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Hitler, Adolph

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Hitler, Adolph

1889-l945, German dictator, founder and leader of NATIONAL SOCIALISM, or Nazism; b. Austria. In World War I he served in the Bavarian army, was gassed and wounded, and received the Iron Cross (first class) for bravery. The war embittered him, and he blamed Germany's defeat on the Jews and Marxists. Settling in Munich, he joined with other nationalists to found (1920) the Nazi party. In the famous beer-hall putsch (1923), Hitler attempted to overthrow BAVARIA's republican government, but the army put down the revolt, and Hitler was imprisoned. He thus became known throughout Germany and used his nine months in prison to write Mein Kampf [my struggle], filled with anti-Semitism, power worship, disdain for morality, and his strategy for world domination. It became the bible of the Nazi party. The Nazi movement grew slowly until 1929, when the economic depression brought it mass support. Hitler made prime use of his frenzied but magnetic oratory of hate and power, his insight into mass psychology, and his mastery of deceitful strategy, or the big lie. He used his virulent ANTI-SEMITISM and anti-Communism to win the support both of the workers and of the bankers and industrialists. Although he was defeated when he ran for president in 1932, Pres. Paul von HINDENBURG was persuaded to name him chancellor (1933), and the REICHSTAG gave him dictatorial powers. With other Nazi leaders, among them GOERING, HIMMLER, and GOEBBELS, he crushed the opposition and took control of all facets of German life. Anti-Semitism was enacted into law, and CONCENTRATION CAMPS were established. In 1934, voters approved the union of the presidency and chancellorship in Hitler's person. His aggressive foreign policy, abetted by English and French appeasement, culminated in the triumph of the MUNICH PACT (1938). As he prepared Germany for war, he bullied smaller nations into making territorial concessions. He became allied with MUSSOLINI in Italy, and he helped FRANCO come to power in Spain. Austria was absorbed into the Third Reich, and Czechoslovakia was dismembered. In 1939 he signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union that gave him a free hand to invade Poland. With that act WORLD WAR II began, and Hitler took complete control of Germany's war efforts. At first Germany was triumphant, but the tide turned, and by July 1944 the German military situation was desperate. Despite a well-ned assassination attempt against him, in which he was injured, Hitler remained in charge and insisted that Germany ht to the death. As the Third Reich collapsed, Hitler remained in an underground bunker in Berlin while the Russians approached the city. On April 29, 1945, he married his longtime mistress, Eva BRAUN, and on April 30 they committed suicide. He left Germany a devastated nation. Hitler's legacy is the memory of the most dreadful tyranny of modern centuries.


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