Updated: Mar 13, 2022
In all his maneuverings of Germany’s national and foreign policies, was Hitler a political genius?
Adolf Hitler is one of the most well known political figures in history. His infamy is unrivaled, and by most, he is regarded as being the single most evil human to have ever lived. His conquest of Europe rivals that of Napoleon, however the Reich of 1000 years, as Germany was known at the time, collapsed in a mere 12 years, which begs the question, was Hitler responsible for Germany’s untimely demise? And if not, was he a Genius?
Disclaimer: Neither one of us are Nazis.
We do not condone or agree with any of his actions, and are merely analysing from an objective standpoint whether Hitler was or not a political mastermind.
Hitler WAS a Political Genius
Hitler’s manoeuvre into power, persuasion skills and exploitation of precarious situations solidified him as a political mastermind.
As stated previously, Adolf Hitler is one of the most infamous and influential humans to ever exist. The Chancellor of the German Reich knew when to play his cards and operate his way into favourable situations; however, the number of obstacles and enemies on his way was ultimately impossible to conquer. But what exactly set Hitler in another league, and differentiated him from other political leaders?
Hitler’s rise into power
Adolf Hitler joined the army as a private in the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment and was awarded various medals for his brave participation in the First World War. In 1918, the German military, fearing the blame from an inevitable defeat, encouraged a civilian government to form. Under Prince Max of Baden, they sue for peace and World War I ends with Germany signing an armistice, and later being forced to sign the treaty of Versailles, which imposed strict sanctions on the nation. Germany was left in a state of poverty and decay, with various political, economic and social ideologies rising, as well as a great amount of conspiracy.
Hitler became an influential member of the German Workers Party, and in 1923 concluded that it would be the best time to stage a coup. With the support of SA brownshirts, WW1 leader Erich Ludendorff, and browbeaten locals, he staged the Beer Hall Putsch. The coup failed and he was arrested, only to be released in December 1924.
Adolf Hitler took the opportunities that came with this situation and transformed his trial into a platform for his beliefs, becoming well-known throughout Germany, in addition to leaving his previous political party. The release of his book, Mein Kampf, detailed his ideologies and further boosted his popularity. After the market crash of 1929, Germany’s economic situation was even worse, and the country’s chancellor, Heinrich Bruning only contributed to the rising unemployment rate and decline of centre parties.
The Harzburg Front was founded in an attempt to bring Germany's right-wing together into a viable opposition to the government and the left. Hitler joins the party, and quickly climbs its ranks, with the support of various industrialists and a broadening group of followers. After a power dispute with various right-wing competitors, Hitler convinces Franz von Papen and Paul von Hindenburg that he should be appointed chancellor, with Papen being his vice-chancellor. Furthermore, the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, is set on fire by communists, which enabled Hitler to use the event as an excuse to pass a law ending civil liberty. Communism is banned, his competitors are murdered, Adolf passes the Enabling Act, which makes him a dictator for four years, and the Nazi party is the only one left standing in Germany. Hitler successfully guaranteed his irrefutable power and command over Germany.
The German military brought fright and despair upon Europe in the second world war. Whilst it is too much of a stretch to consider Hitler a military genius, he can still be considered a great leader for his efforts in ruling the German army. His failure was the result of too many obstacles which impeded his ability to win. Time was one factor, poor intelligence was another, and ultimately, there were insufficient resources to wage a long-term conflict.
The Treaty of Potsdam-Harmon, as well as Hitler's defeats of France and the United Kingdom in 1940, demonstrate his outstanding leadership abilities. Before the British could arrive, he attacked Norway and Denmark. Time, on the other hand, was his adversary. Hitler was unable to battle the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States of America all at the same time. Adolf Hitler needed to win wars rapidly and one by one. As a result, when Germany attacked Russia, Hitler realized he had a limited amount of time. His forces were trained to win little battles, but Russia was enormous and came to the conclusion that there was a crisis on his hands. Hitler wasn't as foolish as many people believe when it came to invading Russia, as Germany had no option but to attack at the appropriate time, and 1941 was it.
The issue was not just a lack of time, but also intelligence and resources. Germany had a scarcity of oil and was keen to obtain it before the United States entered the war. In July-August 1941, he made the wise decision to eliminate the Red Army in Kyiv and advance into eastern Ukraine instead of Moscow. The Red Army was concentrated in Ukraine, and if he had marched on to the motherland instead, the Russians could have launched a flank attack on his Army Group Center.
The problem with his attack on Russia was faulty intelligence. German intelligence knew very little about Russian reserves and capacity to resist, moreover, the Nazi’s quick victory over France and Great Britain in 1940 damaged the German’s strategic sense and made them overconfident.
It is obvious to anyone that Hitler wasn’t your average, a roll of the mill politician. His unrivalled persuasion skills along with his powerful speeches saw him grow as a memorable politician in Germany. Adolf Hitler always made sure that things went his way, and they did. It is safe to say that he wasn’t the greatest military mastermind to ever live, but that is only one small attribute of a political genius. He changed history forever, and made Germany stronger than it had ever been; that by itself solidifies Hitler as a political genius.
