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Adolf Hitler

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Hitler appearing somewhere relevant for a change.
A lunatic Chaplin imitator
and his greatest fans

Icon nazi.svg
First as tragedy
Then as farce
Never in history has such ruination—physical and moral—been associated with the name of one man.
—Ian Kershaw, British historian.[1]

Adolf Schicklgruber[note 1] Hitler (1889–1945) was the leader of the German Nazi Party from 1921, and then the chancellor and eventually Führer ("leader"), of Nazi Germany from 1933 until his suicide in 1945.

Hitler was Austrian by birth and came to power in Germany by way of a series of legal and extralegal maneuverings. His decidedly toxic message of racism and antisemitism is summed up in his manifesto, Mein Kampf, which he wrote while imprisoned in the 1920s after trying to lead an idiotic coup d'état against the Weimar Republic. The copyright was owned in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin through 2015, and access may be illegal depending on your local copyright and censorship laws, so read it at your own risk. However, due to having been written in 1923, as of January 1st, 2019, it is now in the public domain.[2][3] The book may permanently damage your intelligence, because of its piss poor writing and ghastly bigoted sentiment.

After being released from prison in 1924, Hitler began gathering popular support by denouncing the Treaty of Versailles, promoting Pan-Germanism, and fearmongering over communism. Most notoriously, however, Hitler popularized the international Jewish conspiracy theory, blaming the Jews for everything that was wrong with interwar Germany, such as economic troubles, communism, Germany's loss in the last war, you name it.[4] By 1932, Hitler's Nazi Party had become a major force in the German Reichstag, and German President Paul von Hindenburg caved to political pressure and appointed Hitler as chancellor. From that point on, Hitler used his power and his Nazi supporters to rapidly transform Germany into Nazi Germany, a one-party totalitarian dictatorship centered on Hitler's personality cult and his insane racial ideas.

As dictator, Hitler pursued an aggressive foreign policy and successfully annexed large swathes of German-speaking Central Europe with little resistance from the democracies of Western Europe. Eventually, he overstepped by attacking Poland, and this led to the Second World War. Hitler's concept of lebensraum, or "living space", meant that he wanted to annex agriculturally rich lands to the east. To that end, Hitler expanded his war by attacking the Soviet Union. The war saw many of Nazi Germany's most hideous atrocities, most infamously the Holocaust but also a litany of war crimes. Having put himself at war with most of the planet, Hitler killed himself after losing the war rather than live with the consequences of his actions.

Hitler is remembered by sane people as being one of the evilest human beings who ever cursed the Earth. His quest for racial and political purity in Europe led to the brutal murder of 17 million people, 6 million of whom were Jews.[5][6] Worse than that, Hitler's plan to expand Germany's borders out to the Ural mountains also came with a plan to exterminate the ethnic Slavs who already lived there. Generalplan Ost could potentially have seen the Nazis murder around 50 million more people, if not more.[7] Add to that Aktion T4, the Nazi program meant to exterminate the disabled, Nazi human experimentation, mass rape,[8] and child sexual abuse committed by the Waffen-SS,[9] and it's apparent that Hitler was responsible for a genuinely unimaginable amount of human suffering.

Early years[edit]

Hitler's colorless depiction of the Vienna Opera House.


Hitler was born in the town of Braunau am Inn in the Austria-Hungarian Empire in 1889, and his childhood home is currently set to be either demolished or rendered unrecognizable by the Austrian government.[10] His father was a drunken, womanizing[note 2] customs officer, and his mother was either his father's cousin or niece;[note 3] young Adolf did not get along well with his strict, militaristic father (who reportedly vented his frustrations on his family via beatings and verbal abuse) and was quite the mama's boy.[11]

The uncertainty over Hitler's father Alois' father led to speculation that his paternal grandfather was Jewish. The memoir of Hitler's personal lawyer, Hans Frank was published posthumously in 1953, in which he claimed that Hitler's half-nephew had threatened to blackmail Hitler over his alleged Jewish ancestry. Frank claimed that he had researched Hitler's ancestry to verify this based on family letters from the 1830s. Frank's memoir however is riddled with errors and is regarded as an unreliable source by historians, and several details about Frank's ancestry claims do not agree with available original documents.[12]

He rapidly evolved into a Pan-German nationalist, and he hated the Hapsburgs for being militarily weak and tolerating a wide variety of ethnic minorities within their borders.[13] He also started greeting his school friends with "Heil", all of this proving that using a time machine to kill kid Hitler might not be as morally tough as one might think.[14] Hitler generally struggled in school (he later claimed in Mein Kampf that it was intentional, as a "fuck you" to his dad, who had wanted Adolf to become a customs officer too), and after his father died in 1903, Adolf eventually managed to graduate the Austrian equivalent of middle school. At age 16, he gave up on school and soon moved to Vienna to follow his dream of becoming an artist while living on the inheritance from his father and survivor's benefits from the state.[15]

An artist in Vienna[edit]

I would have preferred it if he'd followed his original ambition and become an architect.
—Paula Hitler, Adolf's younger sister, in July 1945.[16] So would we, Paula. So would we.

Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907, hoping to gain admission to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, but he was infamously rejected twice. Faculty said his paintings were well-done but unimaginative and "utterly devoid of rhythm, color, feeling, or spiritual imagination."[17] In that respect, the art seems to have imitated the artist.

Hitler then ran out of money and spent the rest of his time in Vienna bouncing around homeless shelters and public housing.[18] During his miserable time there, Hitler was further radicalized by antisemitic populists who spoke and published newspapers.[19] Among the sources of Viennese antisemitism was anti-immigrant rhetoric; Austrian Christians feared and hated the idea of having to cope with Jews moving to their cities from the despotic and destitute Russian Empire.[20] The influential mayor of Vienna, a Dr. Karl LuegerWikipedia, had helped create the Christian Social Party,[note 4] a populist and Catholic-oriented right-wing political party that dominated Viennese politics at the time. Hitler later claimed that when he arrived in Vienna in 1907 he was initially hostile towards Lueger's politics and his outspoken antisemitism but quickly developed "unconcealed admiration" for him, and credited Lueger as "the greatest German mayor of all times."[21] Lueger has subsequently been credited by many historians as an important early influence on Hitler.[22]

World War I[edit]

Hitler in 1919, before he adopted his trademark stupid mustache.
See the main article on this topic: World War I

Around the outbreak of the Great War, Hitler was conscripted into the Austria-Hungarian army but chose to draft dodge and move to Munich, Germany.[23] Hitler claimed that he didn't want to serve Austria-Hungary because its armies were too racially diverse and because he thought that this fact would lead to the empire's collapse.[24] He quite probably wasn't lying about that, as he subsequently joined the German army and became a decorated soldier. Hitler apparently benefited from the fact that the German armed forces became increasingly antisemitic during the war's final years. With the war starting to turn against them, German military officers increasingly decided to blame the civilians, especially the participants in the German Revolution and Jews.[25]

This propaganda was immensely influential on Hitler. The military seems to have been the only place where the wayward young Hitler actually found a place for himself, and he reacted angrily to the news of the armistice.[23] His bitterness over peace and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles significantly shaped his ideology, firstly by making him long for a structured military lifestyle, and secondly by making him hate those he was convinced had cost Germany the war.[26]

Entry into politics[edit]

Antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will always find its ultimate expression in the form of pogroms. Rational antisemitism, however, must lead to the systematic legal fight against and the elimination of the prerogatives of the Jew. ... Its ultimate goal, however, must unalterably be the elimination of the Jews altogether.
—Adolf Hitler, 1919.[27]
“There must never again be and there will never again be a November 1918 in Germany,” was his first political resolution after a great many political ponderings and speculations. It was the first specific objective the young private politician set himself and incidentally the only one he truly accomplished. There was certainly no November 1918 in the Second World War—neither a timely termination of a lost war nor a revolution. Hitler prevented both. Let us be clear about what this “never again a November 1918” implied. It implied quite a lot. First of all the determination to make impossible any future revolution in a situation analogous to November 1918. Secondly—since otherwise the first point would be left in the air—the determination to bring about once more a similar situation. And this implied, thirdly, the resumption of the war that was lost or believed to be lost. Fourthly, the war had to be resumed on the basis of a domestic constitution in which there were no potentially revolutionary forces. From here it was not far to the fifth point, the abolition of all Left-wing parties, and indeed why not, while one was about it, of all parties. Since, however, one could not abolish the people behind the Left-wing parties, the workers, they would have to be politically won over to nationalism, and this implied, sixth, that one had to offer them socialism, or at least a kind of socialism, in fact National Socialism. Seventh, their former faith, Marxism, had to be uprooted and that meant—eighth—the physical annihilation of the Marxist politicians and intellectuals who, fortunately, included quite a lot of Jews so that—ninth, and Hitler’s oldest wish—one could also, at the same time, exterminate all the Jews.
—Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler [28]

Lacking any other actual skills or career prospects, Hitler stayed in the German army. The army used him as an informant, and it sent him to infiltrate a newly-forming German political movement called the German Worker's Party (DAP).[23] During a meeting in a Munich beer hall, Hitler couldn't contain an angry outburst against the prospect of Bavaria seceding from Germany. Party leader Anton Drexler, apparently impressed with young Hitler's energy, recruited Hitler by passing him a party pamphlet, which expressed nationalist, pro-military, and antisemitic viewpoints.[29] All of that unsurprisingly resonated with Hitler, and he chose to join the party. With the DAP in its infancy, Hitler claims to have seen an opportunity to gain significant political clout in the organization. He later wrote that the DAP presented this unmissable opportunity because at such an early stage, "the content, the goal, and the road could still be determined".[29]

Rise of evil[edit]

Building the Nazi Party[edit]

The NSDAP logo, designed with input from Hitler.

To increase its appeal, the German Worker's Party rebranded as the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP or "Nazi") in 1920. Hitler designed the party's swastika emblem, which has been used as a symbol by and for shitheads in the West ever since.[30] Hitler then left the army and became notorious for giving rowdy and angry speeches to any group of people who would listen. By 1921, the Nazi Party recognized Hitler as one of their most influential public figures, and he was elected Party Chairman.[30]

In February 1920, Hitler publicly presented the party's 25-point National Socialist Program, the official party platform which called for the end of the Treaty of Versailles, more colonies for Germany, exclusion of non-citizens, exclusion of Jews, abolition of debt and land-based income, more old age welfare, and land reform among other things.[31] While that became an effective recruiting and propaganda tool, German historian Karl Dietrich Bracher noted in 1970 that,[32]

To [Hitler, the program] was little more than an effective, persuasive propaganda weapon for mobilizing and manipulating the masses. Once it had brought him to power, it became pure decoration: 'unalterable', yet unrealized in its demands for nationalization and expropriation, for land reform and 'breaking the shackles of finance capital'. Yet it nonetheless fulfilled its role as backdrop and pseudo-theory, against which the future dictator could unfold his rhetorical and dramatic talents.

