From his secret cocaine addiction to his intense cat phobia, these Hitler facts expose everything you never knew about history's most infamous villain.
It's possible that no historical figure of the 20th century remains as well-known and widely discussed as Adolf Hitler. The leader of Nazi Germany before and during World War II and a man whose belligerent, genocidal policies led to the deaths of tens of millions of people, he has been etched into the history books where he'll stay forever as one of the most reviled humans to have ever lived.
But as infamous as Hitler is even today, how much do most of us know about the man himself? Beyond a few cursory bits of information, how many Adolf Hitler facts do most of us know that reveal the actual person behind some of the most infamous crimes in human history?
Born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria-Hungary, his life was marked by conflict and strife from the beginning. As a boy, he clashed constantly with his strict father who didn't approve of his son's disrespectful behavior in school or his interest in fine arts.
Not long after his father died suddenly in 1903, Hitler dropped out of school and was soon squandering his inheritance while studying fine art in Vienna and twice failing to gain admittance to the city's Academy of Fine Arts.
It was around this time that Hitler first began to express the kind of German nationalism and anti-Semitism that would define his legacy. These feelings only intensified during and especially after his military service in World War I.
He received the Iron Cross for bravery on the war's Western Front (though most historians agree that he mainly served as a dispatch runner and a functionary at headquarters well behind the front lines). But when the war ended in defeat for the Germans and the Treaty of Versailles punished the country, Hitler grew irredeemably bitter and angry.
Like many Germans, Hitler blamed his army's defeat and the downtrodden conditions in postwar Germany on Jews, Marxists, and the German government. He found like-minded people in the Munich-based German Workers' Party and soon threw himself into political life full time, making speeches and leading events for his right-wing cause.
By 1921, Hitler had grown popular thanks to his speeches and became chairman of what was now calling itself the Nazi Party. But his time at the top didn't last long thanks to a failed 1923 coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch that landed him in jail for a year.
While imprisoned, Hitler wrote the political manifesto that largely defines his views to this day: Mein Kampf. Over the course of the next decade or so, the book went on to sell 5 million copies, bring Hitler's radical ideas to the masses and help elevate him to power.
As Hitler built up the Nazi Party following his release from prison, millions of Germans began responding to the kinds of ideas put forth in Mein Kampf and the Nazis were soon scoring victories in national elections. Eventually, they had a majority presence in Parliament and a few key politicians told President Paul von Hindenburg that it would make sense to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in 1933.
When Hindenburg died the following year, the Nazi Party was stronger than ever and Hitler was able to declare himself Führer of Germany. The rest, as they say, is history.
From his ascendancy as dictator to his suicide alongside new wife Eva Braun near the end of the war in 1945, his actions would all but destroy Europe in his quest to conquer neighboring countries while the Holocaust saw the extermination of Jews, homosexuals, Romani, Poles, the disabled, and anyone else who didn't fit into Hitler's warped view of a master Aryan race.
So devastating were these acts that Hitler's name obviously remains known — and despised — around the world decades upon decades later. But for all the disturbing Adolf Hitler facts you don't know, see the gallery above.