40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall

Trista - December 19, 2018

Adolf Hitler’s suicide in 1945 helped bring about the end of World War II, the bloodiest conflict the world had ever since which had led to the deaths of as many as 60 million people. Keep reading to learn more about the man whose life helped spark the greatest conflagration in human history and whose death helped end it.

 

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler as an infant circa 1889 – 1890. Josef Franz Klinger/German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons.

40. Adolf Hitler Was Born on April 20, 1889

His parents were Alois and Klara, and Adolf was the fourth of six children. He grew up in the city of Linz, which at the time was the capital of Upper Austria. He actually grew up in Austria, not Germany, and only moved to Germany after World War I broke out.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Portrait of Alois Hitler née Schicklgruber, an Austrian civil servant and the father of Adolf Hitler. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by Robert Payne/Wikimedia Commons.

39. Hitler’s Father Was Abusive

The young Hitler was devoted to his mother but distant from his father, Alois. The future leader’s dad had grown up as an illegitimate child and was harsh and abusive towards his own children. He died in 1903, when Hitler was 14 years old, leaving behind a pension for his family.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Portrait of Klara Hitler née Pölzl , an Austrian woman, wife of Alois Hitler and mother of Adolf Hitler. Axis History/Wikimedia Commons.

38. His Little Brother Died at a Young Age

In 1900, Hitler’s younger brother, Edmund, fell sick with measles and died from the disease. The experience reportedly had a marked effect on him and caused him to withdraw; he became introverted and detached from his family and social life that he had once enjoyed.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
The house in Leonding in Austria where Hitler spent his early adolescence. Photo taken in July 2012 by Kim Traynor/Wikimedia Commons.

37. He Lost Contact With His Entire Family

Following his mother’s death in 1907, Hitler moved to Vienna to work as a watercolor painter, but he was rejected from the art academies there. He lost all contact with his siblings. Living off of a paltry orphan’s pension, he spent much of his early adult life in homeless shelters.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler with his war comrades of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16. From left to right: standing: Sperl (Munich), litographer, Max Mund (Munich), gilder, sitting: George Wimmer (Munich), tramway conductor, Josef Inkofer (Munich) Lausamer (Fallen), Hitler (sitting farthest to right with mustache), lying: Balthasar Brandmayer (Bad Aibling), bricklayer. 11.8.39 [publication date] de-left-schm 115 press Hoffmann/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

36. Hitler Fought for Germany During World War I

Though Hitler was a citizen of Austria, he was rejected from serving in its military when World War I broke out. He spent much of his military service away from the front lines, but he was injured in the Battle of Somme. For his wounds, he received Germany’s Iron Cross First Class and the Black Wound Badge.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
The Alter Hof in Munich ( The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich) Watercolour by Adolf Hitler, 1914. Adolf Hitler: Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers (Hamburg: Cigaretten Bilderdienst Hamburg/Bahrenfeld, 1936)/Wikimedia Commons.

35. Hitler Found War To Be a Pleasant Experience

After his frustrations in civilian life, struggling to earn a living making postcards and painting watercolors, he found the discipline of the military to be invigorating. War seemed to be a heroic undertaking, with values like comradeship and a common enemy.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler as he appeared on his NDSAP membership card. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

34. Germany’s Defeat Embittered Him

When Germany surrendered in 1918, he staunchly believed that Marxists had infiltrated the Germany government, causing the defeat. The Treaty of Versailles, which negotiated the terms of the war’s end, was the ultimate betrayal. Despite his Austrian citizenship, he became a staunch German patriot and nationalist.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler’s German Workers’ Party (DAP) membership card. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

33. Anton Drexler Influenced His Growing Anti-Semitism

After the war ended, Hitler remained in the military and monitored the German Workers’ Party. The party, which had been founded by Anton Drexler, was nationalist, anti-Marxist, anti-communist, and anti-Semitic. Hitler claimed that his anti-Semitism was rooted in his years of struggle in Vienna, but it more likely began under Drexler.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler and NSDAP treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz at the dedication of the renovation of the Palais Barlow on Brienner Straße in Munich into the Brown House headquarters, December 1930. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

32. Drexler’s Party Renamed Itself the NSDAP or Nazi Party

Hitler officially joined in 1919 and designed the banner, complete with the swastika and red background. He frequently spoke out against what he believed to be the greatest evils plaguing Germany, particularly Jews and communists. In 1921, he became the chairman of the Nazi party.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Defendants in the Beer Hall Putsch trial. From left to right: Pernet, Weber, Frick, Kiebel, Ludendorff, Hitler, Bruckner, Röhm, and Wagner. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

31. Hitler Led a Failed Coup in 1923

Hitler became known for his vitriol that railed against Jews and communists. In 1923, he and some cronies in the Nazi party stormed into a town hall meeting and declared a new German government. The affair became known as the “Beer Hall Putsch” and led to several deaths. Hitler was arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to nine months in prison.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Dust jacket of the book Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler. New York Public Library Digital Collection/Wikimedia Commons.

