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Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adolf Hitler
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adolf Hitler (German: [adlf htl] ( 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 dictator of Nazi Germany (as Fhrer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is commonly associated with the rise of fascism 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 he attempted a coup d'tat, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, 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 popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, antisemitism, and anticommunism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. After his appointment as chancellor in 1933, he transformed the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. His aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe. Hitler's foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum ("living space") for the Germanic people. He directed the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht in September 1939, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Under Hitler's rule, in 1941 German forces and their European allies occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. Hitler's supremacist and racially motivated policies resulted in the systematic murder of eleven million people, including nearly six million Jews. 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 Hitler

Hitler in 1937 Fhrer of Germany In office 2 August 1934 30 April 1945 Preceded by Succeeded by Paul von Hindenburg (as President) Karl Dnitz (as President) Chancellor of Germany In office 30 January 1933 30 April 1945 President Deputy Preceded by Succeeded by Paul von Hindenburg Franz von Papen Position vacant Kurt von Schleicher Joseph Goebbels

Reichsstatthalter of Prussia In office 30 January 1933 30 January 1935 Prime Minister Franz von Papen


Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1 Early years 1.1 Ancestry 1.2 Childhood 1.3 Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich 1.4 World War I 2 Entry into politics 2.1 Beer Hall Putsch 2.2 Rebuilding the NSDAP 3 Rise to power 3.1 Brning administration 3.2 Appointment as chancellor 3.3 Reichstag fire and March elections 3.4 Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act 3.5 Removal of remaining limits 4 Third Reich 4.1 Economy and culture 4.2 Rearmament and new alliances 4.3 The Holocaust 5 World War II 5.1 Early diplomatic successes 5.1.1 Alliance with Japan 5.1.2 Austria and Czechoslovakia 5.2 Start of World War II 5.3 Path to defeat 5.4 Defeat and death 6 Legacy 7 Religious views 8 Health 9 Family 10 Hitler in media 11 See also 12 Footnotes 13 References 13.1 Sources 14 External links

Preceded by Succeeded by Born Died

Hermann Gring Office created Office abolished Personal details 20 April 1889 Braunau am Inn, AustriaHungary 30 April 1945 (aged 56) Berlin, Germany Austrian citizen until 7 April 1925[1] German citizen after 25 February 1932


Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (19211945) Other political German Workers' Party (1920 1921) affiliations Spouse(s) Occupation Religion Signature Eva Braun (2930 April 1945) Politician, soldier, artist, writer See Adolf Hitler's religious views

Military service Allegiance Service/branch Years of service Rank Unit Battles/wars Awards German Empire Reichsheer 19141918 Gefreiter 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment World War I Iron Cross First Class Iron Cross Second Class Wound Badge

Early years
Hitler's father, Alois Hitler (18371903), was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Alois's birth 2/8


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certificate did not name the father, so the child bore his mother's surname. In 1842 Johann Georg Hiedler married Anna. After she died in 1847 and he in 1856, Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler's brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler.[2] It was not until 1876 that Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest before three witnesses.[3] While awaiting trial at Nuremberg in 1945, Nazi official Hans Frank suggested the existence of letters claiming that Alois' mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family's 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois.[4] However, no Frankenberger, Jewish or otherwise, was registered in Graz during that period.[5] Historians doubt the claim that Alois' father was Jewish.[6][7] At age 39 Alois assumed the surname "Hitler", also spelled as "Hiedler", "Httler", or "Huettler"; the name was probably regularised to its final spelling by a priest. The origin of the name is either "one who lives in a hut" (Standard German Htte), "shepherd" (Standard German hten "to guard", English "heed"), or is from the Slavic words Hidlar and Hidlarcek.[8]

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen,[9] a village annexed in 1938 to the municipality of Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary. He was the fourth of six children to Alois Hitler and Klara Plzl (18601907). Adolf's older siblings Gustav, Ida, and Otto died in infancy.[10] When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany.[11] There he acquired the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech all of his life.[12][13][14] In 1894 the family relocated to Leonding (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. Hitler became fixated on warfare after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian War among his father's belongings.[15][16] The move to Hafeld coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts caused by Adolf's refusal to conform to the strict discipline of his school.[17] 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 11th-century Benedictine cloister, the pulpit of which bore a stylized swastika symbol on the coat of arms of Theodorich von Hagen, a former abbot.[18] The eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even entertained thoughts of becoming a priest.[19] 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 teachers.[20] 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

Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 18891890)

Hitler's mother, Klara



Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

willed.[21][22][23] Ignoring his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 Alois sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students. (This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later.)[24] 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."[25] Hitler became obsessed with German nationalism from a young age, possibly 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.[26][27] Hitler and his friends used the German greeting "Heil", and sang the German anthem "Deutschland ber Alles" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem.[28] 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; his behaviour and performance showed some slight and gradual improvement.[29] In the autumn of 1905, after passing a repeat and the final exam, Hitler left the school without showing any ambitions for further schooling or clear plans for a future career.[30]

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. He worked as a casual labourer and eventually as a painter, selling watercolours. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna rejected him twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his "unfitness for painting", and the director recommended that he study architecture.[31] However, he lacked the academic credentials required for architecture school.[32] On 21 December 1907, Hitler's mother died at age 47. After being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909 he lived in a homeless shelter, and by 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstrae.[33]

The Alter Hof in Munich. Watercolour by Adolf Hitler, 1914

Hitler stated that he first became an antisemite in Vienna,[34] which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms in Russia. There were few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries their outward appearance had become Europeanised and had taken on a human look; in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavorable remarks about them into horror. Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized opposition to the Jews. Then I came to Vienna.[34] Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought. For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German?[35] 4/8


Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hitler's account has been questioned by his childhood friend, August Kubizek, who suggested that Hitler was already a "confirmed antisemite" before he left Linz for Vienna. Brigitte Hamann has challenged Kubizek's account, writing that "of all those early witnesses who can be taken seriously Kubizek is the only one to portray young Hitler as an anti-Semite and precisely in this respect he is not trustworthy."[36] If Hitler was an antisemite even before settling in Vienna, apparently he did not act on his views. He was a frequent dinner guest in a wealthy Jewish home; he interacted well with Jewish merchants and sold his paintings almost exclusively to Jewish dealers.[37][38] At the time Hitler lived there, Vienna was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th-century racism. Fears of being overrun by immigrants from the East were widespread, and the populist mayor, Karl Lueger, was adept at exploiting the rhetoric of virulent antisemitism for political effect. Georg Schnerer's pan-Germanic antisemitism had a strong following and base in the Mariahilf district, where Hitler lived.[39] Local newspapers such as the Deutsches Volksblatt, which Hitler read, fanned prejudices which played on Christian fears of being swamped by an influx of eastern Jews.[40] He probably read occult writings, such as the antisemitic magazine Ostara, published by Lanz von Liebenfels.[41] Hostile to what he saw as Catholic "Germanophobia", he developed an admiration for Martin Luther.[42] Luther's antisemitic writings were to play a role in later Nazi propaganda.[43] Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always longed to live in a "real" German city. In Munich, he further pursued his interest in architecture and studied the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who, a decade later, was to become the first person of nationaland even internationalrepute to align himself with Hitler and the Nazi movement.[44] It is likely Hitler left Vienna to avoid conscription into the Austrian army; he was disinclined to serve the Habsburg state and was repulsed by what he perceived as a mixture of "races" in the Austrian army.[45] After he was deemed unfit for service he failed his physical exam on 5 February 1914he returned to Munich.[46] When Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he successfully petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment.[47]

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.[48] He 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,[49] 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.[50] The regimental staff, however, thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, and he was never promoted. He also received the Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.[51]
Hitler with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 19141918)

During his service at the headquarters, Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. During the Battle of the Somme in October 1916, he was wounded either in the groin area[52] or the left thigh by a shell that had exploded in the dispatch


Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

runners' dugout.[53] Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz, returning to his regiment on 5 March 1917.[54] On 15 October 1918, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack and was hospitalised in Pasewalk.[55] While there, Hitler learnt of Germany's defeat,[56] andby his own accounton receiving this news, he suffered a second bout of blindness.[57] Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort, and his ideological development began to firmly take shape.[58] He described the war as "the greatest of all experiences", and was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery.[59] The experience reinforced his passionate German patriotism and he was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918.[60] Like other German nationalists, he 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".[61]

