posts 16 - 30 of 31
Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 27

A question of humanizing Hitler.

The figurehead of evil, a young artist, and against all odds, Hitler intrigues us because of his unlikely propensity towards genocide. It shocks us that any human can justify mass murder that of the Holocaust, but Hitler is even more shocking, born as a quiet young child and the descendant of Roman Catholic peasants whose mother was incestuous. These conditions make us think that someone that could have been called Adolf Schicklgruber would inevitably be forgotten to the vast knowledge of history. Yet, he wasn’t. He wasn’t forgotten but engrained in every history textbook world wide as a force of evil.

My biggest takeaway from these readings is how, honestly, normal Hitler was. His personality and upbringing would fit into any nonfiction or fiction book. The article from the Wyman Institute talks about his love of food, especially “Caneton à la presse and truite saumoné à la Monseigneur” and his obsession with music, ranging from Mozart and Brahms. He loved painting, architecture, and the arts. He had a humble home looking upon Austria and the natives. All these descriptors paint a vivid image of a humble man dedicated to the enrichment of human life. Yet, as history would play out, this quickly disappeared. The rejection from art school and death of his parents became the beginning of the end. The New Yorker describes that he became a hog farmer, nearly starving himself, and started to read into different books and became interested in politics. He read into French Count De Gobineau which established a lot of his racist sentiments, history books establishing a sense of extreme nationalism, and Nietzsche who argued that the strong is preferable to the weak. Interestingly enough, he began a 2 year journey to antisemitism in Vienna, a highly racist and antisemitic place. This suggests that Hitler, at least, during his early years wasn’t as antisemitic and moreover, the broad human implications that an environment changes people- even years after puberty, education, and life experiences. The interview with Kershaw explains that Hitler was a powerful speaker, and could take a negative and view it in the positive which most people could not do. This displays a powerful talent of Hitler to rile people and truly inspire them (a positive skill used in the wrong way).

Understanding Hitler is incredibly important. History has a tendency to distance humanity from facts, but learning about the specifics of Hitler reminds me of a quote from the Holocaust Museum that says when you learn about history, you don’t simply learn about facts, you start to ask questions. Learning about Hitler puts him into a perspective of our world: our music, our geography, our intersections with history. Hitler could have been any man based on his past, most would have assumed he was destined for a life abject from the books of history and destitute in name.

These facts warn us about the propensity for humanity towards violence and how much our environment can shape the actions we take.

@JnjerAle mentions an important statement on how Hitler became evil and that we are born with a clean slate. I believe this epitomizes the relationship Hitler has as a human and as a harbinger of genocide. I also want to add there’s an interesting value in educating the world in history about people and their humanity, and distancing them from their humanity. I read an Instagram post that talked about how in African American history, there’s a huge difference between saying “Black people were slaves” and “ENslaved African Americans” because one engrains a message of hatred whereas one cherishes the humanity of Black Americans. With Hitler, there is a lot of value in humanizing him to realize the propensity for humans to go to war but also a lot of value in distancing his humanity in order to note that Hitler wasn’t any random person. That’s an interesting discussion and thought.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Why are we so intrigued by Hitler

Adolf Hitler is one of the most notorious figures in history, and his actions and ideas had a significant impact on the world. Many people are interested in learning about him and his role in shaping the events of his lifetime and the future. Hitler's ideology and tactics have been used as a warning and a point of reference in modern politics, and many people are interested in understanding how his rise to power and actions could be prevented from happening again.Hitler's personality and behavior have been the subject of much speculation and analysis, and many people are intrigued by the question of what motivated him and how he was able to gain the amount of people that followed him.

While Hitler was definitely one of the biggest figures in World War II and was responsible for many atrocities committed during the war, he can’t be completely responsible for every evil thing that happened during that time. There were many other individuals and factors that contributed to the war and its outcome, leaders, military commanders, and the political circumstances of the time (also the citizens supporting them). Most of the atrocities committed during the war were not carried out by Hitler himself, but rather by other people operating under his orders and with the ideals of the Nazis. Hitler was definitely held a big part in implementing the ideology of Nazism but wasn’t 100% of the holocaust. It’s easy to oversimplify the holocaust and blame one person or a few people, ignoring the complexities of the holocaust.

