Adolf Hitler the Orator (Commentary)

Adolf Hitler the Orator (Commentary)


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This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Adolf Hitler the Orator

Q1: Study source 1. Hitler used to try out his speeches in front of the mirror. He also got his friend, Heinrich Hoffmann, to take photographs of him speaking without an audience. Why did he do this?

A1: Adolf Hitler was very interested in finding out what he looked like when he was making speeches. He tried out different gestures in front of the mirror and Hoffmann's camera. Some of these gestures, for example, top left and bottom right in source 1, were rejected and were not used in public. Others, such as the middle photograph at the bottom, was accepted and used when he gave speeches.

Q2: Use quotations from the sources to show what affect Hitler's speeches had on his audience.

A2: Alexander von Muller (source 2) points out that before Hitler spoke at meetings, other members gave short speeches. Muller claims that Hitler's late appearance built up tension in the audience. When he finally appeared he was struck by his appearance: "his gaunt, pale features contorted as if by inward rage, cold flames darting from his protruding eyes, which seemed to be searching out foes to be conquered". Kurt Ludecke (source 5) agreed with Muller that he "had the look of a fanatic". However, once he began talking "my critical faculty was swept away... he was holding the masses, and me with them, under a hypnotic spell by the sheer force of his conviction".

It has been argued (source 12) that Hitler's timing was very important. Hitler always stood in silence before starting his speech: "First the long, excruciating pause before he speaks; and then see how he begins so softly - with his arms folded - and how he uncoils them as his voice starts to rise, and then the awful jabbing fluidity of his gestures, perfectly timed to intensify the crescendos of his speech.... Listen to the way he brings them all to their collective climax: with short verb less phrases – grammatically meaningless, but full of suggestive power."

The historian, Alan Bullock (source 7) watched film of Hitler making speeches and interviewed a large number of people who attended his meetings. He admitted that Hitler had many faults as a speaker (repetitive, verbose, lacked lucidity). However, he was a highly successful communicator because of "the extraordinary impression of force, the immediacy of passion, the intensity of hatred, fury, and menace conveyed by the sound of the voice". George Steiner (source 9) claims that even as a young child listening to Hitler on the radio he was struck by the power of his voice: "It's a hard thing to describe, but the voice itself was mesmeric... The amazing thing is that the body comes through on the radio. I can't put it any other way. You feel you're following the gestures."

Bullock argues that one of his most important factors in his success was "his instinctive sensitivity to the mood of a crowd, a flair for divining the hidden passions, resentments and longings in their minds". Otto Strasser (source 8) was a senior figure in the Nazi Party, later wrote, that in the first few minutes of his speech "Hitler... gropes, feels his way, senses the atmosphere. Suddenly he bursts forth. His words go like an arrow to their target, he touches each private wound on the raw, liberating the mass unconscious, expressing its innermost aspirations, telling it what it most wants to hear.... I have been asked many times what is the secret of Hitler's extraordinary power as a speaker. I can only attribute it to his uncanny intuition, which infallibly diagnoses the ills from which his audience is suffering."

Q3: What strategies did Hitler use to achieve the effects that you have described in your previous answer?

A3: Hitler made full use of gestures when making speeches (see sources 1, 4 and 10). Alan Bullock criticized Hitler for being "repetitive". Hitler admitted (source 11) that this was done on purpose: "The receptivity of the great masses is extremely limited, their intelligence is small, their forgetfulness - enormous. Therefore all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and they should be used like slogans until the very last man in the audience is capable of understanding what is meant by this slogan... the masses... will only ultimately remember only the simplest ideas repeated a thousand times over."

Most people claimed that they had a emotional rather than a rational response to Hitler's speeches. Some talked of his hypnotic power (sources 3 and 5). Hitler admitted: "If I approach the masses with reasoned arguments, they will not understand me. But if I awaken in them the appropriate emotions, then they will follow the simple slogans I give them. In the mass meeting, the reasoning power is paralysed... (what I say) will be like an order given under hypnosis."

Alan Bullock (source 7) writes about "the extraordinary impression of force, the immediacy of passion, the intensity of hatred, fury, and menace conveyed" in Hitler's speeches. Otto Strasser (source 8) comments that in his speeches Hitler talked a great deal about destruction. George Steiner (source 9) claims that as a child he was aware of Hitler's language of "physical violence".

Hitler was very aware of having this impact on the audience: "Haven't you ever seen a crowd collecting to watch a street brawl? Brutality and physical strength is what they respect. The man in the street respects nothing more than strength and ruthlessness - women too for that matter. The masses need something that will give them a thrill of horror."


How The Most Infamous Dictators In History Fooled Their People

Not everyone has the stuff to be a dictator. Being the sole leader of a totalitarian state takes intelligence, the ability to connive and persuade, and a penchant for violence and terror. The most infamous dictators in history—Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, etc.—all had unique characteristics and signature tactics that got them their dark spot in history. So how did they do it?


Yamashita and theਏührer didn&apost see eye to eye.

Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita seated between German officers during his visit to the 53rd German Bomber Wing, near Calais, France, part of his clandestine tour of Nazi World War II military operations.

Weeks after arriving in Germany, Yamashita was presented to Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader. Each had his own objective for the meeting. Hitler intended to pressure the Japanese military into declaring war on Britain and the United States. Facing the wrath of Russia and the ongoing costs of Japan’s war on China, however, Yamashita had no interest. Instead, he hoped to inspect Germany’s military techniques and improve Japan’s own prospects at war. Despite Hitler’s hearty promises of an open exchange of information, the Japanese delegation’s questions about radar and other equipment were tossed aside by top Nazi officials. The Japanese were instead treated to a kind of “greatest hits” tour of German military sites around occupied territories.

Privately, Yamashita was underwhelmed by the Führer. “He may be a great orator on a platform,” he told staff, 𠇋ut standing behind his desk listening, he seems much more like a clerk.” Nonetheless, he played up the relationship publicly, telling the Berlin correspondent of the Asahi newspaper that Hitler had been profoundly influenced by Japan’s military power since boyhood. “Hitler emphasized that in the coming age the interests of Japan and Germany would be identical as the two have common spiritual foundations,” he said. “Hitler and Mussolini are united [with Japan] not from any consideration of interest but from a thorough spiritual understanding.”


