|Description: Nazi leader
Adolf Hitler: born April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria (then Austria-Hungary), a small town located in the Bavarian border - died by suicide on April 30, 1945 in Berlin.
German politician of Austrian origin, the founder and central figure of Nazism, also founder of the totalitarian dictatorship of the Third Reich.
Carried by the party he took over in 1921, the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), the head of Germany, he becomes Chancellor of the Reich on January 30, 1933, then is chosen in 1934 as president (he will then change his status to Führer (guide°).
He was at the origin of the Second World War and and committed during the war many crimes against humanity, including genocide of the Jews of Europe, which remains the most striking. For posterity, the unprecedented scale of destruction and mass crimes of which he was responsible, as the radical inhumanity characterising his doctrine and treatment inflicted on his victims, made him a particularly negative figure, and his name be near-universal revulsion.
Adolf Hitler was born April 20, 1889 in the Gasthof zum Pommer Inn, Vorstadt Nr 219, Braunau am Inn, a small town in Upper Austria near the German-Austrian border. He is the fourth of six children of Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl. Most children died in infancy; only his younger sister Paula († 1960) and Adolf will survive.
Alois Hitler, Adolf's father, is a customs’ officer. Born out of wedlock on June 7, 1837, Alois first has his mother’s name, Anna Maria Schicklgruber, but on June 6, 1876, he is legitimized by the husband of his mother, and obtained a year later the right to bear the name "Hitler". Adolf will never use the other last name, and "Schicklgruber" will reappear later with his political opponents.
The pedigree of Adolf Hitler, however, shows strong suspicions of consanguinity. The uncertainty about his origins is not without consequences. Thus, after the Anschluss (politico-military annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938), he will destroy Döllersheim, the birthplace of his father, turning it into a firing range.
Adolf spends his childhood under the strict discipline of an old father, retired civil servant since 1895. On January 3rd 1903, his father died, followed on December 21st 1907 by his mother, who died from breast cancer.
Mediocre student since his entry in the Realschule in Linz (high school), Hitler refused to follow the path of his father. As w new orphan, living with a small salary, he failed twice in the entrance examination of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1907 and October 1908. Self-taught, great reader and admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, like his friend August Kubizek, he developed a profound interest in architecture. He continued the odd jobs, living in a constant misery for five years. Later, in Mein Kampf, he wrote:
"Five years during which I had, as manoeuvre first, then as a small painter, earn my livelihood, meagre subsistence, who could not even appease my chronic hunger. For hunger was the faithful guardian which did not abandon me ever, the companion who shared everything with me. Each book I’d buy had its participation; a representation at the opera offered me his company the next day, it was a continual battle with my ruthless friend. But then I learned as never before. Out of my architecture, apart from my rare visits to Opera, the fruit of my fasts, I had no other joy than the increasing number of books I had. "
Adolf Hitler attends meetings of the Austrian parliament, he wrote later his contempt for democracy and parliamentarianism. He studied Pan-Germanist theories and observed the influence of politics on the masses.
In the spring of 1913, to avoid recruitment into the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, multiethnic state he abhors, he fled to Munich and lived by selling his paintings of landscapes. His attempt to escape conscription was noticed, but after being refused during a medical examination upon his return to Austria (for constitution "too low"), he returned to Munich.
The First World War
In 1914, exalted by the entry into war of Germany, Hitler takes part in volunteering. He is fighting on the western front in the 16th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Enthusiastic Soldier, he is appreciated by his peers and superiors, who refused however to upgrade him, considering he did not possess the qualities of a leader. He completes, for almost the entire duration of the war, the mission of messenger between officers (messenger is a military fonction). At the end of September 1916, his division left for the Battle of the Somme. Hitler was wounded once in the thigh, on October 7th. He returned to seek treatment in Germany, at the hospital of Beelitz, near Berlin. After an assignment in Munich, he returned to the front of Flanders. On the night of 13 to 14 October 1918, on a hill south of Wervicq, near Ypres (Belgium), his unit suffered a British bombing mustard gas. Hit in the eye, he is evacuated to the hospital of Pasewalk, Pomerania. Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross 1st class (distinction rarely granted to a committed soldier but easily granted to a messenger, because of his contacts with officers) for having completed the dangerous transport of a dispatch. Ironically, this decoration is handed to him on the recommendation of a Jewish officer.
