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Thread: Adolf Hitler: an Incompetent, Lazy, Narcissistic Demagogue?

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    Adolf Hitler: an Incompetent, Lazy, Narcissistic Demagogue?

    Hitler Was Incompetent and Lazy—and His Nazi Government Was an Absolute Clown Show | Opinion
    But beyond him being (obviously) a genocidal maniac, there’s an aspect to Hitler’s rule that kind of gets missed in our standard view of him. Even if popular culture has long enjoyed turning him into an object of mockery, we still tend to believe that the Nazi machine was ruthlessly efficient, and that the great dictator spent most of his time…well, dictating things.

    So it’s worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac and his government was an absolute clown show.
    It also helped that he was underestimated by the German political elite. His fellow politicians were not completely wrong, though Hitler made up for it with determination and shameless demagoguery. He was very charismatic, and he knew how to press the mental buttons of his supporters.
    As it would turn out, Hitler was really bad at running a government. As his own press chief Otto Dietrich later wrote in his memoir The Hitler I Knew, "In the twelve years of his rule in Germany Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilized state."

    His government was constantly in chaos, with officials having no idea what he wanted them to do, and nobody was entirely clear who was actually in charge of what. He procrastinated wildly when asked to make difficult decisions, and would often end up relying on gut feeling, leaving even close allies in the dark about his plans. His "unreliability had those who worked with him pulling out their hair," as his confidant Ernst Hanfstaengl later wrote in his memoir Zwischen Weißem und Braunem Haus. This meant that rather than carrying out the duties of state, they spent most of their time in-fighting and back-stabbing each other in an attempt to either win his approval or avoid his attention altogether, depending on what mood he was in that day.
    Was this deliberate? Or was this a side effect of being lazy? Historians argue about that a lot.
    Hitler was incredibly lazy. According to his aide Fritz Wiedemann, even when he was in Berlin he wouldn’t get out of bed until after 11 a.m., and wouldn’t do much before lunch other than read what the newspapers had to say about him, the press cuttings being dutifully delivered to him by Dietrich.

    He was obsessed with the media and celebrity, and often seems to have viewed himself through that lens.
    Like being the biggest celebrity ever, ""the greatest actor in Europe," and that "I believe my life is the greatest novel in world history." He has gotten what he wanted, but in a very negative sense.
    He was deeply insecure about his own lack of knowledge, preferring to either ignore information that contradicted his preconceptions, or to lash out at the expertise of others. He hated being laughed at, but enjoyed it when other people were the butt of the joke (he would perform mocking impressions of people he disliked). But he also craved the approval of those he disdained, and his mood would quickly improve if a newspaper wrote something complimentary about him.
    His career was an almost continuous ascent until 1941. Its biggest setback was when he was caught for his part in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. But even then, he got off remarkably easy for a coup plotter. In his trial, he ranted at length about he wanted to reclaim Germany from the traitors who had stabbed that nation in the back -- and he got away with it. He was imprisoned for 9 months out of an intended term of 5 years, and he used that time to compose his book "Four and a Half Years (of Struggle) against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice" (Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit), but his publisher shortened it to "My Struggle" (Mein Kampf).

    He got away with betraying many of his supporters and partners. His coalition partners? Despite their helping him get into power, he soon outlawed all political parties but his, and his coalition partners meekly shut down their parties. The SA militia? He ordered a purge of its leaders, including a longtime friend, top leader Ernst Röhm. Homosexuals in the movement? Ernst Röhm himself had been gay, but the Nazi regime soon declared homosexuality a threat to normal sexuality and family life, jailing some 50,000 people for their sexual preference. The Western allies? Despite their appeasing him at Munich, he took over not only the Sudetenland, but also the rest of Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union? He ordered the invasion of that nation less than two years after agreeing to divide up eastern Europe with it. The conquered people of that nation? "Liberation from Bolshevism" soon became a nightmare.

    After that year, it was soon downhill, after the Soviet Union gradually pushed his armies out of that nation and back into their homeland. In 1944, they were joined by the Western allies, and Hitler's henchmen argued about who to surrender to. The Western allies? The Soviet Union? Hitler would have none of that, preferring to hold out to the bitter end. In the end, he committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin, with Soviet troops only a few blocks away.

