Social Question

phoenyx's avatar

Do we have an accurate concept of Hitler anymore?

Asked by phoenyx (7380points) January 30th, 2010

To my grandparents, he was scary; he was evil.

Now it seems like all kinds of random comparisons are made to Hitler or he’s just a funny internet meme.

Is it dangerous or harmful? Is it actually positive that he’s now just something to be laughed at?

What do you think?

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40 Answers

bigboss's avatar

Hitler was the man.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

He was a psychopath. He used a peoples desperate straits to try to take over the world. And he was stupid. Who in their right mind would start a war?

bigboss's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe he was actually very bright. ignorant as hell but bright. how else could he single handedly grab germany by its balls and control it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

He was a master manipulator.But look back at history. How many countries that started a war ended up winning?

phoenyx's avatar

wonders if anyone will actually answer his question

HTDC's avatar

It has to do with the younger generations now. The reason we see all the Hitler satire and jokes is because the young people creating them weren’t around during that time and were unable to experience the true horror. The older generation, like your grandparents who knew the evil of Hitler, obviously don’t look at him in the same light. It might be harmful to those who knew first hand the wrath of Hitler, but for the young ones (not all), it doesn’t register with them just how serious this period in history actually was.

bigboss's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe im just saying he was smart thats all, it takes intelligence to be able to manipulate someone. and majority of a race at his hands? book smart or street smart….its still smart.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@phoenyx watches as you get your answer the long way

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@bigboss True. I does take a level of intelligence to do that.

dpworkin's avatar

There remains a cohort of people who understand the importance of knowing as much as possible about that era, and there are still some wonderful, very well researched books being written that shed more and better light on who and what he was, but most people don’t know and don’t care any more, which, as Santayana once pointed out, has its dangers.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@phoenyx Were guys. How do you want us to answer?

bigboss's avatar

@dpworkin i agree, our past is what we use to learn to prevent the same in the future..if you forget about your past then it can be repeated. and i have a feeling it will happen again.

Factotum's avatar

@HTDC I agree. It probably the fate of all the most depraved of historical killers to end up as bogeymen and cheap comedy.

Hitler is shorthand for ‘the most evil EVAR’ and as such he is now more of an icon than a man. Sadly that means we aren’t much impressed with evil that doesn’t measure up to Hitler standards.

bigboss's avatar

yea factotum, criminals are sometimes brought up on this pedestal and worshipped. they even make shows like american ganster that makes it seem like people are actually impressed that theese people commited such attrocities and got away with them

Ria777's avatar

everyone/everything of any stature gets compared to everyone/everything, ever. the greater the status, the more that it happens. also, everyone/everything of any stature gets made the butts of jokes and memetic mutation.

Bugabear's avatar

Downfall(film) depicted an accurate picture of him. And the guy who made it said he liked the Hitler Responds videos.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Back to the question. I think we have a much better understanding of the man than your grandparents. To them he was some evil villian threatening the world. They saw him from a distance. We have the inside information and are able to see all of the personalities that were around him. Yes he was dangerous, but partly because no one stood up to him. Because he was so important in history, he stands out and get used every time some politician needs a good soundbite.

bigboss's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe unless his grandparents were jewish _

Nullo's avatar

Distance weakens impact.
Deconstruction (which doesn’t play as much a role here as elsewhere) contributes.

janbb's avatar

As @dpworkin points out, there is still scholarly work being done about Hitler and the Holocaust. However, I feel Hitler and the Nazi era have become trivialized in popular culture as we move away from that era. “The Soup Nazi” is a very funny character, but it does really take away from the horror of what the SS did if any jerk can be called a Nazi. We don’t seem as a species to be able to learn from the past but it is still important to keep a hold on what really happened and the horrors that have been and are still being perpetrated. (Great question, phoenyx!)

janbb's avatar

@bigboss Not can happen again – has happened again. The killing fields of Cambodia, Rwanda, the janjaweed in Sudan; genocide is rampant throughout the world. No one people has the monopoly on perpetrator or victim. That’s why it is so crucial to study bias, genocide and hate crimes.

