As politics in India becomes more and more a subject of debate and comparisons between Prime Minister Modi and the notorious dictator Hitler surface every now and then, my interest in German history, particularly in the nuances of Nazi Germany increased.
While I am rather skeptical about giving an opinion on whether such comparisons are accurate, here is some trivia about the period of the Nazi rule in Germany.
The purpose of this article is to enable all readers, whether or not well-versed in German history, to form their own opinion on the matter. An ancillary objective of this writing is to kindle interest in global politics, in particular German history which is not only incredibly rich but also provides deep insights into human psychology.
Who was Hitler:
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria in 1889 and became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Subsequently in 1934, as the leader of the German Socialist Party, better known as the Nazi party, he ended up amending German laws to allow himself to be its Dictator till 1945, the year in which he shot himself dead, fearing captivity by Russians. He liked to be called Germany’s ‘Fuhrer’ (English translation: leader), a title he retained till his death. His political party was called the Nazi party and is often remembered by its red sleeve bands with a Swastika symbol.
What he did:
In his nearly 12 years of dictatorial rule, Hitler undertook actions that he is still remembered for. Despite his charm over the German people, who often looked at him as the ‘Messiah’ who was born to ‘cleanse’ Germany and restore it to its pre-destined power, the world today still reels with the aftershock of events that transpired during his rule.
- Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, to acquire the Polish territory with a view to providing greater ‘living space’ to the German people. This resulted in World War II which Germany ultimately lost.
- He considered the Jews to be of impure lineage, unfit and sub-human to be allowed to live in Germany. This view of Jews came to be known as anti-semitism.
- His hatred for the Jewish race ultimately resulted in the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews in large-scale concentration camps (with fully-equipped gas chambers). This marked the biggest and most-brutal persecution of humans ever marked in modern history.
His distorted ideology:
- Hitler believed in the survival of the fittest. For him, life was a struggle, not only for individuals but also nations. Only those who fought for power could eventually survive. In fact, he detested the ‘pacifist’ policy of the German government prior to his regime and regarded it as cowardice. In his opinion, a nation could grow if and only if it acquired other territories, even with the use of force.
- He believed in the inherent superiority of the German race over all else in the world. Given the superstitious and occultist attitude that prevailed in Germany at that time (and Hitler was a stark proponent too), he believed that the original German population had originated from the pure Aryan race that was both physically and intellectually superior than all other races. This led to be distorted belief that the purest breed of Germans was meant to rule the world someday, with Hitler being its guiding-star.
- He expressed his abhorrence of the Jews rather openly – both in this autobiography and in public speeches. He, along with many others who remained close to him and his office believed in the ‘evilness’ of the Jews, thinking of them as parasites to the economic development of every nation. Hitler openly talked about his hatred for the Jews – their sense of dressing (in long gowns or kaftans), their body odor and generally low levels of hygiene. This general hatred of the Jews came to be known as ‘anti-semitism’.
- Hitler strongly believed in the power of propaganda to affect the opinion of the masses. He once remarked that even the biggest lie, when repeated with persistence could be believed more ardently than the biggest truth. Interestingly, he believed that the best targets of any kind of religious or political propaganda happened to be the naive common man, who lacked the ability to critically and rationally evaluate what was told to him. This also made Hitler rather averse to the scanty population of intellectuals in the country, who he believed to be the biggest enemies of effective (and misleading) political propaganda.
- Hitler sought to replace the German faith in Christianity by providing to the poor German masses an alternative ‘Nazism’, which would consider the Mein Kampf as its Bible and the Swastika as it’s Church cross. Surprisingly, even the Vatican and Christian authorities helped propagate Nazism, that came with its distorted views about religion, bigotry and superstition. For instance, one of the Nazi views happened to be that the serpent in the Garden of Eden happened to be a Jew.
- Despite the negative perception of Hitler that the world still carries, Hitler believed that he was only carrying out the ‘will of God.‘ For him, the ends justified the means, which means that no matter how cruel or inhuman the methods employed to achieve a ‘holy’ objective, they remained worthwhile. Even the German people of that time who were already an embittered lot after losing World War I were driven into believing that Hitler was the incarnation of God himself, their guardian angel who would purify German soil of its impure races.
- Hitler carefully inter-twined the dynamics of politics and religion in a manner that questioning the fanatisicm of his party autolatically implied anti-nationalism. If you were a loyal German citizen, you followed Nazism to its finest detail and if you objected to anything, you were laballed anti-national. Not only this, such ‘anti-nationals’ were not allowed to remain in peace and protest in Germany, instead beaten up, locked up in detention centres and murdered to quell even the slightest form of disagreement.
No matter what Hitler believed or what the masses did, the Pied Piper did ensnare his own people into committing the most heinous and brutal acts of all times. If one was to ask today who exactly was responsible for the mass persecution of millions of innocent men, women and children, there are no clear answers. While it may be easy to blame it on the old villain Hitler, it remains unsaid that each and every man and woman, who not only supported his beliefs but also chose to remain silent as he went about his cruelty, remain equally responsible. From the priest in the Church who supported anti-semitic beliefs and blew wind in the Nazi sails, to the loyal concentration camp worker who pressed the button for releasing poisonous gases to be inhaled by thousands – each one remains responsible.
Image taken from Google images
- Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography
- The Diary of Anne Franck
- ‘Hitler’s Circle of Evil’ – Netflix series
- Other documentaries on YouTube