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

The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied heavy reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treatyespecially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the waras a humiliation.[62] The Versailles Treaty and the economic, social, and political conditions in Germany after the war were later exploited by Hitler for political gains.[63]

Entry into politics

Main article: Adolf Hitler's political views After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich.[64] In July 1919 he was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklrungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the German Workers' Party (DAP). While he studied the activities of the DAP, Hitler became impressed with founder Anton Drexler's antisemitic, nationalist, anticapitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas.[65] Drexler favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism, and solidarity among all members of society. Impressed with Hitler's oratory skills, Drexler invited him to join the DAP. Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919,[66] becoming the party's 55th member.[67] At the DAP, Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of its early founders and a member of the occult Thule Society.[68] Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing him to a wide range of people in Munich society.[69] Hitler thanked Eckart and paid tribute to him in the second volume of Mein Kampf. To increase its appeal, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party NSDAP).[70] Hitler designed the party's banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background.[71] After his discharge from the army in March 1920, Hitler began working

A copy of Adolf Hitler's German Workers' Party (DAP) membership card


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full time for the party. In February 1921already highly effective at speaking to large audienceshe spoke to a crowd of over 6,000 in Munich.[72] To publicise the meeting, two truckloads of party supporters drove around town waving swastika flags and throwing leaflets. Hitler soon gained notoriety for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and especially against Marxists and Jews.[73] At the time, the NSDAP was centred in Munich, a major hotbed of anti-government German nationalists determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar Republic.[74] In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the DAP in Munich. Members of the DAP's executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP).[75] Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July 1921 and angrily tendered his resignation from the DAP. The committee members realised that his resignation would mean the end of the party.[76] Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich.[77] The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. He still faced some opposition within the DAP: Hermann Esser and his allies printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party.[77][a] In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself, to thunderous applause. His strategy proved successful: at a general DAP membership meeting, he was granted absolute powers as party chairman, with only one nay vote cast.[78] Hitler's vitriolic beer hall speeches began attracting regular audiences. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, former air force pilot Hermann Gring, and army captain Ernst Rhm. The latter became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung (SA, "Stormtroopers"), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political opponents. A critical influence on his thinking during this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung,[79] a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian exiles and early National Socialists. The group, financed with funds channelled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism.[80]

Beer Hall Putsch

Main article: Beer Hall Putsch Hitler enlisted the help of World War I General Erich Ludendorff for an attempted coup known as the "Beer Hall Putsch" (also known as the "Hitler Putsch" or "Munich Putsch"). The Nazi Party had used Italian Fascism as a model for their appearance and policies. Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini's "March on Rome" (1922) by staging his own coup in Bavaria, to be followed by challenging the government in Berlin. Hitler and Ludendorff sought the support of Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler. However, Kahr, along with Police Chief Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seier) and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow, wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.[81] Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular agitation and support.[82] On 8 November 1923 he and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people that had been organised by Kahr in the Brgerbrukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Hitler interrupted Kahr's speech and announced that the national revolution had begun, declaring the formation of a new government with Ludendorff.[83] Retiring to a backroom, Hitler, with handgun drawn, demanded

Drawing of Hitler (30 October 1923)



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and got the support of Kahr, Seisser, and Lossow.[83] Hitler's forces initially succeeded in occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters; however, Kahr and his consorts quickly withdrew their support and neither the army nor the state police joined forces with him.[84] The next day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government, but police dispersed them.[85] Sixteen NSDAP members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup.[86] Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, and by some accounts contemplated suicide.[87] He was depressed but calm when arrested on 11 November 1923 for high treason.[88] His trial began in February 1924 before the special People's Court in Munich,[89] and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP. On 1 April Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison.[90] He received friendly treatment from the guards; he was allowed mail from supporters and regular visits by party comrades. The Bavarian Supreme Court issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's objections.[91] Including time on remand, Hitler had served just over one year in prison.[92]