posts 1 - 15 of 23
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!).


Yiddeon
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

Why are we so Intrigued by Adolf Hitler?

Hitler is obviously insane. Flanner's article showed his obsessive nature and his paranoia. He always had decoy vehicles and frequently changed his plans at the last minute as an example. They do not however add anything to what we know about Hitler. The meticulous way he had the Jews killed shows his obsessiveness and all dictators are paranoid because if they are not they don't stay as dictators. It is not necessary to try and dissect Hitler in this way. Why add to his character, why victimize him when exploring his past. It will only serve to make him a person that people are able to sympathize with him and he is the last person that anyone should feel sympathize with no matter what he went through. Hitler should not be made into a complex figure, no matter how complex he might be in reality. Of his life, the things that are important are: His time in WWI, his time in Munich, his early years in the Nazi party as he came to power in that circle, the rise of the Nazi party and his imprisonment, the rise of him becoming chancellor of Germany, and finally the rise of his dictatorship and Nazi Germany. Leave out his daily habits. Leave out his routines with getting to places. Leave out the fact that he was abused as a child. Leave out the fact that he failed to get into art school. All that is important is his rise to power and his growing insanity. Both of which eventually led to the Final Solution and the systematic killing of the Jews. Hitler must not be made into a victim but simultaneously he must not be dehumanized. If he is dehumanized people will be able to think that the Holocaust will never happen again when it will and has.

SunflowerSpruce
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

We are fascinated by Hitler because he executed one of the worst, most atrocious genocides in history. We have never heard of someone single handedly being so destructive. Although the Holocaust can be compared to the Armenian genocide, as well as many others, the Armenian genocide was led by 3 men, rather than just one. In addition, 6 million people were killed and countless more were injured. No one has seen something like this executed on such a global scale. Especially with the rise of media influence and speed at which people were able to get information, he gained even more attention.


Our fascination with Kim Kardashian comes from our obsession with beauty, fame, and drama. Our fascination with Beyonce comes from our admiration of her power, confidence, talent, and beauty. Our fascination with Hitler, however, (similar to that of Trump) is related to our fascination with pure evil. With increasing trends about true crime, mystery, and horror, we, as a society, have become obsessed with gruesome, horrifying acts.


Although he is responsible for many of the deaths that happened during WWII, he is not responsible for every evil thing that took place during that time. He had allies, supporters, and people who agreed with his philosophies and were willing to do anything it took to cause a mass extermination of Jewish people. These people include people all over the social hierarchy, from ordinary citizens, to nazis, to people like Mengele.


Trying to understand Hitler is worthwhile to a certain extent. Sure he had a traumatic childhood and some may have sympathy for that, but that does not excuse the fact that he is responsible for the death and torturing of millions. Perhaps if he had gotten the help that he needed early on in his life, this would not have happened and it shows the extent to which childhood trauma has on one. But that is absolutely no excuse for what he did.


It is important for us to try to understand anyone’s motives when the outcome affected as many people as it did, no matter how unjustifiable they are.


At the end of the day, I think one of the most important things to learn about Hitler is how he got to be the way that he was; to talk about his background and what led up to all the actions that he took, as well as the extreme measures that were taken to get there.

SunflowerSpruce
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by Yiddeon on March 15, 2022 11:37

Hitler is obviously insane. Flanner's article showed his obsessive nature and his paranoia. He always had decoy vehicles and frequently changed his plans at the last minute as an example. They do not however add anything to what we know about Hitler. The meticulous way he had the Jews killed shows his obsessiveness and all dictators are paranoid because if they are not they don't stay as dictators. It is not necessary to try and dissect Hitler in this way. Why add to his character, why victimize him when exploring his past. It will only serve to make him a person that people are able to sympathize with him and he is the last person that anyone should feel sympathize with no matter what he went through. Hitler should not be made into a complex figure, no matter how complex he might be in reality. Of his life, the things that are important are: His time in WWI, his time in Munich, his early years in the Nazi party as he came to power in that circle, the rise of the Nazi party and his imprisonment, the rise of him becoming chancellor of Germany, and finally the rise of his dictatorship and Nazi Germany. Leave out his daily habits. Leave out his routines with getting to places. Leave out the fact that he was abused as a child. Leave out the fact that he failed to get into art school. All that is important is his rise to power and his growing insanity. Both of which eventually led to the Final Solution and the systematic killing of the Jews. Hitler must not be made into a victim but simultaneously he must not be dehumanized. If he is dehumanized people will be able to think that the Holocaust will never happen again when it will and has.

