Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939, he was involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust. Hitler was raised near Linz, he moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party, the precursor of the NSDAP, was appointed leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he was imprisoned. In jail, he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf. After his 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, he denounced international capitalism and communism as part of a Jewish conspiracy.
By July 1932 the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, but did not have a majority, no party was able to form a majority parliamentary coalition in support of a candidate for chancellor. Former chancellor Franz von Papen and other conservative leaders persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Shortly after, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France, his first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, the annexation of territories inhabited by millions of ethnic Germans, which gave him significant popular support.
Hitler sought Lebensraum for the German people in Eastern Europe, his aggressive foreign policy is considered the primary cause of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and, on 1 September 1939, invaded Poland, resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. In December 1941, shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, Hitler declared war on the United States, bringing it directly into the conflict. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, he married his longtime lover Eva Braun. Less than two days on 30 April 1945, the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army. Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims who he and his followers deemed Untermenschen or undesirable.
Hitler and the Nazi regime were responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 28.7 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre. The number of civilians killed during World War II was unprecedented in warfare, the casualties constitute the deadliest conflict in history. Hitler's father Alois; the baptismal register did not show the name of his father, Alois bore his mother's surname Schicklgruber. In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Alois's mother Maria Anna. Alois was brought up in the family of Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. In 1876, Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest to register Johann Georg Hiedler as Alois's father. Alois assumed the surname "Hitler" spelled Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler; the name is based on "one who lives in a hut". Nazi official Hans Frank suggested that Alois's mother had been employed as a housekeeper by a Jewish family in Graz, that the family's 19-year-old son Leopold Frankenberger had fathered Alois.
No Frankenberger was registered in Graz during that period, no record has been produced of Leopold Frankenberger's existence, so historians dismiss the claim that Alois's father was Jewish. Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary, close to the border with the German Empire, he was christened as "Adolphus Hitler". He was the fourth of six children born to his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Three of Hitler's siblings—Gustav and Otto—died in infancy. Living in the household were Alois's children from his second marriage: Alois Jr. and Angela. When Hitler was three, the family moved to Germany. There he acquired the distinctive lower Bavarian dialect, rather than Austrian German, which marked his speech throughout his life; the family returned to Austria and settled in Leonding in 1894, in June 1895 Alois retired to Hafeld, near Lambach, where he farmed and kept bees. Hitler attended Volksschule (a state-owned primary schoo
Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans; the English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages. Since the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation within the Holy Roman Empire, German society has been characterized by a Catholic-Protestant divide. Of 100 million native speakers of German in the world 80 million consider themselves Germans. There are an additional 80 million people of German ancestry in the United States, Argentina, South Africa, the post-Soviet states, France, each accounting for at least 1 million. Thus, the total number of Germans lies somewhere between 100 and more than 150 million, depending on the criteria applied. Today, people from countries with German-speaking majorities most subscribe to their own national identities and may or may not self-identify as ethnically German.
The German term Deutsche originates from the Old High German word diutisc, referring to the Germanic "language of the people". It is not clear how if at all, the word was used as an ethnonym in Old High German. Used as a noun, ein diutscher in the sense of "a German" emerges in Middle High German, attested from the second half of the 12th century; the Old French term alemans is taken from the name of the Alamanni. It was loaned into Middle English as almains in the early 14th century; the word Dutch is attested in English from the 14th century, denoting continental West Germanic dialects and their speakers. While in most Romance languages the Germans have been named from the Alamanni, the Old Norse and Estonian names for the Germans were taken from that of the Saxons. In Slavic languages, the Germans were given the name of němьci with a meaning "foreigner, one who does not speak "; the English term Germans is only attested from the mid-16th century, based on the classical Latin term Germani used by Julius Caesar and Tacitus.
