Adolf Hitler

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The evolutionary racist Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

Adolf Hitler was the Austrian-born Chancellor and President of Germany from January 30, 1933 until his death on April 30, 1945. He was also the leader (German: Der Führer) of the National Socialist German Workers Party (National-sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or Nazi Party) which gained political power through threat, intimidation, and outright violence throughout Germany in the aftermath of the First World War. Adolf Hitler was an evolutionary racist.[1] Hitler’s policies and beliefs resulted in the mass extermination of the Jews, Gypsies, and other peoples he considered “inferior” throughout central and eastern Europe and were directly responsible for the outbreak of World War II, which caused the deaths of untold millions on and off the battlefield and ended only after Hitler's suicide in his Berlin bunker.

Early life

Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Hitler's father, Alois (born 1837), was a customs official who was himself born illegitimate, carrying for a time his mother's name, Schicklgruber. By 1876 he had his baptismal entry corrected in his church records, establishing his father as Johan Heidler, which was altered slightly to Hitler.

When his father retired the family moved to Linz, Austria, where it remained a favorite for young Adolf for the rest of his life, and where he gave his wish to be buried. When Alois died in 1903 he left enough of a pension to support his wife and children; Adolf would take his and live off of it in Vienna after leaving school, dreaming of becoming an artist. Although somewhat competent as a painter of landscapes and architecture, his renderings of humans were considered “lifeless” and “crude” by the standards of the Academy of Fine Arts, and his application was rejected twice. Remaining in Vienna, he moved from one cheap flop house to another, painting postcards and advertisements to earn a meager living after his allowance had dried up. By then he had developed traits which characterized his life as a whole: secretiveness, loneliness, a Spartan mode of everyday life, and a hatred of the cosmopolitan, multinational character that was the makeup of Vienna.

Who And What He Was

Elie Wiesel wrote famously, and most eloquently about Hitler in 1998:

At the same time that he terrorized his adversaries, he knew how to please, impress and charm the very interlocutors from whom he wanted support. Diplomats and journalists insist as much on his charm as they do on his temper tantrums. The savior admired by his own as he dragged them into his madness, the Satan and exterminating angel feared and hated by all others, Hitler led his people to a shameful defeat without precedent. That his political and strategic ambitions have created a dividing line in the history of this turbulent and tormented century is undeniable: there is a before and an after. By the breadth of his crimes, which have attained a quasi-ontological dimension, he surpasses all his predecessors: as a result of Hitler, man is defined by what makes him inhuman. With Hitler at the head of a gigantic laboratory, life itself seems to have changed.
How did this Austrian without title or position manage to get himself elected head of a German nation renowned for its civilizing mission? How to explain the success of his cheap demagogy in the heart of a people so proud of having inherited the genius of a Wolfgang von Goethe and an Immanuel Kant?
Was there no resistance to his disastrous projects? There was. But it was too feeble, too weak and too late to succeed. German society had rallied behind him: the judicial, the educational, the industrial and the economic establishments gave him their support. Few politicians of this century have aroused, in their lifetime, such love and so much hate; few have inspired so much historical and psychological research after their death. Even today, works on his enigmatic personality and his cursed career are best sellers everywhere. Some are good, others are less good, but all seem to respond to an authentic curiosity on the part of a public haunted by memory and the desire to understand.
We think we know everything about the nefarious forces that shaped his destiny: his unhappy childhood, his frustrated adolescence; his artistic disappointments; his wound received on the front during World War I; his taste for spectacle, his constant disdain for social and military aristocracies; his relationship with Eva Braun, who adored him; the cult of the very death he feared; his lack of scruples with regard to his former comrades of the SA, whom he had assassinated in 1934; his endless hatred of Jews, whose survival enraged him — each and every phase of his official and private life has found its chroniclers, its biographers.
And yet. There are, in all these givens, elements that escape us. How did this unstable paranoid find it within himself to impose gigantic hope as an immutable ideal that motivated his nation almost until the end? Would he have come to power if Germany were not going through endless economic crises, or if the winners in 1918 had not imposed on it conditions that represented a national humiliation against which the German patriotic fiber could only revolt? We would be wrong to forget: Hitler came to power in January 1933 by the most legitimate means. His Nationalist Socialist Party won a majority in the parliamentary elections. The aging Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg had no choice but to allow him, at age 43, to form the new government, marking the end of the Weimar Republic. And the beginning of the Third Reich, which, according to Hitler, would last 1,000 years.
From that moment on, events cascaded. The burning of the Reichstag came only a little before the openings of the first concentration camps, established for members of the opposition. Fear descended on the country and squeezed it in a vise. Great writers, musicians and painters went into exile to France and the U.S. Jews with foresight emigrated toward Palestine. The air of Hitler's Germany was becoming more and more suffocating. Those who preferred to wait, thinking that the Nazi regime would not last, could not last, would regret it later, when it was too late.
The fact is that Hitler was beloved by his people — not the military, at least not in the beginning, but by the average Germans who pledged to him an affection, a tenderness and a fidelity that bordered on the irrational. It was idolatry on a national scale. One had to see the crowds who acclaimed him. And the women who were attracted to him. And the young who in his presence went into ecstasy. Did they not see the hateful mask that covered his face? Did they not divine the catastrophe he bore within himself?[2]
Cupid Complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach.jpg
One of the best-loved paintings in the National Gallery - an exquisite vision of Venus and Cupid by the greatest artist of the Reformation - once belonged to Hitler, it has been revealed. New evidence has come to light that Lucas Cranach's Cupid Complaining to Venus, currently on loan to an exhibition in Bristol, hung on the sitting-room wall of his flat in Munich. [3]


