Hitler: Dictator or Puppet? by Andrew Norman

Plenty of theories have been advanced about Adolf Hitler – his background, his inspirations and his mental state. But to my knowledge this book by Andrew Norman is one of the first to assert that he was suffering from Schizophrenia.

Norman begins by taking a detailed look at Hitler’s childhood, his family and his upbringing. One assertion is that Hitler knew plenty of Jews early in life and was certainly no anti-semite until later in life. Indeed, anti-semitism had existed in Europe long before 1933, and certainly long before Hitler. Add to this mix his attitudes to Marxism, the impact of World War One, the crisis in Germany between 1918 and 1933 and we have what we could describe as either a toxic mix of causes, or an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances coming together to create a monster.

One of the most striking things in this book is the examination of Hitler’s early influences. One is particularly distubring, namely Lanz van Liebenfels. Liebenfels was a former monk, no less, who edited and produced a rather cheap, base anti-semite magazine entitled Ostara. Hitler never seems to have acknowledged his sources, particularly once he hit the ‘big stage’. Perhaps, as Norman suggests, Hitler did not want to lessen his own image. One influence I was not aware of is that of Houston Stewart Chaimberlain. I’m even more surprised, given that Chaimberlain was born in Southsea in 1855! Chaimberlain left Britain at the age of 14 to undergo treatment for poor health, and while visiting health resorts in Germany was accompanied by a Prussian tutor. Chaimberlain was influenced towards German history and culture. Chaimberlain was later a great supporter of Hitler.

The conclusion is that Hitler was unhinged by his disfunctional family background, under the influence of some particularly nasty influences from an early age, and particularly susceptible given his possible schizophrenia. The former condition would certainly explain his undoubted delusions, be it his faith in astrology, or his ‘command delusions, which led him to follow the advice of a mysterious ‘voice’ rather than his generals sound reasoning. Clearly not a decision making policy that one would vote for in the next general election, thats for sure.

Anyone who has even flicked through Mein Kampf will be well aware that it is full of ranting and raving, and is a disparate collection of diatribes on various subjects, from Judaism, Bolshevism and even sexually transmitted diseases and poverty. It certainly adds to the feeling that Hitler was not a person capable of rational thought processes. I guess this is where the title of the book comes from – rather than being a Dictator in control, Hitler was in fact a puppet of his influences and his illness.

Hitler’s relationships with women also come under scrutiny. Namely, that he had an improper relationship with his young niece, who died in suspicious circumstances, and also that his relationship with Eva Braun was unusual to say the least. This all adds to a picture of a person who, clearly, was not quite right in the head in any sense. Even his own close family seem to have had very little time for him.

But does all of this really matter? Firstly, we can chew over the causes of Hitler’s behaviour all we like, but it doesn’t change the fact that he and his regime commited some of the most heinous crimes in history. Contrary to popular opinion, men such as Stalin may have killed more people, but it is the horrific, industrial and hateful manner of the Nazi regime that still shocks today. And surely understanding how such a person came into being, is crucial to recognising evil today. Thankfully, I doubt very much whether someone in Hitler’s condition would reach prominence in the modern world, and for that we must be very grateful.

Hitler: Dictator or Puppet? is published by Pen and Sword



Filed under Book of the Week, politics, Uncategorized, World War One, World War Two

27 responses to “Hitler: Dictator or Puppet? by Andrew Norman

  1. John Erickson

    I have a bit of a problem with the term “puppet”. To me, that suggests outside influences purposefully brought to bear. I will absolutely not argue that Hitler had a horrendous upbringing and early adult life, from his abusive father and bizarre mother all the way through his military and immediate post-war experiences. He has repeatedly been shown to be an easily moulded person early on, absorbing many of his negative attributes from associates. While I don’t argue that these influences and experiences produced,in the American slang, “one truly effed-up dude”, I don’t know if I’d call him a puppet. Lotsa other titles, but not puppet….
    And the really scary part about Hitler, to me, was he worked within the political system. You can rail about Stalin and Pol Pot and all the other dictators, but this dude got himself ELECTED! With the cast of “DNA wastage” we have running for the Republican Party Presidential slot in 2012, it scares me witless that we this country might just be whacked-out enough to actually try to elect one of these Hitler wanna-bes. Fortunately, none of them are quite clever enough! 😀

    • James Daly

      Puppet is a problematic term, as we tend to assume that a puppet has a person pulling the strings I guess, a puppet master. Socio-economic-medical factors cannot truly work a puppet, so to speak.

