Hitler’s Rhetoric [in progress]

By Ryan Skinnell

Journalists, eye-witnesses, and scholars have long regarded Adolf Hitler as one of the most powerful orators and propagandists in history. He is the archetype of an evil demagogue. Hitler’s persuasive skills undoubtedly helped lever him into power, resulting in a worldwide catastrophe unparalleled in recorded history. However, for more than a century, even his most perceptive critics have either distilled his persuasive powers into a simple list of nasty tricks or chalked it up to magical powers—in many cases inadvertently relying on Nazi talking points to explain the Führer’s unique persuasive abilities. But Hitler’s persuasive talents were neither simplistic nor magical. They were rhetorical.

Hitler’s Rhetoric examines how Hitler actually used rhetoric to persuade millions of people to support, or at least acquiesce to, Nazism. Drawing on original research, primary documents, and published histories, Dr. Ryan Skinnell explains how Hitler learned rhetoric, how he used it to attract fanatical supporters and attain power, and what made him so malignantly effective. In closely examining Hitler’s rhetoric, Skinnell challenges the conventional wisdom that Hitler was either a primitive demagogue or a supernatural wizard. Hitler and the Nazis were gifted theorists and practitioners of persuasion, but as it turns out, they were working from a deeply-rooted, decipherable rhetorical playbook. Skinnell shows how deciphering Hitler’s rhetoric can help make sense of his rise and reign, and even how it can help us recognize Hitler’s rhetoric in circulation nearly eight decades after his death.

For more, visit https://hitlersrhetoric.com/