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Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born

German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German
Workers Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei,
abbreviated NSDAP), commonly known as the Nazi Party. He was
Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and, after 1934, also head of
state as Führer und Reichskanzler, ruling the country as an absolute
dictator of Germany.

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, an
inn in Braunau am Inn, Austria–Hungary, the fourth of Alois and Klara
Hitler's six children.

At the age of three, his family moved to Kapuzinerstrasse in Passau,

Germany where the young Hitler would acquire Lower Bavarian rather
than Austrian as his lifelong native dialect. In 1894, the family moved to
Leonding near Linz, then in June 1895, Alois retired to a small
landholding at Hafeld near Lambach, where he tried his hand at farming
and beekeeping. During this time, the young Hitler attended school in
nearby Fischlham.

His younger brother Edmund died of measles on 2 February 1900, causing

permanent changes in Hitler. He went from a confident, outgoing boy who
found school easy, to a morose, detached, sullen boy who constantly
battled his father and his teachers.

Hitler wanted to be an artist, but his father forced him to join a technical
school. He became rebellious and didnt obey his father. He was a
recalcitrant student and was expelled from his school. He had struggle in
his childhood. He was attached to his mother and when his mother died, he
had difficulties.

He spent his childhood in Austria but had loyalty to Germany. He wanted


to serve Germany. He joined German army. He was brave and received
bravery awards also but was not promoted as he was not a German citizen.
He was very disappointed when German surrendered in I world war.

A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the precursor of the

Nazi Party (DAP) in 1919 and became leader of NSDAP in 1921.
Following his imprisonment after a failed coup in Bavaria in 1923, he
gained support by promoting German nationalism, anti-semitism, anti-
capitalism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and propaganda.
He was appointed chancellor in 1933, and quickly transformed the Weimar
Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the
totalitarian and autocratic ideals of national socialism.

Hitler ultimately wanted to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi

German hegemony in Europe. To achieve this, he pursued a foreign policy
with the declared goal of seizing Lebensraum ("living space") for the
Aryan people; directing the resources of the state towards this goal. This
included the rearmament of Germany, which culminated in 1939 when the
Wehrmacht invaded Poland. In response, the United Kingdom and France
declared war against Germany, leading to the outbreak of World War II in

Within three years, Germany and the Axis powers had occupied most of
Europe, and most of Northern Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the
Pacific Ocean. However, with the reversal of the Nazi invasion of the
Soviet Union, the Allies gained the upper hand from 1942 onwards. By
1945, Allied armies had invaded German-held Europe from all sides. Nazi
forces engaged in numerous violent acts during the war, including the
systematic murder of as many as 17 million civilians, an estimated six
million of whom were Jews targeted in the Holocaust and between
500,000 and 1,500,000 were Romanis. Others targeted included ethnic
Poles, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities,
homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other political and religious

In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler


married his long-time mistress Eva Braun and, to avoid capture by Soviet
forces less than two days later, the two committed suicide on 30 April

Hitler was a very good orator and he wrote a book title Main Kaimf. He
also wrote articles. He was also an actor and was a part of many films. He
is known as one of the worst dictators of 20th century. He mercilessly
killed millions of persons and will always be remembered for his cruelty.

Hitler claimed that Jews were enemies of the Aryan race. He held them
responsible for Austria's crisis. He also identified certain forms of
socialism and Bolshevism, which had many Jewish leaders, as Jewish
movements, merging his antisemitism with anti-Marxism. Later, blaming
Germany's military defeat in World War I on the 1918 revolutions, he
considered Jews the culprits of Imperial Germany's downfall and
subsequent economic problems as well.

Hitler didnt favour women working in offices. He wanted that women

should work only in home as home makers.

Hitler was very dictatorial in his administration style. He didnt listen to

others. He wanted everyone to worship him and follow him. When it came
time for the soldiers and sailors to swear the traditional loyalty oath, it had
been altered into an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. Normally, soldiers
and sailors swear loyalty to the holder of the office of supreme
commander/commander-in-chief, not a specific person.

In 1938, Hitler forced the resignation of his War Minister Hitler

announced he was assuming personal command of the armed forces. He
took over Blomberg's other old post, that of Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces, for himself. He was already Supreme Commander by virtue
of holding the powers of the president. Having secured supreme political
power, Hitler went on to gain public support by convincing most Germans
he was their saviour from the economic Depression, the Versailles treaty,
communism, the "Judeo-Bolsheviks", and other "undesirable" minorities.


Hitler oversaw one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and
civil improvement Germany had ever seen, mostly based on debt flotation
and expansion of the military.

Hitler's government sponsored architecture on an immense scale, with

Albert Speer becoming famous as the first architect of the Reich. While
important as an architect in implementing Hitler's classicist reinterpretation
of German culture, Speer proved much more effective as armaments
minister during the last years of World War II. In 1936, Berlin hosted the
summer Olympic games, which were opened by Hitler and choreographed
to demonstrate Aryan superiority over all other races, achieving mixed

Although Hitler made plans for a Breitspurbahn ("broad gauge railroad

network"), they were preempted by World War II. Had the railroad been
built, its gauge would have been three metres, even wider than the old
Great Western Railway of Britain.

Hitler contributed slightly to the design of the car that later became the
Volkswagen Beetle and charged Ferdinand Porsche with its design and

Hitler considered Sparta to be the first National Socialist state, and praised
its early eugenics treatment of deformed children.86]


In May 1933, Hitler met with Herbert von Dirksen, the German
Ambassador in Moscow. Dirksen advised the Führer that he was allowing
relations with the Soviet Union to deteriorate to a unacceptable extent, and
advised to take immediate steps to repair relations with the Soviets.93]
Much to Dirksen's intense disappointment, Hitler informed that he wished
for an anti-Soviet understanding with Poland, which Dirksen protested
implied recognition of the German-Polish border, leading Hitler to state he
was after much greater things than merely overturning the Treaty of

In June 1933, Hitler was forced to disavow Alfred Hugenberg of the

German National People's Party, who while attending the London World
Economic Conference put forth a programme of colonial expansion in both
Africa and Eastern Europe, which created a major storm abroad.95]
Speaking to the Burgermeister of Hamburg in 1933, Hitler commented that
Germany required several years of peace before it could be sufficiently
rearmed enough to risk a war, and until then a policy of caution was called
for.96] In his "peace speeches" of 17 May 1933, 21 May 1935, and 7
March 1936, Hitler stressed his supposed pacific goals and a willingness to
work within the international system.97] In private, Hitler's plans were
something less than pacific. At the first meeting of his Cabinet in 1933,
Hitler placed military spending ahead of unemployment relief, and indeed
was only prepared to spend money on the latter if the former was satisfied
first.98] When the president of the Reichsbank, the former Chancellor Dr.
Hans Luther, offered the new government the legal limit of 100 million
Reichmarks to finance rearmament, Hitler found the sum too low, and
sacked Luther in March 1933 to replace him with Hjalmar Schacht, who
during the next five years was to advance 12 billion Reichmarks worth of
"Mefo-bills" to pay for rearmament.99]

A major initiative in Hitler's foreign policy in his early years was to create
an alliance with Britain. In the 1920s, Hitler wrote that a future National
Socialist foreign policy goal was "the destruction of Russia with the help
of England."100] In May 1933, Alfred Rosenberg in his capacity as head
of the Nazi Party's Aussenpolitisches Amt (Foreign Political Office)


visited London as part of a disastrous effort to win an alliance with
Britain.101] In October 1933, Hitler pulled Germany out of both the
League of Nations and World Disarmament Conference after his Foreign
Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath made it appear to world public
opinion that the French demand for sécurité was the principal stumbling

In line with the views he advocated in Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch
about the necessity of building an Anglo-German alliance, Hitler, in a
meeting in November 1933 with the British Ambassador, Sir Eric Phipps,
offered a scheme in which Britain would support a 300,000-strong German
Army in exchange for a German "guarantee" of the British Empire.103] In
response, the British stated a 10-year waiting period would be necessary
before Britain would support an increase in the size of the German
Army.103] A more successful initiative in foreign policy occurred with
relations with Poland. In spite of intense opposition from the military and
the Auswärtiges Amt who preferred closer ties with the Soviet Union,
Hitler, in the fall of 1933 opened secret talks with Poland that were to lead
to the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of January 1934.102]

In February 1934, Hitler met with the British Lord Privy Seal, Sir Anthony
Eden, and hinted strongly that Germany already possessed an Air Force,
which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.104] In the fall of
1934, Hitler was seriously concerned over the dangers of inflation
damaging his popularity.105] In a secret speech given before his Cabinet
on 5 November 1934, Hitler stated he had "given the working class his
word that he would allow no price increases. Wage-earners would accuse
him of breaking his word if he did not act against the rising prices.
Revolutionary conditions among the people would be the further

Although a secret German armaments programme had been on-going since

1919, in March 1935, Hitler rejected Part V of the Versailles treaty by
publicly announcing that the German army would be expanded to 600,000
men (six times the number stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles),
introducing an Air Force (Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy


(Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy and the League of Nations quickly
condemned these actions. However, after re-assurances from Hitler that
Germany was only interested in peace, no country took any action to stop
this development and German re-armament continued. Later in March
1935, Hitler held a series of meetings in Berlin with the British Foreign
Secretary Sir John Simon and Eden, during which he successfully evaded
British offers for German participation in a regional security pact meant to
serve as an Eastern European equivalent of the Locarno pact while the two
British ministers avoided taking up Hitler's offers of alliance.106] During
his talks with Simon and Eden, Hitler first used what he regarded as the
brilliant colonial negotiating tactic, when Hitler parlayed an offer from
Simon to return to the League of Nations by demanding the return of the
former German colonies in Africa.107]

Starting in April 1935, disenchantment with how the Third Reich had
developed in practice as opposed to what been promised led many in the
Nazi Party, especially the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters; i.e., those who
joined the Party before 1930, and who tended to be the most ardent anti-
Semitics in the Party), and the SA into lashing out against Germany's
Jewish minority as a way of expressing their frustrations against a group
that the authorities would not generally protect.108] The rank and file of
the Party were most unhappy that two years into the Third Reich, and
despite countless promises by Hitler prior to 1933, no law had been passed
banning marriage or sex between those Germans belonging to the "Aryan"
and Jewish "races". A Gestapo report from the spring of 1935 stated that
the rank and file of the Nazi Party would "set in motion by us from
below," a solution to the "Jewish problem," "that the government would
then have to follow."109] As a result, Nazi Party activists and the SA
started a major wave of assaults, vandalism and boycotts against German

On 18 June 1935, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) was

signed in London which allowed for increasing the allowed German
tonnage up to 35% of that of the British navy. Hitler called the signing of
the AGNA "the happiest day of his life" as he believed the agreement
marked the beginning of the Anglo-German alliance he had predicted in


Mein Kampf.111] This agreement was made without consulting either
France or Italy, directly undermined the League of Nations and put the
Treaty of Versailles on the path towards irrelevance.112] After the signing
of the A.G.N.A., in June 1935 Hitler ordered the next step in the creation
of an Anglo-German alliance: taking all the societies demanding the
restoration of the former German African colonies and coordinating
(Gleichschaltung) them into a new Reich Colonial League
(Reichskolonialbund) which over the next few years waged an extremely
aggressive propaganda campaign for colonial restoration.113] Hitler had
no real interest in the former German African colonies. In Mein Kampf,
Hitler had excoriated the Imperial German government for pursuing
colonial expansion in Africa prior to 1914 on the grounds that the natural
area for Lebensraum was Eastern Europe, not Africa.114] It was Hitler's
intention to use colonial demands as a negotiating tactic that would see a
German "renunciation" of colonial claims in exchange for Britain making
an alliance with the Reich on German terms.115]

In the summer of 1935, Hitler was informed that, between inflation and the
need to use foreign exchange to buy raw materials Germany lacked for
rearmament, there were only 5 million Reichmarks available for military
expenditure, and a pressing need for some 300,000 Reichmarks/day to
prevent food shortages.116] In August 1935, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht advised
Hitler that the wave of anti-Semitic violence was interfering with the
workings of the economy, and hence rearmament.117] Following Dr.
Schacht's complaints, plus reports that the German public did not approve
of the wave of anti-Semitic violence, and that continuing police toleration
of the violence was hurting the regime's popularity with the wider public,
Hitler ordered a stop to "individual actions" against German Jews on 8
August 1935.117] From Hitler's perspective, it was imperative to bring in
harsh new anti-Semitic laws as a consolation prize for those Party
members who were disappointed with Hitler's halt order of 8 August,
especially because Hitler had only reluctantly given the halt order for
pragmatic reasons, and his sympathies were with the Party radicals.117]
The annual Nazi Party Rally held at Nuremberg in September 1935 was to
feature the first session of the Reichstag held at that city since 1543. Hitler
had planned to have the Reichstag pass a law making the Nazi Swastika


flag the flag of the German Reich, and a major speech in support of the
impending Italian aggression against Ethiopia.118] Hitler felt that the
Italian aggression opened great opportunities for Germany. In August
1935, Hitler told Goebbels his foreign policy vision as: "With England
eternal alliance. Good relationship with Poland . . . Expansion to the East.
The Baltic belongs to us . . . Conflicts Italy-Abyssinia-England, then
Japan-Russia imminent."119]

At the last minute before the Nuremberg Party Rally was due to begin, the
German Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath persuaded Hitler
to cancel his speech praising Italy for her willingness to commit
aggression. Neurath convinced Hitler that his speech was too provocative
to public opinion abroad as it contradicted the message of Hitler's "peace
speeches", thus leaving Hitler with the sudden need to have something else
to address the first meeting of the Reichstag in Nuremberg since 1543,
other than the Reich Flag Law.120] On 13 September 1935, Hitler
hurriedly ordered two civil servants, Dr. Bernhard Lösener and Franz
Albrecht Medicus of the Interior Ministry to fly to Nuremberg to start
drafting anti-Semitic laws for Hitler to present to the Reichstag for 15
September.118] On the evening of 15 September, Hitler presented two
laws before the Reichstag banning sex and marriage between Aryan and
Jewish Germans, the employment of Aryan woman under the age of 45 in
Jewish households, and deprived "non-Aryans" of the benefits of German
citizenship.121] The laws of September 1935 are generally known as the
Nuremberg Laws.

In October 1935, in order to prevent further food shortages and the

introduction of rationing, Hitler reluctantly ordered cuts in military
spending.122] In the spring of 1936 in response to requests from Richard
Walther Darré, Hitler ordered 60 million Reichmarks of foreign exchange
to be used to buy seed oil for German farmers, a decision that led to bitter
complaints from Dr. Schacht and the War Minister Field Marshal Werner
von Blomberg that it would be impossible to achieve rearmament as long
as foreign exchange was diverted to preventing food shortages.119] Given
the economic problems which was affecting his popularity by early 1936,
Hitler felt the pressing need for a foreign policy triumph as a way of


distracting public attention from the economy.119]

In an interview with the French journalist Bertrand de Jouvenel in

February 1936, Hitler appeared to disavow Mein Kampf by saying that
parts of his book were now out of date and he was not guided by them,
though precisely which parts were out of date was left unclear.123] In
March 1936, Hitler again violated the Versailles treaty by reoccupying the
demilitarized zone in the Rhineland. When Britain and France did nothing,
he grew bolder. In July 1936, the Spanish Civil War began when the
military, led by General Francisco Franco, rebelled against the elected
Popular Front government. After receiving an appeal for help from
General Franco in July 1936, Hitler sent troops to support Franco, and
Spain served as a testing ground for Germany's new forces and their
methods. At the same time, Hitler continued with his efforts to create an
Anglo-German alliance. In July 1936, he offered to Phipps a promise that
if Britain were to sign an alliance with the Reich, then Germany would
commit to sending twelve divisions to the Far East to protect British
colonial possessions there from a Japanese attack.124] Hitler's offer was

In August 1936, in response to a growing crisis in the German economy

caused by the strains of rearmament, Hitler issued the "Four-Year Plan
Memorandum" ordering Hermann Göring to carry out the Four Year Plan
to have the German economy ready for war within the next four years.125]
During the 1936 economic crisis, the German government was divided
into two factions, with one (the so-called "free market" faction) centring
around the Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schacht and the former Price
Commissioner Dr. Carl Friedrich Goerdeler calling for decreased military
spending and a turn away from autarkic policies, and another faction
around Göring calling for the opposite. Supporting the "free-market"
faction were some of Germany's leading business executives, most notably
Hermann Duecher of AEG, Robert Bosch of Robert Bosch GmbH, and
Albert Voegeler of Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG.126] Hitler hesitated for the
first half of 1936 before siding with the more radical faction in his "Four
Year Plan" memo of August.127] Historians such as Richard Overy have
argued that the importance of the memo, which was written personally by


Hitler, can be gauged by the fact that Hitler, who had something of a
phobia about writing, hardly ever wrote anything down, which indicates
that Hitler had something especially important to say.128] The "Four-Year
Plan Memorandum" predicated an imminent all-out, apocalyptic struggle
between "Judo-Bolshevism" and German National Socialism, which
necessitated a total effort at rearmament regardless of the economic
costs.129] In the memo, Hitler wrote:

Since the outbreak of the French Revolution, the world has been moving
with ever increasing speed toward a new conflict, the most extreme
solution of which is called Bolshevism, whose essence and aim, however,
are solely the elimination of those strata of mankind which have hitherto
provided the leadership and their replacement by worldwide Jewry. No
state will be able to withdraw or even remain at a distance from this
historical conflict . . . It is not the aim of this memorandum to prophesy the
time when the untenable situation in Europe will become an open crisis. I
only want, in these lines, to set down my conviction that this crisis cannot
and will not fail to arrive and that it is Germany's duty to secure her own
existence by every means in face of this catastrophe, and to protect herself
against it, and that from this compulsion there arises a series of
conclusions relating to the most important tasks that our people have ever
been set. For a victory of Bolshevism over Germany would not lead to a
Versailles treaty, but to the final destruction, indeed the annihilation of the
German people . . . I consider it necessary for the Reichstag to pass the
following two laws: 1) A law providing the death penalty for economic
sabotage and 2) A law making the whole of Jewry liable for all damage
inflicted by individual specimens of this community of criminals upon the
German economy, and thus upon the German people.130]

