Hitler olf Hitler? (German pronunciation:? [?ad?lf ?h?tl?]; 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, abbreviated NSDAP), commonly known as the Nazi Party. He was? Chancellor of Germany? from 1933 to 1945, and served as? head of stateas? Fuhrer und Reichskanzler? from 1934 to 1945.
A decorated veteran of? World War I, Hitler joined the precursor of the Nazi Party (DAP) in 1919, and became leader of NSDAP in 1921. He attempted a failed? coup detat? known as the? Beer Hall Putsch, which occurred at the? Burgerbraukeller? beer hall? inMunich? on November 8??“9, 1923. Hitler was imprisoned for one year due to the failed coup, and wrote his memoir, “My Struggle” (in German? Mein Kampf), while imprisoned. After his release on December 20, 1924, he gained support by promotingPan-Germanism,? anti-semitism,? anti-capitalism, and? anti-communism? with? charismatic? oratory? and? propaganda. He was appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933, and transformed the? Weimar Republic? into the? Third Reich, a? single-partydictatorship? based on the? totalitarian? and? autocratic? ideology of? Nazism.
Hitler ultimately wanted to establish a? New Order? of absolute Nazi German? hegemony? in continental Europe. To achieve this, he pursued a? foreign policy? with the declared goal of seizing? Lebensraum? (“living space”) for the? Aryan people; directing the resources of the state towards this goal. This included the rearmament of Germany, which culminated in 1939 when theWehrmacht? invaded Poland. In response, the? United Kingdom? and? France? declared war against Germany, leading to the outbreak of? World War II? in Europe.
Within three years, German forces and their? European allies? had occupied most of Europe, and most of? Northern Africa, and the? Japanese forces? had occupied parts of? East? and? Southeast Asia? and the Pacific Ocean. However, with the reversal of the Nazi invasion of the? Soviet Union, the? Allies? gained the upper hand from 1942 onwards. By 1944, Allied armies had invaded German-held Europe from all sides. Nazi forces engaged in numerous violent acts during the war, including the systematic murder of as many as 17? million civilians,? including an estimated six million Jews targeted in? the Holocaust? and between 500,000 and 1,500,000? Roma,? added to the? Poles, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals,? Jehovahs Witnesses, and other political and religious opponents.
In the final days of the war, during the? Battle of Berlin? in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress? Eva Braun? and, to avoid capture by Soviet forces, the two? committed suicide? less than two days later on 30 April 1945.
While Hitler is most remembered for his central role in World War II and the Holocaust, his government left behind other legacies as well, including the? Volkswagen,? the? Autobahn,? jet aircraft? and? rocket technology.
Contents? [hide] * 1? Early years * 1.1? Ancestry * 1.2? Childhood * 1.3? Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich * 1.4? World War I * 2? Entry into politics * 2.1? Beer Hall Putsch * 2.2? Mein Kampf * 2.3? Rebuilding of the party * 3? Rise to power * 3.1? Bruning Administration * 3.2? Appointment as Chancellor * 3.3? Reichstag fire and the March elections * 3.4? “Day of Potsdam” and the Enabling Act * 3.5? Removal of remaining limits * 4? Third Reich * 4.1? Economy and culture * 4.2? Rearmament and new alliances * 4.3? The Holocaust * 5? World War II * 5.1? Early diplomatic triumphs * 5.1.1? Alliance with Japan * 5.1.2? Austria and Czechoslovakia * 5.2? Start of World War II * 5.3? Path to defeat * 5.4? Attempted assassination * 5.5? Defeat and death * 6? Legacy * 7? Religious views * 8? Attitude to occultism * 9? Health * 9.1? Syphilis * 9.2? Monorchism * 9.3? Parkinsons disease * 9.4? Other complaints * 9.5? Addiction to amphetamine * 9.6? Historians views * 10? Sexuality * 11? Family * 12? Hitler in media * 12.1? Oratory and rallies * 12.2? Recorded in private conversation * 12.3? Patria picture disc * 12.4? Documentaries during the Third Reich * 12.5? Television * 12.6? Documentaries post Third Reich * 12.7? Films and series * 12.8? Plays * 13? See also * 14? Footnotes * 15? References * 16? Further reading * 16.1? Medical books * 17? External links |
Hitlers father,? Alois Hitler, was an? illegitimate? child of? Maria Anna Schicklgruber, so his paternity was not listed on his birth certificate; he bore his mothers surname.? In 1842,? Johann Georg Hiedler? married Maria and in 1876 Alois testified before a notary and three witnesses that Johann was his father.? Despite this testimony, Alois paternity has been the subject of controversy. After receiving a “blackmail? letter” from Hitlers nephew? William Patrick Hitler? threatening to reveal embarrassing information about Hitlers family tree, Nazi Party lawyer? Hans Frank? investigated, and, in his memoirs, claimed to have uncovered letters revealing that Alois mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in? Graz? and that the familys 19-year-old son,? Leopold Frankenberger, fathered Alois.? No evidence had, at that time, ever been produced to support Franks claim, and Frank himself said Hitlers full Aryan blood was obvious.? Franks claims were widely believed in the 1950s, but by the 1990s, were generally doubted by historians.? Ian Kershaw? dismissed the Frankenberger story as a “smear” by Hitlers enemies, noting that all Jews had been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until well after Alois was born.
