From the first day that Adolf Hitler seized power, January 30, 1933, he knew that only sudden death awaited him if he failed to restore pride and empire to post Versailles Germany. His close friend and adjutant Julius Schaub recorded Hitler's jubilant boast to his staff on that evening, as the last celebrating guests left the Berlin Chancellery building: No power on earth will get me out of this building alive!

Adolf Hitler, murderer of millions, master of destruction and organized insanity, did not come into the world as a monster. He was not sent to earth by the devil, nor was he sent by heaven to "bring order" to Germany, to give the country the autobahn and rescue it from its economic crisis. 

Little Adolf

At half past six on the evening of April 20th, 1889 an innocent child was born in the small town of Braunau Am Inn, Austria. The name of the child was Adolf Hitler. He was the son a Customs official Alois Hitler, and his third wife Klara. Initially Alois had taken his mother's name, Schicklgruber, but changed it in 1876 and became Hiedler, or Hitler. Quite important - it is hard to imagine tens of thousands of Germans shouting "Heil Schicklgruber!" instead of "Heil Hitler!" 

Adolf Hitler later confided to his only childhood friend, August Kubizek, "that the name Schicklgruber 'seemed to him so uncouth, so boorish, apart from being so clumsy and unpractical. But 'Hitler' sounded rich and was easy to remember."

Klara and Alois Hitler

Adolf's mother, born Klara Pölzl, was 23 years younger than Alois. She was so closely related to her husband that a special dispensation was sought from Rome before they could marry in 1884. Of the six children born of this marriage, only two survived, Adolf and a younger sister called Paula.

Centre young Adolf with schoolmates 1900

Young Adolf attended church regularly, sang in the local choir and spent hours playing 'cowboys and Indians' and revelled in the westerns penned by Karl May. He grew up with a poor record at school and left, before completing his tuition, with an ambition to become an artist or architect. Alois Hitler had died when Adolf was thirteen and Klara brought up Adolf and his sister, Paula, on her own.

A neighbour of the Hitler family later recalled:'When the postmaster asked him one day what he wanted to do for a living and whether he wouldn't like to join the post-office, he replied that it was his intention to become a great artist ...'

His only boyhood friend, August Kubizek, recalled Hitler as a shy, reticent young man, yet he was able to burst into hysterical fits of anger towards those who disagreed with him. The two became inseparable during these early years and Kubizek turned out to be a patient listener. He was a good audience for Hitler, who often rambled for hours about his hopes and dreams. Sometimes Hitler even gave speeches complete with wild hand gestures to his audience of one. Hitler would only tolerate approval from his friend and could not stand to be corrected, a personality trait he had shown in high school and as a younger boy as well.



Then one day in 1905 the pair went to see a performance of Wagner's Rienzi at the Linz Memorial Theater. This became a decisive event for the teenaged Hitler, as he was to refer to it after he came to power. In Kubizek's biography of Hitler The Young Hitler I Knew, 1953, he recalls how it had a terrifying impact upon Hitler, who left the Theater in a state of trance:

"Adolf stood in front of me; and now he gripped both my hands and held them tight. He had never made such a gesture before. I felt from the grasp of his hands how deeply moved he was. His eyes were feverish with excitement .. Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour, as we stood there alone under the stars, as though we were the only creatures in the world. He now spoke of a mission that he was one day to receive from our people, in order to guide them out of slavery, to the heights of freedom .."

Thirty years later, the boyhood friends would meet again in Bayreuth, and Kubizek told Adolf Hitler what he remembered of that night, assuming that the enormous multitude of impressions and events which had filled these past decades would have pushed into the background the experience of a seventeen year old youth. But after a few words Kubizek sensed that Hitler vividly recalled that hour and had retained all its details in his memory. Hitler's words were unforgettable for August Kubizek: "It began at that hour!".

