Was Hitler a genius?
Debate Rounds (5)
Round 1 Acceptance.
First of all I want to say sorry to my opponent and the crowd: I'm Portuguese and English is not my main language, I hope that you can understand everything.
Secondly the definition of genius: "Genius is exceptional intellectual ability or a very high level of intelligence. There is no scientifically precise definition of genius."
Another important factor is that you can be considered a genius and perform "evil" or bad actions or be a bad person.
Hitler political accomplishments were absolutely astonishing.
In a matter of some years he turned a very small political party into the biggest party in Germany:
He joined the DAP – German Workers' Party(later it changed his name to National Socialist German Workers Party – NSDAP) in 1919 by the time he was the number 55 of the party, in early 1920 Hitler became chief of propaganda for the party, at this point there were 101 members, in the end of 1920 after a lot of public speeches the party reached 2,000 members. At late July of 1921 the party had 3,680 members and Hitler became the party chairman. At the end of 1928, party membership was recorded at 130,000. When the party came to power in 1933, the Nazi Party had over 2 million members, in 1939 the membership total rose to 5.3 million. Hitler continued to attract many more members and by 1945 the party reached its peak of 8 million with 63% being male and 37% being female.
Hitler was elected in a democratic and fair election in Germany:
Unlike many others Right Wing leaders he reached power without a Coup d'état. He not only won 1 democratic and fair election he won it 3 times in a row: the German federal election of July 1932 with 13,745,680 votes(37.27% of the total votes), the German federal election of November 1932 with 11,737,395 votes(33.09%) and the German federal election of March 1933 with 17,277,180 votes(43.91%).
Hitler joined the Nazi Party when there were only 55 members and in 13 years of public speeches and a lot of other brilliant political decisions Hitler(the creation of the 25-point Plan, resigning from the party and coming back only when they granted him the leadership of the party, etc.) turned a very small, provincial and unknown party into the biggest party in Germany winning 3 democratic and fair elections in a row.
During the Third Reich, Hitler economic and social accomplishments were brilliant.
Hitler solved the unemployment situation and increased the income of the German families by a lot:
When the Nazis, in 1933, came to power the unemployment rate was close to 30%, by 1938, unemployment was practically extinct and wages increased by 10.9% in real terms during this period.
Hitler improved a lot the infrastructure in Germany:
In June 1933, the "Reinhardt Program" for infrastructure development was introduced: it combined indirect incentives, such as tax reductions, with direct public investment in waterways, railroads and highways. It was followed by similar initiatives resulting in great expansion of the German construction industry. A quarter of Germany's current 11,000 km (6830 mi) autobahn network was originally built between 1933 and 1939. Just in terms of comparison, during the same period of time, in the USA were build 0km of highway's. When work ceased in 1941 because of World War 2, 3819.7 kilometers (2373.5 mi) had been completed.
Hitler came into power during one of the most dark times of the XX century known as the Great Depression. To give you an example of the success of Hitler policies, in the USA, the maximum unemployment rate during the crisis(in 1933-1934) was a little above 20%, in Germany it was near to 30%. In 1938 unemployment rates in Germany were very close to 0% and in the US it was a little more than 15%.
Hitler diplomatic moves before the war were, in a strategic point of view, "godlike".
Peaceful annexations by the Third Reich:
Hitler regained control of the Saarland via a referendum held in 13 January 1935, 90.3% of those voting wished to join Germany. In 1938 after a lot of political pressure and even an ultimatum from Hitler, Austria held a referendum asking the Austrians if they wanted to join Germany, known as the AAustrian Anschluss referendum which ended up with 99,73% of positive votes towards the annexation. On September 29, 1938 Hitler, Mussolini and the Prime Ministers of the UK and France signed the Munich Agreement which basically resulted in Germany annexing parts of the Czechoslovakia.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact:
The non-aggression pact with the soviets was a pretty sweet "play" by Hitler some years before in the "Mein Kampf", Hitler had heavily criticized the communists but he knew that the best decision was to sign this secret pact with them.
