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HIS 4935 Senior Seminar: The Rise of Adolf Hitler / Dr. Kollander

The Response of the English-speaking World to Hitler, Nazism and the Holocaust.

Purpose of this Guide

The world knows Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party, was one of the most powerful and notorious dictators of the 20th century. He was born in Austria-Hungary and was raised near Linz. He lived in Vienna later in the first decade of the 1900s and moved to Germany in 1913. He was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), the precursor of the Nazi Party, and was appointed leader of the Nazi Party in 1921. In 1923, he attempted to seize governmental power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned with a sentence of five years. In jail, he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his early release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. 

The purpose of this guide is to provide you, the researcher, with the ability to do research on the subject of Adolf Hitler. You will have the ability to search the library catalog and access our databases and journals all from within this course guide. This guide also provides you with a list of Primary Source Websites and Collections on Hitler, along with important information regarding library services and departments that may prove useful to you while doing research.

Sincerely, 

Lawrence Mello, M.A. M.L.S. 

Librarian Liaison to the FAU History Department

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 1 (1925)

In 1924, Hitler was serving a prison term of several months in connection with the failed "Beer Hall Putsch" of November 9, 1923. While in Landsberg prison in upper Bavaria, he formulated his political and ideological program under the working title Four and One-Half Years of Battle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice. The first volume was published in July 1925 under the simplified title Mein Kampf. A second volume followed in 1926, and the combined one-volume "popular edition" first appeared in 1930. From 1936 on, every newly wedded couple in Nazi Germany received a copy of the one-volume edition from the registry office. By 1945, about ten million copies of the book had been sold worldwide. The royalties made Hitler a multimillionaire.

 

In his polemic, Hitler laid out the main tenets of his racist worldview and outlined his political goals. Two of his primary objectives were the racial "upbreeding" of the German people and the conquest of “living space” [Lebensraum] in Eastern Europe. Hitler explained that it was necessary to fight the "Jewish-Marxist world conspiracy" and to pursue a merciless racial war against the Soviet Union. The first volume (shown here) was presented to the public as Hitler's autobiography, but Hitler had in fact fictionalized his biography in order to make it appear as though the political views expressed in the book were based on personal experience.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 2 (1926)

In 1924, Hitler was serving a prison term of several months in connection with the failed "Beer Hall Putsch" of November 9, 1923. While in Landsberg prison in upper Bavaria, he formulated his political and ideological program under the working title Four and One-Half Years of Battle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice. The first volume was published in July 1925 under the simplified title Mein Kampf. A second volume followed in 1926, and the combined one-volume "popular edition" first appeared in 1930. From 1936 on, every newly wedded couple in Nazi Germany received a copy of the one-volume edition from the registry office. By 1945, about ten million copies of the book had been sold worldwide. The royalties made Hitler a multimillionaire.

 

In his polemic, Hitler laid out the main tenets of his racist worldview and outlined his political goals. Two of his primary objectives were the racial "upbreeding" of the German people and the conquest of “living space” [Lebensraum] in Eastern Europe. Hitler explained that it was necessary to fight the "Jewish-Marxist world conspiracy" and to pursue a merciless racial war against the Soviet Union. The first volume was presented to the public as Hitler's autobiography, but Hitler had in fact fictionalized his biography in order to make it appear as though the political views expressed in the book were based on his own personal experience. The second volume (shown here) was supposed to be a history of the NSDAP, but in actuality it focused less on the history of the party than on the details of Hitler's political program. In chapters 13 and 14, Hitler explicitly stated his concrete foreign policy plans for conquering “living space” in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and for forming an alliance with Italy and England that would allow him to wage a successful war against France.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler with his Cabinet (January 30, 1933)

Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen (second from right) was under the illusion that he could tame and control Hitler (seventh from left). Papen believed that a cabinet consisting chiefly of national-conservative politicians would be able to restrict Hitler's room for maneuver. Aside from Hitler, only two National Socialists belonged to the new government: Wilhelm Frick (seventh from right, wearing a swastika) as Reich Minister of the Interior, and Hermann Göring (eighth from left) as minister without portfolio and as acting Prussian Minister of the Interior. The photo also shows Joseph Goebbels (fifth from left), whom Hitler would name Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda on March 13, 1933. Papen was so confident about the political dominance of the cabinet’s conservative majority that he was heard saying, "Within two months we'll have pushed Hitler so far into the corner that he'll squeak." Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

SA Stormtroopers Burn a Black, Red, and Gold Flag in the Streets of Berlin (January 30, 1933)

In January 1933, many Germans had no reason to suspect that the new cabinet under Hitler would prove successful, since the period from May 1928 to November 1932 had seen four dissolutions of the Reichstag and just as many cabinet changes. But Hitler viewed the chancellorship as the first step toward the construction of a dictatorship and prophesied that he would hold the office for the rest of his life. On the evening of January 30, 1933, and in the days that followed, the National Socialists marked the dawning of a new era by staging enormous victory parades in Berlin and other cities. The parades drew thousands of members of the SA [Sturmabteilung or Storm Detachment], the SS [Schutzstaffel or Protection Squadrons], and the Steel Helmet [Stahlhelm] veterans’ organization, who celebrated their triumphant victory alongside enthusiastic civilians. Particularly impressive was the show that Goebbels organized in the capital. An estimated 60,000 people participated in an hours-long torchlight parade through the government quarter, and the event reverberated in press and radio reports throughout the country. There were other direct indications that Hitler's government would not be of the usual kind. In Berlin and other cities, Nazi supporters burned black, red, and gold flags – the symbol of the hated Weimar Republic – and engaged in street battles with Communists and other political opponents.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

The Reichstag Fire: View of the Destroyed Plenary Hall (February 28, 1933)

After seizing power, Hitler's top priority was eliminating all political opposition. He considered the Communists and the Social Democrats his strongest ideological opponents, and Nazi supporters, especially members of the SA (also known as brownshirts), engaged in frequent street fights with these groups during the first weeks of Hitler’s rule. Additionally, Hitler relied heavily on Hermann Göring, who, as acting Prussian Minister of the Interior, controlled the country's police forces and used them to persecute alleged enemies of the state. Still, Hitler took constant care to cloak his brutal and arbitrary methods in the mantle of legitimacy. In this respect, he was extremely lucky that Marinus van der Lubbe, a radical leftist Dutchman, was arrested outside the burning Reichstag on February 7, 1933. The Nazi leadership immediately decided to present the Reichstag fire as clear proof of a Communist plot for a coup d'état and to use this "proof" as grounds for finally eliminating the left-wing political opposition. On the following day, Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to issue the “Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State" (also called the "Reichstag Fire Decree"), which largely abolished the basic rights guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution and increased the central government's control over regional governments. In the following weeks, thousands of Communists and Social Democrats were arrested and their meetings and publications were banned. Hitler had thus used "legal" means to build the foundation of his dictatorship.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Reichstag Election of March 5, 1933: "The Reich will Never be Destroyed if You are United and Loyal" (1933)

This poster from Hitler's 1933 election campaign features two terms that played a central role in propaganda under the Hitler dictatorship: unity and loyalty. These two virtues were demanded of the German population. It soon became clear, however, that unity and loyalty as defined by the National Socialists actually meant “coordination” [Gleichschaltung] and the “Führer cult.”

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

The So-Called Coordination [Gleichschaltung]: First Meeting of the Coordinated Hamburg Citizenry under SA Supervision (May 10, 1933)

Hitler's new political order was based on the elimination of the party pluralism and federalism of the Weimar Republic. Starting in February 1933, Nazi leaders sought the so-called coordination [Gleichschaltung] of all public and private authorities under Nazi auspices. This involved, among other things, the neutralization or integration of competing political organizations, such as parties, labor unions, and other interest groups. Taking control of state, city, and municipal governments and administrations was one key step toward centralizing all state authority. The "Reichstag Fire Decree" had broadened the regime's powers of intervention, allowing it to abolish state governments and put them under the control of Reich commissioners named by the central government. Intimidation, violence, and arrest were used to drive "unreliable" state and municipal politicians and officials out of office; they were then replaced by deputies loyal to the Nazi regime. By the end of May 1933, some 500 high-ranking community officials and 70 mayors had already been dismissed. The "Preliminary Law Coordinating the States with the Reich" of March 31, 1933, called for the membership of state parliaments to reflect the distribution of parties in the Reichstag. The "Law on the Reconstruction of the Reich" of January 30, 1934 decreed the final dissolution of all state parliaments.