While Germany is about to capitulate, the revolution takes over Berlin and the Kaiserliche Marine mutine. The Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and left for the Netherlands with his family. The Socialist Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the Republic. Two days later, the new power sign the armistice of 1918. From his hospital bed, Hitler is destroyed by this announcement. He claims in “Mein Kampf” to have had a patriotic vision while in hospital. When he left hospital in November 1918, he returned to his regiment in Munich. Later, he wrote that the war was "the most unforgettable time and most sublime."
The political struggle
Bavaria is now in the hands of a revolutionary government, Räterepublik ( "Republic of advice"); his barracks is headed by a Soviet ( "Board"). Disgusted, Hitler left Munich for Traunstein. However, in 1919, while the power is hesitating between communist KPD and the Social Democrats SPD, Hitler was elected delegate of his barracks, a first time when power in Bavaria was in the hands of the SPD, then a second time as delegate deputy in the short-lived communist regime (April-May 1919), just before the takeover of Munich by the troops. Hitler did not, however, adhere to these parties, and it is likely that the soldiers knew his nationalist political views.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler gives this episode a rather elliptical story, but quite clear about his vision of the world:
"In March 1919, we were back in Munich. The situation was untenable and pushing the continuation of the revolution. The death of Eisner did accelerate the development and ultimately led to the dictatorship of the Soviets, rather, a passenger sovereignty of the Jews, which had originally been the aim of promoting the revolution and whose ideal they worshiped.
During this new soviets’ revolution, I uncovered myself for the first time so that I attracted the evil eye of the soviet central.
On 27 April 1919, I had to be arrested, but the three guards did not have the necessary courage in the presence of a gun pointed at them and went back as they had come.
A few days after the issuance of Munich, I was appointed to the commission of inquiry into the revolutionary events in the 2nd Infantry Regiment.
This was my first function of a political nature. "
Hitler remains in the army until March 31, 1921 and is mandated to monitor a small political group, the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP).
Noticed at one of his speeches, he finally becomes a member of the party, and turns it into NSDAP Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ( "National Socialist German Workers'). In April 1921, he became the leader of the party. Because of his eloquence and skills as a political agitator, the party is gaining rapidly in popularity.
In January 1922, Hitler was sentenced to three months in jail (two suspended) for "disturbing public order". He served the sentence between June and July 1922 in Munich. Hitler is threatened with being expelled from Bavaria.
On 8 and 9 November 1923, he led the abortive putsch known as the Putsch of the brewery. The NSDAP was immediately prohibited. Arrested, Hitler is accused of conspiracy against the State and sentenced on 1 April 1924 to five rigorous years of imprisonment for "high treason", that he serves in the prison of Landsberg am Lech.
During his detention, he dictates to his secretary Rudolf Hess his book “Mein Kampf” (My struggle), autobiographical narrative, and especially political manifesto, will become the manifesto of the Nazi movement. Hitler unveils his ideology without any artefact (Weltanschauung) fearsome and very consistent he had been completing since 1919, which would not change anymore and that he will try to put into practice.
In addition to his hatred of democracy, France "mortal enemy of the German people", socialism and the "Judeo-Bolshevism", his doctrine is based on his intimate pseudo-scientific belief based on a Darwinian struggle between different "races" inherently unequal. At the top of a strict pyramid, would be the German race or race of Lords, "sometimes called" Nordic race "and sometimes" Aryan race "(and whose most prominent representatives would be the big blond with blue eyes, although Hitler himself was small and brown ...). This superior race must be "cleansed" of all foreign elements, "non-German" (undeutsch), Jews or sick, and should dominate the world by brute force. In traditional Pan-Germanism which consolidates all ethnic Germans in the same state, Hitler adds the conquest of an unlimited living space (Lebensraum), that has to be tear off from the East cournties, including the "sub-human" Polish and Slavic. Finally, Hitler speaks constantly of "eradicating" (ausrotten) or "destroying" (vernichten) Jews, compared to vermin or lice, which are not only for him a radically inferior race, but also radically dangerous.
After only 13 months of detention and despite the determined opposition of the prosecutor Stenglein, he benefited of early release on December 20, 1924.
