Hitler and the Nazi Party rise to power in post-war Germany.

EARLY LIFE OF HITLER

Alois Hitler

1876: 39-year-old Alois, an illegitimate child, decides to use his adopted father’s name and legally changes his family name to Hiedler. However, it is registered under the variant of Hitler.

Birth of Adolf

1889: Alois’ third wife is Klara; his first cousin once removed. Klara gives birth to her fourth son, Adolf, in Austria. Alois and Klara’s first three children died young.

Anti-Semitic Vienna

Despite its 180,000 Jewish residents, Vienna is profoundly anti-semitic. The mayor, Karl Lueger, is an outspoken in his anti-Jewish views and the city has many anti-semitic newspapers.

Vienna Artist

1908: An 18 year old Adolf moves to Vienna to study art, but is twice rejected by their Academy of Fine Arts. His art career is a failure, but he becomes heavily influenced by the city’s anti-semitism.  

From early in Adolf’s life, there were rumors that his maternal grandfather was of Jewish descent. DNA tests of his descendents allow for that possibility, but it is not conclusive.

The Great War

1914: War erupts between the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary and Germany and the Allied Powers of France, the British Empire, Serbia, and the Russian Empire. Others soon join the great war.

Hitler’s Army Service

Despite being an Austrian citizen, 25-year-old Hitler is allowed to enlist in the German-allied Bavarian army. Much of Hitler’s infantry regiment are killed during the First Battle of Ypres.

Dispatch Runner

1915: Hitler works as a runner delivering messages for the German headquarters in Fournes-en-Weppes in France. He also draws cartoons and artwork for an army newspaper.

Wounded Hitler

1916: Hitler is wounded in his left thigh during the Battle of the Somme when a shell explodes at the entrance of a runners dugout. He spends two months in a hospital.

Iron Cross

1918: Hitler is awarded the Iron Cross, First Class military decoration. It is a rare award for someone of his rank, but it was recommended by his German Jewish Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann.

Weimar Republic

Germany’s war front is on the verge of collapse and the economy is severely depleted. When the people rebel, Emperor Wilhelm II is forced to abdicate his throne and Germany is declared a republic.

Armistice of 11 November 1918

German commanders argue that defeat is inevitable. The newly established German government signs an armistice with Allied Powers. It comes into effect at 11am on November 11th.

German Defeat

Adolf Hitler is temporarily blinded by a British mustard gas attack. While in the hospital, a pastor informs Hitler that Germany has surrendered and lost the war. 

More details about Germany and the Great War can be found on the Western Front page.

THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST PARTY

German Workers’ Party

1919: Railway toolmaker Anton Drexler co-founds a far-right political party in Munich with his co-workers. The group is nationalistic, antisemitic, anti-capitalist, and anti-communist.

Treaty of Versaille

Allies draft a treaty which blames Germany for all damages in the war. Germany must give up much territory, pay a reparation of $972 billion dollars*, and limit their military to 100,000 soldiers.

November Criminals

Members of the Weimar Republic that signed the Treaty of Versaille are called the November Criminals by Anton Drexler and other opponents. They accuse the government of being ruled by Jews and communists.

Hitler’s Membership

The army assigns Hitler to spy on the German Workers’ Party, but he soon joins the political party as its 55th member. Hitler’s strong speaking skills attract additional members to the group.

The reparation costs are adjusted for inflation and represented in U.S. dollars. The reparations at the time were 226 billion German gold marks.

National Socialist German Workers’ Party

1920: The German Workers’ Party is renamed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). Against Hitler’s wishes, the word socialist was added to appeal to left-wing workers.

National Socialist Program

Hitler announces a 25-Point Plan before 2000 members at a beer festival in Munich. It demands rights for all Germans across Europe and the abolishment of the treaty of Versaille.

Nazi Insult

In German, the word Nazi means backwards and clumsy peasant. Opponents of the political party abbreviate their German name, Nationalsozialistische, as an insult.

The Swastika

The Swastika is a popular symbol of luck and success in Europe. The Nazis adopt a black and tilted swastika as the insignia of their party, which is used on flags, badges, and armbands.

