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Führer und Reichskanzler
2 August 1934 – 30 April 1945
Preceded by Paul von Hindenburg
Succeeded by Karl Dönitz
Reichskanzler (Chancellor) of Germany
30 January 1933 – 30 April 1945
Preceded by Kurt von Schleicher
Succeeded by Joseph Goebbels
Born 20 April 1889
Braunau am Inn, Austria–Hungary
Died 30 April 1945 (aged 56)
Citizenship Austrian (1889–1932)
Nationality Austrian citizen until 1925
citizen after 1932
Political party German Workers' Party(1920–1921)
National Socialist German Workers'
Spouse(s) Eva Braun
(married on 29 April 1945)
Occupation Politician, soldier, artist, writer
Religion See Adolf Hitler's religious views
Allegiance German Empire
Years of service 1914–1918
Unit 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Iron Cross First and Second Class
Kristallnacht · Bucharest
Dorohoi · Iaşi · Jedwabne
Kaunas · Lviv (Lvov) · Vel' d'Hiv
List of ghettos
Budapest · Lublin
Lviv (Lvov) · Łódź
Kraków · Kovno · Minsk
Warsaw · Vilnius
Babi Yar · Rumbula
Ponary · Odessa
Erntefest · Ninth Fort
(Warsaw · Białystok
End of World War II
Death marches · Berihah
Romani people (Gypsies)
People with disabilities
Slavs in Eastern Europe
Poles · Soviet POWs
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi extermination camps
Auschwitz-Birkenau · Bełżec
Bergen-Belsen · Bogdanovka
Buchenwald · Chełmno
Dachau · Gross-Rosen
Janowska · Jasenovac
Kaiserwald · Majdanek
Neuengamme · Ravensbrück
Sachsenhausen · Sajmište
Salaspils · Sobibór
Stutthof · Theresienstadt
Treblinka · Uckermark
List of Nazi concentration
World War II
between Israel and
Survivors · Victims
The Destruction of
the European Jews
v • d • e
Adolf Hitler (German pronunciation: [ adˈ ɔlf hˈ ɪtlɐ]; 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was
an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist
German Workers Party(German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei,
abbreviated NSDAP), commonly known as the Nazi Party. He was Chancellor of
Germany from 1933 to 1945 and, after 1934, also head of state as Führer und
Reichskanzler, ruling the country as an absolute dictator ofGermany.
A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the precursor of the Nazi Party
(DAP) in 1919 and became leader of NSDAP in 1921. He attempted a failed
coup called the Beer Hall Putschin Munich in 1923, for which he was imprisoned.
Following his imprisonment, in which he wrote his book, Mein Kampf, he gained
support by promoting German nationalism, anti-semitism,anti-capitalism,
and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and propaganda. He was
appointed chancellor in 1933, and quickly transformed the Weimar Republic into
the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on
the totalitarian and autocratic ideals of national socialism.
Hitler ultimately wanted to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi
German hegemony in Europe. To achieve this, he pursued a foreign policy with
the declared goal of seizingLebensraum ("living space") for the Aryan people;
directing the resources of the state towards this goal. This included the
rearmament of Germany, which culminated in 1939 when theWehrmacht invaded
Poland. In response, the United Kingdom and France declared war against
Germany, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
Within three years, Germany and the Axis powers had occupied most of Europe,
and most ofNorthern Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
However, with the reversal of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union,
the Allies gained the upper hand from 1942 onwards. By 1945, Allied armies had
invaded German-held Europe from all sides. Nazi forces engaged in numerous
violent acts during the war, including the systematic murder of as many as
17 million civilians,
an estimated six million of whom were Jews targeted in the
Holocaust and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 were Romanis.
included ethnic Poles, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with
disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other political and religious
In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his
long-time mistress Eva Braun and, to avoid capture by Soviet forces less than
two days later, the twocommitted suicide
on 30 April 1945.
1 Early years
o 1.1 Ancestry
o 1.2 Childhood
o 1.3 Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
o 1.4 World War I
2 Entry into politics
o 2.1 Beer Hall Putsch
o 2.2 Mein Kampf
o 2.3 Rebuilding of the party
3 Rise to power
o 3.1 Brüning Administration
o 3.2 Appointment as Chancellor
o 3.3 Reichstag fire and the March elections
o 3.4 "Day of Potsdam" and the Enabling Act
o 3.5 Removal of remaining limits
4 Third Reich
o 4.1 Economy and culture
o 4.2 Rearmament and new alliances
o 4.3 The Holocaust
5 World War II
o 5.1 Early diplomatic triumphs
5.1.1 Alliance with Japan
5.1.2 Austria and Czechoslovakia
o 5.2 Start of World War II
o 5.3 Path to defeat
o 5.4 Attempted assassination
o 5.5 Defeat and death
7 Religious views
o 7.1 Attitude to occultism
o 8.1 Syphilis
o 8.2 Monorchism
o 8.3 Parkinson's disease
o 8.4 Other complaints
o 8.5 Mental health
o 8.6 Addiction to amphetamine
o 8.7 Criticism
11 Hitler in media
o 11.1 Oratory and rallies
o 11.2 Recorded in private conversation
o 11.3 Patria picture disc
o 11.4 Documentaries during the Third Reich
o 11.5 Television
o 11.6 Documentaries post Third Reich
o 11.7 Films
12 See also
15 Further reading
o 15.1 Medical books
16 External links
Hitler's father, Alois Hitler, was an illegitimate child of Maria Anna
Schicklgruber so his paternity was not listed on his birth certificate and he bore
his mother's surname.
In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Maria and in
1876 Alois testified before a notary and three witnesses that Johann was his
At age 39, Alois took the surname Hitler. This surname was variously
spelled Hiedler, Hüttler, Huettler and Hitler, and was probably regularized
to Hitler by a clerk. The origin of the name is either "one who lives in a hut"
(Standard German Hütte), "shepherd" (Standard German hüten "to guard",
English heed), or is from theSlavic word Hidlar and Hidlarcek. (Regarding the first
two theories: some German dialects make little or no distinction between the ü-
sound and the i-sound.)
Despite this testimony, Alois' paternity has been the subject of controversy. After
receiving a "blackmailletter" from Hitler's nephew William Patrick
Hitler threatening to reveal embarrassing information about Hitler's family tree,
Nazi Party lawyer Hans Frank investigated, and, in his memoirs, claimed to have
uncovered letters revealing that Alois' mother, Maria Schicklgruber, was
employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family's 19-
year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, fathered Alois.
No evidence has ever
been produced to support Frank's claim, and Frank himself said Hitler's full Aryan
blood was obvious.
Frank's claims were widely believed in the 1950s, but by the
1990s, were generally doubted by historians.
Ian Kershaw dismisses the
Frankenberger story as a "smear" by Hitler's enemies, noting that all Jews had
been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until
well after Alois was born.
Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at half-past six in the evening at the
Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn inBraunau am Inn, Austria–Hungary, the fourth
of Alois and Klara Hitler's six children.
Adolf Hitler as an infant
At the age of three, his family moved to Kapuzinerstrasse 5
Germany where the young Hitler would acquire Lower Bavarian rather than
Austrian as his lifelong native dialect.
In 1894, the family moved
toLeonding near Linz, then in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at
Hafeld near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping.
During this time, the young Hitler attended school in nearby Fischlham. As a
child, he tirelessly played "Cowboys and Indians" and, by his own account,
became fixated on war after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian
War in his father's things.
He wrote in Mein Kampf: "It was not long before the
great historic struggle had become my greatest spiritual experience. From then
on, I became more and more enthusiastic about everything that was in any way
connected with war or, for that matter, with soldiering."
His father's efforts at Hafeld ended in failure and the family moved to Lambach in
1897. There, Hitler attended a Catholic school located in an 11th-
century Benedictine cloister whose walls were engraved in a number of places
with crests containing the symbol of the swastika.
It was in Lambach that the
eight year-old Hitler sang in the church choir, took singing lessons, and even
entertained the fantasy of one day becoming a priest.
In 1898, the family
returned permanently to Leonding.
His younger brother Edmund died of measles on 2 February 1900, causing
permanent changes in Hitler. He went from a confident, outgoing boy who found
school easy, to a morose, detached, sullen boy who constantly battled his father
and his teachers.
Hitler was close to his mother, but had a troubled relationship with
his authoritarian father, who frequently beat him, especially in the years after
Alois' retirement and disappointing farming efforts.
Alois wanted his son to
follow in his footsteps as an Austrian customs official, and this became a huge
source of conflict between them.
Despite his son's pleas to go to classical high
school and become an artist, his father sent him to the Realschule in Linz, a
technical high school of about 300 students, in September 1900. Hitler rebelled,
and in Mein Kampf confessed to failing his first year in hopes that once his father
saw "what little progress I was making at the technical school he would let me
devote myself to the happiness I dreamed of." But Alois never relented and Hitler
became even more bitter and rebellious.
For young Hitler, German Nationalism quickly became an obsession, and a way
to rebel against his father, who proudly served the Austrian government. Most
people who lived along the German-Austrian border considered themselves
German-Austrians, but Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany. In defiance of
the Austrian monarchy, and his father who continually expressed loyalty to it,
Hitler and his young friends liked to use the German greeting "Heil", and sing the
German anthem "Deutschland Über Alles" instead of theAustrian Imperial
After Alois' sudden death on 3 January 1903, Hitler's behaviour at the technical
school became even more disruptive, and he was asked to leave. He enrolled at
the Realschule in Steyr in 1904, but upon completing his second year, he and his
friends went out for a night of celebration and drinking, and an intoxicated Hitler
tore his school certificate into four pieces and used it as toilet paper. When
someone turned the stained certificate in to the school's director, he "... gave him
such a dressing-down that the boy was reduced to shivering jelly. It was probably
the most painful and humiliating experience of his life."
Hitler was expelled,
never to return to school again.
At age 15, Hitler took part in his First Holy Communion on Whitsunday, 22 May
1904, at the Linz Cathedral.
His sponsor was Emanuel Lugert, a friend of his
Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
From 1905 on, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna on an orphan's pension and
support from his mother. He was rejected twice by theAcademy of Fine Arts
Vienna (1907–1908), citing "unfitness for painting", and was told his abilities lay
instead in the field of architecture.
His memoirs reflect a fascination with the
The purpose of my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum, but
I had eyes for scarcely anything but the Museum itself. From morning until late at
night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings
which held my primary interest.
Following the school rector's recommendation, he too became convinced this
was his path to pursue, yet he lacked the proper academic preparation for
In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be
sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at
the Realschule were sorely needed. One could not attend the Academy's
architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technic,
and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfilment
of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.
The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich, by Adolf Hitler, 1914
On 21 December 1907, Hitler's mother died of breast cancer at age 47. Ordered
by a court in Linz, Hitler gave his share of the orphans' benefits to his sister
Paula. When he was 21, he inherited money from an aunt. He struggled as a
painter in Vienna, copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to
merchants and tourists. After being rejected a second time by the Academy of
Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless. By
1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstraße.
Another resident of the house, Reinhold Hanisch, sold Hitler's paintings until the
two men had a bitter falling-out.
Hitler said he first became an anti-Semite in Vienna,
which had a large Jewish
community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms in Russia.
According to childhood friendAugust Kubizek, however, Hitler was a "confirmed
anti-Semite" before he left Linz.
Vienna at that time was a hotbed of traditional
religious prejudice and 19th century racism. Hitler may have been influenced by
the writings of the ideologist and anti-Semite Lanz von
Liebenfels and polemicsfrom politicians such as Karl Lueger, founder of
the Christian Social Party and Mayor of Vienna, the composer Richard Wagner,
and Georg Ritter von Schönerer, leader of the pan-Germanic Away from
Rome! movement. Hitler claims in Mein Kampf that his transition from opposing
antisemitism on religious grounds to supporting it on racial grounds came from
having seen an Orthodox Jew.
There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews who lived
there had become Europeanised in external appearance and were so much like
other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans. The reason why I
did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion was that the only external
mark which I recognized as distinguishing them from us was the practice of their
strange religion. As I thought that they were persecuted on account of their faith
my aversion to hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of
abhorrence. I did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a
systematic antisemitism. Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly
encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My
first thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance in
Linz. I carefully watched the man stealthily and cautiously but the longer I gazed
at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the more the
question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?
If this account is true, Hitler apparently did not act on his new belief. He often
was a guest for dinner in a noble Jewish house, and he interacted well with
Jewish merchants who tried to sell his paintings.
Hitler may also have been influenced by Martin Luther's On the Jews and their
Lies. In Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to Martin Luther as a great warrior, a true
statesman, and a great reformer, alongside Richard Wagner and Frederick the
Wilhelm Röpke, writing after the Holocaust, concluded that "without any
question, Lutheranism influenced the political, spiritual and social history of
Germany in a way that, after careful consideration of everything, can be
described only as fateful."
Hitler claimed that Jews were enemies of the Aryan race. He held them
responsible for Austria's crisis. He also identified certain forms of socialism
and Bolshevism, which had many Jewish leaders, as Jewish movements,
merging his antisemitism with anti-Marxism. Later, blaming Germany's military
defeat in World War I on the 1918 revolutions, he considered Jews the culprits of
Imperial Germany's downfall and subsequent economic problems as well.
Generalising from tumultuous scenes in the parliament of the multi-national
Austrian monarchy, he decided that the democratic parliamentary system was
unworkable. However, according to August Kubizek, his one-time roommate, he
was more interested in Wagner's operas than in his politics.
Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved
to Munich. He wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always longed to live in a "real"
German city. In Munich, he became more interested in architecture and, he says,
the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Moving to Munich also helped him
escape military service in Austria for a time, but the Munich police (acting in
cooperation with the Austrian authorities) eventually arrested him. After a
physical exam and a contrite plea, he was deemed unfit for service and allowed
to return to Munich. However, when Germany entered World War I in August
1914, he petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in
a Bavarian regiment. This request was granted, and Adolf Hitler enlisted in the
A young Hitler (left) posing with other German soldiers
World War I
Hitler served in France and Belgium in the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment
(called Regiment Listafter its first commander), ending the war as
a Gefreiter (equivalent at the time to a lance corporalin the British and private first
class in the American armies). He was a runner, "a dangerous enough job"
the Western Front, and was often exposed to enemy fire. He participated in a
number of major battles on the Western Front, including the First Battle of Ypres,
the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Battle of Ypres (October 1914), which became known in Germany as
the Kindermord bei Ypern (Massacre of the Innocents) saw approximately 40,000
men (between a third and a half) of the nine infantry divisions present killed in 20
days, and Hitler's own company of 250 reduced to 42 by December.
Biographer John Keegan has said that this experience drove Hitler to become
aloof and withdrawn for the remaining years of war.
Hitler in the German Army, 1914, sitting at right
Hitler was twice decorated for bravery. He received the Iron Cross, Second
Class, in 1914 and Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918, an honour rarely given to
However, because the regimental staff thought Hitler lacked
leadership skills, he was never promoted to Unteroffizier(equivalent to a British
corporal). Other historians
say that the reason he was not promoted is
that he was not a German citizen. His duties at regimental headquarters, while
often dangerous, gave Hitler time to pursue his artwork. He drew cartoons and
instructional drawings for an army newspaper. In 1916, he was wounded in either
the groin area
or the left thigh
during the Battle of the Somme, but returned
to the front in March 1917. He received the Wound Badgelater that year. A noted
German historian and author, Sebastian Haffner, referring to Hitler's experience
at the front, suggests he did have at least some understanding of the military.
On 15 October 1918, Hitler was admitted to a field hospital, temporarily blinded
by a mustard gasattack. The English psychologist David Lewis and Bernhard
Horstmann suggest the blindness may have been the result of a conversion
disorder (then known as "hysteria").
Citing contemporary witnesses, Claus Hant
concludes that the psychotic episode led Hitler to believe that he had received a
In fact, Hitler said it was during this experience that he became
convinced the purpose of his life was to "save Germany." Some scholars,
notably Lucy Dawidowicz,
argue that an intention to exterminate Europe's
Jews was fully formed in Hitler's mind at this time, though he probably had not
thought through how it could be done. Most historians think the decision was
made in 1941, and some think it came as late as 1942.
Two passages in Mein Kampf mention the use of poison gas:
At the beginning of the Great War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen
thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to
submit to poison-gas . . . then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would
not have been in vain.
These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human weakness and must
lead to success, with almost mathematical certainty, unless the other side also
learns how to fight poison gas with poison gas. The weaker natures must be told
that here it is a case of to be or not to be.
Hitler had long admired Germany, and during the war he had become a
passionate German patriot, although he did not become a German citizen until
1932. Hitler found the war to be 'the greatest of all experiences' and afterwards
he was praised by a number of his commanding officers for his bravery.
was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918 even while the
German army still held enemy territory.
Like many other German nationalists,
Hitler believed in the Dolchstoßlegende ("dagger-stab legend") which claimed
that the army, "undefeated in the field," had been "stabbed in the back" by civilian
leaders and Marxists back on the home front. These politicians were later
dubbed the November Criminals.
The Treaty of Versailles deprived Germany of various
territories, demilitarised the Rhineland and imposed other economically
damaging sanctions. The treaty re-created Poland, which even moderate
Germans regarded as an outrage. The treaty also blamed Germany for all the
horrors of the war, something which major historians such as John Keegan now
consider at least in part to be victor's justice: most European nations in the run-
up to World War I had become increasingly militarised and were eager to fight.
