Adolf Hitler Biography
Adolf Hitler was the German dictator who espoused the Nazi ideology of the Aryan master race and was the proud owner of the most sinister set of trimmed whiskers in moustached history. As the leader of the Third Reich he will be remembered as being the architect of WW2 and the principal cause of the Holocaust that saw the extermination of 6 million Jews in a Germanic ethnic cleansing of biblical proportions in mainland Europe.
Before Hitler's ascendency to megalomaniacal tyranny, he was a brave German soldier with a distinguished WW1 record that gave little indication of his forthcoming rise from the rank of lance corporal in the Bavarian Army, to the lofty position of Chancellor of Germany. It would be a riveting journey that ensured his place as the most infamous man of the twentieth century.
The meteoric rise and slow but painful fall of Adolf Hitler is one of the most documented in recorded history. His mesmerising speeches captured the hearts and minds of disillusioned Germans during their lost period post WW1. Once in power he burned books, rewrote history and set the educational tone for two generations of patriotic Germans to live and die for their Führer.
Hitler was to become a vegetarian who could not understand how anyone could eat the flesh of a former sentient being. Yet he was driven by a passion for power and domination to achieve revenge over what he what he deemed as the injustices of the Treaty Of Versailles in the aftermath of WW1.
To many WW1 German soldiers, the Treaty Of Versailles seemed a betrayal. They knew they had not been beaten in battle, but their superiors had surrendered. This deprivation of pride of the German soldier was felt deeply throughout the ranks of the army. This was a cauldron of discontent that was ignored by the Weimar Rebublic and was prime fodder to be tapped into by unscrupulous politicians.
But with hundred's of thousands of U.S troops landing in Europe the German generals had pushed the politicians to end the stalemate and settle for an armistice. They knew this was a war they could not win. The terms of the armistice were malicious and certainly harsher than what the Germans expected. This was a bitter pill to swallow for the rank and file soldiers who laid their lives on the line for the fatherland. Two million of their brothers had perished, and for what? Of course they were bitter.
There were many dissatisfied, disillusioned and disenchanted German's. Adolf Hitler felt the pulse of the people. He determined the time was right for change. But before marching on Berlin, his followers had to take Munich first. This was afterall their southern power base.
During this period, bier halls were the significant meeting places for discussing political agendas. The largest and most influential bier hall was the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich. This was the venue for Hitler's ill fated beer hall putsch of 8th to 9th November 1923. There were 3,000 people in attendance when Hitler and his associates marched into the venue and declared that a national revolution was up and running.
The Munich putsch lasted two days then it fizzled out. Hitler, who was inspired by Benito Mussolini's successful March on Rome, had planned the same for Berlin. But after failing in his stronghold of Munich he was arrested, tried for treason and jailed for five years in Landsberg Prison in Bavaria.
The Weimar Republic had survived, for now. But the trial did give Hitler the platform to propagandise his ideology which his eloquent tongue utilised to the full. It also gave him time for reflection in prison where he wrote his political ideological manifesto called Mein Kampf. A realisation dawned on Adolf Hitler. He recognised that revolution could not succeed by force. He determined the path to power had to be via the ballot box.
Because of a sympathetic Bavarian judiciary, his release came quickly after nine months. Hitler was driven to make good use of his nationally published speeches during his trial and his doctrines in Mein Kampf. The Weimar Republic succeeded in throwing the Nazi leader into jail. But they failed to crush his ideology.
After his release from prison on 20th December 1924 it took five years to see the Nazi party rise from the ashes of the failed Munich Putsch. In his absence the party had deteriorated through in-fighting. It needed the influential leadership of Adolf Hitler to steady the ship.
Hitler had inadvertently achieved national attention. The seeds were sewn for his rise to power. The dissatisfaction of the German populace since WW1 was clear for all to see. But it was Adolf Hitler who tapped into the despair of a nation that would would sweep him to power via an anti-Semitic under-current of hate.
The politicians of note in Germany failed to take Hitler seriously. This was their arrogant mistake and one of his greatest advantages. No matter how frightening his ideological philosophies may have been, Hitler was passionate in his beliefs and charismatic beyond the mundane words of the established German leaders since WW1.