I agree that it is in no way ok to sympathize for him when talking about his background, but it is also important to learn about it, in order to know how he got to this point.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

I think there are many different reasons people are fascinated by Hitler, but I think for many people, they are fascinated by him because they want to know how he was able to rise to such absolute power so quickly, and cause the deaths of so many innocent people without anyone stopping him before he caused so much terror and destruction. It’s not similar at all to our obsessions with popular celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Beyonce, because Hitler committed horrific acts of genocide that the average celebrity has not. Both the New Yorker article and the Home and Gardens one do read pretty similarly to a profile in a magazine like People talking about a celebrity, which is odd and unsettling.

After reading through the three articles, my biggest takeaway is that people can take advantage of certain tense situations in countries and rise to power, and that we need to work to make sure we have democratic systems in place to prevent that from happening. I really don’t think I understand Hitler any better, and I don’t understand how someone could have such a deep seated hatred of other human beings, and justify the actions he committed to himself. The only piece that really helped me understand him better was the interview with Ian Kershaw about how rare his deep seated sense of revenge was, and then later about the concept of charismatic authority and how Hitler utilized that. But overall, I really don’t think it's worth trying to understand Hitler beyond his rise to power and throughout World War 2, and maybe some of his core beliefs. He was narcissistic, and sick, and it’s not worth trying to understand someone who was obviously very mentally ill and very prejudiced towards many groups of people. The most important things to know about him are his rise to power, what he did while he was in power, his core values, how he was able to rise to power because of the specific economic, political, and social situation in Weimar Germany post World War 1, and remember that he was an awful person that committed atrocities beyond what most of us can imagine. Beyond that, it’s not important to know what music he listened to, or his stance on veganism, or his garden setup, because he was an awful person.

no-one
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

To me, the fascination with Hitler, both the one at the time and our own today, is similar to our obsession with the personal lives of celebrities. I was taken aback to see that the Phayre article (published in the same month as Kristallnacht, no less!) made essentially no mention of Hitler’s politics, and in fact gave no negative mention at all of anything in his life, treating the lifestyle of a murderous dictator as an endearing peculiarity. It’s jarring to hear Hitler, who today holds the place of evil manifest, described as a “droll raconteur” or to read about his “passion about cut flowers in his home, as well as for music.” I am curious why the author took this approach—were they a sympathizer? Did they wish to avoid talking politics in “Homes & Gardens”? Whatever the case, this omission is glaring and to me, any description of Hitler’s life that fails to condemn him outright and unequivocally is overly sympathetic.

The Flanner articles, at least, are unafraid to describe Hitler’s Aryan supremacist ideology and his dictatorial rule. However, their tone still comes off as rather bland. They delve deeply into the personal eccentricities of Hitler, and his own history, which I found to be interesting. Her analysis of the influences on his beliefs from various other thinkers, philosophers, etc. seemed to conclude that, “he is ultimately convinced only by himself. His moods change often, his opinions never.” I think this article is not simply satisfying a perverse and morbid curiosity on the life of a public figure, but does in fact offer insight into the origins, motivations, and goals of a megalomaniac.