Understanding Hitler is a worthwhile pursuit as it broadens the contextualization and reasons for the Holocaust to have even happened. The most important things to know about Adolf Hitler are his ideologies and personal history, with these we can understand what motivated him to take the actions he did and persuade as my people towards Nazism. Personally, I do not see him as the Darth Vader/Voldemort of the 20th century, but as a corrupt political leader who committed many atrocities instead of an evil villain of a show. These can go hand in hand, as he was definitely evil but I have different views of them. I'm not really sure how to answer the question about if it's akin to our fascination with Kim, Beyoncé, or Trump but there probably is a correlation if you look deep enough, as the people at the top lack privacy and represent the current status of civilization which could connect to Hitler at the time.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Hitler is not a “blip” on our moral compass

Hitler was the greatest surprise of the 20th century. Coming from an unassuming background, Hitler seemed to have had a childhood as any in his time did. Hitler grew up with a loving and supporting mother, aspirations to become an artist, and in a society that could be deemed civilized. According to Janet Flanner’s reporting, Hitler loved to read Goethe and go to operas every night. He seemed as any quintessential pure, clean, vegetarian, music-loving man as could be. So our first question is typically, “How did such a civilized and cultured man become the orchestrator of what is often deemed the greatest atrocity to happen in history?”

To us, Hitler should have been a blip in human behavior, but he isn’t. He represents the darkness that all human beings have, that the world can easily turn upside down if we just let into the evil and selfish side of us. That “civilized” society can turn into what feels like organized apocolypse over the course of a few months.

What was most fascinating about Ian Kershaw’s interview was when he talked about democracy and how “the government of the people, by the people, for the people” allowed Hitler to rise to power. Hitler would have been nothing without the German people who voted for him. Power was handed to him. We often conflate democracy with freedom, and we view it as what made America “a great country” … yet democracy is what caused the atrocity that brought out the darkest corners of society.

To that question I asked in the first paragraph, there are a few errors. Hitler is not just a one-man band: we should view the monolith that Hitler is often seen as, as representative also of the Nazis, the government officials, the Germans who fought for his cause, the civilians who supported him. Hitler is not the sole essence of all evil in society. We must remember that many people enabled and supported Hitler and they gave him the power and the reins to do what he did. That the making of Hitler wasn't just an accident or a coincidence. It isn’t solely present in the Nazi party, it exists through racism, colonialism, Trumpism — and everyone who took part in these.

Back to Hitler: however, it does seem as though he was viewed as a celebrity, at least in various publications. Whether it be seeing Dorothy Thompson’s “I Saw Hitler!” page in the Holocaust Museum or reading through “Hitler’s Mountain Home” (which for some reason, sounds like an oxymoron), I felt as though I was reading a gossip magazine or watching an episode of Architectural Digest’s “Open Door: Inside Celebrity Homes.” The tone felt romantic, and for that, it was truly unsettling. Truly, how could we read about Hitler’s “bright, airy chalet” and “rustics [sitting] at cottage doors” when at the same time, we think about the horrific conditions of the gas chamber and piles of bodies who once had homes.

While at first glance, Hitler may be a symbol of how random and unpredictable humans are, but really, his story goes to show that humans, no matter how much of a villain they could be, are in the end, (I’m sorry to say it) human. No matter who or what you are, you eat, sleep, poop, drink, talk, fart, burp, hate, love, give — and take.

Thus, to study Hitler is important because to study Hitler is also to study ourselves. We all have a Hitler inside of us. We all have that dark corner, and so to sign a light on it, to be conscious of it, will do us more good than to ignore it.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 15

Why are we so intrigued by Hitler?

Hitler's philosophy and the concept of "absolute evil" associated with him are intriguing to many. He is often depicted as a demonized dictator who ruled the Third Reich with absolute authority and orchestrated the deaths of countless people. However, despite his monstrous actions, people are still interested in understanding what his life was like. This is evident in Ignatius's article, which portrays Hitler as a stereotypical wealthy political figure living in luxury, surrounded by beautiful views and a magnificent mansion. The article describes Hitler's fondness for cut flowers, music, and chatting with his gardeners as if they were loyal friends rather than servants. It is difficult to reconcile this image with the same man who ordered the mass deportation and execution of various groups throughout Europe.

The ultimate "bogeyman" image of Hitler can be seen as another form of scapegoating. While he is ultimately responsible for the invasion of Poland, which sparked World War II, this conflict traces back to the Treaty of Versailles, and Germany was made to bear the full consequences of the war by the Allies.

After reading the articles and watching the interview with Ian Kershaw, the biggest takeaway for me is that Hitler was a complex individual with a multitude of factors contributing to his rise to power and his actions during his reign. While his anti-Semitic views and desire for German expansion were central to his ideology, there were also personal factors such as his insecurities and need for control that played a role in his decision-making.

I do think that attempting to understand Hitler is a worthwhile pursuit, as it allows us to gain insight into the factors that contribute to the rise of authoritarian leaders and extremist ideologies. It also helps us to recognize the danger of scapegoating and the importance of promoting tolerance and inclusivity.

