Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday

Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday

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Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday on April 20, 1939 was a national holiday in Nazi Germany
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...

. On that day, the largest military parade in the history of the Third Reich was held in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...



On April 18, 1939, the government of Nazi Germany declared April 20, the birthday of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, a national holiday. Festivities took place in all municipalities throughout the country, as well as in 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....

. Historian 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...

 comments that the events organized in Berlin by the Nazi minister of propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 Dr. 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...

Festivities began in the afternoon of the day before, when Hitler was driven at the head of a motorcade of fifty white limousines along 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...

's newly-completed "East-West Axis", the planned central boulevard for "Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II...

", which was to be the new capital for the Nazi empire. Hitler had been anticipating a speech from the taciturn Speer and was amused when he evaded this by briefly announcing that the work should speak for itself. The next event was a torchlight procession of deputations from all over Germany, which Hitler reviewed from a balcony in the 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...

. Then, at midnight, Hitler's courtiers congratulated him and presented him with gifts, including
Notably, Speer gave Hitler a model of the gigantic triumphal arch planned for the rebuilding of Berlin, and Hitler's pilot, Hans Baur
Hans Baur
General Hans Baur was German dictator Adolf Hitler's pilot during his political campaigns of the 1920s and 1930s...

, gave him a model of the 'Fuhrer Machine', a four-engined Focke-Wulf 200 'Condor' which was to go into service in the summer as Hitler's official airplane.

Military parade

The main feature of the celebrations on the birthday itself was a huge show of the military capabilities of Nazi Germany intended, in part, as a warning to the western powers.

In total, 40,000 to 50,000 German troops took part in the parade, which lasted about five hours and included 12 companies of the 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....

, 12 companies of the Army, and 12 companies of sailors, as well as the SS. 162 warplanes flew over the city of Berlin. The grandstand
A grandstand is a large and normally permanent structure for seating spectators, most often at a racetrack. This includes both auto racing and horse racing. The grandstand is in essence like a single section of a stadium, but differs from a stadium in that it does not wrap all or most of the way...

 comprised 20,000 official guests, and the parade was watched by several hundreds of thousands of spectators. Features of the parade were large long range air defence artillery guns, emphasis on motorized artillery and development of air defense units.

Goebbels, the event's organizer declared in a broadcast address to the German people "The Reich stands in the shadow of the German sword. Trade and industry, and cultural and national life flourish under the guarantee of the military forces. [...] The name of Herr Hitler is our political programme. Imagination and realism are harmoniously combined in the 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...


Military leaders throughout the country gave addresses to their troops to celebrate the occasion. Some, such as Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

, were especially effusive in their praise for their supreme commander.

Official guests representing 23 countries took part in the celebrations. Cesare Orsenigo
Cesare Orsenigo
Cesare Vincenzo Orsenigo was Apostolic Nuncio to Germany from 1930 to 1945, during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II...

, the Papal envoy, Jozef Tiso
Jozef Tiso
Jozef Tiso was a Slovak Roman Catholic priest, politician of the Slovak People's Party, and Nazi collaborator. Between 1939 and 1945, Tiso was the head of the Slovak State, a satellite state of Nazi Germany...

, the President of the Slovak Republic, the heads of the branches of Nazi Germany's armed forces, and mayors of German cities offered birthday congratulations at the chancellery of Nazi Germany. The Greek government sent a delegation that included George Kirkimis, the governor general of the Greek region of Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

 at the time. Hitler and Italian dictator 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....

 exchanged telegrams assuring each other that the friendship between Germany and the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

, two countries ruled by fascist regimes at the time, could not be disturbed by their enemies.

The ambassadors of the United Kingdom, France and the United States were not present at the parade, having been withdrawn after Hitler's march into Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia began with the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by...

. The U.S. was represented at the troop review by chargé d'affaires Raymond H. Geist. U.S. President 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...

 did not congratulate Hitler on his birthday, in accordance with his practice of not sending birthday greetings to any but ruling monarchs. King George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 dispatched a message of congratulation to Hitler. Due to the strained relations between the two countries at the time, the advisors of the British monarch had considered whether the King should ignore the birthday or not.

There was no Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 representation at the parade.


A luxury edition of Hitler's book 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...

published in 1939 in honor of his 50th birthday was known as the Jubiläumsausgabe ("Anniversary Issue"). It came in both dark blue and sharp red boards with a gold sword on the cover.

The German author Heinrich Hoffmann
Heinrich Hoffmann
Heinrich Hoffmann was a German photographer best known for his many published photographs of Adolf Hitler.-Early life and career:...

 wrote a book about Hitler's 50th birthday, entitled Ein Volk ehrt seinen Führer ("A nation honors her leader"). Composer Hans Rehberg wrote a hymn for the occasion.

A film of the birthday celebrations was made — Hitlers 50. Geburtstag. An important example of Nazi propaganda, was subsequently shown to packed audiences of young people at the Youth Film Hours held on Sundays.

Birthday gifts

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....

 made Hitler an honorary citizen of the city as a birthday gift. Hitler received the citizenship papers from the hands of 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...

, the Nazi leader of the city. Political and military tension between Germany and Poland was heightened and the possibility of Danzig being returned to Germany was reported.

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 the Eagle's Nest
The Kehlsteinhaus is a chalet-style structure erected on a subpeak of the Hoher Göll known as the Kehlstein. It was built as an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected in the mountains above Berchtesgaden...

 constructed as the Nazi Party
National Socialist Party
Parties in various contexts have referred to themselves as National Socialist parties. Because there is no clear definition of national socialism, the term has been used to mean very different things...

's birthday gift. However, Hitler did not like the location, as he had a fear of heights
Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. It belongs to a category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomfort that share both similar etiology and options for treatment.Most people experience a degree of natural fear when exposed to heights, especially if there is little...


Hitler did not drink alcohol due to his indigestion. A Munich brewery created a special batch of low alcohol beer
Low alcohol beer
Low-alcohol beer is beer with very low or no alcohol content...

 for his birthday which then became a regular order.

On the occasion of the birthday, recipients of small incomes received a birthday gift of fifteen German Reichsmark
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

s, plus five Reichsmarks for every dependent, an expenditure totalling 13 million Reichsmarks.


According to historian 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...


External links