Adolf Hitler was a man who played a significant role in history, but for all the wrong reasons. He led the Nazi Party and, in 1939, started World War II by invading Poland. Hitler’s name is forever associated with terrible deeds, including the Holocaust, where millions of Jewish people and other minority groups suffered and perished. His life, upbringing, and motivations have always intrigued people, as they try to understand what drove him to commit such cruelty.
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Early Years of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Austria, to his parents Klara and Alois.
His father had a quick temper, and even though Hitler lived in a comfortable house, he felt intimidated by his dad.
Hitler had five siblings, but sadly, four of them passed away when they were very young.
In 1900, his brother Edmund died, and this event marked a change in Hitler’s personality. He went from being confident and outgoing to becoming reclusive and detached. He started having conflicts with his father and teachers at school.
Hitler loved painting, but his father didn’t support his artistic dreams. So, he went to secondary school but purposely did poorly to show his father how much he wanted to pursue art.
Moving Around Austria and Germany
Hitler’s father passed away in 1903, and his mother later died in 1907 from breast cancer.
In 1905, Hitler lived in Vienna, a place filled with racism, religious prejudice, and anti-Semitic ideas. He started to dislike the multicultural and multi-ethnic nature of Austria, so he moved to Munich in 1913.
In 1914, as World War I broke out, Hitler was eager to serve Germany and prove his loyalty. He joined the army and served until Germany surrendered.
After the war, Hitler was frustrated by what he saw as a lack of support for Germany from certain groups, including Jewish and socialist people. He decided to get into politics to make a change and restore what he believed was Germany’s true potential.
He was also unhappy about the Treaty of Versailles, which blamed Germany for the war and made them pay reparations for the damage caused.
While still in the army, Hitler reported on a far-right group called the German Workers’ Party. He agreed with their beliefs and eventually joined them. He began speaking at rallies and using propaganda to spread his ideas.
When the German government was in turmoil, Hitler saw a chance to bring about the change he desired. He took control of the party and renamed it the Nazi Party in 1920.
Imprisonment and Rise to Power
After an unsuccessful attempt to start a revolution, Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for treason. However, he only spent nine months behind bars.
During his time in prison, he wrote a book called “Mein Kampf,” which means “my struggle.” In this book, he laid out his disturbing beliefs and ideas.
German Elections of 1932
With growing nationalism, Hitler’s Nazi Party won 37% of the vote in the 1932 German elections, leading to his appointment as Chancellor of Germany.
Soon after becoming Chancellor, Hitler began to establish a fascist government and eventually became the dictator of Germany, modeling his rule after his idol, Benito Mussolini of Italy.
It didn’t take long for Hitler to start making plans to expand Germany’s territory.
The Nazi Party
In 1939, Hitler announced plans to eliminate Jewish people and other “undesirable” groups from Germany, segregating them from the rest of the population.
At the annual Nuremberg rally, Hitler declared that Jewish people couldn’t have the same rights as Germans and were not allowed to marry or interact with Germans.
Hitler expanded Germany by annexing Austria and Czechoslovakia.
When he invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war.
Hitler formed an alliance with imperial Japan and fascist Italy and faced opposition from the “Allied Powers” of Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Hitler and the Nazis used “Blitzkrieg” tactics and quickly captured much of Europe.
As the war continued, Hitler made the fateful decision to break the non-aggression pact he had signed with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, diverting his attention from the challenging battles on the western front against the Allies.
By 1944, shortly after the Allies’ victory on D-Day in Normandy, Hitler realized that the Soviet Red Army from the east and the Allies from the west were closing in on him.
By 1945, with no way to win the war and avoid capture, Hitler chose to end his own life. On April 30, 1945, he took his own life, and shortly after, the war came to an end. His beliefs and actions continue to be seen as immoral and a dark chapter in history.