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Is Trump intuitive or has he learned from Hitler?

Wayne Getz, professor, Environmental Science, Policy and Management | August 8, 2018

In The Death of Democracy, Benjamin Carter Hett (Henry Holt, First Edition, 2018, pages 38 and 39) writes:

ADOLF HITLER LIED all the time. Yet he also said clearly what he was doing and what he planned to do. This is the essential paradox of Adolf Hitler.

We can see this paradox at work in the memories of people who were close to Hitler. Hans Frank, later Hitler’s lawyer and governor of occupied Poland, remembered that when he first heard Hitler speak in 1920, he felt that “here was someone who meant what he said, who didn’t want to convince you of anything he didn’t believe entirely himself.” While working as a reporter in Munich, Konrad Heiden, a Social Democratic journalist and Hitler’s first important biographer, witnessed Hitler speaking many times. “At the highpoints of his speeches, “Heiden wrote, “he is seduced by himself, and whether he is speaking the purest truth or the fattest lies, what he says is, in that moment, so completely the expression of his being … that even from the lie an aura of authenticity floods over the listener.” On the other hand, Hitler’s finance minister, Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk, observed, “He wasn’t even honest towards his most intimate confidants …. In my opinion, he was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth.”

In Mein Kampf, Hitler addresses his lack of candor with remarkable candor. The less honest a political message, Hitler wrote, the better. Politicians went wrong when they told small and insignificant lies. The small lie could easily be discovered, and then the politician’s credibility would be ruined. Better by far to tell “the big lie.” Why? In “the greatness of the lie there is always a certain element of credibility,” Hitler explains, “because the broad masses of a people can be more easily corrupted in the deeper reaches of their hearts” than consciously or deliberately. “In the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves sometimes lie about small things but would be too ashamed of lies that were too big.”

These primitive and simple people would never think to make up “colossal untruths,” and they could not imagine that other people might do so. Facts didn’t matter at all. “Even when presented with the true facts (ja selbst bei Aufklaerung), “these ordinary people”  will still doubt and waver and will continue to take at least some of [the lie] to be true. For the most impudent lie always leaves something lingering behind it, a fact which is known only too well to all great expert liars in this world.”

Hitler’s argument then took a curious turn. Having just advocated the telling of huge lies for political gain, he blamed the people he imagined to be his main enemies for being the real liars. “From time immemorial,” he wrote, “the greatest experts on the possibilities for the application of untruths and slanders were the Jews.” The great philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, said Hitler, had called “the Jew” “the Great Master of Lies.” If you did not realize the “truth” of Schopenhauer’s insight, or if you did “not wish to believe it,” you would “never be able to lend a hand in helping Truth to prevail.” What truth it was you might be helping to prevail, which you would presumably do by telling lies yourself, remained unclear.

In Trump, do we have an eerie convergence of Hitler’s crowd manipulation strategies, or has Trump studied Mein Kampf?

I can only say from what I have heard of Trump’s reading habits that it is likely the former.

(I was motivated to post this blog as a response to Trump’s proto-facist behavior over the past two years, and I dedicate it to the memory of those members of my family who died in the Holocaust.)

 

 

Comments to “Is Trump intuitive or has he learned from Hitler?

  1. Funny that you would be comparing President Trump with Adolf Hitler!

    Now, pretend you are in eighth-grade and the teacher assigns the compare-and-contrast writing assignment to sharpen your analytical writing skills. This will get you started:

    President Trump:
    Pro-Israel
    Jewish daughter and son- in-law

    Adolf Hitler:
    Jew Hater
    Holocaust Architect

    • The facts your present are indeed true.

      You could also tell your eight graders that Trump is a big man with blond hair and Hitler a small man with black hair – so are they then be very different people?

      But that would be missing the point of the lesson (which maybe should be postponed to the 11th or 12th grade), which is a study of the traits among orators practicing demagoguery on their way to becoming fascist leaders (the latter will only happen, of course, if circumstances are favorable). These fascist traits were evident in Mussolini who had a Jewish mistress, Margherita Sarfatti; in Hilter, who from 1938 to 1940, protected Eduard Bloch (he emigrated to the USA in 1940), the Jewish doctor who took care of his mother on her death bed; and in Trump who has a converted Jewish daughter.

      And a final part of a very extended lesson could be a discussion of Jews who collaborated with the Nazi’s, focusing on the very human traits of fear and greed that led them do so. Or it could be on Jews themselves who practice demagoguery. (Know any one?)

      • Comparing President Trump with Adolf Hitler is a left field foul. Remember, Hitler was a National Socialist and so he had more in common with Democrats.

        Suggest you compare-and-contrast President Reagan with President Trump.

      • Please give me the numbers and statistics of Jews who collaborated with the Nazi’s out of greed. I would like to find out your sources. Using the Jewish stereotype as greedy does not hold water in the example of the Holocaust.
        And yes, fear is a reason for collaborating with the Nazis. Have you ever had your life threatened and your whole family killed before your eyes?
        Shame

        • I agree with you that fear is a reason. And so is greed. All kinds of people are greedy. I have not said that Jews are more so than others . Why would you read that into what I said? I am Jewish myself and I have not found more greed among Jews than non-Jews. But all this is besides the point since my Blog was about Trump, and not about Jews.

  2. From an old article by Marie Brenner in Vanity Fair :

    ….. Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade. Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.

    “Did your cousin John give you the Hitler speeches?” I asked Trump.

    Trump hesitated. “Who told you that?”

    “I don’t remember,” I said.

    “Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.” (“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis said. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”)

    Later, Trump returned to this subject. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”

    Is Ivana trying to convince her friends and lawyer that Trump is a crypto-Nazi? Trump is no reader or history buff. Perhaps his possession of Hitler’s speeches merely indicates an interest in Hitler’s genius at propaganda. The Führer often described his defeats at Stalingrad and in North Africa as great victories. Trump continues to endow his diminishing world with significance as well. “There’s nobody that has the cash flow that I have,” he told The Wall Street Journal long after he knew better. “I want to be king of cash.”

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