Adolf Hitler was a german politician, a government leader and one of the 20th centuries most powerful dictators. Making anti-semitism a keystone of his propaganda and policies, he built up the Nazi party into a mass movement. Once in power, he converted Germany into a fully militarized society and launched World War II. For a time he dominated most of Europe and North Africa . He caused the slaughter of millions of Jews and others whom he considered inferior human beings.
Hitler was born in Braunauam Inn, Austria, on April 20, 1889, the son of a minor customs official and a peasant girl. A poor student, he never completed high school. He applied for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna but was rejected for lack of talent. Staying in Vienna until 1913, he lived first on an orphan's pension, later on small earnings from pictures he drew. He read voraciously, developing anti-Jewish and antidemocratic convictions, an admiration for the outstanding individual, and a contempt for the masses.
In World War I, Hitler, by then in Munich, volunteered for service in the Bavarian army. He proved a dedicated, courageous soldier, but was never promoted beyond private first class because his superiors thought him lacking in leadership qualities. After Germany's defeat in 1918 he returned to Munich, remaining in the army until 1920. His commander made him an education officer, with the mandate to immunize his charges against pacifist and democratic ideas. In September 1919 he joined the nationalist German workers party, and in April 1920 he went to work full time for the party, now renamed the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) party. In 1921 he was elected party chairman with dichorial powers.
Organizing meeting after meeting, terrorizing political foes with groups of party thugs, Hitler spread his gospel of racial hatred and contempt for democracy. He soon became a key figure in Bavarian politics, aided by high officials and businessmen. In November 1923, a time of political and economic chaos, he led an uprising in Munich against the postwar weimar republic, proclaiming himself chancellor of a new authoritarian regime. Without military support, however, the Putsch collapsed. As leader of the plot, Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment and spent the eight months he actually served dictating his autobiography Mein kampf. Released as a result of a general amnesty in December 1924, he rebuilt his party without interference from those whose government he had tried to overthrow. When the Great depression struck in 1929, his explanation of it as a Jewish-Communist plot was accepted by many Germans. Promising a strong Germany, jobs, and national glory, he attracted millions of voters. Nazi representation in the Reichstag rose from 12 seats in 1928 to 107 in 1930.
During the following two years the party kept expanding, benefiting from growing unemployment, fear of Communism, Hitler's self...