Hitler's Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man

Overview

What turned Adolf Hitler, a relatively normal and apparently unexceptional young man, into the very personification of evil? To answer this question, acclaimed historian Brigitte Hamann has turned to the critical, formative, years that the young Hitler spent in Vienna. As a failing, bitter, and desperately poor artist, Hitler experienced only the dark underbelly of Vienna, which was seething with fear, racial prejudice, anti-Semitism and conservatism. Drawing on previously untapped sources—from personal ...

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Overview

What turned Adolf Hitler, a relatively normal and apparently unexceptional young man, into the very personification of evil? To answer this question, acclaimed historian Brigitte Hamann has turned to the critical, formative, years that the young Hitler spent in Vienna. As a failing, bitter, and desperately poor artist, Hitler experienced only the dark underbelly of Vienna, which was seething with fear, racial prejudice, anti-Semitism and conservatism. Drawing on previously untapped sources—from personal reminiscences to the records of shelters where Hitler slept—Hamann vividly recreates the dark side of fin de siècle Vienna and paints the fullest and most disturbing portrait of the young Hitler to date.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fascinating and impressive book... Hitler's Vienna serves as a prologue to the inhuman." George Steiner, Times Literary Supplement

"A virtuoso piece both of research and exposition...Brigitte Hamann is an author of great flair, as well as being thorough, scholarly, and thoughtful." Robert Evans, Oxford University

"Carefully argued and smartly written… Hamann's deep knowledge of Vienna and her skeptical approach to previous sources results in a double-sided portrait that will help readers to understand both the dual monarchy and WWI and the Third Reich and WWII." Publishers Weekly

"The world needs another Hitler biography like it needs another squirrel, but his one is different and worth the effort.... Hamann paints a fascinating picture of the events and readings that shaped the young Hitler. Highly recommended." Library Journal

"A valuable social history of Vienna's netherworld and an attempt at explaining Hitler's anti-Semitism. We get a meticulous portrait of everyday life in the artistically and philosophically modernist metropolis. Hamann concludes that Vienna's fin-de-siecle malaise was a critical ingredient in the madness that became Nazi Germany." Kirkus Reviews

“Brigitte Hamann went to great lengths to study [Hitler's] life... She used an incredible amount of legwork to separate the reality from the mythology.” — Michael Burleigh, British Film Institute award-winning Historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

George Steiner
A prologue to the inhuman....Fascinating and impressive.
Times Literary Supplement
Peter Hoffmann
A rich panorama of Hitler's early career....Careful and revealing.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Michael White
Hitler's Vienna tries to penetrate the myths of the dictator's formative years as a frustrated painter in Vienna. Hitler, she says, detested the city's cosmopolitanism and restless avant-garde and took great pleasure in relocating its art reasures to other cities when he took power.
The New Yorker
Meir Ronnen
Hamann claims that the Hitler of Linz and pre-war Vienna was not yet an antisemite. She believes that antisemitism became a central issue for him when he decided to become a politician and first began addressing audiences in Munich in 1919 in aggresively antisemetic terms. It was then that Hitler, the once weak eccentric who, in his own eyes at least, had become a somebody during the war...began reinventing himself.
Jerusalem Post
Istvan Deak
Hamann is among the few historians who have looked beyond the glamour of Vienna....It was in Vienna that Hilter acquired all the ideas that were to dominate the rest of his life....[She disposes] of many myths regarding the young Hitler...
The New Republic
Kirkus Reviews
A valuable social history of Vienna's netherworld and an attempt at explaining Hitler's anti-Semitism. Most biographies of Hitler will, of course, spend some time on his contested family history, often an expression of how deeply Freud has penetrated the craft of biography. Yet the time Hitler spent in Vienna as a down-and-out painter may have contributed more to his character than previously assumed. At least, this is the thesis that historian Hamann (The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, not reviewed) brings to life here. Hitler was 17 when he first arrived in the Austrian-Hungarian capital in 1906 with aspirations of becoming an artist. Hamann is sometimes overly detailed; for example, we are informed that in 1906 Vienna there were 176 arc lamps providing electrical light, 657,625 incandescent lamps, 354 automobile accidents, 997 hansom cabs drawn by two horses, 1,1754 one-horse carriages, and 1,101 cabs, which altogether caused 982 accidents. Hitler, though, is never overwhelmed in this profusion of detail; instead we get a meticulous portrait of everyday life in the artistically and philosophically modernist metropolis. That everyday life was not modernist at all, but materialistic, anti-Semitic, petit-bourgeois, and petty. As the most multinational of the European empires, Austria-Hungary was obsessed with concepts of "nation," "race," "degeneracy," and "Jewish modernism"; obsessions that soon became Hitler's own. Acknowledging the problem of sources, Hamann has hit upon a working-but not unproblematic-solution: liberally sprinkled through the text are italicized excerpts from Hitler's monologues, speeches and writings. Hitler revealed that"for me this was a time of the greatest spiritual upheaval I ever had to go through. I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and became an anti-Semite," and more ominously, "the visual instruction of the Viennese streets had performed invaluable services."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781848852778
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 883,963
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Brigitte Hamann is an award-winning German historian based in Vienna. She is the author of numerous critically-acclaimed biographies, as well as a recipient of the Concordia Preis in recognition of her work.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


from the Provinces to the Capital


The Dream of Linz


One of the last photographs of Adolf Hitler depicts him shortly before his suicide as he sits in the bunker of his Chancellery. While the Red Army advanced into the ruins of Berlin outside, he pondered a pompous architectural model of the Upper Austrian provincial capital of Linz, the gigantic buildings illuminated by a sophisticated arrangement of spotlights: Linz in the morning sun, at midday, at sunset glow, and at night. "No matter at what time, whether during the day or at night, whenever he had the opportunity during those weeks, he was sitting in front of this model," the architect Hermann Giesler reported, saying that Hitler stared at it as if at "a promised land into which we would gain entrance."

    Visitors to whom he showed the model, often at the most unusual hours of the night, were confused and horrified: the man who had reduced Europe to ashes and ruins had clearly lost his sense of reality and hardly noticed how many people were still dying in these last weeks, in his name, and according to his will, as he continued to refuse to capitulate and end the horror.

    Hitler dreamed of Linz, his hometown, which he had appointed "the Führer's sister city" and had wanted to make the Greater German Reich's cultural capital, the "most beautiful city on the Danube," the "metropolis," the petrified glorification of his person and his policies: Linz owes everything it has and is yet to obtain to the Reich. Therefore this city must become the carrier of the idea of the Reich. Every building in Linz should have the inscription "Gift from the German Reich."

    On the left bank of the Danube, in Urfahr, opposite the old part of town, a party and administration center had been planned with an assembly area for 100,000 and grounds for celebrations accommodating 30,000 people, an exposition area with a Bismarck monument, and a technical university. According to the plan, a "district center"--with a new city hall, the Reich governor's house, the district and party center, and the Linz community center--was to be built around a national commemorative site: Hitler's parents' tomb, with its steeple, visible from far away, whose chimes were to play--albeit not every day--a motif from Anton Bruckner's Romantic Symphony. This steeple was planned to be higher than that of Vienna's Saint Stephen's Cathedral. Thus, Hitler said, he was making up for an old injustice; for, to the Linzers' vexation, during the construction of the neogothic Linz cathedral, Vienna had reduced the height of the steeple so that the Stephen's Tower would remain the highest steeple in the country. A monument "to the foundation of the Greater German Empire" was to be built too, along with a large stadium. Hitler told the Upper Danube district director, August Eigruber: The stones for this will be shipped by the Mauthausen concentration camp.

