Adolf Hitler was born on 20th April 1889, growing up in a very traditional Catholic family in the small Austrian town of Braunau. His mother, Klara, and father, Alois Hitler, were both from peasant stock. They raised their son in a strict authoritarian manner, instilling in him from an early age a sense of obedience and discipline. Adolf quickly became aware of the inequality of class, and developed a strong sense of nationalistic pride. He was an above average school student but showed no outstanding talent in any particular subject. Despite this, Hitler held a deep admiration for German culture and the idea of German greatness.
Hitler’s earliest influences came from his parents, particularly his father. Alois was a very proud man who had worked his way up in civil service despite being born in poverty. He was a typical 19th century German-Austrian male with a strong nationalistic pride and a belief in a strong authoritarian state. Hitler’s admiration for his father may explain why he later developed strong authoritarian tendencies and a belief in the superiority of the German race.
Hitler was also deeply influenced by both his teachers and his peers at school. His teachers were mainly conservative and had a strong belief in traditional values. They instilled in Hitler a sense of both pride and admiration for the German culture and language. His peers were also nationalists and had a strong sense of hatred for Jewish people. This hatred was further ingrained in Hitler when he read literature by anti-semitic figures such as Karl Wilhelm Schmidt.
Early Political Activity
At the age of 24 Hitler moved to Munich, taking up residence in a working-class neighbourhood. Here he attended political meetings and began attending lectures by right-wing politicians such as Gottfried Feder. He was particularly struck by Feder’s argument in favor of universal suffrage and the German nation, which Hitler would later adopt as a cornerstone of his own ideology. It was Feder, who first introduced Hitler to racial theories.
Hitler also studied the writings and speeches of Georg von Schonerer, a right-wing Austrian politician. Schonerer was an influential figure in the anti-semitic and anti-democratic movement. Hitler’s admiration for Schonerer can be seen in his speeches and writings, which often contain phrases and wording directly linked to the Austrian politician. This included Schonerer’s idea of an ‘Aktion’, or an ethnic cleansing, of Jewish people from society.
Hitler was also inspired by the economic theories of Karl Marx. His admiration for Marx’s theories of socialism and the class war has been seen as influencing Hitler’s focus on racial purity and the unifying power of nationalism. Hitler also drew inspiration from 19th-century German philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Johann Fichte. Nietzsche’s works, especially his book ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’, made a strong impression on Hitler, influencing his beliefs on racial purity.
Hitler’s Rise to Power
In 1919, Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party and quickly rose up the ranks. He was fanatical in his belief in the superiority of the Aryan race and strove to make these views clear in both his speeches and writings. His ability to stir up the masses with his passionate oratory soon made him the head of the party and the face of the Nazi revolution.
Hitler’s early political successes were built upon his mastery of propaganda. He combined his beliefs in racial superiority and the power of nationalism with a carefully crafted message of hope and rebirth. This powerful combination was one of the key drivers of his support and propelled him to power.
Hitler’s success can also be attributed to his ability to attract the support of the wealthy and powerful. He used the power of the wealthy industrialists and landowners to fund his party and spread his message to the masses. Hitler was able to attract the support of the influential far-right elements within German society, who shared his views on racial superiority.
Ideologies and Influence
Hitler was heavily influenced by the ideas of 19th-century German philosophers and thinkers. He was particularly drawn to the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Johann Fichte. These thinkers encouraged the idea of racial purity and the unifying power of nationhood.
Hitler’s early political influences were also heavily shaped by figures such as Gottfried Feder and Georg von Schonerer. It was their arguments in favor of a strong authoritarian state and racial superiority that resonated with Hitler and influenced his own later views.
Hitler’s rise to power was aided by the support of wealthy industrialists and landowners. They provided the funds to fund his party and spread his message to the masses. Without the support of these influential figures, Hitler may never have achieved the level of power he did.
Mein Kampf and Final Ideology
In 1925, Hitler wrote his landmark book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In it he outlined his ideas on politics, race, and the nature of the German nation. This book served as both a manifesto and a call to action, and provided the framework for the Nazi revolution. It summed up what Hitler had learned from his early political activities and provided a set of ideological principles which became the blueprint for the reign of terror that was to come.
Mein Kampf represented the culmination of Hitler’s various influences and shaped the Hitler’s ideology for the remainder of his life. Every single one of Hitler’s actions and policies revolved around his beliefs outlined in Mein Kampf. This book served as the driving force behind Hitler and the Third Reich and it is clear that without his prior influences Hitler would have never been able to write a book as influential and enduring as Mein Kampf.
Role of World War One in Hitler’s Rise
World War One had a profound influence on Hitler and was a key factor in his rise to power. He served as a soldier during the war and often stated that the experience had a profound effect on him. Being in the midst of such death and destruction no doubt had an effect on Hitler and contributed to his later views on racial superiority and the strength of the German nation.
Another key factor in Hitler’s rise was the Treaty of Versailles, which he blamed for Germany’s defeat and humiliation. The humiliation of defeat and the restrictions placed upon Germany by the treaty fired Hitler’s patriotism and determination to restore the nation’s glory.
Hitler’s experience of war and the humiliation of Versailles became the driving forces behind his actions and policies. He used them to promote his own vision of a strong, unified German nation that would rise up from the ashes of defeat and restore its former glory.
The period in German history prior to Hitler’s rise to power was one of deep political and economic crisis. The German economy was in ruins and political turmoil was rife. It was during this period of desperation that Hitler was able to gain the support of the German people. His message of hope and national pride was a welcome change to the chaos of the times and provided the support he needed to gain power.
The desperation of the masses also enabled Hitler to tap into their feelings of discontent and anger. He was able to channel this anger towards specific groups, such as Jewish people, and used it to his advantage. Without the political and economic turmoil of the time, it is unlikely that Hitler would have been able to gain the support he needed to take power.
Role of Charisma and Propaganda
Hitler’s rise to power was also helped by his considerable charisma and skill as a propagandist. His ability to stir people up with his passionate oratory and carefully crafted message of hope and rebirth was a powerful combination. This was instrumental in gaining the support he needed from both the wealthy and the working classes.
Propaganda played a major role in the Nazi regime and was used to spread Hitler’s message and ensure loyalty to the party. Posters, radio broadcasts and newspapers were all used to propagate the Nazi message and instill a sense of national pride and German superiority.
Hitler was able to use his considerable charisma, along with propaganda, to gain the support he needed to take power. This personal charisma, along with a strong message of national pride and racial superiority, was one of the keys to Hitler’s success.