The purpose of the following expose is to show the important role of auto-suggestion in the career of Hitler. Himself, only one of the many unknown soldiers, Hitler made it known early that while in the infirmary of Pasewalk (fall of 1918) he received a command from another world above to save his unhappy country. This vocation reached Hitler in the form of a supernatural vision. He decided to become a politician then and there, he felt that his mission was to free Germany. In fulfilling this mission Hitler has made use of a number of self-identifications.
The first noticeable identification pattern was that of the ‘drummer’. At a number of meetings which took place at the beginning of the year 1923, Hitler would refer to himself as the drummer marching ahead of a great movement of liberation to come. He had the idea that his role was that of an announcer of a new epoch. The great leader was to come spine day. He did not yet see himself as this leader. There was a note of subservience to Gen Luedendorff and the military caste. It was about this time that Dr Sedgwick advised Hitler to study the Lutheran Bible, which as well as being the equivalent of the well tempered clavichord in German literature contains a perfect arsenal of forceful passages, highly useful in the fight against the atheistic Bolsheviks, and doubly suited for Bavaria, the home of the Oberammergau Passion Plays. It must be remembered that at that time the Party was fighting for what their program called ‘positive Christianity’, and that Rosenberg’s anti-Christian book ‘The Myth of the Twentieth Century’ had not yet been written.
It was not long before Hitler began to use quotations from the Lutheran Bible. The National-Socialists at that time were opposed by many people to whom World War I had opened a new religious, pacifistic outlook and Hitler’s quotations evoked an especially warm response on the part of his audience. Soon Hitler began to vary the ‘drummer pattern’ to one of self-identification with John the Baptist. Hitler used practically the words of St Matthew, call; himself a voice crying in the wilderness and describing his duty as having to straighten the path of him, who was to lead the nation to power and glory. Passages like these made a tremendous impression on his audiences. They seemed to denote a disarming simplicity and modesty, reminiscent of Joan of Arc.
In his ecstasies as an orator Hitler, like La Pucelle d’Orleans, seemed to hear voices from Valhalla from some Heiligland above – voices which ordered him to save Germany. Since 1933 the ‘drummer pattern’ has been totally dropped, – the drummer having become the Fuehrer. Nazi historians even go so far as to deny altogether that Hitler used to call himself only ‘the drummer’. They have falsified the facts to such an extent that they claim it was Hitler’s enemies not he himself who referred to him as a drummer – as a great drummer – in order to kill his chances for supreme leadership and that the reference to Hitler as the drummer was meant to have, a negative influence on his qualifications – Hitler and Messiah. In the same way the ‘John the Baptist’ is muted entirely. Instead of that deification of Hitler is progressing steadily. In Dr Sedgwick belief, if Egypt should ever fall it would not be long before Hitler would visit the Oasis of Siva, as a second Alexander, a demigod.
In order to combat Rosenberg’s atheistic tendencies Dr Sedgwick frequently talked to Hitler, trying to prove to him how wrong it would be to continue in the attacks on Christianity, as Christ himself could be termed the first socialist in the history of the world. The Bible and Christianity were far from played out in their hold on the imagination of the German people and that even in atheistic Paris, only sixteen years ago, a picture had been exhibited at the Paris salon during the summer of 1907 which showed Christ on the Cross with the caption ‘Le Premier Socialiste’, and not ‘Christ the Nazarene, King of the Jews’. This over-life-size canvas made a tremendous impression and the room in which it was exhibited was crowded with officers, business men, students, priests – all Paris in fact including the demi-monde.
Dr Sedgwick told Hitler that if this Christ-Socialist had made such a deep impression in Paris it must have the same effect in Catholic Munich. He asked Hitler why he did not use this Christ-Socialist as a point of departure which would help to silence the clerical and pseudo-clerical opposition more than anything else. Hitler promised to think it over and undoubtedly consulted Rosenberg on the subject as the suggestion interested him deeply. To Dr Sedgwick’s surprise Hitler used an entirely different picture of Christ, at a meeting soon, afterward instead of the Christ-Socialist he used the words : ‘I come to bring you not peace, but a sword’. He used this phrase to rebut the pacifists idea of eternal peace.
