History & Culture

Adolf Hitler | Biography, his Nazi Party, and death

Let's talk about the life of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi movement. Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 in the village of Braunau near the Bavarian border in Austria as the son of a small-ranking customs officer. After he was rejected twice from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he made a living with arm force in small jobs such as beating carpets during the first 25 years of his life. Just before the First World War, he joined a prejudice shared by many at the time in Vienna and began to see the Jews as trouble for Europe.

Frequently asked questions about Adolf Hitler

What is Adolf Hitler's historical importance?

Hitler was of great historical importance – this does not imply a positive judgment – because his actions changed the course of the world. He was responsible for starting World War II, resulting in the death of more than 50 million people. He also caused the Soviet Union to expand its power in eastern, central, and Balkan Europe. Then, he caused a communist movement to gain control in China, which shifted the balance of power from western Europe to the United States, and the Soviet Union. Besides, Hitler was responsible for killing six million Jews and millions of people through controlling the government.

How did Adolf Hitler rise to power?

Hitler's rule began in 1919, joining the German Workers' Party, that is, the Nazi Party. He became the leader of the party in a short time due to his oratory skills and the use of propaganda. Hitler benefited from the unrest of the Great Depression, gaining popularity across the country and was second in the presidential race in 1932. Various maneuvers of Hitler prevailed, and Paul von Hindenburg appointed him as the chancellor in January 1933. The following month, the Reichstag fire occurred, and this used as an excuse for a decree that overrides all freedom rights. Then the Enabling Act, which granted Hitler full authority, was adopted on March 23. When Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934, the chancellor and the presidency were united and Hitler took his place as the Führer ("leader").

How Adolf Hitler started World War II?

Hitler had a dominant passion for land expansion, largely driven by the desire to reunite German peoples and the pursuit of Lebensraum, the "living space" that would make the Germans economically self-sufficient and powerful in military. Such intentions were supported by many in Germany, who were resisting the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. Then, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, where French and British military support was guaranteed in any case of military attack. Two days later, both countries declared war on Germany and started World War II.

Who were the most important officers of Adolf Hitler?

The most important figure of Hitler's inner circle was the propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was an ardent follower who Hitler chose as the new chancellor before he died. But Goebbels stayed as the chancellor only for a day before he committed suicide. Other important people were; Hermann Göring, leader of the Nazi Party and one of the main architects of the Nazi state police in Germany; Heinrich Himmler, the second man in Hitler's rule; Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister and chief negotiator of various treaties; Martin Bormann, one of Hitler's closest lieutenants; and Walther Funk, an economist who serves as the president of the Reichsbank.

How did Adolf Hitler die?

As Soviet troops entered the heart of Berlin, Hitler committed suicide in an underground bunker on April 30, 1945. Although there is some speculation about the way of his death, he is believed to shot himself. Eva Braun, whom he was married recently, ended her own life as well. According to their wishes, both were burned and buried. However, conspiracy theories began immediately after. The Soviets initially claimed that they could not confirm Hitler's death and the rumors that Hitler may still be alive spread quickly. However, according to later reports, the Soviets extracted the dental records from Hitler's burnt remains. Then they threw his ashes into a river in Germany in 1970.

The life of Adolf Hitler

Hitler joined the war as a corporal. He was a loyal soldier in the army and earned a medal two times. In 1918, his vision was damaged in Ypres, and during the treatment, he decided to become a politician. In 1920, Hitler was enrolled in the small German Workers' Party and soon became the leader. By 1923, he gave the party a new name: the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazi for short.

He created the SA, a bandit group of former soldiers, and gave the party's message with a kick and baton in Munich for the first time. The attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government as a preparation for an attack on Berlin resulted in a fiasco, and Hitler spent 1924 in prison for his role in the uprising plan that fell into the water.

There he wrote his first book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) with the help of a friend, Rudolf Hess, who would later become the vice president of the Nazi party. Hitler underestimated democracy in his book through theories he made with prejudices collected from various sources. He expressed his hatred for Jews and Slavs and shared his intention to create a Lebensraum (habitat) in Eastern Europe based on his idea of a superior race. However, Hitler had learned from the Munich fiasco and decided to use parliamentary means to eradicate democracy. He gathered a gang of loyalists, including self-taught men, such as Goebbels, Göring, Ernst Röhm, and Heinrich Himmler, who were the masters of propaganda events such as Nuremberg Rallies.

Even Hitler's most loyal fans had hardly read My Struggle, which consists of a thoroughly elongated selfish loquacity and semi-mature racist assumptions.
Even Hitler's most loyal fans had hardly read My Struggle, which consists of a thoroughly elongated selfish loquacity and semi-mature racist assumptions.

By using his oratory skills, Hitler washed the nation's brain in a short time on a series of trips, with the promise of a new and powerful Germany that would rise from the ashes of old Germany.

