Adolf Hitler: History Isn’t Complete
Adolf Hitler. This name is arguably the most infamous name in modern history. From students of history to scientists and down to the doorman, it is hard to come across anybody who hasn’t heard the name. No doubt, not everyone might know the full story or historic details of his premiership, and neither will everyone grasp its full implications. One thing is sure, however; if there was a popularity contest ranking the most popular and notorious men by names, Adolf Hitler will go home with a trophy. Adolf Hitler owes his popularity to the media and generations of shrewd historians; since his death in 1945, there hasn’t been a dearth of published works inspired by his life and exploits. Regularly, new documentaries, books, essays, podcasts, tv series, and more, are premiered, all claiming some never-before-seen insight into the man’s life and almost always failing to keep their promise of showing us anything new about the man. These publishings only succeed in making him more popular than the last one.
Adolf Hitler is generally associated with bad; tales of his atrocities are all over the place. For a start, it is popular knowledge that Hitler, as leader of Germany took the first steps that started the war which came to be known as the Second World War (WW2). The bulk of why people associate Hitler with bad is owed to the cascade of negative events that resulted from the Second World War. In this war, millions of people lost their lives, including an estimated six million Jews. There was widespread use of forced labour and concentration camps that stripped people of their basic dignity, and millions of people gassed were to death. All races had their fair share of suffering — Jews, Europeans, Africans.
Over the decades, the media has not relented; they have been meticulous in describing to us in vivid detail the failings of Adolf Hitler. The relentlessness in the covering of Hitler is breathtaking. This has the effect of giving the audience little chance to think for themselves or consider any other perspective. After decades of consuming seemingly endless literature and being barraged with this singular narrative, I was inclined to ask some questions. I began to wonder why all the media narratives were in unison. The more I tried to find literature that deviated from the mainstream view of Adolf Hitler, the more I began to grasp that this was a herculean task, and nearly impossible. I asked myself why it was difficult to find something, somebody, a piece, that cast Hitler in a positive light, no matter how slightly.
Growing up, I was taught that humans, no matter how notorious, have a good side and a bad side. My upbringing instilled in me to see the good in every person or at the very least, to try to look for their good trait(s). The more I pored over Hitler’s biographies and the history books, the more questions I had; could it be that I had found the exception to this unwritten rule? Could it be that Hitler was the one man who had no good sides, and did no single good deed in his lifetime? True to my upbringing, I had the nagging question; how a man could live for 56 years on earth and not record even a single good deed to his name? This seemed impossible. If my upbringing was right, and if the values instilled in me were anything to go by, then there had to be something good about the notorious Hitler that we weren’t seeing. Well, there are three options. It’s either there is nothing and can never be anything good about the man, or there is but we just weren’t seeing it. It was either these or the media was deliberately hiding it from our view.
At this point, it is imperative to clarify that when I say media, I am mostly referring to the Western, especially the American media. This is because the American politicians and American media grabbed the wheels of the global propaganda machine in the aftermath of World War 2. A coalition of countries called ‘the allies’ were the victors. America, being the top country and benefactor in this coalition, naturally dominated the media narrative when the war ended. After all, it is the victor that tells the story, not the vanquished.
One interesting fact about the war that has been barely reported –may be owing to its controversial nature — is that the Second World War (WW2) helped America in no small measure. In fact, this war and its aftermath almost single-handedly enthroned and consolidated America’s place as the world superpower. Hitler and the ‘bad guys’ had started this war, with America reluctantly joining in later, after much persuasion from the British. In the course of the war, America received information that Hitler had plans to develop a nuclear weapon — the nuclear bomb. Powered with this information, America rushed to work and successfully beat Germany and the Soviet Union in the nuclear weapons race. The irony of America’s nuclear weapon is that it was developed with substantial input from scientists who had escaped from Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Creating the nuclear bomb and dropping it on Japan helped end the war, but this action also sealed America’s place as the Apex predator at the top of the military power pyramid.
In the aftermath of her military accomplishments in World War 2, America has many times found itself acting as the world’s de-facto policeman. It has helped to keep autocratic leaders in check and squash unscrupulous militias; it has settled international disputes and brokered peace deals, in the process arguably preventing multiple potentially deadlier wars. There is a school of thought that believes that exempting America’s global policing, the world might have seen another global or at least a more deadly war than WW2. This line of thought opens up an ethical can of worms: did the Second World War help prevent deadlier wars? If WW2 prevented deadlier wars, can one then say that WW2 was a good thing? If the answer to this question is yes, then can it be said that Hitler — who was the architect of the Second World War — had his advantages and impacted the world positively by helping to prevent future deadlier wars? You might want to take a deep breath before giving your answers.
Back to the question of the American media. It is tempting to wonder why the American media has refused to recognize Hitler’s role in consolidating it into the world’s most powerful mouthpiece, as well as an economic and military powerhouse, a role it has enjoyed for the better part of the last century. He inadvertently turned the American military into this hegemonic and terrific war machine that it is. The media has underreported these facts, thereby keeping the truth hidden from us — purposely or not.
