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freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 288



Reading:



So why ARE we so intrigued by Hitler? For good or for bad, what is it that we want to know about him? Is it akin to our fascination with Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump? Is it our fascination with the image of pure evil? Is it that we see him as the ultimate “bogeyman,” the Darth Vader/Voldemort of the twentieth century? Is he responsible for every evil thing that happened in World War II? When one reads Mein Kampf, you are left to wonder: how could someone who writes such convoluted sentences and phrases be so fascinating for so many people?


Janet Flanner was intrigued early on. An American expatriate for much of her life, Flanner traveled to Germany to interview Hitler for a three-part profile in The New Yorker. Ignatius Phayre (a pseudonym) visited Hitler’s lair in the Bavarian Alps and profiled it in the Architectural Digest of the day, the magazine Homes and Gardens.


In fact, are all these articles the 1930s equivalents of Oprah/Ellen/The View/”Lifestyles of the Rich and Faamous” celebrity-infused talk/gossip shows?


Ian Kershaw is the preeminent biographer of Hitler. His 2-volume biography of Hitler seems to be (at least for the time being) the most authoritative biography of the Führer to date and delves into every nook and cranny of Hitler’s life.


By reading through these articles/site, what is the big “takeaway” for you re Hitler? Do you understand him any better? Do you think trying to understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit? At the end of the day, in your view, what’s the most important thing(s) to know about Adolf Hitler? And why?


As usual, be sure to respond fully to this post, supporting your observations with specifics from the readings and from class. And be sure to interact with your fellow students—that is, read some of their posts and be sure to respond to what they have to say within your own (and for you early posters, that means returning to this thread!).


user01135
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf?

By reading through these articles/site, what is the big “takeaway” for you re Hitler? I think my biggest takeaway from these articles is that Hitler was a person just like everyone else. Obviously the actions he committed were horrific, but he was not some robot programmed to be evil, he was a person. Hitler showed us how possible it is for evil to exist among us, and how that evil can easily take a toll on the history of the world.


Do you understand him any better? After reading the articles I still do not understand Hitler. The articles help me realize that Hitler was human, just like me, but I will never truly be able to understand why he did the things he did. I do not think there is any way for someone to understand what went through Hitler's mind. It is nice to learn that Hitler was semi-normal, he was seen as a typical man in society, but he is obviously still crazy. No sane person could ever think that what Hitler did was right, which is why I will never be able to understand Hitler.


Do you think trying to understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit? Although I'm not sure it is possible I would like to be able to understand Hitler. I think understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit because of how present the effects of his actions are today. I think it would be interesting to understand his thinking because of who he was as a person. He was supposed to be just a typical man who did the same things we do, but something in his mind went wrong and he committed the acts he committed. I think it would be beneficial to learn what changed and what went through his mind to make these decisions.


At the end of the day, in your view, what’s the most important thing(s) to know about Adolf Hitler? And why? I think the most important thing to know about Hitler is how he lived his life. He lived the majority of his life as a typical man and that's what makes this act so confusing. It is impossible to understand how someone who seemed so normal did the things he did. I think learning and being able to understand Hitler is definitely something we should be trying to do, but I don't know how successful we can be.

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany and the Nazi Party is a notorious person largely responsible for the killing of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. His name, known throughout the world, is taught throughout schools, studied by historians, and discussed amongst peers. Why are people so intrigued by this sickly evil man? Well, he stands out because of his brutality and hugely negative impact on history, but there is something else about him that intrigues people. Hitler, a man who Jannet Flanner explains in her profile about him in The New Yorker “becomes sick if he sees blood, yet he is unafraid of being killed or killing,” was an odd man. Not only because of the irony behind his fear of blood but also because of the many complexities and aspects driving his evil character that make anyone learning about him stop in their tracks.


My amazement upon learning about Hitler was understanding that he really was a human being. The tremendously horrible acts Hitler committed during World War II are so inhumane and terrible, that it is hard to comprehend or realize that it was still a human being doing these things. Flanner explains that Hitler, “like automobiles,” “is crazy about films,” and “has a passion for the piano.” Hitler had parents such as his mother, Klara Pölzl, “who he looks like and loved,” and he had a home of a light jade green in which he could “laugh and take his ease.” Hitler’s passions included history, painting, architecture, and music, but also power, mass murder, and destruction. Despite his love for both of these polar opposites, the subsequent was more important to him and its impact on history.


