|Succeeded by||Karl Dönitz|
File:Austria-HungaryFlag.png Braunau am Inn,
|Died||April 30,1945 (age 56)|
File:NaziGermanyFlag.png Berlin, Germany
|Party||National Socialist German Work Party|
Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 – April 30, 1945) was the German Chancellor (Reichskanzler) from 1933 to 1945 and Führer of Germany from 1934 until 1945. He was also the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei abbreviated NSDAP or simply Nazi Party) and is considered the effective founder of Nazism.
Hitler gained power during Germany's period of crisis following World War I. Using propaganda and charismatic oratory, he appealed to the economic needs of the lower and middle classes, while sounding resonant chords of nationalism, antisemitism, and anti-communism. With the establishment of a restructured economy, a rearmed military, and a totalitarian regime, Hitler pursued an aggressive foreign policy with the intention of expanding German Lebensraum (living space). This triggered World War II when Germany annexed Austria and the Czech lands and invaded Poland, much of which was also annexed to form the Großdeutschland Reich ("Greater German Reich").
Although Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers occupied most of Europe at their zenith, they were eventually defeated by the Allies. By the end of the war, Hitler's policies had culminated in the killing of approximately eleven million people, including the genocide of some six million Jews, in what is now known as the Holocaust.
In the final days of the war, Hitler, along with his new wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin, as the city was overrun by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.
- 1 Early years
- 2 The early years of the Nazi Party
- 3 The road to power
- 4 The Third Reich
- 5 World War II
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Hitler's religious beliefs
- 8 Health and sexuality
- 9 People associated with Hitler
- 10 External links
Childhood and heritage
Adolf Hitler was born April 20, 1889 at Braunau am Inn, Austria, a village in Upper Austria, bordering Germany, the third son and fourth child of six. His father, Alois Hitler, (born Schicklgruber), (1837–1903), was a customs official in Austria-Hungary on the German border; his mother, Klara Pölzl, (1860–1907), Alois's second cousin (presumably), was his father's third wife. Because of the close kinship of the two, a papal dispensation had to be obtained for the marriage, both being Roman Catholic. Of Alois and Klara's six children, only Adolf and his sister Paula reached adulthood. Hitler's father also had a son, Alois Jr, and a daughter, Angela, by his second wife. There were no children by his first wife.
Alois Hitler was born illegitimate. For the first 39 years of his life he bore his mother's surname, Schicklgruber. In 1876, he began using the surname of his stepfather, Johann Georg Hiedler, after visiting a priest who was responsible for birth registries who had Johann Hiedler declared to be his father. The name was variously spelled Hiedler, Huetler, Huettler and Hitler and probably changed to "Hitler" by a clerk. The origin of the name is either from the German word Hittler and similar, "one who lives in a hut", "shepherd", or from the Slavic word Hidlar and Hidlarcek.
Later, Hitler was accused by enemies of not being a Hitler, but a Schicklgruber. Allied propaganda exploited this during World War II. Pamphlets bearing the phrase "Heil Schicklgruber" were airdropped over German cities. Adolf was legally born a Hitler, however, and was also related to Hiedler via his maternal grandmother, Johanna Hiedler.
The name, "Adolf", comes from Old High German for "noble wolf" (Adel=nobility + wolf). Hence, not surprisingly, one of Hitler's self-given nicknames was Wolf or Herr Wolf — he began using this nickname in the early 1920s and was addressed by it only by intimates (as "Uncle Wolf" by the Wagners) up until the fall of the Third Reich. The names of his various headquarters scattered throughout continental Europe (Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Wolfsschlucht in France, Werwolf in Ukraine, etc.) reflect this. By his closest family and relatives, Hitler was known as "Adi".
As a boy, Hitler said he was whipped almost daily by his father. Years later he told his secretary, "I then resolved never again to cry when my father whipped me. A few days later I had the opportunity of putting my will to the test. My mother, frightened, took refuge in the front of the door. As for me, I counted silently the blows of the stick which lashed my rear end."
Hitler's paternal grandfather was probably one of the brothers Johann Georg Hiedler or Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. There were rumours that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish and that his grandmother, Maria Schicklgruber, became pregnant while working as a servant in a Jewish household. During the 1920s, the implications of these rumours were politically explosive, especially for the proponent of a racist ideology. Opponents tried to prove that Hitler had Jewish or Czech ancestors. Although these rumours were never confirmed, for Hitler they were reason enough to conceal his origins. According to Robert G. L. Waite in The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, Hitler made it illegal for German women to work in Jewish households, and after the "Anschluss" (annexation) of Austria, Hitler had his father's hometown obliterated by turning it into an artillery practice area. Thus Hitler seems to have betrayed a fear of being Jewish. Waite says that Hitler's insecurities in this regard may have been more important than whether Judaic ancestry could have been proven by his peers.
Alois Hitler's family moved often, from Braunau to Passau, Lambach, Leonding, and Linz. Adolf Hitler was a good student at the elementary schools he attended; however, in sixth grade (1900–1), his first year of high school (Realschule) in Linz, he failed and had to repeat the grade. His teachers reported that he had "no desire to work." One of Hitler's classmates in the Linz Realschule was Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century.
Hitler explained his educational slump as a rebellion against his father, who wanted the boy to follow him in a career as a customs official, although Adolf wanted to become a painter. This explanation is further supported by Hitler's later description of himself as a misunderstood artist. However, after Alois died on January 3, 1903, when Adolf was 13, Hitler's schoolwork did not improve. At the age of 16, Hitler left school with no qualifications.
Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
From 1905 on, Hitler lived a Bohemian life on an orphan's pension and support from his mother. He was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1907 – 1908) due to "unfitness for painting", and was told his abilities lay in the field of architecture. His memoirs reflect a fascination with the subject:
"The purpose of my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum, but I had eyes for scarcely anything but the Museum itself. From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings which held my primary interest." (Mein Kampf, Chapter II, paragraph 3).
Following the school rector's recommendation, he too became convinced this was the path to pursue, yet he lacked the proper academic preparation for architecture school:
"In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely needed. One could not attend the Academy's architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technic, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.''"(Mein Kampf, Chapter II, paragraph 5 & 6).
On December 21, 1907, Hitler's mother died a painful death from breast cancer at the age of 47. Ordered to by a court in Linz, Hitler gave his share of the orphans' benefits to his sister Paula. When he was 21 he inherited money from an aunt. He struggled as a painter in Vienna, copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants and tourists (there is evidence he produced over 2000 paintings and drawings before World War I).
After the second refusal from the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909 he sought refuge in a homeless shelter, and by 1910 had settled into a house for poor working men.
Hitler says he first became an anti-Semite in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled from pogroms in Russia. However, according to a close childhood friend, August Kubizek, Hitler was already a "confirmed anti-Semite" before he left Linz, Austria. Vienna at this time was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th century racism. Hitler may have been influenced by the writings of the ideologist and anti-Semite Lanz von Liebenfels and polemics from politicians such as Karl Lueger, founder of the Christian Social Party and mayor of Vienna, the composer Richard Wagner, and Georg Ritter von Schönerer, leader of the pan-Germanic Away from Rome! movement. Hitler claims in Mein Kampf that his transition from opposing anti-Semitism on religious grounds to supporting it on racial grounds came from having seen an Orthodox Jew, but actually it seems Hitler wasn't that anti-semitic in these years. He often was a guest for dinner in a noble Jewish house and Jewish merchants tried to sell his paintings.
Hitler may also have been influenced by Martin Luther's "The Jews and Their Lies". Kristallnacht took place on 10 November - Luther's birthday - and resembles Luther's own advice on how the Jews should be dealt with.
"There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews who lived there had become Europeanized in external appearance and were so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans. The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought that they were persecuted on account of their faith my aversion to hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a systematic anti-Semitism.
Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance in Linz. I carefully watched the man stealthily and cautiously but the longer I gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?"
(Mein Kampf, vol. 1, chap. 2: "Years of study and suffering in Vienna")
In his Mein Kampf, Hitler referred to Martin Luther as a great warrior, a true statesmen, and a great reformer, alongside Richard Wagner and Frederick the Great Wilhelm Röpke, writing after Hitler's Holocaust, concluded that "without any question, Lutheranism influenced the political, spiritual and social history of Germany in a way that, after careful consideration of everything, can be described only as fateful." 
Hitler claimed that Jews were enemies of the Aryan race. He held them responsible for Austria's crisis. He also identified certain forms of Socialism and Bolshevism, which had many Jewish leaders, as Jewish movements, merging his anti-Semitism with anti-Marxism. Blaming Germany's military defeat on the 1918 Revolutions, he considered Jews the culprit of Imperial Germany's downfall and subsequent economic problems as well.
Generalising from tumultuous scenes in the parliament of the multi-national Austria Monarchy, he decided that the democratic parliamentary system was unworkable. However, according to August Kubizek, his roommate at the time, he was more interested in the operas of Richard Wagner than in politics.
Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always longed to live in a "real" German city. In Munich, he became more interested in architecture and, he says, the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Moving to Munich also helped him escape military service in Austria for a time, but the Austrian army arrested him finally. After a physical exam (during which his height was measured at 173 cm, or 5 ft 8 in) and a contrite plea, he was deemed unfit for service and allowed to return to Munich. However, when Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment, this request was granted, and Adolf Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian army.
World War I
Hitler soldiered in France and Belgium as a runner for the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment (called Regiment List after its first commander), which exposed him to enemy fire. Unlike his fellow soldiers, Hitler never complained about the food or hard conditions, preferring to talk about art or history. He drew cartoons and instructional drawings for the army newspaper.
Hitler was twice decorated for bravery. He received the Iron Cross, Second Class, in December 1914 and the Iron Cross, First Class, in August 1918, an honour rarely given to a Gefreiter. However, because the regimental staff thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, and (according to Kershaw)Template:Page number Hitler's unwillingness to leave regimental headquarters (which would have been likely in event of promotion), he was never promoted to Unteroffizier. Other historians say that the reason he was not promoted is that he did not have German citizenship. His duty station at regimental headquarters, while often dangerous, gave Hitler time to pursue his artwork. In October 1916 Hitler was wounded in the leg, but returned to the front in March 1917. He received the Wound Badge later that year. Sebastian Haffner, referring to Hitler's experience at the front, suggests he did have at least some understanding of the military.
On October 15, 1918 Hitler was admitted to a field hospital, temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack. The English psychologist David Lewis and Bernhard Horstmann indicate the blindness may have been the result of a conversion disorder (then known as hysteria). Hitler said it was during this experience that he became convinced the purpose of his life was to "save Germany". Some scholars, notably Lucy Dawidowicz, argue that an intention to exterminate Europe's Jews was fully formed in Hitler's mind at this time, though he probably hadn't thought through how it could be done. This is however a minority view. Most historians think the decision was made in 1940 or 1941, and some think it came as late as 1942.
- At the beginning of the Great War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas ... then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would not have been in vain. (Volume 2, Chapter 15 "The Right to Self-Defence").
- These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human weakness and must lead to success, with almost mathematical certainty, unless the other side also learns how to fight poison gas with poison gas. The weaker natures must be told that here it is a case of to be or not to be. (Volume 1, Chapter 2 "Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna")
Hitler had long admired Germany, and during the war he had become a passionate German patriot, although he did not become a German citizen until 1932. He was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918 even while the German army still held enemy territory. Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the Dolchstoßlegende ("dagger-stab legend") which claimed that the army, "undefeated in the field", had been "stabbed in the back" by civilian leaders and Marxists back on the home front. These politicians were later dubbed the November Criminals.
The Treaty of Versailles deprived Germany of various territories, demilitarized the Rhineland and imposed other economically damaging sanctions. The treaty re-created Poland, which even moderate Germans regarded as an outrage. The treaty also blamed Germany for all the horrors of the Great War, something which major historians like John Keegan now consider at least in part to be victor's justice, as most European nations in the run-up to World War I had become increasingly militarised and had in fact been eager to fight. The culpability of Germany was used as a basis to impose reparations on Germany (the amount was repeatedly revised under the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, and the Hoover Moratorium). Germany in turn perceived the treaty and especially the paragraph on the German guilt as a humiliation. For example, there was a nearly total demilitarisation of the armed forces, allowing Germany only 6 battleships, no submarines, no air force, an army of 100,000 without conscription and no armoured vehicles. The treaty was an important factor in both the social and political conditions encountered by Hitler and his Nazis as they sought power. Hitler and his party used the signing of the treaty by the "November Criminals" as a reason to build up Germany so that it could never happen again. He also used the "November Criminals" as scapegoats, although at the Paris peace conference, these politicians had had very little choice in the matter.
The early years of the Nazi Party
Hitler's entry into politics
After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich, where he - in contrast to his later declarations - participated in the funeral march for the murdered Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner. After the suppression of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, he took part in "national thinking" courses organized by the Education and Propaganda Department (Dept Ib/P) of the Bavarian Reichswehr Group, Headquarters 4 under Captain Karl Mayr. A key purpose of this group was to create a scapegoatTemplate:Fact for the outbreak of the war and Germany's defeat. The scapegoats were found in "international Jewry", communists, and politicians across the party spectrum, especially the parties of the Weimar Coalition, who were deemed "November Criminals".
In July 1919, Hitler was appointed a Verbindungsmann (police spy) of an Aufklärungskommando (Intelligence Commando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate a small party, the German Workers' Party (DAP). During his inspection of the party, Hitler was impressed with Drexler's anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ideas, which favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism and mutual solidarity of all members of society.
Here Hitler also met Dietrich Eckart, one of the early founders of the party and member of the occult Thule Society. Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him, teaching him how to dress and speak, and introducing him to a wide range of people. Hitler thanked Eckart by paying tribute to him in the second volume of Mein Kampf.
Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and with his former superiors' continued encouragement began participating full time in the party's activities. By early 1921, Hitler was becoming highly effective at speaking in front of large crowds. In February, Hitler spoke before a crowd of nearly six thousand in Munich. To publicize the meeting, he sent out two truckloads of Party supporters to drive around with swastikas, cause a commotion and throw out leaflets, their first use of this tactic. Hitler gained notoriety outside of the Party for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians (including monarchists, nationalists and other non-internationalist socialists) and especially against Marxists and Jews.
The DAP was centered in Munich, a hotbed of German nationalists who included Army officers determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar republic. Gradually they noticed Adolf Hitler and his growing movement as a vehicle to hitch themselves to. Hitler traveled to Berlin to visit nationalist groups during the summer of 1921 and in his absence there was a revolt among the DAP leadership in Munich.
The Party was run by an executive committee whose original members considered Hitler to be overbearing and dictatorial. They formed an alliance with a group of socialists from Augsburg. Hitler rushed back to Munich and countered them by tendering his resignation from the Party on July 11, 1921. When they realized the loss of Hitler would effectively mean the end of the Party, he seized the moment and announced he would return on the condition that he would be given dictatorial powers. Infuriated committee members (including founder Anton Drexler) held out at first. Meanwhile an anonymous pamphlet appeared entitled Adolf Hitler: Is he a traitor?, attacking Hitler's lust for power and criticizing the violent men around him. Hitler responded to its publication in a Munich newspaper by suing for libel and later won a small settlement.
The executive committee of the DAP eventually backed down and Hitler's demands were put to a vote of party members. Hitler received 543 votes for and only one against. At the next gathering on July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler was introduced as Führer of the National Socialist Party, marking the first time this title was publicly used. Hitler changed the name of the party to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Workers Party.
