Adolf Hitler Biography
Adolf Hitler was a military leader, politician, and German writer. Hitler was born in Austria on April 20, 1889. Adolf Hitler rose to power in German politics as a leader of the German National Socialist Workers Party, also known as the Nazi Party. Hitler was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945. His policies will trigger World War II and led to the genocide known as the Holocaust, resulting in the death of approximately 6 million Jews and another 5 million combatants.
On April 30, 1945, Hitler seeing himslef defeated committed suicide with his wife Eva Braun, in his bunker in Berlin.
The military dictator Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria on April 20, 1889, and was the fourth of the six children of Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl. Alois Hitler was a very strict father and did not agree with the interest of his son Adolf in the fine arts.
Alois died in 1903 and two years later, Adolf’s mother allowed him to leave school. After Hitler’s mom died, in December 1907, he decided to move to Vienna and worked as a casual laborer and watercolorist. Hitler applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and was rejected twice. The lack of money made him live in shelters. Also, he showed an early interest in German nationalism and the rejection of the authority of Austria-Hungary. This nationalism would become the motivating force of Hitler’s life.
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich and with the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted to serve in the German army. He was accepted in August 1914, although he was still an Austrian citizen. Hitler spent much of his time outside the front line that was present in a series of important battles and was wounded in the Somme battle. He was decorated for his bravery and receives the Wounded Medal (in German Verwundetenabzeichen) which was a German military decoration for soldiers affected by injuries of various magnitudes or by freezing effects while battling.
The experience reinforced his passionate German patriotism and he was surprised by the surrender of Germany in 1918 and he believed, like other German nationalists, that the German army had been betrayed by civilian and Marxist leaders.
POLITICS AND INCARCERATION
After the First World War, Hitler returned to Munich and continued working for the army as an intelligence officer. During the supervision of the activities of the German Workers’ Party (DAP), Hitler adopted many of the anti-Semitic, nationalist and anti-Marxist ideas of the party’s founder, Anton Drexler. Hitler joined the DAP in September 1919.
The DAP changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) often abbreviated as Nazi. Hitler personally designed the party’s flag, appropriating the symbol of the swastika and placing it in a white circle on a red background. He soon became famous for his speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, Marxists, and Jews. In 1921, Hitler replaced Drexler as president of the NSDAP.
On November 8, 1923, Hitler and the SA, the Nazi paramilitary organization Sturmabteilung, broke into a public meeting of the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Gustav Ritter von Kahr. Hitler announced that the national revolution had begun and declared the formation of a new government. After a brief fight that resulted in several deaths, the coup d’etat, known as the “Putsch” had failed.
Hitler was arrested and judged for high treason. He was nine months in prison, during which time most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) was dictated to his second, Rudolf Hess. A work of propaganda and lies, the book presented Hitler’s plans for the transformation of German society into one based on a race.
RISING TO POWER
With millions of unemployed, the Great Depression in Germany provided a political opportunity for Hitler. In 1932, Hindenburg was re-elected in the presidential elections, easily defeating Adolf Hitler, his main contender. Hitler came in second in the two rounds of the election, getting more than 36 percent of the votes in the final count. The results established Hitler as a major force in German politics. Hindenburg appoints Hitler as chancellor in order to promote political balance.
Hitler used his position as chancellor to form a legal dictatorship. The Decree of the Reichstag fire, whose official name was the Decree of the President of the Reich for the Protection of the People and the State (in German: Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zum Schutz von Volk und Staat) announced after a suspicious fire on 27 February 1933 in Parliament, which suspended basic rights and allowed detention without trial. Hitler also designed and approved the Law of Habilitation, which gave his cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years and allowed deviations from the constitution.
Having full control in the legislative and executive branches of government, Hitler and his political allies embarked on a systematic suppression of the remaining political opposition. By the end of June, the other parties had been intimidated in the dissolution. On July 14, 1933, Hitler’s Nazi Party was declared the only legal political party in Germany. In October, Hitler ordered the withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations. The day before Hindenburg’s death in August 1934, the cabinet had promulgated a law abolishing the president’s office, combining his powers with those of the chancellor. Therefore, Hitler became head of state, as well as head of government and was formally appointed leader and chancellor. As head of state, Hitler became supreme commander of the armed forces.
From 1933 until the start of the war in 1939, Hitler and his Nazi regime instituted hundreds of laws and regulations to restrict and exclude Jews in society. Anti-Semitic laws were issued through all levels of government, enforcing the promise of the Nazis to persecute Jews if the party came to power. On April 1, 1933, Hitler implemented a national boycott to Jewish businesses, followed by the introduction of the “Law for the Restoration of Professional Public Function” of April 7, 1933, which was one of the first laws to persecute the Jews through exclusion from the state service.