The German hyperinflation crisis set in during the early 1920s, causing general misery among the German population.[33] During this time, the Nazi Party's membership exploded from 2,000 to about 20,000 by 1923.[30] Hitler contributed to this by gathering a large group of unemployed young men and former soldiers, branding them the "Storm Troopers" or Sturmabteilung (German for "Assault Section", typically abbreviated as "SA"), and sending them to intimidate voters and attack political opponents.[30][34] Hitler also established a Nazi youth organization called the "Youth League" or Jugendbund der NSDAP in 1922, a youth group designed to radicalize children and train more members of the Sturmabteilung.[35]

Beer Hall Putsch[edit]

Munich's main square during the Putsch.
Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows—at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example—as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.
—Adolf Hitler, 1922.[27] Compare to the "Day of the Rope", from The Turner Diaries.

With Germany in full-scale collapse, Hitler decided to make his first play at gaining power. He enlisted the help of Erich von Ludendorff, former German general during the Great War, and targeted a coup attempt against the dangerously unstable government of Bavaria. Backed by thousands of Nazi paramilitaries, Hitler and Ludendorff stormed a meeting in a Munich beer hall attended by Bavarian state commissioner Ritter von Kahr and other Munich officials, taking them hostage.[36] Hitler then insanely declared that a national revolution had come to Germany and that the time had come for Bavaria to follow him to Berlin to destroy the republican government.[36] Kahr and his allies nodded along with the crazy man, then got the fuck out of there to call the cops. The Nazis were then humiliatingly rounded up by the police while Hitler fled the scene, and Hermann Göring took a well-deserved bullet to the crotch.[36] Hitler went into hiding but was discovered two days later.

While Ludendorff was acquitted for being a war hero, Hitler became an international celebrity and was only sentenced to serve five years in Landsberg Prison despite having committed treason.[36] In the end, he only served nine months of that sentence, and it gave him an excellent opportunity to compose his shitty magnum opus: Mein Kampf.

Mein Kampf[edit]

He struggled to write this shitty book.
[T]he new Reich must again set itself on the march of the Teutonic Knights of old, to obtain by the German sword sod for German plow and daily bread for the nation.
Mein Kampf's elucidation of Hitler's lebensraum concept.[21]

Mein Kampf (My Struggle)[note 5] was written by Hitler while he served less than a year in prison for his role in organizing Munich Putsch in 1923. It was apparently edited with the help of a Roman Catholic priest, who was subsequently assassinated on the Night of the Long Knives.[38] It is a rambling, seemingly unedited account of Hitler's "personal difficulties," which he attributed to the Jews who were running the capitalist system, to the same Jews who were also somehow simultaneously running the Bolsheviks trying to overthrow the capitalist system, and to the Jews who had been responsible for the surrender of Germany in 1918. Despite this autobiography being a jingoistic, über-Germanic screed, Hitler also decided to give a shoutout to fellow anti-Semite Henry Ford, for his sterling propaganda efforts against the Jooz.[39][40][41]

Mein Kampf didn't exactly sell poorly before 1933, but with about 220,000 copies sold, it wasn't a real bestseller either. It wasn't until 1933 that millions of copies were printed and handed out for just about any major or minor event in the life of a German (marriage, childbirth, entry into the Nazi Party) as a gift. It was held in contempt by most establishment conservatives and right-wing extremists (including, amusingly enough, Benito Mussolini, the head of the National Fascist Party in Italy, who called it "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and "little more than commonplace cliches").[42] Even the author himself was later embarrassed by the book, calling it "fantasy behind bars", and stated that "If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book."[43]

Like any "bible", Mein Kampf isn't actually meant to be read by its believers. It is sprinkled with typos, and it is boring, repetitive, and, unsurprisingly, poorly written. The most recent English edition is peppered with footnotes indicating each of Hitler's lies and exaggerations.[44] However, the book is often strangely hilarious. Hitler's tendency to make outrageous claims in a completely unironic and deadpan manner is a frequent source of comedy. In fact, Istanbul-born German comedian Serdar Somuncu for a time made a living touring Germany and reading Mein Kampf in a way that exposed it as the hilarious string of poorly written sentences that it is.[45]

Conflict with Strasser[edit]

By the time Hitler got out of prison, Germany's economy had improved and politics was generally less violent and dangerous. It seemed to be a rough time to be a far-right extremist. Complicating things even further was the fact that Bavaria had banned the NSDAP. Luckily for Hitler and unluckily for just about everyone else, he managed to convince Bavarian authorities to lift the ban by promising to only seek power through democratic means.[46] Despite that, Hitler realized that the Nazis needed to expand their power base beyond Bavaria. To that end, he appointed Otto Strasser and Joseph Goebbels to raise support for the Nazis in northern Germany; because northern Germany was largely dominated by leftist politics, especially the Social Democratic Party under the leadership of Otto BraunWikipedia, Otto Strasser did this by emphasizing the socialistic elements of Nazi ideology.

Hitler leading a Nazi rally in Weimar, 1930.

Strasser subsequently became the leader of the Nazi Party's left-wing faction, supporting trade union strikes and nationalization of industries, and even advocating for closer ties with the Soviet Union.[47] His crime, in Hitler's eyes, was essentially to take the "Socialism" in "National Socialism" a bit too seriously. Political strife between the two men led to a potential split within the Nazi organization. To prevent that, Hitler convened the Bamberg Conference in 1926, which temporarily appeased Strasser and permanently won Goebbels over to his faction.[48] Otto Strasser would later be expelled from the party in 1930 and forced into exile, becoming one of the inspirations for modern Third Positionism.

The Great Depression[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Great Depression

As everyone familiar with history knows, the United States stock market shat itself in October 1929, leading to the catastrophic worldwide Great Depression. Germany had been reliant on American loan money to prop up its economy since 1924, and all of that money was called back by desperate American bankers after the market crash.[49] Banks in Germany and Austria collapsed, and things got even worse when hastily-applied US tariffs prevented German industrialists and exporters from accessing the US market. By 1932, German industrial production had shrunk to just 58% of where it had been in 1928.[49] By 1933, 6 million Germans were unemployed, about a third of the country's working population.[49]

Amidst all of that suffering, one group saw great benefits: the Nazis. Public discontent with the economy turned the Nazi Party into a significant political force. The 1930 German federal elections saw the Nazis increase its representation in the Reichstag by 95 seats.[50] In the 1932 elections, the Nazis gained even more power, expanding their hold on the legislature by 123 seats.[51] Street fighting between fascists and communists resumed while women were forced back out of the workplace.[49]

Becoming chancellor[edit]

Hitler greets his supporters from the Reich Chancellery.
By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave.
—Erich Ludendorff, telegram to Hindenburg.[52] Ludendorff had parted ways with Hitler shortly after the failure in Munich.[53]

The rising popularity of the Nazi Party shook up the previous political system in Germany and caused a deadlock in the Reichstag. Although the Nazis became the largest party in the legislature, they did not have enough seats to form a majority government. Germany held presidential elections in 1932, and conservative Paul von Hindenburg ran against Adolf Hitler and the communist Ernst Thälmann. Hindenburg received broad support due to his own war hero status[note 6] and Hitler's extremism; traditional conservatives backed him, and liberals endorsed him as the lesser-of-two-evils.[54] As a result, Hindenburg handily won the election.

Sadly, this did not prevent Hitler's seizure of power. Further elections in 1932 failed to break the political deadlock in the Reichstag, and two successive chancellors proved to be completely ineffective. To resolve matters, conservative politicians and supporters pressured President Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor. There was a method to the conservative madness; they expected to use the vice-chancellor, Franz von Papen,Wikipedia to keep Hitler in check.[52] They figured that once Hitler had trashed the German Republic's democratic norms, they could sweep in and restore Germany as a monarchist empire. Ultimately, it turned out that they had severely underestimated Hitler and the Nazis. While conservatives strictly limited the number of cabinet positions the Nazis could have, using that as a means of keeping Hitler in check, Hitler still managed to place two of his proxies into essential posts. Wilhelm Frick became Minister of the Interior, and Hermann Göring became Minister of the Interior for Prussia.[note 7] Frick was also placed in charge of Germany's education policy. With this power, Frick and Göring set about replacing civil servants and school officials with dedicated Nazis. However, the Nazis only held about 33% of the seats in the parliament,[55] meaning they couldn't easily get their agenda passed. A new round of elections was scheduled for March 5th, 1933.

Reichstag fire[edit]

The Reichstag building ablaze.

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building, home to the German parliament, burned down. The incident, discovered to be the result of arson, stunned and terrified the German public. It is well known what followed. German authorities quickly arrested Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe alongside damning circumstantial evidence.[56] Hitler and his allies immediately declared the act to be part of a greater conspiracy by communist forces. This claim was at the time reasonably credible due to Germany's recent history of communist violence. Hitler then used these false claims to lobby for President Hindenburg's support in passing what became known as the Reichstag Fire DecreeWikipedia. This decree suspended essential parts of Germany's constitution, removing the right to assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, and giving German police the power to do whatever they wished.[57] It also gave Hitler the power to dissolve and overrule local governments, ban publications, and jail people without charge (removing the right of habeas corpus).

Part of the story is still debated, however. During the trial of Van der Lubbe, German communist Willi Münzenberg claimed to have discovered proof that Hitler and the Nazis used Van der Lubbe as a pawn in their plot to stage the fire as a false flag to gain more power.[56] In 2013, modern analysis revealed that the extent of the fire and the amount of time that would have been needed inside the Reichstag to set it means that it would have been impossible for Van der Lubbe to have acted alone.[56] All that being said, whether the Nazis took advantage of an independently developing situation or if they orchestrated the whole thing ultimately doesn't change what happened next.

With the Reichstag Fire Decree in hand and a loyal army of Sturmabteilung thugs at his beck and call, Hitler tried to influence the elections that were held six days after the fire. Despite these massive advantages, the Nazi Party still only won about 44% of the seats.[58] They formed a coalition with the ultraconservative, monarchist DNVP (from the German for "German National People's Party"), pushing them to 52% of the seats and achieving a majority. The Catholic Center PartyWikipedia was subsequently brought into the coalition, bringing along 11% of the seats, nearly enough for a two-thirds supermajority that could amend the constitution, which (spoiler) they were about to attempt.

Concentration camps[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Concentration camp
Heinrich Himmler inspects the Dachau concentration camp, 1936.

On 23 March 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933Wikipedia to further expand Hitler's power. This was not done democratically. The Nazis used their paramilitaries to prevent all of the communists and many of the social democratic representatives from being able to enter the Reichstag building.[59] The Nazis also placed armed paramilitaries inside the parliamentary chamber to intimidate people into voting the right way. As a result, the Enabling Act passed with huge margins- 444 in favor, and 94 against (the 94 being the social democrats who had actually been allowed to attend and vote). It gave Hitler the power to enact laws without consulting either the Reichstag or the German president, and it became an essential fixture of his dictatorship.