Hitler and his followers usually called themselves National Socialists. They rarely called themselves Nazis since it was a derogatory term. 

Führer Hitler

1921: Adolf Hitler becomes leader of the Nazi Party because of his strong speaking skills. He requests to be called Führer, which is a German term meaning leader or guide.

Nazi Stormtroopers

When hecklers disturb Nazi meetings, Hitler’s close friend and party member Ernst Röhm co-founds a paramilitary force to provide protection and intimidate opponents.

Youth Federation

1922: Germany has many political and religious youth groups. The Nationalist Socialist party establishes its own youth organization, which is a wing of the Stormtrooper paramilitary.

Beer Hall Putsch

1923: After an inspiring speech in a beer hall, Adolf Hitler and 2000 stormtroopers march to Munich to seize power from the Weimar Republic. Sixteen party members and four police officers are killed.

Hitler Imprisoned

1924: Adolf Hitler is arrested for the Beer Hall Putsch. After a 24-day trial, he is sentenced to five years in prison for treason. Due to the events, Hitler becomes a well-known figure in Germany.

Hitler Pardoned

While in prison, Hitler begins to write an autobiography which explains his political beliefs. After only serving one year in prison, the Bavarian Supreme Court pardons and releases Hitler.

Nazi Party Reformed

1925: Following his release from prison, Hitler reforms the National Socialist party. Initially a more moderate political party, it gradually grows to include 130,000 members.

Schutzstaffel

Hitler establishes a small personal guard unit known as the Schutzstaffel, a German name meaning Protection Squadron. The SS soon comes under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler.

Mein Kampf

1925-1926: Hitler publishes his autobiography which outlines the reasons for his anti-semitism and political ideology as well as his future plans for Germany. He names the writing My Struggle.

Hitler Youth

1926: The National Socialists youth organization disbanded following the Beer Hall Putsch. It is now reformed as the Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth.

League Acceptance

The League of Nations deems Germany a peace-loving country and accepts the nation as a permanent member. The League was established following the Great War to maintain world peace.

Nuremberg Rally

1927: A Nationalist Socialist Party rally is held in Nuremberg. The short propaganda film A Symphony of the Will to Fight is made about the rally. It vows to reclaim lost territory and reunite Germany.

German Federal Elections

1928: The Social Democratic Party once again wins Germany’s federal elections with 26% of the vote. The Nazi Party only wins 3% and contests the election results.   

The Great Depression

1929: The stock market crashes initiates a long economic depression in western industrial nations. Germany, financially supported by the United States, is hit hard by the depression.

German Federal Elections

1930: The Social Democratic Party once again wins Germany’s federal elections with 24% of the vote. The Nazi Party receives 18% of the votes and the Communist Party wins 13% of the vote.

Berlin Olympics

1931: Fourteen cities compete to host the 1936 Summer Olympics. In the final voting, Berlin, Germany wins the bid over Barcelona, Spain to host the summer games.  

Lawyer Hans Litten

Nazi Stormtroopers assault the left-wing Tranzaplast dance hall, which kills three people and injures twenty. German-Jewish lawyer Hans Litten is brought in to prosecute the attackers.

Tranzpalast Eden Trial

Hans Litten subpoenas Hitler to appear as a witness in the Tranzpalast  trial. Litten questions Hitler for three hours, accusing him of supporting such attacks. He also questions the legality of his party.

German Banking Crisis

 Already struggling with economic depression, a banking crisis further weakens the German economy. The unemployment rate gradually rises to an estimated 40%. Germany implements financial reforms.

Reich Flight Tax

In order to limit wealthy Germans from leaving the nation due to the financial reforms, President Hindenburg implements a tax for emigration. It only applies to Germans worth over $848,000 (U.S. Inflated).

Hans Litten’s father was Jewish and his mother was German.

Presidential Elections

1932: The Austrian-born Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization. It allows Hitler to run for president, but he is defeated by current President Hindenburg in the elections.

