Skip to content

Episode 15

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast
Episode 15: The Second World War and the Rise of Hitler

Most Americans feel like they have a pretty good grasp of what World War II was about, not because we spend a particularly significant amount of time on it in history classes, but because our media—tv and Hollywood especially—has spent a lot of time on World War II…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts to listen.

Download here for 10.30 class.

Download here for 12.00 class.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Castillo, Daniel. “German Economy in the 1920s.” German Economy in the 1920s, 2003.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Nazi Party | Definition, Meaning, History, & Facts.” Accessed October 6, 2020.

Pruitt, Sarah. “How the Treaty of Versailles and German Guilt Led to World War II.”, June 3, 2019.

Riggio, Ronald. “Charisma.” In Encyclopedia of Leadership. SAGE Reference, 2004.

Published inPodcasts


  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    In Episode 15 of the podcast, Dr. Bezio discusses the causes of World War II and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. She poses the question of how are ordinary people in the world persuaded to follow and accept ideologies that are seen as evil today. What has Germany done to confront and deal with the actions of the Nazi Party during World War II and the Holocaust? Have there been steps for reconciliation? How are Jews and other groups that were persecuted under the Nazis, perceived today in Germany?

  2. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    I know Hitler wasn’t a “good” leader in the way we think of what we want out of a leader, but he was an effective one. Part of that was because the people were in need of one and they were vulnerable. If there was strong opposition to his views during his rise to power, do you think there would have been the same results?

  3. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In podcast 15, Dr. Bezio discusses the second world was and the rise of Hitler. I found it very interesting that Hitler technically classified as a charismatic leader because he had most of the six characteristics. He also promised to make Germany great again which reminded me of President Trump saying he would make America great again. This is necessarily a bad thing, in fact it is a good promise. My question now is, how did Hitler’s idea of making Germany great again go so far from a plan that was ethical and “charismatic”? I also wonder how Germans view him as a leader today.

  4. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    Podcast 15 discusses how WWII began, how Hilter became so powerful, and why Jewish people were targeted. The idea that Hitler had no prior leadership role before becoming a full dictator is something a little frightening. In essence, the main reason he was able to become so powerful and persuade so many people into following him was because he was a charismatic leader. But, even though he was a charismatic leader, does that make him a good leader? Or one that deserves to be a leader? Does this mean that anyone who has these qualities has the potential to persuade people to follow them even if what they do or want is horrible?

  5. William Coben William Coben

    Podcast Episode 15 discussed WW2, Hitler’s rise to power, the reason that Jews were targeted in WW2, and much more. I found it fascinating to listen to the story of Hitler’s rise to power, and even more interesting to observe how a charismatic leader has the ability to change the world. Hitler will go down as the worst man in the history of the world, and he got to his position from being a leader… counterintuitive. My question is more focused on the ending of the podcast, which compared the United States with Nazi Germany in WW2. What is a legitimate course of action that can be taken to mitigate the negative legacy that the United States may receive in the future? I believe that change comes from the people and that policy really doesn’t shape the government because the policy is rare… so what as people can we do to get rid of the negative aspects of society and leave a positive mark on history.

  6. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    Podcast 15 discusses how Hitler came to power and how he was able to gain control and implement the final solution. I found it appalling how in only 20 years, like Dr. Bezio said, Hitler was able to go from being a soldier to the leader of a country with full control over the government. The question that really made me think was the idea of what evils we currently permit and/or actively engage in that will condemn us in the future. This forces me to wonder, will anything happen in the future that would be as awful and large scale as the Holocaust? Could something this awful be happening right now and we don’t even know it? At the time Hitler had many followers, and looking back we know what he did was SO wrong. Hindsight is 20/20, but will the global community ever let anything like that happen again?

