Born: 20 April 1889 Austria-Hungary.
Died: 30 April 1945 Berlin, Germany.
Führer of Germany 2 August 1934 to 30 April 1945
Chancellor of Germany 30 January 1933 to 30 April 1945
Reichsstatthalter of Prussia 30 January 1933 to 30 January 1935
I saw Adolf Hitlers rout at Munich
The Führer had just left us when
Who was the Guy Fawkes in the Munich cellar ?
Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 and was a Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP, generally referred to as the National Socialist Party). Adolf Hitler was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and dictator of Third Reich (Führer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Adolf Hitler is normally associated with the rise of fascism in Europe,during Second World War, and the final solution.
A decorated veteran of the First World War, Adolf Hitler joined the German Workers' Party, forerunner of the National Socialist Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) in 1921. In 1923 Adolf Hitler undertook a coup d'état, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Adolf Hitler's incarceration, during which time he penned his memoir, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After his release in 1924, Adolf Hitler gained support by promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. After his engagement as chancellor in 1933, Adolf Hitler transformed the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. His declared aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe.
Adolf Hitler's foreign and domestic policies had the goal of appropriating Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. Adolf Hitler supervised the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht in September 1939, which led to the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe. Under Adolf Hitler's guidance, in 1941 German forces and their European allies occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains followed step by step reversal after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German regular army. Adolf Hitler's supremacist and racially prompted policies ensued in the systematised murder of 11 million people, including virtually 6 million Jews.
In the concluding days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Adolf Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun. On 30 April 1945 less than two days later the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Russian Army, and their remains were burned.
Adolf Hitler's father, Alois Hitler 1837 to 1903, was the bastard child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Alois's birth certificate didn't list the name of the father, and the child bore his mother's surname. In 1842 Johann Georg Hiedler married Maria, and in 1876 Johann bore witness before a notary and three witnesses that he was the father of Alois. National socialist official Hans Frank indicated the existence of letters claiming that Alois' mother was engaged as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family's nineteen year old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois. Nevertheless, no Frankenberger, Jewish or otherwise, was recorded in Graz during that period. Historians now question the claim that Alois' father was Jewish all Jews had been ejected from Graz under Maximilian I in the 15th century, and weren't allowed to settle in Styria till the Basic Laws were passed in 1849.
At age thirty-nine Alois assumed the surname Hitler, also spelled as Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler the name was probably regularised to its last spelling by a clerk. The ancestry of the name is either one who lives in a hut (Standard German Hütte), shepherd, (Standard German hüten to guard, English heed), or is from the Slavic words Hidlar and Hidlarcek.
Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen, a village annexed in 1938 to the municipality of Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria. Adolf Hitler was the 4th of six children to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl 1860 to 1907. Adolf's older siblings Gustav, Ida, and Otto died in early childhood. Whilst Adolf Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany. There he would develop the distinctive lower Bavarian accent, instead of Austrian German, which marked his manner of speaking all of his life. In 1894 the family relocated to Leonding (near Linz), and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld, near Lambach, where he attempted his hand at farming and beekeeping. Adolf went to school in nearby Fischlham. Adolf Hitler became fascinated on warfare after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian War among his father's possessions.
The move to Hafeld seems to have coincided with the onset of intense father-son differences, caused by Adolf's refusal to follow the strict discipline of his school. Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld finished in failure, and in 1897 the family relocated to Lambach. Adolf Hitler attended a Catholic school in an 11th century Benedictine cloister, the walls of which had engravings and crests that comprised the swastika symbol. The 8 year old Adolf Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even toyed with thoughts of becoming a priest. In 1898 the family returned for good to Leonding. The death of his junior brother Edmund from measles on 2 February 1900 profoundly affected Adolf Hitler. He changed from being confident and outgoing and an first-class student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who perpetually fought with his father and teachers.
Alois had made a successful career in the Bureau of Customs and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Adolf Hitler later dramatised an episode from this period when his father took him to visit a customs office, portraying it as an event that brought about the unrelenting hostility between father and son who were both strong-minded. Dismissing his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 Alois sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students. This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later. Adolf Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf disclosed that he did badly in school, hoping that once his father saw what little progress he was attaining at the technical school he would allow me dedicate myself to my ambitions.
Adolf Hitler became possessed with German nationalism from a youngish age as a way of rebelling against his father, who was proudly serving the Austrian authorities. Whilst many Austrians believed themselves Germans, they were patriotic to Austria. Adolf Hitler showed loyalty only to Germany, disliking the waning Habsburg Monarchy and its rule over an ethnically varied empire. Adolf Hitler and his friends used the German greeting Heil, and sang the German anthem Deutschland Über Alles rather than the Austrian Imperial anthem.
After Alois' unforeseen death on 3 January 1903, Adolf Hitler's conduct at the technical school became even more turbulent, and he was asked to leave in 1904. Adolf Hitler registered at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904 where his conduct and performance displayed some slight and gradual improvement. In the fall of 1905, after passing a duplicate and the final exam, Adolf Hitler left the school without demonstrating any aspirations for additional schooling or clear plans for his future career.
Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
From 1905, Adolf Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. The Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna turned him away twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his unfitness for painting, and the director suggested that he study architecture. All the same, he lacked the intellectual credentials needed 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 fulfilment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.
On 21 December 1907, Adolf Hitler's mother passed away at age forty-seven. Adolf Hitler worked as a casual labourer and finally as a painter, selling watercolours Later being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Adolf Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, Adolf Hitler lived in a homeless shelter, and by 1910, Adolf Hitler had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstraße.
Adolf Hitler declared that he first became an anti-Semitic in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms in Soviet Russia.
There were fewer Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries their outward appearance had become Europeanised and had taken on a human look, in fact, I even took them for Germans. The ridiculousness of this idea didn't dawn on me since I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavourable comments about them into horror. Therefore I didn't so much as suspect the existence of an coordinated opposition to the Jews. Then I came to Vienna.
Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I abruptly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought. For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man on the sly and carefully, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinising feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German?
Adolf Hitler's account has been called into question by his childhood friend, August Kubizek, who intimated that Adolf Hitler was already a confirmed anti-Semitic before he left Linz for Vienna. Brigitte Hamann has disputed Kubizek's account, writing that of all those early witnesses who can be taken seriously Kubizek is the only one to portray young Adolf Hitler as an anti-Semite and exactly in this respect he is not trustworthy. If Adolf Hitler was an anti-Semitic even before settling in Vienna, evidently he did not act on his views. He was a common dinner guest in a wealthy Jewish home, he interacted well with Jewish merchandisers and sold his paintings almost entirely to Jewish dealers.
