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Autor: anton 25 October 2010
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Adolf Hitler, FÑŒhrer of the National Socialist German Workers Party, commonly known as the Nazi party, and FÑŒhrer and Reichskanzler of Germany, was born April 20th, 1889. 56 years and ten days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in an underground bunker in Berlin with his wife Eva Braun, on April 30th 1945.
In the views of most people, Adolf Hitler was a menace that terrorized history. A hellbent psychopath determined to dominate the world and enforce a "master race" of germans, anti-semetic. Most only know, however, of his conquest over Europe, rather than his complex background and history during his rise to power.
In 1905, Adolf Hitler was 16 when he dropped out of high school. From then on, he spent most of his time wandering around the city, his father's dead giving him freedom to do as he wished. He enjoyed going out dressed well, with a cane. He had one friend during these times, August Kubizek. Kubizek was a striving musician, who was a patient listener and acted as an audience to Hitler who would give speeches with crazy hand gestures to this audience. Kubizek described Hitler as "violent and high strung." Kubizek noted that a turning point in Hitler's personality occurred
after witnessing an opera entitled "Rienzi." He told him that he was on a "mission to save his people," similar
to the plot of the opera. Later in his life, Hitler lived in Vienna, where he worked as a struggling artist selling paintings. Hitler particularly liked architecture, and was said to be able to draw detailed pictures of buildings he had seen only once. He supported himself on money from selling his artworks, working privately after failing entrance tests to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. After producing thousands of works of art, Hitler joined the military.
In the trenches of World War One, Hitler fought for the Germans, and after years of poverty, he now had a sense of purpose. Volunteering soldiers thought it would be a short war, but hopefully long enough for them to see some action. It turned out to be a long war in which millions of soldiers died; an entire generation of men wiped out.
Hitler volunteered at 25 in Bavaria. After its first battle against the British and Belgians near Ypres, 2500 of the 3000 men in the Hitler's group were killed. However, Hitler emerged uninjured. For most of the war, Hitler remained uninjured. It is said that more than once he had moved away from a spot where moments later a bomb killed or wounded everyone.
Hitler became a Corporal, and a dispatch runner, taking commands from higher ranked officers out to soldiers in battle. During breaks in battles, he would paint his surroundings. Unlike others, Hitler never complained about bad food and conditions, nor did he talk about women. He preferred discussing art, or history. Occasionally he received letters from home, but no packages and he never asked to leave. Other soldiers said Hitler was rather eager to please his commanders, and was generally a likable man. He was known for his luck in avoiding injury, as well as being very brave.
On October 7, 1916 Hitler was wounded in the leg by a shell fragment in the Battle of the Somme. When he recovered he spent some time off in Berlin, and later was assigned light duty in Munich. Hitler highly disliked the anti-war standpoints of German civilians, and blamed the Jews for this. This theory would later turn into an obsession, combined with other things leading to a growing hatred of Jews. To escape the civilians, Hitler asked to be sent back into battle, and was granted his wish in March of 1917.
In August 1918, he received the Iron Cross first class. The lieutenant who recommended him for the medal was a Jew, and Hitler would later obscure this fact. Although he had a good record and a total of five medals, he remained a corporal. Because of his appearance and odd personality, his officers felt he didn't have leadership qualities and thought he would not fit as a sergeant.
Hitler slowly became depressed as the tide of war turned against the Germans. His comrades say he would sometimes spend hours sitting in a corner of a tent, deep in thought only to jump to his feet yelling about "invisible foes of the German people," Jews and Marxists.
In October 1918, he was temporarily blinded by a chlorine gas attack from the British near Ypres. He was sent home to his suffering country where he laid in a hospital bed depressed and hearing romours of oncoming disaster. In November of 1918, an old pastor revealed the news of their loss in the hospital, as the Kaiser and House of Hollenzollern had fallen. The war was over.
