You’re standing their, in the cold night of 1944 Berlin. You’re name is Colonel Von Stauffenberg, a decorated war hero of Hitler’s Germany. Yet you stand in front of a brick wall looking into the eyes of a row of rifleman, fingers ready to pull the trigger and signal your execution.
You are one man.
You had enough of Hitler’s government, which has flooded your people into a different kind of strife from which it promised to pull them out of.
Over a decade of moves and decisiosn that led to a deluge of despair, from a people desperate for leadership, when the world had forskaen them.
The Fuhrer was supposed to be your savior.
Yet you couldn’t take it any more.
Your country was dying, losing in another war against the world. And it was waged with morality that you deeply questioned.
You had to take a stand to change it.
You thought you yourself could do it. Covertly, with a small group.
But you were wrong.
That’s why you stand here, in front of a firing squad.
Never to see your wife or children again.
Because YOU thought you could undermine a FLOOD of terrible circumstances that accumulated over several years, in one swift action.
That’s not how it works buddy.
One positive decision CANNOT undermine a flood of poor decisions, compounded over the greatest multiplier: TIME.
Von Stauffenberg was a real German military officer , and a real war hero for Nazi-Germany. He did indeed try and save his people by trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and had his story portrayed via Tom Cruise as him, in a movie called Valkyrie.
To he demise, Stauffenberg failed in his attempt.
He went up against a rampaging group of habits, decisions, and fatalities that stretched several decades in their making.
His story and the story of Germany in the 1920s and 30s is a testament to the power of compound action and momentum.
Its something that you and I can take to remind ourselves that its regular, practice of the habits we want to instill in ourselves that make the results we want happen. Not one off occurrences.
In this post, let’s look at the power of habit and the force that habits can become when they compound.
In the ocean of cliches that you hear in the fitness industry, a relevant one for this spot is that, “you can’t ruin a diet by eating one poor meal/day of poor meals. At the same time, you can’t ‘fix’ your diet habits by one meal/day of quality food.”
You and I change via compounding of habits.
The same goes with human history.
No one remembers the small things because they are nothing on their own. When individual occurrences, compound with one another over time, they lead to change.
Now, those habits don’t necessarily have to be related to one another initially.
Post-World War One Germany was a hot mess right after Armistice.
The country was forced to cut down its army immensely. Considering that the forces available were some 200, 000, it would be an immense loss for them to do so.
Moreover, huge foreign debt was owed by Germany across the globe; around 150 billion German Marks. To make matters more scarce, the Saar region (a western area that included valuable coal) was forced to be de-militarized and placed under French control.
The incredible debt, along with the loss of economic assets to pay said debt, further capitulated a problem for the democratic, Weimar Republic that rose out of the German Empire.
Frustration and pandemonium arose as people struggled to even purchase bread, eggs, and milk. Let alone pay for an education (which most see as the way to better social mobility).
Today, many of us complain of strikes by college professors and several other parts of the world there are people who do face the fear of harm while going to colleges.
But imagine the financial frustration of not knowing if the money that you had thought saved up would be able to afford you your education for the next semester.
Not because of the numerical amount. Rather, because you weren’t sure how much more your country’s currency would become devalued by the end of the semester.
However, adapting to imposed demands, some disgruntled commanders of the soon-to-be dissolved military, General Staff, created militia forces under different branches of government.
By doing so, they were able to deal with the military necessity in the 1920s of possible threats from neighboring countries.
Germany was a very vulnerable after all.
Like the vacuum that opened up in the world of the Post-East India Company tea race, the Weimar Republic was struggling to hold together the country with a violent storm of political upheaval on the way.
Communism had been an issue even before the war but with the turmoil that Germany was in after its losses in 1919, a revolution threatened whatever shred of stability Germany still had.
In the wake of a spontaneous attack in Bavaria in 1919, a German revolution arose but it was not widely supported.
To create order, the Weimar Republic was formed, created by moderate center and left parties, and supported with the help of the army and volunteer forces of the Freikorps. However many of these factions were against democratic government.
More Right-leaning parties, just as infuriated by the lack of impact of the Weimar Republic continued to grow in number.
Fights would break out between left and right parties as parties established paramilitary wings of their organizations, waging war in streets. These were major street battles that left hundreds of people dead.
With the growing failure of the Weimar government to support its workers, with 3 million people unemployed in 1929, radical parties such as the Communists and Nationalists grew greater in favor.
With the rise of employment at over eight million in 1932, moderate solutions were even more unappealing.
If you take these things into consideration and the two decades that they had to compound, its not so impossible to believe that a recently discharged Austrian soldier, named Adolf Hitler, with a knack for public speaking, a thrilling love of the Old Germany, and who was in the company of high-level military superiors who adored his bravado, would elevate him to the stature he reached in the coming decades.
Habits Compound Like a Flood
Most people will only place the face of Hitler on the issue of World War Two. But after having read through the history of Germany and seeing the turbulent events that took place after the First World War, you can’t but think, that anyone could have done it.
Just like they say that through hard work, you give inspiration the opportunity to happen (through positional play), things call fall apart based on the same principle.
The sheer scope of how Germany was propelled into leadership under Adolf Hitler and subsequently World War Two, is an example of that.
Its compounding factors and likewise compounding habits that lead to devastatingly powerful change. And One action to the contrary can’t change it.
The habit is so important.