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Kevin Turnbull

Ap European History
Mr. Brown
1st September 2013
Hitler and Machiavelli: A Match Made in Heaven?
Adolf Hitler is one of the most controversial historical figures to have ever lived. Having
perpetuated such terrible events as the Holocaust, the Nazi party leader has gone down in history
as one of the most evil men to have ever lived, sometimes called the Devil himself. However evil
he may have been, was Hitler a Machiavellian leader? The answer is most certainly yes.
Machiavellis Prince is a scholarly work all about how a person can be a great leader. He wrote
not only about the characteristics of this persons leadership, but also of his character. While
Hitler was a leader whose motives and methods were primitive and cruel, no one can argue that
he was a bad leader. Hitler got the entire country of Germany to follow him in a matter of weeks,
and he amassed one of the most expansive militaries of his day. Many of Machiavellis principles
of leadership and character are applicable to Hitler.
War should be the only study of a Prince. Hitler is an almost perfect representation of
this philosophy. In Hitlers Germany, there was hardly ever a time of peace. The only peaceful
time was when Hitler and his Nazis were behind closed doors, plotting their next attack or
advance. The Nazi party rose to power out of a time of great conflict, the first World War.
Germanys people were enraged by the treaty of Versailles, which rendered their economy into a
pathetic pile of dust. Hitler took these angry people, and manipulated them to help further his
goals. He achieved his goals through violence and war, never through diplomacy. Even before
World War II, Hitler was always plotting which foreign land to invade and capture next. He
would not rest until all the world was his to rule with an iron fist. Also tying into that, the
presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws. Machiavelli in this
statement is expressing that with a good military comes a strong government. Hitler certainly

exemplifies that, as the Nazi army was the most powerful of its day, next to the US army. Though
the Third Reich was a prosperous time for the German people, it was also one of great regiment
and structure.
Another one of Machiavellis popular philosophies on a perfect soverign is that the ends
justify the means. Hitlers goal was to rid Germany of the Jews. In the post World War One era
of Germany, the economy was, quite frankly, in the toilet. Many of the banks and stores at the
time were owned by people of Jewish heritage. Hitler inherited his anti-semetic attitude from the
common hatred of the Jewish financial leaders at the time. The only difference between Hitler
and the common man is that Hitler used his natural charisma and authoritative personality to
propel himself to the top of the German government, putting him into a position to deal with
what he thought was a problem. In Hitlers mind, the Jewish people of Germany were a problem.
His goal was to get rid of them all. So one could argue that the ends justify the means can
apply to the holocaust. Ignoring the obvious fact that the Holocaust was a horrific, evil event,
Hitler believed that accomplishing his goal meant doing whatever it takes, including genocide.
While Machiavelli may not have been too fond of the hatred it brought upon Hitler, he most
likely would have said that the Holocaust was just a way for Hitler to accomplish his goal, as
sick and twisted as that goal may have been.
Machiavelli said that once a Prince is in charge of a state, principality, etc. he should stop
at nothing to make sure he keeps absolute power. And this is exactly what Adolf Hitler did. As
Hitler rose to power, he got to work right away eliminating any officer who he believed there
was even a remote chance of being betrayed by. And officer or government official not 100%
loyal to the Nazi party was removed from office, and likely killed. Another think Hitler did to
ensure he stayed in power was to name himself leader of the German military. With the military
under his control, it would be a lot easier to further the Nazi mission, as well as quell rebellions

from the common people. Forming the Hitler Youth was also another step towards absolute,
permanent power. By filling the minds of the young people of Germany with Nazi ideals and
German nationalism, Hitler was able to ensure that even from a young age, the German people
were in agreement with his philosophies. One other thing he did is something that one will likely
never see in studying militaries of the past. Most times, when one joins the military, one must
swear some kind of oath to protect ones country at all costs. But not in Hitlers army. In Hitlers
army, all soldiers swore an oath to defend and act in best interest towards Hitler himself. Hitler
had his military swear an oath to remain loyal to him, and not their country. In doing this, he was
safeguarding himself against any revolution that might occur, having a massive army on his side
to quickly stomp out any rebels.
However, some may argue that Hitlers regime would not have been a picture perfect one
in the eyes of Machiavelli. The main reason for this is because one of Machiavellis main
principles was stability. After the allies forced Hitler out of power, Germanys economy
collapsed in on itself, which is a glaring sign that Hitlers rule was one of little if any stability.
However, many people forget that this collapse of the German economy occurred after Germany
lost the war, and Hitler committed suicide. While there is some fault to be laid on Hitler for
losing the war, had the Nazi party still continued to rule Germany (minus the mass genocide), the
economy would have continued to flourish. After World War One, the German economy was in
shambles. Hitler came in and created jobs, as well as stability. Although his true motivation was
one of malice, his leadership for his people is marked by prosperity.
While there is no denying that Hitler was a terrible man who committed terrible crimes,
in terms of Machiavellian leadership, he was almost perfect. He was loved by his people, feared
by his adversaries, always armed, always ready to fight, and always ready to defend the position

he shed blood sweat and tears to gain control of. Had Hitler not put Germany on a path to
destruction economically, Machiavelli would have lauded him as the perfect soverign.