The culpability of Germany was used as a basis to impose reparations on
Germany (the amount was repeatedly revised under the Dawes Plan, the Young
Plan, and the Hoover Moratorium). Germany in turn perceived the treaty and
especially, Article 231 the paragraph on the German responsibility for the war as
a humiliation. For example, there was a nearly total demilitarisation of the armed
forces, allowing Germany only six battleships, no submarines, no air force, an
army of 100,000 without conscription and no armoured vehicles. The treaty was
an important factor in both the social and political conditions encountered by
Hitler and his Nazis as they sought power. Hitler and his party used the signing of
the treaty by the "November Criminals" as a reason to build up Germany so that
it could never happen again. He also used the "November Criminals" as
scapegoats, although at the Paris peace conference, these politicians had had
very little choice in the matter.
Entry into politics
Main article: Adolf Hitler's political views
A copy of Adolf Hitler's forged German Workers' Party (DAP) membership card. His actual
membership number was 555 (the 55th member of the party – the 500 was added to make
the group appear larger) but later the number was reduced to create the impression that
Hitler was one of the founding members.
Hitler had wanted to create his own party, but
was ordered by his superiors in the Reichswehr to infiltrate an existing one instead.
After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich, where he
– in contrast to his later declarations – attended the funeral march for the
murdered Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner.
After the suppression of
the Bavarian Soviet Republic, he took part in "national thinking" courses
organized by the Education and Propaganda Department (Dept Ib/P) of the
BavarianReichswehr Group, Headquarters 4 under Captain Karl Mayr.
Scapegoats were found in "international Jewry", communists, and politicians
across the party spectrum, especially the parties of the Weimar Coalition.
In July 1919, Hitler was appointed a Verbindungsmann (police spy) of
an Aufklärungskommando(Intelligence Commando) of the Reichswehr, both to
influence other soldiers and to infiltrate a small party, the German Workers'
Party (DAP). During his inspection of the party, Hitler was impressed with
founder Anton Drexler's anti-semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-
Marxistideas, which favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version
of socialism and mutual solidarity of all members of society. Drexler was
impressed with Hitler's oratory skills and invited him to join the party. Hitler joined
DAP on 12 September 1919
and became the party's 55th member.
also made the seventh member of the executive committee.
Years later, he
claimed to be the party's seventh overall member, but it has been established
that this claim is false.
Here Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of the early founders of the party and
member of the occultThule Society.
The Thule members believed in the coming
of a “German Messiah” who would redeem Germany after its defeat in World War
I. Dietrich Eckart expressed his anticipation in a poem he published months
before he met Hitler for the first time. In the poem, Eckart refers to ‘the Great
One’, ‘the Nameless One’, ‘Whom all can sense but no one saw’.When Eckart
met Hitler in 1919 he believed to have found the prophesied redeemer.
became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him, teaching him how to dress
and speak, and introducing him to a wide range of people. Hitler thanked Eckart
by paying tribute to him in the second volume of Mein Kampf. To increase the
party's appeal, the party changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National Socialist German Workers Party (abbreviated
Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and with his former superiors'
continued encouragement began participating full time in the party's activities. By
early 1921, Hitler was becoming highly effective at speaking in front of large
crowds. In February, Hitler spoke before a crowd of nearly six thousand in
Munich. To publicize the meeting, he sent out two truckloads of party supporters
to drive around withswastikas, cause a commotion and throw out leaflets, their
first use of this tactic. Hitler gained notoriety outside of the party for his
rowdy,polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians
(including monarchists, nationalists and other non-internationalistsocialists) and
especially against Marxists and Jews.
was centred in Munich, a hotbed of German nationalists who
included Army officers determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar
republic. Gradually they noticed Hitler and his growing movement as a suitable
vehicle for their goals. Hitler traveled to Berlin to visit nationalist groups during
the summer of 1921, and in his absence there was a revolt among the DAP
leadership in Munich.
The party was run by an executive committee whose original members
considered Hitler to be overbearing. They formed an alliance with a group of
socialists from Augsburg. Hitler rushed back to Munich and countered them by
tendering his resignation from the party on 11 July 1921. When they realized the
loss of Hitler would effectively mean the end of the party, he seized the moment
and announced he would return on the condition that he replace Drexler as party
chairman, with unlimited powers. Infuriated committee members (including
Drexler) held out at first. Meanwhile an anonymous pamphlet appeared
entitled Adolf Hitler: Is he a traitor?, attacking Hitler's lust for power and criticizing
the violent men around him. Hitler responded to its publication in a Munich
newspaper by suing for libel and later won a small settlement.
The executive committee of the NSDAP eventually backed down and Hitler's
demands were put to a vote of party members. Hitler received 543 votes for and
only one against. At the next gathering on 29 July 1921, Adolf Hitler was
introduced as Führer of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, marking
the first time this title was publicly used.
Hitler's beer hall oratory, attacking Jews, social democrats, liberals, reactionary
monarchists, capitalists and communists, began attracting adherents. Early
followers included Rudolf Hess, the former air force pilot Hermann Göring, and
the army captain Ernst Röhm, who eventually became head of the
Nazis' paramilitary organization, the SA (Sturmabteilung, or "Storm Division"),
which protected meetings and attacked political opponents. As well, Hitler
assimilated independent groups, such as the Nuremberg-based Deutsche
Werkgemeinschaft, led byJulius Streicher, who became Gauleiter of Franconia.
Hitler attracted the attention of local business interests, was accepted into
influential circles of Munich society, and became associated with wartime
General Erich Ludendorff during this time.
Drawing of Hitler, 1923
Beer Hall Putsch
Main article: Beer Hall Putsch
Encouraged by this early support, Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in
an attempted coup later known as the "Beer Hall Putsch" (sometimes as the
"Hitler Putsch" or "Munich Putsch"). The Nazi Party had copied Italy's fascists in
appearance and had adopted some of their policies, and in 1923, Hitler wanted
to emulate Benito Mussolini's "March on Rome" by staging his own "Campaign in
Berlin". Hitler and Ludendorff obtained the clandestine support of Gustav von
Kahr, Bavaria's de facto ruler, along with leading figures in the Reichswehr and
the police. As political posters show, Ludendorff, Hitler and the heads of the
Bavarian police and military planned on forming a new government.
On 8 November 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting headed by
Kahr in the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. He declared that he
had set up a new government with Ludendorff and demanded, at gunpoint, the
support of Kahr and the local military establishment for the destruction of the
Kahr withdrew his support and fled to join the opposition to
Hitler at the first opportunity.
The next day, when Hitler and his followers
marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the
Bavarian government as a start to their "March on Berlin", the police dispersed
them. Sixteen NSDAP members were killed.
Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl and contemplated suicide. He was
soon arrested for high treason. Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of
the party. During Hitler's trial, he was given almost unlimited time to speak, and
his popularity soared as he voiced nationalistic sentiments in his defence
speech. A Munich personality became a nationally known figure. On 1 April 1924,
Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. Hitler
received favoured treatment from the guards and had much fan mail from
admirers. He was pardoned and released from jail on 20 December 1924, by
order of the Bavarian Supreme Court on 19 December, which issued its final
rejection of the state prosecutor's objections to Hitler's early release.
time on remand, he had served little more than one year of his sentence.
On 28 June 1925, Hitler wrote a letter from Uffing to the editor of The Nation in
New York City stating how long he had been in prison at "Sandberg a. S." [sic]
and how much his privileges had been revoked.
Main article: Mein Kampf
Dust jacket of Mein Kampf
While at Landsberg he dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My
Struggle, originally entitled Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies,
Stupidity, and Cowardice) to his deputyRudolf Hess.
The book, dedicated to
Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and an exposition
of his ideology. Mein Kampf was influenced by The Passing of the Great
Race by Madison Grant which Hitler called "my Bible."
It was published in two
volumes in 1925 and 1926, selling about 240,000 copies between 1925 and
1934. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies had been sold or distributed
(newlyweds and soldiers received free copies).
Hitler spent years dodging taxes on the royalties of his book and had
accumulated a tax debt of about 405,500 Reichsmarks (€6 million in today's
money) by the time he became chancellor (at which time his debt was waived).
The copyright of Mein Kampf in Europe is claimed by the Free State of Bavaria
and scheduled to end on 31 December 2015. Reproductions in Germany are
authorized only for scholarly purposes and in heavily commented form. The
situation is, however, unclear. Historian Werner Maser, in an interview with Bild
am Sonntag has stated that Peter Raubal, son of Hitler's nephew, Leo Raubal,
would have a strong legal case for winning the copyright from Bavaria if he
pursued it. Raubal has stated he wants no part of the rights to the book, which
could be worth millions of euros.
The uncertain status has led to contested
trials in Poland and Sweden. Mein Kampf, however, is published in the U.S., as
well as in other countries such as Turkey andIsrael, by publishers with various
Rebuilding of the party
Adolf Hitler (left), standing up behind Hermann Göring at a Nazi rally in Nuremberg, 1928
At the time of Hitler's release, the political situation in Germany had calmed and
the economy had improved, which hampered Hitler's opportunities for agitation.
Though the "Hitler Putsch" had given Hitler some national prominence, his party's
mainstay was still Munich.
The NSDAP and its organs were banned in Bavaria after the collapse of the
putsch. Hitler convincedHeinrich Held, Prime Minister of Bavaria, to lift the ban,
based on representations that the party would now only seek political power
through legal means. Even though the ban on the NSDAP was removed effective
16 February 1925,
Hitler incurred a new ban on public speaking as a result of
an inflammatory speech. Since Hitler was banned from public speeches, he
appointed Gregor Strasser, who in 1924 had been elected to the Reichstag,
as Reichsorganisationsleiter, authorizing him to organize the party in northern
Germany. Strasser, joined by his younger brother Otto and Joseph Goebbels,
steered an increasingly independent course, emphasizing the socialist element in
the party's programme. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gauleiter Nord-
West became an internal opposition, threatening Hitler's authority, but this faction
was defeated at the Bamberg Conference in 1926, during which Goebbels joined
After this encounter, Hitler centralized the party even more and asserted
the Führerprinzip ("Leader principle") as the basic principle of party organization.
Leaders were not elected by their group but were rather appointed by their
superior and were answerable to them while demanding unquestioning
obedience from their inferiors. Consistent with Hitler's disdain for democracy, all
power and authority devolved from the top down.
A key element of Hitler's appeal was his ability to evoke a sense of offended
national pride caused by the Treaty of Versailles imposed on the
defeated German Empire by the Western Allies. Germany had lost economically
important territory in Europe along with its colonies and in admitting to sole
responsibility for the war had agreed to pay a huge reparations bill totaling
132 billion marks. Most Germans bitterly resented these terms, but early Nazi
attempts to gain support by blaming these humiliations on "international Jewry"
were not particularly successful with the electorate. The party learned quickly,
and soon a more subtle propaganda emerged, combining antisemitism with an
attack on the failures of the "Weimar system" and the parties supporting it.
Having failed in overthrowing the Republic by a coup, Hitler pursued a "strategy
of legality": this meant formally adhering to the rules of the Weimar Republic until
he had legally gained power. He would then use the institutions of the Weimar
Republic to destroy it and establish himself as dictator. Some party members,
especially in the paramilitary SA, opposed this strategy; Röhm and others
ridiculed Hitler as "Adolphe Legalité".
Rise to power
Main article: Adolf Hitler's rise to power
Nazi Party Election Results
Date Votes Percentage
May 1924 1,918,300 6.5 32Hitler in prison
907,300 3.0 14Hitler is released from prison
May 1928 810,100 2.6 12
6,409,600 18.3 107After the financial crisis
July 1932 13,745,800 37.4 230
After Hitler was candidate for
11,737,000 33.1 196
March 1933 17,277,000 43.9 288
During Hitler's term as
Chancellor of Germany
An NSDAP meeting in December 1930, with Hitler in the centre
The political turning point for Hitler came when the Great Depression hit
Germany in 1930. The Weimar Republic had never been firmly rooted and was
openly opposed by right-wing conservatives (including monarchists), communists
and the Nazis. As the parties loyal to the democratic, parliamentary
republic found themselves unable to agree on counter-measures, theirgrand
coalition broke up and was replaced by a minority cabinet. The new
Chancellor, Heinrich Brüning of the Roman Catholic Centre Party, lacking a
majority in parliament, had to implement his measures through the
president's emergency decrees. Tolerated by the majority of parties, this rule by
decree would become the norm over a series of unworkable parliaments and
paved the way for authoritarian forms of government.
The Reichstag's initial opposition to Brüning's measures led to premature
elections in September 1930. The republican parties lost their majority and their
ability to resume the grand coalition, while the Nazis suddenly rose from relative
obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote along with 107 seats. In the process, they
jumped from the ninth-smallest party in the chamber to the second largest.
In September–October 1930, Hitler appeared as a major defence witness at the
trial in Leipzig of two junior Reichswehr officers charged with membership of the
Nazi Party, which at that time was forbidden to Reichswehr personnel.
officers, Leutnants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, admitted quite openly to
Nazi Party membership, and used as their defence that the Nazi Party
membership should not be forbidden to those serving in the Reichswehr.
the Prosecution argued that the Nazi Party was a dangerous revolutionary force,
one of the defence lawyers, Hans Frank had Hitler brought to the stand to prove
that the Nazi Party was a law-abiding party.
During his testimony, Hitler
insisted that his party was determined to come to power legally, that the phrase
"National Revolution" was only to be interpreted "politically", and that his Party
was a friend, not an enemy of the Reichswehr.
Hitler's testimony of 25
September 1930 won him many admirers within the ranks of the officer corps.
Brüning's measures of budget consolidation and financial austerity brought little
economic improvement and were extremely unpopular.
circumstances, Hitler appealed to the bulk of German farmers, war veterans and
the middle class, who had been hard-hit by both the inflation of the 1920s and
the unemployment of the Depression.
In September 1931, Hitler's niece Geli
Raubal was found dead in her bedroom in his Munich apartment (his half-
sister Angela and her daughter Geli had been with him in Munich since 1929), an
apparent suicide. Geli, who was believed to be in some sort of romantic
relationship with Hitler, was 19 years younger than he was and had used his gun.
His niece's death is viewed as a source of deep, lasting pain for him.
In 1932, Hitler intended to run against the aging President Paul von
Hindenburg in the scheduled presidential elections. His 27 January 1932 speech
to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf won him, for the first time, support from a
broad swath of Germany's most powerful industrialists.
Though Hitler had left
Austria in 1913 and had renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925, he still had
not acquired German citizenship and hence could not run for public office. On 25
February, however, the interior minister of the Brunswick, a Nazi (the Nazis were
part of a right-wing coalition governing the state) appointed Hitler as
administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin. This
appointment made Hitler a citizen of Brunswick.
In those days, the states
conferred citizenship, so this automatically made Hitler a citizen of Germany as
well and thus eligible to run for president.
The new German citizen ran against Hindenburg, who was supported by a broad
range of nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, republican and even social democratic
parties. Another candidate was a Communist and member of a fringe right-wing
party. Hitler's campaign was called "Hitler über Deutschland" (Hitler over
The name had a double meaning; besides a reference to his
dictatorial ambitions, it referred to the fact that he campaigned by aircraft.
came in second on both rounds, attaining more than 35% of the vote during the
second one in April. Although he lost to Hindenburg, the election established
Hitler as a realistic alternative in German politics.
Appointment as Chancellor
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Meanwhile, Papen tried to get his revenge on Schleicher by working toward the
General's downfall, through forming an intrigue with the camarilla and Alfred
Hugenberg, media mogul and chairman of the DNVP. Also involved
were Hjalmar Schacht, Fritz Thyssen and other leading German businessmen
and international bankers.
They financially supported the Nazi Party, which had
been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the cost of heavy campaigning. The
businessmen wrote letters to Hindenburg, urging him to appoint Hitler as leader
of a government "independent from parliamentary parties" which could turn into a
movement that would "enrapture millions of people."
Adolf Hitler, at a window of the Reich's Chancellory, receives an ovation from supporters in
his first day in office asChancellor. (30 January 1933)
Finally, the president reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor of a coalition
government formed by the NSDAP and DNVP. However, the Nazis were to be
contained by a framework of conservative cabinet ministers, most notably by
Papen as Vice-Chancellor and by Hugenberg as Minister of the Economy. The
only other Nazi besides Hitler to get a portfolio was Wilhelm Frick, who was given
the relatively powerless interior ministry (in Germany at the time, most powers
wielded by the interior minister in other countries were held by the interior
ministers of the states). As a concession to the Nazis, Göring was
named minister without portfolio. While Papen intended to use Hitler as a
figurehead, the Nazis gained key positions.
On the morning of 30 January 1933, in Hindenburg's office, Adolf Hitler was
sworn in as Chancellor during what some observers later described as a brief
and simple ceremony. His first speech as Chancellor took place on 10 February.
The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently became known as
the Machtergreifung or Machtübernahme.
Reichstag fire and the March elections
Having become Chancellor, Hitler foiled all attempts by his opponents to gain a
majority in parliament. Because no single party could gain a majority, Hitler
persuaded President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag again. Elections were
scheduled for early March, but on 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was
set on fire.
Since a Dutch independent communist was found in the building,
the fire was blamed on a communist plot. The government reacted with
the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February which suspended basic rights,
includinghabeas corpus. Under the provisions of this decree, the German
Communist Party (KPD) and other groups were suppressed, and Communist
functionaries and deputies were arrested, forced to flee, or murdered.
Campaigning continued, with the Nazis making use of paramilitary violence, anti-
communist hysteria, and the government's resources for propaganda. On
election day, 6 March, the NSDAP increased its result to 43.9% of the vote,
remaining the largest party, but its victory was marred by its failure to secure an
absolute majority, necessitating maintaining a coalition with the DNVP.
