Are All Germans To Blame? Essay, Research Paper
In the 1930 s, Adolf Hitler came to control Germany by restoring faith into the hearts of German citizens. By using his emotional speaking, alluring propaganda, and shrewd deception, Hitler managed to become one of the most powerful rulers in European history. Adolf Hitler deceived the German people with his charisma and ability to sway people s perspectives and philosophies. They cannot be entirely blamed for the wrong doings they committed in World War II because they were unaware of the mistaken truths they were being conferred. At 6:30 P.M. in the evening of April 20th, 1889 a child was born in the small town of Branau, Austria. The name of the child was Adolf Hitler. He was the son a customs official Alois Hitler, and his third wife Klara. As a young boy Adolf attended church regularly and sang in the local choir. One day he carved a symbol into the bench which resembled the Swastika; the symbol he later used as the emblem of the Nazi party. In 1914 World War I broke out and Hitler saw this as a great opportunity to show his loyalty to the “fatherland” of Germany (despite his Austrian heritage) by volunteering for the Imperial army. He did not want to fight in the Austrian Army. Hitler was a good soldier. Many political opponents claimed that he was a coward but records clearly show that he was not. He received two awards of bravery but never achieved a high military rank. In 1918 Germany surrendered and Hitler was very upset about the loss. He believed that it was the Jews and the Communists who betrayed the “fatherland” and it was here that his disliking of the Jews most likely began. After the war, Germany was in chaos. With no real government to control the country, many groups tried to take control. Since there weren t many chances for employment, Hitler stayed in the army. He was assigned to attending various meetings of political groups and to report on them. On September 12, 1919 Hitler was sent to investigate a small group which called itself the “German Workers Party”. Hitler was discontent about his assignment. He thought it wouldn’t be valuable to attend. The group mainly talked about Germany s economic problems and how the Jews, Communists and others where threatening the master race (Aryans) and offered their own solutions. He argued that Germany must unite into one to survive. His natural ability to speak impressed the leader of the group and at the end of the meeting he gave Hitler a pamphlet and an invitation to the next meeting. Hitler later joined the German Workers Party and was in charge of propaganda. The party was small at first but Hitler’s great skill at deliberating speeches attracted more and more listeners and it soon became a major party with many followers. Eventually, Adolf Hitler became it’s leader and the group developed into the Nazi Party.Hitler’s Nazi party came to power almost entirely because of accidents. In 1929 the American Stock Market crashed; a powerful symbol of the growing depression. Germany was particularly badly affected, since the German economy was partly dependent on America s prosperity. A large number of loans from America were called back and the German economy crashed. Since the German government suffered badly in the depression, the existing Weimar government, which put in place by the victorious allies in the Treaty of Versailles, was blamed. Hitler used his twenty-five points from the beginning of the Nazi party. These were a set of promises appealing to everybody. They included elements of Socialism and told people what they wanted to hear. These points promised to stop reparations to the victors of the First World War, end unemployment, give a strong leadership, and they attacked immigrants and particularly Jews. The twenty-five points were attractive to those most vulnerable to the depression, especially ex-soldiers, the unemployed, and the middle classes. In this time of crisis, the German people had swung to an extreme group, and the Nazis were an easy way out. The Nazism was more appealing than Communism to industrialists, and it was also attractive since it promoted the old and respected German militaristic values. In the 1930 elections the Nazis greatly increased the number of seats that they held in parliament and by 1932 they had nearly 200 seats. Although they did not have a majority, the Nazis were the largest and fastest-growing party.The name Adolf Hitler is synonymous with the word propaganda. In order to understand how Hitler used propaganda, an understanding of what the word means, is required. According to Merriam-Webster, “propaganda is the spreading of ideas to further or damage a cause; also the ideas or allegations spread for a purpose”. Hitler used propaganda as his tool to further his ideas and help him gain the backing of the people in Germany. The form of propaganda that Hitler used was his speech. Hitler made many speeches, but one speech that tends to be remembered was his final speech at his trial for treason. In this speech Hitler gave his views and opinions on the events preceding the trial. This is an excerpt from the speech: “…I aimed from the first to….become the destroyer of Marxism….The army that we are building grows more from day to day, from hour to hour. Gentlemen, not you who will be the ones that deliver the verdict over us, but that verdict will be given by the eternal judgment of history, which will speak out against the accusation that has been made against us….That court will judge us….as Germans (who) wanted only the best for their people and their Fatherland, who fought and were willing to die. You might just as well find us guilty a thousand times, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear up the motions of the states attorney and the judgment of this court: for she finds us not guilty”. (Flood, pg. 293) After Hitler gave this speech, the court was sympathetic towards him, he was sentenced to only five years in prison for his crime. After nine months of his sentence had been served, he received parole. Being able to gain Nazi Party control and gain enough supporters proves that he was an efficient user of propaganda. Hitler also had his own minister of “indoctrination” when he became leader of the country. Hitler did not only use spoken propaganda. Another form of propaganda that he used was through photographs. These images promoted Hitler s “admirable” personality. In these photos he would be depicted as being a hero, he would be helping poor families, or be holding a small child. It was by these photos that Hitler became appealing to the public. These photos insinuated that he was caring, loving and utterly concerned for the well-being of the German people. The use of propaganda was a key contributor to the success of Hitler.
