Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, on April 20th 1889 to Alois Hitler (who, as an illegitimate child, had previously used his mother's name of Schickelgruber) and Klara Poelzl. A moody child, he grew hostile towards his father, especially once the latter had retired and the family had moved to Linz. He had four siblings that died in childhood: Gustav (1885-1887), Ida (1886-1888), Otto (1887), and Edmund (1894-1900), but his sister Paula, born in 1896, did not die until 1960.
Alois died in 1903 but left money to take care of the family. Hitler was close to his mother, who was highly indulgent of Hitler. He was deeply affected when she died in 1908. He left school at 16 in 1905, intending to become a painter.
Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907 where he applied to the Viennese Academy of Fine arts. He was turned down twice. His mother died of breast cancer in 1908. The increasingly embittered Hitler remained in Vienna living off his small family inheritance and what he could make from selling his art in the street. Moving from hostel to hostel, a lonely, vagabond figure, it is during this period that Hitler appears to have developed the world view that would characterise his whole life: a hatred for Jews and Marxists. Karl Lueger, Vienna's deeply anti-Semitic mayor, made this a popular attitude of the time, however no one is quite sure where or how Hitler developed the depth of his virulent antisemitism. Some say it was because of the questionable identity of his grandfather who it is conjectured may have been Jewish. Others say Hitler was furious at a Jewish doctor that let his mother die.
Hitler moved to Munich in 1913 and avoided Austrian military service in early 1914 by virtue of being unfit. However, when the First World War broke out in 1914 he joined the 16th Bavarian Infantry Regiment, serving throughout the war. He proved to be an able and brave soldier as a dispatch runner, winning the Iron Cross (First Class) on two occasions. Hitler sustained two major injuries during the war. The first occurred in October 1916 when he was wounded by a grenade splinter. The other was on October 13, 1918, four weeks before the war ended, when he suffered a gas attack which temporarily blinded him. It was in hospital recovering from this that he learnt of Germany's surrender and the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was furious that Germany had surrendered and felt strongly that Germany had been stabbed in the back by its leaders.
After WW1 Hitler became convinced he was destined to save Germany. In 1919, working for an army unit, he was assigned to spy on a political party of roughly 40 idealists. Instead, Hitler became the 55th member of a small antisemitic party called the German Worker's Party. By 1921 Hitler was the party's leader. He created a 25-point platform for the party, and established a bold red background with a white circle and swastika in the middle as the party's symbol. In 1920, the party's name was changed to National Socialist German Worker's Party: The Nazi Party. Over the next years, Hitler often gave public speeches that gained him attention, followers, and financial support. He organised a personal army of "storm troopers" (the SA or Brownshirts) and a bodyguard of black shirted men, the SS.
In November 1923 Hitler organised Bavarian nationalists under the figurehead of General Ludendorff into a coup (or 'putsch'). They declared their new government in a beer hall in Munich and then 3000 marched through the streets, but they were met by police, who opened fire, killing 16 people. Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence who's briefness is often taken as a sign of tacit agreement with his views. Hitler served only nine months in prison, during which he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle), a book outlining his theories on race, Germany and Jews. It had sold five million copies by 1939.
After the Beer-Hall Putsch Hitler resolved to seek power through subverting the Weimar government system, and he carefully rebuilt the Nazi party, allying with future key figures like Goering and propaganda mastermind Goebbels. Over time he expanded the party's support, partly by exploiting fears of socialists and partly by appealing to everyone who felt their economic livelihood threatened by the depression. By the late 1920's he had the ears of big business, the press and the middle classes. Nazi votes garnered them 107 seats in the Reichstag (Germany's parliament)
In 1932 Hitler acquired German citizenship and ran for president, coming second to Von Hindenburg. Later that year the Nazi party acquired 230 seats in the Reichstag, making them the largest party in Germany. Helped by support from conservative politicians believing they could control Hitler, he was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30th 1933. Hitler moved with great speed to isolate and expel opponents from power, shutting trade unions, removing communists, conservatives and Jews.
Later that year Hitler perfectly exploited an act of arson on the Reichstag (which some believe the Nazis helped cause) to begin the creation of a totalitarian state, dominating the March 5th elections thanks to support from nationalist groups. Hitler soon took over the role of president when Hindenburg died and merged the role with that of Chancellor to become FÃ¼hrer ("Leader") of Germany.
Hitler continued to move with speed in radically changing Germany. Consolidating power, locking up "enemies" in camps, bending culture to his will, rebuilding an army which he made himself head of. Although these things broke the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the treaty that officially ended World War I, other countries allowed him to do so. Since the terms of the Versailles Treaty had been harsh, other countries found it easier to be lenient than risk another bloody European war. He tried to change the social fabric of Germany by encouraging women to breed more and bringing in laws to encourage racial purity; Jews were particularly targeted. Unemployment, high everywhere else in the world due to The Depression, fell to zero in Germany during Hitler's reign.
In March 1938, Hitler was able to annex Austria into Germany (called the Anschluss) without firing a single shot. Soon after he dismembered Czechoslovakia. It was in September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland, that other nations took a stand, declaring the start of World War II. This was not unappealing to Hitler who believed Germany should make itself great through war, and invasions in 1940 went well. However, arguably his fatal mistake occurred in 1941 with the invasion of Russia, through which he wished to create Lebensraum, or "room to live". After initial success, German forces were pushed back by Russia, and defeats in Africa and West Europe followed as Germany was slowly beaten. During this time Hitler became gradually more paranoid and divorced from the world, retreating to a bunker. On July 20, 1944, Hitler barely survived an assassination attempt. One of his top military officers had placed a suitcase bomb under the table during a conference meeting at Hitler's Wolf's Lair. Because the table leg blocked much of the blast, Hitler survived with only injuries to his arm and some hearing loss. Not everyone in the room was so lucky.
As armies approached Berlin from two directions, Hitler married his long-term mistress, Eva Braun on April 29th 1945. The following day they committed suicide together.