In terms of the most important thing to know about Hitler, I believe it is the devastating impact of his actions. His regime was responsible for the deaths of millions of people, including six million Jews in the Holocaust. Understanding the atrocities committed under his leadership serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting human rights and preventing the spread of hateful ideologies.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Why Are We so Intrigued by Hitler

We are taught, from a very young age, through media, schooling, and our surroundings that the word “Hiter” is synonymous with evil. And he is deserving of that title. His actions directly led to the deaths of millions of innocent people. As such, it is intriguing to look at his life and see what led him to become the man he is. We do very similar things with many serial killers, school shooters, or sadistic and violent criminals. I think that these individuals are so different to the ordinary person that we can’t help but be curious as to what happened to them. However, I think there’s another reason that we are so interested in Hitler. When we, as a nation, decide that it was Hitlers’ fault that the holocaust happened, we completely remove blame from ourselves. It makes it very easy for a nation, like America, to forget that we too were complacent during World War Two, and put the blame entirely on Hitler. At the end of the day, however, he was just a single individual, and the world powers allowed the holocaust to occur.

I think that reading the articles about Hitler from the 1930s was actually a somewhat humorous experience. It feels very strange to read someone talk about Hitler in such a mild and pleasant way. It felt similar to how an article might talk about a president's home life, or an actor's twitter drama. In the article about his home, the appraisal it received almost felt conducive to praising Hitler himself. As such, it seems like the article aged very poorly.

One of my biggest takeaways from this post is that human beings can be inherently unpredictable. It is very hard for anyone to say exactly what was going through Hitler’s mind when he was the leader of Nazi Germany, and exactly which factors led him there. Although we have some rough ideas about his struggle to find purpose after his rejection from Vienna Art School, and the ending of World War One, it takes an extremely narrow set of circumstances for this exact outcome to occur. One other thing that I took away from this is that we, as humans, will always have the desire to understand that which we do not know. Likewise, there was, and still is, so much interest in knowing every detail of Hitler’s life, and trying to piece out, specifically, what made him do the things he did.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Why are we so intrigued by Hitler?

It's a relatively easy question to answer, we’re intrigued with Hilter because we want to try to understand him. It’s human nature to want to know more and that’s what people want when they think about Hitler, they want to know more: the whys. We want to know WHY he did this? Why did he only target Jewish people? Why did he let it go on for so long? Why didn’t he feel any remorse?

It’s the same way people view celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump today, they don’t have any knowledge of them aside from what they hear in the press, so naturally, they want to know more about them. They want to try to see them as human because they can’t fathom that they’re a real person. People especially have fascination with Hitler or people who commit crimes in general because they can’t imagine them as an everyday human doing something so horrible. It’s almost scary because like Janet Flanner said, the most noticeable thing about Hitler is his “hurried dogtrot forced smile.” People aren't necessarily interested in the idea of “pure evil”, but rather the thought that it is a person who did these evils and we are intrigued with the reasons behind the evil and what drove them to that point. I agree with DrakeFan02 when they say that Hitler is not to blame for every evil thing that happened in World War II. There are many other reasons and circumstances behind it like Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Treaty of Versailles like they said. Everyone and everything is capable of good and bad, but it’s more interesting when the person you’re intrigued with is only famous for their bad (the bad things they did). That also raises this question: why are people who commit crimes always more famous than the hero’s who fought against it?

The articles and interviews that circulate Hitler’s life and explore his humanity feed into the idea that Hitler was a REAL HUMAN. The interview and these articles are 1930s equivalents to various talk shows because similar to these talk shows, they explore the truth and the background behind the person. Seeing an article detailing Hitler’s home is similar to vogue’s celebrity house tours. A person’s home is sacred and personal, and seeing it gives insight into their lives. For Hitler though, you would think that someone who seemingly has it all would never be able to amount to such atrocities, but he did. He was a successful politician who WON a very powerful position, just like Arcoiris18 said. He won the position of Fuhrer by the German people which meant that a lot of people agreed with his ideas and trusted his leadership. To add onto this already high mountain of success, you realize that after viewing photographs of his house from Ignatius Phayre’s article, “Hitler’s Mountain Home”, he was obviously fortunate enough to be able to live in a mansion type house on a hill that overlooked Austria. He even had meals that were “often served on the terrace on little tables shaded by big canvas umbrellas.”

Talk Shows and articles like these give personal insight into another person’s life. They answer and ask the REAL questions that people want to know, not just the juicy drama, but also the behind the scenes. Behind the scenes such as their everyday life which makes people grasp the reality that these people are also human (not that that’s an excuse to what he did). It’s just hard for people to believe that in that house, lived a man who is responsible for the death of 11 million people.

