Known for the genocide of millions of people, is the most hated man around the world; Adolf Hitler. People for generations have considered his name and his rule as a perfect example of what an evil, authoritarian regime looks like. It is indeed something to ponder upon and introspect sincerely as to how, Hitler being born a human being turned into this ruthless, sinister and inhumane of a man who sat on the throne of horror, screams, and cries of millions of people and how a country of civilized people let such an evil catastrophe climb to power. To see how Hitler evolved into the man he was with half of the German population hailing him for his evil rule, is a lesson worth learning on how brutal the consequences of misinformed and misdirectioned ambition can be and how manipulative and callous in their ways humans can become to realize the same.
Table of Contents
Being born on April 20th, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungry as Adolphus Hitler, he and his family later moved to Passau then changed places to Leonding and then to Hafeld, during his childhood. Adolf’s Parents, Alois Hitler and his third wife Klara Hitler were both devoted Roman Catholics. They had six children together, three of whom died in their infancy. Their fourth child, after the death of three, was Adolf Hitler. After him, they had two more children Edmund and Paula. Adolf was eleven when his younger brother Edmund passed away, impacting his child-like mind deeply.
Relationship with his mother was the closest attachment Adolf had as a child. His relations with his father were not pleasant. His father wished that he went into the field of custom services which was of no interest to young Adolf at all. What did interest him was arts and he wanted to join an art school. But Alois Hitler was strictly ardent on his decision and used violence and abuse to force his decision on Adolf. He sent Adolf to Realschule in Linz for further education, but his performance was poor. On his father’s death in 1903, Hitler dropped out of that school but on his mother’s wish, he tried to make one last effort and took admission in Realschule, Steyr in 1904. And after a repeat paper, Adolf completed his secondary education and did not plan to go any further.
He then wished to pursue his dream in arts and moved to Vienna in order to accomplish his dream of becoming a professional artist by joining the prestigious Academy of Arts. But he was rejected for admission, twice in 1907 and 1908. This failure was followed by the death of his mother. This broke him to the core and dropped him into the hands of poverty. Adolf began to live in a homeless shelter and earned some money by selling his paintings. By 1909, the then twenty-year-old Adolf had witnessed the worst of what life could give to a young man of his age.
Influence of World War I
When Hitler received his father’s last property in 1913, he moved to Munich, city in Germany. Originally he was to be a part of the Austro-Hungarian army but was dismissed on being considered unfit. But as World War I broke out in 1914 with Hitler living in Munich, Germany at the time, he volunteered and was accepted in the Bavarian army in the 16th Bavarian reserve regiment, as a messenger, Carrying messages to the front line. In his first year, he was awarded for his bravery.
In 1918, during the battle of Ypres, Hitler lost his eyesight because of the mustard gas attack by the British. He was admitted to Pasewalk military hospital. Usually, the blindness caused by this poison gas gets cured in a few days but Hitler’s blindness was prolonged. Edmund Forster, a psychologist was consulted on this matter. Forster revealed that Hitler’s blindness while not physical was mental or psychosomatic.
Hitler was diagnosed with ‘Hysterical Amblyopia’ or hysterical blindness. In order to cure this illness, Hitler was treated psychologically by boosting his ego. In this process, Hitler was manipulated into thinking that he was not a normal person but a special being who had it in his own hands, through sheer force of will, the power to be cured of the illness that persisted. He was also told that he was very important to Germany and can change its fate. These messages were embedded deep in his heart and mind. This mental manipulation worked and Hitler got cured of his hysterical blindness but it also sowed seeds of high ambition and power in his heart.
In 1918, World War I ended and Germany lost the war and signed an agreement of peace. This news struck Hitler badly.
As the war ended with a peace agreement, Hitler was very disappointed by it. He wanted Germany to conquer not compromise and according to him the left-wing party which was dominated by Jews had betrayed them and signed a peace treaty. This rose flames of hate against the Jews within him that in its most budding stage was probably lit up by his devoted catholic parents and school teachers. Thus, concreting within him the start of what we know as anti-semitism.
He was quite influenced by the burning Right-wing Movement of Italy led by Benito Mussolini, the fascist, whose ideology centred around the belief that power has to be seized if not won. Hitler was much appreciative of the idea of this man with this pre-designed, thought out the persona to maximize the influence and who rose up to power solely on his terms.
The rising socialist movement also had its way of impacting Hitler’s mind. He absolutely despised the aim of socialist movement that was, a communist world. He was ardent to reverse it. But despite of opposing their aim he was quite influenced by their tactics; which primarily involved the use of violence to control and make people agree on their terms. This strengthened his believe that in order to control, one needs to spread very real, almost tangible ‘fear’ in the minds of people.