A new Germany was there for the taking. But there were still many difficult hurdles to cross for Adolf Hitler's Nazi party. The German people faced many economic issues, especially in rural and small-town areas. A scapegoat was needed and Hitler needed no encouragement to provide it.
The capitalists and people associated with Jewish bankers and business were identified as the curse of the German people. The ideological emphasis turned to blood and ancestry. Adolf Hitler nurtured a nationalistic belief that the Aryan race were the true sons of German soil.
By the 1930's Hitler was recognised as a serious political force. But the tide towards nationalism was now too strong to oppose. Where the Weimar Republic had dithered, Hitler acted. On the 30th January 1933 the Nazi party of Adolf Hitler was elected to power. This was the rise of the third Reich that would lead Europe into anther devastating world war.
Throughout the 1930's Adolf Hitler built the rhetoric of his ideological belief in his Aryan first policy. Books were burned, people killed and the German superiority complex was instilled into every generation of Aryan children.
The scene was set. Germany was primed but Europe was in denial to the oncoming onslaught. A few politicians like Winston Churchill saw what was coming but his words were drowned out by the statements of appeasement.
Unfortunately it took the efficiency of German blitzkrieg to make the European power brokers listen to the likes of Churchill. It was too late. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Austria, Holland, Belgium and France soon fell. It looked like England was next.
To Adolf Hitler there was one invasion and victory far more important than any other. After the invasion and defeat of the French there was a certain amount of Germanic pride to be satisfied. With their WW1 humiliation still a hot topic in the minds of the people, Hitler plotted the sweetest revenge.
Hitler forced the French leaders to sign the treaty of surrender in the same train carriage that the Germans were forced to sign the Treaty Of Versailles for the 11th November armistice in Compiegne in 1918. This was a meticulous man whose attention to detail matched the symbolism of his beliefs forged by his view of the iron fist of history. He sent to the world, a haunting message of ironic revenge as the vanquished returned triumphantly to Paris as the vanquisher.
The fall of France in early 1940 was one the most brilliant military victories in history. The French and British armies were better equipped and boasted superior manpower. The Germans won this great victory due to the brilliance of the German generals, the intensity of their blitzkrieg attack and the incompetence of the Allies command.
All of a sudden Hitler was the master military strategist and his already over inflated ego was hyper driven through the stratosphere and his brain went into orbit. Confidence is a wonderful servant but can be a terrible master when it is left unchecked. This would prove to be Hitler's downfall.
Adolf Hitler was not infallible. During war time mistakes are made by all leaders. It is the gravity of the mistake that defines whether you live to fight another day or not. If there was one big mistake the Nazi's made during WW2 it was Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.
By signing off approval for Operation Barbarossa Adolf Hitler was defiantly denying the history of Russian warfare. He failed to learn the lessons taught to Napoleon Bonaparte or Charles XII of the Swedish Empire and countless others who ventured arrogantly into Russian lands expecting an easy victory.
Hitler was still euphorically high on the conquest of much of western Europe. His ambitions were raised to questionable levels. But who would dare question the Fuhrer's militaristic eye that was looking east?
There are many anecdotes of Hitler's iron will dealing in both the rational and somewhat irrational reactions to whatever prevailing situations his leadership faced. His feared reputation meant his orders were usually carried out to the letter for fear of death. When your average totalitarian dictator excels they are often compared to Adolf but few can match the Führer's fury or the complete dedication to his set political ideals.
So the full might of the Nazi army headed east with their scorched earth policy, razing villages to the ground and taking no prisoners. As they progressed the supply lines to the front were becoming stretched and an army cannot fight without food or fuel. The Russian winter of 1941 kicked in and the Nazi war machine was grinding to a halt.
The Germans were 200km short of Moscow and the Eastern front was frozen. In 1942 Hitler's plans changed. Stalin expected a renewed assault towards Moscow. But the Nazi's looked south to the oil fields of the Caucasus and the strategic city of Stalingrad.
The battle of Stalingrad was the pivotal battle of WW2. Hitler committed over a million troops to the southern front. By August 1942 the German army were fighting the Soviets in the city. By December 1942 Stalingrad was reduced to rubble but still the Red army held out.
