How did Adolf Hitler—described by one eminent magazine editor in 1930 as a “half-insane rascal,” a “pathetic dunderhead,” a “nowhere fool,” a “big mouth” — rise to power in the land of Goethe and Beethoven? What persuaded millions of ordinary Germans to embrace him and his doctrine of hatred? How did this “most unlikely pretender to high state office” achieve absolute power in a once democratic country and set it on a course of monstrous horror?
Kakutani (of Sex and the City fame) then proceeds to lay out, subtweet by subtweet, the similarities. For instance:
- “Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who ‘only loved himself’ — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a ‘characteristic fondness for superlatives.’”
- “A former finance minister wrote that Hitler ‘was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth’ and editors of one edition of Mein Kampf described it as a ‘swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.’”
- “Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising ‘to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,’ though he was typically vague about his actual plans.”
Hitler analogies have already been overused this election, but Kakutani’s winking subtlety gets the job done much more effectively.