Hitler described in Mein Kampf: "There followed terrible days and even worse nights - I knew that all was lost...in these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for this deed." In Hitler's mind this meant the Jews.
Hitler never had a normal occup[ation and other than his role in World War One, he was lazy in life. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party at age thirty. Hitler immediately worked hard toward the success of this newfound group.
They gave out invitations and placed advertisements in anti-semitic newspapers in Munich. At Hitler's demand, a meeting was moved to a beer cellar that held about a hundred people. Other members thought they would have trouble filling the place, but to Hitler's expectations, over one hundred showed up on October 16, 1919.
Hitler was the second speaker at this meeting and it was his first time as a featured speaker. When He got up to speak, he surprised everyone with a very emotional style of speaking. This was an important moment in Hitler's young political career, and he describes the moment in Mein Kampf; "I spoke for thirty minutes, and what before I had simply felt within me, without in any way knowing it, was now proved by reality: I could speak! After thirty minutes the people in the small room were electrified and the enthusiasm was first expressed by the fact that my appeal to the self-sacrifice of those present led to the donation of three hundred marks." This money was put towards the advancement of their advertisement campaign. The German Workers' Party now used Hitler as the main attraction at its meetings. In speeches Hitler spoke against the Treaty of Versailles and gave anti-Semitic tirades, blaming Jews for Germany's problems. His dislike of the treaty of Versailles increased attendance dramatically, even with people that were against anti-semitism.
Hitler undertook the job of recruiting people, taking charge of propaganda and also taking in some past war comrades. Along with him in recruiting people was Army Captain Ernst RÑ†hm, a new member, who would play a large role in Hitler's rise to power.
There were a large number of soldiers and ex-soldiers in munich that despised the treaty of Versailles, and they too joined the party rapidly. There were many other political groups looking for members, but none more successful than the Marxists. Genuine fear existed there might be a widespread Communist revolution in Germany like the Russian revolution. Hitler associated Marxism with the Jews and thus reviled it. (The History Place; Nazi Party is formed)
In February of 1920, Hitler wanted the party to hold its first mass-meeting. Other leaders discouraged this, due to fears that Marxists would disrupt it, but Hitler actually welcomed that idea, as it would downgrade them. He even had the halls decorated in red to anger Marxists. Hitler was pleased to find two thousand people attending, including communists, when he entered the meeting hall in Munich. His speech outlined the twenty five points of the German Workers' Party which included: the union of all Germans in a greater German Reich, rejection of the Treaty of Versailles, the demand for additional territories for the German people (Lebensraum), citizenship determined by race with no Jew to be considered a German, all income not earned by work to be confiscated, a thorough reconstruction of the national education system, religious freedom except for religions which endanger the German race, and a strong central government for the execution of effective legislation. (The History Place; Nazi Party is formed) The meeting was extremely successful.
At one point Hitler realized that the party needed a recognizable symbol, a problem that hitler fixed by choosing the symbol of the Swastika. Hitler did not invent the symbol, the sign is said to have been found in ruins of ancient times. He had seen it day after day as a young boy when he went to the Benedictine monsastery school in Lambach, Austria.
The Swastika was placed inside a white circle on a red background which to this day remains an extremely infamous symbol of anti-semitism.
The German Workers' Party name was changed by Hitler to include the term National Socialist. Thus the full name was the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) called for short, Nazi. By the end of 1920 it had about three thousand members. (The History Place; Nazi Party is formed)
In 1923, Germany was hit by a massive inflation. At first, the German mark dropped down to 18,000 to the dollar. In July it was 160,000 to the dollar. In august, 1,000,000 marks to the dollar. In november of 1923, it had dropped to 4,000,000,000 to the dollar. People starved, riots broke out, the society rebeled against its government, and the Nazis saw their chance to act.
The Nazis knew there was a meeting at a beer hall that would be attended by Bavarian leaders that they could kidnap and force at gunpoint to accept Hitler as their new leader.