  7. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I was really interested in the final questions presented in Podcast 15 about our responsibility to prevent the next evil of history. Although I am not quite sure how historically accurate this is, I learned in high school that many people living relatively near the large camps in Europe could smell the burning flesh from crematories, meaning they knew thousands were being killed. This leads me to ask how much responsibility should we expect of individuals in a community or of a nation to work towards positive or moral change? How much of an impact can one person have towards preventing a measure by their government? Should we have expected people to work towards fixing a known evil, or should we accept their personal and historical situation, or does it completely depend on the circumstances presented? I think these are really interesting questions to consider and contextualize as we currently live through certain life-threatening evils like the European Migration Crisis, concentration camps in China and Russia, western immigration crisis, intense poverty/disparity, and more.

  8. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    This podcast attributes much of the military tensions and economic instability of the 1920s-1940s to the Treaty of Versailles. How much of the geographical turmoil that has occurred in Europe and the Middle East is a result of post-WW2 treaties and territory lines?

  9. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    Hilter, in my opinion, was one of the most effective leaders in history but was clearly preaching unethical actions and values. How do we as citizens, notice when an effective leader is leading us to corruption? Especially in times of desperation, like the desperation, the Germans were experiencing at the time of Hitler’s reigns.

  10. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    In episode 15 of the podcast. Dr Bezio leaves us with the following question: “How have we been influenced to go along with things similar to Anti Semitism, and what can we do to keep it from happening going forward?” I think the most important thing is trying to eliminate our subconscious biases, that drive so much of our actions and behaviors. To respond with a question though, were followers of Hitler truly in support of all of his missions, or were they blinded by his charismatic leadership and promises to revive Germany? Essentially, was he bringing them on board with him, or baiting them with other incentives?

  11. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    In the 15th podcast, Dr. Bezio talks about the rise of Hitler starting from the end of the first world war. I did not know that the Treaty of Versailles did so much harm to Germany. I remembered that they had to pay a ridiculous amount of money in reparations for starting the war and had to demilitarize, but I did not know they had to give up territory. Starting months after the treaty was signed, Hitler was already blaming the Jews for the loss in the war and the crippling state of Germany. The podcast talks about the idea of scapegoating and my question relates to this concept. How often do people, both individually and nation-wide, subconsciously scapegoat to cope with our problems and make them easier to deal with?

  12. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    Podcast 15 discusses the origins of World War II and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. As Dr. Bezio explains, most people have a pretty firm grasp of what WWII was about: Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, was on a quest to take over the world and eliminate all the Jews, or something like that. What Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews of Europe was one of the most evil occurrences in all of history, and it haunts the world to this day. To learn that it was more or less due to the negative myths surrounding Jews around Europe and the fact that the Jewish immigrants to Germany were in the wrong place at the wrong time fails to justify the events of the Holocaust, as nothing could ever justify it. We say “never again,” and Germany teaches the events of WWII and the Holocaust in a manner intended to avoid repeating history, but there had been genocides prior to, and there have been genocides since the Holocaust. How did the Holocaust change the practice of genocides around the world, and will we ever see the end of them?

  13. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    Why is it that we downgrade all of Germany when thinking about WWII? We include this notion of all of Germany was terrible and because Hitler is such a poor leader and had negative motives of his own. Why do we associate all of Germany; even the innocent citizens, as terrible and negative?

  14. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In Podcast 15 Dr. Bezio discusses the Nazi Party and World War 2. This podcast left me with many questions. Why did all of the blame for World War 1 get placed on Germany when they weren’t even the first to declare war and the arch duke was shot by a Serbian nationalist? Would world war 2 have happened if Germany wasn’t forced to pay massive reparations? Why did the Jewish population become Germans scapegoat? Throughout history the Jewish people seem to be a popular scapegoat and target, why is that? In the podcast Dr. Bezio talks about how Hitler was a charismatic leader. But a toxic one. Has the world learned from Hitler about deciphering true charismatic leaders and toxic ones?

  15. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    The concept of toxic charisma being used by Hitler to influence the population makes me consider how many leaders throughout history and my own time have been given power not based on their moral position, but rather their infectious charisma. Is it possible to tell that a leader is using toxic charisma in the moment, or can it only be defined later in history? Could the definition also change throughout history based on shifting moral standards?

