In the 1930s, here in Nuremberg, hundreds of thousands of Germans gathered to pay tribute to Adolf Hitler. Everyone wanted to be close to him. To be with him, to be in his presence, to be with him once, was a big event for him. Hitler did not hypnotize these Germans to lend his support.
People believed him because of what he did and what he said. At least not that he told them that they were a great race that would achieve great things. But Hitler now faced the greatest test of his charismatic leadership ever.
He wanted to lead these people into a war of racial conquest to conquer a vast new empire. But there was no evidence that most of them wanted war. With insights from those who lived in these times, most of whom had been interviewed by the BBC over the past twenty years.
The capital of Germany today, just like it was the capital of Germany in the 1930s, when Adolf Hitler was chancellor. In 1937, Hitler lived and worked in a building in this place. This was the old Reich Chancellor. And this is where Hitler spent most of his time alone in his bedroom. Where he will hear what he calls his ‘inner faith’. Often Hitler did not leave his bedroom until lunch time.
At the heart of his charismatic leadership was the idea that he made all major decisions entirely on his own. Hitler was always certain that he was right. He didn’t even like to read other people’s advice. In 1935, a prominent Nazi sent a Hitler paper on youth issues and received this reply from Hitler’s assistant. The Führer received but immediately returned it to me without reading it.
He intends to make a big speech on this at the party’s next rally and therefore does not want his thinking to be affected in any way. Hitler was considered infallible. When a decision has to be made, none of us counts more than the stones on which we stand. It is the Führer alone who makes the decision. And at the end of 1937, in the isolation of his bedroom, the Führer was thinking about this. (music playing) Austria.
This place would be the first test of Hitler’s desire to occupy land that was not part of Germany. The first test of how others would react to his desire to use brute force to subdue another country. Hitler was born in Austria and passionately wanted this German-speaking country to remain under his control. On 5 November 1937, Hitler told his military leaders that he had decided to annex Austria, and then later annex Czechoslovakia. But his generals were worried that Hitler would start another war.
This was not the response Hitler had expected. He wanted his generals to be like this. My generals should be like bull terriers on chains, and they want war, war, war. But what happens now? I want to move forward with strong policies and the generals try to stop me! Within a few months, three of those who had not been enthusiastic about Hitler’s plans at the meeting were no longer in office. But even then, Hitler was not able to deal with his military leaders as brutal as his fellow dictator Stalin.
Hitler needed the support of the German officer corps. Hitler was welcomed as chancellor by the Chief of Staff of the German Army, Ludwig Beck. Like many generals, he was not against the idea of German expansion, he was only concerned that the German army was not yet strong enough to accomplish the task. But in the end Hitler’s determination won him over. On the morning of 12 March 1938, German forces crossed the border and entered neighboring Austria. They were greeted not with bullets and guns, but with roses and carnations. So much so that this action came to be known as ‘Blumenkrieg’ or the War of the Flowers. During my 10 years at party conferences or at rallies with Adolf Hitler, I certainly saw my share of enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm that was prevailing in Austria at that time was not only surprising to us, but also unbelievable.
The Austrian government, which had been destabilized by the Nazis for years, eventually succumbed to Hitler’s bullying and offered no resistance. Most Austrians, envious of what Hitler saw as economic success and prestige in Germany, now welcomed their German neighbors. The first major gamble of Hitler’s expansion had paid off. Just before 4 o’clock in the afternoon of 12 March 1938, Adolf Hitler crossed the River Inn down this road and entered Austria. He was coming home.
This city, Braunau am Inn was his birthplace. And in this house forty nine years ago Hitler entered the world for the first time. The crowd was so excited that it took Hitler’s convoy several hours to reach the city of Linz, the place where Hitler attended school and lived most of his youth. The reception here was the most uproar ever. I think we cried, most of us at that time. Tears were running down our cheeks and when we looked at the neighbors, it was like this. “All of you”, and he told us, “all of you will help me build my empire to be a good empire with happy people who are thinking and promising of good people”.