Hitler in the crowd in Munich, 1914, reacting to the news of Germany's entry in the First World War.

By 1913 Hitler was in Munich, Germany, with war clouds on the horizon. Classified as unfit for service in the Austrian army (possibly by faking, as he did not like the thought of serving Austria) in 1914, he volunteered for the German army, joining the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, greeting the war with enthusiasm, and finding the military discipline and comradeship satisfying. He served during the entire First World War as a messenger carrying dispatches between units, and often at the front lines under fire; he was wounded in 1916, and gassed in 1918. His bravery during this time earned him the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, in December, 1914, and in August 1918 he was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class – a rare decoration for a corporal. But the gassing would take him out of the war and into a hospital, where he would be told the heart-wrenching news of Germany’s defeat the following November.

Path to power

After the war ended, Hitler's future seemed uncertain. There was much discontent among demobilized veterans because of the lack of employment. The German military had felt it had not been defeated; indeed, the German Army stood on foreign soil when the Armistice was signed November 11, 1918 and not a square inch of German soil had been occupied. This was despite the fact that the German Army's strongest position, the Hindenburg line, had been broken by the Allies, and the German Army itself was in full retreat. However, the Army felt they had done their job, and the nation had been "stabbed in the back" by a gang of traitors who sought to lay hands on the Fatherland. The "myth" that Germany had been defeated was the "big lie" Hitler spoke of, as if repeating it often enough would cause people to believe it.

After his discharge from the hospital, Hitler acted as an army political agent, assigned in Munich to gather information on the various political parties which had spring up amid the social chaos following Germany’s defeat. In September, 1919, he was given orders to investigate the relatively-minor German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei); intrigued by the party’s apparatus and its racial, pan-German nationalism, he joined, becoming its 55th member; he left the army soon after and devoted himself to improving the party’s propaganda, as well as his own position within.

