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Adolph Hitler

Hitler's Early Life
Adolf Hitler was born in Linz, Austria on April 20, 1889 to Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl. Of his father's three marriages, Adolf was the fifth out of seven children. His only surviving siblings, however, were his younter sister Paula, illegitimate half-brother Alois, and half-sister Angela. He and his father were never very close, and it has been suggested that this was due to Adolf's lack of ambition and complete indifference to his schooling (Bullock, 4). Adolf's father died in 1903, leaving Klara Plozl a widowed mother drawing a pension to take care of her children. During these early years, Adolf was mostly indifferent toward schooling, either not willing or not able to perform on a higher-than-average level. Before his education was even complete, and two years after his father's death, Hitler left school in hopes of pursuing dreams in an art related field.

However, Hitler's dreams of becoming an artist were consistently thwarted by his mediocrity.

Hitler's Legal Rise to Power

After the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Adolph Hitler realized that he would probably never be able to come to power by overthrowing the government. Thus he made the decision to come to power, as much as possible, through legal means. The fact that this plan was successful is, perhaps, the most frightening aspect of Adolph Hitler's rise to power. In the end, he had managed to accomplish it completely within the sphere of legality as outlined by the Weimar Republic that was in place at the time. The infamous "Article 48" of the Weimar Constitution allowed that, in times of crisis, the president of the Republic had the right to rule temporarily without consent of the Reichstag (the German parliament). Hitler made use of this article to eventually form an authoritarian rule, one which was created from the very laws of the republic it destroyed. When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, he immediately set out to put his plans in motion. The Enabling Act, which was passed on March 23 of 1933, allowed Hitler to abolish the Reichstag and issue laws even if they went against the Weimar Constitution. Thus, completely by law, Adolph Hitler and the Nazis were able to establish a dictatorship.

One of the most prominent points of Hitler's ideology was his belief in the "pure Aryan race," which was superior to all other world races. This belief led to one of the most featured aspects of the Nazi rule. The word "Aryan," which literally denoted any group of Indo-European speakers of the Aryan language, was to become a convenient tool for Hitler's ideals of pan-Germanism. He proclaimed that all people of true German, or "Aryan," descent were true German citizens. By the same law, all people residing in the German state who were not of pure German lineage would not be considered citizens. The Nazis, under Hitler, set out to "Aryanize" Germany by removing other races from control of big business in the country. Eventually, the attempts to Aryanize extended as far as the act of removing Polish children of Aryan appearance from their families for adoption by German families.

This program began quite legally. Hitler and the Nazis formed and passed laws, with the power of the Enabling Act, which at first encumbered and finally destroyed Jewish businesses in Germany and Austria. Laws were passed which forbade Jews from working in government jobs, followed by laws boycotting Jewish businesses altogether. Finally, in 1935, the Nazis held a conference at Nuremburg which ended with a law denying citizenship to any "racial" Jews, even if they were to convert to Christianity. Even families that had long ago converted were judged on lineage alone. Hitler was eventually to develop an entire office within his government that was dedicated to tracing lineage, and if a person was found to have had even one person within his family that was Jewish by blood, his rights of citizenship were stripped from him.

Krystallnacht, or "the Night of Shattered Glass," an internally organized pogrom against Jewish businesses, was perhaps the first major insight into Hitler's determination to completely rid the country of Jews. This undertaking, organized by Hitler's S.A., was a decisive move in the Aryanization and "purification" of Germany and Austria which would become law in Nazi Germany. Hitler's ideals of an Arayn nation and pure German race, enforced by violence, were being realized. The fact that they were all pursued in a legal context discouraged most resistance that may have arisen against the Nazis.

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