Adolf Hitler (German: [? ad? lf ? h? tl? ] ( listen); 20 April 1889 ??? 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state (as Fuhrer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is most commonly associated with the rise offascism in Europe, World War II, and the Holocaust.
A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party, precursor of the Nazi Party, in 1919, and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923 Hitler attempted a coup d’etat, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, at the Burgerbraukeller beer hall in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Hitler’s imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoir, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained support by promoting Pan-Germanism, antisemitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and propaganda.
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He was appointed chancellor in 1933 and transformed theWeimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism. Hitler’s avowed aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe. His foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. He oversaw the rearmament of Germany and the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht in September 1939, which led to the outbreak of World War II in Europe. 2] Under Hitler’s direction, in 1941 German forces and their European allies occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. Hitler’s racially motivated policies resulted in the deaths of as many as 17 million people, including an estimated six million Jews and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma targeted in the Holocaust.  In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress, Eva Braun.
On 30 April 1945???less than two days later???the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army, and their corpses were burned.  Ancestry Adolf’s mother, Klara Hitler’s father, Alois Hitler, was an illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. The name of Alois’ father was not listed on Alois’ birth certificate, and he bore his mother’s surname.  In 1842 Johann Georg Hiedler married Maria, and in 1876 Johann testified before a notary and three witnesses that he was the father of Alois. Despite his testimony, the question of Alois’ paternity remained unresolved.
For example, Hans Frank suggested the existence of letters claiming that Alois’ mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family’s 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois.  No Frankenberger, Jewish or otherwise, is registered in Graz for that period.  This claim remained unsupported, however, and Frank himself did not believe that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.  The suggestion that Alois’ father was Jewish was also doubted by historians in the 1990s, and Ian Kershaw dismisses the Frankenberger story as a “smear” by Hitler’s adversaries.
Kershaw noted that there was no evidence for a family named Frankenberger living in Graz at the time. All Jews had been expelled from Graz under Maximilian I in the 15th century, and were not allowed to settle in Styria until the Basic Laws were passed in 1849.  At age 39 Alois assumed the surname Hitler, also spelled as Hiedler, Huttler, or Huettler; the name was probably regularised to its final spelling by a clerk. The origin of the name is either “one who lives in a hut” (Standard German Hutte), “shepherd” (Standard German huten “to guard”, English heed), or is from the Slavic wordsHidlar and Hidlarcek. 13] Childhood Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at around 6:30 pm at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen, a village annexed in 1938 to the municipality ofBraunau am Inn, Upper Austria. He was the third of five children to Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl. Adolf’s older siblings ??? Gustav and Ida ??? died in infancy. Psychologist Erich Fromm describes the mother and father as “stable, well-intentioned” people.  Hitler was attached to his mother, who is thought to have pampered him in his early years. His father was a hard-working self-made man who secured a comfortable livelihood for the family.
Though often described as a tyrant, Alois’ character conformed to the authoritarian type of his age, milieu, and class.  Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 1889/1890) At the age of three, his family moved to Kapuzinerstrasse 5 in Passau, Germany. There, Hitler would acquire the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather thanAustrian German, which marked his speech all of his life.  In 1894, the family relocated to Leonding near Linz, and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping.
Adolf attended school in nearby Fischlham, and in his free time, he played “Cowboys and Indians”. Hitler became fixated on warfare after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian War among his father’s belongings.  The move to Hafeld appears to have coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts, because Adolf refused to conform to strict school discipline.  Alois Hitler’s farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach.
Hitler attended a Catholic school in an 11th-century Benedictine cloister, the walls of which bore engravings and crests that contained the symbol of the swastika.  In Lambach the eight-year-old Hitler sang in the church choir, took singing lessons, and even entertained thoughts of one day becoming a priest.  In 1898, the family returned permanently to Leonding. The death of his younger brother,Edmund from measles on 2 February 1900 deeply affected Hitler. He changed from being confident and outgoing and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers. 26] Alois had made a successful career in the customs bureau and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Hitler later dramatised an episode from this period when his father took him to visit a customs office, depicting it as an event that gave rise to a unforgiving antagonism between father and son who were both equally strong-willed.  Ignoring his son’s desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 his father sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students. This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later. ) Hitler rebelled against this decision, and inMein Kampf revealed that he did poorly in school, hoping that once his father saw “what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me devote myself to my dream. “ Hitler became obsessed with German nationalism from a young age as a way to rebel against his father, who proudly served the Austrian government. Although many Austrians considered themselvesGermans, they were loyal to Austria.
Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany, despising the declining Habsburg Monarchy and its rule over an ethnically-variegated empire.  Hitler and his friends used the German greeting “Heil”, and sang the German anthem “Deutschland Uber Alles” instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem.  After Alois’ sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler’s behaviour at the technical school became even more disruptive, and he was asked to leave in 1904. He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904, but upon completing his second year, he and his friends went out for a night of celebration and drinking.
While drunk, Hitler tore up his school certificate and used the pieces as toilet paper. The stained certificate was brought to the attention of the school’s principal, who “… gave him such a dressing-down that the boy was reduced to shivering jelly. It was probably the most painful and humiliating experience of his life. “ Hitler was expelled, never to return to school again. At age 15, Hitler took part in his First Communion on Whitsunday, 22 May 1904, at the Linz Cathedral.  His sponsor was Emanuel Lugert, a friend of his late father. 37] Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna with financial support from orphan’s benefits and his mother. He was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1907???1908), because of his “unfitness for painting”, and was recommended to study architecture.  However, he lacked the academic credentials required for architecture school: In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely needed.
One could not attend the Academy’s architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technik, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfilment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.  The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich. Adolf Hitler, 1914 On 21 December 1907, Hitler’s mother died of breast cancer at age 47; Hitler was devastated, and carried the grief from her death with him for the rest of his life. Ordered by a court in Linz, Hitler gave his share of the orphan’s benefits to his sister Paula, and at the age of 21, he inherited money from an aunt.
He struggled as a painter in Vienna, copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants and tourists. After being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless, and by 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstra? e. Another resident of the shelter, Reinhold Hanisch, sold Hitler’s paintings, until the two men had a bitter falling-out.  Hitler stated that he first became an antisemite in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms inRussia.
There were few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries their outward appearance had become Europeanised and had taken on a human look; in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavorable remarks about them into horror. Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized opposition to the Jews. Then I came to Vienna. 41] Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought. For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German?  Hitler’s account has been questioned by his childhood friend, August Kubizek, who suggested that Hitler was already a “confirmed antisemite” before he left Linz for Vienna.
Brigitte Hamann has challenged his account, writing that “of all those early witnesses who can be taken seriously Kubizek is the only one to portray young Hitler as an anti-Semite and precisely in this respect he is not trustworthy. “ If Hitler was an antisemite even before settling in Vienna, apparently he did not act on his views. He was a frequent dinner guest in a wealthy Jewish home: he interacted well with Jewish merchants, and sold his paintings almost exclusively to Jewish dealers.  At the time Hitler lived there, Vienna was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th-century racism.
Fears of been overrun by immigrants from the East were widespread and the populist mayor,Karl Lueger, was adept at exploiting the rhetoric of virulent antisemitism for political effect. Georg Schonerer’s pangermanic ethnic antisemitism had a strong following and base in the Mariahilf district, where Hitler lived.  Local newspapers like the Deutsches Volksblatt, which Hitler read, fanned prejudices, as did Rudolf Vrba’s writings, which played on Christian fears of being swamped by an influx of eastern Jews.  He probably read occult writings, like the antisemitic magazine Ostara, published by Lanz von Liebenfels. 48] Hostile to what he saw as Catholic “Germanophobia”, he developed a strong admiration for Luther.  Luther’s foundational antisemitic writings were to play an important role in later Nazi propaganda.  Hitler received the final part of his father’s estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always longed to live in a “real” German city. In Munich he further pursued his interest in architecture and studied the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who, a decade later, was to become the first person of national???and even international???repute to align himself with Hitler and the Nazi movement. 51] Hitler also may have left Vienna to avoid conscription into the Austrian army; he was disinclined to serve the Habsburg state and was repulsed by what he perceived as a mixture of “races” in the Austrian army.  After a physical exam on 5 February 1914, he was deemed unfit for service and returned to Munich.  When Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he successfully petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment.  World War I Main article: Military career of Adolf Hitler
Hitler served as a runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. He experienced major combat, including the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele.  Hitler with his army comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 1914???1918) Hitler was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. Recommended by Hugo Gutmann, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler’s rank (Gefreiter).
