- Birth name:
- Date of Birth:
- 30 April 1889 Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria, Austria-Hungar
- 5' 8" (1.73 m)
Born fourth of six children to Austrian customs officer Alois Hitler, who had been married twice before, and the former Klara Polzl, Adolf Hitler grew up in a small Austrian town in the late 19th century. He was a slow learner and did poorly in school. He was frequently beaten by his authoritarian father. Things got worse when Adolf's older brother, Alois, Jr., ran away from home. His mild-mannered mother occasionally tried to shield him, but was ineffectual. Adolf's attempt to run away at 11 was unsuccessful. At the age of 14 he was freed when his hated father died - an event that he did not mourn.Hitler dropped out of high school at age 16, went to Vienna, where he strove to become an artist, but was refused twice by the Vienna Art Academy. A military career offered itself at the start of World War I, and Hitler crossed into Germany to volunteer in a Bavarian regiment. He was assigned as a message runner but also saw combat. Temporarily blinded after a gas attack in Flanders in 1918, he received the Iron Cross 2nd Class and was promoted to corporal. In 1918, when the war ended, Hitler stayed in the army intelligence and was assigned to spy on several radical political parties that were considered a threat to the German government. One such party was the German Workers Party. Hitler was drawn by party's founder Dietrich Eckart, who was a morphine addict, and propagated doctrines of mysticism and anti-Semitism. Hitler soon joined the party with the help of his military intelligence ties. He became party spokesman in 1919, renamed it the National Socalist German Workers Party (NSDAP/NAZI) and declared himself its Fuhrer (leader) one year later. In 1920 Hitler's intelligence handler, a Munich-based Colonel Karl Haushofer, introduced the swastika insignia. In 1921, Haushofer founded the paramilitary Storm Troopers (SA) composed of German veterans of WWI and undercover military intelligence officers. They helped Hitler to organize a coup - the infamous "beer hall putsch" - against the Bavarian government in Munich in 1923, but it failed. In a confrontation with police Hitler's men fired at the officers who immediately fired back, killing several Nazis. Hitler himself was arrested and jailed for several months during which he was coached by his advisers and dictated his book 'Mein Kampf' to his deputy Rudolf Hess. The Nazis regrouped by 1925 as Hitler's intelligence advisers found business patrons with unlimited means. Hitler was provided with personal bodyguard unit named the SS. The Nazis began to gain considerable support in Germany through their network of army and WWI veterans, and Hitler ran for President in 1931. Defeated by the incumbent Paul Von Hindenburg, Hitler next attempted to become Chancellor of Germany. Through under-the-table deals with powerful conservative businessmen and right-wing politicians, Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933. One month later, a mysterious fire - which the Nazis claimed had been started by "terrorists" but was later discovered to have been set by the Nazis themselves - destroyed the Reichstag (the house of the German parliament). Then Hitler's machine began to issue a series of emergency decrees that gave the office of Chancellor more and more power.In March of 1933 Hitler persuaded the German parliament to pass the Enabling Act, which made the Chancellor dictator of Germany and gave him more power than the President. Two months later Hitler began "cleaning house"; he abolished trade unions and ordered mass arrests of rival political groups. By the end of 1933 the Nazi Party was the only one allowed in Germany. In June of 1934 Hitler turned on his own and ordered the purge of the now radical SA, which he now saw as a potential threat to his power, and had his oldest friend and SA leader Ernst Röhm assassinated. Soon President Hindenburg died, and Hitler merged the office of President with the office of Chancellor. In 1935 the anti-Jewish Nuremburg laws were passed on Hitler's authorization. A year later, with Germany now under his total control, he sent troops into the Rhineland, which was a violation of the World War I Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 he forced the union of Austria with Germany and also took the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia near the German border with a large ethnic German population, on the pretext of "protecting" the German population from the Czechs. In the summer of 1939 Hitler sent his military to occupy Czechoslovakia, and narrowly averted a war with Britain, France and other European powers. At that time Hitler and Joseph Stalin made a non-aggression treaty which was later unilaterally broken by Hitler. In September of 1939 Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland. England and France at once declared war on Germany. In 1940 Germany occupied Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries, and launched a major offensive against France. Paris fell and France surrendered, after which Hitler considered invading Great Britain. However, after the German Air Force was defeated in its bombing campaign over England that became known as the Battle of Britain, the invasion was canceled. In 1941 German troops assisted Italy, which under dictator Benito Mussolini was a German ally, in its takeover of Yugoslavia and Greece. Meanwhile, in Germany and the occupied countries, Hitler had ordered a program of mass extermination of Jews.On June 22, 1941, the Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union with over four million German troops and with additional troops from Romanian, Italian, Czech, Hungarian, Croatian, Spanish, and Finnish troops fighting on the Nazi side. Hitler used multinational forces in order to save Germans for the future colonization of the Russian lands. Following the detailed Nazi plan, code-named "Barbarossa," Hitler was utilizing resources of entire Europe under the Nazi control to feed the invasion of Russia. Three groups of Nazi Armies invaded Russia: Army Group North besieged Leningrad for 900 days, Army Group Center reached Moscow, and Army Group South occupied Ukraine, reached Caucasus, and Stalingrad. All German Armies were stopped at Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad. Leningrad was besieged by the Nazis for nine hundred days until the four-million city starved to death. Only in January of 1944 Marshall Georgi Zhukov organized liberation of Leningrad, and the siege of Leningrad ended at the cost of about two million lives. In 1943 several major battles occurred at Kursk (the largest tank battle in history), Kharkov and Stalingrad, all of which the Germans lost. Stalingrad battle was one of the largest military battles in the history of mankind. At Stalingrad alone Germans lost 360,000 troops on top of the casualties of Italian, Hungarian, Romanian, Czech, Croatian and other troops. Russian side lost over one million men at Stalingrad. By 1944, the same year the Western allies invaded occupied Europe, Germany was retreating on both fronts and its forces in Africa had been completely defeated, resulting in the deaths and/or surrender of several hundred thousand troops. Total human losses during the six years of war estimated at sixty million, of which twenty seven million were Russians, Ukrainians, Jews and other people on the Soviet territory. Germany lost over eleven million troops and civilians. Poland and Yugoslavia lost over three million people each. Italy and France lost over one million each. Most nations of Central and Eastern Europe suffered severe economic destruction.Hitler's ability to act as a figurehead of the Nazi machine was long gone by 1944. His less visible advisers and handlers were already in other lands, or some killed each other. For many years Hitler was kept on drugs by his medical personnel. Several German Generals tried to stop the war by killing Hitler, but failed. Hitler, by the beginning of 1945, was a frail, shaken man who had almost totally lost touch with reality. The Russians reached Berlin in April of 1945 and began a punishing assault on the city, and as their forces approached the bunker where Hitler and the last vestiges of his government were holed up, Hitler killed himself. Just a day earlier he had married his longtime mistress Eva Braun. Hitler's corpse was taken to Moscow and was later shown to the Allied Army Commanders and diplomats. Joseph Stalin demonstrated Hitler's personal items to Winston Churchill, and Harry S. Truman at the Potsdam Conference after the Victory. Hitler's personal gun was donated to the museum of the West Point Military Academy in New York, NY, USA. Hitler's scull as well as some of his personal items are now part of the permanent collection at the National History Museum in Moscow, Russia.Hitler was filmed in numerous documentaries during his life and career, hundreds of rolls of archival footages of him are now available. He was also portrayed by actors in several feature films.