Adolf Hitler: The Beginning of a Political Career

The NSDAP and Adolf Hitler were trying to appeal to a broader section of German society in 1920. (Image: Militarist/Shutterstock)

A New Role for Hitler in the German Army

Having recovered from an injury inflicted during the war, Adolf Hitler was transferred to Munich, where he was to be mustered out of the army. Germany was demobilizing, but he was able to stay on the army rolls.

He was given a job as a member of an army surveillance and propaganda unit. His job was to go and listen to political meetings and write reports on the people and the different parties or organizations that were popping up.

The army wanted to maintain order and combat the threat of Bolshevism that was sweeping the country. So, they conducted courses in anti-Bolshevism, German history, and the course of the war. Hitler attended these courses, where he was an excellent student. In fact, he was selected to go to an instructor’s course, where he emerged for the first time as a star orator.

This is a transcript from the video series A History of Hitler’s Empire, 2nd Edition. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

The Rational Anti-Semitism of Hitler

Hitler thought Jews were the misfortune of Germany. (Image: Unknown author/Public domain)

It was at this school for instructors that he realized he could speak. The topic that he chose for most of his talks on this course was anti-Semitism. “The Jews are our misfortune”, he would say, and argued that “anti- Semitism, based on reason—on facts and not on emotion” was the key.

Emotions would produce pogroms, but these things were not very useful and didn’t lead to any sort of “final solution”.

The final aim, he argued, was what he called rational anti-Semitism. The goal of rational anti-Semitism must “unshakably be the removal of Jews altogether”.

The ‘unshakable’ was typical Hitler verbiage everything that he ever said was unshakable. It was felsenfest he was not going to give in not change a word of it.

Hitler’s Fear of Judeo-Bolshevism

Hitler was worried about the Bolshevization of Germany. He made a link between Bolsheviks and Jews, and throughout his career, he almost always spoke of what he called Judeo-Bolshevism.

He insisted at this point that his anti-Semitism wasn’t the result of religion, the oldest form of anti-Semitism, which had been around for centuries. His was not a sort of socioeconomic anti-Semitism, accusing the Jews of being parasites.

His argument was that this was a racial matter, and so for him, a converted Jew is even worse than a practicing religious Jew.

The Beginning of Hitler’s Political Career

For the first time in 1919, Hitler attended the meeting of the German Workers’ Party, or the DAP—the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—as the party was called. He was not impressed with what he saw. However, he found the speech interesting.

His time on government money, his army paycheck, was going to run out. He was going to be mustered out of the army soon, but he had six to nine months, so he joined the DAP.

Unlike the other members of this organization, he had a job, so he had money. He could devote himself entirely to political activity, which he did.

Hitler: The Street Corner Speaker of the DAP

This discovery of his ability to speak would make Hitler the drawing card of the DAP. He didn’t want it to be a club he didn’t want it to be a debating society. He wanted to use this as the vehicle for the creation of a mass political movement.

As the first step in the German political arena, Adolf Hitler joined the DAP. (Image: Eloquence/Public domain)

His voice sounded odd to Germans. It was an Austrian-accented voice. He had the capacity—some have argued that it was the result of the gassing attack, of the wounds that he’d suffered in his larynx as well as his eyes—to ratchet up from one octave to another. He would create a sense of crescendo with his speech that everybody found odd and remarkable.

Hitler quickly achieved a reputation for himself as a street-corner speaker. He spoke in streetcars in Munich he spoke on street corners everywhere that there would be a crowd.

And, when the new party began charging admission for people to come to their meetings, Hitler’s speaking was one of the things that drew people inside.

The Creation of the People’s Community

The program of the DAP was drawn up in 1919. It was bellicosely nationalistic—the Treaty of Versailles was a crime the war had not been Germany’s fault—and called for the restoration of German power and prestige.

It was radically anti-Semitic and radically anti-Marxist in fact, it linked Marxism and Judaism, or Jews, to be more precise. Anti-Semitism was linked to economic exploitation Jews were seen as having benefited from the hard work of Germans.

Winning Working-Class Support

It was also determined to win working-class support for these ideas. This is one of the things that made it stand out. It wasn’t just an appeal to middle-class Germans, for whom that program might have had some attraction. Hitler wanted to attract German workers to cross the great class lines.

The party rejected the Marxist idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They believed in German socialism. The DAP and Hitler wanted to create the volksgemeinschaft, a ‘people’s community’, where class, religion, and region would no longer be important. The key was that one was German and a member of this racial community.

The National Socialist German Workers’ Party

Hitler changed the name of the party in 1920. It became the NSDAP, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The name itself was an enigma: National, right-wing Socialist, left-wing German, right workers, left. The party was trying to appeal to a broader population.

In 1920, Hitler rewrote the program that became the 󈧝 Points’. All the old ideas from the earlier program were there. He called for not only an appeal to workers but also to the German middle class, emphasizing again the anti-Semitism.

For these first two years of the party’s existence, Hitler’s fame, his notoriety, extended basically to Munich and the outlying areas. By the beginning of 1923, the party had about 6,000 members. It was known around there, but nowhere else.

Later, the German political scene changed. The hyperinflation of 1923 and then the harsh stabilization of 1924 gave a thrust to Hitler’s career and he became a personality on the national political stage.

Common Questions about the Beginning of Hitler’s Political Career

Adolf Hitler believed that the goal of rational anti-Semitism must “unshakably be the removal of Jews altogether”.

Adolf Hitler wanted to use the DAP as the vehicle for the creation of a mass political movement.

The DAP and Adolf Hitler wanted to create the volksgemeinschaft, a ‘people’s community’, where class, religion, and region would no longer be important.


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Steve Jobs, Adolf Hitler – Kindred Souls?


Let me start off by saying this isn’t supposed to be controversial. It’s not one of those troll-esque articles making Steve Jobs out to be the Antichrist, using ‘Hitler’ as an embodiment of evil. I’m actually writing this having just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, and as someone who used be deeply fascinated by the Nazis and interwar European history, I couldn’t help but notice a startling number of similarities between the two figures – most of them neither positive nor negative as such, but just little similarities that are pretty rare and unusual.

