Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.
- Cicero, M. Tullis Ciceronis Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 BC)
I begin this series, Wicked People in History, with Adolf Hitler in this article, followed by his henchmen, and then as far back as historical records can take us and then forward through history to the present period of history; relating the story of evil people doing terrible things to their fellow humans. There were/are tyrants that become national leaders, kings, queens or just men or women that abused their power with a background of depravity and record of evil acts, like Dr. Josef Mengele. A few are just mentally deranged – plain evil.
Adolf Hitler – 1889 to 1945 …
An obscure man whose life until his thirties was a failure with not much of a view of any future became the most powerful dictator in his moment in history. His life ended in a brutal manner, much as his legacy remains today, devastating a nation that he promised would last 1,000 years that would signify his belief that a pure Aryan race
would rightfully rule the world. He was a master at oration and provided hope for a destitute people that had lost a previous war, and was being punished for starting it through economic disaster. His political career was a success and his military endeavors could have been if he had not instituted too many fronts at once and conquer other nations so quickly; which brought a series of disasters one after another until his nation lay in ruins, his people once again destitute, and a legacy that horrified those who discovered the extent of his evil plans and cruelty to fellow human beings. At the end, he even declared war against his own people in his delusional, maddened state of mind.
When Hitler became national leader of Germany there were six million Germans unemployed. In three years there was full employment, an historical economic achievement; however it was done at the expense of non-German people and Jews who soon discovered that their economic woes were over, but others replaced them. In the end, freedom had vanished, the Gestapo was feared, and Fascism took over private business becoming property of the state and the slave labor helped greatly in the economic benefits of a nation – made up of political criminals, Jews, Gypsies, and whoever was not deemed fit to be part of the society of the Third Reich
To the German people, Hitler was a new leader who appeared to be a miracle worker, a far cry from the old and war-torn regime
of the old traditions to a modernized Germany who participated in the Olympics
and became a world military power never seen before that time – making several advancements in manufacturing, mostly to make weapons of war – becoming the best equipped military in the world.
Yet with all those accomplishments, he was a cruel and sinister individual a psychopath when it came to the issue of race, believing that Jews had actually caused Germany to lose World War I, and worst, made others believe it with his constant propaganda.
Hitler had been successful in recuperating Germany after a severe depression
, worse than that of the United States, caused by war and not economic failure
as America had. His anti-Semitism made him hated by many people of other nations, of which the scope of that racism was only fully realized after Germany had fallen and allied occupation troops had entered the concentration camps of Hitler’s Third Reich
and evil legacy.
In his madness, he had not seen how the German people admired him, for the most part. He had made plans through his personal architect to make Germany a place in history, building great buildings, and like his dictator puppet in Italy, Mussolini, planned to build an empire that hadn’t been seen as glorious since the days of ancient Rome.
Yet, with all this vision, he was not honest to the German people, telling them that they would build a Germany that would be the superpower of the world and last 1,000 years – but privately he made no plans for Germany beyond his own lifetime. He was a self-serving ruler, and his evilness was expressed when he gave the final wishes as the “Führer Orders” of March 18thand 19thof 1945 that the German people should be annihilated, since they were not worthy of the status of being the master race. But his closest personnel should have realized there would be no future with the mad dictator; yet remained, many them as ruthless as Hitler was – who left the dirty details to others. Those evil persons will also be examined in this series: Evil Tyrants of History.
Like blaming the Jews for the economic woes of Germany in his campaign, his mental state had actually began to believe his own lies he told everyone else – and in the end, he blamed the very people that followed him to national ruin and disgrace in the eyes of nations of the world forever stained with memories of mass graves, political arrests in the night of people never heard from again, sometimes brought home in a box of ashes to the family; and the stark reminder in the camps built to house, at first, slaves for the master race that helped build Hitler’s glorious monuments, roads, and architectural designs and later gassed in shower rooms and then turned to ash in ovens.
Born in Braunau am Inn in Austria, Hitler left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications for any specific career. He applied to be educated as an artist in Vienna, but was rejected – twice. A rejection that pushed him towards his evil resolve. Later, as Germany’s dictator and after occupying France, he acted as an artistic expert when examining commandeered artwork from other nations, as well as when taking a tour of the world famous art museum in Paris. It was a high point of his career along with his elation to see France surrender in the same manner Germany surrendered at the end of World War I – revenge was served in his eyes.
He struggled to survive in Vienna, trying to sell paintings, joining nationalistic groups who were also anti-Semitism organizations. He also became interested, through contacts and people he admired into the world of the occult at this time, later to become a passion when he became the leader of the German people.
In 1913 Hitler moved to Munich, and in August of 1914 he joined the German army, where he ended up fighting on the Western Front and attained the rank of corporal. As one can see, his military background was limited, which was one of his pitfalls during the course of the 1940s campaigns when he insisted in doing things his way instead of listening to his more experienced and educated generals. Of course, the world is a better place because of it.