    On the opposite side of the Danube, in Alt-Linz--the old part of town--a boulevard was to be built under arcades, "wider than the Ring Boulevard in Vienna." A hotel was to be constructed for more than two thousand guests, with a direct subway connection to the train station; there were also to be built the most modern hospitals and schools, among them an "Adolf Hitler School," a district music school, and a Reich Motor Flying School for the Luftwaffe. There were projects for model settlements for workers and artists, two homes for SS and SA invalids, new streets, and an access road to the autobahn. In order to make Linz rich, Hitler advanced industrialization, bringing steel and chemical factories to Linz. Transforming the farm town into an industrial city was almost the only thing that was actually realized. The "Hermann Goring Factory" still exists as the Voest factory.

    The planned cultural center was to have metropolitan proportions, in particular the Linz art museum, which Hitler mentioned in his last will the day before his death: I collected the paintings in the collections I have bought over the years, never for private purposes, but always exclusively for enlarging a gallery in my hometown of Linz on the Danube. It would be my most fervent wish for this legacy to be realized.

    In fact, money for this project was always available, even when there was a shortage of foreign currency during the war. From April 1943 to March 1944 alone Hitler purchased 881 works of art, among them 395 Dutch pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By the end of June 1944 the museum had cost 92.6 million reichsmark. Goebbels wrote in his diary, "Linz costs us a lot of money. But it means so much to the Führer. And it probably is good too to support Linz as a cultural competitor to Vienna." For, as Hitler remarked emphatically, I won't give Vienna a pfennig, and the Reich won't give it anything either.

    The most distinguished pieces for the Linz museum were requisitioned from private galleries, museums, and churches in the parts of Europe Hitler's army had occupied--for example, the Veit Stoss Altar in Cracow or the Van Eyck Altar in the cathedral of Ghent. Hitler derived particular satisfaction from transferring holdings from Vienna, for example from such "un-German" Viennese collections as those of Baron Nathaniel Rothschild. The formerly imperial Art History Museum also gave pieces to Linz, which, as Hitler remarked in 1942, his dear Viennese didn't like at all; his dear Viennese, whom he knows so well after all, were so stodgy that when he was looking at some of the requisitioned Rembrandts, they tried to let him know in their genial way that all genuine paintings should really remain in Vienna, but that they would be glad to let galleries in Linz or Innsbruck have paintings by anonymous masters. When he decided differently, it hit the Viennese between the eyes.

    Hitler planned to spend his retirement on Mount Frein above the old part of town in a building modeled after an upper Austrian farm. I climbed these rocks when I was young. On this hilltop, looking over the Danube, I daydreamed. This is where I want to live when I'm old. And: I won't take anyone along except Miss Braun; Miss Braun and my dog.

    Albert Speer--after 1945, to be sure--ironically characterized Hitler's exaggerated love for Vienna as a "provincial mentality," adding that Hitler "always remained one of the small-town people, an insecure stranger in the large metropolises. While he was almost obsessively thinking and planning in huge proportions, it was in a town like Linz, where he had gone to school and where everything was on a manageable scale, that he felt at home socially." The nature of this love, Speer claimed, was "one of escape."

    Yet the point here is a lot more than the contrast between province and capital: it is the nationally homogenous, "German" Linz on the one side and multinational Vienna on the other. Furthermore, Hitler experienced the rural character of the provincial town as honest and rooted in the soil compared to the sophisticated, intellectual, and self-confident metropolis. Thus Goebbels, functioning as his master's mouthpiece, remarked after a visit to Linz: "Genuine German men. Not Viennese scoundrels."

    From a biographical perspective, Linz represented for Hitler the backdrop for an orderly, clean, petit-bourgeois time of his youth, which he spent with his beloved mother, whereas Vienna was witness to lonely, unsuccessful, and wretched years. However, most important from a political angle was Hitler's goal to dethrone the Hapsburg empire's old capital and to subjugate it to the German capital of Berlin. Vienna, he said, exuded a huge, even gigantic fluidum. Therefore it was a tremendous task to break Vienna's cultural preponderance in the Alpine and Danube districts.


Complicated Family Relations


Linz, Upper Austria's rural capital, episcopal see, and educational center, situated in a bright landscape on the right bank of the Danube, had almost 68,000 inhabitants at the time of Hitler's youth, and thus--after Vienna, Prague, Trieste, Lemberg, Graz, Brünn, Cracaw, Pilsen, and Czernowitz--was the tenth largest city in Cisleithania, as the western part of the Dual Monarchy was called.

    Although he called it his "hometown," Hitler lived in Linz only a short while, from ages sixteen to eighteen, 1905 until February 1908. Until then, his life as the son of Austrian customs officer Alois Hitler had been unsteady. The border town of Braunau on the Inn, where he was born on April 20, 1889, and which he left when he was three years old, did not gain any significance until later, when Hitler could interpret it as fate: For this little town lies on the boundary between two German states which we of the younger generation at least have made it our life work to reunite by every means at our disposal.

    Family relations were complicated. Adolf was the product of his father's third marriage, to Klara née Pölzl, who was twenty-three years her husband's junior. Adolf, his mother's fourth child, was the first one to survive. In the household were also two half-siblings from the father's second marriage, Alois Jr., born in 1882, and Angela, born in 1883. In addition, there was "Haniaunt," Johanna Pölzl, Mother's hunchbacked and apparently feebleminded sister, who helped with the household chores.

    Family life was not peaceful: the father had fits of rage and battered his oldest son, Alois, who in turn was jealous of Adolf, pampered by his young mother. The half-brother remarked about Adolf, "He was spoiled from early in the morning until late at night, and the stepchildren had to listen to endless stories about how wonderful Adolf was." But Adolf, too, was beaten by his father. According to Alois Jr., once Alois was even afraid he had killed Adolf.

    Between 1892 and 1895 Alois went to work in Passau, on the German side of the border, during which time the three- to six-year-old boy acquired his peculiar Bavarian accent: The German of my youth was the dialect of Lower Bavaria; I could neither forget it nor learn the Viennese jargon.

    In 1895 the fifty-eight-year-old Alois Hitler retired after forty years of service. He bought a remote estate in the hamlet of Hafeld in the community of Fischlham near Lambach in Upper Austria to try to make a living as a farmer and beekeeper. His son recalled in 1942: Bee stings were as normal as anything at home. Mother often took forty-five, fifty stings out of my old man when he returned from emptying the honeycombs. His father, he said, had protected himself against the bees only by smoking.

    After a fierce fight with his father, fourteen-year-old Alois Jr. left the home in Hafeld and was disinherited. Thirteen-year-old Angela, Adolf, and Edmund, born in 1894, remained at home. In 1896, Paula, the youngest child of the family, was born.

    In May 1895, six-year-old Adolf entered the one-room village school of Fischlham, which had one class. From the small antechamber, Hitler recalled, I used to listen, while I was in the lowest grade, to what the pupils of the second grade were doing, and later on, the pupils of the third and fourth grades. Thank God I left there. Otherwise I would have had to go to the last grade for two or three years.

