The Altarpiece of Ghent, Hubert Van Eyck, 1430-1432.
The Altarpiece was commissioned for Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. It was seized by the Nazis in 1940 while it was traveling through France on its way to safety in the Vatican. The Germans had stolen its panels once before, during the First World War, and were happy to have it back. In an effort to protect it from Allied bombing, it was stored in the Altaussee salt mines, where it was badly damaged by the poor conditions instead.
Mad? My goodness, yes. Genius? No and, again, no.
Mein Kampf, for example, reads as if it was written by a very hyperactive grade-schooler who was just sucker punched by a rabbi.
It leaps from topic to topic so frenetically that its chapter headings are really just literary red herrings to throw the reader off the scent of his inability to write.
Even ignoring his writing, he comes across as a bit of a chump. He constantly saddled the German military with bizarre restrictions that massively hindered its ability to fight. For example, all German bombers had to be usable in a dive bombing role. All of them. Ever wonder why the technical giants of the aviation industry like Messerschmidt, Focke-Wulf, Fokker, and Blohm & Voss couldn’t seem to throw together a serious strategic bomber to save their lives? It’s because every time they came close, Hitler and the R.L.M. came along and demanded to know whether or not their new, 4 engined, long range, heavy bomb carrying beast could dive bomb tanks on the Eastern Front.
Or how about the fact that Hitler overrode the Schlieffen Plan (the Plan so nice, they used it twice) and got Germany involved in a two front war that it had no hope of winning? I’m not talking through hindsight alone, here. Hitler’s whole plan hinged on the idea that Germans could not lose to Slavs.
No matter how you look at him, Hitler comes across as a less than towing intellect beset by numerous mental health concerns.
It is tempting to say that the Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. Outstanding politicians and intellectuals, for example Edvard Benes and Ilya Ehrenberg, yielded to this temptation during the war. The Czechoslovak President and the Soviet-Jewish writer were justifying revenge upon Germans as such. People who called others subhuman were themselves subhuman. Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible.
To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history.
Dr. Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.
A good quotation to remember when studying the ugly periods of history.
This, I’ll admit, is more of a myth about the Nazis and Germany and the Second World War in general than a Hitler myth, but it needs to be addressed anyway.
Frequently, self-proclaimed World War Two historians will huffily point out the difference between “The Nazis” and “German soldiers.”
I will start this discussion by stating that, yes, there were many German soldiers that participated in acts of resistance against the Nazi regime and acted compassionately towards their opponents. Also, I acknowledge the fact of conscription in the Third Reich forcing many Germans to take up arms that would not have otherwise.
The fact remains, however, that the institution of the German military and the vast, overwhelming majority of the men it involved were thoroughly involved in the crimes of the Nazi government and were thoroughly politicized.
The Generals of the German Army helped Hitler to plan his invasion of the Soviet Union and formulate his vision for a post-war eastern empire. It was the German Army that was turned loose on the U.S.S.R. with the express goal of vastly diminishing its population, that it might be resettled with “ethnic Germans” and turned into a sprawling, bucolic, slave-driven racial fantasy.
They German soldier, it should be noted, carried out these orders with efficiency and brutal zeal. Whole villages were razed, women raped, property destroyed or looted, and prisoners shot or hanged.
To be sure, the S.S. (Waffen and otherwise) was also involved, but frequently, it lacked the manpower for mass executions. In such scenarios, the German soldier again gamely participated and filled in the gaps.
It was also, one must remember, the German Army that was largely responsible for the fact that the vast majority of Soviet P.O.W.’s taken did not survive the war. Roughly 2.8 million of those Soviet soldiers who surrendered to the German military died in captivity.
The German Army also, frequently, executed civilians en masse in response to partisan attacks.
In the end, while it may seem semantically accurate to point out that not every German soldier was a Nazi, it matters little. Most German soldiers were human beings who actively chose to participate in the racially motivated slaughter of their fellow humans. The Wehrmacht's hands are dirty, too.
Oh, fuck you. Just…fuck you, hypothetical-nazi-apologist-fan-person.
There are mountains of evidence, from witness testimony, to German documents, to corpses, to remaining concentration camps. The Holocaust did occur, and was almost certainly worse than anything that you could possibly imagine.
Yet, denial of it continues across the globe. Some, undoubtedly, deny it because they are simply anti-semites or bigots. There are others, however, that deny because they insist on disregarding the “official story.”
In either case, the Holocaust Denier is a consummate jackass and fool, as the evidence is overwhelmingly against him.
Look, I’m not sure what this argument is supposed to accomplish, what with the Holocaust having definitely happened, but I see it a lot. And it’s still wrong.
You see, Hitler did a whole pile of terrible things that would get him remembered as a villain, and even if you stripped them away, he did nothing so good as to get him remembered fondly.
So, let’s do this: We strip away the Holocaust. Hitler still was instrumental in starting one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. I speak, of course, of World War Two. You might have heard of it.
Now, for the sake of proving how dense with idiocy this line of reasoning is to its bitter, stupid core, let’s do away with that.
Hitler also instituted the T4 Program. Aktion T4 was the deliberate mass murder of disabled persons of all stripes in the Third Reich. I separate it from the Holocaust, as it was largely carried out by the medical community of Germany and its leaders were tried separately from the rest of the archfiends at Nuremberg.
But let’s be rid of that, too.
Well…Hitler also called for the sterilization of disabled persons prior to T4.
But we’ll cut that loose, as well.
Hitler ruined the Germany economy.
Hitler ordered the destruction of thousands of pieces of so called “degenerate art.”
I think we’ve gotten rid of most of the really evil things Hitler was personally responsible for, let’s see if we can find something he can be remembered fondly for: His art? No, he was a pretty mediocre painter. His military service in WWI? Eh…kind of a lackluster performance there, too. The Autobahn? More of a Weimar thing, actually.
In the end, Adolf Hitler was a villain. He was an evil man. And no amount of mental gymnastics can turn him into a hero.
This myth is widely held as fact, and couldn’t be further from the truth. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis took Germany’s economy, which had begun to stir from its deep, Depression-induced torpor thanks to the tireless work of the economist Hjalmar Schacht, and ran it into the ground.
Schacht had worked as Commissioner of Currency under the much maligned Weimar government, and had been remarkably successful in battling inflation. When Hitler seized power (more on that later), Schacht’s careful policies were largely swept aside in favor of forcing the German economy onto a war footing, a system which could only survive on a steady diet of war loot and assets seized from “racial undesirables” within Germany.
Even Hitler’s long term plans for Germany’s wealth were nonsensical trash. The end economic goal for the invasion of the East was to turn the area into some kind of bucolic plantation dream where sturdy German burghers oversaw toiling Slavic slaves, an economic model of autarky that had ceased to make any sense in the latter half of the 19th century.
In short, Hitler took an ailing economy on the road to recovery, and steered it toward certain ruin.