Hitler becomes involved in politics

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During his time in Vienna Hitler is said to have lived as a down and out.

In Mein Kampf he remembers:

“I suddenly encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first thought was: Is this a Jew?” “…I bought myself some antisemitic pamphlets for a few pence. …there was not a question of Germans who happened to be of a different religion but rather that there was question of an entirely different people.”


  • Is Hitler talking about the beginning of his antisemitism?


  • How might the war have increased his antisemitic thoughts?


  • Might his success in public speaking have driven further his antisemitism?

Adolf Hitler was born in Austria in 1889. Orphaned by the age of 16, he went to Vienna, the capital city of the multi-national Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hitler had planned to become an artist but was unsuccessful. He became part of the discontented underground life of Vienna. He was always looking for reasons as to why he could not make it. Vienna had a population that was ten per-cent Jewish. Hitler began to blame them for his failures.

When World War One began, he joined the German army, becoming a corporal. At the end of the war he went back to Munich in Germany. There had been a failed communist take-over. Many of the leadership of the Communist parties throughout Europe were of Jewish birth. This further added to Hitler’s antisemitism.

Hitler was very angry that Germany had lost the war. He blamed the German government for signing the Treaty of Versailles; he also blamed the communists and the Jews. This was called the Stab in the back legend.

Mein Kampf

The German Workers’ Party, later called the Nazi Party, was a small party whose views were very similar to those of Adolf Hitler. Hitler joined it in 1920 and soon became the leader. He was a brilliant speaker and attracted support from other right wing extremists.

In 1923 he unsuccessfully attempted to take power in Munich – this is known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

Hitler was imprisoned for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch . Whilst in prison he wrote a book called  ‘Mein Kampf’, which means ‘My Struggle’. It outlined his beliefs. These included that communism and the Jews were the enemies of Germany, and that Germany would only be strong if the Aryans ruled.