Hitler's beer hall oratory, attacking Jews, social democrats, liberals, reactionary monarchists, capitalists and communists, began attracting adherents. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, the former air force pilot Hermann Göring, and the army captain Ernst Röhm, who became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organization, the SA (Sturmabteilung, or "Storm Division"), which protected meetings and attacked political opponents. Hitler also assimilated independent groups, such as the Nuremberg-based Deutsche Werkgemeinschaft, led by Julius Streicher, who now became Gauleiter of Franconia. Hitler also attracted the attention of local business interests, was accepted into influential circles of Munich society, and became associated with wartime General Erich Ludendorff during this time.
The Beer Hall Putsch
Encouraged by this early support, Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in an attempt to seize power later known as the Beer Hall Putsch (sometimes as the Hitler Putsch or Munich Putsch). The Nazi Party had copied the Italian Fascists in appearance and also had adopted some programmatical points and now, in the turbulent year 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate Mussolini's "March on Rome" by staging his own "Campaign in Berlin". Hitler and Ludendorff obtained the clandestine support of Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler along with leading figures in the Reichswehr and the police. As political posters show, Ludendorff, Hitler and the heads of the Bavarian police and military planned on forming a new government.
However on November 8, 1923 Kahr and the military withdrew their support during a meeting in the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall outside of Munich. A surprised Hitler had them arrested and proceeded with the coup. Unknown to him, Kahr and the other detainees had been released on Ludendorff's orders after he obtained their word not to interfere. That night they prepared resistance measures against the coup and in the morning, when Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government as a start to their "March on Berlin", the army dispersed them. 16 NSDAP members were killed.
Hitler fled to the home of friends and contemplated suicide. He was soon arrested for high treason. Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the party. During Hitler's trial, sympathetic magistrates allowed Hitler to turn his coup debacle into a propaganda triumph. He was given almost unlimited time to speak, and his popularity soared as he voiced nationalistic sentiments. A Munich personality became a nationally known figure. On April 1, 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. Hitler received favoured treatment from the guards and had much fan mail from admirers. He was pardoned and released from jail in December 1924, as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners. He served nine months of his sentence, or just over a year if time on remand is included.
While at Landsberg he dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle, originally intended "Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice") to his deputy Rudolf Hess. The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was a selective and sometimes misleading autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, selling about 240,000 copies between 1925 and 1934 alone. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies had been sold or distributed (every newly-wed couple, as well as front soldiers, received free copies).
Hitler spent years dodging taxes on the royalties of his book, and had accumulated a tax debt of about 405,500 Reichsmarks (€6m in today's money) by the time he became chancellor (at which time his debt was waived).
The copyright of Mein Kampf in Europe is claimed by the Free State of Bavaria and will expire in 2015. Reproductions in Germany are authorized only for scholarly purposes and in heavily commented form. The situation is however unclear; Werner Maser comments that intellectual property cannot be confiscated and so, it still would lie in the hands of Hitler's nephew, who, however, does not want to have anything to do with Hitler's legacy. This situation led to contested trials, eg., in Poland and Sweden. Mein Kampf, however, is published in the USA, as well as in other countries such as Turkey and Israel, by publishers with various political positions.
The rebuilding of the party
At the time of Hitler's release, the political situation in Germany had calmed and the economy had improved, which hampered Hitler's opportunities for agitation. Though the Hitler Putsch had given Hitler some national prominence, his party's mainstay was still Munich.
As Hitler was still banned from public speeches, he appointed Gregor Strasser, who in 1924 had been elected to the Reichstag, as Reichsorganisationsleiter, authorizing him to organize the party in northern Germany. Gregor, joined by his younger brother Otto and Joseph Goebbels, steered an increasingly independent course, emphasizing the socialist element in the party's programme. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gauleiter Nord-West became an internal opposition, threatening Hitler's authority, but this faction was defeated at the Bamberg Conference (1926), during which Goebbels joined Hitler.
After this encounter, Hitler centralized the party even more and asserted the Führerprinzip ("Leader principle") as the basic principle of party organization. Leaders were not elected by their group but were rather appointed by their superior and were answerable to them while demanding unquestioning obedience from their inferiors. Consistent with Hitler's disdain for democracy, all power and authority devolved from the top down.
A key element of Hitler's appeal was his ability to evoke a sense of offended national pride caused by the Treaty of Versailles imposed on the defeated German Empire by the Western Allies. Germany had lost economically important territory in Europe along with its colonies and in admitting to sole responsibility for the war had agreed to pay a huge reparations bill totaling 132 billion marks. Most Germans bitterly resented these terms but early Nazi attempts to gain support by blaming these humiliations on "international Jewry" were not particularly successful with the electorate. The party learned quickly and soon a more subtle propaganda emerged, combining anti-Semitism with an attack on the failures of the "Weimar system" and the parties supporting it.
Having failed in overthrowing the Republic by a coup, Hitler now pursued the "strategy of legality": this meant formally adhering to the rules of the Weimar Republic until he had legally gained power and then transforming liberal democracy into a Nazi dictatorship. Some party members, especially in the paramilitary SA, opposed this strategy and Ernst Röhm ridiculed Hitler as "Adolphe Legalité".
The road to power
|Nazi Party Election Results|
|Date||Votes||Percentage||Seats in Reichstag||Background|
|May 1924||1,918,300||6.5||32||Hitler in prison|
|December 1924||907,300||3.0||14||Hitler is released from prison|
|September 1930||6,409,600||18.3||107||After the financial crisis|
|July 1932||13,745,800||37.4||230||After Hitler was candidate for presidency|
|March 1933||17,277,000||43.9||288||During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany|
The Brüning administration
The political turning point for Hitler came when the Great Depression hit Germany in 1930. The Weimar Republic had never been firmly rooted and was openly opposed by right-wing conservatives (including monarchists), Communists and the Nazis. As the parties loyal to the democratic, parliamentary republic found themselves unable to agree on counter-measures, their Grand Coalition broke up and was replaced by a minority cabinet. The new Chancellor Heinrich Brüning of the Roman Catholic Centre Party, lacking a majority in parliament, had to implement his measures through the President's emergency decrees. Tolerated by the majority of parties, the exception soon became the rule and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government.
The Reichstag's initial opposition to Brüning's measures led to premature elections in September 1930. The republican parties lost their majority and their ability to resume the Grand Coalition, while the Nazis suddenly rose from relative obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote along with 107 seats in the Reichstag, becoming the second largest party in Germany.
Brüning's measure of budget consolidation and financial austerity brought little economic improvement and was extremely unpopular. Under these circumstances, Hitler appealed to the bulk of German farmers, war veterans and the middle-class who had been hard-hit by both the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression. Hitler received little response from the urban working classes and traditionally Catholic regions.
Meanwhile, on September 18, 1931, Hitler's niece Geli Raubal was found dead in her bedroom in his Munich apartment (his half-sister Angela and her daughter Geli had been with him in Munich since 1929), an apparent suicide. Geli, who was believed to be in some sort of romantic relationship with Hitler, was 19 years younger than he was and had used his gun. The event is viewed as having caused lasting turmoil for him.
In 1932, Hitler intended to run against the aging President Paul von Hindenburg in the scheduled presidential elections. Though Hitler had left Austria in 1913, he still had not acquired German citizenship and hence could not run for public office. In February, however, the state government of Brunswick, in which the Nazi Party participated, appointed Hitler to some minor administrative post and also gave him citizenship on 25 February 1932. The new German citizen ran against Hindenburg, who was supported by a broad range of reactionary nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, Republican and even social democratic parties, and against the Communist presidential candidate. His campaign was called "Hitler über Deutschland" (Hitler over Germany). The name had a double meaning; besides an obvious reference to Hitler's dictatorial intentions, it also referred to the fact that Hitler was campaigning by aircraft. This was a brand new political tactic that allowed Hitler to speak in two cities in one day, which was practically unheard of at the time. Hitler came in second on both rounds, attaining more than 35% of the vote during the second one in April. Although he lost to Hindenburg, the election established Hitler as a realistic and fresh alternative in German politics.