It replaced Dutch and Almains, the latter becoming obsolete by the early 18th century. The Germans are a Germanic people. Part of the Holy Roman Empire, around 300 independent German states emerged during its decline after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ending the Thirty Years War; these states formed into modern Germany in the 19th century. The concept of a German ethnicity is linked to Germanic tribes of antiquity in central Europe; the early Germans originated on the North German Plain as well as southern Scandinavia. By the 2nd century BC, the number of Germans was increasing and they began expanding into eastern Europe and southward into Celtic territory. During antiquity these Germanic tribes remained separate from each other and did not have writing systems at that time. In the European Iron Age the area, now Germany was divided into the La Tène horizon in Southern Germany and the Jastorf culture in Northern Germany. By 55 BC, the Germans had reached the Danube river and had either assimilated or otherwise driven out the Celts who had lived there, had spread west into what is now Belgium and France.
Conflict between the Germanic tribes and the forces of Rome under Julius Caesar forced major Germanic tribes to retreat to the east bank of the Rhine. Roman emperor Augustus in 12 BC ordered the conquest of the Germans, but the catastrophic Roman defeat at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest resulted in the Roman Empire abandoning its plans to conquer Germania. Germanic peoples in Roman territory were culturally Romanized, although much of Germania remained free of direct Roman rule, Rome influenced the development of German society the adoption of Christianity by the Germans who obtained it from the Romans. In Roman-held territories with Germanic populations, the Germanic and Roman peoples intermarried, Roman and Christian traditions intermingled; the adoption of Christianity would become a major influence in the development of a common German identity. The first major public figure to speak of a German people in general, was the Roman figure Tacitus in his work Germania around 100 AD; however an actual united German identity and ethnicity did not exist and it would take centuries of development of German culture until the concept of a German ethnicity began to become a popular identity.
The Germanic peoples during the Migrations Period came into contact with other peoples. The Limes Germanicus was breached in AD 260. Migrating Germanic tribes commingled with the local Gallo-Roman populations in what is now Swabia and Bavaria; the arrival of the Huns in Europe resulted in Hun conquest of large parts of Eastern Europe, the Huns were allies of the Roman Empire who fought against Germanic tribes, but the Huns cooperated with the Germanic tribe of the Ostrogoths, large numbers of Germans lived within the lands of the Hunnic Empire of
Wojciech Kętrzyński, was a historian and the director of the Ossolineum Library in Lemberg, the capitol of Galicia, Austrian Empire. He focused on Polish history at a time, he was the father of Stanisław Kętrzyński. The Kętrzyński-family is of Kashubian origin and settled in Pomerania since the sixteenth century. In 1821 his father had changed his surname to "von Winkler", a direct translation of "Kętrzyński", while he served in the Prussian Army. After he left the military his father became a Prussian policeman at Lötzen where he married a local German wife and died in 1846. Kętrzyński was born in Lötzen as Adalbert von Winkler, Province of Prussia, within the Kingdom of Prussia, grew up under the care of a German family after his father's death, he was sent to a military school for soldier orphans at Potsdam in 1849 but returned to Masuria and passed his Abitur at Rastenburg. In 1856 his sister had discovered the family's ancestry and informed him about it, which caused his decision to identify himself as a Pole though he did not read or write Polish and knew only a few words and expressions.
As Kętrzyński wrote, at the time of his national conversion he "was a German and felt himself to be German" and this "decision had been sudden and had raised no doubts". In 1859 he enrolled at the University of Königsberg, still as "von Winkler", but used the name "von Kętrzyński" for his matriculation in 1861. Here he spoke for the first time Polish to students. In 1863 he was imprisoned for his support of the Polish January Uprising in the Russian partition and spent his jail time in Olsztyn, Kłodzko. Throughout his imprisonment he translated his dissertation from German into Latin and Wincenty Pol's "Song of our Land" into German. After being released from prison, Kętrzyński completed his doctorate at the University of Königsberg and moved to the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria within Austria-Hungary to pursue his interests, he became the head and the director of the Ossolineum Library in Lviv capital of the Kingdom of Galicia. Kętrzyński died there during World War I. In recognition of his deeds after World War II, the town Rastenburg in Masuria was renamed Kętrzyn after Kętrzyński in 1946.
