Adolf Hitler (born April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn , Austria-Hungary , † April 30, 1945 in Berlin ) was a National Socialist German politician of Austrian origin who was dictator of the German Reich from 1933 to 1945 .
From July 1921 chairman of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), he tried to overthrow the Weimar Republic with a coup in Munich in November 1923 . With his writing Mein Kampf (1925/26) he shaped the anti-Semitic and racist ideology of National Socialism.
Hitler was appointed German Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933 . Within a few months, his regime eliminated the separation of powers , pluralistic democracy , federalism and the rule of law with terror, emergency ordinances , the Enabling Act , conformity laws , organization and party bans . Political opponents were imprisoned, tortured and murdered in concentration camps. In 1934, on the occasion of the " Röhm Putsch " , Hitler had potential rivals murdered in his own ranks. Hindenburg's death on August 2, 1934, he took to the Office of the President with the Chancellor to be united , and ruled ever since as the "Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor."
The German Jews were increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised from 1933, especially by the Nuremberg Laws of September 15, 1935, the November Pogroms 1938 and the Aryanization of companies of Jewish owners as well as numerous other laws and ordinances that gradually allow them to participate in the economic, cultural and social Making life impossible and robbing them of their wealth and livelihoods. He fought the consequences of the global economic crisis and mass unemployment with state investment programs and job creation measures such as the construction of the autobahn and the armament of the Wehrmacht, as well as the establishment of the paramilitary Reich Labor Service . With the armament of the Wehrmacht and the occupation of the Rhineland , Hitler broke the Versailles Treaty in 1936 . The Nazi propaganda presented the economic, social and foreign policy to be successful and so is increased to 1939 Hitler's popularity.
In 1938 he took over direct command of the Wehrmacht and pushed through the "Anschluss" of Austria . With the " smashing of the rest of the Czech Republic " on March 15, 1939, he defied the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938, which allowed him to annex the Sudetenland to the German Reich . With the conclusion of the so-called Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23./24. The attack on Poland prepared with the Soviet Union on September 1, 1939, which, according to the treaty, had the aim of smashing the Polish state and dividing its territory among the contracting parties and which was soon followed by the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland , solved the Second World War in Europe the end. After the victory over France in the western campaign from May 10 to June 25, 1940 and the beginning of the later failed Battle of Britain on July 10, 1940, he informed representatives of the High Command of the Wehrmacht on July 31, 1940 of his decision to attack the Soviet Union and to wage a war of annihilation against them to conquer " Lebensraum in the east ". He had the war against the Soviet Union , which began on June 22, 1941, prepared and carried out under the code name " Operation Barbarossa ".
During the Second World War, the National Socialists and their accomplices committed numerous mass crimes and genocides . As early as the summer of 1939, Hitler gave instructions to prepare for "adult euthanasia". Between September 1939 and August 1941, more than 70,000 mentally ill and mentally and physically handicapped people were systematically murdered in “ Aktion T4 ”; by the end of the war, more than 200,000 people were systematically murdered through “ euthanasia ”. Hitler's anti-Semitism and racism eventually culminated in the Holocaust . Around 5.6 to 6.3 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and up to 500,000 Sinti and Roma in the Porajmos . Hitler authorized the most important steps in the murder of the Jews and was informed about the progress. His criminal policy led to millions of war dead and the destruction of large parts of Germany and Europe.
Early years (1889-1918)
Hitler's family came from the Lower Austrian Waldviertel on the border with Bohemia . His parents were the customs officer Alois Hitler (1837-1903) and his third wife Klara Pölzl (1860-1907). Alois was born out of wedlock and until he was 39 years old bore the family name of his mother Maria Anna Schicklgruber (1796–1847). In 1843 she married Johann Georg Hiedler (1792–1857), who did not admit to being a father to Alois for his entire life. It was not until 1876 that his younger brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (1807–1888) had him certified as Alois' father and the form of his name changed to Hitler . Some historians consider Johann Nepomuk himself Alois Hitler's father. Klara Pölzl was his granddaughter. Thus Alois was married to his half niece first or second degree.
Adolf Hitler was in on April 22, 1889 Braunau parish church baptized . His older siblings Gustav (1885–1887) and Ida (1886–1888) had died before he was born. The three younger siblings were Otto (* / † 1892, only six days old), Edmund (1894-1900) and Paula (1896-1960). Otto's correct life data were only determined in 2016. Hitler's two older half-siblings Alois junior and Angela Hammitzsch came from his father's second marriage. After the death of their mother, they grew up in the household of Hitler's parents.
Since 1923, Hitler withheld some details of his origins. In 1930 he forbade Alois Hitler junior and his son William Patrick Hitler from introducing themselves to the media as his relatives because his opponents were not allowed to know his origin. He wanted to end public interest in his parentage. Concerned about statements made by his nephew, Hitler is said to have commissioned his lawyer Hans Frank , later governor-general in occupied Poland , to refute his father's Jewish origins in 1930 . After the war, Frank put forward the so-called " Frankenberger thesis ", according to which Hitler's paternal grandfather could have been a Jew. However, this thesis was rejected by all relevant Hitler biographers and refuted in 1971 by Werner Maser . When foreign media repeatedly claimed in 1932/33 that the leader of the anti-Semitic NSDAP had Jewish ancestors from the Polná ghetto , he had two genealogists examine his family tree, which was published in 1937.
After the “Anschluss” of Austria in 1938, Hitler declared the home villages of his father and grandmother, Döllersheim and Strones, a restricted military area. By 1942 he had a large military training area built there, which resettled around 7,000 residents and removed several memorial plaques for his ancestors. His grandmother's grave of honor was also destroyed, while her family's baptismal records were preserved. According to the journalist Wolfgang Zdral , Hitler wanted to use all these measures to suppress doubts about his " Aryan proof " and to prevent incest allegations because of his parents' blood relationship.
The family moved to the German border town of Passau in the summer of 1892 because their father was promoted to the head of the customs office . In the spring of 1895 the family returned to Austria and moved into the Rauschergut in Hafeld, so that Hitler attended the one-class elementary school in Fischlham from May onwards . With the move to Lambach in July 1897, he completed the second and third class and finally the fourth class with the move to Leonding . He was considered a good, bright student. From 1900 he attended the K. k. State Realschule Linz , where he showed himself unwilling to learn and twice could not advance to the next class because of missing the performance target. He despised religious instruction from Franz Sales Schwarz , only geography and history lessons from Leopold Pötsch interested him. In Mein Kampf (1925) he emphasized the positive influence of Pötsch. In his high school days, Hitler liked to read books by Karl May , whom he admired all his life. His father had chosen him for a civil service career and punished his unwillingness to learn with frequent, unsuccessful beatings. He died in early 1903. In 1904 his mother sent Hitler to the secondary school in Steyr . There he was not promoted to the ninth grade because of poor school grades. With a temporary ailment, he was able to leave secondary school without a qualification and return to his mother in Linz.
In Linz, Hitler got to know the thinking of the radical anti-Semite and founder of the Pan-German Association , Georg von Schönerer , through classmates, teachers and newspapers . He attended performances of Richard Wagner's operas for the first time , including Rienzi . He later said: "It started at that hour." Under the impression of the main character, according to his friend at the time , August Kubizek, he is said to have said: "I want to be a tribune ."
In Mein Kampf , Hitler presented his school behavior as a study strike against his father and claimed that a serious lung disease had thwarted his school leaving certificate. The father's violence is considered a possible root for his further development. According to Joachim Fest , even during his school days he fluctuated between intensive occupation with various projects and inactivity and showed an inability to work regularly.
Painter in Vienna and Munich
After his father's death, Hitler moved into a half- orphan from 1903 a pro- orphan's pension ; from 1905 he received financial support from his mother and his aunt Johanna. In early 1907 his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer . The Jewish family doctor Eduard Bloch treated them. Since her condition deteriorated rapidly, Hitler is said to have insisted on the use of painful iodoform compresses, which ultimately hastened her death.
From 1906 Hitler wanted to become a painter and later carried this job title. Throughout his life he saw himself as a misunderstood artist . In October 1907 he applied unsuccessfully to study art at the general painting school of the Vienna Art Academy . He initially stayed in Vienna, but returned to Linz when he learned on October 24th that his mother only had a few weeks to live. According to Bloch and Hitler's sister, he looked after the parents' household until the mother's death on December 21, 1907 and looked after her burial two days later. He thanked Bloch, gave him some of his pictures and protected him from arrest by the Gestapo in 1938 .
By pretending to be an art student, Hitler received an orphan's pension of 25 kroner a month from January 1908 to 1913 and his mother's inheritance of no more than 1,000 kroner. From that he was able to live in Vienna for about a year. His guardian Josef Mayrhofer urged him several times in vain to forego his pension portion in favor of his underage sister Paula and to start an apprenticeship. Hitler refused and broke off contact. He despised a “bread and butter” and wanted to become an artist in Vienna. In February 1908 he ignored an invitation from the renowned set designer Alfred Roller , who had offered him an apprenticeship. When he ran out of money, he got a loan of 924 kroner from his aunt Johanna in August. In the second entrance exam at the art academy in September, he was no longer admitted to trial drawing. He withheld this failure and his place of residence from his relatives in order to continue receiving his orphan's pension. That is why he posed as an “academic painter” or “writer” when moving house. He was threatened with conscription for military service in the Austrian army .
After August Kubizek, who shared a room with him in 1908, Hitler was more interested in Wagner operas than in politics. After moving out in November 1908, he rented rooms further and further away from the city center at short intervals, apparently because his lack of money grew. In the autumn of 1909 he moved into a room at 56 Sechshauser Strasse in Vienna for three weeks; after that he was not officially registered for three months. From his testimony in a criminal complaint it can be seen that he lived in a homeless shelter in Meidling . At the beginning of 1910, Hitler moved into the Meldemannstrasse men's dormitory , also a homeless shelter. In 1938 he had all files on his whereabouts in Vienna confiscated and passed off a house in an upscale residential area as his student apartment.
From 1910, Hitler earned money by drawing or copying motifs from Viennese postcards as watercolors . His roommate Reinhold Hanisch sold these for him until July 1910, then the Jewish roommate Siegfried Löffner. He reported Hanisch to the Vienna police in August 1910 for allegedly embezzling a picture of Hitler. The painter Karl Leidenroth reported Hitler anonymously, probably on behalf of Hanisch, for the unauthorized use of the title of "academic painter" and obtained that the police forbade him to use this title. Thereupon Hitler had his pictures sold by the resident of the men's home, Josef Neumann, as well as the dealers Jakob Altenberg and Samuel Morgenstern . All three were of Jewish origin. The roommate in the men's dormitory, Karl Honisch, later wrote that Hitler was “thin, poorly nourished, hollow-cheeked with dark hair that hit him in the face”, and was “shabbily dressed”, sat in the same corner of the office and took pictures every day drawn or painted.
In Vienna, Hitler read newspapers and writings by Pan-Germans , German nationalists, and anti-Semites, including possibly the book Der Unbesiegbare by Guido von List . The latter describes the desired image of the " fate of certain" infallible Germanic heroic prince, the Germans saved from destruction and world domination will lead. This picture , according to the historian Brigitte Hamann , could also explain Hitler's later claimed chosenness and infallibility, which did not allow him to admit any errors. Perhaps he read the magazine Ostara , published by List's student Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels , and the biography of Georg von Schönerer (1912) written by Eduard Pichl . Since 1882 he had demanded the “de-Jewification” and “racial segregation” by law, introduced an Aryan paragraph for his party, represented a ethnic-racist Germanism against the multiculturalism of the Habsburg monarchy and as a substitute religion for Catholic Christianity (“ Los von Rom! ”) . Hitler heard speeches from his supporter, the workers' leader Franz Stein , and his competitor, the Reichsrat member Karl Hermann Wolf . Both fought against the "Jewified" social democracy , Czech nationalists and Slavs . Stein strove for a German national community to overcome the class struggle ; Wolf aspired to a Greater Austria and in 1903 founded the German Workers' Party (Austria-Hungary) with others . Hitler also heard and admired the popular Viennese mayor Karl Lueger , who founded the Christian Social Party (Austria) , advocated Vienna's “ Germanization ” and, as an anti-Semitic and anti-social democratic “tribune”, gave speeches with mass impact. In 1910, according to statements from his roommates in the men's dormitory, Hitler discussed the political consequences of Lueger's death, refused to join the party and advocated a new, nationalist collection movement.
To what extent these influences shaped him is uncertain. At that time, according to Hans Mommsen , his hatred of the Social Democrats, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Czechs was predominant. While some benevolent statements by Hitler about Jews have been passed down up to the summer of 1919, from autumn 1919 onwards he resorted to anti-Semitic clichés that he had come to know in Vienna; since 1923 he presented Schönerer, Wolf and Lueger as his role models.
In May 1913, Hitler received his father's inheritance (around 820 crowns), moved to Munich and rented a room initially shared with Rudolf Häusler at Schleißheimer Strasse 34 ( Maxvorstadt ) . One reason for this was the flight from compulsory military service in Austria. After the annexation of Austria in 1938, he tried to cover up this by confiscating his military service papers. In Munich, among others, Hitler read Houston Stewart Chamberlain's popular fundamentals of the nineteenth century , continued to paint pictures, mostly based on photographs of well-known buildings, and sold them to a Munich art dealer. He later claimed that he longed for a “German city” and wanted to be trained as an “architecture painter”. After the Munich criminal police had taken him on 18 January 1914 and presented at the Austrian Consulate, he was on February 5, 1914 in Salzburg patterned judged to be incapable of weapons and returned from military service.
Hitler's love affairs between 1903 and 1914 are unknown. According to Kubizek and Hanisch, in Vienna he expressed himself contemptuously about female sexuality and fled from advances by women. In 1906 he adored the Linz student Stefanie Isak (later married Rabatsch) without making any contact. Later he referred to an Emilie, perhaps Häusler's sister, as his "first lover". Brigitte Hamann also rates this relationship as wishful thinking. Like the Pan-Germans , Hitler is said to have demanded a ban on prostitution and sexual abstinence for young adults as early as 1908 and practiced the latter himself out of fear of infection with syphilis .
Soldier in the First World War
Like many others, Adolf Hitler enthusiastically welcomed the beginning of the First World War in August 1914 . According to his own account, he successfully asked the Bavarian king with an immediate application dated August 3, 1914 for permission to be integrated into the Bavarian Army as an Austrian . He entered there as a war volunteer on August 16, and on October 8 he was sworn in to the King of Bavaria . Today it is assumed that Hitler's citizenship did not play a role for the Bavarian kingdom when the war broke out, especially since he was not the only Austrian in the regiment. An Austrian special permit, which he later claimed and applied for at short notice, is a legend. On September 1, 1914, he was assigned to the first company of Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 .
Hitler took part in the First Battle of Flanders at the end of October 1914 . On November 1, 1914 he became a corporal transported and on 2 December 1914, the Iron Cross awarded II. Class because he on 15 November 1914 a second messengers during the First Battle of Ypres northwest of Messines the life of the fire under French standing regimental commander had protected and possibly saved. From November 9, 1914 until the end of the war, Hitler served as an orderly and reporter between the regimental staff and the battalion staff at a distance of 1.5 to 5 kilometers from the main battle line , initially at the Wytschaete-Bogen on the western front . Contrary to his later portrayal, he was not a particularly endangered frontline reporter of a battalion or a company and had far better chances of survival than these.
From March 1915 to September 1916 he was deployed in the Aubers- Fromelles sector and in the Battle of Fromelles (19/20 July 1916). In the Battle of the Somme on October 5, 1916, Hitler was wounded by a shrapnel on his left thigh near le Barqué ( Ligny-Thilloy ), which later led to numerous speculations about a possible monarchy . He was nursed to health in the club hospital in Beelitz (Potsdam) until December 4th and then stayed in Munich for care. Later he wanted to have noticed the dwindling enthusiasm for war in Germany for the first time there.
On March 5, 1917, Hitler returned to his old unit, which had meanwhile been relocated to Vimy . In spring he took part in the Battle of Arras , in summer in the Third Battle of Flanders , from the end of March 1918 in the German spring offensive and in the decisive second battle on the Marne . In May 1918 he received a regimental diploma for outstanding valor and the wound badge in black. On August 4th he received the Iron Cross 1st Class for reporting to the front after all telephone lines had failed. The regimental adjutant Hugo Gutmann , a Jew, had promised him this award for this; the division commander approved it after two weeks. Hitler later denied having worn the Iron Cross First Class in World War I, as it was also awarded to the Jew Gutmann (Hitler: “a cowardly special equals”). On August 21, 1918, Hitler left the regiment, which was involved in heavy fighting, for a week-long telephone operator course in Nuremberg , and then went on his regular home leave in Berlin . While he kept referring to his impressions in Berlin later on, he kept silent about his probably first visit to the future city of the Nazi party rallies, which gave rise to speculation about connections with his superior Gutmann, who came from Nuremberg. On September 27th he returned to the Western Front, where his regiment was meanwhile affected by the disintegration that had begun on the entire Western Front with the Black Day of the German Army on August 8th.
On the morning of October 14, 1918, Hitler was caught in a mustard gas attack on a bulletin board at Wervik in Flanders, which he also described in Mein Kampf . If the poison got into the eyes, the eyelids swelled quickly with severe pain, which led to functional blindness. If there were no complications, the symptoms often subsided completely after a few weeks, as with Hitler. Those wounded in this way were considered "slightly wounded". With this classification, Hitler was admitted to the Pasewalk reserve hospital, a convalescent home for the slightly injured, under the number 7361 with the diagnosis “gas poisoned” . Usually the convalescence stay lasted four weeks. On November 19, Hitler went to the reserve battalion of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment in Munich as "fit for use in the war".
In Pasewalk on November 10, Hitler learned of the November Revolution and the armistice negotiations at Compiègne , which he received with deep indignation. Later (1924) he described these events in the sense of the stab- in-the-back legend as the “greatest disgrace of the century”, which led him to decide to become a politician. The latter is considered untrustworthy, since Hitler had almost no means and no prospects at the time, had no contact with politicians and never mentioned the alleged decision until 1923.
According to contemporary witnesses, Hitler behaved obsequiously to officers. “Respect your superiors, don't contradict anyone, blindly submit,” he stated in court in 1924 as his maxim. He never complained of bad treatment as a soldier and thus separated himself from his comrades. That is why they insulted him as a “white raven”, as someone who thought he was something special or who held an opinion that differed from the majority. According to her statements, he did not smoke or drink, never talked about friends and family, was not interested in going to brothels and often sat for hours reading, thinking or painting in a corner of the shelter.
The National Socialists Fritz Wiedemann and Max Amann claimed after 1933 that Hitler had refused a military promotion for which he would have been considered as a multiple wounded and a bearer of the Iron Cross, first class. Later praise of Hitler's alleged comradeship and bravery from comrades in the war is considered untrustworthy, as the NSDAP rewarded them with functionaries and money.
According to his letters from the field, Hitler disapproved of the spontaneous Christmas peace in 1914 . On February 5, 1915, he described the fighting in detail and concluded by saying that he hoped for the final settlement with the enemies inside. German war crimes such as arson and mass shootings in retaliation for alleged sabotage that had been committed in occupied Belgium in 1914 were clearly exaggerated by Hitler in retrospect in September 1941 after the start of the Russian campaign and described them as an exemplary method of fighting partisans in the east.
