“DID PARKINSON’S DISEASE LOSE HITLER THE WAR? STUDY CLAIMS THE CONDITION MADE THE FUHRER RECKLESS AND VIOLENT.” Gee, I don’t think Hitler needed much help in that department, but do go on, London Daily Mail:
Parkinson’s can also cause a slow gait, bent posture and a dull stare, along with cognitive disorders such as a lack of imagination and a general apathy.
The researchers suggest that Hitler’s condition may have led him to attack Russia prematurely in 1941, according to a report in Discover.
A previous study claimed that Hitler’s decision to invade Russia, before defeating Britain on the western front, was a direct result of his failing health.
The study points to other bad decisions of Hitler’s such the failure to defend Normandy in 1944, alongside keeping his forces in Stalingrad in 1942.
They say this was the result of the dictator’s ‘volatile temperament’ which may have been aggravated by his Parkinson’s.
The study also goes on to suggest that Hitler’s lack of remorse and sympathy can be associated with his Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease let to Hitler attacking Russia in 1941? Umm, if you say so, but I would attribute the invasion of Russia far more to Hitler’s Germany not having sufficient naval power to implement Operation Sea Lion and invade England via the Channel, nor an air force powerful enough to take out the RAF. As historians Ian Kershaw and John Lukacs have each written, in 1941, what Hitler did have at that moment was the world’s most powerful land-based army, which he could maneuver via mechanized divisions into the Soviet Union. He assumed that with Russia out of the war, he could then pivot back and finish off England with the vast conquered resources of the Russian territory at his will, or England would be demoralized and sue for peace. (Victor Davis Hanson also tackled the question of why Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in one of his PJM columns a couple of years ago, and came to similar conclusions.)
It sounds like the “did Parkinson’s drive Hitler mad” theory is yet another example of those earlier theories explored by my one-time PJM colleague Ron Rosenbaum in his book Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil.
Besides being a terrific read, Rosenbaum’s book is sort of like mirror universe production of Citizen Kane — recording the attempts by American and German intellectuals to boil Hitler — and the causes of World War II — down to a single Rosebud-like explanation: Hitler had syphilis, he was unloved by his parents, had malformed genitalia, etc. Ultimately such efforts, as Rosenbaum writes, do little to explain the epoch-shattering events of the 1930s and ’40s, but like the cast of Citizen Kane, tell us far more about the people who conjure them up — and in many cases, their reasons why.
As Rosenbaum wrote in 2006, “the focus on Hitler’s alleged personal peculiarities de-historicizes the causes of the Holocaust; making it some kind of outgrowth of personal revenge and perversion rather the culmination of centuries of murderous anti-semitic hatred in Europe carried out by hundreds of thousands of…accomplices to Hitler. It de-politicizes the genocidal hatred in an utterly trivializing way.”
Chalk up yet another example.