In Olsztyn a scientific institute was established named after him in 1963, called Ośrodka Badań Naukowych im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego, its primary mission is to document and research the history of Polish people and their culture in Warmia and Masuria, concentrating on their efforts to oppose Germanization. Another important subject of its research is the administration of Royal Prussia. "Szkice Prus Wschodnich" zamieszczone w "Przewodniku Naukowym i Literackim" Lwów 1876. "Nazwy miejscowe polskie Prus Zachodnich, Wschodnich i Pomorza wraz z ich przezwiskami niemieckimi" Lwów 1879. "Gazeta polska z początku XVIII w. Lwów 1880. "Aus dem Liederbuch eines Germanisierten" 1883 - confiscated by Prussian and Austrian authorities. "O ludności polskiej w Prusiech niegdyś krzyżackich" Lwów 1882. "O powołaniu Krzyżaków przez księcia Konrada" Saint Petersburg 1903. Museum in Kętrzyn Ośrodek Badań Naukowych im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego w Olsztynie
Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes
The Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes known as the Winter Battle of the Masurian Lakes, was the northern part of the Central Powers' offensive on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1915. The offensive was intended to advance beyond the Vistula River and knock Russia out of the war; the Central Powers planned four offensives on their Eastern Front in early 1915. The Germans, led by Paul von Hindenburg, would attack eastward from their front line in western Poland, occupied after the Battle of Łódź in 1914, toward the Vistula River and in East Prussia in the vicinity of the Masurian Lakes; the Austro-Hungarians would emerge from the Carpathian Mountain passes to attack the Russians by driving toward Lemberg. They would be led by General Alexander von Linsingen. Further south General Borojevic von Bojna would attempt to relieve the besieged fortress at Przemysl. German Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn believed that the war would be won on the Western Front. Nonetheless, he sent four additional army corps to Paul von Hindenburg, commander of their Eastern Front.
By February 1915, thirty-six percent of the German field army was in the east. German Ninth Army attacked from Silesia into Poland at the end of January; the Russians counterattacked with eleven divisions under a single corps commander, losing 40,000 men in three days. In East Prussia, further Russian incursions were blocked by trench lines extending between the Masurian Lakes; the Eighth Army was reinforced by some of the newly arrived corps, while the rest of them became the German Tenth Army, commanded by Colonel-General Hermann von Eichhorn, formed on the German left. The Tenth Army was to be one wing of a pincers intended to surround their opponents: General Sievers' Russian Tenth Army. A new Russian Twelfth Army under General Pavel Plehve was assembling in Poland 100 km to the southwest. Sievers warned the Northwest Front commander, General Nikolai Ruzsky, that they were to be attacked, but was ignored. On February 7, despite a heavy snowstorm, the left wing of Below's Eighth Army launched a surprise attack against Sievers, whose trenches were shallow, disconnected ditches, with little or no barbed wire because the first shipments had not arrived until December 1914.
The following day, the German Tenth Army drove forward. Snow, with drifts as high as a man, slowed German progress down the roads for the first two days. Despite these formidable obstacles, the German pincers advanced 120 km in a week, inflicting severe casualties on the Russians; as the Russians withdrew, the center of the German Eight Army began to thrust forward. The Russian withdrawal was disorderly. Russian counterattacks on the lengthening flank of the German Tenth Army were beaten back. German men and horses fed on captured provisions, so only ammunition had to be hauled up to them; the snow was washed away by torrential rain. The climax of the battle was on February 18, when the Russian 20th Army Corps, under General Bulgakov, was surrounded by the German Tenth Army in the vast Augustow Forest. On February 21, the survivors from the corps surrendered; the heroic stand of the Russian 20th Corps provided the time required for the rest of the Russian Tenth Army to form a new defensive position.
