When Hitler came into power, he made Germany a war machine. He preached,"Have no pity! Act brutally!" to his storm troopers and soldiers. Anyone who opposed him and what he thought, he crushed them. He executed tens of thousands, threw hundreds of thousands in prison. He hated Jews and Slavs because Hitler classified them as "inferior". Together six million Jews were killed, and five million other people were called "politically dangerous."
In Braunau, Austria on April 20, 1889, Adolf Hilter was born to Alois and Klara (Pölzl) Hitler. Adolf had good grades in elementary school, but had poor grades in high school. Adolf's father was harsh and ill-tempered, and wanted him to become a civil servant. Adolf had other plans because he wanted to become an artist.
After Alois Hitler died in 1903, Adolf left high school when he was sixteen, and he and his mother lived off of her widow's pension. Not having to work, he spent his time reading books, drawing pictures, and daydreaming.
Wanting to become an art student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hitler went to Vienna, the capital of Austria-Hungary in 1907. He failed the entrance examination to the academy twice. That year his mother died, and Adolf had the income of the money his aunt left him, the money his mother left for all of her children, and recieved an orpahn's pension. He also recieved money from the paintings and drawings he sold,and he lived a idle and comfortable life in Vienna.
While in Vienna, Hitler concerned himself with political observations. He admired the effective leadership and organization of the Social Democratic Party. His hate for Slavs and Jews grew. He also became fiercely nationalistic, and he felt that a country could not last long if it treated people of different nationalities equal.
Eventually the money ran out, and Hitler fell into poverty and lodged in a mental hostel. Not really wanting to, he did paint postcards and watercolors for some money. He held the company of tramps, outcasts, cranks, and transients that lived where he did. Hitler never learned to work regularly, never did very much, and was a loner.
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich, Germany because he thought he could find a better life in Germany, and to get away from the Austrian military service. The Austrian Army did call him for a physical examination, but he failed it. Then when World War I, Hitler was relieved because he did not have a job. He immediately joined the German Army. While serving he was in some of the bloodiest battles as a messenger on the front lines. He wounded twice and was decorated for his bravery, but he only rose to the ranking of corporal. At the end of the war on November 1918, he was in a hospital recoverying from mustard gas. There he recieved the news of the armistice which troubled him greatly. Hitler thought the unity of Germany was being threatened, and he felt that he himself should save his country.
Hitler stayed in the German army until March 1920. In the autumn of 1919, Hitler attended meetings of a nationalist group, German Workers' of the German Workers' Party, and later joined. The name was changed to National Socialist German Workers, and was known for short as the Nazi Party. The party called for unity of one nation of all Germans, Austrians, German minorities in Czechoslovakia and other countries. The party also demanded that non-Germans and Jewish orgins should have no German citizenship. They also called for the Treaty of Versailles to be canceled.
Hitler was a great organizer, and he became the leader for the Nazi Party. He was very effective when he spoke which caused the support and membership for the party to soar. He declared that the Nazi Party could build-up Germany to what it once was before the depression, give people work, and restore the economy.
In order to be ready to take over, Hitle started building a private army which were called storm troopers. To make them unified, they wore brown-shirted uniforms and the swastika emblem. They were known as the SA that gave them a sense of power and unity. They all were devoted to Gitler as chief propagandist for the party. By October 1923, the storm troopers numbered 15,000 members, and had a number of guns and rifles. On July 1921, he became the party's chairman with dictatorial powers.
In 1923, the German government was in economical trouble. With France and Belgium occupying the Ruhr District, the German workers went on strike which caused the economy greater stress. Germany had lost almost all of the value for money. There waw conflict and revolts throughout Germany and Bavaria by the nationalists and communist supporters. With the troubles among the government, Hitler saw it as a perfect opportunity to overthrow the Bavarian and nationa German government.
In a beer hall in Munich on November 8, 1923, Hitler proclaimed a Nazi putsch or revolution. The next day, Hitler lead a revolt to try to overthrow the Bavarian government that was called the Beer Hall Putsch. With 2,000 storm troopers and supported by German General Erich F. W. Ludendorff, Hitler marched against the Bavarian government, but the state police opened fire on the group killing sixteen marchers. The plan failed, and the party was destroyed.
Hitler was arrested and was sentences to five years in prison. In the trial Hitler confessed wanting to overthrow the government and outlined his reasons, saying he was a German patriot and that the democratic government, its founders, and leaders ere the true criminals. Hitler also claimed that no man could be charged with treason because he was a revolutionary with revolutionary against the revolution. He also claimed that there was no such thing as high treason against the traitors of 1918. Hitler considered the traitors of 1918 to be the German politicians that was responsible for the 'stab in the back' of the country, and had ended the first World War prematurely and established the German democratic republic. He felt that Germany did not lose on the battlefield, that it was lost by the political treachery at home in Germany. In truth, the German leaders themselves had opened negotiations with the Allies to the end the war because Germany was losing.
