Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
Hitler portrait crop.jpg
1938 portrait
Führer of Nazi Germany
In office
2 August 1934 – 30 April 1945
Preceded byPaul von Hindenburg
(as President of the German Reich)
Succeeded byKarl Dönitz
(as President)
Chancellor of Nazi Germany
In office
30 January 1933 – 30 April 1945
Preceded byKurt von Schleicher
Succeeded byJoseph Goebbels
Führer of the Nazi Party
In office
29 June 1921 – 30 April 1945
DeputyRudolf Hess
Preceded byAnton Drexler
(as Chairman)
Succeeded byMartin Bormann
(as Party Minister)
Personal details
Born(1889-04-20)20 April 1889
Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary
Died30 April 1945(1945-04-30) (aged 56)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
Cause of deathSuicide by gunshot
  • Austria (1889–1925)
  • Germany (1932–1945)
Political partyNational Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) (1921–1945)
Other political
German Workers' Party (1920–1921)
Spouse(s)Eva Braun (m. 1945; d. 1945)
RelativesHitler family
Military service
AllegianceGerman Empire
Service/branchBavarian Army
Years of service1914–1920
  • 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment
  • Reichswehr intelligence
Battles/warsWorld War I

Adolf Hitler (German: [ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ] (About this sound listen); 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was a German politician, demagogue,[1] and Pan-German revolutionary,[2] who was the leader of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP), Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and Führer ("Leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945.[a] As dictator, Hitler initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939, and was central to the Holocaust.

Hitler was born in Austria—then part of Austria-Hungary—and was raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), the precursor of the NSDAP, and was appointed leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted to seize power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned. While in jail he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his release from prison in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy.

By 1933, the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, but did not have a majority, and no party was able to form a majority parliamentary coalition in support of a candidate for chancellor. This led to former chancellor Franz von Papen and other conservative leaders persuading President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Shortly after, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans which gave him significant popular support.

Hitler sought Lebensraum ("living space") for the German people in Eastern Europe and his aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and on 1 September 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. In December 1941, he formally declared war on the United States, bringing them directly into the conflict. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, he married his long-time lover Eva Braun. Less than two days later on 30 April 1945, the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army and their corpses were burned.

Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (sub-humans) or socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 28.7 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare and the casualties constituted the deadliest conflict in human history.

Early years


Hitler's father Alois Hitler Sr. (1837–1903) was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber.[5] The baptismal register did not show the name of his father, and Alois initially bore his mother's surname Schicklgruber. In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Alois's mother Maria Anna. Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler's brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler.[6] In 1876, Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest to register Johann Georg Hiedler as Alois's father (recorded as "Georg Hitler").[7][8] Alois then assumed the surname "Hitler",[8] also spelled Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler. The Hitler surname is probably based on "one who lives in a hut" (German Hütte for "hut").[9]

Nazi official Hans Frank suggested that Alois's mother had been employed as a housekeeper by a Jewish family in Graz, and that the family's 19-year-old son Leopold Frankenberger had fathered Alois.[10] No Frankenberger was registered in Graz during that period, and no record has been produced of Leopold Frankenberger's existence,[11] so historians dismiss the claim that Alois's father was Jewish.[12][13]

Childhood and education

Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 1889–90)

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary (in present-day Austria), close to the border with the German Empire.[14] He was christened as "Adolphus Hitler".[15] He was the fourth of six children born to Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Three of Hitler's siblings—Gustav, Ida, and Otto—died in infancy.[16] Also living in the household were Alois's children from his second marriage: Alois Jr. (born 1882) and Angela (born 1883).[17] When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany.[18] There he acquired the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech throughout his life.[19][20][21] The family returned to Austria and settled in Leonding in 1894, and in June 1895 Alois retired to Hafeld, near Lambach, where he farmed and kept bees. Hitler attended Volksschule (a state-owned school) in nearby Fischlham.[22][23]

