Hitler Phenomenon and the Rest of Us


 By: J. Marlando       


Not too long ago I was privileged to meet and work with one of the last survivors of the Nazi concentration camps. Charles, my friend, was in Poland when Hitler started the war and remained in the horrors of those death camps for six long years...1939-1945.

The "camps" that he was in included Auschwitz where he came face to face with the so-called , Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele who brought unimaginable torture and suffering onto unimaginable numbers of human beings. (You can read Charles' true story by simply googling Amazon where both kindle and hard copies are available. Just write The Art of Survival in the search box or J. Marlando).

While the impact of the horrible atrocities against humanity that the Nazi's committed is simmering in 2013, there are, however, groups and individuals who are struggling to keep the history alive so the world will not permit such a holocaust to occur again. After all Hitler's henchmen murdered millions of Jews and countless gypsies, homosexuals and many others who did not agree...and follow his rule. After World War II was over it was pledged that the future would not tolerate another holocaust but sadly enough it has in places like Rwanda not to mention the cold, calculating mass murders that occur in all wars.

Most of us have far too much empathy and so compassion to ever harm others but is this true?

While Hitler is the modern poster boy for human cruelty, human cruelty persists all over the world just as it did in ancient times. Indeed, we have had somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years of so-called civilization and none of those years have lacked in man's inhumanity to man.

One question is, are we a vicious, cruel species by nature. After all, we are the only species that plot individual and mass murders of our own kind. There is simply a long distance between "plotting" to kill others than killing in a rage of jealousy or some other outrage!

This article sets out to explain what stirs the savage in human beings who are in at least good, average mental health and to shed some light on the dark side of our kind.

We begin with the question could you, the reader, become Hitler like?

The Hitler Syndrome


Wars, which necessarily include the killing of others, have been going on since the advent of civilization itself...since the earliest city/states and the old god/kings.

It is generally believed that wars are fought because of  conflicting ideologies and this is true as far as the general warriors are indoctrinated to believe. Most of the demagogues in high-ranking leadership know better, however. Nearly every war, ever fought on our planet is about power and acquisition. These are the very reasons that go back to most ancient   time.  Indeed, it says in Numbers 31:13-18 that God tells Moses to raise an army and attack the Midian people. The spoils of that particular war were 675,000 sheep and goats, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 virgins. In the U.S. early Americans attempted to create a holocaust for American Indians that almost succeeded. This was primarily for land and its riches. And who in their right mind could reconcile the random murdering of human beings in the name of a "holy war" which has been happening for over a decade now?

On the other hand, think of the horrors of the inquisition or the murdering and torturing of human beings by the Church of England and the Church of Rome...or the so-called Holy Wars between the Christians and Muslims...In fact, all have confiscated the property and land from their victims and so greed is, at the bottom line, the causes of nearly every war on the planet. This is as true today as it was thousands of years ago. Wouldn't one think by now we would be heeding the lessons of history?



Hitler and his Nazis are modernism's most violently cruel and brutal. What makes them this is the vast numbers of human being who suffered and died at their hands. However such brutality and so such suffering continues in our own times only not on such an obvious or large scale.

When we read of nit-cases kidnapping and enslaving others, sometimes for years, the rest of us tend to say we'd never do such a thing. And, most of us wouldn't...under normal

circumstances. But, as the old saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

What substantiates this is the Lucifer Effect as described by Philip Zimbardo who created what has come to be known as the Stanford Prison Experience. What Zimbardo did was create a prison or jail environment at StanfordUniversity. He recruited some students to voluntarily become inmates and other students to volunteer to be guards. Not long after the experiment begun the guards, with absolute authority over the prisoners began taking cruel advantage of their power. It was observed that these student guards took on the same personalities as the real guards in the real prison at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.hitlerCredit: www.cvableweek.orgBut more, this power-syndrom occurs in the personalities of a great many prison guards, police officers and even government employees and  politicos who experience absolute authority over others.

