Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Overview
Adolf Hitler (ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ; 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party ( (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 (as Führer und Reichskanzler
Führer
Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is most commonly associated with the rise of fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 in Europe, World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

A decorated veteran of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Hitler joined the German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
The German Workers' Party was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party .-Origins:The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten...

, precursor of the Nazi Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921.
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Timeline

1919   Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers Party.

1921   Adolf Hitler becomes leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

1921   The Sturmabteilung or SA is formed by Adolf Hitler

1923   Beer Hall Putsch: In Munich, Adolf Hitler leads the Nazis in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government.

1924   Adolf Hitler is sentenced to five years in jail for his participation in the "Beer Hall Putsch". However, he spends only nine months in jail, during which he writes ''Mein Kampf''.

1925   Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto ''Mein Kampf''.

1932   Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, which allows him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident.

1933   Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.

1933   The ''Reichstag'' passes the Enabling act of 1933, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.

1933   ''Gleichschaltung'': Adolf Hitler bans trade unions.

 
Quotations

The German Church and the People are practically the same body. Therefore there could be no issue between Church and State. The Church, as such, has nothing to do with political affairs. On the other hand, the State has nothing to do with the faith or inner organization of the Church. The election of November 12th would be an expression of church constituency, but not as a Church. answering C. F. Macfarland's The New Church and the New Germany

The church is certainly necessary for the people. It is a strong and conservative element.

Albert Speer's memoirs, p. 95

It will at any rate be my supreme task to see to it that in the newly awakened NSDAP, the adherents of both Confessions can live peacefully together side by side in order that they may take their stand in the common fight against the power which is the mortal foe of any true Christianity.

"A New Beginning", 26 February 1925

The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.

22 July 1933, writing to the Nazi Party (quoted from John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope)

We want the people to be peace-loving, but also to be courageous.

Just as the Jew could once incite the mob of Jerusalem against Christ, so today he must succeed in inciting folk who have been duped into madness to attack those who, God's truth! seek to deal with this people in utter honesty and sincerity.

speech in Munich, 28 July 1922

In the Bible we find the text, 'That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.' This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day.

, speech in Munich, 10 April 1923
Encyclopedia
Adolf Hitler (ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ; 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party ( (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 (as Führer und Reichskanzler
Führer
Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is most commonly associated with the rise of fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 in Europe, World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

A decorated veteran of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Hitler joined the German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
The German Workers' Party was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party .-Origins:The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten...

, precursor of the Nazi Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923 Hitler attempted a coup d'état, known as the Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

, at the Bürgerbräukeller
Bürgerbräukeller
The Bürgerbräukeller was a large beer hall located in Munich, Germany. It was one of the large beer halls of the Bürgerliches Brauhaus company, and after Bürgerliches merged with Löwenbräu, the hall was transferred to that company. It was located on Rosenheimer Street in the neighborhood of...

 beer hall
Beer hall
A beer hall is a large pub that specializes in beer. Bavaria's capital Munich is the city most associated with beer halls; almost every brewery in Munich operates a beer hall...

 in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoir, Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

(My Struggle). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained support by promoting Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

, antisemitism, and anti-communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 with charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

 oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

 and propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

. He was appointed chancellor in 1933 and transformed the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 into the Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, a single-party
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 dictatorship based on the totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 and autocratic ideology of Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

.

Hitler's avowed aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 in continental Europe. His foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

(living space) for the Germanic people
Nazism and race
Nazism developed several theories concerning races. The Nazis claimed to scientifically measure a strict hierarchy of human race; at the top was the master race, the "Aryan race", narrowly defined by the Nazis as being identical with the Nordic race, followed by lesser races.At the bottom of this...

. He oversaw the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

in September 1939, which led to the outbreak of World War II in Europe
European Theatre of World War II
The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945...

.

Under Hitler's direction, in 1941 German forces and their European allies
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 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
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

 in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun
Eva Braun
Eva Anna Paula Hitler was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife. Braun met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later...

. On 30 April 1945—less than two days later—the two committed suicide
Death of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler committed suicide by gunshot on Monday, 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. His wife Eva , committed suicide with him by ingesting cyanide...

 to avoid capture by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, and their corpses were burned.

Ancestry


Hitler's father, Alois Hitler
Alois Hitler
Alois Hitler was an Austrian civil servant who was the father of Adolf Hitler.-Early life:...

 (1837–1903), was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber
Maria Schicklgruber
Maria Anna Schicklgruber was Adolf Hitler's paternal grandmother.- Family :Maria was born in the village of Strones in the Waldviertel area. She was the daughter of Theresia Pfeisinger , and farmer Johannes Schicklgruber...

. Alois's birth certificate did not list the name of the father, and the child bore his mother's surname. In 1842 Johann Georg Hiedler
Johann Georg Hiedler
Johann Georg Hiedler was born to Martin Hiedler and Anna Maria Göschl . He was considered the officially accepted paternal grandfather of Adolf Hitler by the Third Reich...

 married Maria, and in 1876 Johann testified before a notary and three witnesses that he was the father of Alois. Nazi official Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

 suggested the existence of letters claiming that Alois' mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

 and that the family's 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois. However, no Frankenberger, Jewish or otherwise, is registered in Graz for that period. Historians now doubt the claim that Alois' father was Jewish; all Jews had been expelled from Graz under Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

 in the 15th century, and were not allowed to settle in Styria until the Basic Laws
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

 were passed in 1849.

At age 39 Alois assumed the surname Hitler, also spelled as Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler; the name was probably regularised to its final spelling by a clerk. The origin of the name is either "one who lives in a hut" (Standard German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Hütte), "shepherd" (Standard German hüten "to guard", English heed), or is from the Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 words Hidlar and Hidlarcek.

Childhood



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 of Braunau am Inn
Braunau am Inn
Braunau am Inn is a town in the Innviertel region of Upper Austria , the north-western state of Austria. It lies about 90 km west of Linz and about 60 km north of Salzburg, on the border with the German state of Bavaria. The population in 2001 was 16,372...

, Upper Austria
Upper Austria
Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg...

. He was the third of five children to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl (1860–1907). Adolf's older siblings – Gustav and Ida – died in infancy. When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau
Passau
Passau is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany. It is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or "City of Three Rivers," because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north....

, Germany. There he would acquire the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German
Austrian German
Austrian German , or Austrian Standard German, is the national standard variety of the German language spoken in Austria and in the autonomous Province of South Tyrol...

, which marked his speech all of his life. In 1894, the family relocated to Leonding
Leonding
Leonding is a city situated to the southwest of Linz, Austria in the state of Upper Austria. It has a population of about 22,269 and an area of 24.05 km²...

 near Linz
Linz
Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria . It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is , and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about...

, and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld near Lambach
Lambach
Lambach is a market town in the Wels-Land district of Upper Austria, Austria, on the Ager and Traun Rivers. It has a population of 3,242 as of 2001. A major stop on the salt trade, it is the site of the Lambach Abbey, built around 1056.-Notable inhabitants:...

, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping. Adolf attended school in nearby Fischlham
Fischlham
Fischlham is a municipality in the district of Wels-Land in Upper Austria, Austria.-References:...

, 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
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 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 11th-century Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 cloister, the walls of which bore engravings and crests that contained the symbol of the swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

. In Lambach the eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even entertained thoughts of becoming a priest. In 1898 the family returned permanently to Leonding. The death of his younger brother Edmund from measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

 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 Alois sent Adolf to the Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

in Linz
Linz
Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria . It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is , and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about...

, a technical high school of about 300 students. (This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 would attend some 17 years later.) Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

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
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

 from a young age as a way of rebelling against his father, who was proudly serving the Austrian government
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. Although many Austrians
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 considered themselves Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

, they were loyal to Austria. Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, despising the declining Habsburg Monarchy
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

 and its rule over an ethnically variegated empire. Hitler and his friends used the German greeting "Heil
Nazi salute
The Nazi salute, or Hitler salute , was a gesture of greeting in Nazi Germany usually accompanied by saying, Heil Hitler! ["Hail Hitler!"], Heil, mein Führer ["Hail, my leader!"], or Sieg Heil! ["Hail victory!"]...

", and sang the German anthem "Deutschland Über 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
Steyr
Steyr is a town, located in the Austrian federal state of Upper Austria. The town is situated at the confluence of the rivers Steyr and Enns. Steyr is Austria's 12th most populated town and simultaneously the 3rd largest town in Upper Austria....

 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.

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich


From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian
Bohemianism
Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits...

 life in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is an institution of higher education in Vienna, Austria.- History :The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was founded in 1692 as a private academy by the court-painter Peter Strudl, who became the Praefectus Academiae Nostrae. In 1701 he was ennobled as Baron of the Empire...

 rejected him twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his "unfitness for painting", and the director recommended that he study architecture. However, he lacked the academic credentials required for architecture school. He would later write:

In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely needed. One could not attend the Academy's architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technik, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.

On 21 December 1907, Hitler's mother died at age 47. He worked as a casual labourer and eventually as a painter, selling watercolours. After being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless, and by 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstraße
Meldemannstraße dormitory
The men's dormitory on Meldemannstraße 27 in Brigittenau district, Vienna, Austria was a public dormitory for men from 1905 to 2003. It is a subject of public interest primarily because it was the residence of Adolf Hitler, the later dictator of Nazi Germany, from 1910 to 1913.- The dormitory in...

.

Hitler stated that he first became an antisemite in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 who had fled the pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

Hitler's account has been questioned by his childhood friend, August Kubizek
August Kubizek
August Kubizek was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. He later wrote about their friendship.-Early life:...

, who suggested that Hitler was already a "confirmed antisemite" before he left Linz for Vienna. Brigitte Hamann
Brigitte Hamann
Brigitte Hamann Ph.D., is a German-Austrian author and historian based in Vienna.Born Brigitte Deitert in Essen, Germany, she studied history in Münster and Vienna and for a time worked as a journalist in her native Essen...

 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." 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.

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
Karl Lueger
Karl Lueger was an Austrian politician and mayor of Vienna. The populist and anti-Semitic politics of his Christian Social Party are sometimes viewed as a model for Hitler's Nazism.- Career :...

, was adept at exploiting the rhetoric of virulent antisemitism for political effect. Georg Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer was an Austrian politician active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a major exponent of German nationalism in Austria....

's pangermanic
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

 ethnic antisemitism had a strong following and base in the Mariahilf district
Mariahilf
Mariahilf is the 6th municipal district of Vienna, Austria . It is near the center of Vienna and was established as a district in 1850. Mariahilf is a heavily populated urban area with many residential buildings....

, where Hitler lived. Local newspapers such as the Deutsches Volksblatt, which Hitler read, fanned prejudices, as did Rudolf Vrba's writings, which played on Christian fears of being swamped by an influx of eastern Jews. He probably read occult writings, such as the antisemitic magazine Ostara
Ostara (magazine)
Ostara or Ostara, Briefbücherei der Blonden und Mannesrechtler was a German nationalist magazine founded in 1905 by the occultist Lanz von Liebenfels in Vienna, Austria....

, published by Lanz von Liebenfels
Lanz von Liebenfels
Adolf Josef Lanz aka Jörg Lanz, who called himself Lanz von Liebenfels was an Austrian publicist and journalist...

. Hostile to what he saw as Catholic "Germanophobia", he developed a strong admiration for Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

. Luther's foundational antisemitic writings were to play an important role in later Nazi propaganda.

Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

. 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
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and the German composer Richard Wagner. He later became a German citizen. Chamberlain married Wagner's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death...

, who, a decade later, was to become the first person of national—and even international—repute to align himself with Hitler and the Nazi movement. Hitler also may have left Vienna to avoid conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 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. After a physical exam on 5 February 1914, he was deemed unfit for service and returned to Munich. When Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he successfully petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria
Ludwig III of Bavaria
Ludwig III , was the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913 to 1918.-Early life:...

 for permission to serve in a Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n regiment.

World War I


Hitler served as a runner on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 in France and Belgium in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16
6th Bavarian Reserve Division (German Empire)
The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division was a unit of the Royal Bavarian Army, part of the German Army, in World War I. The division was formed on 10 September 1914 and organized over the next month...

. He experienced major combat, including the First Battle of Ypres
First Battle of Ypres
The First Battle of Ypres, also called the First Battle of Flanders , was a First World War battle fought for the strategic town of Ypres in western Belgium...

, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras
Battle of Arras (1917)
The Battle of Arras was a British offensive during the First World War. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras on the Western Front....

