Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Little Nazis!

Recently I read a book called “Swansong 1945,” an extraordinary look at a few days near the end of World War II in Europe.  In a compilation of hundreds of comments from civilians under siege, soldiers, prisoners, loved ones, leaders, and more, “Swansong” is a mosaic of what is was like during those days.

Adolph Hitler was in a bunker in the middle of Berlin with a few close associates as the Soviet army closed in.  Near the end Hitler killed himself, as did his wife Eva.  Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, full of bluster to the end, killed himself, his wife and their six children.

Reading about this history peaked my interest in these guys, so I also watched a documentary film, “The Goebbels Experiment,” which examines Goebbels’ life.  I was struck by two things Goebbels and Hitler had in common – one, powerful, effective voices that could move the masses, and two, a lack of height.

I hadn’t before given any thought to the physical appearance of these Nazi leaders.  They spoke of a race of Aryan supermen that would rule the world, but when I saw them in action I realized they didn’t fit the image of the tall, strong Aryan supermen promoted in their propaganda.  Just how big were they, I asked myself.  Google provided the answer:

Hitler was 5’ 8” tall
Another of the main Nazis, Heinrich Himmler, was 5’ 9”
Herman Göring looked large because of his girth, but was only 5’ 10”
And Goebbels was 5’ 5”

I know that leadership is not measured in inches.  In the case of these Nazis, however, it looks like there’s something wrong with this picture.


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