Hitler is generally credited with extraordinary achievements in three main areas: the war, the German economy and propaganda, without any of which his fanatical bid to organise the annihilation of the "sub-human" races in Europe would have found no foothold. However, by examining the history of the Third Reich closely one might find basis to argue against this common wisdom.

He can be said to have single handedly lost Germany the war by his decision to withhold extra supplies of fuel from his troops on the Eastern Front with the USSR. The price the German army paid in lives and resources as a consequence of this disastrous campaign left it incapacitated and unable to muster the necessary force to defeat the Allied forces on the Western Front. Let us not forget that Hitler's entire military experience consisted of some time in the trenches and a considerable stretch in prison - not the best breeding grounds for strategic genius.

As for bringing Germany out of depression, one must consider the economic situation in the rest of the world, and see that the late 20's and early 30's were a time of severe economic depression all over the industrial world and that by the late 30's most countries were already recovering from that. Bearing in mind that prior to the actual beginning of the war, and later even than that in some cases, Germany was not cut off from the economic community, it is small wonder that some of the prosperity rubbed off on it.

Furthermore, a large military campaign always serves to bolster an economy - unemployment falls as people are drafted into the armed forces, industry peaks, financial institutions show a raised level of activity, and morale is usually kept high, which brings us to the third and last of Hitler's achievements, that of conquering popular opinion.

Hitler may have written and delivered his speeches himself, but it would be naïve to think that those alone were enough to make an entire nation turn so monstrously against its neighbours, colleagues and relations. Imagine if you can a propaganda machine so vast that it hardly even bothers with the paltry devices of pamphlets and posters. Films - good films - were especially written and made to entertain, but also to educate. Radio broadcasts were entirely given over to anti-Semitism. Newspapers routinely ran anti-Semitic editorials, and articles of news were made up to showcase the base and inferior nature of the thieving Jewish cockroaches. Children were kept amused with anti-Semitic comics, supremacist ditties and after school indoctrination. Every aspect of German culture became by degrees almost entirely given over to the anti-Semitic cause - and the person who conceived this revolutionary, and fatally effective, approach was by no means Hitler himself, but his trusted right hand man and Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.

There were other men surrounding Hitler, men whose names still resound today - Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann - men who were pursuing their own personal agendas of hatred or ambition. To say that Hitler is a great man who somehow single handedly steered the course of German history is to completely ignore the efforts and contributions of these men.

Perhaps a clearer picture of Hitler can be arrived at by comparing him to a modern personality of some reprehensibility. Think of him if you will as you would of Saddam Hussein. Is Saddam a great man? But how could he be - he is an insane, murderous, petty, paranoid and uneducated tyrant. I suspect many statesmen of the 30's thought of Hitler in much the same way, and passed to their public the same dissaprobation mixed with wonder that such an unhinged nincompoop could have risen to power in the first place.

Now, we are of course seeing with the eyes of our times. Saddam may very well be judged by history in a very different way. However, it is undeniable that he has held political power, popular influence and military supremacy for many years now while at the same time uniting and consolidating a nation, practically inventing its self image for it. He has ensured Iraq's economic prosperity through the oil trade and fought a costly war with Iran defending that future. He lived, however, to see what Hitler committed suicide to avoid - the slow erosion of this economic stability, a result the ostracism he brought on himself through his aggressive policies.

Had Hitler survived the end of WWII like Saddam survived Desert Storm, who knows what we might be thinking of him today. He might very well have rallied again. However, when considering whether or not he deserves the epitaph of greatness, we must not ignore historical facts or be befuddled by the romantic and indistinct public image which was his most enduring legacy.