A good summary of Hitler's teenage and early twenties in Vienna, where, after the deaths of his father when Hitler was 13, and his mother when he was just 15, when he was a beggar, sometimes laborer and a poorly paid artist; can be found on the History Place. Hitler wrote Mien Kampf during a period in jail, before he came to power. He doesn't (so far) say that his father was cruel to or beat him.
Contrary to WW2 propaganda, Hitler was quite a good artist, preferring architectural drawing, and he was a good graphic designer; he designed much of the deeply loathed and feared but very effective Nazi insignia. Also, as far as I have read, he wasn't part Jewish, or homosexual, and, contrary to a popular song, he had a normal physique.
My impressions so far are that this abandoned grim faced orphan was an able intelligent self-taught scholar of politics and history, for which he had a burning interest and had an intuitive grasp of the practical mechanics of political power. But I have to keep reminding myself that I am reading the words of one of the most notorious and cruelest mass murderers of all time, who was undoubtedly a psychopath (incapable of human empathy or pity) and was totally paranoid. His intuitive acute animal paranoid instincts saved his political career and his life many times. "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you." I also bear in mind that he committed suicide when his mad version of reality, the Aryan super-race, collapsed in Berlin in 1945.
Hitler says that his parents were not antisemitic and that in Vienna he had to overcome his family inculcated natural liberalism to see the truth of The Jewish Problem. Antisemitism was however fashionable among the middle classes in Vienna, so in adopting it, Hitler was following the herd. He was equally critical of and expressed hate for The Hapsburg or Habsburg royal family, Roman Catholics, wavering Germans resident in Vienna, Slavs (Russian speakers), Journalists and most other religions, races, groups and movements. He basically hated everyone - but was wise enough in his rise to power to hide his loathing and to lie to all such groups - until he had the power to subdue or slaughter them.
It seems to me that after his parents died, Hitler went through typical teenage emotions concerning the world around him (a particularly poor and grim world in his case) and he developed deep contempt for the type of political hypocrisy that most societies did and do always manifest. Vienna was particularly turbulent and unstable before and after World War One, with a great mixture of races and religions - including a large population of "true" but not dominant expatriate Germans, with whom Hitler identified.
|Hitler's favorite Opera|
Wagner's Ring Cycle
He writes in Mien Kampf of The Jewish Problem, eventually seeing subversive Jewish agents everywhere and in everything - particularly influencing the powerful Austrian Social Democratic Party. I am sure he fixated on the Jews because - as an abused child cast into the streets to survive or die of hunger - and with his undoubted political instinct - he knew that Jews were less protected by law than all other groups; and therefore could be bullied with impunity. They could be singled out and bullied even by a powerless hungry lonely Austrian-German street urchin.
Hitler might just have easily looked and found Catholics, or Protestants, or Muslims, or Freemasons, or Aristocrats, or Generals, or Papists, or even Women, secretly pulling the hypocritical strings of power in the multitude of organisations of the dying Austrian Empire. But none could be so easily identified vilified and bullied by a 14 year old hate filled lad, than the Jews. After all - Jews had been persecuted across Europe for two-thousand years. This psychopathic youth was just following the crowd and his elders and betters.
I am surprised to learn from William Shirer that when in power Hitler replaced all Bibles with Mien Kampf - a great tactic for booksellers - and vowed to replace all religions with German pagan legendary magical mythology. He really did not ever grow up - and he hated all religions, slaughtering thousands of Christian clerics, and hated democracies just as much as he hated Jews. But, as I've said, the Jews were the weakest and most vulnerable and so attracted deranged vengeful bullies, like Adolf.
LATER... 16 September 2015. Hitler in Munich & thoughts on the Eastern Front.