At age 39, Alois took the surname Hitler. This surname was variously spelled? Hiedler,? Huttler,? Huettler? and? Hitler, and was probably regularized to? Hitler? 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? word? Hidlar? andHidlarcek.
Adolf Hitler was born at around 6:30 p.m. on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in? Braunau am Inn,? Austria??“Hungary, the fourth of six children to? Alois Hitler? andKlara Polzl.Adolf Hitler as an? infant
When he was three years old, his family relocated to Kapuzinerstrasse 5? in? Passau,? Germany, where Hitler would acquire? Lower Bavarian? rather than Austrian as his lifelong native dialect.? In 1894, the family relocated to? Leonding? near? Linz, then in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld near? Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping. During this time, the young Hitler attended school in nearby Fischlham. As a child, he played “Cowboys and Indians” and, by his own account, became fixated on war after finding a picture book about the? Franco-Prussian War? among his fathers belongings.
His fathers efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and the family relocated to Lambach in 1897. Hitler attended a Catholic school located in an 11th-century? Benedictine? cloister, where the walls were engraved in a number of places with crests containing the symbol of theswastika.? It was in Lambach that the eight-year-old Hitler sang in the church choir, took singing lessons, and even entertained the fantasy of one day becoming a priest.? In 1898, the family returned permanently to Leonding.
His younger brother? Edmund? died of? measles? on 2 February 1900, causing permanent changes in Hitler. He went from a confident, outgoing boy who excelled in school, to a morose, detached, sullen boy who constantly battled his father and his teachers.
Hitler was attached to his mother, though he had a troubled relationship with his father, who frequently beat him, especially in the years after Alois retirement and disappointing farming efforts.? Alois wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as an Austrian customs official, and this became a huge source of conflict between them.? Despite his sons pleas to go to classical high school and become an artist, his father sent him to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students, in September 1900. Hitler rebelled, and in? Mein Kampf? confessed to failing his first year in hopes that once his father saw “what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me devote myself to the happiness I dreamed of.” Alois never relented, however, and Hitler became even more bitter and rebellious.
German Nationalism? quickly became an obsession for Hitler, and a way to rebel against his father, who proudly served the? Austrian government. Most people who lived along the German-Austrian border considered themselves German-Austrians, but Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany. In defiance of the? Austrian monarchy, and his father who continually expressed loyalty to it, Hitler and his young friends liked to use the German greeting “Heil”, and sing the German anthem “Deutschland Uber Alles” instead of theAustrian Imperial anthem.
After Alois sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitlers behaviour at the technical school became even more disruptive, and he was asked to leave. He enrolled at theRealschule? in? Steyr? in 1904, but upon completing his second year, he and his friends went out for a night of celebration and drinking, and an intoxicated Hitler tore his school certificate into four pieces and used it as toilet paper. When someone turned the stained certificate in to the schools director, he “… 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 Holy Communion? on? Whitsunday, 22 May 1904, at the Linz Cathedral.? His sponsor was Emanuel Lugert, a friend of his late father.
Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
From 1905 on, Hitler lived a? bohemian? life in? Vienna? on an orphans pension and support from his mother. He was rejected twice by the? Academy of Fine Arts Vienna? (1907??“1908), citing “unfitness for painting”, and was told his abilities lay instead in the field of? architecture.? Following the school rectors recommendation, he too became convinced this was his path to pursue, yet he lacked the proper academic preparation 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 Academys architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technic, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich, by Adolf Hitler, 1914
On 21 December 1907, Hitlers mother died of? breast cancer? at age 47. Ordered by a court in Linz, Hitler gave his share of theorphans benefits to his sister? Paula. When he was 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. By 1910, he had settled into a? house for poor working men on Meldemannstra?e. Another resident of the house,? Reinhold Hanisch, sold Hitlers paintings until the two men had a bitter falling-out.
