Henry David Thoreau once stated in Civil Disobedience “I was not born to be forced. Let us see who is the strongest. What force had multitude? Thoreau, the father of Transcendentalism, would have never predicted the events that would take place because of Hitler, nearly a century later, the way Hitler took what he wanted and did not care what people he affected. Both Hitler and Thoreau have one thing in common, they are willing to fight for what they believe, but how they differ is their methods.
If Adolf Hitler and Henry Thoreau had worked together, Thoreau’s beliefs in Civil disobedience and individuality through simplicity would have transformed the way that Hitler used totalitarism methods during his reign as leader of Germany. It is often said that childhood can affect the type of person they become in the future. For Hitler all this was true. He was brought us in a household that was ruled by his oppressive father.
He was never accepted in his home by his father, which was all he really ever wanted. He was desperate for acceptance from anybody, which describes his obsessive personality that led him to torture innocent people later in the future. Hitler’s father did not accept him because he wanted to go into art rather than pursue business. He was alone in his own world, which describes his need for people to nearly worship him. When Hitler was older his sister died and his mother let him drop out of school, he then traveled to Vienna. In Vienna he tried to go to school for fine arts and was rejected more than once. Hitler being rejected by the only thing that mattered to him most had to be distressing therefore; he later in the future made sure he was never rejected by anyone.
In 1914, Hitler was accepted in the military where he sought out somewhere to be taken in by, seeing how he was homeless after trying to get into art school. While in the military Hitler learned a lot and he grew accustomed due to people he was learning from to see Germany as a country that betrayed him and his people, and he did not like the idea of being betrayed. He later then started to be accustomed to Marxist ideas from which he learned from Antwan Drexel.
Hitler started to become intrigued by the ideas of having control, which later leads to a long, painful time for many Jews. When Hitler joined a group created by Mr. Drexel called the DAP (later changed to NSDAP), he started to have meeting and people were intrigued by the way he gave speeches. He was arrested because some people felt what he was speaking his mind too much, and it was effecting how people looked at government, but he was strong and he rose to power (“Adolf Hitler Biography”).
During the turmoil that was happening around the time 1914 -1921, Hitler was on the rise of a leader. During World War I Hitler was still a small man in a big world, in order for him to become anything, he had to start somewhere, so he formed groups at rallies and they became his diminutive army against anyone that oppressed him. He was already distributing some oppressive ways early before he became Hitler the Great Dictator. All these rallies and his armies led to Hitler becoming leader of the Nazi party. By him being in rallies and speaking to the people, He had established a certain type of appeal to a certain audience.
Hitler later on in this time took advantage of the fact that the economy was in desperate need of attention, and this helped him win a seat in the Nazi party. He did not seem to care about anything and no one as he itemized the people he was destined to lead. Now as Hitler had the seat in the Nazi Party he had moved on to bigger things. He Moved on to the Third Reich in which he also controlled, he was a tyrant already and the world just was not clear of it yet. As he moved along in time The World War II was here, and Hitler dominated that also.
He invaded Poland and took over not only the land but the people. He let his soldiers beat the people, kill the people, dispose of anyone in his way. He showed no mercy in the immoral work he was doing. He was a mere animal and everyone was his prey. During the war, kids were laid on the street, Hitler was aware of the turmoil he was causing (“Wistrich, Robert S. “Adolf Hitler”).
Hitler was a beast that no one could tame. After the World War II there were a lot of strained relations. There were also international issues along with international conflict. The Civil war left a nasty taste in everyone’s mouth, from Asia to America. The war was basically a war to finish of the First World War and from this was the Holocaust in which Hitler was also in charge of. Hitler with one single hand destroyed a majority of a Russian and Jewish community, 20 million plus people died at his hands. He was a dynamic character who in not much time managed to take out about every Jew he could find if not more, no one was safe (“America in the Second World War”).
There was a time when war was bad, but no one, not even a century earlier than Hitler’s reign could imagine the magnitude of damage that was done by Hitler. Henry David Thoreau is by far one of the most influential writers of the 17th century. He grew up in Concord Massachusetts and had a brother he could always count on. He later grew up to attend the famous college Harvard, but his family was financially unstable. By the time he was to graduate, the Great Depression fell upon them and he had to make ends meet. Thoreau learned right then and there that nothing was given to him; he had to work for what he wanted, or make what he had work. At this time it is imaginable that no one could just up and get a job because of the depression, So Thoreau knew he had to find a way to live with more grace, with more simplistic views.
Early on as a child, his family suffered, until Thoreau took his brother and they both came up with an idea to help people versus try to take advantage of them and hurt them. They started a school right in their home town, just to help people who could not help themselves. Early on the ideas to help people and to live with more simple views shaped his transcedalism thought into what people know it as today (“Henry David Thoreau”). When Henry Thoreau was a writer, he was not given as much credit for such good works as he is now because people did not understand what significance his thoughts had. He wrote an essay called Civil Disobedience, in which he describes the facts of why he would not pay his poll tax. In the essay, he describes the government as being degenerate and he describes how people abuse their power.
His true genius comes through when he describes what civil disobedience really is, by what he says; it is basically taking an idea people know is not right and protesting against it but without force of violence or any pains done to anyone. What makes him a true leader of civil disobedience is when he did not pay his poll tax, stating “My neighbor, the tax-gather, is very man I have to deal with, for it is after all with men and not with parchment that I quarrel”. Thoreau was never a man who demonstrated anger and a wanting to kill anyone for what he wanted, he simply did not do what he felt was wrong, therefore he was in opposition, not an oppressor (Thoreau, Henry David. “Civil Disobedience”).