Something extraordinary happened to Hitler that night in Linz. Something that reflects how charismatic leadership is about the relationship between leader and leadership. Because Hitler has now decided, once he has seen the happy reaction of the people of Linz, Austria should first become part of Germany rather than remain a separate country within the Nazi Empire as he had originally planned. It was as if people had changed their mind for him. (playing music) Hitler went to Vienna.
And his emotional state would have increased even more. what happened next. It was here that he dreamed of greatness as an unknown young man struggling to survive before World War I. He repeatedly saw Wagner’s heroic opera Lohengrin at the Vienna Opera. And now, twenty-five years later, on Heldenplatz, Hero Square, in front of the Hofburg Palace, more than 200,000 people gathered to see Hitler. Hitler once wanted to be a hero in this city. And now, to the cheering crowd before him, he was the one. All the most important elements of Hitler’s charismatic charm were on display here in Austria.
His mission, his ability to establish a relationship and express what his audience wanted and felt, to unite all Germans under his rule. His vision of a racist state, filled only with those he considered ‘true’ Germans, offered these people his certainty in their economic crisis that all would be well. Now, that Germany and Austria were united.. A final piece of Hitler’s charisma was also in Show One, which appealed to the prejudices of the people. His ability to hate.
Thousands of Hitler’s political opponents were arrested in Austria and many of them were sent to concentration camps. Austrian Jews in particular faced many violent attacks, plunderings and humiliations. Some forced to clear the roads. There was no security anywhere. I remember once I had to clean the streets too. I saw a well dressed lady in the crowd and she was holding a little girl so that this girl could see better. Hitler blamed the Jews for the defeat of Germany and Austria in World War I, for communism and much more. And many believed in these anti-Semitic fantasies.
About 10% of Vienna’s population was Jewish, with many Jews concentrated in the area north of the city. Some of his fellow Austrians helped the Jews, some were glad to see them go. Jews fleeing the Nazis now organized a plebiscite not only in the unification of Austria and Germany, but, importantly, in Hitler. And he denied the right to vote in it to several hundred thousand Austrians, including his political opponents.
The Nazi propaganda campaign centered on Hitler, as the Austrians were taught the three combined values of their new state, one people, one Reich, one leader. Hitler personally went out on a campaign tour. And when the votes were counted _Hitler had received a 99% approval rating. Hitler was now in power for more than five years. The years in which the Nazis tried to influence every aspect of German life.
This traditional festival, held in Mühlberg, central Germany, shows how successful the Nazis were. Especially Hitler targeted the youth. He wanted them to be exposed to Nazi beliefs from an early age. God himself was, we youths believed in all that. Young people were being taught not only to everyone but to worship Adolf Hitler.
They also learned of her racist, hate-filled values—that they were better than everyone else, and that they should despise the weak. What mattered in life was to be strong. (Song Playing) Hitler liked to take big decisions alone. And when he had to make the biggest decisions, he preferred to come here, in the mountains of southern Bavaria. And now, renewed by his success in Austria, Hitler had decided that he wanted to move on to Czechoslovakia. But if he did, he knew that there was a danger of war with Britain, France, perhaps even the Soviet Union.
Almost every day Hitler took an afternoon walk on the slopes of Obersalzburg and was then taken back to his home, Berghof. And almost every day the tension grew more and more. In the 1930s Hitler openly stated that he wanted to regain for Germany, the lands lost as a result of the defeat in World War I, and to collect all ethnic Germans under his rule. and the Sudetenland, the border region of Czechoslovakia, had several million ethnic Germans. But in reality, as he wrote in his 1924 book Kampf, his ambitions were much higher.
He wanted to secure a vast new empire for Germany to the west of the Soviet Union. But he knew that while millions of Germans wanted to regain their lost ground, they did not want to fight a great war of conquest. And as a charismatic leader he wanted the majority to support him. So he hid his grand ambitions by saying only that he wanted to ‘right the wrong’ of the territorial settlement at the end of World War I.
