On Adolf Hitler’s birth anniversary I want to reveal my own thoughts about him out here. Let me make it very clear, that I am not an expert on Hitler or the Nazi regime, just some one with a passionate interest in it.
People often wonder how Hitler, could brainwash the Germans into his ideology, which caused millions of people to die. Ok first things first, Hitler, did not say anything new, nor did he discover a new strategy. We love to hate people like Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Idi Amin etc, but these leaders are not born in a vacuum. If they are able to peddle their twisted ideology, it is because there are people willing to believe that. Hitler did not do anything different, he simply capitalized on the prevalent anti Semitic mood in Europe. And he was not the first leader to persecute the Jews either, they were harassed all over Europe, by rulers of all hues. So what Hitler did was simply build on that feeling. Hitler really did not need to put in a effort, he knew that there was an anti Jewish feeling, and he exploited it for his own ends. Even closer home, we hate people like Bal Thackeray, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Imam Bukhari, for their blatantly casteist and communal ideologies. But these people simply draw on the existing prejudices of the people. And unfortunately, we have not learnt any lesson from that. Walk into the chat rooms or message boards of any web site, and it is appalling to see the way people pour venom at each other, in the name of community, race, religion. The fault is in us, so called educated people, our education has made it unable for us to understand the feelings of people different from us. When we ordinary people squabble over race and religion, why blame the politicians, they are simply, making use of it. The day, we truly put aside our differences, I can assure you, most of these political leaders, will be jobless.
Another reason why Germans admired Hitler. At the end of WW1, Germany was broken, militarily, politically and economically. Though there was a democratically elected Government, it failed to address the problems of ordinary Germans, suffering from shortages and inflation. This sort of crisis in Governance, is what the likes of Hitler seek. It gives them an opportunity to peddle their twisted ideologies by exploiting the discontent of the masses. Also the way the then German government, submitted to the humiliating conditions in the Treaty of Versailles, hurt the pride of ordinary Germans. Many Germans are intensely proud, patriotic people, and they looked down on this as an insult to the nation itself. It was here Hitler stepped in, by promising a better rule and a stronger Germany. Added to the fact that he was an excellent orator, he managed to sway the masses. And to achieve this end, he found a scapegoat, the Jewish community. They were made responsible for all the problems that Germany faced, and coupled, with the anti Semitic feeling, this was what led to the Holocaust. Get it clear, Hitler was no political genius, he simply exploited the prejudices of ordinary people and the failure of the democratic government, to rise to power. And that was the reason, when the Government was overthrown, there were no tears shed for it.
While Hitler hated the Jews and Gypsies, and propagated the theory of Aryan superiority, he was not less considerate to people of other countries. He hated the Poles and that country, suffered the maximum during the War. He hated most of the Slavish people, and it is no coincidence, that Eastern Europe, had to pay the highest price for Hitler’s ambition. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Ukraine all these countries had the Nazi jackboots marching on their streets.Nor did Hitler have any love lost for the Greeks either, who were the target of vicious massacres. But no country suffered more than Poland, which was looted at both ends by the Nazis as well as Stalin’s Red Army. More than a million people were killed in Poland alone, and Warsaw, was totally destroyed, when it came to knowing that the war was not to his liking. He hated the British, the French, the Americans, the Dutch, the Belgians. For all his lofty ambitions of German superiority and world domination, he in fact was a totally insecure leader, who surrounded himself with yes men. He did not trust his fellow subordinates, and could not tolerate people being more successful than him. In short he was a megalomaniac, whose king size ambitions, proved to be the biggest tragedy of the 20th century.
Many hail Hitler as a master of military strategy, which is only half true. Most of his military victories were the result of some brilliant people like Erwin Rommel, Von Choltitz. The way he dealt with Rommell, was indicative of his nature. Rommel was responsible for many of Hitler’s victories, and one of his most brilliant generals. Yet Hitler never really trusted him, but could not get rid of him, because of his stature. The Nazi defeat in North Africa, of which Rommel was in charge, proved the perfect excuse. Even then he never had the courage to confront Rommel directly, so he cooked up an imaginary conspiracy theory, and implicated him in it, and then forced him to commit suicide. So far from the image of a heroic military leader, he was no better than a high school bully, who when confronted, with a stronger opponent, is at a loss. And so was it with Hitler. All his victories were against nations, militarily weaker than him. His German Army, could roll over the French, the Dutch, the Belgians and most of East Europe, but when faced with his first real challenge, he failed. It was the famed Battle of Britain, when on the advice of his brainless advisor, Herman Goering, he ordered a spectacular air strike over Britain. It was reckoned that his air force, the Luftwaffe, would simply overwhelm, the British. Alas the small, but highly professional British Air Force fought back in one of the most stirring battles of modern times, and defeated the Luftwaffe. Hitler’s ambitious plan to be the lord of Britian, lay deep in the English Channel and this prompted Churchill to make the famous remark-“ Never before in the history of mankind, have so many owed so much to so few”.
And yes of course his by now disastrous invasion of Russia, which finally turned the tide. Hitler was confident that his totally professional Nazi Army, would easily overwhelm, the ill trained, ill-equipped Red Army. In fact he had lulled Stalin into complacency, by signing the famous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but all along, he was planning to attack Russia. And so confident was he that he even planned a victory parade in Moscow’s Red Square. And initially, as the Nazis pounded into Russian, and captured city after city, it seemed to be well true. But then Hitler, like another leader Napoleon before him, made the same mistake, attacking Russia in the winter. The Russian winter is brutal, cold and miserable, unless you are accustomed to it, you simply can’t survive in it. And when the Nazis were advancing onto Leningrad, the winter struck. Used to the more milder winters of Germany, the Nazi soldiers were just unable to cope with the cold, the hunger and the tedium. And when Leningrad held out for 444 days, it inspired the Russian people to rally against the Nazis, and of course the famous Battle of Stalingrad, where the Nazi army was routed and had to surrender, totally changed the course of history. Even in Paris, constant attacks by the French Resistance, weakened the German hold. So for all his military prowess, when confronted with real challenges, Hitler failed to rise to the occasion.. His arrogance, refusal to listen to others, his belief about his superiority, all led to one fiasco after another.
Adolf Hitler did not exist in a vacuum, he was a Frankenstein monster created not only by circumstances but also by other people around him. People like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who signed that famous Munich Pact in 1939 with him, and the very next day, Hitler invaded Poland. All the Western industrialists who funded his war empire and armoury, for their own purpose, unmindful of the consequences. The US never even bothered about the Holocaust, and it was only Pearl Harbor, that made them enter the War. His admirers in countries like France, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Norway who betrayed their own country, for his sake. Every one of them was responsible.