Hitler’s post at regimental headquarters, where he had frequent interactions with senior officers, may have helped him receive this decoration.  The regimental staff, however, thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, and he was never promoted. He also received the Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.  While serving at regimental headquarters Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. In October 1916 he was wounded either in the groin area or the left thigh when a shell exploded in the dispatch runners’ dugout during the Battle of the Somme. 60] Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz. He returned to his regiment on 5 March 1917.  Adolf Hitler as a soldier during the First World War (1914???1918) On 15 October 1918, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack.  It has been suggested that his blindness may have been an hysterical symptom brought on by the shock at the rapid reversal of Germany’s war fortunes.  He was hospitalised in Pasewalk. Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort.
It was during this time that Hitler’s ideological development began to firmly take shape.  According to Lucy Dawidowicz, Hitler’s intention to exterminate Europe’s Jews took definitive shape by the end of World War I.  Hitler described the war as “the greatest of all experiences”, and he was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery.  The experience made Hitler a passionate German patriot, and he was shocked by Germany’s capitulation in November 1918.  Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the Dolchsto? egende (Stab-in-the-back legend), which claimed that the German army, “undefeated in the field,” had been “stabbed in the back” on the home front by civilian leaders and Marxists, later dubbed the November Criminals.  The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany must relinquish several of its territories and demilitarise the Rhineland. The treaty imposed economic sanctions and levied reparations on the country. Many Germans perceived the treaty???especially Article 231, which declared Germany responsible for the war???as a humiliation. 69]The economic, social, and political conditions in Germany effected by the war and the Versailles treaty were later exploited by Hitler for political gains.  Entry into politics Main article: Adolf Hitler’s political views After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich, where he attended the funeral march for the murdered Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner.  After the suppression of theBavarian Soviet Republic, he took part in “national thinking” courses organised by the Education and Propaganda Department of the Bavarian Reichswehr under Captain Karl Mayr. 72] In July 1919 Hitler was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklarungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate theGerman Workers’ Party (DAP). While he studied the activities of the DAP, Hitler became impressed with founder Anton Drexler’s antisemitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ideas. Drexler favoured a strong active government, a “non-Jewish” version of socialism, and solidarity among all members of society. Drexler was impressed with Hitler’s oratory skills and invited him to join the DAP.
Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, becoming the party’s 55th member.  A copy of Adolf Hitler’s German Workers’ Party (DAP) membership card At the DAP, Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of its early founders and a member of the occult Thule Society.  Eckart became Hitler’s mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing Hitler to a wide range of people in Munich society.  Hitler thanked Eckart and paid tribute to him in the second volume ofMein Kampf. To increase the party’s appeal, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party ??? NSDAP). 78] Hitler designed the party’s banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background.  Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920, and he began working full time for the party. By early 1921 Hitler had become highly effective at speaking to large audiences. In February 1921 Hitler spoke to a crowd of over six thousand in Munich.  To publicise the meeting, two truckloads of party supporters drove around town waving swastika flags and throwing leaflets. Hitler soon gained notoriety for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the
Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and especially against Marxists and Jews.  At the time, the NSDAP was centred in Munich, a major hotbed of anti-government German nationalists determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar Republic.  In June 1921, while Hitler and Eckart were on a fundraising trip to Berlin, a mutiny broke out within the DAP in Munich. Members of the DAP’s executive committee, some of whom considered Hitler to be too overbearing, wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP). 83] Hitler returned to Munich on 11 July 1921 and angrily tendered his resignation from the DAP. The committee members then realised that Hitler’s resignation would mean the end of the party.  Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich.  The committee agreed to his demands; Hitler rejoined the party as member 3,680. Hitler still faced some opposition within the DAP: Hermann Esser and his allies printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party. 85][a] In the following days, Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself to thunderous applause. Hitler’s strategy proved successful: at a general DAP membership meeting, he was granted absolute powers as party chairman, with only one nay vote cast.  Hitler’s vitriolic beer hall speeches began attracting regular audiences. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, the former air force pilot Hermann Goring, and the army captain Ernst Rohm. The latter became head of the Nazis’ paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung (SA, “Storm Division”), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political opponents.