Hitler called for Germany to have the world's "first army" in terms of
fighting power within the next four years and that "the extent of the
military development of our resources cannot be too large, nor its pace too
swift" (italics in the original) and the role of the economy was simply to
support "Germany's self-assertion and the extension of her
Lebensraum."131]132] Hitler went on to write that given the magnitude of
the coming struggle that the concerns expressed by members of the "free


market" faction like Schacht and Goerdeler that the current level of
military spending was bankrupting Germany were irrelevant. Hitler wrote
that: "However well balanced the general pattern of a nation's life ought to
be, there must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at
the expense of other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the
German army as rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the
world . . . then Germany will be lost!"133] and "The nation does not live
for the economy, for economic leaders, or for economic or financial
theories; on the contrary, it is finance and the economy, economic leaders
and theories, which all owe unqualified service in this struggle for the self-
assertion of our nation."126]clarification needed] Documents such as the
Four Year Plan Memo have often been used by right historians such as
Henry Ashby Turner and Karl Dietrich Bracher who argue for a "primacy
of politics" approach (that Hitler was not subordinate to German business,
but rather the contrary was the case) against the "primacy of economics"
approach championed by Marxist historians (that Hitler was a "agent" of
and subordinate to German business).134]

In August 1936, the freelance Nazi diplomat Joachim von Ribbentrop was
appointed German Ambassador to the Embassy of Germany in London at
the Court of St. James's. Before Ribbentrop left to take up his post in
October 1936, Hitler told him: "Ribbentrop . . . get Britain to join the Anti-
Comintern Pact, that is what I want most of all. I have sent you as the best
man I've got. Do what you can . . . But if in future all our efforts are still in
vain, fair enough, then I'm ready for war as well. I would regret it very
much, but if it has to be, there it is. But I think it would be a short war and
the moment it is over, I will then be ready at any time to offer the British
an honourable peace acceptable to both sides. However, I would then
demand that Britain join the Anti-Comintern Pact or perhaps some other
pact. But get on with it, Ribbentrop, you have the trumps in your hand,
play them well. I'm ready at any time for an air pact as well. Do your best.
I will follow your efforts with interest".135]
On 25 October 1936, an Axis was declared between Italy and Germany

An Axis was declared between Germany and Italy by Count Galeazzo

Ciano, foreign minister of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini on 25 October


1936. On 25 November of the same year, Germany concluded the Anti-
Comintern Pact with Japan. At the time of the signing of the Anti-
Comintern Pact, invitations were sent out for Britain, China, Italy and
Poland to adhere; of the invited powers only the Italians were to sign the
pact, in November 1937. To strengthen relationship with Japan, Hitler met
in 1937 in Nuremberg Prince Chichibu, a brother of emperor Hirohito.
However, the meeting with Prince Chichibu had little consequence, as
Hitler refused the Japanese request to halt German arms shipments to
China or withdraw the German officers serving with the Chinese in the
Second Sino-Japanese War. Both the military and the Auswärtiges Amt
(Foreign Office) were strongly opposed to ending the informal German
alliance with China that existed since the 1910s, and pressured Hitler to
avoid offending the Chinese. The Auswärtiges Amt and the military both
argued to Hitler that given the foreign exchange problems which afflicted
German rearmament, and the fact that various Sino-German economic
agreements provided Germany with raw materials that would otherwise
use up precious foreign exchange, it was folly to seek an alliance with
Japan that would have the inevitable result of ending the Sino-German

By the latter half of 1937, Hitler had abandoned his dream of an Anglo-
German alliance, blaming "inadequate" British leadership for turning down
his offers of an alliance.136] In a talk with the League of Nations High
Commissioner for the Free City of Danzig, the Swiss diplomat Carl Jacob
Burckhardt in September 1937, Hitler protested what he regarded as
British interference in the "German sphere" in Europe, though in the same
talk, Hitler made clear his view of Britain as an ideal ally, which for pure
selfishness was blocking German plans.136]

Hitler had suffered severely from stomach pains and eczema in 1936–37,
leading to his remark to the Nazi Party's propaganda leadership in October
1937 that because both parents died early in their lives, he would probably
follow suit, leaving him with only a few years to obtain the necessary
Lebensraum.137]138] About the same time, Dr. Goebbels noted in his
diary Hitler now wished to see the "Great Germanic Reich" he envisioned
in his own lifetime rather than leaving the work of building the "Great


Germanic Reich" to his successors.139]

On 5 November 1937, at the Reich Chancellory, Adolf Hitler held a secret

meeting with the War and Foreign Ministers and the three service chiefs,
recorded in the Hossbach Memorandum, and stated his intentions for
acquiring "living space" Lebensraum for the German people. He ordered
the attendees to make plans for war in the east no later than 1943 in order
to acquire Lebensraum. Hitler stated the conference minutes were to be
regarded as his "political testament" in the event of his death.140] In the
memo, Hitler was recorded as saying that such a state of crisis had been
reached in the German economy that the only way of stopping a severe
decline in living standards in Germany was to embark sometime in the
near-future on a policy of aggression by seizing Austria and
Czechoslovakia.141]142] Moreover, Hitler stated that the arms race meant
that time for action had to occur before Britain and France obtained a
permanent lead in the arms race.141] A striking change in the Hossbach
Memo was Hitler's changed view of Britain from the prospective ally of
1928 in the Zweites Buch to the "hate-inspired antagonist" of 1937 in the
Hossbach memo.143] The historian Klaus Hildebrand described the memo
as the start of an "ambivalent course" towards Britain while the late
historian Andreas Hillgruber argued that Hitler was embarking on
expansion "without Britain," preferably "with Britain," but if necessary
"against Britain."115]144]

Hitler's intentions outlined in the Hossbach memorandum led to strong

protests from the Foreign Minister, Baron Konstantin von Neurath, the
War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, and the Army
Commander General Werner von Fritsch, that any German aggression in
Eastern Europe was bound to trigger a war with France because of the
French alliance system in Eastern Europe (the so-called cordon sanitaire),
and if a Franco-German war broke out, then Britain was almost certain to
intervene rather than risk the chance of a French defeat.145] The
aggression against Austria and Czechoslovakia were intended to be the
first of a series of localized wars in Eastern Europe that would secure
Germany's position in Europe before the final showdown with Britain and
France. Fritsch, Blomberg and Neurath all argue that Hitler was pursuing


an extremely high-risk strategy of localized wars in Eastern Europe that
was most likely to cause a general war before Germany was ready for such
a conflict, and advised Hitler to wait until Germany had more time to
rearm. Neurath, Blomberg and Fritsch had no moral objections to German
aggression, but rather based their opposition on the question of timing –
determining the best time for aggression.145]

Late in November 1937, Hitler received as his guest the British Lord Privy
Seal, Lord Halifax who was visiting Germany ostensibly as part of a
hunting trip. Speaking of changes to Germany's frontiers, Halifax told
Hitler that: "All other questions fall into the category of possible
alterations in the European order which might be destined to come about
with the passage of time. Amongst these questions were Danzig, Austria
and Czechoslovakia. England was interested to see that any alterations
should come through the course of peaceful evolution and that the methods
should be avoided which might cause far-reaching disturbances."146]
Significantly, Halifax made clear in his statements to Hitler—though
whether Hitler appreciated the significance of this or not is unclear—that
any possible territorial changes had to be accomplished peacefully, and
that though Britain had no security commitments in Eastern Europe
beyond the Covenant of the League of Nations, would not tolerate
territorial changes via war.147] Hitler seems to have misunderstood
Halifax's remarks as confirming his conviction that Britain would just
stand aside while he pursued his strategy of limited wars in Eastern

Hitler was most unhappy with the criticism of his intentions expressed by
Neurath, Blomberg, and Fritsch in the Hossbach Memo, and in early 1938
asserted his control of the military-foreign policy apparatus through the
Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, the abolition of the War Ministry and its
replacement by the OKW, and by sacking Neurath as Foreign Minister on
4 February 1938, assuming the rank, role and tile of the Oberster
Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht (supreme commander of the armed
forces).148] The British economic historian Richard Overy commented
that the establishment of the OKW in February 1938 was a clear sign of
what Hitler's intentions were since supreme headquarters organizations


such as the OKW are normally set up during wartime, not peacetime.149]
The Official German history of World War II has argued that from early
1938 onwards, Hitler was not carrying out a foreign policy that had carried
a high risk of war, but was carrying out a foreign policy aiming at
The Holocaust
Main article: The Holocaust
An American soldier stands in front of a wagon piled high with corpses
outside the crematorium in the newly liberated Buchenwald concentration

One of the foundations of Hitler's social policies was the concept of racial
hygiene. It was based on the ideas of Arthur de Gobineau, a French count;
eugenics, a pseudo-science that advocated racial purity; and social
Darwinism. Applied to human beings, "survival of the fittest" was
interpreted as requiring racial purity and killing off "life unworthy of life."
The first victims were children with physical and developmental
disabilities; those killings occurred in a programme dubbed Action
T4.151] After a public outcry, Hitler made a show of ending this program,
but the killings in fact continued (see Nazi eugenics).

