Essay Preview: Hitlers Rise
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At 6:30 p.m. on the evening of April 20, 1889, he was born in the small Austrian village of Braunau Am Inn just across the border from German Bavaria. Adolf Hitler would one day lead a movement that placed supreme importance on a persons family tree even making it a matter of life and death. However, his own family tree was quite mixed up and would be a lifelong source of embarrassment and concern to him.
His father, Alois, was born in 1837. He was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber and her unknown mate, which may have been someone from the neighborhood or a poor millworker named Johann Georg Hiedler. It is also remotely possible Adolf Hitlers grandfather was Jewish. Maria Schicklgruber was said to have been employed as a cook in the household of a wealthy Jewish family named Frankenberger. There is some speculation their 19 year old son got her pregnant and regularly sent her money after the birth of Alois. Adolf Hitler would never know for sure just who his grandfather was.
He did know that when his father Alois was about five years old, Maria Schicklgruber married Johann Georg Hiedler. The marriage lasted five years until her death of natural causes, at which time Alois went to live on a small farm with his uncle. At age thirteen, young Alois had enough of farm life and set out for the city of Vienna to make something of himself. He worked as a shoemakers apprentice then later enlisted in the Austrian civil service, becoming a junior customs official. He worked hard as a civil servant and eventually became a supervisor. By 1875 he achieved the rank of Senior Assistant Inspector, a big accomplishment for the former poor farm boy with little formal education. At this time an event occurred that would have big implications for the future.
Alois had always used the last name of his mother, Schicklgruber, and thus was always called Alois Schicklgruber. He made no attempt to hide the fact he was illegitimate since it was common in rural Austria. But after his success in the civil service, his proud uncle from the small farm convinced him to change his last name to match his own, Hiedler, and continue the family name. However, when it came time to write the name down in the record book it was spelled as Hitler. And so in 1876 at age 39, Alois Schicklgruber became Alois Hitler.
In 1885, after numerous affairs and two other marriages ended, the widowed Alois Hitler, 48, married the pregnant Klara PÐ”¶lzl, 24, the granddaughter of uncle Hiedler. Technically, because of the name change, she was his own niece and so he had to get special permission from the Catholic church.
The children from his previous marriage, Alois Hitler, Jr. and Angela, attended the wedding and lived with them afterwards. Klara PÐ”¶lzl eventually gave birth to two boys and a girl, all of whom died. On April 20, 1889, her fourth child, Adolf was born healthy and was baptized a Roman Catholic. Hitlers father was now 52 years old.
Throughout his early days, young Adolfs mother feared losing him as well and lavished much care and affection on him. His father was busy working most of the time and also spent a lot of time on his main hobby, keeping bees. Baby Adolf had the nickname, Adi. When he was almost five, in 1893, his mother gave birth to a brother, Edmund. In 1896 came a sister, Paula.
In May of 1895 at age six, young Adolf Hitler entered first grade in the public school in the village of Fischlham, near Linz Austria.
In 1895, at age six, two important events happened in the life of young Adolf Hitler. First, the unrestrained, carefree days he had enjoyed up to now came to an end as he entered primary school. Secondly, his father retired on a pension from the Austrian civil service. This meant a double dose of supervision, discipline and regimentation under the watchful eyes of teachers at school and his strict father at home. His father, now 58, had spent most of his life working his way up through the civil service ranks. He was used to giving orders and having them obeyed and also expected this from his children. The Hitler family lived on a small farm outside of Linz, Austria. The children had farm chores to perform along with their school work.
Hitlers mother was now preoccupied with caring for her new son, Edmund. In 1896 she gave birth to a girl, Paula. The Hitler household now consisted of Adolf, little brother Edmund, little sister Paula, older half brother Alois Jr., older half sister Angela and two parents who were home all the time. It was a crowded, noisy little farm house that seems to have gotten on the nerves on Hitlers father who found retirement after 40 years of work to be difficult.
The oldest boy, Alois Jr., 13, bore the brunt of his fathers discontent, including harsh words and occasional beatings. A year later, at age 14, young Alois had enough of this treatment and ran away from home, never to see his father again. This put young Adolf, age 7, next in line for the same treatment.
Also at this time, the family moved off the farm to the town of Lambach, Austria, halfway between Linz and Salzburg. This was the first of several moves the family would make in the restless retirement of Hitlers father. For young Adolf, the move to Lambach meant an end to farm chores and more time to play. There was an old Catholic Benedictine monastery in the town. The ancient monastery was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included several swastikas. Adolf attended school there and saw them every day. They had been put there in the 1800s by the ruling Abbot as a pun or play on words. His name essentially sounded like the German word for swastika, Hakenkreuz.
Young Hitler did well in the monastery school and also took part in the boys choir. He was said to have had a fine singing voice. Years later Hitler would say the solemn pageantry of the high mass and other Catholic ceremonies was quite intoxicating and left a very deep impression. As a young boy he idolized the priests and for two years seriously considered becoming a priest himself. He especially admired the Abbot in charge, who ruled his black-robbed monks with supreme authority. At home Hitler sometimes played priest and even included long sermons. At age nine, he got into schoolboy mischief. He was caught smoking a cigarette by one of the priests, but was forgiven and not punished. His favorite game to play outside was cowboys and Indians. Tales of the American West were very popular among boys in Austria and Germany. Books by James Fenimore Cooper and especially German writer Karl May were eagerly read and re-enacted. May, who had never been to America,