The Sonderweg argument was attacked on multiple fronts. Joachim Fest, who had published the first big German-language biography of Hitler, also stood apart from the Sonderweg school. More dubious readings presented Hitlerism as an experiment that modernized Germany and then went awry. Such ideas have lost ground in Germany, at least for now: in mainstream discourse there, it is axiomatic to accept responsibility for the Nazi terror. Outside Germany, many critiques of the Sonderweg thesis came from the left. In the allegedly backward Kaiserreich, Eley and Blackbourn saw various liberalizing forces in motion: housing reform, public-health initiatives, an emboldened press.
The Sonderweg narrative could become an exculpatory fairy tale for other nations: we may make mistakes, but we will never be as bad as the Germans.
With his nocturnal schedule, his dislike of paperwork, and his aversion to dialogue, Hitler was an eccentric executive, to say the least. His two abiding obsessions were violent anti-Semitism and Lebensraum. As early as , he spoke of confining Jews to concentration camps, and in he contemplated—and, for the moment, rejected—the idea of killing the entire Jewish population.
The Holocaust was the result of a hideous syllogism: if Germany were to expand into the East, where millions of Jews lived, those Jews would have to vanish, because Germans could not coexist with them. Academic historians, by contrast, often portray Hitler as a cipher, a nobody. Hitler could pose as a cultured gentleman at Munich salons, as a pistol-waving thug at the beer hall, and as a bohemian in the company of singers and actors.
He had an exceptional memory that allowed him to assume an air of superficial mastery. It goes without saying that he was an extreme narcissist lacking in empathy.
Much has been made of his love of dogs, but he was cruel to them. From adolescence onward, Hitler was a dreamer and a loner. Averse to joining groups, much less leading them, he immersed himself in books, music, and art. His ambition to become a painter was hampered by a limited technique and by a telling want of feeling for human figures.
In Munich, where he moved in , he eked out a living as an artist and otherwise spent his days in museums and his nights at the opera. A vague notion of being reserved for something else, something quite indeterminate, which, if it were named, would cause people to break out laughing. Indeed, he seems to have had friendly relations with several Jews in Vienna and Munich.
This does not mean that he was free of commonplace anti-Jewish prejudice.
Certainly, he was a fervent German nationalist. When the First World War commenced, in , he volunteered for the German Army, and acquitted himself well as a soldier. Significantly, Hitler remained in the Army after the Armistice; disgruntled nationalist soldiers tended to join paramilitary groups. Because the Social Democratic parties were dominant at the founding of the Weimar Republic, Hitler was representing a leftist government.
He even served the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic. The unprecedented anarchy of postwar Bavaria helps explain what happened next. Street killings were routine; politicians were assassinated on an almost weekly basis. The left was blamed for the chaos, and anti-Semitism escalated for the same reason: several prominent leaders of the left were Jewish.
Then came the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in June, The day after Germany ratified the treaty, Hitler began attending Army propaganda classes aimed at repressing revolutionary tendencies. These infused him with hard-core anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic ideas. The officer in charge of the program was a tragic figure named Karl Mayr, who later forsook the right wing for the left; he died in Buchenwald, in He spoke up at one of its meetings and joined its ranks.
Even those who found his words repulsive were mesmerized by him. He would begin quietly, almost haltingly, testing out his audience and creating suspense. He amused the crowd with sardonic asides and actorly impersonations. The musical structure was one of crescendo toward triumphant rage. Above all, Hitler knew how to project himself through the mass media, honing his messages so that they would penetrate the white noise of politics. He fostered the production of catchy graphics, posters, and slogans; in time, he mastered radio and film.
Meanwhile, squads of Brown Shirts brutalized and murdered opponents, heightening the very disorder that Hitler had proposed to cure. His most adroit feat came after the failed Beer Hall Putsch, in , which should have ended his political career.
At the trial that followed, Hitler polished his personal narrative, that of a simple soldier who had heard the call of destiny. To many liberal-minded Germans of the twenties, Hitler was a scary but ludicrous figure who did not seem to represent a serious threat.
The Weimar Republic stabilized somewhat in the middle of the decade, and the Nazi share of the vote languished in the low single-digit figures.
The economic misery of the late twenties and early thirties provided another opportunity, which Hitler seized. Trump also warns of a coming, racially-tinged cultural Armageddon, never missing an opportunity to inject racial divisiveness into American life, even infecting Hurricane relief for Puerto Rico with racial overtones. Both Hitler and Trump excelled at scapegoating. Trump bans Muslims, wants to build a wall on the Southern border, and has initiated trade wars with China, India, Europe, Canada, and Mexico. Trump has used multiple declarations of non-existent national emergencies to ignore Congress.
