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What Role Did Charisma Play In Hitler's Rise To Power?

1812 words - 7 pages

What role did charisma play in Hitler's rise to power?It cannot be denied that Adolf Hitler, and his role as Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, had an unprecedented impact on the world in the mid-20th Century.His rise to power was anything but straightforward, but it must be conceded that, as a cunning arch-opportunist, he used the adverse social, political and economic conditions of late 20s and early 30s Germany to his full advantage. Nevertheless, how did such a lazy, poorly-educated man from such humble beginnings and with such poor social skills, rise to become perhaps the most infamous leader of all time, renowned for his talents as a speaker and a politician? This report will consider the construct of charisma from a Webatarian approach and the role which it played in Hitler's rise to power from 1889 to 1933.The study of charisma since the early twentieth century has been especially associated with the German Socialist, Max Weber. Weber identified a threefold 'ideal- typical' classification of legitimacy and power. The first type is 'traditional', such as monarchies. The second was 'bureaucratic', such as political parties. The third he termed 'charismatic', which he defines as 'an extraordinary quality of a person, because of which he is perceived as the leader'. Weber's perspective is not directed at an analysis of the charismatic leaders' personality, but as a structure of charismatic social relationships. This he defines through a number of properties:'Personal devotion and duty', where the leader claims ultimate authority; the followers accept obedience as their duty.'Dissolution of normative standards, models of conduct, and forms of organisation' where the leader creates for himself a position of leadership that is qualitatively different from all other forms of leadership.The third is a consequence of the former two; 'Emotional community', the social group formed around the charismatic leader.'The necessity for proof of success' which is the greatest obligation of the charismatic leader.Adolph Hitler was born on April 20, 1889. Hitler's older brother died soon after birth and two younger brothers died from diphtheria when he was still young. His brother Alois ran away from home to escape the brutal outbursts and beatings of his father, a minor customs official; Hitler was next in line and received similar punishments. In 1903 his father died after suffering a pleural haemorrhage, a condition which Hitler himself suffered from. He had a poor academic record, dropping out of school at aged 16. Four years later his mother died of breast cancer, leaving Hitler a penniless and homeless artist peddling postcard-size watercolours on the streets of Vienna. It has been suggested that it was at this time that the young and impressionable Hitler absorbed the virulent anti-Semitism of the Viennese working class, and even that he both contracted venereal disease and became wary of women as a whole, after a failed relationship with a Jewish...

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