Lausanne Conference

The United Kingdom, Germany, and France hold a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. They agree to suspend Germany’s war reparations due to the ongoing financial depression.

July Federal Election

Promising to strengthen the economy, the Nazi Party wins the federal elections with 37% of the votes. The Social Democratic Party wins 21% and the Communist party wins 14% of the votes.

November Federal Election

Trying to avoid a motion of no confidence from the Communists and Nazis, President Hindenburg calls for another election. The Nazis win the elections, but lose a few seats to the Communists.

The next free and fair national elections were not held in West Germany until 1949 and in East Germany until 1990.

NAZI REVOLUTION

1933

Chancellor Hitler

January 30th: Conservative leaders and government advisors convince 84-year-old President Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor to break the stalemate in government.

The Reichstag Fire

February 27th-28th: The German parliament building in Berlin is severely damaged in an arson attack. Communist Marinus van der Lubbe is blamed for the fire and imprisoned.

The Reichstag Degree

Hitler argues that the arson is part of a larger effort of the communists to overthrow the government. President Hindenburg is convinced to give Hitler emergency powers to protect the people and the state.

Hans Litten’s Imprisonment

Hitler had not forgotten German-Jewish lawyer Hans Litten. A few hours after the Reichstag Fire, Litten and some of his colleagues are arrested and imprisoned without trial.   

Federal Elections

March 5th: Elections are held in Germany. Despite arresting many political opponents and intimidating voters, the Nazi Party only gains 43% of the votes and still has some opposition in government.

Ministry of Propaganda

March 13th: Hitler’s close friend Joseph Goebbels establishes a government office to control the content of art, newspapers, literature, film, music, radio, and theater.

Dachau Prison Camp

The Nazis convert an abandoned munitions factory in Dachau into a prison. The Nazi party begins to arrest and imprison communists and other political opponents in the concentration camp.

Enabling Act

March 24th: Using coercion, bribery, and manipulation, Hitler passes an act that gives the leading party and the chancellor powers to enact laws without the opposition from the president and other parties.

Dachau prison evolves into one of the earliest concentration camps.

The Nazi Party imprisoned an estimated 3.5 million Germans as political prisoners during its rule. 

Jewish Population

About 525,000 Jews live in Germany, with the majority living in Berlin. Due to the anti-semitic Nazi party coming to power, there is an increase in Jewish harassment.

Jewish Emigration

Many Jews emigrate from Germany in the first few months of Hitler coming into power. However, due to the ongoing Great Depression, many nations quickly put a limit on Jewish emigrants.

Madison Square Garden Protest

March 27th: American Jews protest against Nazi Germany in New York City. They demand that newly elected President Roosevelt allow more German Jews to migrate into the United States. 

Emigration of Einstein

Albert Einstein is visiting the United States when Nazis come to power. He flies to Belgium and goes to the German consulate to surrender his passport and formally renounce his German citizenship.

Anti-Nazi Boycott

Jewish groups around the world call for a boycott of German goods in protest of the anti-semitic Nazi regime. However, fearing reprisal, German Jews call for an end to the boycott.

Anti-Jewish Boycott

April 1st: In response to the German boycott, Nazis initate their own boycott. Stormtroopers prevent people from entering Jewish businesses and spray paint anti-semitic slogans on doors and windows.

Civil Service Restoration Act

April 7th: A law is passed that bans Jewish and communists from working in government, law offices, and schools. Public workers must also get a certificate that confirms they are Aryan.

Irmgard Litten

Lawyer Hans Litten is severely tortured and moved around in different prison camps. Irmgard Litten, mother of Hans, attempts to find her son and secure his release through a writing campaign.

Nazi Book Burnings

The German Student Union becomes increasingly dedicated to Nazism. They conduct an on-going campaign to burn books they consider having dangerous religious and political ideas.

Unofficial German Military

Germany is still under sanctions and can’t openly build their military. The president also has authority over the army. Nazi stormtroopers becomes Germany’s unofficial army.

Reich Leader Röhm

Ernst Röhm is a close friend of Hitler and captain of the Nazi Stormtroopers. Hitler promotes Röhm to Reich Leader; the second-highest political position in Nazi Germany.

