Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 – April 30, 1945, standard German pronunciation [ˈaː.dɔlf ˈhɪt.ləɐ] in the IPA) was the Führer (leader) of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) and of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. In that capacity he was Chancellor of Germany, head of government, and head of state, an absolute dictator.
A highly animated and charismatic orator, Hitler is regarded as one of the most significant leaders in World history. The military-industrial complex he fostered pulled Germany out of the post-World War I economic crisis and, at its height, controlled the greater part of Europe.
Hitler's attempt to create a Greater Germany (Grossdeutschland), specifically the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) and the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland, was one of the primary factors leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The embrace of total war both by the Axis and Allied powers during this time led to the destruction of much of Europe. Hitler is almost universally held responsible for the racial policy of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the death and displacement of millions occurring during his leadership. Though he had hoped to be the founder of a thousand-year Reich, he was reported to have committed suicide in his bunker beneath Berlin with much of Europe, and especially Germany, in ruins around him and the Red Army closing in.
Adolf Hitler was born around 18:30 LMT on April 20, 1889 at Braunau-am-Inn, a small town near Linz in the province of Upper Austria, not far from the German border, in what was then Austria-Hungary. His father, Alois Hitler (1837–1903), was a minor customs official who had been born illegitimately. Until he was 40, Alois used his mother's surname, Schicklgruber. In 1876, Alois took on his adoptive father's surname, originally spelt 'Hiedler'. Later, Adolf Hitler was accused by his political enemies of not rightfully being a Hitler, but a Schicklgruber.
There have been rumours that Hitler was part Jewish. Allegedly, his grandmother Maria Schicklgruber gave birth to Hitler's father after working as a servant in a Jewish household in Graz, Austria. However, historians such as Werner Maser and Ian Kershaw argue that this is impossible as the Jews had been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until well after Maria Schicklgruber's alleged employment.
Hitler's mother, Klara Hitler (born Pölzl), was also his father's second cousin. Ultimately, she bore him a total of six children. Only Adolf, who was her second child, and his younger sister Paula survived childhood.
Adolf was an intelligent boy but he twice failed the high school admission examinations in Linz. There, he became captivated by the Pan-German lectures of Professor Leopold Poetsch, who greatly influenced the young man's views. Hitler was devoted to his indulgent mother and may have had a hatred for his father, who was a disciplinarian. In his book Mein Kampf, written partially as propaganda, Adolf is respectful of his father, though he does state that they had irreconcilable differences over his firm decision to become an artist. His father staunchly opposed this career path, wanting Adolf to become a civil servant instead. In January 1903 Alois died, and in December 1907 Klara died of breast cancer.
Shortly after his mother's death, Hitler, aged 18, left Linz for Vienna, hoping to become an artist. He had an orphan's pension, and worked as an illustrator of houses and grand buildings. He applied to the Vienna school of art twice, but was rejected. He lost his pension in 1910, but by then he had inherited some money from an aunt. The money he had inherited soon ran out. For the next several years he was a painter copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants. Yet Hitler lived in hostels for homeless people and lived a marginal existence. During his spare time he often attended operas in Vienna's concert halls, especially Norse mythological operas by Richard Wagner. He also spent much time reading.
It was during his years in Vienna that Hitler began developing into an active anti-Semite. Viennese, at the time, often scorned Jewish people. Moreover, Anti-Semitism was deeply ingrained in the Austrian Catholic culture in which Hitler was raised. Vienna had a large Jewish community, including many Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe. He became influenced by publicists such as Lanz von Liebenfels and politicians such as Karl Lueger, the Mayor of Vienna, or Georg Ritter von Schönerer. From them Hitler acquired the belief in the superiority of the "Aryan race" which formed the basis of his political views. Ultimately Hitler came to believe that the Jews were the natural enemies of the "Aryans" and were also responsible for Germany's economic problems.