I guess the most immediately obvious one relates to Hitler’s and Jobs’ famed ability to achieve the seemingly impossible, bending reality to accommodate their grand ideals. Hitler called it “triumph of the will” in Steve’s world it was referred to as the “reality distortion field” – basically where the sheer force of one’s conviction, induced upon others through brilliant oratory and fuelled by selective and cleverly presented truths, allows one to manifest one’s vision no matter how immense the scope or tight the deadline. Powered by intense and forceful personalities, both Jobs and Hitler were able to whip people up into a frenzy at events that were painstakingly staged to perfection. Their delivery was markedly different – Steve spoke slowly and softly Hitler tended to work himself up into a rapid-fire onslaught of shriekery – but whether we’re talking the annual MacWorld or annual Nuremberg rallies, where the faithful gathered to hear their leader reflect on the year gone by and prophesize the one ahead, the staging would be planned down to the smallest minutiae, the lighting and backdrop and the theatre of it all just right, with the sole intent of transfixing the audience to see the future through the orator’s eyes. Both events were characterized by empowering rhetoric of “We will change the world” – simultaneously rebellious yet New World Orderish, embodying a key paradox in both Jobs and Hitler as underdogs obsessed with control.

In this respect, Apple and the Nazis were undeniably alike. Both started off as ‘rebels’ against an established order – IBM in the former’s case, the Weimar Republic in the latter. These two entities became obsessive focal points, representing everything that was wrong with the world of high technology / national governance. Apple portrayed Big Blue as Big Brother in its brilliant �’ TV commercial the Nazis condemned Germany’s democratic government as a similarly oppressive dead weight on their country imposed by their World War I enemies. Both saw themselves – quite justifiably – as a young, dynamic force that would overthrow the status quo and implement radical change fresh and virile faces charging a stagnant, stifling, overgrown edifice to forge a new way forward. Both started off very humbly – in a garage and pub respectively – but grew to fulfil these lofty ambitions, led by the unshakeable, reality-distorting passion of their leaders.

Of course, you could apply this argument to a plethora of successful people and their organizations. Grandiose vision, burning ambition, dynamism, a desire to beat the system – these qualities are hardly unique to Apple and Nazism, and perhaps it’s a bit silly even comparing the two on these grounds, valid as the case may be. It’s really the similarities in the personal lives and characters of Jobs and Hitler that drove me to sit down and write this, and that’s what I want to focus on for the rest of this entry.

Both Jobs and Hitler started off similarly in life. Steve was abandoned by his biological parents Hitler lost his father as a child and his mother as a teenager. Both spent their early adulthood as listless vagabonds: Hitler wandering between guesthouses for unemployed men in Vienna, Steve wandering through India and an array of hippy communes on the American west coast. Even in this meandering early phase of their lives, the two displayed a very clear artistic streak with a penchant for perfectionism, manifesting itself in architectural design with Hitler and technology design with Jobs. Both spent this period looking for big-picture answers for why the world is the way it is: Jobs found them in Buddhism and the Beat culture of the 60s and 70s Hitler in the racialism and nationalism of early 20th-century Europe. Both were avid readers of a publication that epitomized their corresponding ideology: the Whole Earth Catalog in Jobs’ case, the anti-Semitic magazine Ostara in Hitler’s.

Both were already vegetarian by this point, placing little priority on eating, and smoked/drank minimally if at all. Both were heavily into opera. Both held formal education in contempt and did not complete university, while dedicating much of their abundant spare time absorbing seemingly frivolous knowledge that would later prove useful. And as they left this period behind, discovered their love in life and dedicated themselves to it, both became convinced that they would die too early a fear that drove them to achieve as much as they could in their life span – which, sure enough in both cases, was not as long as average. Both died aged 56.

After a remarkable and rapid rise to fame, both figures also suffered a major, almost career-killing setback after staging an unsuccessful coup. In Hitler’s case this was the Beer Hall Putsch, which saw him go to jail for several years in Jobs’ it was his expulsion from Apple after trying to oust then-CEO John Sculley. Both used their period of exile to undertake important projects – the dictation of Mein Kampf and the foundation of NeXT and Pixar – which allowed them to solidify and broaden their radical ideas, rethink their behaviour and recharge for a Second Coming that completely eclipsed the first. In neither case, however, was their prodigal return a glamorous phoenix-like affair – Jobs returned to Apple merely as an advisor, before becoming interim CEO and finally accepting the position as permanent. Hitler, too, did not storm the Reichstag and seize the reins of power like some wild-eyed revolutionary, but played the democratic system lawfully, diligently and patiently campaigning across Germany until the NSDAP were finally voted in with a balance of power, at which point he negotiated a Chancellorship and only later, finally, invoked emergency powers to secure himself as Germany’s permanent Fuhrer.

There were even more similarities beyond these, not all of which I can remember right now. Another one that comes to mind is how both men were fascinated with the exotic spirituality of the East – while this is reasonably well-known and not particularly surprising with Jobs, it’s less well-known that the Nazis sent multiple expeditions to Tibet and India in search of artifacts relating to early Aryan spirituality, in a chapter of history that comes bizarrely close to an Indiana Jones script. It could even be argued that both men’s downfall stemmed from their belief in their invincibility and ability to ply reality as desired – that they were special and the rules of normal men did not apply to them. As he did throughout his life when faced with a problem, Jobs ignored his cancer diagnosis, dismissing advice from traditional experts (doctors) and believing he could overcome it his way, with fasting and diets. Hitler, too, ignored the grim prognosis that was reaching Berlin from his encircled armies at Stalingrad then, as the outlook grew ever bleaker, believed a combination of steel resolve and new-fangled ‘wonder weapons’ would turn the course of the war back in his favour – again, against the advice of traditional experts (his military generals) who proposed strategic retreats and selective peace treaties.

