Tuesday, December 20, 2016

4. Rallies with the Rabid

Upper room of the Hofbrauhaus, Munich
I've been reading Konrad Heiden's 1944 story of Hitler's rise to power, Der Fuehrer. The first three chapters were:
1. I read two chapters today. The first had to do with Hitler's service in World War I and the title of the chapter is, "Hitler Finds His Home." The thesis of the author in this chapter is that Hitler had no home, no real sense of purpose or belonging in life... until war happened upon him.

As in the days when, in his mind, he thought himself the grand artist among a world of nothings, now he is the great leader among other soldiers--at least in his imagination. Actually, he was an inconspicuous courier, an orderly who did minor jobs for superior officers, a private who was never promoted. He did earn the Iron Cross twice, once when he stumbled upon a group of more than a dozen French soldiers and took them into custody. [1]

He was one of very few to survive from the "List Regiment," a group badly led, largely made up of students. He was a good soldier, apparently, when it comes to following orders in the heat of battle. But he was apparently too mentally unstable to be put in leadership. In fact, he had contempt for most leaders, whom he didn't think knew how to inspire. Perhaps to him, many were afraid to go all in with war, to incur the big losses that go with success. While others wrote home hoping for the war to end, Hitler was more at home than he had ever been.

He ended the war in a hospital, having gone blind from gas for a short spell. Interestingly, he does not turn in some Navy deserters who wander through his hospital. Perhaps part of him is still hiding in the corner when he doesn't have someone with a gun at his side. I picture him like the sniveling Penguin in his early days in the series, Gotham.

2. The gas left him with a permanent hoarseness in his throat. It would make him sound powerful in the days to come, for he couldn't overcome it without force of voice.

Insert here the Munich intrigues of the second chapter. Hitler and a few others join and take over a nothing group calling themselves the "German Workers' Party." All they have is a briefcase. Ernst Röhm from chapter 2 is part. He likes a small group because only there can he be great.

The first public meeting of this German Workers' Party in the Hofbrauhaus was the hardest for him. Hitler is not the main speaker, but he feels that a wolf is born that February 24, 1920. There are people with side-arms to "escort" anyone out that interrupts or objects. Cold steel will keep his rallies in order.

3. His 25 points are a mixture of the passions of the four main leaders who have taken over the group. The main one is his call for a Greater Germany, a centralized Germany, with only true Germans as its citizens.

Here we see the power of someone who can manipulate the masses. With his words, he plays on Bavarian hatred for Berlin, but his true goal is to rule Bavaria and all German lands from Berlin. [2] He says what works to get the crowds riled up, but he is working against them behind the scenes.

He speaks the socialist language--the state will take over all corporate enterprises. But he nudges to business that what he is really talking about is the Jewish bankers. He will eliminate them.

He speaks of upholding positive Christianity. But he is not talking about biblical Christianity or any church Christianity.

Give the crowds what they want with your words, do what you really want with your actions.

4. It is also at some point during this period that he meets Rudolf Hess, although Hitler is so insignificant that Hess doesn't remember him being part of this movement at the beginning.

[1] He says they were English.

[2] "A deep-seated, often humorous hatred for the more progressive, more industrial, far larger, richer, more powerful, and predominantly Protestant Prussia, which for generations had been leading Germany, was one of the oldest national sentiments of Catholic Bavaria" (95). But Hitler aimed industrial, powerful, centralized Berlin to be the center of pan-Germania.

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