The move to Hafeld coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts caused by Hitler's refusal to conform to the strict discipline of his school.[24] His father beat him, although his mother tried to protect him.[25] Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach. The eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even considered becoming a priest.[26] In 1898 the family returned permanently to Leonding. Hitler was deeply affected by the death of his younger brother Edmund, who died in 1900 from measles. Hitler changed from a confident, outgoing, conscientious student to a morose, detached boy who constantly fought with his father and teachers.[27]

Hitler's mother, Klara
Hitler's father, Alois

Alois had made a successful career in the customs bureau, and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.[28] Hitler later dramatised an episode from this period when his father took him to visit a customs office, depicting it as an event that gave rise to an unforgiving antagonism between father and son, who were both strong-willed.[29][30][31] Ignoring his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, Alois sent Hitler to the Realschule in Linz in September 1900.[b][32] Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf states that he intentionally did poorly in school, hoping that once his father saw "what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me devote myself to my dream".[33]

Like many Austrian Germans, Hitler began to develop German nationalist ideas from a young age.[34] He expressed loyalty only to Germany, despising the declining Habsburg Monarchy and its rule over an ethnically variegated empire.[35][36] Hitler and his friends used the greeting "Heil", and sang the "Deutschlandlied" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem.[37]

After Alois's sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler's performance at school deteriorated and his mother allowed him to leave.[38] He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904, where his behaviour and performance improved.[39] In 1905, after passing a repeat of the final exam, Hitler left the school without any ambitions for further education or clear plans for a career.[40]

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich

The house in Leonding in Austria where Hitler spent his early adolescence (photo taken in July 2012)

In 1907 Hitler left Linz to live and study fine art in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. He applied for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna but was rejected twice.[41][42] The director explained his drawings showed "unfitness for painting" and suggested Hitler was better suited to studying architecture. Though this was an interest of his, he lacked the academic credentials as he had not finished secondary school.[43] On 21 December 1907, his mother died of breast cancer at the age of 47. In 1909 Hitler ran out of money and was forced to live a bohemian life in homeless shelters and Meldemannstraße dormitory.[44][45] He earned money as a casual labourer and by painting and selling watercolours of Vienna's sights.[41]

The Alter Hof in Munich. Watercolour by Adolf Hitler, 1914

During his time in Vienna he pursued a growing passion for two interests, architecture and music, attending ten performances of Lohengrin, his favorite Wagner opera.[46]

It was here that Hitler first became exposed to racist rhetoric.[47] Populists such as mayor Karl Lueger exploited the climate of virulent anti-Semitism and occasionally espoused German nationalist notions for political effect. German nationalism had a particularly widespread following in the Mariahilf district, where Hitler lived.[48] Georg Ritter von Schönerer became a major influence on Hitler.[49] He also developed an admiration for Martin Luther.[50] Hitler read local newspapers such as Deutsches Volksblatt that fanned prejudice and played on Christian fears of being swamped by an influx of Eastern European Jews.[51] He read newspapers and pamphlets that published the thoughts of philosophers and theoreticians such as Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gustave Le Bon and Arthur Schopenhauer.[52]

The origin and development of Hitler's anti-Semitism remains a matter of debate.[53] His friend, August Kubizek, claimed that Hitler was a "confirmed anti-Semite" before he left Linz.[54] However, historian Brigitte Hamann describes Kubizek's claim as "problematical".[55] While Hitler states in Mein Kampf that he first became an anti-Semite in Vienna,[56] Reinhold Hanisch, who helped him sell his paintings, disagrees. Hitler had dealings with Jews while living in Vienna.[57][58][59] Historian Richard J. Evans states that "historians now generally agree that his notorious, murderous anti-Semitism emerged well after Germany's defeat [in World War I], as a product of the paranoid "stab-in-the-back" explanation for the catastrophe".[60]

Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich, Germany.[61] Hitler was called up for conscription into the Austro-Hungarian Army,[62] so he journeyed to Salzburg on 5 February 1914 for medical assessment. After he was deemed by the medical examiners as unfit for service, he returned to Munich.[63] Hitler later claimed that he did not wish to serve the Habsburg Empire because of the mixture of races in its army and his belief that the collapse of Austria-Hungary was imminent.[64]