Henry David Thoreau is not only one of the most influential writers of the 17th century, but he put a mark on history that will never be forgotten. Henry David Thoreau had two mains beliefs from which he followed himself. He believed in the idea of individualism through a simple way of life and he believed in civil disobedience. He was so influential because he changed the way people thought about life, he brought new meaning to the word life. He went as far as to live in a forest for roughly two years and two months in solitude just so he could get in touch with his inner self. He believed that in order to be a true leader of any sort, people have to take time out to find themselves, because in order to know anyone, people have to know themselves.
Some people say that he was just uncanny and he did not really have any experiences out there by Walden’s pond, but his writings speak another story. Being a transcendentalist writer is more than going outside the box, it’s going outside the box and jumping over. Thoreau was so into the solitude of living that he refused to be a part of any organizations or apart of town activities. People didn’t understand him, therefore after he died his neighbors almost didn’t publish his work, but thank god they did, because even now people can look back at his work and feel a little bit of him in them. He has changed the world just by being himself (Thoreau, Henry David. “Walden.” Knowledge Notes).
Thoreau as a person was more than influential because of his works, but his values in which he followed. Thoreau believed from a young age that nothing was going to be easy in the world. He had to learn very young that he was going to have to earn every dime and penny he needed. What makes Thoreau inspirational was the experience he had to endure as a kid. He had to live in a time of the Great Depression and he had to watch his family also suffer, through the money stricken time. Thoreau knew that he had to drop out of school because he knew the struggle was real, financial problems were major (“Henry David Thoreau”).
Later in life is what made Thoreau the inspiration he was. He first showed that he was a Transcendentalist because he was willing to think more about his personal self rather than putting all his reasoning into God, unlike the Puritan era that occurred earlier in the 16th century. He started to focus on his own values, which at this time was not something that any other authors, except a few actually focused on. He started his journey to individual optimism at Walden’s pond; this is where he found the personal, self-reliance he needed to eventually write Civil Disobedience.
The idea of civil disobedience was that he would protest against what he knew was not right, which was poll tax. Thoreau states in Civil Disobedience “Unjust laws exists, shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor or amend them, and obey until we have succeeded or shall we transgress (Violate) them at once” (“Walden” pg. 1983). This quote shows that Thoreau was willing to protest against what he knew was wrong to him, but not once did he try to hurt anyone in the process. This much cannot be said about Hitler.
Hitler was a dynamic character, not only because of the damage he caused many people, but the personal problems he faced and overcame as a child. Hitler would have been very different in his methods if he would have consulted with Thoreau, only a century earlier. Thoreau would have influenced Hitler to value himself before Hitler though about doing anything else, because it was obvious that Hitler was demonstrating acts of hatred from his past. If Hitler would have listened to Thoreau then first of all he would not think of himself so mighty. Thoreau would have taught Hitler that in order to be anybody you would have to find your personal reliance, in one’s self. If Hitler would have listened then he would know not to think of himself as a dictator, because trying to be on top of someone is a sign that in your lifetime you were treated below everyone else.
Hitler would have learned that whatever happened in his childhood should not have shaped him to be such a hateful person. Instead of him being hateful he would realize that he was not only talented but educated and he was intelligent military wise. If Hitler would have took Thoreau’s advice he would also realize that once he found himself he could then conquer opposition of government by civil disobedience versus the way that Hitler a century later destroyed everyone in his way.
Also if Hitler would have listened to Thoreau then the country would have been closer economically, and would have had better relationships with foreign countries and foreign affairs would have been better solved. Seeing how he was very educated he would have been able to help the countries problems instead of add to them. The main thing Thoreau would have probably told him was that he was worth more than he credited himself for, he would have also showed him other methods for getting what he wanted. No one would have had to die at the hands of Hitler.
Hitler would have been seen different if he would have taken the advice of Thoreau. Hitler would consequently not only been a hero, but also he would have been maybe the reason the nation could have been held together. He already demonstrated leadership skills, so maybe he could have taken it even further and would have been the president instead of a dictator. Maybe if Hitler was not so focused on his personal wants for the country, he could have stepped back and looked at the bigger picture of life.
Hitler would have saved many foreign affairs that may have taken place, and he could help repair the economy to a better condition than what it was. Hitler would have been known as the great leader, because his childhood shaped him to want more, and if he listened to Thoreau, he would have wanted more of a president role. He would have valued the importance of leadership versus dictatorship. Things would have been different not only for the people, but for the nation as a whole.
To conclude, there were many differences between Thoreau and Hitler, and how they chose to demonstrated ways to get through to people. Hitler showed that he wanted to demonstrate a total rule over his people. This picture demonstrated the magnitude of Hitler’s control as he took over a multitude of countries in so little time (“Mrsschidinghistorywiki – Danielle WWII”). If Adolf Hitler would have been consulted with the father of Transcendentalism Henry Thoreau, then he would have realized that the usage of civil disobedience versus his ways of dictatorship would have made him a better leader.
Also if Hitler would have found himself through another one of Thoreau’s beliefs of individualism through simplicity, then he would have realized that he was worth more than he may have felt he was worth, therefore he would not have to feel as if he had to rule over everyone, because he would have known personal gratification was enough. Basically, if Hitler and Thoreau would have put there brilliant minds together way before the Word Wars, there would have been less fighting and sadness, and more bringing the country together, as a whole.
Cite this page
Henry Thoreau/ Hitler. (2016, Sep 28). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/henry-thoreau-hitler-essay