The Great War provided Adolf Hitler with the opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity to become a politician, a savior, a Messiah, a Führer of Germany. And thus to accomplish his great and glorious Mission.
For the one who started his political career at the very bottom of the social ladder, there is only one way to become a leader of a nation. By providing solutions to vital, crucial, ideally existential (“life-or-death”) political, economic, social and military problems. Solutions that are far better than his or her competitors (and there are always plenty of these) could offer.
But first, the nation in question must have these problems and understand that it, indeed, has them (perceptions are the only reality). Consequently, an outcast (and Hitler obviously was one) can become a leader of the nation only during the times of a genuine and comprehensive crisis.
Prior to the Great War there was no crisis in the Dual Monarchy or in the German Second Reich. Or in any other major European nation, for that matter. True, every major nation had its share of economic, political and social problems but none of them were so serious that they could not have been solved (or at least managed) by the “traditional” politicians.
In other words, there was simply no need for national-socialism, The Führer or any other radical transformations in the political, economic and social system.
The Great War changed all that – it changed radically. It radically transformed Germany (replacing Imperial monarchy with a Weimar Republic), caused devastating damage to economic, social and military system and created problems and threats so enormous, so critical (existential even) and so seemingly insurmountable that the “traditional” approach simply did not work anymore.
Consequently, “traditional” politicians and their “traditional” methods simply could not solve these vital problems of Germany. In other words, were completely powerless, helpless and impotent at the time of an acute crisis.
The very survival (let alone prosperity and happiness) of Germany required radically new approached and methods. And thus radically new leaders creating opportunities for the determined, passionate outcasts such as Adolf Hitler.
Who used this opportunity one hundred percent. Became The Führer of Germany and accomplished his great and glorious Mission (which ultimately turned to be not that glorious at all).
But first he had to walk what he talked and practice what he preached. By defending Germany – his adopted Fatherland – on the hellish battlefields of the Great War. And – whether he wanted it or not, whether he liked it or not – his native country – the Dual Monarchy. The Austro-Hungarian Empire.