Hitler said he first became an? anti-Semite? in Vienna,? which had a large Jewish community, including? Orthodox Jews? who had fled the? pogroms? in? Russia. According to childhood friend? August Kubizek, however, Hitler was a “confirmed anti-Semite” before he left? Linz.? Vienna at that time was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th century? racism. Hitler may have been influenced by the occult writings of the anti-Semite? Lanz von Liebenfels? in his magazine? Ostara; it is usually taken for granted that he read the publication (he recounts in? Mein Kampf? his conversion to anti-semitism being after reading some pamphlets) and he most likely did read it, although it is uncertain to what degree he was influenced by the anti-semitic occult work.
There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews who lived there had become? Europeanised? in external appearance and were so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans. The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought that they were persecuted on account of their faith my aversion to hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a systematic antisemitism. Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first thought was: Is this a Jew They certainly did not have this appearance in Linz. I carefully watched the man stealthily and cautiously but the longer I gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German
If this account is true, Hitler apparently did not act on his new belief. He often was a guest for dinner in a noble Jewish house, and he interacted well with Jewish merchants who tried to sell his paintings.
Hitler may also have been influenced by? Martin Luthers? On the Jews and their Lies. In? Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to Martin Luther as a great warrior, a true statesman, and a great reformer, alongside? Richard Wagner? and? Frederick the Great.? Wilhelm Ropke, writing after the Holocaust, concluded that “without any question,? Lutheranisminfluenced the political, spiritual and social history of Germany in a way that, after careful consideration of everything, can be described only as fateful.”
Hitler claimed that Jews were enemies of the? Aryan race. He held them responsible for Austrias crisis. He also identified certain forms of? socialism? and? Bolshevism, which had many Jewish leaders, as Jewish movements, merging his antisemitism with anti-Marxism. Later, blaming Germanys military defeat in World War I on the? 1918 revolutions, he considered Jews the culprits of Imperial Germanys downfall and subsequent economic problems as well.
Hitler received the final part of his fathers 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 became more interested in architecture and, he says, the writings of? Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Moving to Munich also helped him escape? military service? in Austria for a time, but the Munich police (acting in cooperation with the Austrian authorities) eventually arrested him. After a physical exam and a contrite plea, he was deemed unfit for service and allowed to return to Munich. However, when Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he petitioned King? Ludwig III of Bavaria? for permission to serve in a? Bavarian? regiment. This request was granted, and Adolf Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian army.
World War I
Main article:? Military career of Adolf HitlerA young Hitler (left) posing with other German soldiers
Hitler served in? France? and? Belgium? in the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment, on the? Western Front? as a regimental? runner. He was present at a number of major battles on the Western Front, including the? First Battle of Ypres, the? Battle of the Somme, theBattle of Arras? and the? Battle of Passchendaele.Hitler in the German Army, 1914, sitting at right
Hitler was twice decorated for bravery. He received the relatively common? Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914 and Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918, an honour rarely given to a? Gefreiter.? Yet because the regimental staff thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, he was never promoted to? Unteroffizier? (equivalent to a British corporal). According to Weber, Hitlers First Class Iron Cross was recommended by? Hugo Gutmann, a Jewish List adjutant, and this rarer award was commonly awarded to those posted to regimental headquarters, such as Hitler, who had more contact with more senior officers than combat soldiers.
Hitlers duties at regimental headquarters gave him time to pursue his artwork. He drew cartoons and instructional drawings for an army newspaper. In 1916, he was wounded in either the groin area? or the left thigh? during the Battle of the Somme, but returned to the front in March 1917. He received the? Wound Badge? later that year. German historian and author,? Sebastian Haffner, referring to Hitlers experience at the front, suggests that he had at least some understanding of the military.
On 15 October 1918, Hitler was admitted to a? field hospital, temporarily? blinded? by a? mustard gas? attack. The? English? psychologist? David Lewis? and Bernhard Horstmann suggest the blindness may have been the result of a? conversion disorder? (then known as “hysteria”).? In fact, Hitler said it was during this experience that he became convinced the purpose of his life was to “save Germany.” Some scholars, notably? Lucy Dawidowicz,? argue that an intention to exterminate Europes Jews was fully formed in Hitlers mind at this time, though he probably had not thought through how it could be done. Most historians think the decision was made in 1941, and some think it came as late as 1942.
