I had not heard of Hans Litten before watching a documentary about him. His story is one of conviction and freedom of thought, hugely important in the fields of goal achievement, self improvement and personal development. Read on for a shot of inspiration…
The story goes back to 1931, Berlin, Germany. Hans Litten was a lawyer who took on the case of an attack at a club. The attack was one of many preplanned violent attacks by the military wing of the Nazi party.
Litten saw it as a chance to put Adolf Hitler on the stand. The previous year, Hitler had sworn under oath that the Nazi party only operated within the law, and Litten intended to show this as a lie. He wanted to undermine the position that Hitler had nurtured with financial backers, believing that if he took away the funding, the Nazis would remain as just another fringe party.
During the trial, Litten took two angles of attack. The first was to not let Hitler settle into his oratory style, so he kept interrupting Hitler on the stand, reminding him that he didn’t need to shout. This unsettled the Nazi leader, as did Litten’s second angle.
That was to refer repeatedly to a pamphlet produced by the Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels, which used lots of references to violence being justified.
It seemed that Litten was succeeding in exposing Hitler and the Nazis, but the judge then stopped the questioning, saying that the examination of Hitler had no relevance to the specific attack in the club.
After the trial, Litten said that the law was something the strong gave to the weak, so that the weak could use it against them. He warned that following Hitler would reduce the concept of law to the whims of one man.
Within 2 years, Hitler was Chancellor of Germany. In 1933, on the night of the Reichstag fire, Litten was one of the first to be arrested, the start of the Nazi pattern of removing anyone who did not fit their ideals.
Held without trial in ‘protective custody’, Litten was moved from one prison to another, then one camp to another, facing constant brutality and torture. After 5years, Litten committed suicide in the Dachau concentration camp.
The Nazis hated freedom of thought, because it cannot be taken away from anyone. Litten knew this, as did all the intellectuals murdered for not keeping quiet about it.
In prison, when the guards ordered prisoners to perform to celebrate Hitler’s birthday, Litten chose to recite a poem he had loved since childhood, called ‘Thoughts Are Free’. In the face of a horror we can only imagine, he still clung to the belief, and he was showing it to be true.
I hope none of us ever have to go through what he went through, and yet so many of us will not think that our thoughts are free. We let them, be dictated by others, and consequently we let ourselves be directed by others.
I’ll write the whole poem in another article, but here’s the first verse:
Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them with powder and lead,
Thoughts are free.
Can you imagine reciting that with SS troopers pointing guns at you? Think to your own goal achievement, your own personal development. They all need freedom of thought. If your thoughts are held captive by the past, or by peer pressure in the present, they can be freed by thought itself!
If you need to improve your language skills to make the breakthrough, if you think it an odd concept to use your own thoughts to free your thoughts, then go and do it! Once you free your thoughts, and remember no-one can stop you, it will be like the breaking of a huge dam, and you will be taken to adventures you would not have thought possible.
Look out for my article with the whole poem in it, or research it right now, but remember the concept, and remember the story of Hans Litten – I know I will when I doubt my own goals.
I write about the importance of attitude in my 2003 book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’
It’s also featured in my free 8 step goal achievement formula, which you can get via the link at the top of the page.
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,