“If, at some point, the German people will be lacking in its willingness to make sacrifices and no longer strong enough to give its blood for its existence, it shall perish and be destroyed by a stronger power. I will not shed a single tear for the German people”Adolf Hitler [quote from The Meaning of Hitler by Sebastian Haffner]
In the book The Meaning of Hitler, Sebastian Haffner makes an attempt to analyze and understand the phenomenon of Hitler the politician. He made the following observations:
- Hitler’s personal life was one-dimensional and empty. It is characterized by a complete lack of love, friendship, dedication to education and work, and true interest. He treated women with condescension and neglected them, and he had no friends. He was incapable of having real relationships. He never dedicated himself to education, and he never found fulfillment in productive activity. There was no personal life behind the myth of “The Führer” – his life was almost exclusively a political one.
- Appealing to the vulnerabilities and feelings of humiliation in the German population, and soothing them with his grandiosity, he served as a psychological catalyst.
- He had an intuition for his opponent’s weaknesses. He was only able to overcome weak, indecisive opponents (his political opponents in Germany and the leaders of other European countries in the 1930s), but he was unable to overcome determined opposition (e.g. Britain led by Winston Churchill).
- He undermined the institutions of the state to put himself into a position of absolute power.
- He was cruel and enjoyed violence.
- He used the German people as a tool for his own grandiosity, when the war was lost he discarded it.
Some people believe that Hitler was a patriot. They point out that he led Germany out of the global economic crisis and reestablished it as a major power. Openly or in secret, they admire the achievements and victories of his reign. While admitting that the Second World War and the Holocaust were obviously terrible atrocities, they hold on to the belief that Hitler loved Germany and the German people and that he can serve as a role model for national rebirth.
Anyone who believes that Hitler loved Germany and the Germans is deeply deluded about his nature. As the above quote shows, Hitler used the German people as a tool for his self-interest, and vindictively and cruelly discarded it when it no longer suited his needs. He rebuilt Germany only because this would make it a more powerful tool for his own needs.
Most populist politicians, including Donald Trump, present themselves as conservative and patriotic. They claim to love their countries, and they claim to defend them against internal and external enemies. A closer look reveals that this is a lie, just as in the case of Hitler. Trump does not care about the United States and its society; he is willing to undermine democratic institutions, weaken the international position of the United States, and sacrifice societal peace, if that serves his needs. This is visible in how he treats veterans and in his mocking of John McCain’s Vietnam War experiences, in his questionable tax returns, and in his willingness to create social discord to garner support. For Trump, the presidency is only a tool to maintain his self-esteem – he has no interest in using it to improve the lives of his fellow Americans.
A patriot is someone who gives himself for his country. Fascist politicians sacrifice their countries for themselves. The two positions could not be further apart.