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich to avoid military service in the Austro-Hungarian army. The more racially homogeneous Germany was also more to his liking. The Austrian army later arrested him and gave him a physical examination. Found unfit for service, he was allowed to return to Munich. But in August 1914 when the German Empire entered World War I, he at once enlisted in the Bavarian Army. He saw active service in France and Belgium as a messenger, which exposed him to enemy fire. Though Hitler's service record was exemplary, he was never promoted beyond corporal because of missing German citizenship. There were also rumours that there was a psychiatric examination which called him "incompetent to command people" and "dangerously psychotic". He was twice cited for bravery in action, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in December 1915, and the Iron Cross, First Class (an honour seldom given to corporals), in August 1918.
During the war Hitler became a passionate German patriot, although he did not actually become a German citizen until 1932. He was shocked at the German capitulation in November 1918, when the German army remained, in popular German belief, undefeated. At the time of the surrender, Hitler was recovering in a field hospital from a poison gas attack that had temporarily blinded him. Like many other German nationalists, he blamed civilian politicians (the "November criminals") for the surrender.
The Nazi Party
After the war Hitler stayed in the army, which was now mainly engaged in suppressing the socialist uprisings that were breaking out across Germany — including in Munich, where Hitler returned in 1919. Hitler took part in "national thinking" courses organised by the Education and Propaganda Department (Dept Ib/P) of the Bavarian Reichswehr Group, Headquarters 4 under Captain Mayr. One key purpose of this group was to create a scapegoat for the outbreak of the World War and for Germany's defeat. This scapegoat was found in "international Jewry", in communists, and in politicians across the party spectrum.
In July 1919, Hitler, because of his intelligence and oratory skills, was appointed a V-Mann of an "Enlightenment Commando" for the purpose of influencing other soldiers with the same ideas and was assigned by Headquarters to infiltrate a small nationalist party, the German Workers' Party. Hitler joined the party in September 1919. Here he met Dietrich Eckart, an anti-Semite and one of the early key members of the party.
Adolf Hitler's membership card for the German Workers' Party. Hitler wanted to create his own party, but was ordered by his superiors in the Reichswehr to infiltrate an existing one instead.
In 1920, Hitler was discharged from the army. After this he began to take full part in the party's activities. He soon became its leader and changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP), usually known as the Nazi party .
Hitler soon discovered that he had two remarkable talents — for public oratory and for inspiring personal loyalty. His street-corner oratory, attacking the Jews, the socialists and liberals, the capitalists and Communists, began to attract adherents. Early followers included Rudolf Hess, Hermann Göring, and Ernst Röhm, head of the Nazis' paramilitary organisation, the SA. Another admirer was the wartime Field-Marshall Erich Ludendorff. Hitler decided to use Ludendorff as a front in an attempt to seize power in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, later known as the "Hitler Putsch" or "March to Berlin" of November 8, 1923, when the Nazis marched from a beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry, intending to overthrow Bavaria's right-wing separatist government and then march on Berlin. The army quickly dispersed them and Hitler was arrested. To protect his position as leader, Hitler appointed Alfred Rosenberg temporary leader.
Hitler was tried for high treason and in April 1924 he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Landsberg prison. Here he dictated a book called Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his deputy Rudolf Hess. Considered relatively harmless, Hitler was given an early amnesty and released in December 1924. By this time the Nazi party barely existed and Hitler would have a long effort in trying to rebuild it. In 1925 Hitler established a personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel ("Protection Unit" or SS). This elite black-uniformed corps was to be commanded by Heinrich Himmler, who was to become the principal executor of his plans with respect to the "Jewish Question" during the Second World War.
A key element of Hitler's appeal was the sense of offended national pride caused by the Treaty of Versailles imposed on the defeated German Empire by the Allies. Germany lost territory in Europe and its colonies, had to admit to sole responsibility for the war, and pay a huge reparations bill, totalling $6,600,000 (32 billion marks). Most Germans bitterly resented these terms. Early attempts to gain support by blaming all these humiliations on "international Jewry" were not particularly successful with the electorate. But the party learned quickly, and soon a more subtle propaganda combining anti-Semitism with an attack on the failures of the "Weimar system" and the parties which had supported it began to come to the fore.