The cabinets of Papen and Schleicher
President Hindenburg, influenced by the Camarilla, became increasingly estranged from Brüning and pushed his Chancellor to move the government in a decidedly authoritarian and right-wing direction. This culminated, in May 1932, with the resignation of the Brüning cabinet.
Hindenburg appointed the nobleman Franz von Papen as chancellor, heading a "Cabinet of Barons". Papen was bent on authoritarian rule and, since in the Reichstag only the conservative DNVP supported his administration, he immediately called for new elections in July. In these elections, the Nazis achieved their biggest success yet and won 230 seats.
The Nazis had become the largest party in the Reichstag without which no stable government could be formed. Papen tried to convince Hitler to become Vice-Chancellor and enter a new government with a parliamentary basis. Hitler however rejected this offer and put further pressure on Papen by entertaining parallel negotiations with the Centre Party, Papen's former party, which was bent on bringing down the renegade Papen. In both negotiations, Hitler demanded that he, as leader of the strongest party, must be Chancellor, but President Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint the "Bohemian private" to the Chancellorship.
After a vote of no-confidence in the Papen government, supported by 84% of the deputies, the new Reichstag was dissolved and new elections were called in November. This time, the Nazis lost some seats but still remained the largest party in the Reichstag.
After Papen failed to secure a majority, he proposed to dissolve the parliament again along with an indefinite postponement of elections. Hindenburg at first accepted this, but after General Kurt von Schleicher and the military withdrew their support, Hindenburg instead dismissed Papen and appointed Schleicher, who promised he could secure a majority government by negotiations with both the Social Democrats, the trade unions, and dissidents from the Nazi party under Gregor Strasser. In January 1933, however, Schleicher had to admit failure in these efforts and asked Hindenburg for emergency powers along with the same postponement of elections that he had opposed earlier, to which the President reacted by dismissing Schleicher.
Hitler's appointment as Chancellor
Meanwhile Papen, resentful because of his dismissal, tried to get his revenge on Schleicher by working toward the General's downfall, through forming an intrigue with the camarilla and Alfred Hugenberg, media mogul and chairman of the DNVP. Also involved were Hjalmar Schacht, Fritz Thyssen and other leading German businessmen. They financially supported the Nazi Party, which had been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the cost of heavy campaigning. The businessmen also wrote letters to Hindenburg, urging him to appoint Hitler as leader of a government "independent from parliamentary parties" which could turn into a movement that would "enrapture millions of people."
Finally, the President reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of a coalition government formed by the NSDAP and DNVP. Hitler and two other Nazi ministers (Frick, Göring) were to be contained by a framework of conservative cabinet ministers, most notably by Papen as Vice-Chancellor and by Hugenberg as Minister of Economics. Papen wanted to use Hitler as a figure-head, but the Nazis had gained key positions, most notably the Ministry of the Interior. On the morning of January 30, 1933, in Hindenburg's office, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during what some observers later described as a brief and simple ceremony. The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently became known as the Machtergreifung. Hitler established the Reichssicherheitsdienst as his personal bodyguards.
Reichstag Fire and the March elections
Having become Chancellor, Hitler foiled all attempts to gain a majority in parliament and on that basis persuaded President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag again. Elections were scheduled for early March, but on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire. Since a Dutch independent communist was found in the building, the fire was blamed on a Communist plot to which the government reacted with the Reichstag Fire Decree of February 28, which suspended basic rights, including habeas corpus. Under the provisions of this decree, the German Communist Party and other groups were suppressed, and Communist functionaries and deputies were arrested, put to flight, or murdered.
Campaigning continued, with the Nazis making use of paramilitary violence, anti-Communist hysteria, and the government's resources for propaganda. On election day, March 6, the NSDAP increased its result to 43.9% of the vote, remaining the largest party, but its victory was marred by its failure to secure an absolute majority, necessitating maintaining a coalition with the DNVP.
The "Day of Potsdam" and the Enabling Act
On 21 March, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony held at Potsdam's garrison church. This "Day of Potsdam" was staged to demonstrate reconciliation and union between the revolutionary Nazi movement and "Old Prussia" with its elites and virtues. Hitler himself appeared, not in Nazi uniform, but in a tail coat, and humbly greeted the aged President Hindenburg.
Because of the Nazis' failure to obtain a majority on their own, Hitler's government confronted the newly elected Reichstag with the Enabling Act that would have vested the cabinet with legislative powers for a period of four years. Though such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed for deviations from the constitution. As the bill required a two-thirds majority in order to pass, the government needed the support of other parties. The position of the Catholic Centre Party, at this point the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive: under the leadership of Ludwig Kaas, the party decided to vote for the Enabling Act. It did so in return for the government's oral guarantees regarding the Church's liberty, the concordats signed by German states and the continued existence of the Centre Party itself.
On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled in a replacement building under extremely turbulent circumstances. Some SA men served as guards within while large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving deputies. Kaas announced that the Centre would support the bill amid "concerns put aside.", while Social Democrat Otto Wels denounced the Act in his speech. At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in favour of the bill. The Enabling Act was dutifully renewed by the Reichstag every four years, even through World War II.
Removal of remaining limits
With this combination of legislative and executive power, Hitler's government further suppressed the remaining political opposition. The KPD and the SPD were banned, while all other political parties dissolved themselves. Labour unions were merged with employers' federations into an organisation under Nazi control and the autonomy of German state governments was abolished.
Hitler also used the SA paramilitary to push Hugenberg into resigning and proceeded to politically isolate Vice Chancellor Papen. As the SA's demands for political and military power caused much anxiety among military leaders, Hitler used allegations of a plot by the SA leader Ernst Röhm to purge the SA's leadership during the Night of the Long Knives. Opponents unconnected with the SA were also murdered, notably Gregor Strasser and former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher.
President Paul von Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934. Rather than holding new presidential elections, Hitler's cabinet passed a law proclaiming the presidency dormant and transferred the role and powers of the head of state to Hitler as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor). Thereby Hitler also became supreme commander of the military, whose officers then swore an oath not to the state or the constitution but to Hitler personally. In a mid-August plebiscite, these acts found the approval of 84.6% of the electorate. Combining the highest offices in state, military and party in his hand, Hitler had attained supreme rule that could no longer be legally challenged.
The Third Reich
Having secured supreme political power, Hitler went on to gain their support by convincing most Germans he was their saviour from the economic Depression, communism and the "Judeo-Bolsheviks," and the Versailles Treaty along with other "undesirable" minorities. The Nazis eliminated opposition through a process known as Gleichschaltung.
Economics and culture
Hitler oversaw one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and civil improvement Germany had ever seen, mostly based on debt flotation and expansion of the military. Nazi policies toward women strongly encouraged them to stay at home to bear children and keep house. In a September 1934 speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization, Adolf Hitler argued that for the German woman her “world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home,” a policy which was reinforced by the bestowing of the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Given this, claims that the German economy achieved near full employment are at least partly artifacts of propaganda from the era. Much of the financing for Hitler's reconstruction and rearmament came from currency manipulation by Hjalmar Schacht, including the clouded credits through the Mefo bills. The negative effects of this inflation were offset in later years by the acquisition of foreign gold from the treasuries of conquered nations.
Hitler also oversaw one of the largest infrastructure-improvement campaigns in German history, with the construction of dozens of dams, autobahns, railways, and other civil works. Hitler's policies emphasised the importance of family life: men were the "breadwinners", while women's priorities were to lie in bringing up children and in household work. This revitalising of industry and infrastructure came at the expense of the overall standard of living, at least for those not affected by the chronic unemployment of the later Weimar Republic, since wages were slightly reduced in pre-World-War-II years, despite a 25% increase in the cost of living.  Labourers and farmers, the traditional voters of the NSDAP, however, saw an increase their standard of living.
Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale, with Albert Speer becoming famous as the first architect of the Reich. While important as an Architect in implementing Hitler's classicist reinterpretation of German culture, Speer would prove much more effective as armaments minister during the last years of World War II. In 1936, Berlin hosted the summer Olympic games, which were opened by Hitler and choreographed to demonstrate Aryan superiority over all other races, achieving mixed results. Olympia, the movie about the games and other documentary propaganda films for the German Nazi Party were directed by Hitler's personal filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
Although Hitler made plans for a Breitspurbahn (broad gauge railroad network), they were preempted by World War II. Had the railroad been built, its gauge would have been three metres, even wider than the old Great Western Railway of Britain.
Hitler contributed slightly to the design of the car that later became the Volkswagen Beetle, and charged Ferdinand Porsche with its design and construction. Production was also deferred due to the war.
He awarded the Order of the German Eagle, the Third Reich's highest distinction, to the industrialist Emil Kirdorf in April 1937, in reward for his financial support during his rise to power. The next year, he organized state funerals for him.
Rearmament and new alliances
In March 1935, Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles by reintroducing conscription in Germany, building a massive military machine, including a new Navy (Kriegsmarine) and an Air Force (Luftwaffe). The enlistment of vast numbers of men and women in the new military seemed to solve unemployment problems, but seriously distorted the economy. For the first time in 20 years, Germany's armed forces were as strong as France's.
In March 1936, Hitler again violated the Treaty by reoccupying the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland. When Britain and France did nothing, he grew bolder. In July 1936, the Spanish Civil War began when the military, led by General Francisco Franco, rebelled against the elected Popular Front government. Hitler sent troops to support Franco and Spain served as a testing ground for Germany's new forces and their methods, including the bombing of undefended towns such as Guernica in April 1937, prompting Pablo Picasso's famous eponymous Guernica painting.
An Axis was declared between Germany and Italy by Galeazzo Ciano, foreign minister of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on October 25, 1936. Tripartite Treaty was then signed by Saburo Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and Galeazzo Ciano of Fascist Italy in September 27, 1940 and was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. They were collectively known as the Axis Powers. Then on November 5, 1937, at the Reich Chancellory, Adolf Hitler held a secret meeting and stated his plans for acquiring "living space" (Lebensraum) for the German people.
One of the foundations of Hitler's and the NSDAP's social policies was the concept of racial hygiene. It was based on the ideas of Arthur de Gobineau, eugenics, and social Darwinism. Applied to human beings, "survival of the fittest" was interpreted as requiring racial purity and killing off "life unworthy of life." The first victims were crippled and retarded children in a program dubbed Action T4. After a public outcry, Hitler made a show of ending this program, but the killings in fact continued.
Between 1939 and 1945, the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, systematically killed somewhere between 11 and 14 million people, including about 6 million Jews, in concentration camps, ghettos and mass executions, or through less systematic methods elsewhere. Besides being gassed to death, many also died as a result of starvation and disease while working as slave labourers (sometimes benefiting private German companies in the process, because of the low cost of such labour). Along with Jews, non-Jewish Poles (over 3 million of whom died), alleged communists or political opposition, resisting Roman Catholics and Protestants, homosexuals, Roma, the physically handicapped and mentally retarded, Soviet prisoners of war (possibly as many as 3 million), Jehovah's Witnesses, anti-Nazi clergy, trade unionists, and psychiatric patients were killed. This industrial-scale genocide in Europe is referred to as the Holocaust (the term is also used by some authors in a narrower sense, to refer specifically to the unprecedented destruction of European Jewry). One of the biggest centres of mass-killing was the extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Hitler never visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly about the killing in precise terms.
The massacres that led to the coining of the word "genocide" (the Endlösung der jüdischen Frage or "Final Solution of the Jewish Question") were planned and ordered by leading Nazis, with Himmler playing a key role. While no specific order from Hitler authorizing the mass killing of the Jews has surfaced, there is documentation showing that he approved the Einsatzgruppen, killing squads that followed the German army through Poland and Russia and that he was kept well informed about their activities. The evidence also suggests that in the fall of 1941 Himmler and Hitler decided upon mass extermination by gassing. During interrogations by Soviet intelligence officers declassified over fifty years later, Hitler's valet Heinz Linge and his military aide Otto Gunsche said Hitler had "pored over the first blueprints of gas chambers."
To make for smoother cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution", the Wannsee conference was held near Berlin on January 20, 1942, with fifteen senior officials participating, led by Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann. The records of this meeting provide the clearest evidence of planning for the Holocaust. On February 22, Hitler was recorded saying to his associates, "we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews".
World War II
On March 12, 1938, Hitler pressured Austria into unification with Germany (the Anschluss) and made a triumphal entry into Vienna on the 14th. Next, he intensified a crisis over the German-speaking Sudetenland districts of Czechoslovakia. This led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which authorized the annexation and immediate military occupation of these districts by Germany. As a result of the summit, Hitler was TIME magazine's Man of the Year for 1938. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain hailed this agreement as "Peace in our time", but by giving way to Hitler's military demands Britain and France also left Czechoslovakia to Hitler's mercy. Hitler ordered Germany's army to enter Prague on March 15 1939 and from Prague Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.
After that, Hitler claimed German grievances relating to the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Corridor, that Germany had ceded under the Versailles Treaty. Britain had not been able to reach an agreement with the Soviet Union for an alliance against Germany, and, on August 23, 1939, Hitler concluded a secret non-aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) with Stalin on which it was likely agreed that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany would partition Poland. On September 1, Germany invaded the western portion of Poland. Britain and France, who had guaranteed assistance to Poland, declared war on Germany. Not long after this, on September 17, Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland.
Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, but did not immediately act. During this Phony War, Hitler built up his forces. In April 1940, he ordered German forces to march into Denmark and Norway. In May 1940, Hitler ordered his forces to attack France, conquering the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium in the process. France surrendered on June 22, 1940. This series of victories convinced his main ally, Benito Mussolini of Italy, to join the war on Hitler's side in May 1940.
Britain, whose defeated forces had evacuated France from the coastal town of Dunkirk, continued to fight alongside Canadian forces in the Battle of the Atlantic. After having his overtures for peace systematically rejected by the defiant British Government, now led by Winston Churchill, Hitler ordered bombing raids on the British Isles, leading to the Battle of Britain, a prelude of the planned German invasion. The attacks began by pounding the RAF airbases and the radar stations protecting South-East England. However, the Luftwaffe failed to defeat the RAF by the end of October 1940. Air superiority for the invasion, code-named Operation Sealion, could not be assured and Hitler ordered bombing raids to be carried out on British cities, including London and Coventry, mostly at night.
Path to defeat
On June 22 1941, Hitler gave the signal for three million German troops to attack the Soviet Union, breaking the non-aggression pact he had concluded with Stalin less than two years earlier. This invasion, code-named Operation Barbarossa, seized huge amounts of territory, including the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine, along with the encirclement and destruction of many Soviet forces. German forces, however, were stopped short of Moscow in December 1941 by the Russian winter and fierce Soviet resistance (see Battle of Moscow), and the invasion failed to achieve the quick triumph over the Soviet Union which Hitler had anticipated.
Hitler's declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941 four days after the Empire of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, USA set him against a coalition that included the world's largest empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial power (the USA), and the world's largest army (the Soviet Union).
