Sei sulla pagina 1di 8

Kill tally: Directly responsible for the deaths of over 46 million Europeans as a result of the

Second World War.

Background: Following the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles penalises the defeated
Germany, annexing land, imposing large war reparations, limiting the size of the German
Army and blaming Germany and Austria-Hungary for starting the conflict. The new German
Government, a coalition of left-leaning and centrist parties, attempts to rebuild the country
but faces opposition from the right and extreme left. The instability is exacerbated by the
failure of the domestic and global economies.
Mini biography: Born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria, into a lower middle-
class family of peasant origins. His father, a customs official, is 23 years older than his
mother, a domestic servant.
Hitler is dominated by his father and spoilt by his mother. His father dies in 1903, his mother
in 1907. He has one half-brother, one half-sister, and one full-sister. In his youth, Hitler
dreams of becoming an artist.
1903 - Following his father's death, Hitler leaves school.
1907 - He goes to Vienna, the capital of Austria, where he attempts to pursue his dream of
becoming an artist. However, he has only limited talent and is unable to gain admission to the
Academy of Fine Arts, failing the entrance examination twice. In 1908, following the death
of his mother, he moves to Vienna to live.
"I owe much to the time in which I had learned to become hard (in Vienna)," Hitler later
writes, "I praise it even more for having rescued me from the emptiness of an easy life, that it
took the milksop out of his downy nest and gave him Dame Sorrow for a foster mother."
1913 - He moves to Munich, the capital of Bavaria, where he ekes out a living as a painter
and technical draftsman.
1914 - When the First World War breaks out Hitler volunteers for service with the German
Army, joining the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. He serves with some distinction
and is awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class, in December 1914, and the Iron Cross, First
Class, in August 1918. However, he never rises beyond the rank of corporal. By the end of
the war he has developed shell-shock and is admitted to military hospital.
After the war, Hitler returns to Munich and begins to become involved in politics. He
believes that Jews and Marxists are responsible for Germany's defeat.
1919 - He joins the German Workers' Party in September. A gifted and inspiring public
speaker, he is soon placed in charge of the party's propaganda.
1920 - Under Hitler's direction, the party adopts the swastika as its emblem and changes its
name to the National Socialist (Nazi) Party. Its platform calls for the removal of civil rights
for Jews and for their expulsion from Germany.
As the German economy begins to buckle under the weight of the enormous war reparations
demanded by the Treaty of Versailles and debts incurred during the war, popular support for
the Nazis begins to increase. Inflation and unemployment climb. The German Government
loses its majority in the elections of 1920, introducing a decade long period of political
instability. Nazi Party membership increases to about 3,000.
1921 - The Nazi Party's "storm troopers" are formally organised into a private army. Called
the Sturmabteilung (SA) - the 'Brownshirts' - the army is used to protect party meetings and
to attack opponents. Hitler becomes leader of the Nazi Party in July. Party faithful begin to
refer to him as the Führer (Leader). Meanwhile, in April, the Allies present Germany with a
bill of US$33 billion for war reparations.
1923 - When the German Government defaults on its reparation payments, the French Army
occupies the Ruhr. Inflation skyrockets and is fuelled when the government begins printing
more and more money in a desperate attempt to solve the crisis. The value of the
Deutschmark plummets.
In mid-1920 US$1 is worth 40 marks. By July 1923 the exchange rate has blown out to
160,000 marks to US$1. By August 1923 the rate is 10 million marks to the dollar. By
November 1923 the figure is 4.2 trillion marks to the dollar. Almost overnight, Germans have
lost their life savings. Social unrest begins to escalate.
Hitler exploits the situation, advocating national pride, blaming the left and Jews for the
political turmoil and claiming to have a solution to the economic crisis. Many Germans come
to see the party as a credible alternative.
On 8 November Hitler and 600 armed members of the SA stage an abortive attempt to seize
power in Munich. Hitler is arrested and tried for treason. The Nazi Party is outlawed.
Hitler's trial receives media coverage in and outside of Germany and his courtroom attacks
against the government are widely quoted. He is found guilty and sentenced to five years jail,
but is allowed to receive visitors when he likes and to employ Rudolph Hess as his private
secretary. His imprisonment begins on 1 April 1924, however, he will only serve nine months
of his term.
