Blogger was down earlier this week and it unposted this entry that I had already posted. Here, for the second time is part six in my series on the Nazi personality.
One man who Hitler trusted not to attempt to seize power was Rudolf Hess. Unlike the other top Nazis, Hess was not ambitious, and far less intelligent than Goebbels or Himmler. For that reason Hitler could treat Hess more like a friend than a subordinate. Hess possessed a duality in his personality like his comrades, but it was a different kind of duality. He had a dark brooding nature that made him look far more sinister than he actually was. While the reverse can be said of Himmler or Heydrich, Hess was the shy younger brother that tagged along with the older boys. Hitler played the role of older brother to Hess, by giving him power even though there were other more capable men in the regime, and in return Hess showed Hitler the utmost devotion. An adolescent in many ways, Hess survived the cutthroat Nazi power structure only due to his closeness with Hitler. To men like Himmler and Heydrich, Hess posed no threat, and he cooperated with their initiatives, especially the Final Solution.
By allowing himself to be swayed by the people closest to him, without giving up power, Hitler allowed for his most ambitious and ruthless subordinates to achieve great things by competing with each other for his favor. Each man carved out a niche for himself, and in many ways created his own job or jobs. Goebbels was officially the head of the Propaganda Ministry, but his influence extended into film, radio, newspapers and books. At any given time he had the power to intervene on any film being made in Germany. Hess was placated because of his secure post as the Deputy Fuhrer. Himmler, following the emergence of the SS and Gestapo, was the second most powerful man in Germany, and his rise to prominence was not opposed by Hitler. In fact, Himmler had done so much work to besmirch the SA and its leaders, that Hitler was grateful to him, and enabled his SS empire to out grow any other entity within the party. Like Himmler, Heydrich was able to make his job more vast by acquiring power inside the SS organization. Goering was also able to garner many different leadership positions; he was the head of the Luftwaffe and the head of German national parks among other things.
The Nazi personality centered around a quest for power and a need to do good for the advancement of Hitler’s plans, by any means necessary. Albert Speer was one of the few Nazis who were not overly ambitious. As the armaments minister to Hitler, Speer was not as much a part of the internal power struggle like Himmler and Goering. Not perhaps as sinister as the other leading Nazis, Speer did retain elements of the Nazi persona. Speer’s connection to the party was not like that of the others in Hitler’s inner circle; he was not bound to it in such a way that he could not bear its demise. Like Goebbels and Himmler, it was the party that brought Speer success, and Hitler liked having him as a key component to his staff. More than just another lackey who sucked up to Hitler to get ahead, Speer, like Hess, felt he actually had Hitler’s respect and friendship. In many ways Speer was at odds with much of the regime, and did not buy into the strange, dysfunctional camaraderie of the Nazi regime.
Undoubtedly there were others like Speer who joined the party and never gave it their full allegiance, but he is the one who had the most access to Hitler. Speer bared few similarities to his fellow Nazis, but his appearance was, in fact a deception. At his trial following World War II, Speer claimed to have not been in on the atrocities committed in the Holocaust. While he may not have had much to do with the actual carrying out of the Final Solution, Speer was able to use the Nazi trait of manipulation to save himself from the hangman’s noose.