Adolf Hitler
(1889-1945)

Born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, April 1889. With both parents dead by the time he was 18 he moved to Vienna with dreams of becoming an artist but following rejections by art schools (Vienna Academy of the Arts among them) he lived aimlessly in Viennese doss houses, developing a strong antipathy for the rich jews he saw swanning around the city every day.

The outbreak of hostilities in 1914 gave some focus to his life and he immediately crossed the border with Germany to enroll in that nation's army. His position as motorcycle courier was vaguely impressive as despite his lack of promotion beyond the role of Corporal he was awarded the Iron Cross. The post war years saw the dissoultion of the monarchy and the impostion of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles with a loss of rich land around German borders and a massive tax burden on the German ecomony in the form of reparations. At this time violence oftern spilled out into the streets of major cities as Marxists and Right wingers fought for municipal control. Htiler stepped into this fray still as a soldier and was given the task of spying on a small right wing political group known as the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP.) Sensing a natural home he resigned from the army and joined up with this party. His timing proved to be superb as in 1923, with the economy in a state of near collapse and in the throes of hyper inflation the situation was ideal for a strong, nationalist and anti-democratic party. Almost superb timing anyway. His first attempt at revolution, the beer hall putsch was a failure and saw him handed a five year jail sentence.

In fact, Hitler only served nine months of the sentence but during this time honed his political ideals in his autobiographical Mein Kampf. Once out of prison he directed all his energies towards his adopted party which went from strength to strenght thanks in part to world wide depression of 1929 which saw a return to the post-war economic conditions in the country. In 1932 his party won 37% of the votes in the general election and after political horse trading with the conservative parties and Hindenberg Hitler was appointed Chancellor.

Reform was swift and within a few months the National Socialist Party had total almost total control over the armed forces, the country's police force and had turned Germany's parliament into a rubber stamp assembly. Almost immediately he turned his focus toward Europe and in 1935 abandoned the terms of the Versailles Treaty with regards conscription, occupied the demilitarized Rhineland and even sent the Luftwaffe to aid fellow fascist Francisco Franco (qv) during the Spanish Civil War. He cemented an alliance with another fellow fascist, Benito Mussolini (qv) with the Rome-Berlin Pact of 1936, annexed Austria and the German speaking part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, with the remainder being swallowed up the next spring. 1939 also saw his masterstroke - the non aggression past with the Soviet Union that allowed him to concentrate all his forces on the Western front.

His army's invasion of of Poland led the countries of Europe into another World War but they fell one by one as his vastly superior war machine marched to victory after victory soon controlling the entire European continent save Britain and the neutral Switzerland and Sweden. Foolishly he broke the non aggression pact with the Soviets and opened up a second front in the East that was to be his undoing. The War thundered on until, with the entry of the United States into the European arena, a revitalised USSR counterattack, and perpetual bombing of Germany peace was declared in Spring 1945. Hitler committed suicide on the 29th April, and it was only after that time that the World came to understand the true scale of his plan for a final solution for European Jewry that had been running alongside the war effort. Quite apart from the millions that had perished in the hostilities a futher twelve million, of which a full six million were Jews, had been exterminated in death camps run by Hitler's SS.

Length of Rule - Eleven years

The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it

Adolf Hitler

Links

The Morgue

ThirdReich.net

Books

The Dark Valley

Piers Brendon

The Third Reich

Michael Burleigh

Hitler & Stalin. Parallel Lives

Alan Bullock

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