There are differences between the two men, of course. Hitler would’ve been the better boss to work for, assuming you’d prefer humouring long-winded rants over tea to being outright abused (by all accounts, Jobs liked to yell at individuals in private as much as Hitler liked to yell to crowds in public). Hitler also had a very deep sense of loyalty and sentimentality that Jobs lacked whereas Hitler cherished and surrounded himself with early “comrades” of the NSDAP even if they had no talent – Himmler was a failed chicken farmer – Jobs did the exact opposite, discarding the old in favour of the more talented new whenever convenient, friendships be damned. On the other hand, whereas Jobs had a string of relationships and was obviously more than capable of falling in love, Hitler’s life contained strangely little in the way of sex or romance, and he only got married to his long-time mistress, Eva Braun, mere hours before they committed suicide. While both were artists at heart, spending hours poring over models made by their special staff favourite (Albert Speer / Jony Ive), Hitler abhorred the functional cubic aesthetic of the Bauhaus school, whereas Jobs loved and was deeply influenced by it. (That said, buildings aside, Nazi design did have a bent towards modern minimalism and bold, simple iconography much like Apple.) Finally, whereas Hitler was, like Jobs, very interested in technology (he actually designed the original Volkswagen Beetle, and could rattle off detailed tank and airplane specs from memory), Jobs was not even remotely interested in issues of nationality or ethnicity, and never took any notice of Middle Eastern affairs despite his half-Syrian heritage.

I guess the two most significant differences are that Jobs did not leave a destructive and divisive legacy like Hitler’s, and his organisation has outlived him and continues to prosper. While Nazism perished in the rubble of Berlin, having decimated much of Europe and torn apart countless families, Apple lives on in its empire of white stores and arsenal of white iThings, bringing pleasure and ease of use to tech consumers around the globe. And while Nazism was very much about the masses, unifying the many and harnessing the base instincts of the mob, Apple is all about the individual user experience – creative expression over regimentation, individuality over assimilation – homogeneous as it is compared to the world of Windows PCs (read on, let’s not go there…)

I guess that pretty much sums up this entry. To finish – and to appease any Apple fanboys who might still be finding my comparison a tad hard to swallow – I did find Isaacson’s biography genuinely inspiring more an uplifting lesson in life than a tome of juicy never-before-revealed nastiness. Being a long-time armchair student of IT history, I’m no stranger to the fact that Steve Jobs could be a real c*** so those parts of the book came as no surprise – what I did draw from it is simply that it’s important – indeed critical – to assert yourself in life. Which isn’t to say (as numerous articles following the book’s release have implored us to note) that being an arsehole is an acceptable managerial style, or that being mean and arrogant was an active ingredient in Steve’s recipe for success. But like Hitler, I guess, Steve Jobs didn’t waste time doubting himself, being non-commital in what to believe and pursue in life, and realizing his ambitions only when he could do so in a safe, socially acceptable way. Unlike so many of us, he refused to be just a passive observer of life, a mere yay/nay/do-as-you-sayer. Steve spoke his mind, developed a keen intuition and acted on it fearlessly, and these are things we – certainly I – do all too rarely these days with time that, as his death late last year reminds us, is all too short and precious. So for me, more than anything, reading about Jobs’ life has been a wake-up call to, as he himself put it,

“[Not] let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”


Contents

The wartime report was commissioned by the head of the OSS, William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan. The research and investigation for it was done in collaboration with three other clinicians – Professor Henry A. Murray of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, Dr. Ernst Kris of the New School for Social Research, and Dr. Bertram D. Lewin of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute – as well as research associates [4] Langer notes in his introduction to the book that one of the three essentially dropped out of the project because he was too busy with other work, but he gives no names. "He promised, however, to write down his views and conclusions and submit them . Unfortunately, not a word was ever received from him" although he did apparently confirm to Langer by telephone that he agreed with the diagnosis of Hitler's perversion. [5]

Historian Hans W. Gatzke and others have suggested that Langer borrowed extensively from prior work by Murray without properly crediting him, such as his lurid sexual analysis and his prediction of suicide Langer has disputed some of the claims although the texts show similarities. [6] [7] In addition, similarities have been noted to perhaps the earliest published psychological profile of Hitler developed by Murray and influential psychologist Gordon Allport for Harvard seminars on 'Civilian Morale' (1941), intended to be distributed to private organisations throughout the US to prepare a consensus for war. The Harvard University Archives register stated that Murray started work on this profile in 1938 upon request from the Roosevelt administration. [6] [8]

The Langer report was classified as "Secret" by the OSS, but was eventually declassified in 1968. [9] After receiving some encouragement from fellow scholars, particularly Professor Henderson Braddick of the Department of International Relations at Lehigh University, [10] Langer decided to publish the report in book form. The original report is in the public domain and is available on the Internet on a number of sites. [11] Numerous substantial unexplained differences were noted by Gatzke, however, between the report as published in 1972 and a separate copy of the 1943/33 report. Gatzke writes "Recent correspondence with the publisher. has revealed that the original [OSS report] manuscript was changed and edited several times by Dr. Langer and others, both in 1943 and again before publication. [12]

The report used many sources to profile Hitler, including a number of informants, including Hitler's nephew, William Patrick Hitler, his family physician, Dr. Eduard Bloch, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Hermann Rauschning, Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe, Otto Strasser, Friedlinde Wagner, and Kurt Ludecke. The so-called "Hitler Source Book" which was appended to the wartime report, ran over one thousand pages and was indexed against the report. The groundbreaking study was the pioneer of offender profiling and political psychology, today commonly used by many countries as part of assessing international relations.

