In 1895, at age six, two important events happened in the life of young
Adolf Hitler. First, the unrestrained, carefree days he had enjoyed up
to now came to an end as he entered primary school. Secondly, his father
retired on a pension from the Austrian civil service. This meant a
double dose of supervision, discipline and regimentation under the
watchful eyes of teachers at school and his strict father at home.
One day, young Hitler went rummaging through his father's book
collection and came across several of a military nature, including a
picture book on the War of 1870-1871 between the Germans and the French.
By Hitler's own account, this book became an obsession. He read it over
and over, becoming convinced it had been a glorious event.
Soon after the war in Munich, Hitler was recruited to join a military
intelligence unit (the Press and Propaganda Department of Group Command
IV of the Reichswehr), and was assigned to keep tabs on the German
Worker's Party. At the time, it was comprised of only a handful of
members. It was disorganized and had no program, but its members
expressed a right-wing doctrine consonant with Hitler's.
He saw this party as a vehicle to reach his political ends. His
blossoming hatred of the Jews became part of the organization's
political platform. Hitler built up the party, converting it from a de
facto discussion group to an actual political party. Advertising for the
party's meetings appeared in anti-Semitic newspapers. The turning point
of Hitler's mesmerizing oratorical career occurred at one such meeting
held on October 16, 1919. Hitler's emotional delivery of an impromptu
speech captivated his audience. Through word of mouth, donations poured
into the party's coffers, and subsequent mass meetings attracted
hundreds of Germans eager to hear the young, forceful and hypnotic