The Hitler Factor: Is It Fair To Compare?
By Roberts, M. E.
Since World War II there have been many political candidates who have been compared to the likeness of Adolph Hitler. This was the case for George Bush, Al Gore, and both Bill and Hillary Clinton; to name a few. Try as we might to modify graphic images to resemble the physical appearance of Hitler, any attempt to make a genuine comparison using these pictures crumbles when we face the ugly truth about Adolph Hitler’s personality and actions.
Some have attempted to make the comparison of Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler. This kind of thing has been done so many times before that people no longer think it credible. The shock value is gone and people almost expect such comparisons to be made during the election campaigns. The smear attempt which aims to anger supporters hardly gives them cause to raise an eyebrow.
This situation of being resistant to the “Hitler Factor” could eventually become a dangerous thing for the voting public of any country. How would citizens recognize another Hitler-type politician in the future if they have become resistant to the idea of making the comparison? If citizens are accustomed to instantly rejecting any comparison of a candidate to Hitler, will they be able to apply the lessons of history in order to prevent electing another one like him in the future?
What is it about Hitler we should remember so as to prevent electing another similar candidate who appears to be following in his footsteps? Many believe Adolph Hitler had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a documented mental disorder. People who have NPD have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings.1 It is not hard to see these traits when we view images or videos of Adolph Hitler.
In the general population only 0.5-1% of people are thought to have NPD2, although many will remain undiagnosed and untreated for their entire lives. People may interpret lower levels of expressed narcissism as mere conceitedness, selfishness, or arrogance.
Rarely do the minor expression of narcissism cause any real damage to anyone, but in a position of influence things can go awry very quickly for someone with a severe case of NPD. Adolph Hitler showed us just how bad things can get under that kind of leadership.
What exactly causes NPD? One expert and author by the name of Dr. Shmuel Vaknin offers the following explanation, “The onset of pathological narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers. Pathological narcissism is a defense mechanism intended to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a “False Self” which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient.”3
It must be said here nearly all children are born with narcissist traits and Sigmund Freud believed that to be normal.4 However, the development of NPD as a pathological disorder is thought to be rooted in childhood neglect and abuse. Adolph Hitler certainly had a qualifying childhood which would have contributed to the development of NPD.
Adolph Hitler was born to a communist father who worked as a government employee who had several other children with multiple women. His father was considerably older than his mother and they conceived their famous son prior to getting married. His father was not interested in child-rearing, abused alcohol, and the future German leader would reside in several different residences in his early years. The young boy felt alienated from his father. He would attend several different schools, including a catholic school run by strict priests and nuns.
A teacher would later describe Adolph using these words, “... reacted with ill-concealed hostility to advice or reproof; at the same time, he demanded of his fellow pupils their unqualified subservience, fancying himself in the role of leader, at the same time indulging in many a less innocuous prank of a kind not uncommon among immature youths."5
If there were no bias against the name “Adolph Hitler” one might actually feel sorry for this young boy who grew up in such a dysfunctional family and knew so much instability, turmoil, and sorrow. It should come as no surprise how someone like Adolph could develop pathological NPD as a means of deflecting years of emotional trauma. He clearly had a childhood which could have contributed to the development of NPD. Given the comment of his teacher in later years it is clear Adolph was exhibiting signs of having NPD (see definition in the last paragraph of page one).
As a self-defense mechanism, Adolph imagined himself to be all-powerful and invincible, but that was contrary to his true personality as “nervous and awkward”.6 The fantasy aspect of his invincible “False Self” was becoming deeply rooted in his mind and even overshadowing the personality traits of Hitler’s “True Self”. Eventually, Hitler wouldn’t be able to separate fantasy from reality and Hitler’s “False Self” would totally convince him that he could conquer the world.
So, in getting back to the comparison of Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler, one could say there are some similarities. However, there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of children who share some of these similarities. Having a childhood similar to Hitler does
Like Adolph Hitler, Barack Obama was born to a communist father who worked as a government employee who had several other children with multiple women. His father was considerably older than his mother and they conceived their famous son prior to getting married. His father was not interested in child-rearing, abused alcohol, and the future leader would reside in several different residences in his early years. The young boy felt alienated from his father. He would attend several different schools, including a catholic school run by strict priests and nuns.
