False claim: Hitler quote on controlling people and eroding freedoms

Update December 10, 2020: Adding paragraph eight to include a passage written by Hitler in reference to Germany in 1918.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Users on social media have been sharing a quote misattributed to Adolf Hitler on his alleged views on how to control people. Some posts claim the words appeared in Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf”, which outlined the ideology that formed the basis for Nazism and set out his hatred of Jews. This is inaccurate.

As of May 20, 2020, the quote has been shared over 20,940 times on Facebook. Examples are visible  hereherehereherehere.

The posts read: “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed. -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf”

The Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History, a research organization dedicated to the study of German history of the 20th and 21st century (  here  ), confirmed to Reuters these words are misattributed to Hitler. “Whoever invented this quote, it was not Hitler and it has never been written in Mein Kampf”, a spokesperson for the Institute told Reuters on email. “We do not know in which context the author of this post is trying to manipulate a discussion by an invented "Hitler"-quotation,” they added.

Professor Timothy Snyder, a historian at Yale University, also confirmed to Reuters that Hitler’s idea of taking power was very different from what the quote alleges. “Those words do not appear in Mein Kampf, nor do they represent Hitler’s beliefs,” he told Reuters via email. “His idea of taking power was to discredit traditional sources of factuality in favor of a myth of a supposedly innocent nation and its supposedly faultless leader, and to undermine the rule of law by willful violent actions carried out in the name of a race.”

Snyder further explained that Hitler came to power by “exploiting a crisis” and consolidated it by “undermining constitutional institutions of altering them by mixing them with his own racial institution, the SS (Schutzstaffel or the ‘political soldiers’ of the Nazi Party  )”.  According to Snyder, Hitler’s conviction was that Germans would fully support him by “taking them to war”. “He believed that he was giving the German race its freedom by fighting for resources instead of pursuing technology, and by destroying an “enemy” (the Jews),” he said.  Snyder also added that those who supported Hitler before he came to power “glorified weapons and opposed what they called the ‘system’, by which they meant parliamentary democracy”.

According to Snopes, the quotation in the claim and its misattribution to Hitler and Mein Kampf was “virtually non-existent until 2014”, when it appeared in the book “Willfully Ignorant” (  ) as a heading to one of the chapters of the fictional novel by American writer Pat Miller (here).

At the start of Mein Kampf’s Chapter 15 – The Right to Self Defense, Hitler made a similar statement to that in the social media claims (beginning with “A shrewd conqueror will always enforce his exactions on the conquered only by stages”). This was in reference to his disagreement over Germany’s new democratic republic following World War One’s Armistice in 1918 and not reflecting his own policy preferences as a leader.

Some iterations of the claim (visible  here) include photo that is not of Adolf Hitler but a photoshopped image of former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Users are resharing this false quote amidst weeks of lockdown and social isolation worldwide to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (  here), which has been met with protests and defiance by some Americans (  herehere). 


False. This quote is incorrectly attributed to Adolf Hitler and historians say the ideas are not representative of his beliefs. A similar, not identical, passage can be found in Mein Kampf in reference to Germany’s post-World War One policies, not Hitler’s own preferences.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts   here.