Ivy's avatar

Do “we” ever have an accurate concept of any leader? Who is ‘we’? Your grandparent’s concept of Hitler is only theirs, not the concept that people their age all over the world hold, or more likely, held. Same with Osama bin Laden; terrorist or savior? It depends on what soil you’re standing on. Is it possible to have a fairly accurate, scholarly concept of a leader? Yes, but only for people who are willing to do the scholarly thing ~ objective research, research and more research. But most people in every country hold a leader in light of the concepts they value and the agenda they represent, not in facts or scholarly research, which is tricky, because history serves the values and agendas of those who write it.

Zuma's avatar

Hitler has now become a icon or an epithet that personalizes and trivializes the reality and ever-present temptations of fascism. As the journalist Max Blumenthal, in his book Republican Gomorrah outlines how the American religious right is shaping up to be another fascist movement:

“Writing after he Nazis had overrun Europe but before the entrance of the United States into World War II, Fromm warned, ‘there is no greater mistake and no graver danger than not to see that in our own society we are faced with the same phenomenon that is fertile soil for the rise of Fascism anywhere: the insignificance and powerlessness of the individual.’ Those who could not endure the vertiginous new social,political, and personal freedoms of the modern age, those who craved ‘security and a feeling of belonging and of being rooted somewhere’ might be susceptible to the siren song of fascism. For the fascist, the struggle for a Utopian future was more than politics and even war—it was an effort to attain salvation through self-medication. When radical extremists sought to cleanse society of sin and evil, what they really desired was a cleansing of their souls.”

“Fromm’s understanding of the psychological character of authoritarianism was not only penetrating but also prophetic. He described how submission to the authority to a higher power to escape the complexities of personal freedom would lead not to order and harmony but ultimately to destructiveness. Movements that evangelized among the crisis-stricken and desperate, promising redemption through a holy crusade, ultimately assumed the dysfunctional characteristics of their followers. After sowing destruction all around it, Fromm predicted that such a movement would turn on itself. Dramatic self-immolation was the inevitable fate of movements composed of conflicted individuals who sought above all the destruction of their blemished selves.”

”‘The function of an authoritarian ideology and practice can be compared to the function of neurotic symptoms,’ Fromm wrote. ‘Such symptoms result from unbearable psychological conditions and at the same time offer a solution that makes life possible. Yet they are not a solution that leads to happiness or growth of personality. They leave unchanged the conditions that necessitate the neurotic solution.”

…“Over the last five years, I interviewed hundreds of the Christian rights’s leaders and activists, attended dozens of its rallies and conferences, listened to countless hours of its radio programs, and sat in movement-oriented houses of worship where no journalists were permitted. As I explored the contours of the movement, I discovered a culture of personal crisis lurking behind he histrionics and expressions of social resentment. This culture is the mortal that bonds leaders and followers together.”

So, you see, Hitler did not spring full-grown out of nothing. He was very much a product of his times. And to pretend that the Nazis and fascism are reducible to the machinations of one psychopathic master manipulator, is to downplay and trivialize the actual causes, and to throw away the real lesson of history.

DominicX's avatar

It’s not because people don’t think that what he did was horrific, it’s because no one takes him seriously. It shows that he has become a joke. That his ideas were laughable.

I find Hitler being a joke to be hilarious. But I’m also fascinated by WWII and I know a lot about what happened during the Third Reich. I would love to know more. Recently, however, I have been more focused on Stalin because of Shostakovich and the fact that I am Russian and I have Russian relatives who experienced the Stalinist period.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Phoenyx, I apologize for that were guys crack. That was pretty flippant. Guys tend to work all around an issue and beat it to death before they get to the question itself, was what I meant. The question was very good, as you can see from the responses. I think we use humor and put downs as a defensive mechanism from things that scare us. Hitler stands out as one scary guy for how far he got. It wasn’t him alone, but would WWII happened without him? I don’t think it’s dangerous or harmful, as long as it’s kept in context with history.

Factotum's avatar

I should add that humor is often a defense mechanism, the old saying, ‘if I didn’t laugh I’d cry’ speaks to something in all of us.