Sebastian Haffner called Hitler's experience at the front his “only educational experience”. Ian Kershaw judged: "The war and its aftermath created Hitler." Since Hitler devoted himself entirely to one cause for the first time in his life, the war, the prejudices and phobias he had already brought with him were decisively increased in the bitterness over the war defeat from 1916 onwards . Thomas Weber judges against it: "Hitler's future and his political identity were still completely open and malleable when he returned from the war."
Political advancement (1918–1933)
Propaganda speaker of the Reichswehr
On November 21, 1918, Hitler returned to the Oberwiesenfeld barracks in Munich. He tried to avoid the demobilization of the German Army and therefore remained a soldier until March 31, 1920. During this time he formed his political worldview, discovered and tested his demagogic speaking talent.
From December 4, 1918 to January 25, 1919, Hitler and 15 other soldiers guarded around 1,000 French and Russian prisoners of war in a camp in Traunstein run by soldiers' councils . On February 12th he was transferred to the second demobilization company in Munich and on February 15th he was elected as one of the stewards of his regiment. As such, he worked with the propaganda department of the new Bavarian state government under Kurt Eisner ( USPD ) and was supposed to train his comrades in democracy . On February 16, he and his regiment therefore took part in a demonstration by the “Revolutionary Workers' Council” in Munich. Historians are divided on whether Hitler accompanied the funeral procession for Eisner, who was murdered five days earlier, on February 26, 1919, as a blurred photo is supposed to prove.
On April 15, Hitler was elected to the replacement battalion council of the soldiers' councils of the Munich Soviet Republic , which had been proclaimed on April 7th. After their violent suppression in early May 1919, he denounced other shop stewards from the battalion council before a court martial of the Munich Reichswehr administration as "the worst and most radical agitators [...] for the Soviet republic", thus contributed to their conviction and bought the goodwill of the new rulers. He later kept silent about his previous collaboration with the socialist soldiers' councils. This is usually seen as opportunism or as evidence that Hitler could not have been a pronounced anti-Semite until then. Unlike other members of his regiment he joined none of the established against the Soviet Republic volunteer corps to.
In May 1919, Hitler first met Captain Karl Mayr , head of the "reconnaissance battalion" in the Reichswehr Group Command 4. This may recruited him shortly thereafter as an undercover agent . On the recommendation of his superiors, in the summer of 1919 he took part in two “ anti-Bolshevik education courses” for “propaganda among the troops” at the University of Munich . He was trained for the first time by German national, Pan-German and anti-Semitic academics such as Karl Alexander von Müller , who discovered Hitler's talent as a speaker, and Gottfried Feder , who had coined the catchphrase of “breaking interest bondage”. By meeting Feder, wrote Hitler during his imprisonment in Landsberg, he found “the way to one of the essential prerequisites for founding a new party”.
From July 22nd, Hitler was supposed to re-educate soldiers allegedly “contaminated” by Bolshevism and Spartacism in the Reichswehr camp Lechfeld with a 26-man “reconnaissance command” from the Munich garrison . His speeches aroused strong emotions, including anti-Semitic remarks. In the spring or autumn of 1919, Mayr introduced him to Ernst Röhm , the co-founder of the secret, right-wing extremist officers' association " Iron Fist ".
Mayr's informants were supposed to monitor new political parties and groups in Munich. To this end, Hitler first attended a meeting of the German Workers' Party (DAP) on September 12, 1919 . There he violently contradicted the discussed secession of Bavaria from the Reich. The party chairman Anton Drexler invited him to join the party because of his eloquence. On September 16, he wrote an “Expert Opinion on Anti-Semitism” for Mayr for Adolf Gemlich, a participant in the Lechfeld courses. In it he emphasized that Judaism was a race , not a religion . “For the Jew”, “religion, socialism, democracy [...] are only a means to an end, to satisfy greed for money and power. The consequences of his work will lead to racial tuberculosis of the peoples. ”Therefore, the“ anti-Semitism of reason ”must systematically and lawfully combat and eliminate its prerogatives. “His ultimate goal, however, must be the removal of the Jews in general. Only a government of national force is capable of both of these things [...] only through the ruthless use of nationally-minded leaders with an inner sense of responsibility. "Mayr largely agreed with Hitler's remarks.
Promotion to leader of the NSDAP
Hitler joined the DAP in September 1919. Contrary to his claim in Mein Kampf , he was not the seventh member of the party, but of the party's working committee as an advertising chairman . In the first surviving list of party members from February 2, 1920, he bears the number 555, which does not make him the 555th member, because the list begins with the number 501 and is also in alphabetical order. From autumn 1919 the anti-Semitic writer Dietrich Eckart influenced Hitler's thinking, brought him into contact with the Munich bourgeoisie and important donors, promoted him as a right-wing agitator among social lower classes and propagated him from March 1921 as the future charismatic “ leader ” and savior of the German nation. From him, who was considered his mentor, Hitler took over the conspiracy theory of an alleged world Jewry that was behind both US high finance and "Bolshevism" until 1923 .
When the DAP was renamed the NSDAP on February 24, 1920, Hitler presented the 25-point program that he, Drexler and Feder had written . On March 16, 1920, Eckart introduced him to some of the initiators of the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch in Berlin , which collapsed the following day. On another visit to Berlin in 1920, Hitler met Heinrich Claß ( Pan-German Association ), who then supported him financially and pushed ahead with the expansion and debt relief of the party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter .
When he was discharged from the Reichswehr (April 1, 1920), Hitler was able to live on his speaking fees. At that time it reached 1200 to 2500 listeners per appearance and recruited new members for the NSDAP, with which the German National Guard and Defense Association (DVSTB) and the German Socialist Party (DSP) were still competing strongly. He stopped Drexler from uniting the NSDAP with the DSP and continued on 7/8. August an alliance with the Austrian DNSAP in Salzburg to underline the Pan-German claim of his party.
In his keynote address Why are we anti-Semites? On August 13, 1920, Hitler explained his ideology in more detail for the first time: All Jews are incapable of constructive work because of their allegedly unchangeable racial character. They are essentially parasites and do everything to achieve world domination , including (so he claimed) racial mixing, dumbing down the people through art and the press, promoting the class struggle up to and including trafficking in girls . In doing so, he made racist anti-Semitism the main feature of the NSDAP program.
With a long raincoat over his suit, a "gangster hat", a conspicuously visible revolver and a dog whip , Hitler drew attention to himself at receptions in Munich. Supporters described him as a “grandiose popular speaker” who “outwardly somehow appeared between sergeant and clerk, with deliberate awkwardness and at the same time so much eloquence [...] in front of a mass audience”. Hitler transformed the SA from a "hall protection force" into a paramilitary thug and intimidation force of the NSDAP. He designed swastika flags and standards for power demonstrations by the SA in town and country.
In June 1921 he was in Berlin again to raise funds for his party. The NSDAP Munich invited Otto Dickel , a social reform party member from Augsburg, as a substitute speaker and arranged a meeting on July 10, 1921 with Nuremberg DSP delegates to negotiate a merger. Hitler, whom Hermann Esser might have informed, appeared. When Eckart, Drexler, and others welcomed Dickels' proposals for program reform, he left the meeting furious. On July 11th he resigned from the NSDAP, perhaps because he feared losing his special position in the party. On July 14th, he sharply criticized Dickel and his views in a detailed statement. For his re-entry, which Dietrich Eckart brokered, he demanded dictatorial powers in the NSDAP. On July 29, 1921, a general meeting decided on statutes with the required “dictatorial principle”, gave Hitler the leadership of the party and excluded Drexler as “honorary chairman” from the decision-making process. Hitler's confidante Amann streamlined and centralized the party organization. This is how Hitler asserted his claim to leadership and prevented the party from turning to the left. He was now a local party leader supported by many nationalists, opponents of democracy and militarists among intellectuals, in the government and administration of Bavaria.
In order to expand his influence, he made a few speeches in front of the Berlin National Club from 1919 and in Austria from 1920 onwards . He wanted to become better known through targeted attacks on political opponents. On September 14, 1921, he and his supporters violently disrupted an event of the separatist Bayernbund in Munich's Löwenbräukeller . Its founder Otto Ballerstedt was seriously injured and reported him. On January 12, 1922, Hitler was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for violating the peace and assaulting himself. He was serving a month of it in Stadelheim ; the remainder of the sentence was suspended until 1926 . In the later " Röhm Putsch " (1934) Hitler had Ballerstedt murdered.
Some British and US press articles rated him at the time as “potentially dangerous”, as a representative of an “army of vengeance” or as a “German Mussolini ”. Hitler had himself proclaimed as such by Hermann Esser in Munich on November 3, 1922, three days after Mussolini's successful march on Rome .
During the Kapp Putsch in 1920, the Reichswehr leadership in Bavaria forced the coalition government Hoffmann to resign. The new government under Gustav von Kahr took a right course to turn Bavaria into the “ regulatory cell ” of the empire. She gave support and shelter to many militant right-wing extremists such as Hermann Ehrhardt . After the dissolution of the Freikorps in the same year, they organized themselves into armed “ resident brigades ” and “patriotic associations”, which sought to overthrow the Weimar Republic . Some of them affirmed and committed political or femicide .
In March 1922, the Christian-conservative Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Franz Xaver Schweyer , invited the chairmen of the most important parties represented in the Bavarian state parliament to a meeting in order to have Hitler, who was reported as " stateless ", deported from Bavaria. The representatives of the bourgeois parties agreed to Schweyer's proposal, only the SPD parliamentary group leader Erhard Auer was against it. The other parties gave in to Auer and therefore Hitler was not expelled from the country.
After the Allies had forced the dissolution of the Bavarian Resident Guard in 1921, Kahr entrusted Otto Pittinger with the secret continuation of the "military work". In August 1922, Pittinger, the Munich police chief Ernst Pöhner and Ernst Röhm planned a putsch based on a planned mass rally by the patriotic associations against the Republic Protection Act on August 25. However, this was banned for a short time, so that only a few thousand National Socialists gathered. Hitler, who knew the putsch plan, is said to have foamed with rage and announced that he would act next time. The radical forces around Röhm and Ludendorff rejected Pittinger's monarchist-federalist course and increasingly resisted his attempts to unite the defense movement. The NSDAP initially joined the "Association of Patriotic Associations in Bavaria" founded on November 9, 1922, but not the Bund Oberland and the Bund Wiking . In February 1923, during the occupation of the Ruhr , the working group of the patriotic combat units was founded on Röhm's initiative , which the NSDAP and SA joined. In it Hitler exercised significant influence and defined as its goals: “1. Achievement of political power, 2. Brutal cleansing of the fatherland from its internal enemies, 3. Education of the nation, spiritually by will, technically through training for the day that gives freedom to the fatherland, ending the period of November betrayal and our sons and leaves a German empire to grandchildren again. [...] “After several ethnic politicians, including Hitler, received court summons for violating the Republic Protection Act, in April 1923 the working group asked the Bavarian state government to reject arrest warrants against“ patriotic men of Bavaria once and for all ”. His influence increased when he disconnected the SA from its association with Ehrhardt's organization.
Hitler was the first to call for a "national May Day celebration". However, the traditional, officially approved demonstration by the left-wing parties on May 1st , 1923 in Munich could not be prevented. This weakened Hitler's authority in the NSDAP, so that he withdrew from the public for a while. In May 1923 he founded a guard of bodyguards and thugs with the Adolf Hitler Munich raiding party made up of close confidants.
At the " German Day " on September 1 and 2, 1923 in Nuremberg, Hitler, Ludendorff and their supporters united the Bund Oberland with the Bund Reichskriegsflagge under Röhm and the SA to form the German Combat League . He called for a “national revolution”, which, because of the experience of May 1st, was primarily about taking possession of the “police power of the state”. On September 25, Hitler took over his political leadership. During a stay in Zurich arranged by Ulrich Wille junior in August 1923, he spoke to invited guests “On the situation in Germany” and received donations between 11,000 and 123,000 francs, mostly in cash and without a receipt. It is unclear whether the unknown total sum made it possible for the NSDAP to prepare for a coup.
On September 26, the new Chancellor Gustav Stresemann ( DVP ) canceled passive resistance against the Belgian-French occupation of the Ruhr. Thereupon the Bavarian government declared a state of emergency over Bavaria according to Article 48 and transferred the executive power with the rank of “General State Commissioner ” to Gustav von Kahr. With his “special relationships” to Bavarian right-wing extremist organizations and his well-known ethnic-anti-Semitic sentiments, he should officially prevent “stupidities” from “any side”. As one of his first measures, he had Eastern Jewish families from Bavaria deported and their property confiscated.
An article entitled Die Diktatoren Stresemann - Seeckt in the Völkischer Beobachter , which sharply attacked the Reich government, escalated the conflict between it and the government of Bavaria. Reichswehr Minister Otto Geßler , who had executive power over the entire Reich on September 27th, after the state of emergency was imposed, thereupon banned the Völkischer Beobachter . Kahr and the commander of the Reichswehr in Bavaria, Otto von Lossow , refused to accept this order. On September 29, Kahr declared that he would no longer enforce the Republic Protection Act in Bavaria.
Hitler visited the Villa Wahnfried for the first time on September 30th . The “Bayreuth Circle” around Cosima Wagner supported his putsch plan and his claim to become the longed-for national “leader”. On October 7, he tried in vain to persuade Lossow and Seisser to join his combat league.
On October 20, Gessler deposed Lossow. Kahr then demonstratively appointed Lossow "State Commander" and had the 7th Reichswehr Division stationed in Bavaria sworn in on Bavaria. This open breach of the constitution was a first step towards Bavaria's separation from the Reich. After the SPD left the Stresemann cabinet on November 2, 1923, Reich President Friedrich Ebert called on November 3, analogous to the execution of the Reich against Saxony, which was co-ruled by communists, to use Reichswehr troops against Bavaria. The chief of the army command, Hans von Seeckt , refused, because the army did not have sufficient forces and the Reichswehr was not marching against the Reichswehr. Seeckt condemned the disobedience of the Bavarian Reichswehr troops, but let Kahr know that he had adhered to the constitutional forms primarily in the interests of the unity of the Reich. At the same time he warned Kahr and Lossow not to orientate themselves too much towards the ethnic and national extremists. Seeckt was also intended by representatives of heavy industry such as Hugo Stinnes and at times by politicians such as Ebert and Stresemann as a possible “emergency chancellor” of a national dictatorship.
The “Bavarian Triumvirate” Kahr, Lossow and the head of the Bavarian State Police, Colonel Hans von Seisser , were considering putsch plans against Berlin. In consultation with contacts in northern Germany, they hoped in October 1923 to use military pressure to induce the Reich government to set up a “national directory”. At a meeting with the leaders of the paramilitary groups on October 24, Lossow even spoke of a “march on Berlin”, but actually played mainly against the German Combat League for a while. At the beginning of November, however, there was still complete uncertainty about the possible composition of the board of directors. While Kahr was under discussion as Reich President, Hitler and Ludendorff, who wanted a directory under their leadership in Munich, would not have been involved in any case. On November 3, Seeckt stated to Seisser that he did not want to do anything against the legitimate government.
After November 3, Kahr warned all leaders of "patriotic associations" against unauthorized actions and refused to meet with Hitler. He feared Kahr's agreement with the Reich government and therefore arranged an imminent putsch on November 7th with the other Kampfbund leaders. On the evening of November 8th, he had a gathering of around 3,000 Kahr's supporters in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller surrounded by his Kampfbund, gained access by force of arms, proclaimed the “national revolution” and forced Kahr, Seißer and Lossow at gunpoint, a “provisional one German national government ”under his leadership. He had all members of the Bavarian state government arrested and appointed Ludendorff commander in chief of the Reichswehr. This released the triumvirate, which revoked the extorted consent a few hours later and began to prepare for the crackdown on the coup. The SA and Bund Oberland arrested numerous real or supposed Munich Jews, whose names and addresses were taken from telephone books, as hostages. Although the Munich company commander Eduard Dietl , an early DAP member and trainer of the SA, and the offspring of officers refused to give orders to take action against the putschists, the combat alliances led by Ernst Röhm were able to manage most of the Munich barracks, the train station and important ones on the night of November 9th Do not occupy government buildings. Thereupon Hitler and Ludendorff tried with a march of up to 4,000 partly armed NSDAP supporters to force the overthrow in Munich. The state police under Seisser stopped this march near the Feldherrnhalle . In a short firefight, 15 coup officers and 4 police officers as well as one bystander died. Hitler, injured in a fall, fled and was arrested on November 11 in Ernst Hanfstaengl's house on the Staffelsee . The NSDAP, which had already been banned in nine German states, was also banned across the Reich in Bavaria and on November 23rd.
In spite of his refusal to give orders, Ebert had given Seeckt the supreme command of the Reichswehr on November 8, 1923, so that he could move the Bavarian Reichswehr to take action against the putschists. Hitler's and Ludendorff's solo effort made the 7th Division cohesive with the rest of the Reichswehr, and thwarted and discredited the putsch plans of Kahr and Seeckt. Hitler learned from this that he could gain power “not in total confrontation with the state apparatus, but only in calculated cooperation with it” and that to do so, he had to maintain the “appearance of legality ”.
The amateurishly staged, failed coup attempt was reinterpreted as a triumph from 1933 and celebrated annually as a heroic act with the commemoration of the " martyrs of the movement".
Trial and imprisonment
From February 26, 1924 , a trial against ten coup participants took place before the Bavarian People's Court , not the competent Reichsgericht in Leipzig. An interrogation protocol exonerated Ludendorff despite months of active preparations for a coup: he knew nothing about the coup plan. Apparently, Hitler dared to portray himself as the driving force behind the putsch plan from the start, denied the charge of high treason and claimed that the “ November criminals ” of 1918 were the real traitors. In doing so, he accepted the offer of the presiding judge Georg Neithardt for a mild verdict in case he withheld the putsch plans of the Kahr, Lossow and Seißer summoned as witnesses. The hostage-taking and killing of the four police officers were not grounds for charge or the subject of the trial. The “judicial comedy” ended with an acquittal for Ludendorff and mild sentences against five co-defendants for aiding and abetting high treason.
Judge Neithardt, who had already led the first trial against Hitler in 1922 and therefore knew that the prison sentence at that time was still suspended, sentenced Hitler in an act of perversion of justice to a minimum of five years imprisonment and a fine of 200 gold marks . In addition, the court refused his expulsion as a criminal foreigner, as required by the Republic Protection Act, because he had an "honorable disposition", thought and felt German, had been a voluntary soldier in the German army for four and a half years and had been wounded in the process.
During his detention, Hitler enjoyed numerous privileges in a separate wing of the Landsberg am Lech prison ; he had close contact with fellow convicts and was allowed to receive many visitors and have confidential conversations with them. Visitors referred to his cell as a “delicatessen shop” because of the many delicatessen items.
