Hitler. The name says it all. He is said to be the incarnation of absolute evil. The devil himself. There have many dictators in the twentieth century that were considered harsh dictators; Mussolini,Stalin, Saddam Hussein, but no one like Adolf Hitler. Hitlers rule over Germany had a major impact on history and the entire world. Adolf Hitler held the most powerful and cruelest dictatorship of the 20th century.
Adolf Hitler was born April 20, 1889 in the small Austrian village of Braunau Am. His was the son of a Customs official Alois Hitler, and his third wife Klara Polzl. He was born healthy and baptized a Roman Catholic. His own father was an illegitimate child, who never knew his grandfather. It is rumored that Hitlers grandfather was Jewish. Adolfs family tree would serve as a life long source of embarrassment and concern to him (History Place 1).
As a small boy Adolf attended church regularly and sang in the local boys choir. He idolized priests and considered becoming one (History Place 4). During his first year of high school he did poorly, but was forced back by his father. Adolf liked the arts more than the technical education he was receiving. In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler explained, I thought that once my father saw what little progress I was making at school he would let me devote myself to the happiness I dreamed of. At age sixteen he dropped out of school to pursue his dream as an artist (5). He made several attempts to getting an admission to the Academy of Arts, but he always failed. The Dean of the school supposedly said to him, You will never be a painter. The rejection crushed his dream and he carried it with him forever (Schlesinger 14).
After that painful rejection Hitler made his living as an odd-job man on the brink of starvation (Winks 565). During this time he began reading a small paper that blamed Communists and Jews for the problems of the world. Hitler agreed with most of the points made, and his hatred for the Jews was born (Schlesinger 17). He moved out of Vienna in 1913 to Munich. Even though he was Austrian he was more loyal to Germany. Still his move did not too much to his career as an artist, he continued to be poor. Than in 1914, World War I broke out. Hitler saw this as a great opportunity to show his German loyalty. Hitler was a good solider who received awards of bravery but he never achieved a high rank (19).
In 1918, Germany surrendered and lost the war. This was a major disappointment to Germany and Hitler (Schlesinger 20). After the war Hitler returned to Munich. He became employed as a political education officer for the troops. While there he discovered a small political group that called itself the German Workers party (Winks 565). He joined in 1919 and was put in charge of propaganda. Hitlers speeches attracted many listeners, and it soon became a major party with many followers (Bullock 22). By 1921, he had made himself the leader or Fuhrer, and the Nazi party was born (Winks 565).
With Germany seething in an economic crisis, the Nazi party wanted to gain control and take over. In 1923, Hitler broke into a right-wing political meeting carrying a gun and announcing that a revolution had began. After his attempt to overthrow the government he spent eight months in jail. While there he began the writing of his book and the Nazi bible Mein Kampf (Winks 565). In his book, Hitler talks about his Final Solution to the Jews. He states that it was his goal to eliminate the Jewish race from the world (Bullock 34). Also at this time German unemployment flourished. Their depression helped Hitler rise slowly to power. Hitler created the SS (or Defense Force) that emphasized racial purity (Winks 567). The Nazi party and Hitler were ready for the world.
The German government fell in 1930 and there were new elections for who would run the country. The Nazis and Communists fought to win (Winks 567). During this time Hitler used mass propaganda to persuade the German people that the Fuhrer would make their country strong and powerful again (Bullock 35). But they lost the first election and second election. In 1932 the Nazis got their wish and entered the Reichstag and in January 1933, Hitler became the chancellor of Germany (568). Unbeknownst to all, the worst had begun.
Hitler quickly turned from chancellor to dictator. He completely dismantled the Reichstag and called for new elections. During the elections the SS terrorized Nazi opponents. On February 27, a fire broke out at the Reichstag building. Hitler blamed the Communists and arrested over four thousand of them (Winks 568). Hitlers reign of terror had begun and Germany would be under his complete control. This was only the beginning.
In 1934, the president of Germany died and Hitler was named president but used the title Der Fuhrer. The first political move he made was to ban the Communists and the Socialists, and end all Catholic and monarchist parties (Winks 568). The Nazi party took control over every aspect of every day life. Since the country was in chaos after the war, people saw hope in Adolf Hitler. Propaganda was used against the Jews and other minority groups. Teachers were forced to become a member of the Nazi party and teach their children that Jews were the source of every problem (Schlesinger 19). The depression in Germany made the situation even worse.
Hitler used his power of speech to get his point across. He mainly spoke out against the Jews even though the made up only 1% of Germanys population (Winks 569). The Jews did not see Hitler as a great threat at first until he became the president (Bullock 47). Most Jews were very patriotic Germans and they would probably been members of the Nazi party if they were allowed to. The Nuremberg laws of 1935 defined what a Jew was, and racism became of state policy (Winks 569).The Jews lost their rights to vote, and they were not permitted to hold any positions of status (Bullock 48). The Jewish situation grew worse when a teenage Jewish boy killed a secretary of the German embassy in Paris. Two days later, German mobs robbed Jewish shops all over Germany and burned synagogues. Jews were than forced to wear special yellow stars to show that they were Jewish (Winks 570) Also Hitler began to look into racial purity. Blonde, blue-eyed types were idealized and encouraged to mate with other Nordic types. Woman were expected to have pure breed children by the age of twenty-four. To keep the race pure, methods of sterilization were introduced (570). Hitler was on his way in solving the Jewish Problem.
Hitler decided that his people needed more space for living. He first marched his troops into the Reinland, an area that Germany had lost. Next, he went to Austria and annexed it without having to shoot. Than came Sudetenland. Hitler was on his way but the Allies were getting mad because Hitler had broke the Treaty of Versailles (Bullock 54). When Hitler attacked Poland on September 1st, 1939 the Allies no longer stood and watched. On September 3rd, 1939 France and Britain declared war on Germany (Winks 613). World War II had begun.
Germany was ready for the war and was counting on an easy victory. Once Hitler gained control of Poland, other countries in Eastern Europe soon followed. Romania, fearing Russia, soon joined an alliance with Germany. Hitler aided Romania from Russia because of his interests in their oil fields. Without fuel, Hitler knew he could win the war (Lewin 135). Everything was going smoothly for Germany until Italy decided to go on the offensive in Greece.
Italy decided to invade Greece through Albania without a declaration of war. This backfired because Italy knew nothing of guerilla warfare and they had to retreat back into Albania. With Italys defeat Hitler made a decision to attack and take over Greece. He marched his troops through Bulgaria and attacked Greece (Lewin 140). His plan worked and he conquered all of the Greek territory. But he wanted more, and he planned his next attack on Russia. Hitler called this Operation Barbarosa (Bailey and Ryan 212). This operation was a failure because of many problems, the major problem being winter (214). Moscow had been spared.
In the springtime of 1943, American and Russian industrial production were at their peaks and Germany was having trouble regaining its superiority (Lewin 153). The Allies began to attack Germany and by 1944 there were many attempts made to assassinate Hitler (Winks 623). The Allies had also taken control of the air campaign. Hitler did not have enough time to train new pilots so his air campaign was growing weaker (Bailey and Ryan 224). The war was quickly coming to an end.
In April 1945, the Allies captured Berlin. Hitler felt that both Germany and his troops had failed him. On April 30 Hitler shot himself and died. His body was burned (Lewin 178). On May 8 Churchill and Truman announced the end of German resistance. It was a day of victory in Europe (Winks 626). But the real horror of Hitlers was yet to be unveiled.
While freeing people in Germany it was discovered the horrible truths of Hitlers hatred towards minorities. The Allies broke into concentration camps that had enslaved millions of Jews, Poles, and Gypsies (Winks 625). What they found, saw, and heard were horrifying. Every camp had gas chambers and crematories that killed around 12,000 people on a daily bias. There were stories of wretched medical experiments and firing squads that killed for no reason. Also there was starvation and disease in the cramped living spaces. By the end of the war it was estimated that between 6 to 7 million Jewish people had been killed during the Holocaust (626). The Jewish culture had been almost completely wiped out because of one mans hate.
Adolf Hitler was the most powerful and feared dictator of the twentieth century. He is considered one of the cruelest men to ever walk the face of the earth. His belief in domination and complete destruction led to his rapid downfall and death. What he did to the world will never be forgotten and many people still bare the painful memories of their days spent at the death camps, while others mourn the loss of their loves ones. Adolf Hitler will never be forgotten.