Adolf Hitler was born to Alois and Klara Hitler in Braunau, Austria on April 20, 1889. He stood out in no way as a young boy, and when his father passed away in 1903, he dropped out of high school and lived on his mother’s pension. Not having to work, Adolf spent his time reading books, drawing pictures, and daydreaming. He moved to Vienna in 1907 and applied to the Vienna Academy of Art, twice, but was rejected both times. The heads of the department felt he was not talented enough. They had no idea how this decision would affect history. Also, in 1907 his mother died, making this very traumatic year for young Adolf.
In 1914, Hitler moved to Munich, Germany in search of a better life. When World War I broke out, Hitler enthusiastically enlisted in the German army. In the war, he proved to be a dedicated and brave soldier. While serving he was in some of the bloodiest battles as a messenger on the front lines. He was wounded twice and was decorated for his bravery. He learned a lot about violence and its uses during this time. But he only rose to the rank of corporal and never promoted to a leadership position. Ironically, his supervisors claimed that he had no leadership qualities.
At the end of the war, Hitler was very angry that Germany had lost. He became very nationalistic and anti-Semitic like many other soldiers. He was sure that the purpose of his life was to lead Germany.
In 1919, Hitler attended a meeting of a nationalist group, German Workers’ of the German Workers’ Party, and later joined. The party called for unity of one nation of all Germans, Austrians, German minorities in Czechoslovakia and other countries. The party also demanded that non-Germans and those of Jewish origin should have no German citizenship. The party emphasized its commitment to “ennobling the German worker.” They claimed that the Jews were controlling Germany and taking over. In reality, there were only about six hundred thousand Jews living in Germany, and they represented less than one percent of the population. By the end of the year, Hitler had become both propaganda chief and a member of the executive committee. At the same time the party changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), or Nazis for short.
The mood in Germany after WWI was grim and depressed. This made the public more susceptible to what Hitler had to say. Hitler took advantage of all the public’s weaknesses. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and other members of the upper class, as well as workers began to join the Nazi party.
Hitler’s followers left the meeting halls after he spoke shouting “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!” Fired by his words, they went out into the streets singing angrily, “When the Jewish blood flows from our knives, this will be better!” Not only did they sing they looked for Jews to beat up. With bully bravado between 10-15 would gang up on just one Jewish person. Hitler’s followers were everywhere. Out of fear or out of sentiment, the public hesitated to interfere.
By early 1923, Hitler was in firm command of the Nazi party. As he was responsible for the growth of the group, he could and did set himself up as its leader. Hitler was ready to test the political waters. He wasn’t willing to wait any longer and ruled out participation in electoral politics as the road to power. He was convinced that the Republic could be toppled by revolution. At that time, the Republic seemed vulnerable because of the economic life in Germany. There was rampant inflation, high unemployment, an uprising in the Rhineland, a communist coup in Hamburg, and mobilization of forces Bavaria. Thus, almost anarchy.
This atmosphere inspired Hitler to enlist the NSDAP in a computational alliance with a number of other German political parties, and together they planned to overthrow the Bavarian government and eventually the Third Reich. In a beer hall in Munich on November 8, 1923, Hitler proclaimed a Nazi revolution. The next day Hitler led a revolt to try to overthrow the Bavarian government; the revolt was called the Beer Hall Putsch. With 2,000 storm troopers and supported by German General Erich F.W. Ludendorff, Hitler marched against the Bavarian government. The state police opened fire on the group killing sixteen marchers. The plan failed, and the party was decimated.
Hitler was arrested and found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in prison. Despite his sentence, Hitler was released within a year. While in prison he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle), the bible of the Nazi party. While Hitler was in jail, the NSDAP participated in its first Reichstag election. Unfortunately, very little order was restored in the next few months while Hitler was in prison.
After his release from the Landsberg prison, Hitler was determined to reestablish his control over the National Socialist movement. He was also determined to climb to power the legal way. This meant that he needed to recruit more supporters for his Nazi party and needed to get them to vote for him. Hitler learned from his past that he could not overthrow the German government by force. He would have to get elected and do it be the democratic rules of Germany.
Hitler went all over Germany during the campaign of 1930 making speeches, attending meetings, signing autographs, posing for pictures, shaking hands, and even kissing babies. To add to all of Hitler’s appearances, Joseph Goebbels organized meetings, torchlight parades, plastered posters everywhere and printed millions of copies of the special editions of Nazi newspapers. By doing so, the Nazis popularity rose.
Germany saw relief in Hitler because of the widespread poverty, the political instability, and the misery caused by the Great Depression. The people of Germany were willing to listen to what Hitler said even though it was vague, and he repeated catchphrases over and over again. His speeches did not appear to have any actual firm policy statements.
Everyone, from Hitler down to the lowest leader, worked tirelessly to pound their message in the minds of the German public. They also made sure they were known as “The National Socialist German Worker’s Party” instead of the name of “Nazis.”
On September 14, 1930, the Nazis received 6,371,000 votes, and obtained 107 seats in the German Reichstag, having eighteen percent of the total votes. This was a great step to the Nazis to gain control because almost overnight they went from the smallest party to the second largest.
In 1932, more elections were held, and the Nazi Party gained more popularity and became the strongest party in Germany with nearly thirty eight percent of the votes. However, Hitler did lose to the incumbent Paul van Hindenburg for president. Many of the parties offered Hitler cabinet post in exchange for Nazi support. He refused theses offers because he did not want anything other than to become chancellor.
In January of 1933, President Hindenburg finally asked Hitler to become chancellor. Because the Nazis did not have a majority of seats in Reichstag, Hitler had to form a coalition government. In 1933 after the death of President Hindenburg, the German cabinet combined the offices of president and chancellor to make Hitler, Der Furher. He had achieved his goal. He was supreme leader and unlimited master of all Germany.
After Hitler came to power, he made Germany a war machine. He preached, “Have no pity! Act brutally!” to his storm troopers and soldiers. Anyone who opposed him and what he thought, he crushed. He executed tens of thousands, threw hundreds of thousands in prison. He hated Jews and Slavs, because Hitler classified them as “inferior”. Altogether, six million Jews were killed as well as five million other people classified as “politically dangerous”.
Rise of Adolph Hitler.http://history.acusd.edu/gen/ww2Timeline/Prelude03.html.
A fooled Nation: Hitler’s Rise to Power.http://Hitler.com/Assets/2678.ed.
Rise of Hitler.http://library.thinkquest.org/16742/hitler.html.
Hitler Solidifies his Power.http://www.thirfreichpages.org/power.htm.