During World War II the Nazis who ran the prison camps actually had absolute power over the POWs. That is if you displeased one or refused to follow an order even the lowest ranking person over you could beat and/or kill you at will and without any repercussions. If you were a prisoner you were at the mercy of your captors.

Most of us ask the question, how on God's earth could human beings treat other human beings like that?

The first answer is not at all as frivolous as it sounds: Because they could.

There seems to be a psychological quirk in most human beings minds that power corrupts. Annd, as we are told, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This syndrome is seen time and time again in ancient rulers and even Popes and Protestant leaders: think of the inhuman torture that was ordered by the rulers of the early Church of EnglandhitlerCredit: www.fofoa.blogspot.comthink of the so-called Puritans torturing and burning people at the stake; think of the vast crowds that hangings once attracted.

What is it in our genetics that makes evil-doing and other cruelty dormant in our natures? After all, a great many Nazis were ordinary, family loving, human beings before Hitler came along and gave them labels and costumes turning shoemakers, cooks and bookkeepers...that is, average human beings into savage torturers and killers. Well, at least some of this nature was displayed by the student guards at Stanford.

 I have elected to call this human malady of becoming tyrannically cruel as an attitude of power, The Hitler Syndrome. We have all witnessed tastes of this syndrome in ordinary life by others in powerful and even pseudo-powerful positions. Bosses who undermine employees; rich over poor, loaners over borrowers, owners over renters and so forth. This is all the Hitler Syndrome at different levels. Extreme racism and sexism can easily fit into these categories.

Hitler himself was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria. He was a self-centered, moody child according to reports but quite artistic. He quit school at sixteen hoping to become an a painter. He proved himself to be a brave soldier during World War I, twice winning the Iron Cross. He was also twice wounded.

After the war he was sent to spy on the German Workers Party but instead he joined it and became its Chairman. He changed its name in 1921 to the Socialist German Workers Party and gave it the Swastika as a symbol. This party would eventuate into Hitler's Storm Troopers.

In 1923 Hitler organized "his" new government in a beer hall and thereafter marched with three thousand others through the streets. Some of the marchers were shot and killed and others arrested, Hitler among them. He was sentenced to five years but only served nine months. During that time he wrote Mein Kempt (My Struggle) and the rest, of course, is history.

The more powerful he became the more ruthless and cruel he became. And yes, the more greedy and self-serving.

Why Wars upon Wars

Wars from most ancient times to present with very...very few exceptions have never been fought for ideals and even our own Revolutionary War was fought for land and yes, independence . That "independence" and "individual freedom," however,  was soon enough swept under Washington D.C.'s rug. Indeed, our government began like a great charity with the will to give to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breath free; the wretched and homeless but soon enough what happens to great charities happens to governments: Regardless of their good intentions they quickly begin to self-serve and self-enrich and soon enough the people, in general, are all but forsaken. Indeed, governments world-round tend to center themselves as the vital organ of a country or nation and treat itself as such. As a result the Sheriff of Nottingham  rises  to ride again.  Even long before those other Hitlers known as Alexander the Great hitlerCredit: www.tutropes.orgGenghis Kahn hitlerCredit: www.hunbibdevientart.comand other warmongers such as Richard the LionhearthitlerCredit: and SaladinhitlerCredit: were around. War, money and the misuse of labor has made the world go round at least since the very ancient Egyptians.

Hitler with his comic-book-vision of actually ruling the world proved that nearly every person can be ruled by rhetoric and propaganda; that most individuals are sheep in search of a shepherd. This was Hitler's secret and he did a world of damage before he was stropped by greater war machines and more determined soldiers. Nevertheless, Hitler made World War II a necessary war, most simply are not. Yet, Hitler's war as most others was about inquisition, land and money. In fact, all his squealings about the FatherLand was  far more show than actual was the people who felt the inspiration that he delivered; the people who became willing to sacrifice their lives for his causes.

