Adolf Hitler
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

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How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.

Strength lies not in defence but in attack.

The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.

The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.

The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

When an opponent declares, "I will not come over to your side," I calmly say, "Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community."

Who says I am not under the special protection of God?

Words build bridges into unexplored regions.

"Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live."

"In actual fact the pacifistic-humane idea is perfectly all right perhaps when the highest type of man has previously conquered and subjected the world to an extent that makes him the sole ruler of this earth… Therefore, first struggle and then perhaps pacifism."

"There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word 'council' must be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made by one man."

"The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion, but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others."

"It must be thoroughly understood that the lost land will never be won back by solemn appeals to the God, nor by hopes in any League of Nations, but only by the force of arms."

"How to achieve the moral breakdown of the enemy before the war has started -- that is the problem that interests me. Whoever has experienced war at the front will want to refrain from all avoidable bloodshed."

"Become strong again in spirit, strong in will, strong in endurance, strong to bear all sacrifices"

"Great liars are also great magicians"

"Our strategy is to destroy the enemy from within, to conquer him through himself.""The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew"

"To be a leader means to be able to move masses"

"Whatever goal, man has reached is due to his originality plus his brutality"

"Struggle is the father of all things. It is not by the principles of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world, but solely by means of the most brutal struggle. If you do not fight, life will never be won"

"The man who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes"

"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge"

"The German people are not a warlike nation. It is a soldierly one, which means it does not want a war, but does not fear it. It loves peace but also loves its honor and freedom"

Always before God and the world, the stronger has the right to carry through what he wills"

"What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the creator"

"I will never allow anyone to divide this people once more into religious camps, each fighting the other"

"Struggle is the father of all things, virtue lies in blood, leadership is primary and decisive"

"The only people I have been able to use are those who fought"


Childhood and youth

Adolf Hitler was born on April 20 1889 at Braunau-am-Inn, a small town near Linz in the province of Upper Austria, near the German border, in what was then Austria-Hungary. His father Alois (1832-1903) was a minor customs official. His mother, Klara Hitler (née Pölzl), was Alois's third wife. Of their six children, only Adolf and his sister Paula survived infancy.

Alois Hitler was born illegitimate, and as a young man he used his mother's surname, Schicklgruber. In 1876 he legally adopted his natural father's surname, Hitler. (The name had been simplified from Hiedler in an earlier generation.) Adolf Hitler never used the name Schicklgruber: this was a canard circulated later by his political enemies—as were insinuations that he was of Jewish descent.

Hitler was an intelligent but moody boy, and he twice failed to pass the examinations to gain admission to the high school in Linz. He was devoted to his indulgent mother and developed a hatred for his father, whom he later portrayed as a sadistic tyrant, although in fact he was no more than a normally strict German father.

Vienna and Munich

In January 1903 Alois Hitler died, and in December 1907 his widow Klara died of cancer. Eighteen-year-old Adolf was orphaned and he soon left home for Vienna, where he had vague hopes of becoming an artist. He was entitled to an orphan's pension, and eked this out by working as an illustrator. He had a little artistic talent but was rejected by Vienna schools of art and architecture. He lost his pension in 1910, but by then he had inherited some money from an aunt.

It was in Vienna that Hitler began developing into an active anti-Semite, a passion that was to rule his life and was the key to all his subsequent actions. Anti-Semitism was deeply ingrained in the south German Catholic culture in which Hitler was raised. Vienna had a large Jewish community, including many Orthodox Jews from eastern Europe. Hitler later recorded his disgust on encountering Viennese Jews.

In Vienna anti-Semitism had developed from its religious origins into a political doctrine, promoted by publicists such as Lanz von Liebenfels, whose pamphlets Hitler read, and politicians like Karl Lueger, the Mayor of Vienna, or Georg Ritter von Schönerer, who contributes the racial aspect of anti-Semitism. From them Hitler acquired the belief in the superiority of the "Aryan race" which formed the basis of his political views. Hitler came to believe that the Jews were the natural enemies of the "Aryans," and were also in some way responsible for his poverty and his failure to achieve the success he believed he deserved.

