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A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend As the German People Know Him

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A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend  As the German People Know Him Empty A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend As the German People Know Him

Post by barbarossa on Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:53 pm

When we try to formulate a conception of Adolph Hitler as the German people know him we must not forget that their knowledge of him is limited by a controlled press. Many thousands of Germans have seen him in person, particularly in the past, and can use this experience as a basis for their individual conception of him.

Hitler, from a physical point of view, is not, however, a very imposing figure - certainly not the Platonic idea of a great, fighting Leader or the Deliverer of Germany and the creator of a New Reich. In height he is a little below average. His hips are wide and his shoulders relatively narrow. His muscles are flabby; his legs short, thin and spindly, the latter being hidden in the past by heavy boots and more recently by long trousers. He has a large torso and is hollow-chested to the point where it is said that he has his uniforms padded. From a physical point of view he could not pass the requirements to his own elite guard.

His dress, in the early days, was no more attractive. He frequently wore the Bavarian mountain costume of leather shorts with white shirt and suspenders. These were not always too clean and with his mouth full of brown, rotten teeth and his long dirty fingernails he presented rather a grotesque picture. (F. Wagner) At this time he also had a pointed beard, and his dark brown hair was parted in the middle and pasted down flat against his head with oil. Nor was his gait that of a soldier. "It was a very ladylike walk. Dainty little steps. Every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so." (279)

He also had a tic in his face which caused the corner of his lips to curl upward. (485) When speaking he always dressed in a common-looking blue suit which robbed him of all distinctiveness. At the trial following the unsuccessful Beerhall Putsch, Edgar Mowrer, who saw him for the first time, asked himself:

"Was this provincial dandy, with his slick dark hair, his cutaway coat, his awkward gestures and glib tongue, the terrible rebel? He seemed for all the world like a travelling salesman for a clothing firm." (642)

Nor did he make a much better impression later on. Dorothy Thompson, upon her first meeting, described him in the following terms:

"He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature, a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequent and voluble, ill poised, and insecure. He is the very prototype of the little man." (307)

Smith (289) also found him "the apotheosis of the little man", funny looking, self-conscious and unsure of himself.

It may be supposed that this is only the judgment of American journalists who have a different standard of masculine beauty. However, while testifying as a witness in the-law court in 1923, Professor Max von Gruber of the University of Munich, and the most eminent eugenist in Germany, stated:

"It was the first time I had seen Hitler close at hand. Face and head of inferior type, cross-breed; low receding forehead, ugly nose, broad cheekbones, little eyes, dark hair. Expression not of a man exercising authority in perfect self-command, but of raving excitement. At the end an expression of satisfied egotism." (575)

A great deal has been written about his eyes which have been described in terms of almost every color of the rainbow. As a matter of fact, they seem to be rather a bright blue - bordering on the violet. But it is not the color which has attracted people, but rather their depth and a glint which makes them appear to have a hypnotic quality. One finds stories like the following recurring over and over again in the literature. A policeman who is noted for his antipathy to the Nazi movement is sent to a Hitler meeting to maintain order. While standing at his post Hitler enters:

"He gazed into the police officer's eye with that fatal hypnotizing and irresistable glare, which swept the poor officer right off his feet. Clicking to attention he confessed to me this morning: 'Since last night I am a National Socialist. Heil Hitler.'" (Fromm, 369)

These stories are not all from the Nazi propaganda agencies. Very reliable people, now in this country, have reported similar incidents among their own personal acquaintances. Even outstanding diplomats have commented on the nature of his eyes and the way in which he uses them when meeting people, often with disatrous effects.

Then there are the others, like Rauschning, who find his look staring and dead - lacking in brilliance and the sparkle of genuine animation. (257) We need not dwell on his eyes and their peculiar quality, however, since relatively few Germans have come in such close contact with him that they could be seriously affected by them.

Whatever effect Hitler's personal appearance may have had on the German people in the past, it is safe to assume that this has been greatly tempered by millions of posters, pasted in every conceivable place, which show the Fuehrer as a fairly good-looking individual with a very determined attitude. In addition, the press, news-reels, etc., are continually flooded with carefully prepared photographs showing Hitler at his very best. These have undoubtedly, in the course of time, blotted out any unfavorable impressions he may have created as a real person in the past. The physical Hitler most Germans know now is a fairly presentable individual.

The only other real contact the overwhelming majority of people have had with Hitler is through his voice. He was a tireless speaker and before he came to power would sometimes give as many as three or four speeches on the same day, often in different cities. Even his greatest opponents concede that he is the greatest orator that Germany has ever known. This is a great concession in view of the fact that the qualities of his voice are far from pleasant - many, in fact, find it distinctly unpleasant. It has a rasping-quality which often breaks into a shrill falsetto when he becomes aroused. Nor is it his diction which makes him a great orator. In the early days this was particularly bad. It was a conglomeration of high German with an Austrian dialect which Tschuppik (517) describes as a "knoedlige Sprache". Nor was it the structure of his speeches which made him a great orator. On the whole, his speeches were sinfully long, badly structured and very repetitious. Some of them are positively painful to read but nevertheless, when he delivered them they had an extraordinary effect upon his audiences.

His power and fascination in speaking lay almost wholly in his ability to sense what a given audience wanted to hear and then to manipulate his theme in such a way that he would arouse the emotions of the crowd. Strasser says of this talent:

"Hitler responds to the vibration of the human heart with the delicacy of a seismagraph... enabling him, with a certainty with which no conscious gift could endow him, to act as a loudspeaker proclaiming the most secret desires, the least permissible instincts, the sufferings and personal revolts of a whole nation." (576)

Before coming to power almost all of his speeches centered around the following three themes: (1) the treason of the November criminals; (2) the rule of the Marxists must be broken; and (3) the world domination of the Jews. No matter what topic was advertised for a given speech he almost invariably would wind up on one or more of these three themes. And yet people liked it and would attend one meeting after another to hear him speak. It was not, therefore, so much what he said that appealed to his audiences as how he said it.

Even in the early days Hitler was a showman with a great sense of the dramatic. Not only did he schedule his speeches late in the evening when his audience would be tired and their resistance lowered through natural causes, but he would always send an assistant ahead of time to make a short speech and warm the audience up. Storm-troopers always played an important role at these meetings and would line the aisle through which he would pass. At the psychological moment, Hitler would appear in the door in the back of the hall. Then with a small group behind him, he would march through the rows of S.A. men to reach the speaker's table. He never glanced to the right or to the left as he came down the aisle and became greatly annoyed if anyone tried to accost him or hampered his progress. Whenever possible he would have a band present and they would strike up a lively military march as he came down the aisle.

When he began to speak he usually manifested signs of nervousness. Usually he was unable to say anything of consequence until he had gotten the feel of his audience. On one occasion, Heiden (499) reports, he was so nervous that he could think of nothing to say. In order to do something he picked up the table and moved it around on the platform. Then suddenly he got the "feel" and was able to go on. Price (241) describes his speaking in the following way:

"The beginning is slow and halting. Gradually be warms up when the spiritual atmosphere of the great crowd is engendered. For he responds to this metaphysical contact in such a way that each member of the multitude feels bound to him by an individual link of sympathy."

All of our informants report the slow start, waiting for the feel of the audience. As soon as he has found it, the tempo increases in smooth rhythm and volume until he is shouting at the climax. Through all this, the listener seems to identify himself with Hitler' s voice which becomes the voice of Germany.

This is all in keeping with Hitler's own conception of mass psychology as given in MEIN KAMPF where he says:

"The psyche of the broad masses does not respond to anything weak or half-way. Like a woman, whose spiritual sensitiveness is determined less by abstract reason than by an indefinable emotional longing for fulfilling power and who, for that reason, prefers to submit to the strong rather than the weakling - the mass, too, prefers the ruler to a pleader."

And Hitler let them have it. NEWSWEEK (572) reported:

"Women faint, when, with face purpled and contorted with effort, he blows forth his magic oratory."

Flanner (558) says:

"His oratory used to wilt his collar, unglue his forelock, glaze his eyes; he was like a man hypnotized, repeating himself into a frenzy."

Yeates-Brown (592) :

"He was a man transformed and possessed. We were in the presence of a miracle."

This fiery oratory was something new to the Germans and particulary to the slow-tongued, lower-class Bavarians. In Munich his shouting and gesturing was a spectacle men paid to see (216). It was not only his fiery oratory, however, that won the crowds to his cause. This was certainly something new, but far more important was the seriousness with which his words were spoken.

