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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 at the Gasthof zum Pommer, Hitler rose to power in German politics as leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, also known as the Nazi Party.

From 1905, Hitler lived a bohemian life in Vienna, financed by orphan's benefits and support from his mother. He worked as a casual labourer and eventually as a painter, selling watercolours. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna rejected him twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his "unfitness for painting". The director recommended that Hitler study architecture, but he lacked the academic credentials.

Historians believe he left Vienna to evade conscription into the Austrian army. Hitler later claimed that he did not wish to serve the Austro-Hungarian Empire because of the mixture of races in its army. After he was deemed unfit for service - he failed his physical exam in Salzburg on 5 February 1914 - he returned to Munich.

At the outbreak of World War I, Hitler was living in Munich and volunteered to serve in the Bavarian Army as an Austrian citizen. Posted to the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (1st Company of the List Regiment), he served as a dispatch runner on the Western Front in France and Belgium, spending nearly half his time well behind the front lines. He was present at the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, and the Battle of Passchendaele, and was wounded at the Somme. He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914. Recommended by Hugo Gutmann, he received the Iron Cross, First Class, on 4 August 1918, a decoration rarely awarded to one of Hitler's rank (Gefreiter). Hitler's post at regimental headquarters, providing frequent interactions with senior officers, may have helped him receive this decoration.Though his rewarded actions may have been courageous, they were probably not highly exceptional. He received the Black Wound Badge on 18 May 1918.

The Great Depression in Germany provided a political opportunity for Hitler. Germans were ambivalent to the parliamentary republic, which faced strong challenges from right- and left-wing extremists. The moderate political parties were increasingly unable to stem the tide of extremism, and the German referendum of 1929 had helped to elevate Nazi ideology. The elections of September 1930 resulted in the break-up of a grand coalition and its replacement with a minority cabinet. Its leader, chancellor Heinrich BrĂ¼ning of the Centre Party, governed through emergency decrees from President Paul von Hindenburg. Governance by decree would become the new norm and paved the way for authoritarian forms of government. The NSDAP rose from obscurity to win 18.3 per cent of the vote and 107 parliamentary seats in the 1930 election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament.

On April 29, 1945, Hitler married his girlfriend, Eva Braun, in a small civil ceremony in his Berlin bunker. Around this time, Hitler was informed of the assassination of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Afraid of falling into the hands of enemy troops, Hitler and Braun committed suicide the day after their wedding, on April 30, 1945. Their bodies were carried to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery, where they were burned. Berlin fell on May 2, 1945.

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