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Hitlers Early Years. The Making of a Tyrant

 Alois Schicklgruber was born in 1837 but changed his surname to Hitler in 1876 and married his second cousin Klara Pölzl on the 7th January 1885.  Klara became Alois' third wife. Klara gave birth to her first child 'Gustav' in May 1885, and 'Ida' in September 1886.   She then gave birth to 'Otto' in 1887 who died only after a few days.  Gustav died of diphtheria in December 1887 and Ida died of the same illness in January 1888.

Klara gave birth to 'Adolf' on 20 April 1889 in the small village of Braunau in Austria. His father Alois was by then a 52 year-old Austrian customs official. His mother Klara, was still in her twenties when she gave birth to Adolf, and would always call her husband 'uncle'. Klara would go on and have two more children, Edmund born in 1894 but die in 1900, and 'Paula', was born in 1896 and lived until 1960.  

Hitler had a half brother (Alois:1882-1956) and sister (Angela: 1883-1949) from his father's second marriage to Franziska Matzelberger. 

In 1895. Adolf entered the Volksschule (public school) in the village of Fischlham. In 1897-8, his devout Catholic mother sent him to the monastery school at Lambach. Klara hoped that her son would become a monk. The young Adolf was caught smoking by the monks and expelled. After Hitler's expulsion, the family moved to Leonding, a small suburb of Linz.

From 1900-1904 he attended the Realschule (high school for science) and from 1904-1905 at Steyr.  Adolf quit school at the age of sixteen without graduating.

For the next two years the young Hitler spent his time reading German history and mythology.  He also revelled in books on the American wild west.  His only true desire at this stage of his life was to become a renowned artist

In October 1907, he went to Vienna to make a start at his potential carreer even though his beloved mother was extremly ill with cancer.

In Vienna, he tried to gain access to the Fine Arts Academy but failed the admission examination. Hitler's pride took a serious knock, but later he retried, and again he failed.  He was adviced to study architecture rather than trying to follow a career in fine arts but this meant going back to school and because he left school without graduating, he decided to ignore the advice. Hitler never got over being rejected by the Academy.  

In December 1908, Hitler lost his mother to cancer and for the next five years, he had to rely on charity to survive as well as sell little postcard paintings he had made, and the most ironic part if this part of his personal history was how he partnered up with some local Jewish businessmen who would sell his paintings and give him his fair share of the profits. 

It is belived by some that Hitler learnt to 'Jew hate' whilst he lived in Vienna, after listening to anti-Jewish speeches by the Mayor of Vienna, however there is no real evidence for this view, but the seeds of Jewish hatred of a minority group  from which he could focus his anger and blame on, may well have been planted here.  However this scapegoating never really materialised until after Germany's defeat in the First World War. It was here in Vienna that he claimed  that he began to despise the teachings of Karl Marx and started drifting towards the influences of the right-wing writer, Karl Lueger. He also alleged that his hatred for democracy also increased, whether any of these remarks are true, we will never really know, but his life prior to the war breaking out wasn't a happy one.

Hitler quit Vienna in May 1913 and headed towards Munich, Germany. By now Hitler seemed to have always felt more German than Austrian. But in Munich he found no solace. Poverty and despair simply followed him there. 

In February 1914, Hitler was recalled to Austria to sit a medical examination for compulsary military service. It has been claimed that he was regarded as too weak and unfit to bear arms, but when war broke out in August 1914, he wrote to the King of Bavaria to request that he be allowed to serve within a Bavarian regiment which was granted. 

Hitler was assigned to the 16th Bavarian Infantry (List Regiment) and soon found himself serving on the Western Front. Until 1916, he served as an orderly and then later as a dispatch bearer. Hitler was wounded twice whilst serving at the front. He was awarded the Iron Cross (Second Class) in 1914 and was given the Iron Cross (First Class) on 4 August 1918. Hitler recieved the Iron Cross (1st Class) award for delivering an important dispatch to a front line command post which was under under heavy artillery fire. Though in Nazi controlled history lessons, German school children would be given a more romantic version of events (that he captured of a group of French soldiers singlehandedly). Even though Hitler did well on the Front, he never was promoted above the rank of private first classo.  However, later foreign historians would assume that Hitler had reached the rank of a corporal, however this isn't so. 

Whilst at the Front, rumours circulated amongst those who knew him, that he was a closet homosexual, this may well have been because Hitler never spoke about any girlfriends nor did he ever visit any of the local brothels with his comrades when off duty.  He would also get embarrassed when the topic of sex was mentioned.  