, and the Battle of Passchendaele.

He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

, Second Class, in 1914. Recommended by Hugo Gutmann
Hugo Gutmann
Hugo Gutmann was a German-Jewish veteran of World War I who is famously known as Adolf Hitler's superior officer during the war, as well as the man responsible for recommending Hitler for the award of the Iron Cross.-Early Life and Army career:...

, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's rank (Gefreiter
Gefreiter
Gefreiter is the German, Swiss and Austrian equivalent for the military rank Private . Gefreiter was the lowest rank to which an ordinary soldier could be promoted. As a military rank it has existed since at least the 16th century...

). 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
Wound Badge
Wound Badge was a German military award for wounded or frost-bitten soldiers of Imperial German Army in World War I, the Reichswehr between the wars, and the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied...

 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
Beelitz
Beelitz is a town in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated about 18 km south of Potsdam, in a glacial sandur plain surrounded by extended pine woods...

. He returned to his regiment on 5 March 1917. 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
Pasewalk
Pasewalk is a town in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. Located on the Uecker river, it is the capital of the former Uecker-Randow district, and the seat of the Uecker-Randow-Tal Amt of which it is not part.Pasewalk became a town during the 12th...

.

Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort. It was during this time that his ideological development began to firmly take shape. He described the war as "the greatest of all experiences", and 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
Capitulation (surrender)
Capitulation , an agreement in time of war for the surrender to a hostile armed force of a particular body of troops, a town or a territory....

 in November 1918. Like many other German nationalists, he believed in the Dolchstoßlegende (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
Home front
Home front is the informal term commonly used to describe the civilian populace of the nation at war as an active support system of their military....

 by civilian leaders and Marxists
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, later dubbed the November Criminals.

The Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treaty—especially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the war—as 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.

Entry into politics



After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich. In July 1919 he was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 the German Workers' Party
German Workers' Party
The German Workers' Party was the short-lived predecessor of the Nazi Party .-Origins:The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel "Fürstenfelder Hof" on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler, a member of the occultist Thule Society. It developed out of the "Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten...

 (DAP). While he studied the activities of the DAP, Hitler became impressed with founder Anton Drexler
Anton Drexler
Anton Drexler was a German right-wing political leader of the 1920s, known for being Adolf Hitler's mentor during his early days in politics.-Biography:...

's antisemitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist
Anti-capitalism
Anti-capitalism describes a wide variety of movements, ideas, and attitudes which oppose capitalism. Anti-capitalists, in the strict sense of the word, are those who wish to completely replace capitalism with another system....

, and anti-Marxist ideas. Drexler favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, 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, becoming the party's 55th member.


At the DAP, Hitler met Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart was a German journalist and politician, together with Adolf Hitler one of the early key members of the Nazi Party and a participant of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.-Biography:...

, one of its early founders and a member of the occult Thule Society
Thule Society
The Thule Society , originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum , was a German occultist and völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend...

. Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing him to a wide range of people in Munich society. Hitler thanked Eckart and paid tribute to him in the second volume of Mein Kampf. To increase the party's appeal, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 – NSDAP). Hitler designed the party's banner of a swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 in a white circle on a red background.

After his discharge from the army in March 1920, Hitler began working full time for the party. In February 1921—already highly effective at speaking to large audiences—he spoke to a crowd of over six thousand in Munich. 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
Polemic
A polemic is a variety of arguments or controversies made against one opinion, doctrine, or person. Other variations of argument are debate and discussion...

 speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and especially against Marxists and Jews. 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
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

.

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
German Socialist Party
The German Socialist Party was a German far-right, nationalist party during the early years of the Weimar Republic. Founded in 1918, its declared aim was an ideology that would combine both völkisch and socialist elements...

 (DSP). 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. 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. The committee agreed; he rejoined the party as member 3,680. He still faced some opposition within the DAP: Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser
Hermann Esser entered the Nazi party with Adolf Hitler in 1920, became the editor of the Nazi paper, Völkischer Beobachter, and a Nazi member of the Reichstag. In the early history of the party, he was Hitler's de facto deputy.Esser was born in Röhrmoos, Kingdom of Bavaria...

 and his allies printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party. 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.

Hitler's vitriolic beer hall speeches began attracting regular audiences. Early followers included Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s...

, the former air force pilot Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, and the army captain Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm
Ernst Julius Röhm, was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung , the Nazi Party militia, and later was its commander...

. The latter became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

(SA, "Storm Division"), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political opponents. A critical influence on his thinking during this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung
Aufbau Vereinigung
Aufbau Vereinigung was a Munich based counterrevolutionary conspiratorial group formed in the aftermath of The German occupation of the Ukraine in 1918 and the Latvian Intervention of 1919, composed of White Russian émigrés and early German National Socialists...

, a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian
White Emigre
A white émigré was a Russian who emigrated from Russia in the wake of the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, and who was in opposition to the contemporary Russian political climate....

 exiles and early National Socialists. The group, financed with funds channelled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism.

Beer Hall Putsch




Hitler enlisted the help of World War I General Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 for an attempted coup known as the "Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

" (also known as the "Hitler Putsch" or "Munich Putsch"). The Nazi Party had used Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 as a model for their appearance and policies, and in 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

's "March on Rome
March on Rome
The March on Rome was a march by which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in the Kingdom of Italy...

" by staging his own "Campaign 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 (Seißer) and Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

 General Otto von Lossow
Otto von Lossow
General Otto von Lossow was a Bavarian Army and then German Army officer, who played a prominent role in the events surrounding the attempted Beer Hall Putsch by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in November 1923....

, wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.

Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular agitation and support. On 8 November 1923, he and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people that had been organised by Kahr in the Bürgerbräukeller
Bürgerbräukeller
The Bürgerbräukeller was a large beer hall located in Munich, Germany. It was one of the large beer halls of the Bürgerliches Brauhaus company, and after Bürgerliches merged with Löwenbräu, the hall was transferred to that company. It was located on Rosenheimer Street in the neighborhood of...

, 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. With his handgun drawn, Hitler demanded and got the support of Kahr, Seisser, and Lossow. Hitler's forces initially succeeded in occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters; however, neither the army nor the state police joined forces with him. Kahr and his consorts quickly withdrew their support and fled to join Hitler's opposition. The next day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry
Ministry of War (Kingdom of Bavaria)
The Ministry of War was a ministry for military affairs of the Kingdom of Bavaria, founded as Ministerium des Kriegswesens on October 1, 1808 by King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. It was located at Ludwigstraße in Munich...

 to overthrow the Bavarian government on their "March on Berlin", but the police dispersed them. Sixteen NSDAP members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup.

Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl
Ernst Hanfstaengl
Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl , was a Harvard-educated German businessman who was an intimate of Adolf Hitler before falling out of favor and defecting. He later worked for Franklin D...

, and by some accounts he contemplated suicide. He was depressed but calm when he was arrested on 11 November 1923 for high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

. His trial began in February 1924 before the special People's Court
People's Court (Bavaria)
The People's Courts of Bavaria were special courts established by Kurt Eisner during the German Revolution in November 1918 and part of the Ordnungszelle that lasted until May 1924 after handing out more than 31,000 sentences...

 in Munich, and Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

 became temporary leader of the NSDAP. On 1 April Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison is a penal facility located in the town of Landsberg am Lech in the southwest of the German state of Bavaria, about west of Munich and south of Augsburg....

. He received friendly treatment from the guards and a lot of mail from supporters. The Bavarian Supreme Court issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's objections. Including time on remand, Hitler had served just over one year in prison.
While at Landsberg, Hitler dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle; originally entitled Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice) to his deputy, Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s...

. The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. Mein Kampf was influenced by The Passing of the Great Race
The Passing of the Great Race
The Passing of The Great Race; or, The racial basis of European history was an influential book of scientific racism written by the American eugenicist, lawyer, and amateur anthropologist Madison Grant in 1916. The book was largely ignored when it first appeared but went through several revisions...

by Madison Grant
Madison Grant
Madison Grant was an American lawyer, historian and physical anthropologist, known primarily for his work as a eugenicist and conservationist...

, which Hitler called "my Bible". Published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, it sold 228,000 copies between 1925 and 1932. One million copies were sold in 1933, Hitler's first year in office.

Rebuilding the NSDAP


At the time of Hitler's release from prison, politics in Germany had become less combative, and the economy had improved. This limited Hitler's opportunities for political agitation. As a result of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, the NSDAP and its affiliated organisations were banned in Bavaria. In a meeting with Prime Minister of Bavaria Heinrich Held
Heinrich Held
Heinrich Held was a Catholic politician and Minister President of Bavaria. He was forced out of office by the Nazi takeover in Germany in 1933.-Life:...

 on 4 January 1925, Hitler agreed to respect the authority of the state: he would only seek political power through the democratic process. The meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP to be lifted. However, Hitler was barred from public speaking, a ban that remained in place until 1927. To advance his political ambitions in spite of the ban, Hitler appointed Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser was a politician of the National Socialist German Workers Party...

, Otto Strasser
Otto Strasser
Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser was a German politician and 'left-wing' member of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Strasser was part of the ‘left-wing’ faction of the party, along with his brother Gregor Strasser, and broke from the party due to disputes with the ‘Hitlerite’ faction...

, and Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 to organise and grow the NSDAP in northern Germany. A superb organiser, Gregor Strasser steered a more independent political course, emphasising the socialist element of the party's programme.

Hitler ruled the NSDAP autocratically by asserting the Führerprinzip
Führerprinzip
The Führerprinzip , German for "leader principle", prescribes the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich...

("Leader principle"). Rank in the party was not determined by elections—positions were filled through appointment by those of higher rank, who demanded unquestioning obedience to the will of the leader.

The stock market in the United States crashed on 24 October 1929. The impact in Germany was dire: millions were thrown out of work and several major banks collapsed. Hitler and the NSDAP prepared to take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their party. They promised to repudiate the Versailles treaty, strengthen the economy, and provide jobs.

Rise to power


Nazi Party election results
Date Total
votes
Votes,
percentage
Reichstag
seats
Notes
May 1924 Hitler in prison
December 1924 Hitler released from prison
May 1928  
September 1930 After the financial crisis
July 1932 After Hitler was candidate for presidency
November 1932  
March 1933 During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany

Brüning administration


The Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 in Germany in 1930 provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent to the parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

, which faced strong challenges from right- and left-wing extremists. The moderate political parties were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929
German referendum, 1929
The German referendum of 1929 was a failed attempt to introduce a 'Law against the Enslavement of the German People'. The law, proposed by German nationalists, would formally renounce the Treaty of Versailles and make it a criminal offence for German officials to co-operate in the collecting of...

 had helped to elevate Nazi ideology. The elections of September 1930 resulted in the the break-up of a grand coalition
Grand coalition
A grand coalition is an arrangement in a multi-party parliamentary system in which the two largest political parties of opposing political ideologies unite in a coalition government...

 and its replacement by a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 of the Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

, governed through emergency decrees from the president, Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

. Governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government. The NSDAP rose from obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament.

Hitler made a prominent appearance at the trial of two Reichswehr officers, Lieutenants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, in the autumn of 1930. Both were charged with membership of the NSDAP, at that time illegal for Reichswehr personnel. The prosecution argued that the NSDAP was an extremist party, prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

 to call on Hitler to testify in court. While testifying on 25 September 1930, Hitler stated that his party would pursue political power solely through democratic elections. Hitler's testimony won him many supporters in the officer corps.

Brüning's austerity measures brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular. Hitler exploited this weakness by targeting his political messages specifically to the segments of the population that had been affected by the inflation of the 1920s and the Depression, such as farmers, war veterans, and the middle class.

Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless, unable to run for public office and faced the risk of deportation. On 25 February 1932 the interior minister of Brunswick
Free State of Brunswick
The Free State of Brunswick was the republic formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. It was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany.-History:...

, who was a member of the NSDAP, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat
Reichsrat (Germany)
The Reichsrat was one of the two legislative bodies in Germany under the Weimar constitution, the other one being the Reichstag. After the end of German monarchy and the founding of the Weimar Republic in 1919, the Reichsrat replaced the Bundesrat as the representation of the various German...

 in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick, and thus of Germany.

In 1932 Hitler ran against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections
German presidential election, 1932
The presidential election of 1932 was the second and final direct election to the office of President of the Reich , Germany's head of state during the 1919-1934 Weimar Republic. The incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg, had been elected in 1925 but his seven year term expired in May...