Conditions in Germany fostered the development of the party. Economic woes brought widespread discontent, added to the furor surrounding the loss of the war and the harsh terms heaped upon Germany by the Allied Powers in the Versailles Peace Treaty. Bavaria’s traditional separatism from the central government in Berlin made current conditions especially sharp, and Hitler was savvy enough to take full advantage of them. When he joined, he found the party ineffective in leadership and uncertain as to its aims; he accepted the party program, but regarded it as a means to an end. He caused friction with other members of the party, and their attempts to control him caused a threat of resignation; realizing that the future of the party now depended on Hitler, who clearly had a talent of organization, fund collecting, and above all, speaking, they declined to accept it; from July, 1921 Hitler was regarded as the party leader with nearly unlimited power. From his party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter (“Popular Observer”), he spewed out endless propaganda. His meetings where he spoke grew from handfuls to hundreds, and then on to thousands. A man of charismatic personality, he quickly attracted a circle of loyal and devoted followers: Julius Streicher, Alfred Rosenberg, Hermann Göring, and Rudolf Hess.

Munich was also a gathering place for former servicemen dissatisfied with conditions in the country; members of the Freikorps, which had been organized after the war from army units that refused to return to civilian life; and those civilians who plotted against the republic. Many of these men joined the Nazi Party. Among them was a staff member of the district command who had joined the German Workers’ Party before Hitler, Ernst Röhm, a pudgy man with a scared face who saw his own ambition in helping further Hitler’s rise within the party. Röhm recruited what came to be known as the “Brown Shirts”, the violent squads used to attack socialists and communists, and to protect party meetings whenever Hitler was speaking. By 1921 they were organized into a private army called the Sturmabteilung, abbreviated to S.A.

The Beer Hall Putsch

Germany in 1923 was marked by social and political unrest caused by hyperinflation. In this time Hitler was able convince Erich Ludendorff, an accomplished general and leader of the German forces in the first World War, to join him in a coup d'etat (Putsch in German). When Hitler learned that the nationalist prime minister of Bavaria was giving a speech to 3000 officials in one of Munich's biggest beer halls (the Haufbrau Haus), he ordered his paramilitaries to surround the building. Hitler went inside and took the prime minister hostage, announced a revolution, and attempted to convince him to join the coup against Berlin and become member in his new administration. The Bavarian prime minister agreed under pressure, but informed the nation via radio later that night that he did not support Hitler. The prime minister also informed the federal government in Berlin; the putsch had begun to fail.

The next morning, 9 November 1923, Hitler and Ludendorff were marching with approximately 2000 partly armed supporters through Munich in a show of strength to regain the momentum. In the ensuing fight between Hitler's marchers and a cordon of police and army units at least 14 Nazi supporters and three policemen were killed and hundreds wounded. Ludendorff handed himself over to the authorities, while Hitler fled soon after the fighting began. Hitler was arrested a few days later at a friend's house, were had been in hiding since the failed coup. Ludendorff was acquitted of all charges, while Hitler was sentenced to 5 years in prison (he would do eight months). [4][5] The Bavarian prime minister, who foiled the plan, was killed in 1934 in the "Night of the Long Knives".

Mein Kampf

Hitler had his inner circle as frequent visitors in his prison cell, which was made more comfortable due to his celebrity. While there, he dictated to Rudolf Hess the first volume of Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), his political autobiography and a compendium of his many ideas.

Hitler believed in the inequality of the races, nations, and individuals as part of the natural order of mankind, and chief among them was the exalted “Aryan race”, and the greatest of the Aryans were the Germans. It was the German, according to Hitler, that gave the world civilization and the arts; to safeguard the German people as a race (the “Volk”), they would need to be united under a single leader (the Führer), where they would be protected from their three principle enemies: Marxism, which included social democracy as well as communism; democracy and its mob-rule, as shown by the failings of the Weimar Republic; and above all what Hitler called the poisoners of humanity, the Jews. “Rational anti-Semitism must lead to systematic legal opposition,” he wrote in 1919. “Its final objective must be the removal of the Jews altogether.” In Mein Kampf, he told the world that the Jew was the “destroyer of culture,” “a parasite within the nation,” and “a menace.”

Rebuilding the Nazi Party

Hitler speaking; he would often employ physical gesturing to emphasize a point.
Hitler in car, saluting passing S.A. at one of many parades.