Hitler (far right, seated) with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 1914–18)

World War I

In August 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, Hitler was living in Munich and voluntarily enlisted in the Bavarian Army.[65] According to a 1924 report by the Bavarian authorities, allowing Hitler to serve was almost certainly an administrative error, since as an Austrian citizen, he should have been returned to Austria.[65] Posted to the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (1st Company of the List Regiment),[66][65] he served as a dispatch runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium,[67] spending nearly half his time at the regimental headquarters in Fournes-en-Weppes, well behind the front lines.[68][69] He was present at the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele, and was wounded at the Somme.[70] He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914.[70] On a recommendation by Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann, Hitler's Jewish superior, he received the Iron Cross, First Class on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's Gefreiter rank.[71][72] He received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.[73]

During his service at headquarters, Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. During the Battle of the Somme in October 1916, he was wounded in the left thigh when a shell exploded in the dispatch runners' dugout.[74] Hitler spent almost two months in hospital at Beelitz, returning to his regiment on 5 March 1917.[75] On 15 October 1918, he was temporarily blinded in a mustard gas attack and was hospitalised in Pasewalk.[76] While there, Hitler learned of Germany's defeat, and—by his own account—upon receiving this news, he suffered a second bout of blindness.[77]

Hitler described the war as "the greatest of all experiences", and was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery.[78] His wartime experience reinforced his German patriotism and he was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918.[79] His bitterness over the collapse of the war effort began to shape his ideology.[80] Like other German nationalists, he believed the Dolchstoßlegende (stab-in-the-back myth), which claimed that the German army, "undefeated in the field", had been "stabbed in the back" on the home front by civilian leaders, Jews, Marxists, and those who signed the armistice that ended the fighting - later dubbed the "November criminals".[81]

The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied heavy reparations on the country. Many Germans saw the treaty as an unjust humiliation—they especially objected to Article 231, which they interpreted as declaring Germany responsible for the war.[82] The Versailles Treaty and the economic, social, and political conditions in Germany after the war were later exploited by Hitler for political gain.[83]

