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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler ( listen; 20 April 1889 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state (as Fhrer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is most commonly associated with the rise offascism in Europe, World War II, and the Holocaust. A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the German Workers' Party, precursor of the Nazi Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923 Hitler attempted a coup d'tat, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, at the Brgerbrukeller beer hall in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoir, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained support by promoting Pan-Germanism, antisemitism, and anticommunism with charismatic oratory and propaganda. He was appointed chancellor in 1933 and transformed theWeimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. Hitler's avowed aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe. His foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. He oversaw the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht in September 1939, which led to the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Under Hitler's direction, in 1941 German forces and their European allies occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. Hitler's racially motivated policies resulted in the deaths of as many as 17 million people, including an estimated six million Jews and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma targeted in the Holocaust.

In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun. On 30 April 1945less than two days laterthe two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army, and their corpses were burned.


Adolf's mother, Klara

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at around 6:30 pm at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen, a village annexed in 1938 to the municipality ofBraunau am Inn, Upper Austria. He was the third of five children to Alois Hitler and Klara Plzl (18601907). Adolf's older siblings Gustav and Ida died in infancy. Psychologist Erich Fromm describes the mother and father as "stable, well-intentioned" people. Hitler was attached to his mother, who is thought to have pampered him in his early years. His father was a hard-working self-made man who secured a comfortable livelihood for the family. Though often described as a tyrant, Alois' character conformed to the authoritarian type of his age, milieu, and class.

Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 1889/1890)

At the age of three, his family moved to Kapuzinerstrasse 5 in Passau, Germany. There, Hitler would acquire the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech all of his life. In 1894, the family relocated toLeonding near Linz, and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping. Adolf attended school in nearby Fischlham, and in his free time, he played "Cowboys and Indians". Hitler became fixated on warfare after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian War among his father's belongings. The move to Hafeld appears to have coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts, caused by Adolf's refusal to conform to the strict discipline of his school. Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach. Hitler attended a Catholic school in an 11thcentury Benedictine cloister, the walls of which bore engravings and crests that contained the symbol of the swastika. In Lambach the eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons and sang in the church choir, even entertained thoughts of one day becoming a priest. In 1898, the family returned permanently to Leonding. The death of his younger brother, Edmund from measles on 2 February 1900 deeply affected Hitler. He changed from being confident and outgoing and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought with his father and his teachers. Alois had made a successful career in the customs bureau and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Hitler later dramatised an episode from this period when his father took him to visit a customs office, depicting it as an event that gave rise to a unforgiving antagonism between father and son who were both equally strong-willed. Ignoring his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 his father sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students. (This was the [29] same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later.) Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf revealed that he did poorly in school, hoping that once his father saw "what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me devote myself to my dream." Hitler became obsessed with German nationalism from a young age as a way of rebelling against his father, who was proudly serving the Austrian government. Although many Austrians considered

themselves Germans, they were loyal to Austria. Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany, despising the declining Habsburg Monarchy and its rule over an ethnically variegated empire. Hitler and his friends used the German greeting "Heil", and sang the German anthem "Deutschland ber Alles" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem. After Alois' sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler's behaviour at the technical school became even more disruptive, and he was asked to leave in 1904. He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904, but upon completing his second year, he and his friends went out for a night of celebration and drinking. While drunk, Hitler tore up his school certificate and used the pieces as toilet paper. The stained certificate was brought to the attention of the school's principal, who "... gave him such a dressing-down that the boy was reduced to shivering jelly. It was probably the most painful and humiliating experience of his life." Hitler was expelled, never to return to school again. At age 15, Hitler took part in his First Communion on Whitsunday, 22 May 1904, at the Linz Cathedral. His sponsor was Emanuel Lugert, a friend of his late father.

World War I
Main article: Military career of Adolf Hitler Hitler served as a runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. He experienced major combat, including the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele.

Hitler with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 19141918)

Hitler was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. Recommended by Hugo Gutmann, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's rank (Gefreiter). Hitler's post at regimental headquarters, where he had frequent interactions with senior officers, may have helped him receive this decoration. The regimental staff, however, thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, and he was never promoted. He also received the Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.

While serving at regimental headquarters Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. In October 1916 he was wounded either in the groin area or the left thigh when a shell exploded in the dispatch runners' dugout during the Battle of the Somme. Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz. He returned to his regiment on 5 March 1917.

Adolf Hitler as a soldier during the First World War (19141918)

On 15 October 1918, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack. It has been suggested that his blindness may have been an hysterical symptom brought on by the shock at the rapid reversal of Germany's war fortunes. He was hospitalised in Pasewalk. Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort. It was during this time that Hitler's ideological development began to firmly take shape. According to Lucy Dawidowicz, Hitler's intention to exterminate Europe's Jews took definitive shape by the end of World War I. Hitler described the war as "the greatest of all experiences", and he was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery. The experience made Hitler a passionate German patriot, and he was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918. Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the Dolchstolegende (Stab-in-the-back legend), which claimed that the German army, "undefeated in the field," had been "stabbed in the back" on the home front by civilian leaders and Marxists, later dubbed the November Criminals. The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treatyespecially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the waras a humiliation. The economic, social, and political conditions in Germany effected by the war and the Versailles treaty were later exploited by Hitler for political gains.

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