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Adolf Hitler

 (German: [ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ] ( listen); 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 referred to as the Nazi Party). Sony A1258274A Battery

He wasChancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state (as Führer und Reichskanzler) from 1934 to 1945. Hitler is most commonly associated with the rise of fascism in Europe, World War II, and the Holocaust.

A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the precursor of the Nazi Party (DAP) in 1919, Sony VGP-BPL10 Battery

and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923 Hitler attempted a coup d'état, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, at the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall in Munich. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoir, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). Sony VGP-BPS10 Battery

After his release in 1924, Hitler gained support by promoting Pan-Germanism,antisemitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and propaganda. He was appointed chancellor in 1933 and transformed the Weimar Republicinto the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of Nazism.Sony VGP-BPS10/S Battery

Hitler's avowed aim was to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in continental Europe. His foreign and domestic policies had the goal of seizing Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. This included the rearmament of Germany, resulting in the invasion of Poland by theWehrmacht in September 1939, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.Sony VGP-BPS10A/B Battery

Under Hitler's direction, German forces and their European allies at one point occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were reversed in 1945 when the Allied armies defeated the German army. Hitler's racially motivated policies resulted in the systematic annihilation of as many as 17 million civilians,Sony VGP-BPS10B Battery

including an estimated six million Jews targeted in the Holocaust and between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma. 

In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married Eva Braun, his long-time mistress. To avoid capture by the Red Army, the twocommitted suicide less than two days later on 30 April 1945 and their corpses were burned.Sony VGP-BPS10A Battery

Ancestry

Hitler's father, Alois Hitler, was an illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Therefore, the name of Alois' father was not listed on Alois' 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 father.Sony VGP-BPS11 Battery

 Despite his testimony, the question of Alois' paternity remained unresolved. Hans Frank claimed—after receiving an extortionary letter from Hitler's nephewWilliam Patrick Hitler threatening to reveal embarrassing information about Hitler's family tree—to have uncovered letters revealing that Alois' mother was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family in Graz and that the family's 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger, had fathered Alois.Sony VGP-BPL11 Battery

However, Frank's claim remained unsupported, and Frank himself did not believe that Hitler had Jewish ancestry. Claims of Alois' father being Jewish were doubted by historians in the 1990s. Ian Kershaw dismissed the Frankenberger story as a "smear" by Hitler's enemies,Sony VGP-BPL12 Battery

 noting that all Jews had been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until after Alois' birth. 

At age 39, Alois assumed the surname Hitler, variously spelled also as HiedlerHüttler, or Huettler, and was probably regularized to its final spelling by a clerk.Sony VGP-BPS12 Battery

 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 the Slavicword Hidlar and Hidlarcek

Childhood

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at around 6:30 pm at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an inn in Ranshofen,  a village annexed to the municipality of Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria in 1938. Sony VGP-BPL13 Battery

He was the fourth of six children to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl. All of Adolf's older siblings  – Gustav, Ida, and Otto – died before reaching three years of age.

At the age of three, his family moved to Kapuzinerstrasse 5  in Passau, Germany. There, Hitler would acquire a Bavarian dialect of Austro-Bavarian rather than an Austrian dialect.Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery

 In 1894, the family relocated to Leonding near Linz, and in June 1895, Alois retired to a small landholding at Hafeld near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming and beekeeping. Adolf attended school in nearby Fischlham, and in his free time, he played "Cowboys and Indians".Sony VGP-BPS13/B Battery

 Hitler became fixated on warfare after finding a picture book about the Franco-Prussian War among his father's belongings.

Alois Hitler's farming efforts at Hafeld ended in failure, and in 1897 the family moved to Lambach. Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

Hitler attended a Catholic school in an 11th-century Benedictinecloister, the walls of which bore engravings and crests that contained the symbol of the swastika. In Lambach the eight-year-old Hitler also sang in the church choir, took singing lessons, and even entertained thoughts of one day becoming a priest. In 1898, the family returned permanently to Leonding.Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

On 2 February 1900 Hitler's younger brother, Edmund, died of measles, deeply affecting Hitler, whose character changed from being confident and outgoing and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers.Sony VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

Hitler was attached to his mother, but he had a troubled relationship with his father, who frequently beat him, especially in the years after Alois' retirement and failed farming efforts. Alois was an Austrian customs official and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, which caused much conflict between them.Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

Ignoring his son's wishes to attend a classical high school and become an artist, in September 1900 his father sent Adolf to the Realschule in Linz, a technical high school of about 300 students. (This was the same high school that Adolf Eichmann would attend some 17 years later.)Sony VGP-BPS13AS Battery

Hitler rebelled against this decision, and in Mein Kampf revealed that he failed his first year, hoping 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."