In late 1942, German forces under Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel were defeated in the second battle of El Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle East. In February 1943, the lengthy Battle of Stalingrad ended with the complete encirclement and destruction of the German 6th Army. Both defeats were turning points in the war, although the latter is more commonly considered primary. From this point on, the quality of Hitler's military judgment became increasingly erratic and Germany's military and economic position deteriorated. Hitler's health was deteriorating too. His left hand started shaking uncontrollably. The biographer Ian Kershaw and UM neurology head Abraham Lieberman believes he suffered from Parkinson's disease. Other conditions that are suspected by some to have caused some (at least) of his symptoms are methamphetamine addiction and syphilis.
Italians overthrew Hitler's ally, Benito Mussolini, in 1943 after Operation Husky, an American and British invasion of Sicily. Throughout 1943 and 1944, the Soviet Union steadily forced Hitler's armies into retreat along the eastern front. On June 6 1944, the Western allied armies landed in northern France in what was the largest amphibious operation ever conducted, Operation Overlord. Realists in the German army knew defeat was inevitable and some officers plotted to remove Hitler from power. In July 1944 one of them, Claus von Stauffenberg, planted a bomb at Hitler's military headquarters in Rastenburg (the so-called July 20 Plot), but Hitler narrowly escaped death. He ordered savage reprisals, resulting in the executions of more than 4,900 people (sometimes by starvation in solitary confinement followed by slow strangulation). The main resistance movement was destroyed although smaller isolated groups such as Die Rote Kapelle continued to operate.
Defeat and death
By the end of 1944, the Red Army had driven the last Germans from Soviet territory and began entering Central Europe. The western allies were also rapidly advancing into Germany. The Germans had lost the war, but Hitler allowed no retreat or regrouping for his forces while hoping for a break between the Allied Powers to negotiate a separate peace with America and Britain, hopes buoyed by the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12 1945. Hitler's stubbornness and defiance of military realities also allowed the continued mass killing of Jews and others to continue. He also gave orders which called for the complete destruction of all German industrial infrastructure before it could fall into the hands of the Allies, citing that Germany's failure to win the war forfeited its right to survive. Execution of the plan was entrusted to Minister for Armaments Production Albert Speer, who instead opted to question Hitler's reasoning while trying to stop the orders from being carried out himself.
In April 1945, Soviet forces broke through Berlin's outer defenses and were soon attacking the outskirts of the city itself in the Battle of Berlin. Hitler's closest lieutenants urged him to flee to the mountains of Bavaria or Austria to make a last stand in the National Redoubt. But Hitler seemed determined to either live or die in the capital.
On 20 April, Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday in the "Führer's shelter" (Führerbunker) below the Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei). The garrison commander of the besieged "fortress Breslau" (Festung Breslau), German General Hermann Niehoff, had chocolates distributed to his troops, where possible, in honor of Hitler's birthday. 
By 21 April, Soviet Marshal Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through the defenses of German General Gotthard Heinrici's Army Group Vistula during the Battle of the Seelow Heights. Having achieved a break through, the Soviets were advancing towards Berlin with little to stop them. Ignoring the facts, Hitler saw salvation in the ragtag units commanded by one of his favorite generals, General Felix Steiner. For Hitler's purposes, Steiner's command became known as "Army Detachment Steiner" (Armeeabteilung Steiner). Unfortunately for the Germans, the "Army Detachment Steiner" was an army which existed primarily on paper. It was something more than a corps but less than an army. Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the huge salient created by the break through of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front. Meanwhile, the German Ninth Army commanded by General Theodor Busse, which had just been pushed south of the salient, was ordered to attack north in a pincer attack.
Late on 21 April, Heinrici called Hans Krebs Chief German General Staff of the Supreme Army Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or OKH) and told him that Hitler's plan could not be implemented. Heinrici asked to speak to Hitler, but was told by Krebs that Hitler was too busy to take his call.
On 22 April, during one of his last military conferences, Hitler interrupted the report to ask what had happened to General Felix Steiner's offensive. There was a long silence and then Hitler was told that the attack had never been launched, and that the withdrawal from Berlin of several units for Steiner's army, on Hitler's orders, had so weakened the front that the Russians had broken through into Berlin. This was too much for Hitler; he asked everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Krebs, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Martin Bormann to leave the room,  and launched a furious tirade against the perceived treachery and incompetence of his military commanders, culminating in an oath to stay in Berlin, head up the defense of the city, and shoot himself at the end. 
Before the day ended, Hitler again found salvation in a new plan that included General Walther Wenck's Twelfth Army. This new plan had Wenck turn his army, currently facing the Americans to the west, and attack towards the east to relieve Berlin. Wenck's Twelfth Army was to link up with Busse's Ninth Army and break through to the city. Wenck did attack and, in the confusion, managed to make temporary contact with the Potsdam garrison. But the link up with the Ninth Army, like the plan in general, was ultimately unsuccessful.
On 23 April, after committing to stay in Berlin with Hitler, Joseph Goebbels made the following proclamation to the people of Berlin:
"I call on you to fight for your city. Fight with everything you have got, for the sake of your wives and your children, your mothers and your parents. Your arms are defending everything we have ever held dear, and all the generations that will come after us. Be proud and courageous! Be inventive and cunning! Your Gauleiter is amongst you. He and his colleagues will remain in your midst. His wife and children are here as well. He, who once captured the city with 200 men, will now use every means to galvanize the defense of the capital. The battle for Berlin must become the signal for the whole nation to rise up in battle . . . " 
Also on 23 April, second in command of the Third Reich and commander of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. In his telegram, Göring argued that, since Hitler was cut off in Berlin, he should assume leadership of Germany as Hitler's designated successor. Göring' telegram mentioned a time limit after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated. Hitler responded, in anger, by having Göring arrested and when he wrote his will on the 29th Göring was removed from all his positions in the government.
By the end of the day on 27 April, German General Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, found the city to be completely cut off from the rest of Germany.
On 28 April Hitler discovered that SS Leader Heinrich Himmler was trying on his own to inform the Allies (through the Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte) that Germany was prepared to discuss surrender terms. Hitler responded as he did with Göring, ordering his arrest and removing him from office, while having his representative in Berlin Hermann Fegelein shot.
During the night of 28 April, General Wenck reported to the German Supreme Army Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or OKH) in Fuerstenberg that his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front. Wenck noted that no further attacks towards Berlin were possible. General Alfred Jodl (Supreme Army Command) did not provide this information to Hans Krebs in Berlin until early in the morning of 30 April.
On 29 April, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler. Hitler dictated the document to his personal private secretary, Traudl Junge. Hitler was also that day informed of the violent death of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on the 28th, which is presumed to have increased his determination to avoid capture.
On 30 April 1945, after intense street-to-street combat, when Soviet troops were spotted within a block or two of the Reich Chancellory in the city centre, Hitler committed suicide in the Führerbunker, shooting himself while simultaneously biting into a cyanide capsule. Hitler's body and that of Eva Braun (his long-term mistress whom he had married the day before) were put in a bomb crater, doused in gasoline by Otto Günsche and other Führerbunker aides, and set alight as the Red Army advanced and shelling continued. Hitler also had his dog Blondi poisoned before his suicide to test the poison he and Eva Braun were going to take.
On 2 May, General Weidling surrendered Berlin unconditionally to Soviet General Vasily Chuikov. When Russian forces reached the Chancellory, they found his body and an autopsy was performed using dental records to confirm the identification. To avoid any possibility of creating a potential shrine, the remains of Hitler and Braun were repeatedly moved, then secretly buried by SMERSH at their new headquarters in Magdeburg. In April 1970, when the facility was about to be turned over to the East German government, the remains were reportedly exhumed and thoroughly cremated. According to the Russian Federal Security Service, a fragment of human skull stored in its archives and displayed to the public in a 2000 exhibition came from the remains of Hitler's body uncovered by the Red Army in Berlin, and is all that remains of Hitler; however, the authenticity of the skull has been challenged by many historians and researchers.