The feeling of extreme nationalism bore in his heart from a very young age. His history teacher Leopold Pooch in his high school in Linz had a great influence on Hitler to raise this extreme German nationalism. This patriotism also involved the idea that Germany and German-speaking Austria should be united. These thoughts dug up a deep place in his mind. And when in later years he was psychologically fired up with ego and self-importance, he inculcated in himself the feeling that he was going to change Germany all for better, in his ways and this duty was bestowed upon him by god.
Climbing up to power
Hitler remained a part of the army as an intelligence agent until 1919. He joined the German Workers’ Party as the 555th member of the party because he agreed to their ideas and policies. Impressed by Hitler’s oratory skills, the party chairman Anton Drexler appointed Hitler as the propaganda chief. He had much influence of Dietrich Eckart, his mentor in the party. On 31st March 1920, Hitler left the army to work full time with the party. The party changed its name to National Socialist German Worker’s Party or the NAZI Party, to increase its influence. Hitler was the one to design the party logo, the swastika. Party’s aim was to destroy Marxism and the Jews. Hitler’s powerful speeches gained him huge crowd and support.
In 1921, party had a conflict as some of the executive members wanted to join hands with the opponent, German socialist party. Hitler was strictly against it and gave his rejection but his resigning would have been a huge loss as he was the influential face of the party; hence the party was determined to bring him back. So on his conditions, the party chairman Drexler was removed and Hitler was brought back to the party. Despite some opposition in the party who called Hitler a traitor, He was named as the chairperson of the party, in place of Drexler.
Once in charge, Hitler created his paramilitary forces or the ‘Brown Shirts’ from the retired military officers. As influenced by Benito Mussolini and his idea of seizing the power instead of contesting in elections, Hitler in 1923 marched across the streets with 600 storm-troopers and took over beer hall in Bavaria where the state prime minister Gustav Von Kahr was attending a meeting and declared a national revolution there. When he was marching to Bavarian War Ministry to seize the power, the state police was alarmed and Hitler was captured. He was sentenced to five-year imprisonment in Landsberg Prison and Nazi party organizations were banned in Bavaria.
These five years made time for future program planning. Hitler decided to get his ideas jotted down on paper and started working on his book; ‘Mein Kampf’.
Mein Kampf is Hitler’s autobiography and political manifesto. The first volume was published in 1925 and second volume in 1926. ‘Mein Kampf’ is a German term meaning ‘My Struggle’. The book was typed down by Hitler’s fellow Nazi, Rudolf Hess.
The book contains Hitler’s life history and the making of the man he was, as described in his own words. It also contains all his ideas about his ideal Germany. This book clarifies his set ofbeliefs and the then-upcoming policies he would be creating in accordance with those ideas.
Hitler’s idea was to create a master race of Germany and he related his idea with Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’. He believed that all the real Germans, the Aryans are a superior kind with pure and stronger blood. The idea of ‘superiority’ was they were supposed to be physically strong and have certaindetermining characteristics such as blond hair and blue eyes. In his book, he mentions that the superior once must dominate and not blend with others. And in order to create the superior master race, the weaker ones need to be sorted out just like nature sorts out the weaker.
The Jews, according to Hitler had impure blood and hence needed to be segregated. He denounced the Jews brutally in his book. The economic state of Germany was also not very stable at that time and Jews were massively involved in the banking sector so the blame for Germany going bankrupt was on the Jews. Hitler tried his best to spread hatred against Jews in every way possible, in this political manifesto. And also he did talk about Jews held under poison gas and this was a precursor thought to the future devastations.
Hitler also mentioned that the superior Aryan race deserves more living space and this would be a part of his foreign policy as he decided to invade the neighboring foreign lands to create moreliving space. He believed that the superior Germans had the right to take away foreign lands from racially weaker people, in particular the Russians.
The Great Depression and taking overpower
On 20th December 1924, Hitler was dismissed from the jail as the Bavarian Supreme Court pardoned him. On February 16, 1925, the ban on Nazi party organizations from entering Bavaria was removed after a polite meeting between Hitler and Bavarian president on 4th Jan 1925. But Hitler was still not allowed to address the public. So he gave the duty of spreading Nazi ideals in Northern Germany to Gregor and Otto Strasser and Joseph Gebbels.