Parade of SA troops past Hitler – Nuremberg, November 1935
"Day of Potsdam" and the Enabling Act
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On 21 March, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony held
at Potsdam's garrison church. This "Day of Potsdam" was staged to demonstrate
reconciliation and unity between the revolutionary Nazi movement and "Old
Prussia" with its elites and virtues. Hitler appeared in a tail coat and humbly
greeted the aged President Hindenburg.
Because of the Nazis' failure to obtain a majority on their own, Hitler's
government confronted the newly elected Reichstag with the Enabling Act that
would have vested the cabinet with legislative powers for a period of four years.
Though such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed
for deviations from the constitution. Since the bill required a ⅔ majority in order to
pass, the government needed the support of other parties. The position of the
Centre Party, the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive:
under the leadership of Ludwig Kaas, the party decided to vote for the Enabling
Act. It did so in return for the government's oral guarantees regarding
the Church's liberty, the concordats signed by German states and the continued
existence of the Centre Party.
On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled in a replacement building under
extremely turbulent circumstances. Some SA men served as guards within while
large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving
deputies. Kaas announced that the Centre Party would support the bill with
"concerns put aside," while Social Democrat Otto Wels denounced the act in his
speech. At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in
favour of the bill. The Communists, as well as some Social Democrats, were
barred from attending. The Enabling Act, combined with the Reichstag Fire
Decree, transformed Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.
Removal of remaining limits
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At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the Nazi movement
will go on for 1,000 years! ... Don't forget how people laughed at me 15
years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They
Centre Party, the third largest party in the Reichstag, turned out to be decisive:
under the leadership of Ludwig Kaas, the party decided to vote for the Enabling
Act. It did so in return for the government's oral guarantees regarding
the Church's liberty, the concordats signed by German states and the continued
existence of the Centre Party.
On 23 March, the Reichstag assembled in a replacement building under
extremely turbulent circumstances. Some SA men served as guards within while
large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving
deputies. Kaas announced that the Centre Party would support the bill with
"concerns put aside," while Social Democrat Otto Wels denounced the act in his
speech. At the end of the day, all parties except the Social Democrats voted in
favour of the bill. The Communists, as well as some Social Democrats, were
barred from attending. The Enabling Act, combined with the Reichstag Fire
Decree, transformed Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.
Removal of remaining limits
This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced
material may be challenged and removed.(April 2009)
At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense I tell you that the Nazi movement
will go on for 1,000 years! ... Don't forget how people laughed at me 15
years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They
laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power! ”
—Adolf Hitler to a British correspondent in Berlin, June 1934
With this combination of legislative and executive power, Hitler's government
further suppressed the remaining political opposition. The Communist Party of
Germany and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) were banned, while all other
political parties were forced to dissolve themselves. Finally, on 14 July, the Nazi
Party was declared the only legal party in Germany.
Hitler used the SA paramilitary to push Hugenberg into resigning, and proceeded
to politically isolate Vice-Chancellor Papen. Because the SA's demands for
political and military power caused much anxiety among military and political
leaders, Hitler used allegations of a plot by the SA leader Ernst Röhm to purge
the SA's leadership during the Night of the Long Knives. As well, opponents
unconnected with the SA were murdered, notably Gregor Strasser and former
Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher.
In 1934, Hitler became Germany's president under the title Führer und Reichskanzler
(Leader and Chancellor of the Reich).
President Paul von Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934. Rather than call new
elections as required by the constitution, Hitler's cabinet passed a law
proclaiming the presidency vacant and transferred the role and powers of the
head of state to Hitler as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor). This
action effectively removed the last legal remedy by which Hitler could be
dismissed – and with it, nearly all institutional checks and balances on his power.
On 19 August a plebiscite approved the merger of the presidency with the
chancellorship winning 84.6% of the electorate.
This action technically
violated both the constitution and the Enabling Act. The constitution had been
amended in 1932 to make the president of the High Court of Justice, not the
chancellor, acting president until new elections could be held. The Enabling Act
specifically barred Hitler from taking any action that tampered with the
presidency. However, no one dared object.
As head of state, Hitler now became Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
When it came time for the soldiers and sailors to swear the traditional loyalty
oath, it had been altered into an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. Normally,
soldiers and sailors swear loyalty to the holder of the office of supreme
commander/commander-in-chief, not a specific person.
In 1938, Hitler forced the resignation of his War Minister (formerly Defense
Minister), Werner von Blomberg, after evidence surfaced that Blomberg's new
wife had a criminal past. Prior to removing Blomberg, Hitler and his clique
removed army commander Werner von Fritsch on suspicion of homosexuality.
Hitler replaced the Ministry of War with the Oberkommando der
Wehrmacht(High Command of the Armed Forces, or OKW), headed by the pliant
General Wilhelm Keitel. More importantly, Hitler announced he was assuming
personal command of the armed forces. He took over Blomberg's other old post,
that of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, for himself. He was already
Supreme Commander by virtue of holding the powers of the president. The next
day, the newspapers announced, "Strongest concentration of powers in Führer's
Main article: Nazi Germany
Having secured supreme political power, Hitler went on to gain public support by
convincing most Germans he was their saviour from the economic Depression,
the Versailles treaty, communism, the "Judeo-Bolsheviks", and other
"undesirable" minorities. The Nazis eliminated opposition through a process
known as Gleichschaltung ("bringing into line").
Economy and culture
Hitler oversaw one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and civil
improvement Germany had ever seen, mostly based on debt flotation and
expansion of the military. Nazi policies toward women strongly encouraged them
to stay at home to bear children and keep house. In a September 1934 speech to
the National Socialist Women's Organization, Adolf Hitler argued that for the
German woman her "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her
home." This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the
German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate
was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home
so that men could take their jobs. Given this, claims that the German
economy achieved near full employment are at least partly artefacts of
propaganda from the era. Much of the financing for Hitler's reconstruction and
rearmament came from currency manipulation by Hjalmar Schacht, including the
clouded credits through the Mefo bills.
1934 Nuremberg rally
Hitler oversaw one of the largest infrastructure-improvement campaigns in
German history, with the construction of dozens of dams, autobahns, railroads,
and other civil works. Hitler's policies emphasised the importance of family life:
men were the "breadwinners", while women's priorities were to lie in bringing up
children and in household work. This revitalising of industry and infrastructure
came at the expense of the overall standard of living, at least for those not
affected by the chronic unemployment of the later Weimar Republic, since wages
were slightly reduced in pre-World War II years, despite a 25% increase in the
cost of living.
Laborers and farmers, the traditional voters of the NSDAP,
however, saw an increase in their standard of living.
Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale, with Albert
Speer becoming famous as the first architect of the Reich. While important as an
architect in implementing Hitler's classicist reinterpretation of German culture,
Speer proved much more effective as armaments minister during the last years
of World War II. In 1936, Berlin hosted the summer Olympic games, which were
opened by Hitler and choreographed to demonstrate Aryan superiority over all
other races, achieving mixed results.
Although Hitler made plans for a Breitspurbahn ("broad gauge railroad network"),
they were preempted by World War II. Had the railroad been built, its gauge
would have been three metres, even wider than the old Great Western
Railway of Britain.
Hitler contributed slightly to the design of the car that later became
the Volkswagen Beetle and charged Ferdinand Porsche with its design and
Production was deferred because of the war.
Hitler considered Sparta to be the first National Socialist state, and praised its
early eugenics treatment of deformed children.
On 20 April 1939, a lavish celebration was held in honour of Hitler's 50th
birthday, featuring military parades, visits from foreign dignitaries, thousands of
flaming torches and Nazi banners.
An important historical debate about Hitler's economic policies concerns the
"modernization" debate. Historians such as David Schoenbaumand Henry Ashby
Turner have argued that social and economic polices under Hitler were
modernization carried out in pursuit of anti-modern goals.
Other groups of
historians centred around Rainer Zitelmann have contended that Hitler had a
deliberate strategy of pursuing a revolutionary modernization of German society.
Rearmament and new alliances
Main articles: Axis powers, Tripartite Pact, and German re-armament
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Hitler's visit to Venice from 14 to 16 June 1934
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Parade of the SA troops
In a meeting with his leading generals and admirals on 3 February 1933, Hitler
spoke of "conquest of Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanisation" as
his ultimate foreign policy objectives.
In March 1933, the first major statement
of German foreign policy aims appeared with the memo submitted to the German
Cabinet by the State Secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt(Foreign Office), Prince
Bernhard Wilhelm von Bülow (not to be confused with his more famous uncle,
the former Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow), which advocated Anschluss with
Austria, the restoration of the frontiers of 1914, the rejection of the Part V of
Versailles, the return of the former German colonies in Africa, and a German
zone of influence in Eastern Europe as goals for the future. Hitler found the goals
in Bülow's memo to be too modest.
In March 1933, to resolve the deadlock
between the French demand for sécurité ("security") and the German demand
forgleichberechtigung ("equality of armaments") at the World Disarmament
Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the British Prime Minister Ramsay
MacDonald presented the compromise "MacDonald Plan". Hitler endorsed the
"MacDonald Plan", correctly guessing that nothing would come of it, and that in
the interval he could win some goodwill in London by making his government
appear moderate, and the French obstinate.
In May 1933, Hitler met with Herbert von Dirksen, the German Ambassador in
Moscow. Dirksen advised the Führer that he was allowing relations with the
Soviet Union to deteriorate to a unacceptable extent, and advised to take
immediate steps to repair relations with the Soviets.
Much to Dirksen's intense
disappointment, Hitler informed that he wished for an anti-Soviet understanding
with Poland, which Dirksen protested implied recognition of the German-Polish
border, leading Hitler to state he was after much greater things than merely
overturning the Treaty of Versailles.
In June 1933, Hitler was forced to disavow Alfred Hugenberg of the German
National People's Party, who while attending the London World Economic
Conference put forth a programme of colonial expansion in both Africa and
Eastern Europe, which created a major storm abroad.
Speaking to the
Burgermeister of Hamburg in 1933, Hitler commented that Germany required
several years of peace before it could be sufficiently rearmed enough to risk a
war, and until then a policy of caution was called for.
In his "peace speeches"
of 17 May 1933, 21 May 1935, and 7 March 1936, Hitler stressed his supposed
pacific goals and a willingness to work within the international system.
private, Hitler's plans were something less than pacific. At the first meeting of his
Cabinet in 1933, Hitler placed military spending ahead of unemployment relief,
and indeed was only prepared to spend money on the latter if the former was
When the president of the Reichsbank, the former Chancellor
Dr.Hans Luther, offered the new government the legal limit of
100 million Reichmarks to finance rearmament, Hitler found the sum too low, and
sacked Luther in March 1933 to replace him with Hjalmar Schacht, who during
the next five years was to advance 12 billion Reichmarksworth of "Mefo-bills" to
pay for rearmament.
A major initiative in Hitler's foreign policy in his early years was to create an
alliance with Britain. In the 1920s, Hitler wrote that a future National Socialist
foreign policy goal was "the destruction of Russia with the help of England."
May 1933, Alfred Rosenberg in his capacity as head of the Nazi
Party's Aussenpolitisches Amt (Foreign Political Office) visited London as part of
a disastrous effort to win an alliance with Britain.
In October 1933, Hitler pulled
Germany out of both the League of Nations and World Disarmament
Conference after his Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath made it
appear to world public opinion that the French demand for sécurité was the
principal stumbling block.
In line with the views he advocated in Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch about the
necessity of building an Anglo-German alliance, Hitler, in a meeting in November
1933 with the British Ambassador, Sir Eric Phipps, offered a scheme in which
Britain would support a 300,000-strong German Army in exchange for a German
"guarantee" of the British Empire.
In response, the British stated a 10-year
waiting period would be necessary before Britain would support an increase in
the size of the German Army.
A more successful initiative in foreign policy
occurred with relations with Poland. In spite of intense opposition from the
military and the Auswärtiges Amt who preferred closer ties with theSoviet Union,
Hitler, in the fall of 1933 opened secret talks with Poland that were to lead to
the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of January 1934.
In February 1934, Hitler met with the British Lord Privy Seal, Sir Anthony Eden,
and hinted strongly that Germany already possessed an Air Force, which had
been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.
In the fall of 1934, Hitler was
seriously concerned over the dangers ofinflation damaging his popularity.
secret speech given before his Cabinet on 5 November 1934, Hitler stated he
had "given the working class his word that he would allow no price increases.
Wage-earners would accuse him of breaking his word if he did not act against
the rising prices. Revolutionary conditions among the people would be the further
Although a secret German armaments programme had been on-going since
1919, in March 1935, Hitler rejected Part V of the Versailles treaty by publicly
announcing that the German army would be expanded to 600,000 men (six times
the number stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles), introducing an Air Force
(Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France,
Italy and the League of Nations quickly condemned these actions. However, after
re-assurances from Hitler that Germany was only interested in peace, no country
took any action to stop this development and German re-armament continued.
Later in March 1935, Hitler held a series of meetings in Berlin with the British
Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon and Eden, during which he successfully
evaded British offers for German participation in a regional security pact meant to
serve as an Eastern European equivalent of the Locarno pact while the two
British ministers avoided taking up Hitler's offers of alliance.
During his talks
with Simon and Eden, Hitler first used what he regarded as the brilliant colonial
negotiating tactic, when Hitler parlayed an offer from Simon to return to the
League of Nations by demanding the return of the former German colonies in
Starting in April 1935, disenchantment with how the Third Reich had developed
in practice as opposed to what been promised led many in the Nazi Party,
especially the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters; i.e., those who joined the Party before
1930, and who tended to be the most ardent anti-Semitics in the Party), and
the SA into lashing out against Germany's Jewish minority as a way of
expressing their frustrations against a group that the authorities would not
The rank and file of the Party were most unhappy that two
years into the ThirdReich, and despite countless promises by Hitler prior to 1933,
no law had been passed banning marriage or sex between those Germans
belonging to the "Aryan" and Jewish "races". A Gestapo report from the spring of
1935 stated that the rank and file of the Nazi Party would "set in motion by us
from below," a solution to the "Jewish problem," "that the government would then
have to follow."
As a result, Nazi Party activists and the SA started a major
wave of assaults, vandalism and boycotts against German Jews.
On 18 June 1935, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) was signed in
London which allowed for increasing the allowed German tonnage up to 35% of
that of the British navy. Hitler called the signing of the AGNA "the happiest day of
his life" as he believed the agreement marked the beginning of the Anglo-
German alliance he had predicted in Mein Kampf.
This agreement was made
without consulting either France or Italy, directly undermined the League of
Nations and put the Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevance.
the signing of the A.G.N.A., in June 1935 Hitler ordered the next step in the
creation of an Anglo-German alliance: taking all the societies demanding the
restoration of the former German African colonies and coordinating
(Gleichschaltung) them into a new Reich Colonial League (Reichskolonialbund)
which over the next few years waged an extremely aggressive propaganda
campaign for colonial restoration.
Hitler had no real interest in the former
German African colonies. In Mein Kampf, Hitler had excoriated the Imperial
German government for pursuing colonial expansion in Africa prior to 1914 on
the grounds that the natural area for Lebensraum was Eastern Europe, not
It was Hitler's intention to use colonial demands as a negotiating tactic
that would see a German "renunciation" of colonial claims in exchange for Britain
making an alliance with the Reich on German terms.
In the summer of 1935, Hitler was informed that, between inflation and the need
to use foreign exchange to buy raw materials Germany lacked for rearmament,
there were only 5 million Reichmarks available for military expenditure, and a
pressing need for some 300,000Reichmarks/day to prevent food shortages.
August 1935, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht advised Hitler that the wave of anti-Semitic
violence was interfering with the workings of the economy, and hence
Following Dr. Schacht's complaints, plus reports that the
German public did not approve of the wave of anti-Semitic violence, and that
continuing police toleration of the violence was hurting the regime's popularity
with the wider public, Hitler ordered a stop to "individual actions" against German
Jews on 8 August 1935.
From Hitler's perspective, it was imperative to bring in
harsh new anti-Semitic laws as a consolation prize for those Party members who
were disappointed with Hitler's halt order of 8 August, especially because Hitler
had only reluctantly given the halt order for pragmatic reasons, and his
sympathies were with the Party radicals.
The annual Nazi Party Rally held at
Nuremberg in September 1935 was to feature the first session of
the Reichstag held at that city since 1543. Hitler had planned to have
the Reichstag pass a law making the Nazi Swastika flag the flag of the
German Reich, and a major speech in support of the impending Italian
aggression against Ethiopia.
Hitler felt that the Italian aggression opened great
opportunities for Germany. In August 1935, Hitler told Goebbels his foreign policy
vision as: "With England eternal alliance. Good relationship with Poland . . .
Expansion to the East. The Baltic belongs to us . . . Conflicts Italy-Abyssinia-
England, then Japan-Russia imminent."
At the last minute before the Nuremberg Party Rally was due to begin, the
German Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath persuaded Hitler to
cancel his speech praising Italy for her willingness to commit aggression.
Neurath convinced Hitler that his speech was too provocative to public opinion
abroad as it contradicted the message of Hitler's "peace speeches", thus leaving
Hitler with the sudden need to have something else to address the first meeting
of the Reichstag in Nuremberg since 1543, other than the Reich Flag Law.