A critical influence on his thinking during this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung,[page needed] a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian exiles and early National Socialists. The group, financed with funds channelled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism.  Hitler attracted the attention of local business interests. He was accepted into influential circles of Munich society and became associated with wartime General Erich Ludendorff.
Drawing of Hitler (30 October 1923) Beer Hall Putsch Main article: Beer Hall Putsch Encouraged by his new support, Hitler recruited Ludendorff for an attempted coup known as the “Beer Hall Putsch” (also known as the “Hitler Putsch” or “MunichPutsch”). The Nazi Party had used Italian Fascism as a model for their appearance and policies, and in 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini’s “March on Rome” by staging his own “Campaign in Berlin”. Hitler and Ludendorff sought support of Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria’s de factoruler.
However, Kahr, along with Police Chief Hans Ritter von Seisser (Sei? er) and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow, wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.  Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular agitation and support.  On 8 November 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people that had been organised by Kahr in the Burgerbraukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Hitler interrupted Kahr’s speech and announced that the national revolution had begun, declaring the formation of a new government with Ludendorff. 92] With his handgun drawn, Hitler demanded the support of Kahr, Seisser, and Lossow. Hitler’s forces initially succeeded in occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters; however, neither the army nor the state police joined forces with Hitler.  Kahr and his consorts quickly withdrew their support and fled to join the opposition to Hitler.  The next day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government on their “March on Berlin”, but the police dispersed them. 95] Sixteen NSDAP members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup.  Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, and by some accounts he contemplated suicide; this state of mind has been disputed by others.  Hitler was depressed but calm when he was arrested on 11 November 1923.  He was tried for high treason before the special People’s Court in Munich, and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP. Hitler’s trial began on 26 February 1924; on 1 April 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. 100]Hitler received friendly treatment from the guards and received a lot of mail from supporters. The Bavarian Supreme Court issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor’s objections.  Including time on remand, Hitler had served just over one year in prison.  Mein Kampf Dust jacket of Mein Kampf (1926???1927) Main article: Mein Kampf While at Landsberg, Hitler dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle, originally entitled Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice) to his deputy, Rudolf Hess. 102] The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. Mein Kampf was influenced by The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, which Hitler called “my Bible”.  Mein Kampfwas published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, selling about 240,000 copies between 1925 and 1934. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies had been sold or distributed. The copyright of Mein Kampf in Europe is claimed by the Free State of Bavaria and will end on 31 December 2015. In Germany, only heavily commented editions of Mein Kampf are available???solely for academic studies.
Rebuilding the NSDAP Hitler (left), standing behindHermann Goring at a Nazi rally inNuremberg (c. 1928) At the time of Hitler’s release from prison, politics in Germany had become less combative, and the economy had improved. This limited Hitler’s opportunities for political agitation. As a result of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, the NSDAP and its affiliated organisations were banned in Bavaria. In a meeting with Prime Minister of Bavaria Heinrich Held on 4 January 1925, Hitler agreed to respect the authority of the state: he would only seek political power through the democratic process.
The meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP to be lifted on 16 February 1925, but Hitler was barred from public speaking as of 9 March.  To advance his political ambitions in spite of the ban, Hitler appointed Gregor Strasser along with his brother Otto and Joseph Goebbels to organise and grow the NSDAP in northern Germany. A superb organiser, Gregor Strasser steered a more independent political course, emphasising the socialist element in the party’s programme.  Hitler established an autocratic rule of the NSDAP by asserting the Fuhrerprinzip (“Leader principle”).
