Talk:Adolf Hitler/Archive 1

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"facilitated the Holocaust"

Richard: good to see you at work on this entry here. The phrase "facilitated the Holocaust", inherited I think from the Wikipedia version, seems egregiously euphemistic, given the known details of Die Endlösung der Judenfrage. I hope we can work here at CZ to come up with a more direct and forceful phraseology! Russell Potter 21:00, 26 April 2007 (CDT)

yes that was a poor phrase and I changed it, and also added detailed sections on his antisemitism at different stages of his career. Richard Jensen 21:25, 26 April 2007 (CDT)

Much better. A question: do we want to have a subsection on Mein Kampf, or ought that be a separate main entry, do you think? Russell Potter 17:03, 27 April 2007 (CDT)

Mein Kampf will get a line or two here, and deserves its own article. I've got a stack of Hitler biographies and am slowly adding paragraphs to the main article. Richard Jensen 17:20, 27 April 2007 (CDT)

This article is still considerably inferior to the WP one, which I did some work on until I was driven off by cranks. When I get home to my references later in the month I will have a go at improving it. Adam Carr 05:43, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

the Wiki article is highly unbalanced in terms of topics (it's BAD on diplomacy for example and weak on military) and quality (and uses sources 40+ years old like Bullock, Fest, Shirer etc). This article is "in process," but its goal should be to keep users abreast of scholarship in last decade (see Evans comments on growth of scholarship in into to vol 1) Richard Jensen 06:30, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

Yes of course all that's true. But the WP article is still more comprehensive than this one (or it was the last time I looked - it might have been rewritten by Klingons by now). This is the price we pay for the decision not to make CZ a WP fork, which I agreed with, but to start again from scratch. Adam Carr 11:29, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

well it takes a while to write careful history using the best sources. The WP article seriously distorts the role of Hitler in history and keeps getting worse in that regard. For example, there is far more on his last days in the bunker than there is on his role in starting ww2. Richard Jensen 18:04, 9 June 2007 (CDT)
So you mean, WP portrays Hitler too positively, or it focuses too much on trivial gossip rather than significant historical facts? Yi Zhe Wu 19:13, 9 June 2007 (CDT)
I mean far too much on trivia and miinor details and gossip. To add: Hitler spent most of time in the war years directing the army--nothing of that--and working on secret weapons, nothing on that. Richard Jensen 19:19, 9 June 2007 (CDT)
Agreed, and by the way all of the bunker story can be seen in the movie Downfall, for which I did a project on. :-) Yi Zhe Wu 19:26, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

One of WP's chronic problems is that it gives far more attention to the trivial and the sensational than to the substantial. That was why I rewrote the Goebbels article, which was mainly about his sex life and his suicide. I have just spent three weeks in Germany, where I visted Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau, and took hundreds of photos of Third Reich-related sites. I will be turning all this into articles when I get home. Adam Carr 09:39, 10 June 2007 (CDT)

Good--we all look forward to that, Richard Jensen 14:58, 10 June 2007 (CDT)

becoming dictator

Hitler was careful to maintain the appearance of legality--and, in substantial ways, legality itself--in the way he evolved from Chancellor to Fuhrer, so the article should develop that. The Enabling Law, Hitler's persistent shows of veneration for Hindenburg, etc. In any case, I changed the "threw out the laws" phrase to another generality suggesting the NSDAP's political machinations. Nathaniel Dektor 12:49, 23 June 2007 (CDT)

Introductory paragraphs

I would ask that we take more note of the conventions regarding reversion without a full explanation. As it now again stands, the beginning of this article makes no mention of anything significant; it could be describing anyone, not the architect of WW2 and the Holocaust. I agree that on reflection my changes (see below) made too much too soon of all kinds of things, but even Wikipedia mentions the Nazis in the opening section. Perhaps a partial merger of the existing version with some of my edits would improve it.

Adolf Hitler's name remains associated with World War II, its origins and aftermath because, as leader of the Third Reich in Germany, this politician born in Austria on April 20, 1889, led Germany into a war that led to the deaths of millions, not least the attempted genocide of the Jewish people. He ruled as Chancellor of Germany from January 1933, and Führer ('supreme leader') from August 1934, until his suicide on April 30, 1945 amongst the ruins of Berlin.

Hitler was a dominant world figure from 1933 to 1945, a time which saw Germany first rebuild itself along military lines following its World War I defeat, then move towards the aggressive takeover of much of Europe; by 1939, the United Kingdom was the only significant power opposing Hitler's Nazi regime. Six years of war saw the murder of six million Jews - a race the Nazis considered sub-human - until the Allied forces comprising the UK, USA, the Soviet Union and France defeated the Third Reich in 1945. Hitler's legacy of world warfare and systematic murder has seen his image become a symbol of evil in the modern world.

