Before you write me off as totally mad for posting anything about this infamous genocidal madman, hear (read) me out. As we define good and evil in our minds, part of it is realizing good and evil in history, and part of recent history is the latter definition.
I became a fan of WWI history in the 1990’s from the documentary “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.” (Going back to my vast hard science educational background, I’ve got to get my history education where I can). After years of becoming a “History Buff,” understandably my interest flowed into WWII. Everything historically about WWII is about WWI and though many families were involved in the Great War, so many more were affected by WWII, my reading escalated far beyond watching the awesome series “Band of Brothers,” or the heart-wrenching film, “Schindler’s List.” (Amongst others, for “The Longest Day” fans, love that one too). I spent a lot of time reading about the Holocaust atrocities from historical text.
The question entered my mind, knowing that hindsight is 20/20: Why didn’t the world know what Hitler intended to do? Was it not obvious that he intended to murder millions? His now infamous book, still banned in some countries, “Mein Kampf,” was published in the 1920’s. Did any world leaders read his book, which is a dictation of his life and beliefs, years before he rose to power? What sort of mind would do the things he did?
I didn’t want to be shallow and blame the world for Hitler during a time that I was not a part of. I read about the appeasement years, and people with decision-making capacity have the ability to make either right or wrong decisions. In world events, it would be nice if it was simple, but I doubt the world was simple then and it is not simple now. I wanted to understand why the atrocities in WWII happened. In a nutshell, I wanted to understand evil.
I don’t know many that have read “Mein Kampf” (meaning “My Struggle,” and please, I’m not a political expert) but it’s hardly light reading. Hitler speaks in his voice (as above, it’s a dictation) about his hideous childhood, his overestimation of his artistic talents, his theories about socialization, and last, but not least, his eugenics theories that come up throughout. If I could sum up Hitler’s theory simply, without the racial-purification, I’d say he was obsessed with physical space. He believed in making “room” for the “real” people to “grow” in a country, thus “removing” any people that don’t “belong” there. I read his opinion and saw in my mind Anne Frank and her family arrested and put on a train. It makes me sick.
Evil is the uncaring for the safety and suffering of others. Hideous individuals like serial killers enjoy making others suffer and die. Others, like Hitler, purposefully eliminate populations because he deems them unworthy to live. Whatever the package, true evil is something difficult to understand. But that’s part of the lesson; that is what evil is; there is no consistent shape, no form, and no consistent warning sign that it’s coming. If evil was so easy to see at a distance, it wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way.
I see “name-dropping” of Hitler often in today’s cyber-space. People can write whatever they want, but my preference is to understand the person behind the name. I don’t compare people to Hitler. He told me what he was in his book, along with the dying millions that echoed behind him.