Hitler only using diplomacy added a lot of German-speaking territories to Germany and proved with the signing of The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact to be able to adapt into all kind of situations.
Before the WW2 and even after the war, Hitler was considered a hero/legend and his achievements praised in the press of the US, UK and France.
He was considered Time Person of the Year in 1938.
Some quotes from the press or edited books:
"It is not the Germany of the first decade that followed the war - broken, dejected and bowed down with a sense of apprehension and impotence. It is now full of hope and confidence, and of a renewed sense of determination to lead its own life without interference from any influence outside its own frontiers. One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic and dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, a resolute will and a dauntless heart."
"I have never met a happier people than the Germans and Hitler is one of the greatest men. The old trust him; the young idolise him. It is the worship of a national hero who has saved his country."
David Lloyd George, Prime Minister UK 1916 – 1922, The Daily Express, 9-17-36.
"Health statistics in Germany are satisfactory. Infant mortality has been greatly reduced and is considerably inferior to that in Great Britain. Tuberculosis and other diseases have noticeably diminished. The criminal courts have never had so little to do and the prisons have never had so few occupants. It is a pleasure to observe the physical aptitude of the German youth. Even the poorest persons are better clothed than was formerly the case, and their cheerful faces testify to their psychological improvement that has been wrought within them. Economic conditions in Germany, abstraction made of the influence exerted by rearmament, are steadily progressing. Unemployment has greatly decreased."
Sir Arnold Wilson, Member of the UK Parliament
"In fifteen years that have followed this resolve, he has succeeded in restoring Germany to the most powerful position in Europe, and not only has he restored the position of his country, but he has even, to a very great extent, reversed the results of the Great War.... the vanquished are in the process of becoming the victors and the victors the vanquished.... whatever else might be thought about these exploits they are certainly among the most remarkable in the whole history of the world."
Wiston Churchill, Prime Minister UK 1940 – 1945 & 1951-1955, Step by Step,1935.
"I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations."
Wiston Churchill, Prime Minister UK 1940 – 1945 & 1951-1955, The London Times, 9-7-1938.
"He succeeded in ascending to the highest power-position in Germany with very little spilling of blood or loss of human life in a land of 68 million inhabitants. Austria was annexed without one shot being fired."
Daily Mail, 5/20/1938
"After visiting these two places (the town of Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg) you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made."
J.F Kennedy, President USA 1961 – 1963, Prelude to Leadership: The European Diary of J.F Kennedy, Summer 1945.
Hitler was praised by important personalities even after the war, there are a lot more quotes from the British and US press you can check them if you in one of my sources.
Hitler is considered by many to have been a genius of his time but are they right? In my opinion yes there are a lot of arguments to this thesis but even today we can see parts of his legacy, the Swastika is the most famous and easily recognized emblem around the world; memorabilia of the Third Reich changes hands for high prices at public auctions or private sales rooms; in Britain, the United States and almost around the globe his book Mein Kampf can be easily obtained and even the universities of Israel have many copies of it which are used for political studies by the students.
As you might noticed I didn't use the argument of Hitler being a military genius, which is very relative but there is one thing no one can deny and that is his early feats during the first half of the WW2 which in a military point of view were amazing.
Even after the war,in 1952 a poll conducted in West and East Germany showed the following results: 25% of Germans still thought well of Hitler, 28% neither disapproved him or approved him and only 47% would say they disapproved of him.
Hitler is a very complex personality of our World and specifically of the XX century he did horrible things and started a war in which 50 to 85 million people died but I find almost impossible to not consider him a true genius and one of the most influential persons of the XX century.
(Other Wikipedia Pages)
I would ask pro to more practically source his claims. He provides sources but I have no idea which claims are backed by which source, making it take a great deal of time to examine the legitimacy of his arguments.
1. Political accomplishments
All pro does here is point out what Hitler accomplished but not how he accomplished it. In order to know whether his accomplishments reflects genius, we have to know Hitler's methods. Pro says he brought the Nazi party into becoming the biggest party in Germany through many brilliant political decisions and speeches but gives no example of what these brilliant decisions were. Unlike pro I will examine what caused and allowed Hitler to rise to election.
