Lessons from Hitler and Rehoboam
It may seem illogical at first glance to think that someone may not understand the value of sound or trusted advisors, however we see examples throughout history time and time again. The first example that comes to mind is a personal one. At my first military duty station I was quickly thrust into more responsibility than I had ever previously known. My first day out of training I was assigned as a flight commander for over 80 Air Force, Navy, and civilian personnel. As a young and fresh officer, I quickly forgot my place and believed I knew everything there was to know about leadership. One morning on a routine training mission a few things started to slowly go wrong and my team faced a dilemma. The route we chose to approach our target took longer than anticipated so instead of assaulting just before sunrise (the classic dawn attack) as planned, we would now be assaulting about 30 minutes after the sun had risen. Our approach also had us assaulting directly into the sun. One of my sergeants recommended we change our plan of attack to have one element create a diversion while the other two elements flanked and attacked with the sun at their backs. I stupidly ignored his advice and years of experience in an effort to prove my skills and keep my operation timeline intact. Long story short, we maneuvered into the sunlight and were completely destroyed by the enemy force before we had even set in our assaulting positions. In this instance, my sergeant’s advice was sound and logical. I should have listened to him. However, there are occasions when we heed advice we should not have. Typically, those occasions would arise when we are counseled by untrustworthy advisors or, the more common mistake, when we are blinded by friendship or a relationship.
A perfect example of this is the story of King Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10. King Solomon had just passed away and his son, Rehoboam, has succeeded to his throne. King Solomon had been known to have a wise group of counselors around him. When the people of Israel approached Rehoboam about lightening “the harsh labor and the heavy yoke [King Solomon] put on [the people of Israel]” (2 Chronicles 10:4, New International Version), he wisely sought the same elders that served his father. They told him to listen to the people and be kind so that they would always serve Rehoboam. Instead of listening to the wise elders, Rehoboam went to the young men he had grown up with for their advice. They told him the opposite; to be harsher and heavier on the people than his father had. Rehoboam took this to the people and they revolted against him. King Rehoboam had been blinded by his trust and his loyalty to his friends that he had grown up with and ended up paying for it.
For a third and historical account on the value of sound advice we should look to World War II. Adolf Hitler has been infamous throughout history for being egotistical and ignoring military and state advice when it went against his own plans. One of the most famous and costly examples of this was the advice of his Naval Commander in Chief, Admiral Erich Raeder. In 1941, Hitler was ready to kick off Operation Barbarossa, the code name for Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. When planning and discussing the operation, the leaders from the Nazi Wehrmacht (Army) and Luftwaffe (Air Force) backed Operation Barbarossa, likely for being fearful of any backlash from Hitler if they were to disagree. However, it is noted that Admiral Raeder consistently disapproved of any plans Hitler put forward regarding operations in Russia. To counteract Raeder and any other dissenters, Hitler planned Operation Barbarossa with a small team of blindly loyal military aides and kept the majority of his General Staff out of the loop for as long as possible. Students of World War II know Operation Barbarossa to be one of the biggest military blunders in history and consider it to be the crucial turning point in the war, ultimately costing Hitler the war and his own life.
1. Gompert, D., Binnendijk, H., & Lin, B. (2014). Hitler’s Decision to Invade the USSR, 1941. In Blinders, Blunders, and Wars: What America and China Can Learn (pp. 81-92). RAND Corporation.
2. Knoppers, G. (1990). Rehoboam in Chronicles: Villain or Victim? Journal of Biblical Literature, 109(3), 423-440.
Reply to classmates in 250 words each contributing to their findings and the overall discussion in detail. Be sure to expound on what more you’d add and/or where you agree or disagree and why. Support each reply with a scholarly citation.