In 1913 Hitler moved to Munich to avoid military service in the Austro-Hungarian army. But in August 1914 when Germany entered World War I, he at once enlisted in the German Army. He attained the rank of corporal and saw active service in France and Belgium as a messenger. He was wounded and gassed and won the Iron Cross for bravery. During the war he acquired a passionate German patriotism, despite not being a German citizen (a detail he did not rectify until 1932). He was shocked at the German capitulation in November 1918, when the German army was (so he believed) undefeated. He, like many other German nationalists, blamed civilian politicians (the "November criminals") for the surrender.

The Nazi Party

After the war Hitler stayed in the army, which was now mainly engaged in suppressing the socialist revolutions which were breaking out across Germany—including in Munich, where Hitler returned in 1919. While still in the army he was assigned to spy on the meetings of a small nationalist party, the German Workers' Party. Hitler joined the party as member number 555 in the spring of 1919. He would not be discharged until 1920; after this he began to take full part in the party's activities. He soon became its leader and changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeitspartei - NSDAP), usually known as the Nazi party from National Sozialistische, in contrast to Sozi, a term used for the Social Democrats. The party adopted the swastika (supposedly a symbol of "Aryanism") and the Roman salute, also used by the Italian fascists.

The Nazi party was but one of a large number of small extremist groups in Munich at this time. But Hitler soon discovered that he had two remarkable talents—for public oratory and for inspiring personal loyalty. His street-corner oratory, attacking the Jews, the socialists and liberals, the capitalists and Communists, began to attract adherents. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering, and Ernst Röhm, head of the Nazis' paramilitary organization, the S.A Another admirer was the wartime Field-Marshall Erich Ludendorff. Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in a rather ridiculous attempt to seize power, the "Beer Hall Putsch" of November 8 1923, when the Nazis marched from a beerhall to the Bavarian War Ministry, intending to overthrow Bavaria's right-wing separatist government and then march on Berlin. They were quickly dispersed by the army and Hitler was arrested.

Hitler was put in trial for high treason, and used his trial as an opportunity to spread his message throughout Germany. In April 1924 he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in Landsberg Prison. Here he dictated a book called Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his faithful deputy Hess. This ponderous work contained Hitler’s views on race, history and politics, including plenty of warning of the fate that awaited his enemies, particularly the Jews, should he ever attain power. The book was first published in two volumes: the first in 1925 and the second a year later. The prospects of Hitler attaining power seemed so remote at the time that no-one took his writings seriously.

Considered relatively harmless, Hitler was given an early amnesty. He was released in December 1924. By this time the Nazi party barely existed and its leader would have a long effort in trying to rebuild it. During these years he established a group which later became one of his key instruments in carrying out his objectives. As Röhm's Sturmabteilung ("Stormtroopers" or SA), were unreliable and formed a separate base of power within the party, Hitler established a personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel ("Protection Unit" or SS). This elite black-uniformed corps was to be commanded by Heinrich Himmler, who was to become the principal executor of his plans with respect to the "Jewish Question" during the Second World War.

A key element of Hitler's appeal was the sense of offended national pride caused by the Treaty of Versailles imposed on Germany by the Allies. Germany lost territory to France, Poland, Belgium and Denmark, and had to admit sole responsibility for the war, give up her colonies and her Navy, and pay a huge reparations bill. Since most Germans did not believe that Germany had started the war, and did not believe that they had been defeated, they bitterly resented these terms. Although the party's early attempts to garner votes by blaming all these humiliations on the machinations of "international Jewry" were not particularly successful with the electorate, the party's propaganda wing learned quickly, and soon a more subtle propaganda - which combined anti-semitism with a spirited attack on the failures of the "Weimar system" and the parties which had supported it - began to come to the fore.

