Was Adolf Hitler Stupid?


Is that so? I saw in the 1945 propaganda film “Know Your Enemy: Japan” that a big part of the Japanese’s ideology, the Shinto religion, was world domination. This was because the first Emperor of Japan declared: “let us extend the capital and cover the eight corners of the world under one roof”. The Japanese Imperials under Emperor Hirohito interpreted this as “conquer the world and make it Japanese”. This was a key reason why they invaded all nearby countries (at least that is what they told the people, of course there must have been other reasons behind it). This is what was stated in the film and most reviews say it remains close to the truth. Perhaps you could shed some light on this?


Both Japanese Imperial Fascism and German Nazism had this in their ideological basis, as did for that matter Soviet Russians. You have to be careful when interpreting what “the world” means here and how they meant for this to happen though. Neither the Japanese, nor the Soviets, nor the Nazis intended to invade every country of the planet, instead they firmly believed that once they had achieved domination the rest would subjugate itself to the new order automatically and become vassal states of their system. As for ‘world’ only the Soviets actually meant the whole planet becoming communist, while the world of the Imperialists and Nazis was a world of ethnicity and immediacy. Roughly speaking they would divide Eurasia in half, colonialise Africa, and the Americas would be left as a dependent, but independent region. Now, all of this was not the same from one idiot to the other, so some of them actually had wet dreams of a global Japan or Germania. The bigger the dream the dumber the dreamer.


Given your position on this point and the small expansion into the thinking of the Japanese and Soviets how do you see this position applied to the others players in the world at this point of time.

Is America leadership stupid, at this point, given its limited political ability due to their inward-looking stance post WW1. What of France and Britain? Or is this to be explored in a video?

Somewhere in the discussion board a post was made that Neville Chamberlin was possible playing for time with his “peace in our time” document. Under this theory we would have to say Chamberlin was smart in his actions, but overall a stupid?

Love this thread Look forward to the video


The Conquistadors managed that with even worse numbers. When you’ve got all the guns…


Only in Western Europe and certain Germanic minorities in the East. The rest were Untermensh and were going to be largely wiped out, with the remainder used as slave labour under German supervision.

Have a look on teh interwebz for General Plan Ost.


Yeah I forgot to mention that, thanks.

I went to the “Terror House” in Budapest today and it’s remarkable how oppressed the Hungarian people really were between 1945 and the 1960’s. In my honest opinion, as a normal civilian, you had more to fear under the Soviet regime than under the Nazi regime. Anyone could report you for treason and you would be swept off the street or taken from your home at night. Without a trial you would be either sentenced to death by hanging or sent to be worked to death in the Soviet work camps. Under Nazi rule, as long as you went along with it and were not an “untermensch”, you could live your life without much fear.


And all the germs…


Not really. An issue much less talked about than the ‘extermination programs’ is Nazi organized crime. If they felt they wanted or needed something, they just took it. If you resisted being robbed… well, say hello to Dachau! Then there was the whole issue of non-Nazis using the system by settling scores with neighbors and competitors by ‘reporting crimes against the party’. Once suspected there wasn’t much you could do and… say hello to Madame Guillotine. In end effect, the Nazi state was a systematic machine of insecurity, oppression and crime - against everyone.


I think we have to be careful when applying intelligence to nations. In the end, in one way or another, the fate of a nation is in the hand of the masses. Even if Hitler was stupid that doesn’t mean that all of Germany was. How the masses decide is something very complex that goes beyond individual intelligence and into things like game theory, mass psychology, and swarm intelligence, Now these are new concepts that we don’t yet quite understand - especially swarm intelligence, which we’ve only started studying with the event of the Internet.

Yes, the current video that is up on the site looks at French and English p[olicy in the Middle East, and partly touches on the short-sightedness of these policies. In 1921 we have already shot a video about US isolationism in the 20s and early 30s.

You know… even if you’re really smart, trying to reason with a dumb brute that has already decided to smash your head in with the cudgel in his hand is pretty futile - then again attacking him outright with your bare hands is also pretty stupid, so… who knows? Chamberlain gets a lot of flack that he only partly deserves. What would anyone else have done? Stoop to the level of the Nazis and attack first makes you like them, also he had no domestic support for that, so he couldn’t have anyway. Arm up so that you can defend yourself better? Well yes, but he started doing that even if late. Refuse to cede a millimeter to the demands of the opponent and provoke a confrontation? Probably the right thing to do if you have the defence you need, but that also needs a political base that he didn’t have. In the end, his situation was impossible and the Germans had to attack first for the political will to fight them arose.


I thought it was mostly the SA Brownshirt brutes who carried out these acts. Did this behaviour of police thuggery carry on after the Night of the Long Knives?

Edit: https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/the-nazi-police-state/
This article explains things a bit


The whole political climate in the 1930’s was essential to the Nazi’s succes and the appeasement policy. The financial crisis caused the key nations to be far too busy with their own problems than to look at a potential warmonger in Germany. Besides, Hitler’s propaganda machine pumped out many images of for example the Autobahn project which painted him as the messiah who will carry the people out of the financial crisis.


It most certainly did, take Julius Streicher the Gauleiter of Nuremberg as an example - his theft and extortion programs were so extensive that Göring (also one of the super thugs) felt he war encroaching on his turf and tried to eliminate him, but Hitler protected Streicher and the pillaging continued all the way into 1945 and his arrest.


You are correct - but to not perpetuate the propaganda myth - the Autobahn project was not started by Hitler, it started already in the 1920s.