Hitler Wasn’t a Political Genius
Hitler Failed Miserably at leading Germany, and the collapse of the Third Reich is mainly his fault.
By: Gabriel Nogueira
During his time in control of Nazi Germany Hitler made a series of mistakes e many mistakes that cost him gravely. These were comprised mistakes were made by a mixture of ignorance, arrogance and the blindness that comes with unconditional love for an ideology.
Beer Hall Putsch
The “Beer Hall Putsch”, was Hitler’s first attempt at taking power, where he led a small revolt that aimed to take control of the city of Munich. Whilst not being directly related to his rise to power, is a primegreat example of how he was prone to miscalculations, and wasn’t very apt at planning ahead. His involvement in the attempted coup landed him in jail, and amounted to a great deal of nothing. His inability to judge his decisions rationally, and to get caught up in his more passionate feelings, turned out to be a trend he could never really shake.
Poor Conduct During Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the name given to the German invasion of the Soviet Union that occurred in late 1941. The invasion was commissioned, because the German army was in dire need of oil, since they didn’t have any themselves, and could not import any. The plan was to invade the Russian Caucusses, which were full of crude oil, and use those to fuel the Nazi war machine. There is much debate on whether the invasion was necessary in the first place, since synthetic oil was discovered shortly after, however, even if we overlook this fact, Hitler still committed one fatal mistake. As the German army moved into Russia, winter struck, which was a decisive blow to the German army, seeing that they were not prepared to deal with the low temperatures. Hitler however, insisted that the army continue it’s invasion, as opposed to digging in and waiting out the winter. This proved to be one of the greatest oversights in military history, since the harsh conditions of the winter withered away at the German forces, and were inevitably responsible for the Russian reconquest of their land. If the Germans had planned out their winter invasion with more care, the red army might have never managed to push the Nazis back.
Declaring war on the USA
What many people don’t know about WWII, is that the USA never declared war on Germany, Germany declared war on the USA. The decision was taken because after Pearl Harbour, the US declared war on Japan, and the Germans joined on the side of the Japanese. Hitler believed that an alliance with Japan was worth more than being at war with the Americans, which proved to be massively untrue, since the Japanese provided virtually no support to the Germans throughout the war. Even though it is unfair to expect that Hitler would have known that the Americans would have launched a full scale invasion of continental Europe, it is expected that a “Genius” sees things others don’t. Hitler appeared to be just as blind as the other politicians of his time, which wouldn’t make him any more outstanding than anyone else.
The holocaust was a massive operation cundectued by the Nazi party, that aimed at cleansing the German population from the Jews, and other “undesired” peoples. The ideological fanaticism that Hitler propagated was so intense, that it led him to make great political oversights. Instead of utilizing the Jewish and other enslaved peoples to help in the war effort, be that by conscripting them, or by using the from labour, he decided to mass murder them. This was done for no reason other than to appease his disturbed mind, because it had no benefits at all. As the allies closed on on Germany, the Nazi party increased the ammount of jews being killed, in order to ensure most of those left in the camps were exterminated. This move only serves to show that when faced with clear defeat, Hitler would rather increase the amount of Jews he killed, than use them for something else, which just makes it all the more cruel.
After most of mainland Europe had been conquered, Hitler turned his sights on his neighbours across the channel, the English. To ensure he would win the battle for Britain, Hitler deployed the Luftwaffe into British airspace, and had the planes target military buildings and airports, to cripple British defenses. In response to this, Churchill ordered a small bombing of Berlin to be conducted, which did very little damage. This made Hitler Fuhrerous and in retaliation, he set the Luftwaffe onto London. Raids and bombings were conducted on London, which meant that the once previously targeted military buildings were able to recuperate themselves. The RAF managed to get itself together, and in a heroic battle, they managed to cripple the German air force, and take back aerial supremacy in Britain. Without Hitler’s temper tantrum, the RAF wouldn’t have pushed the Luftwaffe, and the Germans would have been able to invade the English isles.
Sinking neutral ships
Finally, one of the more minor mistakes Hitler made, which was to allow the U-boats, German submarines, to sink neutral ships. This meant that the international community joined the war on the side that opposed this. It also meant that many smaller countries cut off their relations with Germany, and stopped sending them important resources, such as rubber and oil. When he made this move, he diverted the U-boats from the Atlantic, which loosened the chokehold on the British. If he hadn’t done this, he could have starved out the British by 1941.
It is impossible to deny that Hitler had his virtues, however, his inability to plan ahead, and how easily he was caught up in his emotions, meant that he was an extremely limited leader overall. If Hitler had never been born, Germany would still have experienced a similar wave of etho-centrism, since it was what the country needed to escape its recession. Hitler just happened to emerge as that figure, through some merit of his own, but mostly through chance. When he was in power he made one bad decision after the other, and failed miserably at maintaining his regime.
Sources and Further Reading