For we were young and we had wings
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author of military history
The Gestapo (secret police) hunted down the enemies and opponents of the new order. People were imprisoned or shot on suspicion on violation of new laws. The Nazis used the press, radio and films to flood Germany with propaganda praising the Dictator’s new order. The regime applauded military training, rearmament, national pride and industry. Jews were forced out of the civil service, universities, schools and other professions/management positions and in 1935, Jews were declared citizens of lesser rights. Thousands left the country but those who stayed were sent to concentration camps along with political suspects. A person needed permission to accept work, change jobs, move or travel abroad. Hitler also set up organizations for young people between the ages of six and eighteen including the Hitler Youth for boys 14 years and older; Society of German Maidens for girls 14 and older. All German children were required to join such groups from the age of 10. They wore uniforms, marched, exercised and learned Nazi beliefs. The Nazis taught children to spy on their own families and report anti-Nazi criticism they might hear. From 1933 onward, Hitler prepared Germany for war. In open violation of the Treaty of Versailles, he began to re-arm Germany. As other countries were focused on their own economic depression and unemployment, no one opposed these aggressive actions. Hitler’s plan was to be a super power and to destroy the Jewish people. In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland he correctly assumed that France would not oppose these actions. This was the first victory without war experienced by the Dictator. In March, 1938, Hitler’s troops invaded Austria which then became a legal part of Germany. France and Great Britain consented to the occupation of German speaking areas of Czechoslovakia that had belonged to Austria prior to the First World War. Saying that he wanted no more territory Hitler was not true to his word as in March 1939, Germany took over the rest of Czechoslovakia. Poland was most vulnerable but Britain and France issued an ultimatum to stop further German expansion.
In August, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed treaties of friendship promising mutual cooperation, trade agreements and neutrality in the event of war. A secret part of the agreement was that Poland would be divided between Germany and the Soviet Union with further promises of territory in Eastern Europe. On 1st September, 1939, Germany invaded Poland resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany two days later.
Furthermore, Alios was born to an unmarried woman, Anna Maria Schicklgruber. A wandering miller named Johann Georg Hiedler married her about five years later. Because Johann never recognized Alios as his illegitimate son, it was only following his death that Johann’s brother arranged to ‘register’ Alios to Johann and Anne Maria.
A spelling mistake entered the surname of “Hitler” instead of “Hiedler”. Adolf Hitler had a sister, Paula; a half brother, Alois: and a half sister, Angela.
Adolf was a good elementary student but poor in high school as his real interest was wanting to be an artist. While living in the city of Linz, Austria, Alois died and Adolf left high school at age 16. His mother received a widow’s pension and owned some property which allowed Adolf the luxury of not having to work. He spent his time dreaming, drawing and reading books.
In 1907, Adolf moved to Vienna only to fail the entrance examination of the Academy of Fine Arts, not once, but twice. His mother died that year and Adolf had an income from the inheritance money and other monies inherited from an aunt. He sometimes sold his drawings and paintings, living comfortably considering himself an artist.
It was at this early time that he became interested in the politics of the Socialist Democratic Party in Vienna. As a patriot, he moved to Munich Germany in 1913 but was called up for service in the Austrian army finding that he was unable to pass the physical examination.
In August, 1914, war was declared on Germany and Adolf volunteered and surprisingly, he was accepted for service. As a messenger on the Western Front, he took part in some of the bloodiest battles and was wounded. He was twice decorated for bravery as a Corporal. While in hospital suffering from a temporary blindness due to mustard gas, Germany surrendered in November, 1918 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles; an event which dismayed Hitler.
The defeated German people soon found that the returning Army could not find employment and Germany was held responsible for the war, much of its territory from it and restricting its army to 100,000 men. Huge repatriation payments for war damages were so staggering that peace was difficult. This gave rise to Communists and Nationalists and eventually the Nazi party.