My biggest takeaways from this are that Hitler is still as horrible as I thought and my thoughts on him really haven't changed. The interview and the articles showed me more of him as a person and Kewshaw also helped me learn more about his success and how he became successful, discussing his strategies and his life as a person in government. Yes, this humanized him a little bit, but it really doesn’t change my original thoughts about him, though I do understand him as a PERSON more but not why he did the things he did. It also showed how he became the person that he was, with the death of his mother, the new marriage of his father, and his rejection from art school but that really is no excuse. Not that the articles excuse it, but many people go through the same things but you don’t see them putting people in concentration camps and committing mass genocides. I don’t think it’s important to understand him (if that’s even possible) it is important to understand his past. It’s important to know his past so we can work towards fixing it for other children. These dramatic changes and sudden rejections are hard for someone to go through. It’s not an excuse, but he should’ve been given proper coping mechanisms for all these things that caused his brain to go haywire. Maybe then, 11 million people could’ve been saved.

Boston , Massachusetts , US
Posts: 15

I think people’s intrigue by Hitler comes down to the absurdity of what he did, no one wants to believe that one person can hold so much hatred and power that they attempt -- and semi-successfully-- try and wipe out entire populations. To most people this is so outlandish that it seems almost impossible, but to some it’s exactly the validation they need. Most people are concerned about why he did these things, and what lead him to have to much hatred, but others have just the same amount of hate and the Nazi movement is exactly what they need to continue to fuel their delusionals. Hitler is no where near the Beyoncé of our time to make that comparrison is honestly absurd.

Although these are similar to interviewing famous people today, interviewing an up and coming artist is FAR different than interviewing someone who has committed mass genocide.

I don’t think theres anyway for a sane human being to understand Hitler and through learning more in my target populations project I’ve been able to learn more about how systematically Hitler killed, and just how manipulative he was. He managed to get thousandds of doctors, people have pledged their lives to saving people, to kill people “for their health,” or “out of pity.” Although I knew before how devistating his reign was on the world I wasn’t sure how it effected sick and disabled people, some of the most vunerable of our population. One of my biggest takeaways about Hitler was that he was pure evil, he had no concern for anyone but himself, and although this goes without saying, the more you learn about the Holocaust, the more bone-chilling it is. I think that trying to understand him would be beneficial in ONE situation only, and that is for preventative purposes.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Why are we so intrigued by Hitler?

I think that intrigue with Hitler ultimately comes down to the disbelief of trying to understand how, "pure, and genuine evil" can take on human form. When people try to picture the horrifying and appalling actions of Hitler, we do so in imagining him as almost above human, because of how hard it is to process that another human could enact such things onto so many other humans. I think that I can see how it could be compared to the fascination with celebrities. Though the two scenarios are completely different circumstances, when we look at the way some people view celebrities (like Taylor Swift and her fandom army), they do so in a way of treating them as basically above human. I think that Janet Flanner's article does encapsulate Hitler and his life as celebrityesque, speaks to his charisma as how he managed to become the leader of Germany, this article directly opposes the historical connotations, and how his life is told, its jarring, and strange to see. Similarly, simply grasping the fact that Hitler was indeed a person just like everyone else does seem incomprehensible: trying to imagine what evil looks like as a human.

I think that one of my big takeaways would be how this vision of pure evil also helped/helps find a way to place the majority of the blame of WW2 on, and while I think Hitler does have a very very large part of the blame for everything that happened, I do think that all of the blame can be placed solely on him. For example, I think that in the case of say the United States, all of the atrocities that happened during WW2 are projected onto him, almost as a way to ignore the other actions that were also awful, and deflect any responsibility for other wrongdoings: i.e. Japanese incarcerations and concentration camps during WW2 in the USA. At the end of the day however, we will never be able to fully grasp, or understand what was going on in Hitler's brain, but the ability to study him as a leader, his career in the arts, and his disturbing, and truly evil life as a whole, will forever intrigue the future, and how we look at and face figures like this. I think that the answer to whether one should even bother to attempt to understand him as a person is very blurred and there is no one clear answer. I would say that I feel like I sort of understand him a little better, but I don't anyone will be able to understand that man fully ever in their lifetimes.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Originally posted by JnjerAle on March 10, 2023 01:26

Reading these articles was definitely an interesting, yet strange experience for me. In both the Flanner and Ignatius articles, the details that we learn about his lifestyle make him seem like a normal person. The little fact that Hitler often treated his servants like close friends was also very unexpected. Since the actions that he took later in his life are so monstrous, it is genuinely hard for me (and I assume many others as well) to imagine him to have possibly been a friendly guy to anyone. I have to admit that it is genuinely difficult for me to see Hitler as a person because of the terrible things that he has done; I can’t just learn about his hobbies and life before everything without thinking of what he would become. It does make me wonder though: How would Hitler react if someone went back in time and told him about all the inhumane crimes he would commit? Would he be shocked and devastated, or proud? It’s hard to even imagine a man like Hitler being capable of regret or basic kindness. For me, humanizing Hitler is just incredibly hard to do, even if you told me about his greatest traits before the rise of the Nazi party. It almost makes me upset to learn about his humane aspects before everything. There's a part of me that thinks he does not ever deserve to be viewed on the same level as an average person because of what he would later become. It makes me uncomfortable to learn about how he was just living an average life.

