In 1913, a young man who lived in a homeless shelter in Vienna, the capital of Austria, packed his belongings in a hurry and left the shelter. The reason why he left there was to dodge the draft. In Austria, males had to register at age 21 since they were subject to conscription but Hitler left the country to avoid conscription. In his hometown of Linz, he was wanted for dodging the draft.
The young man left his country and lived in Munich, Germany. He was relieved but could not find a proper job there. He barely made ends meet by selling postcards at bars. Soon, the Austrian government found out where he lived, sought cooperation from the Munich police, and finally arrested the young man.
This young man, who tried to dodge the draft, was Adolf Hitler. If Hitler had been repatriated to Austria and enlisted, Hitler as we know it would not have existed. Unfortunately, the consulate must have felt pity for the young man. Hitler was withheld from repatriation and tried in a German court. Although Germany was Austria’s ally, it was not interested in strengthening Austria’s defense capabilities. So the court accepted Hitler’s excuse that he was too poor and weak to perform military service.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Hitler voluntarily enlisted in the Bavarian Army. The fact that someone who avoided conscription voluntarily participated in other country’s war is absurd but he was allowed to serve in the army. His luck did not end there. World War I was a war of mass slaughter. It was not easy for a soldier, who had been dispatched to the frontline at the beginning of the war, to come back alive after the war ended. The Bavarian Army lost two-thirds of its men, including the commander. But Hitler survived till the end and was awarded the Iron Cross award.
It was his participation in the war that helped Hitler, who was a foreigner, had insufficient academic background, and had no career, grow from a demagogue to a political leader. How would history have changed if Hitler had been content with being exempted from military service and immunity granted to foreigners? There is a reason for the saying, “Life is irony.”