Hitler was in prison for nine months instead of five years. While in prison a the fortress of Landsberg, Hitler wrote a book telling of his beliefs and ideas for Germany's future and conquering the rest of Europe. It was called Mein Kampf (My Struggle), but the original title was "Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice." His Nazi publisher knew it was too long, so he shortened the title to Mein Kampf. He believed he would collect all the land taken in the First World War like Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia where Germans lived, and he wanted to take Poland, Russia, and other countries to the east for more living space (lebensraum). Hitler believed that a Germanic man was classified with fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. He believed that Germans represented the supreme form of humanity, and as Aryans, they were to remain "pure" of Jewish or Slavic blood becuase Hitler blamed them for the evils of the world. Hitler also categorized humans according to physical appearance, implementing higher and lower orders, or types of humans.
In the Mein Kanpf, Hitler staed, "All the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan..." Hitler blamed Jew for corrupting ethical and national value, and that they were taking lebensraum. Hitler also wrote that only through dictatorship could Germany be saved for Communism and Jewish treason, and said, "By defending myself against the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work."
Hitler believed that there was a struggle between Aryans and Jews for world domination in a ongoing racial, cultural, and political battle. He also wrote that the Jews were in an internatioal conspiract to control world finances, controlling the press, inventing liberal democracy as well as Marxism, promoting prostitution and vice, and using culture to spread havoc. In the Mein Kampf, continually described Jews as parasites, liars, dirty, crafty, sly, wily, clever, without any true culture,a sponger, a middleman, a maggot, eternal blood suckers, repulsive, unscrupulous, monsters,foreign, menace, bloodthirsty, avaricious, the destroyer of Aryan humanity, and the mortal enemy of Aryan humanity...
When the first release of the Mein Kampf came off the press in 1925, it was not the most popular book. People thought that the book wuld be a juicy autobiography or a detailed behind the scenes story about Beer Hall Putsch, but what they got was a hard-to-follow book written by a self-educated man. Then Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, millions of copies were sold. It was a proper thing to own a copy and to give a copy to newlyweds, high school graduates, or to celebrate any similar occasion. Few Germans every read it, and did not have any idea of the future.
Hitler learned for his past that he could not over take the German government by force. He would have to get elected, and do it by the democratic rules of Germany. In prison Hitler had said, "...Instead of working to achieve power by an armed coup we shall have to hold our nosesand enter the Reichstag against the Catholic and Marxist deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them, at least the results will be guaranteed by their own Constitution! Any lawful process is slow. But sooner or later we shall have a majority - and after that Germany."
He started building up his Schutzstaffel or known as a SS. Even though the Nazi Party was a minority, they were important because of their discipline and orgainzation. Hitler also gaining friends in small towns, in labor unions, farmers, and a few business people and industrialists. He also gathered some people who could help him rise in power, with Joseph Goebbels being the chief Nazi propagandist, Hermann Goering as second in command under Hitler, Rudolf Hess as Hitler's private secretary, Heinrich Himmler as the leader of the SS, Ernst Röhm as chief of SA, and Alfred Rosenberg as party philosopher.
Hitler went all over Germany for the campaign of 1930 making speeches, attending meetings, signing autographs, posing for pictures, shaking hands, and even kissing babies. To add to all of Hitler's appeaances, Joseph Goebbels organized meetings, torchlight parades, plastered poster everywhere and printed millions of copies of special editions of Nazi newspapers. The Nazi's popularity rose. Germany saw relief in Hitler because of the widespread poverty, the political instability, and misery caused by the Great Depression. The people of Germany were willing to listen to what Hitler said even though it was vague, and he repeated catchphrases over and over again. Deliberately, Hitler kept the audiences waiting and let the tension mount, finally, coming out after the processions of the Brownshirts with golden banners, blaring military military music, and finally his appearance with shouts of "Heil."
When speaking, Hitler would always begin his speeches in a low hesitate voice and gradually increased his voice to a loud commanding voice. He used carefully guided hand movements his voice, and he played on the emotions of the audience making them forget themselves and looked on him as something to worship. He promised goodness for everyone, and they were more then willing to believe him. Work for the unemployed, prosperity to the failed business people, profits in industry, expansion to the Army, social harmony, and the return for Germany's glory were just some of his promises. He also promised that he would make Germany strong once again by tearing up the treaty of Versailles, stamping out corruption, keeping down Marxism, and dealing harshly with Jews. Once again, he used his old arguments in the campaign against the Young Plan and in the national election. He did tone down a little in his speeches about Jews because it seemed to scar voters away.
