What I learned About Adolf Hitler from Hermann Giesler

By Carolyn Yeager

THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING ADOLF HITLER’S BEHAVIOR AS A PEACE AND WAR LEADER lies in this sentence, quoted by Hermann Giesler from August 1943, after the devastating air attack on Hamburg. Hitler said, recalling his decision not to attack the remaining British troops at Dunkirk in 1940:

It didn’t agree with my character to step on the one who lays on the ground.

He saw the British as essentially defeated, and that they must themselves recognize that fact. He followed up with this: “After awhile I had to rethink. I was mistaken—magnanimity will not be recognized. What you see there [in photos of the Hamburg victims] is destructive brutality. Again and again one tries not to believe this, now I know—no mercy.” (p50)

But character is not changed by events. Decisions may be made against one’s own character, but it is not easy or natural. Adolf Hitler was resolute, firm in his opinions and beliefs; he could be hard when necessary, but he was not ruthless, as were his adversaries. There were lines he would or could not cross.

Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were all prepared to carry out whatever acts they thought would get them closer to their goal—unconditional victory. They brought into play the darkest of black ops, and had no regard for their own soldiers apart from public opinion – the perception the public had of them as leaders.

Adolf Hitler never intended to utterly destroy anything, except for Bolshevism. He wanted to negotiate with other nations, to make deals that freed Germany from the Versailles Dictate and gave her respect and a high standing in the world again. He seems to have genuinely believed others were reasonable because war was such an unthinkable prospect after the recent Great War in which he had been a participant. But if reason was not followed, then he was prepared to use the greater persuasive power of strength and even limited force of arms. But from everything he says according to Hermann Giesler’s memoir, ruthlessness was not among his attributes or his options.

There are plenty out there who find that lack of ruthlessness a grave failing in Hitler, and the reason Germany was ultimately decimated. They may be right. They probably are right. All the winners were ruthless and they have gotten away with it in the official history so far because they won. They were devious, dirty and without scruples or conscience. Do we really wish Hitler had been the same because our race realist and nationalist views coincide with his? After consideration, I for one don’t, but in any case, wishing doesn’t change anything. I want to understand Hitler, not try to prop up a false idol. So I am going to share in this essay what I’ve discovered about the personality of Adolf Hitler as revealed by Giesler in his book Ein Anderer Hitler (Another Hitler), that also shines through in our translation from that book, titled The Artist Within the Warlord.

The Hitler-Giesler Connection

The relationship between the two men in itself tells us a lot. I don’t have any sense at all that Giesler is not recounting his conversations just as he remembers them—that he is not trying to convey a faithful account of his interactions with this powerful man. At the very beginning of his own book Ein Anderer Hitler, Giesler writes that in the Landsberg war crimes prison yard in 1948, his friend Prof. Franz Alfred Six once asked him:

Giesler, you were his architect – what impressed you most about Hitler?

– The compelling fascination! There was a radiation from him that I could not escape. How often have I seen this happen to others as well, when he spoke to soldiers he distinguished with medals, generals and field marshals to whom he gave orders. This charisma was extraordinary. Perhaps this explains why no one was able to face him openly with their weapon, to look at him and then to shoot.

Perhaps it also explains why all those who fear or hate what Adolf Hitler represents must denigrate him as a boring, bumbling failure who kept his position in Germany only because of pure police power and terror – two concepts that cannot possibly live together in one man.

Hitler looked to a future without war, or at least not being waged by him. He did not see himself as a permanent warlord. He gave Giesler the task of designing a retirement home for him and Eva Braun, who he said he intended to marry after he retired. Giesler quotes Hitler speaking about it:

The great hall with the terrace, it’s sides framed by the bays, is the proper room for an ‘Artus Runde’ (King Arthur’s Round Table). I like having it that way. You, as my architect, will be a member. (p123)

When Martin Bormann invited Giesler to accompany him on an inspection trip to the Obersalzberg farm that supplied the Fuehrer compound, he led him to a spot off the road and asked Giesler how he liked the view. [Chapter Eight, p 143-44] Giesler said “magnificent” and Bormann told him,

You are going to be settled here after the war so you are present for the Fuehrer at any time.

Whether this was only Bormann’s idea at that time because he knew how beneficial Giesler’s company was for his Chief, I don’t know. But it is another indication of how comfortable Adolf Hitler was with Giesler around, and everyone knew it.

Hitler wanted peace so he could build

After winning the battle of France in June 1940, Hitler hoped to avoid further war. In Chapter One, page 21, he said, as if to himself in Giesler’s presence, as though setting a task for himself:

I want peace – I know of better things than waging war – I do not need to make a name by warmongering like Churchill—I want to make my name as a steward of the German people, to secure its unity and Lebensraum, to achieve National Socialism and shape the environment—the rebuilding of the German cities according to modern knowledge.

These were Hitler’s goals; war got in the way of accomplishing them. In Chapter Two, page 27, Giesler relays to us Hitler’s attitude in the ongoing negotiations with Poland:

Until the last massive snub by the Polish leadership at the end of August 1939, he couldn’t imagine that they would let it come to a fight.

Hitler thought he was negotiating in good faith with a stubborn Poland, who must realize the only sensible thing they could do in the circumstances was to accept a narrow corridor for Germany to East Prussia and release their claim on a totally German city, Danzig. For that, they got many assurances from Germany for years into the future. It was unthinkable that they would choose to go to war over it. But they did, disregarding common sense, which Adolf Hitler didn’t expect. It was a trap set up by the British Foreign Office, with Roosevelt in the background, and not only Hitler, but Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Polish leaders too, were fooled by it.