The Road to Power

After the 1930 elections

The turning point in Hitler's fortunes came with the Depression which hit Germany in 1930. The democratic regime established in Germany in 1919, the so-called Weimar Republic, had never been genuinely accepted by conservatives, and the powerful Communist Party also rejected it. The Social Democrats and the traditional parties of the center and right were unable to deal with the shock of the Depression, and were, moreover, all tainted with association with the Weimar system, and in the elections of September 1930 the Nazis suddenly rose from obscurity to win more than 18% of the vote and 107 seats in the Reichstag, becoming the second largest party.

Hitler's success was based on winning over the bulk of the German middle-class, who had been hard hit by the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression. Farmers and war veterans were other groups who supported the Nazis. The urban working classes generally ignored Hitler's appeals, and Berlin and the Ruhr towns were particularly hostile. But in these cities the Communists were strong, and the Communist Party also opposed democratic government and refused to co-operate with other parties to block Hitler's rise.

The 1930 election was a disaster for Heinrich Brüning's center-right government, which was now deprived of any chance at a Reichstag majority, and had to rely on the toleration of the Social Democrats and the use of presidential emergency powers to remain in power. With Brüning's austerity measures in the face of the Depression having little success, the government was anxious to avoid a presidential election in 1932, and hoped to secure the Nazis' agreement to an extension of President Hindenburg's term, but Hitler refused to agree, and ultimately competed against Hindenburg in the presidential election, coming in second in both the first and second rounds of the election, and attaining more than 35% of the vote in the second round, in April, depiste the attempts of both Interior Minister Wilhelm Groener and the Social Democratic Prussian government to restrict the Nazis' public activities, notably including a ban on the SA.

The embarrassments of the election put an end to Hindenburg's tolerance for Brüning, and the old Field Marshal dismissed the government, appointing a new government under the reactionary non-entity Franz von Papen, which immediately repealed the ban on the SA and called for new Reichstag elections. In the July 1932 elections the Nazis had their best showing yet, winning 230 seats and becoming the largest party. Since now the Nazis and Communists together controlled a majority of the Reichstag, the formation of a stable majority government committed to democracy was impossible, and, following a vote of no-confidence in the Papen government supported by 84% of the delegates, the new Reichstag was immediately dissolved and new elections called.

Papen and the Centre Party now both opened negotiations to secure Nazi participation in the government, but Hitler set high terms, demanding the Chancellorship and the President's agreement that he be able to use emergency powers under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. This failure to join the government, along with the Nazis' efforts to win working class support, alienated some of the Nazis' previous supporters, so that in the elections of November 1932, the Nazis actually lost votes, although they remained by far the largest party in the Reichstag.

As Papen had clearly failed in his attempts to secure a majority through negotiation to bring the Nazis into the government, Hindenburg dismissed him and appointed in his place General Kurt von Schleicher, long a power behind the scenes and more recently Defense Minister, who promised that he could secure a majority government by negotiations with both Social Democratic labour unions and with the dissident Nazi faction led by Gregor Strasser.

As Schleicher attempted this difficult mission, Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, Chairman of the German National People's Party (DNVP), before the Nazis' rise Germany's principle right-wing party, now conspired to persuade Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor in a coalition with the DNVP, promising that they would be able to control him. When Schleicher was forced to admit failure in his efforts, and asked Hindenburg for yet another Reichstag dissolution, Hindenburg fired him and put Papen's plan into execution, appointing Hitler Chancellor with Papen as Vice-Chancellor and Hugenberg as Minister of Economics, in a cabinet which only included three Nazis - Hitler, Hermann Göring and Wilhelm Frick.

