Hitler: How to Deceive a Nation
The interwar years was the 20 year period that happened in between the First and Second World Wars. A lot of stuff happened around the world in this period, from my topic, the rise of Hitler, to the rise of Mussolini, the rise of the Soviet Union, the rise of Japan, the stock market crash, and the Great Depression. We had to write an essay and make a teaching activity for the class about something that happened during the interwar years, but we were allowed to choose whatever topic we wanted from this time.
My project is based on the rise of Hitler. For my essay I did a lot of research from several sources, which are cited in the Works Cited page at the end of my essay. Even now, I’m still doing research on the history of the interwar period because it is very interesting. Why I chose the rise of Hitler is because I think it is one of the most significant things that happened in the interwar period as Hitler’s rein and actions in WWII has impacted people even today, including the way we think and the way we learn, as he did start a war that caused the death of millions of people.
There were many factors that lead to the rise of Hitler. I talk about Hitler’s early life in my essay, and I’m going to mention it again here, but you can also read my essay to find out more his early life as well as other aspects of his life and how he came to power. The things about Hitler that I think are important to emphasize that affected his rise to power begin in his childhood. His childhood was very hard, and was very tough on him. A lot of the things that happened in his childhood, including abuse and the loss of a close sibling, we find in the childhoods of many criminals today such as psychopaths and murders. Interestingly, another fascist dictator from the same time period, Mussolini, had a very similar childhood.
Germany went through a lot of losses, even before WWI, with battles between France and Germany so there has always been a hatred between France and Germany. Germany wasn’t too fond of France, especially after the First World War. This animosity towards France made France one of the first and hardest hit countries by Hitler after Czechoslovakia and fuelled his passion for revenge. Hitler said “Anyone can deal with victory, but only the mighty can bear defeat”. What he is talking about is the state of Germany versus France after WWI.
Hitler is infamous for his torture and execution of Jewish people. In my research I found out the reason behind his hatred was the results for Germany from the treaty of Versailles after WWI. Many banks that gave away a lot Germany’s wealth and land and charged interest on the reparation from WWI were headed by Jewish bankers. Hitler really despised the Jewish people because of the banker thing, although that excuses him for really nothing. Just because a group of people are in charge of a bank that is charging your country interest, doesn’t mean you should try to wipe all of them out. At that time, blaming the Jewish banks gave Germany a scapegoat; it’s not our fault, it’s their fault. Hitler was trying to take over and he was trying to make Germany better than it was after WWI, so giving the German people a scapegoat for the state of their country by blaming the Jewish people allowed a lot of people to get behind Hitler.
Hitler was very good at convincing people to see his side. He was a very gifted speaker from a young age, which a lot of people said about him. He usually won any verbal debates he got into, and seemed to enjoy debating and convincing people of his point. This skill allowed him to convince an entire nation that he was their next best hope for a bright future.
Check out my essay below!
The second part of the project was creating an activity to teach the class about our essay topic. I created a slide show of Hitler’s propaganda, primarily posters, as I think it is very important to show how he used propaganda to further his objective. Hitler was very smart and seemed to always hire the best person for the job. In starting his propaganda campaign, he hired people who were really good at advertising on radio, really great at publishing books and creating imagery to get his message out and share his ideas. He used his propaganda in big ways, particularly during the 1936 Olympics. The Berlin Olympics was very successful for Germany as Hitler used the Olympics to show the world that Germany had not suffered a great loss and were instead doing very well after WWI. He also wanted to prove his ideology that the Aryan race was superior, so all of the German athletes were of the Aryan race. Most of them did very well so Hitler saw this as a great victory. Another big propaganda piece besides the Olympics and his poster campaign, was his book, Mein Kampf, which translated means “My Struggle”. I actually read some of his book and he has two chapters on just propaganda.
Another thing he used to influence the German people, was the school children. Hitler made the school system and all education teach the Nazi ideals, and that Germany was the greatest nation. There was no other way for the young people to think other than this way. He set up the Hitler Youth in the school system, and the children admired him. His plan was that if he taught the same thing to multiple generations with only one ideology, that ideology would become very strong in the minds of the people. He exploited children to ensure that his plan to take over the world and make it all-German world work. He would need children and youth on board with his plans for the present time and in the future. A quote from him that I think sums this all up is “He who owns the youth, gains the future”.