One-Party State

Nazi’s pass the Law Against the Founding of New Parties. It proclaims the National Socialist Party as the only official political party in Germany and bans other political parties.

Sterilization Law

The Nazis enact the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. It calls for the compulsory sterilization for any German deemed to have a genetic disorder.

Reichskonkordat

A treaty is negotiated between Nazi Germany and Vatican. When bishops take office, they are now required to swear loyalty to the German President and barred from working for any political party.

Reich Chamber of Culture

Joseph Goebbels establishes a cultural government agency by law to control every aspect of cultural life in Germany. Every artist has to apply for membership with a valid Aryan certificate.

German Withdrawal

Negotiations between Germany and France fail at the League of Nations’ World Disarmament Conference in Switzerland. In response, Hitler withdraws Germany from the League of Nations.

Reichskonkordat means Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich. The controversial agreement is still in force today and is viewed as a treaty for the separation of church and state.

German Federal Elections

November 12th: Parliamentary elections are held with a voting list that only contains the Nazi party and supporters. The Nazi win 92% of the vote. However, 3.3 million votes are considered invalid.

The Gestapo

Nazi leader Hermann Göring combines political police agencies into a single secret state police. Initially established in German-controlled Prussia, the Gestapo is soon given authority throughout Germany.

Strength Through Joy

The Nazis create an organization to provide state-paid leisure activities, sporting events, and vacations. It is used to promote Nazi propaganda and prevent anti-state behavior.

Beauty of Labour

A department is opened in the Strength Through Joy organization to improve employment conditions. The Nazi increase the beauty, cleanliness, and propaganda in workplaces.

Gestapo is an abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei, which is German for Secret State Police.

1934

Pact of the Deutschland

April: It is the German President’s duty to appoint officers in the military. Hitler’s persuades military officials to support his bid for president by promising to greatly increase the armed forces.

Night of the Long Knives

June 30th-July 2nd: Ernst Röhm calls for the Nazi’s Stormtroopers to merge with the German army under his command. Concerned about a rival, Hitler has Ernst and other paramilitary leaders executed.

Concentration Camp Inspectorate

A regulative body is established to create and maintain concentration camps. Dachau prison camp leader Theodor Eicke, who personally shot Ernst Röhm, is promoted to chief inspector of the group.

Police State

The Protection Squadron (SS) becomes the primary force for security and surveillance in Nazi Germany. They also run concentration camps. The SS is headed by Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazi prisons are named concentration camps due to their high concentration of specific political and ethnic groups.

Law Concerning the Highest Office

August 1st: With President Hindenburg on his death bed, the Nazi government passes a law which merges the office of president and office of chancellor upon the Hindenburg’s death.

Reich Chancellor & President

August 2nd: President Hindenburg dies and Hitler becomes the head of both the state and the government. Following a referendum, Hitler officially assumes the new title of Führer und Reichskanzler.

1934 Nuremberg Rally

September: The annual Nazi rally in Nuremberg is attended by 700,000 supporters. Over 150 anti-aircraft searchlights are used to create a light show, which becomes a common feature of Nazi rallies.

German Faith Movement

A popular movement emerges in Nazi Germany that calls for Germany to move away from Christianity towards a religion based on mix of Nazi ideas and Germanic paganism.

Nazis experimenting with the occult becomes popular in pseudohistory media and pop culture. However, except for minor dabbling in Germanic Paganism, there is minimal evidence of Nazi Occultism.

THE THIRD REICH

The German Reich

1935: As the successor of the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire, Nazi Germany becomes known as the Third Reich. Hilter orders the Nazi swastika to be the German National Flag.

Nazi Rearmament

The German Air force, the Luftwaffe, is created in Nazi Germany. In violation of the Treaty of Versaille, Hitler also announces the rearmament of Germany and compulsory military service for aryans.

Triumph of the Will

Hitler commissions the creation of a propaganda film using footage from the Nuremberg rally. The film promises that through Hitler and the Nazi party Germany will again become a great power.

