On November 9, 1921, five days after the Battle of the Hall, where less than fifty SA Men had beaten back over 400 communists and Jews who tried to disrupt Hitler's speech in the Festival Hall of the Hofbrauhaus--Adolf Hitler had a gathering of SA Men. He told them:
“For us there are only two possibilities: either we remain German or w e come under the thumb of the Jews. This latter must not occur; even if we are small, we are a force. A well-organized group can conquer a strong enemy. If you stick close together and keep bringing in new people, we will be victorious over the Jews.” - http://www.hitler.org/speeches/11-09-21.html
Through these words, we can see how he could have convinced an entire country to vote him into power. He was a great speaker. However, with his great ability to inspire people, he used it horribly. He had racist and violent ideas, and the wounds that they left on the world will never be completely healed. What kind of a life could he have had to cause such devastation? This is a question that we may never completely know the answer to. What we can do, however, is analyze his life, and try to figure out what inspired his ideas.
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th, 1889, to Alois and Klara Hitlerin the town of Branau, Austria. Both Alois and Klara had been born to poor families. When Adolf entered primary school, all of his teachers said that he had a strong academic future ahead of him. He was popular among the student body because of his leadership qualities. He was a very religious child, and for a while, considered growing up to be a monk. Although he was successful in primary school, he had great difficulty handling the pressures of secondary school. He could not handle his drop from the top of the class to the middle of the class, and instead of fixing this problem; he decided that he would not try. He thought that the school did not recognize his talent. His father was infuriated when he heard of this, because he had hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and join the Austrian Civil Service when he grew up. Even though his teachers and parents tried to get him trying again, his stubbornness caused them to lose hope. His lack of effort caused him to lose the popularity he once had with his fellow pupils. They no longer felt that his example was one to follow. This made him lose self-confidence, so he spent time with younger children because he liked giving orders. The only teacher Hitler appeared to like at secondary school was his history master Leopold Potsch, who was a German Nationalist. The other main interest of Hitler at school was art. Alois was angered when he heard that Hitler wanted to become an artist. This began the deterioration of the relationship between Hitler and Alois. In 1903, when Hitler was thirteen, Alois died. This did not cause any financial hardships for the Hitler family, because they owned their house and received a large civil service pension. Klara Hitler was a very gentle woman, who spoiled her son. She also wanted Hitler to do well in school, but stayed away from the threats that Alois used to get Hitler to try harder, and instead tried to persuade her son. This achieved no more success than the threats, however. When Hitler was fifteen, he performed so poorly on his exams that he was told he would have to redo the entire year. He hated this idea, and eventually persuaded his mother to let him drop out of school without a secondary education. He celebrated by getting drunk. When Hitler turned eighteen, he received an inheritance from his father’s will. Using this money, he travelled to Vienna to become an art student. When he applied to the Vienna Academy of Art and the Vienna School of Architecture, his high opinion of his abilities was shattered when both schools rejected him. He was humiliated by this, and instead of telling his mother and facing the music, he decided to stay in Vienna, pretending to be an art student. To add to all of this, his mother died in 1907. This affected him much more than the death of his father, and even after her death, he carried her photograph with him wherever he went. It is even claimed that he was holding her photograph on his deathbed. Hitler was now the eldest child, so he received his father’s Civil Service pension. It gave him more money than what he would be making if he got a job, so he did not have to work. He spent the mornings in bed reading, and the afternoons visiting museums, buildings, and making sketches. His days were very monotonous.
In 1909, Hitler should have registered for the military, but he instead ignored his call-ups. He hated Austria, so why should he have to fight for their army? Even four years later, when the authorities did catch up with him, he was determined to be too weak to bear arms in his medical exam. When the First World War broke out, he decided that he wanted to join the German army. He passed this medical exam because the German army was taking anyone they could. Hitler loved being in the army because he felt that he was in a group fighting for a common goal. He was cautious, but did not mind risking his life, and always volunteered for the most dangerous missions. Fellow soldiers described him as odd and peculiar. He spent time sitting in a corner, his head down, and then would suddenly jump up and give speeches, which were often attacks on Jews and Marxists who Hitler thought were not helping the war effort. His job in the war was to be a dispatch-runner. He won five medals including the Iron Cross. Although he was so decorated, the highest rank he received was corporal, because they feared that people would not listen to someone so eccentric. In October 1918, he was blinded in a British mustard gas attack, and taken to a military hospital. When he was in the hospital, gradually recovering his sight, Germany surrendered. This threw him into a state of deep depression, and he could sometimes not stop crying. He would spend hours turned towards a hospital wall, not talking to anyone. After the war, he was stationed in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. During his stay, Bavaria was declared a Socialist Republic. As a German Nationalist, Hitler was appalled by this decision. He thought of Socialism as a Jewish conspiracy, because many of the Socialist leaders in Germany were Jewish. He also knew that Karl Marx, the “prophet” of Socialism, was a Jew. In May 1919, the German army invaded Bavaria, and all of the soldiers, including Hitler, were arrested and accused of being Socialists. Many non-socialists were executed, but Hitler was able to convince the soldiers that he had been an opponent of the regime. He proved this by helping to identify soldiers who had supported Socialism. The information which Hitler supplied helped in the finding of many soldiers who supported Socialism. This and Hitler’s hostility towards left-wing politics impressed the officers, so they recruited him as a political officer. This meant that he would lecture soldiers on politics. The aim of this was to discourage the ideas of the Russian Revolution and promote German Philosophy to the soldiers. It was a form of brainwashing.
