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Biography in a Gist:
Adolf Hitler, a charismatic, Austrian-born demagogue, rose to power in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s at a time of social, political, and economic upheaval. Failing to take power by force in 1923, he eventually won power by democratic means. Once in power, he eliminated all opposition and launched an ambitious program of world domination and elimination of the Jews.
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, the fourth child of Alois Schickelgruber and Klara Hitler in the Austrian town of Braunau.
Adolf lived for six months across from a large Benedictine monastery. The monastery's coat of arms' most salient feature was a swastika. As a youngster, Adolf's dream was to enter the priesthood. While there is anecdotal evidence that Adolf's father regularly beat him during his childhood, it was not unusual for discipline to be enforced in that way during that period.
By 1900, Hitler's talents as an artist surfaced. He did well enough in school to be eligible for either the university preparatory "gymnasium" or the technical/scientific Realschule. he quit school at the age of 16, partially the result of ill health and partially the result of poor school work.
Hitler spent six years in Vienna, living on a small legacy from his father and an orphan's pension. In May 1913, Hitler, seeking to avoid military service, left Vienna for Munich, the capital of Bavaria In January, the police came to his door bearing a draft notice from the Austrian government. Hitler was arrested on the spot and taken to the Austrian Consulate. Upon reporting to Salzburg for duty, he was found "unfit...too weak...and unable to bear arms."
When World War I was touched off, Hitler submitted a petition to enlist in the Bavarian army. After less than two months of training, Hitler's regiment saw its first combat near Ypres, against the British and Belgians. Hitler narrowly escaped death in battle several times, and was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery & he rose to the rank of lance corporal.
The Free Corps was a paramilitary organization who banded together to fight the growing Communist insurgency which was taking over Germany. Its members formed the nucleus of the Nazi "brown-shirts" (S.A.) which served as the Nazi party's army.
Soon after the war, Hitler was recruited to join a military intelligence unit, and was assigned to keep tabs on the German Worker's Party. He saw this party as a vehicle to reach his political ends. His blossoming hatred of the Jews became part of the organization's political platform. Advertising for the party's meetings appeared in anti-Semitic newspapers. The turning point of Hitler's mesmerizing oratorical career occurred at one such meeting held on October 16, 1919.
With the assistance of party staff, Hitler drafted a party program consisting of twenty-five points. This platform was presented at a public meeting on February 24, 1920, with over 2,000 eager participants. Among the 25 points were revoking the Versailles Treaty, confiscating war profits, expropriating land without compensation for use by the state, revoking civil rights for Jews, and expelling those Jews who had emigrated into Germany after the war began.
The name of the party was changed to the National Socialist German Worker's party, and the red flag with the swastika was adopted as the party symbol.
On November 8, 1923, Hitler held a rally at a Munich beer hall and proclaimed a revolution. The following day, he led 2,000 armed "brown-shirts" in an attempt to take over the Bavarian government. but Hitler was arrested, and was imprisoned at Landsberg. He received a five-year sentence. Hitler served only nine months of his five-year term. While in prison, he wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf. A second volume of Mein Kampf was published in 1927. he book sold over five million copies by the start of World War II.
Rise To Power
Once released from prison, Hitler decided to seize power constitutionally rather than by force of arms. Hitler's Nazi party captured 18% of the popular vote in the 1930 elections. In 1932, Hitler ran for President and won 30% of the vote.
By 1937, he was comfortable enough to put his master plan, as outlined in Mein Kampf, into effect. Calling his top military aides together at the "FÅhrer Conference" in November 1937, he outlined his plans for world domination. Those who objected to the plan were dismissed.
Several attempts were made on Hitler's life during the war, but none was successful. As the war appeared to be inevitably lost and his hand-picked lieutenants, seeing the futility, defied his orders, he killed himself on April 30, 1945. His long-term mistress and new bride, Eva Braun, joined him in suicide.
"If freedom is short of weapons, we must compensate with willpower."
-- Adolf Hitler, Landsberg, 5 November 1925.