"Everyone of his words comes out charged with a powerful current of energy; at times it seems as if they are torn from the very heart of the man, causing him indescribable anguish." (Fry, 577)

"Leaning from the tribune, as if he were trying to impel his inner self into the consciousness of all these thousands, he was holding the masses and me with them under a hypnotic spell... It was clear that Hitler was feeling the exaltation of the emotional response now surging up toward him... His voice rising to passionate climaxes... his words were like a scourge. When he stopped speaking his chest was still heaving with emotion." (Ludecke, 164)

Many writers have commented upon his ability to hypnotize his audiences. Stanley High (455) reports:

"When, at the climax, he sways from one side to the, other his listeners sway with him; when he leans forward they also lean forward and when he concludes they either are awed and silent or on their feet in a frenzy."

Unquestionably, as a speaker, he has had a powerful influence on the common run of German people. His meetings were always crowded and by the time he got through speaking he had completely numbed the critical faculties of his listeners to the point where they were willing to believe almost anything he said. He flattered them and cajoled them. He hurled accusations at them one moment and amused them the next by building up straw men which he promptly knocked down. His tongue was like a lash which whipped up the emotions of his audience. And somehow he always managed to say what the majority of the audience were already secretly thinking but could not verbalize. When the audience began to respond, it affected him in return. Before long, due to this reciprocal relationship, he and his audience became intoxicated with the emotional appeal of his oratory. (Strasser, 295)

It was this Hitler that the German people knew at first hand. Hitler, the fiery orator, who tirelessly rushed from one meeting to another, working himself to the point of exhaustion in their behalf. Hitler, whose heart and soul were in the Cause and who struggled endlessly against overwhelming odds and obstacles to open their eyes to the true state of affairs. Hitler, who could arouse their emotions and channelize them towards goals of national aggrandizement. Hitler the courageous, who dared to speak the truth and defy the national authorities as well as the international oppressors. It was a sincere Hitler that they knew, whose words burned into the most secret recesses of their minds and rebuked them for their own shortcomings. It was the Hitler who would lead them back to self-respect because he had faith in them.

This fundamental conception of Hitler made a beautiful foundation for a propaganda build-up. He was so convincing on the speaker's platform and appeared to be so sincere in what he said that the majority of his listeners were ready to believe almost anything good about him because they wanted to believe it. The Nazi propaganda agencies were not slow in making the most of their opportunities.

Hitler, himself, had provided an excellent background for a propaganda build-up. From the earliest days of his political career he had steadfastly refused to divulge anything about his personal life, past or present. To his most immediate associates he was, in reality, a man of mystery. There was no clearing away of unpleasant incidents to be done before the building-up process could begin. In fact, the more secrecy he maintained about his personal life the more curious his followers became. This was, indeed, fertile ground on which to build a myth or legend.

The Nazi propaganda machine devoted all its efforts to the task of portraying Hitler as something extra-human. Everything he did was written up in such a way that it portrayed his superlative character. If he does not eat meat, drink alcoholic beverages, or smoke, it is not due to the fact that he has some kind of inhibition or does it because he believes it will improve his health. Such things are not worthy of the Fuehrer. He abstains from these because he is following the example of the great German, Richard Wagner, or because he has discovered that it increases his energy and endurance to such a degree that he can give much more of himself to the creation of the new German Reich.

Such abstinence also indicates, according to the propaganda, that the Fuehrer is a person with tremendous will-power and self-discipline. Hitler himself fosters this conception, according to Hanfstangl, who, when someone asked him how he managed to give up these things, replied: "It is a matter of will. Once I make up my mind not to do a thing, I just don't do it. And once that decision is made, it is taken for always. Is that so wonderful?"

The same is true in the field of sex. As far as the German people know he has no sex life and this too is clothed, not as an abnormality, but as a great virtue. The Fuehrer is above human weaknesses of this sort and von Wiegand (494) tells us that he "has a profound contempt for the weakness in men for sex and the fools that it makes of them." Hanfstangl reports that Hitler frequently makes the statement that he will never marry a woman since Germany is his only bride. However, Hitler with his deep insight into human nature, appreciates these weaknesses in others and is tolerant of them. He does not even condemn them or forbid them among his closest associates.

He is also portrayed in the propaganda as the soul of kindliness and generosity. Endless stories that illustrate these virtues are found over and over again in the literature. Price (236) cites a typical example: an attractive young peasant girl tries to approach him but is prevented from doing so by the guards. She bursts into tears and Hitler, seeing her distress, inquires into the cause. She tells him that her fiance had been expelled from Austria for his Nazi principles and that he cannot find work and consequently they cannot get married. Hitler is deeply touched. He promises to find the young man a job and, in addition, completely furnishes a flat for them to live in, even down to a baby's cot. Every attempt is made to present him as extremely human, with a deep feeling for the problems of ordinary people.

A great many writers, both Nazi and anti-Nazi, have written extensively about his great love for children and the Nazi press is certainly full of pictures showing Hitler in the company of little tots. It is alleged that when he is at Berchtesgaden he always has the children from the neighborhood visit him in the afternoon and that he serves them candy, ice cream, cake, etc. Phayre (225) says, "Never was there a middle-aged batchelor who so delighted in the company of children." Princess Olga reported that when she visited Hitler in Berlin and the topic of children came up during the conversation, Hitler's eyes filled with tears.

The Nazi press had made extremely good use of this and endless stories accompany the pictures. Likewise, a great deal is written about his fondness for animals, particularly dogs. Here again, there are numberless pictures to prove it is so. As far as dogs are concerned, the propaganda is probably fairly near the truth but it goes far beyond that point in other respects. One writer even went so far as to attribute his vegetarianism to his inability to tolerate the thought of animals being slaughtered for human consumption (405). Hitler is pictured as an "affable lord of the manor", full of gentleness, kindliness and helpfulness, or, as Oechsner puts it, he is the Great Comforter - father, husband, brother or son to every German who lacks or has lost such a relative (668).

Another trait which has received a great deal of comment in the propaganda build-up is Hitler's modesty and simplicity. His successes have never gone to his head. At bottom he is still the simple soul he was when he founded the Party and his greatest Joy is to be considered as "one of the boys".

As proof. of this they point to the fact that he has never sought a crown, that he never appears in gaudy uniforms or does a great deal of entertaining. Even after he came to power he continued to wear his old trench coat and slouch hat for a time and when he donned a umiform it was always that of a simple storm-trooper. Much was written about his fondness for visits from early acquaintances and how he loved to sit down in the midst of his busy day in order to talk over old times. There was really nothing he liked better than to frequent his old haunts and meet old friends while he was in Munich, or to take part in their festivities. At heart he was still a worker and his interests were always with the working classes with whom he felt thoroughly at home.

Hitler is also a man of incredible energy and endurance. His day consists of sixteen and eighteen hours of uninterrupted work. He is absolutely tireless when it comes to working for Germany and its future welfare and no personal pleasures are permitted to interfere with the carrying out of his mission. The ordinary man in the street cannot imagine a human being in Hitler's position not taking advantage of his opportunity. He can only imagine himself in the same position revelling in luxuries and yet here is Hitler who scorns them all. His only conclusion is that Hitler is not an ordinary mortal.

Phillips (868) reports the case of a young Nazi who once confided to him: "I would die for Hitler, but I would not change places with Hitler. At least when I wake every morning I can say, "Hail Hitler!", but this man, he has no fun in life. No smoking, no drinking, no women! - only work, until he falls asleep at night!"

A great deal is made of Hitler's determination. It is pointed out over and over again that he never gives up once he has made up his mind to attain a particular goal. No matter how rough the road, he plods along in unswerving determination. Even though he receives serious set-backs and the situation appears to be hopeless, he never loses faith and always gets what he goes after. He refuses to be coerced into compromises of any sort and is always ready to assume the full responsibility for his actions. The great trials and tribulations through which the Party had to pass on its way to power are cited over and over again and all the credit is given to Hitler and his fanatical faith in the future.

Even his refusal to permit ordinary scruples to get in his way is given as a sign of his greatness. The fact that he did not communicate with his family for over ten years becomes a great virtue since it meant a severe deprivation to the young man who was determined to make something of himself before he returned home!

A great deal of publicity has also been given to his breath of vision, ability to penetrate the future and his ability to organize both the Party and the country in preparation for obstacles they will have to overcome. According to the propagandists, Hitler is the soul of efficiency and has an extraordinary power of resolving conflicts and simplifying problems which have stumped all experts in the past. In fact, his infallibility and incorruptibility throughout are not only implied but openly stated in no uncertain terms.