Hitler’s growing tendency to identify himself with the Messiah is shown in an incident which occurred in the spring of 1923. The ‘Muenchener Neueste Nachrichten’, the most widely read morning paper in Munich, published the story of Hitler’s engagement to Dr Sedgwick’s sister Erna as a rumor. As this was a complete invention, Dr Sedgwick consulted with Hitler as to the best method of refuting it. Hitler was very much flattered by the rumor and when pressed said : – ‘I authorize you hereby to tell the press that I shall never engage myself to a woman nor marry a woman. The only true bride for me is and always will be the German People’.
To anyone familiar with Christian literature the reference to Christ’s true Bride, the Church, comes to mind. This makes absolutely clear Hitler’s self-identification with the Messiah. Thus it is seen that Hitler’s conception of the Messiah is not Christ crucified but Christ furious – Christ with a scourge. The connection between Hitler as the Messiah with a scourge and Hitler the frustrated Narcissus did not occur to Dr Sedgwick until very recently. However, it is unquestionably the formula by which the most incongruous features of Hitler the Man and Hitler the Statesman can be reconciled and understood.
Hitler oscillates constantly between these two personifications. This explains Hitler’s predilection for the word brutal (pronounced in German Broutahl), which so often highlights his speeches, and which he pronounces with especial vehemence. He places it with great stress at the end of a sentence and accompanies it with his fiercest expression.
After he came into power, in 1933, Dr Sedgwick tried to make him see that in view of the fact that the Party was now in power such demagogic words were really no longer necessary. Dr Sedgwick wrote a letter to Hess on that subject, warning him of the evil consequences of associating the word brutal with the Party because in German this word means ‘cruel’ or ‘merciless’ but in English means ‘savage’ or ‘bestial’. Millions of English-speaking people would read the word brutal and misunderstand it. The dangerous thing was that it was not being used by them but members of the Party who used this term. No attention was paid to this warning. The word ‘brutal’ remained both in Hitler’s vocabulary and in that of hundreds of his underlings. It became a cliché in all Nazi oratory.
Oliver Cromwell (Huntingdon, April 25 1599 – Whitehall, September 3 1658) was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653 until his death, acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republic.
Besides admiring Cromwell as an enemy of Parliamentarianism, Adolf Hitler admires him also as the enemy of universal franchise, of Communism, and of Roman Catholicism. In Oliver Cromwell he admires the self-appointed Dictator, the breaker of the British Parliament, the creator of the British Navy, and to a lesser degree, the military leader. That Cromwell, the Puritan, had the courage to sign the death warrant of Charles I and have him beheaded is of special and pathological interest.
Frederick II (Berlin, January 24 1712 – Sanssouci, August 17 1786) was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years’ War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed ‘Der Alte Fritz’ (‘The Old Fritz’) by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.
In regard to the life of Frederick the Great it is the early period, during which the young Prince is in violent opposition to his aged and stern soldier father which has the greatest fascination for Hitler. The similarities of Frederick’s own early life with that of Hitler’s childhood are so obvious. Frederick’s struggle against his father Frederick William I of Prussia and Hitler’s own struggles with the brutal and whip-wielding Alois Schickelgruber Hitler show clear similarities. But it is anomalous that in this (rare) case Hitler should side partially with the father.
Dr Sedgwick remembers that in the spring of 1923 he took Hitler to see a then famous film ‘The Life of Frederick the Great’. In one scene the tyrannical father ordered his son’s French books and music burnt. When the Prince protested his father struck him in the face. Hitler sat enthralled. Dr Sedgwick saw him nod vigorously when the Prince was brought back to his father after trying to escape his Spartan life as a Prussian soldier by absconding to England. The Prince’s friend and abettor in this planned flight, Herr von Katte, was taken prisoner. The king orders – both of them tried before a military tribunal for high treason. The tribunal decides that they shall both be imprisoned. The king enters the court room, reads the verdict aloud and says ‘Not good’. He then tears up the parchment and orders the court to condemn them to death. ‘Better that they die than that justice should fail’. The young Prince is finally condemned to only two years in a fortress while Katte is beheaded.