. The viability of his candidacy was underscored by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, which won him support from many of Germany's most powerful industrialists. However, Hindenburg had support from various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 parties and some social democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan "Hitler über Deutschland" ("Hitler over Germany"), a reference to both his political ambitions and to his campaigning by aircraft. Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35% of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.

Appointment as Chancellor


The absence of an effective government prompted two influential politicians, Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 and Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

, along with several industrialists and businessmen, including Hjalmar Schacht
Hjalmar Schacht
Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was a German economist, banker, liberal politician, and co-founder of the German Democratic Party. He served as the Currency Commissioner and President of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic...

 and Fritz Thyssen
Fritz Thyssen
Friedrich "Fritz" Thyssen was a German businessman born into one of Germany's leading industrial families.-Youth:Thyssen was born in Mülheim in the Ruhr area...

, to write a letter to von Hindenburg. In their letter, the signers urged Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as leader of a government "independent from parliamentary parties", which could turn into a movement that would "enrapture millions of people".


Hindenburg eventually and reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler as Chancellor after two further parliamentary elections—in July and November 1932—had not resulted in the formation of a majority government. Hitler was to head a coalition government formed by the NSDAP and Hugenberg's party, the German National People's Party
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

 (DNVP). As a concession to the NSDAP, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 was named minister without portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

. Despite von Papen's intention to install Hitler as a mere figurehead
Figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

, the NSDAP gained key political positions.

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during a brief and simple ceremony in Hindenburg's office. Hitler's first speech as Chancellor took place on 10 February. The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently became known as the Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung is a German word meaning "seizure of power". It is normally used specifically to refer to the Nazi takeover of power in the democratic Weimar Republic on 30 January 1933, the day Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, turning it into the Nazi German dictatorship.-Term:The...

or Machtübernahme.

Reichstag fire and March elections


As chancellor, Hitler worked against attempts by his political opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, Hitler asked President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag again, and elections were scheduled for early March. On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

, and since Marinus van der Lubbe
Marinus van der Lubbe
Marinus van der Lubbe was a Dutch council communist convicted of, and controversially executed for, setting fire to the German Reichstag building on February 27, 1933, an event known as the Reichstag fire. ....

, a Dutch independent communist, was found in the burning building, a communist plot was blamed for the fire. The central government responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

 of 28 February, which suspended basic rights, including habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

. Activities of the German Communist Party
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 were suppressed, and some 4,000 communist party members were arrested.

Besides political campaigning, the NSDAP used paramilitary violence and spread of anti-communist propaganda on the days preceding the election. On election day, 6 March 1933, the NSDAP increased its result to 43.9% of the vote, gaining the largest number of seats in parliament. However, Hitler's party failed to secure an absolute majority, thus again necessitating a coalition with the DNVP.

Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act


On 21 March 1933, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony held at Potsdam's garrison church. This Day of Potsdam was staged to demonstrate reconciliation and unity between the revolutionary Nazi movement and Old Prussia with its elites and perceived virtues. Hitler appeared in a tail coat and humbly greeted the aged President Hindenburg.

In the Nazis' quest for full political control—they had failed to gain an absolute majority in the prior parliamentary election—Hitler's government brought the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag. The legislation gave Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years. Although such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed for deviations from the constitution. Since the bill required a ⅔ majority to pass, the government needed the support of other parties. The position of the Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

, the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive: under the leadership of Ludwig Kaas
Ludwig Kaas
Ludwig Kaas was a German Roman Catholic priest and politician during the Weimar Republic.-Early career:Born in Trier, Kaas was ordained a priest in 1906 and studied history and Canon law in Trier and Rome. 1906 he completed a doctorate in theology and in 1909 he obtained a second doctorate in...

, the party decided to vote for the Enabling Act. It did so in return for the government's oral guarantees of the Catholic Church's liberty, the concordat
Concordat
A concordat is an agreement between the Holy See of the Catholic Church and a sovereign state on religious matters. Legally, they are international treaties. They often includes both recognition and privileges for the Catholic Church in a particular country...

s signed by German states, and the continued existence of the Centre Party.

On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled in a replacement building under turbulent circumstances. Several SA men served as guards inside, while large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving members of parliament. Kaas announced that the Centre Party would support the bill with "concerns put aside", while Social Democrat Otto Wels
Otto Wels
Otto Wels was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1919 and a member of parliament from 1920 to 1933....

 denounced the act in his speech. At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in favour of the bill—the Communists, as well as several Social Democrats, were barred from attending the vote. The Enabling Act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree, transformed Hitler's government into a de facto dictatorship.

Removal of remaining limits


Having achieved full control over the legislative and executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 branches of government, Hitler and his political allies embarked on systematic suppression of the remaining political opposition
Opposition (politics)
In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed to the government , party or group in political control of a city, region, state or country...

. After the dissolution of the Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party was also banned and all its assets seized. Many trade union delegates were flown to Berlin for May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

 activities, and while they were there, Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

(SA) stormtroopers demolished trade union offices around the country. On 2 May 1933 all trade unions were forced to dissolve, and their leaders were arrested, with some sent to concentration camps. A new union organisation was formed, representing all workers, administrators, and company owners together as one group. This new trade union reflected the concept of national socialism in the spirit of Hitler's "Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft
Volksgemeinschaft is a German expression meaning "people's community". Originally appearing during World War I as Germans rallied behind the war, it derived its popularity as a means to break down elitism and class divides...

" (community of all German people).


On 14 July 1933, Hitler's Nazi Party was declared the only legal party in Germany. Hitler used the SA to pressure Hugenberg into resigning. The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused much anxiety among military, industrial, and political leaders. Hitler was prompted to purge the entire SA leadership, including Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm
Ernst Julius Röhm, was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung , the Nazi Party militia, and later was its commander...

, and other political adversaries (such as Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser was a politician of the National Socialist German Workers Party...

 and former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

). These actions took place from 30 June to 2 July 1934, in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

. While some Germans were shocked by the killing, many others saw Hitler as the one who restored order to the country.

On 2 August 1934, President von Hindenburg died. In contravention to the Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, which called for presidential elections, Hitler's cabinet had enacted a law the previous day combining the offices of chancellor and president. The office of president was eliminated, and Hitler became head of state, styled as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor). On 19 August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by a plebiscite with support of 84.6% of the electorate.

As head of state, Hitler now became Supreme Commander of the armed forces. The traditional loyalty oath of soldiers and sailors was altered to affirm loyalty directly to Hitler rather than to the office of commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

.

In early 1938, Hitler brought the armed forces under his direct control by forcing the resignation of his War Minister (formerly Defence Minister), Werner von Blomberg
Werner von Blomberg
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg was a German Generalfeldmarschall, Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces until January 1938.-Early life:...

 on evidence that Blomberg's new wife had a police record for prostitution. Hitler also removed army commander Colonel-General Werner von Fritsch
Werner von Fritsch
Werner Thomas Ludwig Freiherr von Fritsch was a prominent Wehrmacht officer, member of the German High Command, and the second German general to be killed during World War II.-Early life:...

 after the SS provided false allegations he had taken part in a homosexual relationship, which had led to blackmail. The episode became known as the Blomberg–Fritsch Affair. Hitler replaced the Ministry of War with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

(High Command of the Armed Forces, or OKW), headed by General Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

. By early February 1938, twelve generals (apart from Blomberg and Fritsch) were also removed.

Third Reich



Having consolidated his political powers, Hitler suppressed or eliminated his opposition by a process termed Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

("bringing into line"). He attempted to gain additional public support by vowing to reverse the effects of the Depression and the Versailles treaty.

Economy and culture



In 1935 Hitler appointed Hjalmar Schacht
Hjalmar Schacht
Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was a German economist, banker, liberal politician, and co-founder of the German Democratic Party. He served as the Currency Commissioner and President of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic...

 as Plenipotentiary for War Economy, in charge of preparing the economy for war. Reconstruction and rearmament were financed with currency manipulations, including credits through Mefo bills
Mefo bills
A Mefo bill , named after the company Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft, was a promissory note used for a system of deferred payment to finance the German rearmament, devised by the German Minister of Finance, Hjalmar Schacht, in 1934...

, printing money, and seizing the assets of people arrested as enemies of the State, including Jews. The unemployment rate fell substantially, from six million in 1932 to one million in 1936.

Nazi policies strongly encouraged women to bear children and stay at home. In a September 1934 speech to the NS-Frauenschaft (National Socialist Women's League), Hitler argued that for the German woman, her "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." The Cross of Honor of the German Mother
Cross of Honor of the German Mother
The Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter , referred to colloquially as the Mutterehrenkreuz or simply Mutterkreuz , was a state decoration and civil order of merit conferred by the government of the Deutsches Reich to honour a “Reichsdeutsche” mother for...

 was bestowed on women bearing four or more children.

Hitler oversaw one of the largest infrastructure improvement campaigns in German history, leading to the construction of dams, autobahns, railroads, and other civil works. However, these programmes lowered the overall standard of living of workers who earlier had been unaffected by the chronic unemployment of the later Weimar Republic; wages were slightly reduced in pre–World War II years, while the cost of living was increased by 25%.. From 1933 to 1934 wages suffered a 5% cut.

Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale. Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, instrumental in implementing Hitler's classicist reinterpretation of German culture, became the first architect of the Reich. In 1936 Hitler opened the summer Olympic games
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

 in Berlin. Hitler made some contributions to the design of the Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Type 1, widely known as the Volkswagen Beetle or Volkswagen Bug, is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003...

 and charged Ferdinand Porsche
Ferdinand Porsche
Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian automotive engineer and honorary Doctor of Engineering. He is best known for creating the first hybrid vehicle , the Volkswagen Beetle, and the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK, as well as the first of many Porsche automobiles...

 with its design and construction.

On 20 April 1939 a lavish celebration was held for Hitler's 50th birthday
Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday
Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday on April 20, 1939 was a national holiday in Nazi Germany. On that day, the largest military parade in the history of the Third Reich was held in Berlin.-Celebrations:...

, featuring military parades, visits from foreign dignitaries, Nazi banners, and thousands of flaming torches.

Historians such as David Schoenbaum
David Schoenbaum
David Schoenbaum is an American social scientist and historian.He was teaching as a professor of History at the University of Iowa until 2008. Schoenbaum received his BA at the University of Wisconsin–Madison...

 and Henry Ashby Turner
Henry Ashby Turner
Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. was an American historian of Germany who was a professor at Yale University for over forty years...

 argue that Hitler's social and economic policies were modernisation that had anti-modern goals. Others, including Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian, journalist and management consultant.- Life :Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr...

, have contended that Hitler had the deliberate strategy of pursuing a revolutionary modernisation of German society.

Rearmament and new alliances



In a meeting with German military leaders on 3 February 1933, Hitler spoke of "conquest for Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

in the East and its ruthless Germanisation" as his ultimate foreign policy objectives. In March 1933 State Secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office) Prince Bernhard Wilhelm von Bülow issued a major statement of German foreign policy aims. The statement advocated Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

with Austria, the restoration of Germany's national borders of 1914, rejection of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, the return of the former German colonies in Africa, and a German zone of influence in Eastern Europe. Hitler found Bülow's goals to be too modest.

In his "peace speeches" of the mid-1930s, Hitler stressed the peaceful goals of his policies and willingness to work within international agreements. At the first meeting of his Cabinet in 1933, Hitler prioritised military spending over unemployment relief. In October 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 and the World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

, and his Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin von Neurath
Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath was a German diplomat remembered mostly for having served as Foreign minister of Germany between 1932 and 1938...

 stated that the French demand for sécurité was a principal stumbling block.


In March 1935 Hitler rejected Part V of the Versailles treaty by announcing an expansion of the German army
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 to 600,000 members (six times the number stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles), including development of an Air Force (Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

). Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations condemned these plans.

On 18 June 1935 the Anglo-German Naval Agreement
Anglo-German Naval Agreement
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 18, 1935 was a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and German Reich regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. The A.G.N.A fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage...

 (AGNA) was signed, allowing German tonnage to increase to 35% of that of the British navy. Hitler called the signing of the AGNA "the happiest day of his life" as he believed the agreement marked the beginning of the Anglo-German alliance he had predicted in Mein Kampf. France and Italy were not consulted before the signing, directly undermining the League of Nations and putting the Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevance.