What is stunning is that these human characteristics of Hitler do not go with the incredibly inhumane and emotionless actions he took while leading the Nazis. He was a human, yet at the same time, so incredibly inhumane. Hitler lacked social connection and relationships, for he had “no gift for intimacy” (Flanner) and, according to Rudolf Hess, only one close friend. Flanner explained it perfectly, saying, “In over sixteen years’ struggle for power and its maintenance, the Führer has been loyal only to one man—Adolf Hitler.” Hitler only cared about himself and no one else. This lack of relationship meant a lack of empathy or care for the millions he murdered. Yet, this returns once again to the question of why so many are intrigued by this man who killed millions without remorse.


People are intrigued by Hitler because he shows that human beings are capable of being so evil. The things that Hitler did go against human morals, and in a sense, his actions were animalistic. But this is exactly what stands out about him. He is an example of someone born human who does such evils that he becomes far from it. In addition to this, the strange, mysterious, and manipulative character of Hitler and his “forced smile” (Flanner) make him terrifyingly intriguing. The fact that a man was able to use his humanity and human aspects to commit such horrendous and inhumane acts is unsettling, but also intriguing. Hitler was able to use his public speaking skills to sway and manipulate a whole population into not only accepting but agreeing with the mass murder and genocide of a whole group of people. As Flanner explains, “Hitler was the kind of public speaker who, when heckled, could find an explanation quick as lightning and make it sound like thunder.”


Hitler’s actions are also a terrifying example of what could happen today, and therefore, it is important to understand his actions, regardless of how terrible they were. Throughout history and today, we have a tendency to avoid topics or people that are difficult to understand or make us uncomfortable. Yet avoiding the uncomfortable, even the terrible, means that we will never learn from what happened and these things will continue to happen. Hitler was someone whose actions are unjustifiable, however, there are different explanations that can contribute to why he might’ve done these things. Hitler experienced great trauma at a young age, with his father dying when he was 13, and then his mother dying two years later. Therefore, he had a childhood full of anger and a desire for revenge, and he had no home or family to connect with and learn to love. Similarly, today, we can understand that many of the people responsible for doing terrible things, although their actions, like Hitler’s, are inexcusable, their environment growing up contributes heavily to their later actions. We should learn from these examples, and work to allow all children to grow up in loving and nurturing environments. Overall, I do not believe that we should look to excuse and justify Hitler’s actions, but rather that we should learn from understanding him. His actions teach us important lessons in avoiding similar hateful actions today.


So in remembering Hitler, it is important to recognize the terrible things he did and the horrifying person he was, but also to understand the complexities behind his actions so that we can avoid similar events today. Hitler questions the difference between humans and animals, proposing the question of whether being born human really makes someone human or if it's our actions that inherently determine that. Hitler was born as a human, but his actions during the Holocaust were so incredibly inhumane that it makes us wonder what really allows us to call someone human? Is it simply because of how they were born, or is it about one’s actions and decisions throughout the course of their life? As Ian Kershaw says, “He comes to power in a democracy. He uncovers the thin ice on which modern civilization rests, and shows us what we’re capable of as human beings.” Humans are capable of doing both terrible and amazing things, so overcoming our terrible aspects first means facing them head-on, whether it is easy or not.

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by user01135 on March 13, 2022 21:30

Do you think trying to understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit? Although I'm not sure it is possible I would like to be able to understand Hitler. I think understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit because of how present the effects of his actions are today. I think it would be interesting to understand his thinking because of who he was as a person. He was supposed to be just a typical man who did the same things we do, but something in his mind went wrong and he committed the acts he committed. I think it would be beneficial to learn what changed and what went through his mind to make these decisions.