Hitler had long admired Germany, and during the war he had become a passionate German patriot, although he did not become a German citizen until 1932. Hitler found the war to be “the greatest of all experiences” and afterwards he was praised by a number of his commanding officers for his bravery.? He was shocked by Germanyscapitulation? in November 1918 even while the German army still held enemy territory.? Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the? Dolchsto?legende(“dagger-stab legend”) which claimed that the army, “undefeated in the field,” had been “stabbed in the back” by civilian leaders and? Marxists? back on the? home front. These politicians were later dubbed the? November Criminals.Portrait of Adolf Hitler taken during the war
The? Treaty of Versailles? deprived Germany of various territories,? demilitarised? the? Rhineland? and imposed other economically damaging sanctions. The treaty re-created Poland, which even moderate Germans regarded as an outrage. The treaty also blamed Germany for all the horrors of the war, something which major historians such as? John Keegan? now consider at least in part to bevictors justice; most European nations in the run-up to World War I had become increasingly? militarised? and were eager to fight. The culpability of Germany was used as a basis to impose reparations on Germany (the amount was repeatedly revised under the? Dawes Plan, the? Young Plan, and the? Hoover Moratorium). Germany in turn perceived the treaty, especially Article 231 on the German responsibility for the war, as a humiliation. For example, there was a nearly total demilitarisation of the armed forces, allowing Germany only six battleships, no submarines, no air force, an army of 100,000 without conscription and no armoured vehicles. The treaty was an important factor in both the social and political conditions encountered by Hitler and his Nazis as they sought power. Hitler and his party used the signing of the treaty by the “November Criminals” as a reason to build up Germany so that it could never happen again. He also used the “November Criminals” as scapegoats, although at the? Paris peace conference, these politicians had had very little choice in the matter.
Entry into politics
Main article:? Adolf Hitlers political views
After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich, where he ??“ in contrast to his later declarations ??“ attended the funeral march for the murdered Bavarian prime minister? Kurt Eisner.? After the suppression of the? Bavarian Soviet Republic, he took part in “national thinking” courses organized by the? Education and Propaganda Department? (Dept Ib/P) of the Bavarian? Reichswehr? Group, Headquarters 4 under Captain? Karl Mayr. Scapegoats were found in “international Jewry”, communists, and politicians across the party spectrum, especially the parties of the? Weimar Coalition.
In July 1919, Hitler was appointed a? Verbindungsmann? (police spy) of an? Aufklarungskommando? (Intelligence Commando) of the? Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to? infiltrate? a small party, the? German Workers Party? (DAP). During his inspection of the party, Hitler was impressed with founder? Anton Drexlers? anti-semitic, nationalist,anti-capitalist? and anti-Marxist? ideas, which favoured a strong active government, a “non-Jewish” version of socialism and mutual solidarity of all members of society. Drexler was impressed with Hitlers oratory skills and invited him to join the party. Hitler joined DAP on 12 September 1919? and became the partys 55th member.? His actual membership number was 555 (the 500 was added to make the group appear larger) but later the number was reduced to create the impression that Hitler was one of the founding members.? He was also made the seventh member of the executive committee.? Years later, he claimed to be the partys seventh overall member, but it has been established that this claim is false.A copy of Adolf Hitlers? German Workers Party? (DAP) membership card.
Here Hitler met? Dietrich Eckart, one of the early founders of the party and member of the? occult? Thule Society.? Eckart became Hitlers mentor, exchanging ideas with him, teaching him how to dress and speak, and introducing him to a wide range of people. Hitler thanked Eckart by paying tribute to him in the second volume of? Mein Kampf. To increase the partys appeal, the party changed its name to the? Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei? or? National Socialist German Workers Party? (abbreviated NSDAP).
Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and with his former superiors continued encouragement began participating full time in the partys activities. By early 1921, Hitler was becoming highly effective at speaking in front of large crowds. In February, Hitler spoke before a crowd of nearly six thousand in Munich. To publicize the meeting, he sent out two truckloads of party supporters to drive around with? swastikas, cause a commotion and throw out leaflets, their first use of this tactic. Hitler gained notoriety outside of the party for his rowdy,? polemic? speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians (includingmonarchists, nationalists and other non-internationalist? socialists) and especially against Marxists and Jews.
The NSDAP? was centred in Munich, a hotbed of German nationalists who included Army officers determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar Republic. Gradually they noticed Hitler and his growing movement as a suitable vehicle for their goals. Hitler traveled to Berlin to visit nationalist groups during the summer of 1921, and in his absence there was a revolt among the DAP leadership in Munich.