Hitler almost immediately ordered his subordinates to start creating the infamous concentration camps. Some of them were "temporary" detention centers for political opponents set up in empty warehouses, factories, and other convenient locations.[60] The regime was able to come up with a legal loophole to detain prisoners—the regime claimed that they were simply putting these prisoners into "protective custody" ("Schutzhaft") in order to protect them from the "righteous anger" of the noble German people, and therefore criminal charges, the judicial process, and any concept of habeas corpus did not apply.[61] Over the next few years, these hastily constructed camps would be phased out and replaced with more secure and centrally-organized facilities under the watch of the SS. Dachau, established in March 1933, became the model of this new kind of concentration camp.[60] Built on the grounds an abandoned munitions factory northwest of Munich, Dachau's prison population grew to about 4,800 during its first year, mostly communists, social democrats, liberals, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime.[62] Dachau remained in operation until 1945, and its detainees faced horrific conditions. Dachau was also followed by many other concentration camps: Sachsenhausen (built 1936) north of Berlin, Buchenwald (1937) near Weimar, Neuengamme (1938) near Hamburg, Flossenbürg (1938), Mauthausen (1938), and Ravensbrück (1939).

With political opponents being shipped off to the camps, all parties except the Nazi Party banned, and full control over Reichstag, Hitler subsequently held another election in November 1933. The Nazis somehow miraculously jumped from 44% of the seats to 92.11% of the seats.[63] This coincided with a referendum on Germany leaving the unpopular League of Nations, which also passed with over 95% of the vote.[64]

Night of the Long Knives[edit]

By mid-1934, the Nazi paramilitaries had become enormously influential. Hitler's old buddy Ernst Röhm, leader of the Sturmabteilung, hoped to have his organization integrated into the proper German armed forces.[65] This infuriated the German military, who did not want to have their ranks polluted with political hacks. With Hindenburg still in office and still swayed by the military's wishes, Hitler decided that the time had come to clean up his own house, so to speak.

His decision was also prompted by the fact that he now had the Schutzstaffel ("Protection Staff") or SS, an elite force of soldiers who had sworn loyalty to Hitler and Hitler alone.[66] Early in 1934, they had been given official status as the bodyguard force of Chancellor Hitler, and they were led by the brutal Heinrich Himmler. With this fancy new personal attack force, Hitler knew that the Sturmabteilung was on its way out. Röhm and some of his inner circle also happened to be homosexuals and/or hard-drinking rowdies, which was being increasingly used a weapon by Hitler's political opponents and the press.[67] Lastly, Röhm was similar to the Strassers in that he took the "socialism" part of "National Socialism" quite seriously,[68] and after Hitler's rise to power, openly called for a "second revolution" in order to enforce the more socialist-leaning ideas of the party platform and the Strassers. Hitler's close friend Röhm had become a nuisance that he could no longer ignore, so on the evening of 30 June 1934, Hitler finally took action.

Colorized image of Hitler addressing the Reichstag in 1933.

Alleging that Röhm was plotting a putsch, Hitler ordered a massacre of just about anyone he perceived to be standing in his way. Himmler's SS forces murdered not only Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders, but also Hitler's predecessor as chancellor, Kurt von Schleicher, and Gregor Strasser, the brother of Otto Strasser.[65] Vice-Chancellor von Papen, who had about two weeks prior given a speechWikipedia decrying some of regime's abuses, narrowly escaped with his life,[note 8] but he resigned his position (Hitler chose not to replace him, and the position was vacant until 1949) and spent the rest of Hitler's reign as an ambassador (first to Austria, then to Turkey). Officially, 85 people died in the purge, but estimates of the dead go up to about 1,000.[69] These killings were actually reasonably well received by the German public and government, as many of them were convinced that Hitler was merely being responsible and restoring order. The SA was severely reduced and put under the control of the SS, but remained as basically a roaming band of thugs who would assault "undesirables" in the streets for the regime, notably later doing most of the dirty work during Kristallnacht.Wikipedia

A few weeks after the purge, which became known as the Night of the Long Knives, Nazis in Austria launched an attempted coupWikipedia against the government there, murdering Austrian Chancellor Engelbert DollfussWikipedia.[65] Benito Mussolini, who had backed his friend Dollfuss's "AustrofascistWikipedia" dictatorship[note 9] and independence from Germany, was enraged. Mussolini blamed Hitler personally for the assassination, and threatened war. In response Hitler publicly denounced the coup attempt, which quickly fizzled out and Dollfuss was replaced by a new dictator, Kurt Schuschnigg.Wikipedia

Becoming Führer[edit]

On August 2nd, 1934, the aged President Hindenburg died of natural causes. While the man was on his death bed, Hitler had forced the Reichstag to implement a law dissolving the office of the presidency after his death and merging it with the office of the chancellor.[70] As a result, Hitler became the final and only authority in Germany. He immediately granted himself the title Führer und Reichskanzler, but subsequently chose to amend it to Führer.[71] At this point, it had become impossible for Hitler to be removed from office by any means save his death.

Having become commander-in-chief, Hitler amended the oath taken by the German armed forces. Instead of swearing loyalty to Germany and its constitution, they swore allegiance to Hitler by name.[72] Free elections in Germany ended. Although elections were held, only Nazis or pro-Nazi "guests"[note 10] were allowed to run for office, and SS thugs threatened anyone who dared vote against the Nazis on their non-secret ballots.[73] In a very short amount of time, Hitler had destroyed German democracy and installed himself as the country's unquestionable dictator.

Nazi Germany[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Nazi Germany
Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer!
—The motto of Nazi Germany, translates as "One People, One Realm, One Leader".[74]


Nazi book burning in Berlin.

Now entirely in power, Hitler and the Nazis immediately set about consolidating their hold over every aspect of German life. Called Gleichschaltung, or "standardization", this Nazi program sought to eliminate all independent institutions in Germany, whether political or otherwise.[75]

First, the Nazis declared themselves to be the only legal political party in Germany.[76] Then the Nazi central government reduced the power of and then eliminated local governments. German civil servants were carefully selected for loyalty, first with a 1933 law stipulating that officials "who were of non-Aryan descent" should be removed, and then with further laws removing communists and later anyone the Nazi authorities didn't like.[75] This civil service reform had a broad effect. It not only removed non-desirable government officials, but also teachers, professors, lawyers, tax collectors, and notaries.[77] The judicial system came next. Judges were removed from the bench for racial and political reasons, and those who remained were ordered to join the Nazi Party.[75] Hitler got around the German Supreme Court by having the Reichstag pass a law to remove much of its jurisdiction and establish a "People's Court" comprising Nazi Party officials.

The Nazis also established the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under the leadership of Joseph Goebbels. This government ministry had complete control over magazines, newspapers, films, books, radio, television, public meetings, and even the arts.[78] As part of their propaganda effort, the Nazis made sure that their citizens would have no other source of information and would always be exposed to the Nazi Party's prejudices and ideals. As British historian Richard Evans, author of The Third Reich in Power explains,[79]

Members of the Deutsches Jungvolk, all boys younger than 14.
Every national voluntary association, and every local club, was brought under Nazi control, from industrial and agricultural pressure groups to sports associations, football clubs, male voice choirs, women's organizations — in short, the whole fabric of associational life was Nazified. Rival, politically oriented clubs or societies were merged into a single Nazi body. Existing leaders of voluntary associations were either unceremoniously ousted, or knuckled under of their own accord. Many organizations expelled leftish or liberal members and declared their allegiance to the new state and its institutions. The whole process... went on all over Germany... By the end, virtually the only non-Nazi associations left were the army and the Churches with their lay organizations.

Part of this program was the infamous spree of Nazi book burnings, which sought to destroy works written by Jews, liberals, antiwar activists, socialists, communists, you name them. Among the causes most harmed by this was equal rights for LGBT people. Nazis destroyed the entire works of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, or "Institute of Sexology", which had produced a great volume of work arguing for equal rights, gay acceptance, and understanding of transgenderism.[80]

To replace what they destroyed, the Nazis introduced several compulsory Nazi Party organizations for the entire German youth. Once reaching the age of 10, would join the Deutsches Jungvolk to be indoctrinated in Nazi ideology until the age of 14, at which point they would join the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) until reaching adulthood.[81] During the war, many of these children became child soldiers. Girls joined the Jungmädelbund as young children before moving on to the League of German Girls later, learning skills and doing activities the Nazis considered essential for women such as household chores, physical exercise, and the importance of avoiding "racial defilement".[82]

Finally, the Nazi Party took control of trade unions before eventually replacing them with the Reich Labour Service.[75][83] The Nazi Party also cautiously began to encroach upon Christian churches by attempting to combine traditional Christianity with Nazi ideology, giving rise to the Positive Christianity movement.

Personality cult[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Personality cult

One of the more baffling aspects of Hitler's rule is how in the hell he managed to keep the German people so loyal to him even after the war started to decisively turn against them. Much of the answer there lies in the obsessive way the Nazi regime went about creating a personality cult around the Führer's person. Nazi propaganda was enormously effective at casting Hitler as a soldier at the ready, as a father figure, and as a messianic leader brought to redeem Germany from the interwar era's miseries. Hitler portrayed himself as the infallible embodiment of the German nation, and the Nazi Party assisted in this by mass-producing Hitler memorabilia like paintings, posters, busts, and millions of copies of Hitler's shitty Mein Kampf.[84] The German people were also legally required to greet each other with "Heil Hitler!", to the point that it became known as the "German greeting".[84][85]

The Nazis used their sophisticated propaganda apparatus to carefully cultivate Hitler's image. Photographs of Hitler had to receive the man's personal approval before being released to the public.[86] Hitler very quickly became one of the most popular subjects of artwork, as a flattering depiction of Germany's leader was almost sure to get an artist into the government's good graces. Art wasn't enough, however, as the Nazis wanted Hitler in every public and personal space. The evil fuckface had to have his face plastered on fucking everything. So Hitler's image then defiled small portraits, busts, posters, postcards, even matchbook covers. It's frankly absurd just how many images of Hitler and the Nazis were created. The German Historical Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, including a card game helping players to learn the names of top Nazis, Hitler-themed Christmas decorations, Wehrmacht and Hitler action figures, posters, you name it.[87]

The Nuremberg Laws[edit]

Hitler attends the 1935 Nuremberg rally.

In 1935, the Nazi state took its first significant step towards eliminating all European Jews. In September of 1935, the Reichstag passed the first batch of anti-Jewish legislation, which would later be termed the "Nuremberg Laws", named as such because they were announced during the Nazi Party's annual rally in Nuremberg. The first round of legislation banned marriage and sex between Jews and ethnic Germans.[88] Jews were also forbidden from employing German women or displaying the national flag of the German Reich. Instead, they had to wear insignia distinguishing themselves as Jews. Finally, Jews were stripped of their citizenship and reclassified as subjects of the state with no political rights.[88] In November, a subsequent amendment clarified who was actually considered a Jew with the infamous clause that "A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews."[88] November also saw the Reichstag expand the laws to include Romani and black people.[89]

There was a brief grace period after these laws passed before things started to get very bad for Jews. This is because Hitler wanted to avoid creating any human rights scandals that might distract from Germany's moment in the limelight during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.[90] He was concerned that any overt brutality would convince the international community to change the games' location or even cancel them, which would have been an embarrassment to Germany.