On 13 September 1935 Hitler ordered Dr. Bernhard Lösener and Franz Albrecht Medicus of the Interior Ministry to start drafting antisemitic laws for Hitler to bring to the floor of the Reichstag. On 15 September, Hitler presented two laws—known as the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

—before the Reichstag. The laws banned marriage between non-Jewish and Jewish Germans, and forbade the employment of non-Jewish women under the age of 45 in Jewish households. The laws deprived so-called "non-Aryans" of the benefits of German citizenship.

In March 1936 Hitler reoccupied
Remilitarization of the Rhineland
The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army took place on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the terms of the Locarno Treaties and was the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this...

 the demilitarized zone
Demilitarized zone
In military terms, a demilitarized zone is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers , where military activity is not permitted, usually by peace treaty, armistice, or other bilateral or multilateral agreement...

 in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, in violation the Versailles treaty. Hitler sent troops to Spain to support General Franco after receiving an appeal for help in July 1936. At the same time, Hitler continued his efforts to create an Anglo-German alliance.

In August 1936, in response to a growing economic crisis caused by his rearmament efforts, Hitler issued a memorandum ordering Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 to carry out a Four Year Plan
Four year plan
The Four Year Plan was a series of economic reforms created by the Nazi Party. The main aim of the four year plan was to prepare Germany for war in four years...

 to have Germany ready for war within the next four years. The "Four-Year Plan Memorandum" laid out an imminent all-out struggle between "Judeo-Bolshevism" and German National Socialism, which in Hitler's view required a committed effort of rearmament regardless of the economic costs.

On 25 October 1936 Count Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, foreign minister of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

's government, declared an axis between Germany and Italy, and on 25 November, Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 with Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. Britain, China, Italy, and Poland were also invited to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, but only Italy signed in 1937. By late 1937 Hitler had abandoned his dream of an Anglo-German alliance, blaming "inadequate" British leadership.

On 5 November 1937 Hitler held a secret meeting at the Reich Chancellery with his war and foreign ministers and military chiefs. As recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum
Hossbach Memorandum
The Hossbach Memorandum was the summary of a meeting on November 5, 1937 between German dictator Adolf Hitler and his military and foreign policy leadership where Hitler's future expansionist policies were outlined. The meeting marked a turning point in Hitler's foreign policies, which then began...

, Hitler stated his intention of acquiring Lebensraum ("living space") for the German people, and ordered preparations for war in the east, which would commence no later than 1943. Hitler stated that the conference minutes were to be regarded as his "political testament" in the event of his death. Hitler said that the crisis of the German economy had reached a point that a severe decline in living standards in Germany could only be stopped by a policy of military aggression—seizing Austria and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. Hitler urged quick action, before Britain and France obtained a permanent lead in the arms race
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

.

In early 1938, in the wake of the Blomberg–Fritsch Affair, Hitler asserted control of the military-foreign policy apparatus and the abolition of the War Ministry and its replacement by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 (OKW). He dismissed Neurath as Foreign Minister on 4 February 1938, and assumed the role and title of the Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht (supreme commander of the armed forces). From early 1938 onwards, Hitler was carrying out a foreign policy that had war as its ultimate aim.

The Holocaust


One of Hitler's central and most controversial ideologies was the concept of what he and his followers termed racial hygiene
Racial hygiene
Racial hygiene was a set of early twentieth century state sanctioned policies by which certain groups of individuals were allowed to procreate and others not, with the expressed purpose of promoting certain characteristics deemed to be particularly desirable...

. Hitler's eugenic
Nazi eugenics
Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany's racially-based social policies that placed the improvement of the Aryan race through eugenics at the center of their concerns...

 policies initially targeted children with physical and developmental disabilities in a programme dubbed Action T4
Action T4
Action T4 was the name used after World War II for Nazi Germany's eugenics-based "euthanasia" program during which physicians killed thousands of people who were "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination"...

.

Hitler's idea of Lebensraum, espoused in Mein Kampf, focused on acquiring new territory for German settlement in Eastern Europe. The Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

("General Plan for the East") called for the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to be deported to West Siberia, used as slave labour, or murdered; the conquered territories were to be colonised by German or "Germanized" settlers. American historian Timothy D. Snyder wrote that:
Between 1939 and 1945, the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

(SS), assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, were responsible for the deaths of eleven to fourteen million people, including about six million Jews, representing two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. Deaths took place in concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

, ghettos, and through mass executions. Many victims of the Holocaust were gassed
Gas chamber
A gas chamber is an apparatus for killing humans or animals with gas, consisting of a sealed chamber into which a poisonous or asphyxiant gas is introduced. The most commonly used poisonous agent is hydrogen cyanide; carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have also been used...

 to death, whereas others died of starvation or disease while working as slave labourers.

Hitler's policies also resulted in the killings of Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 and Soviet prisoners of war
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs
The Nazi crimes against Soviet Prisoners of War relate to the deliberately genocidal policies taken towards the captured soldiers of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany...

, communists and other political opponents, homosexuals, Roma, the physically and mentally disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, and trade unionists. One of the largest centres of mass killing was the extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

. Hitler never appeared to have visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly about the killings.
The Holocaust (the "Endlösung der jüdischen Frage
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

" or "Final Solution of the Jewish Question") was organised and executed by Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 and Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

. The records of the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

—held on 20 January 1942 and led by Reinhard Heydrich, with fifteen senior Nazi officials (including Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

) participating—provide the clearest evidence of the systematic planning for the Holocaust. On 22 February Hitler was recorded saying to his associates, "we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews".

Although no specific order from Hitler authorising the mass killings has surfaced, he approved the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

, killing squads that followed the German army through Poland and Russia, and he was well informed about their activities. During interrogations by Soviet intelligence officer
Intelligence officer
An intelligence officer is a person employed by an organization to collect, compile and/or analyze information which is of use to that organization...

s declassified over fifty years later, Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge
Heinz Linge
Heinz Linge was an SS officer who served as a valet for German dictator Adolf Hitler.- Early life :Linge was born in Bremen, Germany. Before joining the SS in 1933 he was employed as a bricklayer and was selected by Sepp Dietrich to be one of 117 original bodyguards for Adolf Hitler...

, and his adjutant
Adjutant
Adjutant is a military rank or appointment. In some armies, including most English-speaking ones, it is an officer who assists a more senior officer, while in other armies, especially Francophone ones, it is an NCO , normally corresponding roughly to a Staff Sergeant or Warrant Officer.An Adjutant...

, Otto Günsche
Otto Günsche
Otto Günsche was a Sturmbannführer in the Waffen-SS and a member of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler before he became Adolf Hitler's personal adjutant. He was captured by soldiers of the Red Army on 2 May 1945...

, stated that Hitler had a direct interest in the development of gas chambers.

Alliance with Japan




In February 1938, on the advice of his newly appointed Foreign Minister, the strongly pro-Japanese Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

, Hitler ended the Sino-German alliance with the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 to instead enter into an alliance with the more modern and powerful Japan. Hitler announced German recognition of Manchukuo
Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

, the Japanese-occupied state in Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

, and renounced German claims to their former colonies in the Pacific held by Japan. Hitler ordered an end to arms shipments to China, and recalled all German officers working with the Chinese Army. In retaliation, Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 cancelled all Sino-German economic agreements, depriving the Germans of many Chinese raw materials, though they did continue to ship tungsten
Tungsten
Tungsten , also known as wolfram , is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74.A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as...

, a key metal in armaments production, through to 1939.

Austria and Czechoslovakia


On 12 March 1938 Hitler declared unification of Austria with Nazi Germany in the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

. Hitler then turned his attention to the ethnic German
Ethnic German
Ethnic Germans historically also ), also collectively referred to as the German diaspora, refers to people who are of German ethnicity. Many are not born in Europe or in the modern-day state of Germany or hold German citizenship...

 population of the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 district of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

.

On 28–29 March 1938 Hitler held a series of secret meetings in Berlin with Konrad Henlein
Konrad Henlein
Konrad Ernst Eduard Henlein was a leading pro-Nazi ethnic German politician in Czechoslovakia and leader of Sudeten German separatists...

 of the Sudeten Heimfront (Home Front), the largest of the ethnic German parties of the Sudetenland. Both men agreed that Henlein would demand increased autonomy for Sudeten Germans from the Czechoslovakian government, thus providing a pretext for German military action against Czechoslovakia. In April 1938 Henlein told the foreign minister of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 that "whatever the Czech government might offer, he would always raise still higher demands ... he wanted to sabotage an understanding by all means because this was the only method to blow up Czechoslovakia quickly". In private, Hitler considered the Sudeten issue unimportant; his real intention was a war of conquest against Czechoslovakia.


In April 1938 Hitler ordered the OKW to prepare for Fall Grün ("Case Green"), the code name for an invasion of Czechoslovakia. As a result of intense French and British diplomatic pressure, on 5 September 1938 Czechoslovakian President Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš was a leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the second President of Czechoslovakia. He was known to be a skilled diplomat.- Youth :...

 unveiled the "Fourth Plan" for constitutional reorganisation of his country, which agreed to most of Henlein's demands for Sudeten autonomy. Henlein's Heimfront responded to Beneš' offer with a series of violent clashes with the Czechoslovakian police that led to the declaration of martial law in certain Sudeten districts.


Germany was dependent on imported oil
History of petroleum
Petroleum, in one form or another, is not a recent discovery but is now an important part of politics, society, and technology. The invention of the internal combustion engine was the major influence in the rise in the importance of petroleum.-Early history:...

; a confrontation with Britain over the Czechoslovakian dispute could curtail Germany's oil supplies. Hitler called off Fall Grün, originally planned for 1 October 1938. On 29 September 1938 Hitler, Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier was a French Radical politician and the Prime Minister of France at the start of the Second World War.-Career:Daladier was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse. Later, he would become known to many as "the bull of Vaucluse" because of his thick neck and large shoulders and determined...

, and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 attended a one-day conference in Munich that led to the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

, which handed over the Sudetenland districts to Germany.

Chamberlain was satisfied with the Munich conference, calling the outcome "peace for our time", while Hitler was angered about the missed opportunity for war in 1938. Hitler expressed his disappointment over the Munich Agreement in a speech on 9 October 1938 in Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live....

. In Hitler's view, the British-brokered peace, although favourable to the ostensible German demands, was a diplomatic defeat which spurred Hitler's intent of limiting British power to pave the way for the eastern expansion of Germany. As a result of the summit, Hitler was selected Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine's Man of the Year
Person of the Year
Person of the Year is an annual issue of the United States newsmagazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."- History :The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year...

 for 1938.

In late 1938 and early 1939, the continuing economic crisis caused by the rearmament efforts forced Hitler to make major defence cuts. On 30 January 1939 Hitler made an "Export or die" speech, calling for a German economic offensive to increase German foreign exchange holdings to pay for raw materials such as high-grade iron needed for military weapons.
On 15 March 1939, in violation of the Munich accord and possibly as a result of the deepening economic crisis requiring additional assets, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to invade Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, and from Prague Castle
Prague Castle
Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here...

 proclaimed Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 a German protectorate
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was the majority ethnic-Czech protectorate which Nazi Germany established in the central parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia in what is today the Czech Republic...

.

Start of World War II


In private discussions in 1939, Hitler described Britain as the main enemy that had to be defeated. In his view, Poland's obliteration as a sovereign nation was a necessary prelude to that goal. The eastern flank would be secured, and land would be added Germany's Lebensraum. Hitler wanted Poland to become either a German satellite state or be otherwise neutralised to secure the Reichs eastern flank, and to prevent a possible British blockade. Initially, Hitler favoured the idea of a satellite state; this was rejected by the Polish government. Therefore, Hitler decided to invade Poland; he made this the main German foreign policy goal of 1939. Hitler was offended by the British "guarantee" of Polish independence issued on 31 March 1939, and told his associates that "I shall brew them a devil's drink". In a speech in Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 for the launch of the battleship Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

on 1 April 1939, Hitler first threatened to denounce the Anglo-German Naval Agreement
Anglo-German Naval Agreement
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 18, 1935 was a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and German Reich regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. The A.G.N.A fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage...

 if the British persisted with their guarantee of Polish independence, which he perceived as an "encirclement" policy. On 3 April 1939 Hitler ordered the military to prepare for Fall Weiss (Case White), the plan for a German invasion on 25 August 1939. In a speech before the Reichstag on 28 April 1939 Hitler renounced both the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact. In August 1939 Hitler told his generals that his original plan for 1939 was to "... establish an acceptable relationship with Poland in order to fight against the West". Since Poland refused to become a German satellite, Hitler believed his only option was the invasion of Poland.
Hitler was initially concerned that a military attack against Poland could result in a premature war with Britain. However, Hitler's foreign minister—and former Ambassador to London—Joachim von Ribbentrop assured him that neither Britain nor France would honour their commitments to Poland, and that a German–Polish war would only be a limited regional war. Ribbentrop claimed that in December 1938 the French foreign minister, Georges Bonnet
Georges Bonnet
Not to be confused with the French Socialist Georges MonnetGeorges-Étienne Bonnet was a French politician and leading figure in the Radical-Socialist Party.- Early career :...

