From around fourteen years of age – no precise age can be determined – Hitler started experiencing delusions of grandeur. He wanted to become a world famous painter. More insightful into Hitler’s character than this fantasy, was the fact that he scorned the notion of having to earn one’s daily living. Being a loner he seldom had friends. To use an expressive modern term, Hitler was an odd-ball, the archetypal non-entity, the little grey man who blended into the background. As such, detailed records and acounts of Hitler’s youth are sparse at best but whatever is extant all points to an eccentric misanthropic youth. What was Hitler like as a child and why did he develop these surreal notions about life?
Main picture: One of Hitler’s water colours
Hitler’s decision to fight until the last man and boy had been killed resulted in Hitler retreating from the Wolf’s Lair in Eastern Prussia and ensconcing himself in the so-called underground Fuhrerbunker near the Reich’s Chancellery in Berlin. Large swaths of Berlin had already been laid to ruin due to the continual bombing sorties by the British and American Air Forces. Now it was the turn of the Russian Army to complete its destruction.
Main picture: These photographs, taken by the Boston Globe, show the same location in 1945 and in 2015.
Cloistered within the fetid and otherworldly atmosphere were Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun together with the Goebbel’s family – Joseph, Magda and their six children. In spite of the German Wehrmacht being woefully inadequate to prevent the demise of Deutschland, Hitler and his closest aids still lived in a dream world. Accompanied by Albert Speer, Hitler even took a tour of the Reich’s Chancellery in order to view a model of the future Berlin; such was Hitler’s unwavering belief in Germany’s invincibility in spite of the deteriorating military situation.
Hitler is a byword for evil, racist cant & totalitarian rule. Is this an accurate assessment and does it reflect his philosophies over his whole life or did his psyche steadily become more morbid with age? What was the effect the Bomb Plot in July 1944 on his mental condition? Did it exacerbate these attributes in any way? In spite of the unending drama as the Third Reich rapidly sunk into the abyss after Stalingrad, how was Hitler still able to hold sway? Finally, were his acolytes so in awe of Hitler, and for what reasons, that their natural instincts did not forewarn them of the impending disaster?
These are merely an arbitrary selection of the litany of unanswered questions that I possessed regarding Hitler. Without any doubt, these issues have occupied my mind for at least four decades. Finally Ian Kershaw’s opus magnum entitled eponymously, Hitler, has finally shed light on all these aspects. As I did not have sufficient time to read the full unabridged 1550 page version, I will confess to reading to an abridged version which only comprises a modest 969 pages instead. The journey and wait was well worth it. Continue reading
A Personal View – April 2014
Hitler was unable to form normal relationships with other people. During WW1 he rarely if ever fraternised with his fellow soldiers but studiously avoided them. Bravery he had in abundance which is attested by the fact that he was awarded the Iron Cross not once but twice; one was First Class while the other was Second Class.
Fellow soldiers describe him as a loner. He was considered for promotion but it was declined on the basis of his anti-social tendencies.
Main picture: Hitler with his niece Geli Raubal