  16. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    This episode of the podcast made me question a few things about leaders and how important a background in leadership is. In the US it seems that we prefer a leader who has some experience being a leader in the past or who has held a political position. Obviously this has some exceptions but in general most presidents have some sort of experience in politics. This makes me question just how important experience is or how important is it to have a background in politics in becoming the leader of a nation? Hitler was a charismatic leader who didn’t have political experience but still raised a large following from his charisma. So, to have a large following is it better to have experience and knowledge or to be charismatic?

  17. William Clifton William Clifton

    Podcast 15 goes into detail about Nazi Germany and World War II. I have always been so fascinated by this subject and I find it simply unbelievable that the events that unfolded and the beliefs of the Nazi party actually existed. It is terrifying to me. I read one of my classmates podcast responses/questions and it really got me thinking. Sofia asked the question of whether or not the massive reparations Germany owed from WWI effected the start of the second World War and the rise of Nazi Germany? This question led to the development of my own, has there ever been a time in history where reparations were paid in full, without causing an economic depression or in this case, another war?

  18. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    This podcast dives into pre-World War II, more specifically the rise of Hitler. The podcast talked about how the Treaty of Versailles and some other factors led to the decline of the German economy and how that factor led to the creation of the German Worker’s Party and thus the rise of Hitler. Something else that was addressed was Hitler’s Final Solution as well as the pogroms that occurred throughout Russia and its territories. My question is, were the Russians ever charged or prosecuted for the pogroms like the German’s were for their Final Solution and death camps?

  19. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    This podcast shows that Hitler was actually really intelligent. This makes me wonder if there is any chance Hitler only targeted the Jewish population for political gain? This is a way for supporters to unite around one common ideology. Did Hitler genuinely believe the Jewish community ruined Germany? I would not put it past Hitler to create this fake hatred towards Jewish people to gain power and achieve his goals. The Treaty of Versailles was clearly unfair towards Germany, so can we blame Hitler for breaking it? The treaty would have sunk Germany for hundreds of years, so it is an interesting thing to consider.

  20. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    In today’s podcast, Dr. Bezio mentions the effect that cultural pieces such as movies have on our understanding of World War 2. While movies can inform many Americans of the history surrounding WW2, they can also glorify, misrepresent, and spread misinformation about the war, why it was fought, and how it was won. My question is: how do we balance the historical accuracy of film with its ability to entertain? Is it okay to misrepresent history in order to produce a successful movie? Do movies that glorify American actions during WW2 in order to make more money constitute pro-American propaganda or are they just a result of the need to make money?

  21. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    This podcast talks about the second world war and Hitler. Although Hitler had no prior experience with being a leader, he managed to achieve dictatorial control over Germany. This podcast made me think that although we have developed enough to be able to know if something as bad as the Holocaust happens secretly, it doesn’t mean that we will be able to prevent it. How much is the media impactful or effective in the prevention of such issues? For example, although people and media are aware of the existence of the Muslim concentration camps in China, not enough global interference or action is being taken to shut them down.

  22. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    This podcast detailing Hitler’s leadership skills and mastery of charisma and also describing ideas of restitution made me wonder about the complicity of German citizens in World War II. If we want to place blame on someone (because that is what humans do) who would we place the blame on for Hitler mobilizing an entire country to engage or go along with mass genocide? Who is responsible for this and who should pay the price for the injustices? Do we punish leaders? Or do we punish the followers and the country as a whole, blaming everyone who went along with the commands? This also led me to wonder how can we appoint responsibility in an effective way that won’t completely collapse a nation while also making sure that the nation in question undergoes a radical change? It is an interesting thing to think about, and I am not sure who to punish when society approaches new intolerable patterns or ways.

  23. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    This Podcast talks about the rise of Hitler and World War II. Hitler rose out of a number of reasons, but it was mainly because of the economic conditions in Europe caused by the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty was awful for Germany as they had to pay billions of dollars in reparations and they lost a ton of land area. But, I also know that Hitler was able to rise because no country intervened to stop him. And, this could’ve been solved with the League of Nations. So, if the United States were to actually join the League of Nations would it be possible that Hitler’s rise could’ve been stopped?

Leave a Reply