German rearmament[edit]

Production of the Heinkel He 111 medium bomber. During its design, German authorities pretended that it was a civilian aircraft to avoid Treaty of Versailles restrictions.[91]

The mid-1930s also saw Nazi Germany begin setting itself on the path towards the next world war. In 1933, Hitler announced to German military leaders that the "conquest for Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanisation" was his ultimate foreign policy objective.[92] Hitler also chose to prioritize military spending over welfare and unemployment relief.[93]

Germany's quest to regain its status as a military power proceeded rapidly. In 1935, Saarland, which had been independent since 1920 from the Treaty of Versailles, voted by a 90% majority to reunite with Germany.[94] By that year, the secret was out, and the world knew of Hitler's plans to militarize Germany. However, Hitler managed to assuage people's fears by giving a speech claiming that he was acting defensively and that Germany "needs peace and desires peace."[95] The speech was praised by foreign observers, and many of Hitler's critics were convinced that he was a man of peace.

In 1936, Hitler moved his armies into the Rhineland, which had been designated by the Treaty of Versailles as a demilitarized zone between Germany and France. Although the international community protested, most people reasoned that Germany was only recovering sovereignty over its own territory.[95] Hitler also sent troops to support Francisco Franco's fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War, using their participation in the conflict as a means to test out their newest weapons and tactical innovations. During this time, he directed Hermann Göring to devise and execute a "Four Year Plan" to refocus Germany's economic potential towards industries useful for war production, like aluminum plants, synthetic oil refineries, and chemical plants.[96] Hitler's government managed to hide these efforts by funding them through a deferred payment scheme using promissory notes called "Mefo bills".[97] Economic efforts were also funded with property and capital confiscated from Jews.[98] Germany also saw great improvements in its infrastructure, especially the autobahn system. All was not well, though. Although unemployment had fallen dramatically, the cost of living rose by 25% on average, and wages were stagnant.[99] The average German workweek also rose to 50 hours a week.

Hitler announced with relatively little uproar that he was greatly expanding the size of Germany's army as well as creating an air force. Hitler also struck an agreement with the United Kingdom allowing Germany to build a navy vastly larger than what it had been previously permitted by the postwar treaties.[100]

Persecution of Jews[edit]

A smashed storefront in Berlin after Kristallnacht.
No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.
The Times report on Kristallnacht.[101]

After the 1936 Olympics were out of the way, Hitler and the Nazi Party could begin implementing their program of racial purity. In 1937, the Nazis started requiring Jews to register all of their property with the government, thus making it available for arbitrary confiscation by the authorities.[90] Once confiscated, these businesses would be "Aryanized" with the expulsion of Jewish owners and employees and the subsequent takeover by ethnic Germans. Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat non-Jews,[note 11] and Jewish lawyers were not permitted to practice law.

In late 1938, German authorities encouraged a massive pogrom against the country's Jewish population. Rioters attacked Jewish businesses, synagogues, schools, and even hospitals.[101] About 30,000 Jews were then arrested and carted off to concentration camps. Firefighters and emergency services were ordered not to intervene even in the many cases in which synagogues and other Jewish buildings burned.[103] This massive pogrom became known as Kristallnacht, named after the broken glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses plundered and destroyed during the violence.

Knowing that things were going to get worse, Jews tried to flee Germany in droves. Many Jews, around 40,000 fled in an initial wave shortly after Hitler took power, and they ended up in countries across Western Europe.[104] Many of these people were later captured by the Nazis after their conquest of Western Europe.

Foreign policy[edit]

Hitler and Mussolini in a car.

Now backed by a formidable military and a completely loyal state apparatus, Hitler began pursuing a dangerously aggressive foreign policy. His initial aim was to strengthen Germany by annexing all of Europe's German-speaking regions. Some of these places had been torn away from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, like Danzig, Alsace-Lorraine, and the Polish Corridor. Others had never really been a part of the German state, such as Austria or the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

Hitler also sought to create alliances with other fascist and anti-communist nations. Hitler's most obvious potential ally on the global stage was Benito Mussolini, but the Italian fascist thought little of his German counterpart. Mussolini considered Hitler to be a shallow blowhard and disapproved of his fanatical racism.[105] Mussolini certainly would have disapproved of the fact that Hitler and the Nazis considered the "Mediterranean Aryans" to be less useful and "prone to act more on feeling than on reason".[106] Italy's invasion of Ethiopia changed things, however, as Mussolini was infuriated that France and the UK had the gall to object to his imperialism considering those countries' recent history.[107] The diplomatic chill between Italy and the Western Allies led Mussolini to seek a new friend in Adolf Hitler, and Hitler was quite willing to accept. The two leaders declared themselves the "Rome-Berlin Axis" in 1936.[108] Hitler also reached out to the Japanese Empire, both nations bonding over their shared hatred of the Soviet Union.

Hitler given a hero's welcome in Vienna, 1938.

Having initially failed to force the annexation of Austria after the 1934 coup against Dolfuss, Hitler decided to dispense with any subterfuge and go the direct route. In 1938, Hitler ordered the German army to march into Austria and later annexed the state, much to the apparent enthusiasm of the Austrians.[109] However, the plebiscite that confirmed the annexation was strictly overseen by the Nazis and the results were falsified to an absurd 99.7% approval.[110] Emboldened by the ease with which he had taken Austria, Hitler started screeching about the ethnic Germans living in the Sudetenland, the region of Czechoslovakia that bordered Germany. Hitler publicly started drawing up plans to invade the country, and the Western European democracies shamefully caved on the issue rather than risk another continental war.[111] This agreement, called the Munich Agreement, was celebrated as an act of peace by Europeans, but it saw Germany strengthened and Czechoslovakia gravely weakened.[112] In March 1939, Hitler violated the Munich Agreement and sent the German army to occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia.[113] He also successfully threatened Lithuania into giving up Memel, which had previously been part of East Prussia.[114]

The Allies had finally had enough of Hitler's tantrums, and they declared that they would not allow Hitler to take any land from Poland. To improve his chances in the coming war, Hitler sent his Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to the Soviet Union with the goal of ensuring that Germany would not be fighting the Russians when they inevitably invaded Poland. With Stalin concerned about Japanese aggression and the readiness of his military, he agreed to the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, also commonly known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Publicly, the pact simply stated that neither country would go to war with the other, but privately it divided Eastern and Central Europe between the Nazis and the Soviets.[115] The two powers agreed to split Poland between them while the Soviets also gained a free hand to either bully or annex the Baltic states and Finland. With the Soviets no longer presenting a threat and the Western powers seemingly unwilling to defend Poland militarily, Hitler kicked off the world war just a week later.

Hitler's war[edit]

German soldiers execute Polish civilians during the invasion.
See the main article on this topic: World War II

Attacking the Allies[edit]

If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.
Winston Churchill defends his decision to aid the Soviets during the war.[116]

In September 1939, Hitler declared war on Poland, citing a bogus border incident.[117] Coordinating with the Soviets under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and taking advantage of their forces in East Prussia to the north and their Slovakian puppet state in the south, the Germans were able to trap Poles inside of a four-way kill box. German atrocities in Poland began very quickly, and they had been explicitly ordered by Hitler in his August Obersalzberg Speech.[118] Hitler during that speech explained to his military brass that the goal of the war in Poland was not conquest but rather extermination. As such, the Nazi takeover and occupation of Poland featured indiscriminate extrajudicial executions, indiscriminate bombing raids on civilian areas, deportations, concentration camps, sending people into slave labor, and ethnic cleansing.[119]

After an interlude period, the war picked up again in 1940 when Hitler ordered attacks against the Low Countries. The Nazis spread their brutal tactics, although at least they didn't seem intent on genocide against the Low Countries. The Luftwaffe infamously bombed the Dutch city of Rotterdam flat[120] and subsequently used their occupation forces to send Jews into concentration camps.[121] The Nazis also had no compunctions about committing atrocities against the British and French, even though they considered them as fellow Aryans. The Le Paradis massacre saw the SS murder 97 surrendered British soldiers,[122] and the Wormhoudt massacre saw SS soldiers murder 80 British and French POWs.[123]

Rough boundary of Hitler's planned "Greater German Reich", including puppets and protectorates.

France, of course, fell to the German onslaught. In the aftermath of this sorrowful defeat, the Nazis set up Vichy France as a puppet government and used it to deport many tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps, resulting in the deaths of 77,000 people.[124] During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe launched mass air attacks against British cities, resulting in perhaps 40,000 civilian deaths.[125]

Brutalizing the Soviets[edit]

Apparently not content with struggling against the largest empire to have existed in human history, Hitler decided to expand the war in late 1941 by attacking the Soviet Union in blatant violation of the nonagression pact. This act was perhaps the ultimate point of Hitler's prior conquests, as he firmly believed that the German state needed to colonize Eastern Europe in order to ensure the survival of the German people.[126] Hitler looked to the "incalculable raw materials" in the Urals, the "rich forests" of Siberia, and the "incalculable farmlands" of the Ukraine.[126] He also added a racial element to lebensraum by claiming that the Soviet Union was run by Jews and was therefore a just target for Nazi expansionism.[127] The realization of Hitler's plans would have resulted from the extermination of hundreds of millions of people in Eastern Europe, as the Germans planned to eliminate the ethnic Slavs and turn the vast region into an extension of their ethnostate.[128]

Heinrich Himmler inspects a prison camp for Soviet POWs.

The initial German invasion went well, but Hitler and his military command had catastrophically underestimated the power and tenacity of the Soviet state. They (stupidly) didn't expect the Soviets to use "scorched earth" tactics and didn't plan for the rotten weather that came during the region's rainy season and eventual winter.[129] As a result of this poor planning, the German forces burned through their supplies and were unable to accomplish many of their objectives.

Meanwhile, since the Germans planned to commit genocide on the Slavic ethnicities, they had no problem committing a variety of hideous war crimes. Even before the invasion, Hitler issued an order in 1941 ordering the immediate summary execution of any Soviet political officers, denouncing them as representatives of "Judeo-Bolshevism" and therefore deserving of death.[130] Communist prisoners were also ordered to be killed. Hitler then issued the Barbarossa Decree, explaining that the war against the Soviet Union would be a war of extermination, calling for the murder of all Russian leaders, and legalizing all war crimes committed by German soldiers.[131] German soldiers were ordered to deliberately mistreat women and children in order to ensure that they didn't see the enemy as human.[131] Rape, murders, and beatings were thus commonplace. There were also incidents such as the Khatyn massacre, where German soldiers destroyed entire villages of people.[132]

Soviet POWs were also horribly and intentionally mistreated, with around 3.5 million people dying due to death marches, massacres, and concentration camp conditions.[133] The Germans abducted millions of people from occupied Poland and the Soviet Union to serve as slaves for German industry.[134] Despite their claims of upholding racial purity, the Nazis still went ahead and created camps for their soldiers to visit enslaved Slavic women to rape.[135] So many pregnancies occurred due to rape that Germany had to create "birthing centers" to dispose of the unwanted children, in which about 90% of the handled infants died due to neglect.[136]

Committing the Holocaust[edit]

Einsatzgruppen massacre naked women and children forced to lie face-down on the ground.
See the main article on this topic: Holocaust

The situation for Jews in Europe had grown unimaginably worse after the Nazi invasion of Poland; before the invasion, Poland had the largest concentration of Jews in Europe.[137] In all territories occupied by Nazi Germany, the occupying authorities established a system of ghettos in major cities in order to segregate and persecute Jews.[138] As German troops advanced into the Soviet Union, specialized murder squads called the Einsatzgruppen followed the frontline troops to find and kill Jews and communists.[139] The fall of 1941 saw one of the worst massacres by the Einsatzgruppen. After the Germans captured the city of Kiev in Ukraine, they rounded up those Jews who had been too young or infirm to flee and murdered them, 33,771 people over two days.[140] It was one of the deadliest single incidents of mass executions in a single location in the entire war.

