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Hitler: Good Cop or Bad Cop?
“Germany either will be a world power or not be at all” (Hitler 177).
“After visiting these places, 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.”
– John F. Kennedy
When one hears Adolf Hitler’s name, immediately, images of gas chambers and fascist propaganda for military parades come to mind; however, would you believe me if I told you that the same leader that summons revolting images to your head was the one that brought a country of hopeless citizens out of economic turmoil in just the span of few years? Could you believe that the same leader that is immortalized by Hollywood war films as a one-sided, evil leader brought the unemployment of 6 million people, almost one third of the country’s population, to only 302,000 people in 6 years? False propaganda and the alteration of history has left an adulterated image of a patriotic leader who only wanted to see his country and people prosper. A leader who only wanted to see his country progress and reach its full potential is now only known for his cruel rhetoric and smooth moustache. Hitler is a very controversial figure, and truly was a monstrous figure in history; however, history has also arguably shown the enormity of the scope of Hitler’s positive impact on Germany; most importantly, Hitler improved Germany by lifting it out of its economic crisis, reinstalling a sense of national pride in the German citizens, supporting rights and respect for woman, children, and family, and reducing the crime rate in Germany.
After WWI, due to their defeat, Germany was under oppressive debt. The Treaty of Versailles annihilated any of Germany’s hopes to ever prosper economically again, let alone even have an economy. Additionally, soldiers needed money for pensions, France and England demanded outrageous reparations, and the whole country needed to be built up again, all of which left Germany’s economy in ruins. Unemployment rates spiked up to new highs and inflation brought 64 marks to a dollar to 4,200,000 marks to a dollar. Germany was crying for help. Then came a savior, a patriotic soldier who just wanted to see his country thrive. Due to his powerful rhetoric and arousing speeches, Hitler quickly rose to power. From 1928 to 1938, under Hitler’s rule, the GNP increased by almost 13%. In June 1933, the "Reinhardt Program" for infrastructure development was introduced. It combined indirect incentives to reduce unemployment such as tax reductions, with direct public investment in waterways, railroads and highways. Between 1933 to 1936, employment in construction rose from only 600,000 to more than 2,000,000. Hitler’s economic policies brought Germany out of the Great Depression, and his social and economic policies are even used today. One of the most influential and renowned American economists of the twentieth century was John Kenneth Galbriath. He was an advisor to many presidents, author of several books, and a former Economics professor at Harvard University. He wrote, “… The elimination of unemployment in Germany during the Great Depression without inflation…was a signal accomplishment. It has rarely been praised and not much remarked. The notion that Hitler could do no good extends to his economics as it does, more plausibly, to all else.” This shows that Hitler’s trailblazing economic policies are underappreciated. Although Hitler’s moral judgment was without a doubt flawed, he helped bring Germany out of its economic crisis and brought a shattered country back to its original state—if not better.
The humiliation from the Treaty of Versailles and a WWI defeat that left Germany’s economy nonexistent crushed the spirits of the German people. Soldiers did not return home from war, unemployed people roamed streets in desperation, and loved ones were lost. The sense of national love and pride for Germany was washed away. The uneducated may ask: How does national pride effect a country? Well here’s what happens: The economy breaks down. The government breaks down. The country turns into a bitter, harsh anarchy. This nationalism is the same reason why modern-day desolate, impoverished countries still insist on hosting the Olympic Games. It is because it gives their people a sense of pride, it makes them want to dedicate—if not even lose their lives for their country. Hitler wanted to awake the nationalist sentiment in German people. He promised the Germans a rise against the harsh rule of the imposing nations that now controlled them. He promised to make the German people the strongest world power once again—and his people believed it. Hitler’s conquests and victories helped bring back a patriotic attitude to the Germans. Hitler truly gave the people of Germany hope and pride to encourage technological developments, strengthen the government, and boost the economy.
Dim-witted critics that refuse to acknowledge that a leader known only for his evil can be beneficial for a country may say that Hitler did not improve Germany because he started WWII. However, even if Hitler did not rise to power, it is largely assumed that WWII would still occur due to the harsh restraints laid on Germany. The Treaty of Versailles was just a small ceasefire that oppressed an already impoverished Germany. In fact, despite recognizing the severe scope of Germany’s debt, the Allies forced Germany to accept complete responsibility for initiating WWI. One of the most outrageous articles in the Treaty of Versailles points out the fault that caused WWII. “The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected…” (Treaty of Versailles 231). This article in the Treaty of Versailles is more commonly known as the “War Guilt Clause.” This article made Germany liable for all material damages, and France’s premier at the time, Clemenceau, insisted on imposing enormous reparations that Germany, in its current situation, could not dream of paying. Nevertheless, Clemenceau feared a rapid German economic recovery and a initiation of a new war on France. Hence, the French and the other allied countries sought to limit Germany’s potential of an economic rehabilitation and rearming. The German army was limited to a sparse 100,000 men, and the Navy was restricted to vessels under 10,000 tons. The Germans had no choice but to initiate WWII. The intense circumstances that Allied forces had placed on Germany would have made any sensible leader initiate another war to stop oppression.
Hitler still accomplished the impossible by reducing criminal rates in a country plagued with economic depression, and emphasizing respect for women, children, and strong family values. By giving social outcasts and criminals jobs, Adolph Hitler was able to significantly reduce the crime rate in Germany. Statistics from the time support this too. R. Grunberger in his book, Twelve-Year Reich, stated that there were significant drops in murder, robbery, and crime. In addition to reducing crime rate in Germany, Hitler also emphasized respect for all women, children, and strong family values. Before the election of Hitler, Germany due to its economic depression was seeing a declining birthrate. Seeing this, Hitler passed a law that enticed married couples to set up homes and start families for interest-free reductions. For every child born, the couple could keep 250 marks and did not have to repay it. The system proved to be so efficient that it still exists in Switzerland. Hitler emphasized maintaining a strong bond among family members and he lowered the crime rate in Germany significantly.
All in all, it is recognized that Hitler’s moral judgment and genocide of the Jewish people are atrocities that cannot be ignored; however, Hitler does not deserve the image that Hollywood and biased historians have placed upon him. He is not the savage monster that he has long been portrayed as. Stating that Hitler did not improve Germany is a travesty of justice and he should not be condemned with a permanent of image of a sanguinary beast. We must acknowledge that despite the monster Hitler might have been, he truly was very beneficial for Germany in every single aspect. Yes, Hitler had a plethora of evil in his mind, but the statistics are also there to support that he was beneficial for Germany. Hitler improved Germany by lifting Germany out of a staggering economic depression, bringing back a sense of national pride to Germans, advocating for the education and respect of woman, children, and family, and reducing the crime rate. On April 30, 1945 Hitler exhaled his last breath, but he, without a doubt, left a mark on Germany.
(*) These quotes were taken from multiple of Galbriath’s books. These include:
J. K. Galbraith, Money (Boston: 1975), pp. 225-226.
2. J. K. Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty (1977), pp. 214.
3. J. K. Galbraith in The New York Times Book Review, April 22, 1973. Quoted in: J. Toland, Adolf Hitler(Doubleday & Co., 1976), p. 403 (note).
4. J. K. Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty (1977), pp. 213-214.
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