Prompt: Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
Thoughts, suggestions? Do you think it is too short? Thanks a ton!
My Mentor, a Former Nazi
"I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, cruel youth. Youth must be all that. It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it. The free, splendid beast of prey must once again flash from its eyes." Adolf Hitler thus explicated his plans for the youth division of the Nazi party. Eventually, a mass of nine million boys was enlisted in this group, including my mother's friend, Joe.
Hamburg native Joe Bahlke joined the Hitler Youth Movement at the age of ten. Joe related to me that the Hitler Youth was actually just like a Boy Scout group, but with a terrible military attachment. There was the "walking-elderly-women-across-the-street" attribute, however, the underlying purpose of the group was to dehumanize children of their sensitive nature and raise them as soldiers. They were taught that the Jewish people were to blame for all of Germany's faults.
Ultimately, Joe began to question the views that were presented to him. As the Nazi Empire began to fall, he realized those ideals he had been brought up to believe in were absolutely preposterous. After his family was tragically killed in the Bombing of Hamburg, Joe moved to America to start a new life.
By this time, Joe's ideals took a complete turn around. He evolved from a brainwashed young Nazi to an avid peace supporter. Joe began voraciously writing in local newspapers, promulgating the need for peace, and applying the adage, "The pen is mightier than the sword." Why did Joe change so significantly? Because of an unbiased education.
The forces that molded Germany into such a radical nation are parallel to the foundations of modern terrorism. As outrageous as it may sound, German children of that era actually believed that Jews had fangs and were cannibalistic. In some extremist nations today, the same sort of propaganda is distributed, but with Westerners as their targets.
Joe's story has led me to believe the solution to minimize terrorism is to provide extremist nations with books, not bombs. A distorted education breeds ignorance, which breeds prejudice and intolerance, and in turn fosters extremism. Therefore, the solution is to illuminate these nations with truth.
Before getting to know Joe, I did not have much confidence that diminishing terrorism peacefully was a possible tactic. However, his ability to change, given the benefit of a decent education, has strengthened my resolve that a zealous commitment to diplomacy is the answer to this predicament.
Joe's impact on me has stuck. Throughout high school, I have exercised my voice in student newspaper articles, history class essays, and by working for humanitarian political campaigns. Due to the influence of conscionable people, such as my mother's friend, Joe, I feel drawn to pursue a career in politics, advocating peace among nations and upholding human rights.
You know, I think you took a big risk, with the first paragraph.
But...I love the risk you took. It really works. It's chilling at first (perhaps because I have personal connections to the horror wrought), and then it's frank, and then it's introspective. Good job.
There are a few very minor stylistic changes that I will suggest to you. I think you can combine the short paragraphs beginning "Joe began..." and "In America...". I would also remove "as outrageous as it may sound", which reads a little awkwardly and contrasts with the style of your essay. The sentence will be just as powerful without it. Finally, I wouldn't use the word 'postulation.' It seems forced, and forced language always reads as a bit pretentious.
Other than that, awesome. You took a calculated risk, and it worked out. :D
Finish that first paragraph. A first para should often start with an "attention grabber," but it is best to end it with a thesis statement that expresses the central idea of the essay. I look at that first para and it seems like 2 sentences are missing from the end of it. The thesis statement is missing!
This is a great idea for an essay, for sure! But you should really use at least 4 sentences in each paragraph when it is an important essay like this.