In November of 1918, the German government agreed to an armistice, and Hitler, along with other nationalist Germans, believed that the German army was betrayed. He was furious over the Treaty of Versailles, in which Germany lost much of its territory and most of its armed forces as part of the agreement. As stated above, this became an obsession to him once he attained political power, planning all the while to retake those territories and eventually Europe as part of the revenge and the glory of his Third Reich.
After the war, Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party(DAP), impressed by its combined ideology of nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Bolshevism. He had found his niche in society, as negative as it was; and before long he became a well-known orator able to stir a crowd into enthusiasm. In 1921 he became the leader of the German Workers’ Party(NSDAP) – the Nazi Party for short, which evolved into a cult of power worship, violence, racial cleansing, random killing, and brutal leadership reinforced with bands of thugs – those that were unemployed before and now were under Hitler’s leadership. Out of those street thugs he created a paramilitarywing called the SA, short for Sturm Abteilung (Storm Division).
Hitler was inspired by another dictator, who would later become a puppet national leader for Nazi Germany, and followed his example that Mussolini accomplished in Italy. He was determined to seize power from the old outdated government, and in November of 1923 he attempted, in Munich, to commit a “putsch” against the democratic Weimar Republic. This failed and he found himself arrested and sentenced for five years in prison, but only served for a few months, during which time he wrote Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), which was filled with anti-Semitism, anti-communism, and militant nationalism. He also changed his political tactics upon release from prison, thought out spending months in prison, and decided to use the ballot box, a symbol of democracy, as a way to defeat the democratic government in place with an autocratic, fascist state.
Hitler’s opportunity came during a time called the Great Depression – an economic crisis that involved the entire world. The economy in Germany had depreciated during the previous elections and the Nazi Party gained popularity of the people with its promise of Hope and Change – without revealing the details, just that Germany would return to its glory, people would have jobs, and those responsible would be punished and/or ousted from Germany to “cleanse” it of what had created the woes of Germany after World War I. It soon became the majority political party in the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, in July of 1932, due to victory in elections in November of that year; Hitler on January 30th, 1933, Hitler was sworn in as chancellor of Germany.
After burning down the Reichstag, blaming it on communists and Jewish saboteurs, as usual. In February of 1933, just months after becoming chancellor, he suspended civil liberties in the name of national security and the “protection” of the German people, and passed an “Enabling Act” that allowed him to rule as a dictator – required for the sake of Germany and its people. The opposition, if any were left, were crushed.
Then Hitler began to cleanse his own party by removing members that were useful, but were no longer required in the grand scheme of the rise of Germany as well as rid anyone that might embarrass the new government and its agenda.
The event was called the “Night of the Long Knives” and in June of 1934, Ernst Röhmand the SA leadership were murdered by the SS (Schutzstaffel(“Protection Squad”) – trusted and loyal members of the Nazi Party and body guards of the new chancellor. Two months later, Hitler, backed by his henchmen, including Herman Goering and Joseph Goebbels, achieved absolute civil and military authority and became known as the Führer (“leader”) and head of state. i
The Nazi succeeded in an economic recovery, reduced unemployment drastically, and introduced plans like the building of a new autobahn (motorway) that would connect in a network all over Germany. The economic “miracle” was mostly due to a huge drive to rearm Germany that opened factories to produce state-of-the-art weaponry and machinery like the famous Tiger Tank. As well as a Navy that was unmatched even by the United States in the 1930s, who had downsized its military after World War I thinking it was the “war to end wars”. This was all in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, which was the primary goal of Hitler to seek revenge for the treachery of that moment in history. This led to a deliberate and barbaric European and racial war and a series of invasions, which became known as Blitzkrieg.
In March of 1936, Hitler reoccupied the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland, territory lost after the armistice treaty of World War I. He did nothing for just the purpose to see what the international community would say or do in response – nothing was done or when said, nothing to pay attention to. This encouraged to take steps further in his grandiose plan, emboldening him because other nations did nothing. Why should they get involved, the people of the Rhineland and their woes were not their affair – after all, they weren’t the “world police”.
No one took the “Little Corporal” seriously. So, in March of 1939, one year later, he annexed Austria, once again violating the armistice treaty. In September of the same year he secured the German-speaking Sudetan are of Czechoslovakia; and in March of 1939 he occupied the remainder of the sovereign nation of Czechoslovakia. In each event he was met with little or no resistance from any of the other European powers, and certainly not the United States who was experiencing economic woes of their own and had practically dismantled their military and naval power in an effort to make cuts in funding and national debt.
Hitler had fulfilled his personal pledge: Versailles Treaty has become nothing more than a scrap of paper, not unlike the modern cease-fire and UN sanctions against Saddam Husseinand his tyrant regime.
Hitler signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet dictator,Josef Stalin, a Russian-Soviet leader who was just as ruthless, the same evil schemes, and murderous butchery of the Nazi. This treaty was designed to carve up eastern Europe between the two tyrants.
