Adolf Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany. His fascist agenda led to World War II and the deaths of at least 11 million people, including some six million Jews.
Who Was Adolf Hitler?
Adolf Hitler was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, serving as dictator and leader of the Nazi Party, or National Socialist German Workers Party, for the bulk of his time in power.
Hitler’s fascist policies precipitated World War II and led to the genocide known as the Holocaust, which resulted in the deaths of some six million Jews and another five million noncombatants.
The fourth of six children, Adolf Hitler was born to Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl. As a child, Hitler clashed frequently with his emotionally harsh father, who also didn’t approve of his son’s later interest in fine art as a career.
Following the death of his younger brother, Edmund, in 1900, Hitler became detached and introverted.
Hitler showed an early interest in German nationalism, rejecting the authority of Austria-Hungary. This nationalism would become the motivating force of Hitler’s life.
In 1903, Hitler’s father died suddenly. Two years later, Adolf’s mother allowed her son to drop out of school. After her death in December 1907, Hitler moved to Vienna and worked as a casual laborer and watercolor painter. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts twice and was rejected both times.
Lacking money outside of an orphan’s pension and funds from selling postcards, he stayed in homeless shelters. Hitler later pointed to these years as the time when he first cultivated his anti-Semitism, though there is some debate about this account.
In 1913, Hitler relocated to Munich. At the outbreak of World War I, he applied to serve in the German army. He was accepted in August 1914, though he was still an Austrian citizen.
Although Hitler spent much of his time away from the front lines (with some reports that his recollections of his time on the field were generally exaggerated), he was present at a number of significant battles and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme. He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross First Class and the Black Wound Badge.