Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who served as the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (aka the Nazi Party, or [[Nazis]]) and the Chancellor and dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was the driving force behind [[The Holocaust]] and the primary instigator of World War II, events that led to the deaths of millions of people by [[genocide]] (see: [[World War II Timeline]]). ## Early life Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary near the German border. He was the fourth of six children born to Alois Hitler, a customs official, and Klara Pölzl. Hitler's family moved several times during his childhood, and he struggled academically, eventually dropping out of school at the age of 16. He developed a passion for art and architecture and moved to Vienna in 1907 to pursue a career as an artist. However, he failed to gain admission to the Academy of Fine Arts. During his time in Vienna, Hitler lived in poverty and became exposed to various political ideologies, including [[nationalism]], [[antisemitism]], and socialism. ## World War I In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich, Germany, and when [[World War I]] broke out in 1914, he enlisted in the Bavarian army. He served as a soldier on the Western Front, where he was wounded and awarded several medals for bravery, including the Iron Cross First Class. During the war, Hitler developed a deep hatred for the perceived enemies of Germany and was greatly disillusioned by the country's defeat in 1918. The war significantly influenced his beliefs, as he saw the defeat of Germany and the [[Treaty of Versailles]] as a humiliation, and he held deep resentment towards the Weimar Republic, which he considered a weak and ineffective government. ## Formation of the Nazi Party After the war, Hitler returned to Munich and joined the German Workers' Party (DAP) in 1919. He quickly rose through the ranks and became the party's main speaker. In 1920, the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), or Nazi Party, and adopted the swastika as its symbol. Hitler's charismatic speeches and his ability to mobilize and inspire followers attracted attention, and the [[Nazis]] began to grow in size and influence. ## Beer Hall Putsch and Mein Kampf The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, occurred on November 8-9, 1923, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party attempted to seize power in Munich, Germany. The coup was poorly planned and executed, and it ultimately failed when the police and military intervened. Hitler was arrested and charged with treason. While in prison for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler wrote his autobiographical book and political manifesto, "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle). The book outlined his extreme nationalist and antisemitic views, his hatred for the Weimar Republic, and his plans for Germany's future, including aggressive foreign policy. The book later became the ideological foundation of the Nazi Party. ## Rise to power After his release from prison in 1924, Hitler began to rebuild the Nazi Party. He capitalized on the economic turmoil and social unrest in Germany during the late 1920s and early 1930s, which was exacerbated by [[The Great Depression]]. The Nazi Party steadily gained support, and by 1932, it had become the largest party in the Reichstag, Germany's parliament. In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, and he quickly consolidated power and suppressed opposition parties. He established a dictatorship and began implementing his policies, including the persecution and eventual extermination of Jews, homosexuals, disabled people, and other minority groups -- a genocidal atrocity which came to be known as the Holocaust. ## World War II In 1939, Hitler signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, allowing him to invade Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. This triggered the start of World War II. Hitler's military successes in Europe and Africa, as well as his alliance with Japan, led him to believe in his invincibility and to plan for the conquest of the world. However, the tide of the war turned against Germany after the Soviet Union's successful defense of Stalingrad and the D-Day invasion of France by Allied forces. Hitler's health also began to deteriorate, and he became increasingly paranoid and erratic in his decision-making. ### Hitler's drug addiction There is evidence to suggest that Hitler was addicted to a variety of drugs during his lifetime, particularly in the later years of World War II. He was reportedly taking a combination of medications, including amphetamines, barbiturates, and opioids, which were administered to him by his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell. Hitler's reliance on drugs has been documented in various sources, including the memoirs of his aides and the diaries of his personal physician. According to these accounts, Hitler suffered from numerous health problems, including stomach issues, insomnia, and chronic pain. Morell reportedly treated these issues with a range of medications, some of which were experimental and potentially dangerous. Some historians have suggested that Hitler's drug use may have contributed to his increasingly erratic behavior and decision-making in the final years of the war. Norman Ohler's book [Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich]( explores the largely untold history of drug use not only by Hitler, but by the Nazi regime more broadly -- making a compelling argument that the extreme combination of feelings of aggression and invincibilityevinced by the [[Nazis]] may have been in part chemically induced. ## End of WWII In April 1945, with Allied forces closing in on Berlin, Hitler retreated to his bunker beneath the city. On April 30th, he committed suicide alongside his wife, Eva Braun. The war officially ended a week later, with Germany's unconditional surrender. At the war's end, Hitler was considered the personification of evil and the embodiment of the aggressor who had brought about the devastation of Europe and the world. The Allies held him responsible for the deaths of millions of people, and their goal was to bring him and his accomplices to justice. He is still widely regarded as one of history's most evil and despised figures. Hitler's name is often invoked as a metaphor for the worst of humanity's dark impulses, and the horrors of [[totalitarianism]] at scale. We have yet to fully unpack the relationship between extreme [narcissism and evil]( -- which Buddhist thinkers began warning us about thousands of years ago, and the scientific community of psychologists as well as academic theorists have [studied more recently]( in our attempts to prevent such moral disasters from reoccurring.