In addition to predicting that if defeat for Germany was near, Hitler would most likely choose suicide, [13] Langer's report stated that Hitler was "probably impotent" [14] as far as heterosexual relations were concerned and that there was a possibility that Hitler had participated in a homosexual relationship. The report stated that:

[t]he belief that Hitler is homosexual has probably developed (a) from the fact that he does show so many feminine characteristics, and (b) from the fact that there were so many homosexuals in the Party during the early days and many continue to occupy important positions. It is probably true that Hitler calls Foerster "Bubi", which is a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners. This alone, however, is not adequate proof that he has actually indulged in homosexual practices with Foerster, who is known to be a homosexual. [15]

Langer's report also concluded that Hitler loved pornography and masochistic sex, and in particular that he had "coprophagic tendencies or their milder manifestations" in his heterosexual relationships, and masochistically derived "sexual gratification from the act of having a woman urinate or defecate on him." [16]

According to Langer's introduction to the 1972 publication, he and his fellow investigators made a preliminary conclusion from a "survey of the raw material" and "knowledge of Hitler's actions as reported in the news" that Hitler "was, in all probability, a neurotic psychopath" (page 17) (the term "psychopath" was applied prior to the popularization of its modern definition in The Mask of Sanity and likely just refers to being mentally ill, with "neurotic" being the key descriptor). On page 126 the claim is slightly different, and in turn different from the statement in the scan of the original 1943/44 OSS report (page 127-128): "There was general [OSS: unanimous] agreement among the collaborators [OSS: four psychoanalysts who have studied the material] that Hitler is probably a neurotic psychopath [OSS:is an hysteric] bordering on schizophrenia [OSS adds: and not a paranoiac as is so frequently supposed]." [12] [17] [18]

The report briefly mentions some claims that a Rothschild fathered Alois Hitler – Adolf's father, who was illegitimate – when Hitler's paternal grandmother, Maria Schicklgruber, supposedly worked as a house servant in Vienna, but concludes "it is not absolutely necessary to assume that he had Jewish blood in his veins in order to make a comprehensive picture of his character with its manifold traits and sentiments. From a purely scientific point of view, therefore, it is sounder not to base our reconstruction on such slim evidence but to seek firmer foundations. Nevertheless, we can leave it as a possibility which requires further verification." Some statements in the report have proven, on further investigation, to be erroneous. [19]

The bibliography of the report contains close to 400 entries.

The Langer report was ostensibly an objective analysis of the mind of Adolf Hitler and related aspects of his life and society, based on written material, interviews, psychoanalytic theory and clinical experience. The first words of the OSS report are: "This study is not propagandist in any sense of the term. It represents an attempt to screen the wealth of contradictory, conflicting and unreliable material concerning Hitler into strata which will be helpful to the policy-makers and those who wish to frame a counter-propaganda." The preface further asserts that despite the 'extremely scant and spotty' material for a psychological analysis, one was possible due to their informants knowing Hitler well and their descriptions agreeing relatively well with each other, combined with the writers' own 'clinical experience in dealing with individuals of a similar type'. [20] Ernst Hanfstaengl has been noted as likely the main informant, a Harvard-educated German businessman who was an intimate of Adolf Hitler, who was interviewed for several weeks once returned to the US. [6]

Others, however, have suggested that the analysis was intended to be useful for propaganda and 'psychological warfare'. Historian and authority on the OSS, Bradley F Smith [1], states that Langer's report was known in the OSS as the “spiced-up” version, and that the idea originally came from Fred Oechsner, the chief of the London station of the OSS's Morale Operations Branch. [6] [21]


Steve Jobs, Adolf Hitler – Kindred Souls?


Let me start off by saying this isn’t supposed to be controversial. It’s not one of those troll-esque articles making Steve Jobs out to be the Antichrist, using ‘Hitler’ as an embodiment of evil. I’m actually writing this having just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, and as someone who used be deeply fascinated by the Nazis and interwar European history, I couldn’t help but notice a startling number of similarities between the two figures – most of them neither positive nor negative as such, but just little similarities that are pretty rare and unusual.

I guess the most immediately obvious one relates to Hitler’s and Jobs’ famed ability to achieve the seemingly impossible, bending reality to accommodate their grand ideals. Hitler called it “triumph of the will” in Steve’s world it was referred to as the “reality distortion field” – basically where the sheer force of one’s conviction, induced upon others through brilliant oratory and fuelled by selective and cleverly presented truths, allows one to manifest one’s vision no matter how immense the scope or tight the deadline. Powered by intense and forceful personalities, both Jobs and Hitler were able to whip people up into a frenzy at events that were painstakingly staged to perfection. Their delivery was markedly different – Steve spoke slowly and softly Hitler tended to work himself up into a rapid-fire onslaught of shriekery – but whether we’re talking the annual MacWorld or annual Nuremberg rallies, where the faithful gathered to hear their leader reflect on the year gone by and prophesize the one ahead, the staging would be planned down to the smallest minutiae, the lighting and backdrop and the theatre of it all just right, with the sole intent of transfixing the audience to see the future through the orator’s eyes. Both events were characterized by empowering rhetoric of “We will change the world” – simultaneously rebellious yet New World Orderish, embodying a key paradox in both Jobs and Hitler as underdogs obsessed with control.

In this respect, Apple and the Nazis were undeniably alike. Both started off as ‘rebels’ against an established order – IBM in the former’s case, the Weimar Republic in the latter. These two entities became obsessive focal points, representing everything that was wrong with the world of high technology / national governance. Apple portrayed Big Blue as Big Brother in its brilliant �’ TV commercial the Nazis condemned Germany’s democratic government as a similarly oppressive dead weight on their country imposed by their World War I enemies. Both saw themselves – quite justifiably – as a young, dynamic force that would overthrow the status quo and implement radical change fresh and virile faces charging a stagnant, stifling, overgrown edifice to forge a new way forward. Both started off very humbly – in a garage and pub respectively – but grew to fulfil these lofty ambitions, led by the unshakeable, reality-distorting passion of their leaders.

Of course, you could apply this argument to a plethora of successful people and their organizations. Grandiose vision, burning ambition, dynamism, a desire to beat the system – these qualities are hardly unique to Apple and Nazism, and perhaps it’s a bit silly even comparing the two on these grounds, valid as the case may be. It’s really the similarities in the personal lives and characters of Jobs and Hitler that drove me to sit down and write this, and that’s what I want to focus on for the rest of this entry.

Both Jobs and Hitler started off similarly in life. Steve was abandoned by his biological parents Hitler lost his father as a child and his mother as a teenager. Both spent their early adulthood as listless vagabonds: Hitler wandering between guesthouses for unemployed men in Vienna, Steve wandering through India and an array of hippy communes on the American west coast. Even in this meandering early phase of their lives, the two displayed a very clear artistic streak with a penchant for perfectionism, manifesting itself in architectural design with Hitler and technology design with Jobs. Both spent this period looking for big-picture answers for why the world is the way it is: Jobs found them in Buddhism and the Beat culture of the 60s and 70s Hitler in the racialism and nationalism of early 20th-century Europe. Both were avid readers of a publication that epitomized their corresponding ideology: the Whole Earth Catalog in Jobs’ case, the anti-Semitic magazine Ostara in Hitler’s.