I feel like these articles can’t be fully categorized into the “celebrity gossip” genre because of the simple fact that they are about Hitler. Yes, these articles do follow the concept of talking about his routine and habits as if he were a rising star, but you can’t just ignore the reality of his character when reading something like this. For me, I’ll always be a bit off-put when hearing about the lives of terrible people, as if it’s wrong to group them with other human beings. I see these articles as more of an educational tool because of this. The interview provides much less personal information about Hitler and goes more into his professional career and the Nazis / WWII. Learning about the ways which Hitler used to gain the support of millions was incredibly interesting as well, since he basically convinced these people to also push their hate to the extreme using mainly his speaker skills.

After doing the reading and listening to the interview, I do feel like I know Hitler much better as a person. The articles especially helped since they were so much more personal (though I was pretty thrown off guard by them). I still find it difficult to actually understand him because what he did was so incredibly terrible that it makes it hard for me to view him as a person. I do think trying to understand him is very interesting though, since we can also understand how society and politics can change a person and how an average person could be deeply affected by these factors. But still, the most important thing that we should know about Adolf Hitler is that he became a terrible person. Any kindness he showed to friends or servants before the rise of the Nazi Party cannot overshadow the fact that he caused the death of millions. It’s important to humanize historical figures, but there’s a certain point where I feel like it’s just not possible anymore. However, even after saying all this, it is still important to remember that he was also just an average person. Again, remember that he became a terrible person. Like Ms. Freeman said: “Everyone is born with a clean slate.” Even Hitler (which is a strange thing to admit). Learning about his love for art and his inability to draw people and expressions was probably the most interesting thing, since such a heartless man not being able to convey emotions in his art is weirdly ironic but expected. I do feel like he tried in some of the paintings though (with his usage of colors), but it was never fully achieved (as it was in the other paintings that we were shown). Overall, my biggest takeaway from this activity was the fact that it will always be difficult to fully humanize terrible people. Yes, he was a human being, but it is truly terrifying how one’s environment could transform them into a monster. It feels like he lost his humanity by committing such atrocities (to the point where the average man before the rise of the Nazi Party was a completely different person).

Post your response here.

I had the same reaction to the articles, I was really caught off guard with that almost "new perspective" I guess, even though I still find it really hard to understand what he did, they contradicted the image that had been built up in my head basically.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

I think we are so intrigued by Hitler because we see him as “pure evil”, we are fascinated by the amount of destruction he was able to accomplish and the power he held because of his millions of supporters. We know Hitler is bad, however I think it’s a similar concept to the way we remember infamous serial killer’s names but not their victim’s. We often only pay attention to those that are at fault and in charge of terrible things that happen. It is somewhat akin to our fascination with celebrities like Donald Trump, he’s gained so much fame from the outrageous things he says and posts. I think we are so intrigued by people like this because we are so curious to know how they came to make those decisions. Many want to know how Hitler was raised, read his diaries, understand his ideology, find some sort of reasoning for his actions. Ultimately, Hilter is responsible for WWII, it began with his invasion of Poland but the tension goes all the way back to WWI wear Germany was blamed for all grievances.

Some big takeaways about Hitler are, in his youth his mother and other siblings died, and later his father remarried. Before he was a dictator, he was a person, a child, he struggled to find his purpose. He wanted to be an artist but it wouldn’t work out. He became a runner in WWI where he learned about using gas as a military weapon. He was very passionate but somewhere on his path he started one of the most horrific genocides of time. I don’t think trying to understand Hilter is a worthwhile pursuit, at the end of the day he was responsible for the mass murder and cruel treatment of millions of people, I don’t think any information of his upbringing and personality can justify his actions. I do see some point in reading of his beliefs and ideology because knowing what type of person it takes to follow through with this operation is discomforting yet educational.