I agree completely with you. I think that understanding him is necessary because, although it is a difficult and often painful process, it is worth it because of the lessons we can learn and gain. You explained that it is worthwhile because of these potential lessons that can be gained, and I just wanted to add that these lessons gained can contribute to our lives today. We can use these lessons to make better decisions and help avoid similar, and less world-wide, consequences. In understanding Hitler, we can attempt at truly understanding what makes a human so insanely evil and prevent future evils.

cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf?

Whenever I think of Adolf Hitler, I without a doubt always question how a human being could ever be capable of committing such atrocities towards other human beings. This is my same thought process with any person or group of people whom we collectively agree are evil, for lack of a better word. From what I have learned about how humans “operate”, I know that it is part of human nature to understand or at least make sense of the world around them. This starts with asking questions, investigating to answer those questions, creating more questions, investigating, so on and so on, until you find yourself deeply immersed into a very dark topic you would never imagine yourself to be in. And I don’t think this is any different from people’s fascination with Hitler. It would be impossible to begin to make sense of why Hitler was the person he was without doing research, writing articles, conducting interviews etc. So, for the most part, I can understand the fascination with Hitler and his followers’ actions and beliefs. But of course, this fascination can always go a bit too far. And although it may be difficult to do so, understanding or beginning to understand Hitler is essential to our understanding of history.


When first reading Jannet Flanner’s piece, I was taken back at how oddly specific it was. It felt like you were almost walking through a day in Hitler’s life and I would be lying if I said it was enjoyable to read considering he is who he is. We go from reading quite normal and ordinary things like learning that Hitler’s favorite South German Gruel was “a kind of porridge soup made of browned flour, butter, and caraway seeds, seasoned with salt and a little vinegar” to deeper things such as Hitler having “no gift for intimacy. Neither of his enemies nor his best friends have been able to bring forward any mistress out of his past”. We learn about his simple gestures where he simply shrugs his shoulders in conversations or “if he’s really interested, he is likely to walk up and down the room” and “in arguments he becomes violent”. In just those 3 short quotes, I learned about something simple that kind of humanizes Hitler, something about his personality, and something about how he interacts with the outside world. Although these things may seem completely useless, they ultimately gave me a better understanding of Hitler as a person and can help me picture the evolution of his lifetime.


In the interview with Ian Kershaw, similar things are shared but they’re coming from a completely different perspective. Which I think is similar to how we get to know someone in modern day. You experience them yourself, you hear what other people say about them, and you look at facts about them. This interview is the perfect example of hearing what other people have to say about someone. And it’s not coming from just anyone, it’s coming from someone who has spent a big portion of his life learning about Hitler. I found it interesting that he mentioned that “people with medical backgrounds have examined the evidence and rejected the idea that Hitler was insane” and that “saying hitler was insane is just an apologia for him”. I agree 100% with this because it’s so hard to believe a human being could be so evil, we convince ourselves that only someone who is mentally insane is capable of such atrocity. This thought process is ultimately more harmful than it is helpful in understanding Hitler.


Lastly, reading something completely dedicated to Hitler’s home like he’s a celebrity on Vogue was really eye opening. It’s unbelievable how easily his life can be humanized and simplified just by describing his home and how he lived in said home. It just made it more clear to me that he really was a real human being who was completely aware of what he was doing, not someone who was insane, like I mentioned previously.


Ultimately, I think the most important thing to know about Hitler is that he was very much a sane human being who had no excuse to do what he did and that should never be ignored, no matter how hard it may be for us to wrap our heads around it.

cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by watermelon2 on March 15, 2022 16:27

Humans are capable of doing both terrible and amazing things, so overcoming our terrible aspects first means facing them head-on, whether it is easy or not.

I am really glad you included this in your post because it's such a reality check for all of us. We like to sit and discuss these evil people in history and codemn what they do and tend to forget that if nothing is done, the pattern will continue, especially in the dividied world we're currently living in. Not to say everyone who discusses Hitler is as evil as him, but we do all share at least one thing with Hitler, we're humans. And that, to me, will always be shocking to say.

booksandcandles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf?