What emerged was a political organisation where rank in the party was determined not by elections, but rather positions were filled through appointment by those of higher rank, who demanded unquestioning obedience to the will of the leader.  A key element of Hitler’s appeal was his ability to evoke a sense of violated national pride as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. Many Germans strongly resented the terms of the treaty, especially the economic burden of having to pay large reparations to other countries affected by World War I.
Nonetheless, attempts by Hitler to win popular support by blaming the demands and assertions in the treaty on “international Jewry” were largely unsuccessful with the electorate. Therefore, Hitler and his party began employing more subtle propaganda methods, combining antisemitism with an attack on the failures of the “Weimar system” and the parties supporting it.  Having failed in overthrowing the republic and gaining power by a coup, Hitler changed tactics and pursued a strategy of formally adhering to the rules of the Weimar Republic until he had gained political power through regular elections.
His vision was to then use the institutions of the Weimar Republic to destroy it and establish himself as autocratic leader. Rise to power Main article: Adolf Hitler’s rise to power Nazi Party election results DateTotal votesVotes, percentageReichstag seatsNotes May 1924 1,918,300 6. 532 Hitler in prison December 1924 907,300 3. 014 Hitler released from prison May 1928 810,100 2. 612 September 1930 6,409,600 18. 3 107 After the financial crisis July 1932 13,745,000 37. 3 230 After Hitler was candidate for presidency November 1932 1,737,00033. 1 196 March 1933 17,277,180 43. 9 288 During Hitler’s term as Chancellor of Germany Bruning administration Hitler and NSDAP treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz at the dedication of the renovation of the Palais Barlow on Brienner Stra? e in Munich into the “Brown House”headquarters, December 1930 Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s political turning point came with the Great Depression in Germany in 1930. The Weimar Republic had difficulty taking root in German society and faced strong challenges from right- and left-wing extremists.
The moderate political parties committed to the democratic parliamentary republic were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to elevate the profile and prominence of Nazi ideology. In elections in September 1930, the moderates lost their majority, leading to the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement by a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Bruning of the Centre Party, governed through emergency decrees from the president of state, Paul von Hindenburg.
Tolerated by most parties, governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government.  The NSDAP rose from relative obscurity to win 18. 3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second-largest party in the German parliament.  The increasing political clout of Hitler was felt at the trial of two Reichswehr officers, Leutnants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, in the autumn of 1930. Both were charged with membership of the NSDAP, which at that time was illegal for Reichswehr personnel. 119] The prosecution argued that the NSDAP was a dangerous extremist party, prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank to call on Hitler to testify in court.  During his testimony on 25 September 1930, Hitler stated that his party was planning to come to power solely through democratic elections and that the NSDAP was a friend of the Reichswehr.  Hitler’s testimony won him many supporters in the officer corps.  Bruning’s budgetary and financial austerity measures brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular. 123] Hitler exploited this weakness by targeting his political messages specifically to the segments of the population that had been hard hit by the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression, such as farmers, war veterans, and the middle class.  Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless, so he was unable to run for public office and even faced the risk of deportation. 125] On 25 February 1932 the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the NSDAP, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state’s delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick,and thus of Germany as well.  In 1932 Hitler ran against the ageing President Paul von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. The viability of his candidacy was underscored by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club in Dusseldorf, which won him support from a broad swath of Germany’s most powerful industrialists. 128] However, Hindenburg had broad support from various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican parties and even some social democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan “Hitler uber Deutschland” (“Hitler over Germany”), a reference to both his political ambitions and to his campaigning by aircraft.  Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35% of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a credible force in German politics.  In September 1931 Hitler’s niece, Geli Raubal, committed suicide with Hitler’s gun in his Munich apartment.
Geli was believed to be in a romantic relationship with Hitler, and it is believed that her death was a source of deep, lasting pain for him.  Appointment as Chancellor Because of the difficulties of forming a stable and effective government, two influential politicians, Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, as well as a number of industrialists and businessmen, including Hjalmar Schacht and Fritz Thyssen, wrote to Hindenburg, urging him to appoint Hitler as leader of a government “independent from parliamentary parties” which could turn into a movement that would “enrapture millions of people.  Hitler, at the window of the Reich Chancellery, receives an ovation on the evening of his inauguration as Chancellor, 30 January 1933 After two parliament elections???in July and November 1932???had failed to result in a majority government, President Hindenburg reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler chancellor of a coalition government formed by the NSDAP and Hugenberg’s party, the German National People’s Party (DNVP). As a concession to the NSDAP, Hermann Goring, who was head of the Prussian police at the time, was named minister without portfolio.
