Study Guide

Adolf Hitler in The Great Arsenal of Democracy

By Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Adolf Hitler

Have you ever argued with your sister about something, and been super convinced you're right, only to find out that actually the other person is right and everything is horrible?

Yeah, that's exactly how Germany felt at the end of World War I.

As part of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to accept complete responsibility for the war, and pay lots of money in reparations. It was humiliating for the German people, and caused lots of problem for them, particularly as the economy tanked all around the world in the 1920s.

And no one was angrier than Adolf Hitler.

He'd been a soldier in the German Army during World War I, but was recovering in a military hospital when Germany surrendered in 1918. Hitler didn't appreciate the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles, but he didn't really know how to channel his fury.

That is, until he attended the first meeting of the Nazi Party and became their Führer, or leader, in 1921.

Hitler was the typical bully from all the after-school specials of your youth. He was loud, frowny, and thought a whole lot of himself. Check out this video mashup of some of his speeches. He talked about a stronger Germany and about being brave and uniting the country…and people were eating it up, because many of them were desperate. They were tired of being unemployed, tired of being unable to feed their families, and tired of being unfairly blamed for an entire world war.

People will do lots of crazy things when they're desperate.

Unfortunately, Hitler was there to take advantage of the desperation of the German people. The Nazi Party was unapologetically anti-Semitic, and they used anti-Jewish propaganda to unite the country against a common enemy—all in preparation to go to war and get back what had been taken from Germany with the Treaty of Versailles.

All that said, make no mistake—Hitler did want revenge for what happened to Germany after World War I, but he was also out for absolute power. He wanted to be in control, and toward he end of World War II, it became obvious that he wasn't.

Hitler became moody, messy, and all kinds of other emotions that Ashlee Simpson sang about in 2004, and he committed suicide on April 30th, 1945, just a few days before Germany surrendered.

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