Nazi Germany (1933-1945)

Adolf Hitler and the Ideology of Nazism

Assignment: Spielvogel, 124-142.

The next two classes will focus on Hitler's personality, his concept of himself as a messianic leader, his skill as an orator, psychological interpretations of Hitler's personality, and Hitler as an ideologist. After reading the assigned material, please answer any two (2) questions for each day and be prepared to discuss your answers in class. Written answers will be collected on Thursday and graded.

Tuesday's Class

1. Identify the main features of Hitler's personality, including the nature of his mind and his character traits. How did these aspects of his personality serve (both positively and negatively) once he came to power in Germany? Illustrate your answer with specific examples.

2. Hitler saw himself as a messianic leader. What did he mean by this? What does it mean when Spielvogel claims that many Germans shared this vision of Hitler? What were the consequences for Germany of these beliefs?

3. Hitler is considered an extremely effective speaker. What were the characteristics of Hitler as a speaker? How did he develop as a speaker? How did audiences respond to Hitler's speeches? How can this response be explained?

4. How have psychologists attempted to explain Hitler's personality? Evaluate these efforts, considering both their strong and weak points. Why have historians turned to psychologists in the effort to understand Hitler?

Thursday's Class

5. Identify Hitler's core ideas, based on his 1928 Chemnitz speech and Spielvogel's summary. What are the characteristics of each of these core ideas?

6. How does Hitler conceive of the Aryan? What is the mission of the Aryan race? How does Hitler view the Jewish people? According to Hitler, what role are the Jews playing in world history? What is the role of "blood" in Hitler's racial ideology? Refer to specific passages in the excerpt from Mein Kampf reproduced in Sax and Kuntz, Inside Hitler's Germany.

7. The Nazis tried to put Hitler's ideas into practice using various institutions, including the schools. Using the excerpt from Paul Brohmer's textbook, indicate how and why the Nazis planned to introduce racial biology into the school curriculum. According to the Nazis, what was the purpose of education? Note the passage: "We have said that the student must be led to the conception that Germany is his living space to which he is linked by the bond of blood." (208)

8. The Nazi Eugenics and Euthanasia Programs also represent efforts to put Hitler's ideology into practice. What was the purpose of these programs and how did they work? What appeal might such programs have?

This page is maintained by Robert W. Brown; last update: 03.I.2008.

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