Adolf Hitler, born April 20th 1889 in the small Austrian village of Braunau am Inn. Growing up Hitler lost his father at the age of fourteen. His mother spoiled him; he grew up undisciplined and with very little education. Hitler felt lost and unsuccessful at school, and at the age of sixteen Hitler left school and decided to pursue his love for art. Hitler moved to Vienna to attend the Academy of Arts but he failed his entrance examination. In 1908 his mother died. After her death Hitler returned to Vienna, where for some time lived quite well.
While living in Vienna lived of the money left to him by his parents and also government grants issued to him for being classified as a orphan student. But these financial resources were soon exhausted and he drifted through various menial jobs without ever setting a definite career. He slept on park benches and in flophouses and wore shabby and torn clothes which people gave to him out of pity. In 1913 Hitler moved from Vienna to Munich. Hitler’s experience in Munich was as uncertain and miserable as it was in Vienna.
When the war broke out in 1914 he volunteered for a Bavarian regiment, He was a good solider and for the first time he found some recognition and felt himself to be part of community. Over the years Hitler became very devoted to the German military and Germany its self. The collapse of Germany was a personal catastrophe for him. Hitler did not want to believe that the fall of Germany was due in part to his admired military leaders. In the eyes of Hitler the collapse of Germany was due to those dark forces that he had scene in Vienna – Marxists and Jews.
After the war in 1918 Hitler returned to Munich and was employed by the army as a propaganda speaker to keep the military spirit alive in the disheartened and defeated German nation. In the course of new found job he came into contact with a small group calling itself the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which pursued a somewhat confused mixture of nationalists and socialists ideas. In April of 1920 he went to work full time for the party, now under the abbreviated name of NAZI. In 1921 he was elected party Fuhrer with dictatorial powers.
On the years that followed his election to chancellor, Hitler spread his extreme views of racial hatred and contempt for democracy. During Hitler’s rise to power he organized meetings, and terrorized political foes with his personal bodyguard force, the Strumabteilung, also known as the SA or Storm troopers. In November 1923, a time of economic chaos, he lead an uprising, also known as a putsch, in Munich against the post war Weimar Republic, proclaiming himself chancellor of a new authoritarian regime. But do to the lack of military support the putsch collapsed.
As the leader of the scheme, Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail, but he only served nine months. During his nine months of imprisonment, he wrote his autobiography, Mein Kampf (My struggle). While in jail Hitler realized that his ways of illegally trying to gain power would no longer work for the time being. In December 1924 he rebuilt his NAZI Party without interference from those government officials he had tried to overthrow. When the Great Depression Struck in 1929, he explained it as a Jewish-Communist plot.
This explanation was widely accepted by many Germans. Promising a strong Germany, jobs, and a national glory, he attracted millions of voters. Representation of the NAZI Party in the Reichstag increased dramatically from 12 seats in 1928 to 107 seats in 1930. Hitler began to challenge President Hindenburg in the 1932 election. Hitler won over eleven million votes, 30% of the total. Hindenburg received over 18 million votes, 49% of the total. Since no one had a true majority, a run-off election was required.
Hitler traveled cross-country making wild promises and positive messages. On April 10, 1932, the run-off took place. Hitler received 13,418,547 votes, or 36%. Hindenburg took in 19,359,983 votes, 53% of the total. Although they had lost, the Nazis showed tremendous popularity and the current government seemed unstable at best. During this unstable time in the Reichstag rumors started to circulate that the former chancellor was back stabbing the President. President Hindenburg immediately appointed Hitler chancellor.
On his first day in office, Hitler manipulated Hindenburg into dissolving the Reichstag and calling for new elections on March 5th , 1933. Hitler and other high ranking Nazis hatched a plan to seize absolute power. They helped a Communist arsonist set the Reichstag on fire and then claimed it was a Communist plot. Hindenburg signed a state of emergency decree giving Hitler temporarily unlimited powers that normally violated the German constitution. As Chancellor one of his first to withdraw Germany from the League of Nations.
He wanted to be in charge of completely independent Germany. On the March 5 Election, Hitler won 44% of the vote; he needed a two thirds majority in the Reichstag to have a legal dictatorship. Hitler was able to win this majority thanks to the emergency decree. He used his new found powers to simply arrest any non-Nazi representative. On March 23, the Nazi Reichstag, with Hitler as President, passed a law giving Hitler complete dictatorial powers. From there Hitler would send German troops to occupy the Rhineland and conduct a systematic invasion of Europe starting World War II.