Hitler was born in April 1889 to Klara Polzl and Alois Hitler. His father, Alois, was a mid-level customs officers, and so was repressive towards him as a young child. Therefore, when Alois died in 1903, Hitler was freed from his tight control.
In 1905 Hitler left school with no qualifications except for in art and gym. In 1907, he travelled to Vienna to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. However, he was rejected from the Academy of Fine Arts. His mother also died in the same year. For the next six years, Hitler drifted, living in the slums of Vienna and the Jewish Quarter. Here, it is said that Hitler began to develop anti-Semitic, anti-Marxist and anti-democratic feelings, and began to support racism and Pan-Germanism.
In August 1914, war broke out and Hitler joined the Bavarian regiment as a corporal. He received two iron cross awards for his bravery. In October 1918, Hitler was gassed and hospitalised. Here, he discovered the news of Germany's defeat.
Hitler and the DAP
In May 1919, Hitler was chosen to become a political instructor, in which he would observe the activity of political organisations and report back any concerning views expressed. He was sent to infiltrate the DAP, the German Worker's Party. Their commitment to nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism immediately appealed to Hitler, and so he became a member.
His energy, oratory and propaganda skills immediately made an impact on the small party. For example, in October 1918, Hitler made his first public speech and managed to impress all 111 people present, raising 300 marks for the party. In February 1920, Hitler alongside the party founder Anton Drexler established the 25 point programme: this laid out the Nazis core beliefs and policies. They also changed the name of the party to the NSDAP: the National Socialist German Workers Party.
Hitler Becomes Chairman
By July 1921, it had become clear that Hitler was the driving force behind the party. Although he still only maintained the position of propaganda chief, it was his powerful speeches that had helped increase party membership to 3300.
However, some of the members of the NSDAP leadership did not agree with Hitler's techniques for attracting support. In 1921, they tried to organise a merger between the NSDAP and a similar party. Hitler, upon hearing this news and failing to dissuade the negotiations, resigned.
Anton Drexler, realising that this might be a fatal blow to the party, persuaded Hitler to rejoin the party, and consequently resigned, making Hitler chairman. This is the first time Hitler demonstrates his ability to manipulate and work political situations. From here, Hitler could begin to establish his Fuhrerprinzip in the party.
Nazi Beliefs and Tactics, 190 - 23
The following cards explain how Nazi tactics developed in this period and what beliefs they possessed.
Developments, 1920 - 23
1. Armed Squads called the SA were organised and led by Ernst Rohm. Hitler used the SA to organise planned thuggery and violence.
2. Hitler established simple propaganda techniques, such as the Nazi salute, the Swastika and the brown shirts of the SA. The party became easily identifiable and recognisable.
3. In 1921 the party had enough money to buy its own newspaper, helping to spread their beliefs to a wider audience.
Beliefs and Tactics, 1920 - 23
25 POINT PROGRAMME
This set out the core beliefs and policies of the Nazi Party. It was primarily based on the Nazis strong hatred of democracy, the Jews and Communism.
The Nazis were fervent Nationalists - they believed that all Germans had a shared ethnicity, culture and set of beliefs, and that they all shared a glorious past.
LEBENSRAUM (living space)
The Nazis had a policy of territorial expansion - they believed that the German people had been forced to live in an area of land that could not meet their demands, and so felt that the reorganisation of Germany's borders was necessary.
Beliefs and Tactics, 1920 - 23
To the Nazis, Socialism represented class harmony, obedience, service and hard work to the state.
ANTI - SEMITISM
The Nazis believed that behind all the evil that had faced Germany stood the figure of a Jew, and that the purity of German blood was being defiled by that of the Jews.
NAZI VIEW ON RACE
The Nazis saw life as a struggle for existence. They divided the world into three categories: the Aryan Race, the Bearers of Culture and the Inferior Peoples.
The Nazis were staunchly anti-Communists.
Beliefs and Tactics, 1920 - 23
The Nazis believed democracy provided for a weak form of government: they instead felt decisions should be dictated to people by strong leaders. This is demonstrated by the fact that until 1924, the Nazis refused to recognise the Weimar system of government.
The Nazis wanted to transform German society: they wanted to create a racially pure German state based on an authoritarian rule. They believed this would be free of class struggle, alongside religious and political conflict, as people would be united behind their Fuhrer in attempt to rebuild Germany's glorious past.
Causes of the Munich Putsch
1. Hitler was inspired by Benito Mussolini's 'March on Rome' - in 1922, Fascists strode into the Capital and seized power, making Mussolini the dictator of Italy. Hitler wanted to conduct a similar 'March on Munich'.
2. In September 1923, Gustav Stresemann ended 'passive resistance' in the Ruhr and agreed to continue paying reparations. To the Nationalists of Germany, they saw this as an admittance to starting the war.
3. The Bavarian Government, headed by General Gustav von Kahr, also wished to see the destruction of democracy.
Events of the Munich Putsch
- 8th November 1923 - Hitler and the SA took control of a public meeting in Munich, where they declared that a 'National Revolution' was taking place. Here, Hitler forced Gustav von Kahr and Otto von Lossow to agree to his plan.
- 9th November 1923 - Hitler, General Ludendorff and 2000 SA men marched on the centre of Munich, where they were met by police. In what was a brief street battle, sixteen Nazis were killed.
Why did the Putsch Fail?
1. Hitler believed a Putsch would gain more public support than it actually received.
2. Hitler relied too heavily on the support of Ludendorff
3. Lossow and Kahr, fearing failure, turned back.
4. There was a real lack of planning.
Consequences of the Putsch
1. Hitler's trial became a propaganda success - the Nazis were brought to national attention in Germany.
2. Hitler realised that if he were to come to power he would have to change his tactics - he would instead have to manipulate the political system.
3. Whilst in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
4. His courage to act won him the respect of many right-wing Nationalists.
Hitler's crimes were punishable of treason. However, the judges were sympathetic towards his views and beliefs, and so he was sentenced a minimum of five years in a low security prison. He only served nine months of this sentence.