At the time Adolf Hitler lived there, Vienna was a hotbed of conventional religious prejudice and 19th century racialism. Concerns of being overrun by immigrants from the East were widespread, and the populist mayor, Karl Lueger, was adept at exploiting the rhetoric of virulent anti-Semitism for political effect. Georg Schönerer's pangermanic ethnic anti-Semitism had a strong following and base in the Mariahilf district, where Adolf Hitler lived. Local newspapers such as the Deutsches Volksblatt, which Adolf Hitler read, fanned prejudices, as did Rudolf Vrba's writings, which played on Christian fears of being inundated by an inflow of eastern Jews. He probably read occult writings, such as the anti-Semitic magazine Ostara, published by Lanz von Liebenfels. Hostile to what he saw as Catholic German phobia, he developed an appreciation for Martin Luther. Luther's anti-Semitic writings were to play a role in later national socialist propaganda.
Adolf Hitler picked up the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always yearned to live in a real German city. In Munich, he further pursued his interest in architecture and studied the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who, a decade later, was to become the first person of national and even international repute to align himself with Adolf Hitler and the national socialist movement. Adolf Hitler also may have left Vienna to avoid conscription into the Austrian army he was unwilling to serve the Habsburg state and was sickened by what he perceived as a mixture of races in the Austrian army. After a physical exam on 5 February 1914, he was viewed as unfit for service and returned to Munich. When Germany entered the First World War in August 1914, he successfully petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment.
World War I
Adolf Hitler served as a runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. He experienced major combat, including the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele.
He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. Recommended by Hugo Gutmann, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Adolf Hitler's rank (Gefreiter). Adolf Hitler's post at regimental headquarters, where he had regular interactions with higher-ranking officers, may have aided him to receive this award. The regimental staff, nevertheless, thought Adolf Hitler lacked leadership skills, and he was never promoted. He also received the Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.
During his service at the military headquarters, Adolf Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. During the Battle of the Somme in October 1916, he was wounded either in the groin area or the left thigh by a shell that had detonated in the dispatch runners' dugout. Adolf Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz, returning to his regiment on 5 March 1917. On 15 October 1918, Adolf Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack and was hospitalised in Pasewalk. Whilst there, Adolf Hitler learnt of Germany's surrender, and by his own account on hearing this news, he suffered a 2nd bout of blindness. Investigators have indicated his secondary blindness may have been the result of conversion disorder brought on by his shock that Germany had lost the war,but others have brushed aside this theory.
Adolf Hitler became embittered over the break down of the war effort, and 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 courageousness. The experience made Adolf Hitler a passionate German nationalist, and he was shocked by Germany's surrender in November 1918. Like other German patriots, 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 by civilian leaders and Bolsheviks, later dubbed the November Criminals.
The Treaty of Versailles specified that Germany must give up several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty enforced economic sanctions and imposed heavy reparations on the country. A lot of Germans perceived the treaty particularly Article 231, which proclaimed Germany responsible for the war as a humiliation. The Versailles treaty and the economic, social, and political conditions in Germany after the war were later misused by Adolf Hitler for political gains.
Entry into politics
After the First World War, Adolf Hitler stayed on in the army and returned to Munich. In July 1919 he was appointed intelligence agent (Verbindungsmann) of an reconnaissance commando (Aufklärungskommando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP (German Workers' Party). Whilst he studied the actions of the DAP (German Workers' Party), Adolf Hitler became impressed with founder Anton Drexler's anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas. Drexler preferred a strong active government, a non-Jewish version of socialism, and solidarity among all members of society. Impressed with Adolf Hitler's oratory skills, Drexler invited him to join the DAP (German Workers' Party). Adolf Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, becoming the party's 55th member.
At the DAP (German Workers' Party), Adolf Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of its early founders and a member of the occult Thule Society. Eckart became Adolf Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing him to a wide range of people in Munich society. Adolf Hitler gave thanks Eckart and paid tribute to him in the 2nd volume of Mein Kampf. To increase its appeal, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party). Adolf Hitler designed the party's banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background.
After his discharge from the army in March 1920, Adolf Hitler started out working full time for the party. In February 1921 already extremely effective at talking to large audiences he addressed a crowd of over six thousand in Munich. To advertise the meeting, two truckloads of party supporters drove around town waving swastika flags and throwing leaflets. Adolf Hitler soon gained notoriety for his disorderly, controversial speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and particularly against Marxists and Jews. At the time, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) was centred in Munich, a major hotbed of anti-government German nationalists determined to crush Marxism and sabotage the Weimar Republic.
In June 1921, whilst Adolf Hitler and Eckart were on a fund raising trip to Berlin, a mutiny erupted within the DAP (German Workers' Party) in Munich. Members of the DAP (German Workers' Party)'s executive committee, a few of whom believed Adolf Hitler to be too dictatorial, wanted to merge with the rival DSP (German Socialist Party). Adolf Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July 1921 and angrily offered his resignation from the DAP (German Workers' Party). The committee members understood that his resignation would mean the end of the party. Adolf Hitler declared 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 returned to the party as member 3,680. He still faced some resistance within the DAP (German Workers' Party): Hermann Esser and his allies printed 3,000 copies of a leaflet attacking Adolf Hitler as a traitor to the party. In the following days, Adolf Hitler talked to several full houses and defended himself to deafening applause. His scheme proved successful: at a general DAP (German Workers' Party) membership meeting, he was given absolute powers as party chairman, with only one no vote cast.
Adolf Hitler's virulent beer hall speeches started attracting regular audiences. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, former air force pilot Hermann Göring, and Ernst Röhm. The latter became head of the Nazis' paramilitary force, the Sturmabteilung (SA, Storm Division), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political adversaries. A vital influence on his thinking during this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung, a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian exiles and early National Socialists. The group, financed with funds channelled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism.
Beer Hall Putsch
Adolf Hitler engaged the help of the First World War General Erich von Ludendorfff or an attempted coup known as the Beer Hall Putsch (also known as the Adolf Hitler Putsch or Munich Putsch). The National Socialist German Workers' Party had used Italian Fascism as a example for their appearance and policies, and in 1923, Adolf Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini's March on Rome by staging his own Campaign in Berlin. Adolf Hitler and Erich von Ludendorfff looked for support of Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler. Nevertheless, Kahr, along with Police Chief Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seißer) and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow, wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular unrest 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, a large beer hall in Munich. Adolf Hitler broke up Kahr's speech and proclaimed that the national revolution had begun, announcing the formation of a new government with Erich von Ludendorfff. With his handgun drawn, Adolf Hitler demanded and got the support of Kahr, Seisser, and Lossow. Adolf Hitler's forces at first succeeded in occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters, nevertheless, neither the army nor the state police collaborated with him. Kahr and his associates rapidly withdrew their support and fled to join Adolf Hitler's opposition. The next day, Adolf Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to bring down the Bavarian government, but police scattered them. Sixteen NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) members and four policemen were killed in the failed coup.