In Chapter Three, page 51, Giesler recalls in Fall 1942 that Hitler was still bound to what he called “peace tasks:”

During [our] hours of mutual planning, he saw himself bound to peace, and his real mission as forming a new social order of the German people and their environment. He found the answer to the challenge of the time, the challenge of (architectural) technique, and the challenge of the new social order. In those hours, he was lifted up.

In Chapter 5, page 87, speaking of his decision to invade Russia, Hitler says:

My only alternative was the defense by a preventive stroke. Not only Germany was at stake, but the very existence of Europe. Still the decision wasn’t an easy one. Regardless of all other matters, it meant the postponement of the realization of the social part of the tasks I set for myself and which required a secure time of peace. To [that] belonged the reconstruction of German cities.

Now we learn why Adolf Hitler took on these wartime roles that he actually did not want. It was because his sense of responsibility to Germany and Europe gave him no choice. After the July 20th assassination attempt, he commented to Giesler (p 179-180):

Those were the worst days of my life. […] What is my life? – only struggle and worry and grinding responsibility. Fate and providence assigned those tasks and burdens to me—and doesn’t the last assassination attempt just demand more steadfastness than ever, to continue the struggle with trust and confidence?

Many times, Hitler spoke of steadfastness as the most important trait for leadership. Isn’t this why Will and Faithfulness were so important to him? Giesler quotes him at this time saying:

We have to create a new aristocracy, a value and rank order based on character, courage and steadiness. One sentence of Nietzsche’s I identify with: “What today can prove if one be of value or not?—that he is steadfast.” (p 180)

Adolf Hitler admits his mistake

In chapter two, page 33, Hitler is quoted as saying in Fall 1944 (after ‘Valkyrie’) that at the time of his decision to invade the Soviet Union he thought the struggle to exist or not to exist could only be fought by a solid unity and with the hard will of the entire German Volk:

If we acquire that solidarity, then our strong will, our unity should overcome any peril. But in that, the solidarity, I misjudged. I underestimated the reactionaries.

On another occasion in 1944 (p 180), after the full extent of the treason was revealed, Hitler uses the word “misjudged” three times:

I misjudged the reactionaries. I misjudged their vain ambitions, their need for admiration and their intellectual shortcomings … all that I misjudged! I forgot that I am a revolutionary.

He chides himself for holding the German General Staff in too high regard:

I never believed it possible that a General Staff officer was able to commit such a characterless crime—even though due to my experiences since 1938 I ought to have expected it.

But it was not only Hitler who saw the Field Marshals and Generals as honorable men who would never knowingly do anything to harm their own soldiers. Giesler also said that he “could never have imagined that a German officer would agree to form a “National Committee for a Free Germany” when in Soviet captivity, as did Seydlitz-Kurzbach. (p 190) And the security officers who briefed Giesler about the bomb plot—Hoegl of the SD said, “It is pretty hard to believe that such a contemptible infamy is at all possible—for us they were sacred cows.” (p 150)  Major General Rattenhuber, head of Hitler’s Security detail, remarked: “Just the thought than an officer, even a general, could commit treason or assassinate the Fuehrer was, until now–how do you call it–a sacrilege.” (p 154) This is how the Germans were—they held their fighting men and especially commanders in the highest esteem. That they would commit the treason of passing top-secret information to the enemy during wartime was unthinkable.

But still, as Hitler said himself, he should have known better. And he did know that treason was occurring at various times, but he did not, or could not, or would not, investigate the incredible extent of it. If he did do something (he questioned people, fired a few), it wasn’t enough. He knew many opposed him, even in the military, but I believe he took it as something he must endure and work to change. Contrarily Stalin, when he became suspicious of anyone he had them “disappeared” or arrested and put into prison. Hitler operated differently; he believed it was his job to persuade top-staff, not to order, which he thought was counter-productive. And he did have a lot of success with that. For Churchill and Roosevelt, they were not in control of their governments in the same way, but were controlled by forces behind the scenes who made many of the decisions for them.

Was Hitler too soft?

Hitler was an ethical man who was trying to guide his nation through an immoral time when Germany was surrounded, both within and without, by conspiring enemies who indulged in lies and hypocrisy. He had to make existential decisions based on whether Germany would continue to exist or not. If he had exhibited the same disregard for life and property as did his enemies, would the outcome have changed at all? The resources available to that group enemy were far greater than those available to him. In the end, the one with the greater resources wins.

What I do know is that Hitler

  • was an artist and innovative thinker = Creativity
  • had a powerful desire to lift up his people = Compassion
  • exhibited natural bravery that was apparent in WWI and during his political career = Courage

This is the man who took on the immense responsibility to defend all of Western Europe (against it’s own will) since that was part and parcel of defending Germany.

Did he fail? I say no, because Western Europe did remain free of Bolshevism and Soviet domination. Perhaps the limited nature of his success was the most that could ever have been hoped for, considering the circumstances prevailing at the time (the pendulum was swinging toward the left) and the weakness and rot in the Western ruling classes. As Adolf Hitler said before he took his own life to deprive the Russians from taking it from him, his ideas would live on and we who follow him must not give up, but continue the struggle.

Hitler taught us that life is struggle, but it is also sublime. He personified and lived both extremes. I am glad that Adolf Hitler was exactly who he was: a principled man, a self-sacrificing man, a steadfast man, a man of the West who left us an amazing legacy—not one of those inferior ruthless men.

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Published in: on February 23, 2018 at 4:47 am  Comments (1)  

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