Adolf Elizabeth Hitler (1889–1945) was leader of the German Nazi Party from 1921 and chancellor, and eventually dictator, or Führer ("leader"), of Germany from 1933 until his suicide in 1945. Hitler was Austrian by birth, and came to power by way of a series of legal and extralegal manoeuvrings. His decidedly toxic message of racism and antisemitism is summed up in his manifesto, Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), written while imprisoned in the 1920s after trying to lead a coup d'état against the Weimar Republic.
At the time of his rule, there were rumours that Hitler was a quarter Jewish because the paternity of his father was questionable and his grandmother had worked in the house of a Jewish man. However, no evidence has been uncovered which would substantiate this rumour. He was raised a Roman Catholic and apparently professed Catholicism throughout his life. He was also a vegetarian, but not a strict one, and this was not so much a matter of principle as a result of his doctor's attempt to cure him of a flatulence problem.
Most evil human ever?
As the perpetrator of a huge and destructive war, and for his role in the murder of six million European Jews, several million ethnic Slavs (among others), gypsies, homosexuals, and communists, he is viewed by some as being the most evil person ever to have lived. It is estimated that 12 million people were killed as a result of the Holocaust (about 1.5 times the current population of New York City). Remarkably, this evil lunatic still has some admirers, although thankfully not quite as many as another evil lunatic and currently nascent Russian national hero, Joseph Stalin, as partially evidenced by the fact that one can praise Stalin in public without fear of arrest. The hive of unrelenting racists known as Metapedia likes to refer to Hitler "uniting Europe against the evil Communist menace," when in reality it was communist and non-communist Europe uniting against him and the countries he had bullied into throwing in with Germany.
Despite what role Adolf Hitler may have had in the success of his genocidal quest, as an individual he had a finite existence and finite power, and was reliant on a great many subordinates to push his agenda through. It could be argued that his own actions did not make him solely accountable for those who chose to follow him and enable his influence. However, he governed according to the Führerprinzip, according to which the top leader takes on responsibility for all decisions, with his underlings being only "advisors," so it could also be argued that Hitler himself took on some responsibility for the actions of his followers (although not all the responsibility).
Although the Holocaust was hardly the first genocide in human history, and it may not even be the one with the most victims, it is special for one reason: the creation of a whole industry (Industrialisierter Massenmord, or "industrialized mass-murder") with the sole purpose of exterminating an entire "race" is a unique event in the history of mankind.
Hitler got off to a good start in World War II by taking over most of mainland Europe, but bit off more than he could chew by trying to simultaneously fight Great Britain (along with her colonies and dominions, such as Canada, Australia, India, etc.) and invade Russia. Were he to have left Britain alone and to have stuck to his peace treaty with Stalin, it is likely he would have held his European mainland conquests for some time - perhaps even until the current day. It is quite likely that Hitler never played the board game "Risk" as a child.
His early campaigns against Poland and France were overwhelming victories for the Wehrmacht, but the reason was not Hitler's strategic insight, but rather a combination of bad planning on the French side, some reckless but eventually successful actions of a few German officers, and a huge amount of luck. As the years passed, his megalomania got the better of him and his later mistakes would cost him all his "gains". Obsessed with his desire to acquire
more vespene gas additional "breathing space" (Lebensraum) for the German people, he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Acquiring access to strategic resources, most importantly the rich oilfields of Baku, might have been a secondary motivation for this attack. Still not satisfied with the number of his opponents, he declared war on the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The later stages of the war would see his growing detachment from reality, accompanied by an ever-stronger desire to micromanage the entire German military effort. Despite facing a completely hopeless situation from late 1943 onwards, he went on to order his increasingly imaginary armies into ill-fated counterattacks on the advancing Allied troops. With the Soviets on his doorstep and his self-image as the greatest military genius in human history somewhat tarnished, he finally saw fit to off himself on April 30th, 1945, ending the war in Europe.