At the time of Hitler's death, most of Germany's infrastructure and major cities were in ruins and he had left explicit orders to complete the destruction. Millions of Germans were dead with millions more wounded or homeless. In his will, he dismissed other Nazi leaders and appointed Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as Reichspräsident (President of Germany) and Joseph Goebbels as Reichskanzler (Chancellor of Germany). However, Goebbels and his wife Magda, after killing their six young children, committed suicide on May 1, 1945. On May 7, 1945, in Rheims, France, the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and on May 8, 1945, in Berlin to the Soviet Union thus ending the war in Europe and with the creation of the Allied Control Council on June 5, 1945, the Four Powers assumed "supreme authority with respect to Germany". Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" had lasted 12 years.
Since the defeat of Germany in World War II, Hitler, the Nazi Party and the results of Nazism have been regarded in most of the world as synonymous with evil. Historical and cultural portrayals of Hitler in the west are, almost by consensus, condemnatory.
The display of swastikas or other Nazi symbols is prohibited in Germany and political extremists are generally under surveillance by the Verfassungsschutz, one of the federal or state-based offices for the protection of the constitution.
Despite the condemnation heaped upon Hitler by many public figures, there have been instances of some people referring to Hitler's legacy in neutral or favourable terms, particularly in South America and parts of Asia. He has sometimes been portrayed positively in the Islamic World, if only because of his antisemitism. Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat wrote favourably of Hitler in 1953. Louis Farrakhan has referred to him as a "very great man". Bal Thackeray, leader of the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party in the Indian state of the Maharashtra, declared in 1995 that he was an admirer of Hitler.
Hitler's religious beliefs
Hitler was raised by Roman Catholic parents, but as a school boy he rejected Catholicism as he was influenced by nationalism. Apparently, after Hitler left home, he never attended Mass or received the sacraments.
In later life, Hitler's religious beliefs present a discrepant picture; publicly he often spoke positively of the Christian heritage of German culture and of belief in Christ. Hitler’s private statements, as reported by his intimates, are more mixed, showing Hitler as a religious man but also critical of Christianity. However, in contrast to other Nazi leaders, Hitler did not adhere to esoteric ideas, occultism, or neo-paganism, and ridiculed such beliefs in his book Mein Kampf. Rather, Hitler advocated a "Positive Christianity", a belief system purged from what he objected to in traditional Christianity, and which reinvented Jesus as a fighter against the Jews.
Hitler believed in Arthur de Gobineau's ideas of struggle for survival between the different races, among which the "Aryan race"—guided by "Providence"—was supposed to be the torchbearers of civilization and the Jews as enemies of all civilization. Whether his anti-semitism was influenced by older Christian ideas remains disputed.
Among Christian denominations, Hitler favored Protestantism, which was more open to such reinterpretations. At the same time, he made use of some elements of the Catholic Church's hierarchical organization, liturgy and phraseology in his politics.
Health and sexuality
- Eva Braun, mistress and then wife
- Alois Hitler, father
- Klara Hitler, mother
- Paula Hitler, sister
- Alois Hitler, Jr., half-brother
- Bridget Dowling, sister-in-law
- William Patrick Hitler, nephew
- Heinz Hitler, nephew
- Angela Hitler Raubal, half-sister
- Maria Schicklgruber, grandmother
- Johann Georg Hiedler, presumed grandfather
- Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, maternal great-grandfather, presumed great uncle and possibly Hitler's true paternal grandfather
- Geli Raubal, niece and rumoured mistress
People associated with Hitler
- Martin Bormann, Adolf Hitler's secretary
- Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and Hitler supporter
- Hans Frank, Hitler's lawyer and later senior Nazi official in occupied Poland
- Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda
- Hermann Göring, Reichsmarschall, Commander of the Luftwaffe, founder of the Gestapo.
- Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy as party leader, best known for his flight to Scotland to negotiate peace in 1941
- Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo)
- Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, key figure in the Holocaust and the "Final Solution"
- Heinrich Hoffmann, official photographer from 1920 to 1945
- Alfred Jodl, military officer, knew Hitler since 1923
- Wilhelm Keitel, military Field Marshal during World War II
- August Kubizek, close friend and roommate in Vienna
- Leopold Poetsch, Hitler's anti-Semitic school teacher
- Leni Riefenstahl, friend and filmmaker who documented the Nazi party
- Erwin Rommel, the famous "Desert Fox", Field Marshal forced to commit suicide by Hitler
- Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA and internal critic, killed in the Night of the Long Knives (1934)
- Albert Speer, Hitler's personal architect, Minister of armaments. Close friend of Hitler's
- Paul Troost, famous architect who served before Speer
- Winifred Wagner, head of the Wagner family and close friend of Hitler's
Hitler's Oratory and Rallies
Hitler was a gifted orator who captivated many with his beating of the lectern and growling, emotional speech. Hitler honed his skills by giving speeches to soldiers during 1919 and 1920. He had an ability to tell people what they wanted to hear (the stab-in-the-back, the Jewish-Marxists, Versailles). Over time Hitler perfected his delivery by rehearsing in front of mirrors and carefully choreographing his display of emotions with the message he was trying to convey.
His combination of barnyard racism and reactionary nationalism was a toxic brew. Especially deadly was his equation of Jews and Marxists, a confusion that won over many moderate Germans.
Hitler's oratory also needs to be appreciated in the context of the massive Nazi rallies. Carefully staged by Albert Speer, these rallies sparked a process of self-persuasion for the participants. Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will chillingly presents the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.
Hitler and Goebbels toned down their racism as Hitler gained electoral strength. In areas where antisemitism was strong they used code words (railing against "Bolshevists" with most people understanding that he meant "Jews"), and they ignored antisemitism in areas where it wasn't already strong. Many Germans were, as they said, "Nazi, but. . ." meaning that they thought Hitler had abandoned his shrill racism.
Recording of Hitler in private conversation
Hitler visited Finnish Field Marshal Mannerheim on June 4 1942. During the visit an engineer of the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, Thor Damen, recorded Hitler and Mannerheim in conversation, something which had to be done secretly as Hitler never allowed recordings of him off-guard. Today the recording is the only known recording of Hitler not speaking in an official tone. The recording captures 11 and a half minutes of the two leaders in private conversation. Hitler speaks in a slightly excited, but still intellectually detached manner during this talk (the speech has been compared to that of the working class). The majority of the recording is a monologue by Hitler (as most conversations with Hitler were). In the recording, Hitler admits to underestimating the Soviet Union's ability to conduct war (some English transcripts exist  ).
Documentaries during the Third Reich
Hitler appeared in and was involved to varying degrees with a series of films by the pioneering filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl] via Universum Film AG (UFA):
- Der Sieg des Glaubens (The Victory of Faith, 1933).
- Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934), co-produced by Hitler.
- Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces, 1935).
- Olympia (1938).
Hitler was the central figure of the first three films; they focused on the party rallies of the respective years and are considered propaganda films. Hitler also featured prominently in the Olympia film. Whether the latter is a propaganda film or a true documentary is still a subject of controversy, but it nonetheless perpetuated and spread the propagandistic message of the 1936 Olympic Games depicting Nazi Germany as a prosperous and peaceful country. As a prominent politician, Hitler was also featured in many newsreels.
Hitler's attendance at various public functions including the 1936 Olympic games, and Nuremberg Rallies appeared in live Television broadcasts made between 1935 — 1939. These events along with other programming highlighting activity by public officials were often repeated in public viewing rooms.
Documentaries post Third Reich
- The World at War (1974) is a Thames Television series which contains much information about Hitler and Nazi Germany, including an interview with his secretary, Traudl Junge.
- Adolf Hitler's Last Days, from the BBC series "Secrets of World War II" tells the story about Hitler's last days during World War II.
- The Nazis: A Warning From History (1997), a 6-part BBC TV series on how the cultured and educated Germans accepted Hitler and the Nazis up to its downfall. Historical consultant is Ian Kershaw.
- Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002) is an exclusive 90 minute interview with Traudl Junge, Hitler's final trusted secretary. Made by Austrian Jewish director André Heller shortly before Junge's death from lung cancer, Junge recalls the last days in the Berlin bunker. Clips used in Downfall.
- Undergångens arkitektur (Architecture of Doom) (1989) documentary about the National Socialist aesthetic as envisioned by Hitler.
- Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973) is a movie depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's death, starring Sir Alec Guinness.
- The Bunker (1978) by James O'Donnell, describing the last days in the Führerbunker from 1945-01-17 to 1945-05-02. Made into the TV movie The Bunker (1981), starring Anthony Hopkins.
- Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) is a two-part TV series about the early years of Adolf Hitler and his rise to power (up to 1933). Stars Robert Carlyle.
- Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) is a German movie about the last days of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, starring Bruno Ganz. This film is partly based on the autobiography of Traudl Junge, a favorite secretary of Hitler's. In 2002 Junge said she felt great guilt for "...liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived."
- Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Hitler - Ein Film aus Deutschland (Hitler, A Film From Germany), 1977. Originally presented on German television, this is a 7-hour work in 4 parts: The Grail; A German Dream; The End Of Winter's Tale; We, Children Of Hell. The director uses documentary clips, photographic backgrounds, puppets, theatrical stages, and other elements from almost all the visual arts, with the "actors" addressing directly the audience/camera, in order to approach and expand on this most taboo subject of European history of the 20th century.
- Max is a 2002 Drama movie, that depicts a friendship between art dealer Max Rothman (who is Jewish) and a young Adolf Hitler as a failed painter in Vienna.
- Portrayals of Hitler Project How Hitler has been viewed over the years.
- Photographs of Adolf Hitler
- Adolf Hitler at the Internet Movie Database
- 1943 Psychological Profile of Hitler written by Dr. Henry A. Murray for the wartime Office of Strategic Services [1943 OSS Archives, DD247.H5 M87 1943]
- Color Footage of Hitler - Watch color footage of Hitler during WWII
- Hitler's Mein Kampf (full text)
- Finnish Broadcasting Company recording of Adolf Hitler speaking in Mannerheim's birthday The world's only recording of Adolf Hitler's natural speech. More of the subject: 
- Hitler Speech (February 10, 1933) with English Translation
|Leader of the NSDAP
Franz Pfeffer von Salomon
|Leader of the SA
Kurt von Schleicher
|Chancellor of Germany(a)
Paul von Hindenburg (as President)
|Führer und Reichskanzler(a)
Karl Dönitz (as President)
Walther von Brauchitsch
|Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Army Commander)
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Adolf Hitler. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WarWiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.|
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (Penguin Books 1962), 23.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 25.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 24
- Origin and Popularity of the Name "Adolph", thinkbabynames.com
- Walter C. Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, p. 246 (Basic Books: New York, 1972)
- John Toland, Adolph Hitler, pp. 12-13.
- , though there is scant evidence that they knew each other or had any meaningful contact. However a recent book by British author Kimberley Cornish suggests that conflict between Hitler and a group of Jewish students that included Wittgenstein was a critical moment in Hitler's formation as an anti-semitic radical. See The Jew of Linz: Hitler, Wittgenstein and their secret battle for the mind (1999).
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 30-31.
- Hitler's Vienna. A dictator's apprenticeship by Brigitte Hamann and Thomas Thornton, Oxford University Press, USA (July 1, 1999)
- Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kapmf, Volume 1, Chapter VII
Among them must be counted the great warriors in this world who, though not understood by the present, are nevertheless prepared to carry the fight for their ideas and ideals to their end. They are the men who some day will be closest to the heart of the people; it almost seems as though every individual feels the duty of compensating in the past for the sins which the present once committed against the great. Their life and work are followed with admiring gratitude and emotion, and especially in days of gloom they have the power to raise up broken hearts and despairing souls. To them belong, not only the truly great statesmen, but all other great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin Luther as well as Richard Wagner.
- Wilhelm Röpke (1946). The Solution to the German Problem. G.P. Putnam's Sons, pp.117., as cited in Waite, Robert G. L. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, pp.251, Da Capo Press, 1993, ISBN 0-306-80514-6
- Shirer, William L., The Rise And Fall of Adolf Hitler c 1961, Random House
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 50-51.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 52.
- David Lewis, The Man who invented Hitler, Headline Book Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7553-1148-5.
- The War Against the Jews. Bantam. 1986
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 60.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 121.
- Hitler dodged taxes, expert finds. BBC News, 2004-12-17. Retrieved on 2007-1-22.
- Mythos Ladenhüter Spiegel Online
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 393-394.
- Der Spiegel. Des Führers Pass, Hitlers Einbürgerung. Retrieved on March 10, 2007.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 201.
- "Die Übertragung der verantwortlichen Leitung eines mit den besten sachlichen und persönlichen Kräften ausgestatteten Präsidialkabinetts an den Führer der grössten nationalen Gruppe wird die Schlacken und Fehler, die jeder Massenbewegung notgedrungen anhaften, ausmerzen und Millionen Menschen, die heute abseits stehen, zu bejahender Kraft mitreissen." Glasnost archives
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 262.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 265.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 305.
- Bullock, A. Hitler, A Study in Tyranny, 309.
- Fest, Joachim, Hitler (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), pp. 476.
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
- Robert S. Wistrich,Who's Who in Nazi Germany (New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 193.
- Overy, Richard. The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia (Penguin Books 2005), 252.
- "There is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. The figure commonly used is the six million quoted by Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official. Most research confirms that the number of victims was between five to six million." How many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust? How do we know? Do we have their names?; FAQs About The Holocaust, Yad Vashem (URL accessed on January 3, 2006)
"Between 1942 and 1944, Nazi Germany deported millions more Jews from the occupied territories to extermination camps, where they murdered them in specially developed killing facilities" The Holocaust; Holocaust Encyclopedia, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (URL accessed on January 3, 2006).
- Butler, Ewan and Young, Gordon. The Life and Death of Hermann Goering (David and Charles Publishers 1989), 159.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 434.
- Overy, 425.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 469.
- TIME magazine (January 2, 1939), "Man of the Year", time.com
- of Medicine in the News, University of Miami
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 717.
- Shirer, William L., Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, ch. 29, The Allied Invasion of Western Europe and the Attempt to Kill Hitler lists 4,980.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 753, 763, 778.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 780-781.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 774-775.
- Dollinger, Hans. The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 112
- Dollinger, Hans. The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 231
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 783-784.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 784.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 790.
- Dollinger, Hans. The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 231
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 787.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 795.
- Butler, Ewan and Young, Gordon. The Life and Death of Hermann Goering, 227-228.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 791.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 792.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 793.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 798.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 799-800.
- Hitler's final witness. BBC News, 2002-02-04. Retrieved on 2007-04-23.
- Russia displays 'Hitler skull fragment'. BBC News, 2000-08-26. Retrieved on 2007-04-23.
- (Review, Excerpts) Schoeman, Roy. "Salvation Is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History", Ignatius Press 2004. ISBN 0-89870-975-X
- CNN News, October 7, 1995
- Portrait of a Demagogue AsiaWeek's interview with Bal Thackeray
- Michael Rissmann, Hitlers Gott. Vorsehungsglaube und Sendungsbewußtsein des deutschen Diktators, Zürich München: Pendo, 2001, p. 94-96 ISBN 3-85842-421-8.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 389.
- Overy, 282.
- Overy, 278.
- Michael Rissmann, p. 96.
- Bullock, A. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, 388.
- Hitler also spoke extensively in Munich's beer halls. The Power of Speech by A. E. Frauenfeld. Calvin College
- The Führer as a Speaker by Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Calvin College
- IMDb: Adolf Hitler
- Television under the Swastika: The history of Nazi Television