English Across the Curriculum

World War II

Adolf Hitler and the Rise of the NSDAP

Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria on April 20, 1889 and spent most of his childhood in Linz. He was not a very good student and dreamt of becoming a painter. In 1913 he moved to Munich and volunteered for the Germany Army when World War I broke out.

Germany lost the war, and the Treaty of Versailles punished the country very severely. It lost its overseas colonies and had to give up its Saar coal region to France. It was only allowed to have a small army and building ships was forbidden. The treaty also made Germany pay a lot of money to Great Britain and France for the damage caused by the war. Hitler was angry at the Allies because he thought they had treated his homeland in an unfair way.

After the war life became very difficult for the Germans. The Great Depression forced many of them out of work and made money almost worthless. Many Germans believed that only a strong leader could make their nation proud again.

After returning to Munich Hitler became the leader of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or Nazis. The party’s emblem was an old hooked cross called swastika . Hitler was a powerful speaker and crowds of followers came to his meetings.

Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons


In 1923 Adolf Hitler tried to overthrow the German government. He failed and had to go to prison for nine months. There he wrote his book “Mein Kampf”. In it he looked for solutions to Germany's problems.

Hitler spoke in a style that many people liked. He blamed Jews, Communists and other groups for all the problems that the country had and said that only if pure Germans, which he called Aryans, controlled the country it would return to greatness .

By January 1933 Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist party took over power. He became a dictator, a leader with complete control and created the Third Reich. The Nazis acted quickly against everyone who was against them. They outlawed all other political parties. People who opposed the new government were often murdered.

Once in control he started persecuting the Jews. He also began strengthening the German army and creating jobs for the population. This made him increasingly popular among many Germans.

The Nazis tried to get teenagers to follow Adolf Hitler and his party. These teenagers were organized in groups called the “Hitler Youth” where they chanted Nazi slogans and sang songs in honour of the Fuehrer.

By 1944 the war was going badly for Hitler and the Third Reich. Some of his officers wanted to end the war and save the country from destruction. They tried to kill him by planting a bomb in his office, but Hitler escaped without injuries. Eventually he realized that Germany had lost the war. He committed suicide on April 30th 1945 in Berlin. Eva Braun, his mistress, died with him.

American army newspaper announcing the death of Hitler
Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S62600 / CC-BY-SA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons