In the Second World War, a man named Adolph Hitler, the leader of the infamous Nazi regime, had a plethora of things on his mind. From guarding the stricken land of Poland against Soviet advancement, to making sure the western shores of the Atlantic Ocean in France were closely guarded, Hitler had much to worry about. Unfortunately, it was during Hitler's reign when a most horrible atrocity took place. Adolph Hitler was born on April 20 th, 1889 in a small hamlet named Braunau Am Inn, just across the border from German Bavaria. Hitler's childhood was often riddled with abuse and physical beatings. His family lived in a small farmhouse with 10 other people.
Because of this, Adolph's older brother, Alois, ran away from home. As a child, Hitler was fascinated with art. He begged his father to let him attend a classical secondary school, but his father would have nothing to do with it. He insisted that his son follow in his footsteps as a civil servant. As a result, Hitler, in his first year of civil school, failed miserably, claiming he did so on purpose to spite his father. Around the age of 13, Hitler, as a result of living on the German-Austrian border, became interested in German nationalism.
A few years later, after his father's death, 18-year-old Adolph decided it was time to try his luck in art, and moved to Vienna. After failing miserably in art, he became interested in politics. At the time, the mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, was an anti-Semite and Jew hater. Even though Hitler still had a few Jewish friends, the messages from Lueger began to sink in (Gilber 24). Hitler left Austria at the age of 24 years old, partly to leave the Austrian empire which he had started to hate, and, in part, to avoid required military service. At this time, it was 1914, and World War I had broken out.
Hitler found a sense of pride and belonging in the German army during The War. He was not a great soldier, but was stoic, and was awarded with the Iron cross at the end of the war. After the war, Hitler became increasingly anti-Semitic, which won the attention of his superiors (Gilber 37). At the end of 1919, the German army had Hitler, now age 30, look into an organization called the German Worker's Party. Soon after, Hitler joined and became head of propaganda.
The party fiercely attacked Communism, and was heavily anti-Semitic. As more and more people feared Communist revolution in Germany, the more and more people joined the party. In 1920, Hitler modified a common ancient symbol to form the swastika, or twisted cross, as a symbol for his party. He then changed the name of the party to the National Socialist German Worker's Party, or, in the shortened German form, the NAZI party (Keegan 65). By 1921, the Nazi party had over 3000 members, mostly drawing in large numbers of ultra-conservatives from Munich. In late 1921, Hitler traveled to Berlin to try and find more members for his party, but quickly returned, for the members of his party had signed a coup, which attempted to try and overthrow Hitler.
Offended, Hitler resigned his position, only to be asked to join again two weeks later. He knew the party was nothing without him (Gilber 54). Between 1921 and 1923, Germany had collapsed into financial ruin. Germany was presented with a 33 billion dollar bill, as reparations as a result of World War I. Inflation hit the roof, and the economy was finished. It took 4 billion marks to buy a loaf of bread.
Life savings were completely wiped out. As a result, riots broke out. These riots incited extremist political groups into action, quickly bringing Germany to the brink of chaos. In 1923, the Nazi's had a party population of 55, 000 members, far more than any extremist group vying for power.
Hitler, knowing this, devised a plan, in which the Nazi's would kidnap the leaders of the Bavarian government, and hold them at gunpoint until they accepted Hitler as their leader. The kidnapping was supposed to take place at a beer hall in Munich, for there was a party, and the guests of honor were the officials in the Bavarian government. On November 8 th, 1923, SA troops (Hitler's personal bodyguards), under the direction of Hermann Goering, burst into the beer hall. Hitler fired a shot to the ceiling, and demanded everyone silent. He made his way to the podium, and proclaimed, .".. the National Revolution has begun! The Bavarian and Reich governments have been removed, and a provisional government formed...
." (Gilber 76). Of course, none of this was true, but the people in the beer hall did not know the difference. Hitler ordered the 3 Bavarian officials to a back room, and proclaimed .".. I have four bullets in this gun: three for you gentlemen, and one for me." (Gilber 77). The three gentlemen finally succumbed to the Nazi government. They then went out to the podium in the beer hall, and publicly announced their loyalty to Hitler.
All four, including Hitler then sang "Deutschland uber Alles", the song of the Nazi's. Hitler couldn't have been more pleased. Hitler left the beer hall in pure happiness. This proved to be a fatal mistake for Hitler, for after he left the hall, the revolution fizzled into nothing, he was captured, tried for treason, and, on November 21 st, 1923, Hitler was put in jail for five years (Gilber 79). While in jail, Hitler funneled all of his hatred-driven energy into a book, titled Mein Kampf.
Hitler originally wanted to title his autobiography "Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice", yet Hitler's publisher knew better. In the book, Hitler rambled from one subject to the next, one minute blaming the Jews for Germany's loss in World War I, and the next, talking about his future ambitions. It clearly made no sense. In 1925, Hitler was released from prison for being good, and arranged a meeting with the Prime Minister of Bavaria. The intent of the meeting was to ask the Prime Minister to lift the recently imposed ban on the Nazi party in Germany. Yet, again, though, Hitler started to rant and rave during the meeting about Communism, and again threatened to rip apart Germany's government.
Because of this, Hitler was banned from public speaking in Germany for 2 years, and the ban was not lifted (Gilber 98). During this two year period, Hitler reorganized the Nazi party, because he needed to have a smooth transition, if, in fact, he took control of the Reich government. In 1928, Hitler met Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi member, and quickly made him chief propaganda man. With Goebbels working hard making posters, billboards, signs, Hitler gained more and more support.