13 September 1935, Hitler hurriedly ordered two civil servants, Dr. Bernhard
Lösener and Franz Albrecht Medicus of the Interior Ministry to fly to Nuremberg
to start drafting anti-Semitic laws for Hitler to present to the Reichstag for 15
On the evening of 15 September, Hitler presented two laws
before the Reichstag banning sex and marriage between Aryan and Jewish
Germans, the employment of Aryan woman under the age of 45 in Jewish
households, and deprived "non-Aryans" of the benefits of German citizenship.
The laws of September 1935 are generally known as the Nuremberg Laws.
In October 1935, in order to prevent further food shortages and the introduction
of rationing, Hitler reluctantly ordered cuts in military spending.
In the spring of
1936 in response to requests from Richard Walther Darré, Hitler ordered
60 million Reichmarks of foreign exchange to be used to buy seed oil for German
farmers, a decision that led to bitter complaints from Dr. Schacht and the War
Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg that it would be impossible to
achieve rearmament as long as foreign exchange was diverted to preventing
Given the economic problems which was affecting his
popularity by early 1936, Hitler felt the pressing need for a foreign policy triumph
as a way of distracting public attention from the economy.
In an interview with the French journalist Bertrand de Jouvenel in February 1936,
Hitler appeared to disavow Mein Kampf by saying that parts of his book were
now out of date and he was not guided by them, though precisely which parts
were out of date was left unclear.
In March 1936, Hitler again violated the
Versailles treaty by reoccupying the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland. When
Britain and France did nothing, he grew bolder. In July 1936, the Spanish Civil
War began when the military, led by General Francisco Franco, rebelled against
the elected Popular Front government. After receiving an appeal for help from
General Franco in July 1936, Hitler sent troops to support Franco, and Spain
served as a testing ground for Germany's new forces and their methods. At the
same time, Hitler continued with his efforts to create an Anglo-German alliance.
In July 1936, he offered to Phipps a promise that if Britain were to sign an
alliance with the Reich, then Germany would commit to sending twelve divisions
to the Far East to protect British colonial possessions there from a Japanese
Hitler's offer was refused.
In August 1936, in response to a growing crisis in the German economy caused
by the strains of rearmament, Hitler issued the "Four-Year Plan Memorandum"
ordering Hermann Göring to carry out the Four Year Plan to have the German
economy ready for war within the next four years.
During the 1936 economic
crisis, the German government was divided into two factions, with one (the so-
called "free market" faction) centring around the Reichsbank President Hjalmar
Schacht and the former Price Commissioner Dr. Carl Friedrich Goerdeler calling
for decreased military spending and a turn away from autarkic policies, and
another faction around Göring calling for the opposite. Supporting the "free-
market" faction were some of Germany's leading business executives, most
notably Hermann Duecher of AEG, Robert Bosch ofRobert Bosch GmbH, and
Albert Voegeler of Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG.
Hitler hesitated for the first half
of 1936 before siding with the more radical faction in his "Four Year Plan" memo
Historians such as Richard Overy have argued that the importance
of the memo, which was written personally by Hitler, can be gauged by the fact
that Hitler, who had something of a phobia about writing, hardly ever wrote
anything down, which indicates that Hitler had something especially important to
The "Four-Year Plan Memorandum" predicated an imminent all-out,
apocalyptic struggle between "Judo-Bolshevism" and German National
Socialism, which necessitated a total effort at rearmament regardless of the
In the memo, Hitler wrote:
Since the outbreak of the French Revolution, the world has been moving with
ever increasing speed toward a new conflict, the most extreme solution of which
is called Bolshevism, whose essence and aim, however, are solely the
elimination of those strata of mankind which have hitherto provided the
leadership and their replacement by worldwide Jewry. No state will be able to
withdraw or even remain at a distance from this historical conflict . . . It is not the
aim of this memorandum to prophesy the time when the untenable situation in
Europe will become an open crisis. I only want, in these lines, to set down my
conviction that this crisis cannot and will not fail to arrive and that it is Germany's
duty to secure her own existence by every means in face of this catastrophe, and
to protect herself against it, and that from this compulsion there arises a series of
conclusions relating to the most important tasks that our people have ever been
set. For a victory of Bolshevism over Germany would not lead to a Versailles
treaty, but to the final destruction, indeed the annihilation of the German
people . . . I consider it necessary for theReichstag to pass the following two
laws: 1) A law providing the death penalty for economic sabotage and 2) A law
making the whole of Jewry liable for all damage inflicted by individual specimens
of this community of criminals upon the German economy, and thus upon the
Hitler called for Germany to have the world's "first army" in terms of fighting
power within the next four years and that "the extent of the military development
of our resources cannot be too large, nor its pace too swift" (italics in the original)
and the role of the economy was simply to support "Germany's self-assertion and
the extension of her Lebensraum."
Hitler went on to write that given the
magnitude of the coming struggle that the concerns expressed by members of
the "free market" faction like Schacht and Goerdeler that the current level of
military spending was bankrupting Germany were irrelevant. Hitler wrote that:
"However well balanced the general pattern of a nation's life ought to be, there
must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at the expense of
other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the German army as
rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the world . . . then Germany will
and "The nation does not live for the economy, for economic leaders,
or for economic or financial theories; on the contrary, it is finance and the
economy, economic leaders and theories, which all owe unqualified service in
this struggle for the self-assertion of our nation."[clarification needed]
as the Four Year Plan Memo have often been used by right historians such
as Henry Ashby Turner and Karl Dietrich Bracher who argue for a "primacy of
politics" approach (that Hitler was not subordinate to German business, but
rather the contrary was the case) against the "primacy of economics" approach
championed by Marxist historians (that Hitler was a "agent" of and subordinate to
In August 1936, the freelance Nazi diplomat Joachim von Ribbentrop was
appointed German Ambassador to the Embassy of Germany in London at
the Court of St. James's. Before Ribbentrop left to take up his post in October
1936, Hitler told him: "Ribbentrop . . . get Britain to join the Anti-Comintern Pact,
that is what I want most of all. I have sent you as the best man I've got. Do what
you can . . . But if in future all our efforts are still in vain, fair enough, then I'm
ready for war as well. I would regret it very much, but if it has to be, there it is.
But I think it would be a short war and the moment it is over, I will then be ready
at any time to offer the British an honourable peace acceptable to both sides.
However, I would then demand that Britain join the Anti-Comintern Pact or
perhaps some other pact. But get on with it, Ribbentrop, you have the trumps in
your hand, play them well. I'm ready at any time for an air pact as well. Do your
best. I will follow your efforts with interest".
On 25 October 1936, an Axis was declared between Italy and Germany
An Axis was declared between Germany and Italy by Count Galeazzo Ciano,
foreign minister of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on 25 October 1936. On 25
November of the same year, Germany concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact with
Japan. At the time of the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact, invitations were sent
out for Britain, China, Italy and Poland to adhere; of the invited powers only the
Italians were to sign the pact, in November 1937. To strengthen relationship with
Japan, Hitler met in 1937 in Nuremberg Prince Chichibu, a brother of
emperorHirohito. However, the meeting with Prince Chichibu had little
consequence, as Hitler refused the Japanese request to halt German arms
shipments to China or withdraw the German officers serving with the Chinese in
the Second Sino-Japanese War. Both the military and the Auswärtiges
Amt (Foreign Office) were strongly opposed to ending the informal German
alliance with China that existed since the 1910s, and pressured Hitler to avoid
offending the Chinese. The Auswärtiges Amt and the military both argued to
Hitler that given the foreign exchange problems which afflicted German
rearmament, and the fact that various Sino-German economic agreements
provided Germany with raw materials that would otherwise use up precious
foreign exchange, it was folly to seek an alliance with Japan that would have the
inevitable result of ending the Sino-German alignment.
By the latter half of 1937, Hitler had abandoned his dream of an Anglo-German
alliance, blaming "inadequate" British leadership for turning down his offers of an
In a talk with the League of Nations High Commissioner for the Free
City of Danzig, the Swiss diplomat Carl Jacob Burckhardt in September 1937,
Hitler protested what he regarded as British interference in the "German sphere"
in Europe, though in the same talk, Hitler made clear his view of Britain as an
ideal ally, which for pure selfishness was blocking German plans.
Hitler had suffered severely from stomach pains and eczema in 1936–37, leading
to his remark to the Nazi Party's propaganda leadership in October 1937 that
because both parents died early in their lives, he would probably follow suit,
leaving him with only a few years to obtain the necessary Lebensraum.
About the same time, Dr. Goebbels noted in his diary Hitler now wished to
see the "Great Germanic Reich" he envisioned in his own lifetime rather than
leaving the work of building the "Great Germanic Reich" to his successors.
On 5 November 1937, at the Reich Chancellory, Adolf Hitler held a secret
meeting with the War and Foreign Ministers and the three service chiefs,
recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum, and stated his intentions for acquiring
"living space" Lebensraum for the German people. He ordered the attendees to
make plans for war in the east no later than 1943 in order to
acquire Lebensraum. Hitler stated the conference minutes were to be regarded
as his "political testament" in the event of his death.
In the memo, Hitler was
recorded as saying that such a state of crisis had been reached in the German
economy that the only way of stopping a severe decline in living standards in
Germany was to embark sometime in the near-future on a policy of aggression
by seizing Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Moreover, Hitler stated that
the arms race meant that time for action had to occur before Britain and France
obtained a permanent lead in the arms race.
A striking change in the
Hossbach Memo was Hitler's changed view of Britain from the prospective ally of
1928 in the Zweites Buch to the "hate-inspired antagonist" of 1937 in the
The historian Klaus Hildebrand described the memo as the
start of an "ambivalent course" towards Britain while the late historian Andreas
Hillgruber argued that Hitler was embarking on expansion "without Britain,"
preferably "with Britain," but if necessary "against Britain."
Hitler's intentions outlined in the Hossbach memorandum led to strong protests
from the Foreign Minister, Baron Konstantin von Neurath, the War Minister Field
Marshal Werner von Blomberg, and the Army Commander General Werner von
Fritsch, that any German aggression in Eastern Europe was bound to trigger a
war with France because of the French alliance system in Eastern Europe (the
so-called cordon sanitaire), and if a Franco-German war broke out, then Britain
was almost certain to intervene rather than risk the chance of a French defeat.
The aggression against Austria and Czechoslovakia were intended to be the
first of a series of localized wars in Eastern Europe that would secure Germany's
position in Europe before the final showdown with Britain and France. Fritsch,
Blomberg and Neurath all argue that Hitler was pursuing an extremely high-risk
strategy of localized wars in Eastern Europe that was most likely to cause a
general war before Germany was ready for such a conflict, and advised Hitler to
wait until Germany had more time to rearm. Neurath, Blomberg and Fritsch had
no moral objections to German aggression, but rather based their opposition on
the question of timing – determining the best time for aggression.
Late in November 1937, Hitler received as his guest the British Lord Privy
Seal, Lord Halifax who was visiting Germany ostensibly as part of a hunting trip.
Speaking of changes to Germany's frontiers, Halifax told Hitler that: "All other
questions fall into the category of possible alterations in the European order
which might be destined to come about with the passage of time. Amongst these
questions were Danzig, Austria and Czechoslovakia. England was interested to
see that any alterations should come through the course of peaceful evolution
and that the methods should be avoided which might cause far-reaching
Significantly, Halifax made clear in his statements to Hitler—
though whether Hitler appreciated the significance of this or not is unclear—that
any possible territorial changes had to be accomplished peacefully, and that
though Britain had no security commitments in Eastern Europe beyond the
Covenant of the League of Nations, would not tolerate territorial changes via war.
Hitler seems to have misunderstood Halifax's remarks as confirming his
conviction that Britain would just stand aside while he pursued his strategy of
limited wars in Eastern Europe.
Hitler was most unhappy with the criticism of his intentions expressed by
Neurath, Blomberg, and Fritsch in the Hossbach Memo, and in early 1938
asserted his control of the military-foreign policy apparatus through
the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, the abolition of the War Ministry and its replacement
by the OKW, and by sacking Neurath as Foreign Minister on 4 February 1938,
assuming the rank, role and tile of theOberster Befehlshaber der
Wehrmacht (supreme commander of the armed forces).
The British economic
historian Richard Overycommented that the establishment of the OKW in
February 1938 was a clear sign of what Hitler's intentions were since supreme
headquarters organizations such as the OKW are normally set up during
wartime, not peacetime.
The Official German history of World War II has
argued that from early 1938 onwards, Hitler was not carrying out a foreign policy
that had carried a high risk of war, but was carrying out a foreign policy aiming at
Main article: The Holocaust
An American soldier stands in front of a wagon piled high with corpses outside the
crematorium in the newly liberated Buchenwald concentration camp
One of the foundations of Hitler's social policies was the concept of racial
hygiene. It was based on the ideas of Arthur de Gobineau, a French
count; eugenics, a pseudo-science that advocated racial purity; and social
Darwinism. Applied to human beings, "survival of the fittest" was interpreted as
requiring racial purity and killing off "life unworthy of life." The first victims were
children with physical and developmental disabilities; those killings occurred in a
programme dubbed Action T4.
After a public outcry, Hitler made a show of
ending this program, but the killings in fact continued (see Nazi eugenics).
Between 1939 and 1945, the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments and
recruits from occupied countries, systematically killed somewhere between 11
and 14 million people, including about six million Jews,
camps, ghettos and mass executions, or through less systematic methods
elsewhere. In addition to those gassed to death, many died as a result of
starvation and disease while working as slave labourers (sometimes benefiting
private German companies). Along with Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Communists
and political opponents, members of resistance groups, homosexuals, Roma, the
physically handicapped and mentally retarded, Soviet prisoners of war (possibly
as many as three million), Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, trade unionists,
and psychiatric patients were killed. One of the biggest centres of mass-killing
was the industrial extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As far as
is known, Hitler never visited the concentration camps and did not speak publicly
about the killing in precise terms.
The Holocaust (the "Endlösung der jüdischen Frage" or "Final Solution of the
Jewish Question") was planned and ordered by leading Nazis, with Heinrich
Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich playing key roles. While no specific order from
Hitler authorizing the mass killing has surfaced, there is documentation showing
that he approved the Einsatzgruppen killing squads that followed the German
army through Poland and Russia, and that he was kept well informed about their
activities. The evidence also suggests that in the fall of 1941 Himmler and Hitler
decided upon mass extermination by gassing. During interrogations by
Soviet intelligence officers declassified over fifty years later, Hitler's valet Heinz
Linge and his military aide Otto Gunsche said Hitler had "pored over the first
blueprints of gas chambers." His private secretary,Traudl Junge, testified that
Hitler knew all about the death camps.
Göring gave a written authorisation to Heydrich to "make all necessary
preparations" for a "total solution of the Jewish question". To make for smoother
cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution", the Wannsee
conference was held on 20 January 1942, with fifteen senior officials participating
(including Adolf Eichmann) and led by Reinhard Heydrich. The records of this
meeting provide the clearest evidence of planning for the Holocaust. On 22
February, Hitler was recorded saying to his associates, "we shall regain our
health only by eliminating the Jews".
World War II
Main article: World War II
Early diplomatic triumphs
Alliance with Japan
Main article: German–Japanese relations
Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka with Hitler in Berlin
In February 1938, Hitler finally ended the dilemma that had plagued German Far
Eastern policy, namely whether to continue the informal Sino-German
alliance that existed with Republic of Chinasince the 1910s or to create a new
alliance with Japan. The military at the time strongly favoured continuing
Germany's alliance with China. China had the support of Foreign
Minister Konstantin von Neurath and War Minister Werner von Blomberg, the so-
called "China Lobby" who tried to steer German foreign policy away from war in
Both men, however, were sacked by Hitler in early 1938. Upon the
advice of Hitler's newly appointed Foreign Minister, the strongly pro-
Japanese Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler chose to end the alliance with China as
the price of gaining an alignment with the more modern and powerful Japan. In
an address to the Reichstag, Hitler announced German recognition
of Manchukuo, the Japanese-occupied puppet state inManchuria, and renounced
the German claims to the former colonies in the Pacific held by Japan.
ordered an end to arms shipments to China, and ordered the recall of all the
German officers attached to the Chinese Army.
In retaliation for ending
German support to China in the war against Japan, Chinese
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek canceled all of the Sino-German economic
agreements, which deprived the Germans of raw materials such as tungsten that
the Chinese had previously provided. The ending of the Sino-German alignment
increased the problems of German rearmament, as the Germans were now
forced to use their limited supply of foreign exchange to buy raw materials on the
Austria and Czechoslovakia
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In March 1938, Hitler pressured Austria into unification with Germany
(the Anschluss) and made a triumphant entry into Vienna on 14 March.
Next, he intensified a crisis over the German-speaking Sudetenland districts
On 3 March 1938, the British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson met with Hitler
and presented on behalf of his government a proposal for an international
consortium to rule much of Africa (in which Germany would be assigned a
leading role) in exchange for a German promise never to resort to war to change
Hitler, who was more interested in Lebensraum in Eastern
Europe than in participating in international consortiums, rejected the British
offer, using as his excuse that he wanted the former German African colonies
returned to theReich, not an international consortium running Central Africa.
Moreover, Hitler argued that it was totally outrageous on Britain's part to impose
conditions on German conduct in Europe as the price for territory in Africa.
Hitler ended the conversation by telling Henderson he would rather wait 20
years for the return of the former colonies than accept British conditions for
On 28–29 March 1938, Hitler held a series of secret meetings in Berlin
with Konrad Henlein of the Sudeten Heimfront (Home Front), the largest of the
ethnic German parties of the Sudetenland. During the Hitler-Henlein meetings, it
was agreed that Henlein would provide the pretext for German aggression
against Czechoslovakia by making demands on Prague for increased autonomy
for Sudeten Germans that Prague could never be reasonably expected to fulfill.