In September 1938, in an effort to prevent war, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, traveled to Munich and Hitler’s office at Koenigsplatz. Chamberlain did not think Hitler was a gentleman. In fact, he remarked, that Hitler was the ‘smallest little dog’ he had ever seen, so inseparable that you would never notice him in a crowd. But Chamberlain was sympathetic to the idea that a peace treaty at the end of World War I was too difficult for Germany. And he signed an agreement on September 29 that gave the Sudetenland to Hitler, the German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia.
As they were in Austria, German army soldiers were greeted with flowers as they entered the Sudetenland in October 1938. The joy at our deliverance was immense and was welcomed by all. People said ‘Thank God’ time is changing for us now. Everyone was happy about it. But a few weeks later, in November 1938, events in Munich would demonstrate Hitler’s true world view.
They will also provide information on how their charismatic leadership has worked. Prominent Nazis gathered here to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, a sacred date for the Nazi Party. On the evening of 9 November they learned that a German diplomat had been shot by a German-Polish Jew in Paris.
Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, a vicious anti-Semitism, suggested to Hitler that the Nazi Stormtroopers against Germany’s Jews be let loose. Hitler’s charismatic leadership could have worked like this – he had a vision, he hated Jews and wanted to get rid of them – but others suggested how it could be implemented. Hitler agreed with Goebbels’ idea and so on the night of 9 November Nazi stormtroopers attacked Jewish property. About 25,000 Jews were imprisoned in concentration camps and over a hundred were murdered.
Soon after, the SS newspaper warned that there would be dire consequences if a Jew killed another prominent German. There will be no more Jews in Germany. We hope we make ourselves clear! He also threatened: Because no power on earth can stop us, we will bring the Jewish question to its complete solution. The program is clear: complete removal, complete isolation! Many Germans were certainly anti-Semitic at the time, but there was no evidence that most ordinary people _ like these holidays approved murderous attacks on German Jews.
Nor did he have any desire to fight another European war. But a large number of them certainly believed in Hitler. They called him a ‘normal bloodthirsty’ who had achieved great things for him and his country without any bloodshed. We took an attitude that someone said the Führer would manage. The Führer would do the right thing. Hitler knew that this attitude of belief that he would ‘do the right thing’ _ was based on the faith of these men in his charismatic leadership.
So he was faced with the difficult task of accepting military conflict to such ordinary Germans, without losing their confidence. We can get an idea of how Hitler was working to change public opinion, from a secret speech he gave in Munich to prominent German journalists. On 10 November 1938 Hitler said: For decades circumstances have forced me to speak almost exclusively of peace. But, now he told reporters, the news was to be presented so as to create the impression that: there are cases that, if they cannot be achieved by peaceful means, they must be enforced through violence.
which What was important was to say to the people: Leadership is always right… It was important now, Hitler said, to free the German people from the shackles of suspicion. These were the scenes for the Festival of German Art in Munich in July 1939. By the time these pictures were taken, Hitler had broken Czechoslovakia to pieces, and the British and French governments had warned Hitler that if the Germans moved on Poland, there would be war. The German press saw things very differently and was telling people in one voice that Germany was being treated unfairly. that the legitimate demands of their Führer were not being met.
Secretly, Hitler had already told his military leaders to be ready for war. And just a month after his visit to the Munich Art Festival, Hitler announced to his generals that they should harden their hearts against the enemy. A general who was not part of Hitler’s plans was Ludwig Beck. He had resigned as Chief of Staff of the German Army, now believing he had told a friend, that Hitler was ‘a psychopath through and through’. He was more certain than ever that Hitler was leading Germany to catastrophe. ‘I warned and warned,’ he said, ‘and at last I stood alone. On 1 September 1939, German forces invaded Poland, two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.
The Polish army had little chance. Not only was it the ideal country for German tanks, but as part of a secret non-aggression pact with Stalin that had been signed a few days earlier, Germany and the Soviet Union split Poland between them. . The Germans invaded Poland from the west, two weeks later, the Red Army invaded Poland from the east. Less than six weeks after it began, the war was over, Poland was crushed. For the German officers and their men, it was a time of celebration.