In December of 1941, Himmler asked Hitler what to do about the large number of Jews the Germans had captured in Russia. Hitler replied by ordering Himmler to have them all exterminated.[141] With this statement, the decision was made that Nazi Germany would seek to eliminate all Jews in Europe. The only remaining question was how this horrific plan was to be implemented.

Mass grave at the Bergen-Belsen extermination camp.

In January of 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office, organized a meeting of top Nazi officials at a fancy house in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee.[142] At this conference, the attendees started using the term "Final Solution" and began the plans for a systematic program of deportation and mass murder.

Einsatzgruppen murders still occurred, of course. In the winter of 1942, Romanian and German troops cooperated to murder about 100,000 Jews in southwestern Ukraine.[143] However, beginning in late 1941, the Nazi government started to establish "killing centers" across occupied Eastern Europe, based on the facilities the Nazis had previously built at home for Aktion T4.[144] Originally, some of these killing centers used trucks which had been refitted for the purpose of gassing the people inside with their exhaust fumes.[145] However, the infamous gas chambers were soon introduced as a more efficient alternative.[146]

The Nazis built a number of death camps designed solely for the purpose of murdering their inmates. Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka came first in occupied Poland, being built early in 1942 and having murdered collectively about 1.5 million people by the end of 1943.[144] These camps usually used exhaust to gas people in the chambers. Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland was the largest of all the death camps, with four gas chambers using Zyklon B.[144] This camp brought about the deaths of more than a million people by itself. To keep these camps secret, the Nazis used Sonderkommandos to process the corpses. These unfortunate souls were also death camp inmates, and with few exceptions, they were eventually murdered themselves to prevent them from talking.[147]

Leading to defeat[edit]

An unhealthy-looking Hitler shakes hands with a subordinate, January 1944.
Hitler was the driving force behind the war. It was Hitler that provided its ideological basis and its strategic direction; his generals merely went along, however willingly. Hitler also had a hand in nearly all the major operational decisions concerning Germany's running of the war, and his was the leadership that took Germany and Europe into the greatest catastrophe of modern times.
—Geoffrey P. Megargee, American WWII historian.[148]

By the end of 1943, the Nazi state had effectively lost the war. After losing the Battle of Kursk, German armies were being broadly pushed back across the entire Eastern Front. The stress of a losing war took a great toll on Hitler's mental stability, and as a result his decision-making began to become both inflexible and erratic. In fact, Hitler's mental state got so bad that the International Congress on Parkinson's Disease thinks that Hitler may have suffered from the neurological disorder.[149] Hitler also started doing a shitload of meth, having become a pathetic junkie with ruined veins by the time he fled into his last bunker.[150] Witnesses described Hitler as being too frail to stand one moment and then ranting his head off the next.[150] Allied air raids on Germany throughout late 1944 and much of 1945 made things worse, because they destroyed the drug factories keeping Hitler supplied. Due to this, 1945 saw Hitler's condition deteriorated due to withdrawal, with witnesses describing how he drooled and stabbed at himself with tweezers.[150]

Hitler's conference room in ruins after officers of his own military tried to bomb him, 1944.

Hitler's suffering was very good for the Allies, because he still insisted on micromanaging the German armies even though he could barely think straight. Hitler's distrust of his generals as well as his faith in his own instincts convinced him to attempt to command small units that were operating hundreds of miles away.[148] It was to the point where Hitler was sitting in his bunker in Germany with a street map of Stalingrad during that battle, apparently expecting to be able to react to situations and direct his troops. Hitler also ordered the doomed Operation Watch on the Rhine in winter 1944, which saw the German military burn the last of its resources in a futile and pointless attempt to hold the British and Americans back for a few weeks.[151]

Hitler also allowed his commanders to compete with each other for prestige, attention, and resources.[148] That kind of internal conflict might be a good idea according to Nazi Social Darwinism, but it was a damn stupid thing to allow in a military command situation.

However, as bad as his tactical micromanagement was, even that wasn't the main failure of Hitler's leadership. Strategy, the sphere that he had complete control over, was even worse. He accepted war against the UK despite having no idea how he would defeat them. After failing to take down the British, he apparently got bored of that front and opened a new one against the Soviets. Then while mired in the Eastern Front, he made himself yet a another unnecessary enemy by declaring war against the United States. Hitler never had any strategic plans to deal with this situation, apparently expecting his armies to win the war just by winning battles.[148] In contrast, the Allies met in multiple conferences to devise a consensus-based detailed strategic plan which they then executed methodically.[152][153]

Hitler's failures as a military leader had become very apparent to anyone nearby with a brain, and multiple attempts to assassinate him followed. The July bomb plot, which was orchestrated by German military officers in 1944, barely failed to see Hitler killed with a suitcase bomb, and almost 5,000 people were executed in connection to it.[154]


American soldiers murdered by Nazis..

Although the war was lost, Hitler wasn't about to go out without ordering just a few more heinous atrocities and war crimes. After D-Day, the Western Allies had to face Germany in an open battlefield once more, and the Germans retaliated with their typical inhumanity. Examples include the Malmedy massacre, when Waffen-SS troops shot down 84 American POWs with machine guns,[155] or the Ardenne Abbey massacre, when Hitler Youth child soldiers murdered 20 POWs from Canada.[156] Nazi wrath was also intensified against occupied France. Shortly after D-Day, SS troops destroyed the village of Tulle, killing 117 people and sending 149 others to Dachau, where 101 did not survive.[157] The SS did it again a few days later to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, this time killing 642 French civilians.[158] Nazi occupation of northern Italy also came with a heavy civilian toll; they killed tens of thousands of innocent people native to their one-time ally.[159]

News breaks of Hitler's death. Hurrah!

German desperation in the final hours of the war led to more crimes against their own people. The Nazi government started using child soldiers to defend itself, largely drawn from the ranks of the Hitler Youth. Those young boys were not spared from summary execution as punishment for desertion or disobedience.[160] The more fanatical child soldiers went with Hitler into the grave. One of Hitler's last acts, occurring the day before he killed himself, was to decorate the Hitler Youth members defending his bunker, some as young as 11 or 12.[160]

Hitler greets his child soldiers.

The Germans also treated members of the Austrian resistance brutally, either killing captured members, or sending them to Dachau.[161] Near the end of the war, this contributed to the defection of a unit of German soldiers to the Allied side, who then helped the Americans liberate and defend part of Dachau concentration camp from an SS onslaught.[162][163]

Even in the midst of military disaster, Hitler refused to capitulate to spare his country further pain. More cruelty was inflicted on Germany by Hitler's orders, as he called for the destruction of the entire country's infrastructure to prevent anything useful from falling into American hands.[164]

Hitler fled into the Führerbunker under Berlin in January 1945.[165] This was his last stand. By spring, Berlin was almost completely surrounded by Soviet troops. Hitler's last trip out of his bunker was, as noted above, to reward those child soldiers pledged to die with him.[166] The Germans, of course, could not withstand the Russian onslaught. Upon learning that the Soviets had breached Berlin, Hitler allegedly asked everyone but his top brass to leave his office before launching into a tirade about how everyone had betrayed him and "everything was lost".[167] It is around this point that Hitler decided he would remain in Berlin until the end and shoot himself. He signed his last will and testament, announcing that he and his girlfriend Eva Braun (whom he did not name in the document), had chosen death over surrender. It also denounced Göring and Himmler as traitors for asking him to negotiate peace and gave to Karl Dönitz the unenviable honor of being his successor.[168] Around this time, Hitler also received word that his ally Benito Mussolini had been executed and strung up by communist partisans; this likely sealed the deal and strengthened his determination to die by his own hand rather than surrender.[169]

With Soviet troops only a block away, Hitler shot himself in the head while Eva Braun bit a cyanide capsule.[170] Berlin and then Nazi Germany were finally allowed to surrender soon after.


That rascal Hitler was foiled again!
Try explaining Hitler to a kid.
George Carlin[171]

As the leading perpetrator of the most destructive war in modern history and for his role in the murder of six million European Jews, several million ethnic Slavs (among others), gypsies, homosexuals and communists, many people view him as the most evil person ever to have lived. It is estimated that over 12 million people were killed as a result of the Holocaust (about 1.5 times the current population of New York City[172]) not counting the even larger number of victims who never even saw a concentration camp (some 13+ million civilians were murdered in cold blood, worked or starved to death in the Soviet Union alone).[173] Remarkably, this lunatic still has some admirers, although thankfully not quite as many as his lunatic contemporary Joseph Stalin.

Despite what role Hitler may have had in the success of his genocidal quest, as an individual he had a finite existence and finite power and was reliant on a great many subordinates to push his agenda through. It could be argued that his own actions did not make him solely accountable for those who chose to follow him and enable his influence. However, he governed according to the Führerprinzip, according to which the top leader takes on responsibility for all decisions, with his underlings being only "advisers", so it could also be argued that Hitler himself took on some responsibility for the actions of his followers (although not all the responsibility).

The Holocaust was one of the deadliest genocides in human history and probably the most well documented.[174][note 12] It is distinguished for being the first implementation of industrialized mass murder (Industrialisierter Massenmord), with the sole purpose of exterminating an entire race of human beings.

Death toll[edit]

The Holocaust / Nazi war crimes and genocide:Wikipedia

Total: 13,618,250 to 27,065,692

(Hitler is often blamed for the deaths during World War II which killed 70 to 80 million including 48 to 58.5 million civilians.Wikipedia To be fair, 3[210] to 30[211] million of those were killed by the Japanese who arguably started the war before Hitler during the invasion of Manchuria.Wikipedia)

Controversy over religious beliefs[edit]

"I can't hear you! My wrist is on fire!"
See also: Religion in National Socialism, Positive Christianity, Hitler and evolution and Hitler and abortion

The nature of Hitler's religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is a matter of much dispute, both among serious historians and biographers, and among political partisans wanting to score a cheap shot by associating Hitler with either Christianity or atheism. This has become particularly common in recent years, with pundits from the American religious right, such as Ann Coulter,[212] declaring that Hitler was an atheist, with the implication being that atheists are devoid of morals and that atheism leads to extremist politics like those of Hitler. On the other side of the religious divide, many New Atheists are fond of pointing out Hitler's record as a practicing Christian. For example, Richard Dawkins, responding to a speech by Pope Benedict XVI during his Papal visit to the UK in 2010, which had associated atheism and secularism with "a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society,"[213] made a speech quoting several comments by Hitler which had made reference to God and Jesus as sources of inspiration.[214]

The problem here is that both sides are selectively cherry-picking evidence for how they view Hitler; their association fallacies aren't very effective since Hitler's beliefs and actions really didn't fit the conventional profile for either a Christian or an atheist. We cannot easily determine how far Hitler believed or did not believe favorable statements he made about Christianity. We know Hitler was a skilled manipulator and used the Nazi brand of Positive Christianity to encourage the way of thinking he wanted. Hitler was clearly not an orthodox Christian.[215] It is highly likely that Hitler was an unaffiliated theist.[216]

Notably, his propaganda officer, Joseph Goebbels, sought to make Germanic paganism popular as a religious movement. Even back in his day, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who believed in the German heroic myths and considered Odin to be a supreme being, so this may well have been doomed from the start. Hitler himself dismissed such views.

