By November 1932, the Nazi Party had the most seats in the German Reichstag, but did not have a majority, and no party was able to form a majority parliamentary coalition in support of a candidate for chancellor. Former chancellor Franz von Papen and other conservative leaders persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Shortly after, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories inhabited by millions of ethnic Germans, which gave him significant popular support.
Hitler sought Lebensraum ("living space") for the German people in Eastern Europe, and his aggressive foreign policy is considered the primary cause of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and, on 1 September 1939, invaded Poland, resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. These gains were gradually reversed after 1941, and in 1945 the Allied armies defeated the German army. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, he married his longtime lover Eva Braun. Less than two days later, on 30 April 1945, the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army; their corpses were burned.
Hitler's actions and ideology are almost universally regarded as evil. According to historian Ian Kershaw, "never in history has such ruination—physical and moral—been associated with the name of one man."
Hitler's father Alois Hitler Sr. (1837–1903) was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. The baptismal register did not show the name of his father, and Alois initially bore his mother's surname Schicklgruber. In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Alois's mother Maria Anna. Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler's brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. In 1876, Alois was legitimated and the baptismal register changed by a priest to register Johann Georg Hiedler as Alois's father (recorded as "Georg Hitler"). Alois then assumed the surname "Hitler", also spelled Hiedler, Hüttler, or Huettler. The name is probably based on "one who lives in a hut" (German Hütte for "hut").
Nazi official Hans Frank suggested that Alois' mother had been employed as a housekeeper by a Jewish family in Graz, and that the family's 19-year-old son Leopold Frankenberger had fathered Alois. No Frankenberger was registered in Graz during that period, and no record has been produced of Leopold Frankenberger's existence, so historians dismiss the claim that Alois' father was Jewish.