30. He Wrote Mein Kampf While in Prison

Mein Kampf, or “My Struggles,” was Hitler’s autobiography and became required reading within the Nazi party. He dedicated the book, which railed against Jews as being responsible for Germany’s economic collapse, to Rudolf Hoess, his personal deputy who would become the commandant of the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler, at the window of the Reich Chancellery, receives an ovation on the evening of his inauguration as chancellor on January 30, 1933. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

29. He Became Chancellor in 1932

Germany experienced an extreme economic downturn, which began in the 1920s – years before the Great Depression hit the rest of the world – made Germans more open to extremist ideas. In 1932, Hitler ran against the incumbent chancellor, Paul von Hindenburg, and won. His Nazi party took control of the country.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
The Reichstag (German parliament) building burns in Berlin. Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/United States Holocause Memorial Museum.

28. Hitler Quickly Imposed Martial Law

A suspicious fire in the Reichstag building – which may have been set by Hitler or one of his cronies – led to the Reichstag Fire Decree, which allowed people to be detained without trial and stripped people of many fundamental rights. He quickly established himself as a dictator and began eliminating anyone who might be a threat to his power.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Germany announcing their withdraw from the League of Nations. September 9, 1926 The New York Times/Rare Newspapers.

27. Germany Withdrew from the League of Nations

By 1933, Germany was under one-party rule, giving Hitler complete control over the entire government. Despising the Treaty of Versailles and setting into motion a plan for world domination, Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a predecessor to the United Nations and was intended to inspire international cooperation.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler’s gray uniform tunic with the Golden party Badge; Iron Cross and Wound badge. He is also wearing a Swastika armband on his left shoulder. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

26. Hitler Implemented Laws Excluding Jews From Civic Life

Hitler believed that even more than communists, the greatest enemies to Germany were Jews. A national boycott of Jewish businesses began in 1933; it prohibited non-Jews from doing business with companies owned by Jews. The next year, a law that prevented Jews from serving in government roles; many lost their jobs as a result. Over the next few years, more and more rights were stripped away until they were sent to death camps.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler with their two dogs. Wikimedia Commons.

25. He Engaged in Eugenics to Create a Master Race

Hitler was obsessed with a so-called “master race” of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryans, though he himself had black hair and black eyes. He began programs eliminating impaired children and adults through euthanasia. The techniques developed for large-scale killings of the disabled were later used in the gas chambers at concentration camps.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler. History.

24. The Aryan Ideology Was Based on a Myth

Despite all of the fervor about a pure Aryan race, the idea of “Aryanism” was based on pseudoscience from the nineteenth century. “Aryan” literally means “from Iran,” and the hypothesis was that the Aryans were a race that settled both the Indian-Iranian plateau and Nordic Europe. However, the theory has long since been proven false.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler on the cover of Time Magazine. Time.

23. He Was Named Man of the Year by Time Magazine in 1938

The Sudetenland was a region of Czechoslovakia that bordered Germany and had a substantial German population. The 1938 Munich Agreement ceded the Sudetenland to Hitler and led to him being named Man of the Year by Time Magazine. By many accounts, the acquirement of the Sudetenland marked the beginning of World War II.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler reviews troops on the march during the campaign against Poland in September 1939. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

22. He Invaded Poland the Next Year

Acquiring the Sudetenland made Hitler feel indomitable and whetted his appetite for war, something he admittedly enjoyed. The following year, he ordered the invasion of Poland and effectively began World War II. Two days later, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Boundaries of the planned “Greater Germanic Reich”. Hayden120 – “Utopia: The ‘Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation'”. Institut für Zeitgeschichte. München – Berlin. 1999./Wikimedia Commons.

21. The Next Year, Hitler Invaded the Rest of Europe

In 1940, Hitler invaded the countries of France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, and Belgium. The island country of the United Kingdom was protected from a land invasion, but Hitler began bombing raids there, which became known as a blitzkrieg (lightning war).

