He was a bohemian with shoulder length hair. A street dweller with delusions of grandeur- only in his case, actually achieving grandeur while remaining delusional.
He sketched the buildings and facades around him and failing entry to art school remained naive to contemporary artistic trends. He was somehow stymied and instead of open mindedness toward Austria’s eclectic cultural world his outlook remained protracted – he would appreciate only Wagner and classicism.
What was a minor problem became inflated to gargantuan proportions bringing neo political, cultural and aesthetic values together into a bizarre, self imposed belief system. A mere nobody with his crappy drawings and personal failings somehow morphing into the megalomaniac. The author Paul Ham describes the transformation and shows how, stage by stage the outsider living off hand outs takes to anti Semitic writings, attends street rallies with the downtrodden and the thugs in the beer halls. He discovers he can speak to them and having absolutely nothing to lose and with no future of his own, he can indoctrinate them with his outrageous, concocted theories. Paul Ham describes the unique social upheaval in Munich of the ’20s and ‘30s, such that Adolf’s bizarre personality could thrive and capitalize- a person who today would be dismissed as a raving nutter.
Ham’s knowledge of the First World War comes to the fore describing each battle as Hitler himself experienced within his regiment, the List Regiment. In his role as a dispatch runner he found a purpose for the first time. The regiment became his family and along with Foxl, his pet fox terrier, his life was complete (until the dog disappeared).
Ham describes post war Germany in frightening detail. The queues, the inflation, the social upheaval and chaos. He explains how Hitler gained purpose once again after having lost his regiment and explains his inevitable rise to Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht, Chancellor and Dictator of Germany.
It’s a must read. We live in times of uncertainty again. What was an influenza pandemic and a depression a hundred years ago seems upon us again. Ham describes Hitler as having a personality thriving in times of chaos and uncertainty. This publication comes as a sober reminder.
Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer
Author Paul Ham
Publisher William Heinemann 2017