Adolf Hitler and Nationalism

Introduction

“The Great War was without precedent … never had so many nations taken up arms at a single time. Never had the battlefield been so vast… never had the fighting been so gruesome…”[1]

Historical records impute World War I to the first global catastrophe of the 20th century, which lasted from 1914 to 1918 and caused the approximate number of 9 million casualties. “It would turn out to be a long war in which soldiers died by the millions. An entire generation of young men would be wiped out. The war would also bring the downfall of the old European culture of kings and noblemen and their codes of honor.”[2]

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However, neither the number of casualties at the battlefields could reflect the actual devastation reigning in the world hereafter, nor could the massive downfall of the imperial regimes. The economic dislocation and total disruption of values spread depression and fear among the countries that appeared to be the first in the victims’ rate.

The Germany’s irresistible enthusiasm of the Spirit of 1914 was buried under ashes, damages, and the first genocide of the 20th century. Nevertheless, it remained throughout the war and destruction as the leitmotif in the Adolf Hitler’s activity. The perspective young leader, having bravely withstood the battles of the Great War, even more bravely started to defend the rights of German workers, slowly, but convincingly acquiring the audience of support.

Hitler was persistent and industrious in approaching the wheel of Germany’s government. Finally, on becoming the chief of the state, Hitler has almost completely changed the vector of his policy and became the dictator of the German nation. However, the fact of being severely criticized and regarded as a hypocrite, racist, and insane did not hinder the existence of the belief that Hitler appeared to be the one to lead Germany to renaissance, both economic and spiritual.

Hitler fostered the idea of nationalism through forcing the population of Germany to work above norm for the sake of the country. This inducement was reasonably spiced with the talks about Aryan nation, uniqueness, and leadership, which altogether brought to the common belief in collective force, and, despite the resistance, impelled the Germans to work qualitatively and quantitatively.

The chief of the state encouraged collective consciousness, for, in comparison with individualism, this was the simplest way to control and direct the national mood. He infused German people with hope and dignity, with desire to enormous work for the common good and prosperity of own country. Indeed, what would be called ‘nationalism’, if not this?

Hitler’s Beginnings

Born in the 1800’s, Adolf Hitler spent most of his childhood dreaming of becoming a great artist. However, the pointless efforts had brought him to the depression, which added up to his hysteric nature greatly. “The utter misery of his poverty also deeply influenced Hitler. He adopted a harsh, survivalist mentality, which left little room for consideration of kindness and compassion – an attitude that would stay with him until the end.”[3]

Indeed, later, when Adolf Hitler joined the Bavarian Regiment for participation in the Great War, his colleagues admitted the traits of devoted and thorough person. “For me, as for every German, there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence.

Compared to the events of this gigantic struggle, everything past receded to shallow nothingness,” Hitler said in Mein Kampf.[4] Hitler was completely absorbed in the ideology of war and potential victory, which was the cause for further deep disillusion and depression. Hitler was prone to hysteric accusations of the alternative betrayers, most likely the objects of Hitler’s anti-Semitic character, Jews.

“He had a curious but academically untrained mind and examined the complex philosophical works of Nietzsche, Hegel, Fichte, Treitschke and the Englishman, Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Hitler picked up bits and pieces of philosophy and ideas from them and wound up with a hodgepodge of racist, nationalistic, anti-Semitic attitudes that over time became a die-hard philosophy, later to be described in his book, Mein Kampf.”[5]

After the war ended, Hitler returned home and joined the workers association known as the National Social German. As an active member, he was incredibly instrumental in fighting for the rights of workers and spearheading for change.

Meanwhile, the consequences of the Great War manifested themselves in Versailles Treaty, which constituted the Armistice signed in November, 1918. The Treaty was extremely disadvantageous for Germany, which could be outlined in terms of territory, financial coverage, and military forces.

The conclusions of the document cultivated anger and disillusion among the population of Germany, for, in addition to the economy downfall due to loss of profitable regions, Germany has admitted its responsibility for the war damages. Hence, according to this acknowledgement, Germany was obliged to provide financing of all the war-caused damages of European countries.