Prosecutor Ludwig Stenglein contradicted an early release : future good behavior was not to be expected because of his violations of imprisonment conditions (mail smuggling, writing of Mein Kampf, etc.). Nevertheless, he was released on December 20, 1924 after less than nine months in prison for allegedly good conduct.
Up until the trial, Hitler saw himself more as a “drummer” of the völkisch movement who was supposed to clear the way for another “savior of Germany” like Ludendorff. The trial reports made him known in northern Germany as the most radical “völkisch” politician. His followers venerated him as a hero and martyr for the national cause. This strengthened his position in the NSDAP and his reputation among other nationalists. Because of this approval, the propaganda success of his defense, his reflection when writing Mein Kampf and the disintegration of the NSDAP during his imprisonment, Hitler saw himself in the role of the great leader and savior of Germany that many had hoped for. After his dismissal, he wanted to rebuild the NSDAP as a tightly organized leader party independent of other parties .
During his imprisonment in 1923/24, largely without outside help, Hitler wrote the first part of his program Mein Kampf . He did not intend an autobiography or a replacement for the 25-point program. Here he developed his racial anti-Semitism, which has been represented since the summer of 1919, with the political goal of "removing the Jews in general". The central idea was a race war that determined the history of mankind and in which the “right of the fittest” would inevitably prevail. He understood the "large unmixed population of Nordic-Germanic people" in the "German national body ", which he refers to the racial ideology of Hans FK Günther as the strongest race destined for world domination. Hitler saw the Jews as the mortal enemy of the Aryans in the world history: They too were striving for world domination, so that there would have to be an apocalyptic final battle with them. Because they had no power and nation of their own, they tried to destroy all other races as a “parasite in the body of other peoples”. Since this endeavor was inherent in their race, the Aryans could only preserve their race by exterminating the Jews. In the last chapter of the second volume of Mein Kampf he wrote about German Jews : “If at the beginning and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been kept under poison gas like hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers from all walks of life Fields had to endure, then the millions of victims of the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: Eliminated twelve thousand villains at the right time would have saved the lives of perhaps a million decent Germans who would be valuable for the future. ”This proves Hitler's willingness to commit genocide, not his planning.
The programmatic conquest of Lebensraum in the East was aimed at the "annihilation of ' Jewish Bolshevism '", as he called the system of the Soviet Union , and the "ruthless Germanization" of Eastern European areas. What was meant was the settlement of Germans and expulsion ("evacuation"), extermination or enslavement of the local population. He strictly rejected cultural-linguistic assimilation as " bastardization " and ultimately self-destruction of his own race. With this he had, according to Kershaw, "created a solid intellectual bridge between the 'extermination of the Jews' and a war against Russia aimed at the acquisition of ' living space '". On this ideological basis, Eastern Europe up to the Urals was to be forcibly developed “as a supplementary and settlement area” for the National Socialist German Reich. Hitler's idea of living space tied in with Karl Haushofer's theories of geopolitics and surpassed them by making the conquest of Eastern Europe the primary war goal of the NSDAP and a means for lasting economic autarky and hegemony in Germany in a thoroughly reorganized Europe .
Hitler's racism led to his devaluation of everything “weak” as inferior life without a right to life: “The stronger has to rule and not merge with the weaker in order to sacrifice his own greatness.” Outwardly, he assessed the Slavs as an “inferior race “That is incapable of forming states and therefore can be ruled by higher-quality Germans in the future. Inwardly, he called for compulsory sterilization of fertile hereditary diseases , human breeding and “euthanasia” . So he said at the Nuremberg NSDAP party congress in 1929: "If Germany had a million children a year and 700,000 to 800,000 of the weakest were eliminated, the result might even be an increase in strength in the end." These ideas go back to representatives of German-speaking racial hygiene such as Alfred Ploetz and Wilhelm Schallmayer back. They mainly affected people with disabilities . Hitler's notion of the “alien”, “ anti-social ” or “degenerate” also affected unnamed groups in Mein Kampf , such as “ Gypsies ” (meaning: Roma and Yeniche ), homosexuals and Christian pacifists such as the Jehovah's Witnesses , whom Hitler strayed as idealistic and therefore devalued politically dangerous refusers of the necessary struggle for survival. From 1933 the National Socialists murdered many members of these groups.
Against democracy, the separation of powers , parliamentarism and pluralism, Hitler set an unlimited leader principle : all authority in party and state should come from an unelected "leader of the people" who was only confirmed by acclamation. The latter should appoint the subordinate leadership level, which in turn should appoint the next lower level. The respective “followers” should obey blindly and unconditionally. This leader idea had arisen in modern nationalism since 1800 and since 1900 it became common property in the anti- democracy camp as a yearning for a “people's emperor” or an authoritarian, bellicose chancellor like Otto von Bismarck . Hitler had got to know them in Linz as a cult around Georg von Schönerer and in Vienna experienced the effect of anti-Semitic popular speeches by Karl Lueger , whom he now highlighted as a model for a “tribune of the people”. The paramilitary organization of the NSDAP corresponded to the leader principle. He claimed the role of national leader from November 1922 after Mussolini's successful march on Rome and took over the associated “leadership cult” and a voluntaristic understanding of politics from Italian fascism . Accordingly, he claimed that he had acquired his ideology in Vienna as an autodidact until 1913 and that this “granite foundation” of his actions has hardly changed since then. Schönerer and Lueger would have opened his eyes to the " Jewish question " and taught him to regard the Jews in all their forms as a foreign people; but through his own research he recognized the identity of Marxism and Judaism and thus condensed his instinctive hatred into a " world view " until 1909 .
Despite the rejection of the official churches, which he sought to subordinate himself to as competition on the ideological and organizational level, Hitler remained a member of the Roman Catholic Church throughout his life . Rhetorically he professed himself to be a personal God , whom he called “ Almighty ” or “ Providence ” and understood as a force at work in history. He created the German people, determined them to rule over the peoples and selected individuals like himself to be his leaders. In doing so, he transferred the biblical election of the people of Israel to Germanness and integrated it into the racist worldview of National Socialism. For this he claimed sole and total validity in politics. The philosopher Hermann Schmitz characterizes Hitler in Adolf Hitler in the Story (1999) as anti-Christian. As evidence, he cites inter alia. Joseph Goebbels ' diary entry of April 8, 1941: “The Führer is a person who is completely oriented towards antiquity . He hates Christianity because it has crippled all noble humanity. ”According to the NSDAP program, which affirmed a non-denominational“ positive Christianity ”against the“ Jewish-materialistic spirit ”within the framework of the“ morality of the Germanic race ” Hitler's political anti-Semitism to the will of God and to which any executor: "So I think today in the sense of the Almighty Creator to act: As I defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the Lord's work." this " redemptive anti-Semitism" kept it up to his suicide unchanged and highlighted him again and again as the core of his thinking. From the failure of the “Los-von-Rome” movement of Schönerer, he concluded: National Socialism must respect and protect both major churches and their teachings as “valuable pillars for the existence of our people” and combat denominational party politics. Devout Protestants and Catholics could participate in the NSDAP without any conflicts of conscience. Schöneer's fight against the church disregarded the people's soul and was tactically wrong, as was Lueger's mission to the Jews , instead of striving for a solution to the “vital question of humanity”. He only praised Gottfried Feder as an influence after 1918.
Since Hitler adopted almost all of his ideas from anti-Semitism, social Darwinism and pseudoscientific biologism of the 19th and 20th centuries, his ideology and his rise are not classified as an exception, but rather as a component and result of these currents. The equation of Social Democrats, Marxists and Jews in Austria-Hungary was common among Christian Socialists, German Nationalists and Bohemian National Socialists since the 1870s. Many individual motifs of his early lectures, such as the alleged nomadism of the Jews and their alleged inability to art, culture and state formation, Hitler took from many new publications of German anti-Semites, which he borrowed from the Munich National Socialist Friedrich Krohn in 1919/20 . Among them were H. Naudh ( The Jews and the German State , 12th edition 1891), Eugen Dühring ( The Jewish question as a question of racial character , 5th edition 1901), Theodor Fritsch ( Handbook on the Jewish question , 27th edition 1910), Houston Stewart Chamberlain ( The foundations of the 19th century , 1899), Ludwig Wilser ( Die Germanen , 1913), Adolf Wahrmund ( The law of nomadism and today's Jewish rule , Munich 1919) and the German translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Ludwig Müller von Hausen had published in 1919. Hitler used the "protocols" as he did before him pen as evidence of the alleged "Jewish world conspiracy".
The first volume of Mein Kampf sold about 300,000 copies from 1925 to 1932 and was widely known through many reviews in public conflicts. However, almost only Hitler's foreign and party political goals were taken into account, not his racial theory. Almost no leading foreign politician read the book. The second volume, The National Socialist Movement , published in 1926, elaborated on Hitler's ideas about foreign policy, the tasks and structure of the NSDAP and received even less attention. Hitler's Second Book from 1928 elaborated on his extreme anti-Semitism, racism and his population policy plans, but remained unpublished.
In order to expose the National Socialists as implausible hypocrites, political opponents emphasized the contradiction between Hitler's racial ideal and his appearance. Fritz Gerlich, for example, cited a “report” by the “racial hygienist” Max von Gruber from 1923 (“Face and head bad race, mixed breed…”) in the Catholic newspaper Der straight way in 1932 and came up with that based on the race criteria of Hans FK Günther Result, Hitler belongs to an "Eastern-Mongolian racial mixture". It was mainly because of this criticism that Gerlich was murdered in 1934. Even Kurt Tucholsky called Hitler in 1932 as "vagabond Mongols wenzel ". The criticism of Hitler's cult and Nazi ideology lived on after 1933 as a life-threatening whisper joke : "Blond like Hitler, tall like Goebbels, slim like Göring and chaste like Röhm."
New establishment and first successes of the NSDAP
On January 4, 1925, Hitler promised Bavaria's Prime Minister Heinrich Held that he would only pursue politics in a legal way and help the government in the fight against communism . Thereupon Held lifted the NSDAP ban on February 16, 1925. With an editorial in the Völkischer Beobachter on February 26, Hitler re-founded the NSDAP under his leadership. So that his party headquarters could control the admission, all previous members had to apply for a new membership card. At the same time he appealed to the unity of the völkisch movement in the fight against Judaism and Marxism, not against Catholicism, which is strong in Bavaria . In doing so, he distinguished himself from Ludendorff, who resigned the chairmanship of the National Socialist Freedom Movement on February 12 and thus initiated its dissolution. Hitler managed to get the competing splinter groups, the Großdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft , “German Party”, “ Völkisch-Sozialer Block ” and the Deutschvölkische Freedom Party that arose during the NSDAP ban to rejoin or re-join the NSDAP. He only admitted the SA as an auxiliary force of the NSDAP, no longer as an independent paramilitary organization, so that Ernst Röhm gave up its leadership.
Hitler had a black Mercedes borrowed from Jakob Werlin , his own chauffeur and a bodyguard with which he drove to his performances. From then on, he staged it down to the last detail by choosing the time of his arrival, his entering the event room, the speaker's stage, his clothing for the intended effect and rehearsing his rhetoric and facial expressions. At party meetings he wore a light brown uniform with a swastika band, a belt, a leather strap over his right shoulder and knee-high leather boots. In front of a larger audience he wore a black suit with a white shirt and tie "when it seemed appropriate [...] to present a less martial, more respectable Hitler". With his often worn blue suit, lederhosen, raincoat, felt hat and dog whip, on the other hand, he looked like an "eccentric gangster". In his free time he preferred to wear traditional Bavarian lederhosen. In midsummer he avoided being seen in bathing trunks so as not to be ridiculous.
Hitler founded in April 1925 in Munich with the Schutzstaffel (SS), a subordinate to the party personal "life annuities and beatings Guard", which from the Nazi Party was subject in 1926 of the SA. At first he successfully operated the nationwide expansion of the NSDAP by founding new local and regional groups, for which he appointed " Gauleiter ". Regional bans on speaking hardly hindered this work. In March 1925 he commissioned Gregor Strasser to build up the NSDAP in North and West Germany. Up until September 1925, Strasser formed its own wing there, advocating stronger socialist goals, a social revolutionary course and foreign policy cooperation with the Soviet Union in relation to Hitler's Munich party headquarters. Strasser's draft of a new party program called for land reform, the expropriation of stock corporations and the participation of the NSDAP in the referendum on the expropriation of princes . Hitler initially let him go, but won Strasser's follower Joseph Goebbels as a supporter of his course and his leadership role. In February 1926 he pushed through against Strasser's wing the rejection of the new draft program and thus also of his demand for the expropriation of the princes as a form of a "Jewish system of exploitation". Hitler forbade any discussion of the party program (from 1920). In the summer of 1926, the NSDAP introduced the Hitler salute , making the Hitler cult its central feature. At that time, Hitler ruled the party in a manner similar to that from 1933 onwards, initially allowing arguments and rivalries and then pulling the decision. The personal bond with the “Führer” became decisive for the influence that a functionary had in the party, and Hitler became almost invulnerable in the NSDAP.
Ever since his promise of legality, Hitler wanted to defeat and undermine democracy at its own weapon. The NSDAP should move into the parliaments without cooperating constructively there. In addition, the SA should generate public attention for the party and its leader with spectacular marches, street battles and riots and at the same time reveal the weakness of the democratic system. For this purpose, the NSDAP used the then completely new methods of advertising and influencing the masses (→ Nazi propaganda ). Hitler's mass-produced rhetoric was fundamental to their success. He took up current political issues in order to regularly and specifically talk about the “guilt of the November criminals of 1918”, their “stab in the back”, the “Bolshevik danger”, the “shame of Versailles”, the “parliamentary madness” and the root of all evil : "The Jews". With his Ruhr campaign and the brochure Der Weg zum Wiederaufstieg he tried to win support from the Ruhr industry. In the 1928 Reichstag election , however, the NSDAP remained "an insignificant, albeit vocal splinter party," with 2.6 percent of the vote. The stabilized economic conditions and the sustained economic upswing (" Golden Twenties ") offered radical parties little opportunity to agitate until 1929.
The referendum initiated jointly by the NSDAP and DNVP in 1929 against the Young Plan , which was supposed to settle the open reparation issues between Germany and its former opponents of the war, failed. But Hitler and his party received substantial approval from the nationalist-conservative bourgeoisie for the first time in the state elections in Thuringia in autumn 1929. From then on, the press empire of DNVP chairman Alfred Hugenberg also supported Hitler because he saw in him and the NSDAP controllable means to help the German national forces establish a mass base.
As a result of the global economic crisis that began in 1929, the Weimar coalition broke up in Germany on March 27, 1930 . The Chancellor Hermann Müller (SPD), who was a democratically-minded majority in the Reichstag had and the first presidential cabinet of Heinrich Brüning ( Center ) followed the general election 1930 : The Nazi Party increased its vote share to 18.3 percent, and its parliamentary seats from 12 to 107 MPs . As the second strongest party, it had become a relevant power factor in German politics.
During the Reichswehr trial in Ulm on September 25, 1930, Hitler swore as a defense witness that he would “under no circumstances strive for his ideal goals by unlawful means” and that party members who did not adhere to this requirement would be excluded. Then he threatened: “If our movement wins in its legal struggle, a German state court will come; and November 1918 will find its atonement , and heads will roll. ”During a testimony in 1931 , attorney Hans Litten revealed that Hitler had continued to allow Nazi propaganda for a violent overthrow, thereby breaking his oath of legality. Hitler was charged with perjury . Although there was enough evidence to expel him, the case was delayed and dropped.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Briining tried to persuade Hitler to cooperate and offered him participation in the government as soon as he, Briining, had resolved the question of reparations . Hitler refused, so that Brüning had to let the SPD tolerate his minority cabinet .
Path to Chancellorship
Since 1931, Reich President Hindenburg was "almost inundated" with lists of signatures and entries for Hitler's Reich Chancellor. He invited Hitler and Hermann Göring for a first conversation on October 10, 1931, the day before the meeting of the " Harzburg Front ". According to Hitler's biographer Konrad Heiden , Hitler held monologues instead of answering Hindenburg's questions. He is said to have said to Kurt von Schleicher that the “Bohemian private” (Hindenburg probably confused the Austrian Braunau with the Bohemian town of the same name , Czech Broumov , which he had met in 1866 as a lieutenant on the way to the battle of Königgrätz ) could “at most Minister of Post ”. Hitler impressed him, but did not convince him of his suitability for the Chancellery.
In the crisis year of 1932, the conservative politicians Franz von Papen , Kurt von Schleicher, Alfred Hugenberg and Oskar von Hindenburg acted on Hindenburg with various personal goals, some with one another, some against one another. They all wanted to replace the Weimar democracy with an authoritarian form of government and initially rejected Hitler and his party as "plebeian". Because they received little support from the population, they increasingly viewed and promoted the NSDAP or one of its wings as the mass base they needed for their projects and advocated their participation in power at Hindenburg.
In order to be able to run against Hindenburg in the March / April 1932 presidential election, Hitler, who had been stateless since April 30, 1925 , had to become a citizen of a federal state and thus a German under Section 1 of the Reich and Citizenship Act (see Adolf Hitler's naturalization February 1932). As a convicted person for high treason, he sought the "employment in direct or indirect civil service", which was possible under Section 14 of the Reich and Citizenship Act, which was "for a foreigner as naturalization [...]" in order to circumvent the anticipated concerns of a federal state against his naturalization . After several unsuccessful attempts, the Minister of the Interior in the Free State of Braunschweig Dietrich Klagges (NSDAP) appointed him three days after the announcement of his candidacy for the Braunschweig government council . However, Hitler never started his intended service, but was immediately given leave for the election campaign and later applied for unlimited leave for his future "political struggles". He was only dismissed from the Braunschweig civil service as Chancellor on February 16, 1933.
In the second ballot on April 10, Hindenburg was re-elected with 53% of the vote, while Hitler received only 36.8% of the votes cast. On Brüning's advice, many SPD voters voted for Hindenburg as a “lesser evil” in order to prevent Hitler's victory and thus the end of Weimar democracy. However, the re-elected Hindenburg dismissed Brüning on May 29, appointed Franz von Papen as the new Chancellor and dissolved the Reichstag.
The NSDAP used all state and Reich elections planned for 1932 for constant agitation . Hitler hired the opera singer Paul Devrient as a voice trainer and campaign supervisor and from April to November 1932 had himself flown in to 148 large-scale rallies, which were attended by an average of 20,000 to 30,000 people. The Nazi propaganda staged him as a savior ("Hitler over Germany") standing above the social classes of a movement . He became better known among the population than any other candidate before him. Dozens of people died violently in provocative NSDAP marches during this election campaign. The " Altona Blood Sunday " (July 17), for example, offered von Papen's government the opportunity to overturn the state government of Prussia , which was incumbent in accordance with the constitution, by means of an emergency ordinance ( Preussenschlag , July 20).
In the Reichstag election of July 1932 , the NSDAP was the strongest party with 37.3 percent. Hitler claimed the Chancellery. At the second Reichstag session on September 12, Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag as a result of tumult over its emergency ordinances. In the Reichstag election in November 1932 , the NSDAP was again the strongest party with 33.1 percent, despite a loss of votes; the KPD also gained seats, so that the democratic parties could no longer have a parliamentary majority. Thereupon von Papen resigned and suggested to Hindenburg that he be appointed dictator by emergency decree.
