“I wasn’t eleven years old when I rebelled for the first time in my life. I didn’t want to be a clerk. I was told loads of flattering words about this job. They used my father’s job as an illustration.
But all of these efforts resulted in the opposite of what they were intended. Suddenly, out of the blue, I found my true vocation. I would be a painter, an artist. My talent at painting would be undisputed.”
My struggle, Adolf Hitler.
October 1907. Entrance exams for Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. “The following candidates are not admitted: […] Adolf Hitler, lack of talent for artistic painting.”
October 1908. Entrance exams for Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. “The following candidates are not admitted: […] Adolf Hitler, his drawings are deemed inadequate.”
These are the paradoxes of history. The teachers of Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts are responsible for the Second World War.
If Hitler was admitted, he would have become a painter. A lousy one, more than likely, since it had been said that “he was drawing like a spinster. The people he was drawing were soulless, they looked like buildings”.
He had made his decision since he was eleven years old: He would be a painter.
His father did everything he could to dissuade him. But Adolf, as one of his teachers used to say “was not possible to submit to any kind of discipline”.
He gave exams twice and failed. Gutted, he abandoned his paternal house and lived like a vagabond in Vienna. He was painting post cards, a street artist, and he was sleeping under the bridges.
It was there where his anti-Semitism sentiments flared up, since he was living in penury and some of the Jews were rich. He had to put the blame on somebody for his failure.
John Douglas, psychologist and founder of FBI Profiler wrote in his book “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” that most of the serial killers believe the world was unfair to them and they usually have humble occupations, inferior to their abilities.
Hitler was looking for a way to prove himself, a way to take revenge.
In 1914, when the Great War (the first one) broke out, he rushed to join voluntarily. He got out of the war with the Iron Cross.
This was but just the beginning of the evil yet to come. He was not interested anymore in painting but in domination, manipulation and control, the three basic motives of serial killers and rapists.
The question is philosophical, just like every question that deserves further inquiry: Had Hitler become a painter and not Führer, would the Second World War have taken place?
Is it social conditions that define the people or the people define the social conditions?
Anti-Semitism was one of the major elements of political life in Vienna in the first years of 20th century. And not just in Vienna.
In 1894 captain Dreyfus was accused for spying and, in spite of lack of evidence, he was convicted. His name would serve in France as an illustration of Jewish treason.
Director Buñuel was in Paris at the break of 20th century and, as he writes in his autobiography, he was surprised of the well-dispersed anti-Semitism.
The Germans were feeling humiliated after the defeat of the First War, they were paying reparations, and they had lost territories.
The economic crisis of 1929 (let us not forget that capitalism is fed by crises) boosted the feeling of injustice. Millions of unemployed Germans were crammed in beer halls and they were cursing the Europeans.
The Bolsheviks had taken power in Russia and the businessmen, the politicians, had more fear of Communism than National Socialism.
The circumstances were rife and waiting for the Führer.
A lot of people maintain that Hitler was a puppet, a worthless man, manipulated by the strings of History. I will disagree by agreeing.
Hitler had two gifts:
First: Interpersonal intelligence
He knew what the Germans wanted and he gave it to them. He told them they were the Aryan Race, the chosen people. He told them they were treated unfairly. He told them that the rest of the world hated them because they were so unique.
He gave them an inside enemy: The Jews.
Secondly: He was ruthless.
The only thing he cared of was the three features of serial killers: Domination, manipulation and control.
Perhaps he would have remained worthless, hadn’t been created the appropriate conditions to step up.
The individuals affect the conditions through which they are formed.
Making a paradoxical (almost novelistic) thinking, perhaps it was a piece of luck that Hitler emerged at this moment, to appoint him as Führer.
Because if (that famous IF) in place of him was somebody else more skillful, someone less impulsive, then he might have not attempted the invasion in Stalin’s Soviet Union.
In 1941 the whole Europe was dominated by fascism. There was Mussolini and the “neutral” Franko. England was fighting alone and stumbling. The USA hadn’t entered the war yet.
(The invasion in USSR began in 22 of June 1941. The USA entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 7 of December 1941)
The hypothesis of a less insane Führer, of someone who would call a truce in 1941, is scary.
The scientists of the Third Reich were working on the V-2 missiles and the nuclear bomb. The concentration camps would have kept decimating Jews, the gypsies, the homosexuals and those who resisted.
And once Führer had nuclear weapons in his arsenal or he would be able to invade England, then we would talk about the end of civilization, as we know it.
Instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bombs would have been dropped on New York and London. The USA and England would surrender unconditionally, just like Japan did.
And Führer, in the high castle, would draw paintings for the Final Solution.
Comical exit. A conversation between two friends:
-Finally Hilter was a good man.
-Because he was the man who killed Hitler.
-OK, but he was a bad guy. Because he was the man, who killed the man, who killed Hitler.
You may read the following books:
Pro & Con: Hitler
The man in the high castle, by Philip Dick
The plot against America, by Philip Roth
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas.
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas