Was Adolf Hitler a great man? Yes. To say that he was not a good man is easy, but greatness transcends the boundaries of good and evil. According to the Oxford English Encyclopedia, there are 33 major definitions of the word "great" as an adjective, and only one of them implies goodness. By almost any definition one can be great without being good.
The word great, however, does imply superior mental powers
, something that Hitler certainly possessed. To be able to take over the government and democratically establish a dictatorship
is something that shows clear mental prowess. Although some 'semi-legitimate
' means were used in gaining control of the government, such as the SA, overall it was a legitimate legal takeover of the government
in a democratic fashion. To takeover and become a dictator without really breaking the rules
is an impressive task and to lead Germany
to so many military victories early on in the war are such clear signs of intelligence that nothing more is needed. He also had a knack for memorization, and obviously had a very strategic mind
The next thing to take into account is the possession of special skills or abilities. Once again, this can be seen in his skills as a military strategist. Hitler also had incredible ability as an orator, being able to capture audiences with his words, and to sway them at will. His charisma was so intense that people who would normally side against him were drawn to his side. Hitler also made use of new technologies such as radio broadcast to be able to influence as many people as possible with his presentations. Hitler had a way of using emotion rather than logic to bring people over to his sides, and this technique greatly helped in increasing the popularity of the Nazi party.
A great man must achieve more than what is normal. To ask whether Hitler did that is almost absurd because the answer is so obvious. Hitler took a country in turmoil, unified it, and proceeded to use it as a military machine. There were some dissenters, true, but to unify the country to the extent which he did alone is beyond normal. Incredible, however, are his military success, and almost complete takeover of Europe. As well, although it may be unsettling to consider it such, his concentration camps were definitely beyond normal especially as far as efficiency is concerned. To say better, however, would be highly difficult.
To be great, a man's accomplishments should benefit more than just him. For Hitler, this is an interesting question. There are groups that Hitler most definitely did not benefit (the Jews for instance…) however, for the most part Germany did gain from his leadership. Hitler brought Germany out of depression, created massive industrial growth, and raised Germany into the spotlight as a world power. He also managed to destroy the remnants of the Treaty of Versailles, which had been harming Germany, and to restore their pride.
The only point of being a great man at which Hitler fails is in personal ethics. Hitler's moral character was lacking, and there can be no denying that. His sordid relations with woman, and the mass executions at the concentration camps alone are more than enough of an indication of this. It is also fairly evident that Hitler went a bit 'insane' by the end of his rule, and no longer thought in a logical manner. He was not a moral man. Still, morality is only one part of greatness. He is immoral enough to make him an evil man, but no lack of ethics can stop someone from being a great man.
Overall it can easily be seen that Hitler is a great man. Although he is lacking in the ethics category, it is not an essential one, and he more than makes up for it in the others. A good man? No. But, a great man? Most definitely.