People used and continue to use whatever they can get to keep Hitler at a safe distance. For some people I think such a distance is necessary.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Well as times change so does our view on things. I think overall he’s still seen as a cruel, hideous dictator to most but some do still think he was the best thing to ever walk the Earth. As far as whether or not it’s positive that we have become so calloused that we can now laugh about him, I think it is positive for two reasons:
1.If he would’ve taken over we would only be allowed to laugh when he saw fit.
2.In this cruel life and world it’s either laugh or cry. I’d rather laugh.

SuperMouse's avatar

I wonder if the attempts to turn Hitler into an internet joke or meme are a way of whistling in the dark. When one stops and thinks what this man orchestrated and how seemingly simple it was for him to do so, it is overwhelmingly terrifying. Turn him into a big joke, a bumbling fool, and some of that terror goes away. It is kind of like the joke bin Laden pictures or the Ayatola Assahola shirts during the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m assuming they want you to answer with an interesting response.

raoool's avatar

do ‘we’ ... is a tough question. Your image certainly differs from mine – and I suspect anyone who has any idea who he was or what he did.

Hitler managed to gain power by turning Germany around after WWI – raising them from impoverished beaten nation to a world power. Some would argue he exploited the desperation of the times; others feel he could not have accomplished what he did in any other way; then shi_ just got way outta hand. Most concur he died a complete psycho – whether that way from the beginning or because he just lost it as time passed (power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely). In any case, it’s just plain scary that he was able to go as far as he did in managing to force even decent people to support the heinous acts ultimately perpetrated.

I don’t see how it can be a positive that some see him as ‘something to be laughed at’ and if your view of funny internet meme represents any kind of majority y’all need to quit facebook’n and take a history class or read a book. At the very least, please don’t vote in any elections based on info from whatever source has you laughing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think we ever had an accurate picture of Hitler and I don’t think we ever will. I do know though something’s gone awry when parents get The Diary of Anne Frank banned in schools because she mentions something about her vagina and not because they find the horror written about in the book offensive..

http://www.thezeroboss.com/2010/01/29/anne-franks-awareness-of-her-body-offends-parent-gets-diary-censored/

galileogirl's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe “Who in their right mind would start a war?” You must be kidding!

During the war Hitler was propagandized to give people an easy solution. Kill Hitler and everything will be OK again. That’s what they always do. Kill Saddam Hussein, kill Osama Bin Laden, kill Kim Jung-il and the danger goes away.

Hitler was an effective leader but he would have been just a crazy little man if millions of supposedly normal people around the world didn’t buy into his hypernationalistic, racist, barbaric message. Also to blame were people like @DominicX who didn’t see that it is not the messenger but the mass acceptance of the message that is dangerous and didn’t either seriously until it was toolate .

westy81585's avatar

Think of it this way. Had we not had Hitler… say he doesn’t rise to power in the 30’s, and Germany falls to the other dominant political party that was rival to the NAZI’s…. the communists….. We STILL would’ve seen WW2 probably by 1950, when Stalin decided he wanted to take over Europe.

In fact, were it not for the nuclear weapons the US possessed, it’s not that crazy to think Stalin would’ve just taken over Europe once the NAZI’s were beaten anyways…. He had WAY more troops there than the other allies combined.

So in a way you should almost thank Hitler…. for being evil enough to sidetrack Stalin long enough that the commees didn’t take over Europe.

(just thinking out loud).

dpworkin's avatar

Some thoughts are better kept to oneself.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin GA and a kiss for that one.

Nullo's avatar

@Zuma
Written by somebody who doesn’t understand the Christian faith.

Zuma's avatar

@Nullo Click on the link and check out the book review by Frank Schaeffer—or read Schaeffer’s book Crazy for God. Or read Jeff Sharlet’s The Family or James Rudin’s Baptizing of America or Chris Rodda’s Liars for Jesus or the Rev. Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion or read the book that the passage was quoted from Republican Gomorrah.

Yes, indeed, somebody does have a misunderstanding of what Christianity is all about, but what we are talking about here is not Christianity but the fundamentalist perversion of Christianity undertaken by the religious right for political purposes.

mattbrowne's avatar

Relatively accurate, yes.

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