In 1920, Hitler came up with a controversial 25-point program, a detailed demands list given to the government for immediate action. However, the government never took any action on this matter, and, overwhelmed by anger and frustrations, Hitler staged a coup to overthrow the government. This resulted in his imprisonment, whereby he served nine months of his five-year term. However, while in prison, he took advantage of his free time to design his manifesto.

Free time contemplations gave birth to ‘Mein Kampf’, which is partly autobiographical and partly political work by Adolf Hitler. The book encloses the formation of the writer’s outlook through the lenses of events happening to him starting up from early childhood. The author relates the premises to Jew despise and smoothly switches to the discussion of the forms of government, analyzing advantages and disadvantages of different ones. The book acquired popularity short after Hitler got the position at the governing structures.

Hitler and World War II

After the sudden death of Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler became president and Chancellor of Germany.[6] This marked the beginning of his dictatorial term in office. He began implementing his policies, which included the elimination of trade unions, racism against the Jews and curtailing freedom of speech.

By Hitler, the collective consciousness could foster nationalism through “homogenous ethnicity, cultural similarity and common purpose is the glue to the German society. Thus when a state is composed of a singular ethnic population, the natural inertia of such a population will hold the institution together and maintain its existence through thick and thin in a longer period. Even if the government had been badly managed and continuous maladministration, as long as the same population built it upon it will continue to work.”[7]

On observing the destruction of the country in the post-war period, which spread depression and disillusion among the society, Hitler’s preconceptions on nationalism became even more radical. He aspired to raise the social force, suppressed by the Versailles Treaty, in order to withstand the shock of the period together, feel the sense of community and belonging.

Hitler’s concept of nationalism considered either the idea of anti-Semitism, due to Hiller’s belief in complete fault of Jews concerning the collapse of German Empire. Consequently, Hitler proclaimed the supremacy of Aryans, dismantling the existence of the representatives of other nations, especially Jews. Hitler believed in breeding of people and more specifically the Aryan race; he highly discouraged interracial marriages, because he termed them as degrading the Aryan race.

He believed that there was no other human race, superior to the Aryans. He even discouraged any form of sexual relationships between the Aryans and any other race, especially the Jews. The belief in Aryan’s superiority was the main motive guiding Hitler to invade the territories of other countries to expand own territories, which has, actually, been one of the main reasons to the outburst of the World War II.

On stating that nation’s restoration and revival cannot occur without total devotion of its representatives, Hitler developed the ideology of Nazism, the radical embodiment of nationalism. “Our Nation is not just an idea in which you have no part; you yourself support the nation; to it you belong; you cannot separate yourself from it.”

Indeed, with his own example Hitler has shown his inextricable link with his country and devotion to ideology. His speeches were based on the constant reminding that sense of life of the Germans is their country. “Nazism was based on the belief that one should be deeply devoted, loyal and faithful to one’s nation”.[8] Hitler has proved the words of the national anthem and practically applied the idea implied there.

Indeed, the Germans felt strength and incredible endurance to restore the country at first and to dedicate everything for the nation’s sake and to feel this mythical ‘oneness’ in identification of oneself with the country. The thoroughly fostered idea of superiority and justice in treatment lead the German nation to committing the crime of infringing upon other territories and inducing the Word War II. Hence, Hitler is considered to be among the prime causes of the Second World War, when he decided to invade Poland, in 1939.[9]

Nevertheless, Hitler has developed a powerful ‘identity campaign’ and has become a symbol not only in the Germany’s history of his reign, but in the history of all times. He remained a scar on the world’s face, which has the form of wide-known swastika. Adolf Hitler has become the symbol of totalitarianism and dictatorship. He has performed radical forms of government and brought German nation to obedience through rough qualities.

“Brutality is respected. Brutality and physical strength. The people need wholesome fear. . . . Why babble about brutality and be indignant about tortures? The masses want that. They need something that will give them a thrill of horror. . . . Terror is the most effective political instrument.” – Adolf Hitler.[10]

The reference managed by Adolf’s friend August Kubizek proves that personal characteristics corresponded to the potential ideological fulfillment:

“The most outstanding trait in my friend’s character was…the unparalleled consistency in everything that he had said and did. There was in his nature something firm, inflexible, immovable, obstinately rigid, which manifested itself in his profound seriousness and was at the bottom of all his other characteristics.”[11]

The traits listed above were the perfect environment for the points of ideology to be realized with certainty and dedication. Hence, Hitler is known as the ever known severest leader, for the name of his is blemished with the blood of millions of people either killed in was or repressed for the reason of some personal Hitler’s preferences and concepts.

