This essay will assess whether Hitler’s ability to appeal to the German people was the source of his power or whether his personality traits and psychological abnormalities were more significant.
Hitler’s ability to appeal to the German people lay in his skills at oratory. With his words, Hitler was able to mould public opinion in his favour. As a member of the lower class strata, Hitler had the added advantage of winning over the masses who felt themselves wronged by the German authorities. He claimed himself to be one of them which created an aura of trust and respect for the man who had risen from amongst the lower class. His style appealed greatly to the working class of Germany who felt understood by this leader. Hitler’s speeches were outspoken which helped create an image of courage and bravado to his personality. The Germans needed someone to blame for their disastrous defeat and this was provided to them by Hitler.
Hitler’s singular appeal through his skills as an orator also lay in the message he conveyed. He was able to define a scapegoat upon which the German people could vent their wrath for the shame they felt at their defeat in the First World War and the terms of the Versailles Treaty – namely, the Jews. Waite contends that the Fuhrer was himself a man who suffered from deep rooted feelings of inferiority and guilt; he felt that Hitler could have been suffering from a fear that his own blood was impure and that his sexuality was warped. This led him to try and over compensate by directing those feelings outwards on to other elements of society – the Jews and Communists (Mitchell, 1973:41). His views were derived from H.S. Chamberlian whose interpretation of history stated that of the three major strains that comprised mankind, two of them had been Aryan, namely the Greeks and the Aryans who created culture, while the third strain, i.e., the Semetic one, was culture destroying.