, had stated that France considered Eastern Europe as Germany's exclusive sphere of influence; Ribbentrop showed Hitler diplomatic cables that supported his analysis. The German Ambassador in London, Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen
Herbert von Dirksen was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War II.- Biography :...

, supported Ribbentrop's analysis with a dispatch in August 1939, reporting that Chamberlain knew "the social structure of Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of even a victorious war", and so would back down. Accordingly, on 21 August 1939 Hitler ordered a military mobilisation against Poland.

Hitler's plans for a military campaign in Poland in late August or early September required tacit Soviet support. The non-aggression pact
Non-aggression pact
A non-aggression pact is an international treaty between two or more states/countries agreeing to avoid war or armed conflict between them and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations...

 (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

) between Germany and the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, included secret protocols with an agreement to partition Poland between the two countries. In response to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact—and contrary to the prediction of Ribbentrop that the newly-formed pact would sever Anglo-Polish ties—Britain and Poland signed the Anglo-Polish alliance on 25 August 1939. This, along with news from Italy that Mussolini would not honour the Pact of Steel
Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...

, caused Hitler to postpone the attack on Poland from 25 August to 1 September. In the days before the start of the war, Hitler tried to manoeuvre the British into neutrality by offering a non-aggression guarantee to the British Empire on 25 August 1939 and by having Ribbentrop present a last-minute peace plan with an impossibly short time limit in an effort to then blame the war on British and Polish inaction.

As a pretext for a military aggression against Poland, Hitler claimed the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 and the right to extraterritorial roads across the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

, which Germany had ceded under the Versailles treaty. Despite his concerns over a possible British intervention, Hitler was ultimately not deterred from his aim of invading Poland, and on 1 September 1939 Germany invaded western Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September. This surprised Hitler, prompting him to turn to Ribbentrop and angrily ask "Now what?" France and Britain did not act on their declarations immediately, and on 17 September, Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland.

The fall of Poland was followed by what contemporary journalists dubbed the "Phoney War" or Sitzkrieg ("sitting war"). Hitler instructed the two newly-appointed Gauleiters of north-western Poland, Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

 and Arthur Greiser
Arthur Greiser
Arthur Greiser was a Nazi German politician and SS Obergruppenfuhrer. He was one of the persons primarily responsible for organizing the Holocaust in Poland and numerous other war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which he was tried, convicted and executed by hanging after World War...

, to "Germanise" the area, and promised them "There would be no questions asked" about how this "Germanisation was accomplished. Forster had local Poles sign forms stating that they had German blood, and required no further documentation. Greiser carried out a brutal ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 campaign on the Polish population in his purview. Greiser complained to Hitler that Forster was allowing thousands of Poles to be accepted as "racial" Germans thus, in Greiser's view, endangering German "racial purity". Hitler told Himmler and Greiser to take up their difficulties with Forster, and not to involve him. Hitler's handling of the Forster–Greiser dispute has been advanced as an example of Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

's theory of "Working Towards the Führer": Hitler issued vague instructions and expected his subordinates to work out policies on their own.

Another dispute broke out between different factions. One side, represented by Himmler and Greiser championed carrying out ethnic cleansing in Poland, and another side, represented by Göring and Hans Frank, called for turning Poland into the "granary" of the Reich. At a conference held at Göring's Karinhall estate on 12 February 1940, the dispute was initially settled in favour of the Göring-Frank view of economic exploitation, which ended the economically disruptive mass expulsions. On 15 May 1940, however, Himmler presented Hitler with a memo entitled "Some Thoughts on the Treatment of Alien Population in the East", which called for expulsion of the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and reducing the remainder of the Polish population to a "leaderless class of labourers". Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct"; he scuttled the so-called Karinhall agreement and implemented the Himmler–Greiser viewpoint as German policy for the Polish population.

Hitler commenced building up military forces on Germany's western border, and in April 1940, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

. In May 1940, Hitler's forces attacked France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, and conquered Luxembourg, the Netherlands
Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow , the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until 14 May 1940 when the main Dutch forces surrendered...

, and Belgium
Battle of Belgium
The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War...

. These victories prompted Mussolini to have Italy join forces with Hitler on 10 June 1940. France surrendered
Surrender (military)
Surrender is when soldiers, nations or other combatants stop fighting and eventually become prisoners of war, either as individuals or when ordered to by their officers. A white flag is a common symbol of surrender, as is the gesture of raising one's hands empty and open above one's head.When the...

 on 22 June 1940.

Britain, whose forces were forced to leave France by sea from Dunkirk, continued to fight alongside other British dominions
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 in the Battle of the Atlantic. Hitler made peace overtures for to the British, now led by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, and when these were rejected Hitler ordered bombing raids on the United Kingdom. Hitler's prelude to a planned invasion of the UK were widespread aerial attacks in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 on Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 airbases and radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 stations in South-East England. However, the German Luftwaffe failed to defeat the Royal Air Force.

On 27 September 1940 the Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
The Tripartite Pact, also the Three-Power Pact, Axis Pact, Three-way Pact or Tripartite Treaty was a pact signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II...

 was signed in Berlin by Saburō Kurusu
Saburo Kurusu
was a Japanese career diplomat. He is remembered now as an envoy who tried to negotiate peace and understanding with the United States while Japan was secretly preparing the attack on Pearl Harbor....

 of Imperial Japan, Hitler, and Italian foreign minister Ciano. The agreement was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, and Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. They were collectively known as the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

. The purpose of the pact was to deter the United States from supporting the British. By the end of October 1940, air superiority for the invasion Operation Sea Lion could not be achieved, and Hitler ordered the nightly air raids
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

 of British cities, including London, Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, and Coventry
Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

.
In the Spring of 1941, Hitler was distracted from his plans for the East by military activities in North Africa, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, and the Middle East. In February, German forces arrived in Libya
Operation Sonnenblume
Operation Sonnenblume was the deployment of German troops to North Africa in February 1941, during the Second World War...

 to bolster the Italian presence. In April, Hitler launched the invasion of Yugoslavia
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The Invasion of Yugoslavia , also known as the April War , was the Axis Powers' attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II...

, quickly followed by the invasion of Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

. In May, German forces were sent to support Iraqi rebel forces fighting against the British
Anglo-Iraqi War
The Anglo-Iraqi War was the name of the British campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The war lasted from 2 May to 31 May 1941. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by British armed forces and the return to power of the...

 and to invade Crete
Battle of Crete
The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

. On 23 May, Hitler released Führer Directive No. 30
Fuhrer Directive No. 30
Führer Directive No. 30 was a directive issued by German dictator Adolf Hitler during World War II.-Overview and background:Führer Directive No. 30 dealt with German intervention in support of Arab nationalists in the Kingdom of Iraq...

.

A major historical debate about Hitler's foreign policy preceding the war in 1939 centres on two contrasting explanations: one, by the Marxist historian Timothy Mason
Timothy Mason
Timothy Wright Mason was a British Marxist historian of Nazi Germany.-Life and work:He was born in Birkenhead, the child of school-teachers and was educated at Birkenhead School and Oxford University. He taught at Oxford from 1971–1984 and was twice married. He helped to found the...

, suggests that a structural economic crisis drove Hitler into a "flight into war", while another, by economic historian Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

, explains Hitler's actions with non-economic motives. Historians such as William Carr, Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

, and Kershaw have argued that a non-economic reason for Hitler's rush to war was Hitler's morbid and obsessive fear of an early death, and hence his feeling that he did not have long to accomplish his work.

Path to defeat


On 22 June 1941, contravening the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact of 1939, three million German troops attacked the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. The invasion seized a huge area, including the Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 states, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. However, the German advance was stopped barely short of Moscow in December 1941 by the Russian Winter
Russian Winter
The Russian Winter is a common explanation for military failures of invaders in Russia. Common nicknames are General Frost, General Winter and General Snow. Another was "General Mud"....

 and fierce Soviet resistance
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

.

Some historians, such as Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

, have argued that Operation Barbarossa was merely one stage of Hitler's Stufenplan (stepwise plan) for world conquest, which Hitler may have formulated in the 1920s. Others, such as John Lukacs
John Lukacs
John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic...

, suggest that Hitler did not have a Stufenplan, and that the invasion of the Soviet Union was an ad hoc move in response to Britain's refusal to surrender. Lukacs argues that Churchill had hoped that the Soviet Union might enter the war on the Allied side, and so to dash this hope and force a British surrender, Hitler had started Operation Barbarossa. On the other hand, Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 has maintained that both Stalin and Hitler had planned to attack each other in 1941. Soviet troop concentrations on its western border in the spring of 1941 may have prompted Hitler to engage in a Flucht nach vorn ("flight forward"), to get in front of an inevitable conflict. Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov is the pen name for Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun , a former Soviet and now British writer of Russian and Ukrainian descent who writes primarily in Russian, as well as a former Soviet military intelligence spy who defected to the UK...

, Ernst Topitsch, Joachim Hoffmann
Joachim Hoffmann
Joachim Hoffmann was a German historian and scientific director of the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office.-Life:...

, Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte is a German historian and philosopher. Nolte’s major interest is the comparative studies of Fascism and Communism. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin, where he taught from 1973 to 1991. He was previously a Professor at the University of Marburg...

, and David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

 have argued that the official reason for Barbarossa given by the German military was the real reason—a preventive war to avert an impending Soviet attack scheduled for July 1941. This theory, however, has been faulted; American historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 once compared the advocates of the preventive war theory to believers in "fairy tales".

The Wehrmacht invasion of the Soviet Union reached its peak on 2 December 1941, when the 258th Infantry Division advanced to within 15 miles (24 km) of Moscow, close enough to see the spires of the Kremlin. However, they were not prepared for the harsh conditions of the Russian winter, and Soviet forces drove back German troops over 320 kilometres (198.8 mi).

On 7 December 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, Hawaii. Four days later, Hitler's formal declaration of war against the United States officially engaged him in war against a coalition that included the world's largest empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial power (the United States), and the world's largest army (the Soviet Union).

On 18 December 1941 Himmler met with Hitler, and in response to Himmler's question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?", Hitler replied "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as partisans"). Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

 has commented that the remark is probably as close as historians will ever get to a definitive order from Hitler for the genocide carried out during the Holocaust.

In late 1942 German forces were defeated in the second battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 and the Middle East. In February 1943 the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 ended with the destruction of the German 6th Army
German Sixth Army
The 6th Army was a designation for German field armies which saw action in World War I and World War II. The 6th Army is best known for fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad, during which it became the first entire German field army to be completely destroyed...

. Thereafter came the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

. Hitler's military judgment became increasingly erratic, and Germany's military and economic position deteriorated along with Hitler's health. Kershaw and others believe that Hitler may have suffered from Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

. Syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

 has also been suspected as a cause of at least some of his symptoms.

Following the allied invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

 (Operation Husky) in 1943, Mussolini was deposed by Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino was an Italian soldier and politician...

, who surrendered to the Allies. Throughout 1943 and 1944, the Soviet Union steadily forced Hitler's armies into retreat along the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. On 6 June 1944 the Western Allied armies landed in northern France in what was one of the largest amphibious
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 operations in history, Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

. As a result of these significant setbacks for the German army, many of its officers concluded that defeat was inevitable and that Hitler's misjudgement or denial would drag out the war and result in the complete destruction of the country
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

. Several high-profile assassination attempts against Hitler occurred during this period.

Attempted assassinations



During the period of 1939–1945 there were 17 attempts or plans to assassinate Hitler, some of which proceeded to significant degrees. The most well-known attempt on Hitler's life came from within Germany during World War II and was at least partly driven by the increasing prospect of a German defeat in the war.

In July 1944, in the Operation Valkyrie
Operation Valkyrie
Operation Valkyrie was an emergency continuity of government operations plan developed in Nazi Germany for the Territorial Reserve Army of Germany to execute and implement in case of a general breakdown in civil order of the nation...

 or 20 July plot, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in one of Hitler's headquarters
Führer Headquarters
The Führer Headquarters , abbreviated FHQ, is a common name for a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various German commanders and officials throughout Europe during World War II...