The German Communist Party and its masters in Moscow must take a large part of the blame for Hitler's rise to power. Since 1929 Stalin had directed the Comintern to adopt a policy of extreme sectarianism towards all other parties on the left—Social Democrats were to be treated as "social fascists" and no alliances were to be made with them. This suited Stalin's domestic political ends, but it had disastrous consequences in Germany. The Communist Party not only failed to oppose the Nazis in alliance with the Social Democrats, it tactically co-operated with them (most notably in the 1932 Berlin public transport strike). They soon realised the error of this policy. Using the pretext of the Reichstag fire, Hitler issued the Reichstag Fire Decree of February 28 1933. The decree supressed several significant civil rights in the name of national security. The Communist leaders, along with all other opponents of the regime, soon found themselves in prison. At the same time the SA launched a wave of violence against the labour movement, the Jews and other enemies.

But Hitler did not yet hold the nation in thrall. Hitler's initial election into office and his use of constitutionally enshrined mechansims to shore up power have led to the myth that his country elected him dictator and that a majority supported his ascent. He was made Chancellor in a legal appointment by the President, who was elected. But Hitler himself was never awarded a popular mandate. At the last free elections, the Nazis polled 33% of the vote, winning 196 seats out of 584. Even in the elections of March 1933, which took place after terror and violence had suffused the state, the Nazis received only 44% of the vote. The party attained a Reichstag majority through a formal coalition with the DNVP. Finally, by intimidation they secured needed votes from the Centre Party to pass an Enabling Act, which gave dictatorial authority to Hitler. Through a series of decrees that followed shortly afterwards, other parties were suppressed and all opposition was banned. Without ever violating or suspending the Weimar constitution, and in the space of just a few months, Hitler had attained authoritarian control.

The Nazi regime

Having secured supreme political power without a popular mandate, Hitler in fact did go on to win one, and he retained the support of a very large majority of Germans until the very end of his regime. He was a master orator, and with all of Germany's mass media under the control of his propaganda chief, Dr Joseph Goebbels, he was able to persuade most Germans that he was their saviour—from the Depression, the Communists, the Versailles Treaty and the Jews. For those who were not persuaded, the SA, the SS and the Gestapo (Secret State Police) were given a free hand, and thousands disappeared into concentration camps. Many thousands more emigrated, including about half of Germany's Jews.

To consolidate his regime, Hitler needed the neutrality of the Army and the industrial magnates. They were alarmed by the "socialist" component of National Socialism, which was represented by the mainly working-class Brownshirts of Ernst Roehm's SA. To remove this barrier to acceptance of his regime, Hitler unleashed his lieutenant Himmler to murder Roehm and dozens of other real and potential enemies during the night of June 29-June 30, 1930. The event is remembered as the Night of the Long Knives. When Hindenburg died on August 2 1934 Hitler merged the offices of President and Chancellor, appointing himself Leader (Führer) of the German State, and extracting an oath of personal loyalty from every member of the armed forces.

Those Jews who had not emigrated in time soon regretted their hesitation. Under the 1935 Nuremberg Laws they lost their status as German citizens and were expelled from government employment, the professions and most forms of economic activity. They were subject to a barrage of hateful propaganda. Few non-Jewish Germans objected to these steps. The Christian Churches, steeped in centuries of anti-Semitism, remained silent. These restrictions were further tightened later, particularly after the 1938 anti-Jewish operation known as Kristallnacht. From 1941 Jews were required to wear a yellow star in public.

In March 1935 Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles by reintroducing conscription in Germany. His set goal seemed to be the building of a massive military machine, including a new Navy and an Air Force (the Luftwaffe). The later was set under the command of Hermann Goering, a veteran comander of World War I. The enlistment of vast numbers of men and women in the new military seemed to solve Germany's unemployment problems, but seriously distorted its economy.

In March 1936 he again violated the Treaty of Versailles by reoccupying the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland. When Britain and France did nothing to stop him, he grew bolder. In July 1936 the Spanish Civil War begun when the military led by General Francisco Franco rebelled against the elected Popular Front goverment of Spain. Hitler sent troops to help the rebels. Spain served as a testing ground for Germany's new armed forces and their methods, including the bombing of undefended towns such as Guernica, which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in April 1937.