For the Poles, this was the beginning of one of the most brutal occupations in history. Poland would suffer proportionally more losses in this war than any other country, with about 6 million Poles dying. over 16% of the population. For Hitler and the Nazis, it was an ideological war from the beginning. Hitler told Joseph Goebbels that in the autumn he thought Poles were ‘more animals than humans’ and that ‘the filth of the Poles was unimaginable’. Hitler’s ‘decision’ at the Poles, Goebbels said, was disastrous. In the autumn of 1939, 2 million Polish Jews came under Nazi control.
Thousands were shot, and the Nazis began to wear special symbols on their clothing marked with polished Jews. They will soon be imprisoned in the ghetto. He would be sent to death camps later in the war. Chances are that none of these Polish Jews would have survived the war. Back in Berlin, Hitler agreed to speak to the German Reichstag. And on 6 October he gave a speech expressing confidence about the way forward. The senior offices of the German army knew that Hitler was not planning peace.
Just days before speaking to the Reichstag, Hitler asked him to prepare an immediate plan for an attack in Western Europe, which would mean an invasion of France. It is almost impossible to estimate how reckless _ almost insane – the idea of invading France struck many of Hitler’s generals. Not only did the British and French have more tanks than the Germans, they had better tanks. The general consensus was that the Germans could not possibly succeed. In the autumn of 1939 also there was talk of a rebellion. General Halder, the Chief of Staff of the German Army and General Brauchitsch, the Chief of Staff of the Army, discussed trying to implement a change in leadership.
He almost certainly had something in mind that happened a little more than twenty years ago. In World War I, the head of state, the Kaiser, was pushed to the background, while prominent generals such as Hindenburg took control. This is what they wanted to see happen to Hitler. General Wilhelm Ritter von Lieb also tried to garner support for a coup against Hitler. He simply described the planned attack in the West as ‘crazy’. ‘ And he also thought that the atrocities committed by the Nazis in Poland were ‘worthy of a civilized nation’. But von Leeb was a rare voice of protest. It was one of von Leeb’s own officers, corps commander General Geyer von Schweppenberg, who identified the problem facing the conspirators.
He came to the idea after consulting his allies that his troops would refuse to go against Hitler. Because the respect and faith in Hitler was deeply ingrained in him. Hitler’s charismatic leadership _ which was based on the education of youth in Nazi ideology and on successes such as in Austria, the Sudetenland and now Poland _ was too powerful for them to be taken away.
Then there was another aspect of Hitler’s leadership that proved important – his absolute certainty that Germany would win the war against France. Despite all the objections of his generals, he remained confident of victory. And this determination, this absolute faith began to take effect. Once again, Hitler set a vision, this time, invaded Western Europe_ and others came up with ways to implement it. And they all knew that Hitler admired the radical plan – willing to take spectacular risks, to gamble on the chance of success.
And in the early 1940s, a new version of the invasion plan, proposed by General von Manstein that was decidedly both radical and risky. The idea was simple. The main armored thrust of the German invasion of France should pass through it. The Ardennes Forest is one of the last natural forests in Western Europe. If the Germans could get out undetected by the Allies, and then dash for the Channel Coast, they had the chance of a swift and dramatic victory. If they are found to be razing and attacking forest roads, Germany will almost certainly lose the entire war.
It was to be one of the greatest gambles in military history. All or nothing. And Hitler liked the idea. The plan was that Army Group B would invade Belgium and Holland and engage the Allies in battle, while Army Group B made its dash through the Ardennes and tried to reach the coast. Allied forces would be trapped as a result. What was important was that the Germans were able to cross the River Meuse into north east France before the Allied forces arrived. If they could do so—and the risks were enormous—there would be no other major natural obstacle in their way to the English Channel.
On 10 May 1940, a section of the German army did what their allies wanted, and invaded Belgium. British and French armies proceeded to engage them. It seemed that it would all develop into a series of traditional battles. Most likely this will lead to a deadlock. Not unlike World War I. Waiting in the woods to the south of them, undetected by the Allies, were 1,200 Panzers of Army Group A. The Germans concentrated their mechanized forces here.
