One wonderes if it is even possible to discuss the subject of Hitler at all in a sober and rational way, given the mountains of emotional rubblish and volumes of anti-German political propoganda out there. The assumption that AH was only a figurehead shows how much naivite there is about this chapter in European history.
In order for anyone, especially a non German, to begin to understand who Hitler was and what he was, one must immerse onesself in the historical events surrounding the Hitler phenomenon.
Look at the basic facts: He was not a university professor, nor a great scientists nor inventor. He was a common "man of the people". A soldier from the World War and one of the millions of resentfull Germans who had found themselves in a country deprived of its sovereignty; its ability do defend itself with restrictions imposed on it by former enemies; in acountry in the midst of unimaginable political and economic chaos.
Hitler started out as a polital agitator. He became the spokesman for millions who were not happy with conditions of and results of the Versailles restrictions. His ability to put into words all the resentments, fears and anger which was simmering in the hearts of millions of Germans in the 1920s and 1930s put him on the crest of a rising political tide.
Germany's misery was causing many to turn to Communism. Hitlers party was the only one that assured the German people they would fight the Communists.
Clearly he had backing from Germanys Military Industrial Complex, but his swift victory over France in just 3 weeks, impressed millions who had suffered through 4 years of bloody trench warfare in World War One.
He may not have been a military genius, and he ultimately lost the war for Germany, but he was certainly a lot more than just a "figurehead".