    Because the rundown farm could not be managed on a civil servant's pension and Alois's abilities as a farmer were insufficient, he sold the estate in 1897. The family moved into temporary quarters in the town of Lambach. Now the eight-year-old entered grade school in Lambach and for a short time also joined the Benedictine boys' choir school. There, he said, he had an excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. What with all his criticism of the church, even later Hitler would praise it for wonderfully exercising man's natural need ... for something supernatural. It had, he said, known how to work on people with its mystical cult, its large sublime cathedrals, with blessed music, solemn rites, and incense.

    The Hitler family was not pious. Only Klara went to Sunday mass regularly. The anticlerical father kept his distance and at most accompanied his family to services on holidays and on the emperor's birthday, August 18. For that was the only opportunity where he could don and display his civil servant's uniform, which the rest of the year hung in the closet unused.

    At the end of 1898 the family moved to the village of Leonding, south of Linz, where for 7,700 kronen Alois Hitler acquired a small house next to the cemetery. In 1938 Goebbels said about his visit to this place, which had become "the entire German people's place of honor," "Quite tiny and primitive. I am led to the room which was his realm. Small and low-ceilinged. This is where he designed plans and dreamed of the future. Then there's the kitchen, where his good mother used to cook. Behind that the garden, where little Adolf picked apples and pears at night.... So this is where a genius developed. I'm beginning to feel quite sublime and solemn."

    The nine-year-old entered the village school in Leonding, where he was a happy rogue and saw himself as a young scamp: Even as a boy I was no "pacifist," and all attempts to educate me in this direction came to nothing. One of his schoolmates from Leonding, later Abbot Balduin of Wilhering, recalled, `and by no means unkindly: "Playing war, always nothing but playing war, even we kids found that boring after a while, but he always found some children, particularly among the younger ones, who would play with him." Otherwise, young Hitler practiced his "favorite sport": shooting at rats with his handgun in the cemetery next to his parents' house.

    Around 1900 the Boer War, when the southern African Boer republics tried to fight off their English conquerors, excited many Austrians. The German nationalists firmly endorsed, even enthusiastically welcomed, "David's fight against Goliath," the "poor farmers' freedom fight" against British imperialism. Signatures and money were collected in support of the Boers. Boer marches and Boer songs were composed. Boer bats, herrings, and sausages--still popular in Vienna--became fashionable.

    For young Hitler, the Boer War was bonafide summer lightning: Every day I waited impatiently for the newspapers and devoured dispatches and news reports, happy at the privilege of witnessing this heroic struggle even at a distance. The boys now preferred the game "Boers against the English," with no one wanting to be an Englishman and everybody wanting to be a Boer. As late as 1923 Hitler would say, On the side of the Boers, the just will to liberty, on the side of England, greed for money and diamonds.

    In 1900 six-year-old brother Edmund died in Leonding of the measles, and eleven-year-old Adolf was left the only son of the family. The difficulties with his father began to increase. Hitler's schoolmates described him as "hardly an engaging person, neither in his external appearance nor in his character." "Old Mr. Alois demanded absolute obedience. Frequently he put two fingers in his mouth, let out a piercing whistle, and Adolf, no matter where he may have been, would quickly rush to his father.... He often berated him, and Adolf suffered greatly from his father's harshness. Adolf liked to read, but the old man was a spendthrift and didn't hand out any money for books." Alois Hitler's only book is said to have been a volume on the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71: "Adolf liked looking at the pictures in that book and was a Bismarck enthusiast." In Mein Kampf, however, Hitler himself mentions his father's library.

    All witnesses portray Klara Hitler as a calm, loving mother and good housewife. A female fellow pupil from Leonding who passed the Hitlers' house daily remembers (after 1945, to be sure) that when little Paula left for school, Klara would always walk her "to the fence door and gave her a kiss; I noticed that because that was not what typically happened to us farm girls, but I liked it a lot, I almost envied Paula a little."

    Alois determined that his son should become a civil servant. After Adolf had had five years of grade school, in fall of 1900 Alois sent him to high school (Realschule, a lower-level Gymnasium) in Linz, an hour's walk from Leonding. The eleven-year-old, who every day had to switch from the roughness of country life to the strictness of the small-town school, could not adapt and did not do well. In his first year he earned 'unsatisfactory' marks in math and natural history and was kept back. In addition, according to school records, every year he received a reprimand, alternately in general conduct and homework. Still, his tuition was waived, which indicates that his family was indigent.

    In 1924, the well-meaning French teacher Dr. Huemer said of his former pupil, "He was decidedly gifted, if one-sided, but had difficulty controlling his temper. He was considered intractable and willful, always had to be right and easily flew off the handle, and he clearly found it difficult to accommodate himself to the limits of a school." He demanded "unconditional subordination from his schoolmates," had enjoyed "the role of the leader," and apparently had been "influenced by Karl May stories and tales about Red Indians."

    Later, Hitler would frequently enjoy talking about his favorite author, Karl May: I read him by candlelight and with a large magnifying glass at moonlight. He thanked May for introducing me to geography. In 1943 he proudly showed his companions the Hotel Roter Krebs in Linz, where the revered writer stayed in 1901 for a length of time.

    Young Hitler made no effort at advancing in school. According to a schoolmate, Klara frequently had to go to school "to check on him." In Mein Kampf Hitler states that he deliberately did not apply himself in school so that he would not have to become a civil servant. Later he would criticize those parents who prematurely determine their children's careers, and then, if something goes wrong, start talking about their prodigal or ill-bred son. His father had dragged him at the age of thirteen into Linz's main customs office, a genuine state cage where those old men had sat on top of one another, like monkeys. Thus he had learned to deplore thoroughly the career of a civil servant.

    His relationship with his father was coming to a head. His sister Paula remembered; "every night Adolf got a thrashing because he came home late." Hitler summarized that period as follows: I was forced into opposition for the first time in my life. Hard and determined as father might be in putting through plans and purposes once conceived, his son was just as persistent and recalcitrant in rejecting an idea which appealed to him not at all, or in any case very little.

    Among friends, Hitler would later paint a negative picture of his father. An entry in Goebbels's diary reads; "Hitler suffered almost the same youth as I did. Father, a domestic tyrant, mother, a source of kindness and love." Supposedly Hitler was to tell his lawyer Hans Frank that even as a ten- to twelve-year-old he had to take his drunk father home from the bar: That was the most horrible shame I have ever felt. Oh, Frank, I know what a devil alcohol is! It really was--via my father--the worst enemy of my youth.

    Having retired, Alois Hitler had nothing to do and distracted himself by going to bars every day. Frequently he met with the farmer Josef Mayrhofer, with whom he worked for the German nationalists. This might have been one of the "table societies," those tiny party factions among the circle of family and friends that some German nationalist parties entertained. Mayrhofer said of Hitler senior; "He was a curmudgeonly, taciturn old man, a smart libertine, and like all libertines in those days, a staunch German-National, a Pan-German, but still, strangely enough, loyal to the Emperor."

    In Upper Austria at that time, it was the governing Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP, German People's Party) that was libertine, German-national, and loyal to the emperor. Grown out of the circle around the extremist German nationalist Georg Schönerer, it had a moderate German-national platform and accepted Jews as members. There is no reason to believe that Hitler misstated the truth in Mein Kampf when he said about his father that he had viewed anti-Semitism as cultural backwardness and that he had adopted more or less cosmopolitan views ... despite his pronounced national sentiments.