During his lifetime, Hitler was very secretive about his background. Only the dimmest outline of his parents emerges from the biographical chapters of Mein Kampf. He falsified his father's occupation, changing him from a customs official to a postal official. He repulsed relatives who tried to approach him. One of the first things he did after taking over Austria was to have a survey carried out of the little farming village of Dollerscheim where his father's birth had been recorded. As soon as it could be arranged the inhabitants were evacuated and the entire village was demolished by heavy artillery. Even the graves in the cemetery where his grandmother had been buried were rendered unrecognisable.

The early days - Adolf Hitler in a crowd

Klara Hitler died from cancer when Adolf was nineteen. She was held in love and affection by Hitler, her Jewish doctor, Eduard Bloch, later recalled: 'I have never witnessed a closer attachment.' Hitler carried her picture with him down to the last days in the bunker. Her portrait stood in his rooms in Munich, Berlin, and at his alpine residence near Berchtesgaden, Obersalzberg. His mother may well have been the only person Adolf Hitler genuinely loved in his entire life.

To fulfil his dream, Hitler in 1909 moved to Vienna, the capital of Austria, where the Academy of Arts was located. To his own surprise he failed to get admission. Within a year he was living in homeless shelters and eating at charity soup-kitchens. He spent his time reading anti-Semitic tabloids and pamphlets available at the newsstands and at local coffee shops. He had declined to take regular employment and took occasional menial jobs and sold some of his paintings or advertising posters whenever he could to provide sustenance. 

Hitler didn't get much out of it - but in 1999 two paintings and a line drawing by Hitler - completed between 1911 and 1914 - were sold at auction for a total of $131,000.

By Hitler’s own accounting, he painted between one and three watercolours a day during his Vienna years. If one assumes he painted only one painting a day, and only three days a week, then the minimum number he would have painted would be six hundred, which is remarkably close to Hitler's own recollection over a thousand.

Adolf Hitler already showed traits that characterized his later life: inability to establish ordinary human relationships, intolerance and hatred of especially the Jews, a tendency toward denunciatory outbursts, readiness to live in a fantasy-world and so to escape his failure.

He learned to loathe brilliant, charming, cosmopolitan Vienna for what he called its Semitism. More to his liking was homogeneous Munich, his real home after 1913. To this man of no trade and few interests World War I was a welcome event - it gave him some purpose in life.

The young corporal

So Hitler went to Munich, Germany and when World War I began in 1914, he volunteered for service in the German army. Hitler was twice decorated for bravery, but only rose to the rank of corporal. When World War I ended Hitler was in a hospital recovering from temporary blindness possibly caused by a poison gas attack. 

The Versailles Treaty that ended the war stripped Germany of much of its territory, forced the country to disarm, and ordered Germany to pay huge reparations. When the army returned to Germany the country was in despair. The country was bankrupt and millions of people were unemployed.

Corporal Hitler (right) with two other soldiers

In 1920, Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers Party known as the Nazis. The Nazis called for all Germans, even those in other countries, to unite into one nation; they called for a strong central government; and they called for the cancellation of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler became leader of the Nazi party and built up membership quickly, mostly because of his powerful speaking ability.


Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler endorsed the fall of the Weimar Republic, and declared at a public rally on October 30, 1923 that he was prepared to march on Berlin to rid the government of the Communists and the Jews. On November 8, 1923, Hitler held a rally at a Munich beer hall and proclaimed a revolution. The following day, he led 2,000 armed "brown-shirts" in an attempt to take over the Bavarian government. This putsch was resisted and put down by the police, after more than a dozen were killed in the fighting. Hitler suffered a broken and dislocated arm in the melee, was arrested, and was imprisoned at Landsberg. He received a five-year sentence.

Hitler served only nine months of his five-year term. While in prison, he wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf. It was partly an autobiographical book although filled with glorified inaccuracies, self-serving half-truths and outright revisionism. He reserved the brunt of his vituperation for the Jews, whom he portrayed as responsible for all of the problems and evils of the world, particularly democracy, Communism, and internationalism, as well as Germany's defeat in the War. Jews were the German nation's true enemy, he wrote. As such, they were not a race, but an anti-race.