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    This is probably close to the truth, although, some consideration must be given to the fact that often times surviving Nazis tried to place the blame on Hitler rather than themselves. It is often the case that you hear that Hitler disregarded his generals, and especially on the Eastern Front, this led to disaster. But of course, we hear this from the generals themselves. Recently, I've read analyses that temper this view considerably, and conclude that, in fact, Hitler deferred to his Generals often.

    If one were to believe the psot-war Germans, the only Nazis in Germany were Hitler and his close SS cabal.

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    Pretty accurate I'd guess. Couple of things - the Nazis were a fringe party until the Depression.

    Czechoslovakia could only be taken by diplomacy. The Czechs had the most modern army in Europe with impressive frontier fortifications. The Germans did not consider the Poles a threat.

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    I would not call Hitler lazy, quite the opposite.

    He was a brilliant politician, albeit an eveil one. He was rich before his ascent to power from book sales. A sanitized version of Mein Kemph was selling in the USA.

    He was a cleptocracy, a calculating profiteer. His image of the humble German celibate and of modest means was a crafted image.

    Hitler was paranoid and as a result compartmentalized rarely fully delegating. He held a grudge against the miliry for not making officer in WWI.

    IMO he ended up believing hid own myth. His early military successes made him feel invincible. Similar to Trump. As a businessman he was pretty much incompetent filled with failures but crated a public image of a skilled businessman. Now as POTUS in the long run he is unable to function.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I would not call Hitler lazy, quite the opposite.

    He was a brilliant politician, albeit an eveil one. He was rich before his ascent to power from book sales. A sanitized version of Mein Kemph was selling in the USA.

    He was a cleptocracy, a calculating profiteer. His image of the humble German celibate and of modest means was a crafted image.

    Hitler was paranoid and as a result compartmentalized rarely fully delegating. He held a grudge against the miliry for not making officer in WWI.

    IMO he ended up believing hid own myth. His early military successes made him feel invincible. Similar to Trump. As a businessman he was pretty much incompetent filled with failures but crated a public image of a skilled businessman. Now as POTUS in the long run he is unable to function.
    He used meth regularly, as did many of his lieutenants. Drug use was a gigantic part of the Nazi success, and an indispensable part of Hitler's personal success.

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    Hitler had a doctor feel good. He did have chronic problems. There is a film of him hear the end with trembling hands.

    IMO the success was a propaganda success. The initial military success was the lack of preparedness of the allies.

    Himmler was an outright psychopath. He crated an elite SS cult with incantations and rituals. He fabricated with help the Aryan myth. He actually sent an Indian Jones type off looking for what he though was occult objects.

    I think a large part of the success was that they had no morality at all. Absolutely lethal and aggressive without restraint. The court system acquiesced and they could seize anybody deemed a threat to the state. It was a complete police state. Not all but most went along.

    Hitler turned the economy around and put people to work. He pushed the right buttons, people loved him, many to the end,.

    That is my amateur analyst opinions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Hitler Was Incompetent and Lazy—and His Nazi Government Was an Absolute Clown Show | Opinion

    It also helped that he was underestimated by the German political elite. His fellow politicians were not completely wrong, though Hitler made up for it with determination and shameless demagoguery. He was very charismatic, and he knew how to press the mental buttons of his supporters.

    Was this deliberate? Or was this a side effect of being lazy? Historians argue about that a lot.
    Hitler was incredibly lazy. According to his aide Fritz Wiedemann, even when he was in Berlin he wouldn’t get out of bed until after 11 a.m., and wouldn’t do much before lunch other than read what the newspapers had to say about him, the press cuttings being dutifully delivered to him by Dietrich.

