Sara Skirda

Early Years

Born April 20th, 1889, (in Branau am Inn, Austria), Adolf Hitler was the fourth out of six children of Klara Polzl and Alois Hitler. His father, Alois, was fifty-one years old when Adolf was born. He was strict, short-tempered and brutal. Alois was determined to raise Hitler in a different mannor than his eldest son who had ended up in jail for theft. Hitler's upbringing was violent, he and his father clashed frequently, and his father did not approve of his interest in the arts rather than buisness. Alois, being a civil servant himself, wanted Hitler to also be one when he became of age.
The house Hitler grew up in

His mother, however, was the opposite of Alois. Klara was very caring, loving and often took Hitler's side when his fathers ill temper got in the way. Adolf was doted apon by his mother, and for the remainder of his life, he carried a photo of his mother wherever he went.

At school, Adolf had a hard time making friends and he rarelly excelled in his school subjects - his grades could prove it. He recieved "unsatisfactory" marks in math and french, and "satisfactory" in history. His two best subjects were art and gymnastics, in which he recieved "excellent". At the age of thirteen, his father passed, leaving Hitler with no strong influence to keep him in school. At fifteen, Hitler left school (which his mother supported him for, regardless of her wishes). Once Hitler started his political career, he tried to hide his lazy and poor achievements he had at school.

The Art Side of Life ("Five years of hardship and misery")

Never giving up his dream of becoming an artist, Hitler left for Vienna after dropping out of school. To his dismay, when Adolf was 18, his mother died of cancer. It is said he spent hours staring at her dead body, drawing sketches of her lying on her death bed.

The Vienna Academy of Art rejected his application due to his lack of education. They also decreed that the board did not want a landscaping artist, and there were too few people in his paintings. Out of work and out of money, Adolf lived in a doss house with prostitutes and homeless people. In hopes they would sell, he painted post cards and cleared snow from pathways. At this stage in his life, Adolf Hitler developed a hatred of the Jews.
One of Adolf Hitler's paintings

Hitler began making up senarios as to why he was so unsuccessful. He was convinced that it was a Jewish professor who rejected his art work; that it was a Jewish doctor who was responsible for his mothers' death. He believed that only Jewish people lived in the beautiful town houses that he shoveled snow for. By 1910, his hatred of the Jewish people became set (later known as anti-Semitism).

In February, 1914, Hitler attempted to escape his hardships and he tried to join the Austrian army. After all his years of malnutrition and poor sleep, his medical exam stated that he was physically too weak to actually carry any weapons. August of 1914, World War I was declared. Hitler cross the boarder and enlsited in the German army, where he was declared fit. "I sank to my knees and thanked heaven…….that it had given me the good fortune to live at such a time." Hitler wrote in 1924. He was a brave soldier without a doubt, as a regimental runner (a dangerous job where Hitler was exposed to a lot of enemy fire; he had to carry messages to officers behind the front line, and return to the front line with orders)


Though Hitler was unpopular with his comrades, he was awarded by his officers with the Iron Cross - in all, Hitler was awarded six medals for bravery. In November, 1918, World War I ended. Hitler was devestated. He believed that Germany would never have surrendered normally and that his nation had been sabotaged by the Jews. (Here is a short comedic Youtube clip about how hitler felt about WWI)

After WWI

In 1919, Hitler returned to Munich and continued to work for the military as an intelligence officer. Adolf adopted many of the anti-Semitic, nationalist, and anti-Marxist ideas of the DAP (
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; or the German Workers' Party) while monitoring the activities of the party. He was invited to join the party, and he did in 1919. The DAP changed their party name to the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) in hopes it would bring more appeal. Hitler designed the party banner, featuring a swastika in a white circle on a red background. Soon after, Hitler started gaining a charasmatic reputation from his speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival polititians, Marxists and Jews.

On November 8, 1923, Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting. After a short struggle, the coup known as the "Beer Hall Putsch" failed. Hitler was arrested and served only 9 months out of his 5 year sentance. In prison, he wrote his first volume of his book "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) where he decreed his future plans of turning the nation into a society based on race.

The Great Depression in Germany acted as a great political opportunity for Hitler. He gained more than 35% of the vote in the final election, proving him to be a strong force in German politics. Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor in order to promote political balance. Hitler used his promotion to create a facto legal dictatorship. After a suspicious fire of the Reichtag, basic rights were suspended and allowed detention without trial. Hitler created the Enabling Act, which gave him full powers for a period of four years. This was the start of his rise to power. On July 14, 1933, Hitler's Nazi Party was declared the only legal political party in Germany.

All of these events lead to the start of WWII.

One of Hitler's speeches about becoming Nationalist Socialists in Germany.

By Sara Skirda