Public expressions of faith[edit]

Celebration of "Luther Day" in Berlin, 1933.

Hitler was confirmed as a Roman Catholic and identified as a Catholic for most or all of his life, never openly renouncing his Catholicism. The theology he later developed for Nazi Germany (Positive Christianity), however, diverged considerably from Catholic beliefs and practices. Relations between the Nazi Party and the Catholic Church were uneasy. Although Pope Pius XI had an anti-Nazi encyclical read in all German Catholic churches in 1937, and his successor Pius XII (who wrote the anti-Nazi encyclical in question) has been nominated for Righteous Among the NationsWikipedia status for his work in saving Jews during the Holocaust, the Catholic Church did not take much open action against the Nazis. On the other hand, one can argue that open defiance of Hitler would have risked the lives of Catholic citizens[note 20] (and the Jews they might be protecting). The Church had better relations with some of Germany's fascist allies, Italy and Spain in particular, though having good relations with a country that surrounds the headquarters of your entire religion is just common sense, and both countries had majority Catholic populations.

As an adult, Hitler often spoke and wrote positively about religion and about Jesus Christ, whom he viewed as an Aryan denouncing the corruption and decadence of Jews. References to God and divine inspiration were common in Hitler's speeches at Nazi rallies. The following are a few examples:

Today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.
—Speech in Munich on 12 April 1922[218]
I may not be a light of the church, a pulpiteer, but deep down I am a pious man, and believe that whoever fights bravely in defense of the natural laws framed by God and never capitulates will never be deserted by the Lawgiver, but will, in the end, receive the blessings of Providence.
—Speech on 5 July 1944[219]

A speech he gave in 1937 also contained numerous references to God; he also quite explicitly refers to "God's work" in talking about human beings and their characteristics.[220]

As Chancellor, Hitler also launched an "anti-godless" campaign against atheist and freethought organizations, specifically against the atheism associated with Stalin's Communism, Gottlosenbewegung in German (literally "movement of the godless" associated with "wicked communism"). In a 1933 speech he declared "We have stamped [Gottlosenbewegung] out".

Private criticisms of Christianity[edit]

Hitler announces to the Reichstag that he is declaring war on the United States.

Accounts of conversations suggest that Hitler was much more critical of Christianity in private than in his speeches, and may even have been a deist or pantheist. Most of these accounts come from Hitler's Table Talk,Wikipedia a collection of monologues and conversations between Hitler and his inner circle of advisers and high-ranking Nazi leaders in the early 1940s, which were transcribed in shorthand at the time and later collated and published long after Hitler's death.[221] However, the authenticity of much of what's in Table Talk has been called into question, as it's been found that much of what's in it has been deliberately altered.[222]

Regardless of what Hitler believed about God or Christ, comments in Hitler's Table Talk indicate that he was highly critical of the church and of conventional organized Christianity, with its "love thy neighbor" attitude (something he saw as weak), and that he resented having to pander to Christian values for popular support. He was also viewed Paul of Tarsus negatively, seeing him as the originator of these values and as a "proto-Bolshevik." Among the most outspoken comments are the following:

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.
The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble.[223]:59
I can imagine people being enthusiastic about the paradise of Mahomet, but as for the insipid paradise of the Christians! In your lifetime, you used to hear the music of Richard Wagner. After your death, it will be nothing but hallelujahs, the waving of palms, children of an age for the feeding-bottle, and hoary old men.[223]:143

This negative attitude towards Christianity (at least in its conventional form) also reflects similar comments he had made in Mein Kampf, such as: "Each one of us to-day may regret the fact that the advent of Christianity was the first occasion on which spiritual terror was introduced into the much freer ancient world".[224]

Death controversy[edit]

US Office of Strategic Services depiction of Hitler.

Due to Soviet troops having been the first to enter Berlin and find Hitler' bunker, some of the details of Hitler's death have at times been in doubt by scholars, at least in part due to the secrecy and disinformation from within the Iron Curtain that rose over the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe following World War II. This has given rise to endless conspiracy theories about how Hitler may still be alive, though by now, Hitler would be age 135.

The first detailed published account of Hitler's death was MI6 agent Hugh Trevor-Roper'sWikipedia 1947 book, The Last Days of Hitler,[225] which was based on interviews with Nazis who had been present in the Führerbunker, but was not based on any Soviet material. The book was intended as a rebuttal to Soviet propaganda from 1945 that claimed that Hitler's remains had not been found and that he was alive in the West.[226]

In 1968, Soviet journalist Lev Bezymenski wrote the book The Death of Adolf Hitler. The book included 38 pages of autopsy reports for Hitler, Eva Braun, the Goebbels family, and General Hans Krebs.[227] Various theories proposed in the book have been subsequently discredited, including by Bezymenski himself,[228] though the autopsy records have not been disputed.

In 1973, professors of medicine and dentistry Reidar F. Sognnaes and Ferdinand Ström examined five head X-ray plates of Hitler that had been taken in 1944 and compared them to the dental features that were described in the pathological report in Bezymenski's book.[229] Sognnaes and Ström also compared this evidence to testimony given by Hitler's dentist and physicians given in 1945.[229] The professors concluded that the evidence examine proved conclusively that Hitler did die and that the Soviets had recovered his body in 1945.[229]

Volkssturm general lies dead with a torn picture of Hitler. He was just one among the many Nazi mass suicides in 1945.[230]

Hitler's final personal secretary, Traudl Junge,Wikipedia published her memoirs and appeared in documentary films, from the 1970s through 2002. She has described her time in the Führerbunker, where she witnessed the preparations for suicide and has subsequently described Hitler's preparations for death and the circumstances of his death.[231][232]

Two separate investigations were published in 1995. British surgeon Hugh Thomas argued that Hitler had been murdered by strangulation by the SS to avoid him being captured by the Soviets.[233] Journalists Ada Petrova and Peter Watson commissioned a German professor of forensic science to examine Hitler's skull fragments in Moscow.[234] In 1998, German journalist Ulrich Völklein wrote the book Hitlers Tod: Die Letzten Tage im Führerbunker.[235]

In 2005, a team of forensic experts from the Institute of Legal Medicine, Catholic University "Sacro Cuore" reviewed all previously available studies, suggesting that evaluation of mitochondrial DNA from Hitler's remains compared to his living maternal cousins would provide further definitive evidence.[236]

In 2014, the FBI finally declassified and released its records on the death of Hitler.[237] The reports primarily covered the years 1933 and 1945-1947;[238] this made sense for the FBI to investigate this period because of the Soviet Union's 1945 disinformation about Hitler's death.[226] and 1947 publication of Trevor-Roper's book refuting that disinformation.[225]

In 2015, History Channel (which had already been known since 1992 as the Hitler Channel[239]) began broadcasting its television series Hunting Hitler, which was initially based upon the FBI files, but later included declassified files from other government sources,[240] but notably none of the above published sources. The series lasted 3 years and 25 episodes until it was put out of its misery in 2018.[240] The series trivializes the entire topic,[237] alleges government coverup,[241] and consists of massive amounts of wild speculation:[237]

In fact, if viewers were to take a shot of alcohol every time someone uses a phrase like, "There could have been…" or, "There's a chance that Hitler might have come here…" or, "If there was in fact a bunker…," they would be plastered by the second or third commercial break.

In 2016 journalist Blake Stilwell irresponsibly reported about the content of the FBI files without reporting on the substantial body of research that had been published subsequent to the writing of the FBI files (from 1947 through 2005).[242]

The release of the FBI files also led to more conspiracy-minded people, such as Anonymous to claim that Hitler survived the war.[243][244]

Other myths[edit]

  • In Heinz Linge's autobiography With Hitler To The End, Hitler's valet recounts how he was captured after the fall of Berlin and interrogated by the Russians, who persisted in questioning him as to whether he had ever "seen Hitler's genitals, and if so had they been normal?"[245] Linge had no idea why they were interested in this, and laughed when the interrogators suggested that Hitler "had only one ball." Whatever could have given them that idea?[246] In 2015, the Staatsarchiv Muenchen released a 1923 medical record for Hitler from when he was imprisoned for the Beer Hall Putsch, and the record stated that he had cryptorchidism.Wikipedia[247]
  • Hitler has been speculated to have suffered from syphilis, tinnitus, intestinal cancer, monorchism (see above), Parkinson's disease,[248][249] skin lesions, irregular heartbeat, schizophrenia and Asperger's syndrome, despite the fact that an individual with all of these problems wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning, much less run a country. Aside from an inflammation of the bowels and an injury to the throat and groin, as well as scars all over his legs from shrapnel, incurred during World War I, it seems he was healthy, at least physically.
  • The Hitler DiariesWikipedia was a series of poorly made, fabricated documents uncovered in Germany in 1983 and alleged to have been written by Hitler himself. Sold to Stern magazine for 9 million West German Marks, they are considered one of the greatest literary hoaxes in history.
  • Hitler's sex life, or lack thereof, has provided the grist for many a rumor mill — ranging from the assertion that he died a virgin, to his supposedly having deformed genitals,[250] to the possibility that he was gay.[251] The idea that Hitler was gay is not in any way undermined by his taste in art.[252]
  • Hitler died heroically in battle.[253]
  • Rumors persist that Hitler survived World War II, escaped Germany and lived out his life incognito. A wide range of places are suggested for Hitler's final years, but Argentina or other Latin American countries are most popular in these stories.[254][253] One of the more fantastical claims is that Hitler escaped to New Swabia in Antarctica but was later nuked by the US.[253] Hopefully putting a damper on the "Hitler survived" conspiracy theories, the last known remains of Hitler were definitively identified from "a bullet-shot chunk of skull and a set of frankly disgusting teeth" that had been saved by the Russian government after the KGB cremated in the rest of his preserved body in the 1970s.[253][255]
  • Hitler was rumored to have had sexual relations with niece, and was also rumored to have had bizarre sexual fetishes and forced her to engage in bizarre sexual acts as well.[256]

Philosophical response to Hitler[edit]

Obama and Hitler. Totally the same guy, right?