The party was run by an executive committee whose original members considered Hitler to be overbearing. They formed an alliance with a group of socialists from? Augsburg. Hitler rushed back to Munich and countered them by tendering his resignation from the party on 11 July 1921. When they realized the loss of Hitler would effectively mean the end of the party, he seized the moment and announced he would return on the condition that he replace Drexler as party chairman, with unlimited powers. Infuriated committee members (including Drexler) held out at first. Meanwhile an anonymous pamphlet appeared entitled? Adolf Hitler: Is he a traitor, attacking Hitlers lust for power and criticizing the violent men around him. Hitler responded to its publication in a Munich newspaper by suing for? libel? and later won a small? settlement.
The executive committee of the NSDAP eventually backed down and Hitlers demands were put to a vote of party members. Hitler received 543 votes for and only one against. At the next gathering on 29 July 1921, Adolf Hitler was introduced as? Fuhrer? of the National Socialist German Workers Party, marking the first time this title was publicly used.
Hitlers beer hall oratory, attacking Jews,? social democrats,? liberals, reactionary monarchists,? capitalists? and communists, began attracting adherents. Early followers includedRudolf Hess, the former air force pilot? Hermann Goring, and the army captain? Ernst Rohm, who eventually became head of the Nazis? paramilitary organization? the SA (Sturmabteilung, or “Storm Division”), which protected meetings and attacked political opponents. As well, Hitler assimilated independent groups, such as the? Nuremberg-based? Deutsche Werkgemeinschaft, led by? Julius Streicher, who became? Gauleiter? of? Franconia. Hitler attracted the attention of local business interests, was accepted into influential circles of Munich society, and became associated with wartime General? Erich Ludendorff? during this time.Drawing of Hitler, 1923
Beer Hall? Putsch
Main article:? Beer Hall Putsch
Encouraged by this early support, Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in an attempted? coup? later known as the “Beer Hall? Putsch” (sometimes as the “Hitler? Putsch” or “Munich? Putsch”). The Nazi Party had copied? Italys? fascists? in appearance and had adopted some of their policies, and in 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate? Benito Mussolinis? “March on Rome” by staging his own “Campaign in Berlin”. Hitler and Ludendorff obtained the clandestine support of? Gustav von Kahr, Bavarias? de facto? ruler, along with leading figures in the? Reichswehrand the police. As political posters show, Ludendorff, Hitler and the heads of the Bavarian police and military planned on forming a new government.
On 8 November 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting headed by Kahr in the? Burgerbraukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. He declared that he had set up a new government with Ludendorff and demanded, at gunpoint, the support of Kahr and the local military establishment for the destruction of the Berlin government.? Kahr withdrew his support and fled to join the opposition to Hitler at the first opportunity.? The next day, when Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the? Bavarian War Ministry? to overthrow the Bavarian government as a start to their “March on Berlin”, the police dispersed them.? Sixteen NSDAP members? were killed.
Hitler fled to the home of? Ernst Hanfstaengl? and contemplated suicide; Hanfstaengls wife Helene talked him out of it. He was soon arrested for? high treason.? Alfred Rosenberg? became temporary leader of the party. During Hitlers trial, he was given almost unlimited time to speak, and his popularity soared as he voiced nationalistic sentiments in his? defence speech.? A Munich personality thus became a nationally known figure. On 1 April 1924, Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment at? Landsberg Prison. Hitler received favoured treatment from the guards and had much fan mail from admirers. He was pardoned and released from jail on 20 December 1924, by order of the Bavarian Supreme Court on 19 December, which issued its final rejection of the state prosecutors objections to Hitlers early release.? Including time on remand, he had served little more than one year of his sentence.
On 28 June 1925, Hitler wrote a letter from? Uffing? to the editor of? The Nation? in? New York City? complaining of the length of his sentence at “Sandberg a. S.” [sic], where he claimed his privileges had been extensively revoked.
Mein KampfDust jacket? of? Mein Kampf
Main article:? Mein Kampf
While at Landsberg, he 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.? The book, dedicated to Thule Society memberDietrich 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.”? It was 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 (newlyweds and soldiers received free copies). The? copyright? of? Mein Kampf? in Europe is claimed by the Free State of Bavaria and scheduled to end on 31 December 2015. Reproductions in Germany are authorized only for scholarly purposes and in heavily commented form.
Rebuilding of the partyAdolf Hitler (left), standing up behind? Hermann Goring? at a Nazi rally in? Nuremberg, 1928
At the time of Hitlers release, the political situation in Germany had calmed and the economy had improved, which hampered Hitlers opportunities for agitation. Though the “Hitler? Putsch” had given Hitler some national prominence, Munich remained his partys mainstay.
