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A Brilliant Rhetorician, a Monster, or Both?
Monster, killer of the innocent, madman, bully, lunatic, and devil. A justification for a good God not allowing all people into heaven. The name Adolf Hitler evokes repulsion, distrust, and anger all over the world. Yet this man persuaded an entire population to follow him into the carnage of World War II. Hitler’s speech before the German parliament, the Reichstag, on February 20, 1938, explains why so many Germans were enthralled by this leader. Displaying the qualities of the most persuasive rhetoricians, Hitler uses logos to builds his arguments, pathos to direct the emotions of his audience, and ethos to strengthen and confirm each word he utters. These rhetorical strategies are carefully …show more content…
Hitler impresses the Reichstag with the ethos, credibility, of his leadership. Referring to the success of his government, Hitler entreats, “Allow me now to give you a short excerpt from our economic life which proves in plain figures whether and to what extent National Socialism has solved these problems.” Hitler then presents a simple, yet powerful statistic: a tremendous rise in annual German births. Hitler does not pick this statistic blindly. He chooses a statistic that he knows will be important, impactful, and personal to his audience. Not only is a rise in births a sign of increased prosperity (for people are unlikely to have kids if they are not in love and with the means of supporting their children), but it is also a statistic dear to his audience’s heart. After World War I, so many loved ones died. Accordingly, the babies and new life mentioned in the statistic must have brought great joy to a hurting nation. Further, Hitler reinforces his ethos as a leader when he remembers, “It was as an unknown German soldier at the front that I put together this bold program, fighting for fourteen years…” Mr. Hitler is proving his credibility as a planner and a thinker, describing his process of invention, how he carefully came up with the idea while fighting at the front. The thoughtful and planned politicians of the German Reichstag surely appreciate the care and attention their leader invested in this program. For his audience, Hitler could have no better credibility than that provided by increased birth statistics and his claim of careful

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