Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, was born on April 20th, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria. His parents, Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl, had five other children; Hitler was the fourth of six. They moved to Germany while Hitler was still young, and when Edmund, one of his younger brothers died, Hitler slowly became more and more introverted. His father did not approve of this change in attitude; Hitler’s interests lay in fine art and German nationalism instead of business like his father had hoped. When, in 1903, Hitler’s father died, Hitler was able to take control of his future, and applied to the Academy of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, he was not accepted and found himself in a homeless shelter in Vienna.
In 1914, though still an Austrian citizen, Hitler applied to serve in the German army. He received the Iron Cross First Class and the Black Wound Badge, but war changed him. His prior nationalistic tendencies were strengthened, and when Germany surrendered, he was angered. He returned to Munich and worked as an intelligence officer, where he monitored the German Workers’ Party. It was from monitoring this party that he came to develop his anti-Semitic beliefs. He later came to control this party, changing the name to the National Socialist German Workers Party, also known as the Nazi party. He created an insignia for them – the swastika.
In 1923, Hitler and a paramilitary operation (Sturmabteilung), headed by Ernst Rohm, stormed a public gathering in one of Munich’s largest beer halls to inform people of the Nazi revolution. However, this attempt to take over the government failed. Because of this, Hitler was arrested and tried for high treason. During his year-long stint in prison, he dictated the first volume of Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess.
Germany’s Great Depression came at an opportune time for Hitler. Hitler ran for the presidency against Paul von Hindenberg in 1932. He came in second, and was appointed as chancellor. He used this position to manipulate his way into becoming somewhat of a dictator, passing things that seemed unconstitutional and illegal, giving him total control. He and his followers instilled fear in other political parties, causing them to disband, leaving only the Nazi party as the sole political party in Germany. All opposition was punished.
Hindenberg, the president of Germany, died, and the German cabinet ruled to combine the position of Chancellor and President, leaving no doubt as to Hitler’s complete and total domination of Germany.
Hitler used his power to promote his own ideals. The most famous of these was his anti-Jewish regime. Hitler decided to exterminate Jews for the sake of cleansing the future generations’ genetic pools. The Holocaust began in 1939, and 6 million Jews were killed in concentration camps. Although other groups were persecuted during this time, more than half and by far the most well-known were the Jews. This would be the beginning of World War II.
Still hungry for more power, in the early 1940s, Hitler began to make attempts to seize more land and invade more countries; he invaded Russia with just over 3 million troops. Unfortunately for him, Hitler had now also attracted the attention of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
Slowly, Germany’s military position declined, as did its economy. Hitler became ill, and began to lose any remnants of sound judgment that he once had. Once 1945 came around, it was clear that Germany would not win this war. He made plans to marry his girlfriend Eva Braun, and together they committed suicide on April 30th, 1945.
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