Adolf Hitler byname Der Fuhrer (German: ‘The Leader’) was born on 20 April 1898 in Braunau am inn, a small Austrian town near the Austro-German frontier. He was fourth of six children, born to Alosi Hitler a custom officer and was raised near Linz, the capital of Upper Austria.
As a boy he was severally beaten by his father for refusal to conform to strict discipline. As an eight year-old he sang in the choir and even considered becoming a priest. History has it that he constantly fought with his father and teachers in school and he also did poorly in school, probably due to his dream of being an artist rather than being forced to go to school by his father.
As a Young Adult
After his father’s death in 1903, and later his mother he moved Vienna, he pursued his dream of being an artist, but was rejected by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. He earned money as a causal laborer and by painting and selling images.
It was in Vienna that Hitler lonely, isolated and a voracious reader first became exposed to racist rhetoric. He developed interest in politics and thus cultivated many of the ideas that would shape the Nazi ideology.
Hitler Joins the German Army
In 1913 he moved to Munich, the German state of Bavaria. In August 1914 at the outbreak of World War 1 voluntarily enlisted in the Bavarian army. He was decorated for bravery and received the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. And another Iron cross, First Class on 4 August 1918 a rare decoration for someone of his rank. He was injured twice during the conflict and was in a hospital when he heard of Germany’s defeat. The experience and defeat of Germany in that war was to shape his patriotism for Germany and hence changed his ideology.
The treaty of Versailles signed by Germany after its defeat stated that it must give up its territories and demilitarize the Rhineland. It also imposed economic sanctions and levied heavy reparations on the country.
Adolf Hitler Joins Politics
After the war, he returned to Munich and was appointed intelligence agent by the army and assigned to influence other soldiers to infiltrate the German workers’ Party. His skilled oratory and charismatic energy did not go unnoticed by the party chairman. His skills as an orator propelled him in the party ranks, and in 1920 he left the army and began working full-time for the party.
Hitler designed the party’s banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background; His swastika would take a terrifying symbolic power in the years to come. Hitler was to become popular, making public speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, against Marxists and Jews.
Hitler’s First Coup and Sentence
On November 8, 1923 Hitler proclaimed the beginning of a national revolution and led marchers to the center of Munich. Their aim was to overthrow the Bavarian government which however was unsuccessful due to police intervention. They engaged in a gun battle with the police losing sixteen of his members. Hitler fled but was arrested on the 11 November 1923 and charged with high treason. On 1 April Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment but was pardoned and released after nine months from jail on 20 December 1924.
Hitler is Granted German Citizenship
The Bavarian government tried to deport him to Austria but the Austrian authorities refused on grounds that he had served in the German army. Thus Hitler in response formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925 and for about seven years was stateless. He became a German citizen when he was appointed administrator by the minister of interior of Brunswick for a state delegation in Berlin. This made him a citizen of Brunswick and by extension a citizen of Germany.
He is Made Chancellor
In the 1932 presidential elections he contested but lost to Hindenburg. This election however established Hitler as a strong force in Germany politics. Without a clear winner in parliamentary elections a coalition was formed between Hindenburg’s party the German National People’s Party and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).
On 30 January 1933 Hitler was named Chancellor as a result of the merger. And with this position Hitler undermined the Government and soon garnered political power with which he suppressed all oppositions and soon transformed himself to a dictator. And on 14 July 1933, the NSDAP was declared the only legal political party in Germany.
War Preparations Begins
Upon the death of President Hindenburg on 2 august 1934, Hitler assumed the powers of the President and the Chancellor which had earlier been merged by the cabinet. From then on Hitler started preparing for a war economy which led to a massive drop in unemployment. Infrastructural improvements were unprecedented with the construction of dams, railroads and buildings on a massive scale. Soon Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference. He also jettisoned the treaty of Versailles. He formed alliances and signed treaties with Japan and Italy. And from 1938 was carrying out foreign policies ultimately aimed at war.
Beginning of World War 2
Hitler wanted Poland as a German satellite state and added to German land, or to be neutralized in order to prevent a possible British blockade. The polish government refused to be annexed by Germany and thus Hitler declared war on them an invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. In response Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939.
Denmark and Norway were invaded and conquered by German forces on 9 April 1940, and by May, France, the Netherlands and Belgium were conquered. Italy seeing all this speedily joined forces with Hitler on 10 June. In the course of the war an alliance was formed by German with some countries in what was later known as the axis powers; Imperil Japan, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
On 22 June 1941 the axis army numbering up to three million attacked the Soviet Union though partly successful. This however led to a turnaround of events in Hitler’s disfavor.
His consistent interferences in military and tactical planning caused damaging consequences for the army. Germany commanders became frustrated with Hitler always giving unrealistic commands without input from generals on the battleground.
Attempts were made to assassinate Hitler which was all unsuccessful including one that came close to succeeding in July 1944, when Col. Claus von stauffenberg planted a bomb that exploded during a conference at Hitler’s headquarters.
Hitler’s Military Campaign Crumbles
By late 1944 with all his plans falling apart and with the red (Russian) army and allied forces advancing into Germany. With defeats on all sides and the landing of US troops in 1942, the tide of the war turned against Hitler. And as the war proceeded he became increasingly unwell, isolated and dependent on medications. He ordered the destruction of all German industrial infrastructures so as not to have them fall into allied hands. This order was however ignored and not carried out by his subordinates.
Death of Hitler
Within a few months of the successful Allied Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, the allies had begun liberating cities across Europe. Holed up in a bunker beneath the Chancellery with Soviet forces closing in Hitler performed his last act. On the midnight of 28/29 April 1945, Hitler married Eva Braun (Eva Braun was a shop assistant from Munich). With soviet troops close by. On April 30, 1945, Hitler shot himself in the head while Eva bit into a cyanide capsule. Their corpses were both doused with petrol and set on fire according to His instructions. And on 2 May Berlin surrendered.
Hitler’s actions and Nazi ideology are almost universally regarded as gravely immoral. For never in history has such ruination – physical and moral- been associated with the name of one man. His policies and actions inflicted human suffering on an unprecedented scale costing the world more than 40 million deaths
His book the “Mein Kampf” in which he outlined plans for Germany and the world he sought to create when he came to power sold modestly at first, but with Hitler’s rise it became Germany’s best-selling book after the bible. By 1940, it had sold some 6 million copies.
Can you identify any political or military leader who committed as much atrocities as Hitler did either in the past or in this present age? Please feel free to drop your comment in the comment section below.
Also do you think unifying the world under one single authority as Hitler proposed is possible in an ideal World?