The Rise and Subsequent Fall of the Third Reich
Living in the crumbled remains of Germany, or the Weimar Republic, in the 1920’s was a dismal existence. Hyperinflation was rampant and the national debt skyrocketed as a result of the punishing features of the Treaty of Versailles. During the depression, however, a mysterious Austrian emerged from the depths of the German penal system and gave the desperate German people a glimpse of hope in very dark times. He called for a return to “Fatherland” principles where greater Germany was seen as the center of their universe with zealous pride. Under Hitler’s leadership, Nazi Germany rapidly grew and expanded, continually approaching the goal of world domination and the “Thousand-Year Reich” that Hitler promised the German people. Only a few years later, Nazi Wehrmacht soldiers could be seen marching the streets from Paris to Leningrad (St. Petersburg, Russia). The German Empire, however, like all other expansive empires, had its limits and integral components such as resources, manpower, and industrial capacity began to fall in short supply further crippling the Nazi war machine. Basically, by 1944, “Nazi Germany’s fundamental problem was that she has conquered more territory than she could defend” (Ambrose, 27). Hitler conquered a vast area and vowed to defend every single inch of his empire with every last drop of blood at his disposal. As Frederick the Great warned, “He who defends everything, defends nothing” (Ambrose, 33). It is interesting to study any empire’s rise and fall because similarities are always present, even with some nations today promising to fight the evil, when it reality, it might be becoming what it vows to fight.
The story of the rise of the Third Reich begins in a small village in Austria called Branau am Inn. There a young man aspired to one day become an artist while his father pushed and pushed him to become a civil servant against his will. Young Adolf eventually became so irritated that he packed up his things and moved to Vienna, a vibrant city full of opportunity. While in Vienna, Hitler was exposed to all that large, cosmopolitan cities have to offer, particularly a wide array of political views. Growing up, Hitler was never truly exposed to anti-Semitism, power lust, and tremendous pride for his “people.” Yet in only a matter of months in Vienna, he was exposed to this and much more. He first read of anti-Semitic sentiments in pamphlets and newsletters but soon after was able to conjure his own sentiments about the “inferior” races.
At the outbreak of World War I, Adolf Hitler felt it was his duty to fight for his “Fatherland” even though he grew up and currently lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He believed that Austria had always been a part of Germany because both peoples shared a common language, culture, and blood. He requested to join the Sixth Bavarian division where he fought bravely for the German Empire. After a British gas...