After Germany's defeat in World War I, Adolf Hitler developed a keen interest in politics and began playing an active role upon his return to Munich in May 19jn19. He continued to serve in the military, as he lacked formal education and career prospects. In September 1919, he joined the small German Workers Party (DAP) and used his powerful oratorical skills to impress and engage the Party Chairman Anton Drexler. With the guidance of Drexler and other influential leaders, Hitler embraced anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ideas and left the army to officially join the party in March 1920. The party was later renamed as the National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP), which is also known as the Nazi Party.
Hitler's remarkable ability to gather more and more people to join the party proved successful. This was especially true as many were still mourning the loss they faced during World War I and many more were dissatisfied with the Republican government in Berlin. The discontent and resentment brought together Munich servicemen who were determined not to return to civilian life, and Hitler was able to gather many army generals to join the party. The favourable conditions allowed for the growth of the small party, as many civilians turned to join due to economic instability and losses. By July 1921, Hitler had become the leader of the party with unlimited powers.
Who Was Adolf Hitler?
Hitler was brought into this world in a petite hamlet in Austria in 1889. His father was a local customs official and his third wife, who was much younger than him. Hitler's father was an illegitimate child and his grandfather's identity is still a mystery. However, there is no evidence to support the legend that his unidentified grandfather was Jewish. Hitler's father was stern and aloof. On the other hand, he shared a closer bond with his mother, and her death from cancer when he was 17 left him deeply traumatised.
Hitler received a regular education and as a young man, he didn't showcase any exceptional skills. He aspired to study art and moved to Vienna after his mother's demise, hoping to secure admission to an art school. However, he was rejected due to his lack of talent.
Hitler's academic record was mixed, and he never progressed beyond secondary education. After finishing school, he went to Vienna but returned to Linz, where he aspired to become an artist. With the small allowance he continued to receive, he sustained himself in Vienna. He wanted to study art, in which he had some ability, but he failed twice to gain entry to the Academy of Fine Arts. For a few years, he led a solitary and isolated existence, earning a meagre living by painting postcards and advertisements and moving from one municipal hostel to another. Hitler had already displayed characteristics that would define his future life: loneliness and secrecy, a bohemian way of life, and a hatred of cosmopolitanism and the multinational nature of Vienna.
In 1913, Hitler relocated to Munich. In February 1914, he was assessed for Austrian military service and deemed unfit due to insufficient physical strength. However, when World War I erupted, he appealed to Bavarian King Louis III to allow him to serve, and the day after submitting his request, he received notification.
Hitler was dispatched to Belgium in October 1914, where he participated in the First Battle of Ypres. He served throughout the war, suffered injuries in October 1916, and was exposed to gas two years later.He was hospitalised when the war ended.He greeted the war with enthusiasm, seeing it as a great relief from the frustration and purposelessness of civilian life. He found discipline and comradeship fulfilling and was confirmed in his belief in the heroic qualities.
Rise To Power Of Hitler
Munich was a hub for disgruntled former servicemen and members of the Freikorps, which were formed from units of the German army that were unwilling to return to civilian life, as well as political schemers against the republic. Many of these individuals became members of the Nazi Party, including Ernst Röhm, a staff member of the district army command who had joined before Hitler and played a significant role in advancing Hitler's position within the party. Röhm recruited the "strong arm" squads that Hitler used to protect party meetings, attack socialists and communists, and use violence to project strength.
The conditions were favourable for the growth of the small party, and Hitler was shrewd enough to capitalise on them. When he joined the party, he found it ineffective, committed to nationalist and socialist ideals, but uncertain of its goals and divided in its leadership. While he embraced the party's program, he viewed it as a means to an end. His propaganda and personal ambition caused friction with the other party leaders, but Hitler countered their efforts to constrain him by threatening to resign. Since the party's future depended on his ability to organise publicity and acquire funds, his opponents relented.
The onset of the Great Depression in 1929, nevertheless, ushered in a fresh phase of political instability. In 1930, Hitler formed a coalition with the Nationalist Alfred Hugenberg to oppose the Young Plan, which aimed to renegotiate Germany's war reparations. With the assistance of Hugenberg's publications, Hitler was able to reach a nationwide audience for the first time. The coalition also allowed him to garner support from many of the business and industry tycoons who controlled political funds and were eager to create a robust right-wing, anti-socialist government. The funding Hitler obtained from the industrialists put his party on a firm financial footing and enabled him to effectively appeal to the lower middle class and unemployed by proclaiming his faith in Germany's ability to rise from its suffering and reclaim its natural grandeur.
Hitler's interactions with Hugenberg and the industrialists demonstrate his ability to manipulate those who sought to manipulate him. However, his most significant accomplishment was establishing an authentically national party (with voters and followers from various classes and religious groups), which was unparalleled in Germany at that time.