John Stephenson 08:00, 27 June 2007 (CDT)

I tried to fix that weak opening sentence. The lede has to be about what Hitler did, not what his enemies did. Richard Jensen 09:03, 27 June 2007 (CDT)
As someone who is just reading the article from time to time and doing a little copyediting of minor things, I think that the opening paragraph should be as it is right now. Calling him an Austrian politician and very little else in the first paragraph strikes me as a *very* weak beginning. Hayford Peirce 15:44, 2 July 2007 (CDT)

where is his real name?

I miss his real name Schicklgrübl and some of his history as austrian failed painter. Robert Tito |  Talk  23:54, 4 July 2007 (CDT)

his real name was Hitler and the failed-painter part will come (eventually). Richard Jensen 02:09, 5 July 2007 (CDT)


CZ is not judging hitler as good or evil. It is making the correct and important statement that he has become a symbol of evil in the attested by many daily references in media, speeches etc Richard Jensen 00:41, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Excellent point, but I think the lede still doesn't flow very nicely. I particularly hate the repetition of 1945 here as ugly and tortured:"Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), founder of National Socialism and dictator of Germany (1933-45) was a dominant world figure from 1933 to 1945."
I'm a German - so just ignore me if you think its beautiful phraseology.
Otherwise, the article is shaping up nicelyWahib Frank 12:31, 14 August 2007 (CDT)

restoring some edits

I restored some points that got deleted. The opening sentence in the lede should mention ww2. He was indeed hypnotizing, as all historians point out. The air attacks signalled the end of hope for the German cause (as Goebbels himself realized). Wistrich (2001) did indeed focus on the seeds of the anti-Semitism and pan-Germanism that were foundation of his political career. Hitler did perceive the Vienna years as the saddest years and he was concerned the Jews lacked an "Aryan" look.Richard Jensen 18:39, 12 November 2007 (CST)

Hi Richard. Some comments on your comments. First, the re-added phrase "especially in the coming of World War II and his direction of the war effort" is inelegant prose. Second, Hitler did not "hypnotize" the German people. Although he had significant support, the German people were hardly in a trance, and significant numbers did not fall for it. Third, Hitler did not restore German prosperity. The German standard of living under him was considerably lower than, say, in England or the U.S. "Guns before butter" was the slogan, and the German consumer economy was squeezed to the point that most Germans did not feel all that prosperous. Adam Tooze's recent "The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breeaking of the Nazi Economy" is clear as to just how shaky the foundations of the Reich's prosperity were. Fourth, the bombing did not signal to most Germans how hopeless their cause was. In fact, confidence in victory wavered with events, but even into 1944, many Germans were optimistic. Fifth, the phrase "seeds of the anti-Semitism and pan-Germanism that were" is pretty much repeated shortly thereafter. Sixth, are you sure he describes Vienna as the "saddest" part of his life? May be so, but a reference to MK would be good. In short, are you sure those are improvements? Randall Bytwerk 20:53, 12 November 2007 (CST)
Thanks Randall for the comments. I think WW 2 has to be mentioned in first sentence--and the prose should be more elegant. Economy: he gave Germany the highest GNP in its history, after its worst depression. Was it shaky? maybe--who knows? (ewas the US prosperity of the 1920s shaky? how about US today?) "Saddest"--that is straight from the Wistrich article. The bombing started in earnest in mid 1944 and had an immediate impact as people fled the cities and refused to work in factories (many of the civilians killed were foreign workers). Hypnotize--lots of historians use that term as did people at the time see The Jewish Spectator (1936): "One hopes, it is only a temporary aberration to be dissipated as soon as Mr. Hitler's hypnotic spell has waned." also: [1], [2], [3], "Albert Speer has described Hitler's hypnotic powers of inducing identification with him" at [4], "Some of Trevor-Roper's critics, though, have accused him of falling under Hitler's spell—he remarks on Hitler's hypnotic eyes"; "Albert Speer, who was sucked into Hitler's hypnotic power"; "it was possible to mount popular resistance in Nazi Germany in clear defiance of Hitler's hypnotic powers."; "Over the objections of their commander, who has warned them against Hitler's hypnotic rhetoric, they allow the defendant [Hitler] in his own defense."; "Unable to withstand Hitler's hypnotic sway, he [a general] did not express the opinion " Richard Jensen 22:22, 12 November 2007 (CST)
Perfectly happy to have WWII mentioned — I'll try for a better formulation. As for the economy, Tooze does a good job of showing just how fragile it was. Here's a typical statement: “[R]earmament was the overriding and determining force impelling economic policy from the earliest stage. Everything else was sacrificed to it. In the six years between January 1933 and the autumn of the Munich crisis, Hitler's regime raised the share of national output going to the military from less than 1 to almost 20 percent.... But it is easy to forget, given its wealth today, that Germany in the 1930 was a generation away from affluence and that the majority of the population subsisted on a very modest standard of living." (p. 639)
On p. 136 , Tooze reports that German per capita income in the 1930's was half that of the U.S. (which wasn't all that prosperous at the time, either) — and a lot of that was going into armaments. So I think it an exaggeration to assert Hitler restored German prosperity and economic strength. Most Germans wouldn't have felt very prosperous.
"Hypnotize" is often used, I'll grant, but just what does it mean? That Germans followed Hitler in a trance-like state? That they all followed him blindly? That their wills were taken from them? The internal German morale reports generally found trust in Hitler high, but that hardly meant most Germans were oblivious to the situation they were in. It may be true that Hitler had almost hypnotic force in a one-to-one situation, but applying this mysterious force to the entire country is going a bit far. As time permits, I'll take a look at Kershaw, who I doubt uses the word.
As for bombing, "hopeless" simply strikes me as too strong a word. Discouraged, yes, but I don't think the evidence shows that most Germans were hopeless even well into 1944. 1945 I'll grant, but even then, the SD reports found a surge of morale after Hitler spoke even in January 1945.
More later. It's bedtime. Randall Bytwerk 23:10, 12 November 2007 (CST)
The opening sentence is better--good. I did some checking and (as Langer says) "Many writers have commented upon his ability to hypnotize his audiences. Stanley High reports: When, at the climax, he sways from one side to the other his listeners sway with him; when he leans forward they also lean forward and when he concludes they either are awed and silent or on their

