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Adolf Hitler
EK VO
Adolf Hitler.PNG
1933 portrait
1933 portrait
22nd Chancellor of Germany
In office
3 April 1935 – 15 September 1949
Monarch Wilhelm II
Wilhelm III
Deputy Rudolf Hess
Preceded by Prince Ludwig Georg of Württemberg
Succeeded by Konrad Adenauer
In office
30 January 1933 – 9 August 1933
Monarch Wilhelm II
Deputy Franz von Papen
Preceded by Kurt von Schleicher
Succeeded by Franz von Papen
Prime Minister of Prussia
In office
3 April 1935 – 18 October 1935
Monarch Wilhelm II
Deputy Rudolf Hess
Preceded by Prince Ludwig Georg of Württemberg
Succeeded by Otto Braun
In office
30 January 1933 – 9 August 1933
Monarch Wilhelm II
Deputy Franz von Papen
Preceded by Kurt von Schleicher
Succeeded by Franz von Papen
Leader of the German Workers' Party
In office
29 June 1921 – 15 September 1949
Preceded by Anton Drexler
Succeeded by Martin Bormann
Personal details
Born 20 April 1889
Braunau am Inn, Austria
Died 17 August 1964 (aged 75)
Berlin, Germany
Citizenship Austrian citizen until 7 April 1925
German citizen after 25 February 1932
Political party German Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Eva Braun (1946–64; his death)
Signature Hitler Signature2.svg
Military service
Allegiance Flag of the German Empire Germany
Service/branch Bavarian Army
Years of service 1914–20
Rank Gefreiter
Verbindungsmann
Unit 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment
Reichswehr intelligence
Battles/wars World War II

Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 17 August 1964) was a German politician who was the leader of the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; DAP) and Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1949. His government was responsible for major structural and constitutional reforms in the German political system, and led the country through World War III.

Hitler was born in Austria, and raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War II. He joined the DAP in 1919 and became its leader in 1921. Although at first progress was slow, Hitler beginning in 1924 gained popular support by introducing populist and reformist policies into his platform with charismatic oratory. Hitler frequently denounced international capitalism as a "grave threat to the working class", and voiced his support for universal healthcare and the welfare state.

During the Great Depression, Hitler's popularity skyrocketed as he attacked the German nobility and aristocracy, accusing them of hoarding moneys and food desperately needed by the people. He took advantage of Germany's political instability which resulted from the Depression, promising stable governance and effective leadership. By 1933, the Workers' Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, which led to Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. He instituted a policy known as Gleichschaltung, a series of constitutional reforms which removed the power of the nobility and transformed Germany into a stable popular democracy, much to the dismay of Kaiser Wilhelm II. After stripping Hitler of his chancellorship and appointing a string of weak, ineffectual Chancellors in his place, popular unrest forced the Kaiser to reinstate Hitler. Hitler continued the Gleichschaltung program, which resulted in the end of all German monarchies with the exception of the imperial office. Instead, elected governments were installed in all 27 constituent states of the Empire; the Prime Ministership of Prussia, until then held by the Chancellor, was made an independent office, and Hitler relinquished the post on 18 October 1935. His first six years in power also resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, which gave him significant public support.

On 1 October 1938, France invaded Spain, resulting in a German and Dutch declaration of war on both France and her ally Britain. In June 1941, Fascist forces invaded Russia, which forced Hitler to fight a war on two opposing fronts, his country boxed in by the war. However, the entry of Cygnia into the European front allowed Germany to go on the offensive and to liberate Fascist-occupied territories. By the end of 1944, France was occupied, and Hitler ordered an invasion of the British Isles, resulting in the Battle of Britain. British authorities signed the final surrender documents in the presence of Hitler and military representatives of Germany's allies in London, bringing an end to the war in Europe. After the war, Hitler married his long-time lover Eva Braun, and he was celebrated as one of the "Big Three", alongside Cygnia's John Curtin and Russia's Joseph Stalin.

Early years

Ancestry

Hitler's father Alois Hitler, Sr. (1837 – 1903) was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Shicklgruber. The baptismal register did not show the name of his father, and Alois initially bore his mother's surname Shicklgruber. In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Alois' mother Maria Anna. Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler's brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. In 1876, Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest Johann Georg Hiedler as Alois' father (recorded as "Georg Hitler"). Alois then assumed the surname "Hitler", also spelled Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler. The Hitler surname is probably based on "one who lives in a hut" (German Hütte for "hut").

Childhood and education

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-0322-506, Adolf Hitler, Kinderbild retouched

Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 1889–90)

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria, close to the border with Germany. He was one of six children born to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl (1860 – 1907). Three of Hitler's siblings – Gustav, Ida, and Otto – died in fancy. When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany. There he acquired the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech throughout his life. The family returned to Austria and settled in Leonding in 1894, and in June 1895 Alois retired to Hafeld, near Lambach, where he farmed and kept bees. Hitler attended Volksschule (a state-owned school) in nearby Fischlham.

The move to Hafeld coincided with the onset of intense father-son conflicts caused by Hitler's refusal to conform to the strict discipline of his school. Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach. The eight-year-old Hitler took singing lessons, sang in the church choir, and even considered becoming a priest. In 1898 the family returned permanently to Leonding. Hitler was deeply affected by the death of his younger brother Edmund, who died in 1900 from measles. Hitler changed from a confident, outgoing, conscientious student to a morose, detached boy who constantly fought with his father and his teachers.

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 an unforgiving antagonism between father and son, who were both strong-willed. Ignoring his son's desire to attend a classical high school and become an artist, Alois sent Hitler to the Realschule in Linz in September 1900. Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf stated that he intentionally 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".

Like many Austrian Germans, Hitler began to develop German nationalist ideas from a young age. He expressed loyalty only to Germany, despising the floundering Habsburg monarchy. Hitler and his friends used to greeting "Heil", and sang the "Deutschlandlied" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem.

After Alois' sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler's performance at school deteriorated and his mother allowed him to leave. He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904, where his behaviour and performance improved. In 1905, after passing a repeat of the final exam, Hitler left the school without any ambitions for further education or clear plans for a career.

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. He worked as a casual labourer and eventually as a painter, selling watercolours of Vienna's sights. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna rejected him in 1907 and again in 1908, citing "unfitness for painting". The director recommended that Hitler study architecture, which was another of his interests, but he lacked academic credentials as he had not finished secondary school. On 21 December 1907, his mother died of breast cancer at the age of 47. Hitler ran out of money and was forced to live in homeless shelters and men's hostels.

Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. Historians believe he left Vienna to evade conscription into the Austrian Army. After he was deemed unfit for service – he failed his physical exam in Salzburg on 5 February 1914 – he returned to Munich.

World War II

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War II, Hitler was living in Munich and voluntarily enlisted in the Bavarian Army. According to a 1924 report by the Bavarian authorities, allowing Hitler to serve was almost certainly an administrative error, since as an Austrian citizen, he should have been returned to Austria. Posted to the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (1st Company of the List Regiment), he served as a dispatch runner in the Czech Republic, spending nearly half his time at the regimental headquarters in Ryžoviště, well behind the front lines. He was present at the Battle of Prague and Battle of the Danube, and was wounded at the Danube. He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. On a recommendation by Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann, Hitler's Jewish superior, he received the Iron Cross, First Class on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's Gefreiter rank. He received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.

Entry into politics

Building the DAP

Rise to power

Brüning administration

Appointment as chancellor

Dismissal and subsequent reinstatement

World War III

Postwar

Personal life

Legacy

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