The reason we are all so fascinated by Adolf Hitler is that he was a human being, just like us, who ended up doing horrible things. Who's to say it can't happen to the rest of us? Who's to say we won't be the world's next "evil" or the enemy of a world war? As a child, the first time I heard Hitler's name was in The Sound of Music, which took place in Austria before WWII. My family used to watch that movie all the time, and even though Hitler didn't actually ever show up in the movie,or perhaps because he didn't, he didn't seem real. It was like he was a ghost or some kind of invisible monster. Then, in school when we first started learning about wars, his name came up a lot. I was taught that he was some kind of evil genius who hated people of the Jewish faith for no reason and killed a lot of them with his army. Now, obviously, I know more. He wasn't an evil genius and he wasn't an invisible monster. He was a person who had radical views and acted upon them, harming generations of people from all over the world.

It's the same thing with crime shows and documentaries. The same reason we love learning about serial killers, we love learning about Adolf Hitler. Because they were people once, and they turned into something evil and disgusting in the minds of others. We try to understand these people to stop ourselves from ever becoming them. In the texts, I learned even more that Adolf Hitler was a person, who loved cars and didn't eat meat and had a country house. He wore modest clothing and didn't have servants, even though he was rich. People want to know how he became someone who could commit such atrocious crimes, why he did what he did. That's why people like Ian Kershaw and Janet Flanner study him and research the things he did.

Basically, I think the most important thing to remember about Adolf Hitler is that he was a human being, not some faceless monster in the dark. He had likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, just like everyone on this planet. That's not to say that his actions can be justified, because obviously no, they can't. We just have to remember things like the fact that he had a mother and father, that he had a childhood. Understanding Hitler could help other to not turn into him, so yes, I think it's worthwhile. I don't personally understand him better, but I will keep in mind that he had motives that seemed right to him at the time, even if millions of people died for it.

booksandcandles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by watermelon2 on March 16, 2022 09:42

We can use these lessons to make better decisions and help avoid similar, and less world-wide, consequences. In understanding Hitler, we can attempt at truly understanding what makes a human so insanely evil and prevent future evils.

I agree completely. I think that attempting to understand someone like Hitler is worthwhile because we can, like you said, hopefully "prevent future evils."

facingstudent8
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 29
This question of our interest in him reminds me of the documentary Ms. Freeman referenced in class about what is so interesting with Putin. I’m not entirely sure what to take away from these articles. They were quite interesting to read but to be honest I’m not sure what to make of them. It was interesting seeing different aspects of Hitler’s life. The articles humanized him in a way that I have never seen him humanized before. It also made me wonder if we even should be humanizing him. Also, what is the goal of humanizing him in the first place? Is it that we understand him better? And what is so intriguing about Flanner’s articles is how she can talk about “Hitler’s famous anti-semitic decree” while also saying that “He was a small-boned baby and tubercular in his teens” (Fuller 1, 8). It is interesting to see how she is able to cover the atrocities he has committed as well as his favorite fruits and vegetables. It seems like an odd juxtaposition but one can see the development of her view of him from mystery in the first profile to harsher descriptions in the third. To me, it felt quite weird to read writing that appeared to be making one relate to him. It was especially odd reading about how “Every morning at nine he goes out for a talk with the gardeners about their day’s work. These men, like the chauffeur and air-pilot, are not so many servants as loyal friends” (Phayre). This seemed to be an attempt to make Hitler more personable and relatable. I understand him better in the sense that he was a human. But I think when one considers how he is a human it is important to remember what Kershaw said: “Maybe the project was mad, but the man was not. Saying Hitler was insane is just an apologia for him, isn’t it? He’s not in charge of his actions, not responsible for his deeds. Then you’ve got to ask, “Why did 60 million Germans follow a madman?” So it’s an apologia for them too”(Kershaw). I believe this quote is so important because recognizing Hitler’s humanity should encourage our understanding of how truly evil what he did was. How can one be a human and murder other humans in such a horrific way? As Kershaw highlights, it is so important to be careful when we talk about issues like genocide because language is extremely important. It is vital that people don’t talk about how “Hitler was insane” because it operates as an excuse for what he did. It is almost like saying no sane person would ever commit genocide, but a sane person did commit genocide that is one of the horrifying aspects of it. But at the end of the day, in my view, it is most important to know that Adolf Hitler orchestrated a genocide that changed the course of world history and was an attempt to exterminate many groups of people not just the jewish people. It is important that Hitler is remembered for this because it is important that future generations understand the evil that humans are capable of.
facingstudent8
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 29