In April 1938, Henlein told the foreign minister of Hungary that "whatever the
Czech government might offer, he would always raise still higher demands ... he
wanted to sabotage an understanding by all means because this was the only
method to blow up Czechoslovakia quickly".
In private, Hitler considered the
Sudeten issue unimportant; his real intentions being to use the Sudeten question
as the justification both at home and abroad for a war of aggression to destroy
Czechoslovakia, under the grounds of self-determination, and Prague's refusal to
meet Henlein's demands.
Hitler's plans called for a massive military build-up
along the Czechoslovak border, relentless propaganda attacks about the
supposed ill treatment of the Sudetenlanders, and finally, "incidents"
between Heimfront activists and the Czechoslovak authorities to justify an
invasion that would swiftly destroy Czechoslovakia in a few days campaign
before other powers could act.
Since Hitler wished to have the fall harvest
brought in as much as possible, and to complete the so-called "West Wall" to
guard the Rhineland, the date for the invasion was chosen for late September or
early October 1938.
In April 1938, Hitler ordered the OKW to start preparing plans for Fall Grün (Case
Green), the codename for an invasion of Czechoslovakia.
the tension in Europe was the May Crisis of 19–22 May 1938. The May Crisis of
1938 was a false alarm caused by rumours that Czechoslovakia would be
invaded the weekend of the municipal elections in that country, erroneous reports
of major German troop movements along the Czechoslovak border just prior to
the elections, the killing of two ethnic Germans by the Czechoslovak police, and
Ribbentrop's highly bellicose remarks to Henderson when the latter asked the
former if an invasion was indeed scheduled for the weekend, which led to a
partial Czechoslovak mobilization and firm warnings from London against a
German move against Czechoslovakia before it was realized that no invasion
was intended for that weekend.
Though no invasion had been planned for
May 1938, it was believed in London that such a course of action was indeed
being considered in Berlin, leading to two warnings on 21 May and 22 May that
the United Kingdom would go to war with Germany if France became involved in
a war with Germany.
Hitler, for his part, was, to use the words of an aide,
highly "furious" with the perception that he had been forced to back down by the
Czechoslovak mobilization and the warnings from London and Paris, when he
had, in fact, been planning nothing for that weekend.
Though plans had
already been drafted in April 1938 for an invasion of Czechoslovakia in the near
future, the May Crisis and the perception of a diplomatic defeat further reinforced
Hitler in his chosen course. The May Crisis seemed to have had the effect of
convincing Hitler that expansion "without Britain" was not possible, and
expansion "against Britain" was the only viable course.
In the immediate
aftermath of the May crisis, Hitler ordered an acceleration of German naval
building beyond the limits of the A.G.N.A., and in the "Heye memorandum",
drawn at Hitler's orders, envisaged the Royal Navy for the first time as the
principal opponent of the Kriegsmarine.
At the conference of 28 May 1938, Hitler declared that it was his "unalterable"
decision to "smash Czechoslovakia" by 1 October of the same year, which was
explained as securing the eastern flank "for advancing against the West, England
At the same conference, Hitler expressed his belief that Britain
would not risk a war until British rearmament was complete, which Hitler felt
would be around 1941–42, and Germany should in a series of wars eliminate
France and her allies in Europe in the interval in the years 1938–41 while
German rearmament was still ahead.
Hitler's determination to go through
with Fall Grün in 1938 provoked a major crisis in the German command
The Chief of the General Staff, General Ludwig Beck, protested in a
lengthy series of memos that Fall Grün would start a world war that Germany
would lose, and urged Hitler to put off the projected war.
Hitler called Beck's
arguments against war "kindische Kräfteberechnungen" ("childish power play
On 4 August 1938, a secret Army meeting was held at which Beck read his
report. They agreed something had to be done to prevent certain disaster. Beck
hoped they would all resign together but no one resigned except Beck. However
his replacement, General Franz Halder, sympathised with Beck and together
they conspired with several top generals, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (Chief of
German Intelligence) andGraf von Helldorf (Berlin's Police Chief), to arrest Hitler
the moment he gave the invasion order. However, the plan would only work if
both Britain and France made it known to the world that they would fight to
preserve Czechoslovakia. This would help to convince the German people that
certain defeat awaited Germany. Agents were therefore sent to England to tell
Chamberlain that an attack on Czechoslovakia was planned and their intentions
to overthrow Hitler if this occurred. However the messengers were not taken
seriously by the British. In September, Chamberlain and French Premier Édouard
Daladier decided not to threaten a war over Czechoslovakia and so the planned
removal of Hitler could not be justified.
The Munich Agreement therefore
preserved Hitler in power.
Starting in August 1938, information reached London that Germany was
beginning to mobilize reservists, together with information leaked by anti-war
elements in the German military that the war was scheduled for sometime in
Finally, as a result of intense French, and especially British
diplomatic pressure, President Edvard Beneš unveiled on 5 September 1938, the
"Fourth Plan" for constitutional reorganization of his country, which granted most
of the demands for Sudeten autonomy made by Henlein in his Karlsbad speech
of April 1938, and threatened to deprive the Germans of their pretext for
Henlein's Heimfront promptly responded to the offer of "Fourth
Plan" by having a series of violent crashes with the Czechoslovak police,
culminating in major clashes in mid-September that led to the declaration of
martial law in certain Sudeten districts.
In a response to the threatening
situation, in late August 1938, the BritishPrime Minister Neville Chamberlain had
conceived of Plan Z, namely to fly to Germany, meet Hitler, and then work out an
agreement that could end the crisis.
On 13 September 1938, Chamberlain
offered to fly to Germany to discuss a solution to the crisis. Chamberlain had
decided to execute Plan Z in response to erroneous information supplied by the
German opposition that the invasion was due to start any time after 18
Though Hitler was not happy with Chamberlain's offer, he agreed
to see the British Prime Minister because to refuse Chamberlain's offer would
confirm the lie to his repeated claims that he was a man of peace driven
reluctantly to war because of Beneš's intractability.
In a summit
at Berchtesgaden, Chamberlain promised to pressure Beneš into agreeing to
Hitler's publicly stated demands about allowing the Sudetenland to join Germany,
in return for a reluctant promise by Hitler to postpone any military action until
Chamberlain had given a chance to fulfill his promise.
Hitler had agreed to the
postponement out of the expectation that Chamberlain would fail to secure
Prague's consent to transferring the Sudetenland, and was, by all accounts, most
disappointed when Franco-British pressure secured just that.
between Chamberlain and Hitler in September 1938 were made difficult by their
innately differing concepts of what Europe should look like, with Hitler aiming to
use the Sudeten issue as a pretext for war and Chamberlain genuinely striving
for a peaceful solution.
When Chamberlain returned to Germany on 22 September to present his peace
plan for the transfer of the Sudetenland at a summit with Hitler at Bad
Godesberg, the British delegation was most unpleasantly surprised to have Hitler
reject his own terms he had presented atBerchtesgaden as now unacceptable.
To put an end to Chamberlain's peace-making efforts once and for all, Hitler
demanded the Sudetenland be ceded to Germany no later than 28 September
1938 with no negotiations between Prague and Berlin and no international
commission to oversee the transfer; no plebiscites to be held in the transferred
districts until after the transfer; and for good measure, that Germany would not
forsake war as an option until all the claims against Czechoslovakia by Poland
and Hungary had been satisfied.
The differing views between the two leaders
were best symbolized when Chamberlain was presented with Hitler's new
demands and protested at being presented with an ultimatum, leading Hitler in
turn to retort that because his document stating his new demands was entitled
"Memorandum", it could not possibly be an ultimatum.
On 25 September 1938
Britain rejected the Bad Godesberg ultimatum, and began preparations for war.
To further underline the point, Sir Horace Wilson, the British government's
Chief Industrial Advisor, and a close associate of Chamberlain, was dispatched
to Berlin to inform Hitler that if the Germans attacked Czechoslovakia, then
France would honour her commitments as demanded by the Franco-
Czechoslovak alliance of 1924, and "then England would feel honour bound, to
offer France assistance".
Initially, determined to continue with attack planned
for 1 October 1938, sometime between 27 and 28 September, Hitler changed his
mind, and asked to take up a suggestion, of and through the intercession of
Mussolini, for a conference to be held in Munich with Chamberlain, Mussolini,
and Daladier to discuss the Czechoslovak situation.
Just what had caused
Hitler to change his attitude is not entirely clear, but it is likely that the
combination of Franco-British warnings, and especially the mobilization of the
British fleet, had finally convinced him of what the most likely result of Fall
Grün would be; the minor nature of the alleged casus belli being the timetables
for the transfer made Hitler appear too much like the aggressor; the view from his
advisors that Germany was not prepared either militarily or economically for a
world war; warnings from the states that Hitler saw as his would-be allies in the
form of Italy, Japan, Poland and Hungary that they would not fight on behalf of
Germany; and very visible signs that the majority of Germans were not
enthusiastic about the prospect of war.
Moreover, Germany lacked
sufficient supplies of oil and other crucial raw materials (the plants that would
produce the synthetic oil for the German war effort were not in operation yet),
and was highly dependent upon imports from abroad.
The Kriegsmarinereported that should war come with Britain, it could not
break a British blockade, and since Germany had hardly any oil stocks, Germany
would be defeated for no other reason than a shortage of oil.
Ministry told Hitler that Germany had only 2.6 million tons of oil at hand, and
should war with Britain and France, would require 7.6 million tons of oil.
Starting on 18 September 1938, the British refused to supply metals to
Germany, and on 24 September the Admiralty forbade British ships to sail to
Germany. The British detained the tanker Invershannon carrying 8,600 tons of oil
to Hamburg, which caused immediate economic pain in Germany.
Germany's dependence on imported oil (80% of German oil in the 1930s came
from the New World), and the likelihood that a war with Britain would see a
blockade cutting Germany off from oil supplies, historians have argued that
Hitler's decision to see a peaceful end to call off Fall Grün was due to concerns
about the oil problem.
Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler and Mussolini at the Munich Conference
On 30 September 1938, a one-day conference was held in Munich attended by
Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini that led to the Munich Agreement,
which gave in to Hitler's ostensible demands by handing over
the Sudetenland districts to Germany.
Since London and Paris had already
agreed to the idea of a transfer of the disputed territory in mid-September, the
Munich Conference mostly comprised discussions in one day of talks on
technical questions about how the transfer of the Sudetenland would take place,
and featured the relatively minor concessions from Hitler that the transfer would
take place over a ten day period in October, overseen by an international
commission, and Germany would wait until Hungarian and Polish claims were
At the end of the conference, Chamberlain had Hitler sign a
declaration of Anglo-German friendship, to which Chamberlain attached great
importance and Hitler none at all.
Though Chamberlain was well-satisfied with
the Munich conference, leading to his infamous claim to have secured "peace for
our time", Hitler was privately furious about being "cheated" out of the war he
was desperate to have in 1938.
As a result of the summit, Hitler
was TIME magazine's Man of the Yearfor 1938.
Hitler enters the German populated Sudetenland region ofCzechoslavakia in October 1938
which was annexed to Germany proper due to the Munich agreement
By appeasing Hitler, Britain and France left Czechoslovakia to Hitler's mercy.
Though Hitler professed happiness in public over the achievement of his
ostensible demands, in private he was determined to have a war the next time
around by ensuring that Germany's future demands would not be met.
Hitler's view, a British-brokered peace, though extremely favourable to the
ostensible German demands, was a diplomatic defeat which proved that Britain
needed to be ended as a power to allow him to pursue his dreams of eastern
In the aftermath of Munich, Hitler felt since Britain would not ally
herself nor stand aside to facilitate Germany's continental ambitions, it had
become a major threat, and accordingly, Britain replaced the Soviet Union in
Hitler's mind as the main enemy of the Reich, with German policies being
Hitler expressed his disappointment over the
Munich Agreement in a speech on 9 October 1938 in Saarbrücken when he
lashed out against the Conservative anti-appeasers Winston Churchill, Alfred
Duff Cooper and Anthony Eden, whom Hitler described as a warmongering anti-
German fraction, who would attack Germany at the first opportunity, and were
likely to come to power at any moment.
In the same speech, Hitler claimed "We Germans will no longer endure such
governessy interference. Britain should mind her own business and worry about
her own troubles".
In November 1938, Hitler ordered a major anti-British
propaganda campaign to be launched with the British being loudly abused for
their "hypocrisy" in maintaining world-wide empire while seeking to block the
Germans from acquiring an empire of their own.
A particular highlight in the
anti-British propaganda was alleged British humans rights abuses in dealing with
the Arab uprising in the Palestine Mandate and in India, and the "hyprocrisy" of
British criticism of the November 1938 Kristallnacht event.
This marked a huge
change from the earlier years of the Third Reich, when the German media had
portrayed the British Empire in very favourable terms.
In November 1938, the
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was ordered to convert the Anti-
Comintern Pact into an open anti-British military alliance, as a prelude for a war
against Britain and France.
On 27 January 1939, Hitler approved the Z Plan, a
five-year naval expansion program which called for a Kriegsmarine of
10battleships, four aircraft carriers, three battlecruisers, eight heavy cruisers,
44 light cruisers, 68 destroyers and 249 U-boats by 1944 that was intended to
crush the Royal Navy.
The importance of the Z Plan can be seen in Hitler's
orders that henceforward the Kriegsmarine was to go from third to first in
allotment of raw materials, money and skilled workers.
In the spring of 1939,
the Luftwaffe was ordered to start building a strategic bombing force that was
meant to level British cities.
Hitler's war plans against Britain called for a
joint Kriegsmarine-Luftwaffe offensive that was to stage "rapid annihilating blows"
against British cities and shipping with the expectation that "The moment
England is cut off from her supplies she is forced to capitulate" as Hitler expected
that the experience of living in a blockaded, famine-stricken, bombed-out island
to be too much for the British public.
Destroyed Jewish businesses in Magdeburg following Kristallnacht
In November 1938, in a secret speech to a group of German journalists, Hitler
noted that he had been forced to speak of peace as the goal in order to attain the
degree of rearmament "which were an essential prerequisite ... for the next step".
In the same speech, Hitler complained that his peace propaganda of the last
five years had been too successful, and it was time for the German people to be
subjected to war propaganda.
Hitler stated: "It is self-evident that such peace
propaganda conducted for a decade has its risky aspect; because it can too
easily induce people to come to the conclusion that the present government is
identical with the decision and with the intention to keep peace under all
circumstances", and instead called for new journalism that "had to present
certain foreign policy events in such a fashion that the inner voice of the people
itself slowly begins to shout out for the use of force."
Later in November 1938,
Hitler expressed frustration with the more cautious advice he was receiving from
Hitler called the economic expert Carl Friedrich Goerdeler,
General Ludwig Beck, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the diplomat Ulrich von Hassell, and
the economist Rudolf Brinkmann "the overbred intellectual circles" who were
trying to block him from fulfilling his mission by their appeals to caution, and but
for the fact that he needed their skills "otherwise, perhaps we could someday
exterminate them or do something of this kind to them".
In December 1938, the Chancellery of the Führer headed by Philipp
Bouhler received a letter concerning a severely physically and mentally disabled
baby girl named Sofia Knauer living in Leipzig.
At that time, there was a
furious rivalry existing between Bouhler's office, the office of
the Reich Chancellery led by Hans-Heinrich Lammers, the Presidential
Chancellery of Otto Meissner, the office of Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Brückner and
the Deputy Führer's office which was effectively headed by Martin Bormann over
control over access to Hitler.
As part of a power play against his rivals,
Bouhler presented the letter concerning the disabled girl to Hitler, who thanked
Bouhler for bringing the matter to his attention and responded by ordering his
personal physician Dr. Karl Brandt to kill Knauer.
In January 1939, Hitler
ordered Bouhler and Dr. Brandt to henceforward have all disabled infants born in
This was the origin of the Action T4 program. Subsequently
Dr. Brandt and Bouhler, acting on their own initiative in the expectation of winning
Hitler's favour, expanded the T4 program to killing, first, all physically or mentally
disabled children in Germany, and, second, all disabled adults.
In late 1938 and early 1939, the continuing economic crisis caused by problems
of rearmament, especially the shortage of foreign hard currencies needed to pay
for raw materials Germany lacked, together with reports from Göring that the
Four Year Plan was hopelessly behind schedule, forced Hitler in January 1939 to
reluctantly order major defence cuts with the Wehrmacht having its steel
allocations cut by 30%, aluminium 47%, cement 25%, rubber 14% and copper
On 30 January 1939, Hitler made his "Export or die" speech calling for a
German economic offensive ("export battle", to use Hitler's term), to increase
German foreign exchange holdings to pay for raw materials such as high-grade
iron needed for military materials.
The "Export or die" speech of 30 January
1939 is also known as Hitler's "Prophecy Speech". The name which that speech
is known comes from Hitler's "prophecy" issued towards the end of the speech:
"One thing I should like to say on this day which may be memorable for others as
well for us Germans: In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet,
and I have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power it
was in the first instance the Jewish race which only received my prophecies with
laughter when I said I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and
that of the whole nation, and that I would then among many other things settle
the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time
now they have been laughing on the other side of the face. Today I will be once
more the prophet. If the international Jewish financiers outside Europe should
succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will
not be the bolsheviszation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the
annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"
A significant historical debate has swung around the "Prophecy Speech".
Historians who take an intentionist line such as Eberhard Jäckelhave argued that
at minimum from the time of the "Prophecy Speech" onwards, Hitler was
committed to genocide of the Jews as his central goal.
