Adolf Hitler. The simple mention of his name conjures up memories of total war, death, and destruction on an unprecedented scale, and always the deaths of millions of Jews and other "undesirables" in the Holocaust. How did this happen? How was it possible that a failed artist could rebuild Germany in just six years, challenge the world to mortal combat, and nearly win? He simply possessed what few other politicians of his day had, he was a man driven by an unquenchable thirst for revenge and triumph. Equally important trait of Hitler's was his ability to gauge his opponent, gamble all, and come out on top. He was a huge risk taker and up until late August 1941, he was almost never wrong.
The story begins with Hitler as the leader of the National Socialists in post-war Germany. The National Socialists or Nazis, under which moniker they would become famous, were a small, Bavarian fringe party who attempted to overthrow the Weimar Republic in a Munich beer hall in 1923.
After its dismal failure, Hitler was sentenced to prison where he wrote Mien Kampf, a quasi-autobiography and his justification of his future actions. This book provides a valuable insight into his mind that few had at the outbreak of World War II. In it he states, "Only adequately large space on this earth assures a nation freedom of existence." This may or may not have been a legitimate statement but it was crucial. For through his drive to achieve this, he precipitate World War II.
With his assumption of power in January 1933, Hitler immediately set about remaking Germany in his image. Discarding all previous arms-limitation treaties, he moved to build the German military into one of the most powerful in the world. Hitler assumed, quite correctly, that up...