Everyone, from Hitler down to the lowest leader, worked tirelessly to pound their message in the minds of the German public. They also made sure they were known as "the National Socialist German Workers' Party" instead of the name of "Nazis."
On September 14, 1930, the election day, the Nazis received 6,371,000 votes, and obtained 107 seats in the German Reichstag, having eighteen percent of the total. This was a great step to the Nazis to gain control becuase almost overnight they were the smallest party to the second biggest. With such a jump in popularity, the world press became interested in what Hitler ment by tearing up the Treaty of Versailles and end war reparations. He also said that Germany was not responsible for the first World orld War.
On October 13, 1930, the elected Nazi deputies marched in unison into the Reichstag dressed in their brown shirts. When the roll call was taken, each one of them answered with a "Present! Heil Hitler!"
Also to celebrate the victory of the election, storm troopers dressed in civilian clothes smashed the windows of Jewish shops, restaurants, and department stores which was a warning of the future.
In 1932, more elections were held, and the Nazi Party gained more popularity and became the strongest party in Germany with nearly thirty eight percent of the votes. Hitler did lose to the incumbent Paul van Hindenburg. Many of the other parties offered Hitler Cabinet posts in exchange for Nazi support, but he refused because he did not want anything other than chancellor (Prime Minister).
Many people did not even want Hitler as chancellor because the understood that he would become dictator and set up a reign of terror. Still the Nazi Party was the second largest party of Germany. Support in money came from all over. Hitler also started receiving money from Mein Kampf because it started selling over 50,000 copies. To add to things, the Nazi Party moved into a fancy new headquarters in Munich, the Brown House. The Nazis started receiving money from German indusrialists because they saw that maybe if they helped the Nazi's salaries and fuel Goebbel's propaganda machine. The German General Staff dished out some money for Gitler because he hoped that Hitler would tear up the Treaty of Versailles that limited their Army to only 100,000 men and prevented modernization.
The only trouble Hitler had to deal with was his own SA who were mostly violence prone and leaned to the socialist way of thinking. They also wanted to become a new German revolutionary army. Many times they embarrassed Hitler by wreaking havoc when Hitler had earlier commanded them to lay low. Hitler had to use the SS to put down a small SA revolt in Berlin led by Captain Walter Stennes. To solve the problem, Hitler installed the former SA leader, Ernst Röhm, to reorganize and settle the SA down, now that the branch was over 60,000 members.
At this time in Adolf Hitler's life, he had to face a rocking experience, but it first started in the summer of 1928. Hitler rented a small country home at age of 39. This was the first true place he every called home. After he settled in his home, he invited his stepsister, Angela to come from Vienna to do his daily household chores. Angela arrived with her two daughters, Friedl and Geli.
Geil was a twenty-year-old with dark blonde hair with Viennese charm and was very lively. These qualities were very appealing to Hitler, and fell deeply in love with her. Hitler, a man that only wanted power, went shopping with her and waiting patiently while she tried on clothes. They went to theaters, cafés, and concerts and even to the Party meetings.
Their relationship was very socially acceptable to the local customs since Geli was the daughter of his half sister. While Hitler was rising in popularity, Geli enjoyed being with him because of it. There were also the trappings of power, SS bodyguards, a chauffeur, and obedient aides. Another conflict was that Geli wanted to be around people her own age. She had a tendency to flirt and many times had little romances that Hitler looked down on. In fact, she had a romance with Hitler's chauffeur, and the chauffeur was soon replaced. That was not the only romance she had, and Hitler was jealous and cast a disapproving eye on them. But Hitler himself was flirting with a fair haired seventeen-year-old named Eva Braun, who worked in the photography shop that was ran by his personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann.
With Hitler's jelousy and possessiveness, it made Geli's life more claustrophobic especially after she moved in with him to a fancy nine-room apartment in Munich. She could not go anywhere without tow Nazi chaperons and had to be back home exactly at the time that Hitler ordered. She could not go anywhere without his permission first, and each time she tried to free herself of the restrictions, he only tightened his grip. Many times there were loud arguments between the two.
In September of 1931, Hitler was going to Hamburg and while he would be gone, Geil wanted to go to Vienna. Hitler commanded that she stay at the apartment and not leave. While he headed for his car, she yelled from the window to ask one last time. He yelled back a stern "No!" The next morning, a taxi flagged Hitler's car down. Rudolph Hess was on the phone at the hotel Hitler had just left, and had to talk to him immediatedly. When he go to the phone, he was told that his niece had shot herself. With that news, Hitler hurried back to Munich. By the time he arrived at his apartment, her body had already been removed. She had shot herself through the heart with a pistol.