Politics at School


The atmosphere at the Linz high school was politically turbulent. Together, "clericalists" and Hapsburg loyalists fought against libertines and German nationalists. Pupils eagerly collected and displayed their colors: while the high school students loyal to the emperor collected black-and-yellow ribbons and badges, photographs of the imperial family, and coffee cups depicting Empress Elizabeth and Emperor Franz Josef, the German nationalists collected devotional objects such as Bismarck busts made of plaster, beer mugs with inscriptions of heroic maxims about Germany's past, and, above all, ribbons, pencils, and pins with the "greater German" colors of 1848: black, red, and gold. In Mein Kampf Hitler states that he too took part in the struggle of nationalities in old Austria. Collections were taken for the Südmark [i.e., Austria viewed as part of the Greater German Empire] and the school association; we emphasized our convictions by wearing cornflowers [the emblem of Austria's Pan-Germans] and red, black, and gold colors; "Heil" was our greeting, and instead of the imperial anthem we sang "Deutschland uber Alles," despite warnings and punishments.

    The German-national associations Deutscher Schulverein (German School Association) and Südmark (South Mark) sold "defense treasury coupons" to finance the "protection against the Czechization" and the "preservation and spreading of Germandom." The profits from these collections were used to finance German kindergartens and schools in mixed-language areas. The South Mark mainly supported German farmers in linguistic enclaves and also bought land for new settlements. These collections, which involved the entire population, were very popular--and probably served as the model for the National Socialists' "Winter Relief."

    Cornflowers, the "Heil" greeting, and the colors black, red, and gold belonged to the Pan-Germans, those extreme German nationalists under the leadership of Schönerer who fought for German Austria's Anschluss (annexation) to the German Reich. Thus in their German nationalism the high-school students were more radical than their teachers, who, as civil servants, had to remain loyal to the emperor.

    Most teachers at the high school were German-national in outlook. They incited the youths' enthusiasm "for fighting for German soil at the border to Bohemia"--and, according to a schoolmate, did so doubtless "with pedagogic intent: You have to study diligently lest we in Austria lose our leading role and so that you can prove yourselves in the national struggle!" Hitler reported something similar about his favorite teacher, Dr. Leopold Poetsch: He used our budding nationalistic fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor. By this alone he was able to discipline us little ruffians more easily than would have been possible by any other means.

    Poetsch was Hitler's teacher from first through third grade (1901-04) in geography, and in second and third grade in history. He also ran the school library, where Hitler checked out his books. As a special privilege, Hitler was allowed to bring his teacher maps, which put him in particularly close contact with him. Aside from his service at the school, Poetsch was a sought-after official speaker. He spoke at German-national associations, but also on the occasion of the emperor's anniversary in 1908. Thus he was, like Hitler's father, simultaneously German-national and a Hapsburg loyalist, which was in line with his chosen party: in 1905 he joined the Linz city council as a representative of the German People's Party.

    Poetsch gave popular slide lectures entitled "Images of German History." In them he strongly emphasized the Germanic era and the time of the early German emperors--that is to say, before the Hapsburgs--and proceeded to pinpoint the Germans' "national awakening" up until the Franco-Prussian War: "Since the great days of the magnificent German victories of the years 1870-71 we have become increasingly conscious of our Germanic identity and now thumb more ardently through the books of German myths, legends, and history."

    In the Hapsburg monarchy, the "Sedan celebrations" in commemoration of Prussia's victory over France were officially prohibited. The students celebrated clandestinely, invariably ending with the "Wacht am Rhein" (Guard on the Rhine), the Prussian-German battle song against the "archenemy" France and the German nationalists' anthem. In his speech after the Anschluss in March 1938 Hitler mentioned another song of his youth: When these soldiers marched in, I again heard a song of my youth. Once upon a time I sang it so often with a heart full of belief, that proud battle song: "Das Volk steht auf, der Sturm bricht los" (The people are rising up, the storm is breaking loose). And it was indeed the uprising of a people and the breaking loose of a storm.

    The students' actions against "black-yellow" teacher of religion Schwarz also clearly had a pan-German twist. Later Hitler would relate with unabashed pride how during religious instruction he had spread pencils before him with the greater German colors black, red, and gold. The teacher said, "You will immediately get rid of these pencils with those disgusting colors!" " Huh!" said the whole class. "Those are the national ideals!" "You needn't have any national ideals in your hearts but only one ideal, and that is our fatherland and our house of Hapsburg. He who isn't for the house of Hapsburg isn't for the Church, and he who isn't for the Church, is not for God. Sit down, Hitler!" According to Hitler, there had been a generally revolutionary atmosphere at school, an assessment other former schoolmates confirmed.

    Another example: When Linz's students were supposed to cheer Emperor Franz Josef during his annual ride to his summer vacation in Ischl, their teacher found it necessary to advise them: "You have to yell `Hoch!' I don't want anyone to yell `Heit!'" "Heil" was the greeting of the German nationalists, "Hoch" (up) the shout for the house of Hapsburg.

    Later Hitler liked to emphasize that on account of their experiences in the multinational empire, the German-Austrians had developed a much more alert and progressive form of nationalism than had the "Reich Germans," even early on, when they still attended school: In this way the child received political training in a period when as a rule the subject of a so-called national state knew little more of his nationality than its language. At the age of fifteen, Hitler reported, he had already realized the distinction between dynastic "patriotism" and folkish "nationalism." At any rate, even at that early age he clearly joined the camp of the radical "folkish nationalists," rejecting the multinational state as did the Schönererians. On this important issue he thus distinguished himself from his father and his favorite teacher, Poetsch.

    It is understandable, then, that Poetsch was annoyed when he, the Austrian patriot, discovered that in Mein Kampf he received high praise as a teacher but at the same time was denounced as an enemy of Austria: For who could have studied German history under such a teacher without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation? And who could retain a loyalty to a dynasty that ... betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage?

    When in 1936 some teachers in Linz sent their now famous pupil photos to remind him of them, and they asked Poetsch to join them, he refused, arguing "that he did not agree with Hitler in his defamation of Austria; he had sworn an official oath for Austria." However, "the Führer's beloved teacher" could no longer protect himself from a national funeral.


Jews and Czechs in Linz


The high school in Linz apparently had a good reputation, for almost one-third of its students came from out of town. Fifty pupils were from Lower Austria, including Vienna; twenty-one from Salzburg, Tyrol, Styria, and Carinthia; another twenty-one from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia; two apiece from Galicia and Hungary; seven from the German Reich; and one each from Italy, France, and Bosnia.

    One of the Viennese students, from 1903 until his graduation in 1906, was Ludwig Wittgenstein, the son of the industrialist Karl Wittgenstein. He was only a few days Hitler's junior but, instructed by private tutors, was two grades ahead of him. Hitler is bound to have at least laid eyes on Wittgenstein, for in Linz the latter was a conspicuously bizarre fellow: he spoke an unusually pure High German, albeit with a slight stutter, wore very elegant clothes, and was highly sensitive and extremely unsociable. It was one of his idiosyncracies to use the formal form of address with his schoolmates and to demand that they too--with the exception of a single friend--address him formally, with "Sie" and "Herr Ludwig." He did not love school--his first impression, recorded in his notebook, was "Crap"--and he was frequently absent and had an average record. When he went to Berlin in 1906 to attend university, his spelling was scarcely better than Hitler's.

    As Hitler's schoolmates would later affirm, pupils of Jewish descent, like Wittgenstein, had no trouble at the high school in Linz, especially not if, like Wittgenstein, they participated in religious instruction as Catholics. According to statistics, at that time only 17 pupils in the school were Jewish, next to 323 Catholics, 19 Protestants, and a visiting Bosnian student who was Greek Orthodox.