Between 1939 and 1945, the SS, assisted by collaborationist governments

and recruits from occupied countries, systematically killed somewhere
between 11 and 14 million people, including about six million
Jews,152]153] in concentration camps, ghettos and mass executions, or
through less systematic methods elsewhere. In addition to those gassed to
death, many died as a result of starvation and disease while working as
slave labourers (sometimes benefiting private German companies). Along
with Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Communists and political opponents,
members of resistance groups, homosexuals, Roma, the physically
handicapped and mentally retarded, Soviet prisoners of war (possibly as
many as three million), Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, trade unionists,
and psychiatric patients were killed. One of the biggest centres of mass-
killing was the industrial extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-
Birkenau. As far as is known, Hitler never visited the concentration camps
and did not speak publicly about the killing in precise terms.154]


The Holocaust (the "Endlösung der jüdischen Frage" or "Final Solution of
the Jewish Question") was planned and ordered by leading Nazis, with
Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich playing key roles. While no
specific order from Hitler authorizing the mass killing has surfaced, there
is documentation showing that he approved the Einsatzgruppen killing
squads that followed the German army through Poland and Russia, and
that he was kept well informed about their activities. The evidence also
suggests that in the fall of 1941 Himmler and Hitler decided upon mass
extermination by gassing. During interrogations by Soviet intelligence
officers declassified over fifty years later, Hitler's valet Heinz Linge and
his military aide Otto Gunsche said Hitler had "pored over the first
blueprints of gas chambers." His private secretary, Traudl Junge, testified
that Hitler knew all about the death camps.

Göring gave a written authorisation to Heydrich to "make all necessary

preparations" for a "total solution of the Jewish question". To make for
smoother cooperation in the implementation of this "Final Solution", the
Wannsee conference was held on 20 January 1942, with fifteen senior
officials participating (including Adolf Eichmann) and led by Reinhard
Heydrich. The records of this meeting provide the clearest evidence of
planning for the Holocaust. On 22 February, Hitler was recorded saying to
his associates, "we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jews".
World War II
Main article: World War II
Early diplomatic triumphs
Alliance with Japan
Main article: German–Japanese relations
Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka with Hitler in Berlin

In February 1938, Hitler finally ended the dilemma that had plagued
German Far Eastern policy, namely whether to continue the informal Sino-
German alliance that existed with Republic of China since the 1910s or to
create a new alliance with Japan. The military at the time strongly
favoured continuing Germany's alliance with China. China had the support
of Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath and War Minister Werner von


Blomberg, the so-called "China Lobby" who tried to steer German foreign
policy away from war in Europe.155] Both men, however, were sacked by
Hitler in early 1938. Upon the advice of Hitler's newly appointed Foreign
Minister, the strongly pro-Japanese Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler chose
to end the alliance with China as the price of gaining an alignment with the
more modern and powerful Japan. In an address to the Reichstag, Hitler
announced German recognition of Manchukuo, the Japanese-occupied
puppet state in Manchuria, and renounced the German claims to the former
colonies in the Pacific held by Japan.156] Hitler ordered an end to arms
shipments to China, and ordered the recall of all the German officers
attached to the Chinese Army.156] In retaliation for ending German
support to China in the war against Japan, Chinese Generalissimo Chiang
Kai-shek canceled all of the Sino-German economic agreements, which
deprived the Germans of raw materials such as tungsten that the Chinese
had previously provided. The ending of the Sino-German alignment
increased the problems of German rearmament, as the Germans were now
forced to use their limited supply of foreign exchange to buy raw materials
on the open market.
Austria and Czechoslovakia
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Please consider moving more of the content into sub-articles and using this
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In March 1938, Hitler pressured Austria into unification with Germany

(the Anschluss) and made a triumphant entry into Vienna on 14
March.157]158] Next, he intensified a crisis over the German-speaking
Sudetenland districts of Czechoslovakia.159]

On 3 March 1938, the British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson met with
Hitler and presented on behalf of his government a proposal for an
international consortium to rule much of Africa (in which Germany would
be assigned a leading role) in exchange for a German promise never to
resort to war to change the frontiers.160] Hitler, who was more interested
in Lebensraum in Eastern Europe than in participating in international
consortiums, rejected the British offer, using as his excuse that he wanted
the former German African colonies returned to the Reich, not an


international consortium running Central Africa. Moreover, Hitler argued
that it was totally outrageous on Britain's part to impose conditions on
German conduct in Europe as the price for territory in Africa.161] Hitler
ended the conversation by telling Henderson he would rather wait 20 years
for the return of the former colonies than accept British conditions for
avoiding war.161]162]

On 28–29 March 1938, Hitler held a series of secret meetings in Berlin

with Konrad Henlein of the Sudeten Heimfront (Home Front), the largest
of the ethnic German parties of the Sudetenland. During the Hitler-Henlein
meetings, it was agreed that Henlein would provide the pretext for German
aggression against Czechoslovakia by making demands on Prague for
increased autonomy for Sudeten Germans that Prague could never be
reasonably expected to fulfill. In April 1938, Henlein told the foreign
minister of Hungary that "whatever the Czech government might offer, he
would always raise still higher demands ... he wanted to sabotage an
understanding by all means because this was the only method to blow up
Czechoslovakia quickly".163] In private, Hitler considered the Sudeten
issue unimportant; his real intentions being to use the Sudeten question as
the justification both at home and abroad for a war of aggression to destroy
Czechoslovakia, under the grounds of self-determination, and Prague's
refusal to meet Henlein's demands.164] Hitler's plans called for a massive
military build-up along the Czechoslovak border, relentless propaganda
attacks about the supposed ill treatment of the Sudetenlanders, and finally,
"incidents" between Heimfront activists and the Czechoslovak authorities
to justify an invasion that would swiftly destroy Czechoslovakia in a few
days campaign before other powers could act.165] Since Hitler wished to
have the fall harvest brought in as much as possible, and to complete the
so-called "West Wall" to guard the Rhineland, the date for the invasion
was chosen for late September or early October 1938.166]

In April 1938, Hitler ordered the OKW to start preparing plans for Fall
Grün (Case Green), the codename for an invasion of Czechoslovakia.167]
Further increasing the tension in Europe was the May Crisis of 19–22 May
1938. The May Crisis of 1938 was a false alarm caused by rumours that
Czechoslovakia would be invaded the weekend of the municipal elections


in that country, erroneous reports of major German troop movements
along the Czechoslovak border just prior to the elections, the killing of two
ethnic Germans by the Czechoslovak police, and Ribbentrop's highly
bellicose remarks to Henderson when the latter asked the former if an
invasion was indeed scheduled for the weekend, which led to a partial
Czechoslovak mobilization and firm warnings from London against a
German move against Czechoslovakia before it was realized that no
invasion was intended for that weekend.168] Though no invasion had been
planned for May 1938, it was believed in London that such a course of
action was indeed being considered in Berlin, leading to two warnings on
21 May and 22 May that the United Kingdom would go to war with
Germany if France became involved in a war with Germany.169] Hitler,
for his part, was, to use the words of an aide, highly "furious" with the
perception that he had been forced to back down by the Czechoslovak
mobilization and the warnings from London and Paris, when he had, in
fact, been planning nothing for that weekend.170] Though plans had
already been drafted in April 1938 for an invasion of Czechoslovakia in
the near future, the May Crisis and the perception of a diplomatic defeat
further reinforced Hitler in his chosen course. The May Crisis seemed to
have had the effect of convincing Hitler that expansion "without Britain"
was not possible, and expansion "against Britain" was the only viable
course.171] In the immediate aftermath of the May crisis, Hitler ordered
an acceleration of German naval building beyond the limits of the
A.G.N.A., and in the "Heye memorandum", drawn at Hitler's orders,
envisaged the Royal Navy for the first time as the principal opponent of
the Kriegsmarine.172]

At the conference of 28 May 1938, Hitler declared that it was his

"unalterable" decision to "smash Czechoslovakia" by 1 October of the
same year, which was explained as securing the eastern flank "for
advancing against the West, England and France".173] At the same
conference, Hitler expressed his belief that Britain would not risk a war
until British rearmament was complete, which Hitler felt would be around
1941–42, and Germany should in a series of wars eliminate France and her
allies in Europe in the interval in the years 1938–41 while German
rearmament was still ahead.173] Hitler's determination to go through with


Fall Grün in 1938 provoked a major crisis in the German command
structure.174] The Chief of the General Staff, General Ludwig Beck,
protested in a lengthy series of memos that Fall Grün would start a world
war that Germany would lose, and urged Hitler to put off the projected
war.174] Hitler called Beck's arguments against war "kindische
Kräfteberechnungen" ("childish power play calculations").175]

On 4 August 1938, a secret Army meeting was held at which Beck read his
report. They agreed something had to be done to prevent certain disaster.
Beck hoped they would all resign together but no one resigned except
Beck. However his replacement, General Franz Halder, sympathised with
Beck and together they conspired with several top generals, Admiral
Wilhelm Canaris (Chief of German Intelligence) and Graf von Helldorf
(Berlin's Police Chief), to arrest Hitler the moment he gave the invasion
order. However, the plan would only work if both Britain and France made
it known to the world that they would fight to preserve Czechoslovakia.
This would help to convince the German people that certain defeat awaited
Germany. Agents were therefore sent to England to tell Chamberlain that
an attack on Czechoslovakia was planned and their intentions to overthrow
Hitler if this occurred. However the messengers were not taken seriously
by the British. In September, Chamberlain and French Premier Édouard
Daladier decided not to threaten a war over Czechoslovakia and so the
planned removal of Hitler could not be justified.176] The Munich
Agreement therefore preserved Hitler in power.

