1. Watch Adolf Hitler Speaking To Mass Crowds (1930-1939) on youtube. (Video Clip)
2. Excerpts from Written Accounts
A. Description of an Early Nazi Rally by Louise Solmitz, Schoolteacher
The April sun shone hot like summer and turned everything into a picture of gay expectation. There was immaculate order and discipline . . . the hours passed. . . . Expectations rose. There stood Hitler in a simple black coat and looked over the crowd. Waiting. A forest of swastika pennants swished up, the jubilation of this moment was given vent in a roaring salute. . . How many look up to him with a touching faith! As their helper, their savior, their deliverer from unbearable distress—to him who rescues the Prussian prince, the scholar, the clergyman, the farmer, the worker, then unemployed, who leads them from the parties back into the nation.
B. Letter from a Nazi Party member, a “party comrade,” to Hitler, 1936
My Fuhrer! . . . I feel compelled by unceasing love to thank our creator daily for, through his grace, giving us and the entire German people such a wonderful Fuhrer, and in a time . . . were our beautiful dear Fatherland was threatened with the most horrible destruction through Jewish bolshevism. It does not bear thinking about what floods of tears, what blood after the scarcely healed wounds of the World War, would have flowed, if you, my beloved Fuhrer, in all your anguish for such a great people had not found the courage, with at that time a small band of seven men, to win through as the savior of 66 million Germans, In that through your great love of every individual, from the smallest child to the most aged, your captured all, all, women, men, and the whole of German youth. . . . It is a pleasure for me, not a compliment, not hypocrisy, to pray for you, my Fuhrer, that the Lord God who has created you as a tool for Germany should keep you healthy, that the love of the people towards you should grow, firm and hard like the many oak trees which have been planted in love and honor to you, my Fuhrer, even in the smallest community in Germany. . . . A Heil to the Fuhrer for victory with all the former front-line fighters who still remain today devoted to the Fuhrer to death. For Germany must live even if we must die.
C. Speech by a Woman Delegate at a Workers’ Conference in the Soviet Union
Thank you comrade Stalin, our leader, our father, for a happy, merry kolkhoz life!
He, our Stalin, put the steering-wheel of the tractor in our hand. . . . He, the great Stalin, carefully listens to all of us in this meeting, loves us with a great Stalinist love (tumultuous applause), day and night thinks of our prosperity, of our culture, of our work. . .
Long live our friend, our teacher, the beloved leader of the world proletariat, comrade Staln! (Tumultuous applause, rising to an ovation. Shouts of “Hurrah!”)
1. Adolf Hitler was famous for his great speaking ability. What do you learn about his skills as an orator from the video clips? –
2. Read the 3 document excerpts.
a. Some scholars argue that the cult of personality took on a religious dimension. – How is this shown in the documents– can you see what some might call a religious aspect to the cult of the leader in the primary source excerpts? (5 points)
b. You will notice that 2 of the documents describe being in the presence of Hitler, and the other is from someone who saw Stalin talk. What slight difference can you see between the way Hitler is described and the way Stalin is described? How does this difference reflect the ideological difference between Fascism and Communism?
3. Big Picture Questions- based on textbook.
a. Can we take these documents at face value? Do you think the authors of these documents were sincere? Or, were they “putting on an act” to survive or get ahead?
— In your answer refer to specific things were going on at the time in Europe that might make people appreciate such leaders.
— In your answer refer to specific reasons why Germans, or Russians might be more motivated by fear than by admiration.
3b. Why was this type of cult of the leader possible in the 20th century? – Why, for example was it not possible in the 19th century, or earlier?
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