    Indeed, anti-Semitism can hardly have played a major role, and Hitler's statement in Mein Kampf is probably correct: At the Realschule, to be sure, I did meet one Jewish boy who was treated by all of us with caution ... but neither I nor the others had any thoughts on the matter. Only at the age of fourteen or fifteen had he encountered the word Jew with more frequency, partly in connection with political discussions.

    Around 1900 only 1,102 Jews lived in all of Upper Austria, 587 of them in Linz--in other words, less than one percent of the city's population--and 184 in Urfahr. The numbers for 1910 were 1,215 in Upper Austria, 608 in Linz, 172 in Urfahr. The Linz Jews for the most part came from Furth in Bavaria or from Bohemia and were assimilated into the rest of society. Most of the 224 Jewish heads of household living in Linz at the time were merchants, professionals, or manufacturers. Some were esteemed as patrons and held honorary federal posts; April 7, 1907, the Upper Austrian governor gave Rabbi Moriz Friedmann the Franz Josef Medal in appreciation of Friedmann's twenty-five years as a member of the Austrian district school board.

    The number of Jews in Linz, then, stayed approximately the same and Eastern Jews did not immigrate into the little provincial city. In the meantime, more and more Czechs came to town. Most of them were seasonal workers who were not included in official statistics. In any case, the "fight against Slavization," and thus against the Czechs, dominated the almost uniformly German-speaking town far more than anti-Semitism against the German-speaking Jews. In the twenty years before 1914 the "Czech question" was the main topic for discussion in the Linz City Council as well as the Linz newspapers--and the schools.

    The Linz newspapers fanned the native Linzers' fear of overalienation, of losing their jobs on account of cheap competition, of "selling out" their native soil, and of a soaring crime rate. According to the pan-German Linzer Fliegende, Linz's main square had long been a "reservoir" of "Czech boys": "Every night you can see a number of Czechs on the asphalt pavement--who speak Czech rather loudly and march up and down in tight circles. That way they simply want to prove that they have already conquered downtown Linz."

    The "defense battle against advancing Slavdom" was a "central topic" among students, according to a former classmate of Hitler: "To be sure, we didn't look at the Slavs as an inferior ethnic group, but we fought against the curtailing of our rights." Frequently, we are told, there was some wrangling between young "Slavic" and "Germanic" men. Another schoolmate stated, "The competition between the languages and the frictions in Parliament made a great impression on us pupils. We were totally against the Czechs and the ethnic Babel."

    Hitler was to tell Albert Speer that almost all his Linz schoolmates had rejected "Czech immigration to German Austria." He hadn't recognized the "danger of Jewry" until he was in Vienna. And in Munich in 1929 he said, I lived my youth enmeshed in the border struggle for German language, culture, and thought, of which the great majority of the German people had no idea during peacetime. Even when I was thirteen, that fight incessantly pushed itself on us, and it was fought in every high school class.

    Yet the Linz Realschule did not really have a nationality problem: of 359 pupils in the academic year 1902-03, 357 named German as their mother tongue, and only two Czech. It was not much different at the other schools of higher education in Linz: the Czech inhabitants of Linz were almost exclusively railroad workers who could not afford to send their children to advanced schools, or seasonal workers whose children lived in Bohemia.

    Hitler was fourteen when in 1903 a language fight broke out in Linz: when the bishop permitted a Czech sermon in a Linz church, the city council requested in a unanimous, urgent motion "to cancel the Czech service, which has been misused for Czech demonstrations," and at the same time advised all Linz businessmen in the future only to hire "German assistants and apprentices." In March 1904 German national pupils and students broke up a concert by Czech violinist Jan Kubelik. Thus the national question continued to be pushed into the foreground.

    The question of whether someone was "Germanic" or "Slavic" played an important role even among the high-school students of Linz. According to a statement by his schoolmate Josef Keplinger, young Hitler diligently studied the alleged differences between races. One day he apparently told Keplinger, "You are not Germanic, you have dark eyes and dark hair!" Another time he is said to have divided his classmates at the entrance of their classroom into two groups left and right, "Aryans and Non-Aryans," according to purely external characteristics. What group the dark-haired Hitler joined we do not know.


Alois's Death


On January 3, 1903, at 10 A.M., sixty-five-year-old Alois Hitler suddenly died of pulmonary bleeding. He was sitting in a tavern at the time.

    The obituary in the Linz Tagespost described him as "a thoroughly progressive man" and a "true friend of the free school," an allusion to the deceased's anticlerical tendencies, his involvement in the association "Free School," and an argument he had had with the local priest. Socially--in other words, in the tavern--he had "always [been] happy, of a downright youthful joyfulness even," and also "a friend of song." Plus: "Even though a rough word may have escaped his lips once in a while, a good heart was hiding behind a rough exterior." This discreet way of putting things seems to indicate that he was cheerful in the bar but tough at home. Hitler's future guardian Josef Mayrhofer confirms this: "In the bar he always had to be right and had a quick temper.... At home he was strict, not a gentle man; his wife didn't have an easy life."

    At least the thirteen-year-old boy must have felt relief at his tyrannical father's death. Hitler was to tell his secretary a great deal "about his mother's love," which he returned. "`I didn't love my father,' he used to say, `but I was all the more afraid of him. He had tantrums and immediately became physically violent. My poor mother would always be very scared for me.'"

    Still, there was no improvement in school. On account of continued bad grades, Hitler was asked to leave the Linz high school in 1904. Yet his mother was not ready to give up and sent him to the next closest Realschule, to Steyr, an industrial town with a population of 17,600, where he lived with a couple who boarded him. This was a great financial sacrifice for the civil servant's widow. She sold the house in Leonding and moved to Linz, to the third floor of a house at 31 Humboldtstrasse.

    The separation from his mother was very hard on the fifteen-year-old. Goebbels would note: "The Führer talks about his childhood.... And how he was longing and pining away when his mother sent him to Steyr. And almost became ill over it.... And how he still hates Steyr as a city to this day."

    While the Hitlers lived in Steyr, the Russo-Japanese War broke out. Hitler would later say that his class was divided into two camps; the "Slavs" had been for Russia, and the others for Japan: When during the Russo-Japanese War the news of Russia's defeat arrived, the Czech boys in my class cried, while we others cheered. Even then Hitler, just like the German nationalists in Linz, suspected schoolchildren of harboring pan-Slavic convictions.

    At Whitsuntide 1904 the pubescent Hitler, who still did not want to study, was confirmed at the Linz cathedral. His godfather would later say, "Among all my candidates, there was not one who was as gruff and obstinate as this one, you had to climb inside him for every word." The boy had not appreciated his confirmation present, a prayerbook. Neither had the expensive ride from Linz to Leonding in a carriage excited him: "I had the impression that he found the whole confirmation disgusting." In Leonding a "pack of boys" was already waiting for him, and he "quickly took off." The godfather's wife added, "They behaved like Red Indians."

    To be sure, such conduct was not unusual for a fifteen-year-old. In 1942 Hitler would say in retrospect, At thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, I no longer believed in anything, certainly none of my friends still believed in the so-called communion, only a few totally stupid honor students! Except, at the time I thought everything should be blown up.

    With three unsatisfactory grades--in German, math, and stenography--Hitler was again kept back. This idiot of a professor spoiled the German language for me, this bungling, pathetic gnome: I would never be able to write a proper letter! Imagine! With a D minus from that buffoon, I never could have become a technician.

