If Wishes were Horses-Hitler would have been a Painter!

I am reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf- My struggle- these days. It is a thick volume and makes for heavy reading for it is packed with much obtuse political philosophy. However one can not but be struck by the rather humble beginnings, and common sense, of the boy who was to become the “Fuehrer” and a symbol of German nationalism.

He was born on 20th April 1889 in the frontier town of Braunan-on-the-Inn. His father was a minor civil servant and mother looked after the household and the children. He remembers his father, with respect, as a self-made man who became “somebody’ from a poor boy.

As a boy Hitler was not a ‘stay-at-home’ type as he gave ‘anxious moments’ to his mother for his association with the ‘roughest boys’ of their neighbourhood. He thought of himself as a ‘juvenile ring leader’, who had an ‘inborn talent for speaking’ and ‘learned well at school’ but was rather ‘difficult to manage.’ He was fond of reading and pondered deeply over what he read. He was good at drawing and drawn to geography and history. Even as a boy, he had a mind of his own and opposed his father’s plans for him to become a civil servant. He wanted to be an artist, instead.

After the death of his parents, he did odd manual jobs in Vienna to survive. After a while he made architectural drawings to meet both ends meet. His love for history and his experience in Vienna shaped his world view to a large extent. He fondly recalled his history teacher who could not only transport them magically in to the past but also to illustrate it with examples from the present and draw lessons from the past. Hitler was intelligent to realize at a young age that history was not merely memorizing dates and facts. It was tobe used to understand forces which cause historical events. As he delved deeper into history, he realized the pernicious influences of the then prevalent political system and became a staunch nationalist.

He was fond of reading. He realized that he was considered somewhat of an eccentric because he spent most of his free time reading. He did not consider reading as an end in itself. To him, it was a means to an end. He thought that the purpose of reading was to equip a person with the knowledge and skills necessary for his vocation and secondly to give a general knowledge of the world that he lived in. In that way, knowledge served a practical purpose to meet the demands of every day life. He thought that the general knowledge that one obtained from reading should make one interested in politics which was an obligation of every thinking man. He believed that those who had no understanding of the political world had no right to criticize and complain.

So far, his life was not different from that of thousands of other children. His ideas too could not be faulted with. How, then, did he eventually turn out to be a megalomaniac and a perpetrator of genocide-the like of which is unsurpassed in recent history? What if he had indeed become a painter as he initially wished for? Oh, how the world would have been saved a holocaust then!

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