The following is copied from a very interesting book I am reading called “Humans. A Brief History Of How We F*cked It All Up.” I thought to myself as I was reading: “Wow! This is simply amazing!”
I think you will find it amazing as well. And, I hope the author sells some books from this post. It’s a fun read, well researched, and provides lots of room for thought. Let’s see who you can guess who this maniac sounds creepily like.
“Beyond being a genocidal maniac, there is an aspect of Hitler’s rule that kind of gets missed in our standard view of him. We still tend to believe the Nazi machine was ruthlessly efficient and that the little dictator spent most of his time ……… well, dictating things.
Its worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac and his government was an absolute clown show. In fact, this may even have helped his rise to power as he was consistently underestimated by the German elite. Before he became Chancellor (the boss), many of them had dismissed him as a joke for his crude speeches and tacky rallies. He was a “pathetic dunderhead” according to one magazine editor; another wrote that his party was a “society of incompetents” and that people should not “overestimate the fairground party.”
Even after elections had made the Nazis the largest party in the Reichstag, people still kept thinking Hitler was an easy mark, a blustering idiot who could easily be controlled by smart people. Franz von Papen, the recently removed Chancellor of Germany, who was bitterly determined to regain power thought he could use Hitler as a pawn. He entered into discussions with him to form a coalition government. After the deal was done, making Hitler the Chancellor and von Papen the Vice-Chancellor with a cabinet full of the latter’s conservative allies, von Papen was confident of his triumph.
“We have hired him,” he reassured an acquaintance who tried to warn him of his mistake.
“In two months,” he predicted to a friend, “we’ll have pushed Hitler so far into a corner, he’ll squeak.”
That’s not how it worked out. In two months, Hitler had seized complete control of the German state persuading the Reichstag to pass an act that gave him the power to bypass the constitution, the presidency, and the Reichstag itself.
The following are bits and pieces taken from the author’s research on Hitler. They make interesting reading.
- Why did the elites so consistently underestimate Hitler? They were not wrong in their assessment of his competency – they just failed to realize this was not enough to stand in the way of his ambition.
- Hitler was really bad at running a government.
- His own press chief wrote in his memoirs: In the 12 years of his rule, Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has existed in a civilized state.
- He hated to read paper-work.
- He would regularly make important decisions without even looking at documents.
- Rather than having policy discussions with his staff, he would subject them to impromptu speeches about whatever was on his mind.
- His government was constantly in chaos.
- Nobody was entirely clear on who was in charge of what.
- He procrastined wildly when asked to make difficult decisions.
- He would often rely on gut feelings that often left allies in the dark.
- His unreliability had those working for him pulling out their hair.
- His staff spent most of their time in-fighting and backstabbing to either win his attention or avoid his attention.
- He wouldn’t get out of bed until 11:00 am, spending the time reading what newspapers were saying about him.
- He did not like being in Berlin as people were always asking him to do things. He much preferred going to his private country retreat.
- He was obsessed with the media and celebrity.
- He once described himself as the greatest actor in Europe.
- He was deeply insecure about his lack of knowledge preferring to ignore information that contradicted his preconceptions.
- He was said to “rage like a tiger” when anyone contradicted him.
- He craved the approval of those he disliked and his mood would improve if a newspaper wrote something complimentary about him.
- Hitler’s personal failings did not stop him from having an uncanny instinct for political rhetoric that would gain him that mass appeal he craved
There is more in the book but I think if you are a follower of American politics, you will see the similarities. I found them striking and scaringly familiar. Buy the book: it’s a read worth the money.
Post Image Credit: Giammarco Boscaro, Unsplash.