Adolf Hitler was one of history’s truly evil leaders. There is no excuse for the genocide of a race. No amount of sympathy should be given to a man with such malignant views on the world and the diverse races within it. Those who have read Hitler’s autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” have a much better understanding how such an evil can arise in a person. Although this evil exists in many, Hitler brought it to the world’s front door. Hitler accomplished a terrible, yet hugely influential feat. It is hard to imagine that Hitler was able to accomplish this feat considering his upbringing.
When Hitler was young, he learned to fear his father, Alois Hitler, who was very abusive. Young Hitler witnessed his mother, Klara Hitler, beaten into submission over and over again, and Hitler himself was often on the receiving end of the abuse. Alois Hitler died in 1905 when Hitler was 15 years old. He left a lasting impression on Hitler. Shortly after the death of his father, Hitler returned home hoping to attend the Viennese School of Art. Although, his mother was very ill, Hitler decided to go after his childhood dreams of becoming a painter. To his surprise, Hitler took the entrance examinations and failed. A greater shock came with the death of Klara Hitler, the only person Hitler ever loved.
Hitler described the time spent in Vienna as “the saddest years of my life.” Impoverished and alone at 16 years of age, he worked as a small and unsuccessful artist. He immersed himself in books, being the only escape he had from the feeling of insignificance that consumed him. No lasting friendships were made, no girls were courted; Hitler was secluded from the world.
Knowing that someone can rise from poverty and such sorrow to become a world leader is notable; especially to German people who were impoverished themselves. Hitler rose above all the hardships that were pressing the country at that time to lead the people. He was one of them, a common person with many supporters. In his political testament written before he died, Hitler said, “I die with a joyful heart in the knowledge of the immeasurable deeds and achievements of our peasants and workers and of a contribution unique in the history of our youth which bears my name.” Even in defeat, this man was stubbornly optimistic about his accomplishments. He heard the ripples echoing for lifetimes ahead. Hitler showed the youth of this world the most horrific example of discrimination. We all know, as Americans, how Hitler, his invasion of other cultures, and the empire he created are portrayed in our history books. How do you think the Bush administration will be portrayed in Iraqi history books?
By now it is common knowledge that this country elected George W. Bush on his morals and values. Marketed as the family man, Bush steered the eyes of the American people away from his record and directed them to his family, faith, and upbringing. He is America’s poster boy, and loving every minute of it. Sure he fits this mold, but is that really how we should elect a president? After all, he is the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. He has convinced himself he is doing a good job. He truly believes the war in Iraq is going well, he is excited about all the people resigning around him, and has done a great job of not paying any attention to what the rest of the world thinks of him and his decisions.
Hitler was similarly stubborn. Also from his political testament Hitler wrote, “After six years of war which, despite all setbacks, will one day go down in history as the most glorious and heroic manifestation of the struggle for existence of a nation.” This sounds like something Bush would say of Iraq. Bush makes it seem as if the country was going to explode if we wouldn’t have stepped in when we did.
In general, we, as the American public, do not know anything about the insurgence in Iraq. We know it is happening. We know they have a terrible leader, Al-Zarqowi, who is a monster we must capture in order to create a sense of accomplishment for the American public. When we capture a leader, do we, the American public, feel the war is close to being over?
Almost a year after the capture of Saddam Hussein, there is no sense of accomplishment. Will there be any closure when we capture Al-Zarqowi? We, the compassionate and moral American public, blindly followed this administration into battle no-questions-asked. We haven’t even tried to understand our enemy. What they are thinking? What they are feeling? What are they trying to accomplish? Further, we did not challenge this war to the best of our ability when we found out we had been lied to about the sole reason for the war in the first place, weapons of mass destruction. Many people followed Hitler with the same blind obedience. Bush is too stubborn to admit that the war in Iraq was poorly planned and an outright bad idea in the first place. We must take a stronger stance.
The German people under Hitler and the American people under Bush are very similar in that both of us are and were much too silent. Just because you can relate to and respect someone does not mean you must respect his decisions. Will the Bush administration be made an example of? Will the American public continue to allow the war in Iraq to be glorified, or are we going show our children that America can make mistakes? How do you want to be portrayed in your child’s history book?
Mike Myers is a University of Minnesota student and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for other historical pieces in coming issues of The Wake.