- What was the Holocaust?
- Judaism and Jewish life
- What is antisemitism?
- How did the Nazis gain power?
- Life in Nazi-controlled Europe
- What were camps?
- What was the Final Solution?
- How did people respond?
- Survival and legacy
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria in 1889. Orphaned by the age of 16, he went to Vienna, the capital city of Austria. He had planned to become an artist but was unsuccessful.
When World War One began, he joined the German army, becoming a corporal. At the end of the war he went back to Munich in Germany. He was very angry that Germany had lost the war. He blamed the German government for signing the Treaty of Versailles; he blamed the communists and he blamed the Jews. This was called the Stab in the back legend.
The German Workers’ Party, later called the Nazi Party, was a small party whose views were very similar to those of Adolf Hitler. Hitler joined it in 1920 and soon became the leader. He was a brilliant speaker and attracted support from other right wing extremists. In 1923 he unsuccessfully attempted to take power in Munich – this is known as the Beer Hall Putsch.
He was imprisoned and during that time wrote a book called ‘Mein Kampf’, which means ‘My Struggle’. It outlined his beliefs. These included that communism and the Jews were the enemies of Germany, and that Germany would only be strong if the Aryans ruled. Hitler believed only in blood and race. He was totally undemocratic – he wanted to be the Fuehrer with total power in Germany.
As the economy worsened in Germany, many wanted a strong leader to solve their problems. Hitler gave them simple, clear solutions. Many of the ruling group in Germany were afraid of communism and saw Hitler as an ally in fighting it. They helped him to take power.
In 1933 Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.