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Hitlers Personality Many who examine photos of Hitler today wonder how such a commonplace and in some ways

comicallooking figure could have become the object of such mass hysterical adulation. Females especially swooned in his presence. Except for his pale blue eyes, which seemed to many to have a hypnotic effect, Hitlers physical characteristics were in fact quite undistinguished. Mind Hitlers mind was considerably more important than is physical appearance in his rise to power. Those who see Hitler as a diabolical adventurer motivated solely by a lust for personal power misunderstand his mental capabilities. He possessed an unusually retentive memory. He remembered minute details from his early life, the industrial production figures of European countries, and precise statistics on ships and military armaments. One secretary recounted, I often ask myself how one human brain could preserve so many facts. Hitler used this wealth of detailed knowledge to convince others that he had superior intellect. However, he was not interested in grappling seriously wit profound intellectual problems. Instead, he portrayed himself as a great simplifier who could take complex ideas and problems and reduce them to elementary slogans and solutions. He described this ability, which he believed stemmed from a higher intellectual capacity, in an interview with a French correspondent. People have said that I owe my success to the fact that I have created a mystique . . . or more simply that I have been lucky. Well, I will tell you what has carried me to where I am. Our political problems appeared complicated. The German people did not comprehend them. In these conditions they preferred to leave it to the professional politicians to get them out of this confused mess. I, on the other hand, simplified the problems. I reduced them to the simplest terms. The masses realized this and they have followed me. Adolf Hitler His success in pulling Germany out of the depression and virtually eliminating unemployment reinforced this view of himself as a great simplifier. Hitlers nightly monologues to his post-dinner guests demonstrate that he saw himself as an expert on everything. He expressed decided opinions on art, history, philosophy, theology, linguistics, medicine, and science. These views became the basis for policies affecting millions of people. Character Traits Specific character traits predominated in Hitlers personality. His rigidity, due to his inability or refusal to change in any significant way, was one feature of his life. He described this quantity in Mein Kampf, maintaining that he had developed all his basic ideas in Vienna early in his adult life: In this period there took shape within me a world picture and a philosophy which became the granite foundation of all my acts. . . . I have had to alter nothing. His boyhood friend and Viennese companion August Kubizek also singled out rigidity as Hitlers most notable trait. The most outstanding trait in my friends character was, as I had experienced myself, the unparalleled consistency in everything that he had said and did. There was in his nature something firm, inflexible, immovable, obstinately rigid, which manifested itself in his profound seriousness and was at the bottom of all his other characteristics. Adolf simply could not change his mind or his nature. - August Kubizek This inflexibility was expressed throughout Hitlers life. He continued to make the same grammatical and spelling errors in his adult years that he had made as a youth. His daily routine was maintained intact, down to the smallest detail. His daily walks when he was chancellor followed the same path. He insisted on a fixed seating order for meals, and any deviation resulted in an outburst of anger. Post-dinner routine, consisting of motion pictures and multi-hour Hitler monologues, quickly became monotonous for regular guests. Hitlers unwillingness to change was the result of his personal insecurity and anxiety. He was tormented by the fear of appearing ridiculous. He would not allow himself to be photographed doing anything insignificant lest it detract from his dignity. He was disgusted with Mussolini for permitting himself to be photographed in a bathing suit, something a great statesman would never do. Hitler constantly blamed others for his own failures and couldnt bear the thought of making a mistake. Hen a secretary corrected him while he as humming a classical melody, he went into a rage and insisted that it was not he by the composer who was wrong in that passage. Unable to tolerate having others around him who might be considered superior, he often surrounded himself with people of inferior intelligence. One exception was Albert Speer, whose architectural talents were congenial to Hitlers own image of himself as a great architect. Hitler also liked to have men with physical or emotional deficiencies in his presence so that he could ridicule them. Hitler did not permit others to know his feelings and desires and carefully guarded his private life. To maintain his privacy, Hitler disciplined his life in a highly unnatural way. Even his outbursts of rage, giving the