feet in a frenzy." And many historians (not Kershaw) say he hypnotized Germany with his speeches and rallies....he hardly had to reach 100%; 70% was more than enough. Richard Jensen 02:26, 13 November 2007 (CST)

German economy

I have not seen the Tooze book yet, but I have relied on Overy a lot. in The Dictators (2004) p 398 & 775, he says the growth in German real GNP was +70% (1933-38) and +39% (1928-38). Very impressive indeed. (The US real growth 1928 to 1938 was +1%)Richard Jensen 02:53, 13 November 2007 (CST)

Sure, Richard, but you're not really dealing with the point I'm making. German GNP growth was substantial. However, most of the gain went into armaments production. Stalin increased Soviet production significantly — but that would not lead one to call the USSR "prosperous" in 1939. And Germany was starting at a lower point. As Tooze demonstrates, by 1939 the German economy was stretched to its limits. Hitler was diverting all the resources he could find into building the military.
So how about replacing "He suppressed all opposition parties, and restored German prosperity and economic strength" with: "He suppressed all opposition parties and dramatically increased German industrial production, most of which went into building the German military"? Randall Bytwerk 06:47, 13 November 2007 (CST)
the prosperity was real enough--higher than Germany had ever known. What more does one want? The military spending all stayed inside germany: soldiers were paid, factory workers were paid overtime, engineers were fully employed. unemployment vanished (unemployment remained high in the US). Farmers had more money than ever. Indeed Germany military wives had higher allowances than British women (one reason fewer went into factories.) Richard Jensen 13:15, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Well, here's some more from Tooze on German "prosperity": "In 1936, with the German economy at full employment, 14.5 million people, 62 per cent of all German taxpayers, reported annual incomes of less than 1,500 Reichmarks, corresponding to weekly earnings of just over 30 Reichsmarks and hourly rates of about 60 pfennig." After summarizing living costs, which were high in comparison to the United States even as wages were lower, he concludes: "Clearly, in Hitler's Germany only a small minority of the population lived in circumstances which we would today describe as comfortable." (pp. 141-143). As I said before, per capita income in Germany was half that of the U.S., and significantly lower than other leading European countries. I'm not disagreeing that the German economy improved after 1933, only that "prosperous" is too strong a word. So what do I want? I want evidence that Germany was actually prosperous, not simply a little better off than it had been before Hitler took power. Randall Bytwerk 15:51, 13 November 2007 (CST)
I think Mr. Bytwerk makes an excellent point. At some point instead of making generalizations about certain judgements, it's necessary to evaluate all of the micro-details that support or don't support those judgements. --Robert W King 15:56, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Economic historians use two criteria re 1930s, the GNP and unemployment rates. On both those indicators the German economy did very well. Tooze wants to add additional criteria regarding consumption (the Germans did well on this too), but Tooze seems to want it both ways. Too bad the Germans spent so much on armaments (1938), and too bad the Germans spent too little on armaments (1941). This is an encyclopedia and we should stick to the established criteria.Richard Jensen 16:05, 13 November 2007 (CST)
So we should stick to "established criteria" that says the War in Iraq is a huge successful effort? Come on Richard, you can't be serious. As a historian and a verifier of facts, everything needs to be taken into account that is valid. --Robert W King 16:08, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Well, Richard, I don't think Tooze is trying to have it both ways. I'd have to go back to the book with more energy than I have at the moment, but I think that his argument is that Hitler put all the resources into armaments that he could before the war, that he began the war when he did because he realized he couldn't out-produce his enemies over the long haul, and that German military production was insufficient after the war began to win it. Nothing inconsistent there that I can see. Randall Bytwerk 16:26, 13 November 2007 (CST)