Hitler formed an alliance with the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on October 25, 1936. This alliance was later expanded to include Japan, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. They are collectively known as the Axis Powers. Then on November 5, 1937 at the Reich Chancellery, Adolf Hitler held a secret meeting and stated his plans for acquiring "living space" for the German people.

On March 12 1938 Hitler bullied Austria into unification with Germany (the Anschluss) and made a triumphal entry into Vienna. Next he created a crisis over the German-speaking Sudetenland district of Czechoslovakia. This led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938 where Britain and France weakly gave way to his demands, averting war but sealing the fate of Czechoslovakia. The Germans entered Prague on March 10 1939.

At this point Britain and France decided to make a stand, and they resisted Hitler's next demands, for the return of the territories ceded to Poland under the Versailles Treaty. But the western powers were unable to come to an agreement with the Soviet Union for an alliance against Germany, and Hitler outsmarted them. On August 23 1939 he concluded an alliance (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) with Stalin. On September 1 Germany invaded Poland. Hitler was surprised when Britain and France honoured their pledge to the Poles by declaring war on Germany.

World War II: Victories

Mussolini with Hitler

Over the next three years Hitler had an almost unbroken run of military success. Poland was quickly defeated and partitioned with the Soviets. In April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. In May Germany initiated a lightning offensive that quickly overran The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, which collapsed within six weeks. In April 1941 Yugoslavia and Greece were invaded. Meanwile German forces were advancing across North Africa towards Egypt. These invasions were accompanied by bombing of undefended cities such as Warsaw, Rotterdam and Belgrade. Hitler's only setback was the failure of his attempt to bomb Britain into submission, which was thwarted during the Battle of Britain.

On June 22 1941 Operation Barbarossa begun. Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Union, rapidly seizing the western third of European Russia, besieging Leningrad and threatening Moscow. In the winter the Germans were repelled from the gates of Moscow, but the following summer the offensive was resumed. By July 1942 Hitler's armies were on the Volga. Here they were defeated at the Battle of Stalingrad, the first major defeat of Nazi Germany. In North Africa the British defeated the Germans at the battles of El Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans of seizing the Suez Canal and the Middle East.

The Holocaust

It is sometimes asked why Hitler invaded the Soviet Union while leaving Britain undefeated in the west. The answer is that Hitler had two overriding objectives: creating an eastern empire for the Germans, and exterminating the Jews. The Soviet Union was harbouring the second-largest Jewish population in Europe after Poland. For Hitler, the war against the western allies was only a necessary prelude to the conquest of Eastern Europe. Here he intended enslave, expel or kill the Russians, Poles and other Slavic peoples to make room for German settlers. This was an objective many Germans shared. But his personal obsession had always been the extermination of the Jews. The large number of Jews (3.3 million) who lived in the Soviet Union was clearly a major factor behind his order to invade that country. And, indeed, mass murder of the Jews began with the Einsatzgruppen who followed the armies into the Soviet Union, conducting mass shootings of Jews throughout the recently occupied territories which have been estimated to have killed approximately 2 million Jews.

There remained the question of what to do with the millions of Jews crowded into the ghettoes of the General Government of Poland. While no specific order from Hitler authorizing the mass killing of the Jews has surfaced, the evidence suggests that sometime in the fall of 1941, Himmler and he agreed in principle on mass murder by gassing. To make for smoother intra-governmental cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution," to the "Jewish Question," the Wannsee conference was held near Berlin on January 20 1942 with the participation of fifteen senior officials, led by Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann, the records of which provide the best evidence of the central planning of the Holocaust. Between 1942 and 1944 the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, systematically killed approximately 3.5 million more Jews in six camps in Poland: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Others were killed less systematically elsewhere, or died of starvation and disease while working as slave labourers. This attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe is now generally called the Holocaust, although the Hebrew word Shoah is preferred by some Jewish writers.

