Adolf hitler was born in brannau, austria on the 20th of april 1889. His parents belonged to the settled middle class and his father led a thrifty but successful life. At aged 18, hitler moved to vienna where he settled for five years. He described that period of time as the worst years of his life. As a struggling artist, he tried to gain entry into the vienna academy of fine arts but was refused admission.
It was in vienna that hitler was influenced by lanz von libenfels and developed very strong nationalist and anti-semitic views. In may 1913, he left for munich. During ww1 in august 1914, he enlisted in the army. he fought on the western front for 4yrs and was awarded the iron cross for bravery. he remained in the army and was given the job of spying on newly developing political parties.
One such party was the german workers party founded by anton drexler in 1919. hitler was so impressed at the first meeting by what he saw and heard that he decided to join the organisation. by 1920, he was leader of this party and changed the name to the national socialist workers party, commonly known as the nazi party.
The nazis forme their own small army called the SA(sturm abteilung). they were easily recognised by the brown coloured shirts they wore. the SA were used to protect the nazis at any meetings or conferences that were held. hitler made the swastika the emblem of this party. early recruits included ernst rohm, rudolf hess, heinrich himmler and josef goebbels. With the weimar government facing economic and ploitical crisis in 1923, hitler decided to make a bid for power. this came in the form a the munich putsch.
On 8th november 1923, nazi's took over a beer hall in munich. many people were killed. hitler was arrested two days later and was sentenced to 5yrs in landsberg castle. he only served 9months of this sentence. while in prison, hitler wrote his famous book 'mein kampf'- my struggle. this book was a long boring insight into the mind of hitler and his anti-semitic views. During his time in prison the nazi party had disintegrated , and its members had become divided. hitler had to spend the next 4yrs rebuilding the party and giving it a solid organisational base.
Hitler believed in a true german race devoid of impurity which could be achieved by the elimination of all inferior races. He also believed in the idea of 'lebensraum' or living space. From 1923 onwards the nazis grew slowly but steadily, and there was very effective use of propaganda by josef goebbels. he portrayed hitler as a kind man. strict censorship was used on both the radio and in newspapers. hitler soon developed into a brilliant speaker and knew how to catch the audiences attention and work them into a frenzy. his listeners loved the sppeches and the spectacle.
Hitler had embarked on a nationwide campaign promising employment to the unemployed, land to the peasants, re-armament to the army and most of all, he promised a strong leadership. he also blamed the 'november criminals' for the signing of the versailles treaty and he openly critiscised jews and communists, and the weakness of the weimar germany as being a contributory factor to germanys ills. industrialists nicknamed him ' the man of steel'.
By 1932 the nazi party was the largest in the reichstag and soon the number of seats rose from 12 to 288. Politicians did not trust him but the people wanted him in charge and so in january of 1933, hitler became chancellor of germany. As soon as hitler was given power he beagn to dismanntle democracy. he called a general election, however on the night of 27th of february 1933, the reichstag was set alight , 'supposedly' by a communist. Hitler led people to believe that this was the beginning of a communist plot to take over the country.
On 23march, deputies met at kroll opera house for the debate on the enabling bill. the opera house was sealed off by the SA and the SS. This act , which was nothing less than a mandate, authorised the government to pass laws without consulting the reichstag. hitler won the two-thirds majority vote that he needed to win. The weimar republic was dead and in this new one party totalitarian state, democracy could not survive.
The leader of the SA was ernst rohm. he critiscised hitler calling him a swine and a traitor. The regular german army 'wehrmacht' was in a weak position since the versailles treaty. Himmler an Goring, two of hitlers ministers informed hitler of rohms threats. On the 30th of june 1934 the SS butchered 150 people at stradelheim prison. Rohm and approximately 250 others were also killed. This became known as the night of the long knives.
President hindenburg died on 2nd of august 1934. Hitler as 'der fuhrer' inherited the presidential powers , including supreme commander of the armed forces. Being a jew at this time was seen as a crime.they were very prosperous people who owned shops and businesses, were prominent in banking, law and medicine. The nuremburg laws were passed in '35 and marriages between jews and germand bacame forbidden. they were forced to wear the star of david so they could be publicly identified. They were seen as 'parasites' and werent given any employment except for very menial jobs.
On 9th november '38, nazi's launched a terrorist campaign against jews. shops were wrecked, synagogues were burned and many jews were killed. this became known as 'kristallnacht' or crystal night due to the amount of glass broken.In the years that followed conditions for jews worsened and a 'final solution' of the jewish problem was decided upon. this involved mass killings.
The first concentration camp was opened near dachau in munich in march 1933. communists, socialists, jews, catholics, protestants, gypsies, tramps, homosexuals and the mentally impaired were all confined. Prisoners lived in over-croeded dormitorys and they all had their heads shaven. they were tortured and beaten constanly. Mass extermination camps were built at auschwitz, treblinka, buchenswald and belsen. people were poisoned in gas chambers disguised as showers.
Hitler was raised as a catholic but soon regarded it as fit for only slaves. A concordat was signed between the vatican and german state in '33. The church soon realised that it had signed away its independance and priests were arrested and monastries were closed down.
By '36, unemployment was down to 2.5m from 6m a few years previous and was negligible by '39. The famous 'autobahn' gave out 200,000 jobs to germans, and volkswagen handed out a further million jobs . working conditions remained substandard but workers were willin to endure. Hitler was deeply concerned about the youth and set up camps for them. Boys were taugh how to be men and soon they al knew they would have to do service for the army. Women were just there to bear as many children as possible and alsoto cook and clean.