Hitler’s Leadership & Management Style (2)

IMG_0340Between September 19th, 1919 (when he joined German Workers’ Party) and January 30th, 1933 (when he was appointed Chancellor of Germany by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg), Adolf Hitler pursued but one objective – to obtain the absolute power in Germany.

Which after he became its Führer, became the one and only one objective of NSDAP. And, therefore, his one and only fundamental management and leadership objective.

After his pathetic Beer Hall Putsch failed (and failed miserably), Adolf Hitler “got the message” that the “Bolshevist way” of coming to power (via the coup d’état) will not work in Germany. And began devising legal strategies, plans, tools and methods to achieve this fundamental objective.

There were two ways to make it happen – either to with the absolute majority of seats in the Reichstag or just the majority (less than half but still much more than any other party) and persuade the President of the Weimar Republic to appoint Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.

And then use this position (if NSDAP gets the absolute majority of seats in the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler automatically becomes Chancellor) to obtain the dictatorial power in Germany.

To win the majority of seats in Reichstag, the Nazis needed to win the majority (absolute or at least relative) of votes in general (national) elections. In other words, to build the necessary “critical mass” of Nazi adherents (those who may be not yet ready to join NSDAP but will vote for the Nazi Party).

The only way to build this “critical mass” was to “reprogram” or “re-educate” (brainwash, if you will) Germans who were neutral or hostile to national-socialism into supporters of the latter. Supportive enough to vote for NSDAP in general elections.

Although Adolf Hitler never explicitly used this term (it will be coined decades later – in 1950s), he used it implicitly as he firmly believed that the key objective of NSDAP in this endeavor is to cleanse hearts, minds and souls of Germans from Marxist, democratic and other “shit” and fill it with healthy, true and correct national-socialist ideology. And that’s exactly what brainwashing is – if taken literally.

Adolf Hitler used a wise marketing strategy (as it would be called nowadays). He focused his brainwashing efforts primarily not on the “neutral” audience, but on politically active radicals (Communists and Social-Democrats). Whom he intended to transform into ardent Nazis and then use to transform other radicals and the “neutrals”.

It was a wise strategy because it is far easier to convert to a radical ideology other radicals (even initially hostile to the ideology in question) than moderates. And a politically active convert is definitely far more valuable than a politically passive one.

As accumulation of a critical mass of Nazi adherents was his key objective, it is not surprising that building and exploiting (to the maximum extent possible) a powerful propaganda machine (re-education system, actually) became his first priority and the focus of most of his political efforts.

In an incredibly short time, he managed to put together the most powerful and efficient propaganda machine in human history. Superior even to the Soviet one (unlike Hitler, Stalin had to rely mostly on brutal force and fear to make his subjects do what he wanted them to do).

Several key features made this machine so powerful and efficient. First, a perfect synergy between the form and the substance (content). Unlike just about all other politicians (not just in Germany, but worldwide), Hitler first identified what Germans needed and wanted (which made him – very unexpectedly – a highly competent political analysts).

Then he developed practical and workable solutions to the problems (i.e. the ways to satisfy these needs). And packaged them in the most efficient, attractive and powerful way (in terms of both logic and emotional impact with a wise emphasis on the latter).

One of these ways were the (in)famous “25 points” – the political program of the Nazi Party – far superior in both content and form to any program of Nazi opponents.

Second, Nazi propaganda system was the most comprehensive. It included all tools available at that time – newspapers, brochures, pamphlets, flyers, radio broadcasts, mass meetings, small group meetings, huge rallies, etc.

And, of course, symbols and rituals – the swastika (the most spiritually powerful symbol), Nazi flag (whose red-white-black combination was not only the most emotionally powerful, but reminded Germans of the Second Reich that they loved and respected far more than the Weimar Republic), Nazi uniforms (especially the black ones of the SS), Nazi marches and parades (especially the ones with torches at night), the “Heil” greeting (adopted from the Roman Imperial salute), etc.

Actually, this system was not only comprehensive, but exhibited a very powerful synergy between its components. And, of course with key individuals – Adolf Hitler (the most powerful, influential and efficient orator in modern history) and Josef Goebbels – not only a very powerful and influential orator himself, but also a highly skilled propaganda manager (probably the most efficient in human history).

He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. He also adapted state-of-the-art methods, tools and technologies that were highly successful in commercial advertising to the political sphere, including the use of catchy slogans and subliminal cues. Everything was designed (and timed) for the maximum possible emotional impact.

And, finally, Adolf Hitler skillfully unleashed the “Nazi Wildfire”. He developed and ruthlessly enforced fundamental organizational principles (thus demonstrating the uncanny skills in organizational engineering) that launched both an explosive (but manageable) growth of NSDAP but also no less explosive conversion of Germans into Nazi adherents.

In essence, Adolf Hitler made just about every member of the Nazi party into an efficient agitator and recruiter of adherents.


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