Both were already vegetarian by this point, placing little priority on eating, and smoked/drank minimally if at all. Both were heavily into opera. Both held formal education in contempt and did not complete university, while dedicating much of their abundant spare time absorbing seemingly frivolous knowledge that would later prove useful. And as they left this period behind, discovered their love in life and dedicated themselves to it, both became convinced that they would die too early a fear that drove them to achieve as much as they could in their life span – which, sure enough in both cases, was not as long as average. Both died aged 56.

After a remarkable and rapid rise to fame, both figures also suffered a major, almost career-killing setback after staging an unsuccessful coup. In Hitler’s case this was the Beer Hall Putsch, which saw him go to jail for several years in Jobs’ it was his expulsion from Apple after trying to oust then-CEO John Sculley. Both used their period of exile to undertake important projects – the dictation of Mein Kampf and the foundation of NeXT and Pixar – which allowed them to solidify and broaden their radical ideas, rethink their behaviour and recharge for a Second Coming that completely eclipsed the first. In neither case, however, was their prodigal return a glamorous phoenix-like affair – Jobs returned to Apple merely as an advisor, before becoming interim CEO and finally accepting the position as permanent. Hitler, too, did not storm the Reichstag and seize the reins of power like some wild-eyed revolutionary, but played the democratic system lawfully, diligently and patiently campaigning across Germany until the NSDAP were finally voted in with a balance of power, at which point he negotiated a Chancellorship and only later, finally, invoked emergency powers to secure himself as Germany’s permanent Fuhrer.

There were even more similarities beyond these, not all of which I can remember right now. Another one that comes to mind is how both men were fascinated with the exotic spirituality of the East – while this is reasonably well-known and not particularly surprising with Jobs, it’s less well-known that the Nazis sent multiple expeditions to Tibet and India in search of artifacts relating to early Aryan spirituality, in a chapter of history that comes bizarrely close to an Indiana Jones script. It could even be argued that both men’s downfall stemmed from their belief in their invincibility and ability to ply reality as desired – that they were special and the rules of normal men did not apply to them. As he did throughout his life when faced with a problem, Jobs ignored his cancer diagnosis, dismissing advice from traditional experts (doctors) and believing he could overcome it his way, with fasting and diets. Hitler, too, ignored the grim prognosis that was reaching Berlin from his encircled armies at Stalingrad then, as the outlook grew ever bleaker, believed a combination of steel resolve and new-fangled ‘wonder weapons’ would turn the course of the war back in his favour – again, against the advice of traditional experts (his military generals) who proposed strategic retreats and selective peace treaties.

There are differences between the two men, of course. Hitler would’ve been the better boss to work for, assuming you’d prefer humouring long-winded rants over tea to being outright abused (by all accounts, Jobs liked to yell at individuals in private as much as Hitler liked to yell to crowds in public). Hitler also had a very deep sense of loyalty and sentimentality that Jobs lacked whereas Hitler cherished and surrounded himself with early “comrades” of the NSDAP even if they had no talent – Himmler was a failed chicken farmer – Jobs did the exact opposite, discarding the old in favour of the more talented new whenever convenient, friendships be damned. On the other hand, whereas Jobs had a string of relationships and was obviously more than capable of falling in love, Hitler’s life contained strangely little in the way of sex or romance, and he only got married to his long-time mistress, Eva Braun, mere hours before they committed suicide. While both were artists at heart, spending hours poring over models made by their special staff favourite (Albert Speer / Jony Ive), Hitler abhorred the functional cubic aesthetic of the Bauhaus school, whereas Jobs loved and was deeply influenced by it. (That said, buildings aside, Nazi design did have a bent towards modern minimalism and bold, simple iconography much like Apple.) Finally, whereas Hitler was, like Jobs, very interested in technology (he actually designed the original Volkswagen Beetle, and could rattle off detailed tank and airplane specs from memory), Jobs was not even remotely interested in issues of nationality or ethnicity, and never took any notice of Middle Eastern affairs despite his half-Syrian heritage.

I guess the two most significant differences are that Jobs did not leave a destructive and divisive legacy like Hitler’s, and his organisation has outlived him and continues to prosper. While Nazism perished in the rubble of Berlin, having decimated much of Europe and torn apart countless families, Apple lives on in its empire of white stores and arsenal of white iThings, bringing pleasure and ease of use to tech consumers around the globe. And while Nazism was very much about the masses, unifying the many and harnessing the base instincts of the mob, Apple is all about the individual user experience – creative expression over regimentation, individuality over assimilation – homogeneous as it is compared to the world of Windows PCs (read on, let’s not go there…)

I guess that pretty much sums up this entry. To finish – and to appease any Apple fanboys who might still be finding my comparison a tad hard to swallow – I did find Isaacson’s biography genuinely inspiring more an uplifting lesson in life than a tome of juicy never-before-revealed nastiness. Being a long-time armchair student of IT history, I’m no stranger to the fact that Steve Jobs could be a real c*** so those parts of the book came as no surprise – what I did draw from it is simply that it’s important – indeed critical – to assert yourself in life. Which isn’t to say (as numerous articles following the book’s release have implored us to note) that being an arsehole is an acceptable managerial style, or that being mean and arrogant was an active ingredient in Steve’s recipe for success. But like Hitler, I guess, Steve Jobs didn’t waste time doubting himself, being non-commital in what to believe and pursue in life, and realizing his ambitions only when he could do so in a safe, socially acceptable way. Unlike so many of us, he refused to be just a passive observer of life, a mere yay/nay/do-as-you-sayer. Steve spoke his mind, developed a keen intuition and acted on it fearlessly, and these are things we – certainly I – do all too rarely these days with time that, as his death late last year reminds us, is all too short and precious. So for me, more than anything, reading about Jobs’ life has been a wake-up call to, as he himself put it,

“[Not] let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”


Desperately seeking Adolf

Bruno Ganz
I had some doubts when I was first offered the part of Hitler in Downfall. I asked myself whether I really wanted to get involved in this ugly, terrible stuff. But it was also a temptation - the subject has a fascinating side - so I agreed.

