Adolf Hitler was a struggling young artist who became a feared dictator. He led his country into a bloody war that killed millions of people. Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930s. He eventually started World War II (1939-1945), a conflict that left Europe in ruins. HITLER’S CHILDHOOD Adolf Hitler was born in 1889. He came from a well-to-do family in Austria-Hungary. His father was an important government worker. After his father died, Hitler quit school in the ninth grade. He decided to become an artist but had trouble finding work. WORLD WAR I Hilter volunteered for the German army during World War I (1914-1918) and served the whole war. Germany lost the war, and the country suffered terribly. Many Germans became jobless and poor. The people wanted someone to lead them back to glory again. Hitler wanted to be that person. RISE TO POWER After the war, Hitler joined the National German Socialists Workers’ Party. Many people called it the Nazi Party, for short. Hitler was an excellent public speaker. He appealed to German pride by constantly speaking about their racial superiority. This was the idea that one type of people are naturally better than others. He blamed other people, especially Jews, for Germany’s problems. His speeches attracted thousands of people who thought Hitler could be a great leader. The Nazi Party grew rapidly. Hitler ran for political office in Germany and was elected in 1930. Three years later, in January 1933, Hitler became Germany’s chancellor, which was similar to a president. He immediately passed laws giving himself total power. Soon, Hitler had become a dictator. He controlled Germany’s government completely. Hitler passed laws to get rid of people he did not like. They included his political enemies and Germans who were disabled or Jewish. Many of these people were sent to large camps, where they were held prisoner. Huge numbers of people were killed. WORLD WAR II Hitler also began rebuilding Germany’s military. He wanted a powerful army so he could conquer other countries, and eventually take over the world. He started by declaring Germany's union with the neighboring country of Austria. Then he ordered German troops to occupy all of Czechoslovakia. When Hitler’s army invaded Poland in 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. World War II had begun. Germany’s mighty army soon captured France and began bombing England. In 1941, Hitler’s armies also invaded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), often called Russia. This turned out to be a big mistake because the German army had trouble fighting in several countries at once. THE HOLOCAUST Hitler’s soldiers forced tens of thousands of Jews in Poland into small sections of the cities, known as ghettos. The Jews were not given adequate food, and many of them starved to death. Hitler’s army also sent millions of Jews from Germany and other countries to concentration camps. There, many were killed. The deaths of millions of Jews under Hitler is known as the Holocaust. About one-third of the world’s 18 million Jews died in the Holocaust, one of history’s greatest tragedies. HITLER’S SUICIDE The United States entered World War II in December 1941. Slowly, Germany began to lose the war. America and its allies launched the D-Day invasion of western Europe on June 6, 1944. They fought their way through France and into Germany in 1945. Facing defeat, Hitler killed himself. His reign of terror was finally over.