Adolf Hitler was neither German nor political by birth. Instead he was born in 1889, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, to a mother who encouraged him to pursue his dreams of becoming an artist.[1] His mother, Klara, was the daughter of a peasant family while Alois, his father, was a customs official and also physically abusive toward his wife and children.[2] As a child, Adolf was recognized as both clever and popular.[3] However, he left school at age 16, and in 1907 he applied to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.[4]

The combination of rejection from the academy and the death of his beloved mother caused young Hitler to seek a change: moving from his hometown to Vienna, Hitler began to live “a precarious bohemian existence sleeping in hostels and painting postcards”.[5] It was there that he would come into contact with a variety of street characters who were keen to discuss their political philosophies, including anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist ideologies.

“Hitler hated the multi-ethnic composition of Austria’s ruling Habsburg Empire. Determined to avoid military service, he moved to Munich in 1913 […] Hitler was keen to prove his loyalty to Germany”[6]

In 1914, Hitler enlisted in the German army, and served in both France and Belgium, but was required to withdraw after being injured at the Somme, which is called “one of the bloodiest battles of the war”.[7] It was during his recovery period that Hitler grew and began to maintain his iconic moustache. His second wound was inflicted by gas, but by the time he had fully recovered, Germany had surrendered, and Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated mere “days before Armistice”.[8] It was the sense of betrayal that Hitler felt in the wake of this defeat that provoked his career in politics. He blamed both Jews and socialists for this loss.

By November of 1923, Hitler has become the leader of the NSDAP, and was seeking the spark for a revolution. [9] The Beer Hall Putsch was just the sort of insurrectionary movement he had been looking for, although it ended unfortunately with his five-year criminal sentence on the grounds of treason.[10] It was, however, during his imprisonment (of which he only served nine months) that Hitler penned Mein Kampf, a quasi-autobiographical novel outlining his ideology.

BBC expresses that “Hitler led the Nazis to become the largest party in Germany with over 37% of the popular vote in the elections of July 1932”.[11] President von Hindenburg, distressed over the rapidity with the party’s swift popularity among Communists, thus made Hitler Chancellor of the NSDAP.[12] By September of 1938, Hitler was ready and able to undertake projects as large and as complicated as territorial expansion and eugenics.


[1] Jerry H. Bentley et al. Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past (Sixth Edition), Vol. 2: From 1500 to the Present (McGraw Hill Education, 2015), 811

[2] “Adolf Hitler: Man and Monster”, BBC, Accessed March 20, 2017.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

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