Defense Law

Nazi Germany issues a law for compulsory military service for Aryans. It stipulates that only Aryans can serve in the military and specifically bans Jews from military service.

American Einstein

Albert Einstein decides to apply for citizenship in the United-States. Along with many intellectuals fleeing Europe, he joins the newly created Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

Freemason Ban

Adolf Hilter accuses Masons of conspiring with Jews to create a New World Order and bans Masonic Lodges. Many Freemasons are sent to concentration camps.

Nuremberg Laws

A law is passed that strips Jewish and Black people of their German citizenship. Additionally, there is a ban on marriage and sexual intercourse between aryan and non-aryan races.

Lebensborn

Himmler founds an association called the Fount of Life to help increase the birth rate of Aryan children. Unmarried women are encouraged to mate with SS soldiers and give birth anonymously.

Between 1939 and 1945, women that gave birth to racially pure children were awarded the Cross of Honour of the German Mother.

The Lebensborn association kidnapped racially pure children from occupied nations during World War II.

Remilitarization of the Rhineland

1936: The Nazis, against the Treaty of Versaille, deploy the German military to the Rhine River region. Unwilling to risk war and having limited military, the French and British do not intervene.

Olympic Boycott

Hitler states that Black and Jewish people should not participate in the upcoming Olympics. However, when nations threaten to boycott the event, Hitler is forced to limit his racial discrimination.

Romani Persecution

The Nuremberg laws are expanded to include the nomadic Romani people. Wanting to “clean” the host city, the Nazis arrest all Romani living in Berlin and place them in internment camps.

Berlin Olympic Games

The 1936 Summer Olympics take place in Berlin, Germany. It is the first live television coverage of an international sports event. Some Jewish athletes are sidelined to avoid offending the Nazis. 

The Nazis also initiated a genocide on the Romani. The Romani are sometimes referred to as Gypsies in the English language, though some view the term as a racial slur.

Italo-German Axis

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy establish an alliance. During a speech in Milan, Italian leader Benito Mussolini states that all European countries will collaborate on the Rome-Berlin axis.

Anti-Comintern Pact

Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan sign an anti-communist pact. In the event of a communist attack, the two nations agree to safeguard their common interests. Italy soon joins the pact.

Compulsory Youth Group

The Nazis pass a law which declares the Hitler Youth to be the only legal youth group in Germany. Furthermore, it is mandatory for all Aryan boys aged 10 to 18 to join the organization.

Juden Raus! Board Game

A commercial board game called Jew Out! is released in Germany. Players take turns rolling dice and moving their Jews. The first player to move six Jews to Palestine wins the game.

The alliance of Germany, Japan, and Italy became known as the Axis powers.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

1936-1937: The Nazis build a new concentration camp near Berlin with forced prison labour. It becomes the administrative center for all camps and the training center for SS officers. 

With Deep Anxiety

1937: Pope Pius XI writes a letter in German instead of the usual Latin and smuggles copies into German churches. It condemns the exaltation of race and the state. The Nazis raid churches to confiscate the letter.

Hindenburg Disaster

German airship Hindenburg departs from Frankfurt, Germany for the United States. The airship catches fire and crashes while docking in New Jersey. The accident kills 13 passengers and 22 crewmen.

Volkswagen Beetle

The Nazi party aims to build an affordable vehicle for Germans. Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche develop the Volkswagen, which means People’s Car. Their first car is nicknamed the Beetle.

Reichswerke Hermann Göring

Germany is struggling to acquire enough iron resources to build its military. An industrial conglomerate is founded in Nazi Germany to help improve ore mining and steel production.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

July 15th: The largest concentration camp within Germany is opened near the city of Weimar. Communists, or those accused of Communism, are the first prisoners to be brought to the camp.

Preventive Suppression of Crime

December 14th: Chief of German Police Himmler decrees that the police does not require evidence of a criminal act to detain individuals suspected of asocial or criminal behavior.

The Eternal Jew

1937-1938: Joseph Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda sponsor an antisemitic art exhibition in Munich. It features sensational news reports and caricatures of Jews. A film is also soon created. 