Internal dissension within the party caused it to languish while Hitler was in prison. When he was released he saw difficulties in the country that had not existed before the Putsch, namely currency reform that brought economic stability, and the scaling back of the war reparations as a result of the Dawes Plan. Hitler was also forbidden to speak in public, which remained in force until 1928; however, he wasn’t about to stop his rebuilding of the party nor of his re-establishing his own position within it as leader, despite Gregor Strasser’s opposition in northern Germany. By 1927 the number of Nazis was in the hundreds of thousands.

A new period of political and economic instability with the onset of the Great Depression which threw millions out of work in Europe and North America. To campaign against the Young Plan (a second renegotiation of war reparations payments) Hitler made an alliance with one of Germany’s leading nationalists, Alfred Hugenberg, whose newspapers enabled Hitler to reach a national audience for the first time. The alliance also had another advantage: it enabled him to seek support from many in business and industry who controlled funds going into politics, and who themselves were desirous of seeing Germany under the control of a strong anti-Soviet and anti-Communist regime. The subsidies Hitler received placed the Nazy Party on a strong financial footing, enabling him to make his emotional appeal to the lower middle class and the unemployed in his faith that Germany would recover from its suffering and be a great nation once more. The alliance with the industrialists also demonstrated another aspect of Hitler, a skill of effectively using those that would use him, which many would discover when it was too late.

The electoral strength of the Nazis grew during the Depression, as unceasing propaganda accused the government of failing to improve conditions for the working man. By the fall of 1930 the Nazis captured more than 18 percent of the vote, compared to just 2.6 percent in 1928. Hitler captured 36.8 percent of the vote when he opposed Paul von Hindenburg in the 1932 presidential election; his mass following put him in such a strong position that he entered a series of closed-door intrigues with Franz von Papen, Oskar Hindenburg, and Otto Meissner, all sharing a fear and loathing of a communist government. Despite the party losing votes in the November, 1932 election, Hitler insisted on nothing less than the office of chancellor for himself. For him, it was all or nothing. Hindenburg offered it to him on January 30, 1933.

In power

Almost immediately, Hitler established himself as dictator. Less than a month after taking office, on February 27 the Reichstag building was set on fire under mysterious circumstances (but officially blamed on a feeble-minded Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe); Hitler soon after succeeded in getting several decrees passed removing much of the guarantees of freedom in the name of state security, and which also allowed an intensified campaign of violence against dissidents. Incredibly, in a special election set in those conditions on March 5, the Nazis pulled 43.9 percent of the vote. On March 21, the new Reichstag assembled at the Potsdam Church, as much a show of unity between the old guard under Hindenburg and the Nazis as it was a show of peace. Two days later the Enabling Act was passed, giving Hitler full powers; with the exception of the Nazis, all other political parties, including those which had helped pass the Enabling Act, ceased to exist within three months. Many of their leaders were tossed in concentration camps.

Night of the Long Knives

Hitler with Ernst Röhm in 1933

Hitler, however, did not wish to start an immediate revolution. He still needed the support of the one agency he needed to implement his ideas: the army. But he did have one growing problem that was a thorn in the army’s side, the million-plus men of the S.A. and their leader, Ernst Röhm, who wanted nothing less than the merger of the S.A. into the army, with himself in overall command. At first, Hitler tried getting Röhm’s support by persuasion, but Hitler’s inner circle was for removing him by any means possible. On June 29, 1934, Hitler ordered a purge, flew towards a resort near Munich where a number of S.A. leaders were vacationing, and had them all arrested; many would be shot without trial. Refusing to shoot himself when offered, Röhm was killed in his cell at Dachau, his last words, ironically, “Mein Führer, mein Führer!” [6][7][8] On July 13, Hitler gave speech in the Reichstag, announcing that some seventy-four individuals had been shot for threatening the stability of the Reich.

"If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people…It was no secret that this time the revolution would have to be bloody; when we spoke of it we called it 'The Night of the Long Knives.' Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot."

