The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

As His Associates Know Him

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made] [Page 41:Title] [Page 42]

The picture the Nazi propaganda machine has painted of Hitler certainty seems like an extravagant one. Even if we ignore the deifying elements it seems like the fantasy of a superman - the paramount of all virtues. Extraordinary as it may seem, however, there are times at which he approximates such a personality and wins the respect and admiration of all his associates.

At such times he is a veritable demon for for work and often works for several days on end with little or no sleep. His powers of concentration are extraordinary and he is able to penetrate complex problems and reduce them to a few simple, fundamental factors. He prides himself on this talent and has said to various people:

"I have the gift of reducing all problems to their simplest foundations ...A gift for tracing back all theories to their roots in reality."

And he really has it. Unencumbored with abstract theories or traditional points of view and prejudices he is able to look at complex problems in a rather naive way and pick out the most salient and significant elements and apply them to the present situation in a fairly simple and workable manner. To be sure, he never solves the entire problem in this way but only the human elements involved. Since this is the part which interests him most and produces immediate results, it has been rated very highly and has won the admiration of his close associates from the earliest days of his political career.

During these periods of activity Hitler is wholly consumed by the task confronting him. He has an amazing power of [Page 43] concentration. His judgements are quick and decisive. He is impatient to get things done and expects everyone to apply himself with an ardor equal to his own. He, therefore, demands great sacrifices from his associates.

At such times, however, he is also very human. He shows an unusual degree of considerateness towards them and a certain tolerance of their weaknesses. When he calls a halt for meals he will not eat until his entire staff has been served. When an overzealous servant insists on serving him before others he will often get up and take the plate over to one of his lowly assistants. During all of this he is in the best of spirit and jokes with everyone around him.

He has an extraordinary memory and continuously recalls amusing incidents from the past lives of those around him. These he tells to his staff at large. He is an excellent mimic and often plays out the roles of the individual involved to the great amusement of the staff while the individual must sit by and witness the performance much to his own embarassment. Nevertheless he is thoroughly flattered that the Fuehrer should single him out and remember in such detail. During these periods Hitler is also the soul of kindliness and generosity. He acts more like a big brother to his staff than as a Fuehrer and manages to endear himself to each and every one of them.

But, underneath, he is every inch the Fuehrer. He displays extraordinary courage and determination. He shows a great deal of initiative and is willing to assume full responsibility for the wis-[Page 44]dom of the course he has mapped out. He is very persuasive and is able to muster and organize his people into an efficient smooth-running unit. Personal frictions disappear, for the time being, and everybody has a single thought in mind: To do what the Fuehrer wishes.

He works with great certainly and security and appears to have the situation entirely in hand. All kinds of facts and figures relevant to the problem flow from him without the slightest hesitation or effort, much to the amazement of those about him. He can cite the tonnages of ships in various navies:

"He knows exactly what kind of armament, the kind of armor plates. the weight, the speed, and the number of the crew in every ship in the British navy. He knows the number of rotations of airplane motors in every model and type existant. he knows the number of shots a machine gun fires in a minute, whether it is a light, medium, or heavy one, whether it was made in the United States, Czecho-Slovakia or France." (Russell, 747)

Then, too, his staff has learned from past experience, that when Hitler is in one of these moods he approximates infallibility particularly when the support of the people is needed to carry through the project on which he is engaged. This may seem like an unwarranted statement but, if our study is to be complete, we must appraise his strengths as well as his weaknesses. It can scarcely be denied that he has some extraordinary abilities where the psychology of the average man is concerned. He has been able, in some manner or other, to unearth and apply successfully many factors pertaining to group psychology, the importance of which has not been generally recognized and some of which we might adopt [Page 45] to good advantage. These might be briefly summarized as follows:

(1) Full appreciation of the importance of the masses in the success of any movement. Hitler has phrased this rather well in MEIN KAMPF:

"The lack of knowledge of the [unreadable] driving forces of [unreadable] led us to an insufficient evaluation of the importance of the great masses of the people; from this resulted the scant interest in the social position, the deficient courting [unreadable] soul of the nation's lower classes...." (p. 138)

(2) Recognition of the inestimable value of winning the support of youth; realization of the immense momentum given a social movement by the wild fervor and enthusiasm of young people as well as the importance of early training and indoctrination.