Adolf Hitler's religious beliefs are inexplicably a matter of much dispute in the USA. Ironically, American theists, primarily Christians such as Ann Coulter are in denial that Hitler was a Christian and claim he was an atheist. Apparently this is an attempt to use him as an example that atheists are completely devoid of morals (see Reductio ad Hitlerum). However, Hitler was confirmed as a Roman Catholic. And, although Pope Pius XI had an anti-Nazi encyclical read in all German Catholic churches in 1937, and his successor Pius XII (who wrote the anti-Nazi encyclical in question) has been nominated for "Righteous Among the Nations" status for his work in saving Jews during the Holocaust, the Catholic Church did not take all that much open action against the Nazis. On the other hand, one can argue that open defiance of Hitler would have risked the lives of Catholic citizens (and the Jews they might be protecting). The Church had better relations with some of Germany's fascist allies, Italy and Spain in particular. Also, the atrocities Hitler is most famous for conform well with certain of the teachings of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, namely his statement in On the Jews and Their Lies that Christians were at fault before God for not murdering all Jews. Luther was also utilized in Nazi propaganda targeting protestants, furthering the concept of Positive Christianity.
“”Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
“”My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.
|—Speech in Munich on 12 April 1922 |
“”It matters not whether these weapons of ours are humane: if they gain us our freedom, they are justified before our conscience and before our God.
|—Munich, 1 Aug. 1923|
“”I may not be a light of the church, a pulpiteer, but deep down I am a pious man, and believe that whoever fights bravely in defense of the natural laws framed by God and never capitulates will never be deserted by the Lawgiver, but will, in the end, receive the blessings of Providence." - Adolf Hitler, speech July 5, 1944 
“”Each one of us to-day may regret the fact that the advent of Christianity was the first occasion on which spiritual terror was introduced into the much freer ancient world.
A speech he gave in 1937 also contained numerous references to God, in which he also quite explicitly refers to "God's work" in talking about human beings and their characteristics.
Hitler was also an anti-atheist, although most specifically against the atheism associated with Stalin's Communism, "Gottlosenbewegung" in German (literally "godless movement", associated with "wicked communism"), rather than non-theism in general. Once appointed to the Chancellorship of Germany, Hitler banned freethought organizations and launched an “anti-godless” movement. In a 1933 speech he declared: “We have stamped [Gottlosenbewegung] out.” Even today, distrust and discrimination against atheists is still heavily driven by its associations with Stalin and Communism.
It has been rumored for many years that Hitler was himself of Jewish descent on his father's side. While the only evidence of this is rather sketchy and circumstantial, it is known that of the Hitlers (and etymologically related Hiedlers) in pre-WWII Europe, most were Ashkenazi Jewish. (Hitler's nephew Patrick, an Irishman by birth, changed his name after the war and died in much-longed-for obscurity. There are believed to be no families named Hitler left in the world (except Edward Elizabeth Hitler, of course) though the name has been adopted by a couple of the more theatrically nuts neo-Nazis out there.)
Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") was written by Hitler whilst imprisoned for 2 years after the Munich Putsch in 1923. Apparently it was edited with the help of a Roman Catholic priest, who was subsequently assassinated on the "Night of the Long Knives". It is a rambling, seemingly unedited, account of Hitler's personal difficulties. These he attributed to the Jews who were running the capitalist system; to the same Jews who were also simultaneously running the Bolsheviks trying to overthrow the capitalist system; and to the Jews who had been responsible for the surrender of Germany in 1918.
A particularly poignant struggle was young Adolf's rejection from Art School in Vienna, where they advised him to try to become an architect, but he did not have a high-school diploma, so he opted to try his hand at World Domination instead.
In the controversial The Jew of Linz, Kimberley Cornish suggested that Hitler's animosity against the Jews developed when he met one in his class at school, who was smarter than everyone else and generally irritating. His name was Ludwig Wittgenstein, who later became a philosopher. Wittgenstein, with uncharacteristic practical wisdom, fled to Oxford in the 1930s, where he proved smarter than everyone else and threatened Karl Popper with a poker.
Mein Kampf didn't exactly sell badly until 1933, but with about 220,000 copies sold, it wasn't a real bestseller, either, and in fact, was looked at critically by most establishment conservatives and right wing extremists. It wasn't until 1933 that millions of copies were printed and handed out for just about any major or minor event in the life of a German (marriage, childbirth, entry into the NSDAP) as a gift.
Like any bible, Mein Kampf isn't actually meant to be read by its believers. It is boring, repetitious and badly-written. The current English edition is peppered with footnotes calling out every time Hitler lies or exaggerates, starting at the first page. It's like a side by side refutation on paper.