The posture of Adolf Hitler, nevertheless associates with the perfect leaderships skills and the outstanding oratory capacity, which is still being studied and followed at the modern times. The knowledge of how to govern the society so that it becomes obedient involves the requirement of a range of characteristics, such as being a psychologist and strategist.

However, one may not state that Adolf Hitler was manipulating the German society. Generally, he was manipulated by the ideology, which caused the chain effect of willingness to lead the whole country under the banner of Nazism.

It was vital for Hitler to focus on the people because he believed that, by ruling the people, he would also gain control over the industries and financial institutions. This way he would lead the country better than when he imposed rules and regulations on industries and financial institutions.

He knew that, in the end, he was the final person, when it came to making essential decisions. Hitler had an excellent manifesto, where he regarded all citizens equal regardless of their background. He further believed that the interests of an individual should never be in contradiction with the interests of the people. Individuals worked for the good of the whole community by putting their differences aside.

Before Adolf Hitler came into power, the German government stood for international reliance.[12] However, Hitler sharply opposed this idea; he wanted economic independence for Germany. Hitler aimed at bringing equality in consumption and production of commodities. He also managed to shun corruption, which was so eminent throughout the government.

Thus, being the symbol of a centralized power, Adolf Hitler has performed the excellent leadership skills, which include enthusiasm, professionalism, and, despite the firm emotionless nature, the passionate belief in the ideology of the Nazi party.

Hitler’s Demise

Exactly the Hitler’s passionate belief has served the impetus for the German nation to revive throughout the enormous damages of the Great War, the dreadful obligations according to the Versailles Treaty, the moods of anger and depression reigning in the consciousness of society. This was Adolf Hitler to raise the latter from its knees and, through outstanding diligence, withstand the period of destruction with dignity.

As a result, before the World War II Germany became one of the most developed countries of the world, where all of spheres of human activity advanced in investigations and even outperformed the countries, which were the least to suffer from the consequences of the Great War. Hence, one may consider that, together with the constant assertion of the supremacy of Aryans, Hitler has steeled the German nation so that it was able to face any conditions for the sake of country’s development.

Many individuals, however, viewed Hitler as a hypocrite, since he frequently did not keep his word. After he got into power, he disregarded some of the 25-point program policies and decided to act on his own way of thinking. Hitler could be either viewed a nationalist at some point, since some of the principles he stood for. For instance, he hated rich capitalist who accumulated a lot of wealth from the people.

The Nazi party of Adolf Hitler did not support exploitation of the common person.[13] Instead, it shunned capitalism and blamed the government for all the oppression of the people. Adolf Hitler fought for the rights of the workers before he became president. He gained accreditation in his efforts of being against capitalism and oppression of the workers, and kept this position throughout his life.

However, the last events of the World War II cut the assuredness in the ideology of the Nazi party. The final battle in Berlin would appear the one to end military operations. This was the first time Adolf Hitler admitted defeat, analyzing realistically the situation of the state. However, Hitler has blamed this defeat majorly on the generals. Being aware of potential capture, Hitler decided on committing suicide through gun shooting and purchasing poison.

Conclusion

Adolf Hitler is a controversial personality and his ‘legacy’ is quite ambiguous. His posture is known all over the world and he is frequently accepted through the prism of national stereotypes the society establishes. The historical records show only the figures and factual information and the critical thinker is the one to analyze the activity of the German Fuehrer.

There is a wide variety of aspects, according to which it is possible to conduct an investigation into the premises and consequences of Hitler’s actions. This paper considers the interconnection between the ideology of nationalism and the activities of Adolf Hitler. This work is dedicated to analyzing the responsibility of the German leader in spreading nationalistic conceptions on the post-war and during the World War II stages.

Generally, Adolf Hitler succeeded in renovation of the devastated German society in the period after the Great War. Through diligence and dedication he performed an excellent example of a leader, who rescued the country from the extremely complicated position, and bred dignity and unity in the masses of German society.

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