, the Wolfsschanze
Wolfsschanze
Wolf's Lair is the standard English name for Wolfsschanze, Adolf Hitler's first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several Führerhauptquartier or FHQs located in various parts of Europe...

 (Wolf's Lair) at Rastenburg. Hitler narrowly survived because someone had unknowingly pushed the briefcase that contained the bomb behind a leg of the heavy conference table. When it exploded, the table deflected much of the blast away from Hitler. Later, Hitler ordered savage reprisals, resulting in the executions of more than 4,900 people.

Defeat and death


By late 1944, the Red Army had driven the German army back into Western Europe, and the Western Allies
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

 were advancing into Germany. After being informed of the twin defeats – Operation Wacht am Rhein and Operation Nordwind
Operation Nordwind
Operation North Wind was the last major German offensive of World War II on the Western Front. It began on 1 January 1945 in Alsace and Lorraine in northeastern France, and it ended on 25 January.-Objectives:...

 – in his Ardennes Offensive at his Adlerhorst
Adlerhorst
Adlerhorst was a World War II bunker complex in Germany, located within Kransberg Castle , Wetterau in the Taunus mountains in the province of Hesse...

 command complex, Hitler realised that Germany was about to lose the war. He did not permit an orderly retreat of his armies. His hope, buoyed by the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 on 12 April 1945, was to negotiate peace with America and Britain. Acting on his view that Germany's military failures had forfeited its right to survive as a nation, Hitler ordered the destruction of all German industrial infrastructure before it could fall into Allied hands. Execution of this scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 plan was entrusted to arms minister Albert Speer, who quietly disobeyed the order.

On 20 April 1945 Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday in the Führerbunker
Führerbunker
The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943...

("Führer's shelter") below the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

) gardens. By 21 April, Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front
1st Belorussian Front
The 1st Belorussian Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during World War II...

 had broken through the last defences of German General Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici was a general in the German Army during World War II.-Personal life:Heinrici's was born in Gumbinnen , East Prussia, on Christmas Day, 1886, to Paul Heinrici, a local Lutheran minister of the Prussian Church, and his wife Gisela, née von Rauchhaupt, who was of recent Jewish descent...

's Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula was an Army Group of the Wehrmacht, formed on January 24, 1945. It was put together from elements of Army Group A , Army Group Centre , and a variety of new or ad-hoc formations...

 during the Battle of the Seelow Heights
Battle of the Seelow Heights
The Battle of the Seelow Heights , was a part of the Seelow-Berlin Offensive Operation ; one of the last assaults on large entrenched defensive positions of World War II. It was fought over three days, from 16–19 April 1945...

. Facing little resistance, the Soviets advanced into the outskirts of Berlin. In denial about the increasingly dire situation, Hitler placed his hopes on the units commanded by Waffen SS General Felix Steiner
Felix Steiner
Felix Martin Julius Steiner was a German Reichswehr and Waffen-SS officer who served in both World War I and World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

, the Armeeabteilung Steiner ("Army Detachment Steiner
Army Detachment Steiner
Army Detachment Steiner , was a temporary military unit, something more than a corps but less than an army, created on paper by German dictator Adolf Hitler on 21 April 1945 during the Battle of Berlin, and placed under the command of SS Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner...

"). Although "Army Detachment Steiner" was more than a corps, it was less than an army. Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the salient
Salients, re-entrants and pockets
A salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant...

 made up of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front. At the same time, the German Ninth Army, which had been pushed south of the salient, was ordered to attack northward in a pincer attack.

Late on 21 April, Gotthard Heinrici called Hans Krebs
Hans Krebs (general)
Hans Krebs was a German Army general of infantry who served during World War II.-Early life:Krebs was born in Helmstedt. He volunteered for service in the Imperial German Army in 1914, was promoted to lieutenant in 1915, and to first lieutenant in 1925...

, chief of the Oberkommando des Heeres
Oberkommando des Heeres
The Oberkommando des Heeres was Nazi Germany's High Command of the Army from 1936 to 1945. The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht commanded OKH only in theory...

(Supreme Command of the Army or OKH), to inform him that Hitler's defence plans could not be implemented. Heinrici told Krebs to impress upon Hitler the need to withdraw the 9th Army.

On 22 April, during military conference, Hitler asked about Steiner's offensive. After a long silence, Hitler was told that the attack had never been launched and that the Russians had broken through into Berlin. This news prompted Hitler to ask everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Krebs, Alfred Jodl
Alfred Jodl
Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel...

, Wilhelm Burgdorf
Wilhelm Burgdorf
Wilhelm Burgdorf was a German general. Born in Fürstenwalde, Burgdorf served as a commander and staff officer in the German Army during World War II.- Military career :...

, and Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

 to leave the room. Hitler then launched a tirade against the treachery and incompetence of his commanders, culminating in Hitler's declaration—for the first time—that the war was lost. Hitler announced that he would stay in Berlin, to direct the defence of the city and then shoot himself.

Before the day ended, Hitler again found fresh hope in a new plan that included General Walther Wenck
Walther Wenck
-Captive, prisoner, and death:Wenck was captured and put in a prisoner of war camp. He was released in 1947. In 1982, Wenck died in a car accident in Bad Rothenfelde.-See also:* Battle of Berlin - 1945* Battle of Halbe - 1945* Hans Krebs, Chief of Staff...

's Twelfth Army. This new plan had Wenck turn his army – currently facing the Americans to the west – and attack towards the east to relieve Berlin. The Twelfth Army was to link up with the Ninth Army and break through to the city. Wenck did attack and made temporary contact with the Potsdam garrison. But the link with the Ninth Army was unsuccessful.

On 23 April, Joseph Goebbels made a proclamation urging the citizens of Berlin to courageously defend the city. Also on 23 April, Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps. It is located in the south district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich...

in Bavaria, arguing that since Hitler was cut off in Berlin, he, Göring, should assume leadership of Germany. Göring set a time limit, after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated. Hitler responded angrily by having Göring arrested, and when writing his will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

 on 29 April, he removed Göring from all his positions in the government. Hitler appointed General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was an officer in the German Army before and during World War II...

 as the commander of the Berlin Defence Area, replacing Lieutenant General (Generalleutnant) Helmuth Reymann
Helmuth Reymann
Hellmuth Reymann was an officer in the German Army during World War II. Reymann was one of the last commanders of the Berlin Defense Area during the final assault by Soviet forces on the city of Berlin.-Northern Russia:From 1 October 1942 to 1 October 1943, Lieutenant-General Reymann commanded...

 and Colonel (Oberst
Oberst
Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti...

) Ernst Kaether
Ernst Kaether
Ernst Kaether was an officer in the German Army during World War II.As a Lieutenant-Colonel , Kaether commanded the 14th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Jäger Division...

. Hitler appointed Waffen-SS Brigadeführer
Brigadeführer
SS-Brigadeführer was an SS rank that was used in Nazi Germany between the years of 1932 and 1945. Brigadeführer was also an SA rank....

 Wilhelm Mohnke
Wilhelm Mohnke
SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke was one of the original 120 members of the SS-Staff Guard "Berlin" formed in March 1933. From those ranks, Mohnke rose to become one of Adolf Hitler's last remaining generals.Mohnke saw action with the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in France, Poland...

 the Battle Commander ("Kommandant") for the defence of the government district (Zitadelle sector) that included the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker.

On 27 April, Berlin became completely cut off from the rest of Germany. As the Soviet forces closed in, Hitler's followers urged him to flee to the mountains of Bavaria to make a last stand in the national redoubt
National Redoubt
A national redoubt is a general term for an area to which the forces of a nation can be withdrawn if the main battle has been lost—or even beforehand if defeat is considered inevitable...

. However, Hitler was determined to either live or die in the capital.

On 28 April, Hitler discovered that Himmler was trying to discuss surrender terms with the Western Allies (through the Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

). Hitler ordered Himmler's arrest and had Hermann Fegelein
Hermann Fegelein
SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein was a General of the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany, a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage, brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl, and husband of the sister-in-law to Adolf Hitler through Hitler's marriage to Eva...

 (Himmler's SS representative at Hitler's HQ in Berlin) shot. Adding to Hitler's woes was Wenck's report that his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front and that his forces could no longer support Berlin.

After midnight on 29 April, Hitler married Eva Braun
Eva Braun
Eva Anna Paula Hitler was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife. Braun met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later...

 in a small civil ceremony in a map room within the Führerbunker. Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

 stated that after Hitler hosted a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife, he then took secretary Traudl Junge
Traudl Junge
Traudl Junge was Adolf Hitler's youngest personal private secretary, from December 1942 to April 1945.-Early life:...

 to another room and dictated his last will and testament
Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler
The last will and testament of Adolf Hitler was dictated by Hitler to his secretary Traudl Junge in his Berlin Führerbunker on April 29, 1945, the day he and Eva Braun married. They committed suicide the next day , two days before the surrender of Berlin to the Soviets on May 2, and just over a...

. Hitler signed these documents at 4:00 am. The event was witnessed and documents signed by Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann. Hitler then retired to bed. That afternoon, Hitler was informed of the assassination of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, which presumably increased his determination to avoid capture.

On 30 April 1945, after intense street-to-street combat
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

, when Soviet troops were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery, Hitler and Braun committed suicide; Braun bit into a cyanide
Cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

 capsule and Hitler shot himself with his 7.65 mm Walther PPK
Walther PPK
The Walther PP series pistols are blowback-operated semi-automatic pistols.They feature an exposed hammer, a double-action trigger mechanism, a single-column magazine, and a fixed barrel which also acts as the guide rod for the recoil spring...

 pistol. Hitler had at various times contemplated suicide, and the Walther was the same pistol that his niece, Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal
Angelika Maria "Geli" Raubal was Adolf Hitler's half niece. Born in Linz, Austria-Hungary, she was the second child and eldest daughter of Leo Raubal Sr. and Hitler's half-sister, Angela Raubal...

, had used in her suicide in 1931. The lifeless bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were carried up the stairs and through the bunker's emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery, where they were placed in a bomb crater and doused with petrol. The corpses were set on fire and the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 shelling continued.

On 2 May, Berlin surrendered, and there were conflicting reports about what happened to Hitler's remains. Records in the Soviet archives— obtained after the fall of the Soviet Union—showed that the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels
Magda Goebbels
Johanna Maria Magdalena "Magda" Goebbels was the wife of Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels...

, the six Goebbels children
Goebbels children
The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.Magda Goebbels had an...

, General Hans Krebs, and Hitler's dogs, were repeatedly buried and exhumed. On 4 April 1970 a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes which had been buried at the SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

 facility in Magdeburg. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

.

According to the Russian Federal Security Service, a fragment of human skull stored in its archives and displayed to the public in a 2000 exhibition came from Hitler's remains. However, the authenticity of the skull fragment was challenged by historians and researchers, and DNA analysis conducted in 2009 showed the skull fragment to be that of a woman. Analysis of the sutures between the skull plates indicated that it belonged to a 20–40-year-old individual.

Legacy




Hitler's policies and orders resulted in the death of approximately 40 million people, including about 27 million in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The actions of Hitler, and Hitler's ideology, Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, are almost universally regarded as gravely immoral. Historians, philosophers, and politicians have often applied the word evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

to describe Hitler's ideology and its outcomes. Historical and cultural portrayals of Hitler
Hitler in popular culture
Adolf Hitler was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and Führer of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945...

 in the west are overwhelmingly condemnatory. In Germany and Austria, the denial of the Holocaust
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 and the display of Nazi symbols
Nazi symbolism
The twentieth century German Nazi Party was notable for its extensive use of graphic symbolism, most notably the Hakenkreuz , which it used as its principal symbol, and, in the form of the swastika flag, became the state flag of Nazi Germany....

 such as swastikas are prohibited by law.

Outside of Hitler's birthplace in Braunau am Inn, Austria, the Memorial Stone Against War and Fascism is engraved with the following message:


Für Frieden Freiheit
Und Demokratie
Nie Wieder Faschismus
Millionen Tote Mahnen


Loosely translated, it reads:

For peace, freedom
and democracy
never again fascism
millions of dead remind [us]"

Following World War II, the toothbrush moustache
Toothbrush moustache
The Toothbrush moustache is a moustache, shaved at the edges, except for three to five centimeters above the centre of the lip...

 fell out of favour in the West because of its strong association with Hitler, which earned it the nickname "Hitler moustache". The use of the name "Adolf
Adolf
Adolf, also spelled Adolph and sometimes Latinised to Adolphus, is a given name used in German-speaking countries, in Scandinavia, in the Netherlands and Flanders and to a lesser extent in various Central European countries...

