I just finished reading a book entitled Hitler: the Pathology of Evil, by George Victor. He claims to take a psychological/historical/biographical view to try to puzzle out why Hitler did the things that he did during his lifetime.
I don’t think I ever truly realized how deranged Hitler was. We, for obvious reasons, don’t expound on all Hitler did when teaching European history in public schools. Imagine Charles Manson on steroids and you still won’t even have an equal comparison to Hitler, that’s just the closest I can imagine. Both men created chaos, had a following, and did not technically commit murder themselves (Hitler was a soldier during WWI, but during WWII he never personally carried out murder or mass killing).
The man created an atmosphere of complete chaos. I knew about Hitler Youth and family members narking on family members, but I did not know that he purposely created vague orders with sever consequences if they were not carried out. Hitler never said in orders to kill people, but if the people targeted were not killed (or arrested and sent to concentration camps) then his enforcers would receive similar punishments.
The Gestapo, SS, and Secret Police started carrying out orders in the most extreme way so they did not raise Hitler’s ire.
I think the craziest part about Hitler’s life, for me, is there is so much still unknown. We speculate, with strong evidence, about why he started the Holocaust, we speculate why he made the war decisions he did, and we speculate at any of his true intentions of beliefs. Hitler was a master pathological liar: he was sincere, passionate, and, to some extent, believed everything he said.
How do you prevent evil if you cannot explain or understand why it happens? There is one constant in my studies so far, all my professors have told me that human behavior is unexplainable and erratic: that which is true to explain one person’s actions cannot be assumed for the same actions of another person. This is the most frustrating part of my studies and yet the most fascinating. Human behavior is not easy and, as much as we wish, we cannot make sweeping generalizations about humanity. There will always be people like Hitler and Charles Manson (and on the other side Gandhi and Mother Teresa) throwing a wrench into the equation. It’s mind-boggling, and, in a purely academic sense, fascinating.