the issue is whether Hitler restored German prosperity by 1936. All the standard indicators say yes he did, and people at the time in US and Britain said so too. The consensus of scholars is that Germany did NOT militarize its economy as well as the US, Britain and USSR did.Richard Jensen 16:31, 13 November 2007 (CST)
What people thought at the time was influenced by German propaganda. In 1989, many in the West believed that East Germany was the world's tenth leading industrial power. Then the wall came down and the truth came out. And while it's true that other countries may have done a better job of militarizing their economies after the war got going, was that true before 1939? I'm still looking for evidence that Germany was "prosperous" in 1936. I don't think you've provided any. Randall Bytwerk 16:44, 13 November 2007 (CST)
the two indicators economists always use for prosperity are GNP (up very strongly) and unemployment (down very sharply). This record was definitely better than USA, UK, France, Italy, Japan. So Germany certainly passes the test as of 1938. Richard Jensen 16:48, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Last try. I'm not disagreeing that GNP was up and unemployment was down. I am asking for evidence that that actually meant prosperity for a lot of Germans, which is what most readers will assume if they read that Hitler restored German prosperity. For the sake of discussion, let us assume Country X is in miserable economic condition, with 33% unemployment and a per capita income of $500 annually. Five years later, its unemployment is 1% and its per capita income is $600. Economically, it is "successful" by the criteria you outline. Would you want to live there? Randall Bytwerk 17:03, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Economists use GNP and unemplyment. The suggestion is there is a thrid mystery index, on which Germany did badly. What is the index? What are the numbers? Richard Jensen 17:49, 13 November 2007 (CST)
Although I am inclined that Mr Bytwerk's position (as he is a specialist editor on Nazi and East German history; check user page) would be more accurate, I think it would be best to see if an economist can weigh in to arbitrate here. --Robert W King 17:53, 13 November 2007 (CST)

I have actually taught modern European Economic History in a UK university, where part of the course was on Hitler's war economy. The consensus on the successful management of the economy, with effectively Keynesian style demand management, is impressive. It isn't only about GDP growth and unemployment: these figures can mislead. It is about quality of life outcomes, income distribution, control of inflation, inter alia, If you "ignore" the massive problems relating to persecuted groups in Nazi Germany, the economic turnaround was a massive success and is a primary explanation of how Hitler got away politically with what he did. I am with Jensen on this one! --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:58, 13 November 2007 (CST)

But do you discard those other values and redirect the focus onto persecution? I think everything that amounts to a summation so the reader can make a judgement should be included, even if it means including those items such as income distribution, inflation, etc. When you combine those all together, it paints a realistic image or snapshot of what the economy was like--however I don't think we should classify it as "Prosperity" when when you take all those factors into account, it doesn't look that way--maybe "re-engineering of the german economy" or something about management of the war economy; something that indicates HOW it was run and not whether or not it was "good" or "bad" for the people. --Robert W King 23:38, 13 November 2007 (CST)

I'm not sure why anyone would want to bias GDP and unemployment rates to determine the quality of life during this time. That just does not adequately tell the whole story inside the box, so to speak. That Tooze would state "Clearly, in Hitler's Germany only a small minority of the population lived in circumstances which we would today describe as comfortable" (pp. 141-143) seems a compelling statement when one views the pitiful income rises alongside the low unemployment rates, which sounds to me like having 4 out of 10 unemployed and employing the 4 by simply slicing the wages pie thinner. I am no expert on this subject but know that cases are always ill-told with generalizations based upon partial factors. It sounds to me like Richard is doggedly trying to avoid the telling of what is in reality a more complex situation, one that Randall would like to see told. So would I. Stephen Ewen 00:11, 14 November 2007 (CST)

