Hitler – a kind old man or a ruthless tyrant?

Hitler has been known as a heartless dictator. In fact, when I typed “tyrant” into thesaurus.com, the first answer I got was “Hitler.” It is the proof that whenever someone hears the name “Hitler”, they think of cruelty, blood… So I was shocked when I watched Hitler’s youngest secretary Traudl Junge’s interview. She said that Hitler was very gentle. There was no sign of him being a dictator. She revealed how she was shocked when she first met him. He was very nice to the secretaries; she thought of him as her father. Was Traudl Junge lying? I do not think so. At the time of the interview, she was very old. She also told the story with great guilt; she felt guilty because she was a part of the regime, and she did not realize it until now. So if she was correct, what is the real Hitler: a kind old man or a ruthless tyrant?

Maybe it is both. I believe Hitler had a very interesting and complicated personality. To deal with public, he had to show that he was the right man for the job. So he tried to be as powerful as possible. However, behind the curtain, when he was back in his bunker, he was so tired with all the political issues so that he wanted to be as gentle as possible. According to Junge, he did not want to talk about politics at all. He was very human: talking about other issues with the secretary during his meals, playing with his dogs. He even got angry when someone asked him about the Jews during his visit.

I also think that Junge should not feel guilty. I understood her because I was in her shoes before. I lived in a communist country. During my first 14 years of life, I thought communism was the best way to rule a country; and I did not find Ho Chi Minh (I used to call him Uncle Ho, by the way) ruthless. I only knew about the truth when I got out of the shade. I saw Vietnamese people (elderly, children, men…) crying and hugging his coffin during his service. I do not blame them, because they were living under a shade like what  Traudl Junge did.

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One Response to Hitler – a kind old man or a ruthless tyrant?

  1. aspencer9 says:

    Your view is interesting and is similar to the points I brought up in my post. Hitler seemed to have had a kinder side in private. The accounts of him from his secretaries are much different that the common conceptions and the history books, but as you related your own past, being too close to a situation can blur people’s vision. It is not until a full view of the situation is had that an informed opinion can be made. With communist and socialist regimes throughout history, lack of knowledge enables control over the people. Junge only saw one side of Hitler because she was so close to the situation. If she had known the full extent of war crimes while working under Hitler, she may have had a completely different experience. She was a victim, or perhaps a beneficiary, of circumstance.

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