Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s. Once in power, Hitler eliminated all opposition to his cause and launched his program of world domination, which included the elimination of the Jews. Hitler’s reign lasted 12 years and ended when he took his own life.
1. The swastika is perhaps the symbol most commonly associated with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Hitler had a hand in the creation of the swastika as a symbol for his cause having first seen the swastika in the monastery’s coat of arms of the priesthood that he wanted to be a member of in his youth. Later in life the National Socialist German Worker’s party, of which Hitler was a founder, adopted the red flag with the swastika as the party symbol.
2. Hitler’s father was said to be a man with a short temper and a violent manner of discipline. As was the time, there was little room for sentiment when it came to the rearing of children and many children were dealt with harshly. Some historian’s suggest that this violent influence early on in life aided in the creation of the man we hold responsible for the Holocaust.
3. Hitler did not do well in the school in which his father enrolled him. He suffered poor health and was unable to gain admission to the art school that his then-deceased father would not have approved of. Hitler was found guilty of evading conscription but when he was caught and made to report for duty, he was found “unfit…too weak…and unable to bear arms,” and was dismissed.
4. Hitler’s hatred of Jews may have started as early as 1907 when his mother, who was being treated by a Jewish doctor, died a long and painful death from breast cancer. Hitler was quick to blame the Jews for just about every economic and political trouble of the day. It was easy to blame the Jews for such problems as hyper-inflation. Over time, the stereotype grew until Hitler had convinced thousands who were suffering from economic and political hardships that the Jews were an anti-race that needed to be eliminated if Germany was to rise again.
5. Hitler escaped death and was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery. It was while Hitler was recovering from injuries acquired during war that he was recruited to join a military intelligence unit. It was as a member of this unit that he became a very popular orator.
6. On October 16, 1919 Hitler delivered a speech that would lead to his developing the reputation of a young, forceful and hypnotic leader. It was Hitler’s ability to command the attention of a crowd that aided in his convincing of others in the party that he created that the Jews were the cause of Germany’s problems.
7. While in prison, Hitler wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf. Partly an autobiographical book, it contained many untruths that put Hitler and his views in a more appealing and convincing light. In this written work, he explained how the Jews were responsible for all of the problems and evils of the world, particularly democracy, Communism and internationalism, as well as Germany’s defeat in the War. “Jews were the German nation’s true enemy,” he wrote and the German people were of the highest racial purity and those destined to be the master race. Germans who believed it was their destiny to dominate the world bought up over five million copies of Mein Kampf by the start of World War II.
8. Hitler decided to seize power constitutionally rather than by force. He used his oratory skills to win 30% of the vote and was appointed to office in January 1933 and then to his position as dictator in 1934.
9. Hitler’s army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, sparking France and England to declare war on Germany. Hitler ignored a non-aggression pact he had signed with the Soviet Union in August 1939.
10. As defeat appeared inevitable and even his lieutenants began to defy orders, Hitler ended his own life. By that time, one of his chief objectives was achieved with the annihilation of two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.