Hitler became obsessed with German Nationalism at a young age in a way to rebel against his father, who proudly served the Austrian government. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

In contrast to many other Austrians who —despite considering themselves still as Germans— were loyal to Austria, Hitler expressed loyalty only to Germany. In defiance of the Austrian monarchy to which his father expressed his loyalty, Hitler and his friends used the German greeting "Heil", and sang the German anthem "Deutschland Über Alles" instead of the Austrian Imperial anthem. Sony VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery

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 in 1904. He enrolled at the Realschule in Steyr in September 1904, but upon completing his second year, he and his friends went out for a night of celebration and drinking. Sony VGP-BPS13B/S Battery

While drunk, Hitler tore up his school certificate and used its pieces as toilet paper. The stained certificate was brought to the attention of the school's principal who "... 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.Sony VGP-BPS13Q Battery

Aged 15, Hitler took part in his First Communion on Whitsunday, 22 May 1904, at the Linz Cathedral. His sponsor was Emanuel Lugert, a friend of his late father. 

Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna with financial support from orphan's benefits and his mother. Sony VGP-BPS13S Battery

He was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1907–1908), because of his "unfitness for painting", and was recommended to study architecture. Following this recommendation, he intended to pursue architectural studies, yet he lacked the academic credentials required for architecture school:Sony VGP-BPL7 Battery

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.Sony VGP-BPS7 Battery

I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.

On 21 December 1907, Hitler's mother died of breast cancer at age 47; Hitler was devastated, and carried the grief from her death with him for the rest of his life. Sony VGP-BPL8 Battery

Ordered by a court in Linz, Hitler gave his share of the orphan's benefits to his sister Paula, and at the age of 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. Sony VGP-BPL8A Battery

In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless, and by 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men on Meldemannstraße. Another resident of the shelter, Reinhold Hanisch, sold Hitler's paintings until the two men had a bitter falling-out.Sony VGP-BPL8B Battery

Hitler stated that he first became an antisemite in Vienna, which had a large Jewish community, including Orthodox Jews who had fled the pogroms inRussia. According to childhood friend August Kubizek, however, Hitler was a "confirmed antisemite" before he left Linz.Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

 Brigitte Hamann wrote that “of all those early witnesses who can be taken seriously Kubizek is the only one to portray young Hitler as an anti-Semite and precisely in this respect he is not trustworthy.” Vienna at that time was a hotbed of traditional religious prejudice and 19th century racism.Sony VGP-BPS8A Battery

 Hitler may have been influenced by the occult writings of the antisemite Lanz von Liebenfels in his magazine Ostara; he probably read the publication, although it is uncertain to what degree he was influenced by von Liebenfels' writings.Sony VGP-BPS8B Battery

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.Sony VGP-BPL9 Battery

 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.Sony VGP-BPS9 Battery

 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. Sony VGP-BPS9/B Battery

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?

Martin Luther's On the Jews and Their Lies may have also shaped Hitler's views. Sony VGP-BPS9/S Battery

In Mein Kampf, he refers to Martin Luther as a great warrior, a true statesman, and a great reformer, alongside Richard Wagner and Frederick the Great. Wilhelm Röpke 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."Sony VGP-BPS9A Battery

However, at the time Hitler apparently did not act on his views. He was a frequent dinner guest in a wealthy Jewish house, and he interacted well with Jewish merchants who tried to sell his paintings.

