- 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
Born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau in Austria, near the border with Germany, Adolf Hitler was the son of a customs official. Hitler’s mother was his father’s third wife, and 22 years her husband’s junior. When Hitler’s father died, he left a small pension for the family.
As a schoolboy, Hitler was a shy loner, deeply influenced by his history teacher, a staunch, right-wing German nationalist. Hitler left school aged 16.
Hoping to become an artist, Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907. His mother died of cancer in 1908. He later described his time in Vienna as five years of misery and woe. He failed to gain either recognition or work and looked for someone to blame. The easiest target were the Jews who made up 10 per cent of the population of the city.
In 1913 Hitler left for Munich, in southern Germany. At the outbreak of World War One, he enlisted in the German army, and during the war was awarded medals for bravery. He was in hospital, recovering from a gas attack when the war ended.
After the war he returned to Munich, where a communist revolution had just been put down. Hitler was given a job in the German army investigating small political parties.