The Rise Of Dictator
After rising to power, Hitler established an all-encompassing dictatorship. He obtained the president's approval for fresh elections. The Reichstag fire which occurred on the night of February 27, 1933 (apparently executed by a Dutch Communist, Marinus van der Lubbe), was used as a pretext for a decree that nullified all guarantees of liberty and for a heightened campaign of aggression. Under these circumstances, when the elections were conducted (March 5), the Nazis garnered 43.9 percent of the votes.
In less than three months, all non-Nazi parties, factions, and labour unions were eliminated. The Catholic Centre Party's disappearance was followed by a German Concordat with the Vatican in July.
Prior to expanding its territories, Germany had to remove the limitations imposed upon it by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. Hitler employed various propaganda techniques to dispel any doubts from other nations. He presented himself as Europe's defender against the threat of Bolshevism and claimed to be a man of peace who sought to eliminate the injustices of the Versailles Treaty. Germany withdrew from the Disarmament Conference and League of Nations in October 1933 and signed a nonaggression pact with Poland in January 1934. Each time Germany repudiated the treaty, it offered to negotiate a new agreement and emphasised its limited aspirations. The only time the Nazis miscalculated was when Austrian Nazis with the aid of German organisations, assassinated Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss of Austria and staged a rebellion in July 1934.In January 1935, a plebiscite in Saarland resulted in over 90% of the voters choosing to reunite with Germany. In March of that year, Hitler introduced conscription, which drew protests from Britain, France, and Italy, but their opposition was muted.
Hitler's peaceful diplomacy was successful enough to persuade Britain to negotiate a naval treaty in June 1935, acknowledging Germany's right to have a significant navy. Hitler's most significant move occurred in March 1936 when he used France's pact with the Soviet Union as an excuse to occupy the demilitarised Rhineland, despite the advice of many generals.Although France had several allies on paper, and Germany had none, Hitler's Third Reich had become the most dominant power in Europe.
Only a short time later, he proceeded to take control of the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia. On March 15, 1939, he entered Prague and announced that the rest of "Czechia" would become a German-protected state. A few days later (March 23), the Lithuanian government was compelled to surrender Memel (Klaipeda), which was next to the northern border of East Prussia, to Germany.
Hitler continued to deny having any dispute with Britain. He displayed remarkable ability in assessing the mood of democratic leaders and exploiting their vulnerabilities, despite the fact that he had hardly left Austria and Germany and did not speak any foreign languages. Up to this point, every step had been successful.
Conclusion And Hitler’s Place In History
By the beginning of the 21st century, there had been more written works on Hitler after his demise than on Napoleon in the fifty years that followed his death. The historical interpretation of Hitler has also been affected by the passage of time and distance from the events of World War II. Even during world war Mahatma Gandhi who was from India wrote a letter to Hitler just to stop the world war because it was not only affecting several countries but also the whole world was suffering from it.
There is a widespread agreement on his historical significance, but this does not imply a positive evaluation. Hitler bears sole responsibility for initiating World War II, which is distinct from the various responsibilities of rulers and statesmen who caused the outbreak of World War I. Hitler's culpability for the implementation of the Holocaust, which involved shifting German policy from the expulsion to the extermination of Jews, including those in all of Europe and European Russia, is also clear.
His most violent statements were often recorded by his subordinates during his "Table Talks," including the not entirely authentic "Bormann remarks" from February to April 1945. For instance, on January 30, 1939, to commemorate the sixth anniversary of his rule, Hitler addressed the Reichstag, saying, "Today, I will once again be a prophet.
By 1938, Hitler had transformed Germany into the most dominant and dreaded nation in Europe (and possibly the world). He accomplished this feat without resorting to war (and some historians now argue that if he had passed away in 1938 before the mass executions began, he would have been remembered as the greatest statesman in German history). In reality, he came perilously close to winning the war in 1940, but was foiled by the resistance of Britain, personified by Winston Churchill However, it required the overwhelming and, in many ways, unconventional Anglo-American coalition with the Soviet Union to defeat the Third Reich. There are legitimate reasons to believe that neither side would have been able to defeat him alone. Simultaneously, it was his viciousness and some of his decisions that led to his downfall, as they united the unlikely alliance of capitalists and communists, Churchill and Roosevelt, and Stalin. Hitler believed himself to be a master statesman, but he failed to realise the utter depravity of what he had unleashed. He believed that the coalition of his adversaries would eventually fall apart, allowing him to negotiate with one side or the other. This was a self-deception, although many Germans held similar desires and hopes until the end.
To this day, supporters of Hitler, both open and covert, still exist (not only in Germany). Some are attracted to the efficacy of evil, while others admire Hitler's accomplishments, no matter how fleeting or brutal. However, due to the atrocities and heinous crimes associated with his name, it is unlikely that Hitler's reputation as the embodiment of evil will ever change.