Adolf Hitler

From Encyc
Adolf Hitler (center) and Hermann Goering (left) at Tempelhof airfield (1932)

Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, popularly known as the Nazi Party. He was the dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945, known as the Fuhrer.

A failed artist as a young man, he was a vegetarian and liked German Shepherds. He also was possibly addicted to amphetamines, administered by a doctor via repeated injections.

A decorated veteran of World War I, Hitler joined the Nazi Party in 1920 and became its leader in 1921. Following his imprisonment after a failed coup in 1923, he gained support by promoting nationalism, antisemitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and propaganda. He was appointed chancellor in 1933, and quickly established a totalitarian and fascist dictatorship. Hitler pursued a foreign policy with the declared goal of seizing Lebensraum ("living space") for Germany. His rebuilt Wehrmacht invaded Poland in 1939, leading to the outbreak of World War II.

Within three years, Germany and the Axis powers occupied most of Europe and large parts of Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean. However, the Allies gained the upper hand from 1942 onward and in 1945 Allied armies invaded Germany from all sides. During the war, he directed his forces to commit numerous atrocities, including the systematic killing of as many as 17 million civilians, millions of prisoners of war, and the genocide of an estimated six million Jews, a crime known as the Holocaust.

During the final days of the war in 1945, Hitler married his long-time mistress Eva Braun. Less than 40 hours later, the two committed suicide.