Blast from the past, from the April 5, 1939 New Republic specifically. Amazing piece from a friend of Hitler’s back in the Vienna days. Turns out back then he was the slightest bit of an anti-Semite, and, if anything, he was a bit of a Judeophile. This interesting portrayal of Hitler as a young man shows that he was a good man at the time. It’s clear that later he went very, very bad. It’s a picture of a fellow who is somewhat inadequate, with a few personality quirks, but overall not a bad guy. His worst quality was apparently his laziness. After that weakness, softness and general sickliness, which smacks of psychosomatism. He had a bit of an irritable streak, but so do lots of good folks. He wasn’t much of a painter, but that was mostly because he just didn’t try very hard and was cynical about mass-producing his postcards and whatnot. When he wanted to, he could paint a fine picture. He neither drank nor smoke. He was given to self-righteousness, but that’s hardly a sin, much less a cardinal one. He was already conservative, and he hated the Social Democrats because they allowed freeloaders to leech off taxpayers. Considering Hitler’s laziness and poor work ethic, this looks like projection. His old friend still refuses, in 1939, on the eve of the attack on Poland, to believe that Hitler’s anti-Semitism is real. It was so out of sorts with the man he knew so well. Hanisch says Hitler was always cynical and believed in the end justifies the means, so he figures Hitler is just using anti-Semitism as a vehicle to obtain popularity. Alternatively, he suggests that Hitler is just being brainwashed by the ferocious anti-Semites he’s surrounded himself with. The truth, from those who knew him well, is that by 1939, Hitler was already into all-consuming and near-psychotic anti-Semitism. From here on out to the end of the war, Hitler’s anti-Semitism and its obsessiveness shocked even some of his fellow Nazis. How a good man goes bad and how a philo-Semite becomes the worst anti-Semite that ever lived are two of the tales embedded in this mercury-like enigma of a man.
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