Lucy Dawidowicz and
Gerald Fleming have argued that the "Prophecy Speech" was simply Hitler's way
of saying that once he started a world war, he would use that war as a cover for
his already pre-existing plans for genocide.
Functionalist historians such
asChristopher Browning have dismissed this interpretation under the grounds
that if Hitler were serious with the intentions expressed in the "Prophecy
Speech", then why the 30-month "stay of execution" between the outbreak of
World War II in September 1939, and the opening of the
first Vernichtungslager in late 1941.
In addition, Browning has pointed to the
existence of the Madagascar Plan of 1940–41 and various other schemes as
proof that there was no genocidal master plan.
In Browning's opinion, the
"Prophecy Speech" was merely a manifestation of bravado on Hitler's part, and
had little connection with actual unfolding of anti-Semitic policies.
At least part of the reason why Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by seizing
the Czech half of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 was to obtain Czechoslovak
assets to help with the economic crisis.
Hitler ordered Germany's army to
enter Prague on 15 March 1939, and from Prague Castle proclaimed Bohemia
and Moravia a German protectorate.
Start of World War II
Adolf Hitler's face on a German stamp 1944. The country's name has changed to the Greater
German Reich since 1943 and this name can be seen on the stamp.
As part of the anti-British course, it was deemed necessary by Hitler to have
Poland either a satellite state or otherwise neutralized. Hitler believed this
necessary both on strategic grounds as a way of securing the Reich's eastern
flank and on economic grounds as a way of evading the effects of a British
Initially, the German hope was to transform Poland into a satellite
state, but by March 1939 the German demands had been rejected by the Poles
three times, which led Hitler to decide upon the destruction of Poland as the main
German foreign policy goal of 1939.
On 3 April 1939, Hitler ordered the
military to start preparing for Fall Weiss(Case White), the plan for a German
invasion to be executed on 25 August 1939.
In August 1939, Hitler spoke to
his generals that his original plan for 1939 had to "... establish an acceptable
relationship with Poland in order to fight against the West" but since the Poles
would not co-operate in setting up an "acceptable relationship" (i.e. becoming a
German satellite), he believed he had no choice other than wiping Poland off the
The historian Gerhard Weinberg has argued since Hitler's audience
comprised men who were all for the destruction of Poland (anti-Polish
feelings were traditionally very strong in the German Army), but rather less happy
about the prospect of war with Britain and France, if that was the price Germany
had to pay for the destruction of Poland, it is quite likely that Hitler was speaking
the truth on this occasion.
In his private discussions with his officials in 1939,
Hitler always described Britain as the main enemy that had to be defeated, and in
his view, Poland's obliteration was the necessary prelude to that goal by securing
the eastern flank and helpfully adding to Germany's Lebensraum.
much offended by the British "guarantee" of Polish independence issued on 31
March 1939, and told his associates that "I shall brew them a devil's drink".
a speech in Wilhelmshaven for the launch of the battleship Tirpitz on 1 April
1939, Hitler threatened to denounce the Anglo-German Naval Agreement if the
British persisted with their "encirclement" policy as represented by the
"guarantee" of Polish independence.
As part of the new course, in a speech
before the Reichstag on 28 April 1939, Adolf Hitler, complaining of British
"encirclement" of Germany, renounced both the Anglo-German Naval Agreement
and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact.
As a pretext for aggression against Poland, Hitler claimed the Free City of
Danzig and the right for "extra-territorial" roads across the Polish Corridor which
Germany had unwillingly ceded under the Versailles treaty. For Hitler, Danzig
was just a pretext for aggression as the Sudetenland had been intended to be in
1938, and throughout 1939, while highlighting the Danzig issue as a grievance,
the Germans always refused to engage in talks about the matter.
contradiction existed in Hitler's plans between the long-term anti-British course,
whose major instruments such as a vastly
expanded Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe would take several years to complete, and
Hitler's immediate foreign policy in 1939, which was likely to provoke a general
war by engaging in such actions as attacking Poland.
between his short-term and long-term goals was resolved by Foreign Minister
Joachim von Ribbentrop, who told Hitler that neither Britain nor France would
honour their commitments to Poland, and any German–Polish war would
accordingly be a limited regional war.
Ribbentrop based his appraisal partly
on an alleged statement made to him by the French Foreign Minister Georges
Bonnet in December 1938 that France now recognized Eastern Europe as
Germany's exclusive sphere of influence.
In addition, Ribbentrop's status as
the former Ambassador to London made him in Hitler's eyes the leading Nazi
British expert, and as a result, Ribbentrop's advice that Britain would not honour
her commitments to Poland carried much weight with Hitler.
showed Hitler diplomatic cables that supported his analysis.
In addition, the
German Ambassador in London, Herbert von Dirksen, tended to send reports
that supported Ribbentrop's analysis such as a dispatch in August 1939 that
reported British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain knew "the social structure of
Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of
even a victorious war", and so would back down.
The extent that Hitler was
influenced by Ribbentrop's advice can be seen in Hitler's orders to the German
military on 21 August 1939 for a limited mobilization against Poland alone.
Hitler chose late August as his date for Fall Weiss in order to limit disruption
to German agricultural production caused by mobilization.
caused by the need to begin a campaign in Poland in late August or early
September in order to have the campaign finished before the October rains
arrived, and the need to have sufficient time to concentrate German troops on
the Polish border left Hitler in a self-imposed situation in August 1939 where
Soviet co-operation was absolutely crucial if he were to have a war that year.
The Munich agreement appeared to be sufficient to dispel most of the remaining
hold which the "collective security" idea may have had in Soviet circles,
on 23 August 1939, Joseph Stalin accepted Hitler's proposal to conclude a non-
aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), whose secret protocols
contained an agreement to partition Poland. A major historical debate about the
reasons for Hitler's foreign policy choices in 1939 concerns whether a structural
economic crisis drove Hitler into a "flight into war" as claimed by the Marxist
historian Timothy Mason or whether Hitler's actions were more influenced by
non-economic factors as claimed by the economic historianRichard Overy.
Historians such as William Carr, Gerhard Weinberg and Ian Kershaw have
argued that a non-economic reason for Hitler's rush to war was Hitler's morbid
and obsessive fear of an early death, and hence his feeling that he did not have
long to accomplish his work.
In the last days of peace, Hitler oscillated
between the determination to fight the Western powers if he had to, and various
schemes intended to keep Britain out of the war, but in any case, Hitler was not
to be deterred from his aim of invading Poland.
Only very briefly, when news
of the Anglo-Polish alliance being signed on 25 August 1939 in response to the
German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (instead of the severing of ties between
London and Warsaw predicted by Ribbentrop) together with news from Italy that
Mussolini would not honour the Pact of Steel, caused Hitler to postpone the
attack on Poland from 25 August to 1 September.
Hitler chose to spend the
last days of peace either trying to manoeuvre the British into neutrality through
his offer of 25 August 1939 to "guarantee" the British Empire, or having
Ribbentrop present a last-minute peace plan to Henderson with an impossibly
short time limit for its acceptance as part of an effort to blame the war on the
British and Poles.
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded western
Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September but did not
immediately act. Hitler was most unpleasantly surprised at receiving the British
declaration of war on 3 September 1939, and turning to Ribbentrop angrily asked
Ribbentrop had nothing to say other than that Robert Coulondre,
the French Ambassador, would probably be by later that day to present the
French declaration of war.
Not long after this, on 17 September, Soviet forces
invaded eastern Poland.
Members of the Reichstag greet Hitler in October 1939 after the conclusion of the Polish
Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, 1940
Adolf Hitler in Paris, 1940, with Albert Speer (left) and Arno Breker (right)
Poland never will rise again in the form of the Versailles treaty. That is
guaranteed not only by Germany, but also ... Russia.
– Adolf Hitler in a public speech in Danzig at the end of September 1939.
After the fall of Poland came a period journalists called the "Phoney War,"
or Sitzkrieg ("sitting war"). In part of north-western Poland annexed to
Germany, Hitler instructed the two Gauleiters in charge of the area,
namely Albert Forster and Arthur Greiser, to "Germanize" the area, and
promised them "There would be no questions asked" about how this
"Germanization" was to be accomplished.
Hitler's orders were interpreted
in very different ways by Forster and Greiser. Forster followed a policy of
simply having the local Poles sign forms stating they had German blood with
no documentation required, whereas Greiser carried out a brutal ethnic
cleansing campaign of expelling the entire Polish population into the
Government-General of Poland.
When Greiser, seconded by Himmler,
complained to Hitler that Forster was allowing thousands of Poles to be
accepted as "racial" Germans and thus "contaminating" German "racial
purity", and asked Hitler to order Forster to stop, Hitler merely told Himmler
and Greiser to take up their difficulties with Forster, and not to involve him.
Hitler's handling of the Forster–Greiser dispute has often been advanced
as an example of Ian Kershaw's theory of "Working Towards the Führer",
namely that Hitler issued vague instructions, and allowed his subordinates to
work out policy on their own.
After the conquest of Poland, another major dispute broke out between
different factions with one centring around Reichsfüherer SS Heinrich
Himmler and Arthur Greiser championing and carrying out ethnic cleansing
schemes for Poland, and another centring around Hermann
Göring and Hans Frank calling for turning Poland into the "granary" of
At a conference held at Göring's Karinhall estate on 12
February 1940, the dispute was settled in favour of the Göring-Frank view of
economic exploitation, and ending mass expulsions as economically
On 15 May 1940, Himmler showed Hitler a memo entitled
"Some Thoughts on the Treatment of Alien Population in the East", which
called for expelling the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and
reducing the remainder of the Polish population to a "leaderless labouring
Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct".
had the effect of scuttling the so-called Karinhall argreement, and led to the
Himmler–Greiser viewpoint triumphing as German policy for Poland.
During this period, Hitler built up his forces on Germany's western frontier. In
April 1940, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. In May 1940,
Hitler's forces attacked France, conqueringLuxembourg, the Netherlands
and Belgium in the process. These victories persuaded Benito Mussolini of
Italy to join the war on Hitler's side on 10 June 1940. France surrendered on
22 June 1940.
Britain, whose forces evacuated France by sea from Dunkirk, continued to
fight alongside other British dominions in the Battle of the Atlantic. After
having his overtures for peace rejected by the British, now led by Winston
Churchill, Hitler ordered bombing raids on the United Kingdom. TheBattle of
Britain was Hitler's prelude to a planned invasion. The attacks began by
pounding Royal Air Force airbases and radar stations protecting South-East
England. However, the Luftwaffe failed to defeat the Royal Air Force. On 27
September 1940, the Tripartite Treaty was signed in Berlin bySaburo
Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Hitler, and Ciano. The purpose of the Tripartite
Treaty, which was directed against an unnamed power that was clearly
meant to be the United States, was to deter the Americans from supporting
the British. It was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania andBulgaria.
They were collectively known as the Axis Powers. By the end of October
1940, air superiority for the invasion Operation Sealion could not be assured,
and Hitler ordered the bombing of British cities, including London, Plymouth,
and Coventry, mostly at night.
In the Spring of 1941, Hitler was distracted from his plans for the East by
various activities in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. In
February, German forces arrived in Libya to bolster the Italian forces there.
In April, he launched the invasion of Yugoslavia which was followed quickly
by the invasion of Greece. In May, German forces were sent to support Iraqi
rebel forces fighting against the British and to invade Crete. On 23 May,
Hitler released Fuhrer Directive No. 30.
Path to defeat
On 22 June 1941, three million German troops attacked the Soviet Union,
breaking the non-aggression pact Hitler had concluded with Stalin two years
earlier. This invasion seized huge amounts of territory, including
the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. It also encircled and destroyed many
Soviet forces, which Stalin had ordered not to retreat. However, the
Germans were stopped barely short of Moscow in December 1941 by
the Russian winter and fierce Soviet resistance. The invasion failed to
achieve the quick triumph Hitler wanted.
A major historical dispute concerns Hitler's reasons for Operation
Barbarossa. Some historians such as Andreas Hillgruber have argued that
Barbarossa was merely one "stage" of Hitler's Stufenplan (stage by stage
plan) for world conquest, which Hillgruber believed that Hitler had formulated
in the 1920s.
Other historians such as John Lukacs have contended that
Hitler never had a stufenplan, and that the invasion of the Soviet Union was
an ad hoc move on the part of Hitler due to Britain's refusal to surrender.
Lukacs has argued that the reason Hitler gave in private for Barbarossa,
namely that Winston Churchill held out the hope that the Soviet Union might
enter the war on the Allied side, and that the only way of forcing a British
surrender was to eliminate that hope, was indeed Hitler's real reason for
In Lukacs's perspective, Barbarossa was thus primarily an
anti-British move on the part of Hitler intended to force Britain to sue for
peace by destroying her only hope of victory rather than an anti-Soviet
move. Klaus Hildebrand has maintained that Stalin and Hitler were
independently planning to attack each other in 1941.
claimed that the news in the spring of 1941 of Soviet troop concentrations on
the border led to Hitler engaging in a flucht nach vorn ("flight forward" – i.e.
responding to a danger by charging on rather than retreating.)
fraction comprising a diverse group such as Viktor Suvorov, Ernst
Topitsch, Joachim Hoffmann, Ernst Nolte, and David Irving have argued that
the official reason given by the Germans for Barbarossa in 1941 was the real
reason, namely that Barbarossa was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler to
avert an impeding Soviet attack scheduled for July 1941. This theory has
been widely attacked as erroneous; the American historianGerhard
Weinberg once compared the advocates of the preventive war theory to
believers in "fairy tales"
The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union reached its apex on 2 December 1941
as part of the 258th Infantry Division advanced to within 15 miles (24 km) of
Moscow, close enough to see the spires of the Kremlin.
But they were not
prepared for the harsh conditions brought on by the first blizzards of winter
and in the days that followed, Soviet forces drove them back over 320
kilometres (200 miles).
On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and four days
later, Hitler's formal declaration of war against the United States officially
engaged him in war against a coalition that included the world's largest
empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial
power (the United States), and the world's largest army (the Soviet Union).
On 18 December 1941, the appointment book of the Reichsführer-
SS Heinrich Himmler shows he met with Hitler, and in response to Himmler's
question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?", Hitler's response was
recorded as "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as partisans").
The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer has commented that the remark is
probably as close as historians will ever get to a definitive order from Hitler
for the genocide carried out during the Holocaust.
Adolf Hitler in Reichstag during his speech against Franklin D. Roosevelt. 11 December
The destroyed 'Wolf's Lair' barracks after the 20 July 1944 plot
In late 1942, German forces were defeated in the second battle of El
Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle
East. In February 1943, the Battle of Stalingradended with the destruction of
the German 6th Army. Thereafter came the Battle of Kursk. Hitler's military
judgment became increasingly erratic, and Germany's military and economic
position deteriorated along with Hitler's health, as indicated by his left hand's
severe trembling. Hitler's biographer Ian Kershaw and others believe that he
may have suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Syphilis has also been
suspected as a cause of at least some of his symptoms, although the
evidence is slight.
Following the allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in 1943, Mussolini
was deposed by Pietro Badoglio, who surrendered to the Allies. Throughout
1943 and 1944, the Soviet Union steadily forced Hitler's armies into retreat
along the Eastern Front. On 6 June 1944, the Western Allied armies landed
in northern France in what was one of the largest amphibious operations in
history,Operation Overlord. Realists in the German army knew defeat was
inevitable, and some plotted to remove Hitler from power.
In July 1944, as part of Operation Valkyrie in what became known as the 20
July plot, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in Hitler's headquarters,
the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) atRastenburg, but Hitler narrowly escaped
death. He ordered savage reprisals, resulting in the executions of more than
sometimes by starvation in solitary confinementfollowed by
slow strangulation. The main resistance movement was destroyed, although
smaller isolated groups continued to operate.
Defeat and death
Main article: Death of Adolf Hitler
By late 1944, the Red Army had driven the Germans back into Central
Europe and the Western Allies were advancing into Germany. Hitler realized
that Germany had lost the war, but allowed no retreats. He hoped to
negotiate a separate peace with America and Britain, a hope buoyed by the
death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on 12 April 1945.
stubbornness and defiance of military realities allowed the Holocaust to
continue. He ordered the complete destruction of all German industrial
infrastructure before it could fall into Allied hands, saying that Germany's
failure to win the war forfeited its right to survive.
Rather, Hitler decided
that the entire nation should go down with him. Execution of this scorched
earth plan was entrusted to arms minister Albert Speer, who disobeyed the
In April 1945, Soviet forces attacked the outskirts of Berlin. Hitler's followers
urged him to flee to the mountains of Bavaria to make a last stand in
the National Redoubt. But Hitler was determined to either live or die in the
On 20 April, Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday in
the Führerbunker ("Führer's shelter") below the Reichskanzlei (Reich
Chancellery). Elsewhere, the garrison commander of the besieged Festung
Breslau ("fortress Breslau"), General Hermann Niehoff, had chocolates
distributed to his troops in honour of Hitler's birthday.
By 21 April, Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through the
defences of German General Gotthard Heinrici's Army Group Vistula during
the Battle of the Seelow Heights. The Soviets were now advancing towards
Hitler's bunker with little to stop them. Ignoring the facts, Hitler saw salvation
in the ragtag units commanded by Waffen SS General Felix Steiner.
Steiner's command became known asArmeeabteilung Steiner ("Army
Detachment Steiner"). But "Army Detachment Steiner" existed primarily on
paper. It was something more than a corps but less than an army. Hitler
ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the huge salient created by
the breakthrough of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front. Meanwhile, the
German Ninth Army, which had been pushed south of the salient, was
ordered to attack north in a pincer attack.