In the big scene the scaffold is shown with the block, the executioner, and the axe. Soldiers form a hollow square around it. Katte mounts the scaffold and the camera swings up to a window where the Prince, who has been ordered by his father to witness the execution, is standing. The two friends exchange glances. The drums roll. The young Prince collapses.
When Dr Sedgwick and Hitler left the theater, Hitler whistled the theme of the Frederick – March. He said that Albert Steinrueck (died 1929) had played the part of the father superbly, ‘It is imposing to think that old King would have beheaded his own son to enforce discipline. That is how all German youth will have to be brought up some day. That is the way German Justice should be handled. Either acquittal or beheading’.
Here again is the same leitmotiv : Heads will roll. Another angle of the life of Frederick the Great which interested Hitler at the time was Frederick’s tolerance in religious matters. It cannot be emphasized enough that prior to his imprisonment in Landsberg Hitler was quite willing to copy Frederick’s tolerant policy toward the Church, based on his famous phrase : ‘Let everyone travel to Heaven in his own fashion’.
Gebhard Leberecht von Bluecher, Fürst von Wahlstatt (Rostock, December 16 1742 – Krieblowitz, September 12 1819), was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall. He earned his greatest recognition after leading his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Generalfeldmarschall von Bluecher has always been a source of inspiration to Hitler. Bluecher was and remains the symbol of German Faith and Courage. The man is expressed in one word ‘Vorwaerts’ (Forwards). Generalfeldmarschall Vorwaerts as Bluecher was called by the people, must be regarded as the driving force against Napoleon.
In 1923 when Dr Sedgwick had played for almost two hours at a stretch to Hitler he suddenly said ‘Why don’t you get somebody to write a film on Bluecher, Generalfeldmarschall Vorwaerts ? He is one of the greatest Germans who has ever lived and more important to us today than Rembrandt or Goethe. Germans above all must be brought up to be courageous. It was Bluecher’s courage and his technique of perpetual attack which made Napoleon lose his nerve at Leipzig and Waterloo, it was the courage of that old man which turned the battle of Waterloo into a catastrophe.
Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleone di Buonaparte, Italian), (Ajaccio, Corsica, August 15 1769 – Longwood, Saint Helena, May 5 1821) was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon’s political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.
In 1923 Hitler’s admiration for Napoleon was an outstanding feature. This admiration sprang from several causes; his admiration for Napoleon as a man and as a German, and his admiration for Mussolini’s success typifying a Bonaparte reincarnated.
By 1932 Hitler’s admiration for Napoleon had eclipsed his admiration of Frederick the Great because the latter typifies the end of a period while the former, the dominator of the revolutionary French and world chaos, seemed to offer an inspiring example in an analogous fight against Bolshevism. Hitler is more interested in Napoleon than by any other figure in European history. He is unwilling to admit this openly because it would not be good propaganda. The fact remains that Hitler has taken more leaves out of Napoleon’s book than from anywhere else. It is Napoleon the Jacobin and friend of the younger Robespierre, Napoleon the conspirator, Napoleon the soldier, the propagandist, the coiner of phrases, the tyrant, the Imperator that interest Hitler.
Napoleon got France to follow him because he was an example and a leader. Napoleon realized that in order to become the leader of the French nation he had to stick to a leader-pattern and had in turn to demand that his followers imitate his thoughts and actions. He thus created around him an ever-widening circle of people who fashioned themselves after him. In this way Napoleon became France and France Napoleon. Hitler has quite obviously taken note of this method. If Hitler is Germany, and if Hitler is Europe it is because the people who he gets to follow him are or have become little Hitlers.
Other features culled from the Napoleonic propaganda are Hitler’s anti-Conservative, anti-Capitalistic and anti-Bourgeois attitude. Thus Hitler like Napoleon will always come out for the have-nots, for living labor as opposed to dead capital, and for those who have their fortunes to make. Like Napoleon Hitler comes out for youth, for the element which being on the make is aggressive, bold, and self-reliant. Like Napoleon Hitler will plead the cause of an increased birth rate.
