Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, the fourth child of Alois Schickelgruber and Klara Hitler in the Austrian town of Braunau. Two of his siblings died from diphtheria when they were children, and one died shortly after birth. Alois was a customs official, illegitimate by birth, which was described by his housemaid as a very strict but comfortable man. His mother showered Young Adolf with love and affection. When Adolf was three years old, the family moved to Passau, along the Inn River on the German side of the border. A brother, Edmond, was born two years later. The family moved once more in 1895 to the farm community of Hafeld, 30 miles southwest of Linz. Another sister, Paula, was born in 1896, the sixth of the union, supplemented by a half brother and half sister from one of his father's two previous marriages.
Following another family move, Adolf lived for six months across from a large Benedictine monastery.
The monastery's coat of arms' most salient feature was a swastika. As a youngster, Adolf's dream was to enter the priesthood. While there is anecdotal evidence that Adolf's father regularly beat him during his childhood, it was not unusual for discipline to be enforced in that way during that period. By 1900, Hitler's talents as an artist surfaced. He did well enough in school to be eligible for either the university preparatory gymnasium or the technical/scientific Realschule. Because the latter had a course in drawing, Adolf accepted his father's decision to enroll him in the Realschule. He did not do well there.
Adolf's father died in 1903 after suffering a pleural hemorrhage. Adolf himself suffered from lung infections, and he quit school at the age of 16, partially the result of ill health and partially the result of poor...