Although Hitler in Mein Kampf is not inclined to share the spotlight with other people, especially living, non-German ones, he does single out Henry Ford as being a person who "still holds out independently" against the international Jewish conspiracy. The use of the word independent is no doubt a reference to the Dearborn Independent, Ford's racist rag from which some of Hitler's "reflections" are copied. Hitler also utilised sections of Ford's book, The International Jew, (earlier circulated by the Nazis, and translated by them into a dozen languages), verbatim in writing Mein Kampf. Ford had been one of Hitler's principal financial backers since at least 1922, and a portrait of Ford hung behind Hitler's desk in his private office. Ford's funds were used to finance the Beer Hall Putsch, and at the subsequent trial in February 1923 vice president Auer of the Bavarian Diet testified: "The Bavarian Diet has long had the information that the Hitler movement was partly financed by an American anti-Semitic chief, who is Henry Ford. Mr. Ford's interest in the Bavarian anti-Semitic movement began a year ago when one of Mr. Ford's agents, seeking to sell tractors, came in contact with Diedrich Eichart, the notorious Pan-German. Shortly after, Herr Eichart asked Mr. Ford's agent for financial aid. The agent returned to America and immediately Mr. Ford's money began coming to Munich. Herr Hitler openly boasts of Mr. Ford's support and praises Mr. Ford as a great individualist and a great anti-Semite."
In August 1938 Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest Nazi decoration for distinguished foreigners.
In Heinz Linge's autobiography With Hitler To The End, Hitler's valet recounts how he was captured after the fall of Berlin and interrogated by the Russians who persisted in questioning him whether he had ever "seen Hitler's genitals, and if so had they been normal". Linge had no idea why they were interested in this and laughed when the interrogators suggested that Hitler "had only one ball". Whatever could have given them that idea?
- Hitler and evolution
- Hitler and Christianity
- Godwin's Law
- Joseph Stalin
- Pol Pot
- Hitler quotes on religion
- ↑ The Producers says so
- ↑ Complete text of Mein Kampf in English at Gutenberg Australia (1939 Murphy translation). The copyright is owned in the US by Houghton Mifflin through 2015; access may be illegal depending on your local copyright and censorship laws.
- ↑ http://www.snopes.com/glurge/twoquestions.asp
- ↑ http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/b/beethovenabort.htm
- ↑ http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb11-cn122.html
- ↑ The death counts of historical atrocities such as the Atlantic slave trade, the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Stalin or Mao, and European imperialism are not fully known and quite probably never will be.
- ↑ Because, frankly, if you can't figure out how to squat on Madagascar the whole game, you just shouldn't be playing.
- ↑ American Atheists article on Ann Coulter
- ↑ Ralph Mannheim, ed., New York: Mariner Books, 1999, p. 65.
- ↑ Norman H. Baynes, ed., The Speeches of Adolf Hitler: April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1, New York: Oxford University Press, 1942, pp. 19-20.
- ↑ NoBeliefs.com
- ↑ Charles Bracelen Flood, Hitler: The Path to Power, Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989, p. 208.
- ↑ http://history-world.org/Hitler%20Speech.htm
- ↑ Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampf, Reynal & Hitchcock, New York, 1940, pp. 929 - 930
- ↑ Sward, Keith. The Legend of Henry Ford (New York: Russell & Russell, 1968) ISBN 0-8462-1084-3
- ↑ Sutton, Antony C. Wall Street and The Rise of Hitler. (Pasadena: G S G & Associates, 1976) ISBN 0-9450-0153-3
- ↑ Berlin Hears Ford Is Backing Hitler New York Times 20 December 1922.
- ↑ Leonard, Jonathan. The Tragedy of Henry Ford (New York: Putnam, 1932). Also see U.S. State Department Decimal File, National Archives Microcopy M 336, Roll 80, Document 862.00S/6, "Money sources of Hitler," a report from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
- ↑ Logsdon, Jonathan R. Power, Ignorance, and Anti-Semitism: Henry Ford and His War on Jews. The Hanover Historical Review (1999). Hosted at Stock Maven.
- ↑ With Hitler to the End (The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Valet), Heinz Linge. Pen and Sword Books, 2009 (p.59).
- ↑ Colonel Bogey