Starting in August 1938, information reached London that Germany was

beginning to mobilize reservists, together with information leaked by anti-
war elements in the German military that the war was scheduled for
sometime in September.177] Finally, as a result of intense French, and
especially British diplomatic pressure, President Edvard Beneš unveiled on
5 September 1938, the "Fourth Plan" for constitutional reorganization of
his country, which granted most of the demands for Sudeten autonomy
made by Henlein in his Karlsbad speech of April 1938, and threatened to
deprive the Germans of their pretext for aggression.178] Henlein's
Heimfront promptly responded to the offer of "Fourth Plan" by having a
series of violent crashes with the Czechoslovak police, culminating in


major clashes in mid-September that led to the declaration of martial law
in certain Sudeten districts.179]180] In a response to the threatening
situation, in late August 1938, the British Prime Minister Neville
Chamberlain had conceived of Plan Z, namely to fly to Germany, meet
Hitler, and then work out an agreement that could end the crisis.181]182]
On 13 September 1938, Chamberlain offered to fly to Germany to discuss
a solution to the crisis. Chamberlain had decided to execute Plan Z in
response to erroneous information supplied by the German opposition that
the invasion was due to start any time after 18 September.183] Though
Hitler was not happy with Chamberlain's offer, he agreed to see the British
Prime Minister because to refuse Chamberlain's offer would confirm the
lie to his repeated claims that he was a man of peace driven reluctantly to
war because of Beneš's intractability.184] In a summit at Berchtesgaden,
Chamberlain promised to pressure Beneš into agreeing to Hitler's publicly
stated demands about allowing the Sudetenland to join Germany, in return
for a reluctant promise by Hitler to postpone any military action until
Chamberlain had given a chance to fulfill his promise.185] Hitler had
agreed to the postponement out of the expectation that Chamberlain would
fail to secure Prague's consent to transferring the Sudetenland, and was, by
all accounts, most disappointed when Franco-British pressure secured just
that.186] The talks between Chamberlain and Hitler in September 1938
were made difficult by their innately differing concepts of what Europe
should look like, with Hitler aiming to use the Sudeten issue as a pretext
for war and Chamberlain genuinely striving for a peaceful solution.187]

When Chamberlain returned to Germany on 22 September to present his

peace plan for the transfer of the Sudetenland at a summit with Hitler at
Bad Godesberg, the British delegation was most unpleasantly surprised to
have Hitler reject his own terms he had presented at Berchtesgaden as now
unacceptable.188] To put an end to Chamberlain's peace-making efforts
once and for all, Hitler demanded the Sudetenland be ceded to Germany
no later than 28 September 1938 with no negotiations between Prague and
Berlin and no international commission to oversee the transfer; no
plebiscites to be held in the transferred districts until after the transfer; and
for good measure, that Germany would not forsake war as an option until
all the claims against Czechoslovakia by Poland and Hungary had been


satisfied.189] The differing views between the two leaders were best
symbolized when Chamberlain was presented with Hitler's new demands
and protested at being presented with an ultimatum, leading Hitler in turn
to retort that because his document stating his new demands was entitled
"Memorandum", it could not possibly be an ultimatum.190] On 25
September 1938 Britain rejected the Bad Godesberg ultimatum, and began
preparations for war.191]192] To further underline the point, Sir Horace
Wilson, the British government's Chief Industrial Advisor, and a close
associate of Chamberlain, was dispatched to Berlin to inform Hitler that if
the Germans attacked Czechoslovakia, then France would honour her
commitments as demanded by the Franco-Czechoslovak alliance of 1924,
and "then England would feel honour bound, to offer France
assistance".193] Initially, determined to continue with attack planned for 1
October 1938, sometime between 27 and 28 September, Hitler changed his
mind, and asked to take up a suggestion, of and through the intercession of
Mussolini, for a conference to be held in Munich with Chamberlain,
Mussolini, and Daladier to discuss the Czechoslovak situation.194] Just
what had caused Hitler to change his attitude is not entirely clear, but it is
likely that the combination of Franco-British warnings, and especially the
mobilization of the British fleet, had finally convinced him of what the
most likely result of Fall Grün would be; the minor nature of the alleged
casus belli being the timetables for the transfer made Hitler appear too
much like the aggressor; the view from his advisors that Germany was not
prepared either militarily or economically for a world war; warnings from
the states that Hitler saw as his would-be allies in the form of Italy, Japan,
Poland and Hungary that they would not fight on behalf of Germany; and
very visible signs that the majority of Germans were not enthusiastic about
the prospect of war.195]196]197] Moreover, Germany lacked sufficient
supplies of oil and other crucial raw materials (the plants that would
produce the synthetic oil for the German war effort were not in operation
yet), and was highly dependent upon imports from abroad.198] The
Kriegsmarine reported that should war come with Britain, it could not
break a British blockade, and since Germany had hardly any oil stocks,
Germany would be defeated for no other reason than a shortage of oil.199]
The Economics Ministry told Hitler that Germany had only 2.6 million
tons of oil at hand, and should war with Britain and France, would require


7.6 million tons of oil.200] Starting on 18 September 1938, the British
refused to supply metals to Germany, and on 24 September the Admiralty
forbade British ships to sail to Germany. The British detained the tanker
Invershannon carrying 8,600 tons of oil to Hamburg, which caused
immediate economic pain in Germany.201] Given Germany's dependence
on imported oil (80% of German oil in the 1930s came from the New
World), and the likelihood that a war with Britain would see a blockade
cutting Germany off from oil supplies, historians have argued that Hitler's
decision to see a peaceful end to call off Fall Grün was due to concerns
about the oil problem.198]
Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler and Mussolini at the Munich Conference

On 30 September 1938, a one-day conference was held in Munich attended

by Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini that led to the Munich
Agreement, which gave in to Hitler's ostensible demands by handing over
the Sudetenland districts to Germany.202] Since London and Paris had
already agreed to the idea of a transfer of the disputed territory in mid-
September, the Munich Conference mostly comprised discussions in one
day of talks on technical questions about how the transfer of the
Sudetenland would take place, and featured the relatively minor
concessions from Hitler that the transfer would take place over a ten day
period in October, overseen by an international commission, and Germany
would wait until Hungarian and Polish claims were settled.203] At the end
of the conference, Chamberlain had Hitler sign a declaration of Anglo-
German friendship, to which Chamberlain attached great importance and
Hitler none at all.204] Though Chamberlain was well-satisfied with the
Munich conference, leading to his infamous claim to have secured "peace
for our time", Hitler was privately furious about being "cheated" out of the
war he was desperate to have in 1938.205]206] As a result of the summit,
Hitler was TIME magazine's Man of the Year for 1938.207]
Hitler enters the German populated Sudetenland region of Czechoslavakia
in October 1938 which was annexed to Germany proper due to the Munich

By appeasing Hitler, Britain and France left Czechoslovakia to Hitler's

mercy.202] Though Hitler professed happiness in public over the


achievement of his ostensible demands, in private he was determined to
have a war the next time around by ensuring that Germany's future
demands would not be met.208] In Hitler's view, a British-brokered peace,
though extremely favourable to the ostensible German demands, was a
diplomatic defeat which proved that Britain needed to be ended as a power
to allow him to pursue his dreams of eastern expansion.209]210] In the
aftermath of Munich, Hitler felt since Britain would not ally herself nor
stand aside to facilitate Germany's continental ambitions, it had become a
major threat, and accordingly, Britain replaced the Soviet Union in Hitler's
mind as the main enemy of the Reich, with German policies being
accordingly reoriented.211]212]213]214] Hitler expressed his
disappointment over the Munich Agreement in a speech on 9 October
1938 in Saarbrücken when he lashed out against the Conservative anti-
appeasers Winston Churchill, Alfred Duff Cooper and Anthony Eden,
whom Hitler described as a warmongering anti-German fraction, who
would attack Germany at the first opportunity, and were likely to come to
power at any moment.215]

In the same speech, Hitler claimed "We Germans will no longer endure
such governessy interference. Britain should mind her own business and
worry about her own troubles".216] In November 1938, Hitler ordered a
major anti-British propaganda campaign to be launched with the British
being loudly abused for their "hypocrisy" in maintaining world-wide
empire while seeking to block the Germans from acquiring an empire of
their own.217] A particular highlight in the anti-British propaganda was
alleged British humans rights abuses in dealing with the Arab uprising in
the Palestine Mandate and in India, and the "hyprocrisy" of British
criticism of the November 1938 Kristallnacht event.218] This marked a
huge change from the earlier years of the Third Reich, when the German
media had portrayed the British Empire in very favourable terms.219] In
November 1938, the Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was
ordered to convert the Anti-Comintern Pact into an open anti-British
military alliance, as a prelude for a war against Britain and France.220] On
27 January 1939, Hitler approved the Z Plan, a five-year naval expansion
program which called for a Kriegsmarine of 10 battleships, four aircraft
carriers, three battlecruisers, eight heavy cruisers, 44 light cruisers, 68


destroyers and 249 U-boats by 1944 that was intended to crush the Royal
Navy.221] The importance of the Z Plan can be seen in Hitler's orders that
henceforward the Kriegsmarine was to go from third to first in allotment of
raw materials, money and skilled workers.222] In the spring of 1939, the
Luftwaffe was ordered to start building a strategic bombing force that was
meant to level British cities.223] Hitler's war plans against Britain called
for a joint Kriegsmarine-Luftwaffe offensive that was to stage "rapid
annihilating blows" against British cities and shipping with the expectation
that "The moment England is cut off from her supplies she is forced to
capitulate" as Hitler expected that the experience of living in a blockaded,
famine-stricken, bombed-out island to be too much for the British
Destroyed Jewish businesses in Magdeburg following Kristallnacht