After the loss of the war, times in Germany were very difficult. They were forced to sign a peace treaty that gave away some of their territory, natural resources, and factories. On top of all of this, Germany had to pay for the damages of the war, which amounted to a large percent of its national wealth. This did, however, give Hitler a captive and attentive audience. The country and soldiers liked his statements that it was not their fault, but the fault of Jews and Marxists who had undermined the war effort. He was also used as a spy. He was instructed to attend a meeting of the German Workers Party (GWP). They feared that the party, run by Anton Drexler, would advocate communist revolution. Hitler agreed with Drexler’s German Nationalism and anti-Semitism, but when a member made a point he disagreed with, Hitler stood and made a passionate speech on the subject. Drexler was impressed with Hitler’s speaking abilities, and asked him to join the part. Hitler, although at first reluctant, eventually agreed, and immediately joined the executive committee. He was later asked to be the party’s propaganda manager. Hitler encouraged many of the people in his army to join the party, including a commanding officer who had access to the army’s political fund and transferred some of it to the GWP. They used some of this money to advertise their meetings, where Hitler was often the main speaker. It was this stint that gave Hitler so many qualities that made him such a persuasive orator. He always arrived late for public speeches, which raised both tension and expectation. He would take the stage and wait until nothing but complete silence filled the room to begin his speech. At first, he appeared nervous and shaky, but after many speeches, he became much more comfortable as he began to relax and his delivery was much calmer. He would speak loud and passionately. He would sweat as his voice exploded with emotion. His speaking was so powerful that by the end the public was often willing to do whatever he said. Once he finished the speech, he would immediately leave the stage, refusing to be photographed. He was described as “the new Messiah”. As his reputation grew, it became more and more clear that he was the main reason people were joining the party. Hitler had so much power that he decided to put the word “Socialist” in front of the party. He had always been completely against socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial equality. Socialism was popular after the First World War, however, so he decided he would redefine the word by putting “National” in front of it. He said that he was in favour only of equality for those of German blood. Jews and other races would lose their citizenship, and there could be no more non-German immigration. In February of 1920, the National Socialist German Workers Party created and published their first programme, which was known as the 25 points. In this programme, the party called for the reunification of German People. Rights would only be given to Germans. Jews and other races would be denied these rights. This idea appealed to the working class because it included many measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education. On February 24th, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a huge rally for their new programme. This was attended to by over two thousand people, which was an extremely large improvement from the twenty five who attended Hitler’s first party meeting. Hitler realized that much of the success of the party was due to his outstanding orator abilities, so in August of 1921, he challenged Anton Drexler for leadership of the party. After a short argument, Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party. As leader of the Party, Hitler had the ability to heat up his supporters’ anger and hatred. He was once part of a mob that beat up a rival politician, and was sent to jail for three months. When he was released, he started his own private army called the Sturm Abteliung, or Storm Section. The SA (or stormtroopers) were ordered to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from those who wanted revenge. The SA were usually former members of the Freikorps (right wing private armies who flourished in the First World War). This meant that they were not afraid to use violence against rivals. The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts, swastika armbands, ski caps, knee breeches, thick woollen socks and combat boots. They would parade up and down the streets of Munich with marching bands, carrying swastika flags. Once this was over, Hitler would give a passionate speech that encouraged supporters of the Party to act violent towards Jews and other political opponents. Since these attacks were usually directed toward Socialists and Communists, the Bavarian government did not pay much attention. The German government, however, decided to pass a “Law for Protection of the Republic”. The response Hitler gave was to hold a rally attended by forty thousand people. He suggested the overthrow of the government, and even suggested that the leaders should be executed. The German government encountered even more problems in 1923, as the French occupied the Ruhr (a region of Germany with a major coal mining industry) because they felt that Germany was falling behind its reparations. The workers went on strike, which caused rapid inflation. The citizens of Germany were infuriated by this, and turned against the government. On August 13th, 1923, Gustav Stresemann became the new chancellor of Germany. When he tried to stop the French occupation of Ruhr and make Germany pay their reparations to the Allies again, Hitler had had enough and decided that he would become the chancellor of Germany. On November 8th, 1923 when the Bavarian government was having a meeting, the leader, Gustav von Kahr was making a speech. Hitler and armed SA stormed into the room. Hitler jumped on a table, and announced that the Munich Putsch was taking place. This was the beginning of the National Revolution. A battle began. When the first shots were heard, Hitler immediately through himself to the ground, and dislocated his shoulder. He then ran away. Following their leader’s example, the SA ran away after him. Hitler was eventually found and thrown in jail for five years. He could have been given the death penalty, but Nazi sympathizers made sure he was not punished severely. He served his sentence in Landsberg Castle in Munich, where he was treated well and given many privileges. He read many books that even further deepened his hatred for Jews. He also had his autobiography written in prison.