Hitler viewed women solely as wives and mothers, resisting the entry of women into the workforce. Trump may be the most openly misogynist man to serve as President, treating women as little more than sex objects and waging war on their reproductive freedom. The fate of German democracy shows us where those spells can lead unless we defend constitutional democracy in the only forum that really matters—the voting booth.
But two midth century generations defended democracy in a hot war against Hitler and cold war against Stalin. All we are asked to do is to stand up for democracy at the voting booths. Make no mistake: it is the continued health of constitutional democracy itself that is on the ballot in Supreme Court. Home Share 16 Search. Germany's former colonial possessions in the Pacific German New Guinea and German Samoa , which had been allocated to Japan after World War I as C-Class Mandates according to the Treaty of Versailles , were to be sold to Japan both Weimar and Nazi-era Germany never relinquished claims to their pre-war colonial territories at least temporarily in the interest of the Tripartite Pact , its alliance with that country.
After the projected fall of the Soviet Union, Hitler planned to intensify the war in the Mediterranean. Turkey was favored as a potential ally by Hitler because of its important strategic location on the boundaries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as its extensive history as a state hostile against the Russian Empire and the later Soviet Union. These encompassed Edirne Adrianople and an expansion of Turkish frontiers at the expense of Greece, the creation of buffer states in the Caucasus under Turkish influence , a revision of the Turkish-Syrian frontier the Baghdad Railway and the State of Aleppo and the Turkish-Iraqi frontier the Mosul region , as well as a settlement of "the Aegean question" to provide Turkey with suitable protection against encroachments from Italy.
Allied-occupied Iran was also to be drawn into the Axis camp, possibly by the means of an uprising. The changing of Persia's name to Iran in was done by the Shah at the suggestion of the German ambassador to Iran as an act of "Aryan solidarity". The Third Saudi State under Ibn Saud was seen as a natural ally, and was to be given territorial concessions in south-west Arabia and Transjordan. Although initially intending to concede Italy control of the region, after that country had defected to the Allied camp in Hitler came to regard the Islamic countries and the Pan-Arab movement increasingly more as the natural ally of National Socialist Germany, as opposed to the "treacherous" Italians.
In the nature of things, this territory was becoming an Italian preserve and it was as such that the Duce laid claim to it. Had we been on our own, we could have emancipated the Moslem countries dominated by France; and that would have had enormous repercussions in the Near East, dominated by Britain, and in Egypt.
But with our fortunes linked to those of the Italians, the pursuit of such a policy was not possible.
All Islam vibrated at the news of our victories. The Egyptians, the Iraqis and the whole of the Near East were all ready to rise in revolt. Just think what we could have done to help them, even to incite them, as would have been both our duty and in our own interest! But the presence of the Italians at our side paralyzed us; it created a feeling of malaise among our Islamic friends, who inevitably saw in us accomplices, willing or unwilling, of their oppressors.
Hitler's views on India were disparaging. Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg stated that although the Vedic culture was Aryan in origin, any Nordic blood had long since been lost due to racial mixing. During the first years of the war in Europe, as Hitler sought to reach an arrangement with the British, he held the notion that India should remain under British control after the war, as in his mind the only alternative was a Soviet occupation of the subcontinent.
The goal of this operation was not so much to conquer the subcontinent, but to threaten British military positions there to force the British to come to terms. There he proposed organizing an Indian national government in exile and urged the Axis to declare their support for the Indian cause. On 18 January , it was decided that the Indian subcontinent was to be divided between the Axis powers.
Germany was to take the part of British India roughly corresponding to the western part of modern day Pakistan , while the rest of British India, along with Afghanistan, was marked for Japan. Before completing the expected German conquest of Europe, the Nazi leadership hoped to keep the United States out of the war. Nazi propagandists went as far as declaring that Germany would return expropriated land to the Indians, while Goebbels predicted they possessed little loyalty to the U. Approximately nine months before the United States joined the Allies, U.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a reference to the New Order in a speech he gave on March 15, , recognizing Hitler's hostility towards the United States and the destructive potential it represented, about which Roosevelt was quite acutely aware:. Nazi forces are not seeking mere modifications in colonial maps or in minor European boundaries. They openly seek the destruction of all elective systems of government on every continent, including our own. They seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers who seize power by force.
Yes, these men and their hypnotized followers call this a "New Order. For order among nations presupposes something enduring, some system of justice under which individuals over a long period of time are willing to live. Humanity will never permanently accept a system imposed by conquest, and based on slavery.
These modern tyrants find it necessary to their plans to eliminate all democracies—eliminate them one by one. The nations of Europe, and indeed we, ourselves, did not appreciate that purpose.