impression of a man governed by his emotions, were often calculated to produce certain effects. Such a guarded life left no opening for any real relationships. People did not really interest Hitler. He was incapable of normal conversation based on a genuine exchange of ideas. Conversations were simply monologues. Even with foreign guests, such as Mussolini, Hitler would talk uninterrupted for one and a half hours after dinner. When forced to listen to others he paid little attention and withdrew into his own world. Magda Goebbels, the wife of the propaganda minister and a fervent admirer of the Fuhrer, remarked that in a sense, Hitler is not human unreachable and untouchable. Hitlers impersonality is unmistakable even in his relationship with his long-time companion and mistress, Eva Braun. He met her in the late 1920s when she was an assistant in the studio of Hitlers photographer, Heinrich Hoffman. Eva became Hitlers mistress after the suicide of is niece Geli Raubal in 1931. The later is spoken of as the only other woman besides his mother whom Hitler might have loved. Eva was a rather attractive girl who cared little about politics and ideas. Her interests were fashion clothes, movies, parties, and gossip. Hitler could be intensely jealous of her and yet also cruel. He once remarked to Albert Speer in Evas presence, A highly intelligent man should take a primitive and stupid woman. Imagine if on top of everything else I had a woman who interfered with my work! In my leisure time I want to have peace. Hitler tendency to take Eva for granted led to her two suicide attempts. After the second attempt, Eva was permanently installed in the Berghof, Hitlers mountain retreat in the southern Bavarian Alps. Even then, she was not allowed to appear publicly when Hitler had important guests. Gradually she was brought into the innermost circle of persons in the Berghof who shared Hitlers teatime and evening pleasures. Evas color films of life at the Berghof give some of the best glimpses of Hitlers private life. They clearly show how he was always on guard, protecting his image even in this supposedly relaxed atmosphere. Contemporaries identified Hitlers lack of humor as another personality trait. His friend August Kubizek observed this quality in Hitler in his teenage years. I have often been asked . . . whether Adolf, when I knew him, had any sense of humor. . . . Certainly ones impression of Hitler, especially after a short and superficial acquaintance, was that of a deeply serious man. This enormous seriousness seemed to overshadow everything else. It was the same when he was young. He approached the problems with which he was concerned with a deadly earnestness which ill suited his sixteen or seventeen years. - August Kubizek Hitler maintained this humorless throughout his life. Although he was capable of laughing, he seldom did so in public and certainly never at himself. In his work Three Faces of Fascism, the German historian Ernst Nolte wrote at length about Hitlers infantilism, which he considered the dominant trait in Hitlers personality. He defined this infantilism as persistence in remaining in the childs world of being aware of no one or nothing except himself and his mental images. As he grew older, Hitler refused to enter the adult world of compromise and moderation. His fits of rage, when not calculated, were those of the spoiled boy who wants his own way. His compulsion to fulfill his dreams, regardless of their impracticability, was apparent in the purchase of his dream car, a Mercedes, for an unaffordable 26,000 marks after his release from Landsberg prison in late 1924. Hitlers obsession with size was another aspect of his infantilism. Hitler had a mania for record sizes, speed, and numbers. Already at sixteen he dreamed of lengthening the 360-foot-long frieze of the museum in Linz by another 360 feet so hat city would have the biggest frieze on the Continent. He boasted of how his Mercedes was able to pass every car on the highway. He planned and had built the largest lowerable window in the world at his mountain retreat in Obersalzberg. The Berghof was also home to the largest marble tabletop of one piece (eighteen feet long). His plans for the architectural reconstruction of Germany revolved around the largest domes, the most grandiose triumphal aches, the biggest buildings and stadiums. Further examination of Hitlers personality reveals a man governed by dualities. He saw everything in terms of extremes opposites. People were either his followers or his enemies. War for Germany meant either Weltmacht world power or Niedergang defeat. French ambassador to Germany Andre Francois-Poncet, who had numerous opportunities to observe Hitler at close range, was especially bewildered by these dualities. The same man, good-natured in appearance and sensitive to the beauties of nature, who across a tea table expressed reasonable opinions on European politics, was capable of the wildest frenzies, the most savage exaltation, and the most delirious ambition. There were days when, bending over a map of the world, he upset nations and continents, geography and history, like some demiurge in his madness. At other times he dreamed of being the hero of an eternal peace within whose framework he would raise the loftiest monuments.- Andre Francois-Poncet