This too is why we have so many wars, the people simply get sucked in to the politicos whims for war and the want of more power and more money. In our own country, the Spanish American War was sought by those in power. In fact, Teddy Roosevelt had written a note to McKinley saying,  "What this country needs is a war." And so began a campaign to convince the American people to favor fighting Spain. The cause became Cuba and the people believed that the reason was to free the Cubans from Spanish rule. It wasn't! It was to demonstrate our country as a major, world power and pick up some territory while we were at it.  The people never suspected, they actually were willing to fight for the freedom of the Cubans. There were very few Americans who were in favor of fighting in Vietnam until it was announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked American destroyers while on routine patrol in international waters."

When the American people heard this, they rallied behind the war effort--damn anyone who would try to harm our ships and our service boys. And so President Johnson escalated the war. The problem was that the attack never happened, it was a propaganda trick to create support from the people. Then of course there were those weapons of mass destruction announced by George W. Bush along with that old trickster's line about fighting for other people's freedom. Quite suddenly, the people were behind their governments and so the industrialists that would profit from more warring.

The Hitler syndrome is a virus that both the high and mighty, the lowest of the low and a great many others endure. It is the willingness to kill, steal and torture for self-serving reasons. It is a statement that howls out to everyone else: My center is more valuable than your center.

Making Peace, Not War


We individuals, just as governments, have, since the dawning of civilization, lived in the concept of centers. This is the very reasons why the earth is historically so blood-soaked. Just think what so many of the German people were wiling to do, including to die and kill for the so-called Father Land. The Father Land is a perfect example of how "centers" work in the realities of organizations and individuals. One of the first things the old god/kings developed for their ancient city/states was the belief in a world made up of "us" and "them." This has been the tricksters game since the earliest demagogues came into power and created their elitism(s) called kingdoms. It creates and then supports the belief, that anybody who ain't them.

This is certainly at the roots of sexism and racism, cultural-ism  and nationalism, all these "isms" that create opposites and so oppositions. The ultimate statement of this is in the absurd notion that the God in my center is stronger and more real than the God in your center." How ridiculous is such a notion and yet wars, upon wars have been fought in the name of such absurdities for millenniums. The Crusades of course are the prime example of this but also  a great many other wars have been rooted in religiosity. Even the Vietnam war had its deeper roots in a conflict between Christians and Buddhists.

As for the big triangle, Christian, Jews and Muslims,  while each of their roots trace back to Abraham, they remain bitter enemies because what I have called the Hitler Syndrome has historically run through the bloodstream of all three. While they all pray to the same god, they place that god in exclusive centers. For Christians, the center is the suffering Christ. For Jews the warrior Moses and for Muslims, Mohammed the Rule Maker. All have murdered and died for their particular beliefs; all have fallen into the trappings of the Hitler Syndrome whose banners wave the idiosyncrasy that states, Anybody who ain't them.    

The anybody-who-ain't-us-is-them banner is at the very cornerstone of man's inhumanity to man since that ignorant statement typically and soon enough changes to Us Against Them. Indeed, this is how the warmongers and self-servers have been stirring the people to pick up arms since our kind first walked out of the forest. In fact, this reflects history's supreme demagoguery. The great quest for the spoils of war, also known as power and money, in the many guises of the Hitler Syndrome.

I was a young man during the Cuban Missile Crisis when American missile crews were put on alert. And, as Paul Johnson reports, "some 800 B47s, 550 B52s, and seventy B58s were prepared with bomb-bays closed for immediate take-off from their dispersal positions. Over the Atlantic were ninety B52s carrying multi-megaton bombs. Nuclear war-heads were activated on 100 Atlas, fifty Titans and twelve Minuteman missiles, and on American carriers, submarines and overseas basis. All commands were in a state of Decon-2, the highest state of readiness next to war itself."

In the meantime, Russia was gearing up in a similar way. The earth came within minutes of being destroyed by the planet's two most powerful "us and them'ers" in human history. (For anyone born after  1960, this near holocaust jeopardized all life on earth as we know it and until we deconstruct our us and them world view and begin to live in connectedness, one with the other, self-destruction remains a clear and potential danger.