So although von Papen intended to install Hitler merely as a figurehead, the NSDAP gained key political positions. On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during a brief and simple ceremony in Hindenburg’s office. Hitler’s first speech as Chancellortook place on 10 February. The Nazis’ seizure of power subsequently became known as the Machtergreifung or Machtubernahme. Reichstag fire and March elections As chancellor, Hitler worked against attempts by his political opponents to uild a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, Hitler asked President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag again, and elections were scheduled for early March. On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire, and since Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch independent communist, was found in the burning building, a communist plot was blamed for the fire. The central government responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February, which suspended basic rights, including habeas corpus.
Activities of theGerman Communist Party were suppressed, and communist party members were arrested, forced to flee, or murdered.  Besides political campaigning, the NSDAP used paramilitary violence and spread of anti-communist propaganda on the days preceding the election. On election day, 6 March 1933, the NSDAP increased its result to 43. 9% of the vote, gaining the largest number of seats in parliament. However, Hitler’s party failed to secure an absolute majority, thus again necessitating a coalition with the DNVP.  Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act
On 21 March 1933, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony held at Potsdam’s garrison church. This Day of Potsdam was staged to demonstrate reconciliation and unity between the revolutionary Nazi movement and Old Prussia with its elites and perceived virtues. Hitler appeared in a tail coat and humbly greeted the aged President Hindenburg.  In the Nazis’ quest for full political control???they had failed to gain an absolute majority in the prior parliamentary election???Hitler’s government brought the Ermachtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag.
The legislation gave Hitler’s cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years. Although such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed for deviations from the constitution.  Since the bill required a ? majority to pass, the government needed the support of other parties. The position of the Centre Party, the third largest party in theReichstag, turned out to be decisive: under the leadership of Ludwig Kaas, the party decided to vote for the Enabling Act.
It did so in return for the government’s oral guarantees of the Catholic Church’s liberty, the concordats signed by German states, and the continued existence of the Centre Party.  On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled in a replacement building under turbulent circumstances. Several SA men served as guards inside, while large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving members of parliament. Kaas announced that the Centre Party would support the bill with “concerns put aside”, while Social Democrat Otto Wels denounced the act in his speech. 138] At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in favour of the bill???the Communists, as well as several Social Democrats, were barred from attending the vote. The Enabling Act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree, transformed Hitler’s government into a de facto dictatorship. Removal of remaining limits At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the National Socialist movement will go on for 1,000 years! … Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power! Adolf Hitler to a British correspondent in Berlin, June 1934 Having achieved full control over the legislative and executive branches of government, Hitler and his political allies embarked on systematic suppression of the remaining political opposition. After the dissolution of the Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party was also banned and all its assets seized. The Steel Helmets were placed under Hitler’s leadership with some autonomy as an auxiliary police force.  On 1 May, demonstrations were held, and Sturmabteilung (SA) stormtroopers demolished trade union offices.
On 2 May 1933 all trade unions in the country were forced to dissolve. A new union organisation was formed, representing all workers, administrators, and company owners together as one group. This new trade union reflected the concept of national socialism in the spirit of Hitler’s “Volksgemeinschaft” (community of all German people).  In 1934, Hitler became Germany’s president under the title of Fuhrer und Reichskanzler(Leader and Chancellor of the Reich) On 14 July 1933, Hitler’s Nazi Party was declared the only legal party in Germany. 140] Hitler used the SA to pressure Hugenberg into resigning, and proceeded to politically isolate Vice-Chancellor von Papen.  The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused much anxiety among military, industrial, and political leaders. Hitler was prompted to purge the entire SA leadership, including Ernst Rohm, and other political adversaries (such as Gregor Strasserand former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher). These actions took place from 30 June to 2 July 1934, in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives. 141] While some Germans were shocked by the killing, many others saw Hitler as the one who restored order to the country.  On 2 August 1934, President von Hindenburg died. In contravention to the Weimar Constitution, which called for presidential elections, and in spite of a law passed the previous day in anticipation of Hindenburg’s imminent death, Hitler’s cabinet declared the presidency vacant and transferred the powers of the head of state to Hitler asFuhrer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor).
