July 31, 2018
On Easter Sunday of April 20, 1889, a monster was born. Adolf Hiter was the son of a middle-class provincial customs officer in Braunau-am-Inn, which was then called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A very bright young lad he was growing up to be. He was highly interested in literature about war and the cowboys & Indians. Although he was very brilliant and great in school, his childhood was filled with tragedy, as he lost 4 siblings including his closest brother Edmund when he was just 10 years old. He then lost his dad when he was 14. The biggest tragedy he faced was the loss of his mother at age 18. He had a very close relationship with her and it was said that his doctor had never seen someone grieve so hard over a loved one. Some historians believe these factors may have contributed to Hitler’s aggression later in life.
He became fascinated by war at an early age when he found a picture book among his father’s belongings. He had an intense passion for architecture and painting and he wanted to attend the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna, but he could never pass the art exam. The deaths of his siblings and his mom were causing him to slack off in school. He tried once again to take the exam but still failed. After a second rejection, Hitler lived on the streets in poverty and made money for food by selling his paintings until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He joined the military and was injured a few times but he was in love with the politics and sticking up for his country so he always made it back on the battlefield. After the loss of World War 1, he started gaining power by using the countries downfalls as opportunity. He started to gain this power legitimately during the economic depression that was humiliating Germany after the loss of World War 1. The American stock market crash caused America to call in its foreign debts and the amount that Germany owed America made their currency lose tremendous value. This caused military cut backs that crippled Germany’s army. Hitler began working as a spy for the military and providing important surveillance. His war service began to teach him the power of propaganda. “He saw how British propaganda destroyed German morale and paved the way for Germany’s surrender. In 1919, while supposedly spying on extremist political activity for the army, he actually joined a tiny group, which he swiftly renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).” (Müller-Hill, Benno) In 1923 during his rise of power, he chose to revolt against the government because he felt it was being weak and the cause of the loss of World War 1 was because communist and Jews were spreading propaganda of peace and anti-war. He was imprisoned for a year for treason. Hitler was a very great orator and he would adjust his unique rhetorical style as he was speaking to large crowds to feel them out and find what he could use to help them bond to his own agenda. “He knew how to seek out and express the hidden feelings of his audience, hammering away at the idea of the uniqueness of the German people and stressing the way in which their destiny had been betrayed by their leaders and was now threatened by the two great evils of Communism and a Jewish world conspiracy.” (Cull)
He was continuing to spread his image and grow his power. He was really starting to gain traction on persuading a whole country into following him in his racist beliefs. He was such a great speaker and he knew the right ways to convince large crowds that he had their best interests at heart. During his imprisonment, Hitler wrote a book he titled, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), where he laid out his plans for the future and his views on the world and society. He planned to become a powerful man completely legally and playing by the rules. He was good at appealing to the goals of other nationalist and right-wing parties, so the Nazi Party was able to gain most control of the German parliament. In January 1933, German conservatives voted him into the government as chancellor because the heads of the government thought that would cripple him and give them more control of him but they were wrong. When a building was burned down and the communists were blamed, Hitler had the Enabling Act passed on March 23, 1933, which gave him absolute power to make his own laws, destroying democracy in Germany and making the Nazi party the only party. Either you agreed with them or you died. “Propaganda was at the heart of Hitler’s state, whose embodiment was in the person of Hitler himself. The Nazi Party was organized according to the “leadership principle”, with every man obeying his appointed commander, and Hitler was the leader of all Germany.” (Cull) On August 2, 1934 Hindenburg died, and Hitler’s reign began. He led campaigns to commit mass genocide on anyone who opposed him, and anyone who was considered inferior to the Aryan race.
