The Rise and Fall of Adolph Hitler
Many historians have been quoted as saying that Adolph Hitler was one of the most unlamented tyrants of the twentieth century. “Hitler’s coming to power had no single cause,” writes biographer Eugene Davidson. “He was a moving part in a series of events that shocked German society to its roots.” The rise and fall of Hitler continues to be a mystery to the world—an event that intrigues and horrifies simultaneously. At his death by suicide in 1945, the world was only beginning to realize the extent of his horror. His desire for world domination, nationalism, and a purified German race drove him to political leadership of one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Ironically, what motivated Hitler and the Nazis also destroyed them. A native of Austria, Hitler was born 20 April 1889 at Braunau on the Inn, near the Bavarian border. His father Alois was the illegitimate child of a cook named Maria Anna Schickelgruber, Hitler’s grandmother. Until 1876, Alois assumed his mother’s last name before claiming the surname Hitler, after his father. Rumors have spread about the true identity and ethnicity of Adolph’s grandfather because a last name was omitted from Alois’ birth certificate. Some have claimed that this mystery last name may indicate Jewish lineage. Yet no evidence substantiates this because no record indicates Hitler’s lineage as anything other than German or Austrian. But, his possible blood connection to the “Christ Killers” of Europe, as Europeans sometimes called Jews, remained a gnawing doubt in his already fragile psyche. Hitler’s father has been described as short-tempered, cold, brutal and strict. His mother displayed opposite characteristics. Caring and loving, she frequently sided with and supported Hitler when his father’s temper erupted. It is known that Alois alienated his son and even beat him. Part of his abuse manifested in his attempts to discourage Hitler from pursuing his dream of becoming an artist—an endeavor his mother supported wholeheartedly. Alois died when Hitler was thirteen, leaving him bereft of a conservative direction. Hitler left school two years later, ending his formal education. Yet, he still dreamt of becoming an artist and traveled to Vienna to fulfill his desire. Unfortunately, at age eighteen Hitler experienced perhaps the most traumatic event of his youth when his mother died of cancer. Life would prove to be hard without his strongest supporter. As evidence of his devotion, Hitler reportedly carried a photo of her wherever he went. He suffered another blow when the Vienna Academy of Art rejected his application, leaving him without any means to support himself. He painted post cards and sold them on the streets, a meager existence at best. Embittered by his stock in life, he began looking for a scapegoat and it was at this point in his life that he developed a hatred for the Jews. Anti-Semitism was common in Europe, indeed the norm. But Hitler authored a searing hatred for the children of Abraham partly from the society around him and partly from his own perceived encounters with Jews in Vienna. A Jewish professor, for instance, rejected Hitler’s artwork, which led to his failure to meet the standards of the Vienna Academy of Art. A Jewish doctor, Hitler also theorized, had failed to properly and adequately care for his mother, leading directly to her death. By 1910, Hitler’s hatred of the Jews had advanced to the point of obsession. He called his years in Vienna “five years of hardship and misery.” Seeking opportunities elsewhere, Hitler moved to Munich in 1913 but was recalled to Austria by the draft soon thereafter. The Austrian Army rejected Hitler, however, because of his malnutrition and ill health. Yet, one year later World War I began and Hitler volunteered for service in the German Army. He served all four years on the front line as a headquarters runner...
Cited: Fairweather, N. “Hitler and Hitlerism,” in Atlantic Monthly (March-April 1932): 149: 380-87, 509-16.
Hitler, Adolph. Mein Kampf. Berlin: Sickel and Warburg, 1925.
Davidson, Eugene. The Making of Adolph Hitler. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1997.
________. The Unmaking of Adolph Hitler. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1996.
Kelly, Maurice. Adolph Hitler. London: Universal Books. 1996.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.
Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler. New York: Random House, 1998.
Wistrich, Robert. Hitler and the Holocaust. New York: Modern Library, 2001
 Eugene, Davidson, The Unmaking of Adolph Hitler (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1997), 5.
 Ian Kershaw, Hitler (New York W. W. Norton & Company, 1999), 12.
 Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler and the Holocaust (New York: Modern Library, 2001), 42.
 Eugene Davidson, The Making of Adolph Hitler (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1997), 24.
 Maurice Kelly, Adolph Hitler, (London: Universal Books, 1996), 26.
 Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler (New York: Random House, 1998), 139.
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