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 the
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 unsatisfactory."
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 the Academy:
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 Architecture."
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
Mary With The Holy Child Jesus Christ
Oil and Canvas by Adolf Hitler, 1913
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
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.