Hitler und Wagner

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Without Wagner would there have been a Third Reich – and what would Richard have thought about his greatest ‘fan’ – Adolf Hitler. ?
Undoubtedly much of Hitler’s weltanschauung (world view or world philosophy) was dictated by the music, librettos and writings of his favourite composer.

Adolf Hitler
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Wilhelm Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852.

‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’

Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs—musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. His advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, greatly influenced the development of classical music.

In addition there was a personal element to Hitler’s connection with Wagner.



Cosima, Siegfried and Richard Wagner
Siegfried and Winifred Wagner

Of course Wagner died in 1883, and Hitler was born in 1889 – so there could be no direct, personal connection – however Wagner had  a son, Siegfried, and Siegfried, despite his homosexuality, had sons – Wolfgang and Wieland.
After the death of Siegfried Wagner in 1930, Winifred Wagner, Siegfried’s wife, took over the Bayreuth Festival, running it until the end of World War II.

Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner and Hitler
Adolf Hitler and Winifred Wagner

In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler who, as we know, greatly admired Wagner’s music. 
When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ was written.
In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with England.
Winifred’s relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage.
‘Haus Wahnfried’, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat, and he had his own separate accommodation in the grounds of Wahnfried, known as the Führerbau.


Entrance Hall – Villa Wahnfried
The name of the villa Wahnfried, is interesting.
Wahnen means endless striving of an artist for the fulfilment of his aspirations and the triumph of his art.
So Wahnfried (Wahnen free) was the name chosen and even today we can see Wagner’s motto on the front: “Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”
Above the door to the villa  is a giant mural, depicting Wotan, King of the Gods and the philandering wanderer, being welcomed by classical women.
We should also note that Wotan was the name of Wagner’s beloved St Bernard dog.
The whole house was a place where Wagner could compose, raise his family and entertain guests.
The Grand Hall is the largest room in the villa, and is a two-storey space with a gallery around the second floor and a skylight in the ceiling. Furnishings include two of Wagner’s pianos and numerous busts. The specially designed Bechstein piano was the piano Wagner used when he was composing Meistersinger, part of Siegfried and Parsifal. It was a present from the endlessly patient, endlessly generous King Ludwig II for Wagner’s birthday in 1864.
In a shady grove beyond the garden, surrounded with ivy, is the tomb of Richard and Cosima Wagner. The stone is unmarked, because as Wagner insisted, as long as it remained, everyone would know who was buried there. 
But to begin at – almost – the beginning – 


The most momentous non-event of the century occurred in February of 1908.

And it occurred in Vienna to Alfred Roller. 
Today  Roller  is  not  so  much  underestimated as unknown, at  least outside a small  circle  of  opera  devotees.
Yet in 1908 he was one of the most important figures on the Viennese artistic scene. 
He  was  a  painter who, along with Gustav Klimt, organized the Vienna Se-cession.
He was also professor of fine arts and soon to be appointed director of the School of Applied Arts.
But above all he was a stage designer of great distinction.

Alfred Roller

Alfred Roller (2 October 1864, Brünn, Mähren — 21 June 1935, Vienna) was an Austrian painter, graphic designer, and set designer.

Roller’s Original Drawings for ‘Tristan’ – 1903
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Roller at first studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl and Eduard Peithner von Lichtenfels, but eventually became disenchanted with the Academy’s traditionalism. In 1897 he co-founded the Viennese Secession with Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and other artists who rejected the prevalent academic style of art. He became a professor of drawing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Kunstgewerbeschule) in 1899, and president of the Secession in 1902.
In his early career Roller was very active as a graphic designer and draughtsman.
He designed numerous covers and vignettes for the pages the Secessionist periodical Ver Sacrum, as well as the posters for the fourth, fourteenth, and sixteenth Secession exhibitions. He also designed the layout of the exhibitions themselves.
In 1902 Roller was introduced to the composer Gustav Mahler by Carl Moll. Roller expressed an interest in stage design and showed Mahler several sketches he had made for Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’. Mahler was impressed and decided to employ Roller to design the sets for a new production of the piece. The production, which premiered in February 1903, was a great critical success. Roller continued to design sets for Mahler’s productions. Eventually Roller left the Secession and his teaching post at the Kunstgewerbeschule to be appointed chief stage designer to the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 1909.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism. Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt’s younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt. Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group’s periodical, Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring”). He remained with the Secession until 1908.

Richard Wagner

In 1903, on the twentieth  anniversary of Wagner’s death, he  and Gustav Mahler initiated a cycle of the composer’s works in fresh  musical  and  visual  interpretations. 

Gustav Mahler


Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. His family later moved to nearby Iglau (now Jihlava), where Mahler grew up. On 8 October 1897 Mahler was formally appointed to succeed Jahn as the Hofoper’s director. Early in 1902 Mahler met Alfred Roller, an artist and designer associated with the Vienna Secession movement. A year later, Mahler appointed him chief stage designer to the Hofoper, where Roller’s debut was a new production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’. The collaboration between Mahler and Roller created more than 20 celebrated productions of, among other operas.



‘Tristan und Isolde’

The  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’  of  that  year  marked  the first  break  with  the  Bayreuth  tradition. 

‘Tristan und Isolde’

Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama or a plot), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.

‘Der Rosenkavalier’ – Richard Strauss

That  production and  those  that  followed  –  in  particular  the premiere of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ in 1911 made him the world’s most talked-about operatic producer.

In that first week of February, Roller received a letter  from  a  friend  declaring  that  a  young  man  of her acquaintance  was  a  great  admirer  of  his. 
The  lad  was an aspiring painter and loved opera; he would give anything, she  wrote,  to  meet  Roller  to  discuss  his  professional  prospects,  either  in  painting  or  in  stage  design.
Despite his heavy commitments, Roller generously agreed to meet him, take a look at some of his work and advise him on a career.

Young Hitler

The young man was overjoyed, and a short time later, with Roller’s reply and a portfolio of  his  works  in  hand,  went  to  the  opera  house. 

On reaching the entrance, so he later said, he got cold feet and  left. 
A  short  time  later  he  summoned  up  his  courage, returned and this time made it as far as the grand staircase, when he again took fright.
On a third occasion he was well on his way to Roller’s office when an opera house  attendant  asked  his  business. 
At  that,  he  turned on  his  heels  and  fled  for  good.
Now young Adolf was not a naturally timid young man – so what was it that prevented him from meeting Roller.
Was there some force, that prevented him from taking the critical that would have decisively changed world history ? 
But  he  never  forgot  the gesture, and  when  he  finally met Roller in 1934, he told him  the  story. 
The  young man was  now  chancellor of Germany.
If  only,  history  sighs, Roller and  Hitler  had  met in 1908 and Hitler had been taken on as an assistant at the opera, or enrolled at  the School  of  Applied  Arts. 
As Hitler himself remarked to his personal staff in 1942: ‘Without  a  recommendation  it  was  impossible  to  get anywhere  in  Austria.  When  I  came  to  Vienna  I  had  a recommendation to Roller. But I never made use of it. If I had gone to him with it, he would have taken me right off.  But  I  do  not  know  whether  that  would  have  been better  for  me.  Certainly  everything  would  have  been much easier. And  much  different.‘ 
In  any  event  Hitler  never  lost his admiration of Roller.
When Winifred Wagner decided in 1933 to stage a new production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ at Bayreuth – the  first  since  the  original  of  1882  –  Hitler, not unnaturally   proposed Roller to do it, although he had other, more obscure reasons for making that request (see below) and she agreed.

Winifred Wagner

Winifred Wagner (23 June 1897 – 5 March 1980) was an English woman and wife of Siegfried Wagner, Richard Wagner’s son. She was the effective head of the Wagner family from 1930 to 1945.
In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler, who greatly admired Wagner’s music. When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf may have been written. In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with Britain.
Her relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage. Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat. Hitler gave the festival government assistance and tax exempt status, and treated Winifred’s children solicitously.
She corresponded with Hitler for nearly two decades. Scholars have not been allowed to see the letters which are kept locked away by one of Winifred’s grandchildren, Amélie Lafferentz.

Haus Wahnfried – Führerbau

Wahnfried was the name given by Richard Wagner to his villa in Bayreuth. The name is a German compound of Wahn (delusion, madness) and Fried(e), (peace, freedom).
The house was constructed from 1872 to 1874 under Carl Wölfel’s supervision after plans from Berlin architect Wilhelm Neumann, the plans being altered according to some ideas of Wagner. The front of the house shows Wagner’s motto “Hier wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand – Wahnfried – sei dieses Haus von mir benannt.” (“Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”)
The grave of Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima lies on the grounds of Wahnfried. An extension to the house was built for Wagner’s son, Siegfried Wagner, and was later used by Hitler and was known as the Führerbau

So how did it all start ?
Hitler’s love affair with Wagnerian opera had begun in Linz in 1901 when at the age of twelve he attended his first opera.


Stadtwappen Linz
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Linz – 1900

Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria (German: Oberösterreich).
IAdolf Hitler was born in the border town of Braunau am Inn but moved to Linz in his childhood. Hitler spent most of his youth in the Linz area, from 1898 until 1907, when he left for Vienna. The family lived first in the village of Leonding on the outskirts of town, and then on the Humboldtstrasse in Linz. After elementary education in Leonding, Hitler was enrolled in the Realschule (school) in Linz with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  To the end of his life, Hitler considered Linz to be his “home town”, and envisioned extensive architectural schemes for it, wanting it to become the main cultural centre of the Third Reich.

The  performance  was  of  ‘Lohengrin’ and, as he later wrote in Mein Kampf,
I was captivated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the Master of Bayreuth  knew  no  bounds. 
Again  and  again  I  was drawn  to  his  works  .  .  .  .’ 
From  that  moment  the  lad found himself addicted, literally so, to Wagner’s operas.
The  composer’s  musical  and  intellectual  influence  in Central  Europe  was  then  at  its  zenith,  and  Hitler  em-braced the cult as devoutly as anyone.

‘Gustl’ Kubizek
Linz Opera House

During the years following  the  ecstasy  of  that  first  ‘Lohengrin’  performance, Hitler returned to the Linz Opera house night after night.

It was there that he eventually met another opera enthusiast,  August  Kubizek. 

August (“Gustl”) Kubizek (3 August 1888, Linz – 23 October 1956, Eferding) was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. He later wrote about their friendship.





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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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The  slightly older August, although  training  to  follow  in  the  footsteps  of  his  father as  an  upholsterer, was a serious  amateur  musician, able to play several stringed and brass instruments.
In a short time he became the sole friend of Hitler’s youth.
It was  not  simply  the  mutual  interest  in  opera  that  drew them  together  but  the  compliant  Kubizek’s willingness – an absolute requisite for everyone else later as well – to listen in tacit agreement or at least silence as the domineering ‘Adi’ expatiated on whatever caught his fancy.

Albert Speer

According  to  Hitler’s  comments  to  Speer,  the two  young  men  spent  hours  wandering  through  the streets of Linz as he rambled on about music, architecture  and  the  importance  of  the  arts. 


Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Spee – March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.







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On  visiting  Vienna for the first time in 1906, it was to Kubizek that he wrote.

Vienna Opera House

Tomorrow I am going to the opera, ‘Tristan’, and the day after  ‘Flying  Dutchman’,  etc.,’  he  reported  soon  after  arriving. 
Later the same day he dispatched  a  second postcard  of  the  opera  house  on  which  he  had  written grandiloquently:
The interior of the edifice is not exciting. If the exterior is mighty  majesty,  lending  the  building  the  seriousness  of an artistic monument, one feels in the interior admiration rather  than dignity.
Only when the mighty sound waves flow through  the  auditorium  and  when  the  whisperings of the wind give way to the terrible roaring of the sound waves does one feel the grandeur and forget the surfeit of gold and velvet covering the interior

Academy  of  Fine  Arts – Vienna


On  settling  in  Vienna  the  following  year,  he  persuaded Kubizek,  who  had  been  admitted  to  the  Music  Conservatory,  to  join  him  there. 

The  two lived together until 1908 when Hitler, following the humiliation of his second rejection  by  the  Academy  of  Fine  Arts,  suddenly  vanished from his companion’s life.
Beyond his Wagnermania,  little  is  known  for  certain  about  Hitler’s youthful  activities. 
He  sang  in  a  church  choir at Lambach Abbey (Stift Lambach) – a Benedictine monastery in Lambach in Austria.




Stift Lambach

A monastery was founded in about 1040 by Count Arnold II of Lambach-Wels. His son, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg (later canonised), changed the monastery into a Benedictine abbey ten year later. Since 1056 it has been a Benedictine abbey. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by the Carlone family. Lambach escaped the dissolution of the monasteries of Emperor Joseph II in the 1780s. In 1897/98 Adolf Hitler had lived in the town of Lambach (with his parents). He went to the secular Volksschule at which Benedictine teachers were employed. 
Hitler had seen several swastikas each day as a boy in Lambach, when he attended the Benedictine monastery school, which was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included the symbol.

Paula Hitler
Klara Hitler



On  leaving school,  the young Adolf  joined  a  music  club,  and  took  piano  lessons from October 1906 until the end of the following January from  a  man  named  Josef  Prawratsky. 

He  soon  quit because of  lack  of  money  as  a  result  of  the  expense  of  his mother’s  cancer  treatments, however,  his  sister  Paula recalled him ‘sitting for hours at the beautiful Heitzmann grand piano my mother had given him’.






Hitler’s Heitzmann 

Klara Hitler née Pölzl (12 August 1860 – 21 December 1907) was an Austrian woman, and the mother of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Paula Hitler (Paula Wolf)[1] (21 January 1896 in Hafeld, Austria – 1 June 1960 in Berchtesgaden) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Paula was the only full sibling of Adolf Hitler to survive into adulthood.