ok i pull up
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Hitler's Mind

We are so fascinated by Hitler because we, ourselves, cannot begin to fathom doing such atrocities to other people. From serial killers such as Jeffery Dahmer, we are eager to learn their story, and figure out what made them who they are. In retrospect, Hitler was a serial killer, and for the same reason that crime documentaries are widely favored around the world and suspenseful, we cannot wait to see what happens next, wishing us to learn more about these people. To be solely responsible for the worst genocide in history and worst war thus far, is surely a big title to take on, and as humans, it is part of our nature to learn more and be intrigued, and in this case, it would be Hitler’s motive in doing all this, and the more we learn, the more we want to know, leading us in a rabbit hole of questions and research. The most prominent question when researching Hitler would be how is one man capable of making this much damage, and how could he even begin to consider harming this many people. Regarding celebrities, it is not the same for the most part. It’s inspiring to hear about a celebrity who came up from nothing and gained so much fame. We want to know their lifestyle and how they live and imagine ourselves in that same situation. For most of us, we don’t care for what they have to think, unless it's truly bizarre, such as Kanye and his defense of Hitler (good connection). Hitler isn’t a celebrity, yet we don’t care about how he lived, we care about what and how he thought because this is is the building block of what he did. What is similar though, is that we are curious about how he came to fame, and how he got so much support. We are fascinated by the face of evil because we cannot imagine ourselves doing the same, so we are curious how another human, another person of the same composure of flesh and bones, could manage to do such a thing and think of it too. I would definitely consider him the face of evil for the 20th century, because he is not only responsible for the worst genocide, but also the worst world war ever, and how far he got as well. He is not responsible for everything, however, I believe people say it’s easier to associate it with one person, but we must not forget about people like Goebbels, his propaganda manager. The history of “Mein Kampf” is interesting to many people, and although it may be convoluted and such, Hitler wrote this entirety in prison, so to put yourself in his situation is interesting for the majority of people, or simply just to wonder “what is going on in his brain?”, or such.

Although I am not too familiar with the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” TV series, these articles do seem to be interesting and similar to seeing how Hitler lived and not regarding him as a villain. Especially “The New Yorker” article is interesting because it states from the beginning that he is vegetarian and a leader of a great land, which is not commonly associated when hearing the name Hitler. In Homes and Gardens, it goes in-depth about his living style, even while mentioning his book, “Mein Kampf”, and is so weird that they have not considered his thoughts in his book, but just goes to show that there is more to people than a public image.

All in all, the most important thing about Hitler is that he was a human just like us, and why he thought that way was mostly the way he was taught and really depends on your past experiences. I don’t understand him much better, mostly because I knew most of this beforehand, but it is nevertheless still interesting to reflect on this topic and wonder where my mind takes me. The most important thing to know about Hitler, as stated earlier, is that he is human and to prevent this from happening again, is up to us as people and parents to raise their/our children properly, to make the world a better place.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Why are We so Intrigued by Adolf?

I would say that my big takeaways about Hitler are that he was a crazy man. Although it pains me to say it, I must admit that Hitler was of…some intelligence. I mean, he had to be if he were to run his little “empire,” control crowds with his nonsense ramblings, and make sure he was not tied to any condemning documents. But ultimately, he was an egotistical, heartless murderer. When he got home though, it was as if he was an entirely different person. He appeared like your average wealthy schmuck with piles of money to renovate his summer home and supply his gourmet vegetarian lifestyle. And I know that not all become vegetarians for this reason, but to think that Hitler cared more about pigs and cows than actual human beings is disgusting. How can I wrap my head around it? I can't---at all. HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?? It doesn’t. I don’t know how anyone can make sense of that. Pigs and Cows? Are you serious? And then, after long days of being the head of a well-oiled genocidal machine, he decided to keep his own body in peak condition by not drinking or smoking, while so many people in camps were starved, beaten, and killed. To meticulously look after your own body while you defile the bodies of millions, it’s unsettling to say the least. That is my takeaway about Hitler. He was disgusting and utterly impossible to fully understand. Although I do not understand the man, this assignment has helped me learn more about what he was like on a personal, less political level.

I think that while trying to understand Hitler is a worthy pursuit (because there is so much to unpack), in the long run, it is just not feasible. I think it is important to know that he was in fact smart, and used his intelligence to garner support and craft his image. That is important to know because it changes how you understand him. It is also important to know about his lavish personal life at home. If you know about the leisurely time he spent at home, how he gave tours of the home he built with “the money that he earned” (from murdering people 🙄)))), and entertained guests with his private airplane, you could better understand just how unbelievable this man was. Because after he committed the countless atrocities he did, he just returned to his “quaint” little life as if nothing happened. It’s disturbing to think that the malicious Hitler we all know today, was the same man having conversations with his gardeners as if they were old friends. Knowing this makes Hitler appear more human than he ever was. That's something not a lot of people understand, but should. I keep saying “understand,” as if learning this made me understand Hitler more. In reality, knowing this other side of him, the more human side, made me more confused about his character. Hitler was a prime example of what human beings are capable of if they traverse the darkest side of humanity. And despite that, he was able to pretend as though he wasn't. I will never understand that, but it displays the deepest parts of Hitler. He was a man of strong will, grandiose fantasy, and insurmountable brutality. All of this he used to convince ordinary people that he was a wonderful leader rescuing Germany from chaos, putting things straight, and giving Germany its pride back. To them, he put the country back on a road to glory. To history and anyone with their brain intact, he was a monster.

