The famous psychologist and writer Alice Miller analyzes the relationship of little Adolf Hitler with his parents in an attempt to find an explanation for the inhuman cruelty of the Fuhrer in his childhood.
Let's make a reservation right away - Alice Miller does not at all intend to justify the horrors of the Third Reich by the cruel treatment of the future dictator by her parents. As a psychologist, she is interested in facts. And, as a specialist with 20 years of experience in psychotherapeutic work, she is convinced that any violence of an adult criminal has its roots in his childhood. Many may disagree with the point of view of "justifying" incredible crimes, but most psychologists probably understand that nothing arises from anywhere in our psyche, especially when it comes to atrocities of this magnitude. The point of view of Alice Miller, which in no way serves as an excuse for the crimes of the Nazis, but only makes an attempt to explain the origins of Hitler's cruelty, as well as opposite opinions, has a right to exist.
As you know, and there is certain documentary evidence of this, the father of the future Fuhrer - Alois Hitler - is suspected of having Jewish blood hated by the Nazis in his veins. We will deliberately not dwell on all the historical details of the origin of Hitler's father, since this is beyond the scope of this article. We will only mention a few facts.
Here is what the German historian and specialist in Nazi history Joachim Fest writes about the origin of Alois Hitler in his book The Face of the Third Reich: “Hitler's father was the illegitimate child of a cook named Schickelkruber from Leonding, near Linz, who worked in the same house in Graz … The cook, Adolf Hitler's grandmother, worked for a Jewish family named Frankenberger at the time of the birth of her child. And this Frankenberger - the case was in the 30s of the XIX century - paid Schilkgruber for his son, who was then about nineteen years old, alimony … In addition, for several years there was a correspondence between the Frankenbergers and Hitler's grandmother, the general content of which was a tacit confession both sides, that the child Schilkgruber was conceived under such a set of circumstances that the Frankenberger is obliged to pay child support to her."
It is unlikely that the grown-up son of that very cook, Alois, would have known nothing about these facts - known to the whole village. But regardless of whether these rumors were true or not, the future father of the dictator was haunted by a fourfold dishonor: he was poor; he was illegitimate; he was separated from his mother at the age of five; He had Jewish blood in his veins (which in those days meant shame and isolation).
It is clear that even if the last point was just a rumor, it did not save the situation at all, since the first three points remained indisputable. The fact that Alois at the age of forty changed his name - with all the subsequent serious difficulties and obstacles that Festus describes. According to Alice Miller, these facts indicate how important and controversial the issue of his origin remained for him.
All his life, Alois will defend himself from the oppression of this shame with the help of his successes, an official career, his uniform, pompous manners and incredibly cruel treatment of his own wife and children, including his son, Adolf.
Not all historians, however, are convinced that Alois Hitler regularly beat his little son, Adolf, or in some other way mocked him. Similar doubts in his book "Hitler's Youth" are expressed, for example, by the historian Franz Yetzinger.
"He [Yetzinger] argues that Hitler was 'definitely' not a 'downtrodden child' and that 'a wayward and stubborn boy totally deserved' a spanking," writes Alice Miller in her book Parenting, Violence and Repentance. - For "his father was a man of very (!) Progressive convictions."
As a psychologist, Alice Miller absolutely rightly argues that Yetzinger came under the inherent influence of people in general, the so-called "black pedagogy", which justifies child abuse (for example, beating) for educational purposes. Needless to say, even today, as a result of the philosophy of "black pedagogy", many parents around the world are convinced that punishing their children with whipping, ridicule and other types of psychological and physical abuse is a norm that is aimed exclusively at the benefit of children. During Hitler's childhood in Germany, these views of parenting were even more undeniable. Many children were "brought up" in this way, but not all of them were subjected to such cruelty, which fell to the lot of Alois's children, as well as his wife.
The famous American historian and publicist John Toland in his book "Adolf Hitler" writes: Once, when the rebellious mood was especially strong in him, Adolf decided to run away from home. Somehow, Alois found out about these plans and locked the boy in the attic. All night Adolf tried to squeeze through the window opening. It was too narrow, so he took off his clothes. At that moment, he heard the steps of his father rising on the stairs and in a hurry drew back, covering his nakedness with a tablecloth taken from the chair … the father burst out laughing and began to shout to Clara to come and look at the "boy in a toga." These taunts caused Adolf more pain than any other possible outcome of events, and, as he confessed to Elena Hanfstaengl, "he could not forget this incident for a long time." Years later, he told one of his secretaries that he had read in an adventure novel that being able to patiently hide your pain is a sign of courage. So “I decided that I wouldn’t make a sound the next time my father whipped me. And when this incident came - I still remember my frightened mother standing at the door - I silently counted the blows. Mother thought I was crazy when, beaming with pride, I said, "Father hit me thirty-two times!"
This and other documented episodes from the life of Adolf Hitler give the impression that by periodically beating his son, Alois gave vent to his blind rage caused by the humiliation he himself experienced as a child. “Obviously, he had an obsessive desire to take out his humiliation and his suffering on this child of his,” writes Miller.