In later years he occasionally  played  –  according  to  Winifred  Wagner fairly well – but what he played remains a mystery.

Kubizek’s  1954  book, ‘Young  Hitler’ indicates  that Hitler had a fairly solid musical background.

Anton Bruckner

Hitler  was  devoted  to  the  works  of  Haydn,  Mozart  and Beethoven as well as Bruckner, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn,  Schumann  and  Grieg, and he  was  especially fond of Mozart and of Beethoven’s violin and piano concertos, and above  all  Schumann’s  piano  concerto.

The assertion that Hitler read Wagner’s prose  writings  and  everything  else  he  could  get  his hands  on by or about Wagner is contradicted by Franz Jetzinger, librarian at the Linz archive, that Hitler  did  no  serious  reading  at  all  at  the  time – however this has been strongly disputed (see below).

Brigitte Hamann

Franz Jetzinger (3 December 1882 in Ranshofen in Upper Austria – 19 March 1965 in Ottensheim in Upper Austria) was an Austrian clergyman, academic, politician, civil servant, editor and author. He remains especially famous as author of the book ‘Hitler’s Youth’
Jetzinger gained fame in 1958 through the English version of his book ‘Hitler’s Youth’, in which he could refute many of Hitler’s statements about his early years. Moreover, Jetzinger attracted attention by attacking an earlier published book ‘The Young Hitler I Knew’ by August Kubizek, whom Jetzinger accused of spreading falsehoods. While earlier Hitler biographers like Joachim Fest or Werner Maser adopted Jetzinger’s criticism as their own, Jetzinger’s crushing judgment of Kubizek’s credibility is now challenged by Brigitte Hamann, author of ‘Hitlers Wien’. Hamann asserts personal motives for Jetzinger’s tendency to illustrate nearly every statement in Kubizek’s book as an ex post modification of facts, claiming Jetzinger was economically motivated, because the previous release of Kubizek’s book supposedly undermined the sale of his own work. Many of Jetzinger’s statements have now been disscredited.

The  young  Hitler  was  undoubtedly  enthralled  by  Wagner’s  music and he was ‘transported into that extraordinary state which Wagner’s  music  produced  in  him,  that  trance,  that  escape into a mystical dream-world . . . . . . a changed man; his violence  left  him,  he  became  quiet,  yielding  and  tracta-ble . . . . intoxicated and bewitched . . . . . . willing to let himself be carried away into a mystical universe . . . . . . from  the  stale,  musty  prison  of  his  back  room,  trans-ported into the blissful regions of Germanic antiquity . . .‘ according to Kubizek.

Wieland  der Schmied

According to some sources Hitler wrote an opera, based on a prose sketch which Wagner had  developed,  but  abandoned,  entitled  ‘Wieland  der Schmied’ (Wieland the Blacksmith).
An entire chapter is devoted  to  the  story  and  tells  how  the  young  Hitler worked  out  leitmotifs,  a  cast  of  characters,  a  plot,  a dramatic  structure  and  a  rough  score. 

Even  after  the passage  of  forty-five  years,  Kubizek  was able to  recall  the  specific  names,  all  old-Teutonic,  of the characters. 
Within three days of conceiving  the  idea  of  the  opera,  Hitler  had  already  composed an  overture  –  in  Wagnerian  style  –  which  he  played for his  friend  on  the  piano  in  their  completely  darkened room. 
Eventually  there was produced a very serious sketch  for  a music drama  with Adolf  Hitler  as  its  composer.

In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. “battle-brave”) is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Dietrich von Bern as the Father of Witige.

National Socialist Symphony Orchestra

Kubizek also explains how Hitler dreamed up the  idea  of  a  ‘Mobile  Reichs Orchestra’ – or ‘Reich Symphony  Orchestra’  –  which was to tour German  provinces  and  perform  without charge. 

In 1928 an orchestra dedicated to  promoting National Socialist ideals was  organized and in 1931 it became, with Hitler’s approval, a travelling National Socialist Symphony Orchestra.

By  far  the  best  known  of  Kubizek’s  stories  relates to ‘Rienzi’.

Rienzi

Following  a  performance  at  the  Linz Opera of Wagner’s ‘Rienzi’, Hitler ascended to a  high  place  –  the  Freinberg  Hill  overlooking  the  city  – where he experienced an ideological epiphany.

‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer’s first success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.


Inspired by  the  hero  of  the  opera,  a  simple  man  driven  by  a sense  of  mission  to  restore greatness  to  Rome,  Hitler fell  into  a  state  of  ‘complete  ecstasy  and  rapture’  and declared that he too was destined to lead his people to greatness. 
Kubizek  went on to  say  that  he  mentioned the episode to Hitler when they met in Bayreuth in 1939 and found that he recalled it.
In that hour it began,’ the Führer commented.
And it is a story that is anchored  in  fact
One  fact  is  that  the  opera  was  actually performed  at  the  local  opera  house  beginning  in  January  1905. 
Another  is  that  this  is  a   case  where  the book  and  the  ‘Reminiscences’  are  consistent.
When  a  skeptical  Jetzinger  read  that  passage  and  challenged  it,  Kubizek responded  in  evident  dudgeon,  ‘The  experience  after  ‘Rienzi’  really  happened.’ 
But  most  telling  is  Hitler’s  own testimony  to  Speer  in  1938,  a  full  year  before  Kubizek raised  the  topic  at  Bayreuth. 
Explaining  why  the  party rallies  opened  with  the  overture  to  the  opera,  he said it was  not  simply  because of the impressiveness of the music  but  also  because  it  had  great  personal  significance.
Listening to this blessed music as a young man in  the  opera  at  Linz,  I  had  the  vision  that  I  too  must some  day  succeed  in  uniting  the  German  empire  and making  it  great  once  more.’ 

Anschluß – 1938

Upon  the  annexation  of Austria,  Hitler  publicly  expressed  identical  sentiments, without the personal reference to ‘Rienzi’, telling an audience  in  Vienna,
‘I  believe  it  was  God’s  will  to  send  a youth  from  here  into  the  Reich,  to  let  him  grow  up,  to raise him to be the leader of the nation so as to enable him to lead his homeland back into the Reich’.

The Anschluß (German for “connection” or union), also known as the Anschluss Österreichs, was the reunion of Austria with the Third Reich in 1938.
With the Anschluß, the German-speaking Republic of Austria ceased to exist as a fully independent state.

In some sense,  then,  the  ‘Rienzi’  experience  marked  the  primal scene of his political career. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler

Hitler’s love of music was intense, – fanatical even.

But as in painting, his taste  was limited  to a specific  type.
Wilhelm Furtwängler learned this to his shock at a long meeting with the Führer in  August  1933. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler (January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Furtwängler became one of the leading conductors in Europe, as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922, as principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1922–26, and as a major guest conductor of other leading orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic. He was the leading conductor who remained in Germany during the Second World War.


Music, Hitler left him in no  doubt, meant opera, and  opera  meant Wagner and Puccini.


Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924), generally known as Giacomo Puccini, was an Italian composer whose operas are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.
Puccini has been called “the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi”. While his early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera, he successfully developed his work in the ‘realistic’ verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.


Symphonies – initially – held little interest, and chamber  music  none  at  all. 

There  is  no  record  of  his ever  having  attended  a  chamber  concert  or a lieder recital.
His attendance at symphony concerts was increasingly rare as time passed and, when chancellor, he seldom  appeared  except  on  ceremonial  occasions. 

Hitler Listening to Records

He wanted music to be readily available, however, and after 1933 built  up a large collection of  phonograph  recordings at the Chancellery in Berlin, at the Berghof, on his  train and, later on, at his military  headquarters  on the Eastern front.

According to all accounts, these were outstanding  in  quality  and  quantity,  and  the  playing equipment  was  excellent. 
In  the  evenings  he  enjoyed hearing   short   excerpts and dramatic highlights of favourite  pieces.
Christa Schroeder

He  would  then  sit  back,’  according  to Christa Schroeder, and listen with his eyes closed.

Christa Schroeder (born Emilie Christine Schroeder; March 19, 1908 – June 18, 1984) was one of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s personal secretaries before and during World War II.

It was always the same recordings that  were  played,  and  usually  the  guests knew  the  number  of  the  record  by  heart. 
When  Hitler said,  for  example,  ‘Aida,  last  act: ‘The  fatal  stone  upon me now is closing’, then one of the guests would shout the  catalogue  number  to  a  member  of  the  household staff.

Record number one-hundred-whatever.
Aida – Giuseppe Verdi

’‘Before  long,’ according to Speer, ‘the  order of the re-cords became virtually fixed.

First he wanted a few bra-vura  selections  from  Wagnerian  operas,  to  be  followed promptly  with  operettas.’ 
All the while he would try to guess the  names of  the  singers  and, as Speer remarked, ‘was  pleased  when  he  guessed  right,  as  he frequently did’.

Aida – sometimes spelled Aïda – is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario often attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Aida was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871, conducted by Giovanni Bottesini.

Hitler was not genuinely fond of Beethoven and, as  time  passed,  his  attendance  at  performances  of  his symphonies was usually confined to official events.
This was  awkward. 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Traditionally  Germans  looked upon Beethoven   along   with   Goethe,   Rembrandt   and   Shakespeare as the supreme figures of modern Western culture. 

Unlike  the  others,  however,  Beethoven  was  never just  a  cultural  figure,  but  also  an  ideological  symbol,  invoked   by   every   political   movement.  
National Socialists, Rosenberg  in  particular,  claimed  the  composer  as  an Aryan  hero –  and  his  music  as  an elixir that would contribute to the nation’s renewal.

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works (including the celebrated Missa Solemnis), and songs.

In his speeches Hitler consequently felt obliged to give the composer his due, but his praise rarely rose above the perfunctory. 

Richard Wagner

So if Hitler had his Wagner, the Party had its Beethoven. 

When  Hitler  ‘entertained’  on  state  occasions,  Wagner  was  performed;  when  the  party  ‘entertained’  on  party  occasions  Beethoven  was  played. 
And played  he  was,  more  often  than  any  other  symphonic composer. 
His  works,  above  all  the  Ninth  Symphony, were  the  pre-eminent  musical  set  pieces  for  important occasions.
When Hitler wanted to impress state visitors, he  hauled  them  off  to  a  gala  performance  of  a  Wagnerian  opera. 
Miklós Horthy

In  1938,  anxious  to  gain  Hungarian  support for his impending dismemberment of Czechoslova-kia;  he  invited  the  Prince  Regent,  Admiral  Horthy, to make a state visit.

Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya (German: Nikolaus von Horthy und Nagybánya; 18 June 1868 – 9 February 1957) was regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the years between World Wars I and II and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. He was styled “His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary” (Ő Főméltósága a Magyar Királyság Kormányzója).

The social high point of the occasion was  a  stunning  performance  of  ‘Lohengrin’  –  a  rather tactless  choice  considering  the  opera  opens  with  a call to arms to defend Germany from the Hungarian invader.
The following year Prince Paul, Prince Regent of Yugoslavia,  was  invited  to  Berlin  for  similar  reasons, in  this case  the  imminent  invasion  of  Poland. 
He  was  treated to  the  happier  ‘Meistersinger  von  Nürnberg’. 

Adolf Hitler and Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (Павле Карађорђевић, – 27 April 1893 – 14 September 1976), was regent of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I. His title in Yugoslavia was “Његово Краљевско Височанство, Кнез Намесник”, (His Royal Highness The Prince Regent). In 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent 9 days in Berlin.

Hitler apparently believed that   outstanding   musical performances – like his  magnificent  works  of  architecture – would  leave  foreign  leaders  in  awe  of  the  greatness  of the Third Reich and incline them to support his policies.
Brahms  he  did  not  like. 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler

Hitler’s  admirers,  such as  Hans  Severus  Ziegler  and  Furtwängler,  traced  his antipathy  to  the  old  rivalry  between  the  Brahms  and Bruckner  camps  in  Vienna. 

Hans Severus Ziegler (13 October 1893 – 1 May 1978) was a German publicist, intendant, teacher and National Socialist Party official. A leading cultural director under the Nazis, he was closely associated with the censorship and cultural co-ordination of the Third Reich.
Ziegler played a leading role in promoting the Nazi vision of culture, particularly with regards to “degenerate” music. He was a strong critic of atonality, dismissing it as decadent “cultural Bolshevism”


In  an  attempt  to  have  him overlook  history,  and  concentrate  on  the  music,  they persuaded  him  to  attend  a  concert  of  the  Berlin  Philharmonic,  which  included  the  Brahm’s  Fourth  Symphony. 
But  when  he  blithely  commented  afterwards, ‘Well,  Furtwängler  is  such  a  good  conductor  that under such a baton even Brahms is impressive,’ they admitted defeat.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.
Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.


Richard Strauss

Unfortunately  the  record  is  silent  on  what  Hitler thought  of  Richard Strauss’s  operas,  or  even  which  ones  he knew.

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Death and Transfiguration’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘An Alpine Symphony’, and ‘Metamorphosen’. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.


Salome – Franz von Stuck
The story that Hitler begged money from relatives to  attend  the  Austrian  premiere  of  ‘Salome’  in  Graz  in May 1906, an event that also drew most of the eminent composers  of  the  day,  is possibly apocryphal.

Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer.
The opera is famous (at the time of its premiere, infamous) for its “Dance of the Seven Veils”. It is now better known for the more shocking final scene (often a concert-piece for dramatic sopranos), where Salome declares her love to – and kisses – the severed head of John the Baptist.


