his work could have graced a suitable bowl in America.
Hitler's toilet came from his private yacht, Aviso Grille, which wound up in a New Jersey junkyard in the early 1950s. "The ship had to be destroyed," recalled local resident and historian Dick Glass. "The government wasn't going to allow it to be set up as some kind of memorial for Adolf."
Torn apart for scrap, the yacht's various pieces were scattered among the people of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The toilet was purchased by Sam Carlani, who wanted it for a bathroom he was building in his auto repair shop in Florence. That was in 1952. It's been there ever since.
Greg Kohfeldt, the garage's current owner, welcomes visitors when he isn't busy and accepts his toilet's fame with gracious bafflement. He'd much rather be known for his repair work than his toilet, which has been here since before he was born. "It's not something to be proud of, but it exists," he told us. "I use it to go to the bathroom."
The bathroom occupies a back corner of the garage bay. Formerly white walls are stained with decades of splatter and man-grease. The floor's condition is unmentionable. A cardboard box, filled with magazines, serves as a library.
Greg repeatedly referred to his relic as "a working toilet," and it's easy to see why. It's encrusted as only a toilet can be that is never, ever, used by women. "I'm not a good housekeeper," Greg admitted. "It's not pristine or anything." Looking at the toilet, one can't help but wonder whether sinister Hitler DNA is festering beneath its crusty layers -- but what genetic researcher would want to attempt the extraction?
That raises the question: is this really Hitler's toilet? The Aviso Grille was 443 feet long, the world's largest private boat at the time. It probably had many toilets. "Was it out of his bathroom? I don't know," said Greg, perhaps looking for a way to lower expectations.
Dick Glass took a broader view. "It was still Hitler's property," he said. "He owned it all!" Even if Hitler never used the toilet for its intended purpose, the dictator was notoriously prone to seasickness. There's a chance that Hitler threw up into this toilet.
Greg doesn't want to sell the toilet ("If I put it up for sale, I don't have anything to use.") but for years he's floated the idea that he would give the toilet to anyone who would buy him a new bathroom. It's a humbling lesson in real-world Hitler economics; apparently no one has ever valued Hitler's toilet at the price of a half-bath.
We hope that no one ever will. Hitler booty-fans can already see his staff car in Illinois, and his dog tags (supposedly) in Missouri, and his typewriter and beer steins elsewhere. But the most craptacular relic of history's most infamous maniac seems best right where it is, in an obscure corner of a state that Hitler might have used as a beachhead if he could have calmed his queasy stomach.
Fascist tool? Not this Deutschland dumper. Hitler's toilet is on the job, serving sons of freedom with every flush.
Update: Greg had a change of heart after our visit, cleaned the toilet, disconnected it, and was flown to London (with the toilet) in an attempt to sell it on a TV game show. The segment, however, was never aired, and the toilet returned to Greg's Auto Repair, where it currently sits unused on the floor as an attraction.