Name: Adolf Hitler

Alive: 1889-1945

Bio: Born Austria and moving to Germany at a young age, Hitler showed an interest in German nationalism. After dropping out of school he moved to Vienna where he was rejected twice from art academy. After the loss of the First World War Hitler adopted many of the anti-Semitic ideas that he is known for whilst working as a military intelligence officer. In 1919 Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party (DAP), later the NSDAP. Hitler became known for his speeches and charisma when talking about the nationalist goal. Hitler ended up in jail after the failed Munich Putsch of 1923. Here he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle). After his release Hitler used the Great Depression to build his support in Germany. He promised employment and prosperity, leading him to become a strong force in German politics. In 1932 Hitler was promoted to Chancellor by Hindenburg and, he soon transformed this position into a dictatorship. He engineered the passage of the Enabling Act which gave him full legislative powers. Hindenburg soon passed and Hitler stood at the helm of German power. He began to mobilise for war, eventually annexing Austria and invading Poland. This brought about the commencement of WWII. Hitler’s most infamous crime is that of the Holocaust. Under Hitler, the Nazi’s implemented the systematic annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. By the end of the war an estimated that up to 6 million Jews had been killed in the Final Solution. Germany however, lost the war to Russia, America and Britain and, to evade capture Hitler committed suicide in his bunker.

Quotes:

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth”

“By the skilful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise”

Popular Culture:

“The Great Dictator”, film 1940

“Valkyrie”, film 2008

“Inglorious Basterds”, film 2009

Further Reading:

  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler (2010)
  • James Giblin, The Life and Death of Adolf Hilter (2002)
  • John Toland, Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography (1976)