Alas, for some reason, many people find it difficult to understand that cruelty in this world is usually taken out on the innocent. Children are very often victims of such violence. Moreover, violence against them, as already mentioned, is very often justified by the "educational" process. This is the "norm" of our life - this was "taught" to many people by their parents, who beat them themselves. Growing up, most people begin to idealize their fathers and mothers, following them, calling these beatings, ridicule and outright mockery that "the parents wanted only good." This is understandable. Not everyone is capable of realizing their beloved mom and dad as tyrants who simply solved their problems in this way - this is too painful and carries with it a global restructuring of their own worldview. Therefore, these people, having already become parents themselves, prefer to “repeat” the same scenario, taking the postulates of “black pedagogy” more than widespread today as an indisputable truth. The first is that children are by nature deceitful, hypocritical, selfish, lazy, etc. Second: all these qualities must be knocked out of the child through punishments, including corporal ones.The fact that such statements are not just fundamentally wrong, but are the complete opposite of reality, many people prefer not to know. Including the biographers of Hitler. Moreover, in the case of a man who is the most terrible criminal of all times and peoples, it is incredibly convenient, because everyone hates Hitler, and needless to say what is for what. However, this does not in any way justify the "sins" of his despotic father, the victim - precisely the victim - of whom Adolf Hitler became in his time.
That is why historians tend to attribute all sorts of sins to little Adolf, especially laziness, stubbornness and deceit. “But is a child born a liar? Alice Miller asks. “And isn't lying the only way to survive having such a father and preserve the remnants of your own dignity? Sometimes deception and bad grades in school become the only means of hidden development of an island of independence in a person who is completely at the mercy of the whims of another."
Biographer Rudolf Olden describes Hitler's father, Alois, as follows: “He never got along well with the people around him. But in his own house, he established a family dictatorship. His wife looked down at him, and the children constantly felt his firm hand on them. He did not understand Adolf and tyrannized. If the old non-commissioned officer wanted the boy to come up to him, he whistled with two fingers."
“The image of a man beckoning his child with a whistle like a dog is so reminiscent of descriptions of concentration camps that it is not surprising that modern biographers tend to belittle their father's cruelty, while noting that in those days there was nothing special about beatings, or even make more complex arguments against "vilifying" the father, as Yetzinger does, writes Alice Miller. "It is sad that it was these studies of Yetzinger that became an important source for subsequent biographers, but his psychological views did not go far from those of Alois."
In all subsequent actions of Hitler on the world stage, Alice Miller sees "acting out" the relationship with his father. Hitler, like many modern simple people, found it very difficult to hate his father or mother (for their real atrocities), so he began to hate Jews. Jews, as you know, have always been a persecuted people, hatred towards them in different epochs was almost legalized - this is a safe hatred from the point of view of one's own "morality" and public opinion. After all, to hate someone or to envy someone is considered in our society to be something “bad” and shameful, although both hatred and envy are normal and natural reactions of any person to stress.
Alice Miller: “Jews are not loved not because they are special people or do something special. All this can be observed among other nations … Jews are hated because people have a need to pour out suppressed hatred, and they seek to legitimize this need. The Jewish people are especially suited for this purpose … Through the influence of his unconscious obsessive repetitions, Hitler essentially succeeded in transferring the trauma of his family life to the entire German nation. The introduction of racial discrimination forced every citizen to trace his ancestry down to the third generation with all the ensuing consequences … The Inquisition, for example, persecuted Jews as gentiles, but they were given a chance to survive if they were baptized. But in the Third Reich, neither loyalty, merit, nor success helped anything; only because of their origin were the Jews doomed: first to humiliation, and then to death. Is this not a reflection of the fate of Hitler himself?"
The Fuhrer's father, despite all his efforts, great career successes, also could not correct his "tarnished" past, just as the Jews were subsequently forbidden to shoot the stars of David.At the same time, racial discrimination repeated the childhood drama of Hitler himself - little Adolf, like any Jew under the Nazi regime, could not hide from his father's beating under any circumstances. Moreover, the beatings were caused not by the bad behavior of Adolf, but by the fact that his father was simply “out of sorts”. “It is these fathers who can get their sleeping child out of bed if they cannot cope with their mood (perhaps feeling their insignificance and insecurity in any social situation), and beat him to restore their narcissistic balance … the fact that little Adolf was constantly beaten; no matter what he did, the daily flogging was inevitable. All he could do was to deny his pain, that is, in other words, to deny himself and identify with the aggressor (father - approx. NS). No one could help him, not even his mother, for intercession would have brought danger to her too, since she was also beaten,”the psychologist writes.
The same threat of inevitable humiliation, as we know, awaited every Jew. The latter could just walk down the street, and at that time a man with a stunner's bandage on his sleeve approached him and could do anything with him - whatever his fantasy suggested at that time, humiliate him as soon as he pleases. If a Jew suddenly began to resist, the Sturmer had the right to beat him to death. At one time, when at the age of 11, Hitler, unable to withstand the oppression of his father, wanted to run away, he was beaten to a pulp for just one thought of running away. Isn't it a repetition of the fate of the Jews in the Third Reich? The desire to bring the whole world to its knees, the desire for honors, practically unlimited power, which he had - is this not a repetition of the fate of little Adolf Schicklgruber?..
Many will rightly say that thousands and even hundreds of thousands of children grew up in such conditions, but none of them became Hitler. Of course, Adolf's upbringing was superimposed on his personal characteristics - a strong natural temperament, a desire for leadership, sensitivity to humiliation, etc. Of course, not for everyone, the circumstances of building a career developed in exactly the same way as they developed for the Nazi icon. Of course, there are no two identical destinies, as well as two identical people. And Hitler, in spite of everything, does not deserve any excuse and remains the most notorious bandit of all time. However, it is still possible to explain his inhuman acts.
Next time we will tell you about Alice Miller's opinion on the relationship between Hitler and his mother, Klara.