I recently watched Hitler, the Rise of Evil, a mini-series of sorts that depicts Hitler’s rise to power through the ranks of the National German Workers’ Party before World War II took place.
I believe that there would exist very few who haven’t come across Hitler’s name and heard of the atrocities that he committed in his attempts to wipe out the Jews from Germany. But having watched this, I believe that people have come to forget what it is that once gave Hitler his voice, what made it gain momentum, and what finally made him a force that was answerable to no one but himself, up until he took his own life, having become a name that would be splashed across the pages of history books forever.
Hitler himself wasn’t born a German. The irony behind this is there for everyone to see. Born in Austria, Hitler’s childhood is depicted to be one filled with abuse at the hands of his father. Growing up, Hitler was determined to become an artist – a dream that remains unfulfilled.
Having come to live in Germany, Hitler becomes of the mind that everything that Germans should rightfully own is being taken away by the Jews living in their midst. Even then, though not a German by nationality, somehow or the other Hitler had started to identify himself as one. Of course all this stemmed from sentiments that other Germans also held, but not with as much vigor as that held by Hitler.
Hitler was basically a nobody, who was given a place to voice his hate filled rhetoric by the circumstances he finds himself in when he joins the ranks of the National German Workers’ Party. His anger, the passion behind his words that echoed sentiments of a greater German race is one that finds its way into the hearts of the people who attend these meetings. Today, we see the same when leaders of the contemporary world use divisive and hate filled politics to drive the wedge deeper in a bid to get what they want.
As time goes on, Hitler’s audience grows in number, the rich and affluent backs him, all the while thinking that they would be able to manipulate and control him for their own needs. No one tries to stop him and his hate filled speeches that grows larger crowds than ever, until a tipping point comes where Hitler and his allies try to stage a coup which fails rather miserably. Once again, driving home the point the need for accountability that comes with the concept of free speech, an aspect that many liberals tend to have problems with.
Hitler returns a couple of months down the line to win seats in the parliament for their party, via which he controls the entire dynamics of politics at play until finally he is given German citizenship, which paves the way for him to force the hands of the powers that be that makes him the Chancellor of Germany.
Hitler was a maniac, a narcissist, a man who couldn’t see beyond his hatred for the Jews. A control freak that couldn’t abide by anyone who defied him, Hitler was a man that should have been stopped, had society had the foresight into what he was and what he represented.
Responsible for the murders of millions of Jews in concentration camps and otherwise out of whom many were children, the most interesting aspect of the story for me was the role played by Fritz Gerlich, a German journalist who refused to tow the line when it came to Hitler. He saw the dangers behind what Hitler represented, he wrote and tried to get the message across at great cost to himself and his wife, his sole purpose being to educate people on what they were getting themselves into. He finally paid for it with his life in one of the first concentration camps that was set up.
What was scary in the extreme for me was the way Fritz saw the disregard people showed towards anything of the nature he had to say. Few believed him. Rest couldn’t care less. The detached nature of society towards the evil that was emerging from right in their midst, that’s what I can see among us even today.
Hitler’s absolute control of the institutions once he came to power is one that we should all learn lessons from. This enabled him to promulgate the laws required, to change the constitution as he saw fit, in order to finally bring to life the plans that had always lurked deep in his psych.
We see the same happening in our own country when it comes to control of the legislative body and perhaps with Donald Trump’s ascension to the American presidency, with Republicans controlling both houses of their legislature, I believe that the potential for the same thing happening in the US is just as great. The slogan of “Make America Great Again” drips with the same sort of vile rhetoric that was used by Hitler to win the Germans over which helped him to finally execute his plans.
The rise of fascism and governments that hold strong beliefs of superiority of own people over minorities is an increasing trend in the world once again today. Donald Trump’s win in the US has actually emboldened a lot of far right movements within Europe itself. Their blatantly racist and hatred filled speeches are becoming a thing of the norm, the accepted norm once again.
Watching the series, I just couldn’t help but think to myself, when would we as humans ever learn from our pasts. When would we stop being so complacent about everything, just because we are not at the receiving end of the wrongs that is happening around us. I say this because majority of us seems to have lost our ability to identify wrong from right, what is acceptable from what is not, and we are all uncritically satisfied with our own actions or lack of, in the face of the rise of leaders who are hellbent on destroying the very fabric of democratic societies that emerged as a need to eradicate even the remotest possibility of a new Hitler rising to power from the ashes ever again.