In 2004, it turned out that Adolf Hitler spent years evading taxes and owed German authorities 405,000 Reichsmarks -- equivalent to 8 million 2004 US dollars -- by the time his tax debts were forgiven soon after he took power.
The road to power
The turning point in Hitler's fortunes came with the Depression which hit Germany in 1930. The democratic regime established in Germany in 1919, the so-called Weimar Republic, had never been genuinely accepted by conservatives and was openly opposed by fascists. The Social Democrats and the traditional parties of the centre and right were unable to deal with the shock of the Depression. In the elections of September 1930 the Nazis suddenly rose from obscurity to win more than 18% of the vote and 107 seats in the Reichstag, becoming the second largest party.
Hitler won over the bulk of the German farmers, war veterans and the middle-class, who had been hard hit by the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression. The urban working classes generally ignored Hitler's appeals, and Berlin and the Ruhr towns were particularly hostile. The 1930 election was a disaster for Heinrich Brüning's centre-right government, which was now deprived of a majority in the Reichstag. In December 1931, Hitler's niece, Geli Raubal, was found dead in her bedroom. Hitler had taken in his half-sister Angela and her daughter Geli, to live in his Munich apartment in 1929. Some claimed he fell in love with Geli despite the fact she was much younger than he was and was his niece. She had shot herself with one of his handguns. This tragedy disturbed Hitler immensely.
With Brüning's austerity measures having little success, the government was anxious to avoid a presidential election in 1932, and hoped to secure the Nazis' agreement to an extension of President Paul von Hindenburg's term. But Hitler refused to agree, and ultimately competed against Hindenburg in the presidential election, coming in second in both the first and second rounds of the election, attaining more than 35% of the vote in the second round, in April.
Hitler greets supporters from aboard a parade vehicle
Hindenburg dismissed the government, appointing a new government under the reactionary non-entity Franz von Papen, which immediately called for new Reichstag elections. In the July 1932 elections the Nazis had their best showing yet, winning 230 seats and becoming the largest party. Since now the Nazis and Communists together controlled a majority of the Reichstag, the formation of a stable government of mainstream parties was impossible. Following a vote of no-confidence in the Papen government supported by 84% of the delegates, the new Reichstag was immediately dissolved and new elections called.
Papen and the Centre Party (Zentrumspartei) now both opened negotiations to secure Nazi participation in the government, but Hitler set high terms, demanding the Chancellorship and the President's agreement that he be able to use emergency powers. This failure to join the government, along with the Nazis' efforts to win working class support, alienated some of the Nazis' previous supporters, so that in the elections of November 1932, the Nazis actually lost votes, although they remained by far the largest party in the Reichstag. As Papen had failed to secure a majority, Hindenburg dismissed him and appointed General Kurt von Schleicher, who promised that he could secure a majority government by negotiations with both Social Democratic labour unions and with the dissident Nazi faction led by Gregor Strasser.
Papen and Alfred Hugenberg, who was also Chairman of the German National People's Party (DNVP), before the Nazis' rise to being Germany's principal right-wing party, now conspired to persuade Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor in a coalition with the DNVP, promising that they would be able to control him. When Schleicher was forced to admit failure in his efforts to form a coalition and asked Hindenburg for yet another Reichstag dissolution, Hindenburg fired him and appointed Hitler Chancellor, Papen Vice-Chancellor and Hugenberg Minister of Economics, in a cabinet which only included three Nazis — Hitler, Göring, and Wilhelm Frick. On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was officially sworn in as Chancellor in the Reichstag chamber, with thousands of Nazi supporters looking on and cheering.
In the election of March 1933, the Nazis received 44% of the vote. The party gained control of a majority of seats in the Reichstag through a formal coalition with the DNVP. Finally, the Enabling Act, which invested Hitler with dictatorial authority, was passed by the Reichstag after the Nazis expelled the Communist deputies. Under the Enabling Act, the Nazi cabinet had the power to pass legislation, just as the Reichstag did; the Act further specified that the cabinet could only approve measures submitted by the Chancellor (Hitler), and that it would lapse after four years time or upon the installation of a new government. The Enabling Act was dutifully renewed every four years, even during World War II.