While in prison he begins to write 'Mein Kampf' (My Struggle), his political autobiography
and treatise on the superiority of the "Aryan race" and the "menace" of the Jew. The book is
published in 1927. When the Nazis come to power it will be set as school textbook and
presented to all German newlyweds.
1924 - Hitler is released a few days before Christmas. He finds there is now a different
economic and political climate in Germany. A new government has succeeded in containing
the crisis and achieving stability. Hitler is forbidden from making public speeches across
much of the country but works to further entrench his hold over the Nazi Party.
1927 - The Nazi Party holds its first Nuremberg congress, a mass political rally that will
become the party's signature propaganda event.
1928 - Nazi Party membership now exceeds 100,000, though the grassroots support is not
reflected in the polls, with the Nazis winning only 2.6% of the vote in a general election held
in May. The party will become better known the following year when an alliance with the
conservative German National People's Party lends it some respectability within the
antirepublican right.
Hitler, meanwhile, writes a sequel to 'Mein Kampf'. However, the book is never published
during his lifetime.
1929 - The German Government is crippled when the Wall Street stock market crash of
October ushers in the Great Depression. Unemployment rises from 8.5% in 1929 to 29.9% in
Hitler again exploits the situation, spreading his propaganda nationally through newspapers,
securing support from magnates of business and industry, and establishing a national party
structure. He promises something for all - work for the unemployed, profits to industry and
small businesses, and expansion of the army and restoration of German pride. Public support
In 1928 the Nazis hold 12 seats in the Reichstag (parliament). By 1932 they will have 230
seats and be the largest party in the government. Joseph Goebbels begins to create the Führer
myth around Hitler and to organise the ritualistic and highly choreographed party rallies that
help convert the masses to Nazism and provide a platform for Hitler's accession to power in
January 1933.
Meanwhile, Hitler meets Eva Braun during 1929. Braun will become Hitler's lover in 1931
after his previous mistress, Geli Raubal, who is also his niece, commits suicide to escape his
1933 - The Nazis reach a position from which they can seize power on 30 January when
Hitler is appointed chancellor. Following the Reichstag fire on 27 February basic civil rights
are suspended and the Nazis are given the right to quash political opposition.
Germany's last election until after the Second World War is held on 5 March. Though the
Nazis win only 44% of the vote Hitler persuades the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Law,
allowing him to govern independently for four years. The Nazis now take full control of the
state apparatus.
All Nazis in prison are issued with full pardons; critics of the government and the Nazi Party
are subject to arrest; special courts are established for the trial of political detainees. Regional
governments are dissolved and then reconstituted with governors handpicked by Hitler.
Leftist political parties are banned; Germany is declared a one-party state; Jews and leftists
are purged from the bureaucracy; and trade unions are dissolved and replaced with Nazi
The Gestapo, or secret state police, is established in April. Concentration camps are set up for
the interment of opponents. A program of public works, rearmament and forced labour helps
bring the economy under control. Inflation comes down, the currency is stabilised and full
employment achieved. Support for Hitler increases.
On 10 May Hitler stages the "burning of the books" in Berlin. Works by Jewish, Marxist and
other "subversive" authors are publicly burned in huge bonfires. On 14 October Germany
withdraws from the League of Nations.
Though rigorously oppressive, Hitler's regime is popular with average Germans, who benefit
from tax relief and strategic social investments. Taxes on working people will never be raised
during the Nazi reign. Soldiers and their families will receive more than double the income
offered to their Western counterparts. The Nazis will commission large infrastructure
projects, including the building of the autobahn road system running across Germany.
However, the expenditure is unsustainable. It will be financed by growing debt and the spoils
of conquest.
1934 - Hitler organises the 'Night of the Long Knives' massacre of rebellious leaders of the
SA on the night of 30 June. In August he becomes president and chancellor, giving him
supreme command of the German armed forces. Hitler is now the Führer, the dictator of the
fascist Third Reich, an empire where the individual belongs to the state.
1935 - On 16 March the Nazis introduce conscription. A new German Army (Wehrmacht) is
being created. Hitler formally announced that Germany has begun to rearm and rebuild its
army and air force, in contravention of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The 'Nuremberg
Laws', meanwhile, strip Jews of the right to citizenship and restrict their relations with
1936 - Hitler joins with Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the 'Rome-Berlin Axis' and
signs the 'Anti-Comintern Pact' with Japan, an agreement to fight the spread of communism.