“National conservative forces in the economy, military and bureaucracy” strived for the “authoritarian (monarchist) restructuring of the state”, the “permanent elimination of the KPD, SPD and trade unions”, the “reduction of the tax and welfare state burdens on the economy”, the “rapid overcoming of the Versailles Treaty ”and the“ armament ”. They believed that they could only achieve their goals with the support of the National Socialist mass movement. For them unwanted parts of Hitler's program (dictatorship instead of monarchy, consideration of workers' interests), these elites wanted to weaken Hitler by “framing” Hitler and “taming” his policies. For this purpose, von Papen appeared to them to be a suitable ally, since he “still had the full confidence of Hindenburg and was the only one able to dispel his distrust of Hitler”. Most industrialists continued to reject Hitler's chancellorship. The long-held notion that Hitler came to power thanks to funding from big industry is now considered a " legend " or a " myth ".
Early on, Hitler subordinated criticism of capitalism in the NSDAP to anti-Semitism, according to which only the Jews were to blame for economic misery. Hitler's speech at the Düsseldorf Industrial Club in early 1932 praised the role played by the business elite and emphasized against the voters of the left-wing parties: The German people could not survive as long as they viewed half of their property as theft . After Hitler had established good relationships with business circles by the end of 1932 and had largely allayed their concerns about the Nazi economic program, large-scale industry supported the rise of the NSDAP in the Schacht office or in the economic policy department of the NSDAP , primarily through "business representatives from the second and third Member of the iron and steel industry ”and later Aryanization profiteers , but also bankers and large agrarians: They tried to reconcile a future Nazi economic policy“ with the prosperity of the private economy ”so that“ industry and trade can participate ”.
In order to avoid the risk of a civil war and a possible defeat of the Reichswehr against the paramilitary forces of the SA and KPD, Hindenburg appointed Kurt von Schleicher as Reich Chancellor on December 3rd. This had become Reichswehr Minister under von Papen and apparently took a more worker-friendly course. Schleicher tried to split the NSDAP with a cross-front strategy: Gregor Strasser was ready to accept Schleicher's proposal to participate in the government, to become Vice Chancellor and thus to bypass Hitler. This asserted his leadership role in the NSDAP and claim to the Chancellery in December 1932 amid tears and threats to kill himself. Hindenburg's conservative advisors had failed in their attempt to involve the NSDAP in the government without granting Hitler the chancellery.
The meeting between Papen and Hitler in the house of the banker Schröder on January 4, 1933 is considered to be the "hour of birth of the Third Reich", which initiated "an immediate causal sequence of events up to January 30": when Hitler von Papen became Vice Chancellor, the occupation of the classic ministries with German nationals and offered the right to be present at all lectures by the Chancellor to the Reich President, he obtained the latter's approval. Von Papen and Hugenberg also believed that they could “frame” and “tame” a Reich Chancellor Hitler in a government dominated by conservative ministers. Its alliance with Hitler isolated Schleicher's government, which the National Socialist-led Reichslandbund put under additional pressure in the protective tariff conflict between agriculture and the export industry.
In the state elections in Lippe in 1933 (January 15), the NSDAP became the strongest party with 39.5 percent of the vote (out of 100,000 eligible voters ) and thus saw its claim to leadership strengthened. When the abuse of Osthilfe threatened Hindenburg's reputation, his friend Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau campaigned personally for Hitler's chancellorship, from whose cabinet he expected the scandal to be covered up. In addition, on January 22nd, Hitler won Oskar von Hindenburg as a supporter with threats and offers. This removed the Reich President's last reservations about his appointment.
When General Werner von Blomberg was won over to Hitler's government with the promise to become the new Reichswehr Minister, Schleicher lost the solid support of the Reichswehr and was completely isolated and unable to act. When Hindenburg rejected his request for new elections, he resigned on January 28, 1933. Hitler, von Papen and Hugenberg had meanwhile agreed on a cabinet. This made Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor possible.
Rule before World War II (1933-1939)
Establishment of the dictatorship
On January 30, 1933, Hindenburg first unconstitutionally appointed Blomberg as the new Reichswehr Minister because the NSDAP had spread rumors of a coup in Berlin. Only then did he swear in Hitler and the rest of the cabinet and allow him the required dissolution of the Reichstag in order to enable new elections. So Hindenburg wanted to achieve the political unification of the right-wing parties in a coalition government dominated by German nationalists. Accordingly, almost all ministers in Hitler's cabinet belonged to the DNVP. Apart from Hitler, the only representatives of the NSDAP were Wilhelm Frick , who held a key department with the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and without the Göring division, who now controlled the police in the largest German state as the "Reich Commissioner for the Prussian Ministry of the Interior". This enabled the NSDAP to determine domestic politics in Germany.
As soon as he moved into the Old Reich Chancellery , Hitler is said to have said: “No power in the world will ever get me out of here alive.” Even before the new elections, the Hitler government restricted basic rights by decreeing the Reich President for the protection of the German people , until the Reichstag fire of February 27, as the alleged starting signal for a communist uprising, gave her the pretext for the Reich President's ordinance on the protection of the people and the state (Reichstag Fire Ordinance ) . The ordinance, written by Frick on Hitler's initiative and unanimously approved by the cabinet, abolished fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly , freedom of the press and the confidentiality of letters and made it possible to arrest political opponents. It established the state of emergency for the entire period of National Socialism until 1945. It is therefore considered to be the actual “constitutional document of the Third Reich”.
In the election campaign that followed, Hitler's regime had many opponents, especially communists, intimidated, arrested or murdered. Nevertheless, the NSDAP and DNVP missed the two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments in the Reichstag elections on March 5 . Hitler ran for constituency 24 (Upper Bavaria-Swabia) and became a member of the Reichstag . On the day of Potsdam , the opening of the Reichstag on March 21, the NSDAP and Deutschnationale staged their unification under the leading figure of Hindenburg. On March 23, 1933, after the KPD mandates were canceled due to the Reichstag Fire Ordinance, the Reichstag passed the constitution- amending Enabling Act with the votes of the bourgeois parties . It allowed the regime to pass laws directly for an initial four years. The Reichstag thus renounced its role as legislator ( legislative branch ) , left it to the government ( executive branch ) and disempowered the Reich President. This allowed Hitler's dictatorship and the DC circuit of the state and society . On May 2nd, after the May celebrations of the previous day, the Nazi regime smashed the free trade unions and instead founded the German Labor Front on May 10th . On June 22nd, the SPD, whose MPs were the only ones who voted against the Enabling Act, was banned and the other parties were ordered to dissolve themselves by July 5th. On December 1, 1933, the NSDAP became the only state party with the law to ensure the unity of party and state . In this process, “pressure from 'below'” and Hitler's “personal initiative” worked together.
On June 30, 1934 and on the following days, 150 to 200 SA executives were murdered on Hitler's orders under the pretext of an alleged putsch planned by Ernst Röhm (" Röhm Putsch ") with the significant participation of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler . Hitler's cabinet legalized the murders on July 3, 1934 with the State Emergency Defense Act as a “repression of treasonous and treasonous attacks”. On July 13, 1934, Hitler again promised the Reichswehr that it would remain the state's only woman bearer of arms.
On August 1, 1934, when Hindenburg's death became foreseeable, the cabinet united his office of president with the chancellery and transferred “the previous powers of the president to the Führer and chancellor Adolf Hitler”. On the same day, without being asked by Hitler, Blomberg announced that after the death of Hindenburg, the soldiers of the Wehrmacht would be sworn in to the new commander-in-chief. So far, all soldiers had been sworn in to the Weimar Constitution. On August 2, the anniversary of Hindenburg's death, a Führer decree ordered Hitler to be addressed with this double title in future "in official and non-official dealings as before", since the title of "Reich President" was "inseparably linked" to Hindenburg's name. Since then, Hitler has held the title of Fuhrer and Chancellor . The association of offices was approved by 89.9 percent of those who cast valid votes on August 19 in the referendum on the head of state of the German Reich . Nevertheless, the result of the vote disappointed the Nazi leadership because it was not enough in their opinion.
Cabinet meetings became less and less important. The ministers met twelve times in 1935, six times in 1937, and last met on February 5, 1938. Until 1935, Hitler adhered to a fairly orderly daily routine in the Old Reich Chancellery: in the mornings, from 10 a.m., meetings with Hans Heinrich Lammers , Otto Meissner , Walther Funk and various ministers, lunch at 1 or 2 p.m., and in the afternoon meetings with military or foreign policy advisers or preferably with Albert Speer about building plans. Gradually, Hitler deviated from this fixed daily routine and returned to his former bohemian lifestyle. He made it difficult for his adjutant to get decisions from him as head of state . The ministers (with the exception of Goebbels and Speer) no longer had access to Hitler if they did not have good contact with Hitler's adjutants, who gained such great informal power.
Expansion of the Hitler cult
In 1933 the Hitler cult became a mass phenomenon in which the expectations of the population and Nazi propaganda interacted. Hitler's rule was “extremely personalized” from the start: he had no Politburo like Josef Stalin , no council of war and no grand council like Mussolini. He did not allow a state council or party council as a counterweight and did not replace the cabinet after it had not met. The Hitler salute was made mandatory for civil servants in 1933 and was adopted voluntarily by large sections of the population.
Hitler's policy met with growing approval from large sections of the population. The real or apparent successes of the regime - elimination of mass unemployment , overcoming the Versailles Treaty and internal political consolidation as well as later the initially spectacular victories at the beginning of the Second World War - Nazi propaganda attributed to Hitler alone. In doing so, it expanded the cult of the leader from a party mark to a national cult and strengthened Hitler's position vis-à-vis the conservative elite and abroad.
Hitler used the lack of criticism to further expand the unrestricted Führer state . This was completed in 1939, when all officers and soldiers had to take a personal oath to drive. The Nazi legal doctrine legitimized this by equating constitutional law with the will of the leader that cannot be measured by any legal idea. Addressed as "Führer and Reich Chancellor" since 1934, the title "Führer" was reserved exclusively for Hitler from 1941 onwards. As a result, according to Germanist Cornelia Schmitz-Berning , the term gradually developed into a proper name .
The Hitler cult became omnipresent in everyday German life, for example through the renaming of many streets and squares after Hitler , through the granting of honorary citizenship , an Adolf Hitler Koog as a prime example of the state blood-and-soil ideology, village " Hitler realms " and "Hitler linden trees “, Commercially marketed images of Hitler, from 1937 state stamp series and crowds of visitors in Obersalzberg . This veneration far exceeded the personality cult around Bismarck. It became more and more difficult for critical contemporaries to distance themselves from it. Hitler distinguished others with his name, from around 1937 onwards by awarding the title Adolf Hitler School to Nazi elite schools .
Wide areas of society voluntarily accommodated this: With the Adolf Hitler donation to the German economy from June 1, 1933, German industry promoted "national reconstruction" until 1945 with around 700 million Reichsmarks for the NSDAP, which Hitler was free to decide how to use . For this he donated the “Adolf Hitler Thank You” in 1937, an annual donation of half a million Reichsmarks “for particularly deserving, needy party comrades”. Hitler became an honorary citizen of many German cities; some withdrew his honorary citizenship after his death or declared it terminated.
Historians consider the Hitler cult to be the hallmark of “ charismatic rule ” that did not replace bureaucratic authorities, but overarched them and thus often created a conflict of competence between the party hierarchy and the state apparatus. Rivalries between the Nazi authorities who entered into a race to anticipate the “will of the leader” in turn required more and more authoritative day-to-day political decisions by Hitler. However, he left many conflicts undecided in order not to damage his reputation as an infallible, ingenious, autocratic ruler above everyday conflicts, and thus contributed to the undermining of a functioning state administration. As the Hitler myth grew, so did the reputation of the NSDAP.
After Austria's annexation to the German Reich and the first election to the “Greater German Reichstag” on April 10, 1938 with 99.1% approval, the dictator's prestige rose again and the consensus base of his rule probably never increased. The attack on Poland was not popular with the Germans. According to Kershaw, Hitler's popularity reached a new high after the victorious " Blitzkrieg " against France, declined only gradually in 1941 and only plummeted after the defeat in Stalingrad in 1943. Götz Aly, on the other hand, concluded in 2006 from new indicators of a research project he led that Hitler's popularity had already declined sharply before the Polish campaign, hardly recovered after the western campaign in 1940 and rapidly declined after the attack on the Soviet Union.
After the street terror of the SA in the Weimar Republic, a systematic, violent persecution of political opponents of the NSDAP under the catchphrase of the " national revolution " began when Hitler came to power . The SA had concentration camps set up from January 1933 . Since the "Reichstag Fire Ordinance" of February 28, 1933, the state internments, mistreatment and murders have hit communists, social democrats, pacifists, Jehovah's Witnesses , conservative Nazi opponents and other Germans who voiced criticism or resisted (→ members of the resistance ), as well as before all Jews. In the years that followed, the persecution was extended to various Christian groups, the disabled, homosexuals, supposedly anti-social and “foreign races”.
Hitler did not have a comprehensive plan for the state's “Jewish policy”, but often reacted at short notice to pressure from NSDAP members with legislative initiatives. Their recognizable goal was the exclusion and expulsion of German Jews , as set out in the NSDAP program . Hitler helped to prepare the " Jewish boycott " of April 1, 1933, but did not appear as its initiator or organizer. He discussed the law passed on April 7 to restore the civil service (excluding “non-Aryan” civil servants) and, out of consideration for the political conditions, opted for a more moderate version. As a result, many professional associations also excluded Jews. This was followed by numerous other, also non-state steps towards exclusion. As early as 1933, Hitler had in mind a consistent ghettoization of the Jews and their spatial exclusion: They would have to "get out of all professions [...], locked up in a territory where they can indulge [...] while the German people watch how wild animals are treated." looks at ".
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which deprived German Jews of their civil rights and threatened “mixed marriages” and sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews as “ racial disgrace ” with prison or penitentiary, were initiated by terror from the party base and were intended to satisfy them. Hitler helped prepare it for months so that he could turn to other topics at the Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress in September. He removed the limitation to “full Jews” in the draft law immediately before it was announced on September 15.
The persecution of the Jews took a back seat in 1936 because of the summer and winter Olympics and in 1937. But when Hitler learned of the death of the embassy secretary Ernst Eduard vom Rath on November 9, 1938 , on whom Herschel Grynszpan had carried out an attack two days earlier , he immediately consulted Goebbels and authorized him to use the attack as a pretext for the November pogroms . Hundreds of Jews were murdered throughout Germany and Austria, tens of thousands were interned and expropriated in concentration camps, and thousands of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries were destroyed. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt then tightened the tone towards Germany. Hitler transferred the further "Jewish policy" to Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich . These put an end to the "spontaneous", uncontrolled street terror by treating the Jews as criminals by law and by paying for the damage caused by the November pogroms, for example with the " Jewish penalty ".
In his Reichstag speech on the sixth anniversary of his inauguration on January 30, 1939, Hitler said:
“Today I want to be a prophet again: If international financial Jewry in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the peoples into a world war again, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Judaism, but that Extermination of the Jewish race in Europe. "
The speech was widely distributed through its broadcast on the radio, in newsreels , in the entire daily press and in several book publications, but was mostly not understood literally by the audience. The central passage that a world war, for which Judaism would of course be responsible, would bring the physical extermination of the Jews, Hitler repeated in further speeches during the war years. In doing so, he dated his “prophecy” from January 30, 1939 to the day the war began and intensified his speech about “annihilation” by adding the word “exterminate”.
With a staged groundbreaking ceremony on September 23, 1933, Hitler falsely posed as the inventor and planner of the Reichsautobahn and had its expansion propagated as a "Hitler program" to eradicate mass unemployment. In fact, the first two motorways were built before 1933 and more were planned. The building work during the Nazi era mostly only employed tens of thousands, a maximum of 125,000 workers, who were assigned, forced to work for low wages and, if they refused, imprisoned in concentration camps. The program was discontinued in 1941 due to the drafting of workers for military service. Hitler's promise of mass mobility was not kept. Nevertheless, the cliché persisted after 1945 that he had successfully eliminated unemployment by building the motorway by 1938.
From 1933 onwards, Hitler had planned to completely redesign Berlin as the “capital of the Germanic empire of the German nation” and rename it to “Germania”. To this end, he appointed Albert Speer in 1937 as "General Inspector for the Reorganization of the Reich Capital". In the course of planning, Speer designed a gigantic " Führerpalast " in the Spreebogen for Hitler, who likes to be modest in public . Of the planned monumental buildings, only the New Reich Chancellery was completed in 1939 . The city was to be surrounded by a motorway ring and crossed by two dead straight, intersectionless, wide boulevards suitable for parades. The construction of a tunnel to cross under the north-south axis began in 1939, but was discontinued in 1942 due to a lack of material during the war. Hitler passed himself off as the “brilliant builder” of the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and interfered with the planning with his ideas, sketches and visits, but in fact mostly only blessed initiatives from other NSDAP agencies.
In accordance with the tactical affirmation of Christianity, Hitler had expelled representatives of neo-paganism such as Artur Dinter from the NSDAP in 1928 and forced Alfred Rosenberg in 1930 to mark his anti-church book The Myth of the 20th Century as a private view. At the same time, he had allowed planned attempts by NSDAP members to align Christianity with the Nazi racial ideology. To this end, they founded the church party German Christians (DC) in 1932 .
Hitler's first government declarations (February 1, March 23, 1933) emphasized that he would protect Christianity as the “basis of our entire morality”, enable “deep, inner religiosity”, comply with the treaties of both churches, and grant them adequate influence in school and education Fight against “Bolshevism” and atheist organizations and develop friendly relations with the Vatican . The major churches are the "most important factors for the preservation of our nationality". For this they should take part in the struggle against the “materialistic worldview” and in building the “national community”. He ended with liturgical prayer formulas based on the Our Father and with “ Amen ”. At the staged “ Day of Potsdam ” (March 21), he tied in with the Prussian state church tradition and at the same time dispelled Catholic worries about a new “ culture war ”.
Because of this targeted Nazi propaganda and their own anti-democratic tradition, both major churches affirmed the abolition of democracy. The Catholic Center Party under Ludwig Kaas voted on March 23 for the Enabling Act. The German Catholic bishops lifted the incompatibility of Christianity and National Socialism declared in 1931 on March 28th and allowed Catholics to join the NSDAP. Most of the regional Protestant churches welcomed the "national turnaround" and had intercessions read out on Hitler's birthday without mentioning the victims of the Nazi policy of violence.
By July 20, Hitler negotiated a Reich Concordat with the Vatican based on the model of Mussolini's 1929 Lateran Accords. It forbade the political activity of Catholic clergy and parties and assured the continued existence of Catholic teaching, denominational schools, purely religious, charitable and cultic associations and associations. Their concrete definition was omitted because the self-dissolution of the Center Party (July 5) forced the rapid conclusion of a contract. In a secret additional protocol , Hitler agreed a military chaplaincy contract with the bishops if Germany were to reintroduce compulsory military service.
