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Finding Credible Sources For An Adolf Hitler Research Paper
Many essays have been written on the life and career of Adolf Hitler, and it’s likely that many more will be. If you’re writing such an essay one of the biggest challenges is finding reliable sources. Hitler himself wrote an infamous book, Mein Kampf, about his ideology and there are many collections of his speeches and quotes recorded by people who knew him. These aren’t always the best choice though.
Who to trust?
Well, not Hitler. The Führer will be remembered for many things, but honesty won’t be one of them. Hitler was perfectly capable of telling people what they wanted to hear; in fact doing so was one of the things that let him carry his plans so far before anyone tried to stop him. His writings, and quotes from his speeches and private conversations, can be valuable for adding context and color, but they should never be relied on as a guide to what he really thought. The best source for that is analysis by qualified professional historians, but where can that be found?
Hunter-gathering in the library
Your library may be the best place to start. You may not need to be a member of a library to be able to consult the books in it. Just looking on the shelves for relevant titles is an underrated approach; it seems old-fashioned, but it works. Remember to try the biography section as well as the history section. Don’t restrict yourself to books that are just about Hitler, either; books about 1930s politics or the Second World War can be extremely useful. A few pages, if they are the right few pages, can be a real find.
You want information from credible sources, so as you look at each book, article or journal, take a moment to assess the source. Does it have an author? Who is the author? Do they cite references? (A good, almost essential sign). It is only almost essential, because there will also be sources such as eye-witness accounts in biographies or in contemporary newspapers. The other thing to assess at this stage is which areas you need more information on.
This is very tempting; in fact it’s the first place that most people turn to now when they have research to do. It is not uniformly reliable, though, so be very careful about using it as a primary source. Target the areas on which you need more material, and then be very wary. Who are the authors of your sources? Do they cite references? Are they just quoting someone else? Typing one of their phrases into a search engine can be a bit of a revelation. There are plenty of stories in circulation that seem to be backed up by hundreds of websites but in fact can all be traced back to a single - and often unreliable - document.