Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria and would later become the mastermind behind World War II. He grew up in a deeply troubled household, with an abusive and alcoholic father, and his mother died when he was quite young. He was renowned for his oratory skills and charismatic demeanour, and he was soon recognised for his leadership potential. By the early 1930s, Hitler had become leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and was appointed Chancellor of Germany by 1933.
The Nazi Rise to Power
Hitler was elected in an environment rife with economic turmoil and political unrest, and his radical and extreme views on policies such as racial purity, foreign expansion and allegiance to authority gained support from the disaffected German populace. Through a series of decrees and legislation, Hitler soon seized control and turned the country into a oppressive, nationalist regime. He had a keen eye for propaganda, and the iconic Swastika symbol, uniform shapes and the various rallies helped to further cement the Nazi movement and its ideologies.
World War II
Hitler declared war on Poland in 1939, which led to the outbreak of World War II. His strategy was based on the expansion of German territory in Europe, as well as racial supremacy of the German race. His support base and military forces rapidly expanded, and German forces quickly overran and occupied large parts of Western Europe, including France and the Low Countries, and vast areas of the Soviet Union.
By 1941, Hitler had formed an alliance with Japan and the two countries embarked on a joint campaign against the United States and its allies. The tide of the war turned against Hitler in 1942 when the Allies defeated the German forces in North Africa, and the Battle of Stalingrad quashed German ambitions for the Soviet Union.
The Final Years
By 1944, the Allied forces were advancing on Germany, and despite his best efforts, Hitler could not stop their overwhelming force. In January 1945, Hitler relocated from Berlin and took up residence in his bunker in Berlin. This was to be his final stand. As the war continued to turn against him, Hitler became increasingly panicked, and by April 1945, he knew the end was nearing. On April 30th 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker.
Hitler’s regime had a lasting and devastating impact on Europe and the world. Over 70 million people had been killed in the war, and millions more had been left homeless, displaced or wounded. The Holocaust was also a direct result of his policies, and it is estimated that 6 million Jewish people were killed in the extermination process.
The political values of fascism, nationalism and racial supremacy that were championed by Hitler and the Nazis have been discredited and debunked, with the principles of democracy, freedom and peace taking their place.
Post War Trials
Despite his death, Hitler was declared a war criminal and was brought to trial by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. In the proceedings, his undeniably criminal acts of racial and political oppression were finally brought to justice. At the trial, he was declared guilty of crimes against humanity and condemned to death by hanging.
Debate over his Legacy
The legacy of Adolf Hitler has been widely debated in the years since his death. On the one hand, it is undeniable that his heinous acts of war and oppression were hugely damaging for Europe and the world, and he should be seen as one of the most despicable figures in history.
On the other hand, Hitler’s leadership inspired a strong sense of patriotism and national identity in Germany, and his determination to stand up against the Allied forces was admired by many.
Hitler’s Beliefs and Ideologies
Hitler held some deeply controversial and widely-condemned political and racial beliefs. He was a staunch nationalist and believed in the supremacy of the ‘Aryan’ race, and saw other ethnicities and cultures as inferior to his own. He was anti-Marxist, anti-Communist and anti-Semitic, and sought to spread the ideology of Nazism across the world. His views on racial purity and foreign expansion were the driving forces of World War II.
Hitler’s Impact on World Events
Without a doubt, Hitler has had a huge impact on world events and his actions during WWII were a major factor in shaping the geopolitical landscape of the 20th century. His policies of racial oppression were in part responsible for the six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust, and his attempts to expand German hegemony in Europe instigated the outbreak of the Second World War.
His death marked the end of an era, and the world has been changed forever by his actions. The legacy of Hitler and WWII still lingers today, and his words and actions should never be forgotten.