Why are we so intrigued by Hitler?
- Obvious start: the implications of his rule
- Fear of it happening again and sick fascination
- Similar to Trump
His reign was one of the most disastrous in respect to human life in the history of the human race. Bold, but true. Under his name reside 6 million + names, all dead, and millions more affected. We are familiar with horrific images of human ashes raining down like snow, with sidewalks paved with tombstones, with piles of bodies in unnamed mass graves. It’s terrifying. You begin to think, what would that look like today? What would that look like in our class? 3, maybe 4 of those in our class would have survived Hitler’s rule. The reality was that his commands lifted German economy and unity by taking countless other lives. This horror shocks us, the shear madness draws our attention like a moth to a flame. Knowing what we will find, knowing that we will only get burned, and yet still we are drawn in.
We also look at history and are awed by the global outcomes. Somehow, Hitler “brought together the unbelievable manpower of the Soviet Union, the material might of the U.S., and the force of the British Empire—an unholy alliance in coalition against him.” Imagine today, Russia and the U.S working together! Imagine having the whole world screaming at you but still continuing on. The resulting alliances were unprecedented and impossible, yet there Hitler stood at the center of history.
- It questions the “good” in human nature
I don't know about Declan, but I like to believe people are good. I like to think we are born good and are made evil. I like to believe that no matter what, part of us will scream no this is wrong! and always keep us doing the right thing. Believing that people are good, believing in this princess and Popsicle la-la land is challenged on every level by Hitler. We are intrigued by things that challenge our views that tell us we’re wrong, thus Hitler sparks a world-wide interest.
- Impossible to imagine, what could his motives have been?
Originally, I thought people focused on his motives. I thought people would ask why the crap would anyone do something so awful? Then, reading Swiggity Swoogity’s (Jesus…) post I realized that most people in the U.S know nothing about Hitler. They know he hated Jews, killed Jews, helped found the Aryan race, but not much else. They don’t analyze his motives, because they call him mad, sadistic, and mentally ill. It is more wanting to see this big celebrity figure and know every detail of his life. For example, we don’t give two craps about the Kardashians, how they came to be, why they do what they do. We care about what ridiculous thing they will do next. The same theory goes for Hitler. Except he’s dead. His legacy lives on though, and it is his legacy that I think everyone who knows his name will fear or welcome somewhere in their hearts.
By reading through these articles/site, what is the big “takeaway” for you re Hitler?
- He is much more humane than we give due credit for. He is normal, one of us. He is not a god or demon.
The description of his home area was so detached from my own sense of reality. It simply contradicted the videos of Hail Hitler and burned corpses that fall under his name. The article describes his home as “nothing pretentious about the Führer's little estate. It is one that any merchant of Munich or Nuremberg might possess in these lovely hills,” and I am reminded of his mortality. I think I tend to forget that. I tend to forget that he was human, with human faults, human emotions. In my mind he is so detached from basic human empathy that he is more of an emotionless demonic figure-head, void of love or sadness. How ignorant of me. It talks about how he would invite the local kids over to his house where “Coffee, cakes, fruits and sweets are laid out for them on trestle tables in the grassy orchards” It was sobering to imagine him taking care of children, a man with a heart. It also checked me. It condemned me for putting Hitler on such a pedestal, rewarding him with something less than human. He was purely human, and humans make mistakes (this all was much more than a mistake. That goes without saying. I don’t want my wording to come off as insensitive or permissive). Humans give in to desire and step away when the going gets tough. We get caught up in webs of power and lies, too weak to stand against it.
I have to disagree with ilovechocolate, in saying that Hitler doesn’t deserve to be humanized. I don’t believe that it is a matter of does HE deserve it, and more of a matter of do the VICTIMS deserve it. By demonizing his we create a separation. We distance the entire Holocaust as a freak event. In a way, we devalue the deaths and give way for round two. If he was not human, we are saying human being are incapable of such horror, which is false. Our own government puts people in concentration camps, China tortures its citizens, look at the Congo, at Rwanda, at hundreds more. It is this dehumanizing of the perpetrator which allows us to forget and turn a blind eye, and allows history to repeat itself, own him as human, calling him human, and make the Holocaust a human issue. It makes it a valid issue, a lesson, a look into just how god-awful we can be to people. Unless we own that, nothing else can get done.
- We have to stop giving him a way out
The interview brought up a good point that I had not before considered: we give Nazi Germany an excuse for their behavior.
“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.”