Originally posted by booksandcandles on March 16, 2022 20:28

The reason we are all so fascinated by Adolf Hitler is that he was a human being, just like us, who ended up doing horrible things. Who's to say it can't happen to the rest of us? Who's to say we won't be the world's next "evil" or the enemy of a world war?

This is such an interesting perspective and one that I hadn't thought of. I completely agree that part of the obsession with Hitler has to do with our obsession with ourselves and out of worry that it can happen to any one of us. That is where the fear comes from, the uncertainty of what will happen and thinking that anyone is capable of that.

pink12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf

When you hear the name Hitler, the Holocaust is most likely the first thing that comes to your mind. Countless and countless times I have heard his name and learned about the holocaust, but it never came to my realization up until now that I've never actually learned about Hitler's past and background. The thing that stood out to me the most was that the article stated that Hitler appeared to people a normal and hardworking guy, not out of the ordinary at all. His house was filled with books, he worked very hard to build his dream house, and he grew up in a large family. This makes me wonder how such a seemingly normal guy could start a genocide. It is also very frightening to me that a seemingly normal human being can be capable of such horrendous acts. As said In the article, Hitler did have a mental illness, which doesn't come as a surprise, and in no way can justify his actions. The biggest concern I have is how did someone with a known mental illness be given such high authority and power. Even those who were strongly against him still had to follow his orders out of fear for their own lives. I struggle to comprehend how he rose to that high of power and was able to brain wash all these innocent people into believing that this gruesome acts were acceptable. This plays into the power that rulers can hold over individuals. Just like for people in Russia, no matter how much they disagree against Putin, they aren't able to voice their opinions out of fear that they will get killed or beaten. It also doesn't make sense to me how people like Hitler and Putin are able to hold so much power over people when no one agrees with their actions, and how can we stop such inhumane individuals in the future?

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf?

Adolf Hitler is the man who will go down in history textbooks for centuries as an intentional form of pure evil. His leadership in the Nazi political party, dictatorship in Germany, and responsibility for the lives of millions in the Holocaust are self-explanatory as to why Hitler was and still is the image of a murderous and malicious being. The Austrian-born German politician initiated World War II in Europe with his stealthy military operations that conformed with his racially motivated ideology. The power-hungry man had full control over the legislative and executive branches of government and suppressed the Social Democratic Party. After Western Allies, the Soviet Union, and practically the rest of the world turned against him to defeat his disastrous ruling, Hitler took his own life. Although much is known about his life at the start of the war and the impact it has had now 75 years after the German surrendered on September 2, 1945, nevertheless, Hitler's upbringings and motivations are not as knowledgable to a typical person. Could that be because society has fetishized learning about his ungodly actions much as contemporary life headlines the most pivotal and dramatic parts of celebrities' lives?

In Ian Kershaw's preeminent biographer of Hitler and Janet Flanner's intriguing New Yorker profile on the man, the biggest takeaway observed is how society does not personify Hitler. In other terms, Hitler is usually described to be this grand, almost machine-oriented being who functioned off of hate. Although his actions are absolutely inexcusable in any condition, it is crucial to note that he was in fact a human being. As a single person, Hitler is then left to be learned as one who rose to an unaffordable amount of popular favor to do as much damage as he did. Additionally, Hitler did not achieve his devious plans alone. With alliances from his followers and a few countries, the Nazi leader gained enough power as he did. In the two readings, a further entail into Hitler's life is described such as his day-to-day routine and interactions with others: "He likes automobiles...He prefers to sit in front...His cooking and housekeeping are done for him" (Flanner). Through this, I'm able to understand Hitler's lifestyle away from his military occupation, however, it doesn't diminish his horrible intent to ultimately start a genocide. These articles in the 130s may resemble the juicy entail alive modern talk shows and magazines, however, they further dive into a relm of analyzing a sociopath.