In 1929, the American stock market crashed, and Hitler felt that it was time to seize the power he had wanted. The stock market crash in America affected Germany just as much, because America was still giving Germany help financially from the First World War. Because America needed money so badly, they forced Germany to pay back all of the loans at once. This drove Germany into an even greater economic despair. For some reason or another, Hitler attracted the wealthy, aristocratic families of Germany by his dynamic speeches.
Because of this, these families decided to give Hitler private financial help in order to keep the party alive. At the end of 1929, Hitler had 100, 000 total devoted members in his Nazi party, yet he would need to do much more to achieve any high-end position (Source #3) The Great Depression also split up the German Parliament, or Reichstag. No one had any idea how to fix the economic problems in Germany, so, in retaliation, President Hindenburg ordered the Reichstag dissolved at once, and a new election be held. In this new election for the Reichstag, the Nazi party gained over 6, 000, 000 votes, giving them 18 percent of the popular vote, and 107 seats in the Reichstag. This was achieved because of great parades and meetings arranged by Goebbels. Hitler told crowds what they wanted to hear, using his over-bearing speaking voice (Source #3).
In 1931, Hitler was having serious personal problems. His mistress, named Geil, was tired of someone always escorting her around. So, when Hitler told her not to leave a hotel room when he went away on a speaking tour, she shot herself through the heart. Hitler was a broken man. One man once said that at Christmas that year, he was dining at Hitler's home in the Bavarian mountains, and ham was served. Hitler was disgusted at the sight of the ham saying, ."..
eating the ham is like eating a corpse", and he never ate meat again. This depression, though, did not stop Hitler from running up against President Hindenburg for the Presidency of Germany in 1932. Hitler lost the first round of the Presidency, but since there was no majority vote, another vote was cast. Hitler lost again, and lost the majority. Even though they lost, the Nazi's had gained great popularity, and the present government of Germany was unstable, at best (Keegan 87). On July 17 th, 1932, also called Bloody Sunday, Hitler marched over 400, 000 SA and SS troops into a heavily Communistic part of Germany.
Bullets were exchanged, and 19 Communists were dead, along with 300 wounded. Later that month, another vote was taken. This time, Hitler won 37 percent of the vote, giving the party majority in the Reichstag. Hitler demanded Hindenburg give him Chancellor ship. The President refused, and only offered him vice-Chancellor ship.
Hitler was outraged. Before the new Nazi government ousted him, the Chancellor ordered that the Reichstag be dissolved, and elections held again. Rumor got out that the Chancellor that was currently in office was backstabbing the President. Not wanting this, Hindenburg immediately made Hitler Chancellor (Keegan 101). The next election was supposed to take place on March 5 th, 1933. Hitler's officials came up with a master plan, which would insure Hitler a victory.
The night before, the Nazi's helped a Communist arsonist burn down the Reichstag building, and the next day, the Nazi's blamed it on the Communists. Because of this, the voters voted in favor of Hitler, giving him 44% of the votes, and full dictatorial powers. He had finally won. The reign had begun. Hitler wasted no time, persecuting anyone political that was anti-Nazi. As early as 1934, two prisons were built strictly for political prisoners.
These prisons, or concentration camps, were set in Germany, and named Dachau (1934) and Buchenwald (1935). Laws were made which restricted the rights of non-"Aryan" people. To Hitler, an Aryan person was of German dissent, with blonde hair and blue eyes. These non-Aryans included Roma, Gypsies, and especially, Jews. Jews were not allowed to own any business or trade. Jews could not be bankers.
Other laws were put into place, which stated that Jews could not leave the country, yet this law was not fully enforced until 1939. Anyone against the Nazi's was arrested. The terror was forming. In 1935, Hitler, in violation of the Versailles treaty, marched SS troops into the Rhineland. Under the Versailles treaty, the Rhineland would not be touched or remilitarized by the German army, unless the Allies granted proper authority.
Later in the year, the army marched into the Saar, a region rich in mineral and coal deposits. This land too, was not to be touched, yet the Allies did not do anything about it. In early 1936, Hitler marched his troops south, into Czechoslovakia, and demanded that the area in northern Czechoslovakia, called the Sudetenland, be given to him. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Britain heard about Hitler's doings and demanded to see him at once. He and Hitler had a meeting in a railroad car, where they discussed the partitioning of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain used the policy of appeasement, giving Hitler the Sudetenland, in exchange for Hitler's word that he would not advance any farther into Czechoslovakia.
Hitler agreed, and the Sudetenland was his. Later on in the year, Hitler broke his promise with Chamberlain, and took over the entire country of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain was enraged, but did nothing about it (Gilber 113). In 1937, Germany met with the Austrian Prime Minister to discuss a possible alliance. A pact, or anschluss was made with Austria, saying Germany would not advance onto Austrian soil.
This, in part, made Germany and Austria one large country, with Hitler as the dictator. Hitler's first move of anti-Semitism against the Jews came in November of 1938. One night, SS troops from all over attacked Jewish communities in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. The SS destroyed shops, businesses, synagogues, and anything else they deemed to be Jewish. Large amounts of Jews were deported to different concentration camps in the Reich, where they were subjected to unusually brutal treatment. From then on, the Jews of Europe were in a constant state of panic.
In July of 1939, Hitler and his top advisors were pla.