Nazi's election tactics

During the campaign, Hitler always focused on two strong themes that deeply affected the hearts of most Germans. The first is the tale of the German army being stabbed in the back in 1918. According to the theory, if the weak politicians had not surrendered by then, Germany would have won the world war. The second was the argument that the provisions of the 1919 Versailles Peace Treaty turned Germany into a second-class nation by seizing German territory, requiring very high compensation, and forbidding the rearmament of Germany.

According to Hitler, the Weimar Republic, founded in 1919, ruled Germany in the interests of Jewish-Capitalist cooperation. The big business world regarded Hitler as a fortress against communism, and his anti-Semitism provided the unemployed and the poor with a scapegoat to overcome their suffering.

The 1929 Great Depression helped the Nazis become the second biggest party of the Reichstag in 1930. In the 1932 elections, the number of unemployed reached almost 6 million, while the Nazis became the largest party in the state. It was two months before Hitler achieved his political goal.

The Nazis asked the Germans to boycott a Jewish store in Berlin. The Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) resulted in thousands of Jewish shops being destroyed in 1938.

The Nazis asked the Germans to boycott a Jewish store in Berlin. The Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) resulted in thousands of Jewish shops being destroyed in 1938.

What is the Night of the Long Knives?

In the spring of 1934, Hitler began receiving reports from the SS and the Gestapo that SA leaders were preparing a conspiracy for him. The reports were fake, but Hitler believed them. SA was now a force of 2.5 million people, and many leaders like Röhm were proposing a pure socialist revolution. Besides, the Regular Army should have been controlled by a single defense minister, with SS and SA headed by Röhm. It was time for SA to be brought into line.

Early on the morning of June 30th, SS officers took Röhm from his bed who was sleeping in a hotel outside Munich. He was thrown into prison and was offered suicide. Röhm said, "If I am to be killed, let Adolf do it himself." Instead of Hitler, two SS officers performed the task. Many other SA leaders and Hitler's political oppositions were killed during that night and weekend. This is known as the "Night of the Long Knives".

Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm

Some officials say hundreds of them were killed, some say it was thousands. Although these events were known to everyone, no objection was raised from the press, the church, the soldier or the party itself is an indication of how Hitler took the German nation into his claw.

In the Reichstag, Hitler advocated the action of cleaning the SA with the pretext that Röhm was homosexual. Hitler managed to convince the army officers that SA no longer poses a danger, and this was the moment Hitler benefited from the slaughter as he needed the support of the army. On his deathbed, Hindenburg wrote a telegram to Hitler saying, "You have saved the German nation from serious danger," and continued, "He who would make history must also be able to shed blood."

Hitler's enormous power

Hitler stole a large number of artworks for Germany during World War II or hid them elsewhere.
Hitler stole a large number of artworks for Germany during World War II or hid them elsewhere.

Hitler took on the chancellor's post in 1933, after receiving the support of almost one of every two German in the election held three months ago. For the next five years, he established his own administration without knowing any rules, crushed all possible sources of opposition, and eventually boasted that "It is my ambition not to know a single statesman in the world who has a better right than I to say that he is a representative of his people."

By 1937, the unemployed fell from 6 million to 1 million. Hitler had created an extensive public service program, with particular emphasis on road construction. He also created a program for the armament industry and the industry had made great strides. Previously a weak army of 100,000 people devoid of contemporary weapons was now turned into a great fighting force.

It was a slap in the face of England and France, as it was just to break the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was striking a blow in succession, reoccupying the Rhineland in 1936, swallowing the Austria and Czech Sudetenland in 1938, but the Western powers were not giving a sound response other than rickety protests.

On the other hand, the Nazis' obsessive anti-Jewish campaign was gradually gaining momentum, and the horror days of the "Final Solution" were approaching.

Who were Gestapo, SA and, SS?

Hitler's names and uniforms were consisting of fearful organizations.

  • Gestapo: Geheime Staatspolizei, Secret State Police, was founded in 1933 by Hermann Göring to arrest and interrogate political criminals.
  • Sturmabteilung: Also known as Brown Shirts, Nazi militia power founded by Hitler in 1923 and eliminated in 1934.
  • Schutzstaffel: The arm of the Nazi party in black uniform, passionately bound to Hitler. It was first established as the Führer's bodyguard, then expanded and became an army. Although the difference between the two is not clear, it had two branches: the Totenkopf or "Skull" SS, charged with concentration camps, and the Waffen or "Warrior" SS who claims to be an elite military unit. The difference between the two is often incomprehensible.

Neville Chamberlain and his crucial mistake

Hitler with Neville Chamberlain
Hitler with Neville Chamberlain

When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned home from his meeting with Hitler in Munich in September 1938 where he received the promise of not getting attacked, said, "I believe it is peace for our time.". Of course, this took its place in history as a big lie.

The rise of the Nazis and Hitler

Let's evaluate how Adolf Hitler and the Nazis conquered the country step by step. This is a significant example of how economic issues in countries can damage peoples' decision-making abilities.

