Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 - April 30, 1945) was the Fuhrer (leader) of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. In that capacity he was Chancellor of Germany, head of government, and head of state, ruling as a dictator. A gifted, charismatic orator possessed of a profound personal presence, Hitler is regarded as one of the most significant leaders of World history, although he has become, especially in the United States and Western Europe, virtually emblematic of tyranny and monstrous evil. The military-industrial complex he fostered pulled Germany out of the post-World War I economic crisis and, at its height, controlled the greater part of Europe. Hitler's attempts to create a Greater Germany (Lebensraum), specifically the annexation of Austria ("Anschluss") and the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland, were one of the primary factors leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The embrace of total war both by the Axis and Allied powers during this time led to the destruction of much of Europe. Hitler is held responsible for the racial policy of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the death and displacement of millions occurring during his leadership. Hoping to be the founder of a thousand-year Reich, he was reported to have committed suicide in his bunker beneath Berlin with Germany in ruins around him and the Red Army closing in. Childhood
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 at Braunau-am-Inn, a small town near Linz in the province of Upper Austria, not far from the German border, in what was then Austria-Hungary. His father, Alois Hitler (1837–1903), was a minor customs official who had been born illegitimately. Until he was 40, Alois used his mother's surname, Schicklgruber. In 1876, Alois took on his adoptive father's surname, originally spelt 'Hiedler'. Later, Adolf Hitler was accused of not rightfully being a Hitler, but a Schicklgruber by his political enemies. Hitler's mother, Klara Hitler, was also his father's second cousin. Ultimately, she bore him a total of six children. Only Adolf, who was her second child, and his younger sister Paula survived childhood. Adolf was an intelligent boy but he twice failed the high school admission examinations in Linz. There, he became captivated by the anti-Semitic, Pan-German lectures of Professor Leopold Poetsch, who greatly influenced the young man's views. Hitler was devoted to his indulgent mother and may have had a hatred for his father, who was a disciplinarian. In his book, Mein Kampf, written partially as propaganda, Adolf is respectful of his father, though he does state that they had irreconcilable differences over his firm decision to become an artist. His father staunchly opposed this career path, wanting Adolf to become a civil servant instead. In January 1903 Alois died, and in December 1907 Klara died of breast cancer. Early years
Shortly after his mother's death, Hitler, aged 18, left Linz for Vienna, hoping to become an artist. He had an orphan's pension, and worked as an illustrator of houses and grand buildings. He applied to the Vienna school of art twice, but was rejected. He lost his pension in 1910, but by then he had inherited some money from an aunt. The money he had inherited soon ran out. For the next several years he was a painter copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants. Yet Hitler lived in hostels for homeless people and lived a marginal existence. During his spare time he often attended operas in Vienna's concert halls, especially Norse mythological operas by Richard Wagner. He also spent much time reading. It was during his years in Vienna that Hitler began developing into an active anti-Semite. Viennese, at the time, often scorned Jewish people. Moreover, Anti-Semitism was deeply ingrained in the Austrian Catholic culture in which Hitler was raised. Vienna had a large Jewish community, including many Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe. He...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document