However, I believe that to delve too deeply into Hitler’s personal life is counterproductive, and even dangerous. The Holocaust and the many crimes committed by Nazi Germany were not the work of a single man. While it may be tempting (and possibly correct) to paint Hitler’s vitriolic hatred to be a result of his social and sexual insecurities, or of his disabilities in the war, Hitler is not the only person to have such circumstances. Nor do I believe that Hitler was a uniquely evil person. Surely he was an immensely evil and malicious one, but I believe there must be more people in the world, perhaps many more, who might share his scrupulousness and his hatred, but lack the circumstances he did to rise to power. As Ian Kershaw affirms, it was not Hitler’s iron will and ambition alone that pushed him into the spotlight, but a series of convenient circumstances (e.g. the Depression, German postwar resentment) that he was able to exploit. Moreover, to paint Hitler and perhaps his closest cronies as the sole force of the Nazi evil absolves the innumerable nameless individuals who made the choice to collaborate and support the Nazis in their mission. Had Hitler been killed, Germany would not have immediately dissipated into a friendly and tolerant nation welcome to all. In fact, the British plan to assassinate Hitler in 1944, Operation Foxley, was rejected on the grounds that he might be replaced by a more competent general, or that he might become a martyr to the German people in future.

In my opinion, the takeaway was that Hitler was especially suited to take advantage of the opportunities he found, but I believe that another person of a similar nature could have done the same. Hitler stepped into the spotlight when it was offered to him, but we must look more closely to discern what placed the light there in the first place. The failures of capitalism leading to the Depression, the already existing German spirit of militarism, and resentment over the First World War, among many others, contributed to this atmosphere. Humans have a natural attraction to symbols and figureheads, and they make more comprehensible to our mind what might otherwise be overwhelming. However, the lesson here is to avoid this draw and look at the faceless processes that drive events from the shadows.

stylishghost
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by no-one on March 16, 2022 21:01

To me, the fascination with Hitler, both the one at the time and our own today, is similar to our obsession with the personal lives of celebrities. I was taken aback to see that the Phayre article (published in the same month as Kristallnacht, no less!) made essentially no mention of Hitler’s politics, and in fact gave no negative mention at all of anything in his life, treating the lifestyle of a murderous dictator as an endearing peculiarity. It’s jarring to hear Hitler, who today holds the place of evil manifest, described as a “droll raconteur” or to read about his “passion about cut flowers in his home, as well as for music.” I am curious why the author took this approach—were they a sympathizer? Did they wish to avoid talking politics in “Homes & Gardens”? Whatever the case, this omission is glaring and to me, any description of Hitler’s life that fails to condemn him outright and unequivocally is overly sympathetic.

The Flanner articles, at least, are unafraid to describe Hitler’s Aryan supremacist ideology and his dictatorial rule. However, their tone still comes off as rather bland. They delve deeply into the personal eccentricities of Hitler, and his own history, which I found to be interesting. Her analysis of the influences on his beliefs from various other thinkers, philosophers, etc. seemed to conclude that, “he is ultimately convinced only by himself. His moods change often, his opinions never.” I think this article is not simply satisfying a perverse and morbid curiosity on the life of a public figure, but does in fact offer insight into the origins, motivations, and goals of a megalomaniac.

However, I believe that to delve too deeply into Hitler’s personal life is counterproductive, and even dangerous. The Holocaust and the many crimes committed by Nazi Germany were not the work of a single man. While it may be tempting (and possibly correct) to paint Hitler’s vitriolic hatred to be a result of his social and sexual insecurities, or of his disabilities in the war, Hitler is not the only person to have such circumstances. Nor do I believe that Hitler was a uniquely evil person. Surely he was an immensely evil and malicious one, but I believe there must be more people in the world, perhaps many more, who might share his scrupulousness and his hatred, but lack the circumstances he did to rise to power. As Ian Kershaw affirms, it was not Hitler’s iron will and ambition alone that pushed him into the spotlight, but a series of convenient circumstances (e.g. the Depression, German postwar resentment) that he was able to exploit. Moreover, to paint Hitler and perhaps his closest cronies as the sole force of the Nazi evil absolves the innumerable nameless individuals who made the choice to collaborate and support the Nazis in their mission. Had Hitler been killed, Germany would not have immediately dissipated into a friendly and tolerant nation welcome to all. In fact, the British plan to assassinate Hitler in 1944, Operation Foxley, was rejected on the grounds that he might be replaced by a more competent general, or that he might become a martyr to the German people in future.