@BigGulpFrom711, I think it’s somewhat interesting that you believe Hitler was only a “scapegoat” for the Holocaust. I wholly disagree. Yes, Hitler is not solely responsible for the genocide, but he was the head of everything. That does not make Hitler a scapegoat, it makes him responsible for a lot of things.

@arcoiris18, you definitely pose an interesting question: If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you? Of course, many people’s answers will defer, but the debate is the same. Some will say that killing a baby is immoral, especially because they have not committed any crimes yet. Others will say that killing the baby is justified because of its future and all the misery it will enact. I would say that I am partial to that viewpoint because it spared the lives of millions and unwrites all of the resulting generational trauma. I think similarly about slavery in America. If I could stop it from ever happening, I would. But I do have to credit it to my existence. If it had never happened, I would have never existed. And though upsetting to consider, I believe it is the necessary and lesser evil.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Why are we so Intrigued by Hitler?

I think people are generally intrigued by Hitler because we cannot fathom how one individual can hold such hateful sentiments and be responsible for the deaths of millions of people. It seems so out of reach, so dystopian… and it is. It is but people’s progressive bystanderism enabled it to happen. A failure to reflect on the condition of people as it relates to economics, politics, and social life. People were less fascinated by Hitler not (or at least good people) because he was a “fascinating” or “interesting” person but because people ponder: what made Hitler tick.

The beginning of the New Yorker’s Article “Profiles” begins with a set of facts about Hitler before his “acclaim”: Dictator of a nation devoted to splendid sausages, cigars, a vegetarian teetotaler, nonsmoker, and celibate. He was a small-boned baby and was tubercular in his teens”. A seemingly normal man, but we know that’s not true. No normal man finds peace in killing millions under the pretense of illogical and made-up ideologies. Maybe some may attribute his ways to his deficiencies at birth, being like the Austrian Hapsburgs, the article delves into Hitlers family tree. How his mother and father shared a common ancestry, “Adolf’s mothers great-grandfather was his fathers grandfather”. Although, again I doubt this is not the root of his evils. The article also describes how Hitler was good at geography and history, and nothing else, and accounts how at a young age he came into contact with racially insensitive texts. Ideas about white-supremacy and antisemitism as well. I think that’s definitely the most logical look into what made Hitler tick. Although there's no excuse, the literature he became fascinated with, miseducated him, and created further ignorance to reality. The same is the case for today, hence why there is such a heavy push for critical race theory, or queer theory, or any progressive texts to be read by, say students in Florida. Because when people are exposed to the truth they cannot be sensitive to lies, though they have the free will to make their own choices based on their knowledge. It’s interesting that Hitler’s mountain home, as described in “Hitler in Homes & Gardens” by the Wyman Institute speaks of the naturalism that encapsulates his garden… after all he was an artist as we discovered in class. But, the question that keeps one reading, wanting to know more about Hitler, are the little details about his life, that through analysis reveal more about his inner character no matter how evil he was. How can the reality of his external and his actions so juxtapose what he presented in his private life. How can a man like Hitler, have an affinity for the arts, for naturalism and the natural world, when he couldn’t even respect the human beings that inherit it.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by drakefan02 on March 09, 2023 19:22

It makes sense to be intrigued by Hitler. It makes sense to wonder what could possibly be so special about this guy. That’s probably the thing most people wonder, if they’re wondering something about Hitler. People probably wonder why Trump has such a following in the same way people wonder why Hitler had such a following. Our fascination with Beyonce and Kim Kardashian are a little different. Maybe back then, wondering how Hitler was living/ what he was up to was akin to wondering what Kim Kardashian or Beyonce was up to. I’d say the first 2 readings are in that vein of fascination, but the general fascination with Hitler is a little different. Part of that different fascination is that he is the “bogeyman” of the 20th century. He is the face of one of humanity’s lowest points, but that doesn’t mean he’s the sole reason it happened. I’d say Kaiser Wilhelm II is just as at fault, though less directly. I’d say the Treaty of Versailles is part of the fault. There is so much to blame. Hitler is of course part of the blame, but he most definitely isn’t 100% to blame.

The New Yorker profile and “Hitler’s Mountain Home” really do just treat Hitler like any other celebrity. It makes sense to wonder how someone famous lives, and these articles scratch that itch of curiosity for the general public. It felt weird reading about Hitler’s lifestyle. I don’t know whether or not it’s a good thing to learn these tiny details. It’s a little eerie for me to be learning that Hitler “has a passion for the piano” and that “he likes to stop at noon by the roadside, spread a robe on the meadow grass beneath trees, and have a picnic lunch”. I think it is important for people to understand that Hitler was just a guy, but it is scary to maybe find a similarity between yourself and Hitler. Hitler isn’t a source of pure evil, but he isn’t a regular dude who did regular things.