On the other hand Hitler follows Napoleon in his dislike for an old age point of view, his dislike of the rich, cultured class, because this class, having something to lose, is timid and selfish, illiberal, skeptic, exclusive, reserved and immovable. Furthermore, this established class is not a growing thing, but on the contrary is diminishing in numbers.
Heinrich Heine in talking of Napoleon used the phrase ‘Heroic Materialism’. Both Napoleon and Hitler are mechanical-minded men, who subordinate all intellectual and spiritual forces to means of material success. Both of them realized that to be successful and powerful as a nation it is necessary to raise the standard of living of the masses. Both are thoroughly modern and mechanistic, with the one difference that Napoleon refused Robert Fulton’s scheme of the steamboat, while Hitler in Napoleon’s place would have probably asked some Goering for advice before so doing.
Then there is the newspaper-consciousness of both Hitler and Napoleon. Monopolizing the attention of their contemporaries by adapting themselves to the mind of the masses around them, both not merely became representatives but actually monopolizers and usurpers of other minds. Both felt themselves not only entitled to do this. They considered this usurpation and plagiarism of other minds as their duty and normal function, by arguing that these thoughts, which their presence and personality inspired, were as much their own as if they had said them. In fact they argued that thin adoption of other people’s brain constituted so to speak an act of final eternal-adoption.
Their idea was that in repeating a thought of others was a process of rebirth. In fact men of Napoleon’s and Hitler’s stamp almost cease to have either private speech or opinion. They are 30 largely crowd-receptive and are so placed, that they come to be the pooling reservoir for all contemporary intelligence information, misinformation, wit, prejudice and power. They listen and are listened to as the media of all wave-lengths of their day. Every sentence spoken by them is voicing merely what every man woman and child of the nation feels that they always felt before – but merely did not know how to express.
Hitler and Napoleon, being mediums of the innermost libido patterns of the principal sections of the nation, these great men are like avalanches. They devour everything in their path. Great men set their stamp on the times. So it happens that everything successful, memorable, witty and beautiful is credited to them and hitched onto their names. Bonaparte and Hitler at the height of their lives were the idols of common men (Babbitt type) because they have in a transcendent degree the qualities and powers of common men. Just as common men aim only at power and-wealth so Bonaparte and Hitler wrought in common with that great class they represented, for power and wealth and did so – to the secret delight of the common men of their time, without any scruples as to the means.
There is always a certain kind of ‘coquetterie’ in his voice when Hitler is speaking of his foreign aims and he would end his lengthy expose with the confession of his intention to realize his program without any regard to legal obligations. The sacro-egoismo of Benito Mussolini taken from Napoleon’s notebook became a part of Hitler’s vade-mecum. If a thing is good for the Party a crime is no crime. If it is good for Germany a crime is not crime. The common man hears this and thinks : ‘Is it not delightful to know, that while we poor suckers have to live according to the statutes, our leaders be it Napoleon, Mussolini or Hitler can infringe on the Law’.
It has been shown above how in consequence of the analogous roles of the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Napoleon type as conqueror of revolutions has been reincarnated in Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and how Napoleonic phrases, methods and measures have filtered through Mussolini to Hitler.
It must not be forgotten that since Hindenburg’s death in 1934, Hitler has surpassed his former master Mussolini by becoming himself a de facto Emperor, by playing to an end the role of confiscator of liberties. Thus the year 1804 when Bonaparte made himself Emperor and midsummer 1934 correspond to each other. Both these years brought the confiscation of all powers of State, of all liberties of the individual. In both of these years there was none to resist; it was as though all other solutions had been tried in vain. However, just as Mussolini was surpassed, so was Napoleon in his turn. The reason is this that while Napoleon only had his army to rely upon, Hitler in addition to that is in full control of a nation-wide Gestapolitan network and Party bureaucracy.