    In this situation, he would write, suddenly an illness came to his help, my serious lung ailment, which ultimately decided the eternal domestic quarrel. He was allowed to abandon his career at school and return home to his mother.

    According to relatives, the sick boy let himself be pampered by his mother during the following summer in Waldviertel, having her bring him a big mug of warm milk every morning. He lived like a recluse, avoiding almost all contact with his various cousins.

    This alleged serious illness must have been a temporary indisposition; otherwise the new family doctor, Dr. Eduard Bloch from Linz, would have known about it. After checking his files, the doctor later maintained that he treated the boy only for minor ailments, colds, or tonsilitis, and that Hitler had been neither robust nor sickly. He certainly did not have any serious illness whatsoever, let alone a lung disease.

    Dr. Bloch, a Jew, was born in Frauenburg in Southern Bohemia in 1872. After attending school in Prague he served as an army doctor and from 1899 on was stationed in Linz, where he settled after his discharge. In 1901 he opened his office in the baroque house at 12 Landstrasse, where he also lived with his family: his wife Emilie, née Kafka, and their daughter Trude, born in 1903. According to Linz's future mayor Ernst Koref, Dr. Bloch was held "in high regard, particularly among the lower and indigent social classes. It was generally known that even at any time at night he was willing to call on patients. He used to go on his visits in his hansom, wearing a conspicuously broad-brimmed hat."

    As an old man in American exile, Dr. Bloch published his memoirs, in which he painted a remarkably positive picture of young Hitler, saying he had been neither a ruffian nor untidy nor fresh: "This simply is not true. As a youth he was quiet, well-mannered, and neatly dressed." He had patiently waited in the waiting room until it was his turn, then, like every well-behaved fourteen- or fifteen-year-old boy, made a bow, and always thanked the doctor politely. Like the other boys in Linz he had worn short lederhosen and a green woolen hat with a feather, he had been tall and pale and looked older than he was: "His eyes--inherited from his mother--were large, melancholy and thoughtful. To a very large extent this boy lived within himself. What dreams he dreamed I do not know."

    The boy's most striking feature was his love for his mother: "While he was not a `mother's boy' in the usual sense, I have never witnessed a closer attachment." This love had been mutual: "Klara Hitler adored her son.... She allowed him his own way wherever possible." For example, she admired his watercolor paintings and drawings and supported his artistic ambitions in opposition to his father; "at what cost to herself one may guess." However, the doctor expressly denies the claim that Hitler's love for his mother was pathological.

    According to Dr. Bloch, the family's financial resources were scarce. He mentions that Klara Hitler had not even indulged in "the smallest extravagance" and lived extremely modestly and frugally. We have some data on the Hitlers' family budget: Klara Hitler's widow's pension amounted to 100 kronen per month, plus 40 kronen in federal aid for Adolf's and Paula's education. The sale of the house in Leonding yielded 10,000 kronen, minus mortgage, taxes, expenses, and the inheritance for Adolf and Paula--frozen until their twenty-fourth birthdays--of 652 kronen each.

    At 4 percent interest, the remaining approximately 5,500 kronen may have netted some 220 kronen annually. In addition, Klara was permitted to dispose of the interest for Adolf's and Paula's inheritance up to their eighteenth year, which yielded another 52 kronen per annum. However, the interest total of no more than 23 kronen per month did not cover the current rent. The family of four, who now no longer even had the Leonding fruit and vegetable garden at its disposal, had to live very modestly, particularly because around 1905 inflation had become noticeable and Klara had fallen ill. Even if "Haniaunt" contributed to the family's expenses, from then on Klara Hitler had to fall back on her savings. Even though their apartment was small, she acquired an additional boarder, twelve-year-old Wilhelm Hagemuller, the Leonding baker's son, who on schooldays ate lunch with the family.

    Sixteen-year-old Adolf, by now "the only man" in the family, acted just as if he were a son of a better family. He had his own room, the cabinet--which means that the three women shared the only remaining room and the kitchen. He spent his days taking walks, with nightly entertainments, reading, and drawing. Thus in Mein Kampf he pays tribute to the two ensuing years in Linz as the happiest days of my life, which seemed to me almost a dream. He says he had lived as his mother's darling in the hollowness of comfortable life and on a soft downy bed. After the unpleasant period in Steyr he now enjoyed the attractions of the provincial capital. At fifteen or sixteen, he would say in 1942, he went to all the wax works and everywhere it said, Adults Only.

    During that time the young man began to devour newspapers. There was a large number of papers in Linz, among them offshoots of the large Viennese party organs that brought such Viennese topics to Linz as anti-Semitism. For example, the Christian-Social Linzer Post advocated the slogan "Don't buy from Jews" and commented: "If money supply is cut off from the Jews, then they themselves have to retreat and Austria will be rid of the disgusting lice infestation." "The Jews" were portrayed as seducers of girls, as a danger to the state, and as Socialists, for "always and everywhere the fellow tribesmen of these workers' tormentors are the tried leaders of Social Democracy."

    The Linzer Fliegenden, on the other hand, subtitled "Volkisches Witzblattl" (folkish joke journal), propagated ethnic anti-Semitism in the manner of the pan-Germans. The journal was anticlerical, rejected the multinational state, and made propaganda against the Hungarians (the "Huns"), the Czechs, and the Jews. There was a great deal of publicity for the Alldeutsches Tagblatt, whose writers, including Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, were quoted frequently.

    The paper distributed pan-German brochures, including the speeches of Schönerer, and "Jew coupons"--sheets of forty couponlike stamps at ten heller each with more or less fabricated anti-Semitic utterances by famous people, such as Helmuth Count of Moltke: "The Jews form a state within the state; following their own laws, they know how to bypass those of the country"; or even Tacitus: "The Jews are the abomination of the human race. Everything that to us is sacrosanct, is contemptible to them; while they are permitted to do anything that is an outrage to us. They are the lowliest of all peoples (deterrima gens)." When these sayings reappeared on doors and windows of Jewish shops in Linz, Linz's Austrian Israelite Union retaliated on October 16, 1907, by pressing criminal charges.

    One of the readers of the Linzer Fliegenden is said to have been young Hitler. Even at that early age he had fallen under the influence of the pan-Germans, whose main enemy were the Social Democrats.

    In a 1929 speech Hitler would brag about being one of the early fighters against the "Reds": When I was a boy, I wore the black, red, and gold badge and, like innumerable of my early friends, was seriously beaten up by Marxists. They tore up the black, red, and gold flag and kicked it in the mud.


Theatre and First Love


In Linz young Hitler discovered his love for the theatre. Linz's regional theatre performed operas, operettas, and plays from the typical repertoire for the educated--from Mozart's Magic Flute to Strauss operettas and comedies of manners. Standing room only, in the third gallery, cost just fifty heller, hardly more than a ticket for a concert by the army orchestra or the extremely popular movies.

    In 1905, the hundredth anniversary of Schiller's death, the German nationalists celebrated their "freedom poet." In the regional theatre Schiller's plays were at the center of the program, above all, William Tell. Krackowizer wrote on May 4, 1905: "Anniversary celebrations wherever German hearts are beating." The most popular official speaker was Leopold Poetsch.

