Adolf Hitler was an Austrian who served as a soldier in the Bavarian army during the Weltkrieg and the German intervention in Russia, during which he was killed in action. His diary is to be used as the basis for the novel "Unser Kampf: Adolf Hitler", part of Propyläen publishing house's book series devoted to individual German soldiers' stories, accounts and poetry during the Weltkrieg and its associated conflicts.
Childhood and Heritage
Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, the fourth child of six. His father, Alois Hitler, (1837–1903), was a customs official. His mother, Klara Pölzl, (1860–1907), was Alois' third wife. She was also his cousin, so a papal dispensation had to be obtained for the marriage. Of Alois and Klara's six children, only Adolf and his sister Paula reached adulthood. Hitler's father also had a son, Alois Jr, and a daughter, Angela, by his second wife.
After living some years in Vienna, working as an artist, Hitler moved to Munich in 1913. When the Weltkrieg began one year later, Hitler (who had refused to serve in the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian army), petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment. This request was granted, and Adolf Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian army.
During the Weltkreig
Hitler served in France and Belgium as a runner for the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment (called Regiment List after its first commander), which exposed him to enemy fire. He drew cartoons and instructional drawings for the army newspaper.
Hitler was twice decorated for bravery. He received the Iron Cross, Second Class, in 1914 and the Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918, an honor rarely bestowed to a Gefreiter. However, because the regimental staff thought Hitler lacked leadership skills (or possibly because he was not a German citizen), he was never promoted to Unteroffizier during the Weltkrieg. In 1916, Hitler was wounded in the leg but returned to the front in March 1917. He received the Wound Badge later that year. On October 15, 1918, Hitler was admitted to a field hospital, temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack. Hitler later wrote in his diary it was during this experience that he became convinced the purpose of his life was to "save Germany." This diary, which would later become the basis for the famous novel and movie, contained not only the day-to day events of the war, but also Hitler's thoughts on politics, patriotism, Germany's future, poems and drawings. Hitler was overjoyed when Germany finally defeated France, and happily joined the victory celebrations. These wonderful days are very well described in his diary.
Russian Intervention and Death
For a few months, Hitler and his regiment were on garrison duty in Toul, France, and in 1920 they were transferred east to participate in the intervention. Hitler, finally promoted to Feldwebel, wrote much about these days in his diary, describing the horrors of battling the fanatic Bolsheviks. But he was also convinced that his personal struggle, and the struggle of all other soldiers combined, as a part of one great force, would lead the German people to its destiny. Hitler was killed during a mustard gas attack, trapped in a partly destroyed dugout and with his gas mask damaged.
Unser Kampf: Adolf Hitler
After his death, Hitler's diary and other possessions were sent to his sister Paula Hitler. The diary lay forgotten for over a decade until it was found in early 1935 by the late Hitler's half-niece, Geli Raubal. Having recently read an article about Propyläen publishing house's plans for its new book series, she sent them the diary. Propyläen's team of authors plan to turn it into the next volume of the 'Unser Kampf' series.