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Lesser men of the year seemed small indeed beside the Führer. Undoubted Crook of the Year was the late Frank Donald Coster (né Musica), with Richard Whitney, now in Sing Sing Prison, as runner-up. Sportsman of the Year was Tennist Donald Budge, champion of the U. S., England, France, Australia. Aviator of the Year was 33-year-old Howard Robard Hughes, diffident millionaire, who flew a sober, precise, foolproof course 14,716 miles round the top of the world in three days, 19 hours, eight minutes.
Radio's Man of the Year was youthful Orson Welles who, in his famous The War of the Worlds broadcast, scared fewer people than Hitler, but more than had ever been frightened by radio before, demonstrating that radio can be a tremendous force in whipping up mass emotion. Playwright of the Year was Thornton Wilder, previously a precious litterateur, whose first play on Broadway, Our Town, was not only ingenious and moving, but a big hit. To Gabriel Pascal, producer of Pygmalion, first full-length picture based on the wordy dramas of George Bernard Shaw, went the title of Cineman of the Year for having discovered a rich mine of dramatic material when other famed producers had given up all hope of ever tapping it. Men of the Year, outstanding in comprehensive science, were three medical researchers who discovered that nicotinic acid was a cure for human pellagra: Drs. Tom Douglas Spies of Cincinnati General Hospital, Marion Arthur Blankenhorn of the University of Cincinnati, Clark Niel Cooper of Waterloo, Iowa.
In religion, the two outstanding figures of 1938 were in sharp contrast save for their opposition to Adolf Hitler. One of them, Pope Pius XI, 81, spoke with "bitter sadness" of Italy's anti-Semitic laws, the harrying of Italian Catholic Action groups, the reception Mussolini gave Hitler last May, declared sadly: "We have offered our now old life for the peace and prosperity of peoples. We offer it anew." By spending most of the year in a concentration camp, Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller gave courageous witness to his faith.
It was noteworthy that few of these other men of the year would have been free to achieve their accomplishments in Nazi Germany. The genius of free wills has been so stifled by the oppression of dictatorship that Germany's output of poetry, prose, music, philosophy, art has been meagre indeed.
The man most responsible for this world tragedy is a moody, brooding, unprepossessing, 49-year-old Austrian-born ascetic with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. The son of an Austrian petty customs official, Adolf Hitler was raised as a spoiled child by a doting mother. Consistently failing to pass even the most elementary studies, he grew up a half-educated young man, untrained for any trade or profession, seemingly doomed to failure. Brilliant, charming, cosmopolitan Vienna he learned to loathe for what he called its Semitism; more to his liking was homogeneous Munich, his real home after 1912. To this man of no trade and few interests the Great War was a welcome event which gave him some purpose in life. Corporal Hitler took part in 48 engagements, won the German Iron Cross (first class), was wounded once and gassed once, was in a hospital when the Armistice of November 11, 1918 was declared.