" also declined in post-war years.

Hitler and his legacy are occasionally described in more neutral or even favourable terms. Former Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian President Anwar El Sadat spoke of his 'admiration' of Hitler in 1953, when he was a young man, but it is possible that Sadat's views were shaped mainly by his anti-British sentiments. Bal Thackeray
Bal Thackeray
Bal Keshav Thackeray , popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray, is an Indian politician, founder and chief of the Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, and Marathi ethnocentric party active mainly in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.Born in Pune, Thackeray began his professional career...

, leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena
Shiv Sena
Shiv Sena , is a political party in India founded on 19 June 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray. It is currently headed by Thackeray's son, Uddhav Thackeray...

 party in the Indian state of the Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, declared in 1995 that he was an admirer of Hitler. German historian Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke was a liberal German historian, probably the most famous German historian of his generation. As a representative of an older tradition still writing after World War II, he was an important figure to the end of his life.-Life:Meinecke was born in Salzwedel in the Province of Saxony...

 said that Hitler's life "is one of the great examples of the singular and incalculable power of personality in historical life".

Religious views



Hitler's parents were Roman Catholics, but after leaving home he never attended Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 or received the sacraments
Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper...

. Hitler favoured aspects of Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 that suited his own views. However, he adopted some elements of the Catholic Church's hierarchical organisation, liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

, and phraseology in his politics. After his move to Germany, where Catholic and Protestant churches are largely financed through a church tax
Church tax
A church tax is a tax imposed on members of some religious congregations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, some parts of Switzerland and several other countries.- Germany :About 70% of church revenues come from church tax...

, Hitler did not leave his church, leading the historian Richard Steigmann-Gall
Richard Steigmann-Gall
Richard Steigmann-Gall is Associate Professor of History at Kent State University, and was the Director of the Jewish Studies Program from 2004 to 2010. He received his BA in 1989 and MA in 1992 from the University of Michigan, and his PhD in 1999 from the University of Toronto...

 to conclude that Hitler "can be classified as Catholic", but that "nominal church membership is a very unreliable gauge of actual piety in this context."

In public, Hitler often praised Christian heritage and German Christian culture, and professed a belief in an "Aryan" Jesus Christ—a Jesus who fought against the Jews. In his speeches and publications, Hitler spoke of his interpretation of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism, stating that "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice." In private, Hitler was more critical of traditional Christianity, considering it a religion fit only for slaves; he admired the power of Rome but maintained a severe hostility towards its teaching. Hitler's critical views on Catholicism resonated with Streicher
Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher was a prominent Nazi prior to World War II. He was the founder and publisher of Der Stürmer newspaper, which became a central element of the Nazi propaganda machine...

's contention that the Catholic establishment was allying itself with the Jews. In light of these private statements, for John S. Conway
John S. Conway
John S. Conway is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of British Columbia. He has specialized in the role of the German churches and the Vatican during the Third Reich, and on Christian-Jewish relations during the 20th century...

 and many other historians, it is beyond doubt that Hitler held a "fundamental antagonism" towards the Christian churches. However, some researchers have questioned the authenticity of Hitler's private statements; for instance, Hermann Rauschning
Hermann Rauschning
Hermann Rauschning was a GermanConservative Revolutionary who briefly joined the Nazis before breaking with them. In 1934 he renounced Nazi party membership and defected to the United States where he denounced Nazism...

's Hitler speaks is considered by most historians to be an invention.

In political relations with the churches in Germany, Hitler adopted a strategy "that suited his immediate political purposes". According to a US Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 report, Hitler had a general plan, even before his rise to power, to destroy the influence of Christian Churches within the Reich. The report titled "The Nazi Master Plan" stated, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognised as a purpose of the National Socialist movement" from the start, but "considerations of expedience made it impossible" to express this extreme position publicly. His intention, according to Alan Bullock
Alan Bullock
Alan Louis Charles Bullock, Baron Bullock , was a British historian, who wrote an influential biography of Adolf Hitler and many other works.-Early life and career:...

, was to wait until the war was over to destroy the influence of Christianity.

Hitler for a time advocated a form of the Christian faith he called "Positive Christianity
Positive Christianity
Positive Christianity was a slogan of Nazi propaganda adopted at the NSDAP congress 1920 to express a worldview which is Christian, non-confessional, vigorously opposed to the spirit of "Jewish Materialism", and oriented to the principle of voluntary association of those with a common...

", a belief system purged of what he objected to in orthodox Christianity, and featuring racist elements. By 1940, however, Hitler had abandoned advocating even the syncretist
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 idea of a positive Christianity. Hitler maintained that the "terrorism in religion is, to put it briefly, of a Jewish dogma, which Christianity has universalised and whose effect is to sow trouble and confusion in men's minds."

Hitler articulated his view on the relationship between religion and national identity as "We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany".

Hitler expressed admiration for the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 military tradition. Stanley G. Payne
Stanley G. Payne
Stanley George Payne is a historian of modern Spain and European Fascism at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He retired from full time teaching in 2004 and is currently Professor Emeritus at its Department of History. Payne is one of the most famous modern theorists of fascism...

 wrote:

Attitude towards occultism


Some researchers suggest that Hitler did not follow esoteric ideas, occultism, or Ariosophy
Ariosophy
Armanism and Ariosophy are the names of ideological systems of an esoteric nature, pioneered by Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels respectively, in Austria between 1890 and 1930. The term 'Ariosophy', meaning wisdom concerning the Aryans, was first coined by Lanz von Liebenfels in 1915 and...

, and Hitler does ridicule such beliefs in Mein Kampf. Others have suggested that Hitler's views, particularly on race, had been strongly influenced by works that promulgated a mystical superiority of the Germans; these works included the occult and antisemitic magazine Ostara
Ostara (magazine)
Ostara or Ostara, Briefbücherei der Blonden und Mannesrechtler was a German nationalist magazine founded in 1905 by the occultist Lanz von Liebenfels in Vienna, Austria....

, whose publisher Lanz von Liebenfels
Lanz von Liebenfels
Adolf Josef Lanz aka Jörg Lanz, who called himself Lanz von Liebenfels was an Austrian publicist and journalist...

 claimed that Hitler had visited him in 1909 and had praised his work. Historians are divided on the question of the reliability of von Liebenfels' claim. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke B.A. , D.Phil. is a professor of Western Esotericism at University of Exeter and author of several books on esoteric traditions....

 considers his account reliable, Brigitte Hamann
Brigitte Hamann
Brigitte Hamann Ph.D., is a German-Austrian author and historian based in Vienna.Born Brigitte Deitert in Essen, Germany, she studied history in Münster and Vienna and for a time worked as a journalist in her native Essen...

 leaves the question open and Kershaw, although questioning the degree to which Hitler was influenced by it, notes that, "Most likely, Hitler did read Ostara, along with other racist pulp which was prominent on Vienna newspaper stands." Kershaw notes that it is usually accepted that Hitler did read and was influenced by this occult publication, pointing to Hitler's account of his conversion to antisemitism after reading antisemitic pamphlets.

Health


Hitler's health has frequently been the subject of speculation. It has been suggested that he suffered from irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion. It is a functional bowel disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alteration of bowel habits in the absence of any detectable organic cause. In some cases, the symptoms are relieved by bowel movements...

, skin lesions, irregular heartbeat, Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

, syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, tinnitus
Tinnitus
Tinnitus |ringing]]") is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound.Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom that can result from a wide range of underlying causes: abnormally loud sounds in the ear canal for even the briefest period , ear...

, and Asperger syndrome
Asperger syndrome
Asperger's syndrome that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development...

. Hitler had dental problems—his personal dentist, Hugo Blaschke
Hugo Blaschke
Dr Hugo Johannes Blaschke was a German dental surgeon notable for being Adolf Hitler’s personal dentist from 1933 to April 1945 and for being the chief dentist on the staff of Heinrich Himmler with the rank of SS Brigadeführer.Blaschke was born in Neustadt and studied dentistry in Berlin and at...

, fitted a large dental bridge
Bridge (dentistry)
A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants....

 to Hitler's upper jaw in 1933, and in 1944, Blaschke removed the left rear section of the bridge to treat an infection of Hitler's gums that coincided with a sinus infection
Sinusitis
Sinusitis is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which may be due to infection, allergy, or autoimmune issues. Most cases are due to a viral infection and resolve over the course of 10 days...

.

Hitler followed a vegetarian diet, and never ate meat. At social events Hitler sometimes gave graphic accounts of the slaughter of animals in an effort to make his dinner guests shun meat. A fear of cancer (from which his mother died) is the most widely cited reason for Hitler's dietary habits. An antivivisectionist, Hitler may have followed his selective diet out of a profound concern for animals. Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

 had a greenhouse constructed near the Berghof
Berghof (Hitler)
The Berghof was Adolf Hitler's home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany. Other than the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Hitler spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II. It was also one of the most widely known of Hitler's...

(near Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps. It is located in the south district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich...

) to ensure a steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for Hitler throughout the war.

Hitler was a non-smoker and promoted aggressive anti-smoking campaigns throughout Germany. (See Anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany
Anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany
After German doctors became the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, Nazi Germany initiated a strong anti-tobacco movement and led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history...

.) Hitler strongly despised alcohol.

Syphilis


Since the 1870s it was common for the völkisch right
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

 to associate Jews with diseases such as syphilis. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote about the temptation of prostitution and the spreading of syphilis, specifically in volume 1, chapter 10, "Causes of the Collapse", where he called it a "Jewish disease". This has led to speculation he may have contracted the disease himself.

During the last years of his life, Hitler suffered from tremors and irregular heartbeat, which could have been symptoms of tertiary (late-stage) syphilis. Journalist Joseph Kessel
Joseph Kessel
Joseph Kessel was a French journalist and novelist.He was born in Villa Clara, Entre Ríos, Argentina, because of the constant journeys of his father, a Lithuanian doctor of Jewish origin. Joseph Kessel lived the first years of his childhood in Orenburg, Russia, before the family moved to France...

 reports that in the winter of 1942 renowned masseur Felix Kersten
Felix Kersten
Felix Kersten was before and during World War II the personal masseur of Heinrich Himmler...

 was shown a top-secret 26-page report that indicated that Hitler had contracted syphilis in his youth and was treated for it at a hospital in Pasewalk
Pasewalk
Pasewalk is a town in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. Located on the Uecker river, it is the capital of the former Uecker-Randow district, and the seat of the Uecker-Randow-Tal Amt of which it is not part.Pasewalk became a town during the 12th...

, Germany. Hitler first displayed late-stage symptoms in 1937, and by the start of 1942, progressive syphilitic paralysis (Tabes dorsalis
Tabes dorsalis
Tabes dorsalis is a slow degeneration of the sensory neurons that carry afferent information. The degenerating nerves are in the dorsal columns of the spinal cord and carry information that help maintain a person's sense of position , vibration, and discriminative touch.-Cause:Tabes dorsalis is...

) was occurring. According to the report, Hitler was treated by Morell
Theodor Morell
Theodor Gilbert Morell was German Führer Adolf Hitler's personal physician. Morell was well known in Germany for his unconventional treatments....

, and his disease was kept a state secret. The only people privy to the report's content were Bormann and Göring.

Monorchism



It has been alleged that Hitler had monorchism
Monorchism
-Causes:This can be due to:* One testicle not descending into the scrotum during normal embryonic or fetal development , also known as: undescended testis or cryptorchidism. In this case the testis is within the abdominal cavity, somewhere along the normal route of descent — most commonly,...

, the medical condition of having only one testicle
Testicle
The testicle is the male gonad in animals. Like the ovaries to which they are homologous, testes are components of both the reproductive system and the endocrine system...

. Hitler's personal doctor, Johan Jambor, supposedly described this condition to a priest whose records were uncovered in 2008, 23 years after the doctor's death.

Soviet journalist Lev Bezymensky stated in a 1967 book that the Soviet autopsy
Death of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler committed suicide by gunshot on Monday, 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. His wife Eva , committed suicide with him by ingesting cyanide...

 of Hitler's remains revealed his left testicle was missing, but he later admitted to have falsified this claim. Hitler had been examined by many doctors throughout his life, and no mention of this condition has been discovered. Records show that he was wounded in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, with some sources describing his injury as a wound to the groin.

