Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and Führer (“leader”) of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. As dictator of Nazi Germany, he initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and was a central figure of the Holocaust.

Adolf Hittler was born in the small town of Braunau, located on the border between Germany and Austria in 1889. On the other side of the river separating the two countries, Adolf could see Bismarck’s Germany. Hitler’s personal life has become more relaxed and stable through the convenience brought by his political success.

At the outbreak of World War I, Hitler was living in München and as an Austrian citizen he volunteered to serve in the Bavarian Army. According to a subsequent report by the Bavarian authorities in 1924, Hitler almost certainly served in the Bavarian Army by error.

On a recommendation by Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann, Hitler’s Jewish superior, he received the Iron Cross, First Class on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler’s Gefreiter rank. He received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.

Once in power, Hitler established an absolute dictatorship. He secured the President’s agreement to hold new elections. The burning of the Reichstag from the night of 27 February 1933 (probably the action of a Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe) provided the pretext for the promulgation of a decree which suppressed the liberties and intensified the violence.

Hitler paid little attention to the internal problems of the organization and management of the Nazi state. Being in charge of formulating and implementing only the outline of his policy, as well as of the proper functioning of the system of terror that ensured the state’s security, he has left the administration tasks in his subordinates hands.

He granted quite a lot of attention to foreign policy. As mentioned quite clear in “Mein Kampf”, to unite all Germans in one country was his greatest ambition. Besides, the natural expansion was eastward towards Poland, Ukraine and the USSR, expansion that necessarily implied to resume the historic conflict with the Slavic peoples, which in the new order they were to be subordinated to the Teutonic master race. He saw in Fascist Italy its natural ally in this crusade. Great Britain was another possible ally, provided they abandon their traditional policy of maintaining the balance of power in Europe and to limit their interests in the overseas territories (colonies). In the west, France remained the natural enemy of Germany and therefore had to be intimidated or subdued, to make the eastward expansion possible.

The alliance with Italy, anticipated in “Mein Kampf”, quickly became a reality as a result of sanctions imposed on Italy by France and Great Britain during the Ethiopian war. In October 1936, it was proclaimed by Benito Mussolini the Rome-Berlin Axis. Soon after, the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan was signed and a year later all three countries have signed the pact. Although, theoretically, France had many allies in Europe, while Germany had none, Hitler’s Third Reich became the main European power.

The attack against the USSR was launched on 22 June 1941. The German army quickly filed in the Soviet Union, taking nearly three million prisoners, but failed to destroy the Russian opponent. Hitler became arrogant in dealing with his generals. He did not agree with what looked like the direction of the main attack, wasting time and strength not focusing on a single objective. In December 1941, a few kilometers from Moscow, a Soviet counteroffensive led finally to the conclusion that Hitler’s hopes to end the war with the Soviet Union through a single campaign can’t be achieved.

The next day, on 7 December, the Japanese attacked the US forces at Pearl Harbor. Hitler’s alliance with Japan compelled him to declare war on the United States. Since then, his entire strategy changed. He hoped and tried like his idol, Frederick II the Great, to break what he considered to be the unnatural coalition of his opponents, forcing one or the other of this coalition to conclude a separate peace. After all, the “unnatural” coalition of Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt was broken, but too late for Hitler. He also ordered the reorganization of the German economy on the basis of war.

Meanwhile, Himmler was preparing the ground for a “new order” in Europe. From 1933 to 1939, in some cases, even in the early years of the war, Hitler’s plans were to expel the Jews from the Great German Reich. In 1941, his policy was changed from expulsion to extermination. Concentration camps created by the Nazi regime were thus transformed and expanded to include extermination camps, such as Auschwitz, creating mobile and extermination teams, called “Einsatzgruppen” (Intervention Groups). Although Catholics, Poles, homosexuals, Gypsies and people with disabilities were considered targets of persecution, if not of the total extermination, the Jews of Germany, Poland and Soviet Union were by far the most numerous victims. In German occupied Europe during the war there were killed about 6,000,000 Hebrews. The sufferings of other populations were smaller, if one compares the number of those killed.

The desperate officers and the anti-Nazis civilians were prepared to remove Hitler and negotiate peace. Between 1943 and 1944 there were several attempts on Hitler’s life, the closest to achieving this objective being on 20 July 1944, when Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg detonated a bomb during a conference at Hitler’s headquarters in East Prussia. But Hitler escaped with only superficial wounds and, with few exceptions, those involved in the plot were executed. The reduction of the independence of the army was now complete. National Socialist political officers were named in all German military headquarters.

After January 1945, Hitler has never left the Reich Chancellery in Berlin or its bunker abandoning its plan to oppose a final resistance in the south, at the time when the Soviet troops were approaching Berlin. In a state of extreme nervousness and exhaustion, he finally accepted the inevitable defeat and was ready to take his life, leaving adrift the country where he exercised his absolute power. Before doing this, he had done two more things. On 28 April to 29 at midnight, he married Eva Braun. Immediately afterwards he dictated his political testament, justifying his career and naming Admiral Karl Dönitz as head of the state and Josef Goebbels as Chancellor.

On 30 April, he took his farewell from Goebbels and the few that were left in the bunker, then retreated to his apartment and shot himself. His wife took poison. In accordance with the instructions he had given, their bodies were burned.

Hitler’s successes are due to Germany’s postwar susceptibility and to his unique national leadership talent. The ascent to power was not inevitable, but there was no other person who had the equal ability to exploit and shape events in its purpose. The power that he held was unprecedented both in scope and in terms of technical resources at its disposal. His ideas and goals have been accepted, wholly or partly, by millions of people, especially in Germany, and elsewhere. By the time he was defeated, he destroyed much of what remained of the old Europe, while the German people were forced to deal with what was later called “Year Zero” – 1945.

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