Many people describe Adolf Hitler as one of the most powerful and notorious world leaders of the twentieth century. He served as the leader of Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s until he committed suicide on the 30th April 1945. Hitler is renowned by many as the primary instigator of the Second World War and for the persecution of the Jewish race.
Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria in 1889, to Alois Hitler and Klara Poelzl. Adolf was the fourth child out of six. Growing up, Adolf Hitler’s ambition was to become an artist. In fact, in the year 1907 sometime before his mother passed away from breast cancer, he left his hometown Linz, the capital of Upper Austria and travelled to Vienna, where he applied for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts. He was rejected admission twice. His failure to gain entry into the Academy of Fine Arts led him into a period of depression, that he also drifted away from his friends.
It was during this time that Hitler started to become fascinated by the immense potential of mass political manipulation and control. Hitler’s political ideology was very much associated with anti-Semitism, anti-Communism, anti-Parliamentarianism and he strongly believed in the superiority of an ‘Aryan race’ which is a ‘Master race’. Hitler did not believe in the equality of individuals, in fact he was of the view that the German people were the greatest of all and that he will do anything in his power to serve German nationals. Hitler firmly believed in the inequality of human races, nations and individuals alike.
Several historians and researchers believe that Hitler’s political views were formed during three major periods. The first period is known to be in his early years as a young man before the First World War, during his stays in Vienna and Munich. In view that Vienna’s political regime was pro-nationalism, Hitler was indoctrinated by the racist and anti-Semitic discourses that so influenced the Viennese political stream at the time. In fact, during this period, Hitler spent his time reading nationalist political pamphlets and anti-Semitic newspapers. It is believed that these experiences had formed his view on German nationalism. The second period which played a vital role in his beliefs was in the closing months of World War I, when Germany lost the war. During this time, Hitler developed extreme nationalism, as he had this inner desire to save Germany from both internal and external enemies. The third period which had an impact on his beliefs was when he wrote ‘Mein Kampf’ which means ‘My Struggle’.
In Hitler’s view, the greatest enemy of Nazism was not liberal democracy in Germany but was Marxism in view of the fact that it embraced social democracy. Beyond Marxism, however, he believed that his greatest enemy of all were the Jews. In view of this belief, his personal objective and this was also explained in his book Mein Kampf was the elimination of the Jews altogether.
During the 1920s, Germany was suffering from an economic depression. During this period, Hitler managed to achieve something unique for Germany, that is the establishment of a truly national party. Hitler was continuously using propaganda to portray a failed government, in view of this he was attracting voters from all different classes and religious groups. The Nazi Party started to gain electoral strength, rising to be the second-largest political party in the country, increasing from 2.6 per cent in the national election of 1928 to more than 18 per cent in September 1930.
Once in power, Hitler established an absolute dictatorship, in fact, three months later all non-Nazi parties, organisations and labour unions ceased to exist. As he had made clear in Mein Kampf, the reunion of the German people was his overriding ambition. The Second World War started on the 1st September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The war eventually continued to expand all over the world, and it is recorded in history as the deadliest conflict to ever occur in human history, which marked around seventy to eighty-five million fatalities.