He is also a person of great patience who would never spill a drop of human blood if it could possibly be avoided. Over and over again one hears of his great patience with the democracies, with Czechoslovakia and with Poland. But here, as in his private life, he never loses control of his emotions. Fundamentally, he is a man of peace who desires nothing quite so much as to be left alone to work out the destiny of Germany in a quiet and constructive manner. For he is a builder at heart and an artist, and these prove that the creative and constructive elements in his nature are predominant.

This does not mean, however, that he is a coward. On the contrary, he is a person of outstanding courage. His way of life is proof of this, as well as his enviable record during the last war. A great many stories about his decorations for bravery have been circulated and particularly for his outstanding heroism when he was awarded the Iron Cross first-class. The fact that the stories of his performance vary from one time to another does not seem to disturb the people in the least.

Fundamentally, according to the Nazi press, Hitler is a man of steel. He is well aware of his mission and no amount of persuasion, coercion, sacrifices or unpleasant duties can persuade him to alter his course. In the face of all sorts of disasters and disagreeable happenings and necessary measures, he never loses his nerve for a moment. But he not hard in human qualities. He places loyalty and justice as the two of the greatest virtues and observes them with scrupulous care.

Loyalty means so much to him that the inscription over his door at Berchtesgaden reads, "Meine Ehre heisst Treue". He is the acme of German honor and purity; the Resurrector of the German family and home. He is the greatest architect of all time; the greatest military genius in all history. He has an inexhaustible fount of knowledge. He is a man of action and the creator of new social values. He is indeed, according to the Nazi propaganda bureau, a paramount of all virtues. A few typical examples may illustrate the extent to which they are carried in their praise of him.

"Zunaechst Hitler sebst: Hitler is der Mann ohne Kompromiss. Vor allem kennt er keinen Kompromiss mit sicht selbst. Er hat einen einsigen Gedanken, der ihn leitet: Deutschland wieder aufzurichten. Diese Idee verdraengt alles um ihn. Er kennt kein Privatlehen. Er kennt Familienleben ebensowenig, wie er ein Laster kennt. Er ist die Verkoerperung des nationalen Willens.

"Die Ritterschaft eines heiligen Zieles, das sich kein Mensch hoeher steken kann: Deutschland!... Hitler... uberracht (durch) seine warme Liebenswuerdigkeit. Ueber die Ruhe und Kraft, die beinahe physisch von diesem Mann ausstraht. Man waechst in er Naehe dieses Menschen... Wie er auf alle Dinge reagiert!... Eisern warden die Zuege und die Worte fallen wie Bein... Der klassische Ernst, mit dem Hitler und seine um den Fuehrer gescharten Mitarbeiter ihre Sendung nehmen, hat in der Geschichte dieser Welt nur wenige Paralellen." Czech-Jochberg: Adolph Hitler und sein Stab, 1933. (861)

"... such in den privaten Dingen des Lebens Vorbildlichkeit und menschliche Groesse ... ob Hitler ... umbraust wird yore Jubelnden Zuruf der Strassenabeiter, oder aufgewuehlt und erschuettert am Lager seine ermordeten Kameraden steht, immer ist um ihn diese Hoheit und tiefste Menschlichkeit . . . dieset einzigartigen Perseonlichkeit . . . ein grosser und guter Mensch. Hitler ist ein universaler Geist. Es ist unmoeglich der Mannigfaltigkett seines Wesens mit 100 Aufnahmen gerecht zu werden. Auch auf diesen beiden Gebleten (Architecture and History) ist Hitler eine unangreifbare Autoritaet. Unsere Zeit wird diesen Ueberragenden vielleicht verehren und lieben, aber wird ihn nicht in seiner grossen Tief ermessen koennen." Hoffman: Hitler, wie ihn keiner kennt, 1932 (899)

"Hitler is a modest man - and the world needs modest men. Therefore the people love him. Like every good leader, he must be an efficient follower. He makes himself the humblest disciple of himself, the severest of all disciplinarians with himself. In fact, Hitler is a modern monk, with the three knots of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience tied in his invisible girdle. A zealot among zealots., He eats no meat, drinks no wine, does not smoke. I am told he takes for himself no salary but lives privately from the income of his book, `Mein Kampf' ... Surplus funds he turns back to the S.A. His work day consists of eighteen hours, usually, and he often falls asleap in the last hour of his work. There have been four woman in his life - but only to help him along with service and money . . . He once gave a lecture at Bayreuth on Wagner and `Deutsche Liedot' that astounded the musical critics and revealed him as a musical scholar of parts ... Sheer opportunism never lured him as much as the opportunity to preach his doctrines. His quality is Messianic; his spiritual trend is ascetic; his reaction is medieval ..." Phillips: Germany Today and Tomorrow. (868)

Hitler not only knows about all these writings but since he has always been the gutiding spirit in all German propaganda and usually plans the broad lines that are to be followed, it is safe to assume that he himself is responsible for the instigation and development of this mythical personality. When we look back over the development of this build-up we can see clearly that Hitler, from the very beginning, planned on making himself a mythological figure. He opens MEIN KAMPF with the following passage:

"In this little town on the river Inn, Bavarian by blood and Austrian by nationality, gilded by the light of German martyrdom, there lived, at the end of the '80's of the last century, my parents: the father a faithful civil servant, the mother devoting herself to the cares of the household and looking after her children with eternally the same loving kindness."

This is the classic way of beginning a fairy tale rather than a serious autobiography or a political treatise. In the very first sentence of the book he implies that Fate was already smiling on him at the time of his birth, for it reads:

"Today I consider it my good fortune that Fate designated Braunau on the Inn as the plaee of ay birth."

As soon as Hitler came to power new weapons for self-aggrandizement were put into the hands of the propagandists and they made good use of them. Unemployment dropped off rapidly, new and imposing buildings were erected with astounding rapidity.

The face of Germany was being lifted at an incredible speed. Hitler was keeping his promises; he was accomplishing the impossible. Every success in diplomacy, every social reform was heralded as world-shaking in its importance. And for each success, Hitler modestly accepted all the credit. It was always Hitler that did this, and Hitler who did that, provided these acts were spectacular and met with the approval of the public. If they happened to meet with disapproval, it was always one of his assistants who was to blame. Every effort was/made to cultivate the attitude that Hitler was infallible and was carrying through his mission of saving Germany.

It was not long before the German people were prepared to take the short step of seeing Hitler, not as a man, but as a Messiah of Germany. Public meetings and particularly the Nurnburg took on a religious atmosphere. All the stagings were designed to create a supernatural and religious attitude and Hitler's entry was more befitting a god than a man. In Berlin one of the large art shops on Unter dean Linden exhibited a large portrait of Hitler in the center of its display window. Hitler's portrait was entirely surrounded as though by a halo, with various copies of a painting of Christ (High, 453). Notes appeared in the press to the effect that, "Als er sprach, hoerte man den Mantel Gottes durch den Saal rauschen!" Ziemar reports that on the side of a hill in Odenwald, conspicuous as a waterfall, painted on white canvas were the black words:

"We believe in Holy Germany
Holy Germany is Hitler!
We believe in Holy Hitler!!" (763)

Roberts reports:

"In Munich in the early autumn of 1936 I saw colored pictures of Hitler in the actual silver garments of the Knights of the Grail; but these were soon withdrawn. They gave the show away; they were too near the truth of Hitler's mentality." (876)

Teeling (585) writes that at the Nurnburg Nazi Party Rally in September, 1937, there was a huge photograph of Hitler underneath which was the inscription, "In the beginning was the Word . . .". He also says that the Mayor of Hamburg assured him, "We need no priest or parsons. We communicate direct with God through Adolph Hitler. He has many Christ-like qualities." Soon these sentiments were introduced by official circles. Rauschning (552) reports that the Party has adopted this creed:

"Wir alle glauben auf dieset Erde an Adolph Hitler, unseren Fuehrer, und wir bekennen, dass der Nationalsozialismus der allein seligmachende Glaube fuer unser Volk ist."