    Wagner's oeuvre was also being cultivated, for Linz's music director August Göllerich was old enough to have known the maestro personally. Among the regional theatre's repertoire was Lohengrin and, since January 3, 1905, also the early opera Rienzi, which received particular notice as the town's gymnastics club took part in the famous "sword dance."

    Later, Klara Hitler's boarder Hagmüller would relate that young Hitler frequented the regional theatre and even outlined plans for its reconstruction. According to Hagmüller, Hitler preferred Wagner operas and Schiller plays and liked to sing "Du Schwan zieh hin" from Lohengrin while walking back and forth in his room. When in 1938 an emissary of the NSDAP archive collected biographical material on the "Führer" in Linz, he learned much to his amazement that "funnily enough" Hitler's favorite actors in Linz--that is to say, his Wagner and Schiller heroes--were "almost exclusively Jews."

    In 1905, in the regional theatre's standing room, Hitler met August (Gustl) Kubizek, who was almost the same age. They became friends. Kubizek worked as an upholsterer's apprentice in his father's shop; his father was happy that Gustl had such a well-behaved and polite friend as Adolf. Hitler profited from Kubizek's excellent training in music. The two shared their enthusiasm for Wagner. In his memoirs, Kubizek describes in detail the outstanding impression Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen (Rienzi, the last of the tribunes) made on young Hitler. The pompous work required a large orchestra with a great deal of brass and drums, and contained thrilling scenes with large crowds; the endings of its acts were overpowering, and it was full of roaring shouts of "Heil."

    In the fourteenth century Cola di Rienzi rose from being the son of a Roman bartender to the people's tribune, unifying splintered Italy into a powerful republic after a classical model, but he was subsequently toppled by the people and died during an uprising. In the nineteenth century, the age of national unification, his story was romantically glorified in a much-read novel by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. During the preliminaries of the revolution of 1848 young Richard Wagner also tried his hand at this national material. For him Rienzi was the hero who saved and liberated the people, in Wagner's words, an "extreme enthusiast who like a flashing beam of light appeared among a people that had sunk low and was degenerated but which he believed he was called upon to enlighten and lift up high."

    After the opera, Kubizek later wrote, sixteen-year-old Hitler walked with him in a "totally transported state" to Linz's Frein Mountain until the early hours of the morning. "In grand, infectious images he outlined to me the future of the German people." Kubizek quoted at length verses that had "touched (their) hearts," such as when Rienzi sings, "doch wählet ihr zum Schützer reich / der Rechte, die dem Volk erkannt, / so blickt auf eure Ahnen hin: / Und nennt mich euren Volkstribun!" (and if you choose me as your protector of the people's rights, look at your ancestors and call me your people's tribune!) The masses reply, "Rienzi, Heil! Heil, people's tribune!"

    Later it was important to Hitler to be looked on as Rienzi reincarnate. Among the Kubizek family his alleged statement, "I want to become a people's tribune," was passed on. The spirited Rienzi overture became the secret anthem of the Third Reich, well known as the introduction to the Nuremberg party conventions.

    According to Kubizek, sixteen-year-old Hitler was a puny, pale, serious young man, always simply, but neatly and properly attired: "Adolf made much of polite conduct and strict, proper form." With his only suit, pepper-and-salt with perfect creases he wore white shirts ironed by his mother and black kid gloves, as well as a special touch, a little black ebony cane and sometimes even a top hat, an outfit like a college student's. Kubizek wrote: "Since Linz didn't have a university, the young people of all classes and strata of society all the more eagerly emulated students' customs."

    Young Hitler's manner of speaking, Kubizek noted, was "very choice." In other words, contrary to those around him, he did not speak a dialect but High German. In addition, he had a "well-developed sense of performing." The young man displayed his desire to be the center of attention by being given to talking much and persistently, always in the form of monologues. He did not permit anyone to contradict him. "Sometimes, when he became entirely lost in his fantasies, I got the suspicion that everything he said was nothing but an exercise in oratory."

    Kubizek was surprised that his friend avoided all contact with his former schoolmates. Once, he reported, they ran into a former classmate of Hitler on the promenade in Linz. To the question, "How are you?" Hitler only brusquely replied "that that was none of his business, just as Adolf himself couldn't care less what the other one was up to."

    It was probably in the spring of 1906 that the seventeen-year-old first fell in love. To be sure, the blonde Linz beauty of higher standing, two years his senior, never noticed her shy admirer, who watched her from afar as she walked in the Linz main street with her mother. Stefanie had already graduated and then been to Munich and Geneva for professional training, and was now back in her hometown of Linz. She had many admirers, a fact Hitler jealously observed during the strolls, particularly if they were officers. He called them "lazybones" and got flustered about their social standing, "but particularly about the opportunities these airheads had with the ladies." According to Kubizek, Hitler only lived for "that woman ... who possessed all of his passionate affection, without being aware of it." And: "He envisions Stefanie as his wife, he is building the house in which she lives with him, surrounds it with a magnificent park," and so on. Yet according to Kubizek he did not exchange a single word with this "being in his dream world."


First Time in Vienna


Even though his guardian urged him to alleviate some of the burden in his mother's household, Hitler did not accept any jobs nor start an apprenticeship. Instead, he announced his desire to become an artist, an aspiration his mother supported. She even paid for a trip to Vienna so he could go to the imperial art gallery, an unusual and expensive undertaking for the son of a civil servant's widow. In May 1906, after a six-hour trip on an accommodation train, the seventeen-year-old arrived in the imperial capital and residence for the first time.

    The size, the tumult, and the brightness of the metropolis impressed and confused anyone arriving from the provinces. Nowhere in the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy was traffic as heavy as it was in Vienna. In 1907 1,458 automobiles, more than half the total number registered in the whole empire, were in the capital. They caused 354 accidents per year, even with a speed limit of fifteen miles per hour in the city. More important still were horsedrawn carriages: there were 997 hansoms drawn by two horses, 1,754 one-horse carriages, and 1,101 cabs, which altogether caused 982 accidents.

    The ten inner districts were already electrified, so in the streets there were no longer any gas lights. The Westbahnhof--the western station, where trains arrived from Linz--was illuminated by electric lights too. Electrification of tenement buildings was progressing rapidly: in 1908, in nonofficial buildings alone, there already were 176 arc lamps and 657,625 incandescent lamps--one incandescent lamp per person. Linz, on the other hand, had only six electric arc lamps on the main square and one on the bridge between Linz and Urfahr; otherwise it had only gas and kerosene lamps.

    We do not know where in Vienna Hitler lived. That he found lodgings with his godfather Johann Prinz, as is frequently claimed, does not seem possible. In a document from 1885, Mr. and Mrs. Prinz are mentioned as "a married couple, the husband being a swimming pool attendant at the Sofienbad, Vienna," living in the Third District, 28 Löwengasse. That they were still at that address in 1906 is not documented, and there is no other information about this either. According to Kubizek, Hitler never visited relatives; "even later this never came up during conversation."

    Hitler's first visit to Vienna, he later says in Mein Kampf, triggered his enthusiasm for the architecture of the Ring Boulevard. The purpose of my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum, but I had eyes for scarcely anything but the museum itself. From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings that held my primary interest. For hours I could stand in front of the Opera, for hours I could gaze at the Parliament; the whole Ring Boulevard seemed to me like an enchantment out of The Thousand-and One Nights.

    The only sources concerning this first trip to Vienna are four picture postcards to Kubizek. They are the earliest known autographs of Hitler to date.

