Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary (in present-day Austria), close to the border with the German Empire.
In 1905, after passing a repeat of the final exam, Hitler left the school without any ambitions for further education or clear plans for a career.
In 1907 Hitler left Linz to live and study fine art in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother.
In 1909 Hitler ran out of money and was forced to live a bohemian life in homeless shelters and a men's dormitory. He earned money as a casual laborer and by painting and selling watercolours of Vienna's sights.
After he was deemed by the medical examiners as unfit for service, he returned to Munich.
Hitler journeyed to Salzburg on 5 February 1914 for medical assessment.
World War I Begun.
He received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.
On a recommendation by Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann, Hitler's Jewish superior, he received the Iron Cross, First Class on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's Gefreiter rank.
World War I Ended.
In July 1919 he was appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance unit) of the Reichswehr, assigned to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the German Workers' Party (DAP).
At a DAP meeting on 12 September 1919, Party Chairman Anton Drexler was impressed with Hitler's oratorical skills. He gave him a copy of his pamphlet (My Political Awakening), which contained anti-Semitic, nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Marxist ideas.
Hitler was discharged from the army on 31 March 1920 and began working full-time for the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party).
Hitler was in Munich on 11 July and angrily tendered his resignation. The committee members realised that the resignation of their leading public figure and speaker would mean the end of the party.
Hitler announced he would rejoin on the condition that he would replace Drexler as party chairman, and that the party headquarters would remain in Munich. The committee agreed, and he rejoined the party on 26 July as member 3,680. Hitler continued to face some opposition within the NSDAP: Opponents of Hitler in the leadership had Hermann Esser expelled from the party, and they printed 3,000 copies of a pamphlet attacking Hitler as a traitor to the party.
Hitler spoke to several packed houses and defended himself and Esser, to thunderous applause. His strategy proved successful, and at a special party congress on 29 July, he was granted absolute powers as party chairman, replacing Drexler, by a vote of 533 to 1
On 8 November 1923 Hitler and the SA stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people organised by Kahr in the Bürgerbräukeller, a beer hall in Munich.
He was depressed but calm when arrested on 11 November 1923 for high treason.
His trial before the special People's Court in Munich began in February 1924, and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP.
On 1 April, Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison.
There, he received friendly treatment from the guards, and was allowed mail from supporters and regular visits by party comrades. Pardoned by the Bavarian Supreme Court, he was released from jail on 20 December 1924, against the state prosecutor's objections. Including time on remand, Hitler served just over one year in prison.
In a meeting with the Prime Minister of Bavaria Heinrich Held on 4 January 1925, Hitler agreed to respect the state's authority and promised that he would seek political power only through the democratic process.
The meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP to be lifted on 16 February.
However, after an inflammatory speech he gave on 27 February, Hitler was barred from public speaking by the Bavarian authorities, a ban that remained in place until 1927.
The stock market in the United States crashed on 24 October 1929. The impact in Germany was dire: millions were thrown out of work and several major banks collapsed. Hitler and the NSDAP prepared to take advantage of the emergency to gain support for their party. They promised to repudiate the Versailles Treaty, strengthen the economy, and provide jobs.
The Great Depression provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent about the parliamentary republic, which faced challenges from right- and left-wing extremists. The moderate political parties were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 helped to elevate Nazi ideology.
The elections of September 1930 resulted in the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement with a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich Brüning of the Center Party, governed through emergency decrees from President Paul von Hindenburg. Governance by decree became the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government. The NSDAP rose from obscurity to win 18.3 per cent of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament.
A speech to the Industry Club in Düsseldorf on 27 January 1932 won him support from many of Germany's most powerful industrialists. Hindenburg had support from various nationalist, monarchist, Catholic, and republican parties, and some Social Democrats. Hitler used the campaign slogan "Hitler über Deutschland" ("Hitler over Germany"), a reference to his political ambitions and his campaigning by aircraft.
Hitler lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.
On 30 January 1933, the new cabinet was sworn in during a brief ceremony in Hindenburg's office. The NSDAP gained three posts: Hitler was named chancellor, Wilhelm Frick Minister of the Interior, and Hermann Göring Minister of the Interior for Prussia.
