Hitler & German Culture
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
The name Hitler was derived from
either Hutler, meaning a hat maker, or Hüttler, one who lives in a hut.
When Hitler was a
young man in his twenties, he lived in a “flophouse,” or an institution for
homeless men in Vienna, the capital of Austria (Österreich). When the same
Hitler was fifty-one years old, he was the absolute ruler of Germany and
Austria, with a population of eighty million. He had become the commander of a
huge army which had conquered France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway,
and Poland. He was acclaimed by Germans as The Greatest Field Marshall of All
Times as he ruled all of the lands under his control with an “iron fist.” By
1940, the European Jews in territory controlled by Germany were being murdered
in the thousands each day, while Hitler became popular not only among Germans
but even in part in the United States.
Indeed, Hitler became the most
murderous killer of all time, and finally drove the German people into an abyss
after he killed himself.
Because Hitler had such a
phenomenal career, rising from a homeless bum to a wealthy absolute dictator,
there are numerous “explanations” for this strange phenomenon. Almost all of
these “explanations” are of a psychiatric nature. It is common to repeat
over and over that “Hitler was crazy.” That is hardly an explanation for his
career, and says next to nothing concerning those who supported him.
understand Hitler, we must therefore consider German culture. Culture has three
dimensions. There is material culture, ideological culture, and behavioral
culture. The first means that we can travel for long distances by airplane in a
few hours, call someone on the telephone or contact someone by email, or drive
at sixty miles an hour, because technology permits this. No one flew before the
Wright brothers invented the airplane and no one ate frozen TV dinners before
that food became available. Therefore
many of the crimes committed by the German and other European peoples by
murdering 6 million Jews and five million
others depended first on the devices available to murderers in the 1930’s and
1940’s. The Toepfer Company built gas ovens used to burn Jewish bodies because
the technology to do so was available. So
was Cyclone B gas. Murderous tanks, dive bombers, and other killing machines
were available during the Second World War, and the radio
was at hand to broadcast Hitler’s and other dictators’ speeches.
Now, just because a technical
invention is available does not guarantee that it will be used. For example
Mexican farmers for years refused to use American tractors because
they did not understand their efficiency. Belief is vital before something that
could be used will be used. Since Hitler was a Catholic who had been an altar
boy in his church, he had been taught by his church to hate all Jews. Hatred of
Jews was and is part of Christian theology and had already been taught by
Barnabas, a convert to Christianity in the first
century. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman
empire, the hatred of Jews became a universal belief in Europe and led to the
most brutal persecution of the Jewish “Christ killers.” In
every Christian country, Jews were blamed for everything that was perceived as
wrong, so that Christians felt entitled to murder and otherwise mistreat Jews,
who, they were taught, were “hated
by God.” These beliefs concerning Jews were perpetuated in European literature
in all languages. Christian texts contributed to the hate, and greed reinforced
it, as Christians could with impunity steal the property of Jews.
Therefore behavioral culture in
Europe during the reign of Hitler led to the burning down of all synagogues in
Germany and Austria, allowed the Christian population to steal the belongings of
Jews who had been deported ad murdered, and gave Germans the certainty that they
were “racially superior” while all Jews were by race inferior.
Hitler kept claiming that Judaism
was not a religion but that Jews were
a biological race.
This belief was not invented by
Hitler. As early as the fifteenth century, the Spanish people called Jews
“marranos” or swine. Even today, a visitor to Germany can look at carved
scenes in the walls of German churches showing a rabbi reading the Talmud by
pulling it out of the “derriere” of a pig.
Thus, hate of Jews was and is so ingrained in European culture that
Hitler gained most votes for his effort to become boss of Germany by cursing
Jews in public, as the German people believed all that Hitler proclaimed before
he was even born. What the German people did between 1933 and 1945 was the
result of German culture, militarism, ethnic hate, and dictatorial schools and
families. Belief in so called racial
inferiority, failure to understand the benefits of democracy, and a paranoiac
manner of interpreting events around them all created Hitler whose speaking
ability let him tell Germans what they already believed, although he knew how to
instill the lessons he taught by
using rehearsed lectures and theatrical gestures. In short, Hitler was all
Germans rolled into one. The Germans followed him because they believed his
message before he could shout it, whatever his topic. Hitler was a cultural
phenomenon, not a psychiatric
one, despite his appearance. There
are many smaller Hitlers in Europe. If they can ever be reformed has yet to be
determined. In the meantime. Hitler lives.
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021).