Not until after the Anschluss  in  1938  did  he  even  visit  the  Vienna.
Hitler  liked the  best known  operas  of  Verdi  and  Puccini. 
In  fact,  a performance  of  ‘Madama  Butterfly’  at  the  Berlin  Volksoper in 1937 left him so delighted that he decided then and there to donate 100,000 marks a year to the opera company.

Heinrich  Hoffmann

Even so, when once attending a performance of  ‘La  Boheme’,  what  he  talked  about  during  the  intermissions  was  Wagner  and  Bayreuth.

Otherwise  there were  few  if  any  non-German  composers  whose  works he  could  abide. 
According  to  Heinrich  Hoffmann,  he especially  disliked  Stravinsky  and  Prokofiev,  and  when Hoffmann’s   daughter,   Henriette   von   Schirach,   presented  him  with  a  recording  of  Tchaikovsky’s  Sixth Symphony, he brusquely refused to listen to it.

Heinrich Hoffmann (September 12, 1885 – December 11, 1957) was a German photographer best known for his many published photographs of Adolf Hitler.  Hoffmann married Therese “Lelly” Baumann, who was very fond of Hitler, in 1911, their daughter Henriette (“Henny”) was born on February 3, 1913 and followed by a son, Heinrich (“Heini”) on October 24, 1916. Henriette married Reichsjugendführer (National Hitler Youth commander) Baldur von Schirach, who provided introductions to many of Hoffmann’s picture books, in 1932. Therese Hoffmann died a sudden and unexpected death in 1928. Hoffmann and his second wife Erna introduced his Munich studio assistant Eva Braun to Hitler. Braun later became Hitler’s female companion.

Anton Brukner

Hitler liked his music to be melodic, euphonious and accessible.

Hitler’s    taste    underwent    several    significant changes,  however. 
During  most  of  his  life,  Bruckner held little appeal.

Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner’s compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.
Unlike other musical radicals, such as Richard Wagner or Hugo Wolf who fit the ‘enfant terrible‘ mould, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music.


Hoffmann did not so much as mention the  composer’s  name  when  once  identifying  Hitler’s favourites.
Even  after  becoming  chancellor,  Speer  noted, his interest ‘never seemed very marked’.
The composer had,  however,  symbolic  importance  to  him,  both  as  a ‘home town boy’ and as a rival to Brahms, so beloved in Vienna.
It  was  a  fixed  part  of  the  Nuremberg  rallies  for the cultural session to open with a movement of one of his  symphonies. 

Hitler at the Regensburg Valhalla

In  June  1937  he  was  famously  photographed  paying  his  respects  to  the  composer,  standing in  mute  homage  before  a  monument  at  ‘Valhalla  hall of   fame’   near   Regensburg   as   Siegmund   von Hausegger  and  the  Munich  Philharmonic  played the magnificent Adagio   of   the   Seventh   Symphony.   
Why  Hitler  staged  that  event  is  not  known. 

Speculation  has ranged from the theory that it was intended as a cultural precursor of the annexation of Austria the following year, to the notion that it was out of nostalgia for his ‘beautiful time  as  a  choirboy’  and Lembach Abbey – with  its  Bruckner associations.
Undoubtedly  the  Hitler  felt  a  personal   kinship.
Both   had   come   from   small   Austrian towns,  grew  up  in  modest  circumstances,  had  fathers who  died  at  an  early  age,  were  autodidacts,  and  made their way in life despite great obstacles.
On a number of occasions   he   contrasted   the   Austrian   Catholic Bruckner,  whom  the  Viennese  shunned,  to  the north   German   Protestant   Brahms,   whom   they idolized. 
Then,  suddenly  in  1940  he  developed  a passion   for   Bruckner’s   symphonies.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

He   even began  mentioning  him  in  the  same  breath  with  Wagner.

He told me,’ Goebbels noted in his diary, ‘… that it was only now during the war, that he had learned to like him  at  all.’ 
The  enthusiasm  steadily  grew.

Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers.

By 1942  he  placed  Bruckner  on  a  level  with  Beethoven, and categorized the former’s Seventh Symphony as ‘one   of   the   most   splendid   manifestations   of German   musical   creativity,   the   equivalent   of Beethoven’s   Ninth’.
His   feelings   about   Bruckner,  man  and  composer,  are  best  conveyed  by  remarks  he  made  after  listening  to  a  recording  of  the first   movement   of   the  Seventh  at  his  military headquarters in January 1942:
‘Those  are  pure  popular  melodies  from  Upper Austria,  nothing  taken  over  literally  but   ländler  and  so  on  that  I  know  from  my youth. What the man made out of this primitive material ! In this case it was a priest who deserves well for having supported a great master.

Bruckner Organ – St Florian 

The bishop  of  Linz  sat  for hours  alone  in  the  cathedral  when  Bruckner,  the greatest organist of his time, played the organ.

One can imagine how difficult it was for a small peasant lad when he  went  to  Vienna,  that  urbanized,  debauched  society.
A  remark  by  him  about  Brahms,  which  a  newspaper recently  carried,  brought  him  closer  to  me:  Brahms’s music  is  quite  lovely,  but  he  preferred  his  own. 
That  is the healthy selfconfidence of a peasant who is modest but  when  it  came  down  to  it  knew  how  to  promote  a cause  when  it  was  his  own. 
That  critic  Hanslick  made his  life  in  Vienna  hell.
But  when  he  could  no  longer  be ignored,  he  was  given  honours  and  awards.
But  what could  he  do  with  those? 
It  was  his  creative activity that should have been made easier.
Brahms  was  praised  to  the  heavens.’
From  then  on  Hitler  did  everything  possible  to  promote Bruckner  and  to  enlist  him  in  his  vendetta  against Vienna.
St  Florian,  where  the  composer’s  career  had  begun, was to be turned into a pilgrimage site in the manner  of  Bayreuth.
He  wants  to  establish  a  new  cultural centre  here,’  Goebbels  noted.  ‘Simply  as  a  counter-weight to Vienna, which must gradually be shoved aside .  .  .  .  He  intends  to  renovate  St  Florian  at  his  own  expense.
Accordingly, Hitler financed a centre of Bruckner studies  there,  had  the  famous  organ  repaired  and  augmented  the  composer’s  library.
He  even  designed  a monument in his honour to stand in Linz, and endowed a Bruckner  Orchestra  which  he  was  determined  to  make one of the world’s best.
The publication of the Haas edition  of  the  composer’s  original  scores  was  subsidized from  his  own  funds.
And  he  dreamed  of  constructing a bell tower in Linz with a carillon that would play a theme from the Fourth Symphony.

Franz Lehar

An even more startling transformation in Hitler’s musical  taste  was  a  growing  passion  for  operetta,  in particular Franz Lehar’s  ‘Die lustige Witwe’

Franz Lehár (30 April 1870 – 24 October 1948) was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).
Hitler enjoyed Lehár’s music, and hostility diminished across Germany after Goebbels’s intervention on Lehár’s part. The National Socialist regime was aware of the uses of Lehár’s music for propaganda purposes: concerts of his music were given in occupied Paris in 1941. Even so, Lehár’s influence was limited.

‘Die lustige Witwe’ is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen’s attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L’attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its 1905 premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. Well-known music from the score includes the “Vilja Song”, “Da geh’ ich zu Maxim” (“You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s”), and the “Merry Widow Waltz”.



.

There was a remarkable  irony  in  this.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’

Although  Hitler  almost  always avoided  mentioning  the  names  of  contemporary  composers  and  their  works,  in  speeches  in  1920  and  1922 he  singled  out  ‘Die lustige Witwe’   as  a  pre-eminent  example  of  artistic  kitsch.

There  is  no  way  of  knowing when he changed his mind.
But some time in the 1930s that very opera became one of his favourites.
He never missed   a   new   production   of   either   that   or   Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’,  and  drew  large  sums  from  his private  account  for  lavish  new  stagings.

Johann Strauss II (October 25, 1825 – June 3, 1899), also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son (German: Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 400 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as “The Waltz King”, and was largely then responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.
Among his operettas, ‘Die Fledermaus’ and ‘Der Zigeunerbaron’ are the best known.

Eventually  Hitler  came  to  revere  Lehar  as  one of  the  greatest  of  composers.

Reichskulturkammer
Reich  Culture  Chamber – RKK
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

So thrilled was he upon meeting the composer in 1936 at a session  of  the Reichskulturkammer that  he  talked about  the  experience  for  days  afterwards.

The Reichskulturkammer (RKK) (“Reich Chamber of Culture”) was an institution in the Third Reich. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the ‘Gleichschaltung’ (meaning “coordination”, “making the same”, “bringing into line”) process at the instigation of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Defying the claims raised by the German Labour Front (DAF) under rival Robert Ley, it was designed to control the cultural life in Germany, promoting art created by “Aryans”, and seen as consistent with National Socialist ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an ‘Aryan certificate’.

The RKK was affiliated with the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with its seat in Berlin and was headed by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The  importance  of  Lehar’s  music  in  the  last  years  of  his  life  was evident  when  he  celebrated  his  birthday  in  1943  by treating  himself,  and  his  guests,  to  a  recording  of  ‘Die lustige Witwe’.

Clearly Hitler had a keen ear, but how much did he actually know about music ?
He possessed a powerful memory, and in fields that interested him he  often  befuddled  specialists  with  his  detailed,  even expert,  knowledge.
In  fact,  confounding  professionals, and  showing  off  to  his  entourage,  gave  him  wicked pleasure, and those around him occasionally suspected that he boned up on a topic only to bring the conversation round to it so that he could exhibit his ‘extraordinary knowledge’.

Richard Strauss

After  the  Viennese  premiere  of  Richard Strauss’s  ‘Friedenstag’,  Hitler  gave  a  reception  for the artists  at  which,  according  to  one  account,  ‘He  showed an  astonishing  array  of  musical  knowledge,  and  was able, for example, to remind Hans Hotter of what he had been  singing  ten  years  previously: 

“Isn’t  Scarpia  too high for you? That G-flat in Act II?”’
While confirming the story,  Hotter  commented  that  it  was  difficult  to  draw much  of  a  conclusion  from  it. 
Hitler  had  an  exception-ally good memory.
According to the nature of an event – in this case music – he would prepare himself by reading relevant  literature  and  surprise  everybody  by  his  insider’s knowledge.’

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Tod und Verklärung’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘Eine Alpensinfonie’  and Metamorphosen. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.

Friedenstag (Peace Day) is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss, his Opus 81, to a German libretto by Joseph Gregor. 
The opera was premiered at Munich on 24 July 1938 and dedicated to Viorica Ursuleac and her husband Clemens Krauss, the lead and conductor respectively. Strauss had intended ‘Friedenstag’ as part of a double-bill, to be conducted by Karl Böhm in Dresden, that would include as the second part his next opera ‘Daphne’.

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Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler
Bayreuth

Most accounts of his musical expertise relate to his   knowledge   of   Wagnerian   opera. 

Typical   was   a comment of Winifred Wagner (see above) who, as her secretary recorded,  ‘could  not  stop  raving  about  what  an  attentive listener  he  is  and  how  well  he  knows  the  works,  above all musically’.

Heinz Tietjen 
In the same vein, Heinz Tietjen remarked that  he  was  ‘amazed’  at  how  well  the  Führer  knew Wagner’s scores, citing as an example Hitler’s comment after  a  performance  that  the  oboe  had  not  played quite in  tune.
And  I  had  to  acknowledge  he  was  right,’  the impresario  said.

Heinz Tietjen (June 24, 1881 – November 30, 1967) was a German conductor and music producer.
Tietjen was the director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin between 1925 and 1927, then director of the Prussian State Theatre. From 1931 to 1944, he served as artistic director at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus for Winifred Wagner with whom he had a romantic liaison

Baldur von Schirach

More  convincing  are  the  comments  of Baldur von Schirach.

Writing after he had served twenty years in Spandau, he cannot be suspected of gilding the lily.
He  recalled  a  performance  of  ‘Die  Walküre’,  which Hitler had attended in Weimar in 1925.
Schirach’s father was managing director of the opera house and, after the performance,  Hitler  was  introduced  to him and went on at  great  length  about  what he had seen and heard in a way  that  demonstrated  he  really  knew  his  Wagner.
He compared the production with those he had attended in Vienna  as  a  young  man,  naming  singers  and  conductors,  and  so  impressed  the  elder  Schirach  that  he  was invited  home  to  tea.
After  he  left,  Schirach  père  was said  to  have  commented:
In  all  my  life  I  never  met  a layman  who  understood  so  much  about  music,  Wagner’s in particular.’

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (9 May 1907 – 8 August 1974) was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of crimes against humanity. He was the head of the Hitler-Jugend (HJ, the “Hitler Youth”) and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter (“Reich Governor”) of Vienna. Schirach was born in Berlin, the youngest of four children of theatre director Rittmeister Carl Baily Norris von Schirach (1873–1948) and his American wife Emma Middleton Lynah Tillou (1872–1944). Through his mother, Schirach descended from two signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence. He had two sisters, Viktoria and Rosalind von Schirach, and a brother, Karl Benedict von Schirach, who committed suicide in 1919 at the age of 19.
Schirach joined a Wehrjugendgruppe (military cadet group) at the age of 10 and became a member of the NSDAP in 1925. He was soon transferred to Munich and in 1929 became leader of the Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Students’ League). In 1931 he was a Reichsjugendführer (youth leader) in the NSDAP and in 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) and given an SA rank of Gruppenführer. He was made a state secretary in 1936.

Albert Speer

To this account, Speer added that at his  fiftieth  birthday  celebration  in  1939  Hitler  had  been particularly  excited  by  a  gift  of  some  of  Wagner’s original  scores  and,  as  he  leafed  through  that  of  Götterdämmerung, ‘showed  sheet  after  sheet  to  the  assembled guests, making knowledgeable comments

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer –  March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931, launching him on a political and governmental career which lasted fourteen years. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle. Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held. Speer also made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.