Since Hitler was able to manipulate people with his propaganda, he could convince people of nearly anything. This verifies that he was an immoral leader of Germany. Hitler would do whatever he deemed necessary to further his cause, with no remorse about what he had done. Many groups that Hitler perceived to be threats were consequently silenced. The first major victim of the Nazis was the powerful German Trade Union movement. It was a possible breeding ground for Socialism and Communism, and therefore opposition to Hitler. On May 2, 1933 many Trade Union leaders were arrested and beaten up. Their offices were looted and their funds and property seized. A Nazi-led “labor front” was established to control the workers and ensure the peace in factories and workshops. A week after the destruction of the Trade Unions, the Social Democratic Party suffered a similar fate, soon to be followed by the Communists. All of their property, possessions and funds were seized and both parties were banned. The Center Party, which had supported Hitler in return for vague promises, collapsed in July 1933, along with the few other political influences still remaining. Hitler soon became Chancellor and he passed a law that prohibited the recognition of any other party in Germany other than the Nazis. These examples show that Hitler had the ability to hush his opposition and to make himself appear as if he were a upright leader. He was also positively reinforced by song:Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, bequeathed to me by God,Protect and preserve me as long as I live!You have rescued Germany from deep despair.I thank you for my daily bread.Abide long with me. Forsake me not.Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, my faith and my light, Heil, my Fuhrer (Marrin, pg. 117) Hitler had gained so much power that absolutely anyone that interfered with his domination was quickly dealt with. The following is an example as described in Time Magazine. In Third Reich news, TIME reported that German university students were disciplined for carousing during a Hitler radio broadcast and, worse, making fun of his eating habits: “[The students], amid much loud discussion, made a distinction between the correct way of eating asparagus and Adolf Hitler’s way. Instead of smartly biting off the tip, or cutting it off with a knife and conveying it to his lips with a fork, Vegetarian Hitler picks up a stalk of asparagus with his fingers, inserts the tip between his lips, sucks vigorously, frequently consuming the entire stalk. Since most thrifty, common Germans eat it in exactly this fashion, Realmleader Hitler again stood vindicated last week as ‘TheApotheosis of The Common Man.’”-July 15, 1935 (Adams; Cotoggio, pg. 19) Even joking university students were silenced immediately. There wasn t anyone in German society that had the ability to speak out against Adolf Hitler.Hitler convinced the German people that certain races were “dragging down” their “greater” society. They would round up Jews, Communists, Gypsies, Homosexuals and others which were viewed as “Inferior” according to Nazi racial theory and enemies of the German people and put on trains. They were all sent to Concentration camps, which were set up to implement the ‘final solution’. Hitler drove Germany s citizens to instituting camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen which were all equipped with gas chambers to make the killing process quick and effective. In those camps, the Nazi Germans killed six million Jews and many others; not entirely aware of the wrongs they were committing. Hitler was the cruelest man to ever walk the face of the earth. (Hoffman, pg. 7) His belief of the superiority of the “Aryan” race made him hate all outsiders and drove him to deceiving his own people that they were elevated. Hitler enforced these views with writings like the following:”Please,” begged the victim, “let me go,For I am such a little foe.”"No,” said the victor, “not at all.For I am big and you are small.” (Marrin, pg. 126) He believed that the Slavs to the east should be made work for the German people. He thought of blacks as being “Sub-human”. And Most of all, he hated the Jews. He managed to influence the people of Germany with this hatred so they, too, would learn to rancor “inferior” peoples.In conclusion, Hitler was extremely able in swaying the opinions and values of German society, however three reasons stand out the most. He was gifted in the ability to use propaganda and brainwash people, which in turn proves that he was both unethical, and had desired to make Germany greater and stronger. With Hitler’s death the Nazi party quickly faded. But there is still much tension in today s Germany. The Germans are not directly at fault for buying into Hitler s harsh persuasion. They were simply caught in a very bad situation and needed a hero to believe in, but unfortunately, they chose Adolf Hitler.
Adams, Kathleen; Catoggio, Nick. Adolf Hitler- Asparagus Sucker:Time Magazine, 7/15/35, Vol. 146 Issue 2, pg. 19. Flood, Charles. Hitler, The Path To Power New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. Hoffman, Peter. German Resistance to Hitler Cambridge: Harvard Press, 1988. Marrin, Albert. Hitler Chicago: Viking Kestrel, 1987. Hitler s Life: Internet Resourcehttp://www.angelfire.com/mo/adolfhitler/index.hmtl DNEGEL: Internet Resourcehttp://www.algonet.se/ jolof/dnegel/pics/hitler.jpg