Although they had fewer tanks than the Allies, they were gambling on Allied tanks to their north, in the wrong place to halt their advance. But the roads were so narrow that a German general was concerned that moving forward could cause heavy traffic jams. The whole essence of the attack was speed. So much so that Panzer’s drivers were issued with amphetamine tablets so that they did not need to sleep for several days _ tablets known as Panzer Chocolates.
Units of the 7th Panzer, here near the city of Dinant, were some of the first units to reach the River Meuse. The commander of the 7th Panzer was a 48-year-old, then relatively unknown general called Erwin Rommel. On 13 May, Rommel crossed the River Meuse in this weir. A day later more panzers crossed the river further south. It was all a victory for the Germans. It was hard to believe… we were broken and moving deep into enemy territory. It was not just a beautiful dream. This was the reality. But amidst this success, something strange was happening behind the scenes.
On 17 May, Hitler ordered the army group to stop its advance. He, the general Halder thought, was ‘very nervous and terrified of his success. The generals could not understand how Hitler could be a great gambler and yet be so fearful during the war. But Hitler was proving to be an unreliable battlefield commander because of how his leadership worked. For Hitler there was faith: decision-making means not hesitating to do what inner faith commands you to do. Hitler had previously heard this ‘inner conviction’ in places like his bedroom or walking among the mountains of southern Bavaria.
Now, instead of thinking about grand visions, constrained in endless military meetings about detail, Hitler’s ‘inner faith’ was proving to be an unreliable guide. Here, in the Battle of France, Hitler overcame his fear and continued to advance within a day. But it was a sign of things to come _ yet the clearest example of just how much of an asset Hitler could be as an asset as a military leader. Army Group A reached the Channel Coast, where the Somme River meets the sea, on 20 May 1940.
Just ten days after the attack. The refugees had tried to flee from the Germans … … but the advance was so rapid that they had nowhere to flee. It is almost impossible for us to imagine the shock of what had happened today. In this single campaign, the Germans captured more than one and a half million prisoners. The Germans lost about 30,000 dead. The Allied death toll had tripled. The Allies’ defeat was made worse because they believed they could hold the Germans back. Hitler said before the campaign that it was not in the nature of both the systematic French or the tough Englishman to react quickly to events. And events had proved that he was right. General Keitel now declared that Hitler was the greatest military leader the Germans had ever had, and the French signed an armistice on 22 June 1940.
The Germans had won in less than six weeks _ and in fact the major battle of the campaign was won in just four days. Now it was time for the German soldiers to have fun. To these Germans, who were aware of the stalemate of the trenches of World War I, with the German army trapped for years in the trenches a hundred miles northeast of Paris, the victory seemed miraculous. The German soldiers were clearly invincible. And looking at the condition of all of us, we were all excited.
Even those who earlier had a different attitude towards the whole regime. Suddenly, everything was working so well and no one was able to stop us, all of a sudden we were nationalists. Wherever the German soldiers were, no one else could survive. It was really like that. And it all appears to be part of a pattern that Adolf Hitler created. Belief in charismatic leadership is nurtured by success.
And Hitler had success after success. Austria, the Sudetenland, Poland, and now, the greatest, an insult to the old enemy _ the French. Hitler’s victory parade in Berlin on 6 July 1940 marked the high point of confidence in his charismatic leadership. Never before and never again will he be so victorious. These people were somehow not hypnotized to believe in Hitler.
They chose to support him, because they loved what he had given them _ victories. Shortly after this parade, Hitler would announce to his military commanders that since Britain’s position was ‘disappointing’, Germany had won the war. It was just a question, the British realized that they were defeated. It was a moment that captured both the strength and weakness of Hitler’s charismatic regime. Because despite these people’s belief in him, Hitler knew he was not in control of events as he pretended to be.
Back in the new Reich Chancellor, he could lock himself in to wait for guidance from his inner confidence, but he was not able to make his enemies _ the British _ act as he thought they should, and just Accept defeat. What they decided to do next would shatter the Germans’ faith in their charisma, killing millions of innocent people. Zestcorp . subtitle by caption