Now remembered as a maniacal dictator who led his country into some of the most shameful events in human history, Hitler started out as a much more average man. He served his country in war but then didn’t know what to do with himself. And then one day he encountered a group of political extremists … and their ideas made perfect sense to him. The young Adolf took those views and ran with them, using his distinctive and powerful speaking style to attract attention from other Germans. What do you really know about Hitler’s inevitable rise to power before the Second World War?
Hitler was always kind of an odd duck. While other soldiers traded dirty jokes, he kept it clean. He preferred discipline and tidiness and eschewed dirty jokes for lofty talk about politics and ideas. Do you recall any of the details of Hitler’s life as a young adult?
After WWI, Hitler witnessed Germany’s slow, steady decline into poverty and humiliation, and he regarded it as a supreme injustice. With fanatical dedication, he swore to help his nation regain its status and power.
In a time of extreme turmoil, his racist rhetoric and violent overtones made sense to Germany’s citizens. Dodge the SS troops in this Third Reich quiz and we’ll find out how much you really know about Hitler’s rise to power!
Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary in 1889. His rise to political power was meteoric … a disheartening reminder of the dark side of humanity.
Hitler served in the Bavarian Army during WWI. He was in the infantry and served during multiple battles in the war.
Hitler was on the front lines of WWI battles, as fanatical in combat as he was later at a podium. He was decorated for his courage in fire fights and when he was wounded at the Battle of the Somme, he pleaded with his commanders to let him remain where the bullets were flying.
Hitler was never shy about his anti-Semitism. His disdain for Jews carried over into his incredible political rise.
The 1919 Treaty of Versailles levied huge reparations on Germany and forced the country to accept responsibility for starting the war. Hitler was left fuming … and set out to right what he saw as an unbearable wrong.
In 1919, Hitler joined the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the German Workers' Party. But he wasn't there to support the group. He was there to spy on its members for the military.
Hitler was not shy when speaking about his political beliefs, and he was exceptionally silver-tongued. His ferocious public speaking abilities served him well in his career.
Hitler practically begged to remain in the army as long as possible. He had no useful skills for the civilian world -- the army gave him purpose, and a paycheck.
Hitler's mission was to infiltrate the German Workers' Party. Instead, he loved their nationalistic political leanings and anti-Semitic ideals, a perfect match for Hitler's own warped convictions.
The German Workers' Party didn't last long. It was a predecessor to the Nazi Party, which left an indelible impression on all of humankind.
As the fledgling German Workers' Party morphed into the Nazi Party, its members unveiled an infamous Twenty-Five Point Program. The 25 points highlight changes they felt were necessary to save Germany.
In November 1923, Hitler and his comrades launched a coup attempt. It became known as the Beer Hall Putsch.
Hitler's timing was wrong. People died, the coup failed … and he was jailed.
Hitler left a mark as a graphic designer. He devised the iconic swastika banner that became the Nazi Party's flag. As the Third Reich rose, so did its many flags bearing Hitler's symbolism
Hitler was given a five-year prison sentence for leading the Putsch. But he was pardoned after less than a year.
Hitler got preferential treatment in prison after his high-profile trial. He even had a personal secretary. While behind bars, he wrote "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") in which he highlighted his proposals for changing Germany.
His failed coup was a disaster. Hitler decided that his only option was to use the democratic system to his advantage, by altering it from within.
The Nazi Party's attempts to win elections failed the first couple of years, capturing only a tiny percentage of votes. But in 1929 and 1930, the Nazis won seats in the government. And the true race to power was on.
The Great Depression wrecked the German economy. By the early '30s, Germans were desperate for an outspoken leader with the iron will to help them out of financial misery. And Hitler seemed like just the ticket.
As the Nazis gained favor, so too did the communists. And the communists made it clear that they would rather see the Nazis in power than witness the continuation of the current government.
In 1932, it became clear that the Nazis were a major political force. They won more seats than any other party in the government, and Hitler realized his opportunity was coming.
The Sturmabteilung -- the SA -- was the paramiltiary group of the Nazi Party. It provided protection during meetings and rallies … and often clashed with supporters of other groups.
Hot on the heels of Nazi election successes, Hitler demanded that he be named chancellor. A long and complicated political game unfolded, as various men vied for the chancellorship. But on January 30, 1933, Hitler finally got his wish, getting a his first taste of real power.
Just days into his stint as chancellor, Hitler met with other German bigwigs and began an illegal project: he wanted to rearm the German military. It was a clear breach of the Treaty of Versailles.
When a communist tried to burn the Reichstag, Hitler saw an opportunity to seize more power. He ended civil liberties in the country and banned communists.
The Reichstag fire was a perfect storm for Hitler. He began banning other political parties, until there was essentially only one remaining -- the Nazi Party.
The 1933 Enabling Act cast the Reichstag under the wheels of the Nazi bus and give Hitler dictator-like powers. He was officially on his way to becoming an icon of the 20th century.
In 1934, President Hindenburg died, and all power shifted to Hitler. He continued to build Germany's military and in 1939, he invaded Poland, starting the incredible violence of the European Theater of WWII.
Excited with his military successes in 1940, Hitler officially made himself the German army's commander-in-chief in 1941. But he thought far too highly of his own military brilliance.
This turning point cost Hitler his empire. In June 1941, the Nazi leader ordered the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the USSR. This ill-fated expedition began well … and ended in disaster.