While reviewing some stories in history, which is believed by many to repeat itself in different ways, I stopped at a very important statement attributed to Adolf Hitler. According to the Nazi leader, if you want to control people, tell them they are in danger then question the patriotism of your critics. For me, this seemed like a “constitution” for anyone who would want to lead people like a herd that follows blindly regardless of where it is being led.
I read the story of this “leader” and how he came to power which he later used to destroy Germany and the whole world.
Hitler was an eloquent orator and he attracted his audience with his body language, especially hand gestures, and his powerful voice. The speeches he delivered to soldiers in 1919 and 1920 played a major role in enhancing his oration skills. In those speeches, he talked about back-stabbing the German army during the First World War, the Marxist Jewish conspiracy to invade the world, the betrayal to which Germany was subjected in the Versailles Treaty. He was also very good at finding a scapegoat on which he can lay all the blame for the calamities befalling his people. By time, Hitler managed to be a perfect orator who knows how to emotionally manipulate his audience.
Huge numbers of people where indoctrinated in annual meetings were they pledged allegiance to the Nazi Party, took part in marches, and firmly raised their hands to greet their leader.
A propaganda film called Triumph of the Will depicted one of the Nazi annual meetings held in Nuremberg in 1934. In this film, Hitler was either filmed from above or from underneath but not there were no close-ups, except only twice. This filming method presented him as an idol.
Hitler used to deliver the same speech several times: first in front of the army then in clubs all over Germany.
In 1919, Hitler joined the National German Workers' Party. The following year, he left the army and became totally dedicated to the party. He became the head of the party and changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party with the swastika as its logo.
Hitler was supported by the media, which took it upon itself to propagate the ideology of the party. From that point onwards, Hitler started to be considered the savior of Germany, which was then undergoing a severe economic depression following its defeat in World War One.
Hitler came to power democratically. The depression and the turmoil accompanying it triggered a state of tension which was enhanced by the power struggles between different political factions. Consequently, early elections were held in September 1930 and the Nazi Party jumped from being the ninth party to the second, winning 18.3% of the votes and 107 seats in the parliament. Hitler was able to assume full control and to crush all sorts of opposition in a violent manner whether through the Gestapo, forced migrations, or extermination camps.
The cabinet, headed by Hitler, agreed to give him absolute powers following the death of the German president. He became the chancellor of Germany and the supreme commander of its armed forces with 84.6% of the people approving his policies as demonstrated by a referendum held at the time even though they were in stark violation with the constitution and the law. Hitler managed to get rid of all the legitimate tools that can be used to oust him and no one dared to object. Needless to say, no entity had the right to monitor his performance.
There are so many details in the life of this “leader” and they are all worth reading. Hopefully, his downfall will offer some lesson to be learnt!
(The writer is the former head of Egyptian Television’s news center. Twitter: @ALMenawy)