In order to equate all Protestant regional churches in a "Reichskirche", Hitler appointed the East Prussian military pastor Ludwig Müller (DC) as "plenipotentiary" for evangelical affairs on April 25th and appointed Jäger as "State Commissioner" for the regional churches in Prussia on June 24th . Jäger replaced all church leaders who protested against state attacks with DC representatives. After violent protests and a meeting mediated by Hindenburg, Hitler withdrew Jäger's measures. The German Evangelical Church (DEK) formed on July 11th committed to holding church elections on July 23rd. The evening before, Hitler advertised massively on the radio for the DC, which then won the leadership of most of the Protestant regional churches. According to the minutes of conversations from contemporary witnesses , however, Hitler rejected Christianity in July 1933 as a “Jewish fraud”. "German Christianity" is cramp and illusion. One can only be either a Christian or a German. His advocacy for the DC was therefore only motivated by power politics.
On September 5, the DC elected Müller as Reich Bishop and introduced a law analogous to the Aryan paragraph in Prussia , which excluded Jewish Christians from the regional church. As a result of the Sportpalast rally (November 13, 1933), they lost many members and their unit. Thereupon Müller dismissed their speakers, illegally subordinated the Protestant youth to the Hitler Youth in December and in January 1934 forbade all internal church criticism of his leadership. With that he lost his authority in the DEK. In the following church struggle their organizational unity broke up; the Aryan paragraph could no longer be enforced in it.
On January 25, 1934, Hitler initially forced the opponents of the DC to demonstrate tapped phone calls from Martin Niemoeller to be loyal to the state and to accept Müller as Reich Bishop. In March he appointed the former Freikorps fighter Franz von Pfeffer as "Special Commissioner for Church Issues" and on April 12th Jäger as "Legal Administrator" of the DEK. Their attempts to force the regional churches to be brought into line by removing elected regional bishops failed due to resistance from DC opponents. On May 30, 1934, they founded the Confessing Church (BK), whose Barmer Theological Declaration , written by Karl Barth , only rejected a constitutional state as defined in accordance with the Gospel and totalitarian state ideologies as heresy . In October part of the BK created their own administrative structures. London representatives of the ecumenical movement threatened to break off relations with the DEK. As a result of the strong domestic and foreign protests, Hitler deposed Pfeffer and Jäger at the end of October 1934, canceled the planned swearing-in of all Protestant bishops and recognized the bishops Hans Meiser , Theophil Wurm and August Marahrens as legitimate church representatives. So he presented himself as the mediator of the dispute in the DEK.
At the same time, Hitler strengthened the anti-church forces in the NSDAP in 1934: he appointed Alfred Rosenberg as "Weltanschauungsbeauftragter" (January), had some committed Catholics murdered during the "Röhmputsch" (July), and set up the security service of the Reichsführer SS (SD) and his main office relocated to Berlin (December). The SD central department for "ideological evaluation" spied on both major churches and fought their public influence in favor of neo-pagan religiosity. Following suggestions from State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart (January 1935), however, Hitler refused to allow the state to withdraw from church matters and preferred wait-and-see neutrality and increased state supervision over the churches. To this end, he appointed Hanns Kerrl " Reich Church Minister " (July). This enacted a "law to safeguard the DEK" (September), which severely limited the activities of the BK with 17 implementing ordinances until 1939 and, among other things, withdrew the DEK particular churches from accessing their funds and legal proceedings. State “church committees” made up of representatives from all directions were supposed to unify the DEK in terms of organization. Kerrl failed to achieve this goal and split the BK into supporters and opponents of its committees (February 1936).
As a result of growing protests against Kerrl, Hitler surprisingly called new elections in the DEK on February 15, 1937, allegedly to grant it an autonomous church constitution. Since parts of the DEK threatened an election boycott, the election date was postponed several times and canceled in November. The Gestapo arrested numerous BK representatives and Catholic Nazi opponents by the end of the year. In December, Kerrl handed over the management of the DEK to the lawyer Friedrich Werner . This continued to restrict church journalism, training and financing and divided the BK by demanding an oath of allegiance to Hitler from all pastors in Prussia (April 1938). Most of the BK representatives affirmed the oath as a legitimate state demand, but Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann wrote to all NSDAP Gauleiter that the oath was internal to the church and voluntary (July). When the Nazi regime made this known in September, it weakened the authority of the BK leadership considerably. In 1939, Kerrl repeatedly tried to force all DEK leaders to make a declaration on the "National Socialist worldview appropriate to the German people" and the "relentless fight against the political and spiritual influence of the Jewish race". August Marahrens signed the declaration on his own in July for the Luther Council , which also lost authority in the BK.
After the annexation of Austria (March 1938), Hitler limited Kerrl's powers to the “Old Reich”; after Kerrl's death (December 1941) he left his post vacant. He had the anti-church NSDAP representatives suppress church activities in the new areas; in 1938 they eliminated all religious and monastery schools in Austria. In September 1939, however, Hitler banned all NSDAP measures against the major churches in order that they would support his war. In 1939 they jointly called on the Christians to “obedience to the Führer”, prayer and commitment for the German victory. Gauleiter Arthur Greiser declared the churches in the newly formed "Reichsgau Wartheland" to be religious associations without state legal protection and expropriated them except for purely cult areas. Although the major churches protested, at the end of June 1941 they thanked Hitler for saving “Christian-Western culture” from the “mortal enemy of all order”, communism. The latter now declared more often in front of confidants, mainly due to clear church protests against the euthanasia murders: After the war he would “solve the church problem” and disempower the major churches; Christianity must "rot like a burned limb". Thereupon Bormann transferred the church politics in the conquered areas to all NSDAP Gauleiters and ordered them to finally break the influence of the churches on the “people's leadership”.
Armament, expansion and war course
Like the democratic governments of the Weimar Republic, Hitler initially wanted to revise the German territorial losses and arms restrictions laid down in the Versailles Treaty of 1919, but not just with diplomatic advances, but with the risk of military conflicts. Until 1939 he publicly emphasized his will for peace repeatedly; In fact, it was only from 1933 that he was preparing the armament of the Wehrmacht and the German military capability, and no later than 1937 a war of aggression . According to the Liebmann recording , he explained to the Reichswehr leadership on February 3, 1933 the intended military conquest of "Lebensraum in the east" and already targeted Poland as an "enemy state". In contrast, on May 17, 1933, he publicly emphasized his will for peace in front of the Reichstag - a propaganda maneuver intended to calm the opponents of the Nazi regime. The SPD parliamentary group voted yes in the vote on this so-called peace speech, which led to the break between the Reich SPD and the Socialist International .
In October 1933, the Nazi regime broke off disarmament negotiations with Great Britain and France and caused the German Reich to leave the League of Nations . After Hindenburg's death in 1934, Hitler informed the generals that Germany should be ready for war in five years. He supported a National Socialist coup attempt in Vienna in which the Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was murdered. After this failed coup attempt, Hitler declared that the German Reich had nothing to do with it.
In March 1934, Hitler increased the German defense budget beyond the limits of the Versailles Treaty. In September 1934 he surprisingly signed a ten-year non - aggression pact with Poland . On March 16, 1935, he reintroduced the general conscription forbidden in the Versailles Treaty . In order to lull Great Britain into safety, he repeated in a " peace speech " in the Reichstag on May 21, 1935 that the German Navy was aiming for only 35 percent of the tonnage of the British fleet. On June 18, 1935, Great Britain concluded a naval agreement with Germany, offered by Hitler , in order to avoid an otherwise even stronger German armament.
In 1936, Hitler announced the four-year plan . This should make the German army operational and the German economy ready for war in four years. It was financed with Mefo bills and contributed to the German economic boom. The occupation of the Rhineland followed in March 1936 . The Allies accepted both breaches of the Versailles Treaty. The Nazi regime helped Francisco Franco to victory in the Spanish Civil War since 1936 with the use of the German Condor Legion and illegal bombing raids on cities like Gernika .
On November 5, 1937, Hitler explained his "fundamental thoughts about [...] our foreign policy situation" to the Foreign Minister, the Minister of War and the Commander-in-Chief of the three branches of the Wehrmacht. 85 million Germans have a “right to larger living space”, so “solving the shortage of space” is the central task of German politics. England and France are the two main opponents. At the end of the more than two-hour monologue, his first goal was to defeat “the Czech Republic and at the same time Austria [s] in order to eliminate the flank threat […]”. With that, the dictator had revealed his cards and named the two immediate goals of German expansion. In the two-hour discussion that followed, the generals did not raise concerns about the annexation of Austria and the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but were concerned about Hitler's impatience and feared a premature European conflict. Foreign Minister Neurath claims to have warned Hitler in January 1938 that “his policy would lead to world war”. Hitler is only supposed to have replied that “he has no more time”.
In the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis (January / February 1938) Blomberg resigned as Reich Minister of War; Hitler released Werner von Fritsch from the High Command of the Army (OKH) and took over the newly created High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) by means of a Führer decree of February 4, 1938. He saw himself as an ideal “general” who “with head, will and heart is total War for the preservation of the people's life ”(Ludendorff 1935) and, like his idol Friedrich“ the Great ” , but unlike Wilhelm II , must not leave it to the military. Rather, the coming war of annihilation, which is necessary in the “struggle for existence”, requires the “leader of the German people” to pool all social forces. He must not only specify general "ideological" and political goals, but also the strategies of the individual campaigns.
With military threats (" Enterprise Otto ") Hitler achieved the "Anschluss" of Austria to the henceforth " Greater German Reich " in March 1938 . In Vienna on March 15, he announced to an enthusiastic crowd the “completion report of my life”: the “entry of my homeland into the German Reich”. In September 1938 he demanded that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland to Germany , and otherwise threatened the invasion of German troops ( Sudeten crisis ). At the Munich Conference on September 29, 1938, Hitler assured their allies France and Great Britain that the rest of Czechoslovakia would continue to exist. In return, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier allowed him to incorporate the Sudeten German territories in order to prevent the threatened war. Hitler, who regarded war and expansion as indispensable conditions for the survival of his regime, felt that the agreement had been cheated out of the intended conquest of all of Czechoslovakia.
Under Hitler's pressure, Jozef Tiso proclaimed the First Slovak Republic in March 1939 . On March 15, Hitler had the remaining Czech territory occupied by the Wehrmacht and annexed the following day as the “ Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia ” of the Greater German Reich. This breach of the Munich Agreement was intended to facilitate the “Germanization” of these areas: some of the Czechs were to be assimilated, the rest as “racially useless” and “hostile to the empire” were to be murdered or expelled. Slovakia became a satellite state of Germany. On March 23, 1939, Lithuania , which Hitler had previously also put under massive pressure, ceded the Memelland to Germany.
Because of Hitler's breach of contract, France and Great Britain ended their previous policy of appeasement and concluded military assistance agreements with Poland until April 13, 1939. On April 11, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht command staff to prepare militarily for the attack on Poland by autumn. On April 28, he announced the German-Polish non-aggression pact as well as the German-British naval agreement and demanded the annexation of the free city of Danzig to the German Reich. On May 23, he explained to the Wehrmacht generals that this demand was only a pretext for conquering “living space” for self-sufficient nutrition for the Germans (see Schmundt Protocol ).
As a condition for a non-aggression treaty with the Western powers, which was supposed to facilitate Poland's defense, the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin demanded a guarantee of passage for the Red Army from Poland , which the government, as expected, refused. Then Stalin agreed the German-Soviet non-aggression pact with Hitler by August 24th . He wanted to gain time to reorganize the Red Army, whose officers he had murdered en masse in the Great Terror (1937-1939). In the secret additional protocol of the pact, both sides agreed on the division of Poland and the Baltic States . In Hitler's address to the commanders-in-chief on August 22, 1939 , he announced the "annihilation of Poland = elimination of its living force" as his war goal and declared: "We will hold the West until we have conquered Poland."
Rule in World War II (1939-1945)
attack on Poland
Shortly after the conclusion of the pact with Stalin, Hitler demanded that Poland cede the Polish Corridor and leave the Polish rights in the Free City of Danzig to the German Reich. The Nazi propaganda increased alleged atrocities and massacres by Poles of so-called ethnic Germans and called for action against them. Since August 28, the German Wehrmacht's attack date was September 1st. On August 31st at 12:40 p.m. Hitler issued his “Instruction No. 1 for the conduct of the war”. On the night of August 31st to September 1st, 1939, SS men dressed in Polish uniforms staged an attack on the Gleiwitz transmitter in Silesia . From 4:45 a.m. the German ship of the line Schleswig-Holstein fired at the Polish positions on the Danzig Westerplatte . With this attack began the German invasion of Poland, through which Hitler unleashed World War II.
On September 1, Hitler untruthfully claimed in his radio broadcast to the Reichstag that Poland had attacked Germany and had been "shot back" since 5:45. On September 3, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany in accordance with their alliance treaties with Poland, but without opening their own hostilities against Germany. On September 18, the mass of the Polish troops was included after the day before the Red Army with its invasion of eastern Poland had begun. Warsaw surrendered on September 27th. Hitler took a parade of the 8th Army here on October 5th . One day later, the last Polish troops surrendered after the battle of Kock .
Around 66,000 Polish and 17,000 German soldiers died in the course of the German Polish War. Specially established task forces of the Security Police and the SD , soldiers of the Wehrmacht and units of ethnic Germans murdered around 16,400 Poles in the Polish campaign, by the end of the year around 60,000 Poles, including around 7,000 Jews. In doing so, they wanted to expel as many of the two million Polish Jews as possible into Soviet-occupied eastern Poland . Carried out from October 1939 deportation of Jews to remote Polish territories. Although they were discontinued in March 1940 after local protests, they served as a tried and tested model for extensive deportation plans in the following years, such as the Madagascar Plan (which was impracticable after the Western campaign) , the desired result of which was to be the extermination of European Jews.
On September 17, 1939, the Red Army marched into eastern Poland in accordance with the secret additional protocol to the Hitler-Stalin Pact. After the meeting of German and Soviet troops in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939, Hitler learned how bad the Soviet tanks were. The defeats of the Red Army in the winter war against Finland in 1939/40 reinforced Hitler in his assumption that the Red Army was an easily defeated opponent.
In all likelihood, around 1935, Hitler made a fundamentally positive statement about “euthanasia” without actually planning it. He said that he would only take up the “ destruction of life unworthy of life ” in the event of a war, “when everyone looks at the fighting and the value of human life is less important anyway”. The case of a handicapped child from Pomßen in Saxony in 1938 or 1939 led Hitler himself or the Führer’s office to take a closer look at killing the sick. First of all, children's “euthanasia” was prepared. In July 1939, Hitler commissioned the Reichsärzteführer Leonardo Conti to organize the “adult euthanasia”. Hitler had already recognized doctors as valuable propagandists of Nazi ideology because of their reputation and had gathered numerous doctors around him. While Conti was in favor of regulation, Hitler decided, following a suggestion by Philipp Bouhler , to let the Fuehrer's office organize the murder without any legal basis.
In October 1939, an informal letter from Hitler was issued for this purpose, which was dated back to September 1, i.e. the beginning of the war, and authorized Philipp Bouhler and his attending physician Karl Brandt to authorize the murder of psychiatric patients and disabled people, which was veiled as a "death by grace" to organize. At the urging of the organizers, this written power of attorney legitimized Hitler's previous oral assignment for this mass murder without an express law, which he continued to refuse for reasons of secrecy. The murders of the sick during the Nazi era were glossed over as "euthanasia" and ideologically justified as "the destruction of life unworthy of life ".
Intermediate institutions were set up via the semi-state special administration Central Office T4 , in which the victims from all over the Reich were initially collected and transported to their own killing centers for gassing. Because of various implementation mishaps, representatives of the major churches in Germany, including Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen , learned of this "Secret Reich Matter" and, after a period of reflection, occasionally turned against it publicly. On August 24, 1941, Hitler officially ordered the suspension of " Operation T4 " and thus a halt to the murders of the sick, which was probably primarily due to strategic planning reasons. The murders were continued locally as "wild euthanasia" (also known as " Aktion Brandt "), now mainly with drugs and food deprivation. In “ Aktion 14f13 ” sick, old or “no longer able to work” concentration camp inmates were also murdered. At the end of the war, around half of all prison inmates had been killed. The murder of the handicapped served the SS task force as an experimental field for the later mass murders of Jews. In what was then the Reich alone, almost 190,000 mentally and physically disabled people were gassed, poisoned, shot or starved to death; there were many more victims in the occupied territories. Overall estimates amount to up to 260,000 victims.
Genocide of the Sinti and Roma
Since his time in Vienna, Hitler shared the common stereotypes of antiziganism . He implicitly judged the Roma, not mentioned in Mein Kampf, like the Jews, as "racially alien elements", which should therefore be "eradicated" from the " people's body ".
According to Himmler's decree of December 8, 1938 on the “final solution to the Gypsy question”, the Roma were deported to Eastern Europe from areas controlled by the Nazi regime from June 1939. In the Polish campaign from September 1939, the National Socialists and their helpers began mass murders of them. By the end of the war, they murdered between 100,000 and 500,000 Roma. Hitler rejected the drafting of Roma into the Wehrmacht in 1940/41 and forbade Himmler in 1942 to exclude “Aryan” Roma from internment in concentration camps. SS Einsatzgruppen, Wehrmacht officers in acts of revenge for partisan attacks or concentration camp crews carried out the mass murders, especially in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1943/44 .
Like the Shoah, the Porajmos was a racist genocide aimed at extermination. There are no known direct orders to murder the Roma from Hitler. His responsibility, however, is clear because of the overall racist planning and politics of his regime.
In his address to the Commander-in-Chief on November 23, 1939 , Hitler announced that he would attack Western Europe “at the best and fastest time”. In the " Operation Weser Exercise ", the Wehrmacht occupied neutral Denmark from April 9 to June 10, 1940 and conquered Norway . From May 10th to June 25th they occupied Luxembourg , Belgium and the Netherlands in the western campaign and forced France, allied with Great Britain, to surrender after a few weeks. The decisive factor for this surprisingly quick victory was the later so-called sickle-cut plan , which Lieutenant General Erich von Manstein worked out and implemented in early 1940 with Hitler's support against reservations on the part of the OKH. The plan envisaged a high-risk tank advance through the Ardennes , with which the Wehrmacht bypassed the Maginot Line and surrounded the majority of the opposing forces in Belgium and northern France.
Hitler's personal intervention not only meant that Manstein's new plan was implemented, but also that he missed his ultimate goal. On May 24, Hitler decided, in agreement with Rundstedt and in contradiction to the opinion of other generals, to spare the battered armored troops and to leave the enclosure of Dunkirk to the Air Force . This enabled the Royal Navy to evacuate over 224,000 British and nearly 112,000 French and Belgian soldiers across the English Channel during Operation Dynamo . The Allies had to leave weapons and war material behind, but the core of the British Army remained because of Hitler's order to stop.
With defeated France, Germany signed the Compiègne armistice on June 22, 1940 . The symbolic ceremony took place in the presence of Hitler at the same place and in the same railroad car as the signing of the armistice after the First World War . The next day, Hitler and his entourage visited Paris early in the morning.