After Hitler came to power, sales of Mein Kampf skyrocketed, making him a rich man. In Germany, where newlyweds received a copy of the book from the government, 6 million copies had been issued before World War 2, and by 1942, Hitler himself boasted that Mein Kampf had the largest sales of any book in the world – apart from the Bible. By one estimate, Hitler received $1 million a year in royalty payments alone.

In 1930, a worldwide depression hit Germany and Hitler promised to rid Germany of Jews and Communists and to reunite the German speaking part of Europe. In July 1932, the Nazis received about 40% of the vote and became the strongest party in Germany. On January 30,1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor of Germany. Once in this position, Hitler moved quickly toward attaining a dictatorship. When von Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler already had control of Germany.

The Holocaust

Adolf Hitler's war with the Jews now stepped up in pace. Whereas before, anti-Semitic rhetoric helped the Nazis get elected, now they had the power to put some of their ideas into action. In April 1933, Jews were banished from government jobs, a quota was established banning Jews from university, and a boycott of Jewish shops enacted.

In 1935, the infamous Nuremberg Laws were passed. These classed Jews as German "subjects" instead of citizens. Intermarriage was outlawed, more professions were closed to Jews, shops displayed signs reading, "No Jews Allowed." Harassment was common.

In another attempt to purge Germany of her Jews, a roundup of Jews with Polish citizenship was enacted in October 1938. These Polish Jews were herded like cattle and dumped at the Polish border, where the Poles kept them in no-man's land. One deported family wrote to their son who was studying in Paris, Herschel Grynszpan. When he heard of the torments his parents went through, he resolved to avenge them and shot a German official, vom Rath, stationed in Paris.

This small rebellion was a perfect opportunity for Adolf Hitler and his henchmen to rise up in indignation. The Nazis called for demonstrations, and violence erupted across Germany for two days. Stores were destroyed, synagogues burned, and twenty thousand Jews arrested. 

The riots came to be known as Kristallnacht - the Night of Glass, for all the broken glass.

Adolf Hitler had always been straightforward about his plans for the Jews. His dream of a racially "pure" empire would tolerate no Jews. He announced at different occasions the "annihilation of the Jews" living in the territory under his control. With these statements Hitler threatened to use the Jews as hostages to prevent the Western powers from intervening on the continent. It clearly included the possibility of Genocide.

Hitler avoided giving a clear written order to exterminate Jewish civilians. He avoided speaking openly about killing in his entourage. However, there is clear evidence that he was deeply involved in the anti-Jewish policy during the war, particularly when it reached a murderous stage. In general, Hitler's comments on the Jewish question reveal his essential commitment to radicalise persecution to the extreme.

The Holocaust Children

Hitler was fully responsible for the order for the mass executions in Poland in 1939 and 1940. He was also actively engaged in setting up plans for a Jewish reservation in Poland and he backed the Madagascar plan. He was continually preoccupied with further deportations and deportation plans. In 1941 Hitler ordered the extermination of the Jewish-Bolshevist intelligentsia and the elimination of every potential enemy in the occupied Eastern territories. He was fully aware of mass executions of Jewish civilians in these territories.

In mid September 1941 Hitler ordered the beginning of mass deportations from Germany to ghettos in Eastern Europe. During Autumn 1941 and the following Winter, when preparation for the Final Solution in Europe were in full swing, Hitler spoke at various occasions openly about the annihilation of the Jews in Europe. It can be ruled out that the massive preparations for the systematic murder of European Jews in extermination camps in Poland, undertaken in spring and summer of 1942, were taken without his consent or his knowledge.

Private diaries of Nazi propaganda maestro Joseph Goebbels and Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler unearthed from the secret Soviet archives show that Adolf Hitler personally ordered the mass extermination of Jews on December 12, 1941 during a meeting of Nazi German regional governors in the chancellery. Goebbels told his diary: "With regards to the Jewish question, the Fuhrer decided to make a clean sweep."

And from a number of letters and speeches of Himmler it becomes clear, that the Reichsführer SS referred to the Holocaust as a task he had to carry out on the behalf of the highest authority in the Third Reich - Adolf Hitler.