Fearing to be deported to Austria, Hitler renounces Austrian nationality on April 30th, 1925. He became a stateless person (who would later deport stateless persons, forced into concentration camps to wear a special insignia), and although he is forbidden to speak publicly until March 5, 1927, he rebuilt his party and found a certain popularity. If its electoral successes remain modest until 1928, the NSDAP makes its structures more efficient and spreads geographically. It diversifies its effect on mass organizations in creating associations that each target a category of society: students, peasants, workers, women, youth (Hitlerjugend or "Hitler Youth"). The party is located in northern Germany by the brothers Otto and Gregor Strasser, who, more than Hitler, emphasis on the "socialist" side of Nazism and wanted the alliance with the Soviet Union against Western "ploutocraties". Faced with the latter, his only serious rivals for the leadership of the Party, Hitler reinforces his personal authority.
From this date, he imposes as a mandatory rule in the Nazi Party the Nazi Salutation- a "Heil Hitler! ", or, if you are facing him, "Heil mein Führer! "- a permanent reminder of its supremacy. It’s also in this period that Joseph Goebbels, Gauleiter of Berlin, one of his most loyal supporters emerges - who, close to the Strasser brothers initially treated Hitler of "small aristocrat "and called for his exclusion of the party, before succumbing to his charisma (1926). The SA, the brutal militia of the party which is illustrated in the attacks and street fighting, posing more problems to Hitler by their quite large recruitment in the opponents of the oligarchy and their discipline often uncertain. In 1930, facing a serious rebellion on their part, Hitler recalls from Bolivia his former accomplice of the putsch of 1923, Ernst Röhm, which he had placed himself on the sidelines in 1925: the latter resumed their head and restores the order in their ranks. But to allow Hitler to balance the power of the SA, Heinrich Himmler created in 1925 the SS in charge of the personal guard of Hitler, the "black order", the future instrument of terror police and genocide application, is the elite much more devoted to the very person of the Führer that the SA. Hitler has full confidence in "the faithful Heinrich (treue der Heinrich), that he described him as a blind obedient, and who dedicated to Hitler a notoriously fanatical admiration.
In 1928, only 2.6% of voters gave the NSDAP their confidence in the legislative elections of May 28. But he did not have any serious competitor left to the far- right, because many groups and small parties of the völkisch movement ( "national-racist") had declined after 1924-1925, while the old Marshal Ludendorff, a former participant of the coup de la Brasserie Hitler had skilfully driven to attend the 1925 presidential election, was disqualified by his poor score. The fruits of the reorganization deal from that date.
The weak democratic tradition in Germany, political instability (death of Gustav Stresemann, fall of Chancellor Hermann Müller, replaced by the Conservative government and authoritarian of the Zentrum Heinrich Brüning) and especially the catastrophic consequences of the 1929 crisis on the German economy heavily dependent on USA, the NSDAP soon brought a rapid and unexpected success in the elections of 14 September 1930: with 18.3% of the vote and 107 seats, the Nazi party becomes the second party in the Reichstag.
The seven-chairman of the President Hindenburg ending May 5, 1932, the right and the Zentrum, in order to avoid new elections, offer to tacitly renew the presidential mandate. The agreement of the Nazis is necessary, Hitler demands the resignation of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning and new parliamentary elections. Hindenburg refuses. On 22 February 1932, Joseph Goebbels announced the nomination of Adolf Hitler as President of the Republic. On 26 February, Hitler is aptly named Regierungsrat, an official of State, which automatically gives him the German nationality.
His election campaign is unprecedented in terms of propaganda (in particular, by using aircraft in his electoral transports, which allows Goebbels of sticking and hanging posters praising "the Führer flighs (ing) Above Germany). Hitler gets 30.1% of votes in the first round on March 13, 1932 and 36.8% in the second round in April. Hindenburg is re-elected. During the regional elections after the presidential election the NSDAP strengthens its positions.
In 1932, the situation is worsening in the economic and social sides (more than 6 million unemployed at the end of the year). The unrest and political insecurity are at their peak. The Government is unable to assemble a majority. Engaged in a battle with Hitler, President Hindenburg still refuses to appoint him chancellor: the old Prussian Marshal, former head of the German army during World War I, shows his contempt for staff who he describes as "little bohemian corporal "and which he says has " just the scale for a Posts Minister. All attempts at conciliation fail.
At the end of 1932, the Nazi movement passes through a difficult phase: the financial crisis becomes acute, activists and voters get tired of the lack of opportunities and internal contradictions of the program of Hitler, Gregor Strasser threatens to split with the support of Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher, finally the parliamentary elections of November 1932 have noted a declining popularity of NSDAP, which lost 2 million votes. That's when Leon Blum, France, wrote in Le Populaire that the road to power is definitively closed for Hitler and that any hope of access to him is gone. Yet these setbacks won’t stop his determination.