Trying to understand Hitler is worthwhile if you are one who is interested in the psychology behind murderous people -- much like those who enjoy true crime documentaries. I would say though, his history of art, architecture, and music is not necessary to fully obtain an opinion on what kind of person Hitler was. There should be no remorse or empathy for a man that caused great damage. We must remember the Holocaust and WWII -- NOT Hitler's passions and life successes.


strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by pink12 on March 16, 2022 21:43

When you hear the name Hitler, the Holocaust is most likely the first thing that comes to your mind. Countless and countless times I have heard his name and learned about the holocaust, but it never came to my realization up until now that I've never actually learned about Hitler's past and background. The thing that stood out to me the most was that the article stated that Hitler appeared to people a normal and hardworking guy, not out of the ordinary at all. His house was filled with books, he worked very hard to build his dream house, and he grew up in a large family. This makes me wonder how such a seemingly normal guy could start a genocide. It is also very frightening to me that a seemingly normal human being can be capable of such horrendous acts. As said In the article, Hitler did have a mental illness, which doesn't come as a surprise, and in no way can justify his actions. The biggest concern I have is how did someone with a known mental illness be given such high authority and power. Even those who were strongly against him still had to follow his orders out of fear for their own lives. I struggle to comprehend how he rose to that high of power and was able to brain wash all these innocent people into believing that this gruesome acts were acceptable. This plays into the power that rulers can hold over individuals. Just like for people in Russia, no matter how much they disagree against Putin, they aren't able to voice their opinions out of fear that they will get killed or beaten. It also doesn't make sense to me how people like Hitler and Putin are able to hold so much power over people when no one agrees with their actions, and how can we stop such inhumane individuals in the future?

It's truly chilling to think that a single man can alter history forever. It's important to note, as you mentioned, that he did brainwash his followers and ultimately was mentally ill which doesn't justify his actions but does explains the superiority complex.

OverthinkingEnigma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

Why Are We So Intrigued By Adolf?

After reading these articles, I was surprised by the immense number of details these authors have accumulated on Hitler’s personal life. In my opinion, I saw that these small details attempted to humanize Hitler as authors stated relatable and ‘normal’ features that Hitler had such as, “ He swallows gruel for breakfast, is fond of oatmeal, digests milk and onion soup, declines meat, which even as an undernourished youth he avoided, never touches fish, has given up macaroni as fattening, eats one piece of bread at a meal…alcohol and nicotine are beyond him, since they heighten the exciting intoxication his faulty assimilation already assures.” I would say that Janet Flanner’s article “Profiles: Führer” took a comedic approach when it came to addressing Hitler’s normal human features such as his eating habits, as it seemed she was fully aware of the fact that such simple and human habits extremely clashed with who he truly was: a malicious dictator who had taken the lives of millions. I still strongly standby my opinion in which, despite these humanizing characteristics, they don’t in any way change his actions; his actions were orchestrated by his beliefs and decisions, and that will forever overpower the fact that he loved gruel or went out on walks around his garden and treated his servants as loyal friends (Ignatius Phayre, “Hitler’s Mountain Home”). What’s more, Hitler utilized his defining traits to strengthen the Nazi party and his following, “Because of his incessant speech making, last spring two nodules were cut from hitler’s vocal cords, an operation common to hard-working opera singers. Ten years ago, he was making eleven speeches nightly when his goal was to talk in every german city, when he was orating daily for hours and without pause before hundreds of thousands, in wind, rain, or smoky beer halls…Hitler is a born spellbinder of the emotional type, who produces in crows the excitement he produces in himself.” We all would know at least one person who has great public-speaking skills, but they hadn’t used this skill of theirs to enforce a dangerous belief system and justify the unforgivable treatment of several communities. Furthermore, my takeaway from this is that Hitler’s childhood, habits, dislikes or likes, and property portray him as an average human being’, but they shouldn’t be considered his “good side.” Several people share Hitler’s interests, experiences, preferences, but they didn’t commit a mass atrocity that killed generations. I find it extremely important that people learn to properly consider and weigh one’s actions and characteristics when it comes to determining who they are as a person.