Questions have always been the backbone of major world discoveries; they are the fuel that powers progressive civilizations. Scientists, lawyers, investigators; everybody knows that the first step to a discovery or to debunking an existing theory starts by asking questions. With a subject as controversial as Adolf Hitler, there is no shortage of questions to ask. The undisputed fact remains that Adolf Hitler oversaw a very brutal regime, responsible for an immeasurable degree of suffering. The hard truth, however, remains that there are worse, more heartless, and horrendous people that perpetuated far greater evil, but yet are less vilified by the media. Take Joseph Stalin for instance; Joseph Stalin, a major player in the Second World War lived and died within the same generation as Hitler — not too many years apart. As a measure of Hitler’s atrocities, everybody knows through constant repetition that Hitler killed six million Jews in WW2, how come nobody mentions that Stalin was responsible for the slaughter of twenty million people and maiming of much more? This means that comparatively, Joseph Stalin was responsible for more deaths and but somehow, he managed to escape being vilified, with his reputation almost untarnished. The reason Joseph Stalin is able to get away with this, the reason he is ‘innocent’ whereas Hitler is ‘guilty’ might not be unconnected to the fact that Stalin was an ally with America and Britain during the course of the war. It is an open secret that once you become allies with western leaders, it becomes very easy for your sins to be glossed over. As soon as you share and work towards a collective interest with the West, automatically you turn into a saint, irrespective of how brutal your regime might be. This was true in WW2 as much as it is true today.
Moving on to other figures that got away with their abhorrent crimes, I introduce to you King George II or dare I say The British Royal family. King Charles II famously started off transatlantic slavery by granting the Royal charter to the Royal African company, and the rest is history. The sovereigns King George II and King George III ruled the British empire during the peak of the slave trade. Stretching from King Charles II to King George III the British crown oversaw the murder of millions of African women and children and the brutal killing of whole tribes and villages. Crying children were violently separated from their mothers while their mothers were beaten and raped. Men were rounded up, stripped, chained, and shipped to distant lands to be used as beasts of burden. This is the story of slavery and the story of slavery is the story of the British Empire in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Permit me to say that any British sovereign, king or queen, that ruled Britain during the period of the transatlantic slave trade was an accomplice to the kidnapping and systemic murder of millions of Africans, an accomplice to genocide. This crime is far greater in scale — a crime against a whole race, a whole continent — and far more gruesome than anything attributed to Hitler and the Third Reich. This begs the question; why are these British sovereigns not topping the list of the world’s cruelest persons? The same goes for king Leopold of Belgium, who committed gruesome crimes against the Congo people. It seems the media has deliberately decided to pick some people and whitewash their sins, meanwhile, others are vilified to the extreme.
For all Hitler’s shortcomings, it cannot be denied that he brought dignity and restored pride to the common German. This is the description with which many Germans addressed Hitler before the outbreak of the war. He ushered in a period of terrific economic development. After the First World War, Germany’s economy was in tatters. Unemployment was high and so was poverty; hyperinflation meant that Germans needed a whole cart of billions of Rentenmark (the German currency in the aftermath of World War 2) just to buy a loaf of bread. When Hitler came to power, he helped revive and oil the German economy earning it the well-deserved nickname; the German machine. In this light, it is not surprising that the Germans loved him and gave him the full reins of power in the first place. It is a wonder why this prosperity that Hitler ushered into post-WW1 Germany is hardly recognized.
Referring to my upbringing and the lesson about seeing the good in everyone the reality remains that whether you consider someone ‘bad’ or ‘good’, there are always a few lessons to learn, and Adolf Hitler in this case is not an exception. For one, his work drive and work ethics were highly commendable. Whenever he set about to do a task, he ensured to complete it with painstaking efficiency. He also had an uncanny ability to delegate jobs to the right people with real abilities, suited to the jobs, and who could get the job done. His ability to strategize is worth a mention. This ability was the fuel that fed the ‘German machine’ and also delivered him surprising victories in the early years of WW2. Also commendable was his oratory. He could really whip up a crowd. Through oratory, he was able to carve his rise to power, all the while maintaining the backing of the populace during the Third Reich.
Starting this article, I set out to answer the question of Adolf Hitler’s reprobate nature. After these many words and paragraphs, I realize that I might not be closer to an answer than I was when I began. It is indisputable that terrible and horrific acts were carried out by the man, in his name and authority. The real question however is the one that strangely has not been asked until now; what makes Hitler — with all his crimes — different from the British sovereigns that enslaved a whole continent? How is Hitler different from Joseph Stalin, or say, King Leopold III? What about the modern American empire that is directly or indirectly responsible for the murder and displacement of a great many people through direct wars and proxy wars? Is Hitler really the worst man to walk the face of the earth, and is he worse than all these people aforementioned? If he isn’t, then that begs the question; why he is being calumniated to a greater extent than people who were by every measure greater monsters or at the very least equally as monstrous as he was? Having presented the facts, I dare ask; Can we really not learn anything good from Hitler? I leave that question to you to answer.