Why Did Adolf Hitler Do What He Did

Financial Motivation

Adolf Hitler’s financial motivation was spawned through his fascination by Social Darwinism which sought to promote a society based on Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ which supported his own racial supremacist views. After being defeated in World War I and being plunged into a post-war economic depression, Hitler wanted to regain some of the lost status the German people had and restore Germany to its former glory.
In order to achieve this, Hitler proposed a radical reform of the country, aiming to achieve full employment, increase agricultural production and to develop industry. This was to be accomplished mainly through his nationalistic political agenda, by heavy re-armament to bring Germany back from economic chaos.
Hitler was particularly motivated to roll out his agenda by the collective suffering of the German people he felt at his own defeats- an idea he expressed in Mein Kampf which subsequently led to his policies and leadership style. Moving from a democracy to a dictatorship, Hitler centralized power resulting in the prosperity and full employment of the people. This reformation enabled and provided the resources for Nazi Germany to become a superpower and a major player in WWII.

Seizing Opportunities

In addition to his financial motivations, Hitler seized opportunities to expand German control and territory throughout Europe. His popularity with the German public gave him an almost exclusive political status enabling him to pursue his own beliefs as he saw fit.
Hitler’s primary focus on acquiring resources and labor served as a major factor in his decisions throughout his campaign. The ‘Anschluss’ with Austria in 1938 was one of these opportunities, gaining the country’s massive stores of natural resources and labor. Hitler annexed the Sudetenland a year later, gaining access to the small but industrially advanced area which Germany had previously been denied access to. During the war Hitler continued to expand, adding Danzig to the German state in 1939, and then ultimately invading most of Europe in 1941.
Hitler saw economic opportunities in his expansion, as the conquered land provided more access to resources and labor that were then diverted for Nazi use. He also saw expansion as an opportunity to gain the loyalty of those he had taken over, gathering ‘loyalists’ and growing the power of the Nazi party’s presence.

Social Motivation

Hitler’s radical ideology was based on his belief of the need to create a master ‘Aryan’ race. To accomplish this, he sought to take/destroy land, resources and lives in order to create a ‘racially’ superior version of Germany. By his purging of ‘non-German’ inhabitants, Hitler would be able to construct a united and uniform state much like the one Nazi-Germany had become.
He believed that this ‘Aryan’ race should be superior to all other races and have dominion over the world; a vision he referred to as the ‘Thousand Year Reich’. It is through his racialist rhetoric that Hitler justified his actions, from extermination campaigns to laws aimed at subjugating people based on their race. Thus, despite his financial motivations and opportunism, Hitler’s actions fundamentally sought to cement his social agenda.


In addition to finance and social status, Hitler felt strongly about his racialist and nationalist ideology; his idea of racial supremacy combined with the ‘Germanization’ of Europe. Hitler viewed his ideological goals as a unique mission to ‘liberate’ Germany and restore its former international power.
He was a devout believer in the Social Darwinist ideology, believing that the ‘Aryan race’ were biologically superiors and deserved to survive. Racial supremacy enabled Hitler to create a sense of unity through shared beliefs, which subsequently earned him incredible public support and identified a collective enemy- different ethnicities and religions in Europe.

Implementing Laws

To implement his ideology and further strengthen his objectives, Hitler introduced a myriad of laws, in particular to restrict the freedom and movement of Jews, Sinti and Roma people- a process referred to as ‘legislative exclusion’. This was done through strict enforcement of existing laws and the introduction of new ones, such as the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, that placed racial and ethnic restrictions on certain citizens in Germany.
Hitler was also driven by his disapproval of democracy, believing that its system was too weak to support his authoritarian regime. Consequently, he silenced criticism and dissent with violence, imprisonment, and discrimination of those who did not conform to his beloved ideology. These acts of violence were coupled with the propaganda of the Nazi regime which served to cement the Nazi values in politics and also Hitler’s power in the eyes of citizens and enemies alike.

Arms Race

To guarantee his regime’s power, Hitler was determined to build up the German military. This included a secret weapons programme to manufacture weapons that the country had previously been denied due to the Versailles Treaty post WWI.
This rearmament provided some economic relief for Germany, boosting employment through giving people jobs in production, ultimately stabilizing national economy which had been deteriorating since the end of the war. The armament also encouraged further expansion as it would make Hitler a formidable opponent for other European countries.
As soon as Hitler gained power over Germany in 1933, he made it his mission to construct a strong military, expand his reach across Europe, and enforce his ideology, achieving these goals through any means necessary.

Mental Illness

It is possible that the mental health of Hitler contributed to the fervor with which he pursued the goals of Nazi Germany. Historians have postulated that his dementia may have been a factor in his increasingly aggressive, paranoid and short-tempered behavior during the war, as well as his disregard for the human lives he took and international conventions he ignored.
According to New York Post, a medical reviewers conducted mental tests and evaluations on Hitler in 1944 and 1945: the conclusion of the review suggested that Hitler suffered from a previously undiagnosed form of Dementia Paralytica. Other historians posit that his mental health meant that he was unable to delay gratification or understand the consequences of his actions.

Psychological Transference

Another possibility is that Hitler’s motivations stemmed from psychological transference. This is known as the process of transferring unresolved emotions and coping mechanisms from childhood onto a new event or situation in adulthood. It is believed that Hitler’s early years served as motivation for his actions during his military career.
For instance, Hitler’s childhood experiences in military school and the authoritarian nature of the school environment may have translated into his beliefs of power and control over others.
Similarly, his exposure to the repressive and authoritarian environment of his father may have been internalized and instead been outwardly expressed through his military strategies and campaigns as a way of dealing with his own feelings of oppression by his father.

Homeland Security

For Hitler, Germany was a symbol of national pride and unity, one which he wanted to protect and exalt above all other nations. He wanted to ensure that Germany was not threatened from the outside, a goal he thought could be accomplished by the reformation of the political environment and military advancement.
He was paranoid about his borders being threatened by rebuilding of former empires and political expansion of other countries. Thus, Hitler sought to protect Germany at any cost, making it clear that loyalty to his cause was paramount. He also felt that his idea of a German master race was necessary for homeland security and protection.

Racial Superiority

Hitler’s concept of racial superiority was the fundamental principal that drove Nazi policy and its propagation of violence. His commitment to the ‘Aryan master race’ meant achieving racial purity through means such as population removal and the ‘Final Solution’.
Hitler saw his race as uniquely superior and deserving of protection, believing that through protection of the ‘Aryan’ race, Germany would be able to become a superpower. His racial theory formed the basis of the Nazi brutalities, legitimizing the racially motivated pogroms of Jews, Sinti and Roma people.
Moreover, the reinforcement of racial superiority involved ideas such as eugenics and ‘ethnic cleansing’ which were initiatives used to unnecessarily eliminate large groups of people due to their belief that they were inferior. Consequently, long after World War II ended, the reverberations of this policy are still felt today as genocide and war are still carried out in some countries due to the same racial motivation.

Elizabeth Baker is an experienced writer and historian with a focus on topics related to famous world dictators. She has over 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing history books and articles. Elizabeth is passionate about uncovering lost stories from the past and sharing interesting facts about some of the most notorious dictators in history. In her writing, she emphasizes how dictators can still affect modern-day politics and society. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington where she continues to write and research for her latest projects.

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