Hitler was released from prison on December 20th, 1924, after serving just over a year of his sentence. The economic state in Germany had improved when he came out, as inflation had been put under control. The new policies of the German government had been working. The citizens of Germany had a renewed faith in their government, and found parties such as Hitler’s unattractive. He tried to discourage his extremist image, and agreed to compete with other parties in democratic elections. Even this proved to be unsuccessful, as he won only fourteen seats compared to one hundred thirty one obtained by the Socialists and the forty five of the German Communist Party. After this humiliating defeat, Hitler went to live in the Bavarian Alps. Later, he would say that this was the happiest time of his life. He would spend days reading, walking, and driving at high speeds in his new Mercedes. Also, for the first time of his life, he began to take a serious interest in women. His views were sexist, however. He would avoid intelligent women who wanted to talk about politics, and spent more time with women who were beautiful and frivolous. He was quoted of saying “A highly intelligent man should take a primitive and stupid woman.” And on another occasion, he said “I detest women who dabble in politics” These statements showed how sexist he was. He did not think that women were intelligent enough to understand politics. These were also reasons why Hitler liked women much younger than himself. There was scandal when a girl of only sixteen who he was dating tried to commit suicide. In 1928, Hitler asked his half-sister to be his housekeeper. She agreed, and brought her daughter, Geli Raubal, with her. She was a mere twenty years old, and Hitler had just turned thirty. He became infatuated with her, and rumours spread about his love for her. They lived together for over two years, but the relationship was stormy. They accused each other of being unfaithful. Geli was particularly concerned with Eva Braun, a seventeen year old girl who Hitler would take for drives in his car. Geli also complained of how Hitler would try to take control of her life. On September 8th, 1931, she shot herself through the heart after a long row with Hitler. When Hitler heard this news, he threatened to take his own life. The senior Nazi officials were able to talk him out of this, however. After the death of Geli, Hitler began to see more of Eva Braun. He still had relationships with other women, however. For this reason, in 1932, Braun tried to commit suicide by shooting herself in the neck. The doctors were able to save her, and after this serious incident, Hitler ignored other women and spent all of his time with her. He had no desire to have children. He said that they would only disappoint him because they could never match his own genius. When asked about his love life, he claimed that he would never marry, because he was married to the people of Germany. He said this because the bachelor image appealed to the many women who had lost husbands in the First World War. This helped him win votes, so he made sure that Eva was never seen with him in public. In the 1928 German elections, the Nazis won less than three percent of the vote. This gave them only twelve seats, twenty less than the disappointing 1924 election. One of Hitler’s platforms was that he predicted a huge economic disaster that would affect the entire world. People thought him a fool to predict this. The membership of the party had grown however, as they grew to one hundred eight thousand members. One of the things that the party struggled with was propaganda. In order to produce propaganda, you must have money, and this was one thing the Nazi Party certainly did not have. Suddenly, the fortunes of the Nazi Party changed when Wall Street crashed and the Great Depression began in October 1929. Germany relied heavily on investment from the United States, so they were the worst affected country in Europe. Before the crash, 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany, but after the crash, that grew by 2.75 million to 4 million. Hitler’s prediction of a worldwide economic disaster now seemed to be true. German citizens thought that the man who predicted this disaster may know how to resolve it. In the September 1930 elections, this gave the Nazi Party many votes. The Nazis now had one hundred seven representatives in Parliament. This made them the second largest party in Germany. Hitler tried to make himself the largest party in all of Germany. He travelled from city to city to make speeches about what he would do to help Germany. What he said in his speeches would differ for what sort of society he was in, however. The German President, Paul von Hindenburg, was eighty four, and was too old to hold the position. For this reason, Hitler challenged Hindenburg for the presidency. He lost, as many people still feared Hitler. To make matters worse, a ban was placed on the SA because the political officials feared that they, with four hundred thousand people, would be able to overpower the German Army, with only one hundred thousand. This ban was lifted when a new chancellor, Franz von Papen, was put in power. In July 1932, von Papen called another election. The Nazi party was given two hundred thirty seats, but that was still not enough to have a clear majority. Situations became more and more violent. These violent incidents worried the Germans, so the Nazi support fell in the November 1932 elections. The German Communist Party won many seats, and Hitler used this to get himself chosen to be chancellor. He claimed that the Communist Party was on the verge of a revolution. Industrialists that feared this sent a letter to Paul von Hindenburg to put Hitler in position of chancellor. Von Hindenburg reluctantly agreed, and one of the most racist, horrible men in History became the Chancellor of Germany.