    He was obsessed with the media and celebrity, and often seems to have viewed himself through that lens.
    Like being the biggest celebrity ever, ""the greatest actor in Europe," and that "I believe my life is the greatest novel in world history." He has gotten what he wanted, but in a very negative sense.
    He was deeply insecure about his own lack of knowledge, preferring to either ignore information that contradicted his preconceptions, or to lash out at the expertise of others. He hated being laughed at, but enjoyed it when other people were the butt of the joke (he would perform mocking impressions of people he disliked). But he also craved the approval of those he disdained, and his mood would quickly improve if a newspaper wrote something complimentary about him.
    His career was an almost continuous ascent until 1941. Its biggest setback was when he was caught for his part in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. But even then, he got off remarkably easy for a coup plotter. In his trial, he ranted at length about he wanted to reclaim Germany from the traitors who had stabbed that nation in the back -- and he got away with it. He was imprisoned for 9 months out of an intended term of 5 years, and he used that time to compose his book "Four and a Half Years (of Struggle) against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice" (Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit), but his publisher shortened it to "My Struggle" (Mein Kampf).

    He got away with betraying many of his supporters and partners. His coalition partners? Despite their helping him get into power, he soon outlawed all political parties but his, and his coalition partners meekly shut down their parties. The SA militia? He ordered a purge of its leaders, including a longtime friend, top leader Ernst Röhm. Homosexuals in the movement? Ernst Röhm himself had been gay, but the Nazi regime soon declared homosexuality a threat to normal sexuality and family life, jailing some 50,000 people for their sexual preference. The Western allies? Despite their appeasing him at Munich, he took over not only the Sudetenland, but also the rest of Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union? He ordered the invasion of that nation less than two years after agreeing to divide up eastern Europe with it. The conquered people of that nation? "Liberation from Bolshevism" soon became a nightmare.

    After that year, it was soon downhill, after the Soviet Union gradually pushed his armies out of that nation and back into their homeland. In 1944, they were joined by the Western allies, and Hitler's henchmen argued about who to surrender to. The Western allies? The Soviet Union? Hitler would have none of that, preferring to hold out to the bitter end. In the end, he committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin, with Soviet troops only a few blocks away.
    In answer to your first question, I would argue laziness. I don’t think Hitler was smart enough to do this by design. I’ve never understood why people think he was intelligent. His writings and speeches display no hallmarks of a serious deep thinker. Mein Kampf is a bizarre, poorly written screed. It lacks basic structure or coherency. His strategic thinking was deeply lacking, starting a major invasion while he still had not defeated his other main rival, and then stupidly declaring war on the US for no real reason, giving Roosevelt an easy way out of his dilemma. The policies he adopted towards conquered areas ensured that he would both eventually lose the war, or at least never be fully secure in the rear. Had he been more intelligent, he would’ve promised the Russian people they’d prosper under him and encouraged them to join him. He could have found many more willing recruits had he not viewed people as untermenschen whom he intended to enslave. With his policies it would not have mattered if he captured Moscow in 41. He could never have held onto the territories. No he was an idiot. A lazy one to boot. Unfortunately he reminds me of another world leader who shares some of the same traits. I just hope that doesn’t end with foreign tanks pushing their way through DuPont Circle heading to the White House.

    SLD

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    Hitler went from corporal in the army to starving artist to international author to head of Germany to conquering Europe and other areas.

    Not too shabby. Like Napoleons he overreached and came to believe if he ordered something it would happen by force of will.

    If Hitler had consolidated his initial gains and stood pat for a while the world today would be a much different place.

    He had a clear vision laid out in Mein Kemph. He struggled at the bottom in beer halls developing a following. He dealt with multiple competing factions on the way up. I find it hard to see him as stupid.

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    Hitler was a weathervane. He didn't serve in the German army, he served in the Bavarian army. And he did everything he could to remain in the Bavarian army, even as Bavaria went through a leftist revolution. He received his first political education and indoctrination there. He was such an able student he became an instructor. When he first discovered the Nazis, then called the German Workers Party, he was on assignment. Ultimately his superior officer fell afoul of the higher ups, and they were discharged.

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    He saw combat in WWII and received a medal for bravery as a communications runner.

    Goebbels was important as head of propaganda. Obviously no one does what he did without allies and support. In the Night Of The Long Knives he got rid of any aly that could be a threat.

    In the past I found translations of WWII Nazi documents. One was a record of meeting with Hitler disusing a meeting between Molotov the Russian foreign minister and the Germans foreign minister before Barbarossa.

    Cleary Hitler was articulating policy and was in control of the situation with Russia. He played Molotov and Stalin expertly. Even as troops massed on the border Stalin dismissed Allied intelligence warnings as fake.

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