In my opinion, the takeaway was that Hitler was especially suited to take advantage of the opportunities he found, but I believe that another person of a similar nature could have done the same. Hitler stepped into the spotlight when it was offered to him, but we must look more closely to discern what placed the light there in the first place. The failures of capitalism leading to the Depression, the already existing German spirit of militarism, and resentment over the First World War, among many others, contributed to this atmosphere. Humans have a natural attraction to symbols and figureheads, and they make more comprehensible to our mind what might otherwise be overwhelming. However, the lesson here is to avoid this draw and look at the faceless processes that drive events from the shadows.

I think the point you made about Hitler not being the only evil person ever is really important, since we need to place more emphasis on the political circumstances that he and Germany fell into, leading to mass destruction unlike any other.

goldshark567
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

I think that we are intrigued by Hitler because of the magnitude of his evil. There is a societal obsession in general, as “SunflowerSpruce” mentioned, with true crime, horror, etc. So, because of Hitler’s responsibility for a systematic murder of 11 million people, people are fascinated with the question of how one person can be responsible for something of that proportion. I do not think that the obsession is the same kind as that people have with celebrities like Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian. In some ways there is a similarity between the obsession with Donald Trump as people try to grasp why/how Trump has said and done things that are almost unbelievable. Although I do not think it is the same celebrity style obsession, like “no-one” said, the article in Homes and Gardens, “Hitler’s Mountain Home,” is mind-blowing to read. In that article, Hitler is very much portrayed similarly to celebrities and it’s disturbing.


Hitler is not the sole perpetrator of every thing evil in World War II. A lot of people were involved in giving him the power that he had and subsequently supporting his actions. That being said, he was very much and very clearly, as we all know, responsible for much of the evil and I don’t think it’s necessary to reassign blame in this case.


I do not think that reading through these articles and sites really gave me a better understanding of Hitler. I also do not really think it is worth anyone’s time to attempt to analyze and understand him aside from how he rose to power. Diving into what Hitler’s past was - learning about what he ate for breakfast or that he was good at geography and history at age twelve, which Janet Flanner’s articles do, is irrelevant. It is an attempt to humanize him and I do not think he deserves that effort.


I think that the most important things to know about Hitler involve his actions during and leading up to World War II: his rise to power, his reign of Nazi occupied Germany, the atrocities he committed, etc. He should be known for the immense suffering and death that he caused. As I said before, understanding how Hitler came into a position that allowed him to be responsible fro the Holocaust is something worth understanding. I do not think that learning of his traumatic childhood necessarily is something to focus on, because I think that is somewhat of giving him an excuse. Yet, understanding the use of charismatic authority and how he was able to exploit weaknesses in order to gain power could be of use to prevent someone with terrible motives like his from gaining that sort of power again.

stylishghost
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25
After the various lists and lengthy sentences we just read--concerning every portion of Hitler’s life--the biggest thing to take away is not him himself. It is instead his effect. Sure, he was odd, even narcissistic. Although his lifestyle made for interesting journalism to millions of Americans pre-holocaust, the purpose of this reporting is way broader than simple entertainment.Reading through the article on Hitler's home, it occurred to me that the house is a symbol for his own personality, ego, and political party. From the walls decorated with his own watercolor paintings, to the windows that looked out across his homeland, pretty much anyone could tell Hitler was a narcissist, with a regimented schedule and way of life, which he imposed on those around him. The house also represents the way he later ruled Germany, with laws and positions that were based entirely upon him and the Nazi's preferences and stringent schedule.

Like someone else mentioned, Hitler was not necessarily one of a kind. I'm sure most people know a family member or friend that has an odd diet or something of the sort. The difference with Hitler is the consequences in Germany that he inherited. Like we learned in class, as the inflation increased, political parties moved farther into the extremes. Hitler had many others around him who fell to the Nazi side politically, citizens with power that needed something to cling to in the depression. And so, Hitler along with his confidence and "charisma" gave some hope. Men like Goring even declared themselves "Hitler's skin and hair." The interview article also discussed that citizens who were not in office carried out Hitler's plans for him without him even imposing laws in the first place. He established enough trust with the people that building a crowd of supporters, sadly, for him, was far easier than making friends or finding relationships. By promising an end to disorder, while at the same time creating more of it, Hitler served as a symbol of rebellion and escape to millions of Germans.