A Rhenish group of German "Christians" in April, 1957, passed this resolution:

"Hitler's word is God's law, the decrees and laws which represent it possess divine authority." (550)

And Reichsminister for Church Affairs, Hans Kerrl, says:

"There has arisen a new authority as to what Christ and Christianity really are - that is Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler ... is the true Holy Ghost." (749)

This is the way Hitler hopes to pave his path to immortality. It has been carefully planned and consistently executed in a step by step fashion. The Hitler the German people know is fundamentally the fiery orator who fascinated them and this has gradually been embroidered by the propaganda until he lie now presented to them as a full-fledged deity. Everything else is carefully concealed from them as a whole. How many Germans believe it we do not know. Some, certainly, believe it wholeheartedly. Dorothy Thompson writes of such a case:

"At Garmisch I met an American from Chicago. He had been at Oberammergau, at the Passion Play. 'These people are all crazy,' he said. 'This is not a revolution, it's a revival. They think Hitler is God. Believe it or not, a German woman sat next to me at the Passion Play and when the hoisted Jesus on the Cross, she said, 'There he is. That is our Fuehrer, our Hitler.' And when they paid out the thirty pieces of silver to Judas, she said 'That is Roehm, who betrayed the Leader.'" (568)

Extreme cases of this kind are probably not very numerous but it would be amazing if a small degree of the same type of thinking had not seeped into the picture of Hitler which many Germans hold.

Source: The Nizkor Project

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Adolf Hitler



Hitler: Table of Contents

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the founder and leader of the Nazi Party and the most influential voice in the organization, implementation and execution of the Holocaust, the systematic extermination and ethnic cleansing of six million European Jews and millions of other non-aryans.

Hitler was the Head of State, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and guiding spirit, or fuhrer, of Germany's Third Reich from 1933 to 1945.

- Hitler's Early Years
- World War I
- Hitler Starts to Lead
- Rise of the Nazi Party
- Hitler As German Fuhrer
- World War II
- Allied Victory & Hitler's Death

Early Years

Born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, on April 20, 1889, Hitler was the son of a fifty-two-year-old Austrian customs official, Alois Schickelgruber Hitler, and his third wife, a young peasant girl, Klara Poelzl, both from the backwoods of lower Austria. The young Hitler was a resentful, discontented child. Moody, lazy, of unstable temperament, he was deeply hostile towards his strict, authoritarian father and strongly attached to his indulgent, hard-working mother, whose death from cancer in December 1908 was a shattering blow to the adolescent Hitler.

Hitler as a baby
After spending four years in the Realschule in Linz, he left school at the age of sixteen with dreams of becoming a painter. In October 1907, the provincial, middle-class boy left home for Vienna, where he was to remain until 1913 leading a bohemian, vagabond existence. Embittered at his rejection by the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, he was to spend "five years of misery and woe" in Vienna as he later recalled, adopting a view of life which changed very little in the ensuing years, shaped as it was by a pathological hatred of Jews and Marxists, liberalism and the cosmopolitan Habsburg monarchy.

Existing from hand to mouth on occasional odd jobs and the hawking of sketches in low taverns, the young Hitler compensated for the frustrations of a lonely bachelor's life in miserable male hostels by political harangues in cheap cafes to anyone who would listen and indulging in grandiose dreams of a Greater Germany.

In Vienna he acquired his first education in politics by studying the demagogic techniques of the popular Christian-social Mayor, Karl Lueger, and picked up the stereotyped, obsessive anti-Semitism with its brutal, violent sexual connotations and concern with the "purity of blood" that remained with him to the end of his career. From crackpot racial theorists like the defrocked monk, Lanz von Liebenfels, and the Austrian Pan-German leader, Georg von Schoenerer, the young Hitler learned to discern in the "Eternal Jew" the symbol and cause of all chaos, corruption and destruction in culture, politics and the economy. The press, prostitution, syphilis, capitalism, Marxism, democracy and pacifism--all were so many means which "the Jew" exploited in his conspiracy to undermine the German nation and the purity of the creative Aryan race.

World War I
Hitler as a soldier during World War 1 (circa 1915)
In May 1913 Hitler left Vienna for Munich and, when war broke out in August 1914, he joined the Sixteenth Bavarian Infantry Regiment, serving as a despatch runner. Hitler proved an able, courageous soldier, receiving the Iron Cross (First Class) for bravery, but did not rise above the rank of Lance Corporal. Twice wounded, he was badly gassed four weeks before the end of the war and spent three months recuperating in a hospital in Pomerania. Temporarily blinded and driven to impotent rage by the abortive November 1918 revolution in Germany as well as the military defeat, Hitler, once restored, was convinced that fate had chosen him to rescue a humiliated nation from the shackles of the Versailles Treaty, from Bolsheviks and Jews.

Assigned by the Reichswehr in the summer of 1919 to "educational" duties which consisted largely of spying on political parties in the overheated atmosphere of post-revolutionary Munich, Hitler was sent to investigate a small nationalistic group of idealists, the German Workers' Party. On 16 September 1919 he entered the Party (which had approximately forty members), soon changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) and had imposed himself as its Chairman by July 1921.

Hitler Becomes a Leader
Hitler discovered a powerful talent for oratory as well as giving the new Party its symbol — the swastika — and its greeting "Heil!." His hoarse, grating voice, for all the bombastic, humourless, histrionic content of his speeches, dominated audiences by dint of his tone of impassioned conviction and gift for self-dramatization. By November 1921 Hitler was recognized as Fuhrer of a movement which had 3,000 members, and boosted his personal power by organizing strong- arm squads to keep order at his meetings and break up those of his opponents. Out of these squads grew the storm troopers (SA) organized by Captain Ernst Röhm and Hitler's black-shirted personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel (SS).

Hitler focused his propaganda against the Versailles Treaty, the "November criminals," the Marxists and the visible, internal enemy No. 1, the "Jew," who was responsible for all Germany's domestic problems. In the twenty-five-point programme of the NSDAP announced on 24 February 1920, the exclusion of the Jews from the Volk community, the myth of Aryan race supremacy and extreme nationalism were combined with "socialistic" ideas of profit-sharing and nationalization inspired by ideologues like Gottfried Feder. Hitler's first written utterance on political questions dating from this period emphasized that what he called "the anti-Semitism of reason" must lead "to the systematic combating and elimination of Jewish privileges. Its ultimate goal must implacably be the total removal of the Jews."

Cover of Hitler's treatise, Mein Kampf
By November 1923 Hitler was convinced that the Weimar Republic was on the verge of collapse and, together with General Ludendorff and local nationalist groups, sought to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich. Bursting into a beer-hall in Munich and firing his pistol into the ceiling, he shouted out that he was heading a new provisional government which would carry through a revolution against "Red Berlin." Hitler and Ludendorff then marched through Munich at the head of 3,000 men, only to be met by police fire which left sixteen dead and brought the attempted putsch to an ignominious end. Hitler was arrested and tried on 26 February 1924, succeeding in turning the tables on his accusers with a confident, propagandist speech which ended with the prophecy: "Pronounce us guilty a thousand times over: the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to pieces the State Prosecutor's submission and the court's verdict for she acquits us." Sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Landsberg fortress, Hitler was released after only nine months during which he dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his loyal follower, Rudolf Hess. Subsequently the "bible" of the Nazi Party, this crude, half-baked hotchpotch of primitive Social Darwinism, racial myth, anti-Semitism and lebensraum fantasy had sold over five million copies by 1939 and been translated into eleven languages.

The failure of the Beer-Hall putsch and his period of imprisonment transformed Hitler from an incompetent adventurer into a shrewd political tactician, who henceforth decided that he would never again confront the gun barrels of army and police until they were under his command. He concluded that the road to power lay not through force alone but through legal subversion of the Weimar Constitution, the building of a mass movement and the combination of parliamentary strength with extra-parliamentary street terror and intimidation. Helped by Goering and Goebbels he began to reassemble his followers and rebuild the movement which had disintegrated in his absence.

Rise of the Nazi Party
In January 1925 the ban on the Nazi Party was removed and Hitler regained permission to speak in public. Outmaneuvering the "socialist" North German wing of the Party under Gregor Strasser, Hitler re-established himself in 1926 as the ultimate arbiter to whom all factions appealed in an ideologically and socially heterogeneous movement. Avoiding rigid, programmatic definitions of National Socialism which would have undermined the charismatic nature of his legitimacy and his claim to absolute leadership, Hitler succeeded in extending his appeal beyond Bavaria and attracting both Right and Left to his movement.

Though the Nazi Party won only twelve seats in the 1928 elections, the onset of the Great Depression with its devastating effects on the middle classes helped Hitler to win over all those strata in German society who felt their economic existence was threatened. In addition to peasants, artisans, craftsmen, traders, small businessmen, ex-officers, students and declasse intellectuals, the Nazis in 1929 began to win over the big industrialists, nationalist conservatives and army circles. With the backing of the press tycoon, Alfred Hugenberg, Hitler received a tremendous nationwide exposure just as the effects of the world economic crisis hit Germany, producing mass unemployment, social dissolution, fear and indignation. With demagogic virtuosity, Hitler played on national resentments, feelings of revolt and the desire for strong leadership using all the most modern techniques of mass persuasion to present himself as Germany's redeemer and messianic saviour.