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.Sony VGP-BPS9A/B Battery

 In Munich, he further pursued his interest in architecture and the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Moving to Munich also helped him avoid military service in Austria, but the Munich police in cooperation with the Austrian authorities eventually arrested him for dodging the draft. Sony VGP-BPS9A/S Battery

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 successfully petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment, and enlisted in the Bavarian army. Sony VGP-BPS9B Battery

World War I

Hitler served as a runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. He experienced major combat, including the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele.Sony VGP-BPX11 Battery

Hitler was twice decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914 and Iron Cross, First Class on 4 August 1918. He also received theWound Badge. Hitler's First Class Iron Cross was recommended by Hugo Gutmann, and although the latter decoration was rarely awarded to a Gefreiter,Sony VGP-BPS18 Battery

 it may be explained by Hitler's post at regimental headquarters where he had more frequent interactions with senior officers than other soldiers of similar rank. The regimental staff, however, thought Hitler lacked leadership skills, and he was never promoted.Sony VGP-BPL20 Battery

While serving at regimental headquarters Hitler pursued his artwork, drawing cartoons and instructions for an army newspaper. In October 1916, he was wounded either in the groin area or the left thigh when a shell exploded in the dispatch runners' dug-out during the Battle of the Somme.Sony VGP-BPS20/B Battery

Hitler spent almost two months in the Red Cross hospital at Beelitz. He returned to his regiment on 5 March 1917.

On 15 October 1918, Hitler and several comrades were temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack, but it has also been suggested that he suffered from conversion disorder, then known as "hysteria".Sony VGP-BPS20/S Battery

He was hospitalized in Pasewalk. Hitler became embittered over the collapse of the war effort. It was during this time that Hitler's ideological development began to firmly take shape. Some scholars, notably Lucy Dawidowicz, argue that Hitler's intention to exterminate Europe's Jews was fully formed at this time.Sony VGP-BPL21 Battery

Hitler described the war as "the greatest of all experiences" and he was praised by his commanding officers for his bravery. The experience made Hitler a passionate German patriot, and he was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918. Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in theDolchstoßlegende (Stab-in-the-back legend),Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

 which claimed that the army, "undefeated in the field," had been "stabbed in the back" by civilian leaders and Marxistsback on the home front, later dubbed the November Criminals

The Treaty of Versailles, citing Germany's responsibility for the war, stipulated that Germany relinquish several of its territories, demilitarisation of the Rhineland, and imposed economic sanctions and levied reparations on the country. Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Many Germans perceived the treaty, especially Article 231 on the German responsibility for the war, as a humiliation, and its economic effects on the social and political conditions in Germany were later exploited by Hitler. Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

Entry into politics

After World War I, Hitler remained in the army and returned to Munich, where he attended the funeral march for the murdered Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner. After the suppression of theBavarian Soviet Republic, he took part in "national thinking" courses organized by the Education and Propaganda Department of the Bavarian Reichswehr under Captain Karl Mayr. Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

In July 1919, Hitler was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltratethe German Workers' Party (DAP). While he studied the activities of the DAP, Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery

Hitler became impressed with founder Anton Drexler's antisemitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ideas. Drexler favoured a strong active government, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism and solidarity among all members of society. Drexler was impressed with Hitler's oratory skills and invited him to join the DAP, Sony VGP-BPL22 Battery

which Hitler accepted on 12 September 1919, becoming its 55th member.

At the DAP, Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, one of its early founders and member of the occult Thule Society.Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him and introducing Hitler to a wide range of people in Munich's society.Sony VGP-BPS22 Battery

 Hitler thanked Eckart and paid 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 (National Socialist German Workers Party – NSDAP). Hitler also designed the party's banner of a swastika in a white circle on a red background to make a visual impact.Sony VGP-BPS22/A Battery

Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and began participating full time in the party's activities. By early 1921, Hitler had become highly effective at speaking in front of large crowds. In February 1921, Hitler spoke to a crowd of over six thousand in Munich.Sony VGP-BPS22A Battery

To publicize the meeting, two truckloads of party supporters drove around waving swastikas and throwing leaflets. Hitler soon gained notoriety for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and especially directed against Marxists and Jews.Sony VGP-BPL23 Battery

At the time, the NSDAP was centred in Munich, a major hotbed of anti-government German nationalists which was determined to crush Marxism and undermine the Weimar Republic. 

