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Adolf Hitler already showed traits that characterized his later life: inability to establish ordinary human relationships, intolerance and hatred of especially the Jews, a tendency toward denunciatory outbursts, readiness to live in a fantasy-world and so to escape his failure.

He learned to loathe brilliant, charming, cosmopolitan Vienna  for what he called its Semitism. More to his liking was homogeneous Munich, his real home after 1913. To this man of no trade and few interests World War I was a welcome event which gave him some purpose in life.

So Hitler went to Munich, Germany and when World War I began in 1914, he volunteered for service in the German army. Hitler was twice decorated for bravery, but only rose to the rank of corporal. When World War I ended Hitler was in a hospital recovering from temporary blindness possibly caused by a poison gas attack. 


Corporal Adolf Hitler, right

The Versailles Treaty that ended the war stripped Germany of much of its territory, forced the country to disarm, and ordered Germany to pay huge reparations. When the army returned to Germany the country was in despair. The country was bankrupt and millions of people were unemployed.

In 1920, Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers Party known as the Nazis. The Nazis called for all Germans, even those in other countries, to unite into one nation; they called for a strong central government; and they called for the cancellation of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler became leader of the Nazi party and built up membership quickly, mostly because of his powerful speaking ability.

Adolf Hitler endorsed the fall of the Weimar Republic, and declared at a public rally on October 30, 1923 that he was prepared to march on Berlin to rid the government of the Communists and the Jews. On November 8, 1923, Hitler held a rally at a Munich beer hall and proclaimed a revolution. The following day, he led 2,000 armed "brown-shirts" in an attempt to take over the Bavarian government.

This putsch was resisted and put down by the police, after more than a dozen were killed in the fighting. Hitler suffered a broken and dislocated arm in the melee, was arrested, and was imprisoned at Landsberg. He received a five-year sentence.

Hitler served only nine months of his five-year term. While in prison, he wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf. It was partly an autobiographical book although filled with glorified inaccuracies, self-serving half-truths and outright revisionism which also detailed his views on the future of the German people.

He reserved the brunt of his vituperation for the Jews, whom he portrayed as responsible for all of the problems and evils of the world, particularly democracy, Communism, and internationalism, as well as Germany's defeat in the War. Jews were the German nation's true enemy, he wrote. As such, they were not a race, but an anti-race.


 

 

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