Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun

Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 – April 30, 1945) was Chancellor of Germany from 1933, and "Führer" (Leader) of Germany from 1934 until his death. He was leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), better known as the Nazi Party. Hitler gained power in a Germany facing crisis after World War I. Using propaganda and charismatic oratory, he was able to appeal to the economic need of the lower and middle classes, while sounding resonant chords of nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-communism. With the establishment of a restructured economy, a rearmed military, and a totalitarian and fascist regime, Hitler pursued an aggressive foreign policy with the intention of expanding German Lebensraum ("living space"), which triggered World War II when Germany invaded Poland. At its greatest extent, Nazi Germany occupied most of Europe, but, was eventually defeated, along with the other Axis Powers, by the Allies. At war's end, Hitler's ambitions and racial policies had culminated in the killing of approximately 11 million people, including the genocide of some 6 million Jews, in what is now known as the Holocaust. In the final days of the war, Hitler, along with his new wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin, as the city was being overrun by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

Childhood and heritage
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 at Braunau am Inn, Austria, a small town in Upper Austria, bordering Germany. He was the third son and fourth child of six. His father, Alois Hitler, (born Schicklgruber), (1837–1903), was a minor customs official; and his mother, Klara Pölzl, (1860–1907), Alois' second cousin, was his father's third wife. Because of the close kinship of the two, a special papal dispensation had to be obtained before the marriage could take place, both being Roman Catholic. Of Alois and Klara's six children, only Adolf and his younger sister Paula reached adulthood. Hitler's father also had a son, Alois Jr., and a daughter, Angela, by his second wife. There were no children by his first wife. Adolf Hitler's father, Alois, was born illegitimate and for the first thirty-nine years of his life bore his mother's surname, Schicklgruber. However, in 1876, Alois began using the surname of his stepfather, Johann Georg Hiedler, after visiting a priest who was responsible for birth registries. The priest declared that Johann Hiedler was Alois' father (Alois gave the impression that Georg was still alive but he was long dead). The name was variously spelled Hiedler, Huetler, Huettler and Hitler and probably changed to "Hitler" by a clerk. The origin of the name is considered to be either from the German word Hittler and similar, "one who lives in a hut", "shepherd", or from the Slavic word Hidlar and Hidlarcek.

Later, Adolf Hitler was accused by his political enemies of not rightfully being a Hitler, but a Schicklgruber. This was also exploited in Allied propaganda during World War II when pamphlets bearing the phrase "Heil Schicklgruber" were airdropped over German cities.[citation needed] Adolf was legally born a Hitler, however, and was also closely related to Hiedler through his maternal grandmother, Johanna Hiedler. Hitler's given name, "Adolf", comes from the Old High German for "noble wolf" ("Adel"="nobility" + "wolf").[1] Hence, not surprisingly, one of Hitler's self-given nicknames was Wolf or Herr Wolf — he began using this nickname in the early 1920s and was addressed by it only by intimates (as "Uncle Wolf" by the Wagners) up until the fall of the Third Reich.[2] By his closest family and relatives, Hitler was known simply as "Adi". The names of his various headquarters scattered throughout continental Europe (Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Wolfsschlucht in France, Werwolf in Ukraine, etc.) seem to reflect this.

As a boy, Hitler was whipped almost daily by his father. Years later he told his secretary, "I then resolved never again to cry when my father whipped me. A few days later I had the opportunity of putting my will to the test. My mother, frightened, took refuge in the front of the door. As for me, I counted silently the blows of the stick which lashed my rear end." Hitler was not sure who his paternal grandfather was, but it was probably either Johann Georg Hiedler or his brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. There have been rumours that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish [1] and that his paternal grandmother, Maria Schicklgruber, had become pregnant after working as a servant in a Jewish household in Graz. During the 1920s, the implications of these rumours along with his known family history were politically explosive, especially for the proponent of a racist ideology. Opponents tried to prove that Hitler, the leader of the anti-Semitic Nazi Party, had Jewish or Czech ancestors. Although these rumours were never confirmed, for Hitler they were reason enough to conceal his origins. Soviet propaganda insisted Hitler was a Jew, though more modern research tends to diminish the probability that he had Jewish ancestors. According to Robert G. L. Waite in The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, Hitler made it illegal for German women to work in Jewish households, and after the "Anschluss" (annexation) of Austria, Hitler had his father's hometown obliterated by turning it into an artillery practice area. Hitler seemed to fear that he was Jewish, and as Waite points out, this fact is more important than whether he actually was.

Because of Alois Hitler's profession, his family moved frequently, from Braunau to Passau, Lambach, Leonding, and Linz. As a young child, Hitler was reportedly a good student at the various elementary schools he attended; however, in sixth grade (1900–1), his first year of high school (Realschule) in Linz, he failed completely and had to repeat the grade. His teachers reported that he had "no desire to work." One of Hitler's classmates in the Linz Realschule was Ludwig Wittgenstein, who went on to become one of the great philosophers of the 20th century. Hitler later explained this educational slump as a kind of rebellion against his father Alois, who wanted the boy to follow him in a career as a customs official, although Adolf wanted to become a painter. This explanation is further supported by Hitler's later description of himself as a misunderstood artist. However, after Alois died on January 3, 1903, when Adolf was 13, Hitler's schoolwork did not improve. At the age of 16, Hitler left school with no qualifications.

Mein Kampf
While at Landsberg he dictated his political book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his deputy Rudolf Hess. The book, dedicated to Thule Society member Dietrich Eckart, was both an autobiography and an exposition of his political ideology. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926 respectively, selling about 240,000 copies between 1925 and 1934 alone. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies had been sold or distributed (every newly-wed couple, as well as front soldiers, received free copies). Hitler spent years dodging taxes on the royalties of his book, and had accumulated a tax debt of about 405,500 Reichsmarks (€6m in today's money) by the time he became chancellor (at which time his debt was waived).