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Адолф Гитлер
Afrikaans: Adolf Hitler
Alemannisch: Adolf Hitler
Ænglisc: Adolf Hitler
العربية: أدولف هتلر
aragonés: Adolf Hitler
armãneashti: Adolf Hitler
অসমীয়া: এডল্ফ হিটলাৰ
asturianu: Adolf Hitler
Avañe'ẽ: Adolf Hitler
azərbaycanca: Adolf Hitler
تۆرکجه: آدولف هیتلر
Bahasa Banjar: Adolf Hitler
Bân-lâm-gú: Adolf Hitler
Basa Banyumasan: Adolf Hitler
башҡортса: Адольф Гитлер
беларуская: Адольф Гітлер
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Адольф Гітлер
भोजपुरी: एडोल्फ हिटलर
Bikol Central: Adolf Hitler
Bislama: Adolf Hitler
български: Адолф Хитлер
Boarisch: Adolf Hitler
bosanski: Adolf Hitler
brezhoneg: Adolf Hitler
català: Adolf Hitler
Cebuano: Adolf Hitler
čeština: Adolf Hitler
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Adolf Hitler
Chi-Chewa: Adolf Hitler
chiShona: Adolf Hitler
Cymraeg: Adolf Hitler
Deutsch: Adolf Hitler
Diné bizaad: Dágháilchįįh
Ελληνικά: Αδόλφος Χίτλερ
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Adolf Hitler
español: Adolf Hitler
Esperanto: Adolf Hitler
estremeñu: Adolf Hitler
euskara: Adolf Hitler
Fiji Hindi: Adolf Hitler
føroyskt: Adolf Hitler
français: Adolf Hitler
furlan: Adolf Hitler
Gaeilge: Adolf Hitler
Gàidhlig: Adolf Hitler
galego: Adolf Hitler
贛語: 希特勒
ગુજરાતી: એડોલ્ફ હિટલર
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Adolf Hitler
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Adolf Hitler
Hausa: Hitler
Հայերեն: Ադոլֆ Հիտլեր
hornjoserbsce: Adolf Hitler
hrvatski: Adolf Hitler
Ilokano: Adolf Hitler
Bahasa Indonesia: Adolf Hitler
interlingua: Adolf Hitler
Interlingue: Adolf Hitler
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᐦᐄᑦᓖᕐ
íslenska: Adolf Hitler
italiano: Adolf Hitler
Basa Jawa: Adolf Hitler
kernowek: Adolf Hitler
Kiswahili: Adolf Hitler
Kreyòl ayisyen: Adolf Hitler
kurdî: Adolf Hitler
Кыргызча: Адольф Гитлер
Ladino: Adolf Hitler
لۊری شومالی: آدولف ھيتلر
latgaļu: Adoļfs Hitlers
latviešu: Ādolfs Hitlers
Lëtzebuergesch: Adolf Hitler
lietuvių: Adolfas Hitleris
Limburgs: Adolf Hitler
Livvinkarjala: Adolf Hitler
la .lojban.: .adolf. .itlyr.
Luganda: Adolf Hitler
lumbaart: Adolf Hitler
magyar: Adolf Hitler
македонски: Адолф Хитлер
Malagasy: Adolf Hitler
მარგალური: ადოლფ ჰიტლერი
مازِرونی: آدولف هیتلر
Bahasa Melayu: Adolf Hitler
Baso Minangkabau: Adolf Hitler
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Adolf Hitler
Mirandés: Adolf Hitler
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဟစ်တလာ
Nāhuatl: Adolf Hitler
Dorerin Naoero: Adolf Hitler
Nederlands: Adolf Hitler
Nedersaksies: Adolf Hitler
नेपाल भाषा: एडोल्फ हिटलर
Napulitano: Adolf Hitler
Nordfriisk: Adolf Hitler
Norfuk / Pitkern: Adolf Hitler
norsk nynorsk: Adolf Hitler
Novial: Adolf Hitler
occitan: Adolf Hitler
олык марий: Гитлер, Адольф
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Adolf Hitler
پنجابی: ہٹلر
Papiamentu: Adolf Hitler
Patois: Adalf Itla
ភាសាខ្មែរ: អាដុល ហ៊ីត្លែរ
Piemontèis: Adolf Hitler
Plattdüütsch: Adolf Hitler
polski: Adolf Hitler
Ποντιακά: Αδόλφον Χίτλερ
português: Adolf Hitler
Qaraqalpaqsha: Adolf Hitler
Ripoarisch: Adolf Hitler
română: Adolf Hitler
rumantsch: Adolf Hitler
Runa Simi: Adolf Hitler
русиньскый: Адолф Гітлер
саха тыла: Адольф Хитлер
संस्कृतम्: ऐडॉल्फ् हिटलर्
Seeltersk: Adolf Hitler
Sesotho: Adolf Hitler
sicilianu: Adolf Hitler
Simple English: Adolf Hitler
سنڌي: هٽلر
slovenčina: Adolf Hitler
slovenščina: Adolf Hitler
ślůnski: Adolf Hitler
Soomaaliga: Adolf Hitler
српски / srpski: Адолф Хитлер
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Adolf Hitler
Basa Sunda: Adolf Hitler
svenska: Adolf Hitler
Tagalog: Adolf Hitler
தமிழ்: இட்லர்
Taqbaylit: Adolf Hitler
татарча/tatarça: Адольф Һитлер
Türkçe: Adolf Hitler
українська: Адольф Гітлер
اردو: ہٹلر
vèneto: Adolf Hitler
vepsän kel’: Gitler Adol'f
Tiếng Việt: Adolf Hitler
Volapük: Adolf Hitler
文言: 希特勒
West-Vlams: Adolf Hitler
Winaray: Adolf Hitler
Yorùbá: Adolf Hitler
粵語: 希特拉
Zazaki: Adolf Hitler
Zeêuws: Adolf Hitler
žemaitėška: Aduolfos Hitleris
Kabɩyɛ: Adolph Hitler
Lingua Franca Nova: Adolf Hitler