Many questions have been asked about Hitler and his ideas. One of the ones that is most commonly discussed is why Hitler hated Jews. We will never truly know the exact reason, but we all have opinions. One of the key reasons that Hitler hated Jews is because he was strongly against Socialism and Communism. When he began to get interested in Politics, many of the Socialist and Communist leaders were Jewish. He viewed these forms of government as Jewish conspiracies. Hitler had a clear goal in mind, and was determined to achieve it. He felt that the Jews were merely obstacles that were getting in the way. He used them as an excuse for everything that went wrong, from the loss of the First World War to the rising unemployment rate after the Great Depression. We can never be sure if he actually believed that the Jews were to blame for all of these problems, or if he had an excellent political strategy. He may have realised that when he blamed problems on the Jews, he was giving everyone a common enemy. An old saying is “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” If he realised this, and convinced Germany that Jews were enemies, then he would get votes. Another question that is quite relevant is if his childhood really has an effect on who he turned out to be as an adult. The answer to this question is yes. We know that Hitler was beaten as a child. Often, if a person is beaten as a child, then they will treat their children the same way. Although Hitler did not have children, he did have violent ideas and would use violence to reach his goals. This likely was at least partially because he was beaten. Also, he suffered great depression as a child. His drop from the top to the middle of the class was too much for him, so he stopped trying. He was arrogant enough to think that the school did not recognize his talent. Hitler did not know how to handle defeat. This would eventually lead to his suicide. He could not cope with loss. He was unable to lose like a gentleman. When he lost the war, he knew it was all over, and instead of surrendering and receiving his punishment, he took cyanide and shot himself. One of the largest things that people wonder is why people voted for Hitler. It almost seems completely insane that people would vote for a man so racist and horrible. What would make Hitler seem a good candidate for chancellor? There are many possible reasons that this could have happened. One is because of his incredible abilities as an orator. He did not only speak his mind, but he would completely captivate the audience when he spoke. It was almost as if he had an idea that made no sense to anyone, when he spoke, he could make it seem like there was no alternative. His audience would leave his speeches willing to do whatever he said. They were almost brainwashed into following and supporting him. Another reason, which I have previously discussed, is that he gave Germany a common enemy, the Jews. He made Germany feel that it was not their fault that they lost the First World War. He made them feel that defeat was inevitable. He claimed that the loss occurred because of the Jewish. If you think that something was your fault, and then someone says that it was not, suddenly their opinion becomes the most important in the world. He did just this, only he convinced an entire nation that it was not their fault that they lost. When he blamed it on the Jews, he gave them self-confidence. The Germans began to think that he was right, and it was the Jews’ fault. This gave them confidence in him, and ultimately made him an appealing candidate. However, the largest reason that people liked him may have been because of the Great Depression. At this point in time, Germany was the worst effected of all the European countries by the Great Depression. People were looking for jobs, and not succeeding. People thought Hitler to be incredibly intelligent to have seen this economic downfall coming, so they figured that he may also know how to solve it. They had lost faith in the government, so they decided to put him in the position of chancellor. Some people who voted for him probably did not like his ideas, but felt that they needed a job so badly that they would vote for him. This is because it is human nature to opt for a solution that ultimately gets what you want, even if it does this in a way you do not like. Hitler was racist and irrational, but he was still put into chancellor. This shows how easily the human mind can be corrupted.

At the end of the War, when Soviet troops entered Germany, it was suggested that Hitler try to escape. He denied this idea, because he had heard of how the Soviets were going to parade him around the city in a cage if they caught him. He was worried of being caught, so he decided he would commit suicide. He married Eva Braun two days before his death, and she agreed to commit suicide with him. When the Soviets were only three hundred yards away from Hitler’s underground bunker, he ordered his troops to fight to the death, and to execute anyone who retreated. After saying farewell, Hitler and Braun locked themselves inside a private room and took cyanide tablets. Hitler, in order to make sure he died, also shot himself in the head. He was then cremated and his remains hid in the chancellery grounds. So ends the history of one of the most racist and horrible men in the world, Adolf Hitler.