15 Interesting Facts About Adolf Hitler Everyone Should Know!
Today, Adolf Hitler is one of the most hated men to have ever held political office (and that’s saying something!) This got me thinking, what are some interesting facts about Adolf Hitler that everyone should know? Regardless of your political views, we can probably all agree that Hitler was a truly horrible human being. Not […]
Today, Adolf Hitler is one of the most hated men to have ever held political office (and that’s saying something!) This got me thinking, what are some interesting facts about Adolf Hitler that everyone should know?
Regardless of your political views, we can probably all agree that Hitler was a truly horrible human being. Not only did he lead Germany down the path that led to WWII, he also systematically eliminate six million Jews and other “undesirables” in the holocaust.
As such, much has been written about his life so that future generation (eg. you and me) don’t ever make the truly horrible decisions that Adolf Hitler did…
15. Born Poor But Lived The High Life
As with many famous world leaders, Hitler wasn’t rich by any means, in fact quite the opposite, with the Hitler family being incredibly poor. Indeed, much of Hitler’s early childhood would be marked by financial woes…
Hitler’s father, Alois, was a civil servant who had retired to become a farmer and beekeeper. Within a few years, however, Alois’s farm failed in 1897, which saw the family move several times for financial reasons.
Yet, by the time of his death, in 1903, he’d built up a small nest egg, which his wife and surviving children (including Adolf) could survive off of for several years until Adolf could provide for the family instead.
This, combined with orphan benefits allowed, a young Adolf (a student at the Realschule in Steyr, Austria) to finance quite an extravagant lifestyle, with him being able to afford to dress and eat like an aristocrat, even despite his poor background.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this money soon ran out as Hitler had no other income, thus forcing a young Adolf Hitler to sleep in homeless shelters, where he’d first gain a taste for the antisemitism that he’d become famous for.
14. The Origins of “Hitler”
Had history gone another way, the man history knows as Adolf Hitler may have never had the name he made so famous…
You see, Adolf’s father, Alois, was born out-of-wedlock to Maria Schicklgruber and an unnamed father.
As a result, for the first few years of his life, Alois Hitler would be known as Alois Schicklgruber, meaning Adolf Hitler would’ve been Adolf Schicklgruber (not exactly as catchy as “Hitler” is it?)
However, in 1842, Maria Schicklgruber would marry Johann Geog Hielder, with Alois changing his name to Alois Hielder, although authorities misspelled Alois’s new name as “Hitler” rather than “Hielder”, a name he would keep until his death in 1903.
This is also the same last name that he’d give to his son, Adolf, who’d make the name famous (or should I say infamous!)
Ironically, in German, the last name “Hitler” means “one who lives in a hut” which is essentially the German last name equivalent of having the last name “Barbarian”.
13. He Nearly Drowned
According to some historians, a then-four year old Adolf Hitler almost drowned in January 1894, when he fell into the icy River Inn, only to be saved by another child Johann Kuehberger, who’d grow up to become a priest.
The future Father Kuehberger apparently a young Hitler fall into the water, and realized he was about to drown. Not wanting to see him die, Kuehberger dived in after Hitler, pulling him to shore, saving his life in the process.
Hailed as a miracle, the tale was reported by the local newspapers for the next few days. Upon Hitler rising to power in 1933, people realized that the boy Father Kuehberger had saved, had grown up to become Germany’s Führer!
With that being said, as with many other things to do with Hitler’s childhood, historians disagree as to whether or not a young Hitler was the child that the future Father Kuehberger actually saved…
For the most part, this is due to the newspaper only describing the child as a “young fellow” rather than by name, nor did Hitler ever speak of it.
However, the newspaper may have done this to protect a young Hitler from his father’s wrath (who was well-known in the local area for beating his wife and children regularly). Hitler may have never spoke of it due to it being a source of shame for him.
12. The Jewish Hitler?
Today, Adolf Hitler is arguably the most famous anti-Semite to have ever lived. Yet, there is some contemporary evidence to support that Hitler may actually have been Jewish…
Months after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, British newspaper the London Daily Mail, published a story on their front page, depicting a Jewish grave in Bucharest, with the name on this grave being “Adolf Hitler”.
The London Daily Mail claimed that this was the grave of Hitler’s paternal grandfather (as his father Alois, was born out-of-wedlock, meaning his paternity hasn’t ever been fully proven).
Whilst the article is often dismissed by historians as pre-war Allied propaganda, the article petrified the Reich’s leadership so much that they even rewrote the German law that defined what made a Jew, to exclude Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ himself!
11. Failed Artist
A common trope among the leaders of WWII was that they were all failed artists. For example, Stalin had wanted to be an artist in his youth, before becoming a Bolshevik, whilst Dwight D. Eisenhower had gotten into painting just before WWII.
Adolf Hitler, was no exception to this rule.
Today, it’s quite well-known that Hitler wanted to become an artist, twice unsuccessfully applying to the famed Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
Upon failing his application for the second time, the director of the academy suggested that Hitler should apply to the School of Architecture, as many of Hitler’s pieces featured buildings, which were drawn similarly to how an architect would draw a building.
