1907 Adolf Hitler
moved to Vienna, the capital of Austria, where the Vienna Academy of
Fine Arts was located. The author William L. Shirer tells in his
monumental bestseller The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich how
Hitler tried to take the entrance examination as the first practical
step in fulfilling his dream of becoming a painter. Hitler was eighteen
years old, full of high hopes - but to his own surprise he failed to get
admission. An entry in the Vienna Academy's classification list tells
following took the test with insufficient results, or were not admitted
... Adolf Hitler, Braunau a. Inn, April 20, 1989, German, Catholic.
Father civil servant. 4 classes in High School. Few Heads. Test drawing
to William L. Shirer Hitler tried again the following year and this time
his drawings were so poor that he was not admitted to the test. In Mein
Kampf Hitler told how he requested an explanation from the rector of
gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly
showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously lay in
the field of architecture; for me, he said, the Academy's School of
Painting was out of the question, the place for me was at the School of
Adolf Hitler did not pursue his ambition to enter the School of
Architecture - he realized that his failure years ago to graduate from
high school might well block his entry. Within a year he was living in
homeless shelters and eating at charity soup-kitchens. He spent his time
reading anti-Semitic tabloids and pamphlets available at the newsstands
and at local coffee shops. He had declined to take regular
employment and took occasional menial jobs and sold some of his
paintings or advertising posters whenever he could to provide sustenance.
Hitler didn't get much out of it - but in 1999 two paintings and a line
drawing by Hitler, completed between 1911 and 1914, were sold at auction
for a total of $131,000. In 2005 four sketches and two Christmas cards
signed by the Nazi dictator were sold in Montreal to a single buyer for
an undisclosed sum. A media report citing witnesses who said the items
were sold for $26,800 could not be confirmed.
By Hitler’s own accounting, he painted between one and three
watercolors a day during his Vienna years. If one assumes he painted
only one painting a day, and only three days a week, then the minimum
number he would have painted would be six hundred, which is close to
Hitler's own recollection over a thousand.
According to William L. Shirer Hitler copied his scetches and
paintings from older works: pictures of Vienna, usually of some
well-known landmark as St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Opera House, The
Burgtheater, the Palace of Schoenbrunn or the Roman ruins in Schoenbrunn
Park. Shirer tells that hundreds of these pitiful pieces were sold by
Hitler to dealers who used them to fill empty picture frames on display.
And Hitler often drew posters for shopkeepers advertising such products
as Teddy's Perspiration Powder.
In Vienna Hitler already showed traits that characterized his
later life: inability to establish ordinary human relationships,
intolerance and hatred of especially the Jews, a tendency toward
denunciatory outbursts, readiness to live in a fantasy-world and so to
escape his failure.
He learned to loathe brilliant, charming, cosmopolitan Vienna for
what he called its Semitism. More to his liking was homogeneous Munich
in Germany, his real home after 1913. Hitler went to Munich and when
World War I began in 1914, he volunteered for service in the German army.
To him - a man of no trade and few interests - World War I was a welcome
event which gave him some purpose in life. Hitler was twice decorated
for bravery, but only rose to the rank of corporal.