Hitler Essay, Research Paper
–Kristallnacht: the night of broken glass. Thousands of Jews were arrested, synagogues and Jewish stores were burned, and Austrian Jews were sent off to death camps. This was the beginning of the Final Solution, Hitler s plan for an Aryan nation. These were the actions of one of the worst dictators in history.Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria. He was the son of Alois, a customs official, and Klara Hitler. Alois died when Hitler was only thirteen and his mother was left with the duty of child rearing. Even though Hitler had a promising talent in art, he dropped out of school. He did not work or study and his problematic childhood grew as he was denied admittance to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Shortly after, his mother passed away and with no family financially able to support him, he moved to Vienna in search of work. Within a year Adolf was homeless, scrounging for food, and selling his paintings whenever he could. (A Brief Biography of Adolf Hitler) “In 1913, Adolf Hitler, still a penniless vagrant, moved to Munich in southern Germany. At the outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, he volunteered for service in the German army and was accepted into the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment.” (A Brief Biography of Adolf Hitler) Hitler was a brave soldier and during the war he “was promoted to corporal and decorated with both the Iron Cross Second Class and First Class, the latter of which he wore until his dying day [ironically the regimental captain who recommended him for the award was Jewish].” (A Brief ) The day of the announcement of the armistice in 1918, Hitler was in hospital recovering from temporary blindness caused by a British gas attack in the Ypres Salient. In December 1918 he returned to his regiment back in Munich.” (A Brief )In 1918 the German Army s surrender upset Hitler. He believed that the Jews and the Communists betrayed Germany, and it was here that his dislike for Jews most likely began. With no real government to control the country, Germany found itself in a state of turmoil. This lack of government left the country open to any political stability available, thus giving way to Hitler s political rise during 1919. During this time, employment was hard to find, so Hitler decided to stay in the army. Hitler was assigned to a “local army organization which was responsible for persuading returning soldiers not to turn to communism or pacifism. During his training for this tasks and during his subsequent duties he was able to hone his oratory skills.” (A Brief ) On one such mission for this organization Hitler was sent to investigate a small group, which called itself the “German Workers Party.” There he sat rather bored until a man rose and began to speak in favor of the German province of Bavaria breaking away from the mother country and becoming its own state with Austria. Hitler, a German nationalist, hated to see such unpatriotic views from his fellow Germans. Angered, he then spoke about how this man was wrong and embraced the crowd at the meeting. (The Rise of Hitler) “The founder of the party, Anion Drexler, was so impressed by Hitler’s tirade that he asked him to join their organization.”(A Brief ) Unable to make a decision Hitler took a pamphlet from Drexler and decided to think about the offer.”Early the next morning, sitting in his cot in the barracks of the 2nd Infantry Regiment watching the mice eat bread crumbs he left for them on the floor, Hitler remembered the pamphlet and read it. He was delighted to find that the pamphlet, written by Drexler, reflected political thinking much like his own –building a strong nationalist, pro-military, anti-Semitic party made up of working class people.” (The rise of Hitler)A few days later, Hitler received notice that he had been accepted into the organization and was asked to attend an executive membership meeting, and he did, still undecided on joining. In Hitler s book Mein Kampf, he writes of the condition of the party: “…aside from a few directives, there was nothing, no program, no leaflet, no printed matter at all, no membership cards, not even a miserable rubber stamp…” (Mein Kampf). The group was not much, but Hitler saw opportunity in them, and believed they would become not only a political party, but also a movement. It took him two days to decide, but Hitler resolved to join the party. “It was the most decisive resolve of my life. From here, there was and could be no turning back.” (Mein Kampf)Hitler s job in the group was responsibility of propaganda and publicity. He was a great speaker and after planning several events he made a great deal of money for the organization. On April 1st, 1920, the name of the party was changed to the National Socialist German Workers Party (or Nazi for short). Shortly after, Hitler became leader and adopted the swastika as the party emblem. By 1921, “Hitler had virtually secured total control of the Nazi party.”(The Rise of Hitler)With his new power, Hitler attempted to take over the Bavarian government in Munich in an event called the “Beer Hall Putsch.” The Bavarian officials were kidnapped in a beer hall and a new regime was proclaimed; however, the coup was not a success. The officials escaped and regained control of their army and police. The ringleaders of the incident, mainly Hitler and General Lundendorff, one of the most senior generals in The Great War, were arrested for treason. Hitler was sentenced to five years in the Landsberg prison. While there “Hitler began dictating his thoughts and philosophies to Rudolf Hess which became the book called “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle)” (A Brief ) In December 1924, Hitler was released from prison after serving only six full months of his sentence. National Socialism was on the decline in Germany, and Hitler used this to his advantage by increasing numbers in the Nazi party. “During this period Hitler also created the infamous SS (Schutzstaffel) which was initially intended to be Hitler s bodyguard under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler.” (A Brief ) As a result of the 1929 Wall Street Stock Exchange crash, a worldwide recession hit Germany very hard. Post-World War I German loans from other countries had “dried up,” German industry was failing, and employment was at an all time low. This led to more government problems for Germany. The leader of the government at the time, Chancellor Bruening, could not gain parliamentary consent to pass a finance bill and was forced to ask President Hindenberg to dissolve the Reichstag and run new elections. This became beneficial to Hitler and allowed for him to run against the Hindenberg in the next presidential election. Hitler campaigned hard, and his Nazi party became the second largest in the Reichstag; however, Hitler s presidential campaign was a failure, and he lost to Hindenberg.