I try to tell it like it is. For example, this passage has been in the text all along: " In the mid 1930s incomes were still low; Hitler refused to raise wages, choosing instead to use productivity gains for rearmament and economic autarky or independence from the British and American economies."Richard Jensen 00:29, 14 November 2007 (CST)

No, Stephen, the quotation you give is coimpletely unacceptable because it applied to all other countries, more or less. THe comparisons have to be along two dimensions: how did Hitler's War Economy fare compared with the long period before and how did it compare with other countries at the time. You cannot ask how it compares with socio-economic conditions today! THis is absurd and is effectively bias, trying to avoid the conclusion that they did a good job with managing the economy.--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 06:32, 14 November 2007 (CST)

The current version of the sentence is clunky: "He restored economic German prosperity and ended mass unemployment, while suppressing all opposition parties, ending the civil rights of individuals." This is also the introduction, which needs to preview concisely what is to come. My concern remains that the average reader, seeing the word "prosperity," will assume things that aren't quite so. I'll see if I can come up with a variant of the problematic sentence, and suggest that the gory details be reserved for the section on economics. And Martin's comment should also take into account Tooze's evidence that German per capita income was half that of the U.S. and about two-thirds that of Britain at the time. It's certainly true that today's standards of prosperity are different than they were 70 years ago, but even by the standards of the time, Germany was behind. Randall Bytwerk 06:47, 14 November 2007 (CST)
Randall, you cannot do cross-country comparisons of per capita GDP for that period. Today we have PPP adjustments, which make it a little easier [but still open to major errors]. For that time, it would be necessary to make comparisons with standard of living indices, which I suppose do not exist. In which case, this is all too speculative. However, I agree with you that the word "prosperity" needs to be qualified with regard to income distribution and exclusion of large sectors of the population from that economic wealth. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 08:21, 14 November 2007 (CST)

The man behind the curtain

"In sum, the overall Nazi dictatorship was powerful indeed, but Hitler as the man behind the curtain pulled few levers." I don't think that's a very good metaphor, in the first place; and it's not a very fluidly written sentence. Wouldn't it be easier to say something straigthforward like: The dictatorship was undeniably powerful but Hitler himself may have been less (choose your own adjective or phrase) than is frequently thought. Hayford Peirce 19:25, 13 November 2007 (CST)


The article doesn't seem able to make up its mind whether he was Adolf or Adolph.

I've changed the statement that he was the founder of Nazism. It's simply false. The NSDAP was founded by Anton Drexler. Hitler gradually took over the party, kicking Drexler upstairs to be honorary president or some such. Drexler later left the party & even stood against it in election(s), but when Hitler came to power he let him live out his life in peace.

Germany has now & had in the Nazi era a system of tithes: 10% income tax paid to the churches ,whichever one a particular taxpayer was affiliated to. German official tax records show Hitler paid his tithes (presumably on his Führer's salary & the royalties on Mein Kampf) to the Catholic Church to the end of his life. I don't know whether this is worth mentioning. Peter Jackson 16:27, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
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Not sure where to start, but...

I'm moving the paragraph below, as just one example of a great deal of assumption about Hitler, stated as fact with one fairly obscure source:

Historians[1] have discovered the mystical and occult sources of Hitler's racial ideology. For Hitler, race was not simply a political issue, but the foundation of world history. He believed that the Aryan race, "to which all 'true' Germans belonged was the race whose blood (soul) was of the highest degree." To Hitler, the Jews were not members of a religious creed, but a specific race, which was "the embodiment of evil." Hitler's views were influenced by pseudoscientific racial studies and the revival of an interest in occultism in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Leading occultists emphasized the racial superiority of the Aryan Germans and employed a variety of occult symbols, including the swastika. In addition, during the 1920s, Hitler associated with the Thule Society, an occult group in Munich.
Hitler's motivation is decidedly not a matter of consensus. Ron Rosenbaum's 1998 Explaining Hitler, for example, is a collection of analyses of essays with different explanations of his motivation. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:35, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  1. Jackson Spielvogel, and David Redles, "Hitler's Racial Ideology: Content and Occult Sources." Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1986 3: 227-246. Issn: 0741-8450