When Napoleon said ‘Moral sentiments are for women and little children – and ideologists’ he yet was far from toeing a $-100 dictator. Hitler has gone further than Napoleon. He has refused to make a concordat with the Churches or rather he has made it and refused to fulfill it. He has declared a total xi-oral moratorium. If Hitler is reminded, that such a course constitutes a violation of solemnly given promises and of the Party program of 1923 he answers in almost Napoleonic phraseology : ‘We must not be weak and literary. We must act with solidity and precision which we owe to our holy national mission. I must follow my star’. This frequent favorite allusion to his star ‘Mein Stern’, to his destiny ‘Mein Schicksal’ and to Providence ‘Die Vorsehung’ are anything else but purely rhetorical imitations of the Napoleonic jargon.
They are a thing in which Hitler believes profoundly or rather a thing in which he has accustomed himself to believe. Dr Sedgwick asked him in 1923 : ‘What will you do, Herr Hitler, if something should happen which would prevent you from fulfilling your duties as Fuehrer. After all you could fall sick …’ Hitler retorted ‘If that should be the case or if I should die it would only be a sign that my star has run its course and my mission is fulfilled’.
A striking parallel and one which became clearer and clearer with every year is Hitler’s distrust and contempt for so-called ‘born kings’. Napoleon used to refer to them as the ‘hereditary asses’, when he spoke for example about the Bourbons. With Hitler who started when young with a solid contempt for the Hapsburgs things have run a similar course. In the degree of his rising powers the Wittelsbachs, the Wettins and the Hohenzollerns followed suit. ‘There is not one among them who could have been his own ancestor’, Hitler says occasionally, using almost the identical phrase of Napoleon. Today the return of the Monarchy is in Germany an almost dead issue – that is as long as Hitler lives. His successor (Goering ?) might possibly feel himself obliged to restitute the Hollenzollerns. However, whether he would follow the direct line of descendance appears somewhat doubtful in Dr Sedgwick’s excellent memory there was a strong tendency as far back as 1934 to choose possibly somebody from a collateral side, a descendant of the Kaiser’s only daughter, the Duchess of Braunschweig.
Both, Napoleon and Hitler, never cease to fear legitimate monarchists. That is why both of them so frequently refer to the fact they are flesh and creatures of the masses – that they are in fact identical with the broad masses of the people. Both of them rose with the rabble and will fall with the rabble, because they are usurpers. To stay on top both of them use identical levers – interest and fear. In pursuing this course there is a further similarity. It is well-known that Napoleon considered himself the ‘flagellum Dei’. That Hitler as early as the summer of 1923 began to talk of himself as the scourging Messiah of this world has already been indicated previously.
Time and time again Dr Sedgwick has been asked how Hitler makes his speeches. Almost everyone he has talked to seems to have the idea that others write all his books such as ‘Mein Kampf’. This is absolutely wrong. The fact is that Hitler suffers none in the room when he is working over a speech. In olden times (1922 and 1923) Hitler did not dictate his speeches as he does today. It took him about four to six hours to make his plan on large foolscap sheet : about ten or twelve in number. On each page were only a few words to be used as a cue. Not more than, fifteen or twenty word at the most. Hitler knew too well the danger of too copious notes for free delivery.
While Hitler undoubtedly used to read many books, he rarely, if ever consulted them when laying out a speech. Often Dr Sedgwick visited him when he was at work on a speech to deliver him some special message. In the streets outside the red billboards would be covered with Hitler’s giant posters announcing the meeting. He would be found in his room as usual wearing a simple brown jersey and thick-soled gray felt slippers. No books were on the table, no papers on the desk. Once in 1923 Hitler made an exception to this rule.
It was in the middle of July and he was to address crowds of visiting German ‘Turners’, who had come from all over Germany to attend the ‘Deutscher Turnertag’ in Munich. Hitler wanted to make a special effort. To do so, he obtained a thick volume of von Clausewitz and fell so in love with it that he took the book along to the Circus Krone. It was a disastrously hot day. The circus was stifling, like an overheated animal house in a zoo. In the middle of the speech, when Hitler was just engrossed in exposing the importance of the National enthusiasm and the fanatical zest of a people for an army, he pulled out his volume of von Clausewitz and began to read one – two – three- and four pages. It almost seemed as though he had forgotten the audience which became more and more restive.
