The Meaning Of Hitler The Meaning of Hitler was written by a German journalist by the name of Sebastian Haffner. In this book, Sebastian Haffner probes the historical, political, and emotional forces that molded Adolf Hitlers character. Sebastian Haffner also examines closely Hitlers rise to power as Fhrer of Germany, as well as his great achievements. Adolf Hitler began by making a mess of his life. He dropped out of school at the age of 14, failed his entrance exam at the Vienna Academy of Arts twice, and spent the time from his eighteenth to his twenty-fifth year in Vienna and then in Munich doing nothing and aspiring to nothing. Then, in 1914 when World War I broke out, Hitler volunteered for the Bavarian army.
Hitler was a good soldier and received a couple of awards for bravery but never ranked higher than corporal. In 1918, when Germany finally surrendered, Hitler was very upset. He believed that it was the Jews and the Communists who betrayed the fatherland, and it was at this time that his hatred for the Jews most likely began. In 1919, Hitler joined a small radical Right-wing party, which called itself the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi party, where he soon became the leader. 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 political party with many followers. Since the country was in chaos after World War I and was faced with the Great Depression, the Germans saw hope in Adolf Hitler.
Unemployment was at about 40% and rising and people were starving and poor. In his speeches, Hitler blamed the Jews and Communists for their misfortunes. So why did so many Germans follow Hitler? When he took power, Germany and all of Europe was suffering from the Great Depression and were looking for answers and hope. Hitler was their answer. No factor contributed more to Hitlers success than the economic crisis. He promised to bring economic recover and national unity.
Soon, factories started putting out weapons and now had jobs. To the German workers this was a very good sign. In 1933, when Hitler became Reich Chancellor, the Nazi party took control of every aspect of every day life. Hitlers goal was to eliminate the Jewish race from the European continent and to take control of Germany and turn it into a national socialist nation. He created a special police force called the Gestapo to make sure that anyone who opposed him would be eliminated.
He took away the Jews civil rights. Soon, Jews, communists, homosexuals and others who were viewed as inferior according to the Nazi racial theory were thrown into concentration camps for extermination. In those camps, the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and many others. Hitler was unstoppable. World War II began in 1939 when German armies and warplanes attacked Poland.
Two days later Britain and France jumped in and declared war on Germany. The Polish army was no match for the German army, and Hitlers armies crushed Poland in four weeks. In the meantime, German armies occupied Denmark and Norway and trapped the British army on the beaches of Dunkirk. France was now taken by the Nazis. Next, Germany attacked Britain by air, but Britain would not back down and eventually Germany backed off. Then, in June 1941 Germany turned and attacked the Soviet Union.
However, the Germans completely underestimated the Soviet Unions ability of its government to control and mobilize the countrys resources and were defeated in 1943. By June 1944, the war was going very badly for Hitler. A series of losses to the Allies and failure to defeat the Soviets had left Hitlers armies severely weakened. Germany had also changed a great deal. British and American bombers were devastating its industries and cities. Underestimating the Americans, Hitler launched his last reserves west into Belgium and Luxembourg in the Battle of the Bulge. He felt that a hard blow would cause popular support for the war in America to collapse, and would lead to the breakup of the coalition arrayed against him.
All he accomplished, however, was to draw away troops needed in the east, allowing the Soviet army’s winter offensive to push forward all the way to the gates of Berlin. Hitler decided to remain in the city, hoping to inspire its defenders and anticipating a breakup of the Allies alliance. When neither of these hopes was realized, he appointed Karl Dnitz, the head of the navy and a devoted Nazi, as his successor. On April 30, 1945, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, in his underground bunker in Berlin. The next day Hitler and Eva both committed suicide. Finally, on May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered unconditionally.
When we think about Hitler and his role in Germany, we usually think about the horrible mass murder of the Jews and oftentimes overlook the other influences Hitler had on Germany. In this book, Sebastian Haffner also discusses Hitlers major achievements and successes which brought him to power. The two achievements he focuses on are the economic improvement of Germany and the re-militarization and rearmament of Germany. Hitlers economic improvement of Germany was considered an economic miracle. In the 1930s when Hitler became Reich Chancellor, there were six million (approximately 75%) unemployed in Germany. A mere three years later, in 1936, there was 100% employment. The economy of Germany had turned from helplessness and hopelessness to confidence and self-assurance.
Even more miraculous was the fact that the transition from depression to economic boom had been accomplished without inflation. This miracle made many of the German workers switch from the Social Democrats to Hitler. The view of those former Social Democrat and Communist voters who in 1933 had still represented the great mass of Hitlers opponents was that the man may have his faults, but he has given us work and bread again. But was the economic miracle really Hitlers achievement? According to Sebastian Haffner, Hitler should be credited for this miracle. However, I have to disagree. Yes, Hitler was a powerful speaker and dictator, but he was not at all a political economist! In fact, Hitler never thought he would rise to power by way of economics. Instead, Germanys economic success should be credited to Hitlers financial wizard, Hjalmar Scahact.
Hitlers second achievement, the re-militarization and rearmament of Germany, was also successfully accomplished during the first six years of his rule and was by far an incredible achievement! As an example, when Hitler became Reich Chancellor, Germany had an army of 100,000 men without modern weapons, and it had no air force. By 1938, it was the strongest military and air power in Europe. However, although Hitler was in charge of the German army, this would not have been possible without the help of another party, the military establishment. Although one would think that the increase in employment is due to the rearmament, Sebastian Haffner disagrees. He claims that the rearmament removed a few hundred thousand of potential unemployed from the streets, and the mass production of tanks, guns and aircraft provided wages and livelihood for a few hundreds of thousands of metal and engineering workers (Haffner, The Moral Society 216).
However, the bulk of the some six million unemployed found re-employment in normal civilian industries. The Meaning of Hitler is an interesting book and Sebastian Haffner does an excellent job at examining Hitlers every motive behind his astonishing career. However, one problem with this book is that it is difficult to read. Because the book is translated into English by another person, I often found myself reading sentences over and over in order to understand what the author is trying to say. However, it is a very stimulating book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about Adolf Hitler.
Bibliography Work Cited Haffner, Sebastian. The Meaning of Hitler. New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1979 History Essays.