On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire.
On 21 March 1933, the new Reichstag was constituted with an opening ceremony at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. This "Day of Potsdam" was held to demonstrate unity between the Nazi movement and the old Prussian elite and military. Hitler appeared in a morning coat and humbly greeted Hindenburg.
On 23 March 1933, the Reichstag assembled at the Kroll Opera House under turbulent circumstances. Ranks of SA men served as guards inside the building, while large groups outside opposing the proposed legislation shouted slogans and threats towards the arriving members of parliament.
On 2 May 1933 all trade unions were forced to dissolve and their leaders were arrested. Some were sent to concentration camps.
By the end of June, the other parties had been intimidated into disbanding. This included the Nazis' nominal coalition partner, the DNVP; with the SA's help, Hitler forced its leader, Hugenberg, to resign on 29 June.
On 14 July 1933, the NSDAP was declared the only legal political party in Germany.
Germany withdrew from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference in October 1933.
The demands of the SA for more political and military power caused anxiety among military, industrial, and political leaders. In response, Hitler purged the entire SA leadership in the Night of the Long Knives, which took place from 30 June to 2 July 1934. Hitler targeted Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders who, along with a number of Hitler's political adversaries, were rounded up, arrested, and shot.
On 2 August 1934, Hindenburg died. The previous day, the cabinet had enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich". This law stated that upon Hindenburg's death, the office of president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of the chancellor. Hitler thus became head of state as well as head of government, and was formally named as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor), although Reichskanzler was eventually quietly dropped.
On 19 August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by 88 per cent of the electorate voting in a plebiscite.
In January 1935, over 90 per cent of the people of the Saarland, then under League of Nations administration, voted to unite with Germany.
That March, Hitler announced an expansion of the Wehrmacht to 600,000 members—six times the number permitted by the Versailles Treaty—including development of an air force (Luftwaffe) and an increase in the size of the navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations condemned these violations of the Treaty, but did nothing to stop it.
Germany reoccupied the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland in March 1936, in violation of the Versailles Treaty.
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) of 18 June allowed German tonnage to increase to 35 per cent of that of the British navy. Hitler called the signing of the AGNA "the happiest day of his life", believing that the agreement marked the beginning of the Anglo-German alliance he had predicted in Mein Kampf.
The Nazis embraced the concept of racial hygiene. On 15 September 1935, Hitler presented two laws—known as the Nuremberg Laws—to the Reichstag. The laws banned sexual relations and marriages between Aryans and Jews and were later extended to include "Gypsies, Negroes or their bastard offspring".
Hitler sent troops to Spain to support General Franco during the Spanish Civil War after receiving an appeal for help in July 1936.
In August 1936, in response to a growing economic crisis caused by his rearmament efforts, Hitler ordered Göring to implement a Four Year Plan to prepare Germany for war within the next four years.
On 25 November, Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. Britain, China, Italy, and Poland were also invited to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, but only Italy signed in 1937.
In February 1938, on the advice of his newly appointed foreign minister, the strongly pro-Japanese Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler ended the Sino-German alliance with the Republic of China to instead enter into an alliance with the more modern and powerful Empire of Japan.
On 12 March 1938, Hitler announced the unification of Austria with Nazi Germany in the Anschluss.
On 28–29 March 1938, Hitler held a series of secret meetings in Berlin with Konrad Henlein of the Sudeten German Party, the largest of the ethnic German parties of the Sudetenland. The men agreed that Henlein would demand increased autonomy for Sudeten Germans from the Czechoslovakian government, thus providing a pretext for German military action against Czechoslovakia.
In April Hitler ordered the OKW to prepare for Fall Grün (Case Green), the code name for an invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In a speech in Wilhelmshaven for the launch of the battleship Tirpitz on 1 April, he threatened to denounce the Anglo-German Naval Agreement if the British continued to guarantee Polish independence, which he perceived as an "encirclement" policy.
On 3 April, Hitler ordered the military to prepare for Fall Weiss ("Case White"), the plan for invading Poland on 25 August.
