Hitler’s Deception: His Beginning

On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed which imposed severe conditions on Germany. Germany was threatened of being invaded and was forced to sign the treaty and accepts responsibility for the war which led them to make huge payments for the damages done. The treaty limited Germany’s military and transferred territory to neighboring countries. The establishment of the Weimar Republic after the World War I was a weak government which provided the rise of a new leader, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was influential and a captivating speaker who attracted Germans in desperate for change. In order to understand the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) ideologies, it is necessary to look into Hitler’s life before the Treaty of Versailles, his mentors, the origin of his anti-Semitism, and how he upheld them.

Adolf Hitler was the son of Alois Hitler, a custom worker, and of Klara Poelzl. Alois retired from the custom service at the age of fifty-eight. He wished that his son would also follow his footsteps as a civil servant but Adolf refused[1] Adolf mentioned the struggle he had with his father over such topics, reflecting on how his father did not support him when he spoke about becoming an artist. Hitler was not a devoted student while in school nor was he fond of teachers. He stated, “When I think of the men who were my teacher, I realize that most of them were slightly mad…”[2].

In addition to the insult, he called Eduard Huemer a “congenital idiot” because he taught French. Professor Huemer described Adolf as “gifted but lacked self-control, as well as argumentive, autocratic, self-opinionated and bad-tempered, and unable to submit to school discipline.”[3] Among the teachers that he hated there was one professor who he admired most, Dr. Leopold Poetsch, a history and a fanatical German nationalist. Dr. Poetsch was the one who transformed Hitler into a young revolutionist. While still in school he received “adequate marks” in German, chemistry, physics, geometry, but his stronger subjects were history, geography and freehand drawing.

After getting out of school his mother and other relatives urged him to seek a trade in order to support the family but he declined to help out by not getting a job. The idea of earning a living by any regular employment was hideous to him. He was never employed and that gave him the liberty to roam the city streets reading and listening to the works of Richard Wagner. At the age of sixteen, Hitler was obsessed with politics and he had developed a fanatical hatred for the Hapsburg monarchy and for all the non-Germans races in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Adolf Hitler identified himself as a fanatical German nationalist. After his mother’s death and at the age of nineteen he left for Vienna.

As the twentieth century began the Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, Jews, and others were demanding equality in Austria. Social and racial struggles were often seen when Hitler was in Vienna. Adolf opposed any equality for the minorities in the Austrian-German Empire. He believed the non-German races were inferior and that it was up to the German people to rule with an iron hand.[4] It is likely that Hitler experienced shared the general anti-Semitism among the German nationalist however, it is recorded that he dealt with Jews while in he lived in Vienna. He supported the idea that the Parliament must be abolished and that it should stop its democratic “nonsense”. He followed and observed the three major political parties in Austria: the Social Democrats, the Christian Socialists, and the Pan-German Nationalist.

Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, a member of a congressional committee investigating Nazi atrocities, views the evidence at first hand at Buchenwald concentration
Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, a member of a congressional committee investigating Nazi atrocities, views the evidence at first hand at Buchenwald concentration.

His observation on the political parties helped him developed strategies, such as how to use propaganda, how to create a mass movement of people and the value of using spiritual and physical terror. Another method that he figured out was not to oppose the Catholic Church. He explained, “ a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party has never succeeded in producing a religious reformation.”[5] He learned that he had to gain some support from the powerful establishments such as the Church, Army, cabinet members, or the Head of state.

Hitler moved to Munich, Germany in May 1913. He did so seeking to avoid being arrested because of his military service responsibility to Habsburg, Austria. In Munich, he continued to roam, supporting himself on his watercolors sketches until World War I gave his life a path and a reason to which he could commit himself a lot more by joining the Bavarian German Army. Hitler is recorded as being a brave soldier. He was wounded twice and was twice decorated for bravery. He was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class and the Iron Cross, First Class.[6] It was not until after World War I that Hitler had totally adopted an anti-Semitic ideology.

The end of the war was a loss and huge tragedy for Hitler, as well as to many other Germans too. It brought the threat of disbandment, slitting him from the only community in which he had ever felt that he had a purpose and returning him to a civilian life with no bright future.[7] The time he spent in Vienna as well as in the trenches during World War I were fundamental phases which help him developed his ideology. Hitler’s service in the army during the First World War appears to have shaped his commitment to an anti-Semitism that was grounded on the ideology of social Darwinist race-theory which also led to the creation of a nationalism founded on the need to combat the power hold of the Jews.