In June 1921, while Hitler was on a trip to Berlin (with Eckart) for a fund-raising mission, there was a mutiny among the DAP in Munich,Sony VGP-BPS23 Battery

 most notably within the executive committee whose members who wanted to merge with the rival German Socialist Party (DSP) and considered Hitler to be too overearing. Hitler returned to Munich and in anger tendered his resignation from the party on 11 July 1921. Sony VGP-BPS23/B Battery

However, committee members realized that Hitler's resignation would mean the end of the party. Hitler announced he would only return on the conditions that he replace Drexler as party chairman and the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed to his demands and Hitler rejoined the party as member 3,680.Sony VGP-BPS23/D Battery

The conflict was not over; Hermann Esser and his allies printed 3,000 copies of an anonymous pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party. In the days which followed, Hitler spoke to a several packed houses and defended himself to thunderous applause. At the general membership meeting which followed,Sony VGP-BPS23/G Battery

 only one no vote was cast in relation to granting Hitler dictatorial powers with his chairmanship being officially and unanimously accepted. 

Hitler's vitriolic beer hall speeches began attracting regular audiences. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, the former air force pilot Hermann Göring, and the army captain Ernst Röhm. Sony VGP-BPS23/P Battery

The latter became head of the Nazis' paramilitary organization the Sturmabteilung (SA, "Storm Division"), which protected meetings and frequently attacked political opponents. A critical influence on his thinking at this period was the Aufbau Vereinigung,  a conspiratorial group formed of White Russian exiles and early National Socialists. Sony VGP-BPS23/W Battery

The group, financed with funds channeled from wealthy industrialists like Henry Ford, introduced him to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, linking international finance with Bolshevism. Hitler also 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.Sony Limited Edition 007 Battery

Beer Hall Putsch

Encouraged by his new support, Hitler recruited Ludendorff for an attempted coup known as the "Beer Hall Putsch" (also known as the "Hitler Putsch" or "MunichPutsch"). The Nazi Party had used Italy's fascists as an example for its appearance and policies, and in 1923, Hitler wanted to emulate Benito Mussolini's "March on Rome" by staging his own "Campaign in Berlin". Sony VAIO VGC-LB15 Battery

Hitler and Ludendorff sought support of Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, Bavaria's de factoruler. However, Kahr along with Police Chief Hans Ritter von Seisser (Seißer) and Reichswehr General Otto von Lossow wanted to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler.Sony VGN-AR Series Battery

Hitler wanted to seize a critical moment for successful popular agitation and support. So on 8 November 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people, organized by Kahr in the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Hitler interrupted Kahr's speech and announced that the national revolution had begun,Sony VGN-CR Series Battery

 declaring the formation of a new government with Ludendorff.  With his hand gun drawn, Hitler demanded the support of Kahr, Seisser and Lossow. Hitler's forces initially succeeded at occupying the local Reichswehr and police headquarters; however, neither the army nor the state police joined forces with Hitler.Sony VIAO VGN-G Series Battery

 Kahr and his consorts quickly withdrew their support and fled to join the opposition to Hitler. The following day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government on their "March on Berlin", but the police dispersed them. Sixteen NSDAP members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup.Sony VIAO VGN-G118 Battery

Hitler fled to the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, and by some accounts contemplated suicide, but this state of mind has been disputed by others. Hitler was depressed but calm when he was found and arrested by the police on 11 November 1923. He was tried for high treason before the special People's Court in Munich,Sony VIAO VGN-G118CN/B Battery

andAlfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP. During his trial, Hitler was given almost unlimited time to speak, and his popularity soared as he voiced nationalistic sentiments in his defence speech. His trial began on 26 February 1924 and on 1 April 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison.Sony VIAO VGN-G118CN/T Battery

 Hitler received friendly treatment from the guards and received a lot of mail from supporters. The Bavarian Supreme Court soon issued a pardon and he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's objections. Including time on remand, Hitler had been imprisoned for just over one year for the attempted coup.Sony VIAO VGN-G218 Battery

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 deputy Rudolf Hess.  The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was an autobiography and an exposition of his ideology. Sony VGN-TZ121 Battery

Mein Kampf was influenced by The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, which Hitler called "my Bible". Mein Kampfwas 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. Sony VGN-TZ13 Battery

The copyright of Mein Kampf in Europe is claimed by the Free State of Bavaria and will end on 31 December 2015. In Germany, only heavily commented editions of Mein Kampf are available solely for academic studies.