Hitler and President von Hindenburg (1933)
In the 1930 elections the Nazi vote jumped dramatically from 810,000 to 6,409,000 (18.3 percent of the total vote) and they received 107 seats in the Reichstag. Prompted by Hjalmar Schacht and Fritz Thyssen, the great industrial magnates began to contribute liberally to the coffers of the NSDAP, reassured by Hitler's performance before the Industrial Club in Dusseldorf on 27 January 1932 that they had nothing to fear from the radicals in the Party. The following month Hitler officially acquired German citizenship and decided to run for the Presidency, receiving 13,418,011 votes in the run-off elections of 10 April 1931 as against 19,359,650 votes for the victorious von Hindenburg , but four times the vote for the communist candidate, Ernst Thaelmann. In the Reichstag elections of July 1932 the Nazis emerged as the largest political party in Germany, obtaining nearly fourteen million votes (37.3 per cent) and 230 seats. Although the NSDAP fell back in November 1932 to eleven million votes (196 seats), Hitler was helped to power by a camarilla of conservative politicians led by Franz von Papen, who persuaded the reluctant von Hindenburg to nominate "the Bohemian corporal" as Reich Chancellor on 30 January 1933.

Once in the saddle, Hitler moved with great speed to outmanoeuvre his rivals, virtually ousting the conservatives from any real participation in government by July 1933, abolishing the free trade unions, eliminating the communists, Social Democrats and Jews from any role in political life and sweeping opponents into concentration camps. The Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933 had provided him with the perfect pretext to begin consolidating the foundations of a totalitarian one-party State, and special "enabling laws" were ramrodded through the Reichstag to legalize the regime's intimidatory tactics.

With support from the nationalists, Hitler gained a majority at the last "democratic" elections held in Germany on 5 March 1933 and with cynical skill he used the whole gamut of persuasion, propaganda, terror and intimidation to secure his hold on power. The seductive notions of "National Awakening" and a "Legal Revolution" helped paralyse potential opposition and disguise the reality of autocratic power behind a facade of traditional institutions.

Hitler As Fuhrer
Hitler after an SS rally in Berlin
The destruction of the radical SA leadership under Ernst Rohm in the Blood Purge of June 1934 confirmed Hitler as undisputed dictator of the Third Reich and by the beginning of August, when he united the positions of Fuhrer and Chancellor on the death of von Hindenburg, he had all the powers of State in his hands. Avoiding any institutionalization of authority and status which could challenge his own undisputed position as supreme arbiter, Hitler allowed subordinates like Himmler, Goering and Goebbels to mark out their own domains of arbitrary power while multiplying and duplicating offices to a bewildering degree.

During the next four years Hitler enjoyed a dazzling string of domestic and international successes, outwitting rival political leaders abroad just as he had defeated his opposition at home. In 1935 he abandoned the Versailles Treaty and began to build up the army by conscripting five times its permitted number. He persuaded Great Britain to allow an increase in the naval building programme and in March 1936 he occupied the demilitarized Rhineland without meeting opposition. He began building up the Luftwaffe and supplied military aid to Francoist forces in Spain, which brought about the Spanish fascist victory in 1939.

The German rearmament programme led to full employment and an unrestrained expansion of production, which reinforced by his foreign policy successes--the Rome-Berlin pact of 1936, the Anschluss with Austria and the "liberation" of the Sudeten Germans in 1938 — brought Hitler to the zenith of his popularity. In February 1938 he dismissed sixteen senior generals and took personal command of the armed forces, thus ensuring that he would be able to implement his aggressive designs.

Hitler's saber-rattling tactics bludgeoned the British and French into the humiliating Munich agreement of 1938 and the eventual dismantlement of the Czechoslovakian State in March 1939. The concentration camps, the Nuremberg racial laws against the Jews, the persecution of the churches and political dissidents were forgotten by many Germans in the euphoria of Hitler's territorial expansion and bloodless victories. The next designated target for Hitler's ambitions was Poland (her independence guaranteed by Britain and France) and, to avoid a two-front war, the Nazi dictator signed a pact of friendship and non-aggression with Soviet Russia.

World War II
On September 1, 1939, German armed forces invaded Poland and henceforth Hitler's main energies were devoted to the conduct of a war he had unleashed to dominate Europe and secure Germany's "living space."

The first phase of World War II was dominated by German Blitzkrieg tactics: sudden shock attacks against airfields, communications, military installations, using fast mobile armor and infantry to follow up on the first wave of bomber and fighter aircraft. Poland was overrun in less than one month, Denmark and Norway in two months, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and France in six weeks. After the fall of France in June 1940 only Great Britain stood firm.

Hitler showing the Nazi salute
The Battle of Britain, in which the Royal Air Force prevented the Luftwaffe from securing aerial control over the English Channel, was Hitler's first setback, causing the planned invasion of the British Isles to be postponed. Hitler turned to the Balkans and North Africa where his Italian allies had suffered defeats, his armies rapidly overrunning Greece, Yugoslavia, the island of Crete and driving the British from Cyrenaica.

The crucial decision of his career, the invasion of Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941, was rationalized by the idea that its destruction would prevent Great Britain from continuing the war with any prospect of success. He was convinced that once he kicked the door in, as he told Jodl (q.v.), "the whole rotten edifice [of communist rule] will come tumbling down" and the campaign would be over in six weeks. The war against Russia was to be an anti-Bolshivek crusade, a war of annihilation in which the fate of European Jewry would finally be sealed. At the end of January 1939 Hitler had prophesied that "if the international financial Jewry within and outside Europe should succeed once more in dragging the nations into a war, the result will be, not the Bolshevization of the world and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

As the war widened — the United States by the end of 1941 had entered the struggle against the Axis powers — Hitler identified the totality of Germany's enemies with "international Jewry," who supposedly stood behind the British-American-Soviet alliance. The policy of forced emigration had manifestly failed to remove the Jews from Germany's expanded lebensraum, increasing their numbers under German rule as the Wehrmacht moved East.

The widening of the conflict into a world war by the end of 1941, the refusal of the British to accept Germany's right to continental European hegemony (which Hitler attributed to "Jewish" influence) and to agree to his "peace" terms, the racial-ideological nature of the assault on Soviet Russia, finally drove Hitler to implement the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" which had been under consideration since 1939. The measures already taken in those regions of Poland annexed to the Reich against Jews (and Poles) indicated the genocidal implications of Nazi-style "Germanization" policies. The invasion of Soviet Russia was to set the seal on Hitler's notion of territorial conquest in the East, which was inextricably linked with annihilating the 'biological roots of Bolshevism' and hence with the liquidation of all Jews under German rule.

At first the German armies carried all before them, overrunning vast territories, overwhelming the Red Army, encircling Leningrad and reaching within striking distance of Moscow. Within a few months of the invasion Hitler's armies had extended the Third Reich from the Atlantic to the Caucasus, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. But the Soviet Union did not collapse as expected and Hitler, instead of concentrating his attack on Moscow, ordered a pincer movement around Kiev to seize the Ukraine, increasingly procrastinating and changing his mind about objectives. Underestimating the depth of military reserves on which the Russians could call, the caliber of their generals and the resilient, fighting spirit of the Russian people (whom he dismissed as inferior peasants), Hitler prematurely proclaimed in October 1941 that the Soviet Union had been "struck down and would never rise again." In reality he had overlooked the pitiless Russian winter to which his own troops were now condemned and which forced the Wehrmacht to abandon the highly mobile warfare which had previously brought such spectacular successes.

The disaster before Moscow in December 1941 led him to dismiss his Commander-in-Chief von Brauchitsch, and many other key commanders who sought permission for tactical withdrawals, including Guderian, Bock, Hoepner, von Rundstedt and Leeb, found themselves cashiered. Hitler now assumed personal control of all military operations, refusing to listen to advice, disregarding unpalatable facts and rejecting everything that did not fit into his preconceived picture of reality. His neglect of the Mediterranean theatre and the Middle East, the failure of the Italians, the entry of the United States into the war, and above all the stubborn determination of the Russians, pushed Hitler on to the defensive. From the winter of 1941 the writing was on the wall but Hitler refused to countenance military defeat, believing that implacable will and the rigid refusal to abandon positions could make up for inferior resources and the lack of a sound overall strategy.