In a series of decrees that followed soon after the passage of the Enabling Act, other parties were suppressed and all opposition was banned. In only a few months Hitler had achieved authoritarian control. Finally, in early August 1934, President Paul von Hindenburg died. Rather than have new presidential elections, Hitler's cabinet passed a law combining the offices of President and Chancellor, with Hitler holding the powers of both offices (including the President's decree powers) as "Leader and National Chancellor." This consolidation was approved by the electorate in mid-August 1934. Hitler then had the military swear an oath of allegience to him personally — an unprecedented step.
The Nazi regime
Having secured supreme political power without winning support from the majority of Germans, Hitler did go on to win it and remained overwhelmingly popular until the very end of his regime. He was a master orator, and with all of Germany's mass media under the control of his propaganda chief, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, he was able to persuade most Germans that he was their saviour from the Depression, the Communists, the Versailles Treaty and the Jews.
Economics and culture
Once in power, Hitler oversaw one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and civil improvement that Germany had ever seen. The German economy achieved near full employment and greatly expanded its economic and industrial base. Hitler also oversaw one of the largest infrastructure improvement campaigns in German history, with the construction of dozens of dams, autobahns, railroads, and other civil improvements. Hitler's health initiatives for ethnic Germans were successful and progressive. Hitler's policies emphasised the importance of family life: men were the breadwinners, womens' priorities being "church, kitchen and children."
Excellence was encouraged in all spheres. Hitler's government sponsored architecture on a great scale, with Albert Speer becoming famous as the first architect of the Reich. In 1936, Berlin hosted the summer Olympic games, which were opened by Hitler and billed as a showpiece of German excellence.
For these and other reasons, Hitler was very popular among the German people during this time.
While Hitler made plans for a Breitspurbahn (broad gauge railroad network), such plans were preempted by World War II. The gauge, had the railroad been built as planned, was to have been three meters, even wider than the old Great Western Railway of Britain.
For those who were not persuaded, the SA, the SS and the Gestapo (secret state police) were given a free hand, and thousands disappeared into concentration camps. Many thousands more emigrated, including about half of Germany's Jews.
By 1934, Ernst Röhm's SA had become unpopular with most of the other arms of political and military influence in Germany. Hitler unleashed his lieutenant Himmler to murder Röhm and dozens of other real and potential enemies during the night of June 29–June 30, 1934, the Night of the Long Knives. When Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934 Hitler merged the offices of President and Chancellor, appointing himself Leader (Führer) of Germany, and extracting an oath of personal loyalty from every member of the armed forces. This merger, which had been approved by the Weimar parliament only hours before the death of Hindenburg, was later validated by a majority of 89.9% of the electorate in a vote by plebiscite on August 19, 1934.
Under the 1935 Nuremberg Laws the Jews lost their status as German citizens and were expelled from government employment, the professions and most forms of economic activity. They were subject to a barrage of hateful propaganda. Few non-Jewish Germans objected to these steps. These restrictions were further tightened later, particularly after the 1938 anti-Jewish operation known as Kristallnacht. From 1941 Jews were required to wear a yellow star in public. Between November 1938 and September 1939, more than 180,000 Jews fled Germany; the Nazis seized whatever property they left behind.
Rearmament and new alliances
In March 1935 Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles by reintroducing conscription in Germany. He set about building a massive military machine, including a new Navy and an Air Force (the Luftwaffe). The enlistment of vast numbers of men and women in the new military seemed to solve unemployment problems, but seriously distorted its economy.