On February 22, the day after the surrender of the 20th Corps, Plehve's Russian Twelfth Army counterattacked, which checked further German advances and brought the battle to an end. One source gives Russian losses as 92,000 prisoners and 300 guns, while another gives 56,000 men and 185 guns; the Germans lost 14 guns. The Germans were unable to take it; the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes gave the Germans a toehold in Russia. In the following weeks, the Germans drove the Russians out of their remaining small enclaves in East Prussia. Further south, Alexander von Linsingen's offensive had failed with severe losses, the fortress at Przemysl had been forced to surrender to the Russians; the first Austro-Hungarian offensives of 1915 were abject failures. Henceforth, the Austro-Hungarians and Germans would work together more closely. First Battle of the Masurian Lakes Tucker, Spencer C; the Great War: 1914-18 The Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes, 1915
Wolf's Lair was Adolf Hitler's first Eastern Front military headquarters in World War II. The complex, which became one of several Führerhauptquartiere in various parts of Eastern Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of the Soviet Union – in 1941, it was constructed by Organisation Todt. The top secret, high security site was in the Masurian woods about 8 km east of the small East Prussian town of Rastenburg. Three security zones surrounded the central complex; these were guarded by personnel from the SS Reichssicherheitsdienst and the Wehrmacht's armoured Führerbegleitbrigade. Despite the security, the most notable assassination attempt against Hitler was made at the Wolf's Lair on 20 July 1944. Hitler first arrived at the headquarters on 23 June 1941. In total, he spent more than 800 days at the Wolfsschanze during a 3½-year period until his final departure on 20 November 1944. In mid-1944, work began to reinforce many of the Wolf's Lair original buildings; the work was never completed because of the rapid advance of the Red Army during the Baltic Offensive in late 1944.
On 25 January 1945, the complex was blown up and abandoned 48 hours before the arrival of Soviet forces. Wolfsschanze is derived from "Wolf", he began using the nickname in the early 1930s and it was how he was addressed by those in his intimate circle. "Wolf" was used in several titles of Hitler's headquarters throughout occupied Europe, such as Wolfsschlucht I and II in Belgium and France and Werwolf in Ukraine. Although the standard translation in English is "Wolf's Lair," a Schanze in German denotes a sconce, redoubt or temporary fieldwork; the decision was made in late 1940 to build the Wolf's Lair in the middle of a forest, far from major roads and urban areas. The 6.5 km2 complex was consisted of three concentric security zones. About two thousand people lived and worked at the Wolf's Lair at its peak, among them twenty women, some of whom were required to eat Hitler's food to test for poison; the installations were served by railway lines. Buildings within the complex were camouflaged with bushes and artificial trees on the flat roofs.
Sperrkreis 1 was located at the heart of the Wolf's Lair, ringed by steel fencing and guarded by the Reichssicherheitsdienst. It contained the Führer Bunker and ten other camouflaged bunkers built from 2 metres thick steel-reinforced concrete; these shelters protected members of Hitler's inner circle such as Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring, Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl. Hitler's accommodation was on the northern side of Führer Bunker. Both Hitler's and Keitel's bunkers had additional rooms. Sperrkreis 2 surrounded the inner zone; this area housed the quarters of several Reich Ministers such as Fritz Todt, Albert Speer, Joachim von Ribbentrop. It housed the quarters of the personnel who worked in the Wolf's Lair and the military barracks for the RSD. Sperrkreis 3 was the fortified outer security area which surrounded the two inner zones, it was defended by land mines and the Führer Begleit Brigade, a special armoured security unit from Wehrmacht which manned guard houses and checkpoints. A facility for Army headquarters was located near the Wolf's lair complex.
The RSD had overall responsibility for Hitler's personal security, although external protection of the complex was provided by the FBB, which had become a regiment by July 1944. The FBB was equipped with tanks, anti-aircraft guns, other heavy weapons. Any approaching aircraft could be detected up to 100 kilometres from the Wolf's Lair. Additional troops were stationed about 75 kilometres away. Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge recalled that Hitler spoke in late 1943 or early 1944 of a possible bomber attack on the Wolfsschanze by the Western Allies, she quoted Hitler as saying, "They know where we are, sometime they’re going to destroy everything here with aimed bombs. I expect them to attack any day." According to Speer, between 28 July 1941 and 20 March 1942, Hitler left Rastenburg only four times for a total of 57 days. Afterwards, Hitler spent the next three months in Obersalzberg before returning to Rastenburg for the next nine months. Hitler’s entourage returned to the Wolfsschanze from an extended summer stay at the Berghof in July 1944.