The Wallstreet crash in America on 24th October 1929, created a great depression in Germany. Germany suffered from mass unemployment and poverty and there was longing for a powerful leader. Nazi party took advantage of this and promised employment and upliftment of Germany. In 1930, the Nazi party levelled up in the following elections and saw huge gains. Hitler’s speeches left people awe-struck and forced them to believe everything he said.
In 1932 elections, The Nazis rose up as the largest party, though not in the majority, Hitler was given the position ofchancellor by the president, Paul von Hindenburg under official pressure. He got the power he desired, by democratic means and then he did not need democracy anymore thereafter begins his sole rule.
The Evil Rule
In 1933, he persuades parliament to grant him emergency powers and suspends the constitution. Once the power was seized, he began to put an end to every political enemy that could threaten his rule. The members of the opposition Communist party were killed or imprisoned and their capability for any political action was destroyed. Not just the political enemies but many people from the Nazi party itself, who were capable of any sort of power or intentions other than that of Hitler’s, were also eliminated, including the head of his stormtroopers and his friend; Ernst Rohm. He ordered purging of all his opponents between June 30th – July 2nd 1934, known as the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. Many senior Nazi officers are murdered. The former chancellor general Schleicher and the Bavarian politician Gustav von Kahr were brutally killed. Hence establishing god-like governance. And now was the time to execute every program mentioned in Mein Kampf and bring it to reality.
His next aim was to create the master German race. In 1933, Hitler passed a law for sterilizing people who were unfit or diseased. Around 400,000 German people weresterilized till 1945. There were Nuremberg laws or anti-Semitic laws established by the Nazis. In 1935, he released a law stating that marriage between Germans and Jews was prohibited. All the citizenship rights were taken away from the Jews, their businesses were shut down. On 9th November 1938, Hitler unleashed his violent tactics upon Nazi Germany and Austria and burnt a thousand synagogues, destroying Jewish businesses, capturing thousands of Jews and sending them to the concentration camps. They called it ‘the night of breaking glass’. Many Jews flew from the country but many more remains.
His other plan was to get back all that Germany had lost during World War I. For this, he made huge military advancements. He massively invested in the German unified armed forces, the Wehrmacht. Then on 12th March 1938, he moved to his next step, Anschluss i.e the unification of Austria and Germany, the long-desired dream of extreme nationalists. He was determined to get back all the land Germany had lost in World War I and so he seizes Rhineland and then Czechoslovakia. Hitler was not satisfied by this and wanted to spread the living space for his German master race and with the help of his Blitzkrieg military strategy he went on invading Poland which escalated World War II. Then Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, France were all occupied by Germany.
Hitler brutally murders humanity and brings it to its knees. The first and foremost was to remove the diseased and unfit population from Germany. Disabled adults were being sterilized so they don’t conceive unfit children. Then in 1939, Hitler began the child euthanasia program or Akinton T4, under which disabled or mentally ill youth up to the age of seventeen, whose lives were unworthy of living according to Hitler, were taken away from their parents and lethal injections were given to kill them. This program spread its range from disabled kids to adults and then to weak old people. Around 300,000 people were killed under this program till 1945.
This program was however costly and slow to execute and Hitler needed a more efficient way to mass murder the population which was deemed unworthy and unfit for Hitler’s ideal Germany. Many Nazi-occupied Polish and Russian Jews and sick people were killed in a way known as the Sardine Packing, under which the people were taken to ghettos, shot dead and buried upon the older layer of dead bodies.
The most gory and evil act, Hitler committed was sending people to the concentration camps. Jews, the group that Hitler hated the most was to be confined in a place to segregate it from the German population, under this plan. Dachau was the very first evident type of concentration camp which was actually a detention camp for state prisoners, built-in 1933 and the imprisoned socialists and communists were to be taken here. Then around 1938, Jews were being sent to these detention camps and they were subjected to forced labor. Then in 1941 came up the six ‘Extermination camps’, which were to be used for mass murdering of Jews and Roma. People were taken to these camps and in this process families dispersed, they were thrown into chambers filled with people and were showered with poisonous carbon monoxide.
World War II and Hitler’s end
Germany, Japan, and Italy formed an alliance in opposition to the Soviet Union, America, Britain, and China. Western allies invaded Germany by crossing the Rhine on 22nd March 1945. On 2nd May 1945, Soviet Union captured Berlin.
Hitler was already witnessing his losing power, both on the country and on himself physically which was evident by his shaking in his left hand and dragging feet. When he saw the upcoming fall of Berlin, he was devastated and on 30th April 1945 in Berlin, he shot himself dead and hence ended the personification of evil himself.