Adolf Hitler took flight to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, and by some accounts he contemplated suicide. He was demoralised but calm when he was apprehended on 11 November 1923 for high treason. His trial began in February 1924 before the special People's Court in Munich,and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party). On 1 April Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. He experienced friendly treatment from the guards and numerous letters from supporters. The Bavarian Supreme Court issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's protests. Including time on remand, Adolf Hitler had served just over one year in prison.
Whilst at Landsberg, Adolf Hitler dictated most of the 1st 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. 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 by Madison Grant, which Adolf Hitler called my Bible. The book laid out Adolf Hitler's plans for transforming German society into one based on race by means of racial extermination. Brought out in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, it sold 228,000 copies between 1925 and 1932. One million copies were sold in 1933, Adolf Hitler's first year in office.
Rebuilding the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party)
At the time of Adolf Hitler's release from prison, politics in Germany had become less aggressive, and the economic system had improved. This limited Adolf Hitler's chances for political upheaval. As a result of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) and its associated organisations were prohibited in Bavaria. In a meeting with Prime Minister of Bavaria Heinrich Held on 4 January 1925, Adolf Hitler agreed to honour the authority of the state, he would only seek political power through the democratic action. The meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) to be lifted. Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler was stopped from public speaking, a ban that stayed in place until 1927. To advance his political aspirations in spite of the ban, Adolf Hitler appointed Gregor Strasser, Otto Strasser, and Joseph Goebbels to organise and grow the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) in northern Germany. A brilliant organiser, Gregor Strasser guided a more independent political path, emphasising the socialist factor of the party's programme.
Adolf Hitler ruled the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) dictatorially by affirming the Führerprinzip (Leader principle). Rank in the party was not determined by elections positions were filled through appointment by those of higher rank, who demanded implicit obedience to the will of the leader.
The stock exchange in the United States crashed on 24 October 1929. The affect in Germany was dire, 1000000s were thrown out of work and several major banks collapsed. Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) geared up to take advantage of the emergency to acquire support for their party. They promised to renounce the Versailles treaty, beef up the economy, and provide jobs.
Rise to power
The Great Depression in Germany in 1930 allowed a political opportunity for Adolf Hitler. Germans were ambivalent to the parliamentary republic, which faced strong challenges from right and left wing extremists. The moderate political parties were progressively unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to elevate national socialist ideology. The elections of September 1930 ensued in the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement with a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brüning of the Centre Party, governed through emergency edicts from the president, Paul von Hindenburg. Governance by edict would become the new norm and paved the way for dictatorial forms of government. The NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) rose from obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second biggest party in parliament.
Adolf 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 in the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party), at that time illegal for Reichswehr personnel. The criminal prosecution argued that the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) was an extremist party, prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank to call on Adolf Hitler to bear witness in court. On 25 September 1930 Adolf Hitler bore witness that his party would pursue political power entirely through democratic elections. Adolf Hitler's testimony won him many supporters in the officer corps.
Brüning's austerity measures brought little economic improvement and were exceedingly unpopular. Adolf Hitler exploited this failing by directing his political messages specifically to the sections of the population that had been affected by the inflation of the 1920s and the Depression, such as farmers, war ex-servicemen, and the middle class.
Adolf Hitler officially renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time didn't get German citizenship. For almost seven years Adolf Hitler was stateless, unable to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation. On 25 February 1932 the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party), appointed Adolf Hitler as administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Adolf Hitler a citizen of Brunswick, and thus of Germany.
In 1932 Adolf Hitler ran against Paul von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. The viability of his candidacy was emphasised by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf, which acquired him support from many of Germany's most powerful industrialists. Nevertheless, Paul von Hindenburg had support from assorted nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican parties, and some social democrats. Adolf Hitler used the campaign slogan Adolf Hitler über Deutschland (Adolf Hitler over Germany), a reference to both his political ambitions and to his campaigning by aircraft. Adolf Hitler came in 2nd in both rounds of the election, pulling together more than 35% of the vote in the final election. Whilst he lost to Paul von Hindenburg, this election established Adolf Hitler as a strong force in German politics.
Appointment as chancellor
The absence of an effective government prompted two influential politicians, Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, along with several other industrialists and businessmen, to write a letter to Paul von Hindenburg. The signatories urged Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Adolf Hitler as leader of a government autonomous from parliamentary parties, which could turn into a movement that would enrapture 1000000s of people.
Paul von Hindenburg reluctantly agreed to appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor after two further parliamentary elections in July and November 1932 had not resulted in the formation of a majority government. Adolf Hitler was to head a short lived coalition government formed by the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) and Hugenberg's party, the German National People's Party (DNVP). On 30 January 1933 the new cabinet was sworn in during a short and simple ceremony in Paul von Hindenburg's office. The NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) held three of the eleven posts, Adolf Hitler was named chancellor, Hermann Göring was named minister without portfolio, and Wilhelm Frick was appointed minister of the interior.
Reichstag fire and March elections
As chancellor, Adolf Hitler worked against attempts by the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party)'s opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, he asked President Paul von Hindenburg to again dissolve the Reichstag, and elections were scheduled for early March. On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire. Hermann Göring blamed a communist plot, because Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found in incriminating circumstances inside the burning building. At Adolf Hitler's urging, Paul von Hindenburg reacted with the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February, which suspended basic rights, including habeas corpus. Activities of the German Communist Party were suppressed, and some 4,000 communist party members were arrested. Investigators, including William L. Shirer and Alan Bullock, are of the opinion that the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) itself was responsible for starting the fire.
In addition to political campaigning, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) engaged in paramilitary violence and the spread of anti-Communist propaganda in the days preceding the election. On election day, 6 March 1933, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party)'s share of the vote increased to 43.9%, and the party acquired the largest number of seats in parliament. Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler's party failed to secure an absolute majority, calling for another coalition with the DNVP
Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act
On 21 March 1933 the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. This Day of Potsdam was held to demonstrate unity between the national socialist movement and the old Prussian elite and military. Adolf Hitler came along in a morning coat and humbly greeted President Paul von Hindenburg.
To accomplish full political control despite not having an absolute majority in parliament, Adolf Hitler's government brought in the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag. The act gave Adolf Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years and (with certain exclusions) allowed for deviations from the constitution. The bill called for a two-thirds majority to pass. Leaving nothing to chance, the national socialists used the provisions of the Reichstag Fire Decree to keep several Social Democratic deputies from attending the Communists had already been prohibited.