Rebuilding of the NSDAP

At the time of Hitler's release from prison, politics in Germany had become less combative, and the economy had improved. Sony VGN-TZ131 Battery

This limited Hitler's opportunities for political agitation. As a result of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, the NSDAP and its affiliated organisations were banned in Bavaria. However, Hitler—now claiming to seek political power only through the democratic process—succeeded in persuading Heinrich Held, Prime Minister of Bavaria, to lift the ban. Sony VGN-TZ132N Battery

The ban on the NSDAP was lifted on 16 February 1925, but Hitler was barred from public speaking. To be able to advance his political ambitions in spite of the ban, Hitler appointed Gregor Strasser along with his brother Otto and Joseph Goebbels to organize and grow the NSDAP in northern Germany. Sony VGN-TZ132/N Battery

Strasser, however, steered a more independent political course, emphasizing the socialist element in the party's programme.

Hitler went on to establish a more autocratic rule of the NSDAP and asserted the Führerprinzip ("Leader principle"). Sony VGN-TZ17N Battery

Offices in the party were not determined by elections, but rather filled through appointment by higher ranks who demanded unquestioning obedience from the lower ranks they had appointed.

A key element of Hitler's appeal was his ability to evoke a sense of violated national pride as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. Sony VGN-TZ16N Battery

Many Germans strongly resented the terms of the treaty, especially the economic burden of having to pay large reparations to other countries affected by World War I. Nonetheless, attempts by Hitler to win popular support by blaming the demands and assertions in the treaty on "international Jewry" were largely unsuccessful with the electorate.Sony VGN-TZ18N Battery

 Therefore, Hitler and his party began employing more subtle propaganda methods, combining antisemitism with an attack on the failures of the "Weimar system" and the parties supporting it. Sony VAIO VGN-AR47G/E1 Battery

Having failed in overthrowing the republic and gaining power by a coup, Hitler changed tactics and pursued a strategy of formally adhering to the rules of the Weimar Republic until he had gained political power through regular elections. His vision was to then use the institutions of the Weimar Republic to destroy it and establish himself as autocratic leader.Sony VAIO VGN-AR520E Battery

Brüning Administration

Hitler's political turning point came with the Great Depression in Germany in 1930. The Weimar Republic had difficulties taking firm roots in German society and faced strong challenges from right- and left-wing extremists. Sony VAIO VGN-AR53DB Battery

The moderate political parties committed to the democratic parliamentary republic were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to elevate the profile and prominence of Nazi ideology.Sony VAIO VGN-AR54DB Battery<

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In early elections in September 1930, the moderates lost their majority, leading to the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement by a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brüning of the Centre Party, governed through emergency decrees from the president of state, Paul von Hindenburg. Sony VAIO VGN-AR550E Battery

Tolerated by most parties, governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government. Notably the NSDAP rose from relative obscurity to win 18.3% of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, growing from ninth- to second-largest party in the German parliament.Sony VAIO VGN-AR55DB Battery

The increasing political clout of Hitler was also felt at the trial of two Reichswehr officers, Leutnants Richard Scheringer and Hans Ludin, in the autumn of 1930. Both were charged with membership of the NSDAP, which at that time was illegal for Reichswehrpersonnel.Sony VAIO VGN-AR630E Battery

The prosecution argued that the NSDAP was a dangerous extremist party, prompting defence lawyer Hans Frank to call on Hitler to testify at the court. During his testimony on 25 September 1930, Hitler stated that his party was aiming to come to power solely through democratic elections and that the NSDAP was a friend of theReichswehr.Sony VAIO VGN-AR64DB Battery

 Hitler's testimony won him many supporters in the officer corps.Brüning's budgetary and financial austerity measures brought little economic improvement and were extremely unpopular. Hitler exploited this weakness by targeting his political messages specifically to the segments of the population that had been hard hit by the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression, such as farmers, war veterans, and the middle class.Sony VAIO VGN-AR65DB Battery

Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years Hitler was stateless, so he was unable to run for public office and even faced the risk of deportation. Therefore, on 25 February 1932,Sony VAIO VGN-AR660U Battery

 the interior minister of Brunswick who was a member of the NSDAP appointed Hitler as administrator for the state's delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick,  and thus of Germany as well. 