The NSDAP and its organs were banned in Bavaria after the collapse of the putsch. Hitler convinced? Heinrich Held, Prime Minister of Bavaria, to lift the ban, based on representations that the party would now only seek political power through legal means. Even though the ban on the NSDAP was removed effective 16 February 1925,? Hitler incurred a new ban on public speaking as a result of an inflammatory speech. Since Hitler was banned from public speeches, he appointed? Gregor Strasser, who in 1924 had been elected to theReichstag, as? Reichsorganisationsleiter, authorizing him to organize the party in northern Germany. Strasser, joined by his younger brother? Otto? and? Joseph Goebbels, steered an increasingly independent course, emphasizing the socialist element in the partys programme. The? Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gauleiter Nord-West? became an internal opposition, threatening Hitlers authority, but this faction was defeated at the? Bamberg Conference? in 1926, during which Goebbels joined Hitler.
After this encounter, Hitler centralized the party even more and asserted the? Fuhrerprinzip? (“Leader principle”) as the basic principle of party organization. Leaders were not elected by their group, but were rather appointed by their superior, answering to them while demanding unquestioning obedience from their inferiors. Consistent with Hitlers disdain for democracy, all power and authority devolved from the top down.
A key element of Hitlers appeal was his ability to evoke a sense of offended national pride caused by the Treaty of Versailles imposed on the defeated? German Empire? by the Western Allies. Germany had lost economically important territory in Europe along with its colonies, and in admitting to sole responsibility for the war had agreed to pay a huge? reparations? bill totaling 132? billion? marks. Most Germans bitterly resented these terms, but early Nazi attempts to gain support by blaming these humiliations on “international Jewry” were not particularly successful with the electorate. The party learned quickly, and soon a more subtle propaganda emerged, combining antisemitism with an attack on the failures of the “Weimar system” and the parties supporting it.
Having failed in overthrowing the Republic by a coup, Hitler pursued a “strategy of legality”: this meant formally adhering to the rules of the Weimar Republic until he had legally gained power. He would then use the institutions of the Weimar Republic to destroy it and establish himself as dictator. Some party members, especially in the paramilitary SA, opposed this strategy; Rohm and others ridiculed Hitler as “Adolphe Legalite”.
Rise to power
Main article:? Adolf Hitlers rise to power
Nazi Party Election Results |
Date | Votes | Percentage | Seats in? Reichstag | Background |
May 1924 | 1,918,300 | 6.5 | 32 | Hitler in prison |
December 1924 | 907,300 | 3.0 | 14 | Hitler is released from prison |
May 1928 | 810,100 | 2.6 | 12 | ? |
September 1930 | 6,409,600 | 18.3 | 107 | After the financial crisis |
July 1932 | 13,745,800 | 37.4 | 230 | After Hitler was candidate for presidency |
November 1932 | 11,737,000 | 33.1 | 196 | ? |
March 1933 | 17,277,000 | 43.9 | 288 | During Hitlers term as Chancellor of Germany |
Bruning AdministrationAn? NSDAP? meeting in December 1930, with Hitler in the centre
The political turning point for Hitler came when the? Great Depression? hit Germany in 1930. The Weimar Republic had never been firmly rooted and was openly opposed by right-wing conservatives (including monarchists), communists and the Nazis. As the parties loyal to the democratic,? parliamentary republic? found themselves unable to agree on counter-measures, their? grand coalition? broke up and was replaced by a minority cabinet. The new Chancellor,? Heinrich Bruning? of the Roman Catholic? Centre Party, lacking a majority in parliament, had to implement his measures through the presidents? emergency decrees. Tolerated by the majority of parties, this rule by decree would become the norm over a series of unworkable parliaments and paved the way forauthoritarian? forms of government.
The? Reichstags initial opposition to Brunings measures led to premature elections in September 1930. The republican parties lost their majority and their ability to resume the grand coalition, while the Nazis suddenly rose from relative obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote along with 107 seats. In the process, they jumped from the ninth-smallest party in the chamber to the second largest.