The political and social environment in which Hitler entered was perfect for him to rise to power
Hitler was a very good speaker, no one would deny, but that ability does not reflect genius. Hitler would never have risen to power if it wasn't for the severe social and economical situation Germany was in. He joined the German Worker's Party one year after the treaty of Versailles, a notoriously harsh treaty that left Germany destitute, and World War I which left Germany with more killed soldiers than any other country, 2,000,000.
Hitler was a strong opponent of the treaty and criticizer of the signers (who he called the "November Criminals") from the start, even though they had no choice seeing as the alternative was to be invaded. However, the German people blamed the unfair treaty for its problems and Hitler was a staunch criticizer of it and claimed he would not follow all its terms. Hitler offered what Germany wanted, a restoration of power and economic stability and he did so with fanatical fervor.
It does not take genius to take advantage of such a situation. Hitler was a great speaker, a distinguished veteran, and held a visionary ideology. His fanaticism appealed to the people of Germany since they had been brought to their knees and humiliated, forced to take all the blame for the war, give up much of its territory and make payments they could not meet. "It seemed clear to Germany that the Allies wanted nothing else but to bankrupt her." Hitler was a man who would not bend the knee to Germany's enemies unlike his predecessors.
The Nazi's rise to power was actually quite normal and not astonishing
There was nothing extraordinary about Hitler's being voted into power, as a new study shows. "The dynamics of the Weimar Republic's electoral swing between 1924 and 1933 to Hitler and the Nazi Party parallel that of almost every other swing in the history of democratic elections." The change over to the Nazis fits a "standard retrospective voting explanation, explaining a retreat from the established parties and a shift to increasingly extreme opposition parties resulting from the disastrous economic conditions (in addition to ideological shifts towards nationalism and anti-Semitism)."
The fact is that it was completely normal that a switch from the normal parties to something different took place in such a situation that Germany was in at the time. Hitler took advantage of that but it was a perfect gift for him. His accomplishment was not something he engineered into being solely by his genius.
Goebbels was the mastermind propagandist
Hitler's success cannot have been only due to his own ability. Goebbels was the main force in the massive propaganda machine that propelled Hitler. He created an image of Hitler that reflected him as married to Germany. Hitler was Germany and Germany was Hitler. Goebbels even completely hid the fact from most Germans that Hitler had a mistress until the end of the war. Goebbels propaganda was how the Fuehrer principle, that elevated Hitler to a divine status, came into being. The cinema and newspapers were also controlled by the state which made it easy to assert Goebbels propaganda on the German people. "You could only read, see and hear what the Nazis wanted you to read, see and hear."
Goebbels took charge of two tasks, "to ensure nobody in Germany could read or see anything that was hostile or damaging to the Nazi Party and to ensure that the views of the Nazis were put across in the most persuasive manner possible."
The Fuehrer Principle mindset gave Hitler tremendous infallibility in the eyes of the German people. For example, the Night of the Long Knives, where Hitler overthrew the SA leadership and bludgeoned to death or shot at least (probably more than) seventy seven men, was excused since Hitler "became the law". Goebbels was highly instrumental in Hitler gaining and retaining support.
"Herr Adolf Hitler, the German Chancellor, has saved his country. Swiftly and with exorable severity, he has delivered Germany from men who had become a danger to the unity of the German people and to the order of the state. With lightening rapidity he has caused them to be removed from high office, to be arrested, and put to death."
-The Daily Mail's twisted remark on the Night of the Long Knives
2. Hitler's economic and social accomplishments
Again, my opponent simply states an accomplishment by Hitler but does not show by what means Hitler did it nor how it reflects genius. He does not even show how Hitler was the main effector.
Hitler did not come into power during the critical part of the great depression
The German economy was already beginning its recovery when Hitler came into power. This doesn't mean Hitler did nothing to help the recovery, but he in no way initiated it.