However, Hitler lacked the grades to get in, eventually leading him down the path of becoming a politician…
Since the end of WWII, this fact has become quite famous as a “What if” with historians and casual observers of history alike wondering what the world would’ve looked like had Hitler never risen to power.
10. A War Hero
In July 1914, the “War to End All Wars,” otherwise known as WWI, was declared. As an Austrian, Hitler was supposed to have served in the Austro-Hungarian military, however, managed to leave Austria for Bavaria, where he joined the German military.
Enlisting as a private, Hitler would be trained as a dispatch runner (essentially delivering messages to the frontlines from the German high command) where he’d serve during the Somme, Passchendaele, Arras and the First Battle of Ypres.
For his bravery, Hitler would receive the Iron Cross, Second Class (Imperial Germany’s second highest military award), before his Jewish superior, insisted that Hitler receive the Iron Cross First Class (the highest military award), which he did in 1916.
Although Hitler himself would tell the tale of how he got the Iron Cross differently on different occasions, he would later use the fact that he was a war hero to gather the vote of many German veterans, which would help him in his rise to power in 1933.
9. The Man Who Didn’t Shoot Hitler
In 1938, tensions between Nazi Germany and the British and French were mounting. In an attempt to cut the tension, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain (Winston Churchill’s predecessor) traveled to Hitler’s Bavarian retreat to discuss peace with Hitler.
Whilst here, Chamberlain noticed a painting hanging in one of the rooms, depicting British troops during WWI. Out of curiosity, Chamberlain asked Hitler why he had the painting, to which replied that he had fought for the German army in that battle.
Hitler then proceeded to tell Chamberlain how he had been injured in the firefight and left for dead. He spoke of how a British private, who he identified as Private Henry Tandey (Britain’s most decorated private of WWI) had spared him.
As you can probably imagine, this news was reported by newspapers all over the world, bringing immense scrutiny down on the famed war hero, leading him to regret it until his death in 1977.
Despite this, historians generally believe that this story was fabricated by Hitler, as German war records claim that Hitler was on leave at the time, meaning he couldn’t have been injured and thus, spared.
However, WWI-era German records have been known to be unreliable at the best of times…
8. Practicing His Speeches
Whilst his politics were undeniably evil, you have to agree that Hitler was a gifted orator. For whatever reason, Hitler had an incredibly ability to take a seemingly benign speech, delivering it in such a way that whipped the crowd up into a huge frenzy!
As with many politicians, both past and present, Hitler used to practice his speeches prior to giving them (thus allowing him to emphasize certain parts more than others, in order to whip the crowd up into their famous frenzy).
To practice, however, Hitler didn’t simply stand and speak it like most politicians do. Instead, he’d have his personal photographer take pictures of him delivering the speeches, hand gestures and everything.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hitler’s personal photographer kept many of these photographs, later selling them on or giving them to the West German state after the war, with many of these photos making the former Führer look quite stupid…
7. Views on Smoking
Since tobacco had been introduced to Europe in the 16th century, smoking had become a popular pastime (and display of wealth) for Europe’s elite. During the roaring twenties, however, more and more people in the middle-class could afford to smoke too.
In Germany, as with everywhere else in the western world at the time, as much as 50% of Germany’s population were smokers. Despite Hitler having been a heavy smoking in his youth, he had come to hate the concept of smoking…
For the most part, this was due to its effect on the human reproduction system (in both males and females), rather than the cancer aspect of smoking.
During his time in power, Hitler slowly restricted where you could smoke and who could smoke. To begin with, Hitler made it illegal to smoke in certain public buildings, before making it illegal for you to smoke whilst doing certain jobs (eg. midwives).
As the war progressed however, Hitler made it illegal for women and under-18s to smoke, as both were vital for the 1000 year Reich he hoped to build (as under-18s were the next generation and women needed to continue having children to populate the Reich!)
6. An Animal Lover
Today, animal rights are something that we often take for granted. After all, the western world have taken huge steps since the 1970’s to protect animals and give them many of the same rights that humans have.
Yet, in this regard, Hitler was ahead of his time. You see, since childhood, Hitler had developed a deep affection for animals, and a deep hatred for those who mistreated animals. Upon entering office in the 1930’s, Hitler vowed to do something about it.
To that end, during Hitler’s time in office, he would expand animals rights in Germany to extents that most other countries wouldn’t adopt until the 1990’s!
Hitler was the first world leader to ensure that animals in his country were well treated, and if not, their owners were punished severely…
In fact, Hitler loved animals so much that he had started living a largely vegetarian lifestyle shortly after his rise to power, something that was virtually unheard of in the 1930’s!
5. He Hated The Kaiser
By November 1918, it was clear that Germany was going to lose the war. On the home front, the German people were running out of food and water, whilst having their quotas increased, without any possibility that they could meet them.
On November 9, Berlin, alongside several other German cities rose against Germany and demanded the Kaiser end the war and abdicate both the throne of Prussia and of the German Empire. Acquiescing, the Kaiser would abdicate that very day.
