Adolf Hitler ruled Germany as dictator from 1933 to 1945. Hitler turned Germany into a powerful war machine and started World War II in 1939. He conquered most of Europe before being defeated in 1945. Hitler spread death as no person has ever done. Close your eyes to pity! Act brutally! he told his soldiers. He ordered anyone who opposed him to be killed or put in jail.

If even one person resisted his orders, he had whole families or hundreds of people in that town put to death. Hitler especially hated Jews, and ordered them to be wiped out in places he controlled. He set up concentration camps where about six million Jews were killed. Many of Hitler s victims in these death camps were tortured before they being killed. Others starved to death or died from diseases.

As a boy, Hitler sang in a church choir and thought he would be a priest. But as an adult, he hated Christianity, which he called the religion for weaklings. Adolf Hitler began his rise to power in 1919, the year after World War I ended. The old German Empire had been defeated, and the economy of the country lay in ruins. Hitler became the leader of a small group of men who had organized the National Socialist German Work party. Its members were called Nazis.

Hitler and his followers believed he could win back Germany s past glory. He promised to rebuild Germany into a mighty empire that would last a thousand years. Hitler s square, black mustache and the lock of hair that hung down on his forehead made him look like a comic caricature to some. But his fiery words and brilliant blue eyes seemed to hypnotize those who listed to him.

Many Germans believed he was their friend and protector. His speeches, given in a high pitched voice, made crowds cheer, Heil Hitler! . After Hitler became dictator of Germany, he threatened war and lied to gain territory in Europe. The leaders of Great Britain, France and other countries tried t prevent war, and let Hitler have his way at first. But they joined to fight him when his hunger for power became to great. Hitler was mentally unstable.

But he had a clear vision of what he wanted, and he had no respect for experts any field. He repeatedly ignored the advice of his generals and followed his own judgment. Hitler continued to do so even while Germany was being smashed into defeat in World War II. Finally, as American, British, and Russian troops closed in on the heart of Germany, Hitler killed himself. Early Life Boyhood Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau, Austria, a small town just across the Inn River from Germany. He was the third child of the third marriage his father, Alois, accustoms official.

Alois was 52 years old when Adolph was born. Hitler s mother, Klara Poll, was 28 years old. She had been a farm girl. Alois and Klara were second cousins.

Alois Hitler had been born to an unmarried woman named Anna Schicklgruber. A wandering miller later married her and signed papers saying he was Alois father. The miller s name was Joann Georg He idler, but Alois spelled it Hitler. Years later, Adolph Hitler s political opponents called him Schicklgruber as an insult.

Only four of Alois Hitler s seven children lived to see adulthood. Adolph had a sister, Paula; a half sister Angela; and a half brother, Alois. Soon after Adolf s birth, his father retired and the family moved near Linz, Austria. Adolph received good grades in elementary school, but he was a poor student in high school. His low grades angered his father, who was harsh and had a bad temper.

Alois wanted his son to study and be a government worker, as he had been. But, the boy wanted to be an artiest. Alois Hitler died in 1903, and Adolph quit school two years later at the age of 16. His Mother was poor, but Adolf did not go to work. He spent his time daydreaming, drawing pictures, and reading books. Corporal Hitler in 1913, Hitler left Vienna and went to Munich, Germany.

The Austrian Army later recalled him for a physical examination, which he failed. World War I began in 1914, and Hitler eagerly volunteered for service in the German Army. He served as a messenger on the western front for most of the war. He took part in some of the bloodiest battles, and twice was decorated for bravery. But he rose only to the rank of corporal. Hitler was wounded once in the leg.

When Germany surrendered in 1918, he was in a military hospital recovering from temporary blindness caused by a poison gas attack. Hitler loved the army, and despised soldiers who hated war. Rise to Power Defeat in World War I shocked the German people. Despair increased as the army returned to a bankrupt country. Millions of Germans could find no jobs. A weak republic had replaced the defeated empire.

The German people blamed their troubles on the new government, which was attacked by many political parties. On one side, were the Communists, who wanted a government like that of Russia. On the other side were many nationalist groups that wanted a strong, united Germany. The nationalists demanded punishment for the criminals who made peace. They also kept up a constant attack on the Versailles Treaty, which had ended the war. This treaty stripped Germany of much territory and forced the nation to disarm.