On 23 March, the Reichstag got together at the Kroll Opera House under tumultuous circumstances. Ranks of SA men served as guards inside the building, while large groups outside opposing the proposed legislation shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving members of parliament. The position of the Centre Party, the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive. After Adolf Hitler verbally promised party leader Ludwig Kaas that President Paul von Hindenburg would retain his power of veto, Kaas announced the Centre Party would support the Enabling Act. Finally, the Enabling Act passed by a vote of 441-84, with all parties except the Social Democrats voting in favour. The Enabling Act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree, transformed Adolf Hitler's government into a de facto legal dictatorship
Removal of remaining limits
Having accomplished full control over the legislative and executive arms of government, Adolf Hitler and his political allies started a systematic quelling of the remaining political resistance. The Social Democratic Party was banned and all its assets appropriated. While many trade union delegates were in Berlin for May Day activities, SA storm troopers destroyed trade union offices around the country. On 2 May 1933 all trade unions were coerced to dissolve and their leaders were arrested some were sent to concentration camps. The German Labour Front was formed to represent all workers, administrators, and company owners together as one group. This new trade union reflected the concept of national socialism in the spirit of Adolf Hitler's Volksgemeinschaft (community of all German people).
By the end of June, the other parties had been broke up, and with the help of the SA, Adolf Hitler coerced his nominal coalition partner, Hugenberg, into resigning. On 14 July 1933 Adolf Hitler's national socialist Party was proclaimed the only legal political party in Germany. The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused much anxiety amongst military, industrial, and political leaders. Adolf Hitler reacted by purging the entire SA leadership in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives, which happened on 30 June to 2 July 1934. Adolf Hitler targeted Ernst Röhm and other political opponents (such as Gregor Strasser and former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher). Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders, along with a number of Adolf Hitler's political enemies, were rounded up, apprehended, and shot. While some Germans were shocked by the murders, many saw Adolf Hitler as the one who restored order to the country.
On 2 August 1934 President Paul von Hindenburg died. The previous day, the cabinet had enacted a law to take effect upon Paul von Hindenburg's death which abolished the office of president and combined its powers with those of the chancellor. Adolf Hitler therefore became head of state as well as head of government, and was formally named as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor).This law violated the Enabling Act as well as the constitution, the Enabling Act specifically barred Adolf Hitler from passing any law that tampered with the presidency, and in 1932, the constitution had been amended to make the president of the High Court of Justice, not the chancellor, acting president pending new elections. With this law, Adolf Hitler removed the last legal remedy by which he could be removed from office.
As head of state, Adolf Hitler became Supreme Commander of the armed services. The traditional loyalty oath of soldiers and sailors was altered to affirm loyalty directly to Adolf Hitler, rather than to the office of supreme commander. On 19 August, the amalgamation of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by a plebiscite with support of 90% of the electorate.
In early 1938, Adolf Hitler coerced his War Minister, Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, to resign when a police dossier was found showing that Werner von Blomberg's new wife had a record for prostitution. Adolf Hitler removed army commander Colonel-General Werner von Fritsch after the Schutzstaffel (SS) brought about allegations that he had taken part in a homosexual relationship. Both men had already fallen into disapproval when they objected to his demand that they have the Wehrmacht ready to go to war as early as 1938. Adolf Hitler used this incident, known as the Werner von Blomberg-Werner von Fritsch Affair, to consolidate his hold over the armed forces. He assumed Werner von Blomberg's title of Commander-in-Chief, therefore taking personal command of the armed services. He replaced the Ministry of War with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Armed Forces, or OKW), headed by General Wilhelm Keitel. On the same day, sixteen generals were stripped of their commands and 44 more were transferred all were suspected of not being sufficiently pro-national socialist. By early February 1938, twelve other generals had been removed.
Having consolidated his political powers, Adolf Hitler silenced or annihilated his opposition by a process termed Gleichschaltung (bringing into line). He attempted to acquire additional public support by vowing to reverse the effects of the Depression and the Versailles treaty.
In 1935 Adolf Hitler appointed Hjalmar Schacht as Plenipotentiary for War Economy, in charge of organising the economy for war. Reconstruction Period and rearmament were financed through Mefo bills, printing money, and seizing the assets of people arrested as enemies of the State, including Jews. Unemployment fell considerably, from six million in 1932 to one million in 1936. Adolf Hitler supervised one of the largest infrastructure improvement campaigns in German history, leading to the construction of dams, autobahns, railroads, and other civil works. Wages were slightly reduced in the pre-world War 2 years over those of the Weimar Republic, while the cost of living increased by 25%.
Adolf Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an vast scale. Albert Speer, instrumental in applying Adolf Hitler's classicist reinterpretation of German culture, was placed in charge of the proposed architectural redevelopments of Berlin. In 1936 Adolf Hitler opened the summer Olympic games in Berlin.
Rearmament and new alliances
In a meeting with German armed forces leaders on 3 February 1933, Adolf Hitler talked of conquest for Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanisation because his ultimate foreign policy aims. In March, Prince Bernhard Wilhelm von Bülow, secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), released a major statement of German foreign policy aims: Anschluss with Austria, the restitution 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. Adolf Hitler found Bülow's goals to be too modest. In his speeches of this period, he stressed the peaceful goals of his policies and willingness to work within international agreements. At the first meeting of his Cabinet in 1933, Adolf Hitler prioritised armed forces spending over unemployment relief.
Germany withdrew from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference in October 1933. In March 1935 Adolf Hitler declared an expansion of the Wehrmacht to 600,000 members six times the number specified in Part V of the Versailles treaty including development of an Air Force (Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations condemned these plans as violations of the Versailles treaty. The Anglo German Naval Agreement (AGNA) of 18 June 1935 permitted German tonnage to increase to 35% of that of the British navy. Adolf 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 forecast in Mein Kampf. France and Italy were not conferred with before the signing, directly weakening the League of Nations and putting the Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevancy.
Germany reoccupied the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland in March 1936, in violation the Versailles treaty. Adolf Hitler dispatched troops to Spain to support General Franco after receiving an appeal for help in July 1936. Simultaneously, Adolf Hitler carried on his efforts to make an Anglo German alliance. In reaction to a growing economic crisis caused by his rearmament efforts, Adolf Hitler released a memorandum ordering Hermann Göring to carry out a Four Year Plan to have Germany ready for war within the next four years. The Four Year Plan Memorandum of August 1936 laid out an impending full-scale struggle between Judeo-Bolshevism and German national socialism, which in Adolf Hitler's view required a committed effort of rearmament irrespective of the economic costs.