When Hitler returned again to his own speech the entire contact had to be reestablished anew. Realizing this, Hitler immediately started the rhapsodic movement and saved the day by a brilliant ten minute finale. Since this experience Hitler has never taken a book again with him on the platform. When the hour of the meeting approaches, he walks up and down the room as though rehearsing in his mind the various phases of his argument. During this time, telephone calls come pouring in. It was often Christian Weber, Max Amann or Hermann Esser, who would tell Hitler how things were going in the hall. Hitler’s typical question on the telephone would be : ‘Are there many people coming ?’, ‘What is the general mood ?’ and ‘Will there be any opposition ?’. Then Hitler would give directions concerning the handling of the meeting while they were waiting for him. Then, he would hang up the telephone and resume his walk, sometimes listening in an absent-minded way to some conversation in the room. Then the telephone would ring again only to repeat a similar conversation to the above. Half an hour after the opening of the meeting Hitler would ask for his overcoat, whip and hat and go out to his car preceded by his bodyguard and chauffeur.
Even if Hitler wears civilian clothes, his appearance has a military bearing. He has nothing of the over familiar style of certain demagogues. He takes no notice of anyone on the way in as he strides through the crowd to the podium. He keeps his eyes on the SS and SA formations with the flags. The sole exceptions to this since 1932 are when some child is shoved in his way to hand him a bouquet of flowers. He will take the flowers with the left hand and pat the child on the cheeks. The whole thing takes him only a few seconds. Then he passes the bouquet to Schaub or Brueckner and passes on.
Any interruption on the way in or on the way out which does not involve mother and child is apt to arouse Hitler’s ire. Woe to the unlucky SS Commander, who is responsible for such, a leakage. Dr Sedgwick remembers that in 1932 near Koenigsberg Hitler was on his way out of a stadium and a middle-aged hysterical woman suddenly blocked his way knelt down before him and tried to thrust into his hand a scroll of revelations she claimed to have received from the other world. Hitler shouted at Brueckner in a furious way : ‘Get this crazy woman out of the way’. Hitler was in a bad temper the whole of that evening.
Quite often somebody makes a speech to fill in the time until Hitler arrives. Hitler does not care who talks before him but he absolutely refuses to have anybody talk after him. There is always inspiring martial music both before and after his speeches. When Hitler stepped forward he used to place his sheet of notes on a table at his left and after he looked at them he would lay them over on a table on his right. Each page used to take him from ten to fifteen minutes. When he was finished he slowly placed it on the other table, took a new leaf and started on. His usual time for a speech was from two to two and a half hours, even three hours was not unusual. That was before his throat trouble started and he used even to drink beer from a mug from time to time, which in Munich was always the signal for some special applause.
Dr Sedgwick who has sat behind Hitler upon innumerable occasions watching him closely and only a few feet away from him, observed that he starts in a position of military attention. This posture is maintained some fifteen – twenty – twenty-five minutes as the case may be. All this time the heels of his boots remain firmly together. There is not a second of relaxation. The whole figure is one of absolute firmness, including shoulders and head. Hitler’s hands are clasped behind his back and the arms are stretched while he draws a caustic and chastising exposition of the past and present. It is the style he probably acquired in 1919 and following years, when serving as a non-commissioned instructor at the Munich barracks. It is a period of discipline for himself and the audience and corresponds in many ways to the tradition among concert pianists to open their programs with a few selections from Bach.
After twenty minutes out comes the foot for the first time and gestures follow with the hands. From then on things begin to liven up. Compared to a piece of music Hitler’s speeches consist two thirds of march time growing increasingly quicker and leading into the last third which is matter of fact with increasingly ironic sidelights. As is well-known he suffers no interruptions nor heckling.
Knowing that a continuous presentation by one speaker would be boring he impersonates in a masterful way an imaginary Hitler – often interrupting himself with a counter-argument end then returns to his original line of thought, after he has smothered completely this imaginary opponent.