The “Law for the Restoration of Professional Public Function” was a Nazi application of the Aryan paragraph, a clause that established the exclusion of Jews and non-Aryans from organizations, employment and all aspects of public life.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND HOLOCAUST
In 1938, Hitler, alongside with several other European leaders, signed the Munich Agreement. The treaty ceded the Sudeten districts (Sudetenland in German) to Germany, reversing part of the Treaty of Versailles. As a result of the summit, Hitler was appointed by Time magazine, Man of the Year in 1938. This diplomatic victory had only sharpened his appetite for a renewed German dominance.
The Nazis continued to segregate Jews from German society, banning them from public schools, universities, theaters, sporting events and “Aryan” zones. Jewish doctors were also forbidden to treat “Aryan” patients.
Jews were forced to carry identity cards and, in the autumn of 1938, the Jews had to have their passports stamped with a “J”.
On November 9th and 10th, 1938, a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms swept Germany, Austria, and parts of the Sudetenland. Nazis destroyed synagogues, acts of vandalism to Jewish houses, schools, businesses and about 100 Jews were killed these days. Called Kristallnacht, the “Crystal Night” or the “Night of broken glass” making reference to the broken glass as a result of the destruction, the pogroms intensified the persecution of the Jews to another level of brutality and violence and nearly 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Between 1939 and 1945, Nazis and their collaborators were responsible for the deaths of at least 1 million combatants, including nearly six million Jews, who represented two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. As part of Hitler’s “final solution,” the genocide promulgated by the regime would come to be known as the Holocaust. Mass killings and executions took place in the concentration and extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and Treblinka, among many others. Other persecuted groups including Poles, Communists, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and trade unionists. The prisoners were used as forced laborers for construction projects of the SS, and in some cases, they were forced to build and expand the concentration camps.
The prisoners were exposed to hunger, torture and horrible brutalities including having to endure horrible and painful medical experiments. Hitler probably never visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly about the mass murders, but the Germans documented the atrocities committed in the camps on paper and in films. Hitler intensified his military activities in 1940 when invading Norway, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherland, and Belgium.
In July, Hitler would order bombings in the United Kingdom, with the aim of invasion. Germany’s formal alliance with Japan and Italy, collectively known as the Axis powers, was agreed at the end of September to dissuade the United States from appearing and protect the British. On June 22, 1941, Hitler violated the 1939 pact of non-aggression with Joseph Stalin, sending a massive army of German troops to the Soviet Union (Operation Redbeard). The invading force seized a huge area of Russia before Hitler temporarily halted the invasion and diverted forces to encircle Leningrad and Kiev. The pause allowed the Red Army to regroup and carry out a counter-offensive attack, and the German advance was stopped outside of Moscow in December 1941.
On December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In honor of the alliance with Japan, Hitler was at war with the allied powers, a coalition that included Britain, the world’s largest empire, led by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the United States, the world’s largest economic power, led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and the Soviet Union which had the largest army in the world, commanded by Stalin.
Militarily Hitler became increasingly erratic, and the Axis powers could not sustain their aggressive and expansive war. At the end of 1942, German forces failed in the Operation Felix in the Suez Canal, leading to the loss of German control over North Africa. The German army also suffered defeats at the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943) considered a turning point in the war and the Battle of Kursk (1943).
On June 6th, 1944, on what would come to be known as D-Day, the Western-allied armies landed in northern France. As a result of these major setbacks, many German officers came to the conclusion that defeat was inevitable and if Hitler continued it would result in the destruction of the country. Organized efforts to assassinate the dictator were gained strength, and the opponents approached with an attack on July 20, 1944. However, it was a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, carried out by a group of Wehrmacht officers organized by the Colonel Count. Claus von Stauffenberg as part of a coup d’etat based on the so-called Operation Valkyrie.
Early in 1945, Hitler realized that Germany was going to lose the war. The Soviets had led the German army back to Western Europe and the allies were advancing towards Germany from the west. At midnight, on April 29, 1945, Hitler married his girlfriend, Eva Braun, at a small civil ceremony in his Berlin bunker. Hitler was informed of the execution of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and fearing to fall into the hands of enemy troops, Hitler and Braun committed suicide the day after their wedding, on April 30, 1945. Their bodies were taken to a bombed area outside the Reich Chancellery, where they were burned.
Berlin fell on May 2, 1945. Five days later, on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally to the allies. The defeat of Hitler marked the end of Germany’s domination in European history and the defeat of fascism. A new global ideological conflict, the Cold War, arose as a result of the devastating violence of World War II.