He had lost the love of his life and with dreadful circumstances. There were rumors in the press that she might have been murdered, maybe even on Hitler's orders. Hitler became deeply depressed, and for days at a time, he would pace back and forth without stopping to eat or sleep.
Herman Göring later said that Hitler was never the same after his niece's suicide, and Hitler also said later Geli was the only woman he ever loved. He kept portraits of her hung on the wall and decorated them with flowers on the anniversaries of her birth and death.
Shortly after her death, Hitler looked with contempt on a piece of ham being served during breakfast and refused to eat it becuase he said it looked like eating a corpse. From then on, he refused to eat meat.
In the mess of political intrigue, rumors, and disorder, many people of Berlin and the democratic government in the spring of 1932 thought that the Brownshirts were about to take over the government by force. There were over 400,000 storm troopers under the leadership of SA Chief Ernst Röhm. Many of the SA thought of themselves as a true revolutionary army and wanted to prove it. Many times Hitler had to rein them in so they would not upset his own carefully laid out plans to take over the government. Hitler also know he could not succeed as Führer of Germany without the support of German Army and the powerful German industrialists, both that watched the SA with a wary eye.
In April of 1932, Heinrich Bruening, Chancellor of Germany, invoked Article 48 of the constitution and issued a decree banning the SA and SS from Germany. Immediately the Nazis were outraged and wanted to fight it, but Hitler knew that the republic was about to fall and that his opportunity would soon come along for him.
His opportunity came with Kurt von Schleicher. Schleicher had schemes and was an ambitious Army officer who also had ideas for leading Germany himself. Hitler secretly met with Schleicher on May 8, 1932. The proposal was offered that the ban on the SA and SS would be lifted, the Reichstag would be dissolved, and new elections would be called with Chancellor Bruening being dumped, if Hitler agreed to help support Schleicher in building a conservative nationalist government.
After some brhind the scene treachery, Schleicher put General Wilhelm Groener out of his job. General Wilhelm Groener was a trusted aid to President Hindenburg and friend to the republic and supported the SA ban. Since he supported the ban, Hermann Göring gave him a public tongue-lashing and was hooted and booed by Goebbels and the rest of the Nazis. Goebbles later wrote in his diary in 1932, "We covered him with such catcalls that the whole house began to tremble and shake with laughter. In the end one could only have pity for him. That man is finished." Groener finally resigned of May 13 after his unsuccessful appeal to Hindenburg.
Chancellor Heinrich Bruening was next on the list to dispose of. Heinrich Bruening was the last man to stand up against Hitler. He was responsible for keeping Hitler out of the presidency and preservingthe republic. He worked hard to help the German economy by seeking an end to war reparations on the international scene. Even though Bruening worked so hard to help, the economic situation got worse, and nearly six million people were unemployed. Bruening was known as "The Hunger Chancellor.
Bruening was in trouble with Hindenburg because the president blamed him for the problems in the political realm. Hindenburg had to run for re-election at the age of eighty-five becuase of the problems, and he was running against the 'Bohemian Corporal' Adolf Hitler. Bruening made the mistake of proposing that the huge estates of the bankrup aristocrats be divided amoung the peasants, which sounded a lot like a Marxist. The same aristocrats and big industrialists scraped together the money to buy an estate for Hindenburg. While on his vacation to the estate of Easter vacation, he had to listen to all their complaints.
During the election in April, Hitler lost to Hindenburg. On June 4, the Reichstag was dissolved and new elections were called for July, and to add to the Nazi's joy, the ban of the SA and SS was lifted. In the july election, the Nazis polled the highest rate of 37.2 percent, but in the November election, the Nazis lost some votes from Hitler pushing the party's psychology. The depression was beginning pull on the party as well. At this time, Franz von Papen was appointed to be chancellor. Schleicher had proposed the idea so he could work through him to get what he wanted. What really helped was that Hindenburg liked von Papen.
Hitler dissolved all the other parties in four months, which in turn enabled him to have his foot in the Reichstag. His problem though was with his own SA. With business and military leaders, and a group of monarchists, many of the SA was campaigning for a restoration of the monarchy. Hitler then gathered and rallied the party leaders, the army, and Himmler's SS. On June 30, 1934, they struck and murdered a number of SA leaders, monarchists, and other opponents. He was still reaching for the top rung of the ladder, but it was not until Hindenburg died on August 2. Then Hitler took his title of Führer.