Who was to Hitler what Hitler is to the rest of us?

I’m reading Ian Kershaw’s excellent two-part biography of Hitler, and unsurprisingly he comes across as a man filled with hate - at institutions, attitudes, political opponents and of course eventually whole swathes of the population.

But what particular individuals would Hitler have described as a ‘mainspring of evil’ - Churchill’s term to describe the Fuhrer in 1942? Which individuals topped his rage-meter?

Would it have been Churchill; for defying him when all he wanted was a free hand? Stalin, his counter-dictator? Jews like David Frankfurter or Herschel Grynszpan who dared to murder Nazis? Matthias Erzberger who organised the armistice in WW1? Or the obvious example - his own would-be assassin (although just one of many), Von Stauffenberg?

This is a pretty common question. The most common prior pinnacle of evil was Atilla the Hun.

But would he have hated Atilla over say, von Seydlitz who turned traitor to him, or Paulus who sullied German honour by surrendering himself and his army counter to his orders? Or, if you want to get Freudian - his own father, who beat the tar out of him and probably his beloved mother.

To clarify; I’m asking about Hitler’s personally most hated individual, rather than a hated figure of his era.

To me, Hitler was someone stuck in puberty, who latched onto crackpot theory and claimed ownership of his idealized “volk,” while bearing implacable hatred for its “others;” and with no actual human feelings for either. He also placed his full faith in willpower over compassion and reason and consensus.

An IMHO response to a big, big GQ, but, perhaps he really really hated both his dad and Emperor Franz Joseph

I thought we had a thread that largely identified Napoleon as the big bugbear before Hitler. Not sure what Hitler himself thought about him though.

According to the Hitler Channel (and they should know), when in Paris he made a point of visiting Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides and said upon leaving “That was the greatest and finest moment of my life,”

Whether he said that or not, there’s a photo of him visiting the tomb. Speer said he stood there “a long time”.

It seems to me that you are setting up a bit of a false comparison when you give examples as diverse such as people who tried to assassinate him, and geopolitical rivals such as Stalin and Hitler. He may have hated all of them, but in rather different ways, and in a different way again from that in which people today may be said to hate Hitler, i.e., as an example of a particularly evil historical figure. There are really at least three different questions here.

The most meaningful and interesting question amongst those that you might be asking seems to me to be the last one: which (to him) historical figure did Hitler despise the most? After all, there is nothing particularly irrational, or certainly nothing uncommon, about hating someone who has tried to murder you, or even someone leading another country in war against yours. Knowing which historical figures Hitler most despised, on the other hand, might give us some insight into his psyche, and why he became so evil.

I do not know the answer, but I should imagine some Jewish and/or Communist leader. Possibly it would have been Marx (who was Jewish, of course) or some other German Communist leader, such as Rosa Luxemburg (also Jewish) or her collaborator, Karl Liebknecht.

Another possibility might be some Zionist leader such as Theodor Herzl, but, inasmuch as Zionism aimed at separating Jews from the rest of European society, in a country of their own, Hitler may well have found it a good deal less objectionable than Communism, which is integrationist (and which he also had other reasons to hate). I should imagine that, to a fervent anti-Semite, having all the Jews out of your country, gathered together in some distant land of their own, where you don’t have to interact with them any more, would be a far from undesirable outcome.

A fair point, njtt. Although I am interested in both the answer to both Hitler’s most despised historical/political figure and one from his life who he had personal reasons to hate.

Why assume that he had to have a “most despised” figure, either from history or from his personal life? He clearly displaced his fear and hate onto groups, movements, etc rather than focussing it on individuals.

Maybe so, but if anyone had wrath enough to spare it was him - plus it’s just human nature; you like some individuals, dislike others (whether you label it as ‘hate’ or not).


He may have disliked particular individuals, but I think his Grand Passions were reserved for collectives and abstracts. It’s quite possible to hate The Jew and yet have no particularly strong feelings about any individual Jews.


Many people are described as “their own worst enemy.” I believe that would apply perfectly to Hitler.

Probably Philipp Scheidemann or one of the other “November Criminals” who were responsible for (in the eyes of Hitler) stabbing the German army in the back at the end of WWI, causing Germany’s unnecessary defeat.

His belief in the “stabbed in the back theory” seems to have been the origin of much of Hitler’s hatred for Jews and Communists, so one can imagine his hatred of the actual Wiemar Republic officials that signed the Armistice.

I’ll bet he really envied Gustav Klimt.

Not a difficult question: Hitler himself thought all evil came from the Jews.

My immediate thought was Sandy Duncan, but it turns out she was born a year after Adolf died.

I would concur with njtt. In so far as Hitler would have a figure to despise. What makes it hard is that for the western world, Hitler is a bit of a one off. He espoused a radical political view, he started a war in which millions died, and he instigated the murder of millions of various ethnic minorities. It is hard to top that. Hitler, for most people, is the universal really rotten guy. Not just bad, but rotten to the core. History has a lot of really rotten guys, but Hitler seemed to have the full set. Stalin was also nuts and murdered millions of his own people. Pol Pot similarly, and Mao was in the end a murderous bastard. But we tend to hold Hitler in a particularly special place. Possibly his delusions of world domination has a lot to do with that. I do suspect that Karl Marx would make a good first guess. Jewish and the agent of the most dangerous political ideology to threaten the Nazis. But it isn’t as if Hitler was renowned for rationality.

So, if Hitler had decided to make a fantasy movie, about say, some archaeologists looking for the Ark of the Covenant, who would he choose to play the bad guys? One suspects that about the best he could do would be members of the Red Army, but even then, it wouldn’t really have the same caché.

More likely Lenin or Marx as already stated. Stalin was a contemporary and a rival. I don’t think Hitler had any grudging respect or fear of Stalin although I’m sure he hated him.