Hitler, Adolf


Hitler, Adolf
(1889-1945)
   leader of the NSDAP; his appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 terminated the Weimar Republic. Born to an Austrian bureaucrat in Braunau am Inn, he grew up in Linz and moved in 1907 to Vienna, where he applied in vain for admission to the Kunstakademie. Per-haps to avoid service in the Habsburg army, he relocated in May 1913 to Mu-nich; yet he enlisted in a Bavarian infantry regiment on 16 August 1914. Active on the Western Front, he was twice wounded and, as a corporal, received the Iron Cross (First Class). Hospitalized near the end of the war, he returned to Munich in November and reported for duty. He was assigned to an intelligence unit reviewing revolutionary activities, and it was in this capacity that he visited a meeting of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) on 12 September 1919. Inspired by a pamphlet written by DAP leader Anton Drexler, he soon joined the Party as its 555th member (as a means of deception, the DAP s rolls began with 501; Hitler later claimed that he was the 7th member). He left the army on 31 March 1920 and thereafter devoted his life exclusively to the Party, which was renamed the NSDAP in April. On 29 July 1921, at a meeting marked by bitter infighting, he outmaneuvered Drexler and was elected chairman.
   Hitler's aim until 1923 was to depose the Republic via a "national revolu-tion. Inspired by Mussolini s March on Rome, he launched his ill-prepared Beerhall Putsch* of 8-9 November 1923 with the aid of his paramilitary or-ganization, the SA.* He fled Munich in the wake of the coup's failure, but was soon captured and incarcerated. Yet Hitler turned his trial, held before the Mu-nich People s Court in February-March 1924, into a propaganda triumph. He was thereafter deemed the principal leader of the völkisch Right. Although he received a five-year sentence for high treason, he was released from Landsberg Prison on 20 December 1924.
   In February 1925, upon restoring the NSDAP, Hitler quietly reasserted control over a movement torn by rivalry; he then began the process of gaining power legally. Although he was initially prohibited from public speaking (deportation to Austria* was threatened if he broke the ban), Bavaria* lifted the prohibition in February 1927. When Prussia* followed suit in September 1928, Hitler could aspire to national prominence. He first spoke at Berlin's* Sportpalast on 16 November 1928 and joined members of a "nationalist opposition" in 1929 to crusade against the Young Plan.* The depression* was the crucial backdrop to the election campaign of 1930, from which the NSDAP emerged as the Reichs-tag's* second-largest Party. The outcome affirmed Hitler's constitutional strat-egy.
   The 1930 elections brought Hitler prominence and legitimacy. After he re-affirmed his resolve to gain power legally, his base of support began expanding into the officer corps, and by briefly uniting in October 1931 with the broadly conservative Harzburg Front,* he gained an aura of respectability previously denied. In rapid succession he addressed Düsseldorfs powerful Industry Club on 26 January 1932, announced his presidential candidacy on 22 February, and took German citizenship on 26 February. In the first of two presidential elections (13 March), he received 30 percent of the vote; the obligatory runoff (10 April) brought him 37 percent. Although Paul von Hindenburg* won reelection, Hitler emerged as the preeminent "antisystem politician.
   The NSDAP gained 37.8 percent of the vote in the July 1932 Reichstag elections. Although this made Hitler the leader of Germany s strongest Party, Hindenburg refused to make him Chancellor. In the elections of 6 November the NSDAP suffered a two-million-vote loss. Resisting the counsel of Gregor Strasser,* Hitler retained an all-or-nothing strategy vis-a-vis Hindenburg. His gambit paid off. On 4 January 1933 Hitler and Franz von Papen* achieved an understanding that brought his appointment on 30 January. This astonishing seizure of power just as his constituency was unraveling reaffirmed Hitler in the invincibility of his will. Within eighteen months he managed to solidify his totalitarian rule by neutralizing all forms of internal opposition.
   REFERENCES:Bullock, Hitler; Fest, Hitler; NDB, vol. 9; Waite, Psychopathic God.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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