In November 1938, in a secret speech to a group of German journalists,

Hitler noted that he had been forced to speak of peace as the goal in order
to attain the degree of rearmament "which were an essential prerequisite ...
for the next step".96] In the same speech, Hitler complained that his peace
propaganda of the last five years had been too successful, and it was time
for the German people to be subjected to war propaganda.225] Hitler
stated: "It is self-evident that such peace propaganda conducted for a
decade has its risky aspect; because it can too easily induce people to come
to the conclusion that the present government is identical with the decision
and with the intention to keep peace under all circumstances", and instead
called for new journalism that "had to present certain foreign policy events
in such a fashion that the inner voice of the people itself slowly begins to
shout out for the use of force."225] Later in November 1938, Hitler
expressed frustration with the more cautious advice he was receiving from
some quarters.226] Hitler called the economic expert Carl Friedrich
Goerdeler, General Ludwig Beck, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the diplomat
Ulrich von Hassell, and the economist Rudolf Brinkmann "the overbred
intellectual circles" who were trying to block him from fulfilling his
mission by their appeals to caution, and but for the fact that he needed
their skills "otherwise, perhaps we could someday exterminate them or do
something of this kind to them".227]


In December 1938, the Chancellery of the Führer headed by Philipp
Bouhler received a letter concerning a severely physically and mentally
disabled baby girl named Sofia Knauer living in Leipzig.228] At that time,
there was a furious rivalry existing between Bouhler's office, the office of
the Reich Chancellery led by Hans-Heinrich Lammers, the Presidential
Chancellery of Otto Meissner, the office of Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm
Brückner and the Deputy Führer's office which was effectively headed by
Martin Bormann over control over access to Hitler.229] As part of a power
play against his rivals, Bouhler presented the letter concerning the disabled
girl to Hitler, who thanked Bouhler for bringing the matter to his attention
and responded by ordering his personal physician Dr. Karl Brandt to kill
Knauer.230] In January 1939, Hitler ordered Bouhler and Dr. Brandt to
henceforward have all disabled infants born in Germany killed.230] This
was the origin of the Action T4 program. Subsequently Dr. Brandt and
Bouhler, acting on their own initiative in the expectation of winning
Hitler's favour, expanded the T4 program to killing, first, all physically or
mentally disabled children in Germany, and, second, all disabled

In late 1938 and early 1939, the continuing economic crisis caused by
problems of rearmament, especially the shortage of foreign hard currencies
needed to pay for raw materials Germany lacked, together with reports
from Göring that the Four Year Plan was hopelessly behind schedule,
forced Hitler in January 1939 to reluctantly order major defence cuts with
the Wehrmacht having its steel allocations cut by 30%, aluminium 47%,
cement 25%, rubber 14% and copper 20%.232] On 30 January 1939,
Hitler made his "Export or die" speech calling for a German economic
offensive ("export battle", to use Hitler's term), to increase German foreign
exchange holdings to pay for raw materials such as high-grade iron needed
for military materials.232] The "Export or die" speech of 30 January 1939
is also known as Hitler's "Prophecy Speech". The name which that speech
is known comes from Hitler's "prophecy" issued towards the end of the

"One thing I should like to say on this day which may be memorable for
others as well for us Germans: In the course of my life I have very often


been a prophet, and I have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of
my struggle for power it was in the first instance the Jewish race which
only received my prophecies with laughter when I said I would one day
take over the leadership of the State, and that of the whole nation, and that
I would then among many other things settle the Jewish problem. Their
laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been
laughing on the other side of the face. Today I will be once more the
prophet. If the international Jewish financiers outside Europe should
succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result
will not be the bolsheviszation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry,
but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"233]

A significant historical debate has swung around the "Prophecy Speech".

Historians who take an intentionist line such as Eberhard Jäckel have
argued that at minimum from the time of the "Prophecy Speech" onwards,
Hitler was committed to genocide of the Jews as his central goal.234]
Lucy Dawidowicz and Gerald Fleming have argued that the "Prophecy
Speech" was simply Hitler's way of saying that once he started a world
war, he would use that war as a cover for his already pre-existing plans for
genocide.233] Functionalist historians such as Christopher Browning have
dismissed this interpretation under the grounds that if Hitler were serious
with the intentions expressed in the "Prophecy Speech", then why the 30-
month "stay of execution" between the outbreak of World War II in
September 1939, and the opening of the first Vernichtungslager in late
1941.235] In addition, Browning has pointed to the existence of the
Madagascar Plan of 1940–41 and various other schemes as proof that there
was no genocidal master plan.235] In Browning's opinion, the "Prophecy
Speech" was merely a manifestation of bravado on Hitler's part, and had
little connection with actual unfolding of anti-Semitic policies.235]

At least part of the reason why Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by
seizing the Czech half of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 was to obtain
Czechoslovak assets to help with the economic crisis.236] Hitler ordered
Germany's army to enter Prague on 15 March 1939, and from Prague
Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.
Start of World War II


Adolf Hitler's face on a German stamp 1944. The country's name has
changed to the Greater German Reich since 1943 and this name can be
seen on the stamp.

As part of the anti-British course, it was deemed necessary by Hitler to

have Poland either a satellite state or otherwise neutralized. Hitler believed
this necessary both on strategic grounds as a way of securing the Reich's
eastern flank and on economic grounds as a way of evading the effects of a
British blockade.237] Initially, the German hope was to transform Poland
into a satellite state, but by March 1939 the German demands had been
rejected by the Poles three times, which led Hitler to decide upon the
destruction of Poland as the main German foreign policy goal of 1939.238]
On 3 April 1939, Hitler ordered the military to start preparing for Fall
Weiss (Case White), the plan for a German invasion to be executed on 25
August 1939.238] In August 1939, Hitler spoke to his generals that his
original plan for 1939 had to "... establish an acceptable relationship with
Poland in order to fight against the West" but since the Poles would not
co-operate in setting up an "acceptable relationship" (i.e. becoming a
German satellite), he believed he had no choice other than wiping Poland
off the map.239] The historian Gerhard Weinberg has argued since Hitler's
audience comprised men who were all for the destruction of Poland (anti-
Polish feelings were traditionally very strong in the German Army), but
rather less happy about the prospect of war with Britain and France, if that
was the price Germany had to pay for the destruction of Poland, it is quite
likely that Hitler was speaking the truth on this occasion.239] In his
private discussions with his officials in 1939, Hitler always described
Britain as the main enemy that had to be defeated, and in his view,
Poland's obliteration was the necessary prelude to that goal by securing the
eastern flank and helpfully adding to Germany's Lebensraum.240] Hitler
was much offended by the British "guarantee" of Polish independence
issued on 31 March 1939, and told his associates that "I shall brew them a
devil's drink".241] In a speech in Wilhelmshaven for the launch of the
battleship Tirpitz on 1 April 1939, Hitler threatened to denounce the
Anglo-German Naval Agreement if the British persisted with their
"encirclement" policy as represented by the "guarantee" of Polish
independence.241] As part of the new course, in a speech before the


Reichstag on 28 April 1939, Adolf Hitler, complaining of British
"encirclement" of Germany, renounced both the Anglo-German Naval
Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact.

As a pretext for aggression against Poland, Hitler claimed the Free City of
Danzig and the right for "extra-territorial" roads across the Polish Corridor
which Germany had unwillingly ceded under the Versailles treaty. For
Hitler, Danzig was just a pretext for aggression as the Sudetenland had
been intended to be in 1938, and throughout 1939, while highlighting the
Danzig issue as a grievance, the Germans always refused to engage in
talks about the matter.242] A notable contradiction existed in Hitler's plans
between the long-term anti-British course, whose major instruments such
as a vastly expanded Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe would take several years
to complete, and Hitler's immediate foreign policy in 1939, which was
likely to provoke a general war by engaging in such actions as attacking
Poland.243]244] Hitler's dilemma between his short-term and long-term
goals was resolved by Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who told
Hitler that neither Britain nor France would honour their commitments to
Poland, and any German–Polish war would accordingly be a limited
regional war.245]246] Ribbentrop based his appraisal partly on an alleged
statement made to him by the French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet in
December 1938 that France now recognized Eastern Europe as Germany's
exclusive sphere of influence.247] In addition, Ribbentrop's status as the
former Ambassador to London made him in Hitler's eyes the leading Nazi
British expert, and as a result, Ribbentrop's advice that Britain would not
honour her commitments to Poland carried much weight with Hitler.247]
Ribbentrop only showed Hitler diplomatic cables that supported his
analysis.248] In addition, the German Ambassador in London, Herbert von
Dirksen, tended to send reports that supported Ribbentrop's analysis such
as a dispatch in August 1939 that reported British Prime Minister Neville
Chamberlain knew "the social structure of Britain, even the conception of
the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of even a victorious war",
and so would back down.246] The extent that Hitler was influenced by
Ribbentrop's advice can be seen in Hitler's orders to the German military
on 21 August 1939 for a limited mobilization against Poland alone.249]
Hitler chose late August as his date for Fall Weiss in order to limit


disruption to German agricultural production caused by mobilization.250]
The problems caused by the need to begin a campaign in Poland in late
August or early September in order to have the campaign finished before
the October rains arrived, and the need to have sufficient time to
concentrate German troops on the Polish border left Hitler in a self-
imposed situation in August 1939 where Soviet co-operation was
absolutely crucial if he were to have a war that year.250]

