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The Childhood of Adolf Hitler (Fall 2012)

        Adolf Hitler, world-known for his Fascist dictatorship of Germany and being the leader of the Nazi party throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, was an extremely powerful man.  He was extremely racist and thought if anyone wasn’t of the Aryan race, they were inferior.  Hitler was also in charge of the Holocaust, which killed about six million Jews and others as a result of his anti-Semitism.  Being as cruel and unusual as he was, his childhood had to have taken a toll in affecting who he was for the rest of his life.  Adolf Hitler’s family and education were the building blocks to transforming him from a normal German boy to a cruel dictator.

        Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary to Alois Hitler and his third wife who was also twenty-three years younger, Klara Polzl.   The two were closely related enough that they had to receive a special allowance in order to get married.  Alois had a career as a customs official, which is someone who keeps track of and monitors those coming in and out of the country.  Alois and Klara had six children in total, but only Adolf and his youngest sister Paula lasted through childhood.  One of the siblings died a short time after being born and the other two died from a disease called diphtheria, which is a bacterial infection in the upper respiratory tract.  Because of this, Adolf was the only male child left which added a constant pressure from Alois to pursue a career like himself.  Alois also was very abusive with Klara and Adolf.  He had a very explosive temper and would whip them daily.  According to Paula Hitler, Adolf bore the brunt of Alois’ rage and would often challenge him, making it worse.  Klara was more caring and understanding towards Adolf, and although she didn’t necessarily agree with them, she was willing to listen to his dreams about becoming an artist someday.  This created a bond between them that didn’t falter even as Adolf became the cruel dictator that he did.  He was known to always carry around a picture of his mother, everywhere he went.  When Adolf was fourteen years old Alois passed away from a plural hemorrhage, so Klara had to take care of the two children by herself.  

        Clearly, Adolf’s home life caused pronounced stress on him from a very young age.  Although he was young when his siblings passed away, he still had to go through losing them which would cause great confusion in any child.  On top of losing siblings, he didn’t have a supportive father either.  Constant pressure and violence was aimed toward Adolf all through his childhood, giving him anxiety.  It is important for boys to have a male role model in their lives because that is someone to look up to and learn from.  But because Alois was the only real male role model in Adolf’s life, he was forced to be exposed to only the violent, raging type of male.  Adolf really never felt safe enough in his own home to express himself and grow into his own man.  So it is not surprising that Adolf grew up to be a man struggling with his moral compass.  Also, the fact that he constantly had a photograph of his mother with him shows that he had a sensitive side somewhere beneath the icy exterior.  Adolf always longed to have that loving and supportive rock, and he found that in Klara.

        Adolf’s education and early career planning played a large role in forming who the type of person he grew up to be as well.  With Adolf’s father constantly pressuring him to follow in his footsteps, Adolf eventually had enough.  He dropped out of high school, much to the dismay of Alois.  He never returned to schooling, partially because he had not ever been very good at it.  He failed in subjects like mathematics and physics, which worried Klara often.  He did do well in music and art classes though, so Adolf decided to become a painter.  The painting career never did go as well as planned unfortunately.  He was rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna twice so he was never quite able to pursue his dream.  Luckily an orphan house was kind enough to assist him financially during his stay in Vienna.  Along with that help, Adolf would paint postcards that he would later sell on the streets or local markets.  A few years after that was the start of World War 1, and with that, Hitler’s enlistment in the Bavarian Army.

             When someone doesn’t feel the safety and support of a family member in planning out the future, it can be extremely hurtful.  Adolf never fully was able to outwardly speak of what he wanted to be, and through his pain he ended up hurting himself by dropping out of high school and ending his education.  He always felt as though he had failed.  He failed in school, getting into art school, and gaining the love and approval of his own father.  Through all of his failures, Adolf grew to be more and more bitter everyday.  His self-confidence was at an all time low and he needed an escape because he was never able to prove to himself that he could succeed at something.  When Germany failed economically as well, Hitler found it easy to blame the problems on the nearby Jewish community.  This then started his hatred towards them, leading to the Holocaust.  This blaming is not unheard of.  A lot of people, when forced to feel at fault for all the failures in their lives, turn to placing the blame on someone else. 

        Through all of the events in Adolf’s childhood life, it is not difficult to see why he turned out as horrible as he did.  This is not excusing him of the horrendous deeds that he performed, but it is providing a possible explanation.  Adolf Hitler, man in charge of billion of Jewish deaths, was at one time a child with a dream.

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