In September??“October 1930, Hitler appeared as a major defence witness at the trial in? Leipzig? of two junior? Reichswehr? officers charged with membership of the Nazi Party, which at that time was forbidden to? Reichswehr? personnel.? The two officers,? Leutnants? Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, admitted quite openly to Nazi Party membership, and used as their defence that the Nazi Party membership should not be forbidden to those serving in the? Reichswehr.When the Prosecution argued that the Nazi Party was a dangerous revolutionary force, one of the defence lawyers,? Hans Frank? had Hitler brought to the stand to prove that the Nazi Party was a law-abiding party.? During his testimony, Hitler insisted that his party was determined to come to power legally, that the phrase “National Revolution” was only to be interpreted “politically”, and that his Party was a friend, not an enemy of the? Reichswehr.? Hitlers testimony of 25 September 1930 won him many admirers within the ranks of the officer corps.
Brunings measures of budget consolidation and financial? austerity? brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular.? Under these circumstances, Hitler appealed to the bulk of German farmers, war veterans and the middle class, who had been hard-hit by both the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression.
In September 1931, Hitlers niece? Geli Raubal? was found dead in her bedroom in his Munich apartment (his half-sister? Angela? and her daughter Geli had been with him in Munich since 1929), an apparent suicide. Geli, who was believed to be in some sort of romantic relationship with Hitler, was 19 years younger than he was and had used his gun. His nieces death is viewed as a source of deep, lasting pain for him.
In 1932, Hitler intended to run against the aging President? Paul von Hindenburg? in the scheduled? presidential elections. His 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club inDusseldorf? won him, for the first time, support from a broad swath of Germanys most powerful industrialists.? Though Hitler had left Austria in 1913 and had formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, he still had not acquired German citizenship and hence could not run for public office. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless and faced the risk of deportation from Germany.? On 25 February 1932, however, the Nazi interior minister of? Brunswick? (the Nazis were part of a right-wing coalition governing the state) appointed Hitler as administrator for the states delegation to the? Reichsrat? in Berlin. This appointment made Hitler a citizen of Brunswick.? In those days, the states conferred citizenship, so this automatically made Hitler a citizen of Germany as well and thus eligible to run for president.
The new German citizen ran against Hindenburg, who was supported by a broad range of? nationalist, monarchist, Catholic,? republican? and even social democratic parties. Another candidate was a? Communist? and member of a fringe right-wing party. Hitlers campaign was called “Hitler uber Deutschland” (Hitler over Germany).? The name had a double meaning; besides a reference to his dictatorial ambitions, it referred to the fact that he campaigned by aircraft.? Hitler came in second on both rounds, attaining more than 35% of the vote during the second one in April. Although he lost to Hindenburg, the election established Hitler as a realistic alternative in German politics.
Appointment as Chancellor
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Meanwhile, Papen tried to get his revenge on Schleicher by working toward the Generals downfall, through forming an intrigue with the camarilla and? Alfred Hugenberg, media mogul and chairman of the DNVP. Also involved were? Hjalmar Schacht,? Fritz Thyssen? and other leading German businessmen and international bankers.? They financially supported the Nazi Party, which had been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the cost of heavy campaigning. The businessmen wrote letters 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 from a window of the Chancellory receiving an ovation at his inauguration asChancellor, 30 January 1933
Finally, the president reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of a coalition government formed by the NSDAP and DNVP. However, the Nazis were to be contained by a framework of conservative cabinet ministers, most notably by Papen as? Vice-Chancellor? and by Hugenberg as Minister of the Economy. The only other Nazi besides Hitler to get a portfolio was? Wilhelm Frick, who was given the relatively powerless interior ministry (in Germany at the time, most powers wielded by the interior minister in other countries were held by the interior ministers of the states). As a concession to the Nazis, Goring was named? minister without portfolio. While Papen intended to use Hitler as a figurehead, the Nazis gained key positions.
On the morning of 30 January 1933, in Hindenburgs office, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during what some observers later described as a brief and simple ceremony. His? first speech as Chancellor? took place on 10 February. The Nazis seizure of power subsequently became known as the? Machtergreifung? or? Machtubernahme.
Reichstag fire and the March elections
Having become Chancellor, Hitler foiled all attempts by his opponents to gain a majority in parliament. Because no single party could gain a majority, Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to dissolve the? Reichstag? again. Elections were scheduled for early March, but on 27 February 1933, theReichstag? building was set on fire.? Since a? Dutch independent communist? was found in the building, the fire was blamed on a communist plot. The government reacted with the? Reichstag? Fire Decree? of 28 February which suspended basic rights, including? habeas corpus. Under the provisions of this decree, the? German Communist Party? (KPD) and other groups were suppressed, and Communist functionaries and deputies were arrested, forced to flee, or murdered.
Campaigning continued, with the Nazis making use of paramilitary violence, anti-communist hysteria, and the governments resources for propaganda. On election day, 6 March, the NSDAP increased its result to 43.9% of the vote, remaining the largest party, but its victory was marred by its failure to secure an absolute majority, necessitating maintaining a coalition with the DNVP.
