Hitler’s Theories and Ideologies, Research Paper Example
Words: 1795Research Paper
Throughout the course of the 20th century and beyond, the name of Adolf Hitler has become synonymous with despotism and evil. He is perceived as having orchestrated mass extinctions on an unprecedented scale, motivated by deeply-rooted convictions as to the inferiority of Jews, homosexuals, and others. It is undeniable that he changed the course of history, and his impact has long been popularly identified as the consequence of pathological mania. Hitler’s actual sanity may or may not be questionable, but what is certain is that, taken to extremes of madness or otherwise, his authority was fueled by the ideologies he maintained as absolutely correct. As will be seen in the following, Adolf Hitler proceeded from determined beliefs in a Germanic nationalism reflecting racial superiority, a consequent motivation to destroy those races and peoples he perceived as undermining this Germanic greatness, and an implacable faith in his own role as destined top accomplish these ends.
It is, first and foremost, essential to note Hitler’s personal views on race in order to see how they reflect the theories and ideologies he would bring to life in his rule over Germany. For Hitler, race was never merely a cultural or political component in world affairs; it was the essence of being, and a clear indicator of human value. This ideology certainly was seen by him as central in international conflicts, in that he fully appreciated the impact of race as in some sense determining the course of human history, if only in terms of the conflicts precipitated by it (Marrus 80). However, the belief ran far deeper in Hitler. He relied on what he termed a basic principle of blood, in that the Volk, or soul of the entire race, lies within the blood of each individual. His theory held that no higher race existed than that of the Aryans, or Germans, for this was the race most fit to bring humanity to the apex of cultural perfection. The Germans were destined to be the spiritual, intellectual, and artistic models for mankind, and the losses suffered by the Germans in and after World War I prompted his mania to restore them to their rightful glory and place in the world (Marrus 80). If Hitler’s ideology took the form of obsession, it was nonetheless founded on his conviction regarding the innate superiority of Germans.
The losses, of course, had to have been generated by an enemy, and Hitler’s theory neatly supplied one. As the Germans were racially superior, the Jews, which he perceived as a race rather than a religious body, were the antithesis of racial goodness. As he made clear in his own story of his life, Mein Kampf, the Germans were a master race obligated to exterminate the weaker, and this was the guiding principle of his entire life (Kernshaw 148). Because the Jews were inherently inferior, it followed in Hitler’s mind that they were as well evil, and a race committed to subjugating the greater through control of money and the installation of Bolshevism. Hitler was convinced that, through Bolshevism, the Jews in Russia had come to abominable power. This was his racially-based interpretation of the Russian Revolution, not as a political upheaval prompted by a starved peasant class, but as an agenda of wealthy Jews to savagely kill their “betters” (Kernshaw 148). It is important to note, again, that Hitler’s ideology of race was so decided, it reflected matters of faith. He did not, for example, believe that Jews were a race actually created by God, but were a product of Satan (Marrus 82). Hitler’s theory of race was such that his ambitions had for me an aspect of a “holy war.”
This innate theory of race then translated for Hitler into distinct, political ideologies. While he emphatically held to the superiority of the Germans as a race, he also believed that German dominance could only be achieved by the preservation of German racial purity, and there were few “crimes:” more hateful to him than miscegenation. This was, moreover, not restricted to interracial or inter-faith marriages; Hitler believed that political miscegenation, in which the lesser race is permitted to gain ground in political arenas, was just as pernicious (Hass 110). Not unexpectedly, Hitler perceived these forms of race-mixing as exponential. As Jews defiled German racial purity by contaminating it in personal relations, so too were they enabled to make inroads into social and political realms, and further degrade the Germans. This reinforced Hitler’s ideology of antithesis: everything he saw as furthering a Jewish agenda was a violation of right, and this took more than one form. He viewed the institutions of capitalism, such as a free press and democracy, as means by which Jews accumulated power. These capitalist forces were promoted by Jews, he believed, because they weakened other races into submission (Marrus 82). They lulled whole populations, through the acceptance and desire of perceived benefits, into ceding real authority to the Jews.
Similarly, Marxism was reviled by Hitler as another strategy in place to assure the same end, that of Jewish domination. In his ideology, Marxism represented a perversion of the natural order; it purported to create a genuine culture through enterprise and commercial forces, when a true culture must be generated by the virtues of the race governing it. It is the energies of the race that must determine the culture or the culture is base (Marrus 82). It is then apparent that Hitler’s theory of race was so all-encompassing, there was no room for ideologies, cultural or political, that did not emanate from it. His thinking viewed political and social structures as inherently suspect, if not outright evil, in a world wherein race is not deemed the most critical component.