Hitler also used this event to settle his account with other opponents, such as Georg Strasser, who stood for a more socialist and less racist national socialism, and the former Bavarian prime minister who foiled the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Satisfied that the S.A. leadership was thoroughly broken up (thousands of S.A. members were either arrested or killed that night), the army approved of Hitler’s actions. Hindenburg died a few days later on August 2, and Hitler merged the office of president with the chancellorship, and with it the supreme command of the German armed forces. During this time the world was slowly recovering economically from the Depression, but it quickened in Germany, coincidently with Hitler’s rise to power. Taking credit for the recovery made him very popular, bringing him a 90 percent approval rating in a voter plebiscite that year.

Beginnings of expansion

In matters of state, the running of domestic affairs was left to subordinates, which was something Hitler had little attention for. Foreign policy always peaked his interest, in so much as to the advantages of a “Greater Germany”, which was his chief ambition. The first part of realizing this, according to Mein Kampf, was to be a reunion of the German peoples within Europe; the second would be an expansion of Germany to the east (lebensraum). Expanding would mean a renewed conflict with the Slavic peoples, whom Hitler intended to serve as slaves to the “New German Order.” To follow through on his ambitions, he would have to remove Poland and the Soviet Union as countries; France also would have to be stabilized in the west, as she was Germany’s enemy for more than a century. He counted as possible allies Italy, with its fascist government under Benito Mussolini, and Britain, whom he regarded as having a similar, Teutonic heritage.

Hitler with his dog, Blondie.

Before any of his ambitions could take place, there was one thing he detested which needed immediate removal: the restrictions placed upon Germany by the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. Posing as a man of peace to allay suspicions, he insisted that he was a champion of Europe wishing only for the removal of the inequalities leveled by the treaty, and posturing as a shield against Bolshevism. In October, 1933, he had Germany withdraw from the League of Nations. The following January he signed a non-aggression treaty with Poland. His individual repudiations of parts of the treaty were followed by offers of negotiations for new agreements, while maintaining Germany’s limited ambitious nature.

While this was going on, Germany was steadily building up the armed forces. Rigorous training using wooden guns and trucks marked as “tanks” got needed battlefield training for officers. Potential fighter pilots began their training in gliders at public demonstrations – Germany, under terms of the treaty, was not allowed an air force – and later they would fly in new civilian stunt planes and transports, which on the drawing board were designed to be rapidly turned into fighters and bombers. Conscription was introduced in January, 1935, and in June of that year Hitler successfully signed a naval treaty with Britain, giving him rights to a respectable navy; but even while the ink was drying, Germany was secretly building a large U-boat fleet.

The matter of reuniting the German peoples came into being in July, 1934, and here Hitler overreached. German organizations were covertly aiding Austrian Nazis in the overthrow of their government, culminating in an attempted revolt as well as murdering Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. When the attempt clearly failed, Hitler denied involvement. In January, 1935, a plebecite was introduced in the Saarland; more than 90 percent voted to return the territory to Germany. Then in March, 1936, came his greatest slap to the Versailles Treaty: against the advice of his generals, and in open defiance of France and Britain, he ordered troops into the demilitarized Rhineland. Germany was once again becoming the leading power in continental Europe. By October, 1936, Germany had signed an alliance with Italy, proclaiming a “Rome-Berlin axis,” followed by the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. All three countries would sign a single, mutual alliance pact, the following year.


Removed from their offices in January 1938 were Hjalmar Schacht (economic ministry); Werner von Fritsch (soldiers’ representative); and Konstantin von Neurath (foreign office); the reason being was they were not fully accepting of Nazism. Beginning his plans of German conquest, he started with Austria. Kurt von Schuschnigg, the Austrian chancellor, was invited to Berchtesgaden in February, where he was browbeaten and forced to sign an agreement placing Austrian Nazis in the government. When Schuschnigg resisted and announced a plebiscite for Austrian voters concerning independence, Hitler ordered German troops into Austria, completely taking over the country within days. His return to Vienna was in triumph; enthusiastic crowds greeted him by the tens of thousands, in sharp contrast to the scenes of privation he had gone through there in his youth. Austria was annexed (Anschluss) to the Reich a short time later.

