Adolf Hitler: A Study in Leadership
Dr. Michael Rockler
To understand Hitler, and effectively analysis his leadership style, we must first understand all of the complex facets of his character. Hitler felt he was “an agent of Providence, a man of Destiny, whose vision of the future was infallible.” He truly felt, without a doubt, that his will, strategy, and vision was the only thing that could take Germany back to being a world power. His confidence had drawbacks at times in the form of his failure to listen, agree with, or take constructive feedback from anyone that differed with his views, opinions and or decisions. Frequently Hitler, when his judgment was in doubt, would rant and rave and fume like a child. This aspect made it hard to compromise with him once he made a decision in support of his intended goals. However, the amount of influence he had with the German people is apparent by the ease in which he obtained his political goals. This power was due in large part to Hitler’s ability as an extraordinary speaker and orator with the masses. “His speeches were an instrument of political intoxication that inspired a degree of fervor in his listeners that seems to defy definition and explanation. Hitler was a master at the use of the spoken word and a genius at the art of manipulating mass propaganda for his political ends. His uncanny ability to appeal to the subconscious and irrational needs of his audience and to solicit the desired response made him a formidable political figure.” Frequently, women would faint and the crowd would be so entranced with his message they would do anything he said. Hitler used technology like lighting, movies, and radio to benefit his delivery of his views and message to the German people. His message was always the same “the crucial moment was at hand for Germany to face her destiny that her problems were unique, and they required new and demanding solutions, and above all it was he and he alone who could provide Germany with the leadership she needed to achieve her destiny.” To this end, Hitler wanted something called lebensraum to support Germany’s ever-increasing population and to maintain their current standard of living. The feeling was that Germany would have to expand beyond its borders to provide for its needs and not be subject to the high prices set by other countries or helpless in protection of its borders. To this end, a meeting between Hitler and Lord Halifax, from England, in November of 1937 gave the impression England was willing to let Hitler expand beyond his borders in search of lebensraum. “As these documents show, these events precipitated Hitler’s action. He thought that the lights had changed to green, allowing him to proceed eastward. It was a very natural conclusion.”Therefore, Hitler had a “green light” to proceed with his goal. So was Hitler’s strategy prior to 1939 a calculated well thought out strategy or were they just conditions that evolved overtime and provided a low risk of opposition with other nations? No one will disagree that Hitler wanted to undo the perceived wrongs the Treaty of Versailles placed on Germany after WWI. “Every power-seeking politician in the country, including Adolf Hitler, spokesman of the upstart National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi Party), attacked the treaty.” Hitler in his quest for supremacy, but also lebensraum for Germany, was willing to go to war if he could not obtain his objectives through political means. His plan resembled that of a speculator rather than a planner or skilled tactician. However, this did not mean that Hitler’s strategy was unplanned but rather that each step was methodical in its accomplishment. Other countries became very concerned with the plans Germany was pursuing and the potential impact to the political atmosphere between them. To mitigate these concerns, Hitler entered into a Non-Aggression Pact with Poland to show the peaceful...
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