Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain during World War 2, had read and reread Hitler’s Autobiography Mein Kamph several times to know his thoughts. Several politicians who were peer of Churchill were pacifist and rooted for alliance and treaty with Hitler. Churchill remained adamant and bet on Hitler to renege on every agreement. Churchill’s bet paid off.
Both Churchill and Hitler had one thing in common. They wrote about themselves. Hitler did it once but Churchill was more prolific. Hitler wrote before the war. Churchill, before, during and after the war. They both had a sense of History and they both lived by it – quite literally.
Books on historical figures drive the readers to take sides. So, Hitler is always the villain and Churchill is always the Hero. Together with these, Roosevelt and Stalin were also heroes. Later Stalin was degraded to the level of Hitler. History settled on 50/50.
As times passed, books did appear deriding Roosevelt and Churchill, and attempts at reinstating Stalin. Most were done by western writers. There has been no attempt to reinstate Hitler still. This does not mean, Hitler is “unreinstatable.” [perfectpullquote align=”left”]The passage of time will wear off the weight of History for the rethinking on Hitler to begin.[/perfectpullquote]
For one character to become a bane of History is too much an overestimation. There are already literatures and many reasons available which presaged the rise of such a character and such a war.
Reinstating Hitler does not mean cleaning him up. There are several books on Stalin which draw out the good, bad and worst of the man. These are not excuses, but patterns of life worth knowing.
Similarly, there are several things that happened in Hitler’s time which were pretty futuristic. Rocket technology for one. In fact, the Nazis, who were involved in rocketry which devastated Britain, were spared after the war and given jobs in the US to develop missiles which they did with lots of success. Also, nuclear technology, which Hitler was aware, but he never showed any taste for Mass destruction at scale. Jet engines which were later developed for supersonic flights had the genesis in Hitler’s Luftwaffe.
I believe, when Churchill read Mein Kamp he understood what he and the world was up against. For Mein Kamp is a difficult book but not all that bad. It is a rant at some places but pretty logical in some. People avoid mentioning it because they are afraid to be identified with it. But many times its necessary to read the mind of an adversary and gauge the potential of his thoughts.
Not only the book is important for the writer, but, also for the readers, to who the book is addressed. Hitler got visibility, first by burning the Parliament and then parleying his notoriety with a book – where he said what all he was going to do next and he got out of jail and followed all the bullet points of his book. Churchill was one of the very few who got him and knew the storm was coming – for he not only may have read the book but saw through the book, the circumstances created to give Hitler’s book a life.
It takes one to know one.