Adolf Hitler summary: Born on April 20, 1889, Adolf Hitler was Austrian by birth but became the leader of the German Nazi Party. He ruled the party from August 2, 1934 to April 30, 1945. He came into German politics and eventually was named chancellor by President Paul Von Hindenburg in January of 1933. Austrian customs official, and spent most of his childhood in the Linz area. When Hitler was 18, he used some of the money from his father’s inheritance and moved to Vienna to study art. Hitler was deeply disappointed when his applications to art school in Vienna were rejected, and he drifted for several years afterward.
According to Hitler in his autobiography, it was in this listless period that he first encountered the anti-Semitic ideas which would help sculpt his fascist political views. Soon after the war, Hitler began working side-by-side with German ultra-nationalists. Over the following years he helped create the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP, or more commonly, Nazi). Hitler gained power within the party leadership and a reputation as an orator. His public speeches, often in beer halls, attracted disgruntled Germans by the hundreds and thousands. Germany was initially successful militarily because of Hitler’s blitzkrieg strategy. A German term meaning ”lightning war,” blitzkrieg utilized the relatively new technology of tanks to crash through enemy territory quickly, focusing on cities and other strategic points and avoiding entrenched battle. Miles behind this advanced vanguard of tanks the German infantry mopped up the remaining opposing forces. Until the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942, Hitler’s war machine appeared unstoppable.
A parade of stunning military victories led to one of the most successful military conquests in history. Yet, by invading the Soviet Union, combined with the entry of the US into the war, even Hitler’s Germany had overstretched itself. Slowly the tide of war turned and in 1944, the Soviets in the East, and the Allies in the West began their long liberation through occupied Europe to eventually meet in Berlin. Almost until the end, Hitler retained a fantasy of gaining a last minute victory through imaginary weapons and now imaginary armies. It was not until Soviet troops were within earshot of his Bunker, that Hitler finally admitted the inevitable and committed suicide. During the war, Hitler met with his other Nazi henchman to agree on a plan for the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem. This involved the systematic and complete elimination of the Jewish population. Over 6 million Jewish people died in various concentration and extermination camps. These camps also saw the deaths of millions of other undesirables, from Russian prisoners of war to Communists, homosexuals and Gypsies. It remains a crime of unprecedented scale and horror.
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