While the Anschluss was going on, Hitler was speaking in friendly terms with Czechoslovakia; nearly as soon as Austria ceased to exist, Hitler proceeded with his plans against the Czechs. The northwestern region of Czechoslovakia was the Sudetenland, inhabited by a German minority, and the leader of them, Konrad Henlein, was instructed to make impossible demands for those Germans on the Czech government. In the interest of preventing a general war (which Hitler wanted), Mussolini and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain concluded a peaceful agreement in Munich on September 30, giving Hitler the Sudetenland without firing a shot. Chamberlain would return to Britain, waving the agreement signed between himself and Hitler, declaring it to be “peace for our time”, but his act of appeasement would ensure the peace would last only a few more months. Despite assurances that the Sudetenland was his last territorial demands, “Czechia”, as the remainder of Czechoslovakia was called, became a German protectorate on March 15, 1939, when Hitler ordered it occupied. Just over a week later, Lithuania was forced to cede to Germany the territory of Memel (Klaipeda), on the border of East Prussia.


Poland’s turn was next, and listening to the rumblings was France and Britain, which signed guarantees of mutual assistance to the Polish nation should it be attacked by Germany. Hitler also signed pacts: a “Pact of Steel” with Italy, strengthening the alliance between Rome and Berlin, and then a treaty that caught many off-guard: a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union on August 23. A secret clause in the pact allowed for the simultaneous invasion of Poland, and the division of the country in the center from north to south. Poland was invaded on September 1; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Hitler assumed his own war strategy. Poland was conquered within weeks, and when a desired peace accord with Britain failed to materialize, he ordered the army to prepare for a western offensive. Norway was invaded and occupied, forestalling a British move on that country; Denmark was occupied by April, 1940. Hitler than adopted General Erich von Manstien’s plan for an offensive against France itself, which would move through neutral Belgium’s Ardenne Forest on May 10, taking that country as a matter of convenience, as well as avoiding the static fortifications of France’s Maginot Line. The German forces, extremely successful in their operations, reached the coastal ports on the English Channel in 10 days; Holland and Belgium both surrendered within days. But south of Dunkirk was where the army was ordered to halt. Hitler had hoped even at this stage in the battle that Britain would commit to peace; instead, the halting of the German army allowed the British to remove 170,000 fighting men.

On June 10, Italy entered the war as German tanks were sweeping across northern France. Hitler signed an armistice with France on June 22, the signing taking place in the same rail car at the same site where the Germans surrendered in 1918.

Having failed in getting the British to sign an armistice, Hitler prepared his forces for “Operation Sea Lion,” the invasion of Britain. However, the Luftwaffe was defeated in its attempt to gain air superiority over British airspace, also known as the Battle Of Britain, which forced the permanent postponement of Sealion.

Facing the failure of the British to give in, Hitler started to prepare to double-cross his erstwhile partner in the Poland conquest, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. Then Mussolini invaded Greece, got bogged down in the Balkans, and the threat loomed that he would lose his whole army there. Hitler found it necessary to come to his aid, while at the same time taking direct control of Yugoslavia in the wake of the overthrow of the pro-Nazi government.


The attack on Soviet Russia began June 22, 1941. Rapid in its advancement, the German army captured a large swath of territory between the Baltic and Black seas, and captured close to 3,000,000 prisoners. But Hitler, already micro-managing military operations, became overbearing to his generals; he preferred to go after many targets, while his generals argued for a single objective. A few miles in front of Moscow, the German army was halted by a Russian offensive in December, as well as something he had absolutely no control over: the severe Russian winter.