I did four months of research. The producers sent me a tape, secretly recorded in Finland in 1942, with Hitler's natural voice - not the screaming orator we are used to, but a soft, attractive voice, a calm baritone. I tried to capture that.

I became convinced Hitler had Parkinson's disease: there is newsreel of him presenting medals to the Hitler Youth a few days before his death, and you can see his hand shaking, so I visited a hospital and observed Parkinson's sufferers.

There was no strategy in the film to say: "Let's show a new Hitler." I just wanted to show him as the evidence and the testimony of witnesses suggests. Witnesses say he was kind to dogs, charming to women, nice to children, but then he could just say: "Let's kill 5,000 people." In the film, when he and his generals are discussing military problems, one says to him: "What about the 100,000 young German officers on the eastern front? They are going to die." He says: "But they are born to die." He was completely pitiless.

What fascinated me was that he was not just supported by the German people he was loved. The relationship between him and them was almost religious. There was also that Wagnerian undercurrent - the hero dressed in white, standing against a corrupt world. Look at the bunker - the way Goebbels's wife is willing to kill her children because she can't imagine life after national socialism. It is like a cult. So it helped me that I am Swiss, not German. I'm not saying that I couldn't have played the part if I had been German, but it was useful to be able to put my Swiss passport between my heart and Mr Hitler, so that he couldn't touch me.

Having played him, I cannot claim to understand Hitler. Even the witnesses who had been in the bunker with him were not really able to describe the essence of the man. He had no pity, no compassion, no understanding of what the victims of war suffered. Ultimately, I could not get to the heart of Hitler because there was none.

Hubert Kramar
My first role as a Nazi was in Schindler's List, when I was asked to play a Nazi officer. Then, in 1997, I got the part as Hitler in a play in Krakow called Nazis in Space. This was a very controversial piece, because until then nobody in Europe had attempted to make fun of this horrific chapter in history.

I played the part of a hippy Hitler who smokes pot and comes back to Earth with Eva Braun in a spaceship. Everyone said I was the most authentic Hitler they had ever seen. I think it is because I grew up in postwar Austria. My whole life had been soaked with images of Hitler: the way he talked, the way he walked. He was a neurotic, psychotic and sick man, but while the make-up was being plastered on, I would climb into his skin and something would change inside me. He would get into my blood and let the ghost out of the bottle. It is good to put all your emotions into acting, but it can also be dangerous. I started to get egoistical in real life and, as a result, my girlfriend left me.

Once, after a rehearsal, I went out on to the streets in my Hitler outfit, accompanied by two actors in adjutant outfits. One man nearly crashed his car and another banged into a lamppost. The reaction was very different in Paris. When standing at the base of the Eiffel Tower dressed as Hitler, I was pounced on by scores of Japanese tourists who wanted my autograph.

In 2000, I bought a ticket for the Vienna Opera Ball, a big political and social event. I decided to go in a Hitler costume to make a political statement against rightwing extremists. I was hooked up with a mini-TV camera and managed to get through the security gates because I was in a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce with darkened windows. I got out of the car and the other guests were completely mesmerised. They stood there with their eyes almost popping out of their sockets. A couple of people said: "Heil Hitler!" To this day, I don't know if they were joking. I was arrested and they tried to put me in prison, because it is against the law to wear Nazi outfits in Austria. But I just claimed that I had dressed up for a fancy-dress party.

A couple of years ago, I read a Hitler biography written by Hitler's voice trainer, Paul Devrient. It gives an incredible insight into Hitler's life - how he was such a dramatist in public, but a broken man at heart. I turned the book into a play called Hitler as a Pupil, and we have toured all over Europe with it. It is very easy to put a monster label on Hitler, but he was also a human being, and I try to get across the idea that we all have many faces and we all have the potential to be evil.

Michael Sheard
I've played Hitler at least half a dozen times - Rogue Male, The Dirty Dozen, Second Assignment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Tomorrow People, Hitler of the Andes. I've also played Himmler twice and Goering, though I needed padding for him. The one most people remember is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Hitler attends a book-burning and gives Indiana his autograph.

My first Hitler was in Rogue Male. The film was successful and, after that, casting directors would tend to think of me for the role. My wife is half-Jewish and when I was offered the part, I remember saying I had qualms and asking her what she thought. "Don't be so stupid," she said. "It's just a role." I've tended to put all the atrocities in a cupboard and play him as a fanatical madman. I'm not one of those actors who has to become the character. I want to hang up the Hitler coat in the dressing room when I go home and pick it up again the next morning.

I speak German fluently, which helps to explain why I've played so many Nazis and so many other Germans. I have no trouble doing the oratory. I once played alongside Alec Guinness when he played Hitler in The Last Ten Days. While he had the shuffle off to perfection, he found all the declaiming difficult. You need a powerful voice.

I don't think there is any taboo around playing Hitler. I would play him as a comic figure if the script were good enough - Chaplin showed there was a comic dimension. I was offered a part in a film where Hitler escaped to England and was living in London's Notting Hill Gate dressed as a woman. I would have accepted it, but the second half was much weaker than the first.

I've never had any hostility to the roles I've played, though there have been a couple of embarrassments. At a film convention in Germany, I was sitting at a table with a still photo showing me playing Hitler in Indiana Jones. "You do know it's illegal to display the swastika in Germany, don't you?" said the person sitting next to me. The Nazi legacy still festers there.

Steven Berkoff
I played Hitler in 1988 in War and Remembrance, a TV series based on the novels of Herman Wouk. A lot of actors auditioned for it, but I knew it was the role for me. I arrived at the audition looking healthy and suntanned and was sent to put on a wig and uniform. As soon as I put on that strange little moustache, everything clicked. I looked astonishingly like him and after my audition, Dan Curtis, the director, just sat there stunned. He more or less gave me the part on the spot.