Which  were  Hitler’s  favourite  operas ?
Despite  the poverty of his Vienna years, he managed to attend ‘Tristan  und  Isolde’  alone  thirty  or  forty  times,  and  in the course  of  his  life  heard  it,  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’,  probably  a  hundred  times.

‘Tristan  und  Isolde’

‘Tristan und Isolde’ is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama. a plot or an action).
Wagner’s composition of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, ‘Tristan’ was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.



Joachim C. Fest
Otto Dietrich

According  to  his  press  chief, Otto Dietrich,  he  knew  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  by  heart  and  could hum or whistle all its themes.

‘Lohengrin’ no doubt held a special place in his heart.
According to Fest, Hitler considered  the  final  scene  of  ‘Götterdämmerung’  to  be  ‘the summit  of  all  opera’.

Joachim Clemens Fest (8 December 1926 – 11 September 2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer.

He  further  cites  Speer  as  having told him,
In Bayreuth, whenever the citadel of the gods collapsed  in  flames  amid  the  musical  uproar,  in  the darkness  of  the  loge  he  would  take  the  hand  of  Frau Wagner, sitting next to him, and in deep emotion bestow a kiss upon it.
Be that as it may, it was ‘Tristan and Isolde’ that meant  most  to  him.
After  listening one evening in 1942 to  a  recording  of  the  ‘Prelude  and  Liebestod’,  he  com-mented, ‘Well, ‘Tristan’ was his greatest work.

Festung Landsberg 
Christa  Schroeder and Adolf Hitler

According to Christa  Schroeder, the  ‘Liebestod’  moved  him  so deeply  that  he  said  he  wished  to  hear  it  at  the  time  of his death.

And in a letter from Landsberg prison in 1924 he  wrote  that  he  often  ‘dreamed  of  Tristan’.
At  a  1938 Bayreuth  performance  Winifred  observed, 
He  is  over-joyed   at   each   beautiful   passage   that   he   especially loves;  then  his  face  just  shines.’ 
There  is  no  way of knowing whether it was the eroticism, the sense of longing, the triumph of sensuality over reason that – in contrast  to  his  own  repressed  sexual  instincts – appealed to him.
Possibly it was the cult of the night or the tragic end.
Maybe just the music.

Tannhäuser and Venus – Otto Knille

‘Tannhäuser’ engaged him less, and he was long familiar  only  with  the  composer’s  earliest  score,  the so-called  ‘Dresden  Version’. 

At  some  point  in  the  1930s he heard the later ‘Paris Version’, and was so taken with it that he ordered Goebbels and Goring to permit only that score  to  be  performed. 
Despite the fact that Hitler seemed to favour ‘Tristan’ the most significant of Wagner’s works for Hitler, despite his comments about ‘Tristan’ and  ‘Götterdämmerung’, was ‘Parsifal’ – and that  was  the  reason  he wanted  Roller  to  re-stage  it  at  Bayreuth.
Alfred Roller – ‘Parsifal’ – 1934

And  this  elucidates  Hans  Frank’s  story  that,  while  riding  on  his train through  the  Rhineland  in  1936,  Hitler  asked  to  have played  for  him  a  recording  of  Karl  Muck’s  performance of the Parsifal Vorspiel.

Afterwards, in a deeply contemplative mood, he  remarked, ‘Out of Parsifal  I  shall  make  for  myself  a  religion,  religious  service in solemn form without theological disputation.’ 
He recalled that the Vienna opera archive  held  sketches  of  Roller’s  1914  production  and he  commended  these  as  models  for  producers. 
Not waiting  for  the  final  victory,  Goebbels  passed  on  the word  to  his  ministerial  officials  with  instructions  to  have photographs  of  the  Roller  sketches  circulated  to  every opera  house.  Managers  were  informed  that  any  future staging  of  the  work  was  to  follow  the  Roller  model and ‘was no longer to be done in the Byzantine-sacred style that was common up to then’.

For Hitler the Gnostic themes of the Grail Quest, and the cosmic struggle between Light and Darkness were perfectly portrayed in ‘Parsifal’.
Being an occult initiate, Hitler was aware of the Gnostic message behind “the externals of the story, with its Christian embroidery… the real message was pure, noble blood, in whose protection and glorification the brotherhood of the initiated have come together.”




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Adolf Hitler’s Interpretation of Parsifal


  “I have built up my religion out of Parsifal.  Divine worship in solemn form … without pretenses of humility … One can serve God only in the garb of the hero”  


                     ‘What is celebrated in Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ is not the Christian religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood, – blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard.
The king (Amfortas) then suffers an incurable sickness, caused by his tainted blood.
Then the unknowing but pure human being (Parsifal) is led into temptation, either to submit to the frenzy and to the delights of a corrupt civilisation in Klingsor’s magic garden, or to join the select band of knights who guard the secret of life, which is pure blood itself.
All of us suffer the sickness of miscegenated, corrupted blood.
Note how the compassion that leads to knowledge applies only to the man who is inwardly corrupt, to the man of contradictions.
And Eternal life, as vouchsafed by the Grail, is only granted to those who are truly pure and noble !

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Only a new nobility can bring about the new culture.
If we discount everything to do with poetry, it is clear that elitism and renewal exist only in the continuing strain of a lasting struggle.
A divisive process is taking place in terms of world history.
The man who sees the meaning of life in conflict will gradually mount the stairs of a new aristocracy.
He who desires the dependent joys of peace and order will sink back down to the unhistorical mass, no matter what his provenance.
But the mass is prey to decay and self-disintegration.
At this turning- point in the world’s revolution the mass is the sum of declining culture and its moribund representatives.
They should be left to die, together with all kings like Amfortas.’

“The old beliefs will be brought back to honor again.
The whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the demonic.
We will wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race.”

Adolf Hitler


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It has sometimes been assumed that Hitler was attracted  to  Wagner’s  works  because  of  the  plots,  with their  classic  conflict  between  the  outsider  and  a  rigid social  order,  their  lonely  heroes  and  dark  villains,  their Nordic myths and Germanic legends.
However, (apart from ‘Parsifal’ – see above) there is no  record  of  any  comment  on  how  he  interpreted  the works,  or  whether  he  saw  in  them  any  ideological  message  – much  less  whether  he  envisaged  himself  as  Lohengrin, Siegmund, Siegfried, Wotan or any other Wagnerian  character.

‘Nordic Dreams’
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Rheintöchter
Woglinde, Wellgunde undFloßhilde
 ‘Das Rheingold’

It  was  the  music  that  moved  him.
When I hear Wagner it seems to me like the rhythms of the  primeval  world,’  he  said.  ‘And  I  could  imagine that science  will  one  day  find  measures  of  creation  in  the proportions of the physically perceptible vibrations of the Rheingold  music.’ 

Perhaps  he  was  trying  to  say  what Thomas  Mann  wrote  in  ‘Dr  Faustus’  –  that  the  elements of music are the first and simplest materials of the world, and make music one with the world, that ‘the beginning of  all  things  had  its  music’. 
Christa Schroeder recalled his saying that ‘Wagner’s musical language sounded  in  his  ear  like  a  revelation  of  the  divine’.
The vocabulary  suggests  that  the  feelings  conjured  by  the operas  may  have  filled  the  void left by the conventional Catholic religious belief  he  lost,  or  never  really  had – and it is quite clear that Hitler saw ‘Parsifal’ in religious terms. 
In  one  of  his  earliest speeches  he  made  the  revealing  comment  that  in  their way  Wagner’s  works  were  holy,  that  they  offered  ‘exaltation and liberation from all the wretchedness and misery  as  well  as  all  the  decadence  that  prevails’,  and  that they lift one ‘up into the pure air’.
If escape and purification were part of the appeal, the operas also responded to  that  proclivity  for  the  overwhelming,  the  oceanic,  the romantic,  the  orgasmic  that  was  evident  in  his  public rallies, parades and spectacles.
Like Wagner himself, Hitler believed that music fully  realized  itself  only  when  it  fused  with  other  arts  in visible form on stage.

National  Theatre Weimar
National  Theatre Weimar

And, like Wagner, his interest extended  to  virtually  every  aspect  of  operatic  production, 

down  to  the  fabric  and  design  of  the  theatre  itself. 
He was  fascinated  by  backstage  operations,  including  the functioning  of  stage  machinery.  During  his  visit  to  Weimar in 1925, he asked to go behind the stage at the National  Theatre.  Schirach  was  with  him  at  the  time  and later remarked, ‘He was familiar with all sorts of lighting systems  and  could  discourse  in  detail  on  the  proper  illumination  for  certain  scenes.’

Berghof 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler recalled  taking  a walk with Hitler one night at the Berghof,  when  the  moon  suddenly  appeared  from  behind  a cloud and lit the surrounding meadow.

Hitler stopped in his  tracks  and  launched  into  a  discussion  of  the  colour of light necessary to achieve verisimilitude for moonlight on a stage, as in the concluding scene of the second act of  ‘Die  Meistersinger’.
He  was  insistent  that  it  should  be white;  but  ‘it  is  often  greenish  or  blueish  and  that  is wrong’, he complained. ‘That is just Romantic kitsch.
Already  in  his  youth  Hitler  had  made  sketches of  Wagnerian  stage  sets  that  he  imagined  or  actually saw. 
Although  a  drawing  of  Siegfried  holding  a  raised sword  is  a  Kujau  forgery,  several  authentic  sketches survive.
Alfred Roller – ‘Tristan und Isolde’
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Among  them  is  one  of  the  second  act  of  ‘Lohengrin’; others include his rendering of the second and third  acts  of  the  famous  1903  Mahler-Roller  production of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, which he had attended in Vienna.

This interest in stage design increased after he became chancellor,  and  reached  such  a  level  that  it was  common  knowledge  that  the  best  way  to  get  an appointment   with   him,   which   otherwise   might   take months,  was  to  let  him  know  that  you  had  photos  of a new  staging  of  an  operetta  or  opera,  particularly  Wagnerian.
An  invitation  was  almost  certain  to  follow,  and then  Hitler  would  spend  countless  hours  studying  the pictures.
Most of all he relished working with Benno von Arent,  and  together  they  designed  several  productions that he commissioned and paid for with his private funds – among them, ‘Lohengrin’ in 1935 at the German Opera in Berlin, ‘Rienzi’ in 1939 at the Dietrich Eckart Open Air Theatre  in  Berlin  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  in  1934,  and later  years  at  the  Nuremberg  opera  in  connection  with the party rally.

Benno von Arent

Benno von Arent (19 July 1898 – 14 October 1956) was a member of the National Socialist Party and SS, responsible for art, theatres, movies etc.
Arent was born in Görlitz, Prussia, on 19 July 1898. Self-taught, after various apprentice positions he obtained his first theater job in Berlin in 1923 and became a stage designer. He joined the SS in 1931 and the NSDAP in 1932. The same year, he was one of the founders of the “Bund nationalsozialistischer Bühnen- und Filmkünstler” (“Union of national-socialist stage and movie artists”), which was renamed “Kameradschaft deutscher Künstler” (“fellowship of German artists”) after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
Arent was appointed “Reichsbühnenbildner” (“Reich stage designer”) in 1936 and “Reichsbeauftragter für die Mode” (“Reich agent for fashion”) in 1939. He designed the diplomatic uniform of the Nazi diplomatic service. In 1944, he was given the rank of SS-Oberführer.
He is listed under ‘Kunstlerische Mitarbeiter’ in the 1938-39 catalog issued by Porzellan-Manufaktur Allach, Munich.

Speer recalled:
At the chancellery Hitler once sent up to his bedroom for neatly  executed  stage  designs,  coloured  with  crayons, for  all  the  acts  of  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’;  these  were to  be given  to  Arent  to  serve  as  an  inspiration. 
Another time he gave Arent a series of sketches for all the scenes of ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’.
At lunch he told us with great satisfaction  that  for  three  weeks  he  had  sat  up  over these, night after night.
This surprised me the more because  at  this  particular  time  Hitler’s  daily  schedule  was unusually  heavy  with  visitors,  speeches,  sight-seeing and other public activities.
Undoubtedly,  Arent’s  work  reflected  Hitler’s  taste.

His setting for the second act of ‘Tristan’, for example, was similar to  Roller’s  Vienna  staging  that  Hitler adored.’ 

The  main  trait  of  the  Hitler-Arent  style  was,  as Speer  phrased  it,  ‘smashing  effects’,  and  Arent’s  productions  were  smashing.
Gigantic  choruses  and  parades, huge casts of extras and glitzy costumes characterized   ‘Lohengrin’   and   ‘Rienzi’. 
But   the   Hitler-Arent chef-d’oeuvre  was  their  1934  joint  production  of  ‘Die Meistersinger’.
This  culminated  in  a  third-act  meadow scene staged in the manner of a Nuremberg party rally, with  massed  banners  and  martial  chorus.
No  detail  of the production escaped Hitler’s eye.
He fretted over the moonlight scene in the second act and went into ecstasies  over  the  brilliant  colours  he  wanted  for  the  final scene  on  the  Mastersingers’  meadow,  and  over  the  romantic  look  of  the  little  gabled  houses  opposite  Hans Sachs’s  cobbler’s  shop.

Meistersingers – 1934

So proud of it was he that he sent it on tour – from Nuremberg  to  the  German  Opera  in  Berlin  in  1935,  then  to Munich  in  1936,  Danzig  in  1938,  Weimar  in  1939  and Linz in 1941.

