Hitler: The rise of National Socialism in Germany


Adolf Hitler, born in 1889 to Alois Hitler and Klara Hitler, was a German statesman, politician, leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), German chancellor from 1933 to 1945 and Fuhrer of the Third Reich and National Socialist Germany from 1934 until his death in 1945.

In 1907, Hitler left for Vienna to study fine art. His finances were borne by his mother and by orphan’s benefits.  Subsequently, Hitler was rejected twice by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

Later in 1907, Hitler’s mother died and the young Adolf found it difficult to cope with the loss and his life as a struggling artist.

By 1909, he had run out of money and started to live in homeless shelters, making money by working as a labourer and selling watercolour paintings.

This is where the philosophical leanings of the future Fuhrer can be traced back to. He found an interest in Wagner.

Later, he was introduced to philosophies of Nietzsche because of his habit of reading newspapers.

Hitler later claimed in his autobiography, Mein Kampf, that he became an anti-semite during the early years of his stay in Vienna.

The Great War broke out in 1914 and Hitler’s soaring nationalist tendencies pushed him towards voluntarily joining the Bavarian Army.

Hitler served as a dispatch runner in the army’s Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. He served on the French and Belgium fronts.

The young dispatch runner was wounded during the Battle of Somme and also attended the first Battle of the Ypres.

Decorated for bravery, Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class in 1914. Later, on the recommendation of his superior, Jewish Lieutenant Hugo Guttmann, Hitler received the Iron Cross, First Class in 1918 followed by the Black Wound Badge.

Hitler’s experience in the war not only reinforced his German nationalism but also infuriated him when Germany capitulated at the end of the war.

The Treaty of Versailles was felt by Hitler at a personal level and he became a firm believer in the theory of Stab-in-the-back.

The myth decreed that although the German war machine had been undefeated in the field, it was defeated at the home front and stabbed in the back by civilian authorities, Marxists and Jews.

Hitler later termed this group collectively as the November criminals.

After the war, Hitler remained with the army in the capacity of an intelligence agent. This is where his first formal interaction with formal political parties in Berlin began.

He was tasked with the responsibility to infiltrate the German Workers Party (DAP).

Following orders by his military superiors, Hitler joined the DAP as member number 555.

Following this, the party was renamed as the NSDAP and Hitler designed the party’s new symbol, a Swastika symbol within a white circle and with a red background.

Discharged from the army in 1920, Hitler became a full-time member and worker of the NSDAP.

A mutiny broke out in the party over its alliance with another party, following which Hitler resigned.

He was requested to come back and he accepted on the condition that he would return as party chairman. Therefore, Hitler became NSDAP chairman on Jule 26 in 1921.

Hitler’s rhetoric and fiery speeches in Berlin’s beer halls started attracting larger crowds and subsequently, the NSDAP started to grow.

Hitler Youth former member Alfons Heck said about speeches delivered by Hitler, “We erupted into a frenzy of nationalistic pride that bordered on hysteria. For minutes on end, we shouted at the top of our lungs, with tears streaming down our faces: Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil! From that moment on, I belonged to Adolf Hitler body and soul.”

Hitler formed the SA or the Stormtroopers, a paramilitary group, to protect party meetings and reaffirm his control on party members.

In 1923, Hitler along with General Ludendorff attempted a forceful takeover of the government. The infamous coup is known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

The coup was badly orchestrated and lacked coordination and consequently, it was defeated. Following this, Hitler was arrested for high treason in 1923.

Hitler was awarded a five-year imprisonment sentence in the Landsberg Prison for his actions.

He had served a little over one year in the prison after which the Bavarian Government pardoned him and ordered his release. It was during this time that Hitler wrote most of the first volume of Mein Kampf.

Hitler’s meeting with Bavarian Prime Minister Heinrich Held concluded in the lifting of the state’s ban on NSDAP.

The stock market crashed in the United States in 1929 and the Great Depression began. Coupled with the rising nationalistic sentiment and soaring unemployment, the depression paved the way for Hitler’s ascent to power.

Hitler proved to be a masterful politician and immediately after the stock markets around the world crashed and Europe descended into fiscal darkness, he vowed to repeal the Treaty of Versailles, eradicate unemployment and push the economic conditions into a positive trajectory.

The 1932 presidential elections saw Adolf Hitler emerge as a national German politician. Although he came second in both rounds against Von Hindenberg, Hitler managed to capture at least 35 per cent of the national electorate. His slogan was “Hitler über Deutschland” which translates to “Hitler over Germany”.

Two parliamentary elections in 1932 failed to conclude in the national government and Hitler was asked to form a government and become chancellor, albeit reluctantly on Hindenberg’s part.

The 30th day of January in 1933 saw the national socialist pariah of Germany ascend to his first public office. Hitler walked victorious, having outwitted Hindengerg’s allies,  into the German Chancellory amidst large crowds chanting “Seig Heil” (To victory).

In February of the same year, the Reichstag (German parliament) was set on fire and Hitler orchestrated a situation which concluded in Hindenberg issuing the Reichstag Fire Decree.

To Hitler’s liking, the decree suspended all basic rights and allowed the state to indulge in detention without trial.

Hitler’s political machine went into full swing immediately after and the Enabling Act was introduced. The act allowed the NSDAP to enact laws without the Reichstag’s approval for four years.

In 1934, responding to a British journalist in Berlin, Hitler famously remarked, “At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the National Socialist Movement will go on for a thousand years! Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!”

And the thousand-year Reich was thus born.

Hitler had assumed complete control of the legislative and executive branches of German government by this time.

He initiated a fierce operation against his opposition.

The entire leadership of the SA was purged within a single night, famously known as the Night of the Long Knives.

Fortune favoured Hitler and his greatest rival, President Hindenberg, died on August 2 in 1934.

Consequently, Hitler assumed both the chancellory and the presidency and was retitled as  Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor) and the German military was asked to reaffirm its loyalty to the new office by name.

Hitler had now become the First man of Germany. The Thousand Year Reich had begun. The Racial state had emerged.

This was followed by the Second Great War, the Nuremberg Laws which targeted Jews and the Holocaust.

Million of Jews were killed in concentration camps such as the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hitler shot himself on the 30th of April in 1945 when the Red Army entered Berlin. Berlin surrendered on May 2, 1945.

The 2nd of May concluded not only the Second World War but also marked the end of National Socialist Germany and the 1000 year Reich, which fell within less than two decades.