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Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau, Austria, a small town across the Inn River from Germany. Soon after Hitler's birth, his father, Alois Hitler, moved the family to Linz, Austria. Hitler attended school in Linz and at first was a good student, but in high school he was a very poor student. Hitler's academic abilities angered his father because his father hoped that Hitler would study to become a government worker as he had been. Hitler, however, wanted to become an artist. In 1907, Hitler went to Vienna Austria in an attempt to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist. This attempt ended when he failed the entrance exam to the Academy of Fine Arts. When Hitler's mother died in 1907, he decided to remain in Vienna. He took the entrance exam a year later and failed again. He did not have steady work in Vienna, but, instead, took a variety of odd jobs. He lived in cheap rooming houses or slept on park benches and he often had to get meals from charity kitchens. During his time in Vienna Hitler learned to hate non-Germans. Hitler was a German-speaking Austrian and considered himself German. He ridiculed the Austrian government for recognizing eight languages as official and believed that no government could last if it treated ethnic groups equally. In 1913, Hitler went to Munich, Germany and when the First World War began in 1914, he volunteered for service in the German army. Hitler was given the job of despatch-runner. It was a dangerous job as it involved carrying messages from regimental headquarters to the front-line. Hitler won five medals including the prestigious Iron Cross during the First World War but only rose to the rank of corporal. When the First World War ended Hitler was in a hospital recovering from temporary blindness caused by a poison gas attack. Hitler went into a state of deep depression when he heard of the German surrender. The Versailles Treaty that ended the war stripped Germany of much of its territory, forced the country to disarm, and ordered Germany to pay huge reparations. The country was bankrupt and millions of people were unemployed. In 1919, Hitler joined the German Workers Party. In 1920 the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis) and published its first programme which became known as the "25 Points". In the programme the Nazis called for all Germans to unite into one nation, a strong central government and the cancellation of the Versailles Treaty. In 1921 Hitler became leader of the Nazi party and built up membership quickly, mostly because of his oratory skills and powerful speeches. Hitler organized an army for the Nazi party called the Storm Troopers ("Brown Shirts") who were called upon to fight groups seeking to disrupt the Nazi rallies. On November 9, 1923, Hitler led more than 2,000 Storm Troopers on a march to seize the Bavarian government - the Munich Putsch. The putsch failed and Hitler was arrested and sentenced to prison for five years for treason. While in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In this book he stated his beliefs and plans for Germany's future. Hitler only served nine months in prison and when he was released, he began to rebuild the party again. He realized that to gain power he needed to use legal means rather than violence. He also set up a private elite bodyguard known as the "Schutzstaffel" (SS). By 1929, the Nazis were only a minor political party. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 and subsequent depression gave Hitler and the Nazis their chance to achieve power. Hitler protested that the Jews and Communists were the cause of Germany's problems. He promised to rid Germany of Jews and Communists and to reunite the German speaking part of Europe. In July 1932, the Nazis received about 40% of the vote and became the strongest party in Germany. On January 30 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor of Germany. Once in this position, Hitler moved quickly toward attaining a dictatorship. When von Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler already had control of Germany and he gave himself the title "Fuhrer" (leader). Under Hitler's government, called the Third Reich, there was no place for freedom. The government controlled every part of one's life. Hitler used extensive propaganda to brainwash the nation into believing his theory about creating the perfect Aryan race. Therefore, it was Hitler's plan to rid the nation and eventually the world of Jews, Gypsies, Negroes, handicapped, and mentally ill persons. This plan was called the "Final Solution." The Second World War began in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland to begin his unification of all German-speaking peoples. By this time extermination camps were being established throughout Germany, Poland, and Russia. Many people tried to assassinate Hitler. The most dramatic of these attempts was the July Plot. On July 20, 1944, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who was attending one of Hitler's military conferences, placed a bomb in a briefcase under the table. When the bomb exploded it killed four people and seriously injured ten others, but Hitler only suffered minor cuts and burns. In January 1945, the Soviet troops entered Nazi Germany. It was suggested that Hitler should try to escape. Hitler rejected the idea as he feared the possibility of being captured. He had heard stories of how the Soviet troops planned to parade him through the streets of Germany in a cage. To prevent this humiliation Hitler decided to commit suicide. Two days before his death Hitler married Eva Braun. Braun agreed to commit suicide with him. On April 30 1945 the Soviet troops were only 300 yards away from Hitler's underground bunker. Defeat was inevitable. Hitler made a will leaving all his property to the Nazi Party. After saying their farewells Hitler and Eva Braun went into a private room and took cyanide tablets. Hitler also shot himself in the head. His body was then cremated and his ashes were hidden in the Chancellery grounds. Seven days later, Germany surrendered.
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