Convinced that his own General Staff was weak and indecisive, if not openly treacherous, Hitler became more prone to outbursts of blind, hysterical fury towards his generals, when he did not retreat into bouts of misanthropic brooding. His health, too, deteriorated under the impact of the drugs prescribed by his quack physician, Dr. Theodor Morell. Hitler's personal decline, symbolized by his increasingly rare public appearances and his self-enforced isolation in the "Wolf's Lair," his headquarters buried deep in the East Prussian forests, coincided with the visible signs of the coming German defeat which became apparent in mid-1942.

Allied Victory and Hitler's Death
Rommel's defeat at El Alamein and the subsequent loss of North Africa to the Anglo-American forces were overshadowed by the disaster at Stalingrad where General von Paulus's Sixth Army was cut off and surrendered to the Russians in January 1943. In July 1943 the Allies captured Sicily and Mussolini's regime collapsed in Italy. In September the Italians signed an armistice and the Allies landed at Salerno, reaching Naples on 1 October and taking Rome on June 4, 1944. The Allied invasion of Normandy followed on June 6, 1944 and soon a million Allied troops were driving the German armies eastwards, while from the opposite direction the Soviet forces advanced relentlessly on the Reich. The total mobilization of the German war economy under Albert Speer and the energetic propaganda efforts of Joseph Goebbels to rouse the fighting spirit of the German people were impotent to change the fact that the Third Reich lacked the resources equal to a struggle against the world alliance which Hitler himself had provoked.

Front Page of US Army newspaper announcing Hitlers death (1945)
Allied bombing began to have a telling effect on German industrial production and to undermine the morale of the population. The generals, frustrated by Hitler's total refusal to trust them in the field and recognizing the inevitability of defeat, planned, together with the small anti-Nazi Resistance inside the Reich, to assassinate the Fuhrer on 20 July 1944, hoping to pave the way for a negotiated peace with the Allies that would save Germany from destruction. The plot failed and Hitler took implacable vengeance on the conspirators, watching with satisfaction a film of the grisly executions carried out on his orders.

As disaster came closer, Hitler buried himself in the unreal world of the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, clutching at fantastic hopes that his "secret weapons," the V-1 and V-2 rockets, would yet turn the tide of war. He gestured wildly over maps, planned and directed attacks with non-existent armies and indulged in endless, night-long monologues which reflected his growing senility, misanthropy and contempt for the "cowardly failure" of the German people.

As the Red Army approached Berlin and the Anglo-Americans reached the Elbe, on 19 March 1945 Hitler ordered the destruction of what remained of German industry, communications and transport systems. He was resolved that, if he did not survive, Germany too should be destroyed. The same ruthless nihilism and passion for destruction which had led to the extermination of six million Jews in death camps, to the biological "cleansing" of the sub-human Slavs and other subject peoples in the New Order, was finally turned on his own people.

On April 29, 1945, he married his mistress Eva Braun and dictated his final political testament, concluding with the same monotonous, obsessive fixation that had guided his career from the beginning: "Above all I charge the leaders of the nation and those under them to scrupulous observance of the laws of race and to merciless opposition to the universal poisoner of all peoples, international Jewry."

The following day Hitler committed suicide, shooting himself through the mouth with a pistol. His body was carried into the garden of the Reich Chancellery by aides, covered with petrol and burned along with that of Eva Braun. This final, macabre act of self-destruction appropriately symbolized the career of a political leader whose main legacy to Europe was the ruin of its civilization and the senseless sacrifice of human life for the sake of power and his own commitment to the bestial nonsense of National Socialist race mythology. With his death nothing was left of the "Greater Germanic Reich," of the tyrannical power structure and ideological system which had devastated Europe during the twelve years of his totalitarian rule.

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A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend  As the German People Know Him Empty Re: A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler His Life and Legend As the German People Know Him

Post by Golden Eagle on Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:42 pm

world war 2 Timeline


November 11 - World War I ends with German defeat.


April 28 - League of Nations founded.

June 28 - Signing of the Treaty of Versailles.


July 29 - Adolf Hitler becomes leader of National Socialist (Nazi) Party.


November 8/9 - Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch.


July 18 - Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" published.


September 8 - Germany admitted to League of Nations.


October 29 - Stock Market on Wall Street crashes.


September 14 - Germans elect Nazis making them the 2nd largest political party in Germany.


November 8 - Franklin Roosevelt elected President of the United States.


January 30 - Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
February 27 - The German Reichstag burns.

March 12 - First concentration camp opened at Oranienburg outside Berlin.

March 23 - Enabling Act gives Hitler dictatorial power.

April 1 - Nazi boycott of Jewish owned shops.

May 10 - Nazis burn books in Germany.

In June - Nazis open Dachau concentration camp.

July 14 - Nazi Party declared Germany's only political party.

October 14 - Germany quits the League of Nations.


June 30 - The Nazi "Night of the Long Knives."

July 25 - Nazis murder Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss.

August 2 - German President Hindenburg dies.

August 19 - Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of Germany.


March 16 - Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles by introducing military conscription.

September 15 - German Jews stripped of rights by Nuremberg Race Laws.


February 10 - The German Gestapo is placed above the law.

March 7 - German troops occupy the Rhineland.

May 9 - Mussolini's Italian forces take Ethiopia.

July 18 - Civil war erupts in Spain.

August 1 - Olympic games begin in Berlin.

October 1 - Franco declared head of Spanish State.


June 11 - Soviet leader Josef Stalin begins a purge of Red Army generals.

November 5 - Hitler reveals war plans during Hossbach Conference.


March 12/13 - Germany announces 'Anschluss' (union) with Austria.

August 12 - German military mobilizes.

September 30 - British Prime Minister Chamberlain appeases Hitler at Munich.

October 15 - German troops occupy the Sudetenland; Czech government resigns.

November 9/10 - Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass.

See also: The History Place - Holocaust Timeline

1939 Return to Top of Page

January 30, 1939 - Hitler threatens Jews during Reichstag speech.

March 15/16 - Nazis take Czechoslovakia.

March 28, 1939 - Spanish Civil war ends.

May 22, 1939 - Nazis sign 'Pact of Steel' with Italy.

August 23, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets sign Pact.

August 25, 1939 - Britain and Poland sign a Mutual Assistance Treaty.

August 31, 1939 - British fleet mobilizes; Civilian evacuations begin from London.

September 1, 1939 - Nazis invade Poland.

September 3, 1939 - Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany.

September 4, 1939 - British Royal Air Force attacks the German Navy.

September 5, 1939 - United States proclaims its neutrality; German troops cross the Vistula River in Poland.

September 10, 1939 - Canada declares war on Germany; Battle of the Atlantic begins.

September 17, 1939 - Soviets invade Poland.

September 27, 1939 - Warsaw surrenders to Nazis; Reinhard Heydrich becomes the leader of new Reich Main Security Office (RSHA).

See also: The History Place - Biography of Reinhard Heydrich.

September 29, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets divide up Poland.

In October - Nazis begin euthanasia on sick and disabled in Germany.

November 8, 1939 - Assassination attempt on Hitler fails.

November 30, 1939 - Soviets attack Finland.

December 14, 1939 - Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations.

1940 Return to Top of Page

January 8, 1940 - Rationing begins in Britain.

March 12, 1940 - Finland signs a peace treaty with Soviets.

March 16, 1940 - Germans bomb Scapa Flow naval base near Scotland.

April 9, 1940 - Nazis invade Denmark and Norway.

May 10, 1940 - Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.

May 15, 1940 - Holland surrenders to the Nazis.

May 26, 1940 - Evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk begins.

May 28, 1940 - Belgium surrenders to the Nazis.

June 3, 1940 - Germans bomb Paris; Dunkirk evacuation ends.

June 10, 1940 - Norway surrenders to the Nazis; Italy declares war on Britain and France.

June 14, 1940 - Germans enter Paris.

June 16, 1940 - Marshal Pétain becomes French Prime Minister.

June 18, 1940 - Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich; Soviets begin occupation of the Baltic States.

June 22, 1940 - France signs an armistice with Nazi Germany.

June 23, 1940 - Hitler tours Paris.

June 28, 1940 - Britain recognizes General Charles de Gaulle as the Free French leader.

July 1, 1940 - German U-boats attack merchant ships in the Atlantic.

July 5, 1940 - French Vichy government breaks off relations with Britain.

July 10, 1940 - Battle of Britain begins.

July 23, 1940 - Soviets take Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

August 3-19 - Italians occupy British Somaliland in East Africa.

August 13, 1940 - German bombing offensive against airfields and factories in England.

August 15, 1940 - Air battles and daylight raids over Britain.

August 17, 1940 - Hitler declares a blockade of the British Isles.

August 23/24 - First German air raids on Central London.

