Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A History of Hitler's Empire

This series of lectures does a great job of presenting Hitler in his time. The key events that lead to his power in Germany were described. Hitler's strengths along with the proper sidekicks and right situations all helped him gain power. The Nazi party had a bizarre set of values. However, in the nutcase that was interwar Germany the simple "we stand for something different" was all that was needed to gain a large share of the votes.

The early rise of Hitler's nazi party seems perfectly legitimate. Later on there was a little thugery. However, even that could be brushed aside. Hitler was a deft salesman, often building off of the supposed international abuses to unite the German people. The catch was the logical extension - you either go on conquering, or have your empire implode as you run out of enemies.

The actual war years only hold a brief section of this work. A disproportionate amount of the war coverage relates to the Holocaust. However, the actual extermination of the Jews seems to have been not very well known in the world or inside Germany until near the end of the war. The attack on Jews was a natural extension of the "unity through enemies" approach carried out by Nazi party. However, when the enemies are different and have money, they become easy target. The impression in these lectures is that the cruelty originated from lower level functionaries, but those higher up did not object and later gave their approval. (Some even began to take pride in their ability to "dehumanization" them.)

The lectures bring out the point that Hitler was not some gross aberration, but a product of our western culture. Germany of the time had one of the most open, educated, liberal welfare states. However, it also felt abused by other nations, and was thus ready for someone to unite them against a common enemy. Unfortunately, this had disastrous results. Could this be repeated again?

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