Tag Archives: #AdolfHitler

Junge, Traudl: Through the Final Hours (Bir Zur Letzten Stunde) (2002)

til siste slutt

Traudl’s brother Karl suffered from schizophrenia. After Hitler’s star rose in Germany, so did his ideas. This is the environment Traudl grew up surrounded with. When the government decided Karl had to be sterilised, the family thought it only right.

At the age of 21 Traudl was desperate for a change, for an opportunity to chase after her dream of becoming a dancer. When Albert Bormann suggested she get a job for the government she applied for one thinking she could pursue her dancing off-hours. But life did not turn out that way. Later she drifted into applying for a position as one of Hitler’s private secretaries and just happened to get it. She wasn’t especially qualified, she was just the first one through the door. She kind of drifts into a lot of things in the book.

Reading Traudl’s story puts me in mind of ending up with a cult. Hitler was an intense person who could turn even the best arguments on their heads. He was, the first couple of years, a kind of father figure to Traudl and made Traudl feel as though she was part of something special. Information beyond what Hitler and his compatriots provided was not allowed on the premises of the various bunkers and Berghof. Finally, Traudl was like many young people, available for the position of follower.

Then the picture begins to crack. The idealistic leader meets trouble and failure. His narcissism is showing more and more, but the brainwashed Traudl is so caught up in his personality and her own denial that she sticks with him until the bitter end.

Perhaps the way I’ve presented this autobiography reads as an attempt on Traudl’s part to excuse her own participation as part of Hitler’s staff. But I did not get that feeling while I read it. It does, however, present a very believable kind of human being. Perhaps I would have had more in common with her when I was 21 than I would like to admit.

The worst part of coming out for Traudl was having the neo-nazis come up to her to shake the hand that had shaken Hitler’s. For her that made a mockery of all of the suffering that he had been responsible for and that she, if indirectly, had enabled.

Weber, Max: On Bureaucracy (Iron Cage)

It is easy to see the despair of this man sitting in his iron cage. For some reason he’s stuck there and probably will be for quite some time. This despair is part of what Max Weber wishes to illustrate with his description of bureaucracy’s iron cage.

Rules are good. They are part of what makes it possible to have a functioning society. But sometimes (or maybe all the time) power ends up with the few (like Hitler’s Germany). Having just read “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” I was reminded of Weber’s work. Along with Ervin Staub I think Weber manages to prompt insight into our own and society’s darker potential. Wikipedia manages to give an easily understood description of Weber’s thoughts on bureaucracy and rationalization.

Through rationalisation and dehumanization through strange bureaucratic rules, a group of people like the Jews experienced the Holocaust. While the Jews were dehumanized, it was also easier for those who sat behind their desks following whatever regulations were sent their way to rationalise away that humanity.

Adolph Eichmann is a classic in that regard. He could/would not see that he had done anything wrong for he had only “followed directives”. In fact his only regret was that they had not done a good enough job. But Eichmann wasn’t anything unusual when you look at the role beureaucracy has had in making lives more difficult or even horrible for others. Sometimes one might even wonder if along the way some bureaucrats lost their own humanity and as such became slaves of a system that they depended upon to give them their wages.

The Boys” by Martin Gilbert is another book that illustrates the effects of such a dehumanization of people. It seems to me that we need to be aware of our darker sides. Only through acknowledging them will we be able to make conscious choices (for good or bad).

In my opinion all of these authors ought to be on everyone’s must-read list.

Norwegian article that illustrates Weber’s theory in practice