    Not even the post office stamps reveal how long the trip lasted. (In Mein Kampf Hitler suggests two weeks.) One card, postmarked May 7, 1906, contains a three-part view of the Karlsplatz, where Hitler marked the music club building with an X: to indicate the place of the conservatory school, which Kubizek dreamed of attending one day. The card reads: Sending you this card, I must at the same time apologize to you for not having written sooner. So I did arrive all right and now walk around busily. Tomorrow I will go to the opera to hear Tristan, the day after tomorrow the Flying Dutchman, etc. Even though I like everything fine I am still looking forward to being back in Linz. Today to the City Theatre. With best regards, Your friend Adolf Hitler. The seventeen-year-old, having been taught by his mother to be polite, does not forget to ask Kubizek to give his regards to his parents.

    What Hitler mentioned matches perfectly with the program: on Tuesday, May 8, 1906, there was a performance of Tristan, from seven to eleven-thirty, with Erik Schmedes as Tristan, Anna von Mildenburg as Isolde, and Richard Mayr as King Marke. On Wednesday, May 9, The Flying Dutchman was scheduled. On May 7, 1906, the City Theatre performed a rural farce by Ludwig Anzengruber. The other postcards depict views of the outside and inside of the Opera and Parliament.

    At any rate, on at least two evenings the young man experienced the ultimate of contemporary Wagner interpretation at the Court Opera: the Wagnerian "total work of art," constructed by court opera director Gustav Mahler and his stage director Alfred Roller and "cleared" of tradition. What is most important is this: for the first time in his life, young Hitler witnessed Gustav Mahler as a Wagner conductor--in the May 8 performance of Tristan.

    After this first sojourn in Vienna, the capital attracted the young man like a magnet. Kubizek observed; "In his thoughts he frequently was no longer in Linz but was already living right in the center of Vienna." But even if the provincial town may have become too small for him, it still offered quite a few attractions: on May 26, 1906, the Buffalo Bill circus show performed a spectacle entitled "Wild West," involving eight hundred performers in costumes, among them a hundred American Indians, plus five hundred horses. On June 7 the young people in Linz marveled at 150 luxury cars and their noble "gentleman drivers," who were making a stop in Linz during their race. On September 28 the performances by the American cinema group The Royal Video started in the Volksfesthalle (people's party hall), and according to Krackowizer performances were "jam-packed every day, netting a fortune."

    On October 13 the State Theatre for the f irst time performed the greatest music hit of the era, Franz Lehar's Merry Widow. Via gramophones the tunes spread ad nauseam into cafes and bars. Hitler remained faithful to this favorite operetta of his until the end: in 1943-44, at the Wolf Entrenchment in East Prussia, he was not listening to Wagner, but "never anything but the Merry Widow," as an earwitness reported with a moan.

    From October 1906 on Hitler took piano lessons with Kubizek's teacher for no less than five kronen a month. He did not get very far. The teacher visibly cringed when in 1938 he was supposed to tell the NSDAP's main archive his memories of the "Führer": "As far as the lessons are concerned, he was never distracted, and--as for other conversations--before or after the lessons--rather reserved.... In short, at the time I wouldn't have had the slightest idea as to what a great statesman was taking lessons with me."

    In January 1907, when his life was about to take a turn, Hitler decided to discontinue his lessons: on January 14, 1907, Klara Hitler, who was in excruciating pain, consulted with the family physician, Dr. Bloch. He detected a breast tumor and advised an operation, Which was performed four days later, at the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy in Linz. Because she had no health insurance, such a hospital stay posed an enormous financial burden, particularly because the daily rate, was set at five kronen instead of the usual two. In addition, there were various other invoices, such as the surgeon's bill. For the twenty-day stay (January 17 to February 5), the hospital charged one hundred kronen, which, according to the bill, was paid by "the son," who at the time was seventeen years old. Furthermore, Klara needed aftercare by the family doctor, Bloch, and this was getting more and more costly. Apparently seventeen-year-old Hitler made the necessary decisions by himself. His eleven-year-old sister Paula was too young, and his married half-sister Angela Raubal was no longer part of the common household. Besides, she was only Klara's stepdaughter. "Haniaunt" was not up to such tasks and kept so much in the background that neither Dr. Bloch nor Kubizek mentioned her.

    It was the spring of the first national elections since the introduction of the general, direct, and equal suffrage for men. Krackowizer wrote on May 2 1907: "Those interested get extremely excited during national elections: fliers, assemblies, etc. galore." The right to vote invigorated the Social Democrats, who were now serious competitors against the Nationals and Clericals. They gained all of Linz's three parliamentary mandates. It is certainly possible that Hitler's hatred for the "Reds" goes back in part to this bitter and, in the end, lost election campaign of what had been Linz's main parties--fought and lost especially by the German People's Party (DVP).

    After a brief recuperation period, forty-six-year-old Klara Hitler had difficulty climbing the stairs to the third floor. In early May 1907 the family moved to the small town of Urfahr across the Danube, to 46 Hauptstrasse. Financial difficulties may have been a factor too. In any case, Urfahr, which was not incorporated into Linz until 1917, was said to be particularly cheap, for one thing because of its agrarian markets, but also because it was free of the consumption tax that made all goods more expensive in Linz. According to Kubizek, even before that time Hitler had done the family's major shopping in Urfahr.

    After only two weeks, the family moved once again, this time to nearby 9 Blütenstrasse in Urfahr. At fifty kronen, rent on the first floor of this nice, even elegant house was very high for Urfahr, amounting to almost half of Klara's widow's pension, which was certainly more than the family could afford. Thus it continued to be necessary to tap the small capital acquired from the sale of the house. Klara, who was seriously ill, lived another few comfortable months there.

    According to Dr. Bloch, the apartment had three small rooms. The windows offered a magnificent view of Mount Postling. "My predominant impression of the simple furnished-apartment was its cleanliness. It glistened; not a speck of dust on the chairs or tables, not a stray fleck of mud on the scrubbed floor, not a smudge on the panes in the windows. Frau Hitler was a superb housekeeper."

    The house belonged to the widow of a district court judge, Magdalena Hanisch, who lived in an adjoining apartment on the first floor and showed great concern for Klara Hitler. In the house also lived a retired postmaster with his wife, a retired professor, and (apparently in the basement rooms) two day laborers.

    According to Dr. Bloch's cash book, Klara Hitler visited his office on July 3 and did not return until September 2. It is not clear whether the doctor's office was closed during the summer--in which case, however, he would have noted the name of his substitute, Dr. Kren--or if the patient had left once more for Waldviertel with her family to recuperate there. Considering travel conditions at the time, the ride was relatively comfortable; the train went from Linz to Gmund, and from there a pair of oxen took the family to Klara's parent's house in the village of Spital near Weitra.

(Continues...)

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 From the Provinces to the Capital 3
2 The Vienna of the Modern Era 60
3 The Imperial City 86
4 In Parliament 116
5 The Social Question 133
6 As a Painter in the Men's Hostel 158
7 Theoreticians of Race and Explainers of the World 200
8 Political Role Models 236
9 Czechs in Vienna 304
10 Jews in Vienna 325
11 Young Hitler and Women 360
12 Before the Great War 379
Notes 407
Selected Bibliography 451
Index 453
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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Great book

    Hamann does a great job describing in dept the political, social, and cultural environment that hitler encountered when he arrived in Vienna. The author uses passages from Mein Kampf and references from people who knew hilter during his Veinna years to describe his transformation from a poor young man into a political anti Semite.

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