In the lands already occupied by German forces, S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler was preparing the ground for Hitler’s new German order. Expelling the Jews from Germany was the first step, and this was carried out by laws and decrees beginning in 1933; the Germans would switch to outright force in 1939, as Jews were first deported en-masse to Poland, then walled into ghettos after the occupation began. By 1941, a policy crafted under S.S. general Reinhard Heydrich had changed expulsion for extermination in what was called "a final solution to the Jewish question" (die Endlösung der Judenfrage). The system of concentration camps was supplemented by the creation of specialized killing centers in the occupied countries, especially in Poland, where camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzac “processed” thousands of victims daily. Some six million Jews died during what was called the Holocaust, as well as an additional five million Slavs, Gypsies, the handicapped, the aged, and many others that the Nazis considered “subhuman” in accordance with German racial policies.[9]

Beginning of the end

Hitler in 1944, by now looking tired and strained.

Hitler grew increasingly strained by the end of 1942, depending on large amounts of drugs supplied by his physician, Theodor Morell, as a result of the twin defeats of El Alamein (which he lost the bulk of his Afrika corps to British general Montgomery), and Stalingrad (where he lost an entire army of 250,000 men to the Russians). He spent more time in his headquarters in East Prussia, and his time in the public eye ceased to exist. He refused to visit bombed German cities, and, as with Stalingrad, refused to allow German armies to withdraw from the battlefield when the situation was lost. Still, he could make stunning, decisive decisions when called for, such as the commando raid that resulted in the rescue of Benito Mussolini from Italian partisans in July, 1943.

But the defeat of Germany in the war was looming closer. Hitler’s relations with his leading commanders grew strained, the more so as he allowed units of the S.S. to take positions traditionally held by the army. The line at the eastern front was slowly being pushed back by the Soviets, while in the Atlantic his U-boats campaign had faltered. German cities were constantly being bombed, and a successful invasion on the Normandy coast of France in June, 1944 marked the beginning of the end.

Assassination attempt

Hitler's death as covered by the New York Times, May 2, 1945.

Seeing Germany’s chances of surviving the war were desperate, a group of officers plotted to assassinate Hitler, planning several attempts in 1943-44, but nearly successful on July 20, 1944, when a bomb hidden in a briefcase by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg went off under a table that Hitler and others were leaning over; four were killed outright, several suffered injuries, but Hitler escaped relatively unharmed (the bomb itself was set down away from Hitler behind a solid oak table leg, saving him). The conspirators were quickly rounded up; Stauffenberg was shot. The remainder were put on show trials and condemned to hang on meat hooks with piano wire. It was said that Hitler enjoyed watching film of their executions. As a result of the bomb, Nazi members were employed at key positions within the army, removing any trace of the army’s independence.

Within months nearly all of the territory occupied by Germany was now in Allied hands. A last offensive in December, 1944 to take the port of Antwerp, Belgium, failed. Hitler had by them grown ill; his hopes for a German victory bordered on the fantastical and the imagination. By January, 1945 he had moved into his command bunker in Berlin, where he gave orders deploying fictional divisions to counter the ever-closer Soviets. When all seemed lost, he gave out his final orders: first, appointing Admiral Karl Dönitz as head of the state and his successor, and Josef Goebbels as chancellor; and second, dictating his last political will which was an attempt to justify his life’s work.

On April 29, he committed the one truly-chivalrous act of his life: he married Eva Braun, his long-time mistress. After retiring to his room in the bunker the next day, Eva took poison, and Hitler put a bullet in his head. In accordance with his wishes, both bodies were burned. His Third Reich would outlive him for another week.