Italy joins the pact in 1937.
At the same time, Hitler confirms his intention to take Germany into war, telling his cohorts
that the country must be ready to fight by 1940.
The military soon get an opportunity for battle experience when Germany enters the Spanish
Civil War in support of Spanish Nationalists led by Francisco Franco. The German
contribution is vital at the very beginning of the war when German aircraft fly Franco's troops
from Morocco to Spain. Germany's ongoing support will also be a critical factor behind
Franco's eventual victory.
1938 - Support for Hitler is further buoyed by his policy of foreign expansion. Austria is
annexed on 13 March. The Sudetenland, the German-speaking area in the north of
Czechoslovakia, is ceded to Germany on 29 September under the terms of the 'Munich
Agreement' between Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
At the end of the year the persecution of the Jews intensifies. Over the days of 9-10
November the Nazis orchestrate the Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) pogrom. Jewish shops,
houses and synagogues across Germany are burnt by both the Schutz-Staffel (SS) - the
'Blackshirts', Hitler's personal guard - and the general population. Ninety-one Jews are killed.
Thirty thousand are arrested and deported.
Hitler is named 'Time' magazine's person of the year. Commenting on the rise of the Nazi
Party and Hitler, the magazine says, "The situation which gave rise to this demagogic,
ignorant, desperate movement was inherent in the German republic's birth and in the craving
of large sections of the politically immature German people for strong, masterful leadership
... Meanwhile, Germany has become a nation of uniforms, goose-stepping to Hitler's tune,
where boys of ten are taught to throw hand grenades, where women are regarded as breeding
1939 - On 30 January Hitler declares in the Reichstag that a new world war will lead to the
destruction of the Jewish race in Europe. Bohemia and Moravia are occupied in March, while
Slovakia is made a puppet state. In May, as Germany prepares for war, Hitler agrees to a
formal military alliance with Italy, the 'Pact of Steel'.
On 22 August Hitler briefs his senior military commanders on his plans for the invasion of
According to one report of the meeting, Hitler says, "Our strength lies in our quickness and in
our brutality.
"Genghis Khan has sent millions of women and children into death knowingly and with a
light heart. History sees in him only the great founder of states. As to what the weak Western
European civilisation asserts about me, that is of no account.
"I have given the command and I shall shoot everyone who utters one word of criticism, for
the goal to be obtained in the war is not that of reaching certain lines but of physically
demolishing the opponent.
"And so for the present only in the East I have put my death-head formations in place with
the command relentlessly and without compassion to send into death many women and
children of Polish origin and language.
"Only thus we can gain the living space that we need. Who after all is today speaking about
the destruction of the Armenians?"
The next day, 23 August, he signs a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, carving up
Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, with the Soviets claiming
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, part of the Balkans and half of Poland.
German troops invade Poland on 1 September. Britain and France declare war on Germany
two days later. The Second World War has begun.
Poland is overrun within a month, with Germany taking the west of the country and the
Soviets occupying the east. Denmark and Norway fall in April 1940. The Netherlands,
Belgium, Luxembourg and France are invaded the following month. By the middle of June
1940 France has surrendered.
As the invasion progresses Jews and other "undesirables" in the occupied territories are
dispossessed and interned in work camps.
In Germany the physically handicapped, mentally ill, and others with so-called "worthless
lives" are rounded up and sent to designated hospitals, where they are killed. Referred to by
the Nazis as mercy killing and planned by Hitler's office and the Reich Interior Ministry, the
"euthanasia" program will claim up to 275,000 lives when it goes into full swing.
1940 - Beginning from 10 July, the 'Battle of Britain' rages in the skies as the British Royal
Air Force (RAF) desperately combats wave after wave of aerial attacks and bombing raids by
the Luftwaffe while launching counteroffensive bombing missions into Germany.
Though outnumbered by four to one the RAF is able to inflict enough damage to the German
forces to cause Hitler to suspend 'Operation Sealion', the proposed invasion of Britain by sea.
By the end of September the 'Battle of Britain' is effectively over. Germany has suffered its
first major defeat of the war.
Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and Japan sign the 'Tripartite Pact', an agreement to carve up the
world following victory in the war.
At the end of the year, Hitler meets with Romanian leader Ion Antonescu. Under Antonescu's
direction Romania will become one of Germany's staunchest allies. Hitler and Antonescu will
meet again in January and May 1941.