The Munich agreement appeared to be sufficient to dispel most of the

remaining hold which the "collective security" idea may have had in
Soviet circles,251] and, on 23 August 1939, Joseph Stalin accepted Hitler's
proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop
Pact), whose secret protocols contained an agreement to partition Poland.
A major historical debate about the reasons for Hitler's foreign policy
choices in 1939 concerns whether a structural economic crisis drove Hitler
into a "flight into war" as claimed by the Marxist historian Timothy Mason
or whether Hitler's actions were more influenced by non-economic factors
as claimed by the economic historian Richard Overy.252] Historians such
as William Carr, Gerhard Weinberg and Ian Kershaw have argued that a
non-economic reason for Hitler's rush to war was Hitler's morbid and
obsessive fear of an early death, and hence his feeling that he did not have
long to accomplish his work.138]253]254] In the last days of peace, Hitler
oscillated between the determination to fight the Western powers if he had
to, and various schemes intended to keep Britain out of the war, but in any
case, Hitler was not to be deterred from his aim of invading Poland.255]
Only very briefly, when news of the Anglo-Polish alliance being signed on
25 August 1939 in response to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
(instead of the severing of ties between London and Warsaw predicted by
Ribbentrop) together with news from Italy that Mussolini would not
honour the Pact of Steel, caused Hitler to postpone the attack on Poland
from 25 August to 1 September.256] Hitler chose to spend the last days of
peace either trying to manoeuvre the British into neutrality through his
offer of 25 August 1939 to "guarantee" the British Empire, or having
Ribbentrop present a last-minute peace plan to Henderson with an
impossibly short time limit for its acceptance as part of an effort to blame
the war on the British and Poles.257]258] On 1 September 1939, Germany


invaded western Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3
September but did not immediately act. Hitler was most unpleasantly
surprised at receiving the British declaration of war on 3 September 1939,
and turning to Ribbentrop angrily asked "Now what?"259] Ribbentrop had
nothing to say other than that Robert Coulondre, the French Ambassador,
would probably be by later that day to present the French declaration of
war.259] Not long after this, on 17 September, Soviet forces invaded
eastern Poland.260]
Members of the Reichstag greet Hitler in October 1939 after the
conclusion of the Polish campaign
Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, 1940
Adolf Hitler in Paris, 1940, with Albert Speer (left) and Arno Breker
“ Poland never will rise again in the form of the Versailles treaty. That
is guaranteed not only by Germany, but also ... Russia.261] ”

– Adolf Hitler in a public speech in Danzig at the end of September


After the fall of Poland came a period journalists called the "Phoney War,"
or Sitzkrieg ("sitting war"). In part of north-western Poland annexed to
Germany, Hitler instructed the two Gauleiters in charge of the area,
namely Albert Forster and Arthur Greiser, to "Germanize" the area, and
promised them "There would be no questions asked" about how this
"Germanization" was to be accomplished.262] Hitler's orders were
interpreted in very different ways by Forster and Greiser. Forster followed
a policy of simply having the local Poles sign forms stating they had
German blood with no documentation required, whereas Greiser carried
out a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign of expelling the entire Polish
population into the Government-General of Poland.263] When Greiser,
seconded by Himmler, complained to Hitler that Forster was allowing
thousands of Poles to be accepted as "racial" Germans and thus
"contaminating" German "racial purity", and asked Hitler to order Forster
to stop, Hitler merely told Himmler and Greiser to take up their difficulties
with Forster, and not to involve him.264] Hitler's handling of the Forster–
Greiser dispute has often been advanced as an example of Ian Kershaw's


theory of "Working Towards the Führer", namely that Hitler issued vague
instructions, and allowed his subordinates to work out policy on their own.

After the conquest of Poland, another major dispute broke out between
different factions with one centring around Reichsfüherer SS Heinrich
Himmler and Arthur Greiser championing and carrying out ethnic
cleansing schemes for Poland, and another centring around Hermann
Göring and Hans Frank calling for turning Poland into the "granary" of the
Reich.265] At a conference held at Göring's Karinhall estate on 12
February 1940, the dispute was settled in favour of the Göring-Frank view
of economic exploitation, and ending mass expulsions as economically
disruptive.265] On 15 May 1940, Himmler showed Hitler a memo entitled
"Some Thoughts on the Treatment of Alien Population in the East", which
called for expelling the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and
reducing the remainder of the Polish population to a "leaderless labouring
class".265] Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct".265] Hitler's
remark had the effect of scuttling the so-called Karinhall argreement, and
led to the Himmler–Greiser viewpoint triumphing as German policy for

During this period, Hitler built up his forces on Germany's western

frontier. In April 1940, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. In
May 1940, Hitler's forces attacked France, conquering Luxembourg, the
Netherlands and Belgium in the process. These victories persuaded Benito
Mussolini of Italy to join the war on Hitler's side on 10 June 1940. France
surrendered on 22 June 1940.

Britain, whose forces evacuated France by sea from Dunkirk, continued to

fight alongside other British dominions in the Battle of the Atlantic. After
having his overtures for peace rejected by the British, now led by Winston
Churchill, Hitler ordered bombing raids on the United Kingdom. The
Battle of Britain was Hitler's prelude to a planned invasion. The attacks
began by pounding Royal Air Force airbases and radar stations protecting
South-East England. However, the Luftwaffe failed to defeat the Royal Air
Force. On 27 September 1940, the Tripartite Treaty was signed in Berlin
by Saburo Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Hitler, and Ciano. The purpose of the


Tripartite Treaty, which was directed against an unnamed power that was
clearly meant to be the United States, was to deter the Americans from
supporting the British. It was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania
and Bulgaria. They were collectively known as the Axis Powers. By the
end of October 1940, air superiority for the invasion Operation Sealion
could not be assured, and Hitler ordered the bombing of British cities,
including London, Plymouth, and Coventry, mostly at night.

In the Spring of 1941, Hitler was distracted from his plans for the East by
various activities in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. In
February, German forces arrived in Libya to bolster the Italian forces
there. In April, he launched the invasion of Yugoslavia which was
followed quickly by the invasion of Greece. In May, German forces were
sent to support Iraqi rebel forces fighting against the British and to invade
Crete. On 23 May, Hitler released Fuhrer Directive No. 30.266]
Path to defeat

On 22 June 1941, three million German troops attacked the Soviet Union,
breaking the non-aggression pact Hitler had concluded with Stalin two
years earlier. This invasion seized huge amounts of territory, including the
Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. It also encircled and destroyed many
Soviet forces, which Stalin had ordered not to retreat. However, the
Germans were stopped barely short of Moscow in December 1941 by the
Russian winter and fierce Soviet resistance. The invasion failed to achieve
the quick triumph Hitler wanted.

A major historical dispute concerns Hitler's reasons for Operation

Barbarossa. Some historians such as Andreas Hillgruber have argued that
Barbarossa was merely one "stage" of Hitler's Stufenplan (stage by stage
plan) for world conquest, which Hillgruber believed that Hitler had
formulated in the 1920s.267] Other historians such as John Lukacs have
contended that Hitler never had a stufenplan, and that the invasion of the
Soviet Union was an ad hoc move on the part of Hitler due to Britain's
refusal to surrender.268] Lukacs has argued that the reason Hitler gave in
private for Barbarossa, namely that Winston Churchill held out the hope
that the Soviet Union might enter the war on the Allied side, and that the


only way of forcing a British surrender was to eliminate that hope, was
indeed Hitler's real reason for Barbarossa.269] In Lukacs's perspective,
Barbarossa was thus primarily an anti-British move on the part of Hitler
intended to force Britain to sue for peace by destroying her only hope of
victory rather than an anti-Soviet move. Klaus Hildebrand has maintained
that Stalin and Hitler were independently planning to attack each other in
1941.270] Hildebrand has claimed that the news in the spring of 1941 of
Soviet troop concentrations on the border led to Hitler engaging in a flucht
nach vorn ("flight forward" – i.e. responding to a danger by charging on
rather than retreating.)270] A third fraction comprising a diverse group
such as Viktor Suvorov, Ernst Topitsch, Joachim Hoffmann, Ernst Nolte,
and David Irving have argued that the official reason given by the
Germans for Barbarossa in 1941 was the real reason, namely that
Barbarossa was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler to avert an impeding
Soviet attack scheduled for July 1941. This theory has been widely
attacked as erroneous; the American historian Gerhard Weinberg once
compared the advocates of the preventive war theory to believers in "fairy

The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union reached its apex on 2 December
1941 as part of the 258th Infantry Division advanced to within 15 miles
(24 km) of Moscow, close enough to see the spires of the Kremlin.272]
But they were not prepared for the harsh conditions brought on by the first
blizzards of winter and in the days that followed, Soviet forces drove them
back over 320 kilometres (200 miles).

On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and four days
later, Hitler's formal declaration of war against the United States officially
engaged him in war against a coalition that included the world's largest
empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial
power (the United States), and the world's largest army (the Soviet Union).