In March 1936 he again violated the Treaty of Versailles by reoccupying the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland. When Britain and France did nothing to stop him, he grew bolder. In July 1936 the Spanish Civil War began when the military, led by General Francisco Franco, rebelled against the elected Popular Front government of Spain. Hitler sent troops to help the rebels. Spain served as a testing ground for Germany's new armed forces and their methods, including the bombing of undefended towns such as Guernica, which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in April 1937, prompting Pablo Picasso's famous eponymous painting (Guernica (painting)).
Hitler formed an alliance with the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on October 25, 1936. This alliance was later expanded to include Japan, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. They are collectively known as the Axis Powers. Then on November 5, 1937 at the Reich Chancellory, Adolf Hitler held a secret meeting and stated his plans for acquiring "living space" (Lebensraum) for the German people.
Between 1942 and 1945, the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments and recruits from occupied countries, systematically killed approximately 3.5 million Jews in concentration camps. Others were killed less systematically elsewhere, or died of starvation and disease while working as slave laborers. As well as Jews, communists, gays,Protestants, Roma, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, Soviet prisoners of war, the Polish intelligentsia, Jehovah's Witnesses, anti-Nazi clergy, trade unionists, and psychiatric patients were also targeted. This elimination of those considered undesirable by the Nazis is now generally called the Holocaust.
Hitler with Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS (charged with rounding up Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and so-called "enemies of the state")
The massacre that would lead to the word "genocide" being coined, the Endlösung, emerged among top Nazis, with Himmler playing a key role. While no specific order from Hitler authorizing the mass killing of the Jews has surfaced, although there is documentation that he approved of the Einsatzgruppen, the evidence suggests that sometime in the fall of 1941, Himmler and he agreed in principle on mass murder by gassing. To make for smoother intra-governmental cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution," to the "Jewish question," the Wannsee conference was held near Berlin on January 20, 1942 with the participation of fifteen senior officials, led by Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann, the records of which provide the best evidence of the central planning of the Holocaust. Just days later, on February 22, Hitler was recorded saying "We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews" to his closest associates.
World War II
On 12 March 1938, Hitler pressured his native Austria into unification with Germany (the Anschluss) and made a triumphal entry into Vienna. Next he intensified a crisis over the German-speaking Sudetenland district of Czechoslovakia. This led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which British prime minister Neville Chamberlain hailed as 'Peace in our time'. At Munich, Britain and France had weakly given way to his demands, averting war but failing to save Czechoslovakia. As a result of the summit, Hitler was Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1938.
Hitler ordered Germany's army to enter Prague on 10 March 1939. At this point Britain and France lost all patience with him and decided to make a stand, resisting Hitler's demand for the return of the territories ceded to Poland under the Versailles Treaty. But the western powers were unable to come to an agreement with the Soviet Union for an alliance against Germany, and Hitler outmanoeuvred them. On 23 August 1939 he concluded a secret alliance (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) with Stalin. On 1 September Germany invaded Poland. Hitler was surprised when Britain and France honoured their pledge to the Poles by declaring war on Germany.
After conquering Poland by the end of September, Hitler built up his forces much further during what was colloquially called the "sitzkrieg", (sitting war). The sitzkrieg ended in March 1940, when he ordered German forces to march into Denmark and Norway. In May 1940, Hitler ordered his forces to attack France, conquering the Netherlands and Belgium during the offensive. France surrendered on June 22, 1940. This string of victories convinced his main ally, Benito Mussolini of Italy, to join the war on Hitler's side on May 1940.
Britain, whose forces had been driven from France at the coast of Dunkirk, continued to fight on alone. Hitler ordered a bombing raid on the British Isles, leading to the Battle of Britain, which continued until May 1941.
On June 22, 1941, Hitler gave the signal for 3 million German troops to attack the Soviet Union. The resulting invasion, called Operation Barbarossa, seized huge amounts of territory, especially the Baltic states and the Ukraine, resulting in destruction of many Soviet forces. The German forces were stopped short of Moscow in December 1941 by a harsh winter and fierce Soviet resistance, however (see Battle of Moscow), and thus the invasion failed to achieve the quick triumph over the Soviet Union that Hitler had anticipated.
