“Heil Schicklgruber”?


I am about halfway through William L. Shirer’s classic work entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (all 1280 pages of it). I remember reading a very condensed version of it when I was in Jr. High School (I think it was a Scholastic Book Service paperback) but it lacked the arduous details of the original version. It has been a fascinating read for me.

I found out that if Hitler’s grandfather wouldn’t have come forward and publicly acknowledged that he was the father of Hitler’s dad (and very late in life no less) Hitler’s father would have continued to use his mother’s last name, Schicklgruber, and Adolf Hitler would have been known as Adolf Schicklgruber. Somehow, “Heil Schicklgruber” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Heil Hitler” did.

The question uppermost in my mind I as read the book, however, was the same question that Spencer Tracy’s character, Chief Judge Dan Haywood, asked in the movie “Judgement at Nuremberg,” “How could the German people have allowed someone like Hitler to come to power?” It was interesting to me that Hitler had never won a majority of votes in his favor until he had such control with the ruthlessness of his Brown Shirts and the SS that everyone was afraid to vote against him.

There was one opportunity when several of the German generals were ready to seize power and arrest Hitler, which would have saved all of Europe from the devastation of war. They had decided that at the moment the British and French declared war against Germany for Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia (a war that they were convinced that they could not win), they would rise up against him to save Germany; but, lo and behold, Neville Chamberlain and the western powers instead, capitulated and gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler, making him a hero in the eyes of the entire nation. The generals were afraid popular opinion had turned in his favor and they were afraid a coup d’état would not succeed.

It happened there. It could happen here, but for the grace of God.


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