He was described by peers who would later say, “He used to be a naughty boy particularly among his female seniors. Once he destroyed the school’s fence which made from bamboos.’ ‘In a creative writing lesson, other students said that they wanted to be a doctor or pilot, but Barry claimed that he wanted to be a president.”7 His childhood friend, Keith Kakugawa said, "He is such a people person now, it's really amazing because he was a very, very shy -- I wouldn't say introverted -- but he was just a very shy, cautious kid".8
Unlike Hitler, Obama did not experience the death of his father at the age of thirteen. However, Barack Obama did see his father alive for the final time at the young age of only ten. It does seem many things about Obama’s early years are quite similar to those found in Hitler’s childhood. Barack Obama had no control over these matters so there is not a single person who would dare hold these things against him. However, we must also understand that Obama was affected by these experiences. It is, therefore, possible that Barack Obama, like 1% of the general population, could have dealt with those emotional issues by developing NPD. According to the comment of his teacher and childhood friend, it appears he was expressing signs which are associated with NPD. Both Hitler and Obama were considered to be shy/awkward while also desiring power.
However, it must be clarified at this point that neither Hitler nor Obama were officially diagnosed as having NPD. Suspicions can arise as a result of observing their behavior, but conclusions would nevertheless remain inconclusive. The best we can do is to compare the history, behavior, and interests of Hitler to see if a political candidate followed a similar path. Merely having a childhood which is similar to that of Hitler is not sufficient to make a comparison. We all know how Hitler turned out, so we should be wary of someone who had similar childhood experiences, seems to show signs of having NPD, has similar interests and ideas, and appears to be retracing Hitler’s footsteps.
So what are Adolph Hitler’s historical footsteps?
At the age of 35 Adolph Hitler would write a book called, “Mein Kampf” (translated as “My Struggle”). It would be an autobiography containing insights pertaining to his early years, political ideas, and thoughts on race.
At the age of 34 Barack Obama would write a book called, “Dreams of my Father”, also an autobiography highlighting his early years, political ideas, and thoughts on race.
Hitler’s “Zweites Buch” (translated as “Second Book”) contains a deeper understanding of his political ideas. The same can also be said about Obama’s second book, “The Audacity of Hope”.
Both Hitler and Obama used their books as a springboard to further their political careers. The title of Obama’s second book was based on a sermon of Reverend Wright and was the foundational basis of the speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. It was that speech which caught the attention of the media and the public, both of whom propelled him to political stardom. He further expounded on those ideas to publish his second book in 2006, just before announcing his run for the Presidency. The book was on the New York Times best-seller list for 30 weeks.
Ok, so they have a similar childhood and they both wrote two books around similar themes. So what? Well, we suspected both might have had NPD too. Let’s talk a little more about NPD to see if there is really a connection to be concerned about here.
I would be willing to speculate that a person who feels the need to write an autobiography in their mid-thirties might be entertaining an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Both Hitler and Obama felt their life was worth documenting for the public even before either had started their political careers.
As mentioned earlier, both Hitler and Obama were described by others as being shy or awkward children with dreams of being in powerful positions of leadership. Both followed that dream, perhaps because they were preoccupied with fantasies about success and power?
As I go down the list of nine NPD criteria I can see a number of them which could be applied to both Obama and Hitler. This should be a concern because we know the outcome in Hitler’s case, but we don’t really know all that much about Barack Obama. He hasn’t released the vault copy of his birth certificate, records of his activity logs while in the Illinois State Senate, SAT scores, college transcripts, thesis paper, medical records, tax returns, list of clients he worked for as a lawyer, etc. Like Hitler, Obama has distanced himself even from childhood friends10 (see below right), not to mention other controversial associates such as William Ayers, Reverend Wright, Tony Rezko, Frank Marshall Davis, etc.