This removed the last legal remedy by which Hitler could be dismissed, and nearly all institutional checks and balances on his power. Hitler’s move also violated the Enabling Act, which had barred tampering with the office of the presidency. On 19 August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by a plebiscite with support of 84. 6% of the electorate.  As head of state, Hitler now became Supreme Commander of the armed forces. The traditional loyalty oath of soldiers and sailors was altered to affirm loyalty directly to Hitler rather than to the office of commander-in-chief. 145] In early 1938, Hitler brought the armed forces under his direct control by forcing the resignation of his War Minister (formerly Defence Minister), Werner von Blombergon evidence that Blomberg’s new wife had a police record for prostitution.  Hitler also removed army commander Colonel-General Werner von Fritsch after the SSprovided false allegations he had taken part in a homosexual relationship, which had led to blackmail.  The episode became known as the Blomberg???Fritsch Affair.
Hitler replaced the Ministry of War with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Armed Forces, or OKW), headed by General Wilhelm Keitel. By early February 1938, twelve generals (apart from Blomberg and Fritsch) were also removed.  Third Reich Main article: Nazi Germany Having consolidated his political powers, Hitler suppressed or eliminated his opposition by a process termed Gleichschaltung (“bringing into line”). He attempted to gain additional public support by vowing to reverse the effects of the Depression and the Versailles treaty. Economy and culture
Increased economic activities were enabled largely by refinancing long-term debts into cheaper short-term debts and expansion of the military.  For example, Hitler’s reconstruction and rearmament were financed with currency manipulations by Hjalmar Schacht, including credits through the Mefo bills. “Totenehrung” (honouring of dead): Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler, and SA leader Viktor Lutze on the terrace in front of the “Ehrenhalle” (Hall of Honour); in the background: the crescent-shaped “Ehrentribune” (“tribune of honour”).
September 1934, Nazi party rally grounds,Nuremberg Nazi policies strongly encouraged women to bear children and stay at home. In a September 1934 speech to the NS-Frauenschaft (National Socialist Women’s League), Hitler argued that for the German woman, her “world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home. “ The Cross of Honor of the German Mother was bestowed on women bearing four or more children. The unemployment rate fell substantially, mostly through arms production, restrictions of labour unions, and women leaving the workforce. citation needed] Hitler oversaw one of the largest infrastructure improvement campaigns in German history, leading to the construction of dams, autobahns, railroads, and other civil works. However, these programmes lowered the overall standard of living of workers who earlier had been unaffected by the chronic unemployment of the later Weimar Republic; wages were slightly reduced in pre???World War II years, while the cost of living was increased by 25%. . From 1933 to 1934 wages suffered a 5% cut.  Hitler’s government sponsored architecture on an immense scale.
Albert Speer, instrumental in implementing Hitler’s classicist reinterpretation of German culture, became the first architect of the Reich. In 1936 Hitler opened the summer Olympic games in Berlin. Hitler made some contributions to the design of the Volkswagen Beetle and charged Ferdinand Porsche with its design and construction.  On 20 April 1939 a lavish celebration was held for Hitler’s 50th birthday, featuring military parades, visits from foreign dignitaries, Nazi banners, and thousands of flaming torches. 154] Historians such as David Schoenbaum and Henry Ashby Turner argue that Hitler’s social and economic policies were modernisation that had anti-modern goals. Others, including Rainer Zitelmann, have contended that Hitler had the deliberate strategy of pursuing a revolutionary modernisation of German society.  Rearmament and new alliances Main articles: Axis powers, Tripartite Pact, and German re-armament In a meeting with German military leaders on 3 February 1933, Hitler spoke of “conquest for Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanisation” as his ultimate foreign policy objectives. 157] In March 1933 State Secretary at the Auswartiges Amt (Foreign Office) Prince Bernhard Wilhelm von Bulow issued a major statement of German foreign policy aims. The statement advocated Anschluss with Austria, the restoration of Germany’s national borders of 1914, rejection of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, the return of the former German colonies in Africa, and a German zone of influence in Eastern Europe. Hitler found Bulow’s goals to be too modest. 158] In his “peace speeches” of the mid-1930s, Hitler stressed the peaceful goals of his policies and willingness to work within international agreements.  At the first meeting of his Cabinet in 1933, Hitler prioritised military spending over unemployment relief.  In October 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference, and his Foreign Minister BaronKonstantin von Neurath stated that the French demand for securite was a principal stumbling block. 
On 25 October 1936 an Axis was declared between Italy and Germany In March 1935 Hitler rejected Part V of the Versailles treaty by announcing an expansion of the German army to 600,000 members (six times the number stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles), including development of an Air Force (Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations condemned these plans.  On 18 June 1935 the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) was signed, allowing German tonnage to increase to 35% of that of the British avy. Hitler called the signing of the AGNA “the happiest day of his life” as he believed the agreement marked the beginning of the Anglo-German alliance he had predicted in Mein Kampf.  France and Italy were not consulted before the signing, directly undermining the League of Nations and putting the Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevance.  On 13 September 1935 Hitler ordered Dr. Bernhard Losener and Franz Albrecht Medicus of the Interior Ministry to start drafting antisemitic laws for Hitler to bring to the floor of the Reichstag. 165] On 15 September, Hitler presented two laws???known as the Nuremberg Laws???before the Reichstag. The laws banned marriage between non-Jewish and Jewish Germans, and forbade the employment of non-Jewish women under the age of 45 in Jewish households. The laws deprived so-called “non-Aryans” of the benefits of German citizenship.  Hitler with Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Heinrich Himmler, andReinhard Heydrich in Vienna, 1938 In March 1936 Hitler reoccupied the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland, in violation the Versailles treaty.
Hitler sent troops to Spain to support General Franco after receiving an appeal for help in July 1936. At the same time, Hitler continued his efforts to create an Anglo-German alliance.  In August 1936, in response to a growing economic crisis caused by his rearmament efforts, Hitler issued a memorandum orderingHermann Goring to carry out a Four Year Plan to have Germany ready for war within the next four years. 167] The “Four-Year Plan Memorandum” laid out an imminent all-out struggle between “Judeo-Bolshevism” and German National Socialism, which in Hitler’s view required a committed effort of rearmament regardless of the economic costs.  On 25 October 1936 Count Galeazzo Ciano, foreign minister of Benito Mussolini’s government, declared an axis between Germany and Italy, and on 25 November, Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. Britain, China, Italy, and Poland were also invited to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, but only Italy signed in 1937.
By late 1937 Hitler had abandoned his dream of an Anglo-German alliance, blaming “inadequate” British leadership.  On 5 November 1937 Hitler held a secret meeting at the Reich Chancellery with his war and foreign ministers and military chiefs. As recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum, Hitler stated his intention of acquiring Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German people, and ordered preparations for war in the east, which would commence no later than 1943. Hitler stated that the conference minutes were to be regarded as his “political testament” in the event of his death. 170] Hitler said that the crisis of the German economy had reached a point that a severe decline in living standards in Germany could only be stopped by a policy of military aggression???seizing Austria and Czechoslovakia.  Hitler urged quick action, before Britain and France obtained a permanent lead in the arms race.  In early 1938, in the wake of the Blomberg???Fritsch Affair, Hitler asserted control of the military-foreign policy apparatus and the abolition of the War Ministry and its replacement by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW).
He dismissed Neurath as Foreign Minister on 4 February 1938, and assumed the role and title of theOberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht (supreme commander of the armed forces).  From early 1938 onwards, Hitler was carrying out a foreign policy that had war as its ultimate aim.  The Holocaust The Holocaust Part of: Jewish history Responsibility[show] Early policies[show] Victims[show] Ghettos[show] Atrocities[show] Camps[show] Resistance[show]