Welcome back, once again to the Acute Angle.
This week we are going to move away from the anima and animus, but to a subject much broader and I’m sure some will feel maybe even a bit controversial.
When someone mentions World War II, they tend to concoct a few visions in their head. Some may see the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. Others may consider America at the time, and Roosevelt’s push to have women in the workplace and the money machine. There is one man though that stands out in any discussion of World War II due to his central role in the entire event.
Before we continue, one must understand that Hitler was a strong leader. A charismatic speaker, and well versed in social engineering. His oratories were knownst to bring tepid crowds into such fevor that they clammored to join whatever cause it was he was calling out for, whether it be to renounce the Treaty of Versailles or to smear the growing belief in Marxism. He spoke well and he gained a legion of people that believed in his words, much like the Pied Piper of Hamelin would lead the children away.
It is in that last sentence that we find the purpose of this week’s column. The children of Hitler, aka the Hitler Youth or Hitler-Jugend (HJ) was a uniting force in Germany in the thirties. Boasting membership of hundreds of thousands of children, and in the midst of the war, millions, the Hitler Youth was a movement that was able to assert control, and create soldiers as young as 10.
What line of thought could compare something as destructive as the Hitler Youth to professional wrestling? What is the umbilical that tethers these two things together. It is easily one of the most influential professional wrestling gimmicks in the history of the industry. If the Hitler Youth was what inspired children in the days of World War II, than this is what allowed them to stand and be proud during the days of the Cold War.
In 1985, Terry ‘Hulk Hogan’ Bolea went to win the most prestigious belt in the industry, the World Wrestling Federation title from The Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden. Shortly after winning the title, he begat a new word: Hulkamaniac. A Hulkamaniac was a fan of Hulk Hogan, and supported his endeavors with no question to his actions. A Hulkamaniac was told that they were to:
– Say their prayers
– Eat their vitamins
Each of these, similar in nature to beliefs held by the Reich’s children brigade. The children themselves were trained as soldiers, to be used in the escalading WWII. A belief in the Christian God was essential with the Hitler Youth, and instilled into them at all times using various forms of spoken and read propaganda. Finally, we can insinuate that eating your vitamins is comparative to building yourself up to being a superman of sorts. Hulk Hogan, being the quintessential human, perfect in form, wished for his children to be able to achieve such a lofty goal. Was this an insinuation of further drug use? In terms of the Nazis, countless experiments were performed on prisoners of the concentration camps, and assumedly if a ‘Super’ serum had been created, it would have been given to each of the Aryan youth. The accusations of Hogan’s steroid usage here insinuate that he too might have considered that of his Hulkamaniacs.
These were the Commandments of Hulkamania, and the backbone of the Hitler-Jugend.
I am not going to argue whether these comparisons were intentional or not, as an attempt to name and gather your fans under a banner such as Hulkamania has been seen countless times since. (Jerichoholics, Christians’ Peeps, The Ultimate Warrior’s Little Warriors, etc.) Never in any of the other instances though, has there been a force so strong that it brought the man out of retirement where a new Commandment was added.
Glauben Sie an selbst
In 1990, having suffered his first loss at the hands of the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI, Hulkamania was falling below that of a new generation of superstars. Tales of Hogan’s ego are easy to come by, and it was the late John Tenta that would aid in bringing Hulk back to the spotlight, and make the Hogan-Jugend rally behind their forefather.
John Tenta, to be named shortly thereafter as Earthquake, crushed Hulk Hogan on an episode of the ‘Brother Love Show’ sending him to a false retirement. His second in command at the time, Fred Ottman, the Tugboat came on television week after week asking the wee Hulkamaniacs to send in their letters of good tidings to their idol Hogan. Response was staggering, with each person who wrote a letter receiving a thank you card from Hogan himself.
The stage was set for Hogan’s comeback at Summerslam where he and Tugboat defeated Dino Bravo and the Earthquake. The following April, brought Hogan to regain the World Title from Sgt. Slaughter, an Iraq War based villain at the time. Again, Hogan had shown that using his words and his Commandments one could rise above the tyranny of oppressors and rule firm handedly.
Die Kinder wuchsen auf
The time and tide of Hulkamania has passed us. Now when we see Hogan, and he mentions his Hulkamaniacs it is hard to understand who he is speaking of. The children of the 80s are now the adults of today, and the lessons we try and place upon the youth seem trite and trivial when we try and imbue into adults. It is harder to mold a man than it is a boy.
Where are then, the legions of children who wrote into their Furher and asked for him to return to the ring? They have either grown away from the beliefs that they held as a child, or they see what it is was happening to them and turned their back. This phenomenon holds true with our comparison. Those who stood proud and tall amongst the millions of children of the Hitler Youth now have been absolved of their crimes. This has gone without great questioning, as it was understood that if you were a child of Germany during World War II, then you were a child of Hitler.
Today, even Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic church was once one of the youth who stood and rallied under the Nazi flag. Many of the children of the 80s who proudly bore their red and yellow banner of Hulkamania may smile fondly at those memories, but recognize that they were built into the hype machine of a man who wished so many to be as he was.
The final question is how this situation came about? Who controlled the man that controlled the youth? There is a case to say that in the same way that Hitler was far removed from his ideal, Vince McMahon formed the vision and image of Hogan as a manner of expressing how he wanted to be persionified. Hogan was Vince’s dream of how he wanted to be percieved, and was the foundation of his own evil empire as he successfully tore down the walls of the existing territories to create one world (the very first image that for years appeared in the opening sequence of WWE programing). As a topic of exploration though, it will have to wait for another column that has yet to be written. The obviousness of Vince as a formidable dictator seems almost beyond the scope of The Acute Angle holding more in his business practices than the fictional dramas of the squared circle.
Thank you for reading another addition of the Acute Angle.
My name is Ted VanHouten IV and I’ll see you in two weeks.