Adolf Hitler: His Self-Education and Its Key Deficiencies

Since his early childhood, Adolf Hitler was a patriot of Greater Germany that he loved deeply and passionately. Consequently, he simply could not remain an indifferent bystander – he had to do something about problems that he encountered.

He did not change his mind about his Mission yet – he still wanted to become a great, accomplished, recognized and famous artist one day. But his very first experiences in Vienna gave rise to another drive.

The drive that got more and more powerful by the day and one day will make him abandon his dream of becoming a famous artist and start pursuing another dream. The dream of becoming a great political leader. The Führer of Greater Germany. The Third Reich.

But in order to do something about these problems and injustices, he had to know what to do and how to do it. And to know it, he had to learn it. So he made the obvious decision – he started to educate himself. Guided, naturally, by the principles instilled in him by Herr Professor Pötsch. Nationalist and racist principles.

A decade and a half later Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:

I read a great deal then, and I pondered deeply over what I read. All the free time after work was devoted exclusively to study. Thus within a few years I was able to acquire a stock of knowledge which I find useful even today.”

These self-studies in Vienna became his very personal university. In Mein Kampf, he wrote:

During those years a view of life and a definite outlook on the world took shape in my mind. These became the granite basis of my conduct at that time. Since then I have extended that foundation only very little, and I have changed nothing in it

Which, actually, was not something to be proud of, because his self-education (as just about any self-education) suffered from dire deficiencies. Deficiencies that subsequently cost millions of people their lives and cost Adolf Hitler his dream, his war and ultimately his life.

The most obvious deficiency was that it was guided by prejudices instilled in him by Dr. Pötsch and by his whole German nationalist upbringing. Which made all his self-education inherently biased and thus created a distorted and fundamentally incorrect perception of the world around him.

It was this biased, distorted and thus profoundly incorrect view of the outside world that led to fundamentally wrong objectives, strategies, attitudes to other nations, decisions and actions.

To Holocaust and other mass murders committed by the Nazis; to their defeat in World War II; to millions of German lives lost in that war; to the destruction, occupation and humiliation of Germany and ultimately to the (in)famous Nuremberg Trial.

One of the key objectives of education is to build a knowledge base sufficient for making and implementing the best possible decisions (and for the most efficient further learning, of course).

And the formal education in college, university or some other higher education structure is the only way to build such a knowledge base. It is practically impossible to assemble the necessary education via self-education.

There were exceptions, of course (e.g. Joseph Stalin), but Hitler was no Stalin. And no exception. Consequently, he did not build the knowledge base necessary and sufficient to make and implement the best possible decisions (and to facilitate the most efficient further learning). Which ultimately lead to colossal blunders and cost him his dream, his war and his life.

As I have already mentioned, humility is one of the most crucial traits of a successful leader. And humility can be acquired only in a formal education that provides instructors who instill this humility in students.

Humility and critical thinking – another vitally important trait which is very difficult (if possible at all) to acquire via self-education. In other words, ability (and desire) to critically analyze both his or her own ideas, objectives, strategies, etc. and those of others.

Hitler was no exception. In his self-education, he failed to develop either humility or critical thinking. Being a loner (according to his Jewish physician Dr. Bloch, he “lived within himself”) he could develop these vital skills only if forced to do it in a formal academic environment.

Which did not happen. Instead, he put himself essentially into the “echo chamber” where he developed a powerful “tunnel visions”. Which, obviously led to the abovementioned fatal consequences.

Another important advantage of a formal education in an academic environment is that it is the only way to acquire absolutely vital information processing skills. More specifically, skills in selection, acquisition, structuring and analysis of the information necessary for making the best possible decisions and implementing them in the most efficient way.

In other words, skills in extraction of knowledge (“knowledge mining”) i.e. information that allows to make better decisions and to implement them in the most efficient way.

There were exceptions of course (the most notable, again, was Joseph Stalin), but Hitler was no Stalin. And no exception. Consequently, he did not develop the necessary information processing skills.

And after the system that he had to manage became critically complex (after the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22nd, 1941), lack of these skills almost immediately resulted in the whole serious of blunders. Which ultimately cost him his war and his life.



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