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler is driven through the crowd. Wikimedia Commons.

20. Hitler Made a Pact Not to Invade the Soviet Union, But He Lied

In 1939, Hitler and Josef Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union, signed a non-aggression pact. However, Hitler’s appetite for world domination and the successes of his other invasions in Europe led to him invading the Soviet Union in 1941. However, he and his troops were not prepared for the harsh Russian winters.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler announcing the declaration of war against the United States to the Reichstag, on December 10, 1941. German Federal Archive/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

19. He Tried to Turn the Allies Against Each Other

Germany allied itself with Japan and Italy to form the Axis Powers. The Allied Powers were the countries that fought against them, the largest being the United States and the United Kingdom. Hitler continued growing his war against the rest of the world by trying to turn the Allies against each other, but he failed.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler portrayed on a 42 pfennig stamp from 1944. The term Grossdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich) was first used in 1943 for the expanded Germany under his rule. Professional Assassin/Wikimedia Commons.

18. Germans Tried to Assassinate Him

After the successful D-Day invasion in 1944, many Germans realized that their war was doomed to fail. The next month, his own people tried to assassinate him in what came to be known as the July Plot. However, the plot failed, and the war dragged on, leading to increasingly dire consequences for Germany.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
The so-called “Führerbunker” in the garden of the Reich Chancellery destroyed in the Second World War. Left the entrance, in the middle of the bomb shelter for the guard. ADN-ZB/Archive
Berlin/Stamp a Day.

17. In 1945, Hitler Moved Into an Underground Bunker

As the Allies progressed into mainland Europe and began liberating countries that had been under Nazi control, it became increasingly clear that Germany would soon lose the war. Hitler moved into an underground bunker in January of 1945; it became the Nazi headquarters from which he conducted the war.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Photograph of Adolf Hitler with his long-time partner Eva Braun. Flickr/Stamp a Day.

16. Eva Braun Lived There With Him

Hitler and Braun had been in a relationship for a decade. In 1932, she attempted to commit suicide; some historians believe that the attempt was an effort to get Hitler’s attention. When Hitler moved underground, Braun followed him. She would live there for the rest of her life.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Flickr/Stamp a Day.

15. Braun Stayed With Hitler to the End

One of Braun’s close advisors suggested that when the war ended, she should go into hiding as people might try to take her life. She adamantly responded that she would remain with Hitler until the very end. Hitler promised her a generous yearly pension in his will, but she would not live to take it.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
On 25 October 1936, an alliance was declared between Italy and Germany, which came to be known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

14. Hitler Was Terrified By What Happened to Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was the dictator of Italy and had been an ally of Germany during the war. In 1943, Allied forces arrived in Sicily, signaling the beginning of Italy’s defeat. His own people captured Mussolini and imprisoned by his former fascist colleagues. In April of 1945, he was killed by Italian partisans.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler giving a speech. Cause Hitler’s Germany.

13. He Decided to Commit Suicide Rather Than Meet the Same Fate

Rather than face the humiliation of being captured, Hitler decided that he would commit suicide in his underground bunker. The suicide plan was thought out well ahead of time, and he and Eva Braun both took steps to prepare.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Back page of the marriage certificate signed by Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler nee Braun on the morning of April 29, 1945. Hitler Items Personal and Political Will of Adolph Hitler Box 2A/Flickr/Stamp a Day.

12. Braun and Hitler Married on April 29, 1945

Hitler and Braun had been romantic partners for years but never wanted to tie the knot. Possibly so that she could receive a pension after his death, perhaps so that the two would somehow be united in death, the two wed in the underground bunker on April 29, 1945.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler and his German shepherd Blondi as seen in a photo taken at Berghof by Eva Braun. Stamp a Day.

11. One of Hitler’s Cyanide Pills Was Tested on His Dog

Hitler had a dog named Blondi. While living in the bunker, he would only emerge to take Blondi out for daily walks in the garden. Before committing suicide with a cyanide pill, he had one of the tablets given to Blondi. It killed her.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Adolf Hitler at his last “public” appearance, when he congratulated 20 members of the Hitler Youth for their bravery in combat. This took place in the garden of the Reich Chancellery 10 days before he committed suicide. Wikimedia Commons.

