The name Hitler may conjure up many thoughts, but it may surprise many to know that he was a man of great wealth. As a young artist in Vienna, he starved and had little money to his name (via The New York Times). This had a profound impact on the rest of his life. Hitler had an idea that if he wrote a book, he might be able to get rich and so, he did just that. While in prison in 1923 for participating in the Beer Hall Putsch, he wrote his now-infamous autobiography, “Mein Kampf.” At first he earned decent (but modest) royalties from the book (via Insider).
Once in power as Germany’s dictator, Hitler had a plan for how to increase his earnings from his works. He decided that all German newlyweds would receive a copy of the book as a wedding gift from the Nazi regime. How it worked was that “Mein Kampf” would be given as a gift to couples by the state in which they were married. In order to acquire the book in the first place, the state would have to buy each copy of the book from the publisher. This netted Hitler royalties to the tune of 10 percent for each book.
As Hitler rose to power, many people around the world developed an interest in wanting to learn of this new, upstart dictator, and sales of the book increased. By the eve of World War II, Hitler had earned about $1 million in royalties from the book ($12 million in today’s money). Further, over 5 million copies of the book had been sold the world over and it was translated into 11 different languages.
The surprising ways in which Hitler got rich
Hitler also made money from official state portraits of himself. Heinrich Hoffman, a photographer, had copyrights on all of the photographs he took of Hitler. The German government then paid Hoffman to use these photos for official German state use.
Many businesses and corporations found it beneficial to support Hitler’s regime. Within the German state, there was something called “The Adolf Hitler Donation of German Industry.” Many German businesses put in large sums of money to this “donation.” For Hitler, this came to the sum of 7.8 million German reichsmarks or millions in today’s American dollars. In turn, when Hitler needed the assistance of private industry during the war effort, Hitler sought out the corporations that had made donations to this fund to produce goods for Germany (via The New York Times)
When Hitler died, he arguably was the most hated man in the world. However, not many people know that he was a very wealthy one as well.
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