poptarts
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

I think the biggest takeaway from Hitler is: don’t let people who are extreme radicals with bad intentions be given power that could literally cause the death of millions. It’ll only end up causing problems, and it will most likely regress society to a point in the past where equality was a priority. I don’t really understand him any better. Even with his background and how he justified his actions, I will never understand him. He willingly decided that he was going to just kill off Jewish people, and I don’t get that. Especially when he targeted a specific group of people that he technically was a part of. Even though I might have learned some personal traits about him, it doesn’t explain what was going through his head that caused him to commit genocide and try to justify it justify it. I think that trying to understand Hitler can potentially be beneficial because it can provide background on what he believed in and why he did things. Personally, I don’t know if it would be something that I’d go out of my way to do, but if it were for a project on his rule with the Nazis, I think it would be helpful to spend time on.
The most things to know about Hitler are probably that the main reason he was able to accomplish all of these things is because of him taking advantage of the way that Germany was running at the time and with his background.

Clover52
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16
I think a big takeaway for me is just the fact that Hitler was such an unexpected candidate to be able to commit genocide. That really just makes it even more horrifying in my opinion. The fact that some of the articles were giving a window into Hitler’s personal life I think was pretty disturbing. There is absolutely no excuse as to why he did what he did. In the interview with Ian Kershaw, he states that “People with medical backgrounds have examined the evidence and rejected the idea that Hitler was insane.” Hitler was not insane, so he was just pure evil. People trying to understand him would be a good idea, but only if he was mentally deranged. Scientists like psychologists or mental doctors might be able to try and pursue and understand why he did what he did, but he was proven to not be insane. I don't think anyone will be able to truly comprehend his thought process and why he thought it was right to do what he did.

For me, I think the fascination with Hitler is not really the same as modern-day fascination and obsession with celebrities. For the people in Hitler’s time, his supporters, they must have seen him as a celebrity and a savior, but now that is not the case at all. In the article from “Homes and Gardens”, it is stated that “Time was when a hungry Hitler was glad to raise a few marks by selling these little works; none measures more than about eight inches square, and each is signed “A. Hitler” – unmistakably, if also illegibly!” Like “goldshark567” stated, Hitler is described is painstakingly similar to how celebrities are described today. This shows accurately how people before the Holocaust idolized Hitler. People now are mostly obsessed with the fact that Hitler is so infamous and his horrendous crimes. If someone like Lady Gaga committed genocide, we would absolutely not idolize her anymore. We are obsessed with celebrities today, but not because they did a horrible thing like Hitler. One reason I think Hitler gained so much support was that he took advantage of the position Germany and the German people were in after WWI. He manipulated them and gained their support easily. This allowed his rise to power which eventually led to his ability to carry out the Holocaust.

poutineenthusiast
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

When looking at the documents and articles on Hitler from back then, you can’t help but think “damn Hitler lived a normal life?” What I think people find so fascinating about Hitler is his ability to go about his day after carrying out a literal genocide. Hitler became a topic of interest because Hitler lived an ordinary life, but he became this monster. Hitler was just as human as everyone else BUT that is NOT what one can just take away from these articles. I think for many, looking at these articles would make them think “Oh Hitler was human, he lived a normal life. We’re one in the same in that regard.” but this thought process is just too simple. In my favorite show Avatar: The Last Airbender, one episode explores the concept of being good and evil. We are shown two characters with very similar upbringings, yet one became a great protector of peace while the other unleashed a mass genocide. The lesson was that anyone is capable of great good and great evil. Hitler was human, but he had that capability to be normal like the rest of us. He had that chance and ability that we all had to be good. Hitler was human, but he was a human who chose this path and in that aspect is nothing like us. Hitler was a human who chose to become a monster, and understanding that is something I find to be really important.