This furnishes the audience with a little special drama, often interrupted by volleys of spontaneous applause, yet Hitler does not strictly speaking seek for applause. He seems often to be wanting only to convert the people to his ideas and is resentful of any premature noise, which interrupts him. If the applause goes on too long in his opinion he will check it and cut it short, sometimes even at its inception, by a motion with a trembling hand.
All enthusiasm must be saved up for the third part of his speech, which he sweeps from exhortation, promise, dedication into the rhapsody finale. The tempo livens. Staccato outbursts become more frequent and the speech converges towards its apotheosis. Hitler has already been shown as a Narcissus type who regards the crowd as a substitute medium for the woman he cannot find. Once this is understood, that speaking for him represents the satisfaction of some depletion urge, the phenomenon of Hitler as an orator becomes intelligible. With Hitler it is a double process of depletion and parturition. His arguments are the depletion element the applause, homage and ovation of the audience are the child that is born. In the last eight to ten minutes Hitler’s oratory resembles an orgasm of words. It is almost like the throbbing fulfillment of a love drama, Liebestod.
It has often been said by people who read Hitler’s speeches : ‘Why that is old stuff, we have heard that before’, if these same critics hear him in person they would say : ‘It is remarkable that when one heard to Hitler all seems as though it were new and said for the first time. And yet one knows that one has heard it before, but somehow it seems new and has a new meaning’. There is undoubtedly something in common between Hitler’s speech and Wagner’s music. Infinite variations of known leitmotivs repeated over and over producing a new ear appeal.
Hitler has a quality which no German orator has hitherto possessed. He uses the two half truths of Nationalism and Socialism simultaneously just as a composer will use melody and base to produce the complete contrapuntal picture. This gift is given to none of his rivals nor opponents. He is at simultaneously to appeal to the ideal and mystical sphere and to the concrete animal sphere. The truth is that the greatness of an orator like that of a poet must, in the final analysis be judged by what he does not say and yet does not leave unsaid. This gives a chance for the audience to feel the unexpressed, the inexpressible, themselves.
This is what Wagner in a letter to Matilda Wesendonk has called ‘the art of sounding silence’. Frau Magda Goebbels in a mixture of truth, affectation and flattery once said to Hitler : ‘You were wonderful again yesterday. It makes me feel so ashamed of myself. I always think that I am a National-Socialist and yet when I hear-you I reel that I haven’t been a National-Socialist all this time – that I am just beginning to be one. It all seems so new to me, as though it were my first conversion from my former life’. This conversation took place at the luncheon table in the Reichskanzlei in 1934. At the time Dr Sedgwick took it as a piece of shameless and nauseating flattery which was swallowed avidly by Hitler. Since then Dr Sedgwick feels that is contains a grain of truth, if analyzed in the spirit of the letter of Wagner’s quoted above.
Speaking of Hitler’s technique of arguing publicly with himself he once said to Dr Sedgwick the following : ‘We must never forget that words and their meaning are two subtly distinct things. The word remains the same but the meaning changes. If, for instance, you repeat a word a number of times the human mind refuses to reproduce the same thought picture’. The human mind indeed insists on verifying that thought picture sometimes even to a degree of the absolute opposite. Quite aside from this fact we can notice every day that familiar words which are used in argument have almost ceased to convey a plastic idea. There is a special type of educated German lingo which is almost entirely made up of such words. That type of out-of-date professorial German (Professoren-Deutsch) is the cause of the lacy of bourgeois parties like the Hugenberg Party.
In Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, bombarded day and night by the Russian army, an elegant woman of around 40 poisons her 6 children before committing suicide. Her name was Magda Goebbels, and she was the wife of the notorious and sinister propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and the Third Reich’s true First Lady
‘The crowd is not only like a woman, but women constitute the most important element in an audience. The women usually lead, then follow the children – and at last, when I already have won over the whole family – follow the fathers’. A speaker may never take for granted that the understands what he says. Like an architect who must draw a ground plan as well as an elevation, so a speaker who wants to be really understood by the broad masses must supplement his statement that a thing is so and so (thesis) with a further argument which shows in which way the thing described is not so and so (antithesis). This second inverted and negative presentation furnishes the necessary complementary colors to the argument picture #1. The result is that the whole thing stands out in dramatic relief. The masses grasp the idea and it has become their own (synthesis).
