Leader of a Charismatic Totalitarian Cult (3)

20190907_193217000_iOSDue to the belief that their leaders have been appointed by or are God (or at least a demi-God), cults often hold to what appear to contemporary society to be bizarre and unusual philosophies and theologies.

National-socialism was obviously unusual and in some aspects, quite bizarre. Worse (much worse, actually), it created a highly distorted and grossly inaccurate perception of reality. Which (quite predictably) led to strategic colossal blunders, defeat in the Second Great War and the demise of all three Nazi cults – NSDAP, Führerstaat and the whole Nazi civilization (the Third Reich).

Members of the cult explicitly or implicitly believe that whatever the leader says or proposes, no matter how bizarre, must be true because it comes directly from God – or another Supreme Power that the members of the cult in question happen to believe in.

Germany was a Christian nation and Adolf Hitler never claimed to be a Christian prophet. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that Germans believed that it was the Christian God that spoke through Adolf Hitler.

However, many of those who heard Hitler speaking, felt that he was the agent of a very powerful supernatural force that did (in a way) spoke to Germans through him. And because Hitler was telling them exactly what they wanted (and probably needed) to hear… they believed him. Although some of his statements were really bizarre (and that’s to put it mildly).

The fundamental question is: Why? Why would anyone want to join a group (NSDAP) that demands devotion to (if not the worship of) along with unquestioned obedience to its leader? Why would anyone want this group to come power in the country?

The answer is simple – because the leader of the group in question promises to satisfy genuine needs of its members. Spiritual and emotional needs, obviously (love, belonging – to the elite, mind you, acceptance, etc.). Religious cults promise eternal happiness in the afterlife which is (no less obviously) important to those who believe in life after physical death.

Adolf Hitler also promised to satisfy emotional and spiritual needs (and – unlike just about all cult leaders – delivered on his promises). He promised to restore national pride and honor (and thus heal PTSD and depression that just about every German was suffering from in the 1920s). Make German feel that they belong to the “racial elite” (Aryan race) – and thus are superior to all other nations.

And members of the NSDAP (the first charismatic cult built by Adolf Hitler) did feel that they belonged to the “internal elite” – the community of “comrades-in-arms” superior to all other Germans. The SS was an even more elite organization (or at least carefully positioned itself that way).

But Hitler promised much, much more – and also delivered on his promises. He promised to satisfy financial needs of Germans (eliminate unemployment, radically increase real wages and corporate profits) and their functional needs (i.e. radically improve national infrastructure, reduce crime, ensure political and economic stability, etc.).

Another reason why people join cults (and stay in them no matter what) is that they feel not only rejected, bit threatened by the fundamentally hostile world. Not surprisingly, cult leaders use often highly sophisticated brainwashing systems to strengthen the perception that everyone outside the cult is the enemy committed to the destruction of the cult in question and of its members.

This highly negative (to put it mildly) view of the world predictably leads cult members to believe that the continued existence of their group (and their own physical existence) requires them to perform some type of hostile and even deadly action against non-members (perceived as a genuinely existential enemy).

That’s exactly how the overwhelming majority of Germans felt after the defeat of their country in the Great War, the “armed robbery at Versailles”, countless Communist coups in Germany and other nations – and especially after the Russo-Polish war of 1920, when the victorious Red Army was only seven days away from entering Berlin.

Consequently, it is no surprise that millions of Germans wholeheartedly accepted Hitler’s sermons about the existential war that Germany will have to fight (and was already fighting). Whether it liked it or not and whether it wanted it or not.

 

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