The previous small bunkers had been replaced by the Organisation Todt with "heavy, colossal structures" of reinforced concrete as defense against the feared air attack. According to Armaments Minister Albert Speer, "some 36,000,000 marks were spent for bunkers in Rastenburg." Hitler’s bunker had become the largest, "a positive fortress" containing "a maze of passages and halls." Junge wrote, "We had air-raid warnings every day" in the period between the 20 July assassination attempt and Hitler's final departure from the Wolfsschanze in November 1944, "but there was never more than a single aircraft circling over the forest, no bombs were dropped. All the same, Hitler took the danger seriously, thought all these reconnaissance flights were in preparation for the big raid he was expecting."No air attack came. It has never been revealed whether the Western Allies knew of the Wolfsschanze's location and importance; the Soviet Union was unaware of both the
East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast; the bulk of the ancestral lands of the Baltic Old Prussians were enclosed within East Prussia. During the 13th century, the native Prussians were conquered by the crusading Teutonic Knights. After the conquest the indigenous Balts were converted to Christianity; because of Germanization and colonisation over the following centuries, Germans became the dominant ethnic group, while Masurians and Lithuanians formed minorities. From the 13th century, East Prussia was part of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. After the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 it became a fief of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1525, with the Prussian Homage, the province became the Duchy of Prussia; the Old Prussian language had become extinct by early 18th century. Because the duchy was outside of the core Holy Roman Empire, the prince-electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim themselves King beginning in 1701.
After the annexation of most of western Royal Prussia in the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, eastern Prussia was connected by land with the rest of the Prussian state and was reorganized as a province the following year. Between 1829 and 1878, the Province of East Prussia was joined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia; the Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. However, the Treaty of Versailles following World War I granted West Prussia to Poland and made East Prussia an exclave of Weimar Germany, while the Memel Territory was detached and annexed by Lithuania in 1923. Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Poland; the capital city Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was evacuated during the war or expelled shortly afterwards in the expulsion of Germans after World War II.
An estimated 300,000 died either in war time bombing raids, in the battles to defend the province, or through mistreatment by the Red Army. At the instigation of Duke Konrad I of Masovia, the Teutonic Knights took possession of Prussia in the 13th century and created a monastic state to administer the conquered Old Prussians. Local Old-Prussian and Polish toponyms were Germanised; the Knights' expansionist policies, including occupation of Polish Pomerania with Gdańsk/Danzig and western Lithuania, brought them into conflict with the Kingdom of Poland and embroiled them in several wars, culminating in the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, whereby the united armies of Poland and Lithuania, defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. Its defeat was formalised in the Second Treaty of Thorn in 1466 ending the Thirteen Years' War, leaving the former Polish region Pomerania/Pomerelia under Polish control. Together with Warmia it formed the province of Royal Prussia. Eastern Prussia as a fief of Poland.
1466 and 1525 arrangements by kings of Poland were not verified by the Holy Roman Empire as well as the previous gains of the Teutonic Knights were not verified. The Teutonic Order lost eastern Prussia when Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach converted to Lutheranism and secularized the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order in 1525. Albert established himself as the first duke of the Duchy of Prussia and a vassal of the Polish crown by the Prussian Homage. Walter von Cronberg, the next Grand Master, was enfeoffed with the title to Prussia after the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, but the Order never regained possession of the territory. In 1569 the Hohenzollern prince-electors of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became co-regents with Albert's son, the feeble-minded Albert Frederick; the Administrator of Prussia, the grandmaster of the Teutonic Order Maximilian III, son of emperor Maximilian II died in 1618. When Maximilian died, Albert's line died out, the Duchy of Prussia passed to the Electors of Brandenburg, forming Brandenburg-Prussia.
Taking advantage of the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655, instead of fulfilling his vassal's duties towards the Polish Kingdom, by joining forces with the Swedes and subsequent treaties of Wehlau and Oliva, Elector and Duke Frederick William succeeded in revoking the king of Poland's sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia in 1660. The absolutist elector subdued the noble estates of Prussia. Although Brandenburg was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Prussian lands were not within the Holy Roman Empire and were with the administration by the Teutonic Order grandmasters under jurisdiction of the Emperor. In return for supporting Emperor Leopold I in the War of the Spanish Succession, Elector Frederick III was allowed to crown himself "King in Prussia" in 1701; the new kingdom ruled by the Hohenzollern dynasty became known as the Kingdom of Prussia. The designation "Kingdom of Prussia" was applied to the