In a Reichstag speech on 28 April, he renounced both the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact.
On 29 September Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Édouard Daladier, and Mussolini attended a one-day conference in Munich that led to the Munich Agreement, which handed over the Sudetenland districts to Germany.
On 15 March 1939, in violation of the Munich accord and possibly as a result of the deepening economic crisis requiring additional assets, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to invade Prague, and from Prague Castle he proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate.
Offended by the British "guarantee" on 31 March 1939 of Polish independence, he said, "I shall brew them a devil's drink".
Accordingly, on 22 August 1939 Hitler ordered a military mobilization against Poland.
Contrary to predictions that Britain would sever Anglo-Polish ties, Britain and Poland signed the Anglo-Polish alliance on 25 August 1939.
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded western Poland under the pretext of having been denied claims to the Free City of Danzig and the right to extraterritorial roads across the Polish Corridor, which Germany had ceded under the Versailles Treaty.
In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September.
On 17 September, Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland.
On 9 April, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. On the same day Hitler proclaimed the birth of the Greater Germanic Reich, his vision of a united empire of Germanic nations of Europe in which the Dutch, Flemish, and Scandinavians were joined into a "racially pure" polity under German leadership.
In May 1940, Germany attacked France.
and conquered Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
These victories prompted Mussolini to have Italy join forces with Hitler on 10 June.
France and Germany signed an armistice on 22 June.
Hitler's popularity within Germany, and German support for the war, reached its peak when he returned to Berlin on 6 July from his tour of Paris.
Following the unexpected swift victory, Hitler promoted twelve generals to the rank of field marshal during the 1940 Field Marshal Ceremony.
On 7 September the systematic nightly bombing of London began. The German Luftwaffe failed to defeat the Royal Air Force in what became known as the Battle of Britain.
On 27 September 1940, the Tripartite Pact was signed in Berlin by Saburō Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Hitler, and Italian foreign minister Ciano, and later expanded to include Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, thus yielding the Axis powers.
On 22 June 1941, contravening the Hitler–Stalin Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, over 3 million Axis troops attacked the Soviet Union.
On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked the American fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Four days later, Hitler declared war against the United States.
By January 1942, he had decided that the Jews, Slavs, and other deportees considered undesirable should be killed. The genocide was organised and executed by Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. The records of the Wannsee Conference, held on 20 January 1942 and led by Heydrich, with fifteen senior Nazi officials participating, provide the clearest evidence of systematic planning for the Holocaust.
Hitler's repeated refusal to allow their withdrawal at the Battle of Stalingrad led to the almost total destruction of the 6th Army. Over 200,000 Axis soldiers were killed and 235,000 were taken prisoner.
Begun 23 Aug. 1942
In late 1942, German forces were defeated in the second battle of El Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle East.
On 6 June 1944, the Western Allied armies landed in northern France in one of the largest amphibious operations in history, Operation Overlord. Battle of Normandy
Between 1939 and 1945, there were many plans to assassinate Hitler, some of which proceeded to significant degrees. The most well known, the 20 July plot of 1944, came from within Germany and was at least partly driven by the increasing prospect of a German defeat in the war.
On 16 December, he launched the Ardennes Offensive to incite disunity among the Western Allies and perhaps convince them to join his fight against the Soviets. Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany.
On 20 April, his 56th birthday, Hitler made his last trip from the Führerbunker (Führer's shelter) to the surface.
By 21 April, Georgy Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front had broken through the defenses of General Gotthard Heinrici's Army Group Vistula during the Battle of the Seelow Heights and advanced to the outskirts of Berlin.
Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden, arguing that since Hitler was isolated in Berlin, Göring should assume leadership of Germany. Göring set a deadline, after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated. Hitler responded by having Göring arrested, and in his last will and testament of 29 April, he removed Göring from all government positions.
After midnight on the night of 28–29 April, Hitler married Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in the Führerbunker.
On 30 April 1945, Soviet troops were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery when Hitler shot himself in the head and Braun bit into a cyanide capsule.
Berlin surrendered on 2 May.