Great chunks of Mien Kampf repeatedly detail the machinations of the numerous political groups in Austria, in Germany and across Europe. Hitler does reveal a remarkable grasp of the political scene and players. He strongly expresses his views about the wrong strategies adopted by powerful groups, in the run up to World War One 1914-18. He cleaves to the ideas of the Survival of the Fittest - by which he means the most psychopathic warriors, not the kindest or most clever. He has no concept of love, which he dismisses as weakness - foreshadowing his recruitment and promotion of equally mentally ill Ministers and Officials to organize the war machine and Holocaust. It is the most stark and terrifying example of the in-patients running the asylum.
I need to keep in mind that Hitler wrote Mien Kampf after 1918 - and so had the benefit of hindsight, but wrote it while he was imprisoned, before having any power. I guess that many insightful prophetic paragraphs were inserted later, again with the benefit of hindsight, as Hitler was an artful spin-doctor. Nevertheless, the book demonstrates his solo quest from teenage and his powerful one-track mind, dedicated to glorifying the German Master Race. He really did believe in fairies - or their evil counterparts.
I have added to my reading - Churchill's own histories of those times - and the marginally less flattering UK newsreels of Churchill's leadership during World War Two (Churchill also held significant offices in World War One); together with an academic paper, Ideologies and Mass Violence - The Justificatory Mechanics of Deadly Atrocities - by Jonathan Leader Maynard, University College, University of Oxford, July 2014, which focuses as case studies on the Nazis, Stalinists and the Allied bombing of civilians in World War Two. Hitler's ideology drives the behavior of the Nazi's.
I have also been reading about the Eastern Front - the long and atrocious war of 1940-45 between Hitler and Stalin. They were two madmen who were both willing to sacrifice millions of their own people - and to directly kill millions more of their own people - to determinedly prove the rightness of their crazed ideologies and insane egos. This mainland Europe ground war, in which Britain and America supported Russia with money and arms but not with troops on the ground, killed 30 million people and is blamed for millions more deaths after the conflict, due to starvation from the Scorched Earth Policies used by both armies. The war and aftermath rendered 50 million people homeless. These terrible battles ended only when Russian troops entered Berlin in 1945 - and Hitler took poison and shot himself.
Britain, on its knees after the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940, owes its survival to Hitler invading his supposed ally Russia, in which he imagined easy victory within a few months, and the Russian's stubborn resistance in the face of Germany's overwhelming numbers and high-tech tanks.
The Eastern Front is the most destructive war in all history. Why do we humans en-masse invest our personal individual energies in raving lunatics, without which investment they would be powerless? I think it is because they offer certainty in an unknowable universe, where we all know and fear that we all have to die some-day.
However - Hitler and Stalin were completely wrong - love is more powerful than hate.
21 September 2015.
By heck..., Mien Kampf is tediously repetitive. Its no wonder that Hitler had to force Germans to read it by, one powerful tactic he used, replacing all Bibles with Mien Kampf. William Shirer reports that any German home found to not have a copy, was immediately suspected of anti-Nazi sympathies and carted off to prison or worse.
His raving rhetoric shouts ever more loudly against the Jews (before he gained power) and more circumspectly (until he gained power) against most groups in Europe, except of course The Master Race, the true Germans. He criticizes the largely peaceful German people for their temerity - but never falters in his demented aim of elevating them to their true rank - as natural masters of the Earth. All other races are inferior and are to be subjugated, enslaved or eradicated by extreme, persistent and determined violence. He insists that once the slaughter starts, it must be continued until every single enemy is dead; otherwise "they" will arise with greater strength and exact their revenge. In this regard, he is as mad as the Old Testament God "...Kill all the men, all the women, all the children, all the beasts of the field, etc..." Hitler was right however; our parents generation did rise up and take revenge on him and his kind.
What keeps me slogging through the blaring, trumpeting, insistent text is the knowledge that these are the words of a wholly evil unredeemed unrepentant mass slaughterer - of which there have been very few so well recorded in modern history. His ideas only make sense in a completely insane world. Why oh why did civilized 20th Century people support this blathering monster? Spot the Loony. And it alerts me to try to Spot Today's Loony; there are always a few deranged people clambering up the greasy political poles, somewhere in the world.