Adolf Hitler

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Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April, 1889 in Austria. In 1894 the family relocated to Leonding where he attended Volksschule (a state-owned school) in near by Fischlham. Two years after his father’s death in 1903, he left school and moved to Vienna and worked as a casual laborer and a watercolor painter. Hitler applied to the Academy of Fine Arts twice, and was rejected both times. Out of money, he moved into a homeless shelter, where he remained for several years.

At the outbreak of World War I, Hitler joined German army (in 1914) and was a part of significant battles. He was recognized for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross First Class and the Black Wound Badge. After World War I, Hitler returned to Munich and continued to work for the military as an intelligence officer and adopted many of the anti-Semitic, nationalist and anti-Marxist ideas.

The Great Depression in Germany provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent to the parliamentary republic and increasingly open to extremist options. In 1932, Hitler ran against Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency and came in second in both rounds of the election, obtaining more than 35 percent of the vote in the final election. The election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics. Hitler used his position as chancellor to form a de facto legal dictatorship. He achieved full control over the legislative and executive branches of government. Hitler thus became head of state as well as head of government, and was formally named as leader and chancellor. As head of state, Hitler became supreme commander of the armed forces. He began to mobilize for war. Hitler escalated his activities in 1940, invading Scandinavia as well as France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium. Hitler ordered bombing raids on the United Kingdom, with the goal of invasion. Hitler’s military judgment became increasingly erratic.

Germany’s military and economic position deteriorated along with Hitler’s health. With significant setbacks, many German officers concluded that defeat was inevitable and that Hitler’s denial would result in the destruction of the country. By early 1945, Hitler realized that Germany was going to lose the war. Afraid of falling into the hands of enemy troops, Hitler and Braun committed suicide the day after their wedding, on April 30, 1945.

Hitler’s political program had brought about a world war, leaving behind a devastated and impoverished Eastern and Central Europe, including Germany. His policies inflicted human suffering on an unprecedented scale and resulted in the death of an estimated 40 million people. Hitler’s defeat marked the end of a phase of European history dominated by Germany.

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