On October 15, 1918, shortly before the end of the war, Hitler was admitted to a field hospital, temporarily blinded by a poison gas attack. Research by Bernhard Horstmann indicates the blindness may have been the result of a hysterical reaction to Germany's defeat. Hitler later said it was during this experience that he became convinced the purpose of his life was to "save Germany".
Some scholars, including Lucy Dawidowicz, argue that an intention to mass murder Europe's Jews was fully formed in Hitler's mind, though he probably hadn't thought through how it could be done.
Two passages in Mein Kampf mention the use of poison gas:
At the beginning of the Great War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas . . . then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would not have been in vain. (Volume 2, Chapter 15 "The Right to Self-Defence").
These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human weakness and must lead to success, with almost mathematical certainty, unless the other side also learns how to fight poison gas with poison gas. The weaker natures must be told that here it is a case of to be or not to be. (Volume 1, Chapter 2 "Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna")
Hitler had long admired Germany, and during the war he had become a passionate German patriot, although he did not become a German citizen until 1932. He was shocked by Germany's capitulation in November 1918 even while the German army still held enemy territory. Like many other German nationalists, Hitler believed in the Dolchsto?legende ("dagger-stab legend") which claimed that the army, "undefeated in the field," had been "stabbed in the back" by civilian leaders and Marxists back on the home front. These politicians were later dubbed the November Criminals.
The Treaty of Versailles deprived Germany of various territories, demilitarized the Rhineland and imposed other economically damaging sanctions. The treaty also declared Germany the culprit for all the horrors of the Great War, as a basis for later imposing not yet specified reparations on Germany (the amount was repeatedly revised under the Dawes Plan, Young Plan and the Hoover Moratorium). Germans, however, perceived the treaty and especially the paragraph on the German guilt as a humiliation, not least as it was damaging in the extreme to their pride. For example, there was nearly a full demilitarisation of the armed forces, allowing Germany only 6 battleships, no submarines, no air force, an army of 100,000 without conscription and no armoured vehicles. The treaty was an important factor in both the social and political conditions encountered by Hitler and his National Socialist Party as they sought power. Hitler and his party used the signing of the treaty by the "November Criminals" as a reason to build up Germany so that it could never happen again. He also used the 'November Criminals' as scapegoats, although at the Paris peace conference, these politicians had very little choice in the matter.
The early years of the Nazi Party
A copy of Adolf Hitler's forged DAP membership card. His actual membership number was 555 (the 55th member of the party - the 500 was added to make the group appear larger) but later the number was reduced to create the impression that Hitler was one of the founding members (Ian Kershaw Hubris). Hitler had wanted to create his own party, but was ordered by his superiors in the Reichswehr to infiltrate an existing one instead.
Hitler's entry into politics
Main article: Hitler's political beliefs
After the First World War, Hitler remained in the army, which was mainly engaged in suppressing communist uprisings breaking out across Germany, including Munich (the Bavarian Soviet Republic), where Hitler returned in 1919. He took part in "national thinking" courses organized by the Education and Propaganda Department (Dept Ib/P) of the Bavarian Reichswehr Group, Headquarters 4 under Captain Karl Mayr. A key purpose of this group was to create a scapegoat for the outbreak of the war and Germany's defeat. The scapegoats were found in "international Jewry", communists, and politicians across the party spectrum, especially the parties of the Weimar Coalition, who were deemed "November Criminals". In July 1919, Hitler was appointed a Verbindungsmann (police spy) of an Aufkl?rungskommando (Intelligence Commando) of the Reichswehr, for the purpose of influencing other soldiers toward similar ideas and was assigned to infiltrate a small party, the German Workers' Party (DAP), which was thought of to be a possibly socialist party. During his inspection of the party, Hitler was impressed with Drexler's anti-Semitic, nationalist and anti-Marxist ideas, which favoured an Hegelian concept of the strong universally present state, a "non-Jewish" version of socialism and mutual solidarity of all members of society. Here Hitler also met Dietrich Eckart, one of the early founders of the party and member of the occult Thule Society. Eckart became Hitler's mentor, exchanging ideas with him, teaching him how to dress and speak, and introducing him to a wide range of people. Hitler in return thanked Eckart by paying tribute to him in the second volume of Mein Kampf.
Hitler was discharged from the army in March 1920 and with his former superiors' continued encouragement began participating full time in the party's activities. By early 1921, Adolf Hitler was becoming highly effective at speaking in front of