August 25/26 - First British air raid on Berlin.

September 3, 1940 - Hitler plans Operation Sea Lion (the invasion of Britain).

September 7, 1940 - German Blitz against Britain begins.

September 13, 1940 - Italians invade Egypt.

September 15, 1940 - Massive German air raids on London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.

September 16, 1940 - United States military conscription bill passed.

September 27, 1940 - Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.

October 7, 1940 - German troops enter Romania.

October 12, 1940 - Germans postpone Operation Sea Lion until Spring of 1941.

October 28, 1940 - Italy invades Greece.

November 5, 1940 - Roosevelt re-elected as U.S. president.

November 10/11 - Torpedo bomber raid cripples the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy.

November 14/15 - Germans bomb Coventry, England.

November 20, 1940 - Hungary joins the Axis Powers.

November 22, 1940 - Greeks defeat the Italian 9th Army.

November 23, 1940 - Romania joins the Axis Powers.

December 9/10 - British begin a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.

December 29/30 - Massive German air raid on London.

1941 Return to Top of Page

January 22, 1941 - Tobruk in North Africa falls to the British and Australians.


February 11, 1941 - British forces advance into Italian Somaliland in East Africa.

February 12, 1941 - German General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli, North Africa.

February 14, 1941 - First units of German 'Afrika Korps' arrive in North Africa.

March 7, 1941 - British forces arrive in Greece.

March 11, 1941 - President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act.

March 27, 1941 - A coup in Yugoslavia overthrows the pro-Axis government.

April 3, 1941 - Pro-Axis regime set up in Iraq.

April 6, 1941 - Nazis invade Greece and Yugoslavia.

April 14, 1941 - Rommel attacks Tobruk.

April 17, 1941 - Yugoslavia surrenders to the Nazis.

April 27, 1941 - Greece surrenders to the Nazis.

May 1, 1941 - German attack on Tobruk is repulsed.

May 10, 1941 - Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess flies to Scotland.

See also: The History Place - Biography of Rudolph Hess

May 10/11 - Heavy German bombing of London; British bomb Hamburg.

May 15, 1941 - Operation Brevity begins (the British counter-attack in Egypt).

May 24, 1941 - Sinking of the British ship Hood by the Bismarck.

May 27, 1941 - Sinking of the Bismarck by the British Navy.

June 4, 1941 - Pro-Allied government installed in Iraq.

June 8, 1941 - Allies invade Syria and Lebanon.

June 14, 1941 - United States freezes German and Italian assets in America.

June 22, 1941 - Germany attacks Soviet Union as Operation Barbarossa begins.

In June - Nazi SS-Einsatzgruppen begin mass murder.

June 28, 1941 - Germans capture Minsk.

July 3, 1941 - Stalin calls for a scorched earth policy.

July 10, 1941 - Germans cross the River Dnieper in the Ukraine.

July 12, 1941 - Mutual Assistance agreement between British and Soviets.

July 14, 1941 - British occupy Syria.

July 26, 1941 - Roosevelt freezes Japanese assets in United States and suspends relations.

July 31, 1941 - Göring instructs Heydrich to prepare for the Final Solution.

August 1, 1941 - United States announces an oil embargo against aggressor states.

August 14, 1941 - Roosevelt and Churchill announce the Atlantic Charter.

August 20, 1941 - Nazi siege of Leningrad begins.

September 1, 1941 - Nazis order Jews to wear yellow stars.

September 3, 1941 - First experimental use of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

September 19, 1941 - Nazis take Kiev.

September 29, 1941 - Nazis murder 33,771 Jews at Kiev.

October 2, 1941 - Operation Typhoon begins (German advance on Moscow).

October 16, 1941 - Germans take Odessa.

October 24, 1941 - Germans take Kharkov.

October 30, 1941 - Germans reach Sevastopol.

November 13, 1941 - British aircraft carrier Ark Royal is sunk off Gibraltar by a U-boat.

November 20, 1941 - Germans take Rostov.

November 27, 1941 - Soviet troops retake Rostov.

December 5, 1941 - German attack on Moscow is abandoned.

December 6, 1941 - Soviet Army launches a major counter-offensive around Moscow.

December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor; Hitler issues the Night and Fog decree.

December 8, 1941 - United States and Britain declare war on Japan.

December 11, 1941 - Hitler declares war on the United States.

December 16, 1941 - Rommel begins a retreat to El Agheila in North Africa.

December 19, 1941 - Hitler takes complete control of the German Army.

1942 Return to Top of Page

January 1, 1942 - Declaration of the United Nations signed by 26 Allied nations.

January 13, 1942 - Germans begin a U-boat offensive along east coast of USA.

January 20, 1942 - SS Leader Heydrich holds the Wannsee Conference to coordinate the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."

January 21, 1942 - Rommel's counter-offensive from El Agheila begins.

January 26, 1942 - First American forces arrive in Great Britain.

In April - Japanese-Americans sent to relocation centers.

April 23, 1942 - German air raids begin against cathedral cities in Britain.

May 8, 1942 - German summer offensive begins in the Crimea.

May 26, 1942 - Rommel begins an offensive against the Gazala Line.

May 27, 1942 - SS Leader Heydrich attacked in Prague.

May 30, 1942 - First thousand-bomber British air raid (against Cologne).

In June - Mass murder of Jews by gassing begins at Auschwitz.

June 4, 1942 - Heydrich dies of wounds.

June 5, 1942 - Germans besiege Sevastopol.

June 10, 1942 - Nazis liquidate Lidice in reprisal for Heydrich's assassination.

June 21, 1942 - Rommel captures Tobruk.

June 25, 1942 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in London.

June 30, 1942 - Rommel reaches El Alamein near Cairo, Egypt.

July 1-30 - First Battle of El Alamein.

July 3, 1942 - Germans take Sevastopol.

July 5, 1942 - Soviet resistance in the Crimea ends.

July 9, 1942 - Germans begin a drive toward Stalingrad in the USSR.

July 22, 1942 - First deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to concentration camps; Treblinka extermination camp opened.

August 7, 1942 - British General Bernard Montgomery takes command of Eighth Army in North Africa.

August 12, 1942 - Stalin and Churchill meet in Moscow.

August 17, 1942 - First all-American air attack in Europe.

August 23, 1942 - Massive German air raid on Stalingrad.

September 2, 1942 - Rommel driven back by Montgomery in the Battle of Alam Halfa.

September 13, 1942 - Battle of Stalingrad begins.

October 5, 1942 - A German eyewitness observes SS mass murder.

October 18, 1942 - Hitler orders the execution of all captured British commandos.

November 1, 1942 - Operation Supercharge (Allies break Axis lines at El Alamein).

November 8, 1942 - Operation Torch begins (U.S. invasion of North Africa).

November 11, 1942 - Germans and Italians invade unoccupied Vichy France.

November 19, 1942 - Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad begins.

December 2, 1942 - Professor Enrico Fermi sets up an atomic reactor in Chicago.

December 13, 1942 - Rommel withdraws from El Agheila.

December 16, 1942 - Soviets defeat Italian troops on the River Don in the USSR.

December 17, 1942 - British Foreign Secretary Eden tells the British House of Commons of mass executions of Jews by Nazis; U.S. declares those crimes will be avenged.

December 31, 1942 - Battle of the Barents Sea between German and British ships.

1943 Return to Top of Page

January 2/3 - Germans begin a withdrawal from the Caucasus.

January 10, 1943 - Soviets begin an offensive against the Germans in Stalingrad.

January 14-24 - Casablanca conference between Churchill and Roosevelt. During the conference, Roosevelt announces the war can end only with "unconditional German surrender."

January 23, 1943 - Montgomery's Eighth Army takes Tripoli.

January 27, 1943 - First bombing raid by Americans on Germany (at Wilhelmshaven).

February 2, 1943 - Germans surrender at Stalingrad in the first big defeat of Hitler's armies.

February 8, 1943 - Soviet troops take Kursk.

February 14-25 - Battle of Kasserine Pass between the U.S. 1st Armored Division and German Panzers in North Africa.

February 16, 1943 - Soviets re-take Kharkov.

February 18, 1943 - Nazis arrest White Rose resistance leaders in Munich.

March 2, 1943 - Germans begin a withdrawal from Tunisia, Africa.

March 15, 1943 - Germans re-capture Kharkov.

March 16-20 - Battle of Atlantic climaxes with 27 merchant ships sunk by German U-boats.

March 20-28 - Montgomery's Eighth Army breaks through the Mareth Line in Tunisia.

April 6/7 - Axis forces in Tunisia begin a withdrawal toward Enfidaville as American and British forces link.

