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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born and raised near Linz in Austria, which was then part of Austria-Hungary. In the late 1800s, he lived in Vienna before moving to Germany in 1913, where he was recognised for his service in the German Army during World War I. He joined the German Workers’ Party (DAP), the Nazi Party’s forerunner, in 1919 and was named its head in 1921. In a failed coup attempt in Munich in 1923, he was sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to seize governmental authority. He penned the first book of Mein Kampf, his autobiography and political manifesto, while incarcerated (“My Struggle”).

Rise to Power

Hitler returned to Munich after World War I. He stayed in the army despite having no formal education or prospects for a profession. In July 1919, he was deployed to an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance unit) of the Reichswehr as a Verbindungsmann (intelligence operative) to influence other troops and join the German Workers’ Party (DAP). Party Chairman Anton Drexler was pleased by Hitler’s oratorical skills at a DAP meeting on September 12, 1919. He handed him a copy of his pamphlet My Political Awakening, which was anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist. Hitler asked to join the party on the orders of his army commanders and was admitted as party member 555 within a week (the party began counting membership at 500 to give the impression they were a much larger party).

Significance left behind

Contemporaries compared Hitler’s suicide as the breaking of a “curse.” Few Germans grieved Hitler’s death because public support for him had waned by the time of his death; Kershaw claims that most civilians and military personnel were too preoccupied with adjusting to the country’s collapse or fleeing the conflict to care. Nazism “burst like a bubble” without its leader, according to historian John Toland.

“The personification of modern political evil,” according to Kershaw, is Hitler. “Never in history has a single man’s name been associated with such bodily and moral damage,” he continues. Hitler’s policies precipitated World War II, leaving a devastated and impoverished Eastern and Central Europe in its wake. Hour Null was a term used to describe Germany’s total annihilation (Zero Hour).

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