On November 8, 1923 SA troops surrounded the hall and Hitler entered and fired a shot into the ceiling shouting "Silence!" afterwards. He then proceeded
to the podium, which was given to him by the man that had been interrupted by his gunshot, Gustav von Kahr.
"The National Revolution has begun!" Hitler shouted. "...No one may leave the hall. Unless there is immediate quiet I shall have a machine gun posted in the gallery. The Bavarian and Reich governments have been removed and a provisional national government formed. The barracks of the Reichswehr and police are occupied. The Army and the police are marching on the city under the swastika banner!" None of that was true, but those in the beer hall could not know otherwise. (The History Place; The Beer Hall Putsch)
Hitler ordered the three highest officials of the Bavarian government into a room; State Commissioner Kahr, head of the state police Colonel Hans von Seisser, and commander of the German Army in Bavaria, General Otto von Lossow. However, these three leaders refused to cooperate with Hitler, a response he wasn't prepared for. He ran back to the podium and shouted: "The government of the November criminals and the Reich President are declared to be removed. A new national government will be named this very day in Munich. A new German National Army will be formed immediately...The task of the provisional German National Government is to organize the march on that sinful Babel, Berlin, and save the German people! Tomorrow will find either a National Government in Germany or us dead!" (The History Place; The Beer Hall Putsch)
This statement made people in the hall believe that the men in the back room had given in, and loud cheering for Hitler ensued.
At 11 A.M. on November 9th, three thousand Nazis, led by Hitler, marched toward the center of Munich. Carrying a flag was a young member named Heinrich Himmler. During their march, the Nazis encountered a police blockade of around a hundred armed men, whom hitler addressed to surrender, which they did not. Bullets from the police killed fourteen Nazis, and four policemen were killed. "Had the bullet which killed Scheubner-Richter been a foot to the right, history would have taken a different course" by killing Hitler (Wilson 211).
After days of hiding out, Hitler was eventually arrested and tried for treason. He was sentenced to prison for five years from what should have been life, and enjoyed a suite-like prison cell, receiving gifts and visitors whenever he liked, and even had his own secretary. This secretary took down notes on his rants in prison which would later become the first volume of Mein Kampf. Although in jail, Hitler had achieved a power of press, and was nearly at his goal of becoming supreme ruler of Germany.
In 1932, Hitler ran for President, losing the election to Paul von Hindenburg who was running for re-election. However, he lost at a vote count of 53% to 36%, proving Hitler was growing ever more popular in Germany.
Around noon on January 30, 1933, a new chapter in German history began as a teary-eyed Adolf Hitler emerged from the presidential palace as Chancellor of the German Nation. Surrounded by admirers, he got into his car and was driven down the street lined with cheering citizens. "We've done it! We've done it!" - an excited Adolf Hitler shouted. (The History Place; The Republic Collapses)
Paul von Hindenburg was extremely reluctant to accept Hitler as chancellor. Nonetheless, on January 30, he was sworn in.
In his first day as Chancellor, Hitler forced Hindenburg to collapse the Reichstag.
Political enemies of Hitler were arrested in large quantities, and put into makeshit prisons. This was the beginning of what would become concentration camps of the Holocaust.
A vote against Democracy was taken, and it was a landslide victory for hitler; he had taken it down legally.
The Nazi Gleichschaltung was now in power, ruling under the sign of the swastika and absolute power of Adolf Hitler. Many people fleed Germany, while many rejoiced this change.
From this point, Hitler turned his attention to the driving force that propelled him through politics; his hatred for Jews. World War II was on the brink as Hitler had achieved his supreme goal of Dictator of Germany.
Adolf Hitler: The Rise to Power
"Adolf Hitler." Wikipedia. December 5 .
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.
"The Rise of Adolf Hitler." The History Place. December 5 .
Waite, Robert. The Psychopathic God Adolf Hitler. New York: Basic Books, 1977.
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