I have a couple of takeaways from what I’ve learned about Hitler. A big one is that, for his entire life, he struggled with finding a purpose. At first, he wanted to be an artist, and he failed to get into the Vienna School of Arts. Then, he found purpose in being a part of the German army in WW1. From the interview with Ian Kershaw: “’The regiment,’ he said, 'was his home.' And, at the end of the war, the defeat of the revolution, was the major shaking point, I think, which then turned Hitler, the drifter, into Hitler, the obsessive politician consumed with hate”. As we all know, Hitler wasn’t happy about how WW1 ended. He famously yelled “Scheisse” when he heard the news in the hospital. I don't think I can explain it better than Kershaw: “And he was himself looking for explanations as to why his world had crumbled beneath his feet, why what he was-- what he'd invested in, what he'd seen as a future then had collapsed and he found his explanation then in the figure of the Jews. It was an abstract hatred for him, I think, overall.” I think that connects to how he was able to get to where he got, and do what he did. Kershaw repeated the fact that the power of Hitler’s speaking came from his ability to convey emotions. What he was saying may not have been agreed by everyone, but he talked so fast, so passionately that it was hard to show the fault in his words, in the moment. A lot of that passion, I’d say, comes from his struggle with purpose. What he said, he said from the bottom of his heart, and the unsatisfied people of Germany were moved by the emotion more than the message. One, of the many things, that got people to follow him.

I’d say I understand Hitler a little better now. After WW1, the German people had this flame of hatred in them. When times are rough, people tend to lean towards the extremes. Hitler used his ability to passionately speak, to sort of pour gasoline on that flame of hatred. All he was, was a vehicle. He did know how to be a vehicle though. He knew how to market himself, which is a little weird to say but true. Overall, there was nothing too special about him. What was more special was the time and place. A time where the failure of the Weimar Republic had people questioning democracy and looking for an answer. Hitler made people feel (pretty strongly) that he had the answer, and that was enough.

Everything I mentioned is important, but it’s all about the nuance and circumstance. There is no one explanation for what made Hitler tick, there is no one explanation for what could turn a society into that horrifying machine of death.

I think its interesting how you cite the political extremes we learned about in class. The New Yorker spoke about Hitler reading Mussolini work, and I think although as you said, it's not definite (and there's no finite answer) as to what made Hitler tick... being sentenced to a political extreme and reading works of those who have horrific ideas definitely fueled a flame.

Pinyon Jay
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Why are we so intrigued by Hitler?

As responsible citizens, we should have the sense to prevent the repeating of history whenever possible. Hitler and his regime is the pinnacle of cruelty and depravity, and evokes the curiosity of how we let this happen. We are aware of many of the tactics and methods used to manipulate the public and subjugate the populations deemed unworthy, we are aware of the “how”, but it takes some more digging to figure out the “why”. Why did Hitler turn out the way that he did? Are there some key aspects about him as a person that we could possibly even see in ourselves, or other people? By recognizing what exactly bred the fine-tuned hatred Hitler had for non-Aryans, maybe we believe that we could identify a similar development before it reaches the height that Hitler did. He is most certainly seen as the most prominent villain of the twentieth century, and because we have heard the same narrative about him, we have a very distant picture of him as a person. Although he was the initiator for every evil thing that happened in WWII, his web of influence ended up causing the blame to be spread on a vast number of Germans. We have seen the scale of his influence with all of the Nazi trials and former Nazis still holding power in Germany.

Most of the articles and the interview with Ian Kershaw only brought up more questions and confusion. So many aspects of Hitler’s personal life and interests contradict with his actions, like the fact he was vegetarian, had a strong sense of style and decor in his home, and did not smoke or drink. Hitler clearly maintained control over his health and thoughts, and by the way he was living, one would assume he had a pretty clear head most of the time. In a way, this makes him as a historical figure even more terrifying, as he must have been dead-set on causing the most havoc and devastation as he could. Another surprising fact that Ian Kershaw brings to light is that even though many people think Hitler’s mom’s doctor being Jewish, combined with her death, was the catalyst for his hatred, Hitler apparently was in good relations with the doctor.

My main takeaway from these sources is that Hitler’s personal life and aspects of his past certainly contradict with his actions, and it may be a fruitless pursuit to use reason when trying to identify the “why”. But another thing that these sources bring to light is that almost anyone has a slight potential to develop into a figure as diabolical as Hitler. We do not need a unique circumstance to end up letting that darkness take over, so the most important way to stop from developing in this direction is to talk about it. Therefore, investigating Hitler is worthwhile less to find the whole truth and more to confront ourselves.

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