disorders led to Hitler's rise to power
Leonid Mlechin embarks on a journey to unravel Adolf
Hitler's biggest mysteries. [Rare
Vladimir Zibrov - 19.04.2008
IT's DIFFICULT to find a bookstore
without a shelf dedicated to Nazi Germany and Adolf
Hitler. Leonid Mlechin's "The Fuehrer's
Biggest Secret" is the latest addition. Mlechin, a
renowned historian, author and TV host, discusses Hitler
and why he remains such a puzzling and prominent
historical figure decades after his death.
KP: Don't we already know all there is
to know about Hitler?
Mlechin: In world history there are
certain personalities responsible for such heinous crimes
that they will always attract attention. I addressed many
questions about Hitler in my book, but there's still much
we will never fully understand. Of course, this is
enchanting for any researcher. But honestly all too often
this leads to false perceptions about the scale of these
loved to make appearances
with his niece Geli Raubal
Essentially, Hitler was a nobody as an
individual. But the scale of his misdeeds was so immense
that his personality was magnified, as if under a lens.
He is often attributed to bearing traits he didn't
Q: Meaning, we haven't put together a
final picture of Hitler?
A: All Germany's archives about the
13-year reign of Hitlerism were immediately opened after
1945. A huge collection of books were written as a
result. However, even today books are constantly being
published on the subject in Germany. I just read a thick
scholarly work about Germany's economy under Nazism. For
the first time in 60 years, detailed explanations were
made about how the Third Reich was able to establish a
powerful military machine with relatively low resources,
and to threaten the entire world. This subject is simply
Q: What was Hitler's biggest secret? Did
you unravel it?
A: The fuehrer had many secrets
beginning with his lineage - who his grandfather was. The
question is unanswered today. Most probably there was an
incident of incest in his family. His father married his
own niece. Hitler hid this fact his whole life. He was
terribly afraid the truth would be uncovered. The second
secret is Hitler's relationship with both men and women -
his suppressed homosexuality and fear of intimacy with
the opposite sex. The result was a general discord with
his being, and resentment against the entire world. It
seems the only person Hitler experienced feelings for
(including sexual) was his own niece Geli Raubal. Raubal
committed suicide in 1931.
captured the consciousness of the nation to become
on vacation with Eva Braun in the mountains. Photo from
Together these minute details were
seminal in the formation of Hitler's character, his fate
and the fate of his country. But the true secret is how
Hitler subdued the whole German nation. He
captured its mass consciousness so greatly the country
dove with him head first into a whirlwind.
with the newly elected Nazi party.
Photo from http://www.conservapedia.com/
Q: Not long ago we were taught history
quite differently - historical materialism, the battle of
the classes, shifting social orders. Now it seems like
individual personalities and their intimate lives can
cardinally change world history.
A: Yes, I think the role of the
personality in history is much more significant than we
originally thought. It's colossal in fact. I'd be
courageous enough to say that if Adolf Hitler had died on
the front in 1917 or 1918, there wouldn't have been any
There would have been ultra right wing
parties, and possibly something else, but 50 million
people wouldn't have died. If he had been born 10 years
earlier or later, everything else would have transpired
Hitler's existence coincided with
national moods at a particular point in history, and the
wave caught on.
during his school years. Photo from
Q: You depicted the young Hitler as
mediocre, weak and suffering from complexes. When did the
fuehrer's metamorphosis occur?
A: There was a whole sequence of events.
One version claims the pivotal moment was during World
War I when Hitler ended up in a hospital after a gas
attack. The doctor treating his blindness learned his
impaired vision wasn't organic, but rather neurotic. The
doctor helped Hitler to develop a strong belief in
himself, likely with the aid of hypnosis.
The second influential moment was when
Hitler began speaking at a meeting of a small Bavarian
party. Such meetings were held at beerhouses. He
immediately felt his gift as a demagogue while surrounded
by insignificant marginal players. They applauded Hitler,
and he felt great confidence.
as corporal of the Imperial Army, 1916. Photo from
There were many circumstances that came
together to solidify Hitler's fate. In fact, Hitler
shouldn't have come to power at all. If the Weimar
Republic had held on for at least another few months, the
Nazi movement would have failed. But the situation
unfolded differently. A handful of politicians were also
engaged in games of their own. By trying to drown each
other, they opened the path for Hitler's rise to
niece and lover Geli Raubal. Photo from
Q: Did everything really happen so
accidentally? At the time fascism already existed in
Italy. Similar regimes had also taken over in other
A: This is true. At the time
authoritarian regimes were in power in three-fourths of
But the situation in Germany was unique.
After WWI, the Germans held tremendous resentment against
the entire world. Erroneous resentment and a search for
foreign enemies are dangerous things for any
Q: Today, Russia is witnessing a wave of
skinheads who act out violently against national
minorities. This is despite the fact that our nation
suffered more than any other from fascism. How can such
movements be explained?
A: It's no paradox. Germany needed two
decades and immense pressure from the community to heal -
particularly the intelligentsia from western Germany.
This group wrote new textbooks, and created a new
spiritual climate. The country learned its lesson. Even
today's Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about the
historical guilt of the German nation. But Merkel was
born after WWII. One would think she would be free from
feelings of responsibility for crimes committed under
Hitlerism. But this isn't so. The price is
As strange as this may sound, Russia's
Great Patriotic War wasn't against fascism. It was war
protecting the Fatherland from foreign occupation. We
didn't denounce fascism and its ideological roots.
Stalin's regime was in many ways similar. The result is
vividly apparent in the case of the USSR, and also the
German Democratic Republic, where the horrors of fascism
went unmasked. It's no coincidence that the ultra right
wing parties in today's Germany compose mostly
individuals from Germany's eastern territories. I hope
unraveling Hitler's biggest secrets will get us closer to
learning some important historical lessons.
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