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Hitler, Adolf

Adolf Hitler

b. 20 Apr 1889, Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary
d. 30 Apr 1945, Berlin, German Reich

Title: Führer und Reichskanzler (Führer and Reich Chancellor) [1]
Term: 2 Aug 1934 - 30 Apr 1945
Chronology: 2 Aug 1934, assumed the office of Führer und Reichskanzler according to the law of 1 Aug 1934 (effective upon the death of Reichspräsident 2 Aug 1934) [2]
  30 Apr 1945, died (suicide)
Other offices: Reichskanzler (Reich Chancellor) [30 Jan 1933 - 2 Aug 1934] (see details)
Biography:
After a series of unsuccessful attempts to become an art student, the future dictator of Nazi Germany joined the German army as volunteer in World War I, and subsequently was wounded and gassed. After he was discharged from the hospital, Hitler joined the political organization, which called itself the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) (16 Sep 1919). By the time when Hitler quit the army service in 1920, the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP). Hitler became chairman of the NSDAP on 29 Jul 1921. In two years, the Nazi used the social and financial crisis in Germany to seize power in the Munich (the Beer Hall Putsch, 8-9 Nov 1923), but the coup failed. Hitler was sentenced for five-year imprisonment, but he never served the full term. After his release Hitler found the Nazi party disintegrated and attempted to rebuild it. The NSDAP gained 14 and 12 seats in the Reichstag at the parliamentary elections in 1924 and 1928 respectively. In 1929 Hitler made an alliance with the National People's Party (DNVP) and launched a campaign of propaganda and agitation for establishing a right-wing nationalist government able to cope with the Great Depression. At the election to the Reichstag in September 1930, the Nazi became the second largest party in the country with 107 seats in the lower chamber. In March/April 1932, Hitler was a candidate at the presidential elections and though he lost to the incumbent Paul von Hindenburg, the NSDAP secured tremendous political support capturing about 40 percent of the seats in the Reichstag. Through a series of political intrigues Hitler convinced Hindenburg to appoint him Reich Chancellor (30 Jan 1933). On 1 Aug 1934, Hitler signed the "Law on the Head of State of the German Reich," which provided for merger of the posts of Reich President and Reich Chancellor upon the death of Hindenburg that followed on 2 Aug 1934. The ensuing referendum approved the new political structure on 19 Aug 1934 and gave Hitler a right to appoint his deputy. As a Führer of totalitarian state claiming racial supremacy and pursuing the policy of purification and genocide, Hitler was an absolute power, whose political influence was enormous. Germany reestablished its position in world affairs by ending the obligations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles and starting its expansionist policy by annexation of Austria in 1938. Hitler took personal command over the three branches of the German armed forces on 4 Feb 1938. The Munich agreement concluded in late September 1938 with the consent of British, French and Italian governments, split Czechoslovakia and provided Hitler with a chance to annex the Sudetenland. The further split of Czechoslovakia (March 1939) allowed to occupy Bohemia and Moravia and to proclaim it a protectorate of the Third Reich. On 1 Sep 1939 the German armies launched an invasion of Poland starting a series of armed conflicts of World War II. After the defeat of Poland, the German armies occupied Denmark and Norway (April 1940), and on 10 May 1940 attacked France, along with Luxembourg, Belgium, and The Netherlands. As France capitulated on 21 Jun 1940, the German Reich expanded its influence by occupying neighboring countries and supporting pro-Nazi regimes in other European states. In June 1941, Hitler's armies invaded the Soviet Union. The Germans were successful in the first months of war and rapidly moved across the Soviet territory, but their offensive was repulsed in the winter of 1941-1942. The war came to its turning point in late 1942, when the battle at Stalingrad brought Hitler his first major defeat. At the same time a joint British-American force landed in northwestern Africa and on 10 Jul 1943 in Sicily. The German forces were unable to hold up the Soviet advance and by 1944 the war came to the borders of the Reich. On 20 Jul 1944 Hitler survived an assassination attempt at a conference in East Prussia. From January 1945 Hitler never left the chancellery in Berlin or its bunker, where he finally committed suicide on 30 Apr 1945.
Biographical sources: "Adolf Hitler. Eine Biographie", by Konrad Heiden (Zürich: Europa-Verlag, 2007), 2 vols.

[1] In accordance with the wish of Hitler, a circular of the Reich Ministry for Internal Affairs of 17 May 1939 instructed the state offices to use the style Der Führer, omitting the word Reichskanzler, but in practice the laws continued to be occasionally promulgated in the name of either Der Führer or Der Führer und Reichskanzler (for instance, Reichsgesetzblatt, Teil I, 1942, Ausgegeben zu Berlin, den 22. Januar 1942, Nr. 5, S. 25: "16.1.42 Erlaß des Führers über die Bestellung eines Generalinspektors des Führers für das Kraftfahrwesen"; S. 26: "16.1.42 Zweiter Erlaß des Führers und Reichskanzlers über städtebauliche Maßnahmen in der Stadt Salzburg"). The references to Reichskanzler were finally excluded by the end of 1942. For military matters, Hitler used the style Der Führer und Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht. The style of the head of state for use in foreign affairs was Der Führer und Reichskanzler until 28 Jul 1942, when it was changed to Der Führer des Großdeutschen Reichs (Cf. "Führer-Erlasse 1939-1945", ed. by Martin Moll (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1997), S. 49-50; "Führerstaat und Verwaltung im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Verfassungsentwicklung und Verwaltungspolitik 1939-1945", by Dieter Rebentisch (Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, Stuttgart 1989) [= "Frankfurter Historische Abhandlungen", Bd. 29].
[2] Reichsgesetzblatt. Teil I. 1934, Ausgegeben zu Berlin, den 2. August 1934, Nr. 89. S. 747.

This page was last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 03:34:52

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