I will never understand this man. How someone can just decide that they will wipe out a whole population bewilders me still. If anything, I understand him even less now. The thought of Hitler just returning to his mansion and going on with his day after carrying out a literal genocide is beyond me. How can ANYONE live a normal life knowing that everyday lives are being lost because of them? This man was fucking insane and trying to understand him is nothing but a useless objective. There’s nothing complex about Hitler. He was a murderer. When we try to complicate simple things, we confuse ourselves and get lost in our own thoughts. There is no need to try to understand Hitler because what he did was wrong no matter what, and he doesn’t deserve our attempts to “understand” him better. No matter how you see it, Hitler was a murderer and monster. What he caused and initiated left the world in shambles, and we can never recover from that mass destruction. We need to understand that that is just what Hitler is. A murderer. Simple as that.

Blue terrier
Posts: 23

I think human beings are so intrigued with Hitler and his life because we are searching for what ultimately caused him to deviate so far from humanity and so far from morality. What possibly could have been his motives? How does one human being have so much hate? How can a human being possibly allow oneself to do something so atrocious? And on a larger scale, how did the world let this happen? Our fascination with Hitler is not akin to obsessions with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyonce. These are celebrities that many human beings worship or at least view positively, but it Hitler’s depravity that causes humans to be fascinated with him. I would argue that the fascination with Hitler is more akin (but obviously very different) to serial killers and other historically evil figures. We study these figures’ lives over and over again, wondering what possibly could have been the cause for they did. Many times it can be childhood trauma, sexual compulsion, or insanity. However, Hitler seems to be his own unique case, not falling into any of these categories, and deviating from any historical figure that came before him. Again, this uniqueness is why we have become so infatuated with him. Further, it is dangerous to chalk up Hitler to being insane, as it takes away from the deliberation and calculation that came with his acts. As Ian Kershaw puts it in his interview, “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.” As history has gone on, Hitler has become the physical embodiment of evil, and rightfully so.

I do understand Hitler more to a certain extent, but these documents do complicate the issue more for me at the same time. The interview with Ian Kershaw is very informative, and I learned more about various power structures and radicalization patterns that allowed Hitler to come into power and keep his power. However, it is all the more confusing (for lack of a better word) when we delve deeper into the life of Hitler. For example, it is mind boggling to see Hitler’s feature on “Homes and Gardens.” For me, he is the physical embodiment of evil, and it is bizzare to see his house and hear how it is described. The house is a house that any other rich human being would have. There is nothing extraordinarily evil about his house. As human beings we are preconditioned to expect embodiments of evil to be living in an underground lair somewhere or something of the sorts, as that is what we are used to. For Hitler, as we read about his quaint bohemian house on the mountain side, it is quite overwhelming to juxtapose it with his wickedness. Trying to understand Hitler is absolutely a worthy pursuit. We can learn from Hitler to prevent another person like him from coming into power ever again. We need to learn about his patterns of power and control, and what we can do to suppress people similar to him in the future. And that to me is what is the most important thing to learn about Hitler. Although it is fascinating to study where he went to school, his art, his food habits, or the other mundane nuances of his life, it is more important to study who did not stop him. It is more important to learn about how the political structures he was a part of allowed him to gain power so quickly, so we can identify it and prevent it in the future.

Boat1924
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Why are we so intrigued by Adolf?

I believe that society is so fascinated with Hitler due to his transformation and complete representation of evil. People are fascinated with how an ordinary individual can transform from a naive painter to a genocidal narcissist psychopath that was directly involved and planned the extermination of millions of innocent people. They fear that genocidal maniacs that can cause the death and torture of millions of people due to his extreme and twisted thoughts are not born the way they are, but rather develop these beliefs through their experiences and choices in life.Hitler represents the worst outcome or possibility that are person faces in their lives. While most individuals in the world would not transform into the evil and psychotic person that he was, there is a large proportion of people that pushed the wrong way and given a bad deck of cards for life, would cross the line and become downright evil. In my opinion, society simply wants to know if Hitler became Hitler through nature or nurture. They fear that the brutal nature of the world and the devastating realities that we all must face, can completely break a person and distort our human nature. If Hitler became Hitler through the nurture and environment in his life, People will begin to question the standards and morals of our society as they fear they are so distorted and harmful that they can cause normal individuals that could help and change the world instead be part of its demise. While I do not believe that Hitler is responsible for every single evil thing that happened during WW2, I do believe he is responsible for the majority of them. His psychotic nature, complete hatred of the Jewish people and other groups in the world, and the belief of Aryan supremacy lead to the deaths and extermination of millions of people across the world. His evil and twisted methods plunged the world into a second destructive world war, while also using the confusion of the conflict to exterminate people he believed were less than others. These actions have cemented him as the perfect example of evil and morphed him into the bogeyman that all people should fear. Even Though there are people throughout history that are more evil and killed more people, society’s ability to study Hitler’s life and the decision that he made during it allow people to see the slow decline of Hitler, transforming him into the monster that we all know.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

