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Modern Boogie Man
essay [ ]

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by [Corina Lungu ]

2006-07-21  |     | 

Hitler was the fuhrer of the Third Reich. Hitler was evil. Hitler killed Jews. Hitler is a symbol. Most of us forget that he was a human being. We are hiding behind clichés, afraid not to seem Nazis. Once you say something about this historic figure which does not make him seem diabolical, suspicion arises. I do not hate Jews or any other category of people. I regret the Holocaust and the fact that people had to die only on basis of their race. Nevertheless, I think Hitler must be seen as a person, one whose frustrations and anger were taken to extremes, and who was not unique. Many people would have reacted the same if they were in the same situation. Many would still do…only they would choose another minority to be sacrificed.
Adolf Hitler was not born a Jew-hater. Nor did he wake up one day with a sudden thirst for blood. He was conceived by a young mother and a middle-aged father, then he was given birth and nurtured. He learned how to breath, how to talk and how to walk. He played with other children, was spoiled by his mother and beaten by his father. He dreamed of becoming a priest. Then he wanted to become an artist. He dropped out of school and did not manage to enter the Academy of Fine Arts. He painted and sold postcards. He slept in the park and was fed by nuns out of charity. He fought in the war. He arrived in a radically changed Germany and bought it for a fistful of dreams and promises.
German nationalism and bits of philosophy which he misinterpreted helped Hitler shape his beliefs. As a child, he loved playing The Americans and The Indians, inspired by Karl May’s fiction. His racism was not innate, he learned prejudice from the others. It was not difficult. If he looks different and thinks differently, he is different. He must be eliminated. I am the centre of this world, my world, everybody must be a projection of myself. For a confused teenager, this rationale makes perfect sense. When you are not part of the elite, you can at least be a bohemian artist. But Hitler was a mediocre artist, who eventually became a bum. How could he pretend to be better than others, what justified his vanity? The answer had already been formulated by anti-Semites, he only had to assimilate it His race made him superior, he was not at the bottom of a stratified society. He was proud to be a German, whose ancestors’ deeds were the object of Richard Wagner’s opera. He could see himself as the follower of the great heroes about whom Leopold Pötsch had told him.
After Germany’s defeat and decay, nationalism became even more aggressive. Germans had to blame someone for their current situation, and most thought that their country needed a strong leader like the former Kaisers. Hitler stood out as a persuasive orator, capable of satisfying all social categories…with one exception, the Jews. Promises of future jobs and economic prosperity appealed both the poor and the industrialists. Strong words and gestures were enough to convince masses, and perhaps Hitler was one of the most successful PR specialists. He knew how to manipulate people in order to get what he wanted, he understood the importance of mass psychology, the fact that such a disastrous political and economical situation required an ideology beyond the traditional ones established in the nineteenth century. Nazism was in fact an anti-ideology. It promoted rejection of races other than the Aryan, of communism, of liberalism, of capitalism, of religion. Yet, Hitler believed in the ideas he promoted. Until the last days of the war, when Germany had lost all hope of victory, he still believed that his Reich would be prosperous.
The Holocaust and the Second World War are negative examples of major importance. But you cannot point your finger at one man and accuse him of manslaughter after dropping the atomic bomb and destroying not one, but two cities and after killing the entire civilian population of Dresden. You cannot call him a racist while you do not allow people of other races in your school, your neighborhood or your graveyard and put citizens of your country in labor camps because they are of Japanese descent. You cannot talk about intolerance and then go on the streets and throw stones at those who have a different sexual orientation, saying that this type violence is a way of protecting your children.

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