One thing that puzzled me for a long time about the Hitler phenomenon was, if he was so evil, why did the crowds greeting him always seem so ecstatic? Or why did the civilians around him, in smaller groups, always seem so happy and at ease? Of course, the fairy-tale version has this demonic madman seducing an entire nation of authoritarian zombies. But, I outgrew fairy tales a long time ago.
About a year ago, I watched the nearly six-hour documentary "Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told." Words fail me when trying to describe the powerful affect that this had on me. I found a graphic that may help:
OK, it wasn't quite like that. But there is a profound sense of sadness that one feels as the documentary marches somberly to its end, and as it documents National Socialist Germany's end. For me, it was for two reasons: one, that this amazing restoration of a people to pride and great achievement, this grand example, was so completely and viciously brought to an end.
The other is more personal There is a lot of footage of cheering, laughing crowds of Germans or Austrians (or Ukrainians) greeting Hitler or Wehrmacht soldiers. The German people, up until nearly the end, felt a national pride and sense of purpose that comes out in the film footage. I have never experienced anything like that, and almost certainly never will.
On the positive side, there is the catharsis from releasing long-held false beliefs. That counts for a lot.
I urge anyone reading this, no I beg you, if you haven't seen the movie, go watch it. You can purchase a DVD or simply watch it by visiting the link above.
It's a sunny 66 F in my SE Pennsylvanian little town right now. Happy April 20th !!