Late on 21 April, Heinrici called Hans Krebs, chief of the Oberkommando
des Heeres (Supreme Command of the Army or OKH), and told him that
Hitler's plan could not be implemented. Heinrici asked to speak to Hitler but
was told by Krebs that Hitler was too busy to take his call.
On 22 April, during one of his last military conferences, Hitler interrupted the
report to ask what had happened to Steiner's offensive. There was a long
silence. Then Hitler was told that the attack had never been launched, and
that the withdrawal from Berlin of several units for Steiner's army, on Hitler's
orders, had so weakened the front that the Russians had broken through
into Berlin. Hitler asked everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Krebs, Alfred
Jodl, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Martin Bormann to leave the room,
launched a tirade against the perceived treachery and incompetence of his
commanders. This culminated in an oath to stay in Berlin, head up the
defence of the city, and shoot himself at the end.
Before the day ended, Hitler again found salvation in a new plan that
included General Walther Wenck's Twelfth Army.
This new plan had
Wenck turn his army – currently facing the Americans to the west – and
attack towards the east to relieve Berlin.
Twelfth Army was to link up with
Ninth Army and break through to the city. Wenck did attack and, in the
confusion, made temporary contact with the Potsdam garrison. But the link
with the Ninth Army, like the plan in general, was ultimately unsuccessful.
On 23 April, Joseph Goebbels made the following proclamation to the
people of Berlin:
I call on you to fight for your city. Fight with everything you have got, for the
sake of your wives and your children, your mothers and your parents. Your
arms are defending everything we have ever held dear, and all the
generations that will come after us. Be proud and courageous! Be inventive
and cunning! Your Gauleiter is amongst you. He and his colleagues will
remain in your midst. His wife and children are here as well. He, who once
captured the city with 200 men, will now use every means to galvanize the
defence of the capital. The Battle for Berlin must become the signal for the
whole nation to rise up in battle ...
The same day, Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
Göring argued that, since Hitler was cut off in Berlin, he should assume
leadership of Germany as Hitler's designated successor. Göring mentioned
a time limit after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated.
responded, in anger, by having Göring arrested. Later when Hitler wrote
his will on 29 April, Göring was removed from all his positions in the
Further on the 23 April, Hitler appointed General der
Artillerie Helmuth Weidling as the commander of the Berlin Defense Area.
Weidling replaced Lieutenant General (Generalleutnant) Helmuth
Reymann and Colonel (Oberst)Ernst Kaether. Hitler also appointed Waffen
SS General (SS Brigadeführer) Wilhelm Mohnke the (Kommandant) Battle
Commander for the defence of the government sector (Zitadelle sector) that
included the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker.
By the end of the day on 27 April, Berlin was completely cut off from the rest
On 28 April, Hitler discovered that SS leader Heinrich Himmler was trying to
discuss surrender terms with the Western Allies (through the Swedish
diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte).
Hitler ordered Himmler's arrest and
had Hermann Fegelein (Himmler's representative for the SS at Hitler's HQ in
Cover of US military newspaper The Stars and Stripes, May 1945
During the night of 28 April, Wenck reported that his Twelfth Army had been
forced back along the entire front. He noted that no further attacks towards
Berlin were possible. General Alfred Jodl(Supreme Army Command) did not
provide this information to Hans Krebs in Berlin until early in the morning of
On 29 April, Hitler dictated his will and political statement to his private
secretary, Traudl Junge.
Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph
Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed this last will and
testament of Adolf Hitler.
On the same day, Hitler was informed of the
assassination of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 April, which is
presumed to have increased his determination to avoid capture.
On 30 April 1945, after intense street-to-street combat, when Soviet troops
were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery, Hitler committed
suicide, shooting himself in the temple with aWalther PPK while
simultaneously biting into a cyanide capsule.
Hitler had at various
times in the past contemplated suicide, and the Walther was the same pistol
that his niece, Geli Raubal had used in her suicide.
Hitler's body and that
of Eva Braun were put in a bomb crater,
doused in gasoline by SS
Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche and other Führerbunkeraides, and cremated
as the Red Army advanced and shelling continued.
On 2 May, Berlin surrendered. In the postwar years there were conflicting
reports about what happened to Hitler's remains. After the fall of the Soviet
Union, records found in the Soviet archives revealed that the remains of
Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, the six Goebbels children,
General Hans Krebs and Hitler's dogs, were collected, moved and secretly
buried in graves near Rathenow in Brandenburg.
In 1970, the remains
were disinterred, cremated and scattered in the Elbe River by the Soviets.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service, a fragment of human
skull stored in its archives and displayed to the public in a 2000 exhibition
came from the remains of Hitler's body. The authenticity of the skull has
been challenged by historians and researchers.
In fact, DNA analysis
conducted in 2009 showed the skull fragment to be that of a woman, and
analysis of the sutures between the skull plates indicated an age between 20
and 40 years old at the time of death.
Further information: Consequences of German Nazism and Neo-Nazism
Outside the building in Braunau am Inn, Austria where Adolf Hitler was born is amemorial stone warning of
the horrors of World War II
"What manner of man is this grim figure who has performed these superb toils and
loosed these frightful evils?" – Winston Churchill in Great Contemporaries(1935) ”
Hitler, the Nazi Party and the results of Nazism are typically regarded as
Historians, philosophers, and politicians have often
applied the word evil in both a secular
and a religious
Historical and cultural portrayals of Hitler in the west are overwhelmingly
condemnatory. The display of swastikas or other Nazi symbols is prohibited
in Germany and Austria. Holocaust denial is also prohibited in both
Outside of Hitler's birthplace in Braunau am Inn, Austria, the Memorial Stone
Against War and Fascism is engraved with the following message:
FÜR FRIEDEN FREIHEIT
NIE WIEDER FASCHISMUS
MILLIONEN TOTE MAHNEN
Loosely translated it reads: "For peace, freedom // and democracy // never
again fascism // millions of dead remind [us]"[clarification needed]
Some people have referred to Hitler's legacy in neutral or favourable terms.
Former Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat spoke of his 'admiration' of Hitler
in 1953, when he was a young man, though it is possible he was speaking in
the context of a rebellion against the British Empire.
Louis Farrakhan has
referred to him as a "very great man".
Bal Thackeray, leader of the right-
wing Hindu Shiv Sena party in the Indian state of the Maharashtra, declared
in 1995 that he was an admirer of Hitler.
Friedrich Meinecke, the German
historian, said of Hitler's life that "it is one of the great examples of the
singular and incalculable power of personality in historical life".
Main article: Adolf Hitler's religious views
Hitler was raised by Roman Catholic parents, but after he left home, he
never attended Mass or received the sacraments.
Hitler favoured aspects
of Protestantism if they were more suitable to his own objectives. At the
same time, he adopted some elements of the Catholic Church's hierarchical
organization, liturgy and phraseology in his politics.
After he had
moved to Germany, where the Catholic and the Protestant church are
largely financed through a church tax collected by the state, Hitler never
"actually left his church or refused to pay church taxes. In a nominal sense
therefore," the historian Steigmann-Gall (whose views on Christianity and
Nazism are admittedly outside the consensus) states, Hitler "can be
classified as Catholic."
Yet, as Steigmann-Gall has also pointed out in the
debate about religion in Nazi Germany: "Nominal church membership is a
very unreliable gauge of actual piety in this context."
In public, Hitler often praised Christian heritage, German Christian culture,
and professed a belief in an Aryan Jesus Christ, a Jesus who fought against
In his speeches and publications Hitler spoke of his
interpretation of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism,
stating that "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I
have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice."
statements, as reported by his intimates, show Hitler as critical of traditional
Christianity, considering it a religion fit only for slaves; he admired the power
of Rome but had severe hostility towards its teaching.
Here Hitler's attack
on Catholicism "resonated Streicher's contention that the Catholic
establishment was allying itself with the Jews."
In light of these private
statements, forJohn S. Conway and many other historians it is beyond doubt
that Hitler held a "fundamental antagonism" towards the Christian churches.
The various accounts of Hitler's private statements vary strongly in their
reliability; most importantly, Hermann Rauschning'sHitler speaks is
considered by most historians to be an invention.
In the political relations with the churches in Germany however, Hitler readily
adopted a strategy "that suited his immediate political purposes".
had a general plan, even before the rise of the Nazis to power, to destroy
Christianity within the Reich.
The leader of the Hitler Youth stated
"the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the
National Socialist movement" from the start, but "considerations of
expedience made it impossible" publicly to express this extreme position.
His intention was to wait until the war was over to destroy the influence of
Hitler for a time advocated for Germans a form of the Christian faith he
called "Positive Christianity",
a belief system purged of what he
objected to in orthodox Christianity, and featuring added racist elements. By
1940 however, it was public knowledge that Hitler had abandoned
advocating for Germans even the syncretist idea of a positive Christianty.
Hitler maintained that the "terrorism in religion is, to put it briefly, of a
Jewish dogma, which Christianity has universalized and whose effect is to
sow trouble and confusion in men's minds."
Hitler once stated, "We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is
essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany."
Attitude to occultism
Some writers believe that, in contrast to some Nazi ideologues, Hitler did not
adhere to esoteric ideas, occultism, or Ariosophy.
Hitler ridiculed such
beliefs in Mein Kampf.
Nevertheless, other writers believe the young
Hitler was strongly influenced, particularly in his racial views, by an
abundance of occult works on the mystical superiority of the Germans, such
as the occult and anti-semitic magazineOstara, and give credence to the
claim of its publisher Lanz von Liebenfels that Hitler visited Liebenfels in
1909 and praised his work.
The historians are still divided on the question
of the reliability of Lanz' claim of a contact with Hitler.
Clarke considers his account reliable, Brigitte Hamann leaves the question
open and Ian Kershaw is extremely sceptical.
Hitler's health has long been the subject of debate. He has variously been
said to have had irritable bowel syndrome, skin lesions, irregular
heartbeat, Parkinson's disease,
a strongly suggested addiction to methamphetamine. He had problems with
his teeth and his personal dentist Hugo Blaschke stated that he fitted a
large dental bridge to his upper jaw in 1933 and that on 10 November 1944
he carried out surgery to cut off part of the bridge due to a gum infection that
was causing him severe toothache. He reported that he was also suffering
from a sinus infection.
After the early 1930s, Hitler generally followed a vegetarian diet, although he
ate meat on occasion. There are reports of him disgusting his guests by
giving them graphic accounts of the slaughter of animals in an effort to make
them shun meat.
A fear of cancer (from which his mother died) is the
most widely cited reason, though many authors[who?]
also assert Hitler had a
profound and deep love of animals.
Martin Bormann had a
greenhouse constructed for him near the Berghof (near Berchtesgaden) to
ensure a steady supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for Hitler throughout the
war. Photographs of Bormann's children tending the greenhouse survive
and, by 2005, its foundations were among the only ruins visible in the area
that was associated with Nazi leaders.
Hitler was a non-smoker and promoted aggressive anti-smoking campaigns
throughout Germany. He reportedly promised a gold watch to any of his
close associates who quit (and gave a few away). Several witness accounts
relate that, immediately after his suicide was confirmed, many officers,
aides, and secretaries in the Führerbunker lit cigarettes.
Hitler's tremors and irregular heartbeat during the last years of his life could
have been symptoms of tertiary (late stage) syphilis,
which would mean
he had a syphilis infection for many years. Along with another
doctor, Theodor Morell diagnosed the symptoms as such by early 1945 in a
joint report to SS head Heinrich Himmler.
have also cited Hitler's preoccupation with syphilis across 14
pages of Mein Kampf, where he called it a "Jewish disease", leading to
speculation he may have had the disease himself. His possible discovery in
1908 that he himself had the disease may have been responsible for his
demeanor; while his life course may[weasel words]
have been influenced by his
anger at being a syphilitic, as well as his belief that he had acquired the
disease from undesirable societal elements which he intended to eliminate.
In several chapters of Mein Kampf, he wrote about the temptation
of prostitution and the spreading of syphilis, specifically volume 1, chapter 10
"Causes of the Collapse".
Historians have speculated he may
caught the affliction from a German prostitute at a time when
the disease was not yet treatable by modern antibiotics, which would also
explain his avoidance of normal sexual relations with women. However,
syphilis had become curable in 1910 with Dr. Paul Ehrlich's introduction of
the drug Salvarsan.
No pictures exist of Hitler revealing any portion of his torso, such as wearing
a bathing suit at the beach.
The author Deborah Hayden
written extensively regarding Hitler and syphilis. 
Since the 1870s, however, it was a common rhetorical practice on
the völkisch right to associate Jews with diseases such as syphilis.[citation
Historian Robert Waite claims Hitler tested negative on a Wassermann
test as late as 1939, which does not prove that he did not have the disease,
because the Wassermann test was prone to false-negative results.[citation
Regardless of whether he actually had syphilis or not, Hitler lived in
constant fear of the disease, and took treatment for it no matter what doctors
told him.
In his biography of Doctor Felix Kersten called The Man with the Miraculous
journalist and Académie française member Joseph Kessel wrote
that in the winter of 1942, Kersten heard of Hitler's medical condition.
Consulted by his patient, Himmler, as to whether he could "assist a man who
suffers from severe headaches, dizziness and insomnia," Kersten was
shown a top-secret 26-page report. It detailed how Hitler had contracted
syphilis in his youth and was treated for it at a hospital
in Pasewalk, Germany. However, in 1937, symptoms re-appeared, showing
that the disease was still active, and by the start of 1942, signs were evident
that progressive syphilitic paralysis (Tabes dorsalis) was occurring. Himmler
advised Kersten that Morell (who in the 1930s claimed to be a
specialist venereologist) was in charge of Hitler's treatment, and that it was a
state secret. The book also relates how Kersten learned from Himmler's
secretary, Rudolf Brandt, that at that time, probably the only other people
privy to the report's information were Nazi Party chairman Martin
Bormann and Hermann Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe.
See also: Hitler Has Only Got One Ball#Did Hitler really have only one
It has been alleged that Hitler had monorchism, the medical condition of
having only one testicle. Hitler's personal doctor, Johan Jambor, supposedly
described the dictator's condition to a priest who later wrote down what he
had been told in a document which was uncovered recently, 23 years after
the doctor's death.
Soviet doctor Lev Bezymensky, allegedly involved in the Soviet autopsy,
stated in a 1967 book that Hitler's left testicle was missing (seeHitler Has
Only Got One Ball). Bezymensky later admitted that the claim was falsified.
Hitler was routinely examined by many doctors throughout his childhood,
military service and later political career, and no clinical mention of any such
condition has ever been discovered. Records do show he was wounded in
1916 during the Battle of the Somme, and some sources describe his injury
as a wound to the groin.
Hitler's World War I company commander
said a VD exam found that Hitler had no testicles, but this individual was
known to be politically critical of Hitler, and no documentation of the exam
seems to exist.
It has also been speculated Hitler had Parkinson's disease.
Hitler show he had tremors in his hand and a shuffling walk (also a symptom
of tertiary syphilis, see above) which began before the war and continued to
worsen until the end of his life. Morell treated Hitler with a drug agent that
was commonly used in 1945, although Morell is viewed as an unreliable
doctor by most historians and any diagnoses he may have made are subject
A more reliable doctor, Ernst-Günther Schenck, who worked at an
emergency casualty station in the Reich Chancellery during April 1945, also
claimed Hitler might have Parkinson's disease. However, Schenck only saw
Hitler briefly on two occasions and, by his own admission, was extremely
exhausted and dazed during these meetings (at the time, he had been in
surgery for numerous days without much sleep). Also, some of Schenck's
opinions were based on hearsay from Dr. Haase.
From the 1930s he suffered from stomach pains, in 1936 a non
cancerous polyp was removed from his throat and he developed eczema on
his legs. 
He suffered ruptured eardrums as a result of the July 20
plot bomb blast in 1944 and 200 wood splinters had to be removed from his
but he was otherwise uninjured. Some doctors dismiss Hitler's
ailments as hypochondria, pointing out the apparently drastic decline of
Hitler's health as Germany began losing World War II.
This section contains close paraphrasing of one or more non-free
copyrighted sources. Ideas in this article should be expressed in an original
manner. See the talk page for details.(March 2010)
As debated as Hitler's physical medical issues may be, his mental health is a
minefield of theories and speculation. This topic is very controversial, as
many believe that if a psychological cause can be found for Hitler's behavior,
there would be more reasoning behind his actions.
Waite, who wrote an extensive psychohistory of Hitler, concluded that he
suffered from borderline personality disorder, which manifested its
symptoms in numerous ways and would imply Hitler was in full control of
himself and his actions. Others have proposed Hitler may have
, based on claims that he was hallucinating and
delusional during his last year of life. Many people believe that Hitler had a
mental disorder and was not schizophrenic nor bipolar, but rather met the
criteria for both disorders, and was therefore most likely a schizoaffective. If
true, this might be explained by a series of brief reactive psychoses in
a narcissistic personality which could not withstand being confronted with
reality (in this case, that he was not the "superman" or "savior of Germany"
he envisioned himself to be, as his plans and apparent early achievements
collapsed about him). In addition, his regular methamphetamine use and
possible sleep deprivation in the last period of his life must be factored into
any speculation as to the cause of his possible psychotic symptoms, as
these two activities are known to trigger psychotic reactions in some
individuals. Hitler never visited a psychiatrist, and under current
methodology, any such diagnosis is speculation.
Addiction to amphetamine
Hitler began using amphetamine occasionally after 1937 and became
addicted to amphetamine after the late summer of 1942. 