Other dualities inherent in Hitler were honestly and duplicity, kindness and viciousness, charm and rage. He occasionally portrayed himself as a man of complete honesty. Hence his reaction hen told that the British did not believe his promise not to invade Poland: Idiots! Have I ever in my entire life ever told a lie? But to one of his generals he remarked: You will never learn what I am thinking. And those who boast most loudly that they know my thought, to such people I lie even more. Hitler was capable of displaying kindness, especially toward children and animals. During his first few months as chancellor Hitler had the Reichstag enact laws for the protection of animals, and in 1936 he decreed regulations for the humane killing lobsters and crabs. But in the latter year he also expressed to one of his subordinates his incredible viciousness. Brutality is respected. Brutality and physical strength. The plain man in the street respects nothing but brutal strength and ruthlessness women, too, for the matter, women and children. The people need wholesome fear. . . . Why babble about brutality and be indignant about tortures? The masses want that. They need something that will give them a thrill of horror. . . . Terror is the most effective political instrument. - Adolf Hitler Party members and even foreign diplomats were frequently subjected to Hitlers vacillating rage and charm. Hitler indulged in fits of rage that terrified even his closest associates. They were often calculated, as seen in his attempt to force Austrias Prime Minister Kurt von Schuschnigg or President Hacha of Czechoslovakia to do his bidding. But he was also capable of such charm that people left his presence virtually hypnotized. Any assessment of Hitlers personality traits must also focus on his intuition, opportunism, and capacity for hatred. Hitler believed that he possessed a special sense of right timing that was a product of his intuitive abilities. He expressed this once to Hermann Rauschning. No matter what you attempt, if an idea is not yet mature you will not be able to realize it. . . . Then there is only one thing to do: have patience, wait, try again, wait again. In the subconscious the work goes on. It matures, sometimes it dies. Unless I have the inner, incorruptible connection. . . . I do nothing. Not even if the whole Party tries to drive me into action. Adolf Hitler According to Hitler, his intuitive abilities guaranteed him invincibility and absolute success. After his triumphant reoccupation of the Rhineland, Hitler felt that his power of intuition had been vindicated against the advice of his experts who had encouraged him not to act. He exclaimed in a speech on March 15, 1936, I go with the assurance of a sleepwalker on the way which Providence dictates. Hitler saw a similar vindication of his intuitive powers when he waited patiently for the chancellorship to be offered and take a lesser position. Although Hitler was an ideologist who cared deeply about translating ideas into reality, he was also a shrewd opportunist who knew how to take advantage of changing conditions. He had no scruples about using people for his own profit and was uninhibited about fostering his won power. His utter ruthlessness placed people who some sensitivity at a distinct disadvantage. This is one reason his political opponents in Germany, such as Alfred Hugenberg and Franz von Papen, were so easily outmaneuvered by Hitler. Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of Great Britain, whose political world assumed that leaders observed common decencies, was shattered by his experiences with Hitler, unable to believe that a leader of a major state would lie and deceive him as Hitler had. But Hitler understood Chamberlains world and perceived it as a weakness to be manipulated. German politicians and European leader were also initially incapable of perceiving the depth of Hitlers hatred. The list of people he despised at one time or another was needless: Jews above all, Marxists, Czechs, Poles, French, intellectuals, and the middle class. Hitlers hatred was often coupled with revenge and the desire to destroy those he loathed. To the very end of his life, as witnessed in his last political testament, written in the Bunker shortly before his death, Hitler continued to spew forth abominations upon his world.