Shortly before the French surrender in June 1940, Italy entered the war as an ally of Germany. Together with the Japanese ambassador Saburō Kurusu , Mussolini and Hitler signed the three-power pact between Japan, Italy and Germany on September 27, 1940 in Berlin, which assured mutual assistance in the "creation of a new order in Europe" and "in the greater Asia region". The treaty provisions, which were intended to prevent the United States in particular from entering the war and to form a strong front against Great Britain, failed to achieve this goal.
Around the same time, in the summer and early autumn of 1940, it became apparent that Hitler would fail to force Great Britain to recognize German sole rule on mainland Europe and to tolerate further conquests in the east. On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill , who had been a strict opponent of the policy of appeasement since 1933, became the new British Prime Minister . On July 19, 1940, he immediately and definitively rejected Hitler's public armistice offer through the BBC . The Battle of Britain (July 10 to October 31, 1940), which ended as a military stalemate, was a political and strategic defeat for Hitler, who for the first time failed to impose his will on a country. As a result, in the spring of 1941, Hitler had the planning for the invasion of England discontinued.
Hitler's attempts to persuade Spain and the French Vichy regime to enter the war against Great Britain also failed . On October 23, 1940, he met the Spanish " Caudillo " Franco in Hendaye . Hitler expected that he would prove to be grateful for the German help in the Spanish Civil War, and suggested the immediate conclusion of an alliance and the Spanish entry into the war in January 1941. However, out of consideration for Vichy France, he did not want to give in to the Spanish territorial wishes in North Africa ( French Morocco , Oran Province ). In addition, unlike Germany, Great Britain was able to supply Spain with coal, rubber, cotton and vital wheat, which in the summer of 1940 had saved the country from an economic collapse. The cautious Franco therefore did not allow himself to take careless steps, e.g. B. to an attack on Gibraltar , and was only ready for a protocol, according to which the later entry into the war had to be determined jointly. This made the deal practically worthless for Hitler. In the internal circle he later "raged" over the "Jesuit pig" and the "false pride of the Spaniard".
On the way to Hendaye, Hitler had already met on October 22, 1940 in Montoire-sur-le-Loir for an informal conversation with the French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval , an advocate of collaboration with Germany. One day after meeting Franco, Hitler returned to Montoire, this time for talks with Marshal Pétain , head of state of occupied France since June. He pursued the intention, if not a declaration of war by France on Great Britain, at least to defend the French colonies in North Africa and the Middle East against attacks by the Forces françaises libres ( Charles de Gaulle ) and the British. France could be fully compensated if British-owned African colonies were redistributed. Pétain and Foreign Minister Laval affirmed that the extent of France's cooperation with Germany depends on generous treatment and the acquisition of colonial territories in the event of a peace agreement. Hitler did not offer Pétain anything specific, and conversely, Pétain did not specifically promise active support. “The result,” says Ian Kershaw, “was therefore meaningless”. Henry Rousso points out that the consequences were nevertheless far-reaching. Because although disappointed, Pétain announced in a speech on October 30, 1940 that he would take the “path of collaboration” and initiated the change from attentive to active cooperation between his regime and the occupying power. He not only coined a new political term, but also brought about a break that was received negatively by the French and international public.
Hitler finally gave up the plan to oust Great Britain from the Mediterranean (Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt). In his view, the serious conflicting interests between Spain, France and Italy in the Mediterranean area could not be overcome, so that a strategy geared towards this against Great Britain would not be of great use in defeating this opponent and thus preventing the USA from possibly entering the war in 1941. The material prerequisites for two further options, a strategic aerial war or a siege war against Great Britain, were lacking: a fleet of heavy bombers and a strong navy. The fourth option, an invasion of the British Isles, was favored by the army command. However, Hitler saw the victory over the Soviet Union, which he was striving for for ideological and racial reasons anyway, as the safest way for the German Reich to make itself invulnerable by the USA and Great Britain. According to Ian Kershaw, he and his regime had "only one choice in 1940: to keep playing and, as always, to take the bold step forward".
The dictator had reached the peak of his popularity with the Germans after defeating France. According to a statement by Colonel General Wilhelm Keitel , Nazi propaganda stylized him as the “greatest general of all time”, whose genius invented what is now known as the “Blitzkrieg strategy” and brought about rapid victories. Hitler himself was also convinced of his military capabilities. Therefore, unlike Stalin, for example, he repeatedly intervened in operational decisions of the military and increasingly disempowered the general staff, especially the high command of the army . In addition, he was of the opinion that a war against the Soviet Union was, compared to the campaign in the West, a "sandpit game". Hitler shared this disdain for the Soviet military potential with his commanders; because the intelligence service knowledge about the Soviet Army was little. All of this turned out to be fatal for the German warfare in the course of the Russian campaign.
War of extermination against the Soviet Union
The Ministry of Economic Affairs had informed Hitler in 1940 that the Soviet raw material deliveries agreed in the Hitler-Stalin Pact, which Germany was already barely able to pay, would not be enough to wage a long war against Great Britain and possibly the USA. His intention to attack the Soviet Union in the near future was thereby strengthened and shared by many in leading circles of the Wehrmacht, large business and ministerial bureaucracy. Hitler's goal was "a blockade-proof great empire" as far as the Urals and beyond the Caucasus.
On July 21, 1940, Hitler said in a meeting with Walther von Brauchitsch that his military goal was to “take Russian soil in hand” to prevent enemy air raids on Berlin and the Silesian industrial area. With this he justified the war on two fronts . Ten days later he discussed the planned campaign against the Soviet Union in a circle of the highest generals at the Berghof : If Russia was defeated, England's last hope would be extinguished. As political goals he named: “Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic states to us. Finland to the White Sea. ”From a military point of view, a line from Arkhangelsk in the north along the Volga to Astrakhan at the mouth of the same was envisaged.
On November 12 and 13, 1940, the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov visited Berlin. This meeting also remained fruitless because, according to Hitler, the territorial interests of Germany and the Soviet Union were incompatible. After that he was more convinced than ever that the "annihilation" of the Soviet Union in a lightning campaign was the only way to win the war. He therefore instructed Brauchitsch and Franz Halder on December 5, 1940 to prepare the army for an attack on the Soviet Union at the end of May next year. On December 18, 1940, he issued his formal instruction for "Operation Barbarossa" to "overthrow Soviet Russia in a quick campaign before the end of the war against England."
In the following months he issued the commissar's order and other orders to murder the Soviet ruling elite in the wake of the front and to fight partisan actions by retaliatory acts against civilians. In front of over 200 senior officers of the Wehrmacht, he declared on March 30, 1941 in the New Reich Chancellery that the impending war was a race-ideological war of annihilation and should be waged regardless of the norms of international martial law . The commanders would have to overcome any personal scruples. None of those present took the opportunity to put Hitler's demands up for discussion again afterwards. The OKW and OKH thereupon issued appropriate operational orders. In addition, the Blitzkriegs plan envisaged starving large parts of the Soviet population. Only those who were needed in the occupied territories to provide raw materials and food were to survive. The rest were considered to be useless eaters who put a strain on the German nutritional balance (→ Hunger Plan ).
With a one-month delay as a result of the Balkan campaign , the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 on Hitler's orders without an official declaration of war . At 5:30 a.m. Goebbels read a long-prepared proclamation by Hitler on all German radio stations. At the same time, an identical order of the day was issued to the "soldiers of the Eastern Front". The Foreign Office sent a note to the Soviet Union in the early hours of the morning, stating the reasons for the alleged "military countermeasures". On Hitler's express orders, the word "declaration of war" was avoided, although in fact it was nothing more than a declaration of war. All of these documents were of a propaganda nature and essentially contained the assertion that Germany had merely forestalled Soviet plans of aggression. Hitler was presented as the savior of the West from "Asian barbarism" and culture-destroying "(Jewish) Bolshevism". Many Wehrmacht generals clung to this preventive war thesis well beyond 1945. Historians, on the other hand, emphasize Hitler's intentions, which he outlined in the second volume of Mein Kampf in 1927 and which he had repeatedly affirmed since 1933: He wanted to conquer the Soviet Union to "expand the living space or the raw material and food base" of the Germans, the fictitious, supposedly ruling one there Completely destroy world Jewry and either exploit the population of the conquered areas as slave labor or destroy them as well. During the Leningrad blockade from September 1941 to January 1944, around 1.1 million people starved to death in what was then Leningrad, according to the German “Hunger Plan”.
Despite victorious kettle battles , the Barbarossa plan had already failed in August 1941, because large parts of the enemy escaped from the kettle battles and re-formed, the surprise effect subsided, the German losses increased and Hitler's "zigzag of orders" to focus on the Army Group Center and the Army Group South increased. The German advance came to a standstill from October 1941. The Soviet Union was able to continue a large part of its arms production east of the Urals and lead new divisions to its western front. It had been grossly negligently underestimated, and the German logistics for conquering such a large country were inadequate. At a conference in Berlin on November 29, 1941, Walter Rohland reported to Hitler and the OKW about the superiority of Soviet tank production. According to his information, Armaments Minister Fritz Todt said in a small circle: "This war can no longer be won militarily!" Hitler asked how he should end it and ruled out a political solution as hardly possible.
The attack on Moscow (beginning October 2) was Hitler's last improvised attempt to force the defeat of the Soviet Union before winter. But from mid-October, heavy rains and later severe frost (−22 ° C) brought all operations to a standstill. The equipment of the German army for the winter war and the supplies for the Army Group Center were completely inadequate. Even so, Hitler insisted that the Red Army was on the verge of collapse and wanted Moscow to be besieged and starved. On December 5, the advance had to be stopped due to arctic temperatures of minus 40 to 50 degrees Celsius and the lack of supplies of weapons, food and winter equipment 20 km from Moscow. The next day the Soviet counterattack began with 100 divisions, including fresh units from the Far East equipped for the winter war, which forced Army Group Center to retreat. The withdrawal threatened to turn into a desperate escape. In this dangerous situation, Hitler forbade any further retreat on December 15 and 19, 1941 and "only allowed an evasive movement [...] where a position has been prepared further backwards". This order contributed "possibly and temporarily to the avoidance of a catastrophe of Napoleonic proportions". Hitler himself took over command of the army from Walther von Brauchitsch and was convinced: “Anyone can do that little bit of operational management.” But if Hitler had been more flexible, the Eastern Front would have been consolidated by the end of January 1942 with fewer human losses. The German casualties in the Battle of Moscow, 581,000 soldiers, were greater than those in Stalingrad and at Kursk in the following year. The Soviet Union lost 1.8 million soldiers.
Before Moscow, the Eastern Army first applied the principle of “scorched earth” to cover retreat, which Soviet civilians and prisoners of war in the retreat area exposed to mass deaths from starvation or cold. Not all orders came from Hitler or Keitel, but were intended to “work against the Führer”.
The defeat at Moscow is considered the turning point of the world war because it ended the series of German Blitzkrieg. According to Jodl, Hitler recognized this immediately.
The German-Soviet War “was exactly the war that Hitler had wanted since the 1920s”. As the most costly war in human history to date, it cost the lives of around 28 million Soviet citizens, including 15.2 million civilians. At least 4.2 million people died of hunger, including 2.5 million of the 3.3 million Soviet prisoners of war who died or were shot in German custody of malnutrition, illness or abuse.
The war of extermination against the Soviet Union and the escalation into the Holocaust went hand in hand. According to Heydrich's instructions of July 2, 1941, the four SS Einsatzgruppen were to shoot communist functionaries, “radical elements” ( partisans ) and “all Jews in party and state positions”. Soon all Jews who could be found were murdered as alleged partisans - initially mostly men, then also Jewish women and children.
On July 16, 1941, Hitler welcomed the Soviet partisan war to high-ranking Nazi functionaries: "... it gives us the opportunity to exterminate whatever opposes us." Himmler immediately reinforced the task force from 3,000 to 33,000 men. From August 1st, Hitler received regular reports on its results. In the first five months of the Eastern campaign, they murdered around 500,000 Jews.
On August 19, Hitler followed Goebbels' proposal to force German Jews to wear the Jewish star after the Polish ones. Around September 17, 1941, at the insistence of many Gauleiter, he permitted the deportation of German Jews to the east, which he had previously only wanted to begin after the victory over the Soviet Union. He was reacting to Alfred Rosenberg's suggestion to take revenge on Stalin's deportation of the Volga Germans . On October 25, in front of confidants, Hitler came back to his announcement of January 30, 1939 that the Jews would be exterminated in retaliation for the German war victims in the event of a new world war: “This race of criminals has the two million dead of the world war on its conscience, now again Hundreds of thousands. Don't tell me: we can't send them into the quagmire! [...] It is good, if horror precedes us, that we exterminate Judaism. "
On December 12, 1941, the day after his declaration of war on the USA, Hitler said, according to Goebbels' notes, to the Gau and Reich leaders invited to the New Reich Chancellery : "The world war is here, the annihilation of Judaism must be the necessary consequence." The Jews would have to pay the victims among German soldiers in the "Eastern campaign" with their lives. Those present, including Hans Frank, understood Hitler's statement as a request not to deport European Jews but to murder them in occupied Poland and to look for suitable methods. On December 18, 1941, Himmler noted in his service calendar that, in response to his inquiries, Hitler had confirmed the previous actions of the Einsatzgruppen and ordered: “To exterminate the Jewish question / as partisans”.
Hitler had authorized Göring's order to Reinhard Heydrich on July 31, 1941 for the " total solution of the Jewish question " and also ordered the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, at which Heydrich explained his order: 11 million European Jews should be deported to the east, which is the aim their “natural reduction” through slave labor and “appropriate treatment” of the survivors. With this he described the intention to exterminate in the camouflage language of the Nazi regime. For the "evacuation" of already overcrowded Jewish ghettos for subsequent deportees, three extermination camps were put into operation in occupied Poland from March 1942 . The murder of the deportees began immediately upon arrival and through gas chambers. This affected Jews and Roma.
A written Holocaust order from Hitler was not found and is considered unlikely. His statement of December 12, 1941, is interpreted by some historians as a decision to extend the murder of Jews to all of Europe, or at least as an important step in escalating the Holocaust. However, Hitler did not initiate this alone and did not order it on a single date.
Contemporary witnesses documented verbal orders from Hitler to carry out the murders of the Jews. At the end of December 1941 - a few weeks before the Wannsee Conference on the systematic extermination of the Jews - State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart successfully invoked a Führer order when he was to be released for orders to murder Jews. Heinrich Himmler repeatedly spoke in letters and speeches to subordinates such as the Posen Speeches of 1943 about Hitler's order for the "final solution" and recorded special instructions from Hitler in his private notes. Starting in January 1942, Hitler himself publicly declared several times that his “prophecy” of January 1939 was now “coming true”. Logically, Goebbels described him in a diary entry of March 27, 1942 as an “unwavering champion and spokesman for a radical solution” to the “Jewish question”. Hitler received personal information from Odilo Globocnik on October 7, 1942 about the murders of Jews in four extermination camps and in March 1943 received the Korherr report on the murder (described as "evacuation" and " special treatment ") from 2.5 (actually over three) million Jews. He also ordered the camouflage language. After the end of the war, Nazi perpetrators such as Rudolf Höß and Adolf Eichmann testified to an order issued by Hitler in the summer or autumn of 1941 to exterminate the Jews. At the height of the Battle of Stalingrad , on November 8, 1942, in Munich's Löwenbräukeller , Hitler recalled his “prophecy” about the Jews for the fourth time that year, when he had just ruled out all compromises and offers of peace to external enemies. The result of the “international world war” [s] will be “the extermination of Judaism in Europe”.
Further course of the war
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Empire, allied with Germany, attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor , drawing the United States into World War II. Hitler, not informed of the timing of the Japanese attack, welcomed the attack euphorically: Germany could no longer lose the war. In the Reichstag on December 11, 1941 , he declared war on the United States without the Tripartite Pact obliging him to do so, without consulting his generals beforehand and without having the military-strategic and economic consequences for his own warfare calculated. Historians assume various reasons for this: Hitler had expected the USA to intervene in 1942 anyway and considered the arms deliveries to Great Britain and the Soviet Union, which had begun since the Lending and Lease Act , as entry into the war . He did not want to wait for her declaration of war to send a sign of strength. He still expected an imminent victory over the Soviet Union and wanted to wage a "world blitzkrieg" with the aim of German world domination. He wanted to rule out individual victories of the USA against the Axis powers and any bilateral peace negotiations from the outset. He wanted to open up the possibility of a submarine war in the Atlantic against US ships. Hitler tried to portray developments in the Pacific as beneficial. Because the war in the Pacific will cause the USA to reduce its arms deliveries to Great Britain. Germany will thus gain enough time to have the continent completely under control before an American intervention in Europe.
During the war, Hitler became a workaholic who was mainly concerned with details without being able to relax, surrounded by the same, uninspiring entourage. Nights with little sleep and long daily meetings with senior military officials followed one another. His work style was a result of extremely personalized rule and his inability to delegate authority. His egomaniacal conviction that only he could guarantee victory increased his distrust of his generals and increased his outbursts of choleric anger. From 1940 this destroyed the regular work of the government and the military command, which became clear when Hitler took over the command of the army in the winter crisis of 1941 . He uncompromisingly claimed authority on matters affecting the home front , but intervened only sporadically and unsystematically to cover up inaction.
At the beginning of 1943 the Wehrmacht lost the battle of Stalingrad with its highest losses to date . This defeat is considered the turning point of the Second World War. Hitler was responsible for forbidding the Commander-in-Chief of the 6th Army, General of the Panzer Force Friedrich Paulus, to retreat from Stalingrad as long as this was still operationally possible without endangering Army Group A , which had advanced as far as the Caucasus . Hitler himself said afterwards that the war could no longer be won.
The German Africa Corps (DAK) lost the second battle of El-Alamein , and on November 4, 1942, Rommel ordered a retreat against Hitler's orders because of the overwhelming superiority of the British. In Tunisia, the DAK was pinned down by British and now arrived US troops (" Operation Torch "). Rommel's request of March 1943 to evacuate Tunisia and to be allowed to withdraw his troops to Sicily was strictly rejected by Hitler and recalled from North Africa. On May 12, 1943, 150,000 German and 100,000 Italian soldiers surrendered near and in Tunis . Many Germans interpreted this defeat as “second Stalingrad” or “Tunisgrad”.
At the beginning of April 1943, Hitler met Mussolini in Kleßheim Palace near Salzburg and categorically refused to advocate a compromise peace in the East. With long monologues on Prussian history, he tried to persuade Mussolini to continue the war. He also met the allied rulers of Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Norway, Slovakia, Croatia and France in Kleßheim by the end of April in order to strengthen their will to resist with flattery, good persuasion and barely disguised threats. With the help of specially made maps of the OKW, on which the course of the front in the east was entered incorrectly and the forces of the enemy and his own were not recognizable, he glossed over the situation.
At the beginning of 1944, the Allied bomber and fighter units gradually gained superiority in the air and destroyed many large and medium-sized German cities through area bombing . Nevertheless, Hitler continued to build bombers instead of more fighters to combat these attacks. After the " Operation Gomorrah " against Hamburg in July 1943, in which over 30,000 people were killed in the firestorm , he refused to visit the city, which was more than 50 percent destroyed, did not receive a delegation from the emergency services and did not give a radio speech . After three large-scale attacks on Berlin in August and September 1943, Goebbels noted in his diary that “the main complaint is that the Führer has not uttered any explanatory words regarding the aerial warfare ”.