Originally posted by no-one on March 16, 2022 21:01

To me, the fascination with Hitler, both the one at the time and our own today, is similar to our obsession with the personal lives of celebrities. I was taken aback to see that the Phayre article (published in the same month as Kristallnacht, no less!) made essentially no mention of Hitler’s politics, and in fact gave no negative mention at all of anything in his life, treating the lifestyle of a murderous dictator as an endearing peculiarity. It’s jarring to hear Hitler, who today holds the place of evil manifest, described as a “droll raconteur” or to read about his “passion about cut flowers in his home, as well as for music.” I am curious why the author took this approach—were they a sympathizer? Did they wish to avoid talking politics in “Homes & Gardens”? Whatever the case, this omission is glaring and to me, any description of Hitler’s life that fails to condemn him outright and unequivocally is overly sympathetic.

The Flanner articles, at least, are unafraid to describe Hitler’s Aryan supremacist ideology and his dictatorial rule. However, their tone still comes off as rather bland. They delve deeply into the personal eccentricities of Hitler, and his own history, which I found to be interesting. Her analysis of the influences on his beliefs from various other thinkers, philosophers, etc. seemed to conclude that, “he is ultimately convinced only by himself. His moods change often, his opinions never.” I think this article is not simply satisfying a perverse and morbid curiosity on the life of a public figure, but does in fact offer insight into the origins, motivations, and goals of a megalomaniac.

However, I believe that to delve too deeply into Hitler’s personal life is counterproductive, and even dangerous. The Holocaust and the many crimes committed by Nazi Germany were not the work of a single man. While it may be tempting (and possibly correct) to paint Hitler’s vitriolic hatred to be a result of his social and sexual insecurities, or of his disabilities in the war, Hitler is not the only person to have such circumstances. Nor do I believe that Hitler was a uniquely evil person. Surely he was an immensely evil and malicious one, but I believe there must be more people in the world, perhaps many more, who might share his scrupulousness and his hatred, but lack the circumstances he did to rise to power. As Ian Kershaw affirms, it was not Hitler’s iron will and ambition alone that pushed him into the spotlight, but a series of convenient circumstances (e.g. the Depression, German postwar resentment) that he was able to exploit. Moreover, to paint Hitler and perhaps his closest cronies as the sole force of the Nazi evil absolves the innumerable nameless individuals who made the choice to collaborate and support the Nazis in their mission. Had Hitler been killed, Germany would not have immediately dissipated into a friendly and tolerant nation welcome to all. In fact, the British plan to assassinate Hitler in 1944, Operation Foxley, was rejected on the grounds that he might be replaced by a more competent general, or that he might become a martyr to the German people in future.

In my opinion, the takeaway was that Hitler was especially suited to take advantage of the opportunities he found, but I believe that another person of a similar nature could have done the same. Hitler stepped into the spotlight when it was offered to him, but we must look more closely to discern what placed the light there in the first place. The failures of capitalism leading to the Depression, the already existing German spirit of militarism, and resentment over the First World War, among many others, contributed to this atmosphere. Humans have a natural attraction to symbols and figureheads, and they make more comprehensible to our mind what might otherwise be overwhelming. However, the lesson here is to avoid this draw and look at the faceless processes that drive events from the shadows.

Your post was really well written. The articles were definitely disconcerting when I read them at first, it felt like I was reading a day in the life with Jennifer Anniston, as opposed to a man who caused the death of millions. I also think it's counterproductive to dive too deeply into Hitler's personal and early life, since regardless of who he was and what his early life was like, he still took advantage of the time period in Weimar Germany to rise to power, and caused the death of millions.

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