The Nazi takeover in Hamburg took place on March 5, 1933, and set the precedent for many similar actions throughout the country. Like Hamburg, numerous other cities saw political "coordination" imposed from below by brute force and from above by legislative decrees. For example, the Hamburg City Hall was occupied by members of the SA and the SS on the evening of the last Reichstag election. At the same time, the Reich Interior Ministry decided that the Hamburg senate had to follow Nazi guidelines. The Social Democratic mayor of the city resigned under protest. The new, “coordinated” city senate was composed of 6 members of the NSDAP, 2 members of the DNVP, and 2 members of the Stahlhelm. Photo by Joseph Schorer.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

The Organizational Structure of the NSDAP

In accordance with the authoritarian "Führer principle," Hitler had built up the NSDAP in the shape of a pyramid. Power flowed exclusively from top to bottom. Hitler himself stood at the pinnacle of the hierarchy and had unlimited power of command. All other party offices had comprehensive "Führer power" over the authorities subordinate to them. Thus competence and responsibility were supposed to be guaranteed on every level and in every area. After the "Law against the Formation of New Political Parties" was decreed on July 14, 1933, the NSDAP was the only party allowed in Germany. Henceforth, it played a double role as both a mass organization and an elite institution. On the one hand, it tried to integrate the general population into the National Socialist movement; on the other, it also considered itself responsible for the education of the Nazi leadership elite.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

The Reichswehr Swears an Oath of Allegiance to Adolf Hitler on the Day of Hindenburg’s Death (August 2, 1934)

To realize his long-term expansionist goals, Hitler had to have absolute control of the armed forces. According to the Weimar Constitution, the armed forces were subordinate to the Reich President. On the day of Hindenburg's death, Hitler had the Reichswehr swear an oath of allegiance to him personally and made it pledge its unconditional loyalty. The oath went as follows: “I swear to God this holy oath, that I will offer unconditional obedience to the Führer of the German Reich and People, Adolf Hitler, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and that I am prepared as a brave soldier, to lay down my life at any time for this oath.”

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

"Reich Party Rally for Freedom," Nuremberg (September 1, 1935)

"Reich Party Rallies of the German People" were the NSDAP’s most important mass propaganda events. From 1933 to 1938, they were held annually in Nuremberg, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors as well as representatives of all party organizations and associations, the SS, the SA, the military, and the state. Featuring speeches, parades, torchlight processions, and choreographed mass ceremonies, these rallies were supposed to demonstrate the dynamism and energy of National Socialism. Additionally, they created the impression that the regime commanded the unlimited enthusiasm and loyalty of the general population, and thus served chiefly to legitimate Nazi rule. Photo by Heinrich Sanden.  

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Stroller with a Swastika Painted on its Back (1937)

Shortly after the National Socialists had come to power, swastikas and other slogans and images associated with the movement started appearing on numerous objects of everyday use. Beer glasses, matchboxes, and toys were decorated with symbols of the new regime. The NSDAP party leadership frowned upon this mass market and often kitschy use of party symbols and in May 1933 passed a “Law for the Protection of National Symbols” in order to curb the production of non-official propaganda objects. The propaganda ministry led by Goebbels, which was mainly responsible for passing this law, was eager to keep party and state symbols strictly under its control in order to avoid their trivialization and commercialization. Objects in violation of the law’s stipulations could be confiscated without compensation. This picture taken in a Lower Bavarian village in 1937 shows a stroller, most likely self-built, on the back of which a swastika has been painted. It proves that the conspicuous depiction of the swastika remained quite popular despite the law.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Members of the Hamburg Jungvolk are Instructed in the Use of Carbine Rifles at a Hitler Youth Camp on the Baltic Sea (1938)

The Hitler Youth [Hitler-Jugend or HJ] was founded in 1926 as a recruiting organization for the NSDAP. Until 1933, however, it was relatively unimportant, both in terms of size and its place within the organization. At first, Hitler showed little interest in the National Socialist youth movement. His attention was directed to the adult electorate, which was supposed to bring him and the NSDAP to power. But after Hitler took office and the Nazi dictatorship began to develop, Nazi youth education was given the highest priority, because only ideologically steadfast and physically hardened young people could ensure the existence of the Thousand-Year Reich. With this in mind, Reich Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach arranged for the dissolution of almost all German youth associations by the end of 1933; their memberships were incorporated into the Hitler Youth. Membership in the Hitler Youth remained voluntary until 1936, but the organization used various pressures and inducements to get children and young people to join. HJ events such as scouting games, parades, and bike tours served not only to occupy young people's free time, but also to provide for the ideological, physical, and increasingly militaristic training of HJ members. The photo shows members of the Junior Hitler Youth [Deutsches Jungvolk or DJ], the Nazi organization for children ages ten to fourteen. Teenagers from fourteen to eighteen belonged to the regular Hitler Youth.

From German History in Documents, viewed on 9/27/17

Wimberly Library Hours Boca Campus

Summer 2022 Semester Hours (Boca Raton):

The library building is open for the Summer 2022 semester from 7:40 am - 12:00 midnight, Monday-Thursday, 10:30 am - 6 pm on Saturday, and noon-midnight on Sunday (see our hours page for any changes).