It also ordered Germany to pay huge reparations. Birth and Rise of the Nazi Party After the war, Hitler returned to Munich and joined a small nationalist group called the Germans Worker party. In 1920, this group changed it s name to the National Socialist German Worker s party, which became known as the Nazi party. The Nazis called for the union into one nation of all Germans, including those in other countries. They also favored the creation of a strong central government and cancellation of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler was a very skillful schemer, politician, and organizer.

Partly by his ability to gather crowds with his speeches, he became leader of the Nazi party and built up party membership quickly. Hitler attacked the government, and declared that only the Nazi party could assure jobs for the workers and greatness for Germany. Hitler also organized a private army of hoodlums, who became known as storm troopers. They fought Communists and others who tried to break up Nazi rallies.

By October, 1923, armed with machine guns and rifles, the storm troopers numbered 15, 000 men. Hitler used brown-shirted uniforms and the swastika emblem to give his followers a sense of unity. Hitler was freed after serving only nine months of his five-year sentence, because many Germans agreed with his ideas. He left prison in December, 1924. Great changes had taken place in Germany during Hitler s imprisonment. The nation at last showed signs of recovering from World War I.

Most people had food, homes, jobs, and hope for the future. The government had outlawed the Nazi party after the Beer Hall Putsch. Party members had drifted into other political movements. After Hitler s release from prison, he convinced the government that this party would act legally.

The government lifted the ban on the Nazi party. He won friends in labor unions, business, industry, and agriculture. He also up a private army of elite guards, the Schutzstaffel, known as the SS. The SS was a battle-ready army, unlike the storm troopers, who were merely armed hoodlums. By 1929, the Nazis had become an important minority political party in Germany. By this time also, Hitler had assembled the men who would help him rise to power.

They included Herman Goering, second in command to Hitler; Paul Joseph Goebbels, the chief of the Nazi propagandist; Rudolf Hess, Hitler s secretary and deputy; Heinrich Himmler, who became the party s chief executioner; Alfred Rosenberg, the party s philosopher. In 1925, Hitler s widowed half sister, Angela, became his housekeeper. Hitler, then 36, fell in love with her 17 year-old daughter, Geli. The girl was found shot to death in Hitler s apartment in Munich in 1931. The official report said she committed suicide.

A year or two later, Eva Braun became Hitler s mistress. But for years he wept over Geli. In 1930, a worldwide depression hit Germany. Workers again faced unemployment and hunger.

That same year, Germany agreed to the Young Plan of 1929 to pay for the damage it caused during the World War I. Hitler s opposition to the plan made him known throughout the country. He organized mass meetings, made many speeches, and led protest marches. Hitler added his old arguments to the question or the war debt payment plan. He charged Jews and communists had caused Germany s defeat in World War I. Now they were plotting to cheat true Germans and to destroy the fruits of years of struggle.

Hitler promised to reunite the parts of Europe in which German was spoken, and to rid Germany of Jews and Communists. In 1939, five major elections were held in Germany as its leaders struggled to give the nation political stability. The Nazis became the strongest party in Germany, in the July election. They received about 40 percent of the vote-enough to keep any other party from forming an effective government. Hitler was offered cabinet posts in exchange for Nazi support. But he refused to accept any plan that did not give the Nazis control of the government.

Hitler promised the president, Paul von Hindenburg, that he would act lawfully if he were named to the head of the government. Then Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor on January 30, 1933. Mein Kampf Hitler began to write his book Mein Kampf, while he was in prison. In it he stated his beliefs and his ideas for Germany s future, including his plan to conquer much of Europe. He also wrote that Germans were the highest species of humanity on earth. They would stay pure, he said, by avoiding marriage to Jews and Slavs.

German children would be images of the Lord and not monstrosities halfway between man and ape. Dictator of Germany Hitler moved steadily toward dictatorship. He had no place for freedom under his government, which he called the Third Reich. New Order On February 27, 1933, the Nazis burned the Reichstag building and accused the Communists of setting the fire. Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to sign a law for the protection of the people and the state. This law wiped out individual rights in Germany and allowed the Nazis to jail anyone without a trial.

The government had outlawed freedom of the press, all labor unions, and all political parties except the Nazis, by July, 1933. The Reichstag gave Hitler full lawmaking and financial powers. Hitler s secret police, the Gestapo, ruthlessly hunted down his enemies. The Gestapo shot or jailed any person even suspected of opposing Hitler. Hitler ruled Germany completely by the time Hindenburg died in August, 1934. He gave himself the title of Fuhrer.

