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Adolf Hitler was one of the most infamous dictators in history. Hitler’s Nazi Germany targeted and executed over six million Jewish, ethnic, and other minority groups throughout Europe.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria on April 20, 1889. In 1907 following the death of his mother, Hitler moved to Vienna and worked as a struggling artist. Hitler was famously rejected from the Academy of Fine Arts and at the outbreak of World War I, Hitler joined the German Army. During the war, Hitler was injured at the Battle of the Somme and was given the Iron Cross and the Black Wound Badge.

World War I concluded in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Since Germany was seen as the main aggressor for the war, they were forced to pay extensive amounts of money and demilitarize their forces. Hitler, along with many Germans, found the Treaty of Versailles to be a source of humiliation for Germany. In an attempt to restore the nationalism and power of Germany, Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party. Hitler quickly saw his fame grow in this party as his rousing speeches at local beer halls called for a restoration of Germany. Hitler’s anti-semitic agenda became part of his speeches as he wished to “purify” Germany of Jews and, in his eyes, other non-desirable ethnic, social, and political groups. Hitler’s powerful speeches, along with his book Mein Kampf, allowed him to become a prominent politician throughout Germany.

On January 30th, 1933 German President Paul von Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor of Germany and leader, or führer, of the National Social German Workers Party (Nazi Party). This moment marked a significant point in history, as Hitler quickly expanded the power and scope of the state police, known as the Gestapo. Hitler ultimately was able to control both the legislative (law-making) and executive (law enforcing) branches of government which gave Germany little to prevent his will.

Hitler soon began to pass anti-Semitic laws that banned Jewish citizens from owning property or businesses, and ultimately forced them into ghettos away from their homes. With these laws in place, Hitler was able to legally define what a “pure German” was and to alienate any ethnic or political target.

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. This invasion began the bloodiest conflict in world history known as World War II. Throughout the war itself, Hitler continued to escalate his persecution on Europe’s Jewish population by establishing concentration camps throughout much of Germany and Poland. These concentration camps resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews, Romani, the disabled, communists, homosexuals, and numerous other “enemies of the state”. Not only was Hitler responsible for this mass killing throughout Europe, but his invasion into the UK, Africa, and Russia resulted in millions more dead soldiers and civilians. As the war progressed, Allied Forces made their way deep into Europe, turning the tide of the war and bringing a devastating blow to Germany.

On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin. On May 7th, 1945 Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces. Hitler’s political and racial ideology allowed him to rise to power in Germany and resulted in a war that took millions and millions of lives. Few have had such an infamous role in history and Adolf Hitler will forever be seen as one of most, if not the most, notorious and despised leaders of all time.

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Significant Events in the Life of Adolph Hitler

  • World War I
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Nazi Party Formed
  • Beer Hall Putsch
  • Mein Kampf Published
  • Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany
  • Nuremberg Laws
  • Kristallnacht (“Night Of Broken Glass”)
  • Germany Invades Poland
  • World War II
  • Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
  • Battle of Stalingrad
  • Hitler Commits Suicide
Learn more about people who have influenced history in our Picture Encyclopedia!
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