I hadn’t thought about it like that. Today, having a mental illness is a way out of jail, escaping punishment. We are unable to fathom such cruelty under the guise of a sane mind, so we dismiss it as impossible without a mental disorder. How misleading, how innocent. We, good citizens of sane mind, can’t fathom such horrors at the hands of the nation --- even though…we do --- and so chalk it up to illness. Or perhaps it is us wanting to separate him and us. We are both human, and majority of us are white, or male, or possess some other connection. He can’t possibly be like me, because that means that I could be like him and I don’t want that. So, we set a distinguishing factor, one that makes it impossible for that same cruelty to overcome our minds, one that creates and us and them. Several mental disorders later and Hitler is no longer human, but demonized, different. He and we are more different than roses and cattails. Unfortunately, while we seek that distinguishing factor, we provide him with an excuse, something to blame. I think that it is time for us all to face the fact that we are more similar than we like to believe, and his deeds are just that: his own. And he stood by them.
Do you understand him any better?
- He did not order everything
I remember way back when, when we were discussing Schindler’s List, and Ms. Freeman said that Hitler did not directly order mass killings and gassings. His following did that of their own accord. He ran his campaign off of a hatred for Jews and a promise of employment, and his followers decided to follow that. They took upon themselves what they perceived to be justice according to Hitler’s beliefs. Understanding this is key to understanding Hitler. Removing the mass murders from his direct name makes him more of a bystander egging on extreme violence, then standing at the wayside as shit hit the fan. His followers did what they thought to be right, Hitler affirmed their beliefs, and thus rose the wave of fear and hatred that had been bubbling up in Germany for the last 2 decades.
- He built power by letting society give in to fear
As stated above, Hitler rode the wave of fear. He did one of two things...
- He saw an opportunity hold power and stick it to those who hurt him. Fearing Jews, and having them all killed gave him a red carpet on which to stroll. He could wield power, he could save his country, he could be the hero Germany deserved (but not the one it needed).
- He was too afraid to stand up. He had dug himself into a deep friggin’ hole, with no perceivable way out. His only option was to go down and make sure Germany followed his lead. Should he stand up against anti-Semitism he risked being ridiculed and pushed out from society? Could he possibly take the leap and risk everything for a cause that to him wouldn’t turn into the Holocaust? No one would have ever dreamed of such horrors, and neither did Hitler. To him, letting the tide take him was far easier.
Either way, the dude fucked up big time.
- Like me, he possessed a passion, realized his passion could make a change, but let it change him
Hitler say injustice in his world. He was rejected from art school, denied high standing, and put through the Treaty of Versailles. The dude was pissed. When he found his voice, however, everything changed. “All at once he realizes what an impact his speeches are having,” all at once he understands that he can make a change, and he does. He uses his voice to be the change he seeks. He took great pride in his voice, and I can understand that. When I became comfortable speaking, everything changed. You can feel the energy of an audience. You can almost understand the words people are thinking, their emotions clogging the air, giving it weight or flight. When you speak, everything changes. Hitler felt that, but amplified to an intoxicating level. In the midst of a depression and a time of desperation, and audience is made susceptible to hope, fear, anger, anguish. He became drunk on his ability, drunk on the effects he had. Through his words he could incite change, and so he did. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what he wanted or imagined, but to him it was all he needed. I had never thought of that before. I had never understood some people infatuation with speaking, until I saw my side, and an extreme. It is easy to give in to temptation, and when the pull of an audience becomes so great, breaking away is like giving up crack. It is no easy feat, and Hitler needed his crack.
Do you think trying to understanding him is a worthwhile pursuit?
- Begin to understand what allows systematic and lawful genocides
- Understanding where we have been is vital to understanding where we are going. Seeing past mistakes is one thing, but understanding how they came about and what caused them is vital to progress. We will always repeat history in small ways. We will always date the wrong person, always procrastinate, always mark dative instead of ablative. It happens. But genocides don’t have to repeat. They just don’t. Even now, we are allowing history to repeat itself and it’s from ignorance of voters and the ignorance of a nation.
- Understanding extreme implications of being a bystander
We are always told to be the up stander, to speak up. But it’s hard. It’s hard, but events like Nazi Germany serve as perfect examples as to why being an up stander is vital to our survival. Not everyone will uphold the Golden Rule, but if everyone can speak up and speak out, then change is possible. We can avoid pain and bullying, genocides and torture. There is a way.
- Understanding his campaign, understanding Trump’s, thus the flaws in today
I would like to think this goes without saying…
At the end of the day, in your view, what’s the most important thing(s) to know about Adolf Hitler? And why?
- He didn’t order every little thing. Fear drove his rule, people who made assumptions about what he wanted and he rode that wave
- Polarity and vulnerability give way to fear and desperation
- He was normal, he wasn’t cruel or evil to those he knew. He had a soul. He was human, and only once we regognize him as human can we recognize the victims as human casualties, only then can we own ourselves and stop the cycle of history