Essay: Hitler's Rise

Pages: 5 (1797 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

Hitler's Rise To Power

How did a man rise from near obscurity in Germany to a position of dictatorial power? How did a man who a bigoted, insignificant force in German politics become the most powerful man in Europe, who put together by far the most potent military juggernaut in Europe? This paper reviews the events and strategies that Adolph Hitler so brilliantly used -- and the politics he manipulated -- to put himself in a position to seize nearly all of Europe for Germany and put to death over 6 million Jews, gypsies, and others he determined were not of the Aryan race.

How Did He Do It? Where Did It Begin for Hitler?

"History may yet deny many things to Adolph Hitler but it cannot deny his stature as a great man. It may be he represents the Power of Evil in our time. It may be the sacred duty of free men to wreak his destruction. But Hitler as a leader of men, as conqueror of a continent and as a shrieking "success story" of his e4ra, has the historical greatness of Attila, Alexander, Caesar and Napoleon…" (Life Magazine, August 19, 1940).

First of all, Hitler served in World War I, and in his notoriously evil book, Mein Kampf, Volume One: A Reckoning, Chapter VII: The Revolution, Hitler began building up his ability to criticize and place blame for the wretched conditions after WWI. He blamed the press in Germany for "propaganda" that didn't help the German side of WWI. He also blamed the Jews for almost anything one can imagine, and surprisingly, he blamed the German women back home for sending "complaining letters" to their spouses in uniform during WWI. In his book he recalls remembers experiencing anger during the war (in which he claims he was at the "front lines" in the "trenches") because "thoughtless women at home" were "dishing up" the "poison" of telling their men in battle how bad it was at home. Hitler says "the senseless letters of German women cost hundreds of thousands of men their lives," which was a totally false accusation.

In his book, Hitler says very little about the actual fighting. Hitler writes that he was injured on October 7, 1916 and while in the hospital he was angered by "men bragging of their own cowardice!" He uses strong words to describe men who bragged that they cut themselves deliberately on barbed wire to get out of fighting on the front lines. He was building a case that he was himself a courageous and brave warrior. And after he healed, and he "could walk again," Hitler went to Berlin, which was "suffering from hunger," and "discontent was great." And there were "slackers" everywhere, and "the offices were filled with Jews." The Nazi Party was not built by putting together coalitions, because Hitler hated coalitions. "Great, truly world-shaking revolutions of a spiritual nature are not even conceivable and realizable except as the titanic struggles of individual formations, never as enterprises of coalitions," he wrote in Mein Kampf, Volume Two, Chapter I ("Philosophy and Party"). By this he signaled his intention that one party should rule, and push all others aside, which he would soon do.

As to his ideas and techniques for his concept of ruling a nation, Hitler gave a strong clue as to his intentions for Germany when he showed how much he admired a fascist dictator (Mussolini) in Volume Two, Chapter XV: "How one gags with disgust" at the "nonentities" that currently governed Germany, Hitler wrote, when compared with Mussolini, who is "a thousand times greater than they…" And he went on to promise that Germany "must inevitably win her rightful position on this earth if she is led and organized according to the same principles" as Mussolini. In Volume Two, Chapter XI ("Propaganda and Organization") Hitler wrote that the "first task of propaganda" was to win over people for an organization, and the first task of organization "is to win men for the continuation of propaganda."

Meanwhile, in the book Stones from the River, readers get a glimpse (through the main character of Trudi) as to how Hitler transformed ordinary people in ordinary towns into part of his propaganda and power machine. In fact Nazism and all the symbols and trappings became so ubiquitous in Trudi's town, even though it was not at all comfortable, people had no choice but to begin to accept it. "Brown shirts and uniforms were everywhere" and "a brisk Heil Hitler had replaced the morning prayer" in the school (page 211), author Ursula Hegi writes. In the church, the Catholic "father" went away from his traditional mass to say a "fervent prayer for the Fuhrer." Life changed for everyone and even though Trudi saw people arrested "for their political beliefs," and even though "the people could no longer pretend they didn't know what was happening…" as "Jews were yanked from their beds at night and taken away…" there was nothing anyone could do about it (257). When government representatives (acting like bullies) in uniform become part of your school, your church, your neighborhood, your consciousness, they basically become part of your life and your community, and Trudi witnessed it all happening (Hegi, 258).

To help with the understanding of how Hitler transformed Germany into a Nazi force, it is important to have an opportunity to view the film "Triumph of the Will." This stirring propaganda film demonstrates the ideas, appeal and leadership goals of Hitler and of the Nazi party at the time he was emerging as a powerful internationally feared fascist figure. The film shows propaganda in its most effective form. The nationalistic, militaristic ideas of the Nazi party, are illustrated through the motion images from a rally of 52,000 workers standing in front of Hitler, which is very disturbing in hindsight, but showed that Hitler had this nation right where he wanted it, in the palm of his fascist hand. The music -- powerfully dramatic use of Wagner's operas -- adds to the potency of the film.

The fiercely mean-spirited rhetoric of the thousands of workers in the film is seen as belligerently anti-communist and pro-war. Hitler used the German peoples' fear of communism to stir up passion for his cause. "Divide and conquer," was his plan, and it worked well. He had the help of Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, working hard to establish the fascist authority Hitler demanded. In Richard J. Evans' book The Coming of the Third Reich, the author notes that film and radio helped Hitler seize control. By March 1933, during the election campaign, Goebbels "had succeeded in blocking all attempts by parties other than the Nazis and Nationalists" to get political advertising broadcast on radio stations (Evans, 2005). On June 30, 1933, Goebbels "obtained a decree from Hitler… vesting control of all broadcasting in the hands of the Propaganda Ministry"; and soon thereafter Goebbels purged 270 radio employees, keeping only those that agreed to promote the Hitler propaganda. Managers and reporters identified as liberal, like Hans Bredow, were "arrested on corruption charges and taken to Oranienburg concentration camp," Evans explains.

Next came art galleries; brown shirted Nazi thugs "sacked twenty-seven art gallery and museum curators, replacing them with Party loyalists" who quickly removed "modernist works" (Hitler hated modern art), Evans explained. Jewish artists were purged, and "A whole galaxy of leading conductors and musicians had been forced to leave." Then the German students got into the Nazi crackdown movement; on May 10, 1933, German students organized an "act against the un-German spirit" in 19 university towns across Germany, Evans continues. They made a list of books they considered "un-German" and seized them from "all the libraries they could find, piled them up in public squares and set them alight," Evans writes. Joseph Goebbels was invited to a book-burning event in Berlin, and he told the students they were "… doing the right thing in committing the evil spirit of the past to the flames" in what he termed "a strong, great and symbolic act" (Evans).

Books written by Sigmund Freud, by authors like Marx, Kautsky, and any liberal or idealistic book was found and burned. The iconic German historian and biographer Emil Ludwig had all his books burned due to the "denigration" of the "great figures of German History" Evans asserted. After the students had their run on books, the Nazi stormtroopers ransacked libraries and put on a massive book-burning event in Heidelberg on May 17, 1933. Torch-carrying students that sand the national anthem and the Horst Wessel Song accompanied the event.

The Nazi drive to totally take over Germany with intimidation, murder, violence and political banishment was now heavily concentrated on the Jewish population. Getting rid of the Jews would restore "Germanness" to Germany, Evans explains. "Anti-Semitism had always borne a very tenuous and indirect relation to the real role and position of Jews in Germany society" albeit most Jews in Germany lived conventional lives and politically they tended to be… [END OF PREVIEW]

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