April 19, 1943 - Waffen-SS attacks Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto.

May 7, 1943 - Allies take Tunisia.

May 13, 1943 - German and Italian troops surrender in North Africa.

May 16, 1943 - Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto ends.

May 16/17 - British air raid on the Ruhr.

May 22, 1943 - Dönitz suspends U-boat operations in the North Atlantic.

June 10, 1943 - 'Pointblank' directive to improve Allied bombing strategy issued.

June 11, 1943 - Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in Poland.

July 5, 1943 - Germans begin their last offensive against Kursk.

July 9/10 - Allies land in Sicily.

July 19, 1943 - Allies bomb Rome.

July 22, 1943 - Americans capture Palermo, Sicily.

July 24, 1943 - British bombing raid on Hamburg.

July 25/26 - Mussolini arrested and the Italian Fascist government falls; Marshal Pietro Badoglio takes over and negotiates with Allies.

July 27/28 - Allied air raid causes a firestorm in Hamburg.

August 12-17 - Germans evacuate Sicily.

August 17, 1943 - American daylight air raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt in Germany; Allies reach Messina, Sicily.

August 23, 1943 - Soviet troops recapture Kharkov.

September 8, 1943 - Italian surrender to Allies is announced.

September 9, 1943 - Allied landings at Salerno and Taranto.

September 11, 1943 - Germans occupy Rome.

September 12, 1943 - Germans rescue Mussolini.

September 23, 1943 - Mussolini re-establishes a Fascist government.

October 1, 1943 - Allies enter Naples, Italy.

October 4, 1943 - SS-Reichsführer Himmler gives speech at Posen.

October 13, 1943 - Italy declares war on Germany; Second American air raid on Schweinfurt.

November 6, 1943 - Russians recapture Kiev in the Ukraine.

November 18, 1943 - Large British air raid on Berlin.

November 28, 1943 - Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin meet at Teheran.

December 24-26 - Soviets launch offensives on the Ukrainian front.

1944 Return to Top of Page

January 6, 1944 - Soviet troops advance into Poland.

January 17, 1944 - First attack toward Cassino, Italy.

January 22, 1944 - Allies land at Anzio in Italy.

January 27, 1944 - Leningrad relieved after a 900-day siege.

February 15-18 - Allies bomb the monastery at Monte Cassino.

February 16, 1944 - Germans counter-attack against the Anzio beachhead.

March 4, 1944 - Soviet troops begin an offensive on the Belorussian front; First major daylight bombing raid on Berlin by the Allies.

March 15, 1944 - Second Allied attempt to capture Monte Cassino begins.

March 18, 1944 - British drop 3000 tons of bombs during an air raid on Hamburg, Germany.

April 8, 1944 - Soviet troops begin an offensive to liberate Crimea.

May 9, 1944 - Soviet troops recapture Sevastopol.

May 11, 1944 - Allies attack the Gustav Line south of Rome.

May 12, 1944 - Germans surrender in the Crimea.

May 15, 1944 - Germans withdraw to the Adolf Hitler Line.

May 25, 1944 - Germans retreat from Anzio.

June 5, 1944 - Allies enter Rome.

June 6, 1944 - D-Day landings on the northern coast of France.

June 9, 1944 - Soviet offensive against the Finnish front begins.

June 10, 1944 - Nazis liquidate the town of Oradour-sur-Glane in France.

June 13, 1944 - First German V-1 rocket attack on Britain.

June 22, 1944 - Operation Bagration begins (the Soviet summer offensive).

June 27, 1944 - U.S. troops liberate Cherbourg, France.

July 3, 1944 - 'Battle of the Hedgerows' in Normandy; Soviets capture Minsk.

July 9, 1944 - British and Canadian troops capture Caen, France.

July 18, 1944 - U.S. troops reach St. Lô, France.

July 20, 1944 - Assassination attempt by German Army officers against Hitler fails.

July 24, 1944 - Soviet troops liberate first concentration camp at Majdanek.

July 25-30 - Operation Cobra (U.S. troops break out west of St. Lô).

July 28, 1944 - Soviet troops take Brest-Litovsk. U.S. troops take Coutances.

August 1, 1944 - Polish Home Army uprising against Nazis in Warsaw begins; U.S. troops reach Avranches.

August 4, 1944 - Anne Frank and family arrested by the Gestapo in Amsterdam, Holland.

August 7, 1944 - Germans begin a major counter-attack toward Avranches.

August 15, 1944 - Operation Dragoon begins (the Allied invasion of Southern France).

August 19, 1944 - Resistance uprising in Paris.

August 19/20 - Soviet offensive in the Balkans begins with an attack on Romania.

August 20, 1944 - Allies encircle Germans in the Falaise Pocket.

August 25, 1944 - Liberation of Paris.

August 29, 1944 - Slovak uprising begins.

August 31, 1944 - Soviet troops take Bucharest.

September 1-4 - Verdun, Dieppe, Artois, Rouen, Abbeville, Antwerp and Brussels liberated by Allies.

September 4, 1944 - Finland and the Soviet Union agree to a cease-fire.

September 13, 1944 - U.S. troops reach the Siegfried Line in western Germany.

September 17, 1944 - Operation Market Garden begins (Allied airborne assault on Holland).

September 26, 1944 - Soviet troops occupy Estonia.

October 2, 1944 - Warsaw Uprising ends as the Polish Home Army surrenders to the Germans.

October 10-29 - Soviet troops capture Riga.

October 14, 1944 - Allies liberate Athens; Rommel commits suicide.

October 21, 1944 - Massive German surrender at Aachen, Germany.

October 30, 1944 - Last use of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

November 20, 1944 - French troops drive through the 'Beffort Gap' to reach the Rhine.

November 24, 1944 - French capture Strasbourg.

December 4, 1944 - Civil War in Greece; Athens placed under martial law.

December 16-27 - Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes.

December 17, 1944 - Waffen-SS murder 81 U.S. POWs at Malmedy.

December 26, 1944 - Patton relieves Bastogne.

December 27, 1944 - Soviet troops besiege Budapest.

1945 Return to Top of Page

January 1-17 - Germans withdraw from the Ardennes.

January 16, 1945 - U.S. 1st and 3rd Armies link up after a month long separation during the Battle of the Bulge.

January 17, 1945 - Soviet troops capture Warsaw, Poland.

January 26, 1945 - Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.

February 4-11 - Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin meet at Yalta.

February 13/14 - Dresden is destroyed by a firestorm after Allied bombing raids.

March 6, 1945 - Last German offensive of the war begins to defend oil fields in Hungary.

March 7, 1945 - Allies take Cologne and establish a bridge across the Rhine at Remagen.

March 30, 1945 - Soviet troops capture Danzig.

In April - Allies discover stolen Nazi art and wealth hidden in German salt mines.

April 1, 1945 - U.S. troops encircle Germans in the Ruhr; Allied offensive in northern Italy.

April 12, 1945 - Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps; President Roosevelt dies. Harry Truman becomes President.

April 16, 1945 - Soviet troops begin their final attack on Berlin; Americans enter Nuremberg.

April 18, 1945 - German forces in the Ruhr surrender.

April 21, 1945 - Soviets reach Berlin.

April 28, 1945 - Mussolini is captured and hanged by Italian partisans; Allies take Venice.

April 29, 1945 - U.S. 7th Army liberates Dachau.

April 30, 1945 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

May 2, 1945 - German troops in Italy surrender.

May 7, 1945 - Unconditional surrender of all German forces to Allies.

May 8, 1945 - V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.

May 9, 1945 - Hermann Göring is captured by members of the U.S. 7th Army.

May 23, 1945 - SS-Reichsführer Himmler commits suicide; German High Command and Provisional Government imprisoned.

June 5, 1945 - Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over the government.

June 26, 1945 - United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.

July 1, 1945 - American, British, and French troops move into Berlin.

July 16, 1945 - First U.S. atomic bomb test; Potsdam Conference begins.

July 26, 1945 - Atlee succeeds Churchill as British Prime Minister.

August 6, 1945 - First atomic bomb dropped, on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 8, 1945 - Soviets declares war on Japan and invade Manchuria.

August 9, 1945 - Second atomic bomb dropped, on Nagasaki, Japan.

August 14, 1945 - Japanese agree to unconditional surrender.

September 2, 1945 - Japanese sign the surrender agreement; V-J (Victory over Japan) Day.

October 24, 1945 - United Nations is born.

November 20, 1945 - Nuremberg war crimes trials begin.


October 16 - Hermann Göring commits suicide two hours before his scheduled execution.
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