“Adolf Hitler believed that Jews were a parasitic subhuman race that was allied with international communism to destroy German civilization. He personally blamed Jews for the German defeat in World War I.” (Beorn) However, in Mein Kampf, Hitler admitted to his hatred for the Jews and he stated that he believed they were inferior and should not be allowed in Europe. Some historians would argue that this did not mean he wanted to kill them all, he just wanted to deport them out of Europe. The stance is up for interpretation but we can only go off of what actually occurred. He also held racist views against Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, socialists, unions, and religious leaders who opposed them. The pressure against these groups of people was inevitable and he closed down their businesses and even revoked their citizenship. “It is a matter of some historical debate whether Hitler initially intended to murder the Jews or simply to deport them out of Europe. Among historians, these viewpoints are represented by the internationalists, who see a plan to exterminate Jews existing from the beginning, and the functionalists, who argue that Nazi Jewish policy experienced a cumulative radicalization, which ultimately led to genocide.” (Beorn)
During Hitler’s reign, there was a major focus on improving the Aryan race along with extinguishing others. Many of the Nazis were against smoking, drinking, and eating meat. Their racial purity was heavily entangled in their racial health. They conducted surveys and ran different tests and experiments to assess the causes of cancer and to eliminate it from their society. The government concentrated on public health measures for prevention of cancer and the spread of other disease among the Aryan race. “None of these policies aimed to improve the health of society as a whole; rather, they were part of a broad campaign to improve the vigor of the Aryan race.” (Hamblin) They wanted to learn how much stress, pain, and other factors the human body could handle. They wanted to eliminate people they considered unworthy of life and that would contaminate the Aryan blood. One of the evil experiments that was performed by the Nazis was the salt water experiment. Patients were forced to only drink salt water to see how long they could live and what would happen. What they learned was that the sodium in the water would make a person pee more often than they had water because the body would be trying to get rid of all the excess salt. This caused dehydration that lead to muscle cramps and dry mouth. The heart rate would increase to compensate for the fluid loss and the blood vessels constricted to monitor proper blood pressure to vital organs. Organ failure still resulted, and eventually comas led to death in 12 days or less. Other heinous experiments include cold weather testing, human altitude testing, testing between twins, and live bone transplants with no anesthesia. Six million Jews and overall 17 million other people considered inferior to the Aryan race were killed in gas chambers and human experiments lead by Hitler’s followers. These experiments were horrific and evil, and those scientists completely lacked morality or ethics when it came to performing experiments on the Jews. There are people that will still claim that we learned so much from the experiments and they were worth the sacrifices.
Do you think if you were Aryan and you reaped the benefits of Hitler’s views and reign, would you see him as a monster or a savior? Everyone else sees him as a monster because we are on the outside looking in, but he probably didn’t think he was doing anything wrong because he wanted to do what was best for his country. Our monsters are those different than us. Hitler was a cultural body monster. This ties him to the first thesis in Jeffrey Jerome Cohens “Monster Culture.” He was a highly decorated soldier and an aggressive representation of what he stood for. He chose to represent something greater than himself and he knew how to be the unheard voice of all his listeners. His sinister approach of using rhetoric to persuade the masses to join in on his hatred toward others was nothing less than evil art. He was a wise strong man until it was his time to stare the opposite of victory directly in the eyes. He chose to take his own life instead of facing his imminent defeat. His story left a monstrous scar on world history forever.
Beorn, Waitman W. “Hitler, Adolf 1889–1945.” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, edited by Patrick L. Mason, Gale, 2nd edition, 2013. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/galerace/hitler_adolf_1889_1945/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 31 Jul. 2018.
Cohen, Jeffrey J. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” Accessed 31 Jul. 2018.
Cull, Nicholas J. “Hitler, Adolf.” Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present, Nicholas John Cull, et al., ABC-CLIO, 1st edition, 2003. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abcprop/hitler_adolf/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 31 Jul. 2018.
Hamblin, Jacob D. “Nazi Science.” Science in the Early Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 1st edition, 2005. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abcscieth/nazi_science/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 31 Jul. 2018.
Müller-Hill, Benno. “Nazi Scientists.” Encyclopedia of the Human Genome, David N. Cooper, Wiley, 1st edition, 2003. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/wileyhg/nazi_scientists/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 31 Jul. 2018.