Reductio ad Hitlerum[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Nazi analogies

To some, evoking Hitler has become a special form of the logical fallacy, reductio ad absurdum; i.e. if Hitler or the Nazi party believed in an idea, then that idea is evil and immoral. There are important exceptions however, as some ideas that Nazis came up with were used for good: the Nazis built the Autobahn, which would inspire the U.S. interstate system. The Nazi weapons research into rocket technology also advanced American efforts to use space exploration for peaceful purposes.[257]

A second form of the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy is Godwin's Law, which asserts that the longer an online discussion grows, the greater are the odds of someone mentioning Hitler or the Nazis.

Killing baby Hitler[edit]

Portrait of baby Hitler, to be used as target practice by aspiring time travelers.
—Ben Shapiro[258]

The trope of "Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act" has occurred in film, television and popular culture, and basically goes like this: someone is able to go back in time to kill Hitler when he is an infant, when the person returns to the present, the plot requires that the killing have no tangible positive effect.[259] A related trope is "Godwin's Law of Time Travel" ("As the amount of time-traveling you do increases, the probability of Hitler winning World War II approaches one.")[260] Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act is used as a plot device numerous times in the Doctor Who TV series, twice in the Star Trek franchise, and perhaps occurred first in a 1959 episode of Twilight Zone ("No Time Like the Past").[259]

A more philosophical approach to the thought experiment of whether to kill baby Hitler is raised by understanding it as a variant of the grandfather paradox. Going back in time and obliterating Hitler's existence changes virtually everything about the current world, e.g., one's parents or grandparents might not even have met if not for World War II, and that it would also remove the time traveler's reason for traveling back in time.[261] An alternative explanation for someone time traveling to change the past would be the many worlds/multiverse hypothesis, but this doesn't actually change anything as the many universes (both Hitler and non-Hitler) already exist simultaneously in this hypothesis.[261]

A more sociological approach to the thought experiment understands that there were several socioeconomic currents within Europe that brought Hitler to power. If there had been no 'Hitler', it would have been very likely that some other Hitleresque character or an up and coming dictator would have risen to power in his place to take advantage of these conditions.[262] The socioeconomic currents within Europe and Germany that specifically helped to bring Hitler to power were:

The contrast between the idea that Hitler was uniquely evil vs. the idea that a person like Hitler came about as a product of history and socioeconomics has been explored more generally (i.e., the great man theoryWikipedia vs. its critics). The contrast is an example of a corollary of the competing hypotheses in the history of science of the heroic theory of invention and scientific developmentWikipedia vs. examples of multiple discovery.

Some wingnut anti-abortion activists have missed the point that 'killing baby Hitler' is a philosophical thought experiment, and instead turned it into a political issue while mystifying their audiences (perhaps because they also have a similarly mystifying fallacy, the Great Beethoven fallacy). Ben Shapiro (would not kill, but would sell advertising on that fact),[258] Jeb Bush ("Hell yeah, I would!"),[258][268] and Ben Carson (would not abort).[268] A pointless poll by the New York Times Magazine reported that 42% of respondents would kill, 30% would not kill, and 28% were not sure (WTF?).[269]

Marketing in Asia[edit]

Hitler and Nazi symbolism have been used in marketing as well as in trivializing ways in India and elsewhere in Asia.[270] Examples:

  • "Hitler's Cross Cafe" opened in Mumbai in 2006 (the name has since been changed to "Cross Cafe").[271]
  • A pool hall in Nagpur was originally named "Hitler's Den".[272]
  • A KFC knock-off in Thailand was named "Hitler" (later renamed "H-ler").[273]
  • A clothing store named "Hitler" operated briefly in Ahmedebad.[274]
  • A color-by-number coloring book produced in India included a caricature of Hitler. Copies of the book were sold by a Dutch drugstore chain that was unaware of the image, but were quickly pulled from sale after it was found.[275]
  • However, the most newsworthy was (the now-discontinued) "Hitler Ice Cream" made by MVF Products.[276][277][278] Company president Neeraj Kumar insisted his use of Hitler's name and likeness to sell vanilla flavored ice cream in waffle cones was not to glorify the genocidal tyrant, but to poke fun at a relative:
I want to tell them repeatedly that the name was not given considering Hitler's bad political steps and what they call as the Holocaust. I was not aware of any such bad thing. I don't think we even scored some marketing points by using Hitler’s photos. I don't think people who buy the cones, in villages, know anything about Hitler. One of my uncles is a short-tempered and strict man, so we nicknamed him Hitler. While naming this particular batch of cones, I thought why can't we have a little fun at the expense of my uncle and name the cones after him. That was how the name originated.[279][280][281]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Adolf Hitler's father, Alois Hitler, was born out of wedlock and thus received his mother's maiden name to become Alois Schicklgruber, but was later renamed Alois Hitler when at age 38 he successfully petitioned to receive his late stepfather's surname, arguing that his stepfather had also been his biological father.
  2. Alois Hitler had numerous affairs, and even made a bit of habit of cheating on his current wife with the woman who would soon be his next wife.
  3. Alois Hitler's parentage is not conclusively known; it is generally accepted that his father was Johann Georg Hiedler, but it could've been Johann Georg's brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (who subsequently raised young Alois). Hitler's mother, Klara Pölzl, was Johann Nepomuk's granddaughter, meaning if either of the Hiedler brothers was indeed Alois's biological father, Alois and Klara were very closely related.
  4. Which still technically exists. After Austria regained its independence following World War II, the party was reorganized as the Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP for short), or "Austrian People's PartyWikipedia"
  5. The title was originally going to be Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit. English: "Four and a Half Years (of Struggle) Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice"). Max Amann, Hitler's publisher, is said to have suggested the shorter title.[37]
  6. Early in World War I he won a major victory at TannenbergWikipedia; his subsequent popularity ultimately led him to be promoted to overall commander of the German military.
  7. Prussia comprised a little more than half of the total territory of Germany at the time, as well as a majority of the population. See Free State of PrussiaWikipedia on Wikipedia.
  8. The writer of von Papen's speech, Edgar JungWikipedia, as well as two associates who helped write it, Herbert von BoseWikipedia and Erich KlausenerWikipedia were not as lucky…
  9. Austrofascism was dominated by a single political party, the "Fatherland FrontWikipedia" which had been created by the merger of right-wing militias known as the HeimwehrWikipedia ("Home Defense") and the Christian Social Party - yep, that very same Christian Social Party of Karl Lueger which ruled Vienna during Hitler's time there before World War I.
  10. These "guests" were a very small, marginalized group of right-wing politicians who had backed Hitler during his rise to power, notably DNVPWikipedia leader Alfred HugenbergWikipedia.
  11. This was ironic because Eduard Bloch, an Austrian Jewish doctor, treated Hitler and Hitler's family from 1904 to 1907. Bloch was given special protection by Hitler after the German annexation of Austria.[102]
  12. The death counts of historical atrocities such as the Atlantic slave trade, the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Stalin or Mao, as well as European and Japanese imperialism are not fully known and quite probably never will be.
  13. Early efforts by scholars to determine the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis were limited by a lack of access to pertinent records. The genocide seldom entered Western discourse, both due to ignorance and to the Cold War politics which made West Germany a new ally of the United States. The first significant work on the subject published in English was Gerald Reitlinger's 1953 Final Solution book,[175] which, relying almost exclusively on German documentation, estimated 4.9 million dead. This figure is now considered extremely conservative. Raul Hilberg's 1961 The Destruction of the European Jews[176] became a classic in the field of Holocaust literature and made the genocide of the Jews known to the wider public, Hilberg estimated its victims to be 5.1 million lives, or 4.9-5.4 million broadly construed. The trial of Adolph Eichmann further raised awareness of the genocide, Eichmann also provided documentation and testimony which revised the number of the dead. The first work to arrive at a figure comparable to modern estimates was Lucy Dawidowicz's 1975 The War Against the Jews,[177] which provided detailed listings by country of the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust; it is still used as a reference in modern Holocaust studies. Dawidowicz researched birth and death records in many cities of prewar Europe to come up with a death toll of 5,933,900 Jews. After the opening of Soviet records, scholarship arrived at a death toll of about 6 million Jews. Israel Gutman's 1990 Encyclopedia of the Holocaust[178] estimated slightly over 5.9 million Jews were murdered. Wolfgang Benz's 1995 The Holocaust,[179] gave a toll of 6.2 million.
  14. "Sadly enough, the statistical breakdown of these totals continues to be a subject to dispute. Jewish investigators tend to count Jewish victims. Polish investigators tended to count Polish victims. Neither side wishes to stress the fact that the largest single category of victims was both Polish and Jewish. Not everyone, it seems is content to count human beings. The Soviet performance was particularly misleading. Statements issued long after the war claimed that 20 or 27 million Soviet citizens had perished. They were often [reformulated] in western reports as 'twenty (twenty-seven) million Russian war dead'. In round terms, these figures were perfectly credible. But, unglossed, they cleverly concealed the fact that the victims in the main were not Russians, that they related to millions murdered by Stalin as well as Hitler, and the largest categories of civilians included Ukranians Poles, Byelorussians, and Jews."[180]
  15. Excludes:
    • The 2,500,000 million Jewish civilians killed in Soviet Territories-[182]
    • 30,000 to 35,000 Roma killed in Porajmos-[183][184]
  16. Includes:
    • Deaths caused by the result of direct, intentional actions of violence 7,420,379-[185]
    • Deaths of forced laborers in Germany 2,164,313-[185]
    • Deaths due to famine and disease in the occupied regions 4,100,000-[185]
    • Excludes the 2,500,000 million Jewish civilians killed in Soviet Territories-[182]
    • 30,000 to 35,000 Roma killed in Porajmos-[183][184]
  17. "Between 22 June 1941 and the end of the war, roughly 5.7 million members of the Red Army fell into German hands. In January 1945, 930,000 were still in German camps. A million at most had been released, most of whom were so-called ‘volunteers’ (Hilfswillige) for (often compulsory) auxiliary service in the Wehrmacht. Another 500,000, as estimated by the Army High Command, had either fled or been liberated. The remaining 3,300,000 (57.5 percent of the total) had perished."[187] Nazi persecution of Soviet Prisoners of War United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — "Existing sources suggest that some 5.7 million Soviet army personnel fell into German hands during World War II. As of January 1945, the German army reported that only about 930,000 Soviet POWs remained in German custody. The German army released about one million Soviet POWs as auxiliaries of the German army and the SS. About half a million Soviet POWs had escaped German custody or had been liberated by the Soviet army as it advanced westward through eastern Europe into Germany. The remaining 3.3 million, or about 57 percent of those taken prisoner, were dead by the end of the war."[188] "Statistics show that out of 5.7 million Soviet soldiers captured between 1941 and 1945, more than 3.5 million died in captivity."[189] "The total number of prisoners taken by the German armies in the USSR was in the region of 5.7 million. Of these, the astounding number of 3.5 million or more had been lost by the middle of 1944 and the assumption must be that they were either deliberately killed or done to death by criminal negligence. Nearly two million of them died in camps and close on another million disappeared while in military custody either in the USSR or in rear areas; a further quarter of a million disappeared or died in transit between the front and destinations in the rear; another 473,000 died or were killed in military custody in Germany or Poland." They add, "This slaughter of prisoners cannot be accounted for by the peculiar chaos of the war in the east. … The true cause was the inhuman policy of the Nazis towards the Russians as a people and the acquiescence of army commanders in attitudes and conditions which amounted to a sentence of death on their prisoners." Minus 5% of Jewish POWs.[190]
  18. "Ze pod okupacja sowiecka zginelo w latach 1939–1941, a nastepnie 1944–1945 co najmniej 150 tys [...] Laczne straty smiertelne ludnosci polskiej pod okupacja niemiecka oblicza sie obecnie na ok. 2 770 000. [...] Do tych strat nalezy doliczyc ponad 100 tys. Polaków pomordowanych w latach 1942–1945 przez nacjonalistów ukrainskich (w tym na samym Wolyniu ok. 60 tys. osób [...] Liczba Zydów i Polaków zydowskiego pochodzenia, obywateli II Rzeczypospolitej, zamordowanych przez Niemców siega 2,7– 2,9 mln osób." Translation: "It must be assumed losses of at least 150.000 people during the Soviet occupation from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1944 to 1945 [...] The total fatalities of the Polish population under the German occupation are now estimated at 2,770,000. [...] To these losses should be added more than 100,000 Poles murdered in the years 1942–1945 by Ukrainian nationalists (including about 60,000 in Volhynia [...] The number of Jews and Poles of Jewish ethnicity, citizens of the Second Polish Republic, murdered by the Germans amounts to 2.7–2.9 million people." — Waldemar Grabowski. German and Soviet occupation. Fundamental issues.: "Straty ludnosci panstwa polskiego narodowosci ukrainskiej sa trudne do wyliczenia,"[192] Translation: "The losses of ethnic Poles of Ukrainian nationality are difficult to calculate." Note: Polish losses amount to 11.3% of the 24.4 million ethnic Poles in prewar Poland and about 90 percent of the 3.3 million Jews of prewar times. The Institute of National Remembrance figures do not include losses among Polish citizens of Ukrainian and Belarusian ethnicity.
  19. The number of Slovenes estimated to have died as a result of the Nazi occupation (not including those killed by Slovene collaboration forces and other Nazi allies) is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 people. This number only includes civilians: Slovene partisan POWs who died and resistance fighters killed in action are not included (their number is estimated at 27,000). These numbers however include only Slovenes from present-day Slovenia: it does not include Carinthian Slovene victims, nor Slovene victims from areas in present-day Italy and Croatia. These numbers are result of a 10-year-long research by the Institute for Contemporary History (Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino) from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The partial results of the research have been released in 2008 in the volume Žrtve vojne in revolucije v Sloveniji.[204]
  20. And in fact, it did. The Dachau concentration camp famously had a "Pfarrerblock" ("Priests Block") devoted entirely to imprisoning clergy. Some in the Nazi regime, notably Goebbels, didn't like the idea of an outside, non-Nazi influence upon German culture, and the regime took great pains to monitor clergy for "disloyalty", making arrests on the slightest sign of such. Additionally, Hitler was furious after that 1937 papal encyclical and German Catholics — both clergy and laity — suffered as a result.