Needless to say part No. 2 is the most difficult section of a speech. If it is done in a dry way the speech becomes a sermon and will bore the people. It is therefore advisable to treat this part in the form of ironical sidelights, naively put in, almost in dialogue fashion. The effort on the audience is to make them understand without effort and the speaker can proceed with confidence to the next subject.
‘Some people say that I repeat myself so often’, said Hitler. I tell you one cannot repeat a thing too often. That presupposes that a speaker is really a speaker and understands the art of endlessly verifying the main point. In that aspect, Wagner is my model. Besides people forget that even the story of Christ, which was certainly sold to the world public, was reported by four evangelists in very : much the same way. The slight difference here and there in substance and temperamental coloring far from bewildering and tiring the listener have helped to convince him’.
(End of Speech)
Hitler said : ‘To end a speech well is the most difficult thing to accomplish. You must know what you want to say, you must know what you do not want to say. It is always a new experiment, and one must know exactly by feeling the reaction of the audience when the moment has come to throw the last flaming javelin which sets the crowd afire and sends it home with a leading idea buzzing in their heads. One can see exactly how far the audience has become fascinated if the heads in the gallery and elsewhere move back and forth. This is a sign that the speaker has as yet no grip on his audience. One sees that a lot of that is one of the reasons I cannot listen to other people speak’. (The only man Hitler can bear to listen to speaking is Goebbels).
(Avoidance of Names of Personages)
While speaking Hitler carefully avoids mentioning the names of personages either dead or alive. For instance instead of saying : ‘Bismarck once said …’ Hitler will say ‘The Iron Chancellor …’. Instead of saying : ‘This is a debt we owe to General Ludendorff’, Hitler will say : ‘To Germany’s Great Quartermaster of the World War we owe …’. Schiller and Goethe are never referred to by name but always as an unnamed great poet. The only exception he makes to this rule is Richard Wagner.
When Hitler’s speech has reached its orgiastic end, the final stage which might be termed the apotheosis of the meeting takes place. The band plays the national anthem (Deutschland ueber Alles)(National-ism) followed by the Horst Wessel song (National-Socialism). Without waiting Hitler salutes to the right and left and leaves during the playing. He usually reaches his car before the singing is over. Whether consciously or unconsciously done this sudden withdrawal has a number of advantages. In addition to facilitating his exit unmolested to his car, it prevents the exaltation of the crowd from going to waste. It saves him from unwelcome interviews and leaves intact the apotheosis picture that the public has received from the end of his speech. Hitler once said to Dr Sedgwick : ‘It is a great mistake many speakers make, to hang around after their speech is over. It only leads to an anticlimax and sometimes it might even happen that arguments arise which could completely undo the hours of oratorical labor’.
Then turning to a comparison with the theater he said : ‘I never liked it when actors after finishing their roles took curtain calls. It murders the illusion when a Hamlet or a Tristan who has just died magnificently on the stage reappear to smile and bow to the applause of the audience. Of course, the professional actors will tell you that they live by this applause and the number of encores determine their standing in their profession. Richard Wagner was dead right when he prohibited all encore curtain calls for the festspielhaus performances in Bayreuth. It is and remains a profanation.’
Hitler’s theory was that one must always have the courage to leave any gathering as soon as one feels that the climax is reached; never, never wait to see what impression has been made which is a sign of inner cowardice and lack of confidence. Hitler’s habit of leaving the hall abruptly during the first moments of the ovation has helped to shroud him with an almost mystical quality of unearthliness. The roan without a home, the Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin’s exit in shining armor, the untouchability of Pelleas, which transforms the various women types in the audience into so many longing Elsas, Sentas and Melisandes.
(End of part 3)
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