10. Hitler Dictated His Political Will and Personal Testament

By April 28, Allied forces were in Berlin, just a thousand yards away from Hitler’s bunker. He woke up his personal secretary, a woman named Gertrude Junge, and told her that he wanted to write out his will and testament. He instructed her to write it out in shorthand rather than type it.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
The sofa on which Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in theFührerbunker, Berlin, on April 30, 1945. Note the bloodstains on the arm rest. Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/Flickr/Stamp a Day.

9. The Duo Committed Suicide the Next Day

The day after Hitler’s marriage to Braun, he took a cyanide pill, which killed him. Braun died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It is likely that he did not intend for her to die with him, but she chose to commit suicide rather than be separated from him.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Ruins of the Führerbunker following demolition in 1947. Stamp a Day.

8. Berlin Fell Two Days Later

On May 2, 1945, Berlin fell to the Allied Powers. Five days later, Germany gave an unconditional surrender. The war was over, and Hitler was not alive to experience the greatest of humiliations. The communists that he had hated so much would despoil Berlin over the coming days and weeks.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
First page of “The Last Will and Political Testament of Adolph Hitler”, typed in the early morning hours of April 29, 1945. U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C./Hitler Items Personal and Political Will of Adolph Hitler Box 2A/Stamp a Day.

7. Hitler’s Will Wanted Germany to Continue Fighting Against the Jews

By the time Hitler had his will and testament dictated, Germany was facing an inevitable defeat. Though the nation that he had envisioned would fail, he charged in his will that Germany should continue to fight against its primal evil, the Jews.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
An American soldier stands near a wagon loaded with corpses outside the crematorium of the Buchenwald concentration camp, Germany, following its liberation. Parke O. Yingst (Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army) – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Photograph #60623/Wikimedia Commons.

6. His Legacy Involves the Deaths of Tens of Millions of People

As a result of the war that Hitler began, six million Jews, 20 million Soviets, and at least five million noncombatants died. The death toll of World War II was around 60 million people, making Hitler the greatest mass murder in all of human history.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
A portrait of Adolf Hitler when he was young. Harry McFee.

5. More Has Been Written About Hitler Than Any Other Person in History

Before Hitler, the person most written about was Napoleon, the French emperor who conquered much of Europe. However, more has been written about Hitler in the seven decades since his death than in the two centuries since Napoleon. He arguably shaped modern history more than anyone else.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler poses for the camera, 1930. German Federal Archives/Bundesarchiv, Bild/Wikimedia Commons.

4. Hitler Was Probably Not Insane

In the decades since his death, many try to analyze the man whose life caused an unprecedented level of human suffering. Why was he full of destruction? The popular conclusion has been that he was insane. However, he likely was in complete control of his actions and was fully aware of what he was doing.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Hitler between circa 1920 and 1924. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

3. He Had a Very Sharp Intellect

Hitler could remember seemingly meaningless details of events. One of his talents was having insight into his enemies’ minds, understanding what their weaknesses were, and being able to predict the moves that they would make. Historians use this acuity as further evidence that he was at fault for the war.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
LIFE correspondent Percy Knauth, left, sifts through debris in the shallow trench in the garden of the Reich Chancellery where, Knauth was told, the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were burned after their suicides. Flickr/Stamp a Day.

2. His and Braun’s Bodies Were Burned

After Hitler’s and Braun’s bodies were discovered, they were carried up into the chancellery garden, coated with gasoline, and burned. An eyewitness, Rochus Misch, reported that someone yelled, “Hurry upstairs, they’re burning the boss!” His officers at the bunker raised their arms in a final salute to him.

40 Facts About Adolf Hitler and His Dramatic Fall
Front page of the US Armed Forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes, May 2, 1945, announcing Hitler’s death. Stars and Stripes/Wikimedia Commons.

1. Stalin Found the Bodies

Stalin ordered that his army find the bodies of Hitler and Braun in order to ensure that they were really dead. In Soviet custody, the bodies were repeatedly disinterred until they were finally fully cremated in 1970. The ashes went into an unmarked grave.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are The Sources:

“Adolf Hitler,” by editors of biography.com. Biography.com. November 2, 2018

“Adolf Hitler,” by John Lukacs Wilfrid F. Knapp Alan Bullock, Baron Bullock. Encyclopedia Britannica. December 5, 2018.

“The Siblings of Adolf Hitler.” Hitler’s Children.

“Benito Mussolini (1883-1945).” BBC History.

“Eva Braun, the Führerbunker & Hitler’s Marriage.” A Stamp A Day.

Advertisement