Path of defeat
German forces were defeated at the Battle of Stalingrad, the first major defeat Germany suffered in the war. In North Africa, Britain defeated Germany at the battle of El Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans of seizing the Suez Canal and the Middle East. These defeats were a key turning point in the war. After these, Hitler's military decisions became increasingly erratic, as Germany's military and economic position deteriorated. His health was deteriorating too: his left hand had started shaking, and he found it difficult to control. The biographer Ian Kershaw believes he suffered from Parkinson's disease.
His declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941 (which arguably was called for by treaty with Japan) set him against a coalition of the world's largest empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial power (the USA), and the world's largest nation (the Soviet Union).
Hitler's ally Benito Mussolini was overthrown in 1943, after American forces invaded and occupied Sicily. Meanwhile the Soviet Union was steadily forcing Hitler's armies to retreat in the East. On June 6, 1944 (D-Day), Allied armies landed in northern France. Realists in the German army saw that defeat was inevitable, and some officers plotted to remove Hitler from power. In July 1944 one of them, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb at Hitler's military headquarters (the so-called July 20 Plot), but Hitler narrowly escaped death. Savage reprisals followed, resulting in the executions of more than 4,000 people, and the resistance movement was crushed.
Defeat and death
By the end of 1944, the Soviets had driven the last German troops from their territory and began charging into Central Europe. The western armies were advancing into Germany. The Germans had lost the war from a military perspective but Hitler allowed no peace talks with the Allied forces and as a consequence the German military continued to fight. By April 1945, the Soviet forces were at the gates of Berlin. Hitler's closest lieutenants urged him to flee to Bavaria or Austria to make a last stand in the mountains, but he was determined to die in his capital.
The only entrance to the bunker where Hitler is thought to have shot himself.
As Soviet forces battled their way toward his Reich Chancellory in the center of the city, Hitler is generally believed to have committed suicide in his Führerbunker on April 30, 1945, in Berlin, Germany by means of a self-delivered shot to the head while biting into a cyanide tablet. Hitler's body and that of Eva Braun, his long-term mistress whom he had married days before, were burned and buried shortly thereafter in the bunker garden.
In Moscow there is a skull fragment which is supposed to be Hitler's. DNA samples have been compared to those of known surviving Hitler relatives, and they matched, proving that the fragment is most likely genuine.
In his will, Hitler dismissed the other Nazi leaders and appointed Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as the new President of Germany and Goebbels as the new Chancellor of Germany. However, Goebbels and his entire family committed suicide on May 1, 1945. On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally. Hitler's proclaimed "Thousand Year Reich" had lasted 12 years.
Since the defeat of Germany in World War II, Hitler, the Nazi Party and the results of Nazism have been regarded in much of the world as synonymous with evil. Historical and cultural portrayals of Hitler in the west are almost uniformly negative. This negative view is shared by most, but not all present-day Germans. For example, Hitler's Mein Kampf is not widely available in Germany.
Despite this, there have been instances of public figures referring to his legacy in neutral or even favourable terms — particularly in South America, the Islamic World, and parts of Asia. Future Egyptian President Anwar Sadat wrote favourably of Hitler in 1953. Bal Thackeray, leader of the right-wing Shiv Sena party in the Indian state of Maharashtra, declared in 1995 that he was an admirer of Hitler.
Two separate religious identities flourished under Nazism. The first was a devotion to Hitler himself. In some cases this resulted in a form of Christianity known as German Christian. The ultra nationalist German Christian churches the movement sought to recreate Christianity replacing Jesus with Hitler, or at least make him a modern day prophet.
For example a common Nazi song replaced the words to the German carol Silent Night with the following lyrics:
- Silent night! Holy night!
- All is calm, and all is bright
- Only the Chancellor steadfast in fight
- Watches o’er Germany by day and by night
- Always caring for us.
- Silent night! Holy night!
- All is calm, and all is bright
- Adolf Hitler is Germany’s wealth
- Brings us greatness, favor and health
- Oh give us Germans all power!
