Study Guide

Adolf Hitler in The Lend-Lease Act

By The United States Congress, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Adolf Hitler

Yeah, Yeah: It's That Guy

There are certain people in history that are incredibly unpleasant to encounter, yet they are unavoidable because, as much as we would like the "good guys" to shape the story of our world, it's just as common that the bad, the very bad, and the downright terrible are equally influential.

Adolf Hitler happens to be one of those downright terrible people. For many, he is entirely to blame for WWII and all of its atrocities (though there are others who argue that the blame is much more widespread). His fascist state, which is now known as Nazi Germany, initiated a campaign of terror within both Germany and across a vast majority of Europe.

Their goal? To rule the world, of course.

Way Down South

Originally from a small town in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hitler was really into two things from early on: 1) war and 2) Germany. Lucky for him, he reached adulthood at the same time as WWI was having its way with western Europe. He relocated to the southern German state of Bavaria to enthusiastically join their army, and his experiences as a soldier solidified his love of the military, politics, and his adopted home country.

Shortly after the defeat of Germany, Hitler broke onto the political scene, making fast headway among the ultra-conservative circles of Munich. He also became a super active member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party). He did lots of extra work for them, like campaigning and revitalizing their "brand" with a big, loud swastika. (By the way, the swastika is originally an extremely ancient religious symbol from south and southeast Asia, but thanks to Adolf, it's now more commonly associated with Nazism and hate speech in general.)

The more Hitler got involved in politics, the more he began to develop his own ideas about how a government and a society should operate. He was particularly fond of Mussolini's brand of Italian Fascism, which inspired him to organize a coup on the Bavarian government.

Epic Fail to Epic Fear

This little attempt at overthrow, a.k.a. the "Beer Hall Putsch," failed miserably, but Hitler's career setback was only temporary. It wasn't long before he was back at it, gunning for the top-dog positions in the government. Again, the timing was just right for him. The after effects of WWI, both diplomatic and economic, were devastating to Germany. Combine that with the global impact of the Great Depression in the U.S., and the 1930s were a pretty terrible time in Deutschland.

The national socialist political agenda was incredibly appealing to people who felt angry, tired, hopeless, confused, and frustrated by their dire economic conditions. By the early 1930s, Hitler was a household name across the country and firmly entrenched in the social and political scene.

Hitler's campaign gained momentum fast, and he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Within the first year in the role, he had acquired complete governmental control of Germany, which he was now running as a dictatorship. Nazism was widespread, and the state was dominated by fascist sentiments. By the end of the decade, Germany would be one of the most powerful war machines Europe had ever seen.

Because One Wasn't Enough

At the bidding of the Führer, a title meaning "leader" which Hitler gave to himself, the army invaded Poland in 1939. In response, Great Britain and France said essentially, "Uh...what?" and declared war on Germany. While Britain would withstand Germany military aggression, France was not so lucky, falling to Nazi forces in 1940.

That same year, Germany paired itself with Mussolini's fascist Italy, and created an allegiance with Imperialist Japan under the Tripartite Pact, officially spreading WWII to across the globe.

In December 1941, the United States joined in after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Together with Great Britain and the U.S.S.R., the U.S. would battle the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, which would eventually fall in 1945, ending the most devastating conflict in history.

A Messy End

The exact detail of Hitler's death are not know because they occurred inside his bunker during the Battle of Berlin. (Source) However, reports indicate that he committed suicide and that his body was burned so that is would not be taken as a trophy by the Soviet Army.


What isn't nasty, though, is that with Hitler's death came the end of a tyrannical rule that caused the torture and death of millions upon millions of people. With the toppling of Nazi Germany came the toppling of a regime that promoted extreme racism, anti-Semitism, and overall hatred. The monstrous human rights violations conducted by the Nazis are incalculable and beyond words. It is a dark moment in history that haunts Germany—and the world—to this day.

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