The troops endlessly flowed through the Brandenburg Gate in front of the imposing Chancellery building from the lush green Unter den Linden boulevard. The torches held high by the soldiers created a river of fire. It was the evening of January 30, 1933, and Berlin was witnessing the most magnificent scenery in its history. That afternoon, the president of the nation, 85-year-old WWI hero Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler to the German chancellor.

The Nazi propaganda machine had transformed Hitler into the "Führer (leader) of future Germany"; the man who would wipe out the shame of the peace treaty signed in Versailles after the First World War. Hindenburg was once called Hitler the "little Bohemian corporal" but the time for National Socialism had come. As the "Heil Hitler" shouts surrounded the Chancellor building, the marching SS guards and SA troops in brown shirts lifted their arms bearing the swastika and gave a Nazi salute.

Once a simple worker in Vienna, Adolf Hitler never concealed his disdain for democracy and the Weimar Republic that rose from the ashes of the German Empire which was defeated after Kaiser Wilhelm retreated from the throne. So making Hitler prime minister meant some kind of gambling. However, his National Socialists were the largest party in the German parliament Reichstag. Conservative politicians who agreed to form a coalition government with him believed that Hitler would inevitably settle down due to the responsibilities of his duty.

Planned Reichstag fire

The Reichstag elections in the first week of March provided an opportunity to see whether the German nation approved the new government. However, just before the day of voting, the Nazis gained the upper hand: On the evening of February 27, Hindenburg had dinner with people working with him in Herrenklub, just around the corner of the Reichstag. He suddenly saw something shining outside on the street. Everyone ran to the windows. They saw the Reichstag's huge, gilded dome was sparkling.

Adolf Hitler had dinner at the house of Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, and was listening to the record on the gramophone. A phone rang to report that the Reichstag was on fire. Hitler and Goebbels were on the scene within minutes. They immediately declared the fire as an arson act that the communists were attempting to start the "red revolution".

As Hitler watched the Reichstag collapse, his right-hand man, First World War air hero and current Reichstag President Hermann Göring shouted, "Every Communist official must be shot." The next morning, while the smoke was still rising from the remnants of the Reichstag, Hitler convinced Hinderburg to declare a "state of emergency". Freedom rights were suspended and police were given the power to arrest and detain everyone without trial.

Thousands of communists and liberals, including the Reichstag members, were gathered and imprisoned. A young man was arrested and convicted of setting the Reichstag on fire. However, there was an overriding belief that the explosion led to the fire was actually the job of a Nazi detachment who took action upon the open order of Goebbels and Göring.

Nazis undid democracy

New Chancellor Hitler passes by the people of Berlin next to President Paul von Hindenburg
New Chancellor Hitler passes by the people of Berlin next to President Paul von Hindenburg

The Nazis tried to impress and convince the mass of voters, sometimes by frightening and sometimes by flattering them. However, they still had not achieved the majority in the March 5 elections. Nevertheless, 44% of the votes allowed Hitler to eliminate democracy and establish a dictatorial regime in Germany, as the percentage was higher than all other parties.

Hitler decided to open the new Reichstag with a stage show at the old Garrison Church in Potsdam, where the great emperor of the Great Prussia was buried. Again with cunning symbolism, March 21 was chosen as the date of the ceremony and this date was when Bismarck opened the first Reichstag in 1871. Everything was prepared to emphasize that old Germany is integrated with this new Germany.

The houses in the old capital were completely decorated with swastika flags and red-black-white imperial flags. Elderly army officers in imperial uniforms at the church were next to the Nazis in black and brown clothing.

While Hindenburg prayed for Hitler saying "to save the old soul of this famous temple from selfishness and party fights, thus bringing the nation together as a proud and free Germany," Hitler kneeled and thanked the president for giving the pride and honor of the motherland.

Two days later, the Reichstag gathered at the Potsdam opera house and approved an Authorization Act, which gave Hitler unlimited authority, with an overwhelming majority of 441 against 94. German democracy gave its last breath.

By the summer of 1933, all political parties except the National Socialist Party were closed. The state and the party solidarity were officially confirmed by law in December. To underline this point, the "Hitler salute" made compulsory while the national anthem was singing.

In June 1934, the German nation had accepted the dictation of Hitler by displaying no reaction on the sinister "Night of the Long Knives." During the bloody weekend, many former comrades including the ones helped Hitler to come to power, were also among the killed.

Adolf Hitler quotes

  • “If you win, you need not have to explain…If you lose, you should not be there to explain!”
  • “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
  • “Do not compare yourself to others. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.”
  • “If you want to shine like sun first you have to burn like it.”
  • “And I can fight only for something that I love, love only what I respect, and respect only what I at least know.”
  • “Anyone can deal with victory. Only the mighty can bear defeat.”
  • “Think Thousand times before taking a decision But – After taking decision never turn back even if you get Thousand difficulties!”
  • “When diplomacy ends, War begins.”
  • “The man who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes”