The Holocaust

Hitler and his rise to power

Who was Hitler?

Adolf Hitler (April 20 1889-April 30 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician as well as the leader/dictator of the German Nazi Party from 1943-1945. Hitler was chancellor of Germany from 1933-1945. He was the founder of Nazism and one of the significant causes of WWII and the Holocaust. In the last few days of war on April 29 during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his mistress Eva Braun. Less than two days later, the newly weds committed suicide to avoid being capture by the Red Army; their corpses were burned. Adolf Hitler holds the responsibility of the murders of millions including six million Jewish people in the Nazi genocide.

How did he come to power?

After their humiliating defeat fifteen years earlier in WWI, the Germans lacked confidence in their government known as the Weimar Republic. The economic depression occurring world wide had hit Germany especially hard and millions of people were unemployed and poor. The current grim conditions gave a new possible leader a chance to take advantage of vulnerable Germany. The new leader was of course Adolf Hitler and his party, the National Socialist German Workers' Part, also known as Nazi party for short.

Hitler was a surprisingly charismatic speaker that captured everyones attention, especially Germans desperate for changes in their society. He promised disadvantaged Germans better lives and a new and glorious Germany. The idea and soon to be real appearances of the Nazis appealed especially to young people and lower-middle classed people such as small store owners and farmers.

The rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis moved quickly. Before the economic depression there were barely any sightings of the Nazi regime, winning only 3% of votes to the German Parliament in elections in 1924, although moving on to win 33% of votes being the most in 1932.

In January the following year, Hitler was given the role of chancellor, the head of the German government and also labelled as a saviour for their nation by the Germans.

What were Hitler's political views?

Hitler is infamous mostly due to his hatred against Jews (anti-semitism), but Hitler was also a strong believer of anti-communism, anti-parliamentarianism, German expansion, the superiority of an "Ayran race" and German nationalism in an extreme form. Personally, Hitler claimed that he was fighting against Jewish Marxism.

His views were developed over the significant years of his life including:

  • When he was in poverty as a young man in Vienna and Munich prior to WWI in which he began to read political pamphlets and antisemitic articles due to his lack of trust for mainstream newspapers and political parties.
  • The last few months of WWI when Germany lost the war which was the time period of when Hitler developed an extreme sense of nationalism for his country, with a wish to "save" Germany from "enemies" from both inside and outside who in his opinion betrayed it.
  • During his early political years in the 1920's when he wrote Mein Kampf. Formally renouncing his Austrian citizenship on 7 April 1925, he did not acquire German citizenship until almost seven years later, allowing him to run for a position for public office. Benito Mussolini (Prime Minister of Italy in October 1922) was an influence to Adolf Hitler after Benito's "March on Rome".

Why were the Jews most targeted by Hitler?

Jewish were the most targeted people by Hitler during the Holocaust due to his hatred and blame of everything that is wrong with the world towards them. Hitler mainly blamed Jews for the German loss of WWI as they, as well as their conspirators "stabbed Germany in the back".

Concentration Camps

Although death rates were extremely as millions of Jews etc were killed in concentration camps, to be killing centres was not their desired purpose. They were meant to be used as places of incarceration, but as after 1936 the camps became increasingly where Hews and POWs were either killed or employed without pay to be labour workers, this was what they were known for. An estimated 15000 camps were set up by Nazis mostly occupying eastern Europe. Many concentration camps contained gas chambers, which was where people were sent to die.
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