Hitler can't take sole credit nor was there anything ingenious that he did to boost the economy
Hitler and his staff applied a somewhat Keynesian approach to boost the economy. Of course, you have to be skilled and wise enough to successfully implement an economical system, but it was not genius what Hitler did. Hitler was intelligent enough to choose the right course of action but he did it with already tried systems. There is nothing wrong with that, but successfully using another economist's philosophy is not a sign of genius. Hitler was not even an economist so it's hard to call him an economical genius.
Hjalmar Schacht, takes major credit for stabilizing Germany's inflated currency. He worked tirelessly and introduced the "Retenmark", that helped stabilize the currency. Of course, currency and debt do not equal employment but inflation and debt were massive problems that would not have allowed other economic areas to prosper if not fixed.
Hitler doing positive things for Germany does not equate to Hitler being a genius. How does building roads make Hitler a genius especially when it's highly unlikely Hitler planned all the infrastructure? Part of the rise in infrastructure was itself a result from the Keynesian system that was implemented to restore the economy. So this is just linked with the previous point. Either way, I see nothing in pro's argument that shows how increasing infrastructure points to Hitler being a genius.
3. Hitler's diplomatic moves
"Godlike" is a massive extrapolation with no basis provided.
I see nothing genius, let alone godlike, about these annexations. According to pro, the vast majority of people were in agreement with Hitler so he does not even make it out to have been a difficult accomplishment.
Instead of examining the details like pro has seldom failed to leave to me to do, I will leave it to pro to improve his argument instead.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
It was a good move but in no way genius. The fact that Hitler was able to put aside his anti-communistic feelings merely reflects that he wasn't a stubborn buffoon, not that he was a genius. More significant, however, was his ill-considered decision to break the pact and invade Russia, which more negatively reflects his intellect.
4. Hitler's praises in the US, UK and France
Pro's argument is that important people praise Hitler. Important people also criticize him, so what? No one who knows the facts would say Hitler had only the capability to do bad. Hitler did have notable praise-worthy achievements. No one could reasonably contest that. That does not mean he was a genius!
Many of the quotes make claims that pro himself does nothing to back and it would take me five times the space to disprove them so I will instead leave pro to provide some argument to them if he so wishes.
Also, do I really need to point out the "appeal to popularity" fallacy, or is it just obvious here?
Millions considered him a hero. Goebbels propaganda machine was one cause of that fact but one thing we know for sure is that Hitler was far from heroic so I wonder why pro even brings this up. All it shows is that it is easy for a population to be deluded.
The swastika is the most recognized emblem because it marks the regime of the most infamous man in human history not because a genius stood behind it. Same thing goes for memorabilia and Mein Kampf. I have to say, I was quite surprised pro brought up such an obviously flawed point.
Pro can not simply claim that Hitler accomplished amazing military feats while admitting in the same sentence he won't go into his military accomplishments. If you're not going to make an argument, don't make the assertion.
RicardoChaves forfeited this round.
Extend arguments. There are still enough rounds to save the debate. If my opponent returns for the remainder, I ask that voters only deduct the conduct point and to evaluate arguments as per usual.
RicardoChaves forfeited this round.
Vote con then.
RicardoChaves forfeited this round.
How disapointing. I thought this was going to be a good one.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wateva232 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I really wanted to read this debate. Unfortunately Pro forfeited what would've been, one of the best debates I've read on DDO. To be fair, both had some good arguments in round 2. I was really waiting for Pro's reply in round 3 and I was utterly disappointed by the forfeiture. I have to give this win to Con even though Pro had really interesting arguments in round 2. If I give my RFD on the first 2 rounds, it would be: 1. Conduct: Tied; 2. S&G: Since pro said in the first round he's not a native English speaker, thus I will give it a tie; 3. Convincing arguments: Both had very good arguments, would've been a tie, if it wasn't for forfeiture. So points goes to Con; 4. Reliable sources: Con definitely sources his argument better and Pro only used Wikipedia and did not use in-text citation, so points for Con. Really disappointed to see this debate forfeited. Hope to see this re-debated though.
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