Eva Braun was famous during Hitler's reign
A look at his curriculum vitae reveals how Hitler wandered aimlessly through childhood and youth and finally found a hold in the National Socialist ideology - how he founded the Nazi party and put an end to his life in 1945.
Countless articles, writings and books deal with the Adolf Hitler phenomenon. Among the most important are the works of Joachim C. Fest ("Hitler"), Alan Bullock ("Hitler: A Study of Tyranny") and Ian Kershaw ("Hitler 1889-1936", "Hitler 1936-1945").
If one wants to understand, as Bullock calls it, "one of the most enigmatic and unusual careers in modern history", one must take a closer look at the life of the future dictator. However, at first there was nothing to suggest that he should succeed in determining the fate of the world. That is why Fest calls the first 30 years of life "an aimless life".
This began on April 20, 1889: Adolf Hitler saw the light of day in Braunau am Inn, Austria. He grew up together with his sister Paula and the two half-siblings Alois and Angela. Hitler's mother Klara was a simple woman who worked as a housemaid for her future husband, Alois Hitler.
Since he was born out of wedlock, he had the last name Schicklgruber for almost 40 years. Two brothers could be considered as father: Johann Nepomuk Hüttler and Johann Georg Hiedler - their family name is probably of Czech origin and can be found in various variations in Hitler's home region.
When Alois changed his name, there was apparently an error, as Hitler was entered as the new surname. Interesting: Adolf Hitler himself never knew who his grandfather was - and there were rumors that his ancestor might have been Jewish, which is now considered disproved. Alois Hitler was a customs officer and was married to Klara for the third time. He died in 1903, she died four years later.
Failure in school
Because of the many moves that his father's job entailed, Adolf Hitler attended several elementary schools in which he received good grades. When he went to secondary school in Linz, his grades deteriorated drastically, he stayed seated several times and changed schools. But that didn't help either: "Out of reluctance and capricious indulgence" (Fest) Hitler gave up.
However, he had a decisive influence on the educational institution in Linz: In its nationally-minded atmosphere, Dr. Leopold Pötsch story. The eloquence of Pötsch had obviously made an impression on the young Adolf Hitler, so Fest: "... the affect against the Danube monarchy with its ethnic and racial mixture as well as the anti-Semitic attitude of Hitler undoubtedly came from there."
After leaving secondary school without a degree, he wanted to devote his life to art. His mother received a generous pension, so that Hitler saw no need to pursue a regular job. Instead, he lived with his mother in Linz. There he dealt with folkish reading for the first time in 1905.
The three key figures
Hitler came into contact with one of his role models as a teenager: he enjoyed going to the opera and was particularly enthusiastic about Richard Wagner's works. In 1907 he moved to Vienna and applied to the Academy of Fine Arts there, albeit without success.
After his mother's death, he went back to Linz for a short time, but returned to Vienna in early 1908, where he reapplied to the academy and was again not accepted.
However, he was able to live well with the inheritance of his father and mother and his orphan's pension without working regularly - but only for a limited time, which is why he was forced to live in homeless and men's dormitories in 1909/1910. Occasionally he made money selling his drawings and watercolors.
During this time he read more and more anti-Semitic writings and dealt intensively with what Fest put it, "three key ideological figures in his formation years": the founder of the "Pan-German Movement", Georg von Schönerer, the mayor of Vienna, Dr. Karl Lueger and the composer Richard Wagner.
With the latter, he shared a similar biography, for example the at least then unknown identity of his ancestors, the failure at school and the hatred of Jews. Lueger also had anti-Semitic views, which he proclaimed like a tribune of the people.
And Georg von Schönerer impressed Hitler with the program of the Pan-German Movement: The anti-Semite advocated turning the multi-ethnic state of Austria-Hungary into a nation in which only German-speaking people lived and which joined the German Reich.
Von Schoner's supporters addressed him as "Führer" and greeted each other with "Heil" shouts. The publicist Hannah Arendt classified him as the "spiritual father" of the later dictator.
War as a positive experience
In 1913 Hitler moved to Munich - probably also to evade Austrian military service. However, he was tracked down by the police there. When he was drafted in Austria, however, he was classified as incapable of weapons. In 1914 he volunteered for military service in the Bavarian Army, although he was still Austrian at the time and only received German citizenship in 1932.
It was clear to Kershaw that Hitler had completely committed himself to something for the first time in his life in 1914. Or as Fest writes: "In contrast to the hurtful experiences of the past few years, the war was Adolf Hitler's great, positive educational experience."
He stayed with the Reichswehr until 1920 and after the First World War took part in courses for propaganda purposes, in which his oratorical talent was shown. In this context he was taught by German national, Pan-German and anti-Semitic scholars, including Gottfried Feder, who had apparently laid the foundation for Hitler's urge to found a new party.
That happened very quickly: As a liaison man for a reconnaissance department of the Reichswehr, Hitler had to monitor political groups and so came across the German Workers' Party (DAP), where he finally found a political home.
Their goals included the rejection of democracy, hatred of Jews and Marxists, as well as retaliation for the Treaty of Versailles. As a member, Hitler trained his rhetoric at party events and cast a spell over the audience.
He worked on a 25-point program for the party that was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) on February 24, 1920. The following year he was given extensive powers as its new chairman - his political path to seizure of power began.
On the way to power
In 1923 there was chaos in the Weimar Republic due to left-wing coup attempts, inflation and separatist efforts. Hitler saw the time had come to seize power.
On the evening of November 8, 1923, he and his supporters stormed a meeting in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, which was attended by the Bavarian State Commissioner Gustav von Kahr and several ministers. It is true that he received a promise from Kahrs that he wanted to participate in a government led by Hitler. Hours later, however, von Kahr revoked this promise.
The next day Hitler wanted to push through the coup with thousands of his supporters. However, the Bavarian police thwarted these plans by stopping the putschists at gunpoint near the Feldherrnhalle. Hitler fled and was arrested two days later. Together with other participants in the putsch, Hitler was charged with high treason in February 1924 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
In the Landsberg Fortress he wrote the first volume of his book "Mein Kampf", in which he detailed his anti-democratic and anti-Semitic ideologies and plans for the event that he came to power - Volume 2 appeared in 1926.
He was released early from prison at the end of 1924. In 1925, the NSDAP, which was banned after the attempted coup, was re-established. In the Reichstag election in 1928, the party received only 2.6 percent of the vote, but from 1929 onwards it gained more support, as the Weimar Republic was shaken by the global economic crisis.
In 1931, President Paul von Hindenburg received Hitler for the first time after the NSDAP had become the second largest party in the 1930 elections. On March 13, 1932, Hitler received 30.2 percent of the vote in the first ballot for the Reich presidential election, and in the second ballot on April 10, he received 36.8 percent.
Hindenburg was re-elected to office with 53 percent. In August 1932, the latter rejected Hitler's request to appoint him Reich Chancellor - the NSDAP had become the strongest force in the Reichstag elections on July 31, with 37.3 percent. After Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag in September, there were elections again in November 1932.
This time, too, the NSDAP was the strongest party with 33.1 percent of the vote, even if it lost many votes. On January 30, 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor of the Reich.
While Hitler got to know more and more people from the 1920s and seduced them rhetorically, he had previously led a lonely life: he was very shy of contact, had hardly any friends, especially no women. In 1931 he was said to have had a relationship with his niece Angelika Raubal, known as Geli, who allegedly shot herself with his pistol in 1931.
Then began his relationship with Eva Braun, which he did not live in public. He only married her a few days before they committed suicide. When the German defeat was foreseeable in the last days of the war, Adolf Hitler shot himself on April 30, 1945.
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