In 1932, Hitler ran against the aging President Paul von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. Sony VAIO VGN-AR690U Battery

The viability of his candidacy was underscored by a 27 January 1932 speech to the Industry Club inDüsseldorf, which won him support from a broad swath of Germany's most powerful industrialists.Sony VAIO VGN-AR71ZU Battery

However, Hindenburg had broad support of various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republicanparties and even some social democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan "Hitler über Deutschland" (Hitler over Germany), a reference to his political ambitions, and to his campaigning by aircraft.Sony VAIO VGN-AR730E/B Battery

Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35% of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a credible force in German politics. 

In September 1931, Hitler's niece Geli Raubal committed suicide with Hitler's gun in his Munich apartment. Geli was believed to be in a romantic relationship with Hitler, and it is believed that her death was a source of deep, lasting pain for him.Sony VAIO VGN-AR73DB Battery

Appointment as Chancellor

Because of the difficulties of forming a stable and effective government, two influential politicians, Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, as well as a number of industrialists and businessmen, including Hjalmar Schacht and Fritz Thyssen wrote to Hindenburg,Sony VAIO VGN-AR74DB Battery

 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."

After two parliament elections—in July and November 1932—had failed to result in a majority government, Sony VAIO VGN-AR75UDB Battery

President Hindenburg eventually and reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler chancellor of a coalition government formed by the NSDAP and Hugenberg's party, the DNVP. The influence of the NSDAP in parliament was thought to be limited by an alliance of conservative cabinet ministers, Sony VAIO VGN-AR790U/B Battery

most notably by von Papen as Vice-Chancellor and by Hugenberg as Minister of the Economy.The only other NSDAP member besides Hitler, Wilhelm Frick, was given the relatively powerless .interior ministry. However, as a concession to the NSDAP, Göring, who was head of the Prussian police at the time, was named minister without portfolio. Sony VAIO VGN-AR820E Battery

So although von Papen intended to install Hitler merely as a figurehead, the NSDAP gained key political positions.

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor during a brief and simple ceremony in Hindenburg's office. Hitler's first speech as Chancellortook place on 10 February. The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently became known as the Machtergreifungor Machtübernahme.Sony VAIO VGN-AR830E Battery

Reichstag fire and March elections

As chancellor, Hitler worked against attempts by his political opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, Hitler asked President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag again, and elections were scheduled for early March. Sony VAIO VGN-AR83S Battery

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire, and since a Dutch independent communist was found in the burning building, a communist plot was blamed for the fire. The central government responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February, which suspended basic rights, including habeas corpusSony VAIO VGN-AR83US Battery

In particular, activities of the German Communist Party were suppressed, and communist party members were arrested, forced to flee, or murdered.

Besides political campaigning, the NSDAP used paramilitary violence and spread of anti-communist propaganda on the days preceding the election. Sony VAIO VGN-AR84S Battery

On election day, 6 March 1933, the NSDAP increased its result to 43.9% of the vote, gaining the largest number of seats in parliament. However, Hitler's party failed to secure an absolute majority, thus again necessitating a coalition with the DNVP. 

Day of Potsdam and the Enabling Act

On 21 March 1933, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony held at Potsdam's garrison church. Sony VAIO VGN-AR84US Battery

This Day of Potsdam was staged to demonstrate reconciliation and unity between the revolutionary Nazi movement and Old Prussiawith its elites and perceived virtues. Hitler appeared in a tail coat and humbly greeted the aged President Hindenburg. Sony VAIO VGN-AR85S Battery

In the Nazis' quest for full political control and because they had failed to gain an absolute majority in the prior parliamentary election, Hitler's government brought the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag. The aim of this move was to give Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for a period of four years.Sony VAIO VGN-AR85US Battery

 Although such a bill was not unprecedented, this act was different since it allowed for deviations from the constitution. Since the bill required a majority 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, Sony VAIO VGN-AR870EA Battery

the party decided to vote for the Enabling Act. It did so in return for the government's oral guarantees of 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AR890U Battery

Several SA men served as guards inside, while large groups outside the building shouted slogans and threats toward the arriving members of parliament. 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.Sony VAIO VGN-AR93S Battery

At the end of the day, all parties except Social Democrats voted in favour of the bill—the Communists, as well as several Social Democrats, were barred from attending the vote. The Enabling Act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree, transformed Hitler's government into a de facto dictatorship.Sony VAIO VGN-AR93US Battery

 

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