      • John Erickson

        Like I said, not a puppet, but definitely a messed up individual. People need to learn more about Hitler’s early days, beyond the fairly-well-known 1923 putsch days. Between his pre-war days in “civilised” Austrian and Bavarian society, rife with anti-semitism, and his late-WW1 to 1923 military experiences (where he learned his hatred of generals and the established leadership), it’s little wonder he ended up with his brains scrambled. Throw in his childhood home life, and is it any wonder he preferred his dog Blondi to most people? (Why do you think I prefer to talk to Blackjack the oat instead of my neighbors? 😉 )

  2. Jeremy

    Hitler’s treatment of people in the Channel Islands during occupation (amongst all of his other atrocities) was particularly bizarre, and in my opinion, suggests that he was indeed Schizophrenic. I just got back from a tour of the jersey war tunnels a few weeks ago, and it seems that the whole complex had been completed out of a perverse sense of pride, knowing he was so close to England. What a maniac.

  3. EvaBraunAuthor

    Good comments, especially regarding Eva Braun.
    Thomas Lundmark, author of The Untold Story of Eva Braun

  4. Norm Ferguson

    Good day, I am writing as an amateur thinker, not a professional historian. I would like to see more research re the following. I have seen no strong evidence on the web (yet?) that anyone who has written about Adolph Hitler understands the true impact of what his illness was and how it worked. (Sam Vaknin does, but perhaps not in an historical sense of a true cause for the war.)

    Hitler was suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I think this statement has merit. If you look this disorder up and then read Bulloch, Toland and Kershaw on Hitler as I have been doing of late, you can see where they are close in their comments, are fishing, but lacking in their knowledge and application of NPD. They miss the true weight of it. They know something is the cause but do not really get it, cannot define it. Kershaw is closest, (who I have not finished yet, so his thread may come together more), but he statedly leaves it to psychiatrists to provide deeper insight, so I think he missed the strength of what I am proposing re NPD’s prevalence/dominance/pervasiveness.

    I urge new study to be done in this direction as a true and thorough study of NPD in conjunction with a detailed look at Hitler and his thinking and actions will prove me out, I believe that individuals with NPD are always “on” and so every aspect of Hitler’s life can be explained in relation to NPD.

    The most interesting aspect is that NPD has been described as a puppeteer and the one controlled as a victim. I think this is what occurred with Hitler very early in his life and then a most remarkable string of events evolved that lead to his gaining power.

    I have had direct experience with this illness as a victim of a victim and this level of insight/knowledge supports what I say above.

    Narcissists, malignant ones, are capable of immediate, immense anger, manipulation and a grasping for power without any remorse for their actions. They do it because they feel entitled and they seek success by executing power to achieve what they see as their vision.

    In this path, they are controlled by their illness. The illness dictates their actions. They cannot help themselves. They are driven individuals. In Hitler’s case, literally no one could stand up to him and shut him down. Some tried on occasion but if you have stood in front of the hot anger of a narcissist in full vent or while they spout their crazy logic, you will see why no one could turn him off. You cannot. The comments of Hitler’s Generals bear this out.

    Hitler at the sametime gifted with a photographic mind, the mental confidence of self-righteousness, thinking rapid-fire like a narcissist does and consumed within himself much of the time (as they are), able to speak and tie together his thoughts masterfully while in front of an audience, well in the end… as they say the rest is history.

    I hope a true historian takes up on this proposal for more investigation. This writing is hopefully sufficient as a calling for the awareness of the true danger of this illness and how it allowed one man to create a second world war, yes – one man, driven and controlled by NPD: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
    One can match the symptoms to the way Hitler was. I see it because I have lived it and felt how it worked.

    Few were close to Hitler. NPD causes the victim to drive others away in confusion and bewilderment. Daily interaction with one is taut and difficult, you must allow them to lead and control. It is unavoidable unless you leave. Relentless, they do not quit.

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