The destruction of democracy (1933-1934)
Hitler was appointed to the Chancery of the Weimar Republic on January 30, 1933, following a month of intrigue at the summit organized by former Chancellor Franz von Papen, and with the support of the right and the involvement of DNVP, the Deutschnationale Volkspartei (German National People's Party). The DNVP, led by the tycoon in nationalist press Alfred Hugenberg, hopes to be, with the help of the Zentrum Party (Catholic) von Papen, able to control the new chancellor - although the DNVP represents only 8% of votes while the Nazis were 33.1%.
Indeed, the first government of Hitler counts, in addition to the chancellor himself, only two Nazis: Göring, in charge of Prussia and Wilhelm Frick of the Interior.
But Hitler doesn’t wait long to start changing Germany. On the 1st of February, he obtained from Hindenburg the dissolution of the Reichstag. On February 3, he enlists the support of the army. During the election campaign, Von Papen, Thyssen and Schacht obtain from financials and industrials, hitherto rather reserved to Hitler, their financial help the refill the cashes of the NSDAP and finance its campaign. The SA and the SS, the Nazi party militias, are powered as police auxiliary. Many deaths mark the meetings of opposition parties, including the SPD and the KPD. Critics are already brutalized, tortured and even murdered.
The Reichstag fire, February 27, allows Hitler to suspend all civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution and radicalize the elimination of his political opponents, including members of the communist KPD, illegally arrested.
The NSDAP wins the elections on March 5, 1933 with 43.9% of the votes. Within days, in all federal states of Germany, the Nazis seized by force all local levers of power. On 20 March, during a grandiose ceremony propaganda on the tomb of Frederick II of Prussia in Potsdam, where he displayed himself alongside Hindenburg, Hitler proclaims the advent of the 3rd Reich,to which he promises a reign of " thousand years ". On 23 March, the Reichstag votes for the full powers Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz), which grants him special powers for four years.
It is a decisive stage of the regime’s hardening. Without even waiting for the adoption of the law, the Nazis opened the first concentration camp Standing on March 20 at Dachau, led by Himmler. The latter throws in southern Germany, as Göring in Prussia, the foundations of the dreaded Nazi political police, the Gestapo. On May 2, unions are dissolved and their assets seized. On May 10, the Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels presides in Berlin night of Autodafé where Nazi students burned in public thousands of "bad books" of Jewish writers, pacifist, Marxist or psychoanalysts. Thousands of opponents, scholars and intellectuals leave Germany. On July 14th, the NSDAP becomes the single party. Hitler also puts an end to local freedoms. The autonomy of the Länders is definitively abolished in 1934: he became the head of the first centralized state ever witnessed in Germany.
In all, between 1933 and 1939, 150 000 to 200 000 people were interned, and between 7 000 and 9 000 were killed by State violence. Hundreds of thousands of others have fled Germany.
The Nazis condemned the "degenerate art" and "Jewish science", and destroyed or dispersed many works of avant-garde art. Hitler's programme to "purify" the German race is also very early implemented: officials and academics Jews are removed from the spring of 1933, while the SA launched a brutal campaign of boycott of Jewish shops. A law providing for the forced sterilization of sick and disabled is applied as early as summer 1933. Particularly hating the mixing of populations (or Rassenschand described as "racial shame"), Hitler will order the sterilization in 1937, of the 400 children born in the 20’s from German women and black soldiers from the French troops of occupation.
The SA of Röhm require that the "National Socialist revolution takes a more ant capitalist turn, and dream in particular to take control of the army, thus undermining the alliance forged between the Chancellor and the traditional conservative elites. On 30 June 1934, during the Night of Long Knives, with the support of the army and the President, Hitler ordered the assassination of several hundreds of his supporters and his former political enemies. Among them, Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm, head of the SA, but also Dr. Erich Klausener, head of Catholic Action, or its predecessor to the Chancery, Von Schleicher, and Von Kahr, which had blocked his road during the putsch of 1923.
The death of President Hindenburg on August 2, destroys the living link with the Weimar Republic. Under the Constitution, the Chancellor temporarily exercises the powers of the deceased president. The same day, the Reichstag passed a law merging the two functions in one: Hitler became Hitler und Reichskanzler.