Other ethnic groups and social categories were also subject to persecution and in some cases extermination. Thousands of German socialists, communists and other opponents of the regime died in concentration camps, as did a large but unknown number of homosexual men. The Gypsies were regarded as an inferior race and were also shot or sent to death camps. About three million Soviet prisoners of war also died in camps or as slave labourers. All the occupied countries suffered terrible privations and mass executions: up to three million (non-Jewish) Polish civilians died during the occupation.

World War II: Defeat

Hitler's early military triumphs persuaded him (and many others) that he was a strategic genius, and he became increasingly unwilling to listen to advice or to hear bad news. After Stalingrad his military decisions became increasingly erratic, and Germany's military and economic position deteriorated. The entry of the United States into the war on December 7 1941 brought the world's greatest industrial and financial power into the coalition arrayed against him. Realists in the German army saw that defeat was inevitable, and some officers plotted to remove Hitler from power. In July 1944 one of them, Claus von Stauffenberg set up a bomb at Hitler's military headquarters (the so-called July 20 Plot), but Hitler narrowly escaped death. Savage reprisals followed and the resistance movement was crushed.

Hitler's ally Benito Mussolini was overthrown in 1943. Meanwhile the Soviet Union was steadily forcing Hitler's armies to retreat from their conquests in the east. But as long as western Europe was secure, Germany could hope to hold the line indefinitely, despite an increasingly heavy campaign of bombing of German cities. On June 6 1944 (D-Day), American and British armies landed in northern France, and by December they were on the Rhine. Hitler staged a last ditch offensive in the Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge). But by the new year the western armies were advancing into Germany.

In February the Soviets smashed their way through Poland and eastern Germany, and in April they arrived at the gates of Berlin. Hitler's closest lieutenants urged him to flee to Bavaria or Austria to make a last stand in the mountains, but he was determined to die in his capital. His armies crumbling, and with Russian forces fighting their way into central Berlin, Hitler killed himself in his Berlin bunker on 30 April 1945. He was 56. As part of his last will, he ordered that his body be taken outside and burned. In the testament he left, he dismissed the other Nazi leaders and appointed Admiral Karl Dönitz as the new Führer and Goebbels as the new Chancellor of Germany. However the later commited suicide on May 1, 1945. On May 8 1945 Germany surrendered. Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" had lasted a little over 12 years.

Hitler's partly burnt remains were found by the Russians. They kept this fact secret, and for years the Soviet Union fostered rumours that Hitler had somehow survived the war and was living in Latin America (where many ex-Nazis actually were living). In fact his remains were buried at an undisclosed location in eastern Germany on Stalin's instructions.

More than 40 million people died in World War II and associated events. Hitler must take the greatest share of responsibility for the majority of these deaths. The decision to launch the war was his alone, although he had the enthusiastic support of most Germans. There is no known document in which he explicitly ordered the Holocaust, but most historians believe he not only knew of it but ordered Himmler to carry it out—certainly it was entirely consistent with his lifelong beliefs.