Speer stated he thought this was the most likely cause of the later rigidity of
Hitler’s decision making (never allowing military retreats). 
In a 1980 article, the German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler was highly
dismissive of all theories that sought to explain Nazi Germany as due to
some defect, medical or otherwise in Hitler. Wehler wrote:
"Does our understanding of National Socialist policies really depend on
whether Hitler had only one testicle?...Perhaps the Führer had three, which
made things difficult for him, who knows?...Even if Hitler could be regarded
irrefutably as a sado-masochist, which scientific interest does that
further?...Does the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question' thus become more
easily understandable or the 'twisted road to Auschwitz' become the one-
way street of a psychopath in power?"
In Wehler's opinion, besides the problem that such theories about Hitler's
medical condition were extremely difficult to prove, the problem was that
they had the effect of personalizing the phenomena of Nazi Germany by
more or less attributing everything that happened in the Third Reich to one
Echoing Wehler's views, the British historian Sir Ian
Kershaw argued that it was better to take a broader view of German history
by seeking to examine what social forces led to the Third Reich and its
policies, as opposed to the "personalized" explanations for the
Holocaust and World War II.
In his 1998 book Explaining Hitler: The
Search for the Origins of His Evil, the American journalist Ron
Rosenbaum sarcastically remarked that theories concerning Hitler's mental
state and sexual activity shed more light on the theorists than on Hitler.
Main article: Sexuality of Adolf Hitler
Hitler presented himself publicly as a man without a domestic life, dedicated
entirely to his political mission.
He had a fiancée in the 1920s, Mimi Reiter, and later had a mistress, Eva
Braun. He had a close bond with his half-niece Geli Raubal, which some
commentators have claimed was sexual, though there is no evidence that
According to John Toland (in his book A.H.: a Definitive
Biography), Hitler would often visit Geli in the manner of a suitor, and
restricted his niece's movement unless she was chaperonedby him. All three
women attempted suicide (two succeeded), a fact that has led to speculation
that Hitler may have had sexual fetishes, such as urolagnia (aroused by
urine or urination), as was claimed by Otto Strasser, a political opponent of
Hitler. Reiter, the only one to survive the Nazi regime, denied this.
the war and afterwards psychoanalysts offered numerous
inconsistent psychosexual explanations of hispathology.
have claimed that Hitler had a relationship with British fascist Unity Mitford.
Lothar Machtan argues in his book The Hidden Hitler that Hitler was
Main article: Hitler (disambiguation)
Paula Hitler, the last living member of Adolf Hitler's immediate family, died in
The most prominent and longest-living direct descendants of Adolf Hitler's
father, Alois, was Adolf's nephew William Patrick Hitler. With his wife Phyllis,
he eventually moved to Long Island, New York, changed his last name, and
had four sons. None of William Hitler's children have had any children of
Over the years, various investigative reporters have attempted to track down
other distant relatives of the Führer. Many are now alleged to be living
inconspicuous lives and have long since changed their last name.
Adolf Hitler's genealogy
Klara Hitler, mother
Alois Hitler, father
Alois Hitler, Jr., half-brother
Angela Hitler Raubal, half-sister
Bridget Dowling, sister-in-law
Eva Braun, mistress and then wife
Geli Raubal, niece
Gretl Braun, sister-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
Heinz Hitler, nephew
Hermann Fegelein, brother-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
Ilse Braun, sister-in-law through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun
Johann Georg Hiedler, presumed grandfather
Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, maternal great-grandfather, presumed great
uncle and possibly Hitler's true paternal grandfather
Leo Raubal Jr, nephew
Maria Schicklgruber, grandmother
Paula Hitler, sister
William Patrick Hitler, nephew
Hitler in media
Video of Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden
See also: Adolf Hitler in popular culture
Oratory and rallies
Main article: List of speeches given by Adolf Hitler
Hitler was a gifted orator who captivated many with his beating of the lectern
and growling, emotional speech. He honed his skills by giving speeches to
soldiers during 1919 and 1920. He became adept at telling people what they
wanted to hear (the stab-in-the-back, the Jewish-Marxist plot to conquer the
world, and the betrayal of Germany in the Versailles treaty) and identifying a
scapegoat for their plight. Over time, Hitler perfected his delivery by
rehearsing in front of mirrors and carefully choreographing his display of
. He was allegedly coached byErik-Jan Hanussen, a self-
styled clairvoyant who focused on hand and arm gestures and who,
ironically, had Jewish heritage. Munitions minister and architect Albert
Speer, who may have known Hitler as well as anyone, said that Hitler was
above all else an actor.
Massive Nazi rallies staged by Speer were designed to spark a process of
self-persuasion for the participants. By participating in the rallies, by
marching, by shouting heil, and by making the stiff armed salute, the
participants strengthened their commitment to the Nazi movement. This
process can be appreciated by watching Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the
Will, which presents the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. The camera shoots Hitler
from on high and from below, but only twice head-on. These camera angles
give Hitler a Christ-like aura. Some of the people in the film are paid actors,
but most of the participants are not. Whether the film itself recruited new
Nazis out of theatre audiences is unknown. The process of self-persuasion
may have affected Hitler. He gave the same speech (though it got smoother
and smoother with repetition) hundreds of times first to soldiers and then to
audiences in beer halls.
Hitler and Baron Mannerheim(June 1942)
Recorded in private conversation
Hitler visited Finnish Field Marshal Mannerheim on 4 June 1942. During the
visit an engineer of the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, Thor Damen,
recorded Hitler and Mannerheim in conversation, something which had to be
done secretly since Hitler never allowed recordings of him off-guard.
Today the recording is the only known recording of Hitler not speaking in
an official tone. The recording captures 11½ minutes of the two leaders in
Hitler speaks in a slightly excited, but still
intellectually detached manner during this talk (the speech has been
compared to that of the working class). The majority of the recording is a
monologue by Hitler. In the recording, Hitler admits to underestimating the
Soviet Union's ability to conduct war.
Patria picture disc
Adolf Hitler even released a 7-inch picture disc with one of his speeches.
Known as the Patria (Fatherland) picture disc, the obverse bears an image
of Hitler giving a speech and has a recording of both a speech by Hitler and
also Party Member Hans Hinkel. The reverse bears a hand holding a
swastika flag and the Carl Woitschach recording (1933 – Telefunken A
1431) "In Dem Kampf um die Heimat – Faschistenmarsch".
Documentaries during the Third Reich
Hitler appeared in and was involved to varying degrees with a series of films
by the pioneering filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl via Universum Film AG (UFA):
Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith, 1933).
Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934), co-produced by Hitler.
Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed
Hitler was the central figure of the first three films; they focused on the party
rallies of the respective years and are considered propaganda films. Hitler
also featured prominently in the Olympia film. Whether the latter is a
propaganda film or a true documentary is still a subject of controversy, but it
nonetheless perpetuated and spread the propagandistic message of
the 1936 Olympic Games depicting Nazi Germany as a prosperous and
As a prominent politician, Hitler was featured in many
Hitler's attendance at various public functions, including the 1936 Olympic
Games and Nuremberg Rallies, appeared on television broadcasts made
between 1935 and 1939. These events, along with other programming
highlighting activity by public officials, were often repeated in public viewing
rooms. Samples from a number of surviving television films from Nazi
Germany were included in the 1999 documentary Das Fernsehen unter dem
Hakenkreuz (Television Under the Swastika).
Documentaries post Third Reich
The World at War (1974): a Thames Television series which contains
much information about Hitler and Nazi Germany, including an interview
with his secretary, Traudl Junge.
Adolf Hitler's Last Days: from the BBC series "Secrets of World War II"
tells the story about Hitler's last days during World War II.
The Nazis: A Warning From History (1997): six-part BBC TV series on
how the cultured and educated Germans accepted Hitler and the Nazis
up to its downfall. Historical consultant is Ian Kershaw.
Cold War (1998): a CNN series about the Cold War between the United
States and the Soviet Union. The series begins with World War II
footage, including Hitler, and how the Cold War began in earnest after
Im toten Winkel – Hitlers Sekretärin (Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary) (2002):
an exclusive 90 minute interview with Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary.
Made by Austrian Jewish director André Heller shortly before Junge's
death from lung cancer, Junge recalls the last days in the Berlin bunker.
Clips of the interview were used in Downfall.
Undergångens arkitektur (The Architecture of Doom) (1989): documentary
about the National Socialist aesthetic as envisioned by Hitler.
Das Fernsehen unter dem Hakenkreuz (Television Under the
Swastika) (1999): documentary by Michael Kloft about the domestic use
of television in Nazi Germany for propaganda purposes from 1935 to
Ruins of the Reich (2007): four-part series of the Rise and Fall of Hitler's
Reich and its effects, created by Third Reich historian R.J. Adams
The Death of Adolf Hitler, a British (7 January 1973) made-for-television
production, starring Frank Finlay. The movie depicts the last days of
Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973): movie depicting the days leading up to
Adolf Hitler's death, starring Sir Alec Guinness.
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Hitler – Ein Film aus Deutschland (Hitler: A Film
from Germany) (1977): a seven-hour work in four parts. The director
uses documentary clips, photographic backgrounds, puppets, theatrical
stages, and other elements.
The Bunker (1981): a U.S. made-for-television movie describing the last
days in the Führerbunker from 17 January 1945 to 2 May 1945. The film
stars Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Europa, Europa (1990): based on the true story of a German Jew who
joined the Hitler Youth in order to avoid capture. Hitler is portrayed
by Ryszard Pietruski.
Fatherland (1994): a hypothetical view of Germany in 1964, had Hitler won
World War 2, adapted from the novel by former journalist Robert Harris.
The Empty Mirror (1996): a psychodrama which speculates on the events
following Hitler (portrayed by Norman Rodway) surviving the fall of Nazi
Moloch (1999): Hitler portrayed by Leonid Mozgovoy in a fictional drama
set at his Berghof Retreat in the Bavarian Alps.
Max (2002): fictional drama depicting a friendship between Jewish art
dealer Max Rothman (John Cusack) and a young Adolf Hitler (Noah
Taylor) as a failed painter in Vienna.
Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003): two-part TV series about the early years of
Adolf Hitler and his rise to power (up to 1933), starring Robert Carlyle.
Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004): German movie about the last days of
Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, starring Bruno Ganz. This film is partly
based on the autobiography of Traudl Junge, a favorite secretary of
Hitler's. In 2002, Junge said she felt great guilt for "... liking the greatest
criminal ever to have lived."
Valkyrie (2008): Hitler, played by David Bamber, is portrayed as a target of
the famous assassination plot by Stauffenberg.
Dr Freud Will See You Now Mr Hitler (2008): radio drama by Laurence
Marks and Maurice Gran presenting an imagined scenario in
whichSigmund Freud treats the young Hitler. Toby Jones played Hitler.
Adolf Hitler's directives
Ex-Nazi Party members
Glossary of Nazi Germany
Glossary of German military terms
List of books by or about Adolf Hitler
List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
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Bullock 1962, p. , 219, 389
322. ^ Steigmann-Gall 2003: 65; He is referring to: Otto Wagener, Hitler: Memoirs of a
Confidant, Henry Ashby Turner, ed. (New Haven, 1985), p. 65
323.^ a b
Conway 1968: 3
324.^ Rißmann 2001, p. 22
325. ^ Steigmann-Gall 2003, pp. 28–29
326.^ a b
SHARKEY, JOE Word for Word/The Case Against the Nazis; How Hitler's Forces
Planned To Destroy German Christianity, New York Times, 13 January 2002
327.^ The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches, Rutgers Journal of Law
and Religion, Winter 2001, publishing evidence compiled by the O.S.S. for the Nuremberg
war-crimes trials of 1945 and 1946
328. ^ The Religious Affiliation of Adolf Hitler Adherents.com
329.^ a b
Steigmann-Gall 2003, p. passim
330.^ Overy 2005, p. 278
331.^ Poewe, Karla O, New Religions and the Nazis, p. 30, Routledge 2006
332.^ "Hitler's Table Talks" Christianity: 4 April 1942, Martin Bormann, published 1953)
333.^ Heiden, Konrad (1935). A History of National Socialism, p. 100, A.A. Knopf
334.^ Overy 2005, p. 282
335.^ Rosenbaum, Ron [Explaining Hitler] p. xxxvii, p. 282 (citing Yehuda Bauer's belief that
Hitler's racism is rooted in occult groups like Ostara), p. 333, 1998 Random House
336.^ Rißmann 2001: 122
337.^ Rißmann 2001: 249 (Footnote 539)
338.^ Fitzgerald, Mich (2004-01-07), Autism and Creativity: Is There a Link between Autism in
Men and Exceptional Ability?, Routledge,ISBN 1583912134
339.^ Fries, Andreas (2009-04-22), "Did Adolf Hitler suffer of Asperger
syndrome?", Läkartidningen 106 (17): 1201–1204, ISSN 0023-7205, retrieved 2009-08-03
340.^ Anton Joachimstaler (1999), The last days of Hitler: the legends, the evidence, the truth,
Arms & Armour Press, ISBN 1-86019-902-X
341.^ Wilson, Bee (1998-10-09), "Mein Diat – Adolf Hitler's diet", New Statesman (FindArticles),
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342.^ Toland 1991, p. 741
343.^ "Hitler syphilis theory revived". BBC News. 2003-03-12. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
344.^ [ Mein Kampf: Causes of the Collapse]
345.^ "Pox: Genius, Madness, and the ... - Google Books". Books.google.com. 2003-01-30.
347.^ See a documentary video file produced by the Armed Forces in the late 1940s about the
very serious number of cases of the disease reported in Europe and the United States in the
early part of the century.
348.^ Kessel, Joseph. The Man With the Miraculous Hands: The Fantastic Story of Felix
Kersten, Himmler's Private Doctor. Classics of War Series. Springfield, NJ: Burford Books,
2004. ISBN 1580801226.
349.^ Peake, Alex (2008-11-19). "Hitler HAD only got one ball | The Sun |News". The Sun.
350.^ Bezymensky L. A. Operatsija "Mif" ili skolko raz choronili Gitlera. Moscow 1995
351.^ "Health | Parkinson's part in Hitler's downfall". BBC News. 1999-07-29. Retrieved 2010-07-
352.^ Ian Kershaw (2000). Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. Penguin Press. ISBN 0-393-32252-1.
353.^ Heinz Linge, Roger Moorehouse (2009). With Hitler to the End: The Memoir of Hitler's
Valet. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 1-602-39804-6.
354.^ Heston, Leonard L., M.D. The Medical Casebook of Adolph Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors
and Drugs (Introduction by Albert Speer) New York:1980 Chapter 8 Pages 125-142
355.^ Heston, Leonard L., M.D. The Medical Casebook of Adolph Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors
and Drugs (Introduction by Albert Speer) New York:1980 See Introduction by Albert Speer
356.^ Rosenbaum 1998, pp. 99–117
357.^ Rosenbaum 1998, p. 116
358.^ The Pink Swastika – Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, 4th edition, Abiding Truth, retrieved
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actor prepare for Hitler role", Helsingin Sanomat(Helsingin Sanomat), retrieved 2008-05-22
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Butler, Ewan; Young, Gordon (1989), The Life and Death of Hermann Goering, David &
Charles, ISBN 071539455X
Carr, William (1972), Arms, Autarky and Aggression, London: Edward
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Hitler, Adolf; Raoul Jean Jacques Francois De Roussy De Sales, ed (1973), My New Order,
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London: Arnold,ISBN 0340760281
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Company, ISBN 0393322521
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Payne, Robert (1990), The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, New York, New York: Hippocrene
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Rißmann, Michael (2001) (in (German)), Hitlers Gott. Vorsehungsglaube und Sendungsbewußtsein
des deutschen Diktators, Zürich München: Pendo, ISBN 3-85842-421-8
Roberts, Andrew (1991), The Holy Fox, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, ISBN 0297811339
Robertson, E.M. (1963), Hitler's Pre-War Policy and Military Plans, London: Longmans
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Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003), The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945,
Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, doi:10.2277/0521823714, ISBN 0521823714
Strobl, Gerwin (2000), The Germanic Isle, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University
Press, ISBN 0521782651
Toland, John (1991 reprint), Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography,Doubleday, ISBN 0385420536
Tooze, Adam (2006), The Wages of Destruction, New York: Viking Press, ISBN 0670038261
Waite, Robert G. L. (1993), The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-
Weinberg, Gerhard (1970), The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe
1933–1936, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226885097
Weinberg, Gerhard (1980), The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Starting World War II, Chicago,
Illinois: University of Chicago Press,ISBN 0226885119
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Predictions of His Future Behavior and Suggestions for Dealing with Him
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OSS document alleging sexual deviancy
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Speeches and publications
Hitler’s Jewish Friends http://younghitler.com/hitlers_jewish_friends.htm
A speech from 1932 (text and audiofile), German Museum of History
Hitler Speech (10 February 1933) with English Translation
Hitler's book Mein Kampf (full English translation)
Adolf Hitler's Private Will, Marriage Certificate and Political Testament,
April 1945 (34 pages)
"The Discovery of Hitler's Wills" Office of Strategic Services report on how
the testament was found
The Testament of Adolf Hitler the Bormann-Hitler documents (transcripts
of conversations in February–2 April 1945)
Leader of the NSDAP
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Leader of the SA
Kurt von Schleicher
Chancellor of Germany(1)
Paul von Hindenburg (as
Führer of Germany(1)
Karl Dönitz (as President)
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Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Army
Notes and references
1. The positions of Head of State and Government were combined 1934–1945 in the office of Führer and Chancellor of Germany
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