Without full transparency people must look at documented history and recorded actions to learn what this man is all about. Does Obama hold the same or similar convictions and/or associations as Hitler?
Ok, so they have a similar childhood, show some signs of having NPD, wrote similar books at the same age, pursued a career in politics, respect many of the same radical political ideas, have similar associations in their relationships; but we are talking about two totally different time periods in history. Yes, that is true, but you may be surprised to know the signs of the times today are very similar to those in Hitler’s era.
At the time Hitler was rising to power after WWI, Germany had a bad reputation in the eyes of the world. The actions of the country were seen as an act of dishonesty, betrayal, treachery and a war crime. Hitler promised to correct this. Americans are also seen in similar ways for the way we justified and proceeded with an invasion of Iraq. Barack Obama has promised to correct this.
The Germans felt deceived and humiliated after WWI and had just entered into the Great Depression. Hitler capitalized on this feeling by offering hope and change. Americans also feel deceived and humiliated by their own government which allowed the current financial crisis to happen, followed by their passage of a $700 billion bailout plan. Americans have just experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and Obama is also capitalizing on this feeling by offering hope and change.
There was weakness in the ineffective German Constitution which angered many German citizens while few freedom-fighters remained to resist change. Hitler was seen as one who would resolve Constitutional issues while being capable of dealing with resistance. Many Americans have a few problems with the U.S. Constitution, namely the Second Amendment. Obama offers a solution which claims to respect tradition while also allowing for gun-control laws. He will have to deal with those who resist infringement on Second Amendment rights.
The financial contributions of private supporters enabled Hitler to fund his campaign. The same can be said of Obama, for he has collected record-breaking funds from private donors.
Hitler promised something to everyone, just as Obama is doing today.
The Nazi propaganda machine convinced people Hitler was their last hope. In a similar way, the media is supporting the idea Obama represents the only hope for change from the policies of President Bush.
Hitler was an excellent orator, community organizer, and politician who could motivate and inspire huge crowds. His self-confidence was instrumental in convincing voters to elect him. The public viewed him as their savior. The same can be said of Obama11.
“Do you feel like you want to get involved in the political process but you don’t know how? Do you feel like there’s something important coming up in the Presidential elections? Get involved in KIDS FOR OBAMA! Studies have shown that kids can affect their parents and their siblings’ opinions and even change the opinions of older family members . . . including those of voting age. Are you still with me? Great, Let’s get started!” (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/kidskit)
Beyond children, Obama is receiving an incredible amount of support from college students and young adults.
Hitler held extremely leftist ideals. Barack Obama has been called one of the most liberal Senators in Congress12.
Obama and Hitler can even be compared on having similar preferences, such as their desire to give their major speeches against a backdrop of Greek-style temples.
Where Hitler gave a speech in Vienna, Austria, March 1938 (above left)
We need to be cautious when we see historical experiences, thought processes, behavior patterns, courses of action, belief structures, personality traits, and career goals in a candidate which are found to be strikingly similar to those of Hitler. Combined with lack of transparency we have a serious red flag waving before us. We absolutely cannot afford to be wrong about this. With 12 million total deaths, the holocaust was simply too tragic for anyone to allow it to happen again. It might hurt our pride to vote for another candidate, any other candidate, when we want to pull that lever for our beloved candidate so badly. He seems so promising! Yet, so did Hitler. We would suffer much worse if that candidate proved to be something we never anticipated. I can only imagine how many Germans eventually came to regret casting a vote for Hitler.
This article was written as a reminder we need to continue being wise in judgment and unafraid to make comparisons when necessary. Turning a blind eye and responding with anger in defense of our preferred candidate can be quite dangerous. Some might choose to insist Obama would not be one who would take us through another holocaust. Indeed, they may be right, but few can deny the many similarities between Obama and Hitler. I would rather not take the chance of being proven wrong later on in life. I, for one, will always consider “The Hitler Factor” when choosing which candidate will receive my vote and hope others will do the same so we may always learn from our past mistakes.
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