Why Famous: Adolf Hitler’s policies led to World War II in Europe and the Holocaust.


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Hitler served in the German army in World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery twice.

After the war he became the leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party. As leader he attacked the Treaty of Versailles, promoted Pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism and anti-communism.

His charismatic oratory backed by Nazi propaganda found a receptive audience in Germany during the Great Depression.

Appointed chancellor in 1933, Hitler quickly consolidated power. Appointing himself Führer in 1934 he soon turned Germany into a totalitarian one party dictatorship.

His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the removal of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans.

Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

He directed large-scale rearmament and on September 1st, 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany.

In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa.

Failure to defeat the Soviet Union and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and ultimately its defeat.

With the Red Army closing in on Berlin, Hitler and his long-time lover Eva Braun committed suicide on April 30th, 1945.

Hitler and the Nazi regime were responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre of World War II.

The number of civilians killed was unprecedented and constitutes the deadliest conflict in human history.

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