In less nationalistic churches the German Christan movement passed restrictions allowing only German membership in the Church.
However, the dominant religion among Nazi Leaders was a form of mysticism around nature, the German "Volk" Folk and nature. This belief was strong in groups like the SS and SA. However, Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels, having been brought up in fairly devout Catholic households, still retained respect for the Church, hence the concordant with Rome.
Hitler during his rule made many steps to restrict Christianity and remove it as a political influence from Germany. The Reich Concordat with the Catholic Church preserved funding and for the Catholic Church but at the cost of making the Catholic Church subservient to the Nazi Party. After a failed assassination on Hitler's life in 1943 which involved elements of the Confessing Church, (a protestant organization), Hitler ordered the arrest of Protestant, mainly Lutheran clergy. Catholic clergy was also suppressed if they spoke out against the regime.
Hitler often adopted elements of Christian theology in his speeches.
While some Revisionist historians point out that Hitler's attempt to improve the economic and political standing and conditions of his people and how he went about it was, in essence, no different than that of many other leaders in history, his legacy, as interpreted by most historians, has caused him to be one of the most reviled men in history.
See also: Consequences of German Nazism and Neo-Nazism.
Hitler's medical health has long been the subject of debate, and he has variously been suggested to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, skin lesions, irregular heartbeat, tremors on the left side of his body, syphilis, Parkinson's disease, addiction to methamphetamines, and a missing left testicle.
Adolf Hitler's medical health has long been a subject of controversy.
From the early 1930's the care for Hitler's health was entrusted to the young SS officer and surgeon Dr. Karl Brandt who was assisted by Professor Werner Haase. Unbeknownst to most people today, and especially to Germans at the time, Hitler suffered from a number of medical problems since confirmed by evidence left behind by the Nazis. Hitler's favorite physician, Professor Theodore Morell, with whom he became acquainted in the late 1930s, was somewhat responsible for this.
Adolf Hitler suffered from two problems when he first met Morell, terrible gastro-intestinal problems, often resulting in flatulence, and skin lesions on his thighs. Later, under the care of Morell, he developed an irregular heartbeat and aggressive tremors throughout the left side of his body. In addition he became dependent on (and possibly addicted to) methamphetamines supplied to him daily by Morell, which the doctor called Multivitamin (both via injection and in little tablets in innocent looking gold packages).
Hitler's tremors and irregular heartbeat are most likely the result of syphilis, and Morell diagnosed them as such by early 1945 in a joint report to Heinrich Himmler along with another doctor. Another piece of supporting evidence is Hitler's discussion of Syphilis through 14 pages of Mein Kampf, which he called a "Jewish disease." This leads to the belief that he may have had the disease himself, because it is difficult for historians to imagine another reason for such a tirade. Also, Hitler's symptoms throughout the last years of his life closely resemble the tertiary stage of Syphilis. It is also speculated that it could have been Parkinson's disease as Morell started treating Hitler with a medication commonly used to treat the condition in 1945, although Morell was such an unreliable doctor that there is some doubt as to the validity of any of the doctor's diagnoses.
The Soviet Union has stated that the autopsy had demonstrated that Hitler's left testicle was missing. It remains unclear whether this statement was true, or just a piece of propaganda (Hitler has only got one ball). Lev Bezymenski the author of the Hitler autopsy report has admitted that it was a fake. At this date, there is no evidence that Hitler had only one testicle.
- Eva Braun, mistress and then wife
- Alois Hitler, father
- Klara Hitler, mother
- Paula Hitler, sister
- Alois Hitler, Jr., half-brother
- Bridget Dowling, sister-in-law
- William Patrick Hitler, nephew
- Angela Hitler Raubal, half-sister
- Geli Raubal, niece and rumoured mistress
- Maria Schicklgruber, grandmother
- Johann Georg Hiedler, presumed grandfather
- Johann von Nepomuk Hiedler, maternal great-grandfather, presumed great uncle and possibly Hitler's true paternal grandfather