Count Galeazzo Ciano, foreign minister of Benito Mussolini's government, announced an axis between Germany and Italy, and on 25 November, Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. Britain, China, Italy, and Poland were also invited to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, but only Italy signed in 1937. Adolf Hitler gave up his dream of an Anglo German alliance, blaming poor British leadership. He held a secret meeting at the Reich Chancellery with his war and foreign ministers and armed forces chiefs that November. As entered in the Hossbach Memorandum, Adolf Hitler declared his intention of getting Lebensraum (living space) for the German people, and ordered preparations for war in the east, which would start as early as 1938 and no later than 1943. He declared that the conference minutes were to be looked upon as his political testament in the event of his death. He felt the German economic crisis 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. Adolf Hitler advocated quick action, before Britain and France got a permanent lead in the arms race. In early 1938, in the wake of the Werner von Blomberg-Werner von Fritsch Affair, Adolf Hitler asserted control of the military-foreign policy apparatus. Dismissing Neurath as Foreign Minister, he became Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht (supreme commander of the armed forces). From early 1938 onwards, Adolf Hitler was carrying out a foreign policy that had war as its eventual aim
One of Adolf Hitler's central and most controversial ideologies was the concept of what he and his followers termed racial hygiene. On 15 September 1935, he presented two laws known as the Nuremberg Laws to 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. Adolf Hitler's early eugenic policies targeted children with physical and developmental disabilities in a programme dubbed Action T4.
Adolf Hitler's idea of Lebensraum, espoused in Mein Kampf, focused on gaining new territory for German colonisation in Eastern Europe. The general plan Ost (General Plan for the East) called for the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to be deported to West Siberia, used as slave labour, or murdered the conquered districts were to be colonised by German or Germanised settlers. The original plan called for this action to begin after the conquest of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but when that failed to happen, Adolf Hitler moved the plans forward. By January 1942 the decision had been taken to kill the Jews and other exiles that were considered undesirable.
The Holocaust (the Endlösung der jüdischen Frage or Final Solution of the Jewish Question) was devised and executed by Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. The records of the Wannsee Conference held on 20 January 1942 and led by Reinhard Heydrich, with fifteen senior national socialist officials taking part provide the clearest evidence of systematic planning for the Holocaust. On 22 February Adolf Hitler was recorded saying to his comrades, we shall recover our health only by annihilation of the Jews. Around thirty Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps were used for this purpose. By summer 1942 the facility at Auschwitz concentration camp was expanded to accept large numbers of deportees for killing or enslavement.
Whilst no particular order from Adolf Hitler authorising the mass killings has showed up, he approved the Einsatzgruppen killing squads that followed the German army through Poland, the Baltic, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and he was well advised about their activities. During interrogations by Soviet intelligence officers, the records of which were declassified over fifty years later, Adolf Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, and his adjutant, Otto Günsche, stated that Adolf Hitler had a direct interest in the development of gas chambers.
Between 1939 and 1945, the Schutzstaffel, aided by quisling 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, and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma. Deaths took place in concentration and extermination camps, ghettos, and through mass executions. A lot of victims of the Holocaust were gassed to death, whereas others died of starvation or disease while working as slave labourers.
Adolf Hitler's policies also resulted in the killings of Poles and Soviet POWs, communists and other political adversaries, homosexuals, the physically and mentally disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, and trade unionists. Adolf Hitler never seemed to have visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly about the killings.
World War II
In February 1938, on the advice of his newly appointed Foreign Minister, the strongly pro-Japanese Joachim von Ribbentrop, Adolf Hitler stopped the Sino-German alliance with the Republic of China to instead enter into an alliance with the more modern and powerful Japan. Adolf Hitler declared German recognition of Manchukuo, the Japanese occupied state in Manchuria, and renounced German claims to their former colonies in the Pacific held by Japan. Adolf Hitler ordered an end to arms consignments to China, and called back all German officers working with the Chinese Army. In revenge, Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek invalidated all Sino-German economic agreements, depriving the Germans of many Chinese raw materials, though they did continue to ship tungsten, a key metal in armaments production, through to 1939.
Austria and Czechoslovakia
On 12 March 1938 Adolf Hitler announced unification of Austria with national socialist Germany in the Anschluss. Adolf Hitler then turned his attention to the ethnic German population of the Sudetenland district of Czechoslovakia.
On 28-29 March 1938 Adolf Hitler held a series of cloak-and-dagger meetings in Berlin with Konrad Henlein 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, therefore providing a pretext for German military action against Czechoslovakia. In April 1938 Henlein told the foreign minister of Hungary that whatever the Czech government could 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, Adolf Hitler considered the Sudeten issue insignificant, his real intention was a war of conquest against Czechoslovakia.
In April 1938 Adolf 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 Bene revealed the Fourth Plan for constitutional reorganisation of his country, which agreed to most of Henlein's demands for Sudeten autonomy. Henlein's Heimfront answered to Bene' offer with a series of hostile clashes with the Czechoslovakian police that led to the announcement of martial law in certain Sudeten zones.
Germany was dependent on imported oil a confrontation with Britain over the Czechoslovakian dispute could restrict Germany's oil supplies. Adolf Hitler cancelled Fall Grün, in the beginning planned for 1 October 1938. On 29 September 1938 Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Édouard Daladier, and Benito Mussolini attended a one day conference in Munich that led to the Munich Agreement, which handed over the Sudetenland districts to Germany.
Chamberlain was content with the Munich conference, calling the outcome peace for our time, while Adolf Hitler was furious about the missed opportunity for war in 1938. Adolf Hitler conveyed his disappointment over the Munich Agreement in a speech on 9 October 1938 in Saarbrücken. In Adolf Hitler's view, the British brokered peace, whilst favourable to the ostensible German demands, was a diplomatic defeat which spurred his intent of restricting British power to pave the way for the eastern expansion of Germany. As a result of the summit, Adolf Hitler was selected Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1938.
In late 1938 and early 1939, the continuing economic crisis caused by the rearmament efforts forced Adolf Hitler to make major defence cuts. In his Export or die speech of 30 January 1939, he called for an 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 agreement and perhaps as a result of the intensifying economic crisis involving additional assets, Adolf Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to invade Prague, and from Prague Castle declared Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.
Start of World War II
n private talks in 1939, Adolf Hitler described Britain as the primary enemy that had to be defeated. In his view, Poland's annihilation as a sovereign nation was a essential prelude to that end. The eastern flank would be secured, and land would be added to Germany's Lebensraum. Adolf Hitler wanted Poland to become either a German satellite state or be otherwise nullified to secure the Reich's eastern flank, and to prevent a possible British blockade. At the start, Adolf Hitler preferred the idea of a satellite state, this was rejected by the Polish government. Consequently, Adolf Hitler selected to invade Poland, he made this the main German foreign policy goal of 1939. Adolf Hitler was appalled by the British assurance of Polish independence issued on 31 March 1939, and told his comrades that I shall brew them a devil's drink. In a speech in Wilhelmshaven for the launch of the battleship Tirpitz on 1 April 1939, Adolf Hitler threatened to denounce the Anglo German Naval Agreement if the British persisted with their assurance of Polish independence, which he sensed as an encirclement policy. On 3 April 1939 Adolf Hitler ordered the armed forces to organise for Fall Weiss (Case White), the plan for an invasion of Poland on 25 August 1939. In a speech before the Reichstag on 28 April he renounced both the Anglo German Naval Agreement and the German Polish nonaggression Pact. In August Adolf Hitler told his generals that his original plan for 1939 was to establish a satisfactory relationship with Poland in order to fight against the West. As Poland refused to become a German satellite, Adolf Hitler declared his only option was the invasion of Poland. Historians such as William Carr, Gerhard Weinberg, and Ian Kershaw have argued that one reason for Adolf Hitler's rush to war was his morbid and obsessive fear of an early death, and hence his feeling that he didn't have long to carry through his work.
