Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party, was one of the most powerful and notorious dictators of the 20th century. Hitler capitalized on economic woes, popular discontent and political infighting to take absolute power in Germany beginning in 1933. Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 led to the outbreak of World War II, and by 1941 Nazi forces had occupied much of Europe. Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism and obsessive pursuit of Aryan supremacy fueled the murder of some 6 million Jews, along with other victims of the Holocaust. After the tide of war turned against him, Hitler committed suicide in a Berlin bunker in April 1945.
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, a small Austrian town near the Austro-German frontier. After his father, Alois, retired as a state customs official, young Adolf spent most of his childhood in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria.
Not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps as a civil servant, he began struggling in secondary school and eventually dropped out. Alois died in 1903, and Adolf pursued his dream of being an artist, though he was rejected from Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts