Jan. 22 (Wednesday)

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 Adolf  Hitler
Full Name: Adolf Hitler
Born: April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria
Died: April 30, 1945 in Berlin, Germany

Adolf Hitler (aka Der Führer or “The Leader”) was an Austrian-born German politician who became the leader of the National Socialists Party (commonly nicknamed Nazis) and the individual most associated with World War II. Also closely associated with bigotry (especially “antisemitism”) and human rights violations (including widespread torture and murder), Hitler has become the epitome of evil for millions of people around the world.

Yet students of political science are intrigued by Hitler, who had an uncanny ability to manipulate people. Hitler’s nationalism especially appealed to Germans who had been humiliated and ruined by World War I, one of history’s most famously pointless wars. He combined opportunism and timing in exploiting and outwitting foreign leaders, and his military exploits were sensational as Germany seemed poised to rule all of Europe and North Africa. Hitler’s biggest mistake may have been attacking the Soviet Union, which was simply too big for the Third Reich (another name for WWII-era Germany) to swallow.

Many people consider Hitler history’s greatest war criminal and mass murderer. However the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong each may have killed more people than Hitler. Ironically, World War II’s most sensational war crimes included the atomic bombings and fire bombings of civilian populations in Germany and Japan by U.S. and British forces. Some people point out that, over a period of time, other nations, including the U.S., have murdered more people than the Nazis. It’s certainly interesting to compare Hitler with George Washington, a slave owner who murdered Native Americans, or with George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom embrace torture, promote hatred of Muslims and have invaded multiple nations. Indeed, some people joke that the biggest difference between Hitler and Bush is the fact that Hitler was fairly elected.

Recent political scandals and a growing awareness of propaganda, manipulation and conspiracy have prompted many people to take another look at Hitler, who some regard as a hero whose record has been distorted by mainstream sources. Olympic champion Jesse Owens, who was black, had more respect for Hitler than for his own president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.