Hitler Plays the Politician

After Germany's humiliating defeat in World War One, Hitler returned to munich, bitter and disillusioned. He scapegoated the Jews and Marxists at home for Germanys defeat. Hitler was kept on the regimental roster and was assigned to spy on post-war political parties. In 1919, he was assignged to investigate a small radical group calling themselves the'Deutscher Arbeiterparie' (German Workers Party) The party had no program or no plan of action, but the rhetoric they spun, caught Hitler's attention and he soon resigned his role within the regiment and enlisted into the'Deutscher Arbeiterparie' Membership number 55. He soon found himself on the party's Executive Committee and within two years he advanced to the leadership of the party. With this he changed the partys name to the National Socialist Deutscher Arbeitparty. (NAZI party)

Hitler transformed the NAZI movement with superb speeches and  impressive politcal rallies. In 1923 He believed that the Weimar Republic was ripe to overthrow and therefore organise a purge which became known as the Beer Hall Putsch, on November 8 1923. The Putsch was a complete failure in terms of overthrowing the German government, but it did achieve in giving him and his party a platform of high media attention.

Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment for high treason for which he served only nine months in Landsberg Prison. It was whilst he was serving his sentence, that he dictated his biography, which became known as  'Mein Kampf' (My Struggle). After his release from prison in December 1924, Hitler set about rebuilding his party, assisted by two close followers, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, a master at propoganda and Captain Hermann Goering, a World War One ace fighter pilot. It is at this stage that Hitler pledged to destroy the Weimar Republic from within the democratic framework.

His dream became reality on 30 January 1933 when he was finally offered the title of Chancellor of Germany, and within a few short years, Germany would rape, pillage and brutalise Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Russia, as well as those countries which had originally aligned themselves with Germany, such as Italy, Hungary and Romania. Few countries were left unscathed by the nation that believed itself to be a nation of supermen, a nation that felt that it had the right to impose its will onto its neighboursn - Germany was a nation built on arrogance, anger and hate. Hitler the megalomaniac would now begin his reign of destruction.


Only one thing stood in Hitler's way as total leader of the German nation that was President von Hindenburg.  Hindenburg had been known to despise Hitler.  He saw him as an upstart and extremely unsophisticated. Hitler had tried and failed to beat Hindenburg at the presidential election of March 1932 (where no candidate secured an absolute majority) and the rerun of the election in April 1932, where Hitler polled an astonishing 13,418,517 (38.8%) votes to Hindenburgs,  19,359,983 (53.0%).  Hitler would have to wait until Hindenburg's death on the 2nd of August 1934, before being able to claim the office of President for himself. From here on in, Hitler would destroy Germany's first attempt at democracy.  Soon, the Wiemar Republic would be replaced with his own unique 'Third Reich', which was meant to last a thousand years and where all opposition parties would cease to exist, Where the free press strangled, and the concentration camp system, which would eventually swallow up millions of men, women and children would become a reality. It was an empire that was to be built on slave labour and the tears of the oppressed.  

Hitler's style of leadership bordered on the insane, for he would stay up late, watching movies or boring his audiences with tedious monologues, and he would rise late morning or early afternoon.  He did very little compared to what one would expect a politician to do - he didn't seem to be interested in the day-to-day running of the country, the only things that interested him was preparing Germany for expansion and war, and the public purse would be used to prepare the way.  

Historians have claimed that Hitler was a genius in preserving his own powerbase by ensuring his rivals had overlapping responsibilities so that friction would be caused between them, thus keeping them fighting amongst themselves rather than looking at ways to usurp power from him.  However, historians may well be looking too deep into this behaviour of Hitler and seeing what isn't there.  It's highly probable that Hitler was simply lazy and incompetent and it is due to these factors that there was overlapping responsibilities within individual departments.  When Hitler was pressed to intervene to stop the squabbling and make decisions, he simply told them to do it themselves, why? Maybe because this was all too tedious and boring for him, after all, he had bigger fish to fry.  Government was done ad-hoc, during Hitler's monologues, his subordinates would take note of what he said, and as a way to trying to secure his favour, they would go away and find ways to make his vision a reality, and if the policy was a success, Hitler would receive the credit, if it failed, well the blame would go elsewhere.  This was known as 'Working Towards the Führer', i.e., doing the Führer's will.  If a minister wanted to expand his portfolio, he would always find ways to ensure the Führer's will was achieved, and Hitler would respond kindly to those who did his bidding without them even being asked. 

"The Russian is no more than an animal; he has no right to exist other than in the service of Germany." (Hitler 1941)