The Nazi Revolution: Germany's Guilt or Germany's Fate?

The Nazi Revolution: Germany's Guilt or Germany's Fate?

The Nazi Revolution: Germany's Guilt or Germany's Fate?

The Nazi Revolution: Germany's Guilt or Germany's Fate?

Excerpt

It is impossible to study the Nazi movement without acknowledging the tremendous importance of the part Adolf Hitler played in its growth and in the shaping of its character. Experts disagree about the degree of importance to attach to Hitler's personality in relation to less personal factors;but all agree that this personality was significant. Hitler's unique personal qualities -- strengths and weaknesses -- are brilliantly set forth in the reading below. This reading is taken from a full-length biography of Adolf Hitler, the best yet published. The author, Alan Bullock, is a noted English expert on contemporary Germany and professor of modern history at Oxford University. Many specialists in German history in Europe and America consider this biography of Hitler to be the most satisfactory over-all account yet written of the rise and fall of the Nazi movement.

The Talents of Tyranny

ALAN BULLOCK

The FOUNDATION of Hitlers success was his own energy and ability as a political leader. Without this, the help would never have been forthcoming, or would have produced insignificant results. Hitler's genius as a politician lay in his unequalled grasp of what could be done by propaganda, and his flair for seeing how to do it. He had to learn in a hard school, on his feet night after night, arguing his case in every kind of hall, from the smoke- filled back room of a beer-cellar to the huge auditorium of the Zirkus Krone; often, in the early days, in the face of opposition, indifference or amused contempt; learning to hold his audience's attention, to win them over; most important of all, learning to read the minds of his audiences, finding the sensitive spots on which to hammer. "He could play like a virtuoso on the well-tempered piano of lower middleclass hearts," says Dr. Schacht. Behind that virtuosity lay years of experience as an agitator and mob orator. Hitler came to know Germany and the German people at first hand as few of Germany's other leaders ever had. By the time he came to power in 1933 there were few towns of any size in the Reich where he had not spoken. Here was one great advantage Hitler had over nearly all the politicians with whom he had to deal, his immense practical experience of politics, not in the Chancellery or the Reichstag, but in the street, the level at which elections are won, the level at which any politician must be effective if he is to carry a mass vote with him.

Hitler was the greatest demagogue in history. Those who add "only a demagogue" fail to appreciate the nature of political power in an age of mass politics. As he himself said: "To be a leader, means to be able to move masses. . . ."

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