Adolf Hitler Photos

In Germany concentration camps were set up after 1933 to detain without legal procedure Jews, Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others. During World War II extermination, or death, camps were established for the sole purpose of killing men, women, and children. In the most notorious camps - Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and Majdanek in Poland, Buchenwald and Dachau in Germany - more than 6 million people, mostly Jews and Poles, were killed in gas chambers. Millions of others were also interned during the war, and a large proportion died of gross mistreatment, malnutrition, and disease.

The Holocaust represents 11 million lives that abruptly ended, the extermination of people not for who they were but for what they were. Groups such as handicaps, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, political dissidents and others were persecuted by the Nazis because of their religious/political beliefs, physical defects, or failure to fall into the Aryan ideal ... 

One remarkable man - Oscar Schindler - outwitted Hitler and the Nazis to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other during World War II. Schindler surfaced from the chaos of madness, spent millions bribing and paying off the SS and eventually risked his life to rescue 1200 Jews in the shadow of Auschwitz. In those years, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps, but Oscar and Emilie Schindler's Jews miraculously survived.

After Adolf Hitler survived the July 1944 plot Eva Braun, the young woman who had spent most of her life waiting for Hitler, wrote Hitler an emotional letter, ending: 'From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere - even unto death - I live only for your love.'  Eva Braun would now be with him forever. She had agreed to share Adolf Hitler's fate.

Hitler and Eva Braun enjoying life - and two Holocaust victims ..

In the final hours of his life, Adolf Hitler hastily dictated a Political Testament that he left for the German people. The document was little different from many speeches and articles he had written before. After causing the destruction of huge areas of Europe, demanding the sacrifice of millions of lives in pursuit of his political ambitions, and ordering the murder of millions of others, Hitler showed no remorse. Instead, he blamed the Jews for the war he himself had started.

With Germany lying in ruins after six devastating years of war, and with defeat imminent, the Nazi dictator decided to take his own life. But before doing so, he wanted to thank the one who'd remained completely loyal to him until the very end. Early on the morning on April 29, 1945, in a civil ceremony in his bunker, Hitler married his mistress of many years, Eva Braun.

The next day a little after 3:30 p.m., they bit into thin glass vials of cyanide. As he did so, Hitler also shot himself in the head with a 7.65 mm Walther pistol.

So History saw Hitler's prophecy fulfilled, as the handful of remaining Nazis trooped uneasily into his underground study on April 30, 1945, surveyed his still-warm remains slouched on a couch, with blood trickling from the sagging lower jaw, and a gunshot wound in the right temple and sniffed the bitter-almonds smell hanging in the air. Wrapped in a grey army blanket, he was carried up to the shell-blasted Chancellery garden. Gasoline was slopped over him in a reeking crater and ignited while his staff hurriedly saluted and backed down into the shelter. Thus ended the six years of Hitler's war ...

Holocaust Photos

There is footage from May 1945 of Soviet troops searching for Adolf Hitler in the ruins of the Reich chancellery in Berlin. In an adjacent garden, near the emergency exit to Hitler's bunker, lie the charred bodies of the propaganda minister, Dr Joseph Goebbels, and his wife, Magda. The bodies of their six children were in the bunker, their poisoning ordered by their mother.

The Soviet troops were led to the bodies of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun and took the bodies with them as they moved west with the Soviet's Third Army. Each night the remains were buried, often in the woods, and then dug up when it was time to move on. Finally, Hitler and Braun were buried behind Smersh's East German headquarters in Magdeburg, and remained for 25 years under a yard later owned by a waste-disposal firm.

It was not until 1970 that the remains of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were dug up from Magdeburg and destroyed.

Adolf Hitler had founded the Third Reich 12 years and three months before. His goals - the mass murder of the Jews, the establishment of a German Empire based on the conquest of the Soviet Union, the murder of the original inhabitants or their reduction to slaves of the Third Reich. His Nazi Regime led to the annihilation of more than six million Jews in Europe. The Third Reich would survive him for one week - the nightmare he had unleashed was over ...


Holocaust Denial on Trial
Photos: Heinrich Hoffmann

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