In order to create a lasting, world peace then, we must deconstruct all centers that create barriers between one people and another, one class of people and another, one color of people and another, one gender of people and another, one ideology and another. This absolutely does not mean that we should all become the same only that we need to break out of our mental cocoons and become universal and begin treating others as we would be treated. If we are a species that truly desires peace, there is nothing simpler or easier than this.

It is as Emma Goldman once said: "The individual is the true reality of life. A cosmos in himself, he does not exist for the state, nor the abstraction called "society" or the "nation," which is only a collection of individuals." This view simply gives no room or credibility to the Hitler Syndrome that I have been speaking of throughout this article. This rule means that we can practice any religion or rituals that we wish to practice and yet let go of exclusivism.

What this means is that we find it acceptable to acknowledge that those we deem as "them" have a right to their own totems, rituals, beliefs and costumes just as we have; that those outside our own circles feel hunger, thirst, fear, pain and pleasure just as we do. In terms of Hitler and his Nazis, these basic, human acknowledgements were not given especially to the Jews who they tortured and murdered by the millions because...they were not them. Is this really the kind of world any of us want to live in?

Indeed, as demostrated by the experiment at Stanford we are, with few exceptions, capable of torturing and even killing others who we are given authority over or believe that we are superior to. Hitler and his followers deonstrated this human trait that Zimbardo named "The Luciffer Effect." It is indeed, how all we good hearts and gentle people can become...evil. 




Hitler made the ultimate statement of  "centering" a people although every government in history has also to a less fanatical extent. The racist doctrines of Nazism  and neo-Nazism gave much of the German people a self-view of arrogant superiority. Thus, it became philosophically justified to murder and torture all human beings that weren't "them." The terrible slaughter of Jews is the most known of their atrocities (their crimes against humanity) which they classified as a mere cleansing. Such cleansings even included other Caucasians if they were not purely Aryan. As a result it became, for Nazis, an "us against the world of others" stance that desired to create the "Fatherland" a universal center with all those outside their own circle being eliminated.

As most of us would agree, this is psychopathic-nationalism...Many Americans demonstrated a similar attitude toward the Native Americans just as many Australians demonstrated the attitude toward the Aborigines; just as the Japanese did against the Chinese and the list goes on and on. Indeed, this is our history as a so-called civilized species, the desire to annihilate or enslave all those who "ain't us" or like us. In our modern world no one has demonstrated this more than the fundamental  Muslims, another group that would like to expand their center universally. Historically the Catholics did this. In fact, the word "catholic" means "universal."

Mahatma Gandhi clearly had the right formula for bringing peace to the world. He told each of us that we had to become the changes that we want for the world. This means we must, in both private and public life, be respectful and caring of others; we especially need to stop judging others by ourselves and ourselves by others. And we need to do the kind thing as we follow the twists and turns of our own individual paths.

For any of us on the planet to support war and other human cruelties by a shrug that simply says, that's the human condition, is to turn our backs on humanity itself. As long as we "accept" wars upon wars there will always be war; as long as power and acquisition motivates one people against another (one center against another) the Hitler Syndrome will prevail as it has since the dawning of civilization only by many other names and in many other guises.

I do not believe that governments will ever expand their centers to embrace all others but each of us can choose to by simply treating others as we ourselves would be treated. This is obviously not my wisdom...this wisdom has been taught since very ancient times and given us by Judaism, Taoism,  Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. A major problem is that concepts of separateness has prevailed for millenniums. As a result, most everyone assumes that there exists an "us and them" reality. We must then deconstruct that view and reconstruct a view that realizes we are ALL the same and our differences are merely apparent.

With all this in mind, when you walk away from this article, decide how you are going to love the world today and all those others living in it. After all, the way to avoid the Hitler Syndrome begins with how you treat your family, friends, neighbors and the strangers that happen to enter your center and therefore your life...remember, even the passerby has hos or her story.

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