Hitler meets Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco on 23 October at French-Spanish
border to try to persuade Spain to enter the war, but Franco is reluctant to become directly
involved and only provides token support.
1941 - On 6 June Hitler meets Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic to discuss a plan to expel
much of the Serbian population of the so-called 'Independent State of Croatia' and replace
them with Croats and Slovenes from lands annexed by the Germans. Pavelic's regime will be
responsible for the genocide of 600,000 to one million within its area of control, including
30,000 Jews, 29,000 Gipsies, and 600,000 Serbs. Hitler will meet with Pavelic again in
November 1942.
Germany invades the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. The Germans advance swiftly but are
halted on 6 December by a Russian counterattack just short of Moscow.
The 'Battle for Moscow' will be the biggest of the Second World War, involving seven million
participants and an area of operations the size of France. The Germans' failure to capture the
city will be their first military defeat of the war.
The United States enters the war when the Japanese air force bombs the US naval base at
Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on 7 December. Hitler declares war on the US on 11 December.
With the offensive in the Soviet Union stalled, he appoints himself commander-in-chief.
"St Petersburg must disappear utterly from the Earth's surface. Moscow too. Then the
Russians will retire into Siberia," Hitler declares.
"As for the ridiculous 100 million Slavs, we will mould the best of them to the shape that
suits us, and we will isolate the rest of them in their own pig-styes; and anyone who talks
about cherishing the local inhabitant and civilising him goes straight off into a concentration
camp," he says.
On 18 December Hitler orders his troops in Russia to stand fast at their present positions.
1942 - On 20 January the Nazis complete the planning for the Endlosung (Final Solution), the
extermination of the Jews, Gipsies, Slavs, homosexuals, communists, and other
"undesirables" and "decadents" in death camps run by the SS and controlled by the Gestapo.
About six million European Jews die in the following 'Holocaust'. Most (about 4.5 million) of
those killed come from Poland and the Soviet Union. About 125,000 are German Jews.
The Holocaust also claims about 500,000 Gipsies, between 10,000 and 25,000 homosexuals,
2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, up to 3.5 million non-Jewish Poles, between 3.5 million and six
million other Slavic civilians, as many as four million Soviet prisoners of war, and up to 1.5
million political dissidents.
1943 - The war turns against Germany in the winter of 1942-43 when the Sixth Army is
defeated at Stalingrad (now Volgograd). Though the German forces are encircled and trapped
by a Soviet counteroffensive, Hitler refuses to allow them to attempt an escape. They
surrender on 2 February 1943.
The German Sixth Army has been effectively destroyed in what is at the time the most
catastrophic military defeat in German history. Over 500,000 of the German-led troops are
dead. By the end of 1943, the Soviets have broken through the German siege of Leningrad
(now Saint Petersburg) and recaptured much of the Ukrainian Republic.
Hitler orders his retreating forces to adopt a scorched-earth policy and destroy everything that
may be of use to the advancing Soviets.
The German offensive in North Africa is stopped at the beginning of November 1942 when
Allied troops led by General Bernard Law Montgomery force the German Afrika Korps led
by General Erwin Rommel into a retreat. By 13 May 1943 275,000 Germans and Italians
have surrendered. The war in North Africa is over, leaving the Allies free to land in Sicily and
To the west, the US and British navies gain control of the Atlantic shipping lanes, clearing the
way for the 'D-Day' landings on the Normandy beaches in France on 6 June 1944 and the
invasion of Germany six months later. Soviet troops, meanwhile, advance from the east.
In the skies over Germany the Allied air forces intensify their bombing raids. The strategy of
indiscriminate area bombing will kill an estimated 600,000 civilians, including about 75,000
The Nazis call for "total war" against the Allies.
At the end of 1943 Hitler's personality comes under scrutiny in a profile written by Dr Henry
Murray of the Harvard Psychological Clinic and commissioned by the US Office of Strategic
Services, a precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Titled 'Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler - With Predictions of His Future
Behaviour and Suggestions for Dealing with Him Now and After Germany's Surrender', the
profile states:
"There is little disagreement among professional, or even among amateur, psychologists that
Hitler's personality is an example of the counteractive type, a type that is marked by intense
and stubborn efforts (i) to overcome early disabilities, weaknesses and humiliations (wounds
to self-esteem), and sometimes also by efforts (ii) to revenge injuries and insults to pride."