It even enjoyed a measure of resurrection after  the  war  when  the  costumes  were  used  in 1951 at the Bayreuth Festival, then too impoverished to afford to make its own.
Hitler’s adulation of Wagner-the-composer probably developed   into   veneration   of   Wagner-the-man   rather quickly.
Except  for  Frederick  the  Great  and  Bismarck, on no other person did he lavish such repeated and fulsome praise.
‘I must be frank to say that Richard Wagner’s  personality  meant  more  to  me  than  Goethe’s,’ he remarked  on  one  occasion. 
The  Führer  talks  to  me  of Richard  Wagner,  he  reveres  him  and  knows  of  no  one like  him,’  Goebbels  once  recorded.
He  even  managed to  introduce Wagner’s  name  into  his  1923  putsch  attempt, telling  the  court  at  his  trial  that  he  had  been  partly  inspired  by  the  composer’s  example  of  preferring  deeds to words.

Wagner’s  Grave 

‘When  I  stood  at  Wagner’s  grave  for  the  first  time  my heart  just  overflowed  with  pride  that  here  rested  a man who  would  not  permit  the  inscription  on  his  tombstone: ‘Here  lies  Privy  Counsellor,  Music  Director,  His  Excellency Baron Richard von Wagner’.

I was proud that this man,  like  many  men  in  German  history,  was content to leave his name to posterity not a title.’

Emil Ludwig

In  the  early  1930s  it  was  being  argued that Wagner did not simply enchant Hitler with his music and  inspire  his  anti-Semitism,  stagecraft  and  political ideas,  but  also  that  he  helped  to  create  the  very  ideological  atmosphere  that  put  him  in  power.

Of  all  German  creative  figures,  Wagner is the real father of the current German state of mind,’ wrote Emil Ludwig.
It was not by chance, he went on, that Hitler was a Wagnerian. 
The  two  men  were  personally  alike. Moreover,  they  worked  the  same  material.
The  composer  took  the  German  sagas  just  as  they  were.  ‘Such  were  the  ideals  that  Wagner proffered  the  German  people.
But  it  was  not  just  the stories and the ‘musical sound’ that created a mood of ‘mystical rapture’ but also his use of  the  German  language. 
‘Only  Hitler’s  prose  could compete with his,

‘Lohengrin’
Thomas Mann

These  were  themes  developed  in  later years by Thomas Mann.

The novelist was scarcely less smitten by Wagner than was Hitler himself.
He too as a youth had haunted his local opera house, and ‘Lohengrin’ had  also  been  the  first  of  the  Master’s  operas  he  had attended.
Mann  spoke  of  the  composer  as  his  ‘starkstes,  bestimmendes  Erlebnis’,  his  strongest  and  most formative experience.
From the beginning to the end of his life he was enthralled by the music, and bewitched by the man. Wagner was the subject, or important theme, of nearly a dozen essays, any number of letters and countless  diary  entries.
But  while  Hitler admired everything  he  knew  about  the  composer’s  life,  character,  ideology  and  musical  creation,  Mann  was  in someways ambivalent  about  them.
Mann’s most important commentary on Wagner was an address to the Goethe Society of Munich in February 1933 on the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death.
Entitled ‘The Sufferings and Greatness of Richard Wagner’, it was a deeply searching and astute treatment of  Wagner’s  place  in  European  culture.
The  fruit  of years  of  thought,  it  placed  the  composer  among  the greatest of artistic figures.
In 1937  Mann  noted  in  his  diary  that on the  one  hand  that  he  found  ‘elements  of  a  frightening  quality’  in  a  poem  Wagner  had  written  for Cosima,  and  on  the  other  that  he  had  listened  to  a  re-cording of ‘Die Walkure’ ‘with admiration’.

Joachim C. Fest 

According  to  Joachim C. Fest  ‘the youthful Hitler succumbed  to  the  music  of  Richard  Wagner  .  …  The charged  emotionality  of  this  music  seemed  to  have served him as a means for self hypnosis, while he found in its lush air of luxury the necessary ingredients for escapist fantasy . . . . ‘    Hitler himself in fact later declared that with the exception  of  Richard  Wagner  he  had  ‘no  forerunners’, and  by  Wagner  he  meant  not  only  the  composer  but Wagner  the  personality,  ‘the  greatest  prophetic  figure the German people has had’ . . . . The points of contact between  the  two  temperaments  –  all  the  more  marked because  the  young  painter  consciously  modelled himself after his hero – produce a curious sense of family resemblance.  

Joachim Clemens Fest (8 December 1926 – 11 September 2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance. He was a leading figure in the debate among German historians about the Nazi period.

The  style  of  public  ceremonies  in  the  Third Reich is inconceivable without Wagner’s operatic tradition,  without  the  essentially  demagogical  art  of  Richard Wagner – for the ‘Master of Bayreuth’ was not only Hitler’s great  exemplar,  he  was  also  the  young  man’s  ideological  mentor.

Wagner’s  political  writings  were  some of Hitler’s  favourite reading, and his style unmistakably  influenced Hitler’s own grammar and syntax.
Those  political  writings,  together  with  the  operas, form much of the framework for Hitler’s ideology . . . . Here he  found  the  ‘granite  foundations’  for  his  view  of the world.
Nothing  could  have  symbolized  the  association  more provocatively  than  the  opening  scene  of  Hans  Jürgen Syberberg’s 1977 film, ‘Hitler’, in which the dictator rises ectoplasmically  out  of  Wagner’s  Bayreuth  grave.

‘Hitler: A Film from Germany’
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (born 8 December 1935) is a German film director, whose best known film is his lengthy feature, ‘Hitler: A Film from Germany’. Born in Nossendorf, Pomerania, the son of an estate owner, Syberberg lived until 1945 in Rostock and Berlin. In 1952 and 1953 he created his first 8 mm takes of rehearsals by the Berliner Ensemble. In 1953 he moved to West Germany, where he in 1956 began studies in literature and art history, completing them the following year.
He earned his doctorate in Munich. For Syberberg, cinema is a form of Gesamtkunstwerk. Many commentators, including Syberberg himself, have characterized his work as a cinematic combination of Bertolt Brecht’s doctrine of epic theatre and Richard Wagner’s operatic aesthetics. Well known philosophers and intellectuals have written about his work, including Susan Sontag, Gilles Deleuze and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe.

Syberberg – Parsifal
Syberberg – Parsifal

In 1975 Syberberg released ‘Winifried Wagner und die Geschichte des Hauses Wahnfried von 1914-1975’ – a documentary about Winifred Wagner, wife of Richard Wagner’s son Siegfried. The documentary attracted attention because it exposed Winifred’s  admiration for Adolf Hitler. The film thus proved an embarrassment to the Wagner family and the Bayreuth Festival (which she had run from 1930 until the end of the Second World War).
Syberberg is also noted for an acclaimed visual interpretation of the Wagner opera ‘Parsifal’ in 1982.

What  Hitler  admired  in  the  composer  was what  he  admired  in  his  other  heroes,  courage. 
In  a speech  in  1923  he  defined  the  vital  quality  of  human greatness  as  ‘the heroic’ and attributed it to three men: Luther,  Frederick  the  Great  and  Wagner  –  the  reformer because  he  possessed  the  courage  to  stand  alone against the world, the king because he never lost courage  when his lot appeared hopeless and the composer, because  he  had  the  courage  to  struggle  in  solitude.
Each had fought, had fought alone and had fought ‘like a  titan’.
As  a  desperately  lonely  and  friendless  figure  in his  early  days,  Hitler  must  have  seen  his  own  situation mirrored  in  such  struggles.
Wagner  was  thus  a  symbol or, better, a model of someone who believed in his destiny and let nothing deter him from it.
It was no doubt in this  sense  that  he  considered  the  composer,  in  the oft cited phrase, his only forebear.

Wolfgang Wagner – Adolf Hitler – Wieland Wagner
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Apart from his remarks about ‘Parsifal’, Hitler  never  ascribed  any  of  his views to Wagner, not in ‘Mein Kampf’, his speeches, articles  or  recorded  private  conversations. 
However,  there  are  many obvious parallels in outlook –  anti-Semitism, Hellenism, the belief that culture was the ‘summum bonum‘ of a civilization, the notion that the arts should never be hostage  to  commerce,  and  the  like.

Certainly  Wagner’s  pamphlet ‘Judentum  in  der  Musik’  resonates  in  Hitler’s  claim  that  Jews lack artistic creativity.

“Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), is an essay by Richard Wagner which attacks Jews in general, and the composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn in particular. It was published under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (NZM) of Leipzig in September 1850 and was reissued, in a greatly expanded version, under Wagner’s name in 1869. It is regarded by some as an important landmark in the history of German anti-Semitism.

Some critics point out that Wagner’s opposition to Jews was not limited to his articles, and that the operas contained such messages. In particular the characters of Mime in the ‘Ring’, Klingsor in ‘Parsifal’ and Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger’ appear to be Jewish stereotypes, although none of them are identified as Jews in the libretto. 

Dietrich Eckart



However, at no time did he ever trace his anti-Semitism to the composer, not even in his 1920 speech ‘Warum sind wir Antisemiten ?’ (Why  are  We  Anti-Semites?),  in  which  he  expounded his views for the first time in public.
This is not surprising, as his ‘doctrinal’ anti-Semitism, was based on Gnostic and occult teachings, originating with Dietrich Eckart.

Kubizek does say, however,that  the  youthful  Hitler was said  to  have  read  every  biography,  letter,  essay,  diary and other scrap by and about his hero that he could lay his  hands  on.
So we are left with the apprehension that Wagner, and in particular his Bühnenweihfestspiel ‘Parsifal’, was a seminal influence on Adolf Hitler.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
PARSIFAL and the THIRD REICH


Wagner Geburthaus – Leipzig

On January 13, 1933 the newly-elected National Socialist Party celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Richard Wagner’s death by staging a grandiose memorial ceremony in Leipzig, the composer’s birthplace.
Adolf Hitler invited Siegfried Wagner’s widow, the English-born Winifred, and her son Wieland to be guests of honor at this event.
This tribute by Hitler was the continuation of a deep friendship that had begun in 1923 between the Führer and the Wagner family, forging a link between the new Germany and the country’s most revered composer.
Within weeks of becoming Chancellor of Germany, Hitler had appropriated Wagner and made him the Reich’s great beacon.
Each summer, from 1933 to 1939, Hitler attended the Bayreuth Festival, and he made the Wagner estate, Wahnfried, his second home.
Because she had been one of his earliest supporters, Hitler had great affection for Winifred. Hitler repaid the Wagner family gratitude by pledging his undying friendship, and his deepest devotion to Richard Wagner and Bayreuth.

‘Parsifal’ – Gralsburg – Paul von Joukowsky
Paul von Joukowsky

With the assistance of Dr. Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s untiring propaganda minister, Richard Wagner became the legendary and ideological voice of the new party, and the musical standard by which all classical composers would, from now on, be judged.
Around the time that Hitler came to power, the Bayreuth ‘holy of holies‘ still existed: the original Paul von Joukowsky (1845-1912) sets used at the premiere of Parsifal.
They were still in use at the Festspielhaus even though they were falling apart and were dangerous to the singers.

Emil Preetorius

Realistically, the time had come to replace the production, and the logical person to design the sets would be Emil Preetorius.

The stage designer Emil Preetorius (1883-1973) was born in Mainz and was one of the most important stage designers of the first half of the 20th century.
He studied law and art history in Giessen and in 1909 he co-founded a school of illustration and the book trade in Munich together with Paul Renner. In 1928 Preetorius became a professor at the Munich “Hochschule für Bildende Künste”.
He became the head of scenery for the Bayreuth “Festspiele” in 1932. During the 1930s Emil Preetorius’s scenes, such as the rock of the Valkyrie for the “Ring des Niebelungen”, were among the most important and influential designs for Richard Wagner’s works.

A petition began circulating against this decision, after all, this was the scenery “on which the eyes of the Master had reposed,” and the conservative faction at Bayreuth believed that the scenery needed to be kept and revered like a holy icon.
Over a thousand signatures were collected, including those of Arturo Toscanini and Richard Strauss.
Winifred Wagner sent the petition to Hitler along with a pamphlet accusing Preetorius of being “un-German” and “under Jewish influence.”


Gralsburg – Alfred Roller – 1934
Gralsburg – Alfred Roller – 1934

Hitler, on the other hand, favored a new Bayreuth production of Parsifal, and selected Alfred Roller to design it.
The Führer was a great admirer of Roller’s work in Vienna.
Following all the controversy,. Alfred Roller’s production premiered in 1934.
There were, however,only a few changes to the overall designs that had originated with Paul von Joukowsky.
The temple cupola in the second scene of Act One disappeared, and this made many conservatives very disappointed.
Winifred once again appealed to Hitler that there should be yet another new production of ‘Parsifal’.

‘Parsifal’ – Gralsburg – Wieland Wagner 1937
Wieland Wagner

Hitler agreed, and suggested that Wieland Wagner design the new sets.
Hitler had always revered Siegfried’s son because he was a direct descendant of the Master. Once the war began, Hitler gave orders that Wieland should be permanently exempt from military service.
Young Wieland therefore designed the sets for the 1937 ‘Parsifal’.

Wieland was the elder of two sons of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, grandson of composer Richard Wagner, and great-grandson of composer Franz Liszt through Wieland’s paternal grandmother.
In 1941, he married the dancer and choreographer Gertrude Reissinger. They had four children Iris (b. 1942), Wolf-Siegfried (b. 1943), Nike (b. 1945) and Daphne (b. 1946).
Winifred Wagner’s close friendship with Hitler meant that, as a teenager and young man, Wieland knew the dictator as “Uncle Wolf”. His family connections allowed him to avoid the draft in the war.