Watching masses of tapes, I was struck by the roughness of his voice, with its Austrian accent, and the fluency of his gestures. He was very histrionic, with his stabbing finger, sweeping arm and manic stare. I tried to capture that intensity. Curtis wanted me to play him as a psychotic, demonic character. It was the last two years of the war: everything was collapsing around him and he was becoming demented and flaccid. I wasn't breathing fire in every scene, but I wanted to get across that he was a psychotic. Hardy Krüger, the distinguished German actor playing Rommel, warned me against playing him as a raving madman. He said Hitler was a clever man and couldn't have achieved everything he had if he'd been screaming all the time. But Curtis had done a lot of research and we had evidence from witnesses. I had to play one scene with Rommel where he was accusing Hitler over the concentration camps. I had to go completely bananas. Some people said it was overdone, but there's no doubt it was compelling.

In some ways, I could identify with Hitler. I had managed a company he had managed an army. I tried to conquer the world with words he used weapons. I had a short fuse when it came to critics just as he did. I could identify with his energy and belief, though not with his murderous tendencies. I didn't really want to dispose of my critics as he had.

Ken Stott
I played Hitler in the ITV drama Uncle Adolf, about his relationship with his niece Geli Raubal. Most of the action took place before Hitler had become chancellor, and we had the chance to shine a light on a less well-known area of his life. We didn't want to present him as a monster to do that is to ignore the problem of how he rose to power. He was not a one-off he was the product of a situation that could recur. Presenting him as a monster also absolves the other people who were to blame for allowing his rise to power, not least the British government.

I saw him as a very insecure figure. He was a jumped-up Austrian, a loner, always excluded from picnics and parties, and to compensate he always felt he had to be on top of his game. British propagandists used to say that Hitler only had one ball that's probably going too far, but psychologically it's near the mark. His sexual frustration and his feeling that his generation, which had fought so bravely in the first world war, had been stabbed in the back were channelled into extremist politics.

He was a foul character to play, but a terrifying and fascinating one, too. Would I play him again? There is no reason not to. But equally I was as glad to say goodbye to the part as I had been to start work on it.

Udo Schenk
I have played Hitler three times - for an Indian film, an Italian film and a German drama. The Bollywood film, produced in 2003, was called Netaji: The Last Hero and tells the true story of Subhash Chandra Bose, who was on a personal mission to fight the British colonies. He visited Hitler in Berlin. Hitler was sympathetic, gave him a submarine, and advised him to go to Japan for support. Hitler is depicted satirically, in much the same way he was played by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.

The Italian film was called Edda Tiano Mussolini, about Mussolini's daughter. It shows two sides to Hitler. When Mussolini was put in prison by his own people, Hitler set him free. Mussolini's daughter visited Hitler, who charmed her by kissing her hand and giving her flowers. But when she tried to convince him to make a pact with the Russians, he went crazy.

I agreed to play the roles because I don't think he should be a taboo subject. If you only portray him as a monster or megalomaniac, he is more likely to be put on a pedestal and followed by idiots. But he was just an arsehole who ate, went to the toilet and ended up going completely bonkers.


Adolf Hitler on the political meaning of 'folkish'

TWO YEARS AGO, I ran a series of excerpts from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf , Vol. One, taken from Thomas Dalton's new 2017 German to English translation.

I'm now into Volume Two, and will do the same with it. I'll begin right at the beginning this time with Chapter 1, WORLDVIEW AND PARTY. But I'm going to START at subheading 1.4, page 25, “The Folkish Concept:

ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE, with all kinds of divergent opinions, are parading around under the 'folkish' banner. [. ] The word 'folkish' doesn't express any clearly specified idea. It may be interpreted in several ways, and in practice it's just as vague as the word 'religious,' for instance. [. ] The word 'religious' acquires a precise meaning only when it's associated with a distinct and definite form through which the concept is put into practice.

1.6, page 31-33: “Marxism versus Race and Personality”

If we try to penetrate to the inner meaning of the word 'folkish,' we arrive at the following conclusions: The current political conception of the world is that the State, though it possesses a creative, culture-creating force, has nothing to do with racial considerations.The State is considered rather as something resulting from economic necessity, or at best, the natural outcome of political forces. Such a conception, together with all its logical consequences, is not only mistaken about basic racial forces, but it also underestimates the individual. A denial of racial differences with respect to their culture-creating powers must also extend the same error to the valuation of the individual. The assumption of racial equality becomes the basis for a similar way of viewing nations and individuals. And international Marxism is nothing but the application, by the Jew Karl Marx, of a pre-existing worldview to a definite profession of political faith. Without the foundation of this widely-diffused infection, the amazing success of this doctrine would have been impossible. In reality, Karl Marx was the one among millions who, in a slowly decomposing world, used his keen insight to detect the essential poisons he then extracted and concentrated them, with the skill of a wizard, into a solution that would bring about the rapid destruction of the independent nations of this Earth. And all this was done in the service of his race.

[…] For this reason alone, it's out of the question, and even ridiculous, to think that our so-called bourgeois world can offer any effective resistance. [. ] In opposition to this, the folkish worldview recognizes that basic racial elements are of the greatest significance for mankind. […] It serves the truth of the aristocratic principle underlying all Nature's operations and it believes that this law is valid down to the last individual. [. ]

In this world, human culture and civilization are inseparably bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he dies out or declines, then the dark shroud of a barbarian era will again envelop the Earth.

In the eyes of a folkish worldview, to undermine the existence of human culture by destroying it's carriers would be a deplorable crime. […] Hence the folkish worldview corresponds to the innermost will of Nature.

1.7, p 35-37: “Organization of a Party”

Therefore it's necessary to create an instrument by which the folkish worldview can fight, in the same way that the Marxist party organization clears the way for internationalism. […]

Such a party formulation is a pre-condition for the victory of the folkish worldview. […]

The internationalist ideology succeeded because it was organized as a political party the opposing worldview failed because it lacked a unified body to defend it. [. ]

The National Socialist German Workers' Party extracts the essential principles from the generally folkish conception of the world. On these principles it establishes a political doctrine … This doctrine makes possible the organization of great masses of people in a strictly integrated sense. And this organization is the main pre-condition for the victory of this worldview.

I think this is crystal-clear and doesn't need any further commentary. I will say I'm very glad to get this understanding of "folkish" from the Leader, which I'm not sure comes across as clearly in other, older translations.