With the arrival of war in 1914, Hitler, a failed artist, could see himself finally making an impact on the world, as his mother had told him he would. Feeling nationalism in his bones, Hitler enlisted in the German Army, and thus began his path of destiny. The war was integral in molding Hitler into his future self, as Ian Kershaw wrote, “the First World War made Hitler possible.” During the war Hitler and Germany became one. Hitler felt all the highs of success and all the lows of defeat as if he were Germany personified. (Later in his life he would assume that role completely.) With the surrender in 1918, Hitler and Germany hit rock bottom together. His own emotions, so tied to his adopted nation, Hitler sank into a deep hate-filled depression. Having reveled in the god-like half of his personality during the war, Hitler now felt lost and insecure, as if Alois himself had voiced disappointment at his son’s actions.
|Hitler (far left) with his fellow soldiers and a dog|
So disgusted with the pain of defeat, Hitler began to indulge the bitter, insecure half of himself, and made strides to right the wrongs of the war. Like many at the time, Hitler blamed the Jews for the loss of the war. Fear and hatred consumed Hitler at this time, and he took a shine to a group that felt much the same way he did. Already, European society was rife with tension, and the war had only served to create a larger divide between Jews and Gentiles. In his early years Hitler was not an anti-Semite, but as he became exposed to racially driven prejudice, Hitler became obsessed with the Jews, and their betrayal in the war. The party had anti-Semitic overtones before Hitler’s arrival, but it was he that molded them into a rabidly anti-Jewish group. It was due to his post-war hatred that Hitler discovered his talent for speaking and laying blame at the feet of the Jews.
As a speaker in the beer halls on behalf of his party, Hitler was able to synthesize the two sides of his personality, the angry, bitter side, and the ambitious, successful side, into what he eventually used as the Nazi demagogue. While Hitler’s two sides were meeting, the party was undergoing its own synthesis, as two of its major cornerstones were laid, propaganda and racial prejudice. Initially, Hitler was using his speaking ability to pave the way for the next great German leader, but as he gained notoriety, Hitler began to think that perhaps he was the man who could lead Germany into a new era of prosperity. The god complex had taken over, and Hitler saw his destiny before him as the Fuhrer of the Nazi party.