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Die Erste Liebe von Hitler – Hitler’s First Love


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Die Erste Liebe von Hitler



Hitler’s first love was undoubtedly his mother – Klara.
Edmund Hitler would have been Adolf’s second love.
Edmund Hitler (March 24, 1894 – February 2, 1900) was the fourth child of Klara and Alois Hitler, and the youngest brother of Adolf Hitler.
Edmund died of Measles on February 2, 1900 at the age of 5, leaving Adolf and Paula as the only surviving children of the Hitler family.
After the death of Edmund, Adolf’s personality underwent a dramatic change – from being a happy compliant boy to being one who was mood, poorly behaved and ‘difficult’.

Questions have been raised concerning Adolf Hitler’s sexuality ever since he first came to political prominence in the 1920s.
An individual’s sexuality, of course, does not effect the validity of his beliefs or work – and we can look to many historical examples of individuals who exhibited sexual preferences outside the so-called ‘norm’, who have had a major impact in various historical, cultural, political and academic spheres.
However, an understanding of an individual’s sexuality will often give a greater insight into the general behavior, activities and beliefs of that individual.
Examples would be the relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion, Hadrian and Antinuous – or more recently Ludwig II and Wagner etc.

There is much evidence to support the theory that Hitler had distinct homosexual, or homoerotic tendencies.
Many of his friendships and associations suggest this, and in particular, his decidedly ‘homoerotic’ relationship with August Kubizek.

Wappen von Kaiser Franz Josef
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Our story begins in Linz, a provincial city in Österreich.
Große Wappen der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Österreich was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe.
The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them.
The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status. Austria-Hungary was a multinational realm and one of the world’s great powers at the time.

Kleines Wappen des Kaisertums Österreich
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Kleines Wappen des Königreiches Ungarn
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The dual monarchy had existed for 51 years until it dissolved on 31 October 1918 before a military defeat on the Italian front of the First World War.
The realm comprised modern-day Austria (see right – small arms of Austria), Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine.
The Habsburg monarch ruled as Emperor of Austria over the western and northern half of the country that was the Austrian Empire (Cisleithania or Lands represented in the Imperial Council), and as King of Hungary over the Kingdom of Hungary (see small arms left) (Transleithania or Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen) which enjoyed a great deal of sovereignty with only a few joint affairs (principally foreign relations and defence).
The division was so marked in fact that there was no common citizenship: a person was either an Austrian or a Hungarian citizen (legally it wasn’t allowed to hold both citizenships at the same time).
The two capitals of the Monarchy were Vienna for Austria and Buda for Hungary, the latter united with neighbouring Pest as Budapest from 1870.
Vienna, however, would serve as the nation’s primary capital.

Austria-Hungary was geographically the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire (621,538 square kilometres (239,977 sq mi) in 1905), and the third most populous (after Russia and the German Empire).
As a multinational empire and great power in an era of national awakening, it found its political life dominated by disputes among the eleven principal national groups.
The Monarchy bore the name internationally of “Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie” (on decision by Franz Joseph I in 1868).

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Austria–Hungary


Empire of Austria (Cisleithania): 1. Bohemia, 2. Bukovina, 3. Carinthia, 4. Carniola, 5. Dalmatia, 6. Galicia, 7. Küstenland, 8. Lower Austria, 9. Moravia, 10. Salzburg, 11. Silesia, 12. Styria, 13. Tyrol, 14. Upper Austria, 15. Vorarlberg;
Kingdom of Hungary (Transleithania): 16. Hungary proper 17. Croatia-Slavonia;
Austrian-Hungarian Condominium: 18. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Österreich-Ungarn 1910: Cisleithanien: 1. Böhmen, 2. Bukowina, 3. Kärnten, 4. Krain, 5. Dalmatien, 6. Galizien, 7. Küstenland, 8. Österreich unter der Enns, 9. Mähren, 10. Salzburg, 11. Schlesien, 12. Steiermark, 13. Tirol, 14. Österreich ob der Enns, 15. Vorarlberg; Transleithanien: 16. Ungarn, 17. Kroatien und Slawonien; 18. Bosnien und Herzegowina

Linz and Vienna – the two cities that feature prominently in Kubizek’s account – are indicated in gold – other provincial capitals of the empire are indicated in red.



Kaiser Franz Josef

During the period covered by Kubizek’s account, the ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was Franz Joseph I (see right).
Franz Joseph I (Hungarian: I. Ferenc József, 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.
In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of Ministerpräsident Felix zu Schwarzenberg’s plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Austria, which allowed Ferdinand’s nephew Franz Joseph to ascend to the throne.
Largely considered to be a reactionary, Franz Joseph spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains.
The Austrian Empire was forced to cede most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia following the conclusion of the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859, and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866.

Austro-Prussian War
Crown Prince Rudolf

Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War (see left), the Peace of Prague (23 August 1866) settled the German question in favor of Prussia, which prevented the unification of Germany under the House of Habsburg (Großdeutsche Lösung).
Franz Joseph was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign.
He concluded the Ausgleich of 1867, which granted greater autonomy to Hungary, hence transforming the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire under his Dual Monarchy.
His domains were then ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, although Franz Joseph’s personal life became increasingly tragic after the suicide of his son, the Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889 (see right), and the assassination of his wife, the Empress Elisabeth in 1898.
Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916, after ruling his domains for almost 68 years.

He was succeeded by his grandnephew Karl.

This was the political situation in which Adolf hitler and August Kubizek grew up.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Stadtwappen Linz


Linz Opera House

Kubizek, then sixteen, first met Adolf Hitler, fifteen, late in 1904.
While at the Linz Opera one evening Adolf Hitler met August Kubizek who was to become, many would say, his best, and probably only friend.

Practicing frugality, Kubizek and Hitler often used to arrive early at the Landestheater to get a good standing place.
They began competing with one another for one of the two columns which supported the Royal box.
The wooden columns offered the luxury of something to lean against during the sometimes lengthy performances.
In time they recognized one another and became acquainted.

August Kubizek

August Kubizek (Gustav or Gustl) was nine months older than Adolf Hitler (Adi) and was a mild-mannered and sensitive youth, with a look of intelligence.

He was the son of a small businessman, and lived above his father’s upholstery shop in the family quarters on Klamm Strasse, not far from where Adolf Hitler lived.
He was determined to be a renowned musician.
At the time he could already play the piano, violin, trumpet and trombone and was studying music theory.
He also played the viola for the local Music Society and the Symphony Orchestra.

When he wasn’t pursuing his dream he worked in his father’s shop refinishing furniture.

Young Adolf Hitler

Kubizek noted that “Adolf,” because of his recent sickness, was a pale and skinny youth.

But what captured his main attention was Adolf’s glistening eyes and curious hairdo which was combed straight down over his forehead.
Kubizek found that Adolf, like rebellious teenagers in every generation, wore his curious hairdo because no one else did. Kubizek, an only child, was one of those protected teenagers who have an adoration of the rebellious and “admiration” was his strongest point in cultivating a friendship.
As Kubizek would write: “It was this very fact, that he was out of the ordinary, that attracted me even more.”
As their friendship matured, Hitler never addressed Kubizek by August but called him ‘Gustl‘ or ‘Gustav’, which, interestingly, had been the name of Hitler’s oldest deceased brother.
Kubizek, however, in reality played the part of an idolizing younger brother, and also a romantic partner.
Hitler was extremely independent, however, and it often happened that they did not meet for days, even when they were on the best of terms.
Although “Gustl” found Adolf high-strung, he also found him reserved.
Hitler was formal and aloof in his dealings with others and was insistent on “good manners and correct behavior.”
Unusual for a teenager, Hitler seldom became overly friendly and there were few teenagers his age that he liked.
He had nothing but disdain for ‘young people‘ who wasted their time in shallow talk and mundane pursuits.
He considered most teenagers superficial for he was, as Kubizek said, much more mature than most people of his age.

Linz Countryside

Walking was the only exercise that appealed to Hitler and he and Kubizek often took long walks around the town or hiked into the nearby woods.

They had their favorite trails and their favorite swimming hole – and at that time swimming – always in the nude – was an all male activity.
On these excursions, a walking stick was the only requirement and Adolf would wear a colored shirt and (in place of the normal necktie) “a silk cord with two tassels hanging down.”
Kubizek was particularly amazed by Adolf’s refined speech which made him very persuasive, even with grown-ups.
Kubizek was always astonished at how, when they were alone, Hitler could rant on about a particular subject and get himself worked up; yet, when dealing with others he kept calm and had an air of reasonableness.
Hitler was normally polite to people, was not vain, and could be very sensitive if he felt someone was unhappy or sick.
Kubizek also wrote that Adolf helped him through difficult times and always have time for people he liked.
Hitler was well-liked and respected by almost everyone he met.
Kubizek was also awed by the seriousness and wide range of knowledge Hitler showed for one as young as he was.
While most teenage boys interests are mainly confined to sports, comradeship and embellished stories or beliefs concerning the opposite sex, Hitler’s interests were boundless. 

Wright Bothers

He was interested in agriculture, city planning, mythology, history, politics, and world events, including air travel.

The Wright bothers had flown their heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk a few years before and Hitler was very impressed.
He was interested in everything, Kubizek noted, and wasn’t indifferent about anything.
Kubizek would come to write a book about his experiences with the young Hitler.
If the portents in retrospect and the occasional melodramatic moments are overlooked, he describes Hitler as a fairly normal teenager with an inquiring mind.
Since many historians like to portray the young Hitler as unbalanced, ignorant, lazy, and stupid, a few have attempted to discredit Kubizek anytime he portrays the young Hitler in a decent light.

Paula Hitler

Paula Hitler, however (who was about the only acquaintance who never tried to capitalize on her brother’s name), stated that as a teenager Adolf had opinions about everything and constantly read.

She also stated that he often used to give persuasive lectures on themes concerning history and politics to her and her mother.
Paula, equal to her mother, was a quiet, docile and honest woman.
She took a back seat to her brother when still a child and remained there all her life.
She kept house for him during the “good” years and later learned applied art and led an obscure life in Vienna.
She never married and spent the last years of her life living in the area of Berchtesgaden – her brother’s last home. She died on June 1, 1960 almost unnoticed or un-mourned.

Paula Hitler (Paula Wolf)[1] (21 January 1896 in Hafeld, Austria[2] – 1 June 1960 in Berchtesgaden) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitle,r and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Paula was the only full sibling of Adolf Hitler to survive into adulthood.
Paula was six years old when her father Alois, a retired customs official, died, and eleven when she lost her mother Klara, after which the Austrian government provided a small pension to Paula and Adolf, however, the amount was relatively meager and Adolf, who was by then old enough to support himself, agreed to sign his share over to her. Paula later moved to Vienna where she worked as a secretary. She had no contact with her brother during the period comprising his difficult years as a painter in Vienna and later Munich, military service during World War I and early political activities back in Munich. She was delighted to meet him again in Vienna during the early 1930s. By her own account, after losing a job with a Viennese insurance company in 1930 when her employers found out who she was, Paula received financial support from her brother (which continued until 1945), lived under the assumed family name ‘Wolf’ at Hitler’s request (this was a childhood nickname of his which he had also used during the 1920s for security purposes) and worked sporadically. She later claimed to have seen her brother about once a year during the 1930s and early 1940s. She worked as a secretary in a military hospital for much of World War II.

As Kubizek further described Hitler:
There was an incredible earnestness in him, a thoroughness, a. true passionate interest in everything that happened and, most important, an unfailing devotion to the beauty, majesty and grandeur of art.”
Because of their common knowledge in theater, painting, architecture, writing, poetry, and especially music and opera, they became close friends, and Hitler confided in Kubizek.
Hitler told Kubizek his dream of becoming a painter; “my beautiful dream of the future,” as he referred to it.
When Kubizek saw Hitler’s room for the first time, it reminded him of an “architect’s office.” Although Hitler painted landscapes and many other subjects, most of his works tended to be architectural structures.

Linz Landesmuseum

One of his hobbies was drawing or painting the finer buildings of Linz and making changes in their design.

His favorite buildings were of the Italian Renaissance style and his favorite building was the Landesmuseum which he considered “one of the peak achievements in German architecture.”
The richly ornamented gate and the hundred meter long sculptured panel above the main floor never ceased to impress him.
Kubizek and Hitler would take long walks around the city and Hitler would often stop to look over one building or another.
There he stood,” Kubizek would later write, “this pallid, skinny youth, with the first dark brown showing on his upper lip, in his shabby pepper-and-salt suit, threadbare at the elbows and collar, with his eyes glued to some architectural detail, analyzing the style, criticizing or praising the work, disapproving of the material–all this with such thoughtfulness and such expert knowledge as though he were the builder and would have to pay for every shortcoming out of his own pocket.”
According to Kubizek, some art lovers in Linz founded a society to promote the construction of a new theater.
Hitler joined the society and “took part in a competition for ideas.”
Hitler also made detailed drawings of the city’s layout, showing how it could be improved and beautified.
Adolf, Kubizek wrote, “could never walk the streets without being provoked by what he saw.
On more than one occasion Hitler noted that this or that building “shouldn’t be here“, because it distracted from a view or did not “fit into its surroundings.”
Kubizek would later write that Adolf’s ideas were not “sheer fantasy, but a well-disciplined, almost systematic process.”
Hitler always had a secluded spot outside of town where he could be alone.

Schloß Wildberg – Linz

One spot was a bench along a winding trail (Turmleitenweg), and another, when he really wanted to be alone, was a large, overhanging rock perched high above the Danube near by.   Here he could think and cultivate his plans and ideas, including one, way ahead of its time, to turn Wildberg Castle (north of Linz) into an “open-air museum.”