Hitler's wrong strategic decisions favored " Operation Overlord " on June 6, 1944. Although he had initially accepted Normandy as an invasion area, he allowed his staff to dissuade him from it and still believed on June 13 that it was a deception. He forbade the withdrawal of troops from other stretches of coast and suspected a landing on the Pas-de-Calais . The German troops in Normandy were caught by surprise at an unexpected point. Von Rundstedt, Commander-in-Chief West , had asked early in the morning for the release of two tank divisions stationed near Paris. Alfred Jodl refused. It was only around noon that Hitler agreed to the delayed deployment of this reserve against the Allied bridgehead 150 kilometers away. His adjutants had hesitated to wake Hitler until around 10 a.m., since he had not gone to bed until around 3 a.m. “This delay was decisive.” When Allied troops advanced on Paris in August 1944, Hitler ordered the city to be defended to the last man or left behind as a destroyed city. The German city commander Dietrich von Choltitz ignored Hitler's order to resist, declared Paris an open city and handed it over to the French major general Jacques-Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque on August 25, 1944 without a fight and almost unharmed .
Because Hitler realized that he had lost the confidence of the Germans and that he could no longer announce any triumphs to them, he no longer spoke publicly in 1944 and only spoke three times (on January 30, July 21 and December 31) on the radio. His health deteriorated rapidly. He probably suffered from Parkinson's disease , which hardly affected his political and military decision-making skills. According to Thamer, the “decay” can be clearly seen in his increasingly illegible signature. From 1943 he used a signature machine . He only signed his wills from April 1945 with his own hand, but, as the historian Hans-Ulrich Thamer observes, only managed to create "blotches".
Despite constant defeats, immense victims, enormous destruction and the knowledge of the inevitable German defeat, Hitler allowed the war to continue. His interventions in the conduct of the war, such as the ban on withdrawing endangered troops early on (→ Fester Platz ), resulted in massive losses on the part of the Wehrmacht.
In an overall assessment determined by numerous illusions, Hitler had already considered in mid-August 1944 to carry out a sensitive military blow against the Western Allies that would bring about the collapse of the anti-Hitler coalition. Four days before the start of the Battle of the Bulge , he told his commanders that the enemy, "no matter what he does, can never count on a surrender, never, never"; he will eventually "experience a breakdown of his nervous forces one day".
The first preparations for the offensive began, under the greatest of secrecy, in the late summer of 1944. The main target of the offensive was the port city of Antwerp, which was of great importance for the Allied supplies. It began on December 16, 1944 and had to be broken off at the beginning of 1945. Nevertheless, Hitler continued to show the highest public confidence and encouraged people around him. However , he admitted to Nicolaus von Below that the war was lost. As usual, he attributed this to betrayal and failure of others. All he wanted now was his place in history: “We don't surrender, never. We can go under. But we will take a world with us. ”And Hitler did not stop at his own people. Terror returned home to the empire:
“The Führer expects the Gauleiter to carry out the task assigned to them with the necessary rigor and consistency and to ruthlessly hold down any signs of dissolution, cowardice and defeatism with the death sentences of the court courts. Those who are not ready to fight for their people, but stab them in the back in the most serious hour, are not worth living on and have to succumb to the executioner. "
On March 7, US soldiers reached the undestroyed Remagen bridge south of the Ruhr area. Hitler had a " flying stand trial " sent to the western front, which sentenced five officers of the Remagen bridge team to death on March 9th. On March 23, British troops began crossing the Rhine north of the Ruhr area near Wesel . With that the war in the West was finally lost, but Hitler refused to surrender. He only saw sense in a “fight to the last” in order to at least be respected by future generations.
Since the beginning of his political career, Hitler thought of extreme alternatives: Germany would win or go under. The more improbable a victory became, the more total the German defeat should be. On March 18, 1945, he told Speer that it was not necessary to consider the fundamentals that the people need for their most primitive survival. It is better to destroy these things yourself. The people had turned out to be the weaker, and the future belonged exclusively to the stronger "Eastern people". On March 19, Hitler ordered the destruction of all infrastructures when the army withdrew by means of a Führer decree (later called the " Nero order "). He commissioned Speer and the Gauleiter to carry out the destruction, but learned that Speer was sabotaging his order. This denied this. Goebbels saw Hitler's authority waning in this.
Resistance to Hitler
Between 1933 and 1945, individuals, groups, and organizations resisted Hitler's regime for a variety of reasons. Only a few rejected his dictatorship from the outset. The persecuted communists and social democrats had already warned before 1933: “Hitler means war!” The exile SPD Sopade tried to influence the Germans from abroad, and on January 30, 1936 called them with the pamphlet “For Germany - against Hitler! “To revolt against his regime.
Since February 1933 there have been many anonymous assassination threats against Hitler. Individual perpetrators were among others the Helle Hirsch commissioned by the National Socialist opposition group “ Black Front ” in December 1936, the former Swiss theology student Maurice Bavaud in November 1938 and the craftsman Georg Elser . His self-made explosive device exploded on November 8, 1939 in Munich's Bürgerbräukeller, just minutes after Hitler had finished his speech there. Elser was murdered as a “ special inmate of the Führer” in the Dachau concentration camp on April 9, 1945 on Hitler's personal orders.
The Confessing Church , founded in 1934, contradicted state attacks on the church organization, but less state crimes. Many of its members voted for the NSDAP, approved the abolition of democracy and the persecution of the Jews. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer criticized the Führer cult in February 1933 in a radio lecture (“Fuehrer and office who deify themselves, mock God”) and in April 1933 called for church resistance against human rights violations by the Hitler regime. After the November pogroms in 1938 , he actively helped in the circle around Hans Oster to prepare an assassination attempt on Hitler.
In 1938, conservative and internal military resistance groups such as the Goerdeler Circle and the Kreisau Circle formed . Their overturn plans relied on parts of the Wehrmacht, so they only had a chance of success if Hitler was killed and could only be carried out by people with access to the closest circle of command around him. They had sworn absolute loyalty to Hitler; serious conflicts of conscience were inevitable. In the September conspiracy, some high-ranking military officials and officials in the Foreign Office planned that Captain Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz should penetrate the Reich Chancellery with a shock troop on September 28, 1938 and shoot Hitler in a scuffle. When the latter surprisingly agreed to a compromise for the Munich Agreement, it seemed hopeless to justify his overthrow with “military adventurism”. Thereupon the assassination, which von Brauchitsch and Halder had only half-heartedly supported, did not take place. The military involved in the conspiracy in the OKH and in the Office Group Abwehr des OKW considered Hitler's plan to attack France as early as 1939 to be impracticable and wanted to prevent this attack with another attempted coup. After Elser's assassination, however, the precautions for Hitler's protection were tightened. After an outburst of rage on November 5, 1939, Hitler feared that Hitler would know about the impending attempted coup. Thereupon Hans Oster assumed that a delivery of explosives to Erich Kordt planned for November 11, 1939 was too risky; thus this planned assassination did not take place.
Until the arrest of the Scholl siblings on February 18, 1943, the Munich group, known as the White Rose , tried to persuade the Germans, especially the youth, to resist with leaflets. The main reason was Nazi crimes such as the Holocaust, which the group knew about through international channels. The members were executed on February 22, 1943.
After the defeat in Stalingrad, some officers of Army Group Center tried again to kill Hitler. The bomb that Henning von Tresckow smuggled onto Hitler's plane on March 13, 1943, did not detonate. On March 21, 1943, Rudolf-Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff wanted to blow himself up together with Hitler during an exhibition in the Berlin armory. This left the exhibition after a few minutes before the acid igniter could take effect. Von Gersdorff was able to defuse the detonator in time.
The assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 at the Fuehrer's headquarters in Wolfsschanze fatally injured four people; Hitler was almost unharmed. Immediately afterwards, he said: Providence had saved him so that he could carry out his "mission". Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg , who had dropped the bomb and prepared a coup to end the war, and three of his comrades-in-arms were executed by firing squad in the courtyard of the Bendler Block in Berlin on July 21, shortly after midnight, without trial and without Hitler's consent .
On the radio, Hitler declared that a "very small clique of ambitious, unscrupulous and at the same time criminal, stupid officers" had planned to "exterminate" him and the Wehrmacht command staff. In contrast to the stab in the back in 1918, this time the criminals would be "ruthlessly exterminated". The Wehrmacht should first exclude the officers involved, the People's Court should then sentence them to death as ordinary criminals and let them hang within two hours so that they could not explain their motives and goals. Roland Freisler , who was also regarded as a “ blood judge ” in the NSDAP , was immediately ready to judge in line with Hitler's wishes. He used the failed assassination attempt to finally eliminate resistance to his warfare in the staff of the Wehrmacht and to blame skeptical generals for the lost battles.
An investigation group of 400 employees of the Gestapo uncovered a widespread network of conspirators and found files in Zossen on September 22, 1944 , which documented agreements for coup attempts before 1939 and thus a permanent military opposition to Hitler. This forbade the People's Court to use the documents in the ongoing trials: the Germans should not find out that the attempted assassination had precursors and that it was not only planned by a few. From August 1944, the People's Court sentenced over 110 people to death on July 20, 1944 in more than 50 trials ; 89 of them were hanged in Berlin-Plötzensee prison by April 30, 1945 . A total of around 200 people were executed as those involved.
End in the bunker
From January 16, 1945, Hitler lived mostly in the rooms of the bunker in the garden of the Old Reich Chancellery in Berlin. At his last public appearance on March 20, 1945, he awarded 20 Hitler Youths and 30 SS soldiers with the Iron Cross for their “heroic deeds in the defense of Berlin”.
When President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Hitler briefly hoped that the anti-Hitler coalition would disintegrate and, threatening Soviet atrocities , urged the soldiers of the Wehrmacht to continue fighting unconditionally on April 16. On April 20, 1945, he received guests for his birthday for the last time in the Führerbunker. On April 22nd, he suffered a nervous breakdown when he learned that SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner had refused the ordered relief attack of his army group in the Battle of Berlin as impracticable. Hitler complained that everything was lost and that the SS had also betrayed him, and dismissed parts of his staff. He decided to stay in Berlin and instructed his chief adjutant, SS-Obergruppenführer Julius Schaub , to burn all papers and documents from his private vaults in Berlin, Munich and at the Berghof. On April 23, 1945, Göring telegraphed Hitler from Berchtesgaden that he (the Reichsmarschall ) would consider himself (in accordance with the regulation passed by decree in June 1941) as immediately in the event that Hitler persists in Berlin and did not receive any other notification by 10 p.m. Successor of the Führer with full powers. Hitler interpreted this as an attempted coup and signed a radio message issued by Martin Bormann , according to which the Reichsmarschall was to be removed from his offices and immediately arrested for high treason. Göring was then arrested on the Obersalzberg by the SS headquarters there . On April 25, the Großdeutsche Rundfunk reported that Goering had resigned from all his offices due to heart problems. On April 25, Hitler heard of the victory celebration of US soldiers with Red Army soldiers in Torgau and of the encirclement of all of Berlin by the Red Army. He was kept informed of their advance into the city center.
On April 27, Hitler's decision to commit suicide is said to have been made in order not to fall into the hands of Red Army soldiers alive and to avoid punishment for his crimes. On April 28, he learned of Himmler's secret negotiations with the Western Allies, which had been going on for months, about a separate peace and his "offer" to end the ongoing Holocaust against the Hungarian Jews . The Western Allies passed Himmler's offer to talk to the press. Hitler responded with a fit of anger. In revenge against Himmler, he had Hermann Fegelein , the Waffen SS liaison officer to the Fuehrer's headquarters , arrested and shot. Around midnight he married his partner Eva Braun . Then he dictated his secretary Traudl Junge a short private and his political will , in which he announced his suicide. In his political will he named Karl Dönitz as his successor as Reich President and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Goebbels as the new Reich Chancellor, excluded Göring and Himmler from the NSDAP and called the Germans to unconditionally continue the war, comply with the Nuremberg Laws and further extermination of Jews - paraphrased as "merciless resistance" - on. On the evening of April 29th, he learned of Mussolini's shooting the day before and perhaps that his body had been desecrated. This strengthened his decision to commit suicide. On April 29, General Walther Wenck refused to lead his 12th Army north into the final Berlin battle as ordered, and instead saved the remains of the 9th Army in the Halbe pocket .
At noon on April 30th, he distributed poison ampoules to his companions and allowed them to try to escape privately. He had the effect of the poison tested on his shepherd without being present. At around 3:30 p.m. Eva Braun swallowed potassium cyanide ; Hitler shot himself. Martin Bormann and others from the Führer Accompanying Command burned their corpses in the garden of the New Reich Chancellery and buried the remains with other corpses in a bomb crater near the bunker exit. The OKW only reported Hitler's death on the evening of May 1st via the remaining Reich broadcaster Hamburg and did not mention his suicide.
On May 10, Fritz Echtmann, long-time assistant to Hitler's dentist Hugo Blaschke , identified bits and bridges from the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun to the Soviet occupiers. Was involved while Jelena Moiseevna Rschewskaja as a translator . Later investigations confirmed the identification. The Soviets kept the results secret for political reasons. That sparked a lot of conspiracy theories . In order to curb this, the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper documented Hitler's death in 1947 on the basis of many circumstantial evidence and testimony, thus establishing a Western research on the death of Hitler. Otto Günsch had guarded Hitler's room on the day he died and heard the pistol shot; he and others had found Hitler dead in an armchair. These and other witnesses testified in court in 1956. That is why the court declared Hitler dead on October 25, 1956. According to reports from 1990, Hitler's and Eva Braun's remains are buried several times in different places in Berlin-Buch , Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt and in 1970 they were completely burned and as ashes near Biederitz in the Ehle , a tributary of the Elbe.
Parts of the skull ascribed to Hitler in the Russian State Archives come from a woman, according to new investigations. In 2017, French scientists were able to conduct research for the first time since 1946. The teeth kept in Moscow can be assigned to Hitler. Bluish deposits on the artificial teeth "could indicate a chemical reaction between cyanide and the metal of the dentures". Hitler would have taken cyanide in addition to being shot in the head.
According to Hitler's last will, Doenitz initially allowed the fighting to continue and refused a total surrender. On May 8, 1945, however, the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht took place, which ended the Second World War in Europe. More than 66 million people worldwide lost their lives. Millions more were injured, permanently disabled , homeless, displaced, deported or imprisoned. Many cities in Europe and East Asia were destroyed. The German Reich was divided into four zones of occupation and its eastern territories were partly placed under Polish and partly Soviet administrative sovereignty. Nearly twelve million German were from the former eastern territories sold . The division of Europe and the division of Germany followed for decades .
In a personal conversation, Hitler allowed himself to be addressed as "Mein Führer". Close friends have been allowed to use his favorite nickname "Wolf" since around 1921. During the war Hitler had some leaders headquarters with Wolf named.
From May 1, 1920 to October 5, 1929, Hitler lived in Munich at Thierschstrasse 41 in the Lehel district . In 1929 he moved into a 9-room apartment in the Bogenhausen district , Prinzregentenplatz 16. The apartment was hardly used by Hitler from 1934 onwards, but it was still his official registration address . In the summer of 1933 he bought the Wachenfeld house in Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden and had the property converted into a Berghof by mid-1936 .
Between 1926 and 1931 he corresponded confidentially with Maria Reiter , a holiday acquaintance , but refused her marriage request. In 1928 he rented a country house in the Obersalzberg district of Berchtesgaden, into which his half-sister Angela Raubal and their two daughters Angela (called Geli) and Elfriede moved. In 1929 he let his half-niece Geli move into his Munich apartment and forced her to end a love affair with his chauffeur, Emil Maurice . On September 19, 1931, she was found shot dead with his revolver; a suicide was assumed. Hitler used this private stroke of fate to present himself to party friends: He wanted "[...] only unselfishly to serve his political mission for the benefit of the German people [...]."
Since January 1932 rumors began to circulate that Hitler was having an intimate relationship with Eva Braun , an employee of his photographer Heinrich Hoffmann . He refused to marry her. During the year she attempted suicide. He then entered into a stronger relationship with her, which he kept secret from the public until his death.
Hitler had been a non-smoker since his youth . After his imprisonment in Landsberg, during which he regularly enjoyed beer, he began to limit his consumption of alcohol and meat. From 1932 on, he ate a vegetarian diet for fear of stomach cancer . As Chancellor of the Reich, he maintained this eating habit and addressed it in monologues in front of the closest circle of supporters as a means for the National Socialist health policy after the war. Later he also avoided coffee and black tea . His valet Karl Wilhelm Krause reports that during his first years in the Old Reich Chancellery he routinely prepared valerian tea with a small bottle of cognac to help him fall asleep .
Hitler liked and kept dogs since the First World War. He often had himself pictured with his shepherd, Blondi, in front of idyllic landscapes in order to demonstrate his private alleged love of animals and closeness to nature, to enable the Germans to identify and to serve a widespread longing for harmony between guide and follower.
Hitler rejected universities, professors (“Profaxe”) and established science for life and acquired detailed knowledge self-taught. He was able to memorize the information he had read, including details, and, if necessary, weaved it into speeches, conversations or monologues without any indication of origin in order to pass it off as his own ideas. He owned 16,000 books distributed in three private libraries, of which around 1,200 have survived. About half of it is military utility literature. More than every tenth book deals with right-wing esotericism , occultism , German national and anti-Semitic topics. Few works belong to beautiful literature , including editions of William Shakespeare's dramas , such as Julius Caesar and Hamlet .
According to a list by the Starnberg dentist and member of the Thule Society, Friedrich Krohn, whose library Hitler used primarily völkisch writings from 1919 to 1921, Hitler borrowed a number of very different works, from Leopold von Ranke to reports on the Russian Revolution on works by Montesquieu , Rousseau , Kant , Schopenhauer and Oswald Spengler , but not least anti-Semitic writings by Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Henry Ford, Anton Drexler, Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart. During his imprisonment in Landsberg, Hitler is said to have dealt with Karl Marx , Friedrich Nietzsche , Heinrich von Treitschke and Otto von Bismarck . Underlinings and marginal notes show Hitler's reading behavior. He has not mastered any foreign language except for a little French since his high school days in Linz. He had foreign press reports translated by his chief interpreter Paul-Otto Schmidt .
The Hitler-research asks in particular how could ascend to the Chancellor and dictator without professional qualifications and character Hitler, what goals he had and what role he played in the NS-state, especially in the war and the Holocaust.
In 1946 Friedrich Meinecke was of the opinion that Hitler had been strongly encouraged by Prussian militarism and that Hindenburg only accidentally received the chancellorship. With him a “satanic principle” and “internal foreign rule” entered German history. He was "not part of our race". This view served in the post-war period to “blame everything or almost everything on Hitler and not 'the Germans'”.