Over the next few years, President Hindenberg did everything in his power to keep Hitler out of the Chancellery. The president feared his power and saw Hitler as a threat to the government. Finally, in late 1932, with no alternative choice, President Hindenberg appointed Hitler Chancellor to the German government. However, Hindenberg’s fears became reality when the Reichstag was burned in February of 1933. The fire was most certainly set by the Nazis, and now Hitler had complete control over Germany. But, he could not take the government over through the parliament, and as a result of the fire, President Hindenberg gave “the Nazi government powers to inter anyone they thought was a threat to the nation.” (A Brief ) In March of 1933, Hitler placed his Enabling Act before the Reichstag. It allowed for Hitler to take control of the country for four years and to have all the power of the government transferred over to him. “Thus dictatorial powers were finally conferred, legally, on Adolf Hitler.” (A Brief ) After President Hindenberg s death in the subsequent year, Hitler became “Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor and the title of President was then abolished.” (A Brief )During the following years the Nazification of Germany began. “Censorship was extreme covering all aspects of life including the press, films, radio, books, and even art The churches were persecuted and ministers who preached non-Nazi doctrine were frequently arrested by the Gestapo and carted off to concentration camps. All youth associations were abolished and re-formed as a single entity as the Hitler Youth Organization. The Jewish population was increasingly persecuted and ostracized from society and under the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 Jews were no longer considered to be German citizens and therefore no longer had any legal rights. Jews were no longer allowed to hold public office, not allowed to work in civil service, the media, farming, teaching, the stock exchange and eventually barred from practicing law and medicine. Hostility towards Jews from other Germans was encouraged and even shops began to deny entry to Jews.” (A Brief..) Besides turning Germany into a Nazi nation, Hitler also took his new power and decided to increase the German Army s size and potential. After breaking the Versailles Treaty, the Germans amassed over a half a million troops, new naval ships, tanks, and an air force. The French and the British were aware of this challenge to the treaty and stood idly while Hitler continued to strengthen Germany again. The Time Magazine Man of the Year article, 1939, states: “Fuhrer of the German people, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy & Air Force, Chancellor of the Third Reich, Herr Hitler reaped on that day at Munich the harvest of an audacious, defiant, ruthless foreign policy he had pursued for five and a half years. He had torn the Treaty of Versailles to shreds. He had rearmed Germany to the teeth–or as close to the tooth as he was able. He had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world.”(Man of the Year)World War two began soon after Hitler took control of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Germany conquered Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and France, and had Britain at its mercy. After breaking a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, Germany began spreading its forces thin, fighting a two-front war. “It was roughly at this time that Hitler ordered the extermination of the Jews, which the Nazis called die Endl sung (”the Final Solution”). There is some debate as to exactly when the order was given (since no written order has been found), but most experts place it in mid- to late-1941. It most likely was an evolving process.” (Who Was Adolf Hitler?) At first Hitler rounded the Jews and kept them in confined living quarters within the German and captured cities. Eventually, almost all the Jews were sent to Concentration camps, which were set up to implement the ‘final solution’. Camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Bergen-Belsen were all equipped with gas chambers to make the killing process quick and effective. In these camps, and other mass-execution sites, the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and many others. (Who Was Adolf Hitler?)Hitler’s army seemed unstoppable, but after spreading his forces thin by simultaneously fighting battles in the France, the Soviet Union, and Northern Africa, his army was destined to lose. The allied forces, namely the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, managed to win many decisive battles against the German army, and on May 7th, 1945 Germany surrendered unconditionally to the world. Hitler s quest for domination was over, and he supposedly committed suicide in his bunker, unable to face his defeat. The details of this death were uncertain until recently. Apparently, the Russian forces took Hitler s body along with his mistress Eva Braun and buried them in ammunition boxes, in fear that they would somehow get into Nazi hands and become a shrine for future Neo-Nazis. In an article in The Jerusalem Post, Douglas Davis writes, “In the dead of night on April 4, 1970, three KGB officers once again dug up the ammunition boxes. The cases were doused in gasoline and set alight. An hour later, the ashes were placed in a sack, and soon afterward, its contents emptied into the River Ehle. But two fragments of Hitler’s skeleton still exist: His jawbone is kept in secret archives at the former KGB headquarters on the fringes of Moscow, while a fragment of his skull is stored in the Russian State Archive.” (Douglas)Because of this fairly recent news, Adolf Hitler s death is now certain. He was one of the most ruthless dictators in all of history and will never be forgotten because of the death and destruction he caused in Europe.Author s note:I chose to write on Hitler because of how his actions during this period in history directly affected me. Kristallnacht–the breaking of glass–was a night my grandparents will never forget. It was the beginning of years of horrible atrocities to come, and a life worse than death for them. They experienced Hitler s Final Solution first hand, and lost all their family to his death camps. I see Adolf Hitler as a cultural icon because we as a people must never forget what he did. The only way to take preventive measures against such genocide is to keep the knowledge of his murder deep within our minds. Hitler is an icon, a horrible one at that, but he must never be forgotten, and his legacy must live with him and the world forever.