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  • Adolf Hitler lacked leadership ability. Or he was a cowardly soldier. Or his personality

  • and his ideology have their origins here. Or he was an excellent soldier. I’m talking

  • about things people have said about Adolf Hitler’s time served in World War One, and

  • they are many and conflicting. The fact is that Hitler was stationed at the front from

  • the beginning of the war until the end of the war and he himself called it the best time of his life.

  • I'm Indy Neidell. And welcome to another Great War episode of who did what in World War One.

  • Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

  • His father Alois Hitler was a customs officer and his mother, Claralzel, was Alois

  • third wife. Hitler’s father adopted the name of his stepfather and it’s still a

  • mystery who Hitlers grandparents and ancestors were, though in his later years Hitler spared

  • no pains in designing an extensive pedigree for the public.

  • Adolf grew up with his step siblings Alois jr and Angela and his younger sister Paula.

  • His father was transferred several times during Adolf’s childhood, so the family moved as

  • well: from Groß-Schönau to Passau and then to Linz. Adolf struggled in middle school

  • in Linz and a stubborn and defiant behaviour marked his schooldays. Alois Hitler died when

  • Adolf was only 14. Hitler tried another boarding school, but his grades were still poor. Actually,

  • he had to repeat two years of school in total, finally dropping out and returning to Linz in 1905.

  • Were not entirely certain what young Adolf did in Linz. We know he posed as an educated

  • artist while living off his half-orphan pension from his father’s death, but it’s not

  • very specific. In 1907, he traveled to Vienna to apply for the Academy of Fine Art, but

  • he failed the entrance exam and returned home, though when his mother died in December that

  • year he soon left Linz for good and moved to Vienna. Again the following year, he failed

  • the Academy’s entrance exam.

  • He lived off of his now full orphan’s pension, though without a permanent residence, and

  • posed as an art student. A year before the war, in 1913, he settled abroad, in Munich,

  • Germany. He may have been trying to avoid the Austrian draft, but that failed, for in

  • January 1914, a policeman took him into custody and brought him to the Austrian consulate.

  • He was was declared unfit for military service at medical exam in Salzburg and returned to Munich.

  • Hitler later wrote that when the First World War broke out, he was so stunned by the enthusiasm

  • of the German crowds reaction to the public proclamation he sank to his knees. He asked

  • the following day if, even though a foreigner, he could enlist in the German army. The request

  • was accepted and on August 16th he became a member of a Bavarian Reserve regiment. Ten

  • weeks of training followed.

  • His regiment, called regimentListnamed after the commander, first saw action October

  • 29th, 1914 at the ongoing First Battle of Ypres. This battle lasted for weeks and was

  • a very bloody affair. Afterward, in November, Hitler was promoted to corporal and was given

  • an Iron Cross, though we don’t know specifically why. It’s quite likely that he won it for

  • reliability, since he served mostly as a dispatch runner. Hitler strongly disapproved of the

  • Christmas Truce in 1914. The somewhat shy, ordinarily reserved soldier became a fanatic.

  • Something like that cannot be at issue”, he said as German and British troops met in

  • no man’s land between the trenches and shook hands.

  • Between March 1915 and September 1916, Hitler’s regiment fought in the static warfare in the

  • trenches of Formelles. They defended a front line about two kilometres long. After fighting

  • in the second battle of Formelles, regiment List marched South and fought in the battle

  • of the Somme. Near Le Barqué, Hitler took shrapnel in his thighl. He would not return

  • to active duty till March 1917. His regiment was stationed near Vimy and during the summer

  • in Ypres. In September, Hitler took a two week vacation in Berlin. As he returned, his

  • regiment moved to Champagne - we now are in October, 1917. Half a year later, in May 1918,

  • Hitler gained a regimental diploma and a wound badge for his bravery. His regiment then fought in the second battle of Marne.

  • Actually, by this point a German victory did not seem unlikely. The two front-war was finally

  • over and Eastern troops were moved west to mount new offensives. Still running dispatches,

  • often under heavy fire, Hitler won another Iron Cross in August 1918, but the German

  • offensives ground to a halt. On the 8th of August, the day German General Ludendorff

  • calledthe black day of the German army”, the allied powers counter-attacked.

  • At the end of August, Hitler was sent tornberg for specialist training to become a telephone

  • operator. He took a second vacation in the mid of September and spent his time in Berlin

  • again. After he returned to the front lines, his regiment was defeated the night of October

  • 14th where an allied gas attack left Hitler nearly blind in a field hospital. His sight

  • began to return in November, but still not even enough to read a newspaper. He was crushed

  • by the German defeat in the war, and what he considered the infamous treaty of Versailles,

  • but a big thing was that he now lost the feeling of unity, of belonging, he had during the

  • war. He later spoke of his service asunforgettable and the greatest time of his earthly life”.

  • After the war, Hitler still was kind of a loner with only a few friends and acquaintances.

  • The people who got to know him described him as a quiet and serious, but also volatile.

  • His biographies picture him as someone who never fully fit into the civil world and only

  • found some sort of salvation in war. His life had been directionless but he had gained respect

  • and found a new home in his regiment, and since no job waited for him back home, remaining

  • in the army almost suggested itself.

  • Let’s play it out: As Hitler hears about the German revolution at the end of the war,

  • he is indignant. He sees it as a betrayal of everything he believed in and fought for,

  • and he searches for an explanation and people to blame. His racist and anti-semitic mindset

  • slowly becomes an ideology. Years later he would state that he had blamed the Jews for

  • the German defeat during World War One.

  • Hitler stays at the army and leaves for Munich, and this is where we leave you since what

  • came next is not in our purview, but how do you feel the years at the front may have changed

  • and shaped Hitler and his beliefs? What would his fate have been had he remained in Austria?

  • Tell us in the comments.

  • You can check out Episode about the first battle of Ypres right here.

  • Don't forget to subscribe, see you next time.

Adolf Hitler lacked leadership ability. Or he was a cowardly soldier. Or his personality


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第一次世界大戦のアドルフ・ヒトラー 第一次肖像画 (Adolf Hitler in World War 1 I Portrait)

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    Robert Chang に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日