As a side note, there was something I came across in writing my essay that I was really confused about. This is fascism versus socialism. In school I was taught that fascism and socialism are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, and that Hitler was a fascist. When I was researching for my essay, I looked up what Nazi stands for, which is National Socialist German Workers Party, which confused me. My classmates were equally confused about the distinctions between fascism and socialism. In my research Mussolini, who was another fascist dictator, grew up as a socialist and he is said to have used socialism as a stepping stone to move to fascism. Further research helped me to clarify it a bit further. The creator of fascism was Giovanni Gentile, and his
idea was that government is in absolute control of everything and owns everything, which is very similar to communism and socialism. However, fascism adds in the concept of strong nationalism. In fact socialism, communism and fascism are all variations of similar political ideologies where the state owns most if not all property and means of production, and controls the distribution or redistribution of wealth. They are so similar to each other, that their supporters hate each other. I think the political spectrum makes more sense when described as a circle, rather than a straight line, as these ideas are on the opposite side of the spectrum from each other, but share much in common.
Overall, the Second World War was deeply impacted by Hitler and the use of his SS soldiers to commit war atrocities. The SS soldiers, the Nazi private military force, helped Hitler to take over the government before the war as I discuss in my essay. During the war, the SS carried out the concentration camps, and pillaged villages and small towns in France and all over the eastern and western front. They often committed war crimes against Allied forces that they had captured. The place of one such event I got to visit this summer on the Juno 75 Student Pilgrimage that I was on (see photos at the end of the post). On D-Day, the SS captured a group of Canadian
soldiers, who surrendered. After an enemy surrenders, the Geneva convention states that it is a war crime to harm or kill an enemy that has surrendered. After the Canadian’s surrendered, the SS tortured them, beating them to try to get information from them. They then shot them in the back of the head, executing them and leaving them in the field where they fell. I did a project for my Juno 75 Pilgrimage which tells the story of two different Canadian soldiers this happened to who were from our community, the 6th Field Engineers Squadron in North Vancouver. These two soldiers were combat engineers, who job was to destroy or build bridges and lay or clear mine fields. This was important for the safe movement of the troops on D-Day as the German forces
had taken out key bridges and laid many mine fields to delay the troops and supplies from advancing. The engineers were doing a late night patrol to clear a mine field when a group of SS soldiers surrounded them. Initially they escaped and were on the run for 3 days hiding in barns and ditches during the day and travelling at night. However, they were eventually captured. The reports of their capture describe that the engineers were sweaty and without supplies or weapons as they had ditched them in their efforts to escape and find their way back to the Canadian line. Upon their capture, they were brought to a commander named Wilhelm Mohnke, who was in charge of the 12th SS Hitler Youth Panzer Division. This division was a tank division manned by Hitler Youth who had been indoctrinated into Nazi ideology from a young age and were very young soldiers. They had committed many war crimes, Mohnke himself having committed at least 44 war crimes. Mohnke interrogated the Canadians, hitting them and getting more and more irate as they wouldn’t say anything. He took their papers and their ranks from their uniforms and disposed of all identifying items, marched them to a large bomb crater. He then shot a full magazine from a german machine gun into the engineers. They dropped in the crater, Mohnke then loaded a second magazine and shot that into them as well, ensuring they were dead. The part that gets a lot of people mad is that these evil people who were enabled and further manipulated by Hitler to commit these terrible war crimes, were never convicted for their crimes, or were given very light sentences of only a couple of years. Able to live the rest of their lives in peace and comfort in Germany. Many are still mad, and rightfully so, about the
illegal activities during the war. Even though we often talk a lot about what happened in Germany with Hitler’s own people, Hitler also impacted people from around the world. Including us in Canada, as illustrated by the story of the two Canadian soldiers who died after they surrendered. They knew death was coming but it is said they died not crying or screaming, not trying to run away or plead for mercy. They accepted it and died as true brave soldiers and have not received justice to this day, which I find deeply upsetting. This is true of many people from around the world, resulting in most people being impacted in some way by Hitler.