As a 90-year-old man I remember World War II very clearly. Too young for enlistment, many of my family and friends were drafted. The event in Charlottesville, Virginia which highlighted the KKK and the Neo-Nazis has prompted this article.
A very prominent group in the Charlottesville skirmish was referred to as the Neo-Nazis. Interestingly, the prefix “neo” means “revive.” Their objective is to revive the Nazis.
According to Wikipedia the Nazi doctrine includes: ultra-nationalism, racism, atheism, xenophobia (fear of foreigners), homophobia (a fear of homosexuals), antisemitism, and initiating the Third Reich. A basic tenet of the Nazis was the “super race.”
In the Preface of Richard J. Evans ‘book, Evans quotes Friedrich Meinecke’s questions he hopes to answer. 1) How is it that an advanced and highly cultured nation such as Germany could give in to the brutal force as Nazism so quickly and so easily? 2) Why was there such little serious resistance to the Nazi take over? 3) How could an insignificant party of the radical right rise to power with such dramatic suddenness” 4) Why did so many Germans fail to perceive the potentially disastrous consequences of ignoring the violent, racist and murderous nature of the Nazi movement?
In my opinion, I think these 4 questions can be answered by getting a clear view and insight into Adolf Hitler.
Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau Inn in the empire of Austria-Hungary. His parents were considered poor peasants. He is considered to have been one quarter Jewish. His father, Alois, was strict and distant; his mother, Klara, was compassionate and indulgent.
Adolf was bright but disinterested in school. He preferred art, opera, theater, reading and drawing. At age 18, he went to Vienna but failed getting into the art school.
From 1909-1913 he had several menial jobs and he became interested in political activity.
Facing the draft, he moved to Munich. It was there that world events changed the course of Hitler’s life. He entered the army and became a corporal and received the Iron Cross for valor.
By 1919 he was a recognized orator and became a member of the German Workers Party. It became Nazi and he formented a spirit of intense hatred for the politicians. By the way, the first word of the Party was “National.” Pronounced in German, it sounds like Nazi. In 1923 Hitler became the new leader of the National German Workers Party.
In 1923, Adolf is 34 years old and rising in leadership with several right-wing groups. With his followers, he tries to overthrow the Bavarian government with force. With 2000 Nazis, they met at the Munich Beer Hall, confronted the police and were defeated.
Hitler was imprisoned for nine months. While there he began dictating Mein Kompf to Rudolf Hess. The title means, “my struggle.” One author describes its content, “It is a mixture of autobiography, political ideology, and an examination of the techniques of propaganda.”
1928 was an interlude for Adolf. His half-sister (Angela Rauball) and her daughter Geli, moved in with him. His relationship with Geli was suspicious; possibly romantic, but Hitler always denied it.
Hitler rebounded the Nazi party and became the leader of the second largest in Germany.
In 1931, he failed to dislodge Paul von Hindenburg from the Presidency. Geli died of suicide the same year. Hitler also, in the next year, (1932) became a citizen of Germany. He formerly had been a citizen of Austria.
1933 was a pivotal year for Hitler and the Nazis. In February, the German Reichstag is destroyed by fire and the Nazis were involved. “Hitler made plain his intention of proceeding ruthlessly and with little regard for the citizenry.”
He became Chancellor and then elevated to his being proclaimed Dictator. The Nazi Party became the only party. Trade Unions were disbanded; Nazi officials became state governors.
Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations; he tripled the size of the German army and ignored the arms restrictions. In 1934, he crushed all the other parties and with the death of von Hindenburg, he became Fuehier (leader).
In 1935, Hitler united all the German people and military and a draft was introduced. The following year the head of the Austrian Nazi Party invited the German army to invade Austria.
In 1938, it brought British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and he gets Britain, France and Italy to the Munich Agreement. Which gave Czechoslovakia to Germany.
In 1939, I was only 12 years old but I remember September 1, 1939 very well. It marked the Crystal Night when 7,500 Jewish shops were destroyed, 400 synagogues were burned, and 20,000 Jews sent to concentration camps.
And Hitler invades Poland and it was divided between Russia and Germany.
This marked the beginning of the Holocaust and World War II. In 1940 the Nazis occupied Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia.
In June of 1941, Germany attacked Russia and on the following December 7, the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor and war was declared on the U.S.A.
At the height of Hitler’s power, he had eight Generals and Admirals. However, the majority of the time, Hitler refused to listen to them. Of the eight, only three were dominant. Hermann Goering (1893-1946), Chief of the Luftwaffe, He committed suicide.
Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda. He had a medical degree and was handicapped with a club foot. The atrocities of the concentration camps are attributed to him.
Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945). He was head of the SS and the Gestapo. He committed suicide.
In a Vanity Fair article from 1990, Ivana, Trump’s first wife, told her lawyer, Michael Kennedy, that Trump kept a copy of Hitler’s book, My New Order, in a cabinet by his bed.
President Trump is enamored with Hitler’s speeches. In one Hitler speech, he said, “All your dreams of the past will be strong again, and masters of the world.” In other words, he promised to, “Make Germany Great Again.”
THIS ARTICLE WILL IS THE FIRST OF TWO ABOUT WWII.
Amen. Selah. So be it.
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