If Evil has a face, it is the mustachioed one of der Führer. He is arguably the most famous world figure since Napoleon. He has so permeated our culture as to be almost mythical—how many books have been written, how many movies have been made, about the Nazis? Adolf Hitler needs no introduction.
He was born in Austria in 1889. He had artistic aspirations, and wanted to be a landscape painter; a realist in an age of impressionism, he was a dismal failure. He was injured while fighting in the Great War, joined what would become the Nazi party, and after a failed coup attempt at the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, wrote Mein Kampf in prison. In 1933, he became chancellor of the Weimar Republic. A year later, he established himself as dictator of the Third Reich—and the world would never be the same.
His stated objective was to seize Eastern Europe and kill off its Slavic population to make room for the “racially superior” Germans. The last imperial conqueror to pursue such a horrific policy was Genghis Khan—but even Khan couldn’t touch the grand scope and scale of Hitler’s cold, businesslike slaughter of passive victims.
Hitler killed six million Jews, including a million children, in the Holocaust. He killed Poles, he killed Russians, he killed Communists, he killed Catholics, he killed gays and lesbians, he killed conscientious objectors, he killed prisoners of war, he killed civilians, he killed petty criminals, he killed anyone who disobeyed his orders to kill. By 1945, the Third Reich was nothing more than a finely tuned killing machine, systematically executing some 11 million people. All told, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 29 million human beings—roughly the entire current population of Australia and New Zealand combined. He committed suicide in 1945.
Data: Coins • KM-97, 1 Reichspfennig—zinc; 17mm ; 1.8 5g • KM-10 0 , 5 Reichspfennig—zinc; 19mm ; 2.50 g • KM-10 1, 10 Reichspfennig—zinc; 21mm; 3.52g Obverse: eagle above swastika. Reverse: denomination above oak leaves. Banknotes • P-M38, 1 Reichsmark; 120 x 65mm Used as money for conquering Nazi soldiers, who would present this to the banks of the conquered in exchange for cash. The inscription reads: “Verrechnungsschein for the German army…issued Berlin 15 September 1944…The circulation of this certificate is limited to the military establishment and its use for general circulation and payment is prohibited.” • P-R139, 20 Reichsmark; 155 x 80 mm A credit treasury note, used in occupied areas, where it was exchanged for local currency at a favorable rate. Issued and used in Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. Obverse: portrait of Albrecht Dürer, the great Northern Renaissance artist and mathematician—“The Architect.” Reverse: Brandenburg Gate. Album open measures: 11” x 7.5” Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
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