As early as 1936, Konrad Heiden had described Hitler's policy as a detailed plan for achieving world domination. In contrast, Hermann Rauschning declared in 1939 that Hitler was a power politician without clear goals and that he only used foreign policy opportunities to gain power. Alan Bullock , the first internationally recognized Hitler biographer, followed this view in 1952 : Hitler was a "completely unprincipled opportunist" guided only by the " will to power ". According to Alan JP Taylor (1961), like earlier German politicians, Hitler only wanted to restore Germany's position as a major continental power. On the other hand, Hugh Trevor-Roper justified his view with later statements by Hitler in 1960 that Hitler had consistently maintained and implemented his early living space concept.
Günter Moltmann took the view in 1961: Hitler had strived for world domination. Andreas Hillgruber stated in 1963: Hitler wanted to conquer first continental Europe, then the Middle East and the British colonies in order to later be able to defeat the USA and rule the world. Klaus Hildebrand , Jost Dülffer , Jochen Thies, Milan Hauner and other “globalists” supported Hillgruber's thesis with special studies. Hitler also determined Nazi foreign policy for the "continentalists" (Trevor-Roper, Eberhard Jäckel , Axel Kuhn ) and maintained his racist living space program and Germany's permanent world power position as core goals in all tactical turns.
As early as 1941 Ernst Fraenkel said : The competition between administrative authorities and the NSDAP limited Hitler's room for maneuver. In the 1970s, researchers disputed whether it was more individual intentions or more general developments and anonymous power structures that determined the Nazi era and whether Hitler was more of a “strong”, idiosyncratic history, or a “weak” one who responded to circumstances and practical constraints Was dictator.
Hitler's role in the Holocaust was particularly controversial. “Intentionalists” like Hillgruber and Jäckel saw Hitler's “racial ideological program” and the consequent intention to exterminate as a decisive factor, even if he did not initiate every single stage of escalation of the Holocaust. “Functionalists” like Hans Mommsen and Martin Broszat, on the other hand, explained the Holocaust as having a cumulative dynamic of its own and a complex network of conditions of anticipatory obedience, domestic political functionalization and self-created practical constraints. Hitler's anti-Semitic rhetoric only triggered this process.
More recent special investigations into the “machinery of annihilation” have overtaken this dispute. In the trial (1995-2000) against the Holocaust denier David Irving , Peter Longerich documented Hitler's verbal orders to exterminate the Jews and his driving force in carrying them out. Even Raul Hilberg , whose monograph The Destruction of the European Jews in 1961 declared the Holocaust from the interaction of the various power groups and government agencies in the Nazi system, said in 2002: that Hitler's anti-Semitism "made to the government program, led to the murder of the European Jews." In 2009, Kershaw summarized:
“Hitler's role was crucial and indispensable on the way to the final solution. [...] without Hitler and the unique regime he headed, the creation of a program for the physical extermination of the Jews of Europe would have been inconceivable. "
In 1961, Waldemar Besson declared a biography of Hitler that portrayed him as a formative representative of the Nazi era to be the most important task of historiography . Nazi research rejected Hitler biographies by contemporary witnesses such as Helmut Heiber (1960), Hans Bernd Gisevius (1963), Ernst Deuerlein (1969), Robert Payne (1973) as well as bestsellers by historical revisionists such as Erich Kern , David Irving and Werner Maser as well as works on Psychopathography of Adolf Hitler by Walter Charles Langer , Rudolph Binion and Helm Stierlin as a scientifically unproductive "Hitler wave".
Joachim Fest's biography of Hitler (1973) was also criticized as "Hitlerism" fixed on the individual, as it was largely based on his conversations with Albert Speer and explained Hitler's extermination policy as a trait of self-destruction. Broszat rejected any explanation of Hitler's policy after 1933 from his early biography as inadmissible inferring historical effects on personal causes.
Fascism theories, on the other hand, saw Hitler only as an interchangeable figure and neglected his individual intentions and deeds. That is why there was no biography of Hitler published in the GDR . In 1983, Gerhard Schreiber pointed out as a Western research consensus: Hitler was irreplaceable for National Socialism and the Nazi era would be unthinkable without him. Biographies focused on Hitler's “personality” would hardly have explained this effect. One must also present the historical conditions for his career. Ian Kershaw tried to meet this demand with his two-part biography of Hitler (1998; 2000). He explains Hitler's rise with Max Weber's model of “ charismatic rule ”: Due to the social conditions after the First World War, the “Führer myth” established Hitler's popularity and his later initial successes. His power was based on the fact that his supporters and large sections of German society were ready and committed to "work against him in the interests of the Führer", as the NSDAP official Werner Willikens put it in 1934 , even without direct orders .
Ludolf Herbst criticized: Kershaw interprets Hitler's charismatic rule as a social relationship based on the belief of the ruled and thus as a product of social expectations. It remains unnoticed whether and how this charism has determined everyday political life. A belief of most Germans in Hitler's extraordinary abilities, which legitimized Nazi rule, cannot be proven. The Nazi propaganda artificially created Hitler's charisma in order to exploit the Germans' expectations of salvation.
Brendan Simms expressed his view in 2020 that all previous publications about Adolf Hitler ignored his aversion to the United Kingdom and the United States in general, and to American-dominated international capitalism in particular, and that this respectful rejection of the British and Americans, which Hitler developed during World War I, shaped the worldview from which he was guided.
My fight .
- Volume 1: An account. Franz Eher Verlag, Munich (July) 1925; 2nd edition there (December) 1925; further editions: 1926, 1932 ff.
- Volume 2: The National Socialist Movement. Franz Eher Verlag, Munich (December) 1926; 2nd edition ibid. 1927; further editions: 1932 ff.
- Adolf Hitler's speeches. Edited by Ernst Boepple . Boepple, Munich 1925.
- The South Tyrolean question and the German alliance problem. Rather, Munich 1926.
- The speeches of Hitler at the Nazi Party Congress in 1933. Rather, Munich 1934.
- Speech by Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler before the Reichstag on July 13, 1934. Müller, Berlin 1934.
- Hitler's speeches at the 1935 Freedom Congress . Rather, Munich 1935.
- Speeches of the Führer at the Party Congress of Honor in 1936. 6th edition. Rather, Munich 1936.
- Message of leadership to the people and the world. Rather, Munich 1938.
- Speeches by the Fuehrer at the Greater Germany congress in 1938. 6th edition. Rather, Munich 1939.
- Reichstag speech of October 6, 1939. Rather, Munich 1939.
- The Greater German Struggle for Freedom. Speeches by Adolf Hitler. Edited by Philipp Bouhler . 3 volumes. Rather, Munich 1940–1943.
- Source editions
Hitler. Speeches, writings, orders. February 1925 to January 1933. Published by the Institute for Contemporary History. De Gruyter Saur, Munich 1992-2003.
- Volume I: The re-establishment of the NSDAP. February 1925 - June 1926. Edited and commented by Clemens Vollnhals. Munich 1992.
- Volume II: From the Weimar Party Congress to the Reichstag election. July 1926 - May 1928. Edited and commented by Bärbel Dusik. Munich 1993.
- Part I: July 1926 - July 1927
- Part II: August 1927 - May 1928
- Volume II / A: Determination of foreign policy position after the Reichstag election. June – July 1928. Introduced by Gerhard L. Weinberg. Edited and commented by Gerhard L. Weinberg, Christian Hartmann and Klaus A. Lankheit. Munich 1995.
- Volume III: Between the Reichstag elections. July 1928 - September 1930.
- Part 1: July 1928 - February 1929. Edited and commented by Bärbel Dusik and Klaus A. Lankheit with the assistance of Christian Hartmann. Munich 1994.
- Part 2: March 1929 - December 1929. Edited and commented by Klaus A. Lankheit. Munich 1994.
- Part 3: January 1930 - September 1930. Edited and commented by Christian Hartmann. Munich 1995.
- Volume IV: From the Reichstag election to the presidential election. October 1930 - March 1932.
- Part 1: October 1930 - June 1931. Edited and commented by Constantin Goschler. Munich 1994.
- Part 2: July 1931 - December 1931. Edited and commented by Christian Hartmann. Munich 1995.
- Part 3: January to March 1932. Edited and commented by Christian Hartmann. Munich 1997.
- Volume V: From the election of the Reich President to the seizure of power. April 1932 - January 1933.
- Part 1: April 1932 - September 1932. Edited and commented by Klaus A. Lankheit. Munich 1996.
- Part 2: October 1932 - January 1933. Edited and commented by Christian Hartmann and Klaus A. Lankheit. Munich 1998.
- Volume VI: Registers, Maps and Supplements. Edited and commented by Christian Hartmann Katja Klee and Klaus A. Lankheit. Munich 2003.
- Supplementary volume: The Hitler Trial in 1924. Edited by Lothar Gruchmann and Reinhard Weber with the assistance of Otto Gritschneder. Munich 1997–1999.
- Josef Becker , Ruth Becker (ed.): Hitler's seizure of power. Documents from Hitler's rise to power January 30, 1933 until the one-party state was sealed on July 14, 1933. Dtv, new edition 1996, ISBN 3-423-02938-2 .
- Robert Eikmeyer (Ed.): Adolf Hitler: Speeches on art and cultural policy. 1933-1939. With an introduction by Boris Groys. Revolver, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-86588-000-2 .
- Christian Hartmann et al. (Ed.): Hitler, Mein Kampf. A critical edition (2 volumes). Institute for Contemporary History, Munich / Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-9814052-3-1 .
- Institute for contemporary history (ed.): Hitler's second book. A document from 1928. Introduced and commented by Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg , with a foreword by Hans Rothfels . German publishing company, Stuttgart 1961.
- Werner Jochmann (Ed.): Monologues in the Führer Headquarters 1941–1944. Recorded by Heinrich Heim (1980). Special edition, Orbis, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-572-01156-6 .
- Henry Ashby Turner : Hitler's Secret Brochure for Industrialists. 1927 . In: Ders .: Fascism and Capitalism in Germany. Studies on the relationship between National Socialism and the economy . 2nd ed., V&R, Göttingen 1980, pp. 33-59.
- Michael Ruck: Bibliography on National Socialism. Two volumes. Completely revised and significantly expanded new edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2000, ISBN 3-534-14989-0 .
- Paul Madden: Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Epoch: An annotated Bibliography of English-Language Works on the Origins, Nature and Structure of the Nazi State. Scarecrow, Lanham 1998, ISBN 0-8108-3558-4 .
- Brendan Simms : Hitler: A Global Biography. Translated by Klaus-Dieter Schmidt. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA), Munich 2020, ISBN 3-421-04664-6 .
- Volker Ullrich : Adolf Hitler. Biography. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2013.
- Peter Longerich : Hitler. Biography. Siedler, Munich 2015, ISBN 3-8275-0060-5 .
- Wolfram Pyta : Hitler. The artist as politician and general. A dominance analysis. Siedler, Munich 2015, ISBN 3-8275-0058-3 .
- Thomas Sandkühler : Adolf H. - The life path of a dictator. Hanser, Berlin 2015, ISBN 3-446-24635-5 .
- Ian Kershaw : Hitler: 1889-1945. Pantheon, Munich 2009, ISBN 3-570-55094-X .
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. DVA, Stuttgart / Munich.
- Kurt Pätzold , Manfred Weißbecker : Adolf Hitler. A political biography. Militzke, Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-86189-162-X .
- Marlis Steinert: Hitler. Beck, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-406-37640-1 .
- John Toland : Adolf Hitler. Biography 1889-1945. Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1977 (many other editions, including Weltbild, 2004, ISBN 3-8289-0540-4 ).
- Sebastian Haffner : Comments on Hitler . (1978) Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-596-23489-1 .
- Joachim Fest: Hitler. A biography. (1973) 4th edition, Propylaen, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-549-07172-8 .
- Psychohistorical investigations
- see Adolf Hitler's psychopathography # literature .
- Early days
- Hannes Leidinger , Christian Rapp : Hitler. Formative years. Childhood and youth 1889–1914. Residence, Salzburg / Vienna 2020, ISBN 3-7017-3500-X .
- Othmar Plöckinger: Among soldiers and agitators. Hitler's formative years in the German military 1918–1920. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2013, ISBN 3-506-77570-7 .
- Thomas Weber : Hitler's First War. Private Hitler in World War II - Myth and Truth. List, Berlin 2012, ISBN 3-548-61110-9 .
- David Clay Large: Hitler's Munich. The rise and fall of the capital of the movement. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-44195-5 .
- Anton Joachimsthaler : Hitler's path began in Munich 1913–1923. Herbig, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7766-2155-9 .
- Brigitte Hamann : Hitler's Vienna: Apprenticeship years of a dictator. 12th edition, Piper, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-492-22653-1 .
- Albrecht Tyrell: From 'Drummer' to 'Leader'. The change in Hitler's self-image between 1919 and 1924 and the development of the NSDAP. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-7705-1221-9 .
- Thomas Weber: How Adolf Hitler became a Nazi. From apolitical soldier to author of "Mein Kampf". Translated by Heike Schlatterer and Karl Heinz Silber. Propylaea, Berlin 2016, ISBN 3-549-07432-8 .
- Timothy W. Ryback : Hitler's Books. His library - his thinking. Translated by Heike Schlatterer. Torch bearer, Cologne 2010, ISBN 3-7716-4437-2 .
- Ralf Georg Reuth : Hitler's hatred of Jews. Cliché and reality. Piper, Munich 2009, ISBN 3-492-05177-4 .
- Barbara Zehnpfennig : Hitler's “Mein Kampf”. An interpretation. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7705-3533-2 .
- Political rise
- Ludolf Herbst : Hitler's Charisma: The Invention of a German Messiah. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 3-10-033186-9 .
- Brigitte Hamann: Winifred Wagner or Hitler's Bayreuth. Piper, Munich / Zurich 2002, ISBN 3-492-04300-3 .
- Henry Ashby Turner : Hitler's Road to Power. January 1933. (1997) Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-26547-2 .
- Hans-Günter Richardi : Hitler and his backers. New facts on the early history of the NSDAP. Süddeutscher Verlag, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-7991-6508-8 .
- Gotthard Jasper : The failed taming. Paths to Hitler's seizure of power 1930–1934. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-518-11270-8 .
- Dictatorship 1933–1939
- Michael Grüttner : The Third Reich. 1933-1939. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-608-60019-3 .
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- Quoted from Hans-Adolf Jacobsen: The way to the division of the world. Politics and Strategy 1939–1945. Koblenz / Bonn 1977, ISBN 3-8033-0258-7 , p. 56 f.
- HA Winkler: History of the West. The time of the world wars 1914–1945. Munich 2011, p. 910 and A. Beevor: The Second World War. Munich 2014, p. 134.
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- Lothar Gruchmann: The Second World War. Warfare and Politics. (1967) dtv, 7th edition, Munich 1982, p. 95 f.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 411.
- Alexander Lüdeke: The Second World War. Causes, outbreak, course, consequences. Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-1-4054-8585-2 , p. 69.
- The German Empire and the Second World War. Edited by Military History Research Office, Vol. 3, DVA, Stuttgart 1984, p. 135.
- Lothar Gruchmann: The Second World War. Warfare and Politics. (1967) 8th edition, dtv, Munich 1985, pp. 96-99.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 444 and A. Beevor: The Second World War. Munich 2012, p. 173. Kershaw and Beevor refer to Halder's war diary . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1962–1964, vol. 2, p. 158. Halder recorded remarks that were passed on by Hitler's army adjutant Gerhard Engel (note from Kershaw).
- Laval and the German ambassador in Paris, Otto Abetz , had arranged the planned meeting between Hitler and Pétain two days later. See fr: Collaboration en France and fr: Entrevue de Montoire .
- Lothar Gruchmann: The Second World War. Munich 1985, pp. 99-101.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 445. Similar to Heinrich August Winkler: History of the West. The time of the world wars. 1914-1945. Beck, Munich 2011, p. 932. See also François Delpla: Montoire. The premiers jours de la collaboration. Paris 1996, chap. 16.
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- Ian Kershaw: Turning Points. Key decisions in World War II. DVA, Munich 2008, p. 115.
- Henrik Eberle: Hitler's World Wars. How the private became a general. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2014, p. 214.
- Ian Kershaw: Turning Points. Munich 2008, p. 119.
- According to Stalingrad (1943), German soldiers and civilians used the abbreviation “ Gröfaz ” in whispering jokes as an ironic allusion to Hitler's military defeats and the National Socialists' abbreviation mania. In addition Schmitz-Berning: The language of National Socialism. In: Journal for German Word Research 17 (1961), p. 83.
- Karl-Heinz Frieser : Blitzkrieg-Legende - Der Westfeldzug 1940. Munich 2005, pp. 393, 409 f. Limited preview in the Google book search.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 413.
- See Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 417.
- Uwe Klußmann: The urge to strike. In: Spiegel Geschichte 3/2010, p. 24.
- See Ian Kershaw: Turning Points. DVA, Munich 2008, p. 95.
- Rolf-Dieter Müller: Hitler was not a Bismarck. In: Spiegel Geschichte 3/2010, p. 66.
- Franz Halder, KTB 2 , July 22, 1940, quoted in Peter Longerich: Hitler. Biography. Munich 2015, p. 733.
- Wilhelm Keitel (Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command), Alfred Jodl (Chief of the Wehrmacht Command Staff), Walther von Brauchitsch (Commander-in-Chief of the Army), Erich Raeder (Commander-in-Chief of the Navy), Franz Halder (Chief of Staff).
- Cf. Antony Beevor: The Second World War. Munich 2014, p. 156.
- Summary in Halders KTB 2, July 31, 1940, quoted in Peter Longerich: Hitler. Biography. Munich 2015, p. 734.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 447 f.
- Ian Kershaw: Turning Points. Munich 2008, p. 112 f. And 116.
- Ian Kershaw: Turning Points. Munich 2008, p. 114.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVA, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 472-474.
- Wolfram Wette: The propaganda music accompanying the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 . In: Gerd R. Ueberschär, Wolfram Wette (ed.): "Operation Barbarossa": The German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941: reports, analyzes, documents . Schöningh, Paderborn 1984, pp. 116-119, cited p. 118.
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- Cf. Jörg Ganzenmüller: The besieged Leningrad. The city in the strategies of attackers and defenders. Paderborn 2005, p. 20.
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- See Ian Kershaw: Fall of Hell. Europe 1914 to 1949. DVA, Munich 2016, p. 480.
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- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVA, Stuttgart 2000, p. 594.
- Hitler's directive of December 19, 1941, quoted from Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVA, Stuttgart 2000, p. 608.
- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVA, Stuttgart 2000, p. 612 and ibid. Footnote 392.
- Franz Halder (1949), quoted from Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. Stuttgart 2000, p. 607, footnote 372.
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- Ian Kershaw: Hitler. 1936-1945. DVA, Stuttgart 2000, p. 474.
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Art. Choltitz, Dietrich von. In: Goldmann Lexikon, Volume 4, p. 1806.
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Paul von Hindenburg
as President of the Reich
German head of state
as Führer and Reich Chancellor
as President of the Reich
|Kurt von Schleicher||
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German politician (NSDAP), MdR, Reich Chancellor, dictator and war criminal|
|BIRTH DATE||April 20, 1889|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Braunau am Inn , Austria-Hungary|
|DATE OF DEATH||April 30, 1945|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Berlin|