With the risk that Im awaking a dead thread, I have point out that escalating the kind of war that was eventually fought was probably not Hitlers original intent.
We have to remember not to include too much of hindsight into this discussion. Hitlers immediate goal on an emotional level was to restore the greatness of Germany that had been lost after WWI. After his early successes he probably sank a bit into a gamblers delusion, seeing no reason why he wouldnt keep winning. We also cant know exactly what his preferred end state for the war was, and even that probably changed as time went on. To me it seems that his early goal was to restore at least the 1914 borders for Germany in the west and more than that in the east. How much more we cant know and probably he didnt either.

We also have to remember the weight of WWI on his (and everyone elses) understanding of world politics and strategy. After the stunning success in France Hitler probably felt like he had won the foe that had proven hardest for Germany 20 years earlier. The only thing left was Russia, which Germany had absolutely crushed the last time. With his new army, surely he was going to win this time? Remember that the allies too initially thought they would be fighting another trench war and were helpless when that wasn`t the case.

It is also important to separate intelligence and ideological fanaticism. Hitler was a white supremacist and from the perspective of his worldview (which was probably made worse by the fact that the surrounded himself with people who shared his views, producing an echo chamber of fascism) it made logical sense that Germany would triumph over the eastern foes who were so far beneath them.
Of course, allowing yourself to fall into a pit of racist delusions is pretty stupid. And in any case Hitler was ultimately very inexperienced as both a world leader and a strategist and definitely got in way over his head. To me he seems like a rookie poker player who gets lucky in the early game and doesn`t know when to quit.


Well yes… :wink:

Not quite - his immediate goal was to unite and “clean up” the “German race” by eliminating the weak and non-conforming members of the race, then conquer enough land for them to grow AKA “Lebensraum” and in the process exterminate their perceived enemies (Jews and Bolsheviks) and subjugate “the lesser races” in that same Lebensraum.

His lack of intelligence is not only visible in the absurdity of embracing such a goal, but also the belief that this will possibly even be remotely successful, and even if it was, that it would lead to a 'better society". By the formula to calculate intelligence that I applied, this vastly reduces his score as it is a path that leaves him with the least possible paths forward to the overarching goal of creating a 'better world" for that “German race”. In fact, it leaves him with one path only: global war! A war that he was repeatedly told by his generals and economic advisors he could only win if it was halted after Poland. Thinking. you can do that is also a lack of understanding for how things would develop, as it assumes that the rest of the world will stand idly by and let him get away with it (which his generals chose to believe, but even if the world would stand idly by, sadly for them it was never on Hitler’s mind to halt after Poland).


Well the rest of the world let him get away with Rheinland, Sudetenland, rearmament and Czechoslovakia. Its not logical to assume that a pattern will keep repeating until infinity but it`s also one of the most common delusions.
Besides, after Munich Hitler probably felt like he could wipe the floors with the cowering statesmen of other powers.

Regarding stopping after Poland, I have a hard time believing that the revanchism inherent in so much of post-WWI fascism would have let Hitler or his accomplices stop before at least getting Elsass-Lothringen back. While the bolsheviks and the “lesser races” were the key ideological enemies of nazism, France was the traditional enemy of Germany and losing to them was one humiliation to be avenged.

I think HItler was like most far right populists. Not very intelligent and certainly not qualified for the post. His rise to power required some political shrewdness, but not necessarily intelligence, as the ideology he stood for valued strength, aggressiveness and masculinity above simply being smart. And even though many of his actions are demonstrably stupid, especially with hindsight, they are still understandable once put into a temporal and ideological context. Honestly I don`t know if another far right dictator from a similar context wound have wound up making very different choices.


Spartacus, I really liked the article and it provided a great framework to analyse Hitler. I appreciated learning about how everything is interrelated and how strong man(?) theory has been debunked.

One interesting point that I’d like to add was the effect of enigma on WWII. I’ve interviewed Freeman Dyson for many hours. Before he worked on Project Orion he was a scientist for Bomber Command. It was an amazing experience and made me see things from a different perspective. He actually confronted Churchill once and told him he was killing babies!

It could be argued that Hitler’s decisions were actually intelligent but he didn’t factor in the effects of enigma. We really were losing WWII until Stalingrad. The only reason we managed to pull through was enigma intelligence. For example, we were losing the Battle of Britain before Hitler moved his airforce to invade Russia.
The Luftwaffe was destroying more aircraft than they were losing. That was the private consensus of the RAF leadership after the war. That was the case even when we were reading the Luftwaffe orders every day during the Battle of Britain via enigma. Radar played less of a role than historians suggest. Intelligence played a major role. We knew where the bombers would be and still had trouble shooting them down. Taking that into account, deciding to bomb Britain into submission makes sense. Similar things occurred during the invasion of Russia.

I feel that enigma and intelligence isn’t really considered enough.


I think that your opinions are mostly correct, but I think you missed the fact that Hitler was a great speakers and could get people to listen to him irradical which is really hard to do.


Sure, but that is not the kind of intelligence that the equation I used deals with. Oratory skills on the emotional level is more of an applied skill - if you look at what he said, it’s rather striking that his rhetoric was based on the simplest rhetorical fallacies, there was no elegance to it whatsoever, so much so that you have to assume that he didn’t even know what he was doing on a rhetorical analytical level. It was argument by sledgehammer through and through.


All depends whether one considers history as the result of a few great men or the masses actions.
Perhaps the real question is why the Germans supported and accepted Adolf Hitler, a mad man. He was not stupid, he was mentally troubled. In other times, such an individual would have done nothing but be the leader of some micro political party or gang, at max.