Adolf Hitler: The Unofficial Encapsulation for Ignorant Christians
First thing's first: read Mein Kampf. It is essential reading for anyone who cares to at all understand exactly who Adolf Hitler was, and why the Nazi campaign / holocaust was set in motion and (mis)managed as it was. After you've read Hitler's own words, if you still don't think you have a grasp on the man, come back here.
Adolf Hitler was the furthest thing from an atheist that is likely possible on a human level. Even Joseph Stalin, whom by all accounts genuinely thought himself a deity, is the spitting image of humbleness when sat next to Hitler.
Hitler was 'born again', to the extent that he essentially refused to acknowledge his own biological birth and childhood, during the end of his service in the Great War. His intelligence and courage earned him decorations by the German military and he was initially (reportedly) well-liked by his peers and commanders. Following a mustard gas attack, however, Adolf fell into hysteria and started to devlop extreme patriotic ideals about Germany (even though he himself was not a German citizen).
From here, Adolf leant himself to believing the 'dagger-stab legend' regarding Germany's defeat, and seeds for his anti-semitism and anti-marxism began to grow. Fuelling the former notion was the public perception in general of Jewish families in Germany at the time; Germany, being under crushing economic sanctions after their surrender, was in fiscal ruin - yet it was percieved that most Jewish families still had vast sums of wealth and lived smugly atop their ill-gotten luxuries while the rest of the country lay in squalor (of course, the perceptions were rather distanced from the facts).
Hitler's ideas finally congealed into far less vague notions of what he should do when he was fatefully assigned as a police spy to infiltrate the German Worker's Party. There he met Anton Drexler, whose anti-semitic 'philosophy' and vision Hitler admired, emulated and eventually took as his own. He also met Dietrich Eckart, one of the German Worker's Party's founders and an occultist lunatic who took it upon himself to take Adolf under his wing and act as a 'mentor', giving rise to Adolf's supernatural beliefs regarding himself and the mythology he would eventually construct over the world.
During his time with the German Worker's Party, Hitler learned to make public speeches, and became increasingly adept at it. Anti-semitism was rampant throughout Germany (and most of Europe, and even America) at the time, so finding a gleeful choir to preach to was hardly a problem. It elevated Hitler's confidence to the point that he decided to mount a coup, marching on Berlin and demanding a surrender of power by the ruling government at gunpoint. The coup failed, however, and Hitler was thrown in jail for treason (where he would write Mein Kampf, and finalize his plans for Germany).
Hitler's rise to power after his release (having served hardly a year's worth of a 4 year sentence) was a complex affair. Germany hit a major depression, and the government did little to curb it. Adolf appealed to the hard-hit farmers and middle class, who were really feeling the impact, to assist in changing the government. Hitler obtained his citizenship, and ran against President Hindenburg. He lost the election, but achieved exactly what he wanted: exposure as a political presence.
Hinderburg, who was largely a greedy totalitarian asshole, then made a series of political blunders in an attempt to consolidate sole political control into his own hands - forcing the resignation of his best ally and supporter, Chancellor Heinrich Bruning, and putting Franz von Papen in his place. Papen was a naive noble and an idiot; upon being appointed, without going to the trouble of winning any public support for himself (while Hitler had meanwhile been campaigning his Nazi party widely to the public), he called for an election. His reasoning was that only a single party supported his administration at the moment, so the extra votes (which he simply assumed would go to his supporters) would assist in tightening his grip on the political specturm.
These elections won the Nazis huge gains, making them the biggest body in the Reichstag. Papen attempted to diplomatically sway Hitler for his support, but he would have none of it. The Reichstag was dissolved in a no-confidence vote against Papen.
Political juggling and balancing acts ensued, with Hindenburg attempting to keep his throne in place. Ultimately, this lead to the Nazi's being formed into a coalition government with Adolf sworn in as Chancellor. There were measures in place meant to restrict the power of this coalition government, but they were all undermined with a brutal series of browbeating tactics that lead to the passing of the 'Enabling Act'. After that, Hitler's executive power allowed him to virtually shut-down the political process. After Hindenburg's death, Hitler assumed total control of the German government and military, and put all elections on hold.
Nazi Germany was born.
Note the lack of the word 'Darwinism'. This was not an intentional omission. Darwinism had nothing to do with what happened to allow Hitler to become who he became, and in turn, not even Hitler can assume all resposibility for Germany's transformation. It was a cooperative effort, however uncomfortable a notion that may be for some people.
Hitler's anti-semitism wasn't original, and wasn't uncommon. His implementation is arguably another story, but the idea that atheism or Darwinism was behind it is absurd. Hitler blamed the Jewish, Communists and a variety of other minorities for 'betraying' Germany, and put himself to the task of 'rescuing' the country. His notions of Aryan superiority were based entirely on occult superstition and lunacy, and his self-image was that of a man who had transcended mortal existence and was now treading a destined path.
Personally, I don't think Hitler was ever convinced at any point during the Second World War - even after the bombs were exploding in the streets of Berlin - that he was fighting a fight he couldn't win; right up until the night he committed mutual suicide with the wife he'd been married to for a day. Even his closest friends like Himmler weren't spared his wrath when they doubted the effort in the last days.
Not until he had the poison sliding down his throat and his finger on the trigger, in my opinion, did Hitler begin to understand the mortal nature of himself and his many fallibilities.
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."
- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940