How was Hitler a cult figure

With satire against right-wing extremism

With the help of the propaganda apparatus of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), Adolf Hitler succeeded in generating an image that stylized him as an unearthly figure and savior, but who at the same time always remained a simple man of the people. Hitler began working on this picture as early as the 1920s - and it still influences the widespread perception of the Nazi regime as "Hitler's Germany" today. His writing "Mein Kampf", which he allowed as the only legitimate "biography", and his characteristic style of rhetoric, which was established early on, were particularly influential in this stylization.

After the First World War, the young Hitler quickly made a name for himself in Munich as a rousing speaker in the conservative-folk milieu. He railed loudly against everyone he blamed for the desolate situation of the population, primarily Jews and the victorious powers of the First World War. He joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), which later became the NSDAP, and soon gave it circus tents filled with people who paid to hear Adolf Hitler speak - the cult of the Nazis. This popularity also contributed to the fact that he was able to enforce the "leader principle" in the party and at the same time proclaim himself as the desired "leader".

The time up to the failed coup attempt in 1923 then formed the basis of the sacred-looking leader cult around the person of Hitler, which was only supported by the party and at the latest after the "seizure of power" in 1933 by large parts of German society. In the National Socialist state, the "Führer principle" became the doctrine that dominated the state. In everyday life, this cult was reflected, for example, in the so-called Hitler salute or the renaming of streets and schools after Adolf Hitler. Hitler succeeded in stylizing himself as a symbol of "national redemption". Public mass stagings and political successes ensured and stabilized this phenomenon. His role remained almost unchanged until his suicide just before the end of the war in 1945. It was largely based on the - often hasty - obedience of the party apparatus and the terror against all internal and external enemies. Even today, numerous devotional objects confiscated from Adolf Hitler during raids show how the myth and admiration for Hitler live on in large parts of the right-wing extremist scene.

Additional information:

Hans Günther Hockerts, Führer myth and Führer cult, in: Volker Dahm / Albert A. Feiber / Hartmut Mehringer / Horst Möller (eds.), Die tödliche Utopie. Pictures, texts, documents on the Third Reich, Berlin 2008.

German Historical Museum (ed.), Special issue Hitler and the Germans. Volksgemeinschaft and Crime, Berlin 2012