Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hitler's formidable abilities as an actor are often overlooked. There are only very rare situations where we can say he was being genuine. This is what makes it so difficult to answer the question of what he was like as a person. Hitler had a very normal love life with Eva Braun. He was also supposedly missing one testicle, which made him reluctant to undress in front of women

Hitler had a very normal
love life with Eva Braun (Picture : AP)

Said Volker Ullrich, a German historian, journalist and author, in an interview with Jan Fleischhauer of Spiegel.

Volker Ullrich has provided many details about Adolf Hitler in the interview published today. The questions were based on his book (to be released this week) : New German Biography: Hitler's Underestimated Charisma. When asked what he thought of Hitler in view of the general feeling that Hitler was a psychopath, especially because someone capable of committing such crimes could not have been normal, Ulrich replied : "Hitler was without a doubt exceptional in his criminal deeds. Yet in many respects, he was not at all out of the ordinary. We will never be able to understand the terrible things that happened between 1933 and 1945 if we deny from the outset that Hitler also had human characteristics, and if we fail to take into account not only his criminal energies, but also the appealing qualities he had. 

So long as we view him only as a horrifying monster, the allure he undoubtedly exerted will remain a riddle." "He was not as crazy as some scholars of psycho history would have us believe, at least, with their far too simplistic lines of argumentation. He may even have been more normal than we might wish," he added.

Ullrich said : "I bring the man back to the forefront. This creates not a completely new picture of Hitler, but still a more complex and contradictory one than we're familiar with," when asked why he had to write Hitler's biography when already two authors have done that - one by Joachim Fest (1973) and another by Ian Kershaw (in two volumes, 1998). 

Regarding "Hitler the Person" - a key chapter in his book, Ullrich said : "The remarkable thing about Hitler was his talent for dissimulation. He could be very pleasant, even to people he detested. Yet he was also incredibly cold even to people very close to him. He not only could chat very pleasantly among his close acquaintances, but absolutely knew how to listen as well." Hitler lived in the men's dormitory for three years in Vienna where he maintained decidedly friendly contact with Jews. The dealers who bought his paintings at a decent price were also Jews. Hitler was never more than average as an artist. His great talent was for the games of politics. It's easy to underestimate the exceptional qualities and abilities he brought to bear in order to succeed in this field. In the space of just three years, he rose from an unknown veteran to the king of Munich, filling the city's largest halls week after week. He was also a skilled tactician, outmaneuvering his competition step by step. He surrounded himself with followers who looked up to him devoutly. And he secured the support of influential patrons.
Volker Ullrich(Picture by Jörg Müller/ Agentur Focus/ DER SPIEGEL)

Hitler constructed his speeches very deliberately. He began very calmly, tentatively, almost as if he were feeling his way forward and trying to sense to what degree he had a hold of the audience so far. Not until he was certain of their approval did he escalate his word choice and gestures, becoming more aggressive. He continued this for two or three hours until he reached the climax, an intoxicating peak that left many listeners with tears running down their faces. There were people who held a very negative view of Hitler at first, yet still got swept up and carried away when they experienced him. 

When asked what would have been the scenario if Hitler had not existed, Ullrich said : "One possibility would have been an authoritarian government largely directed by the military. Anti-Jewish laws presumably would have been implemented without Hitler as well. But the Holocaust - this last, radical extreme of the political Utopian vision of a racially homogeneous society - never would have happened. It is unimaginable without Hitler.

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