Hitler began attending meetings of the German Workers Party which name was changed to the National Socialists Workers Party, later becoming known as the Nazi party. The Nazis wanted all Germans, Austrians and Czechoslovakians to come together and demanded that citizens of non-German or Jewish origin be deprived of German citizenship. Hitler was a skillful politician becoming the leader of the Nazi party and through great oratory skills, quickly built membership. He denounced the German government and promised the Nazi party could restore the economy and German greatness.
A young Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels pose with local Nazis in 1926. Hitler is the leader of the Nazis. Goebbels later becomes the Nazi Propaganda Minister.
Hitler organized the Nazi party’s private army which he called Storm Troopers or “brown shirts” and adopted the Swastika emblem to give the troopers a sense of unity. By October, 1923, the storm troopers numbered 15,000, acquiring a number of machine guns and rifles. In 1923, Germany found itself to be in real difficulties which resulted in France and Belgium sending its troops to occupy the Ruhr industrial region. As a result, German workers went on strike which exasperated a desperate economic situation which was weakened by payments for war debts. German currency was devalued greatly.
On 8th November, 1923, at a Munich beer hall rally, Hitler proclaimed a ‘putsch’ or ‘revolution’ and tried to overthrow the government. This was halted by police and Hitler was arrested with the subsequent sentence of five years in prison. It was during the nine months of imprisonment that Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” outlining his ambitions for Germany to conquer much of Europe to recoup much of its lost territories in Austria and Czechoslovakia and it would take territories from Poland and the Soviet Union and other eastern countries as Germany needed it. Hitler also believed and wrote about the German race being superior to other races and must avoid intermarriage with Slavs and Jews. He blamed the evils of the world on Jews.
Adolf Hitler was born 20th April, 1889 in Braunau, Austria near the German border to Klara Polzl, age 28 and Alios Hitler, age 51. He was the fourth child in a third marriage for Alios Hitler, a customs official.
The government had outlawed the Nazi party after the attempted ‘putsch’ but when Hitler was released from prison; he convinced the government that the party would act legally. The government complied with Hitler’s request and soon he won the people’s confidence in small towns, with farmers and business people and labor unions. He set up an elite party guard, the Schultzstaffel or more commonly known as the SS. By 1929, Hitler had at his side many people who would help give him power. The party faithful were Joseph Goebbles, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess Heinrich Himmler, Ernst Rohm and Alfred Rosenberg.
But the Great Depression hit Germany in 1930 as it did other countries around the world. Vast unemployment and hunger plagued Germany and Hitler organized protest marches and mass meetings, delivering rousing speeches for all Germans to hear. Hitler promised to oust Communists and others to reunite Germany. In 1932, due to the instability; five elections were held and finally when the elections for the Reichstag (parliament) occurred, the Nazi party became the strongest and Hitler demanded from all parties that he be made Chancellor (prime minister) of Germany. The 85 year old president, Paul von Hindenburg, had misgivings about Hitler but was persuaded by his friends and son Oskar to accept Hitler’s promise to act lawfully if the Nazi party were to form a government. On 30 January, 1933, Hindenburg named Hitler as Chancellor, thinking the parliament members could limit Hitler’s actions. But Hitler would not settle for anything less than full control and soon became Dictator of his re-named government, The Third Reich.
On 4th February, 1933, an emergency decree signed by Hindenburg gave the Nazi party the legal authority to prohibit assemblies, to outlaw newspapers and other publications and to arrest people on suspicion of treason. The Nazis were able to put down much of their political opposition. Three weeks later, a fire destroyed the Reichstag building and Hindenburg signed another emergency decree giving the government almost unlimited powers. Elections for a new Reichstag were held on 5th March but the Nazi party failed with less than 50 per cent of the vote. After the elections, the Communist deputies were arrested or not admitted into the Reichstag, thus giving the Nazis a majority of the seats. Following that, the government passed the Enabling Act giving the government full dictatorial powers and suspended basic civil and human right for four years.