Despite the German obsession with physiognomics, no one appears ever to have discussed the omission of physical features from Max Weber's 1921 theory of charisma. Beginning around 1800 with Johann Caspar Lavater, a Swiss priest and a friend of Goethe, the practice of deducing mental qualities from physical appearance has comprehensively penetrated popular as well as scientific discourses, in particular those of phrenology, criminal anthropology, and its opposite, hero worship. This article discusses three famous subjects of physical hero worship in German history: Stefan George, Paul von Hindenburg, and Adolf Hitler. It argues that Weber may have refrained from attributing bodily attractiveness to George, a friend who was his underlying model of charismatic leadership, because of a then-current rumor about George's sexual orientation.

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