Nonetheless, in terms of the articles and their contents, I learned a lot about Hitler’s habits, preferences, and his summer house. It was interesting to see the stark differences between the two spheres in Hitler’s life: dictatorship and his private life. When you compare his respectful and friendly manner to his supporters/family/close-workers to his initiation and conduction of the Holocaust, the two are day and night. As the Führer, Hitler was constantly having speeches with massive crowds, attending several meetings, but, “There is nothing pretentious about the Führer’s little estate. It is one that any merchant of Munich or Nuremberg might possess in these lovely hills” (Ignatius Phayre, “Hitler’s Mountain Home”). It’s clear that Hitler separated his personal life from his role as a fascist dictator, and his easy transition between these two spheres of life is frankly shocking and disturbing. Whether this transitioning was a sign of insanity seemed to be the central theme for Gene Santaro’s interview with Ian Kershaw. Putting in the time and effort to try and understand Hitler is a morally difficult thing to accomplish as seen through Karshaw’s statement, “Since my aim was to document the relationship between Hitler and the environment that produced him, I felt uneasy about that.” By learning more about Hitler’s childhood, habits, tastes, mannerisms, etc, there’s the chance of developing sympathy since these details encourage the humanization of this dictator. Once Hitler is slightly humanized, the question remained whether he was clinically insane or not; although it’s now clear that Hitler wasn’t clinically insane, his actions were pure-evil and well thought out. Whether he respected his co-workers and friends or enjoyed climbing trees as a kid, he still roused a group of supporters to overthrow the Bavarian city hall; he still founded and ran the Nazi Party; he still scarred several generations.

Furthermore, it’s important to consider any possible connections between Hitler’s experiences and his actions during/before WWII. However, facts about Hitler’s past environment, habits, way of life, etc, shouldn’t be used to lessen the severity of his actions.

OverthinkingEnigma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by booksandcandles on March 16, 2022 20:28

The reason we are all so fascinated by Adolf Hitler is that he was a human being, just like us, who ended up doing horrible things. Who's to say it can't happen to the rest of us? Who's to say we won't be the world's next "evil" or the enemy of a world war? As a child, the first time I heard Hitler's name was in The Sound of Music, which took place in Austria before WWII. My family used to watch that movie all the time, and even though Hitler didn't actually ever show up in the movie,or perhaps because he didn't, he didn't seem real. It was like he was a ghost or some kind of invisible monster. Then, in school when we first started learning about wars, his name came up a lot. I was taught that he was some kind of evil genius who hated people of the Jewish faith for no reason and killed a lot of them with his army. Now, obviously, I know more. He wasn't an evil genius and he wasn't an invisible monster. He was a person who had radical views and acted upon them, harming generations of people from all over the world.

It's the same thing with crime shows and documentaries. The same reason we love learning about serial killers, we love learning about Adolf Hitler. Because they were people once, and they turned into something evil and disgusting in the minds of others. We try to understand these people to stop ourselves from ever becoming them. In the texts, I learned even more that Adolf Hitler was a person, who loved cars and didn't eat meat and had a country house. He wore modest clothing and didn't have servants, even though he was rich. People want to know how he became someone who could commit such atrocious crimes, why he did what he did. That's why people like Ian Kershaw and Janet Flanner study him and research the things he did.

Basically, I think the most important thing to remember about Adolf Hitler is that he was a human being, not some faceless monster in the dark. He had likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, just like everyone on this planet. That's not to say that his actions can be justified, because obviously no, they can't. We just have to remember things like the fact that he had a mother and father, that he had a childhood. Understanding Hitler could help other to not turn into him, so yes, I think it's worthwhile. I don't personally understand him better, but I will keep in mind that he had motives that seemed right to him at the time, even if millions of people died for it.

I never thought about how we learn more about the backgrounds of people like Hitler so that we can stop ourselves from becoming them. I agree that he had his likes/dislikes, habits, family, and so on, and so my question for you is whether you think such traits/facts necessarily define him as a person? Or in this situation should actions speak louder than words?

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