NAZI EXPANSION

1938

German Unification

Austria was part of the German Confederation, but was expelled during the German Civil War in 1866. However, many Austrians desire reunification to form what is known as Greater Germany.

Austrian Referendum

March 9th: Under pressure from the pro-unification faction, Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg announces that Austria will vote on whether to join in a union with Nazi Germany or remain independent.

Annexation of Austria

March 12th: Hitler argues that the Austrian referendum is set up to favour Austrian independence. The Nazi military enters Austria and annexes the nation claiming it to be the will of the people.

German Referendum

April 10th: Elections are held in Germany and Austria. It has a single question: Do you approve the Nazi government and the recent annexation of Austria? It is reported that 99.1% voted yes to the question.

Germany’s annexation of Austria is known as the Anschluss, which is German for Joining.

Jewish Property Registration

April-June: German Jews are forced to register any wealth, property, and businesses. In the summer, they are prohibited from trading, providing commercial services, and practicing medicine.

Évian Conference

President Roosevelt organizes a conference in France to help Jews fleeing from Nazi regime. However, the delegates from 32 nations fail to come to an agreement about the Jewish refugees.

Manifesto of Race

Fascist Italy strips Jews of their Italian citizenship and removes them from professional positions. The racial laws are unpopular among Italians and Mussolini states he is only doing it for political reasons.

Polenaktion

The Nazis expel the 12,000 Polish Jews living in Germany. However, when Poland refuses their emigration, the Jews are forced to live in encampments along the Germany-Poland border.

Sudetenland Crisis

Hitler demands the liberation of Sudetenland Germans and threatens to invade the region of Czechoslovakia. Leaders of England, France, and Italy meet with Hitler in Munich to resolve the crisis.

Oster Conspiracy

High ranking officers of the German military do not believe that Nazi Germany is ready for war. They conspire to overthrow Hitler and the Nazi regime if Germany goes to war over Sudetenland.

Munich Agreement

A treaty is signed that grants Hitler Sudetenland. In exchange, Hitler pledges to stop his expansion. Prime Minister Chamberlain returns to Britain and declares Peace for our time in a speech about the treaty.

Munich Betrayal

The Czechs were not at the meeting and, despite having an alliance with France, are forced to surrender Sudetenland. The mountainous region had been highly fortified by the Czech military. 

Identity Cards

German Jews are forced to carry identity cards and passports must be stamped with the letter J. Jews with non-Jewish names must also add Israel or Sara to their given names by the end of the year.

Diplomat Assassination

Seventeen-year old Polish Jew Herschel Grynszpan, whose family was expelled from Germany, walks into the German Embassy in Paris and assassinates German diplomat Ernst vom Rath.

Night of Broken Glass

In response to the murder, Nazi paramilitary and some residents in Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland smash Jewish buildings. Many Jews are killed and thousands are arrested in the two day riot.

Jewish Capital Levy

Two days after the riots, the Nazis fine German Jews one billion Reichmarks for the hostile attitude of Judaism towards the German people. Jews are forced to give 20% of their property to pay the fine.

The Night of Broken Glass is known as Kristallnacht in German, which means Crystal Night. 

The Night of Broken Glass is considered the official start of the Holocaust. Jewish persecution transitioned from economical and political to violent and murderous.

Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

1939: The foreign ministers of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia sign a mutual non-aggression pact. The pact also contains a secret protocol which divides Eastern Europe between the two nations.

Nazi Invasion of Poland

Nazi soldiers wearing Polish uniforms seize a German radio station in the city of Gleiwitz and broadcast an anti-Nazi message. Hitler condemns the act and invades western Poland.

War Declarations

Britain and France demand the immediate withdrawal of Germany from Poland. When the ultimatums are ignored, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Australia and India declare war on Nazi Germany.

Soviet Invasion of Poland

Seventeen days after the Nazi invasion, Soviet Russia invades eastern Poland. Germany and Russia divide Poland under the terms of the secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

EPILOGUE

Nazi Germany’s Invasion of Poland marks the beginning of World War II.