Hitler Youth – The Childhood of Adolf Hitler
Though Adolf Hitler would grow up to be one of the most well-known political leaders of all time, he had very humble beginnings. Looking at his youth, it's difficult to pinpoint where he began to have the deeply disturbing anti-Semitic tendencies that would pervade his every action as Germany's dictator. Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889. He was born in Austria-Hungry. Hitler's parents, Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl had six children, though only Hitler and a single sister would survive to become adults. Hitler's early childhood was very difficult because his father was abusive to his entire family.
Looking back, it's possible to credit Hitler's earliest childhood with many of his character flaws. It's well-known today that abusive parents tend to breed children who are also cruel and abusive. It is interesting to note that Hitler was ashamed enough of his childhood to attempt to lie about it. In Mein Kamph, he paints his upbringing as very idyllic, describing a doting mother and responsible father. With all evidence pointing to the contrary, it seems that this was most likely Hitler's way of painting the appropriate picture for his audience. He supported the nuclear family unit with women giving all their care and devotion to the home.
After Hitler's father died in 1903, Adolf dropped out of school and moved to Vienna to become a painter. Here he worked as a menial laborer. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts twice with aspirations of becoming famous for his watercolors. Both times, he was rejected. Hitler himself credited his time in Vienna with giving him his first anti-Semitic inclinations. Some scholars believe that his strongest tendencies toward anti-Semitism took hold much later when he become involved in the Nazi party. Either way, it's clear that by the time Hitler gained power in 1933, he blamed the Jews for nearly all of Germany's struggles.
In 1908, Hitler's mother died of breast cancer. He spent the next four years selling watercolor postcards on the streets of Vienna and living in a homeless shelter. In 1913, Hitler took possession of his father's inheritance and moved to Munich. Though he actively avoided Austrian military service, he volunteered to serve in the German army. This was only the beginning of his long relationship with the country which was not actually his own. Hitler was a decorated soldier in WWI. He was furious at the outcome of the war and particularly loathed the Treaty of Versailles. In 1919 he joined what would become the Nazi party and began his climb to leadership.