Adolf Hitler

April 20, 1889 Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria..
September 1900-1904 Adolf was a student at the Linz Realshule
1903 Adolf’s father died.
1904-1905 Adolf was a student at the Steyr Realshule
1905 Adolf left school.
1907 Hitler went to Vienna to be an art student. He failed the entrance exam to the Academy of Fine Arts twice.
1907 Hitler’s mother died.
1909-1913 Hitler lived in flophouses and hostels for four years. He often ate in soup kitchens. He rarely worked, and when he did he worked in menial jobs.
1913 Hitler moved to Munich.
August 1914 World War I began. Hitler volunteered for the German Army.
December 1914 Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class.
October 5, 1916 Corporal Adolf Hitler was wounded in WW I.
October 1918 Hitler was exposed to battlefield mustard gas. He was nearly blinded from the exposure.
November 1918 World War I ended.
December 1918 Hitler returned to his regiment.
September 12, 1919 Hitler joined the German Worker's Party.
Autumn 1919 Hitler began attending meetings for the German Worker’s Party. It became known as the Nazi Party.
March 1920 Hitler left the army.
July 29, 1921 Hitler had assumed total control of the Nazi party
October 1923 Hitler had become the leader of the Nazi army. He set up a private army called storm troopers. By this month they numbered 15,000.
November 8, 1923 Hitler proclaimed the Nazi Revolution at a Beer Hall.
November 9, 1823 General Erich F. W. Ludendorff led 2,000 storm troopers against the Bavarian government. 16 marchers were killed and the plot failed.
November 12, 1923 Hitler was arrested for the attempted German coup.
April 1, 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for "Beer Hall Putsch." Gen Ludendorff was acquitted for leading the botched Nazi's "Beer Hall Putsch" in the German state of Bavaria
1924 Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
1924 The government outlawed the Nazi party.
December 20, 1924 Hitler was freed from prison.
May 1, 1927 Hitler held the first Nazi meeting in Berlin.
March 5, 1928 Hitler's National Socialists won the majority vote in Bavaria.
1929 The Nazi party became an important minority party.
1929 Hitler led a campaign to defeat the Young Plan of 1929. The plan was to reschedule reparation plans.
1930 The Great Depression hit Germany.
February 22, 1932 Adolf Hitler was the Nazi Party candidate for the presidential elections in Germany. The election of Hitler was supposed to mark the beginning of the Thousand-Year Reich.
February 25, 1932 Hitler was granted German citizenship.
July 1932 The Nazi Party became the countries strongest party. Hitler ran for president in the election, but he lost.
July 31, 1932 The Nazi party doubled its strength in legislative elections.
August 13, 1932 Hitler refused to serve as Franz Von Papen's vice chancellor
January 30, 1933 Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany. In order to get the position he had promised President Paul von Hindenburg that he would not act unlawfully.
February 4, 1933 Hindenburg signed a decree that gave the Nazis legal authority to prohibit assemblies, outlaw newspapers and other publications, and to arrest people under suspicion of treason.
February 27, 1933 Fire began to destroy the Reichstag. Many believe that the Nazis were behind the fire. The Nazis blamed the Communists. Hindenburg signed another decree. It gave the Nazis almost unlimited power.
March 5, 1933 The Nazi party won 43.9% of the votes.
March 23, 1933 The Nazi-dominated government passed the Enabling Act. The new law suspended the basic civil and human rights of the German citizens.
July 1933 The Nazi party outlawed freedom of the press, labor unions, and all other political parties.
1933 Hitler rearmed the German nation in preparation for war.
July 30, 1934 Adolf Hitler began his "blood purge" of political and military leaders in Germany. Among those killed was one-time Hitler ally Ernst Roehm, leader of the Nazi storm troopers. Hitler purged the Nazi Party by destroying the SA and bringing to power the SS in the "Night of the Long Knives."
August 1934 Hindenburg died and Hitler assumed complete control of Germany.
1935 German Jews were declared citizens of lesser rights.
March 16, 1935 Hitler ordered a German rearmament and violated the Versailles Treaty.
March 7, 1936 Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland.
September 7, 1937 Hitler called an end to the Treaty of Versailles.
September 25, 1937 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler met with Italian Premier Benito Mussolini in Munich.
February 20, 1938 Hitler demanded self-determination for Germans in Austria and Czechoslovakia. As Hitler's quest for Lebensraum ("living space") expanded into Czechoslovakia, thousands of Czechoslovakian soldiers and airmen escaped to participate in the liberation of their country.
March 1938 Hitler’s troops invaded Austria.
July 22, 1938 The Third Reich issued special identity cards for Jewish Germans.
September 1938 Britain and France allowed Germany to occupy the German speaking areas of Czechoslovakia.
1938 German resistance tried to overthrow Hitler.
March 1939 Hitler took control over the rest of Czechoslovakia.
May 22, 1939 Hitler and Benito Mussolini signed a "Pact of Steel" committing Germany and Italy to a military alliance forming the Axis powers.
August 1939 Hitler signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.
September 1, 1939 Hitler attacked Poland. Britain and France finally took action to stop Hitler.
September 3, 1939 France and Britain declared war on Germany.
September 1939 Hitler occupied all of Poland.
Spring 1940 German conquered Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.
March 18, 1940 Hitler and Benito Mussolini held a meeting at the Brenner Pass across the Alps during which the Italian dictator agreed to join in Germany's war against France and Britain.
June 22, 1940 France signed an armistice with Germany.
July 16, 1940 Hitler ordered the preparations to begin on the invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion.
October 4, 1940 Hitler and Benito Mussolini conferred at Brenner Pass in the Alps, where the Nazi leader sought Italy's help in fighting the British.
October 25, 1940 Hitler visited Mussolini in Florence.
January 20, 1941 Hitler met with Mussolini and offered aid in Albania and Greece.
June 1941 Germany began to attack the Soviet Union.
August 20, 1941 Hitler authorized the development of the V-2 missile.
Winter 1942-1943 The Battle of Stalingrad took place. It lasted for five months. The Soviets took out 300,000 Germans.
July 20, 1944 Hitler barley escaped an assassination plot, when a bomb was placed in his briefing room.
Early 1945 The Allies marched into the heart of Germany.
March 19, 1945 Hitler issued his so-called "Nero Decree," ordering the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands. Hitler ordered a scorched-earth policy.
April 29, 1945 Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun.
April 30, 1945 Hitler and Eva killed themselves