(3) Recognition of the role of women in advancing a new movement and of the fact that the reactions of the masses as a whole have many feminine characteristics. As early as 1923, he said to Hanfstaengl (902):

"Do you know the audience at a circus is just like a woman (Die Masse, das Volk is wei ein Weib). Someone who does not understand the intrinsicly feminine character of the masses will never be an effective speaker. Ask yourself: 'What does a woman expect from a man?' Clearness, decision, power and action. What we want is to get the masses to act. Like a woman, the masses fluctuate between extremes .... The crowd is not only like a woman, but women constitute the most important element in an audience. The women usualy lead, then follow the children and at last, when I have already won over the whole family - follow the fathers."

And in MEIN KAMPF, he writes:

"The people, in an overwhelming majority, are so feminine in their nature and attitude that their activities and thoughts are motivated [Page 46] less by sober consideration than by feeling and sentiment." (p.237)

(4) The ability to feel, identify with and express in passionate language the deepest needs and sentiments of the average German and present opportunities or possibilities for their gratification.

(5) Capacity to appeal to the most primitive, as well as the most ideal inclinations in man, to arouse the basest instincts and yet cloak them with nobility, justifying all actions as means to the attainment of an ideal goal. Hitler realized that men will not combine and dedicate the,selves to a common purpose unless this purpose be an ideal one capable of survival beyond their generation. He has also perceived that although men will die only for an ideal their continued zest and enterprise can be maintained only by a succession of more immediate and earthly satisfactions.

(6) Appreciation of the fact that the masses are as hungry for a sustaining ideology in political action as they are for daily bread. Any movement which does not satisfy this spiritual hunger in the masses will not mobilize their whole-hearted support and is destined to fail.

"All force which does not spring from a firm spiritual foundation will be hesitating and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest on a fanatical view of life. (MK 222)

"Every attempt at fighting a view of life by means of force against it represents the form of an attack for the sake of a new spiritual direction. Only in the struggle of two views of life with each other can the weapon of brute force, used continuously and ruthlessly, bring about the decision in favor of the side it supports." (MK 223)

[Page 47]

(7) The ability to portray conflicting human forces in vivid, concrete imagery that is understandable and moving to the ordinary man. This comes down to the use of metaphors in the form of imagery which, as Aristotle has said, is the most powerful force on earth.

(8) The faculty of drawing on the traditions of the people and by reference to the great classical mythological themes evoke the deepest unconscious emotions of the audience. The fact that the unconscious mind is more intensely affected by the great eternal symbols and themes is not generally understood by most modern speakers and writers.

(9) Realization that enthusiastic political action does not take place if the emotions are not deeply involved.

(10) Appreciation of the willingness, almost desire, of the masses to sacrifice themselves on the altar of social improvement or spiritual values.

(11) Realization of the importance of artistry and dramatic intensity in conducting large meetings, rallies and festivals. This involved not only an appreciation of what the artist - the writer, musician and painter - can accomplish in the way of evoking emotional responses but also the leader's recognition of the necessity of his participation in the total dramatic effect as chief character and hero. Hitler has become master of all the arts of high-lighting his own role in the movement for a Greater Germany. Shirer (157) describes this very well:

[Page 48]

"A searchlight plays upon his lone figure as he slowly walks through the hall, never looking to right or left, his right hard raised in salute, his left hand as the buckle of his belt. He never smiles - it is a religious rite, this procession of the moderm Messiah incarnate. Behind him are his adjutants and secret service men. But his figure alone is flooded with light.

"By the time Hitler has reached the rostrum, the masses have been so worked upon that they are ready to do his will...."

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