On 18 December 1941, the appointment book of the Reichsführer-SS

Heinrich Himmler shows he met with Hitler, and in response to Himmler's
question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?", Hitler's response was
recorded as "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as


partisans").273] The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer has commented that
the remark is probably as close as historians will ever get to a definitive
order from Hitler for the genocide carried out during the Holocaust.273]
Adolf Hitler in Reichstag during his speech against Franklin D. Roosevelt.
11 December 1941.
The destroyed 'Wolf's Lair' barracks after the 20 July 1944 plot

In late 1942, German forces were defeated in the second battle of El

Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle
East. In February 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad ended with the destruction
of the German 6th Army. Thereafter came the Battle of Kursk. Hitler's
military judgment became increasingly erratic, and Germany's military and
economic position deteriorated along with Hitler's health, as indicated by
his left hand's severe trembling. Hitler's biographer Ian Kershaw and
others believe that he may have suffered from Parkinson's disease.274]
Syphilis has also been suspected as a cause of at least some of his
symptoms, although the evidence is slight.275]

Following the allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in 1943,

Mussolini was deposed by Pietro Badoglio, who surrendered to the Allies.
Throughout 1943 and 1944, the Soviet Union steadily forced Hitler's
armies into retreat along the Eastern Front. On 6 June 1944, the Western
Allied armies landed in northern France in what was one of the largest
amphibious operations in history, Operation Overlord. Realists in the
German army knew defeat was inevitable, and some plotted to remove
Hitler from power.
Attempted assassination

In July 1944, as part of Operation Valkyrie in what became known as the

20 July plot, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in Hitler's
headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) at Rastenburg, but Hitler
narrowly escaped death. He ordered savage reprisals, resulting in the
executions of more than 4,900 people,276] sometimes by starvation in
solitary confinement followed by slow strangulation. The main resistance
movement was destroyed, although smaller isolated groups continued to


Defeat and death
Main article: Death of Adolf Hitler

By late 1944, the Red Army had driven the Germans back into Central
Europe and the Western Allies were advancing into Germany. Hitler
realized that Germany had lost the war, but allowed no retreats. He hoped
to negotiate a separate peace with America and Britain, a hope buoyed by
the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on 12 April 1945.277]278]279]280]
Hitler's stubbornness and defiance of military realities allowed the
Holocaust to continue. He ordered the complete destruction of all German
industrial infrastructure before it could fall into Allied hands, saying that
Germany's failure to win the war forfeited its right to survive.281] Rather,
Hitler decided that the entire nation should go down with him. Execution
of this scorched earth plan was entrusted to arms minister Albert Speer,
who disobeyed the order.281]

In April 1945, Soviet forces attacked the outskirts of Berlin. Hitler's

followers urged him to flee to the mountains of Bavaria to make a last
stand in the National Redoubt. But Hitler was determined to either live or
die in the capital.

On 20 April, Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday in the Führerbunker

("Führer's shelter") below the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery).
Elsewhere, the garrison commander of the besieged Festung Breslau
("fortress Breslau"), General Hermann Niehoff, had chocolates distributed
to his troops in honour of Hitler's birthday.282]

By 21 April, Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through

the defences of German General Gotthard Heinrici's Army Group Vistula
during the Battle of the Seelow Heights. The Soviets were now advancing
towards Hitler's bunker with little to stop them. Ignoring the facts, Hitler
saw salvation in the ragtag units commanded by Waffen SS General Felix
Steiner. Steiner's command became known as Armeeabteilung Steiner
("Army Detachment Steiner"). But "Army Detachment Steiner" existed
primarily on paper. It was something more than a corps but less than an
army. Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the huge salient


created by the breakthrough of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front.
Meanwhile, the German Ninth Army, which had been pushed south of the
salient, was ordered to attack north in a pincer attack.

Late on 21 April, Heinrici called Hans Krebs, chief of the Oberkommando

des Heeres (Supreme Command of the Army or OKH), and told him that
Hitler's plan could not be implemented. Heinrici asked to speak to Hitler
but was told by Krebs that Hitler was too busy to take his call.

On 22 April, during one of his last military conferences, Hitler interrupted

the report to ask what had happened to Steiner's offensive. There was a
long silence. Then Hitler was told that the attack had never been launched,
and that the withdrawal from Berlin of several units for Steiner's army, on
Hitler's orders, had so weakened the front that the Russians had broken
through into Berlin. Hitler asked everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Hans
Krebs, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Martin Bormann to leave the
room,283] and launched a tirade against the perceived treachery and
incompetence of his commanders. This culminated in an oath to stay in
Berlin, head up the defence of the city, and shoot himself at the end.284]

On 30 April 1945, after intense street-to-street combat, when Soviet troops

were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery, Hitler committed
suicide, shooting himself in the temple with a Walther PPK while
simultaneously biting into a cyanide capsule.

Hitler's health has long been the subject of debate. He has variously been
said to have had irritable bowel syndrome, skin lesions, irregular heartbeat,
Parkinson's disease, syphilis, Asperger syndrome and a strongly suggested
addiction to methamphetamine. He had problems with his teeth and his
personal dentist Hugo Blaschke stated that he fitted a large dental bridge to
his upper jaw in 1933 and that on 10 November 1944 he carried out
surgery to cut off part of the bridge due to a gum infection that was
causing him severe toothache. He reported that he was also suffering from
a sinus infection.


After the early 1930s, Hitler generally followed a vegetarian diet, although
he ate meat on occasion. There are reports of him disgusting his guests by
giving them graphic accounts of the slaughter of animals in an effort to
make them shun meat. Hitler had a profound and deep love of animals.
Martin Bormann had a greenhouse constructed for him near the Berghof
(near Berchtesgaden) to ensure a steady supply of fresh fruit and
vegetables for Hitler throughout the war. Photographs of Bormann's
children tending the greenhouse survive and, by 2005, its foundations were
among the only ruins visible in the area that was associated with Nazi

Hitler was a non-smoker and promoted aggressive anti-smoking

campaigns throughout Germany. He reportedly promised a gold watch to
any of his close associates who quit (and gave a few away). Several
witness accounts relate that, immediately after his suicide was confirmed,
many officers, aides, and secretaries in the Führerbunker lit cigarettes.

Hitler was a gifted orator who captivated many with his beating of the
lectern and growling, emotional speech. He honed his skills by giving
speeches to soldiers during 1919 and 1920. He became adept at telling
people what they wanted to hear. Over time, Hitler perfected his delivery
by rehearsing in front of mirrors and carefully choreographing his display
of emotions..

Massive Nazi rallies staged by Speer were designed to spark a process of

self-persuasion for the participants. By participating in the rallies, by
marching, by shouting heil, and by making the stiff armed salute, the
participants strengthened their commitment to the Nazi movement. This
process can be appreciated by watching Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the
Will, which presents the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. The camera shoots Hitler
from on high and from below, but only twice head-on. These camera
angles give Hitler a Christ-like aura. Some of the people in the film are
paid actors, but most of the participants are not. Whether the film itself
recruited new Nazis out of theatre audiences is unknown. The process of
self-persuasion may have affected Hitler. He gave the same speech
(though it got smoother and smoother with repetition) hundreds of times


first to soldiers and then to audiences in beer halls. These performances
may have made his hatreds more intense, especially his all-consuming
hatred of the Jews.

Hitler appeared in and was involved to varying degrees with a series of

films by the pioneering filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl via Universum Film

* Der Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith, 1933).

* Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934), co-produced by
* Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed
Forces, 1935).
* Olympia (1938).

Hitler was the central figure of the first three films; they focused on the
party rallies of the respective years and are considered propaganda films.
Hitler also featured prominently in the Olympia film. Whether the latter is
a propaganda film or a true documentary is still a subject of controversy,
but it nonetheless perpetuated and spread the propagandistic message of
the 1936 Olympic Games depicting Nazi Germany as a prosperous and
peaceful country. As a prominent politician, Hitler was featured in many

Hitler's attendance at various public functions, including the 1936 Olympic

Games and Nuremberg Rallies, appeared on television broadcasts made
between 1935 and 1939. These events, along with other programming
highlighting activity by public officials, were often repeated in public
viewing rooms. Samples from a number of surviving television films from
Nazi Germany were included in the 1999 documentary Das Fernsehen
unter dem Hakenkreuz (Television Under the Swastika).
Documentaries post Third Reich

Speeches and publications


* A speech from 1932 (text and audiofile), German Museum of History
* Hitler Speech (10 February 1933) with English Translation
* Hitler's book Mein Kampf (full English translation)
* Adolf Hitler's Private Will, Marriage Certificate and Political
Testament, April 1945 (34 pages)
* "The Discovery of Hitler's Wills" Office of Strategic Services report
on how the testament was found
* The Testament of Adolf Hitler the Bormann-Hitler documents
(transcripts of conversations in February–2 April 1945)

Preceded by
Walther von Brauchitsch Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Army
1941–1945 Succeeded by
Ferdinand Schörner
Notes and references
1. The positions of Head of State and Government were combined 1934–
Books · In popular culture · Der Sieg des Glaubens · Triumph of the Will ·
The Empty Mirror · Hitler: The Last Ten Days · The Meaning of Hitler ·
Max · Moloch · Hitler: The Rise of Evil · Downfall
Eva Braun (wife) · Alois (father) · Klara (mother) · Alois (half-brother) ·
Angela (half-sister) · Gustav (brother) · Ida (sister) · Otto (brother) ·
Edmund (brother) · Paula (sister) · William Patrick (nephew) · Heinz
(nephew) · Geli (niece)