[FOUNTAIN]Something to learn from a tyrant’s endThe last days of Adolf Hitler, before his suicide, were full of anger, isolation and a sense of betrayal. The United States and the Soviet Union had already agreed how Germany would be divided up. Hitler was not living in his official residence, but in a bunker 10 meters below ground. Months had passed since he had seen the sun. The machine that pumped oxygen into the bunker hummed day and night. Hitler and his men lived in a ghostly silence.
As Joachim Fest describes the scene in his book “Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich,” Hitler was issuing delusional orders from his underground hole. As reports came in that the last defenses were falling, Hitler delivered aggressive attack orders to the generals and troops who were moving only in his mind. He was like Don Quixote rushing toward the windmill with a spear. His orders not to retreat only added to the military and civilian casualties, according to Mr. Fest.
Generals who tried to make Hitler see reality were denounced as traitors. People once close to him were executed. Honesty was forbidden.
Worshipping power was the true nature of Hitler’s authority. To him, power was not a means to an end; power itself was the goal. Some say he was a racist and a nationalist, but next to power, even those values were meaningless to him. Two months before his death, Hitler said, “If we lose this war, Germany should fall down and be destroyed. Because it proves how weak this nation is, and means that the future belongs to the stronger Eastern nation,” by which he meant the Soviet Union.
Powerful figures who live under delusions put the world in danger by way of their failure to see reality. A political power that worships physical force is a weapon with no sense of direction, driving the world toward infinite horror. At the recent commemoration in Moscow of the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s fall, silent assurance was given that there would never be another Hitler. Perhaps the 54 heads of state who attended the ceremony learned something. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who did not participate though he was invited, might do well to ponder the possible lessons.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.