Hitler is "possessed by what amounts to a homicidal compulsion which has no vent in a 'weak
piping time of peace' (unless he becomes an outright criminal), and therefore he has
constantly pushed events toward war, or scapegoating," the analysis says.
"As a result of the fact that resentment is the mainspring of Hitler's career, it is forever
impossible to hope for any mercy or humane treatment from him. His revengefulness can be
satisfied only by the extermination of his countless enemies. ...
"He is a hive of secret neurotic compunctions and feminine sentimentalities which have had
to be stubbornly repressed ever since he embarked on his career of ruthless dominance and
revenge (instigated by real or supposed insults). ...
"Hitler wants nothing so much as to arrive at the state where he can commit crimes without
guilt feelings; but despite his boasts of having transcended Good and Evil this had not been
possible. The suicidal trend in his personality is eloquent testimony of a repressed self-
condemning tendency. ...
"As soon as the time comes when repeated offensive actions end in failure, Hitler will lose
faith in himself and in his destiny, and become the helpless victim of his repressed
conscience, with suicide or mental breakdown as the most likely outcome."
The analysis predicts that if Hitler does choose suicide "he will do it at the last moment and
in the most dramatic possible manner."
Link to a copy of the analysis at the Cornell Law Library Archives.
1944 - Following an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler on 20 July by a group of
conspirators led by Wehrmacht Colonel Count Claus Von Stauffenberg and including one
field marshal and 22 generals, Nazi political officers are appointed to all military
headquarters. Several thousand people will be killed in reprisal for the attempt on Hitler's life.
Though Hitler is not mortally injured by the bomb used in the assassination bid he is lightly
paralysed on his left side and develops a serious tremor in his left arm. He is also
psychologically affected, becoming more paranoid and suspicious.
1945 - On 30 January advanced Soviet troops reach the Oder River, less than 70 km away
from the centre of Berlin. The same day, Hitler makes his last radio broadcast to the German
people. Six weeks later, on 13 March, he makes his last journey outside Berlin, travelling to
the east to inspect the Oder front.
By March, as the Western forces reach the Rhine River, Soviet armies have overrun most of
Eastern Europe and are converging on Berlin, where Hitler waits in his bunker. The Soviets
march under the slogan, "There will be no pity. They have sown the wind and now they are
harvesting the whirlwind."
Few are spared. As the Soviets move through Germany they rape at least two million German
women in an undisciplined advance that is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass
rape in history.
By 25 April the Soviet forces have encircled Berlin. The city now becomes the
"Reichssheiterhaufen" - the "Reich's funeral pyre".
A street by street battle to capture Berlin begins. The infantry attack is accompanied by an
unrelenting artillery barrage, with 1.8 million shells being fired on the city between 21 April
and 2 May. Tanks are also sent in, although at first the losses are extremely high, with over
800 tanks being destroyed.
The three and a half million civilians that remain in the city are caught in crossfire. Nearly
110,000 German soldiers and civilians die during the battle. A further 134,000 are taken
prisoner. About 130,000 women are raped.
On 28 April Hitler marries his mistress, Eva Braun. On the afternoon of 30 April he shoots
himself in the head. Braun also suicides, taking poison. In accordance with his instructions,
Hitler's body is burned. Braun's body is burned next to his.
"You must never allow my corpse to fall into the hands of the Russians," Hitler tells his valet
prior to his suicide. "They would make a spectacle in Moscow out of my body and put it in
In his final will and testament, written just before his suicide, he calls on the German
Government and people "to uphold the race laws to the limit and to resist mercilessly the
poisoner of all nations, international Jewry".
Berlin falls to the Soviet forces on 2 May. The assault on the city has cost the Red Army
78,291 killed and 274,184 wounded.
On 7 May Germany surrenders unconditionally. The Second World War officially ends on 2
September when Japan formally signs documents of unconditional surrender.
Hitler's charred body is discovered by the Soviet forces occupying Berlin shortly after the
city falls. It is smuggled back to the Soviet Union, where its upper and lower jaws and the
cranium are said to still exist in official archives. The rest of the body is hidden under a
parade ground at Magdeburg, in what is to become Eastern Germany. In 1970 these remains
are secretly dug up, cremated and flushed down a sewer.