Adolf Hitler was afraid that a military attack against Poland could lead to a premature war with Britain. However, Adolf Hitler's foreign minister and former Ambassador to London Joachim von Ribbentrop reassured him that neither Britain nor France would honour their commitments to Poland, and that a German Polish war would only be a restricted regional war. Joachim von Ribbentrop claimed that in December 1938 the French foreign minister, Georges Bonnet, had stated that France believed Eastern Europe as Germany's exclusive sphere of influence, Joachim von Ribbentrop showed Adolf Hitler diplomatic cables that affirmed his analysis. The German Ambassador in London, Herbert von Dirksen, affirmed Joachim von Ribbentrop's analysis with a communiqué in August 1939, reporting that Chamberlain knew the social organisation of Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, wouldn't survive the bedlam of even a victorious war, and then would back down. Consequently, on 21 August 1939 Adolf Hitler ordered a military mobilisation against Poland.
Adolf Hitler's plans for a military campaign in Poland in late August or early September called for implicit Soviet support. The nonaggression pact (the Molotov-Joachim von Ribbentrop Pact) between Germany and the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin, included secret protocols with an arrangement to partition Poland between the two countries. In response to the Molotov-Joachim von Ribbentrop Pact and contrary to the prediction of Joachim von 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 wouldn't honour the Pact of Steel, caused Adolf Hitler to delay the attack on Poland from 25 August to 1 September. In the days before the beginning of the war, Adolf Hitler attempted to steer the British into neutrality by offering a nonaggression guarantee to the British Empire on 25 August and by having Joachim von 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, Adolf Hitler claimed the Free City of Danzig and the right to extraterritorial roads across the Polish Corridor, which Germany had surrendered under the Versailles treaty. In spite of his concerns over a possible British intervention, Adolf Hitler was in the final analysis not deterred from his aim of invading Poland, and on 1 September 1939 Germany invaded western Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September. This astonished Adolf Hitler, motivating him to turn to Joachim von Ribbentrop and angrily ask Now what? France and Britain did not act on their declarations straightaway, and on 17 September, Russian forces invaded eastern Poland.
Poland never will rise again in the form of the Versailles treaty. That is guaranteed not only by Germany, but also Soviet Russia. Adolf Hitler, public speech in Danzig at the end of September 1939.
The fall of Poland was followed by what contemporary journalists nicknamed the Phoney War or Sitzkrieg (sitting war). Adolf Hitler instructed the two recently appointed Gauleiters of north-western Poland, Albert Forster of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia and Arthur Greiser of Reichsgau Wartheland, to Germanise the area, and assured them on that point there would be no questions asked about how this was achieved. To Heinrich Himmler's chagrin, Albert Forster had local Poles sign forms submitting that they had German blood, and required no further documentation. But then, Greiser carried out a savage ethnic cleansing campaign on the Polish population in his purview. Greiser complained to Adolf Hitler that Albert Forster was allowing 1000s of Poles to be accepted as racial Germans and therefore, in Greiser's view, jeopardising German racial purity. Adolf Hitler told Heinrich Himmler and Greiser to take up their troubles with Albert Forster, and not to involve him. Adolf Hitler's handling of the Albert Forster Greiser dispute has been advanced as an example of Kershaw's theory of working towards the Führer, Adolf Hitler issued unclear instructions and anticipated his subordinates to work out policies on their own.
A different dispute broke out between different factions. One side, represented by Heinrich Himmler and Greiser, championed carrying out ethnic cleansing in Poland, and another side, represented by Hermann Göring and Hans Frank, Governor General of the General Government territory of occupied Poland, called for turning Poland into the granary of the Reich. At a conference held at Hermann Göring's Karinhall estate on 12 February 1940, the dispute was initially settled in favour of the Hermann Göring-Hans Frank view of economical exploitation, which ended the economically disruptive mass expulsions. On 15 May 1940, nevertheless, Heinrich Himmler presented Adolf Hitler with a memo titled 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. Adolf Hitler called Heinrich Himmler's memo good and correct, he scuttled the so-called Karinhall agreement and implemented the Heinrich Himmler's-Greiser viewpoint as German policy for the Polish population.
Adolf Hitler began building up armed forces on Germany's western border, and in April 1940, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. On April 9 Adolf Hitler announced the birth of the Greater Germanic Reich to his comrades, this was his vision of a united empire of the Germanic nations of Europe, where the Dutch, Flemish, Scandinavians, and other peoples would join into a single, racially pure polity under German leadership. In May 1940, Adolf Hitler's military forces attacked France, and conquered Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium. These victories prompted Mussolini to have Italy join forces with Adolf Hitler on 10 June 1940. France surrendered on 22 June 1940.
Great Britain, whose forces were forced to leave France by sea from Dunkirk, carried on to fight alongside other British dominions in the Battle of the Atlantic. Adolf Hitler made peace advances to the British, now led by Sir Winston Leonard Spenser Churchill, and when these were declined he ordered bombing raids on the Great Britain. Adolf Hitler's prelude to a planned invasion of the Great Britain was a series of aerial attacks in the Battle of Britain on RAF airbases and radio detection and ranging stations in southeast England. Nevertheless, the German Luftwaffe failed to defeat the RAF.
On 27 September 1940 the Tripartite Pact was signed in Berlin by Saburo Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Adolf Hitler, and Italian foreign minister Ciano. The agreement was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. They were collectively known as the Axis powers. The aim of the pact was to deter the United States government from supporting the British. By the end of October 1940, air superiority for the invasion of Britain Operation Sea Lion couldn't be achieved, and Adolf Hitler ordered nightly air attacks of British cities, including the capital of the Great Britain, Plymouth, and Coventry.
In the Spring of 1941, Adolf Hitler was distracted from his plans for the East by military actions in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. In February, German forces arrived in Libya to strengthen the Italian presence. In April, Adolf Hitler set in motion the invasion of Yugoslavia, promptly followed by the invasion of Greece. In May, German forces were sent to support Iraqi rebel forces fighting against the British and to invade Crete. On 23 May, Adolf Hitler released Führer Directive No. 30.
Path to defeat
On 22 June 1941, contravening the Adolf Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact of 1939, 3 million German troops attacked the Russia in Operation Barbarossa. The invasion seized a huge area, including the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. However, the German advance was stopped barely short of Moscow in December 1941 by the Russian Winter and fierce Soviet resistance.
