Adolf Hitler’s name is associated with war, genocide, fascism, and hatred. While the full story of his rise to power and his role in World War II is complex and multifaceted, it is an undeniable fact that he was an incredibly destructive force. Despite the enormous toll of his actions, his contemporaries were still willing to reward him – in 1939, the Nobel Peace Prize was offered to Adolf Hitler.
This event may seem bizarre, considering Hitler’s destructive legacy. However, it is significant that the nomination was made at a time when Adolf Hitler was viewed in a positive light. It was before his invasion of Poland in 1939, which ultimately led to the start of World War II. As such, it is worth exploring what happened with this nomination, and understanding the context in which it took place.
The Nomination for Adolf Hitler
The Nobel Peace Prize is given to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” In early 1939, when Nazi Germany had signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Swedish politician named E.G.C. Brandt.
At the time of the nomination, Brandt wrote: “His activity in the pacification of ‘Europe’ has been of incomparable importance for the advantage and security of hundreds of millions of human beings. No one else can be considered to even approach him in his magnificent work for the peace and culture of Europe.”
Opinions from Experts
Despite being nominated for the prize, it is important to note that Adolf Hitler never actually won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is due to the fact that the nomination was never taken seriously. Many experts were vocal in their criticism of the nomination, and even various members of the Nobel Committee opposed it.
The President of the International Peace Bureau, Henry Sigerist, wrote at the time that: “Hitler did not deserve such an honour. It [was] an insult to hundreds of Germans who worked for peace and who risked their lives because of their convictions”. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein was also critical of Hitler’s nomination and scoffed at the idea of awarding him the prize.
Analysis and Insights
Although Adolf Hitler was ultimately not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it is notable that the nomination was made at a time when many of his contemporaries viewed him in a positive light. Notably, E.G.C. Brandt was far from being the only one supporting Hitler’s actions on the international stage.
This can be seen in the fact that the Polish-German Non-Aggression Pact was made in 1934, and the Pact of Steel between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy was signed in 1939. This indicates that many world leaders of the time were willing to form alliances with Nazi Germany, and these were seen as beneficial for peace.
As such, it appears that the nomination of Adolf Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize was the result of a shift in the international political climate. Before World War II began, Nazi Germany was not viewed as an aggressor, but rather a partner in peace. Thus, Adolf Hitler’s nomination was reflective of this attitude, even if it was ultimately rejected.
In addition to the criticism of Hitler’s nomination in academia, there was also a strong negative reaction to it in the international community. After Brandt proposed the nomination, the Soviet Union, along with the British and French governments, strongly opposed it.
At the same time, representatives of the United States, such as Stanley K. Hornbeck of the State Department, publicly criticized the nomination, calling it a “gross error”. The United States’ position was particularly notable, as it already had diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany and had not yet been drawn into World War II.
Relevancy of the Nomination
Although Adolf Hitler was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the mere fact of his nomination is still relevant today. This is due to the fact that the nomination serves as a reminder of how different the world was in the 1930s, before the horrors of World War II had been revealed.
Most notably, it serves as a warning against normalizing leaders who champion hatred and violence, even though they may be presented as working for peace. This is especially necessary in an age of rising right-wing populism and extreme nationalism, as recognizing dangerous figures and movements early on can help prevent a repeat of history.
Consequences of the Nomination
Adolf Hitler’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize had far-reaching consequences, and its legacy still echoes today. As previously mentioned, it was a sign of how differently the world viewed Nazi Germany before World War II.
Additionally, the nomination legitimized Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, helping to fuel the leader’s rise to power. It also provided an example of how powerful people can manipulate media and public opinion to gain support for their own ends.
Aftermath of World War II
World War II changed the way that Adolf Hitler was viewed by much of the world. After the war, he was universally vilified for the crimes he had committed. This led to an increased scrutiny of the international political system, and the realization that peace treaties and alliances could only go so far.
In response to this, the United Nations was formed in 1945 to act as a global peacekeeping force. The UN has since become a major player in international politics, and its formation was a direct consequence of the horrors of World War II and Adolf Hitler’s failed nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Changes to the Nobel Peace Prize
Following the events of World War II, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee also changed how it operated in order to prevent a similar situation from occurring again. From then on, nominees for the prize were required to have an internationally recognized record of “outstanding work” in the pursuit of peace or other humanitarian goals.
Furthermore, special precautions were taken to ensure that no politician from a major military power would ever be nominated, so as to prevent them from using the prize to boost their own standing and to further their own aims. These safeguards ultimately allowed the Nobel Peace Prize to become a symbol of international peace and cooperation, rather than a tool for those in power.
The Impact of Hitler’s Failed Nomination
Adolf Hitler’s failed nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize had a profound impact on the world today. While it may seem strange that such a nomination was even made in the first place, it serves as an important reminder of the mistakes of the past and the dangers of political complacency.
Furthermore, it was an event that ultimately caused sweeping changes to the Nobel Peace Prize process and to the international political landscape. Its consequences can still be seen today, and it serves as a critical lesson for future generations about the need for vigilance and international cooperation in the pursuit of peace.