This “island where the centuries had stood still,” (Adolf’s very words according to Kubizek) was to have a permanent population of men, women and children in medieval costumes demonstrating their crafts and trades.
Hitler thought the castle would serve as a place of study for all those who wanted to learn about life as it was lived in the Middle Ages.
And, it could pay for itself by charging admission to tourists.
Hitler also nurtured ideas of becoming a poet, writer or playwright.
Kubizek was enormously impressed by some of Hitler’s poems.
There was one, a sonnet, that Hitler attempted to extend into a play.
That Hitler “devoted himself to writing, poetry, drawing, painting and to going to the theater,” had Kubizek’s complete admiration.
Another thing that impressed Kubizek was Hitler’s complete self-assurance that one day he would become famous.
In time they came to dream about their success and how they would either build their own villa or renovate a large flat where struggling “lofty minded” artists with talent could come and find shelter.
Hitler made numerous sketches of the proposed villa.
On the other hand, if they opted for the flat, they proposed to rent the entire second floor of a huge building adjoining the Nibelungen Bridge which crossed the Danube between Linz and the suburb of Urfahr.
They bought a lottery ticket and dreamed about how they would spend it furnishing their new abode if they won.
Their plan was to find a refined and distinguished older woman to serve as host, and two other “females” to serve as cook and housemaid.
The women were to be of impeccable character since, at this point of their lives, they had high ideals concerning women.
As was usual for most sixteen and seventeen year olds of their day, both Hitler and Kubizek kept their distance from young women.
Flirtations” were out of the question and even a conversation with a young girl, outside the necessary everyday dealings, was rare.

‘Sacred Virgin’ – Ludwig Fahrenkrog

To further complicate their situation, Kubizek noted that Hitler, like himself, was very shy around young women and found it difficult to communicate with them.

They were caught between that unrelenting biological urge to reproduce, and the fear of the unknown.
Rather then admit their fears they consoled themselves, as Kubizek noted, in waiting for that “sacred” virgin that would lead to marriage and children.
Kubizek also noted that Hitler was a night person.
If he wanted to think or something was bothering him, he would take lengthy night walks to the outskirts of the city and now and then climb the nearby hills on the west side of town.
If he wasn’t thinking he would paint or read late into the night.
He seldom rose early except when absolutely necessary.
Hitler was aware that early risers see themselves as superior to late risers, but he never tried to hide his sleeping habits.
Mark Twain

(Since he was known to be aware of Mark Twain’s writings, it’s possible that he knew about Twain’s comment that he never went to bed as long as he had someone to talk to, and he never got up early unless it was “damn important.”)

Kubizek noted that anytime Adolf was up early in the morning, something had to be “very special.”
If Adolf slept too late, however, Klara would send the younger Paula to wake him with the words, “go and give him a kiss.”
Adolf, who hated to be kissed or hugged, would jump out of bed the moment his sister got near him.
As their friendship continued, Kubizek would find that Hitler would sometimes become impatient or angry when someone disagreed with him.
Kubizek took great care not to clash with Adolf and always yielded except on musical matters. 
Kubizek would acknowledge that there were times he thought his friendship with Adolf was over, but they would meet by chance, usually at a concert, and patch up their differences.
Eduard Bloch

Around this time the Hitler family began seeing a new doctor named Eduard Bloch.

He described “Adolf” as a “well mannered,” “neat,” “obedient boy” who would “bow…courteously” whenever they met.
He found Adolf to be “neither robust nor sickly” but “‘frail looking'” with “large, melancholy and thoughtful….gray-blue eyes….inherited from his mother.” 
Dr. Bloch, like Kubizek, also described Adolf as a “quiet,” and a “well-bred boy of fourteen or fifteen” who was “old for his age.”*
Two-and-a-half months before Hitler turned seventeen his grandmother died on Feb, 8, 1906. Klara’s mother had been loved by the whole family which went into deep mourning.
For the fourth time in six winters Hitler saw another close family member laid to rest.
With a school year lost and spring approaching, Hitler began making plans for his future.
Klara still had hopes that her son would take his final test to obtain his diploma and enter a local technical school and become a civil servant like his father.
Adolf, on the other hand, pleaded that sitting in an office wasn’t for him.
Hans Makart

He saw artists as a better class of society and his dream was to become a great artist, possibly like one of his three favorites, Rubens, or the moderns: Hans Makart or Anselm Feuerback.

Hans Makart (May 28, 1840 – October 3, 1884) was a 19th-century Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator; most well known for his influence on Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists, but in his own era considered an important artist himself and was a celebrity figure in the high culture of Vienna, attended with almost cult-like adulation. The “Makartstil”, which determined the culture of an entire era in Vienna, was an aestheticism the likes of which hadn’t been seen before him and has not been replicated to this day. Called the “magician of colors”, he painted in brilliant colors and fluid forms, which placed the design and the aesthetic of the work before all else. His paintings were usually large-scale and theatrical productions of historical motifs.

Anselm Feuerbach

Anselm Feuerbach (12 September 1829 – 4 January 1880) was a German painter. He was the leading classicist painter of the German 19th-century school. He was steeped in classic knowledge, and his figure compositions have the statuesque dignity and simplicity of Greek art. He was the first to realize the danger arising from contempt of technique, that mastery of craftsmanship was needed to express even the loftiest ideas, and that an ill-drawn coloured cartoon can never be the supreme achievement in art.

Interestingly, these two artists had very dissimilar styles.

Makart’s style was flamboyant and ‘mannerist’, whereas Feuerbach style was cool and classical, and much closers to the style favoured by Hitler in his later years.
Hitler also developed a great liking for Franz von Stuck and Arnold Böcklin – but that would come later.
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

Hitler decided that he wanted to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (known then as the Vienna School of Fine Arts) that autumn.

A diploma was not necessary for admittance to the academy and he undoubtedly pointed out the good marks he had received in art during his last year of school.
Although not opposed to his studying art, Klara was strongly opposed to his relocating in Vienna.
She had been terribly shaken by his recent sickness and his frail appearance worried her.
He was her only surviving son and she wanted him by her side.
Vienna was a hundred miles away.
For Hitler’s seventeenth birthday, Klara gave in to her son’s insistence.
She gave him enough money for a vacation in Vienna where he could gather information on the Academy.
She did so, however, with the hope that he would get the idea out of his system and give up his idea of leaving home.
Shortly after his birthday, he arrived in Vienna where, after the blandness of Linz, he was immediately enchanted by the large metropolis.
Klara had misjudged her son.

The Vienna Trip

Ringstrasse und Opernhaus – Wien
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Stadtwappen Wien

Hitler spent his days sight-seeing and sketching many of Vienna’s wonders.
He spent most of his evenings visiting the music halls, theaters, and especially the opera which overwhelmed him when compared to the caliber of Linz’s.
Just walking the stairs of the Burg Theater or the State Opera House was enough to make any youth feel he was part of a world of power and grandeur. As he would later recall: “Never shall I forget the gracious spectacle of the Vienna Opera, the women sparkling with diadems and fine clothes.”

Vienna Postcard

Hitler sent postcards to his family and friends including Hagmuller, Kubizek and Dr. Bloch, voicing his enthusiasm.

He returned home more convinced than ever that he wanted to return to Vienna by late September when admission tests to the academy began.
Although the family finances were adequate, Klara did everything to dissuade him.
The love that mother and son had for each other was obvious to everyone, but the thought of being separated from her son was unbearable to Klara.
She was intent that he should choose a profession which would keep him at home.
During the family’s summer vacation on the farm that Summer, Adolf was hammered with alternative proposals for pursuing a more sensible career.
He became alienated and kept to himself.
Adolf Hitler – Zeichnung Hund

He whiled away the hours by drawing  in his sketch book, painting, reading or taking long solitary walks.

When the family returned home he was further barraged with suggestions by Angela’s husband, Leo.
Klara even had her baker friend and his wife attempt to secure Adolf a position as a baker’s apprentice which he refused.
When a neighbor, no doubt at Klara’s urging, suggested a position with the postal service, Adolf answered that he intended to become an artist.
Undaunted, Klara continued searching for an excuse to keep her son at home.
Kubizek had been taking piano lessons from an expensive Polish teacher named Josef Prewatzki.
Around the end of September when Adolf wanted to leave for Vienna, Klara suggested that he join Kubizek.
Klara knew her son occasionally thought about becoming a poet or writer.

Heitzmann und Sohn – Piano

With his love for music and the opera she attempted to convince him to study music so he could go on to become a composer, or possibly write operas.

Klara’s persistence finally paid off. Adolf relented.
The relieved Klara brought him a piano made by Heitzmann-Flugel, whose pianos were among the best in the world.
Hitler began piano lessons on October 2, 1906.
As with any subject he enjoyed, or found interest in, he threw himself into it.
He never missed a class and paid by the month.
According to the teacher, he was a little timid and was bored easily by finger exercises but he had a good ear for music, practiced his scales conscientiously and progressed steadily.
His sister Paula remembered that he would sit at the large piano at home for hours practicing. With the examinations to the art academy over for another year, life in the Hitler household settled down.
Hitler and ‘Rienzi’

Richard Wagner

In the Winter of 1906, Hitler and Kubizek attended an opera of Richard Wagner’s ‘Rienzi – der Letzte der Tribunen ‘.

The story is set in fourteenth century Rome and tells the story of a man of the people, trying to free them from the oppression of the upper classes.
The privileged make an attempt to kill Rienzi but are overpowered and after violating their oath of submission are exterminated.
Rienzi rises to the position of dictator and in one scene the trumpets blare and the people shout: “Heil, Rienzi. Heil the tribune of the people.

Rienzi der Letzte der Tribunen – Richard Wagner

Hitler was completely enthralled by the music and by the character of the rebel Rienzi who had been goaded to political action after witnessing the death of his younger brother.

Rienzi in the end, however, is stoned and burned to death by those who never really wanted the freedom he offered.
The long opera was not over until after midnight and Hitler, quite out of context, showed a side of his personality that Kubizek had never seen.
After the performance Hitler talked for over an hour about politics.
Like many young thinkers of the lower middle class he was beginning to develop a hard attitude against the upper echelon -“the social order which made everything dependent on whether or not you had money,” as he put it.

Stephanie Rabatsch

Because of those persons of quality he was first exposed to in high school, he appears to “have acquired a tenacious ‘class consciousness.'”

His turn of mind was no doubt compounded by the fact that Stefanie (his supposed, fantasy ‘girl-friend‘) and “her society,” as he put it, were out of his reach.
Undoubtedly influenced by the writers of the time, the seventeen year old Hitler also began to believe strongly in destiny.
The fact that two of his brothers died before he was born, and another was born and died after him, caused him to wonder why he was spared.
He confided to Kubizek that he believed in fate and that even he could be called upon someday by the people “to lead them out of servitude to heights of freedom.”
(This at first appears to be one of Kubizek’s exaggerations or recollections borrowed from others (including Mein Kampf), however, Adolf Hitler would tell more than one person that the “beginning” of his success began the first time he saw the opera Rienzi. It would be hard to deny that the first time he saw the opera was with Kubizek.)
Years later Hitler would comment to another friend on the story of Rienzi: “Listening to this blessed music as a young man in the theater at Linz, I had the vision that I too must someday succeed in uniting the German Reich and making it great once more.”
He believed that he was destined for a “special mission.”

Klara Hitler

In January of 1907 Klara fell ill and doctor Bloch summoned Adolf and Angela for a conference on the situation.

They learned that Klara had breast cancer and her only chance for survival was a serious operation.
Dr. Bloch was touched by Adolf’s tears and concern and recognized the strong “attachment that existed between mother and son.”*
Klara entered the hospital in mid January and on Jan 18, 1907, during an operation performed by a surgeon named Karl Urban, one of her breasts was removed.
She had little concern about herself but was most concerned about her children if she should die.
She did not hide from Dr. Bloch that her gravest concern was for her son.
Adolf is still so young,” she said repeatedly to him.

Dr Eduard Bloch

While she lavished her son with almost everything he wanted, she herself spent the next two and a half weeks recuperating in a third class ward of the hospital even though she could have afforded better.

Adolf visited her every day.
When Adolf’s recuperating mother returned home he, possibly afraid of disturbing her or unable to concentrate, discontinued his piano practice and lessons.
He resumed his painting and drawing.
Both Kubizek and Dr. Bloch (who called and at times administered Klara morphine to relieve her pain) speak of Adolf’s attentiveness to his mother and the fear in his eyes on bad days.
Dr. Bloch stated that this was not a pathological relationship, only deep affection between a mother who adored her son and a son who adored his mother.
As the months passed Klara appeared to have recovered.

 Home at Urfahr

Wappen Ufar
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Urfahr

In May the family moved to a new, two storied apartment building on Bluten Strasse in the Urfahr district.

Here Klara could venture out for walks or do her shopping without climbing as many stairs.
She now apparently had a change of heart about Adolf’s desire to become an artist.
When Klara’s sisters and especially Angela’s husband suggested to her that Adolf should give up his artistic desires and get a job, she now replied: “He is different from us.”
Late that summer she withdrew Adolf’s patrimony, now over 700 kronen, and gave it to him along with her blessings to pursue his dream of becoming a painter.
If Adolf was frugal, the money he received was enough for tuition and living expenses in Vienna for over a year.

Stumper Gasse – Wien
Gustl Kubizek

In Sept. of 1907 his plans were made to leave for the academy’s admission test.

Shortly before his departure Klara’s health took a turn for the worse, but examinations for entrance to the academy were scheduled for Oct. lst and 2nd and he would have to wait another year if he didn’t go then.
When Kubizek came to see Adolf off, there were tears all around as Klara, Paula and Adolf bid farewell.
They were aware that once accepted, he would begin classes in a week and he might not return till the holidays.
When he arrived in Vienna, he rented a single room on Stumper Gasse (Stumper Lane) which was only a few blocks southwest from the railroad station (Westbahnhof) that served all trains going west.
If word arrived that his mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse, he could catch a train and, for a little over seven Kronen, be back in less than three and a half hours.