It was death or glory for the Russians. Die fighting or be killed for cowardice. Stalin issued his infamous Order No. 227, with its chilling slogan:
"Ni Shagu Nazad!". It translated as
"Not One Step Backwards!". So the Red Army dug in and suffered horrendous losses.
The entire German 6th army threw everything they had at the Soviets, but they could not finish them off. The Red Army's High Command came up with a plan to relieve the remnants of the 62nd Russian Army in Stalingrad. It was called Operation Uranus and it began on 13th November 1942.
The Soviets committed 1.2 million soldiers to Operation Uranus. The plan was to encircle the German 6th army and trap them in the outskirts of Stalingrad. The plan was executed to perfection. The Red Army had ensnared 300,000 Germans soldiers in their trap and the Luftwaffe were unable to continue dropping supplies to them.
With no hope of either victory or escape, Field Marshall Friedrich von Paulus of the 6th army surrendered on 31st January 1943. Many of his disease ravaged troops had frozen or starved to death. Of those that remained less than 5% survived their Siberian POW captivity.
The battle of Stalingrad changed the whole perception of WW2. The Red Army gained confidence and further great victories were gained including the greatest ever tank battle at Kursk in the summer of 1943. The Germans never recovered. They were driven all the way back to Berlin and ultimate defeat.
Hitler lost over 4 million men on the Eastern Front. 800,000 died at Stalingrad alone. It was a combination of Hitler's arrogance and disdain for what he deemed a nation of peasants that was his undoing. Hitler grossly underestimated Soviet strength, determination and the millions of recruits the Red Army could call upon.
On a light hearted note I think of all the stories about Hitler that have made it to the silver screen there is one small scene in the 1980 movie Flash Gordon that really sticks in my mind: Klytus, who was the evil head of emperor Ming The Merciless' secret police, was precising at speed the history of the earth when he paused for thought in the Nazi era and exclaimed with some admiration:
"Hmmm, he showed promise". Birds of a feather I suppose, but, it had an effect deeper than the initial laughter the scene drew from me as it was a case of comedy parodying the tyranny of the despotic in a comparative history of the entire world that really made me think.
In this nuclear age we have to be more careful than ever of the tyranny of the dictator. When he talked the people of Germany listened. As with all charismatic leaders Adolf Hitler could manipulate not just a crowd but a whole nation that in looking for solutions were prepared to accept and detest scapegoats. They blindly followed the captivating cunning of their new leader who promised them a Third Reich that would last for 1,000 years but ultimately delivered the same old tortured story of death and misery that is the only guaranteed outcome of all conflicts.
Quotes About Adolf Hitler
The historian Robert G. L. Waite was equally succinct with his comment:
"As long as people are fascinated by the range and depth of evil, Hitler will find readers, for he was the Molech who devoured human beings in a regime that was the negation of God erected into a system of Government"
Winston Churchill was his ever caustic self when he commented:
"If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons"
Joseph Stalin said in his own inimitable way:
"So the bastard's dead? Too bad we didn't capture him alive!"
The U.S. President Franklin D Roosevelt was quite blunt with this assessment:
"Hitler and Mussolini will understand now the enormity of their miscalculations - that the Nazis would always have the advantage of superior air power as they did when they bombed Warsaw, and Rotterdam, and London and Coventry. That superiority has gone - forever"
Hermann Goring shared this observation:
"If Hitler had not lost the war, if he did not have to fight against the combination of big powers like England, America, and Russia - each one he could have conquered individually"
Martin Bormann said of his Fuhrer:
"All depends on him, he alone sustains morale, he is invariably right, he is our hope and trust"
Upton Sinclair gave this view of his rise to power:
"Hitler was calling upon Almighty God to give him courage and strength to save the German people and right the wrongs of Versailles… and then to settle down and govern the county in the interest of those millions of oppressed “little people” for whom he spoke so eloquently"
George Bernard Shaw gave this post WW1 assessment:
"It was evident that Germany needed only a resolute and clear-headed leader to denounce the Treaty; declare her determination to assert her full equality with the Powers, and refuse to be disarmed, plundered and chastised under the pretext of reparations and ‘war guilt’, to rally to him every living soul whose native language was German"
The American poet Ezra Pound saw another side to the man:
"Adolf Hitler was a Jeanne d'Arc, a saint. He was a martyr. Like many martyrs, he held extreme views"