Oven where prisoners were burn dead or alive
WWII Europe: Buchenwald, Germany: Concentration Camps; “Oven where prisoners were burnt, dead and alive”

Although antisemitism was not new in Europe it did attract the multitude. Hitler’s hatred for the Jews might have started when he was a teen [8]. Hitler had many ways of referring to the Jews. When giving a speech Hitler would associate certain words to the Jews, such as corruption, selfishness, cowardice, materialism, and traitors. He refers to them as cowards and traitors because he saw that they would not fight alongside the Germans during the Great War. On the other hand, the Germans were associated with opposite virtues like honesty, bravery, and self-sacrifice.[9]

One of Hitler’s mentors was Karl Lueger. Karl was the leader of the Christian Socialist Party in Austria; he was a known anti-Semite. Karl Lueger was the mayor of Vienna and his government organized prejudiced practices against Jews. Some practices would consist of not hiring Jews in the city services, as well as limiting the number of Jewish students into high schools and universities. On the other hand, he had a habit of helping needy Jews and he would even attend their services in the synagogue. Karl Lueger is reported to have said: “It is up to me to decide who is a Jew”.[10] Hitler did not agree with this idea but still respected Karl Lueger. On September 16, 1919, Hitler issued his first written comment on the so-called Jewish Question. He defined the Jews as a race and not a religious community, branded the effect of a Jewish presence as a “race-tuberculosis of the peoples,” and identified the primary goal of a German government was discriminatory legislation against Jews. The Reich’s “ultimate goal must definitely be the removal of the Jews altogether.”[11] Hitler and the Nazis viewed the Jews as a venomous race which lived off the other races and weakened them. (How do you dehumanize a certain group? By making them subhuman. This was the tactics that Hitler used.)

Hitler spread his belief on racial purity and in the superiority of the “German Race” which he called the Aryan race. This notion of the Aryan race came from Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau. Gobineau was a Frenchmen who became famous for developing the racist concept of the Aryan master race in his book, An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853-1855).[12] His theory was that race was the “single most significant factor determining the nature of human civilization, with the white race being responsible for all the great advances in history”. He saw the barriers between the races as natural. This conflict has existed since the beginning of human history. According to Gobineau the “mixture of race” would lead to the annihilation of civilization. Unfortunately, the Nazi adopted this kind of mentality which led to the massacre against the Jews and many other ethnic groups.

The Nazis began to put their ideology into practice with the provision of German scientists who believed that the human race could advance by restraining the reproduction of the other “inferior races”. Hitler views in history boiled down to the crude and naïve version of Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism is the theory that individuals, groups, and peoples are subject to the same Darwinian laws of natural selection as plants and animals. His most important belief was that in order to have a superior army the nation had to be purified from within. Not only does this enables us to see how central his world views the principle of struggle was but it also shows why Hitler believed Germany lost the First World War. When considering Hitler observation of the causes of Germany’s defeat in 1918 it is important to remember that he regarded military developments on the battlefield, the progress of the fighting capacities and determination of the German army, and political development on the German home front as a mere phenomenon that expressed the racial decline of the German race. According to Hitler, this meant that Germany was not able to be protected because of other minorities within the army and nation. This is one of the many reasons why Hitler was so expressive of his hatred toward the Jews and other minorities.

In 1933, physicians in Germany could perform sterilizations making it impossible for the Nazi victims to have children. Among the victims, there were ethnic minorities, mentally ill people, handicapped individuals, and individuals with African ancestry. [13] The only way for the Nazis to have had taken the complete power of Germany was to eliminate anyone who opposed them and indoctrinate its citizens with their propaganda. Nazi teachers in classrooms began to teach the doctrines of racial science. They would demonstrate to their students how to recognize a Jew or someone who is not of the Aryan race. Another method that was used to improve the German race was to not intermarry with any minority race. The Nazi Party went as far as creating laws in order to prevent any mixture of “race”. Ruedolf states, “The German Empire will not rise again until the good German blood rises.”[14] R. W. Dare portrays the very same mentality on marriage, “it is surprising to discover in the old traditions the extent to which German marriage laws were filled with wisdom about the interdependence of blood and culture…Today our people seem to have lost all this wisdom…”.[15]

In short, Hitler’s indoctrination and hatred led his nation in the same path. A path of darkness and uncontrolled evils. So, let us be vigilant and cautious. How do we oppose such ideas? By opposing it with another idea. In today’s societies, we can observe these same tactics being used from the extreme left as well as from the far right. Let us learn from the past, a human is a human in the womb and after birth, no matter was culture or ethnicity we come from. As leaders in our communities, we must learn from the past that hunts us with the hope of living a brighter future.

[1] William L. Shirer, The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), 11.

[2]Ibid., 12.

[3] Ibid.,13.

[4] Ibid., 22.

[5] Ibid., 23.

[6] Ibid., 30.

[7] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Adolf Hitler and World War I: 1913-1919, Holocaust Encyclopedia. www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007431. Accessed on April 25, 2016.

[8] Shirer, The Rise and Fall, 25.

[9] Neil Gregor, How to Read Hitler, (New York: W.W Norton and Company, 2005), 9.

[10] Jewish Virtual Library, Karl Lueger, Encyclopaedia Judaica, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_12844.html. Accessed on April 25, 2016.

[11] Jewish Virtual Library, Adolf Hitler: First Anti-Semitic Writing, Encyclopaedia Judaica, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Adolf_Hitler’s_First_Antisemitic_Writing.html. Accessed April 24,2016.

[12] Gregor, How to Read Hitler, 37.

[13] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazi Racism, Holocaust Encyclopedia, www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?Moduleld=10007679. Accessed on April 4, 2016.

[14] Barbra Miller, Nazi Ideology before 1933: A Documentation, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978), 111.

[15] Ibid, 112.

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