Adolf Hitler bears direct responsibility for the deaths of more than thirty million people, most of them killed between 1939 and 1945. Born in Braunau, on the border between the multi-ethnic empire of Austria-Hungary and the German Reich, his political ideas originated in the racist radicalism of his homeland, a racism he digested whilst he was a young man in Vienna, trying unsuccessfully to enter art school.

He moved Munich in 1913, where he enlisted in the German army. He was twice wounded, and decorated, during World War One. His political career began in 1918, fired by loathing for the German revolution of 1918/19 and the Weimar Republic, which he (and countless others) regarded as symbolic of Germany's defeat in the war and of the illegitimate 'power of Jews and Bolsheviks'.

In 1919 he joined the fascist German Workers' Party (DAP), whilst still employed by the German army as a propagandist. Demonstrating rare talent as a rabble-rouser, he played to the resentments of right-wingers, promising extremist 'remedies' to Germany's problems, including the killing of Jews, which few believed would ever be enacted. By July 1921 he was the unquestioned leader of what had become the NSDAP, the Nazi Party.

In 1923 Hitler attempted an armed uprising in Munich (along the lines of Mussolini's 1922 march on Rome), but this collapsed, and he was put behind bars for nine months. In 1925 he re-founded the party as a vote-winning machine, its core ideas intact, in an attempt to use democracy as the means of its own destruction. Using new techniques of mass communication to project his own quirky charisma, and backed by the brutality of his storm troopers, he pounded with his rhetoric the west, the Soviets, democrats, communists, capitalists and Jews. At this time of rural economic depression, the 1929 crash, and mass unemployment, voters were in the right frame of mind to move his way, and by 1932 the Nazis could no longer be ignored by Germany's political élites.

Although his party never won an overall majority in Germany, on 30 January 1933 Hitler became chancellor of a coalition government. Many believed power would 'tame' him, but the descent into the hell of the Third Reich was rapid. By 1938 radicalism, terror, expansionism had become the norm, and many Germans tolerated the situation - with fear and propaganda being partial explanations for this acceptance.

Hitler sought world domination (he always took war to his enemies, not they to him), and his policies led inexorably to World War Two. His murderous racial and political intentions were always clear, although secrecy sometimes shrouded the precise means of their execution. He killed himself in Berlin in 1945



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