Adolf Hitler: Quick Facts
Birth Name: Adolf Hitler
Birth Date: 20 April 1889
Birth Place: Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary
Death: 20 April 1945 (56 Years of Age)
Cause of Death: Suicide (Death by Gunshot)
Spouse(s): Eva Braun (Married in 1945)
Father: Alois Hitler
Mother: Klara Polzl
Sibling(s): Gustav Hitler; Ida Hitler; Otto Hitler; Alois Junior; Angela Hitler
Political Party: National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)
Military Service: Bavarian Army (1914-1920) – 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment (World War I)
Military Rank: Gefreiter
Military Awards: Iron Cross First Class; Iron Cross Second Class; Wound Badge
Occupation: Chancelor of Germany (30 January 1933 – 30 April 1945)
Fact #1: One of the most interesting aspects of Hitler is the fact that he wasn’t German at all. Hitler was Austrian by birth; being born in Braunau am Inn (1889). In his youth, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist in Austria, and applied multiple times to the Vienna Academy of Art (was denied on both occasions). Following the death of his mother, Hitler lived on the streets of Vienna and sold his artwork in the form of postcards.
Fact #2: Hitler moved to Munich, Germany in 1913. He volunteered for military service at the beginning of World War I, earning the rank of Corporal, and two decorations for valor. During the war, Hitler was injured on two separate occasions. At the Battle of the Somme (October 1916), Hitler sustained a major shrapnel wound that required two months of hospital rest. Later in 1918, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a British mustard gas attack.
Fact #3: Following the defeat of Germany and the humiliation imposed on the German people by the Versailles Treaty, Hitler returned to Munich where he joined the German Workers’ Party. Hitler quickly took control of the party for himself; designing the swastika as its political symbol. In 1920, the party was renamed the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party). Hitler’s unique gift at public speaking garnered him tremendous support (both publically and financially). Part of Hitler’s appeal lied with his ability to channel the German people’s anger (from their defeat in World War I) into a nationalist fervor; blaming Jews and political elites for Germany’s humiliating defeat and postwar suffering.
Fact #4: Hitler spent nine months in jail for an attempted coup in Munich. Inspired by Benito Mussolini’s seizure of power in Italy, Hitler attempted his own coup in Germany on the night of 8 November 1922. With nearly 2,000 Nazi supporters, Hitler and his followers raided downtown Munich in an attempt to overthrow the local government. The coup (known as the “Beer Hall Putsch”) was a tremendous failure, however, leaving sixteen Nazis dead, and numerous party members in jail. During his time behind bars, Hitler published his autobiography, known as Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”). The book offered a unique glimpse into the thought patterns of Hitler, as well as the policies he would later initiate during his reign as Chancellor of Germany. Upon being released from prison, Hitler reassumed his position in the Nazi Party; using the next few years to build it from the ground up into a powerful political force in Germany.
Fact #5: Through Hitler’s guidance, the Nazi Party was able to consolidate power (legally) through local elections. Following months of economic stagnation from the worldwide Great Depression, the Nazi Party scored a major victory during the July 1932 elections (held only a few months after Hitler became a German citizen). After obtaining a majority in the German Reichstag, Hitler was appointed Chancellor on 30 January 1933.
Fact #6: In only a few years, Hitler consolidated power with the Nazi Party further; using a mysterious fire at the German Reichstag (27 February 1933) as an opportunity to suspend basic rights across Germany in favor of martial law. Following the death of German President, Paul von Hindenburg (2 August 1934), Hitler assumed complete control of the German government and began a systematic rebuilding of the German military. During the late 1930s, Hitler began to implement laws that aimed to subdue Jews and the disabled, while also annexing Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938.
Fact #7: To the German people and his military officers, Hitler appeared to be omniscient in his decisions regarding war; leading the Germans to multiple victories in the early years of World War Two. Despite these early victories, Hitler made the serious blunder of invading the Soviet Union in 1941, and declaring war on the United States in December of that year. Unwilling to concede to military advisers, Hitler’s attempts to lead the German people to victory soon gave way to more and more failures as the war dragged on.
Fact #8: Even with defeat inevitable in 1945, Hitler refused to surrender to the Allied forces. In April 1945, Hitler and his military high-command continued to hold out in an underground bunker; directing the last remnants of the German military against the rapidly approaching Soviet and American forces on the outskirts of Berlin. Once it became evident that the Soviet forces would reach Hitler’s bunker before the Americans, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, before committing a double-suicide the following day. Before killing themselves, Hitler ordered his military officers to burn their bodies. Only two days after Hitler’s death, Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies (2 May 1945), ending hostilities.
Fact #9: As part of Hitler’s belief in Aryan superiority over other races, Hitler believed that Germans should not indulge in alcohol, smoking, or the consumption of “unclean substances” (biography.com). As a result, Hitler was a devout vegan, and abstained from all forms of alcohol. He also “promoted [widespread] anti-smoking campaigns” across Germany (biography.com).
Fact #10: In addition to hundreds of anti-Semitic laws enacted in Germany, Hitler’s mass-repression against Jews reached unprecedented heights across Europe as the Wehrmacht expanded its control over the European continent. During the Holocaust, the Nazi Party executed over six-million Jews (nearly two-thirds of the Jewish population across Europe). Nearly a million more people (of various ethnic backgrounds and beliefs) were killed as well. Hitler and his supporters facilitated these deaths with the construction of concentration camps across Europe.
"It is not truth that matters, but victory."— Adolf Hitler
Quotes by Hitler
Quote #1: “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
Quote #2: “Strength lies not in defense but in attack.”
Quote #3: “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.”
Quote #4: “If you wish the sympathy of the broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and most stupidest things.”
Quote #5: “Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.”
Quote #6: “It is not truth that matters, but victory.”
Quote #7: “All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”
Quote #8: “Those who want to live, let them fight; and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”
Quote #9: “Struggle is the father of all things. It is not by the principles of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world; but solely by means of the most brutal struggle.”
Quote #10: “The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion; but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.”
Were you surprised by any of these facts about Hitler?
To this day, Adolf Hitler remains one of the most studied dictators in world history. His efforts toward global domination, and his attempt to eliminate the Jewish race constituted one of the greatest war crimes in world history. Scholars continue to reassess Hitler’s legacy in an attempt to understand the motivations that drove this madman to commit so many of these atrocities. Only time will tell what new things can be learned about Hitler from future scholarly projects.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: A Biography. New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Shirer, WIlliam and Ron Rosenbaum. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
Toland, John. Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography. New York, New York: Anchor Books, 1992.
Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939. New York, New York: Vintage Books, 2017.
"Adolf Hitler." Wikipedia. August 18, 2018. Accessed August 19, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler.
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© 2018 Larry Slawson