sAdolf Hitler: the Modern Machiavelli
In Adolf Hitler, the early twentieth century found a nearly flawless Machiavellian politician. He emerged from his nine-month imprisonment in 1924 a flawless tactician, not losing his ability to commandeer and expand a flourishing army until he attacked Russia. For Hitler had an extremely firm grasp on Machiavellis words: A prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared. Hitler inspired such a fear into his enemies and such a passionate exuberance into his followers that, domestically, he had few threats to fear as long as he continued to win battles.
One could compare the situation of the German people with that of the people of Milan in the late 15th century: Louis the Twelfth, King of France, quickly occupied Milan, and as quickly lost it; and to turn him out the first time it only needed Lodovico’s own forces; because those who had opened the gates to him, finding themselves deceived in their hopes of future benefit , were the people of Milan. The German people are, in a figurative sense, the same as the people of Milan. During the glory of Germany at the height of Germanys World War I power, they were controlled by a somewhat satisfactory ruler, yet, after the treaty of Versailles, which was supposed to bring closure to the German people, they found themselves oppressed, divided, and unsatisfied with the Bohemian government. Then, like a light from heaven, which is a sadly sadistic clich to use for their situation, Adolf Hitler appeared with the solution to Germanys problem, which was the same as the Solution to the Jewish (, gypsy, homosexual, and handicapped) Question. Hitler brought himself closer to his people and earned their trust (and votes) in a brutally efficient manner. From 1928 to 1930, the Nazi partys seats in the German Reichstag jumped from twelve seats to 128. The political situation, or fortune . . . one of those raging rivers gave itself to the Nazis success. By the late 1920s, the Great Depression was swinging toward Germany, allowing the Nazi party to take advantage of the middle classs worries about financial vulnerability and convert it into a huge dose of political capital. The world economic situation also allowed the Nazis to blame the situation on the Jewry, because since the 15th century and the Jewish peoples exclusivity to the banking community, Jews were associated with the false belief that they were swindlers who would cheat in a business transaction.
Hitler further consolidated his power in the Blood Purge, or the Night of Long Knives, that being the night of 30 June 1934. Some 1000 members of the SA, the Nazi partys oldest institution that served as the outlet for the bodyguards of Nazi leadership, were rounded up and arrested. Approximately eighty leaders were shot for resisting arrest. Through this, Hitler established that he, and only he, was the sovereign ruler of Germany, which was now an official dictatorship. Hitler was certainly feared among his own party now as a result of these actions.
The failure to take over Russia, and especially the sadly unintelligent means by which the attempt was made, broke Hitlers inferiors confidence and trust in him, and, frankly, his sanity. Germany was fighting a two-sided front; half of their forces in North Africa and half trying to invade Russia in the dead of a Russian winter. As has been noted by nearly every military historian in regards to Hitlers attempts to fight this type of war, Hitler should have learned from the past and from Napoleon Bonapartes bloody failure upon attempting the exact same thing. Hitler fired his top military advisors who had advised him to tactically remove his forces from Russia and cut himself from all assistance. Here Hitler disregarded for the first time one of Machiavellis principles: Good counsels, whencesoever they come, are born of the wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the prince from good counsels. He decided to ignore the advice of his counsels, and, rather than take wise advice, he became irrational. He randomly launched into fiery tirades, and became as paranoid about assassinations and possible coups as Stalin, the reviled Communist leader of the Soviet Union some years later. An assassination attempt by several Nazi leaders and anti-Nazi rsistance members took place on 20 July 1944, but it failed, and the Fuhrer amused himself by watching videos of the conspirators gruesome executions. Toward the end, after the Allied invasion of Normandy and after knowledge of the Axis Powers inevitable defeat was learned, he spent his time in the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin. There he entertained thoughts about his secret V1 and V2 weapons which would change the course of the war. Hitler spent long nights moving armies that didnt exist across Europe.
Eventually, Hitlers arrogantly blind mistakes and his gradual mental breakdown led to his suicide on 30 April 1945. Adolf Hitlers political and military policy was flawlessly Machiavellian until he made his fatal mistake: the invasion of Russia and his failure to back out when he still had the opportunity. Niccolo Machiavelli would have agreed that, along with all of his gifts of statecraft and war craft, a prince must be rational.
Modern European History, Birdsall S. Viault