The Nazi-controlled press and radio flooded Germany with propaganda. Germans could read and hear only about the glories of the New Order, Hitler s term for his system of rule. The Nazis forced employers in many industries and professions to fire Jews and political suspects. Hitler established strict controls over industries, labor, and agriculture.

After 1938, the Nazis decided where a person could work and what he could earn. Hitler set up the Hitler Youth organization to win the loyalty of future generations. All German boys and girls had to join it. They marched, exercised, learned Nazi beliefs, and worked on farms. The Nazis taught children to spy on anyone who was suspected of opposing Hitler, even their own parents. Concentration camps were built to imprison Hitler s enemies and suspected enemies.

A network of special police and spies kept watch on the German people and maintained an atmosphere of terror. The Reichstag met only to listen to Hitler. Judges and courts still existed, but Hitler or his lieutenants reversed any verdict they did not like. The Road to War Conquest, Hitler told the German people, is not only a right but a duty.

Hitler prepared Germany for war from 1933 to 1939. He rearmed the nation, first secretly and then in open violation of the Versailles Treaty. Because of the fear of another world war, no nation did anything to stop Hitler. The German dictator had two main goals. First, he wanted Germany to get more territory to the east. Second, he was determined to avenge Germany s defeat in World War I.

In 1936, Hitler sent troops into Germany s Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty. His general had opposed this dangerous challenge to France. But Hitler guessed correctly that France would not stop him. The military occupation of the Rhineland was the first of the Nazi dictator s victories without war.

In March, 1938, Hitler absorbed Austria into Germany. In September, with the consent of France and Great Britain, he took over the German areas of Czechoslovakia. After each move, Hitler said he wanted no more territory. But after each success, he planned o new take over. By March, 1939, he had possession of the rest of Czechoslovakia. Poland came next on Hitler s list.

Britain and France had promised to protect Poland against Nazi attack, but Hitler did not believe they would do so. Hitler signed a treaty of friendship with Premier Joseph Stalin of Russia in August, 1939. The treaty assured him that Russia would not challenge a German attack against Poland. On September 1, 1939, a few days later, German tanks rolled into Poland. Britain and France then declared war on Germany. Hitler had guessed wrong this time.

World War II had begun. World War II Hitler s armies quickly overran Poland. In the spring of 1940, they easily conquered Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. Italy s dictator, Benito Mussolini, was impressed by Hitler s victories and declared war on Britain and France on June 10, 1940.

The German war machine rolled through France, pushing the British and French forces to the sea. On June 22, 1940, France surrendered. Now Britain stood alone. Hitler expected the British to surrender, but they fought on in spite of continual air raids by German bombers. Hitler kept on delaying an invasion of Britain. Instead, he sent his armies rolling over Yugoslavia and Greece.

In June, 1941, he sent an army of three million men to invade Russia. That winter, Russian resistance and the bitterly cold weather stopped the Germans outside Moscow. In 1942, the war turned against Hitler. The United States had entered the war in December, 1941, and was pouring huge amounts of supplies into Britain and Russia.

Soon the Allies drove the Germans from Africa. In Russia, Hitler s wild desire to capture Stalingrad cost him 300, 000 men. The Russians were pushing Hitler s armies back by 1944. A giant Allied force invaded Europe causing Hitler to become frantic in June, 1944. Hitler ordered death for any solider who retreated. Hitler directed the Nazis in a campaign of mass slaughter, while his empire lasted.

About six million Jews perished in Nazi death camps, where gas chambers, firing squads, torture, starvation, and diseases killed thousands every day. The Nazis also killed millions of other prisoners by neglect or in tortures they called medical experiments. On July 20, 1944, Hitler narrowly escaped death when a time bomb planted by a German officer exploded in the dictator s headquarters. Hitler s enemies in Germany had planned to over throw or kill him as early as 1938, but all their plots failed. In revenge for the time bomb that almost killed him, Hitler had at least 4, 980 people executed. Some of them were strangled slowly with piano wire on his orders.

Movies were taken of their suffering so Hitler could watch. Early in 1945, the Allies raced onto the heart of Germany. Hitler s armies were retreating everywhere. Death At his headquarters in Berlin, Hitler had become a broken man. His head, hands, and feet trembled, and he was tortured by stomach cramps. Eva Braun arrived in Berlin in April, 1945.

She and Hitler were married on April 29 in an under ground bomb shelter of the Chancellery. The next day, Hitler and his wife swallowed poison. Hitler s aides burned their bodies with gasoline. Seven days later Germany surrendered. 324.