That Hitler’s core ideologies were so profoundly based on race is, of course, supported by the ways in which the Nazi regime reflected them. His theory regarding the Jews as racially damaged evolved into a level of actual hatred, if that hatred was not initially in place. Consequently, the Third Reich’s policies put into action these beliefs of its leader, which were embraced by it as absolute truth. More exactly, there has long been debate as to the true source of Nazi brutality and its systematic pursuit of extermination, and many historians have held that the savagery was not precisely intentional; they perceive it as arising from a kind of mass confusion, or hysteria, prompted by Hitler’s leadership taking shape in increasing conflict. It was, it is felt by some, a structural failure in the Nazi machine that generated the slaughters, and the brutality escalated because the Nazi rule had become incoherent. This view, however, ignores the realty of the blatant trajectory. It seems, in fact, that Nazi brutality was such that incoherence is turned to as the only reasonable explanation for such horror, when in fact the extremity of it aligned perfectly with Hitler’s theories. The actions of the Nazis, in mercilessly killing millions of Jews, non-German immigrants, and homosexuals, were consistently in accord with the severe policies of Hitler himself (Mason 19). Hitler’s ideologies were so fixed, they virtually represented ideas of conquest dating back to ancient barbarism or to savage religious persecutions of centuries past. In a “modern” world, Hitler’s theories insisted on views defying modern concepts of civilization.
Inextricably linked to all of this is how Hitler developed an ideology based on his own part in the new order he foresaw. History frequently has him as wary, if not paranoid, and this is correctly based on his perception of himself as a destined and great leader. It is established that, as Hitler’s power grew, the innate suspicion within him developed into something of a paranoiac dread of being betrayed by those around him, and ostensibly fighting for the same cause. This indicates an ideology profoundly important in assessing his impact, that of a pervasive sense of fate. He believed without question that his presence was pivotal in bringing Germany to greatness, and this manifested itself most emphatically when, in 1943, an attempt was made on his life. A group of high-ranking army officers, discontented with Hitler’s regime, selected the aristocratic officer Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg to be the assassin, and the plan was to kill Hitler with a planted bomb on July 20th. Those responsible were tortured and executed, but the crucial element here lies in Hitler’s reaction. His outrage took the form of violent assertions that he had been long correct in doubting the loyalty of those around him, and that their treachery, in fact, was why the war had not yet been won (Kernshaw 838-843). Most tellingly, he raved that, having survived, destiny was revealing itself as impervious to such betrayal, a fierce attitude likely fueled by the desperate state of the war in that year. In his mind, he was no mere political leader, but a force of fate set to accomplish a great objective. While Hitler most definitely employed the idea of the great leader as a propaganda instrument, it was also a belief strong within him that he, like Frederick the Great, was selected by destiny to guide his people (Kernshaw 181). It is likely that this ideology regarding himself further reinforced his faith in the theories of race and culture he so consistently held to.
It is always difficult to assign identities of “evil” or immoral wrong when assessing the impact of a leader who has greatly affected history. The reality must remain that, no matter the effects, the leader is guided by belief systems which, to him, are sound. The question of evil, then, is best left to other concerns, even as Hitler is so synonymous with it in popular thinking; it is the investigation of these beliefs that is paramount in exploring the impact. An unspeakable villain, a misguided ruler, or a madman, Adolf Hitler was nonetheless prompted by theories and ideologies firmly rooted within him. The most dominant of these was his absolute conviction in an innate superiority of the German people as being the race representing the highest ideals of human civilization. This was supported by his equally profound faith in Jews as inherently weak, which weakness he saw as translating into an ambition to subjugate those superior to them. These ideologies then served to foster another, that of Hitler’s perception of himself as destined to right the wrongs created by the Jews and establish Germany as the dominant race and culture.
Hass, M. L. The Ideological Origins of Great Power Politics, 1789-1989. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005. Print.
Kernshaw, I. Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
Marrus, M. R. The Nazi Holocaust: The Origins of the Holocaust. London: Walter de Gruyter, 1989. Print.
Mason, T. W. Nazism, Fascism and the Working Class. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.
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