Elie Wiesel wrote the following in Time Magazine regarding Hitler:

Adolf Hitler or the incarnation of absolute evil; this is how future generations will remember the all-powerful Fuehrer of the criminal Third Reich. Compared with him, his peers Mussolini and Franco were novices. Under his hypnotic gaze, humanity crossed a threshold from which one could see the abyss. "Before Hitler, we thought we had sounded the depths of human nature," argues Ron Rosenbaum, author of "Explaining Hitler." "He showed how much lower we could go, and that's what was so horrifying. It gets us wondering not just at the depths he showed us but whether there is worse to come. The power of Hitler was to confound the modernist notion that judgments about good and evil were little more than matters of taste, reflections of social class and power and status. Although some modern scholars drive past the notion of evil and instead explain Hitler's conduct as a reflection of his childhood and self-esteem issues, for most survivors of the 20th century he is confirmation of our instinctive sense that evil does exist. It moves among us; it leads us astray and deploys powerful, subtle weapons against even the sturdiest souls." [2]

Hitler and the Theory of Evolution

For more information please see: Evolutionary racism


The staunch evolutionist Stephen Gould admitted the following:

[Ernst] Haeckel was the chief apostle of evolution in Germany.... His evolutionary racism; his call to the German people for racial purity and unflinching devotion to a "just" state; his belief that harsh, inexorable laws of evolution ruled human civilization and nature alike, conferring upon favored races the right to dominate others; the irrational mysticism that had always stood in strange communion with his brave words about objective science - all contributed to the rise of Nazism. - Stephen J. Gould, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny," Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1977, pp.77-78).[10]

In regards to evolutionary racism, Hitler wrote the following in his work Mein Kampf:

The Germans were the higher race, destined for a glorious evolutionary future. For this reason it was essential that the Jews should be segregated, otherwise mixed marriages would take place. Were this to happen, all nature’s efforts “to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being may thus be rendered futile.”[11]

Hitler also wrote in Mein Kampf:

The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he, after all, is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development (Hoherentwicklung) of organic living beings would be unthinkable.[13]

Dr. Robert E.D. Clark wrote in his work Darwin, Before and After the following regarding Hitler and the theory of evolution: “Adolf Hitler’s mind was captivated by evolutionary teaching — probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas — quite undisguised — lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf — and in his public speeches”.[14]

Richard Hickman in his work Biocreation concurs and wrote the following:

It is perhaps no coincidence that Adolf Hitler was a firm believer in and preacher of evolutionism. Whatever the deeper, profound, complexities of his psychosis, it is certain that [the concept of struggle was important for]. . . his book, Mein Kampf clearly set forth a number of evolutionary ideas, particularly those emphasizing struggle, survival of the fittest and extermination of the weak to produce a better society. [15]

Noted evolutionary anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith conceded the following in regards to Hitler: “The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution”.[14]

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson wrote the following regarding Hitler's racism in the November 2006 issue of Harper’s magazine:

While it is true that persecution of the Jews has a very long history in Europe, it is also true that science in the twentieth century revived and absolutized persecution by giving it a fresh rationale — Jewishness was not religious or cultural, but genetic. Therefore no appeal could be made against the brute fact of a Jewish grandparent.

[Richard] Dawkins deals with all this in one sentence. Hitler did his evil "in the name of ... an insane and unscientific eugenics theory." But eugenics is science as surely as totemism is religion. That either is in error is beside the point. Science quite appropriately acknowledges that error should be assumed, and at best it proceeds by a continuous process of criticism meant to isolate and identify error. So bad science is still science in more or less the same sense that bad religion is still religion. That both of them can do damage on a huge scale is clear. The prestige of both is a great part of the problem, and in the modern period the credibility of anything called science is enormous. As the history of eugenics proves, science at the highest levels is no reliable corrective to the influence of cultural prejudice but is in fact profoundly vulnerable to it.

There is indeed historical precedent in the Spanish Inquisition for the notion of hereditary Judaism. But the fact that the worst religious thought of the sixteenth century can be likened to the worst scientific thought of the twentieth century hardly redounds to the credit of science."[16][17]

Evolutionist and atheist Richard Dawkins stated in an interview: “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question."[18] The interviewer wrote, regarding the Hitler comment, "I was stupefied. He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point."[19]



*Psychological Analysis of Adolf Hitler, His Life and Legend, Walter C. Langer, Office of Strategic Services, Washington, D.C.