Hitler's early career, 1919-20

World War One

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler fought in the German army during World War One. He was badly wounded twice and won two Iron Crosses for bravery. Germany’s surrender in November 1918 was a shock to him and had a profound effect on his political views. Like many other German people at the time, he felt they had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by politicians:

  • Many Germans hated the government for signing the armistice in November 1918 - and called them the 'November Criminals'. Some (including Hitler) believed they had been ‘stabbed in the back.’
  • People were led to believe that Jews in the army and government had encouraged the surrender.
  • The German government also signed the Treaty of Versailles, which blamed and punished Germany for starting the war.

The German Workers' Party and start of the Nazis

After the World War One, Hitler returned to Munich and became the leader of the German Worker’s Party (DAP), which later turned into the Nazi party:

  • 1918 – Hitler returns to Munich.
  • 1919 – Hitler joined the German Worker’s Party (DAP), a right-wing group led by Anton Drexler.
  • 1920 – Hitler became the Party’s leading public speaker and propagandist.
  • 1920 – The group changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) – or Nazis for short. Hitler designed the party’s distinctive Swastika emblem.
  • 1921 – Hitler was elected Party Chairman and leader of the Nazis.