When in September of 1939, Hitler had conquered Poland, finally someone said and did something, but by then Hitler had built a formidable army, air force and navy that was equipped far better than any other nation in the world, including the United States. Britain (United Kingdom) and France declared war as an official act because of the attack on Poland. After that declaration, German armies were turned westward and conquered Norway, Denmark, the “Low Countries”, and France in one lightningcampaign sweep. In 1941, Yugoslavia and Greece fell to German forces, and only Britain remained undefeated. Hitler now controlled the continental European empire and it appeared that he would not be stopped.
In June of 1941, Hitler launched a surprise attack on Russia, called Operation Barbarossa, that was the largest and most brutal conflict in human history that left 26 million Soviet-Russians dead. Hitler, in order to be closer to the eastern front, moved his headquarters to a place in eastern Poland which was called the Wolf’s Lair. Remains of the fortress is still there, nestled in the Polish forest, an attraction of many tourists because of its legendary climate and the history of the ruins. Retreating Germans dynamited the fortress so it would not be intact for the allies to use.
According to the February 29th, 2012 article in The Telegraph, the Wolf’s Lair is available to rent out at £90,000 a year, a 13-hectare site in a secluded forest in eastern Poland. The Polish Forestry Service, the owners of the camp, started looking for a tenant after the old 20-year lease expired. The sinister headquarters of the evil tyrant, Adolf Hitler, was a fortresscomposed of 80 buildings, 50 of them bunkers. It has its own electric power generator, railway station, and landing field. There were quarters for top Nazi officials as well as a casino and cinema for their recreation while there. The whole area was camouflaged and protected by wire entanglements and mine fields.
German forces won a series of victories that astonished the world at the start of the campaign, almost conquering Moscow, the Soviet-Russian state capital, and captured six million prisoners.
Meanwhile in another part of Nazi-occupied Europe, another horror was taking place. Hitler’s Mein Kampf mentioned of the dark intentions towards Jews and when he took control of Germany the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and 1936 that deprived Jews of civil rights in Germany, gave way to a far worse sinister events that would shock the world. As the war was gathering momentum toward the end of the 1930s, Kritallnacht(“Night of the Broken Glass”) took place in November of 1938 that introduced a wave of attacks on Jewish homes and properties across Germany. Those that didn’t leave Germany in anticipation of worst days to come, were in for something that history should never forget.
Initially, Hitler was content to enslave the Jews, Gypsies, and those who perceived to be political enemies, and starve the Slavs, as well as drive Jews out of Germany and occupied territories. Those that remained were forced into ghettos and concentration camps across occupied Poland. But this was not enough. He ordered a policy of extermination, using Einsatazgruppen(“Task Forces”) to shoot one million Jews. Operation Barbarossa triggered the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”. Under Hitler’s orders to SS Reichsführer, Henrich Himmler, Jews were dispatched to extermination camps to be slaughtered in gas chambers on a scale unimaginable. Hitler certainly gave the order, but there were those in high command who produced the plans to carry out those orders. It became known as the Holocaustthat killed six million Jews, an amount over and above those already killed under different programmed events. The program also killed other peoples that the Nazi despised: Gypsies, Slavs, and homosexuals,.
However, the Soviets defeated the Germans at Stalingrad in a fierce battle that is depicted in the in the film Enemy at the Gates, based on a historical book written by Antony Beevor, called Stalingrad. The sniper’s duel between Zaitsevand Königis fictional; however, Zaitsev, the famous Soviet sniper, in an interview, claimed to have engaged in a sniper duel over a period of days and that after killing the German sniper and collecting his tags, he discovered that he had killed the head of the Berlin Sniper School.
Things were going downhill for the Third Reich after the defeat at Stalingrad, as the Soviets regrouped and started the long trek towards Berlin, killing and capturing Germans along the way. The Allies invaded northern France onD-Day ii and started their way towards Berlin from that direction. Hitler soon was losing reality, and because of a real attempt upon his life, only trusted a few close to him and he demanded that soldiers fight to the last man. Germany was being crushed from the east and from the west, and as they entered the outskirts of bomb-ridden Berlin, Hitler fled to his Führerbunkerin Berlin, where on April 30th, 1945, after a bizarre marriage ceremony to his mistress, Eva Braun, he and she committed suicide and his staff was ordered to burn his body in the courtyard so he would not meet the same fate of Mussolini.
Recommended Further Reading:
Sebastian Haffner, (Raimund Pretzel) born in Berlin in 1907, emigrated with his fiancéto Britain in 1938, escaping for the sake of his Jewish bride-to-be and to work as a writer and journalist to produce anti-Nazi prop for the Foreign Office as well as provide information as to what Hitler was up to. His last name had been changed to prevent repercussion against his family still in Germany. He wrote a book that analyzed Adolf Hitler entitled: The Meaning of Hitler, translated by Edwald Osers with an introduction by Mark Roseman, an author of several books on Nazism and the long-term impact upon Germany that followed.
It is not just a biography, but more of an analysis of a man whose hate of Jews drove him to cruel programs like the “Final Solution”; yet because of those actions, the state of Israel was once again a nation after many centuries, a place where displaced Jewish survivors of the Holocaust could call a place home and relive their heritage and historical traditions in the Holy Land that was once an ancient nation.
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