Russian troop concentrations on Germany's eastern border in the spring of 1941 may have prompted Adolf Hitler to engage in a Flucht nach vorn (flight forward) to get in front of an unavoidable conflict. Viktor Suvorov, Ernst Topitsch, Joachim Hoffmann, Ernst Nolte, and David Irving have argued that the official reason for Barbarossa given by the German armed forces was the real reason a preventive war to avoid an impending Russian attack scheduled for July 1941. This hypothesis, however, has been faulted American historian Gerhard Weinberg at one time compared the advocates of the preventive war hypothesis to believers in fairytales
The Wehrmacht invasion of the USSR reached its peak on 2 December 1941, when the 258th Infantry Division advanced to within fifteen miles (24 km) of Moscow, close enough to see the spires of the Kremlin. Nevertheless, they were not prepared for the brutal conditions of the Russian winter, and Russian forces drove back the German forces over 320 kilometres (200 miles).
On 7 December 1941 Japan attacked Pearl harbour, Hawaii. Four days later, Adolf Hitler's formal declaration of war against the U.S. Engaged Germany in war against an alliance that included the world's largest empire the British Empire, the world's greatest industrial and financial power the America, and the world's largest army the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
On 18 December 1941 Heinrich Himmler met with Adolf Hitler, and in response to Heinrich Himmler's question What to do with the Jews of Soviet Russia?, Adolf Hitler replied als Partisanen auszurotten exterminate them as partisans. Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer has commented that the comment is probably as close as historians will ever get to a conclusive order from Adolf Hitler for the racial extermination carried out during the Holocaust.
In late 1942 German military forces were defeated in the second battle of El Alamein, stopping Adolf Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle East. In February 1943 the Battle of Stalingrad ended with the destruction of the German Sixth Army. Then came the conclusive defeat at the Battle of Kursk. Adolf Hitler's military judgement became progressively more erratic, and Germany's military and economic position degenerated along with Adolf Hitler's health. Kershaw and others believe that Adolf Hitler may have suffered from Parkinson's syndrome.
Following the allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in 1943, Benito Mussolini was deposed by Pietro Badoglio, who surrendered to the Allies. Throughout 1943 and 1944, the USSR steadily forced Adolf Hitler's armies into retreat along the Eastern Front. On 6 June 1944 the Western Allied armies landed in northern France in what was one of the biggest amphibious operations in history, Operation Overlord. As a result of these substantial setbacks for the German army, many of its officers concluded that defeat was inevitable and that Adolf Hitler's misjudgement or self-denial would drag out the war and result in the complete destruction of the country. Several high profile assassination attempts against Adolf Hitler occurred during this period.
Between 1939 and 1945 there were many plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler, a few of which proceeded to significant degrees. The most well known came from within Germany and was at least partly driven by the increasing prospect of a German defeat in the war. In July 1944, in the 20 July plot, part of Operation Valkyrie, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in one of Adolf Hitler's military headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) at Rastenburg. Adolf Hitler narrowly survived because somebody had unwittingly pushed the briefcase that contained the bomb behind a leg of the heavy conference table. Once the bomb exploded, the table deflected much of the blast away from Adolf Hitler. Later, Adolf Hitler ordered brutal reprisals resulting in the execution of more than 4,900 people.
Defeat and death
By late 1944, the Russian Army had driven the German army back into Western Europe, and the Western Allies were advancing into Germany. After being informed of the failure of his Ardennes Offensive, Adolf Hitler recognised that Germany was going to lose the war. His hope, buoyed by the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on 12 April 1945, was to negotiate peace with United States and Great Britain. Pursuing his view that Germany's military failures had lost its right to survive as a nation, Adolf Hitler ordered the destruction of all German industrial infrastructure before it could fall into Allied hands. Implementation of this scorched earth plan was entrusted to arms minister Albert Speer, who quietly disobeyed the order.
On 20 April, his 56th birthday, Adolf Hitler made his last trip from the Führerbunker (Führer's shelter) to the surface. In the ruined garden of the Reich Chancellery, he presented Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Adolf Hitler Youth. By 21 April, Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through the last defences of German General Gotthard Heinrici's Heeresgruppe Weichsel during the Battle of the Seelow Heights and advanced into the outskirts of Berlin. In self-denial about the progressively dire situation, Adolf Hitler placed his hopes on the units commanded by Waffen SS General Felix Steiner, the Armeeabteilung Steiner (Army Detachment Steiner). Adolf Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the salient and the German Ninth Army was ordered to attack northward in a pincer attack.
During a military conference on 22 April, Adolf Hitler asked about Steiner's offensive. After a long silence, he was told that the attack had never been launched and that the Soviets had broken through into Berlin. This news prompted Adolf Hitler to ask everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Hans Krebs and Wilhelm Burgdorf to leave the room. Adolf Hitler then launched a tirade against the treachery and incompetence of his commanders, climaxing in his proclamation for the first time that the war was lost. Adolf Hitler declared that he would stay in Berlin until the end and then shoot himself.
Joseph Goebbels made a declaration on 23 April urging the citizens of Berlin to bravely defend the city. That same day, Hermann Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, contending that since Adolf Hitler was cut off in Berlin, he, Hermann Göring, should assume leadership of Germany. Hermann Göring set a time limit, after which he would consider Adolf Hitler powerless. Adolf Hitler reacted angrily by having Hermann Göring arrested, and when writing his will on 29 April, he removed Hermann Göring from all his positions in the government.
The German capital (Berlin) became entirely cut off from the rest of Germany. On 28 April, Adolf Hitler found out that Heinrich Himmler was trying to talk over surrender terms with the Western Allies. He ordered Heinrich Himmler's arrest and had Hermann Fegelein (Heinrich Himmler's SS representative at Adolf Hitler's HQ in Berlin) shot.
After midnight on 29 April, Adolf Hitler wedded Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in a map room within the Führerbunker. After a humble wedding breakfast with his new wife, he then took secretary Traudl Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament. The event was witnessed and written document signed by Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann. Later on that afternoon, Adolf Hitler was advised of the assassination of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, which presumably added to his determination to avoid capture.
On 30 April 1945, after concentrated street-to-street combat, when Russian troops were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery, Adolf Hitler and Braun committed suicide, Braun bit into a cyanide capsule and Adolf Hitler shot himself with his 7.65 mm Walther PPK pistol. The dead bodies of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were carried upstairs 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 soaked with petrol. The bodies were set on fire and the Russian Army shelling continued.
Berlin surrendered on 2 May, and there were contradictory reports about what happened to Adolf Hitler's corpse. Records in the Russian archives obtained after the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics showed that the corpses of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph Goebbels and Magda Goebbels, the six Goebbels children, General Hans Krebs, and Adolf Hitler's dogs, were repeatedly buried and exhumed. On 4 April 1970 a KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes which had been buried at the SMERSH 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.