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  2. Complete text of Mein Kampf in English at Gutenberg Australia (1939 Murphy translation) Project Gutenberg Australia.
  3. Mein Kampf enters public domain, arguably Anne Frank's Diary does too by Colin Dwyer (December 31, 20157:48 PM ET) NPR.
  4. Hitler’s antisemitism. Why did he hate the Jews? Anne Frank House.
  5. See the Wikipedia article on The Holocaust.
  6. 17 Million Fell Victim to the Nazi Regime. Statista.
  7. Operation Generalplan Ost. Codenames: Operations of World War Two.
  8. Holocaust Women's Media Center
  9. Holocaust film reveals long-hushed child sex abuse by Renee Ghert-Zand (15 April 2015, 2:14 pm) Times of Israel
  10. Hitler's birthplace: Legal battle finally ends. Deutsche Welle.
  11. Alois Hitler. School History
  12. The roots of the zombie claim that Hitler had ‘Jewish blood’ by Glenn Kessler (May 3, 2022).
  13. Bendersky, Joseph W (2000). A History of Nazi Germany: 1919–1945. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-1003-5. p. 26
  14. Hamann, Brigitte (2010) [1999]. Hitler's Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man. Trans. Thomas Thornton. London; New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1-84885-277-8. p. 13
  15. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim (1943) Houghton Mifflin.
  16. Interview with Paula Wolff. Transcript.
  17. What If Hitler’s Paintings Had Gotten Him Into Art School? All That's Interesting.
  18. Bullock, Alan (1999) [1952]. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Konecky & Konecky. ISBN 978-1-56852-036-0. p. 30–33.
  19. Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0. p. 26.
  20. Hamann, Brigitte (2010) [1999]. Hitler's Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man. Trans. Thomas Thornton. London; New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1-84885-277-8. p. 341–345.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim (1943) Houghton Mifflin.
  22. Karl Lueger, at Spartacus Educational.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Adolf Hitler And World War I: 1913–1919. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  24. Kershaw, Ian (1999) [1998]. Hitler: 1889–1936: Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-04671-7. p. 49
  25. Stab-in-the-back Myth. International Encyclopedia of the First World War.
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  28. Imagining Hitler: Before Adolf Hitler took power, virtually no one understood his unthinkable evil. Since his suicide, no one has fully explained how a talentless crank was able to turn Europe into a charnel house. In a new book, Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw supplies a piece of the puzzle. by Christopher Hitchens (February 15, 1999) Vanity Fair.
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  33. See the Wikipedia article on Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic.
  34. See the Wikipedia article on Sturmabteilung.
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  38. See the Wikipedia article on Bernhard Stempfle.
  39. The dark legacy of Henry Ford's anti-Semitism by A. James Rudin (October 10, 2014) The Washington Post. "In fact, Ford is the only American mentioned by name in Hitler’s notorious Mein Kampf, published in 1925."
  40. See the Wikipedia article on The International Jew.
  41. Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Nazi officials, 1938 (November 20, 2013) Rare Historical Photos.
  42. See the Wikipedia article on Mein Kampf.
  43. Timothy W. Ryback (6 July 2010). Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped his Life. Random House. pp. 92–93. ISBN 978-1-4090-7578-3. 
  44. The Guardian view on Mein Kampf: a good new edition of a very bad old book. The Guardian.
  45. See the Wikipedia article on de:Serdar Somuncu § Leben.
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  47. See the Wikipedia article on Otto Strasser.
  48. See the Wikipedia article on Bamberg Conference.
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  51. See the Wikipedia article on July 1932 German federal election.
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  53. Erich Ludendorff. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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  55. November 1932 German federal electionWikipedia on Wikipedia.
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  57. Reichstag Fire Decree. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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  59. The Enabling Act. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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  61. [Concentration Camps], EHRI Online Course in Holocaust Studies
  62. Dachau. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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  67. Why the Myth of the “Gay Nazi” Is Back in Circulation, Slate
  68. See Beefsteak NaziWikipedia on Wikipedia.
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  243. FBI Released a Document Proving Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun fled to Argentina in a Submarine (May 5th, 2016) AnonHQ (archived from May 8, 2016).
  244. Do FBI Files Prove Adolf Hitler Escaped to Argentina? A treasure trove of documents released by the FBI includes hundreds of unsubstantiated reports claiming that Adolf Hitler faked suicide and escaped to South America. by Brooke Binkowski (20 May 2016) Snopes.
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  254. The People Who Swear Hitler Is Alive: Adolf and Eva died in a suicide pact in Berlin… right? Not if you believe 70 years of rabid conspiracy theories. by Nina Strochlic (Updated Apr. 14, 2017 11:06AM ET; Published Apr. 30, 2015 5:20AM ET) Daily Beast.
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  258. 258.0 258.1 258.2 Ben Shapiro Tells Pro-Life Rally He Wouldn't Kill Baby Hitler by Sebastian Murdock (01/18/2019 01:05 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2019) Huffington Post.
  259. 259.0 259.1 Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act TV Tropes.
  260. Godwin's Law of Time Travel TV Tropes.
  261. 261.0 261.1 Why It's Impossible To Go Back In Time And Kill Baby Hitler by Brian Koberlein (Oct 23, 2015, 07:41pm) Forbes.
  262. 262.0 262.1 262.2 262.3 262.4 262.5 The Ethics of Killing Baby Hitler: A moral dilemma is better understood as a historical one. by Matt Ford (Oct 24, 2015) The Atlantic.
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  264. See the Wikipedia article on Polish Corridor.
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  267. Hitler and 'Lebensraum' in the East. BBC.
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  269. We asked @nytmag readers: If you could go back and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it? (What's your response?) (11:04 - 23 oct. 2015) Twitter (archived from December 15, 2019).
  270. Asia's disturbing embrace of "Nazi chic" is prompting a nonprofit to teach Holocaust history by Ilaria Maria Sala (March 9, 2017) Quartz.
  271. Mumbai's 'Hitler's Cross' restaurant to change name after uproar: Owner to change eatery's name after protests by India's 5,000-member Jewish community. (Aug 24, 2006 12:00 AM) Associated Press via Haaretz.
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  273. Hitler-Themed Chicken Restaurant in Thailand Ruffles Many Feathers by Hugh Merwin (July 8, 2013) Grub Street
  274. Hitler An Increasingly Popular Marketing Gimmick In India by Harry Bradford (12/10/2012 12:00 pm ET) HuffPost.
  275. Hitler colouring book removed by Dutch shop after outrage (6 April 2017) BBC.
  276. Tasteless but true: Made in India Hitler ice-cream, café: Photographs of an ice-cream cone manufactured in Uttar Pradesh and named ‘Hitler’ have been doing the rounds on social media, with the brand drawing severe flak from across the world. Media reports said the news had outraged many in Germany. by Abhishek Saha (Jun 02, 2015 17:37 IST) Hindustan Times.
  277. The Luft-wafer: Ice cream cone named after Adolf Hitler on sale in India sparks anger in Germany by Imogen Calderwood (Published: 10:27 EST, 26 May 2015; Updated: 07:46 EST, 27 May 2015) Daily Mail.
  278. Hitler Ice Cream To Beat The Heat? Germans Are Not Seeing The Humour In This One by Kunal Anand Updated: May 29, 2015, 17:56 IST) India Times.
  279. Why is India okay with HITLER brand ice-creams, Hitler brand clothing and Hitler cafes? by Rob Virtue (Published: 16:46, Fri, Jun 5, 2015; Updated: 18:55, Fri, Jun 5, 2015) Express.
  280. 'Hitler' shop in Ahmedabad to be renamed (September 05, 2012 02:24 IST; Updated: September 05, 2012 03:36 IST) The Hindu.
  281. The Daily Beast: Hitler, the Ben & Jerry's of India: No, that Indian dessert named after the Führer isn't an homage to his genocidal ways. Many Indians see the Nazi leader as a fool—and the reasons why are historically complex. by Jay Michaelson (Updated Apr. 14, 2017 10:32AM ET; Published Jun. 12, 2015 5:20AM ET) Daily Beast.