The Kaiser would go into exile in the Netherlands, where he’d remain until his death in 1941.
In May 1940, however, Hitler would invade the Netherlands, taking over the country in a matter of months.
Here, the former Kaiser would congratulate Hitler on his swift occupation of the country, alluding to the Prussian-like tactics of the German army (as the Kaiser had also been the King of Prussia too), hoping that Hitler would reinstate the monarchy.
Although a German nationalist, Hitler reportedly scoffed at the idea, having nothing but contempt for the old man who he blamed for Germany’s economic woes and the source of Germany’s greatest shame in centuries…
4. He Was Really Rich!
In 1923, Hitler led the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, which resulted in Hitler being put in prison. Whilst in prison, Hitler sat and wrote Mein Kampf, which essentially formed the basis of the Nazi Party policy for the next two decades.
Although initially selling quite poorly, the book’s popularity skyrocketed after the Nazis came to power in 1933. As the book’s author, Hitler received millions of Reichsmarks in royalties for the next 12 years.
Upon declaring himself Führer in 1934, Hitler would exempt himself from income tax, thus allowing him to amass a huge personal fortune.
Although we will likely never know the full extension of Hitler’s wealth in modern terms, we do know that Hitler was among the richest politicians of his day. Today, experts estimate that Hitler was worth anywhere from $150 million to $5 billion in today’s money!
Much like many modern millionaires and billionaires, Hitler wouldn’t just sit on his fortune. Instead, Hitler would use his fortune to routinely by art at an extremely deflated rate, from the German state (art it had plundered from across Europe).
3. Foreign Relations
Although a poor military leader, Hitler was a gifted politician (even if his policies and views were undeniably evil). To that end, Hitler was an incredibly gifted statesman, expanded Germany’s foreign relations monumentally over the twelve years he was in power.
As the head of the largest fascist country in Europe, Hitler was eager to expand fascism into neighboring European countries.
For example, Hitler started and maintained a close relationship with Italian dictator (and founder of modern fascism) Benito Mussolini. This would lead to the pair forming the Pact of Steel in 1939, thus forming the European Axis.
Hitler would also help Spanish general-turned-dictator, Francisco Franco win the Spanish Civil War, by providing German soldiers, aircraft and financial aid.
However, Franco would never officially join the Axis as he demanded that Hitler wipe out Spain’s debt to Germany, something Hitler was unwilling to do.
Once WWII was declared, Hitler would also seek to destabilize both France and Britain.
To that end, he’d build strong relationships with the French Popular Party and the British Union of Fascists and their leaders, although neither party would ever be elected into office…
Similarly, Hitler also made sure to keep up relations with the former King Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor. According to contemporary records, Hitler and the Duke actually had an arrangement. If Hitler conquered Britain, the Duke would move back to Buckingham Palace and become king again… as Hitler’s ally.
2. Hated by His Nephew?
Sadly, most of Hitler’s siblings and half-siblings (from his father’s previous marriages) died in childhood. By the time Hitler had reached adulthood, only three of Hitler’s eight siblings were still alive.
As time progressed, two of Hitler’s three remaining siblings had children of their own, with Hitler’s older half-brother, Alois Jr., having two boys, whilst his older half-sister, Angela, had three. Of these five children, three were sons, two were daughters.
Following their uncle’s rise to power, all five of Hitler’s nieces and nephews came to Germany (as Alois Jr.’s children were living in Liverpool at the time), where they were given cushy jobs within the Third Reich.
Due to one of these roles, Hitler’s nephew, William, was in the United States when WWII began, effectively stranding him there. By 1944, William had become even more disenchanted with his uncle and lobbied FDR to allow him to join the US Navy.
In need of the manpower, FDR agreed, seeing William Hitler enlist as a hospital corpsman, where he’d be injured and receive the Purple Heart.
To prevent the Hitler bloodline from continuing, William Hitler (or William Stuart-Houston after WWII) refused to have children, thus killing off the Hitler bloodline when he died in 1987.
1. Final Days
By mid-to-late 1945, it was clear that Nazi Germany were going to lose WWII. Nazi Germany was being attacked from all sides – the British, French and Americans to the west and south, and the Soviets to the east.
As a precaution, Hitler, his wife Eva Braun, would secretly be moved from the Reich Chancellery to the heavily fortified Führerbunker in central Berlin. It was here where the couple would take their own lives on April 30 1945.
In order to keep the moral of the German people up, Hitler ordered body doubles to fill in for him. To that end, “Hitler” would visit German schools, giving out medals and meeting children, all of which was captured on camera by the Nazi propaganda machine.
Following their suicide, other Nazi higher-ups in the Führerbunker chose to burn the couple’s bodies to prevent their capture by the Allies and thus being used as a symbol for the allies to rally behind.
In part, this is what led to the many conspiracy theories about Hitler surviving the war by escaping to Argentina alongside other high-ranking Nazis.
Which are your favorite facts about Adolf Hitler? Tell me in the comments!