“Day of Potsdam” and the Enabling ActParade of SA troops past Hitler ??“ Nuremberg, November 1935
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On 21 March, the new? Reichstag? was constituted with an opening ceremony held at Potsdams 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 virtues. Hitler appeared in a tail coat and humbly greeted the aged President Hindenburg.
Because of the Nazis failure to obtain a majority on their own, Hitlers government confronted the newly elected? Reichstag? with the? Enabling Act? that would have vested the cabinet with legislative powers for a period of four years. Though such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed for deviations from the constitution. Since the bill required a ? majority in order 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 governments oral guarantees regarding the? Churchs? 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 extremely turbulent circumstances. Some SA men served as guards within while large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving deputies. 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. At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in favour of the bill. The Communists, as well as some Social Democrats, were barred from attending. The Enabling Act, combined with the? Reichstag? Fire Decree, transformed Hitlers government into a legal dictatorship.
Removal of remaining limits
??? | At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the Nazi movement will go on for 1,000 years! … Dont 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 |
With this combination of legislative and? executive? power, Hitlers government further suppressed the remaining political? opposition. After the rapid dissolution of the? Communist Party? the? Social Democratic Party? (SPD) were banned, leading to a 10 May court order that all property and assets be seized. The? Steel Helmets? (World War One veterans) on 26 April were placed under Hitlers leadership with guarantee they would exist as an autonomous organization to be called upon as an auxiliary police force. On 2 May, stormtroopers ransacked and destroyed every trade union office in the country and 4 May the Christian Trade Unions and all other unions vowed allegiance to Hitler. TheState Party? dissolved on June 28. The 60 year old? Peoples Party? officially dissolved on 4 July. The Catholic Church was given no choice but to support Hitler after dissolution of their? Centre Party? on 5 July. The right wing? German Nationalist Front? was forced to incorporate its small paramilitaries into the Nazi SA and dissolved per the “Friendship Agreement”. Finally, on 14 July, the Nazi Party was declared the? only legal party? in Germany as big business and the army stood on the sidelines.
Hitler used the SA paramilitary to push Hugenberg into resigning, and proceeded to politically isolate Vice-Chancellor Papen. Because the SAs demands for political and military power caused much anxiety among military and political leaders, Hitler used allegations of a plot by the SA leader? Ernst Rohm? to purge the SAs leadership during theNight of the Long Knives. As well, opponents unconnected with the SA were murdered, notably? Gregor Strasser? and former Chancellor? Kurt von Schleicher.In 1934, Hitler became Germanys president under the title Fuhrer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Chancellor of the Reich).
President? Paul von Hindenburg? died on 2 August 1934. Rather than call new elections as required by the? constitution, Hitlers cabinet passed a law proclaiming the presidency vacant and transferred the role and powers of the head of state to Hitler as? Fuhrer und Reichskanzler? (leader and chancellor). This action effectively removed the last legal remedy by which Hitler could be dismissed ??“ and with it, nearly all institutional checks and balances on his power.
On 19 August a plebiscite approved the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship winning 84.6% of the electorate.? This action technically violated both the constitution and the Enabling Act. The constitution had been amended in 1932 to make the president of the High Court of Justice, not the chancellor, acting president until new elections could be held. The Enabling Act specifically barred Hitler from taking any action that tampered with the presidency. However, no one dared object.
As head of state, Hitler now became Supreme Commander of the armed forces. When it came time for the soldiers and sailors to swear the traditional loyalty oath, it had been altered into an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. Normally, soldiers and sailors swear loyalty to the holder of the office of supreme commander/commander-in-chief, not a specific person.
In 1938,? two scandals? resulted in Hitler bringing the Armed Forces under his control. Hitler forced the resignation of his War Minister (formerly Defense Minister),? Werner von Blomberg, after evidence surfaced that Blombergs new wife had a criminal past. Prior to removing Blomberg, Hitler and his clique removed army commander? Werner von Fritsch? on suspicion of? homosexuality.? Hitler replaced the Ministry of War with the? Oberkommando der Wehrmacht? (High Command of the Armed Forces, or OKW), headed by the pliant GeneralWilhelm Keitel. More importantly, Hitler announced he was assuming personal command of the armed forces. He took over Blombergs other old post, that of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, for himself. He was already Supreme Commander by virtue of holding the powers of the president. The next day, the newspapers announced, “Strongest concentration of powers in Fuhrers hands!”