Parkinson's disease


It has been speculated Hitler had Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

. Newsreel footage of Hitler shows tremors of his hand and a shuffling walk, which began before the war and worsened towards the end of his life. Morell treated Hitler with a drug that was commonly used in 1945 to treat the condition. Ernst-Günther Schenck
Ernst-Günther Schenck
Prof. Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck was a German Standartenführer and doctor who joined the SS in 1933. Because of a chance encounter with Adolf Hitler during the closing days of World War II, his memoirs proved historically valuable. His accounts of this period influenced the accounts of Joachim...

 and several other doctors who met Hitler in the last weeks of his life each formed a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Other complaints


From the 1930s, Hitler suffered from stomach pains. In 1936, a non-cancerous polyp
Polyp (medicine)
A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue projecting from a mucous membrane. If it is attached to the surface by a narrow elongated stalk, it is said to be pedunculated. If no stalk is present, it is said to be sessile. Polyps are commonly found in the colon, stomach, nose, sinus, urinary bladder...

 was removed from his throat and he developed eczema
Eczema
Eczema is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis . In England, an estimated 5.7 million or about one in every nine people have been diagnosed with the disease by a clinician at some point in their lives.The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions...

 on his legs. He suffered ruptured eardrums as a result of the 20 July plot bomb blast in 1944, and two hundred wood splinters had to be removed from his legs. Hitler's otologist
Otology
Otology is a branch of biomedicine which studies normal and pathological anatomy and physiology of the ear as well as its diseases, diagnosis and treatment....

 observed that Hitler had developed tinnitus after the Röhm Putsch, and considered it psychogenic
Psychogenic pain
Psychogenic pain, also called psychalgia, is physical pain that is caused, increased, or prolonged by mental, emotional, or behavioral factors.Headache, back pain, or stomach pain are some of the most common types of psychogenic pain...

 in origin. Hitler treated the condition with the prescription-free lipid lecithin
Lecithin
Lecithin is a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, and in egg yolk, composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids .The word lecithin was originally coined in 1847 by...

.

Addiction to amphetamine


Hitler began using amphetamine
Amphetamine
Amphetamine or amfetamine is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class which produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite.Brand names of medications that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat,...

 occasionally after 1937 and became addicted to the drug after the late summer of 1942. Albert Speer linked Hitler's use of amphetamines to his increasingly inflexible decision making (for example, never to allow military retreats).

Historians' views


German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

 dismisses theories that link the rise of Nazi Germany to Hitler's medical conditions and mental states. The theories about Hitler's medical condition are difficult to prove, and according them too much weight may have the effect of attributing many of the events and consequences of the Third Reich to the possibly impaired physical health of one individual. Kershaw agrees that it is better to take a broader view of German history by seeking to examine what social forces led to the Third Reich and its policies rather than to pursue narrow explanations for the Holocaust and World War II based on only one person.

Family




To the public, Hitler promoted his own image as that of a man without a domestic life, dedicated entirely to his political mission. He was engaged to Mimi Reiter in the 1920s, and later had a mistress, Eva Braun
Eva Braun
Eva Anna Paula Hitler was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife. Braun met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later...

.

In September 1931 Hitler's niece, Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal
Angelika Maria "Geli" Raubal was Adolf Hitler's half niece. Born in Linz, Austria-Hungary, she was the second child and eldest daughter of Leo Raubal Sr. and Hitler's half-sister, Angela Raubal...

, committed suicide with Hitler's gun in his Munich apartment. Geli was believed to be in a romantic relationship with Hitler, and it is believed that her death was a source of deep, lasting pain for him.

Paula Hitler
Paula Hitler
Paula Hitler was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl...

, the last living member of Adolf Hitler's immediate family, died in 1960. The most prominent and longest-living closest relative was Adolf Hitler's nephew, William Patrick Hitler
William Patrick Hitler
William Patrick "Willy" Stuart-Houston was the nephew of Adolf Hitler. Born to Adolf's half-brother Alois Hitler, Jr., and his first wife Bridget Dowling, William later moved to Germany and subsequently escaped, eventually going to the United States where he enlisted to fight in World War...

, the son of Adolf's half-brother, Alois Hitler Jr.

Over the years, various investigative reporters have attempted to track down other living relatives of Hitler. Many are presumed to be living inconspicuous lives and have changed their last name.

  • Klara Hitler
    Klara Hitler
    Klara Hitler née Pölzl was an Austrian woman, the wife of Alois Hitler and the mother of Adolf Hitler.-Family background and marriage:...

    , mother
  • Alois Hitler
    Alois Hitler
    Alois Hitler was an Austrian civil servant who was the father of Adolf Hitler.-Early life:...

    , father
  • Alois Hitler, Jr.
    Alois Hitler, Jr.
    Alois Hitler, Jr., born Alois Matzelsberger , was the son of Alois Hitler and Franziska Matzelsberger, and was the half-brother of Adolf Hitler.-Early life:...

    , half-brother
  • Angela Hitler Raubal
    Angela Hitler
    Angela Franziska Johanna Hammitzsch , first married to Leo Raubal, Sr., was the elder half-sister of Adolf Hitler.-Life:...

    , half-sister
  • Bridget Dowling
    Bridget Dowling
    Bridget Elizabeth Hitler, née Dowling was Adolf Hitler's sister-in-law via her marriage to Alois Hitler, Jr. She was the mother of Alois Hitler's son William Patrick Hitler...

    , sister-in-law
  • Eva Braun
    Eva Braun
    Eva Anna Paula Hitler was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife. Braun met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later...

    , mistress and then wife
  • Geli Raubal
    Geli Raubal
    Angelika Maria "Geli" Raubal was Adolf Hitler's half niece. Born in Linz, Austria-Hungary, she was the second child and eldest daughter of Leo Raubal Sr. and Hitler's half-sister, Angela Raubal...

    , niece
  • Gretl Braun
    Gretl Braun
    Margarete “Gretl” Braun was one of the two sisters of Eva Braun. She was a member of the inner social circle of Adolf Hitler at the Berghof and became the sister-in-law of the Nazi dictator following his marriage to Eva hours before they committed suicide together.-Early life:Born in Munich,...

    , sister-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
  • Heinz Hitler
    Heinz Hitler
    Heinrich Hitler was the son of Alois Hitler, Jr. and his second wife Hedwig Heidemann and the nephew of German dictator Adolf Hitler...

    , nephew
  • Hermann Fegelein
    Hermann Fegelein
    SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein was a General of the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany, a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage, brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl, and husband of the sister-in-law to Adolf Hitler through Hitler's marriage to Eva...

    , brother-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
  • Ilse Braun
    Ilse Braun
    Ilse Braun was one of the two sisters of Eva Braun. She became the sister-in-law of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler following his marriage to Eva in the early morning of 29 April 1945; less than 48 hours before they committed suicide together on 30 April 1945...

    , sister-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
  • Johann Georg Hiedler
    Johann Georg Hiedler
    Johann Georg Hiedler was born to Martin Hiedler and Anna Maria Göschl . He was considered the officially accepted paternal grandfather of Adolf Hitler by the Third Reich...

    , presumed grandfather
  • Johann Nepomuk Hiedler
    Johann Nepomuk Hiedler
    Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, also known as Johann Nepomuk Hüttler , was a maternal great-grandfather and possibly also the paternal grandfather of Adolf Hitler....

    , maternal great-grandfather, presumed great uncle and possibly Hitler's true paternal grandfather
  • Leo Raubal Jr
    Leo Rudolf Raubal Jr
    Leo Rudolf Raubal Jr. was a teacher, soldier and manager. He was a son of Leo Raubal and his wife Angela ....

    , nephew
  • Maria Schicklgruber
    Maria Schicklgruber
    Maria Anna Schicklgruber was Adolf Hitler's paternal grandmother.- Family :Maria was born in the village of Strones in the Waldviertel area. She was the daughter of Theresia Pfeisinger , and farmer Johannes Schicklgruber...

    , grandmother
  • Paula Hitler
    Paula Hitler
    Paula Hitler was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl...

    , sister
  • William Patrick Hitler
    William Patrick Hitler
    William Patrick "Willy" Stuart-Houston was the nephew of Adolf Hitler. Born to Adolf's half-brother Alois Hitler, Jr., and his first wife Bridget Dowling, William later moved to Germany and subsequently escaped, eventually going to the United States where he enlisted to fight in World War...

    , nephew

Hitler in media




Oratory and rallies


Hitler honed his oratory skills by giving speeches to military audiences in 1919 and 1920. He became adept at using populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 themes targeted to his audience, including the use of popular scapegoat
Scapegoat
Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals , individuals against groups , groups against individuals , and groups against groups Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any...

s who could be blamed for the economic hardships of his listeners. He had personal magnetism, hypnotic eyes, and an exceptionally good memory, traits he used to advantage while engaged in public speaking.

Recorded in private conversation


Hitler visited Finnish Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Mannerheim
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War, Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces during World War II, Marshal of Finland, and a Finnish statesman. He was Regent of Finland and the sixth President of Finland...

 on 4 June 1942. During the visit, an engineer of the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, Thor Damen, recorded Hitler and Mannerheim in conversation. Damen did so secretly, since Hitler did not permit recordings of him off the record. The 11½ minutes-long recording is the only audio record of Hitler in casual conversation. Most of the recording is a monologue of Hitler, which he delivers in a slightly excited, but detached manner. Hitler concedes that he had underestimated the Soviet Union's ability to conduct effective warfare. Audio recordings of Hitler and Mannerheim's public and private talk (w/English text) are available online.

Documentaries during the Third Reich


Documentary films were another propaganda tool for Hitler. Hitler was involved and appeared in a series of films by the pioneering filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl
Leni Riefenstahl
Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, actress and dancer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens , a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party...

 via Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG
Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945...

 (UFA):
  • Der Sieg des Glaubens
    Der Sieg des Glaubens
    Der Sieg des Glaubens is the first documentary film directed by Leni Riefenstahl, who was hired despite opposition from Nazi officials that resented employing a woman — and a non-Party member too...

    (Victory of Faith, 1933)
  • Triumph des Willens
    Triumph of the Will
    Triumph of the Will is a propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including portions of...

    (Triumph of the Will, 1934), co-produced by Hitler
  • Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces, 1935)
  • Olympia
    Olympia (1938 film)
    Olympia is a 1938 Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. The film was released in two parts: Olympia 1. Teil — Fest der Völker and Olympia 2. Teil — Fest der Schönheit . It was the first documentary feature...

    (1938)


Hitler was the central figure of the first three films; they focused on the party rallies
Nuremberg Rally
The Nuremberg Rally was the annual rally of the NSDAP in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938. Especially after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, they were large Nazi propaganda events...

 of the respective years and are considered propaganda films. For example, Leni Riefenstahl
Leni Riefenstahl
Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, actress and dancer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens , a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party...

's Triumph of the Will
Triumph of the Will
Triumph of the Will is a propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including portions of...

, shot during the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, shows Hitler from high and low angles, and only twice head-on. Some of the people in the film were paid actors, but most of the participants were not. Hitler also featured prominently in the Olympia film.

Television


As a prominent politician, Hitler was featured in many newsreels. His attendance at public functions, including the 1936 Olympic Games and Nuremberg Rallies, appeared on television broadcasts made between 1935 and 1939. These events, along with other programming that highlighted activity by public officials, were often repeated in public viewing rooms. Samples from a number of surviving television films from Nazi Germany were included in the 1999 documentary Das Fernsehen unter dem Hakenkreuz (Television Under the Swastika).

See also


  • Führermuseum
    Führermuseum
    The Führermuseum was an unrealized museum complex planned by Adolf Hitler for the Austrian city of Linz to display the collection of art plundered or purchased by the Nazis throughout Europe during World War II.-Design:...

  • Mein Kampf (online versions)
  • Poison Kitchen
    Poison Kitchen
    The Poison Kitchen was the name Adolf Hitler gave to a group of journalists of the Bavarian newspaper The Munich Post who were highly critical of Hitler and ran a series of extremely negative investigative exposés about Hitler in the 1920s and early 1930s, before Hitler came to power in Germany in...

  • Vorbunker
    Vorbunker
    The Vorbunker or "forward bunker" was located behind the large reception hall that was added onto the old Reich Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany. It was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants...


Citations



Further reading


External links



 – real life footage in documentaries – as portrayed in film and TV