Adolf Hitler's policies and orders resulted in the death of about 40 million people, including about 27 million in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The actions of Adolf Hitler, and Adolf Hitler's ideology, national socialism, are almost universally regarded as gravely immoral. Historians, philosophers, and politicians have often applied the word evil to describe Adolf Hitler's ideology and its outcomes. In Germany and Austria, the denial of the Holocaust and the display of national socialist symbols such as swastikas are banned by law.
Following the Second World War, the toothbrush moustache fell out of favour in the West because of its strong association with Adolf Hitler, which earned it the nickname Adolf Hitler moustache. The use of the name Adolf declined in post war years.
Former Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat spoke of his admiration of Adolf Hitler in 1953, when he was a young man, but it is conceivable that Sadat's opinions were shaped mainly by his anti British sentiments. Bal Thackeray, leader of the right wing Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party in the Indian state of the Maharashtra, announced in 1995 that he was an admirer of Adolf Hitler. German historian Friedrich Meinecke said that Adolf Hitler's life is among the great examples of the singular and immeasurable power of personality in historical life.
Adolf Hitler's parents were Roman Catholics, but after leaving home he never attended Mass or received the sacraments. He favoured aspects of Protestantism that suited his own views, and adopted some elements of the Catholic Church's hierarchical organisation, liturgy, and phraseology in his politics. After his move to Germany, Adolf Hitler did not leave his church. Historian Richard Steigmann-Gall reasons that he can be classified as Catholic, but that nominal church membership is a very unsafe gauge of actual piety in this context.
Publically, Adolf Hitler often praised Christian heritage and German Christian culture, and declared a belief in an Aryan Jesus Christ a Jesus who fought against the Jews. He talked of his version of Christianity as a central motivation for his anti-Semitism, stating that whilst 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, Adolf 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. Historian John S. Conway states that Adolf Hitler held a fundamental antagonism towards the Christian churches.
In political relations with the church, Adolf Hitler assumed a strategy that suited his immediate political purposes. According to a US Office of Strategic Services report, Adolf Hitler had a general plan, even before his accession, to destroy the influence of Christian churches within the Reich. The report titled The Nazi Master Plan stated that the destruction of the church was a goal of the movement right from the start, but that it was inexpedient to express this extreme position publicly. His intention, according to Bullock, was to wait until the war was over to destroy the influence of Christianity.
Adolf Hitler admired the Muslim military tradition, but considered Arabs as racially inferior. He believed that the racially superior Germans, in conjunction with Islam, could have conquered much of the world during the Middle Ages. During a meeting with a Japanese professor in 1931, Adolf Hitler praised the Shinto religion and Japanese culture.
Attitude towards occultism
A few researchers suggest that Adolf Hitler did not follow esoteric ideas, occultism, or Ariosophy, and Adolf Hitler ridicules such beliefs in Mein Kampf. Others have indicated that Adolf Hitler's views, especially on race, were strongly influenced by works that promulgated a mystical superiority of the Germans these works included the occult and anti-Semitic magazine Ostara, whose publisher, Lanz von Liebenfels, claimed that Adolf 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 believes his account reliable, and Brigitte Hamann leaves the question open. Kershaw feels it is likely that Adolf Hitler read Ostara, along with other racist pulp which was prominent on Vienna newspaper stands, whilst he questions the degree to which Adolf Hitler was influenced by it.
Investigators have suggested that Adolf Hitler suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, skin lesions, irregular heartbeat, Parkinson's disease, syphilis, and tinnitus. Hypotheses about Adolf Hitler's medical condition are difficult to prove, and according them too much weight may have the effect of assigning many of the events and consequences of the Third Reich to the possibly impaired physical health of one individual. Kershaw feels that it is better to take a broader view of German history by examining what social forces led to the Third Reich and its policies rather than to pursue narrow explanations for the Holocaust and the Second World War based on only one person.
Adolf Hitler adopted a vegetarian diet. At social events he 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 Adolf Hitler's dietary habits. An antivivisectionist, Adolf Hitler may have followed his selective diet out of a profound concern for animals. Martin Bormann had a greenhouse constructed near the Berghof (near Berchtesgaden) to assure a steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for Adolf Hitler throughout the war. Adolf Hitler despised alcohol and was a non-smoker. He encouraged aggressive anti-smoking campaigns throughout Germany. Adolf Hitler began using amphetamine now and again after 1937 and became addicted to the drug in the fall of 1942. Albert Speer associated this use of amphetamines to Adolf Hitler's progressively inflexible decision making for example, never to allow military retreats.
Prescribed ninety different medications during the war years, Adolf Hitler took many pills each day for chronic stomach problems and other ailments. He suffered burst eardrums as a result of the 20 July plot bomb blast in 1944, and 200 wood splinters had to be removed from his legs. Newsreel footage of Adolf Hitler shows tremors of his hand and a shuffling walk, which began before the war and worsened towards the end of his life. Adolf Hitler's personal doctor, Theodor Morell, treated Adolf Hitler with a drug that was commonly prescribed in 1945 for Parkinson's disease. Ernst-Günther Schenck and several other doctors who met Adolf Hitler in the last weeks of his life each formed a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
To the public, Adolf Hitler promoted his own image as that of a man without a domestic life, committed entirely to his political mission and the nation. He met his mistress, Eva Braun, in 1929, and wedded her in April 1945. In September 1931 his niece, Geli Raubal, committed suicide with Adolf Hitler's gun in his Munich apartment. Geli was believed to be in a romantic relationship with him, and her death was a origin of deep, lasting pain. Paula Adolf Hitler, the last living member of the immediate family, died in 1960.
Adolf Hitler in media
Adolf Hitler was a notable public speaker, and perfected his skills by giving speeches to military audiences in 1919 and 1920. He became adept at using populist themes aimed to his audience, including the use of scapegoats who could be blamed for the economic hardships of his listeners. He had charisma, hypnotic blue eyes, and an exceptionally good memory, traits he used to his advantage while engaged in public speaking. Alfons Heck, a former member of the Adolf Hitler Youth, describes the response to a speech by Adolf Hitler: We erupted into a frenzy of nationalistic pride that bordered on hysteria. For minutes on end, we shouted at the top of our lungs, with tears flowing down our faces: Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil! From that moment on, I belonged to Adolf Hitler body and soul. Whilst his oratory skills and personal traits were generally received well by large crowds and at official events, some who had met Adolf Hitler in private noted that his appearance and behaviour failed to make a lasting impression on them.
Adolf Hitler used documentaries as a propaganda tool. He was involved and appeared in a series of films by the pioneering filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl via Universum Film AG (UFA).
Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith, 1933)
Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934), co-produced by Adolf Hitler
Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces, 1935)
Film Footage Gallery:
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