Artist Admissions Test

Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

Along with 51 other candidates, Adolf Hitler was refused admittance to the art Academy.

He was crushed.
All his dreams were dashed.
The fact that out of 113 original candidates only 28 were admitted did not console him. 
For over a week he roamed the streets of Vienna not knowing what to do.
He then received word that his mother had taken another turn for the worse.
Hitler returned home immediately to be by his mother’s side. 

Dr. Eduard Bloch

On October 22nd. he consulted with Dr. Bloch and found that Klara was in very serious condition.

The operation had occurred too late and the disease was spreading rapidly.
An experimental treatment was attempted which only added to her suffering.
Within a short time she needed constant attention.
Her bed was moved to the kitchen/living room area which was the warmest room in the house.
Although Adolf admitted to others that he had failed to gain admittance to the academy, he didn’t burden his mother with his rejection and assured her that he was accepted and would become an artist someday.
Klara spent the next two months in constant pain which she bore well believing “that her fate was God’s will.”
However, the ever present Adolf according to neighbors, Kubizek, and Dr. Bloch, anguished over her suffering.
Although Klara’s sister Johanna also helped care for Klara, Adolf took over as man of the house.
He was in constant attendance to his mother and did whatever possible to make her comfortable.
Dressed in his old clothes, he scrubbed floors, helped with the washing, and cooked her favorite meals which she greatly appreciated.
He took charge of his eleven year old sister, Paula, and even tutored her.
In late November, Klara had a serious relapse.
Adolf slept on the couch near her bed and did what he could to comfort her.
He read aloud to her the sentimental novels she loved even though he hated them.
He drew her picture and on some days held her hand for hours on end.
As Paula would state years later: “…my brother Adolf spoiled my mother during this last time of her life with overflowing tenderness.
He was indefatigable in his care for her, wanted to comply with any desire she could possibly have and did all to demonstrate his great love for her.”
When Kubizek or Dr. Bloch visited they found the normally high strung and proud Adolf quiet, gentle and apprehensive.

Weihnachtsbaum

If Klara showed any signs of improvement, Dr. Bloch noted, Adolf’s eyes would light up and he would take an optimistic view.

With the holidays approaching a Christmas tree was placed in the living room in hopes of lifting her spirits.
On Dec 20th. Dr. Bloch made two house calls and saw that the end was near.
Kubizek also visited and saw her lying, weak and barely able to speak.
Her thoughts, however, were of her son.
When the distraught Adolf left the room momentarily she managed to whisper to Kubizek: “Go on being a good friend to my son when I’m no longer here.”*
At 2a.m. the following morning, with Adolf at her bedside, Klara, age 47, died in the glow of the lighted Christmas tree.
Adolf was crushed. Dr. Bloch stated: “In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler.”
Two days later, on Christmas Eve, Adolf followed the hearse which drove to Leonding three miles away.

Leonding Kirche und der Familie Hitler Grab

The funeral Mass was held in the small church across the road from where they used to live and Klara was laid to rest beside her husband.

After everyone else had left, Adolf remained behind at her grave site as though unable to tear himself away.
Hitler would remember the lighted Christmas tree in the house and the memory was so bitter for him that he could never again enjoy Christmas.
He hated when it snowed, and was always in an emotional state around the holidays.
For the rest of his life he would usually spend Christmas Eve alone.
Almost twenty years later he would write in Mein Kampf: “My father I respected, my mother I loved.
He himself wrote the announcement of the passing away of his “deeply, loved, never-to-be-forgotten mother.”
For the rest of his life he would always have a picture of his mother on his person or nearby, and whenever the occasion arose would proudly and lovingly show it.

Dr Eduard Bloch

Dr. Bloch, who was Jewish, would later emigrate to the safety of the United States but still refused to repudiate his statements, including the one that described the young Hitler as “a fine and exemplary son who bore such a deep love and concern for his dear mother which one finds on this globe only in extremely exceptional cases.”

Kubizek, also, in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the psychologists, newsmen, historians in residence and other persons of quality, who never ceased to degrade the young Hitler as an uncaring son, would later write: “Adolf really loved his mother. I swear to it before God and man.
As Klara’s oldest child, Adolf, under the guidance of his legal guardian, the Mayor of Leonding, Josef Mayrhofer, took care of all of his mother’s personal unfinished business and paid all her debts with the estate left behind.
Surviving documents show that the doctor bill outstanding was 300 kronen while the funeral and coffin, cost 370 kronen -an extremely large sum for a lower middle class family to pay.
Adolf also gave a part of his inheritance to his stepsister since she and her husband agreed to take on the responsibility of raising the eleven year old Paula.
He thanked neighbors for their help and even gave one of his best paintings to a couple who had showed particular loyalty during his mothers sickness.

Josef  Mayrhofer

His legal guardian, Josef  Mayrhofer found the young Hitler’s actions “laudable.”

Since their father had been a State official, the “orphans” Paula and Adolf were now eligible for 600 Kronen annually between them.
Their guardian split the pension down the center.
The eighteen year old Adolf Hitler was to receive 300 kronen a year in monthly payments until he was twenty-four years old or until he became self-supporting.
Hitler, now armed with a letter of recommendation from his influential landlord (which described Hitler as a “nice, steadygoing …. serious and ambitious young man … mature and sensible beyond his years,”) decided to return to Vienna.
If fortune did not smile on him, he could retake the examination test to the Art Academy later that year.
As “my father had accomplished fifty years before,” he would later write, “I too, wanted to become ‘something.'”
Kubizek also wanted to leave Linz and enter the Academy of Music in Vienna but his father was against him leaving at the time.
Hitler made a trip to Kubizek’s house and persuaded the old man to let him go.
Kubizek would follow him shortly.
With what was left from his inheritance, Hitler left for Vienna in mid February 1908, in search of a “special mission.”

Hitler and Kubizek in Vienna

Westbahnhof – Wien

On a cold foggy evening in late February 1908, August Kubizek arrived in Vienna.
As he stood amidst the confusion of the railroad station (Westbahnhof), he saw his friend approaching through the crowd.
Hitler was wearing his dark, good quality overcoat and broad-brimmed hat.
Already at ease in his new environment, he wore kid gloves and carried a walking stick with an ivory handle.
The slim Adolf, Kubizek thought, “appeared almost elegant.”
After a warm greeting, they kissed on the cheek in the Austrian manner, they made their way to Hitler’s apartment.
After a short walk Hitler stopped in front of an imposing and distinguished building on Stumper Gasse.
With Kubizek on his heels, Hitler entered the arched entrance off to one side, passed through the more elaborate section of the building, crossed a small courtyard and entered the humbler rear section of the building.

Stumpergasse 29 – Wien

They went up the polished stone staircase to the “second floor” (3rd in America) and entered a small room.
This was the same building Hitler had stayed during his attempt to enter the Art Academy a few months before.
The monthly rent was ten kronen and although respectable, it was a no frills establishment in a lower middle class neighborhood.
Hitler’s monthly pension of 25 kronen only covered the cost of a meager diet, so he had to be frugal with what was left of his inheritance.
Like most tenement houses it was infested with bugs and the whole floor, six small apartments, had only one lavatory.
After Hitler cleared away the numerous sketches that lay around his room, he and Kubizek had something to eat.
Although Hitler was still suffering and bitter over his mother’s death, he insisted on taking Kubizek on a tour of the city.

Ringstrasse

They made their way to the Ringstrasse, the great boulevard (where once stood the city battlements) which circles the inner city.
Hitler’s blue eyes blazed excitedly as he pointed out many of the cities historical landmarks. Just off the Ring was the Art Academy which he still hoped to enter, and not far away was the Music Conservatory which Kubizek hoped to attend.
Like any young man who grows and matures in a small town, Kubizek, like Hitler was overwhelmed by the vast and thriving city.

Stephansdom Wien

Kubizek particularly wanted to see the immense soaring spire of St. Stephen’s Cathedral but it was shrouded in the fog.
In one of his letters, Hitler had offered Kubizek the advantage of staying with him for awhile. Hitler, however, was still the independent type and knowing that he and Kubizek had their differences, he had added: “Later we shall see.”
Hitler’s small room was not large enough to hold a piano that Kubizek would need to practice on so they spent the next morning looking for a room for Kubizek.
It proved difficult.
Vienna was the most overcrowded capital city in Europe.
Almost half the population lived in one or two rooms, and in the working districts 4 to 5 persons shared these “flats.”
The few rooms they found available were either sleazy, did not allow piano playing, or were too small to hold a grand piano.
After a fruitless search in the immediate vicinity, they finally came to a house with a sign: “Room to Let.”
They were admitted into the house by a maid and introduced to an elegant looking middle aged woman wearing a silk dressing gown, fur-lined slippers and little else.
As she showed them around the house, including the available bedroom, she appeared to take a shine to Hitler.
She suggested that Hitler rent the available room and turn his room on Stumper Gasse over to Kubizek.
At that moment the belt of her dressing gown became loose and her gown opened momentarily.
“Oh, excuse me, gentlemen,” she calmly said as she redid the belt.
Too fainthearted and too unworldly to take advantage of such an opportune moment, Hitler and Kubizek beat a hasty retreat.
They returned to their apartment and Hitler persuaded the landlady to give up her larger room next door for theirs.
By the end of the day they had settled into the larger room, #17, for an additional 10 kronen a month.
Because of the housing shortage, the normal rent for a one or two room flat ran from twenty-two to twenty-eight kronen per month in the laboring districts.
Their room was a real bargain.
Kubizek was again amazed by Hitler’s gift of persuasion.

Wiener Musikhochschule

Within a few days of his arrival, Kubizek took his test and was admitted to the Wiener Musikhochschule, (Music Conservatory).
Kubizek’s easy accomplishment magnified Hitler’s failure to enter the Art Academy, and he appeared envious for a time.
While Kubizek began attending morning classes, Hitler spent his time in one pursuit after another.
Some days Hitler relentlessly worked on his drawings, on another day, he would sit for hours reading on architecture, another, working tirelessly on an idea he had for a short story, the next, practicing on the piano Kubizek had rented.
Kubizek would state that Hitler was never idle, but always “filled with a tireless urge to be active.”

Alfred Roller

Interestingly, Hitler never made use of the letter of recommendation he had received which introduced him to one of Vienna’s best known stage designers, Alfred Roller.
Years later he would comment: “One got absolutely nothing in Austria without letters of introduction.
When I arrived in Vienna, I had one to Roller, but I didn’t use it.
If I’d presented myself to him with this introduction, he’d have engaged me at once.
No doubt it’s better that things went otherwise.
It’s not a bad thing for me that I had to have a rough time of it.”*
Having to live on a minimum budget, they spent their leisure time visiting the Vienna Woods, taking boat trips on the Danube and even once took a train trip to the Alps and climbed a mountain.
They also visited the numerous coffee houses in the area.
The Viennese cuisine was delightful;” Hitler would later recall, “at breakfast nothing was eaten, at mid day … [people] lunched off a cup of coffee and two croissants, and the coffee in the little coffee-shops was as good as that in the famous restaurants.
For lunch, even in the fashionable places, only soup, a main dish and dessert were served–there was never an entree.
One of Hitler’s favorite coffee-shops (which served a particular nut-cake he enjoyed) was a favorite of Jewish college students.
To an inquiring mind, Vienna offered much for no cost.
Hitler and Kubizek spent much of their free time touring the city.
They strolled the avenues and visited the countless museums, churches, historical sites, parks and plazas.

Schwarzenberg Platz – Wien

Hitler was particularly fond of the Schwarzenberg Platz, especially at night when the fanciful illuminated fountains produced incredible lighting effects.
Most of Hitler’s praises, however, were bestowed upon Vienna’s huge and ornate buildings.
He was very impressed by Schonbrunn Castle, the elegant 1200 room, royal summer residence of the Hapsburgs which had once been home to Napoleon himself.
After viewing such luxury, Hitler often grumbled about the sparse room they had to return to.

Wiener Sängerknaben

On Sundays, Hitler enjoyed listening to musical groups or soloists performing at the city chapel. He was particularly found of the Vienna Boys Choir.
There were also the countless parades, pageantry and social events which accompanied the Hapsburg dynasty.
These events were normally stern, formal and dignified affairs that showed off the ruling dynasty as lofty and untouchable.
In an age and in an empire that also believed in armed might, military holidays were celebrated with all the trappings of a society prepared for war.
Two or three evenings each week they went to a theater, opera, or concert because as a student, Kubizek could often get free tickets.
At concerts, Hitler was very fond of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Anton Brukner

He enjoyed some of the music of the masters, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and also the Romanticists, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn and especially Bruckner who had been an organist at the old Linz Cathedral for twelve years.
Like most Viennese, Hitler also enjoyed the music of Johann Strauss and the Hungarian Liszt.
When attending the theater Hitler preferred the more serious works, and Vienna’s theaters offered masterpieces by some of Europe’s best playwrights.
Vienna was also a famed joyful and carefree city, and its less dignified theaters offered worldly, lighthearted and often risqué performances.

Franz Lehar

Although Hitler never admitted to attending anything too risqué, he enjoyed Franz Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ and often whistled Lehar’s happy tunes.
At the theater one evening a group of young men were causing a disturbance. Hitler and Kubizek attempted to silence them.
The leader of the group refused to keep his mouth shut and Hitler punched him in the side.
When Hitler and Kubizek left the theater they found that the noisemaker had summoned a policeman who attempted to arrest Hitler.
Hitler explained the situation and persuaded the policeman to let him go.
Hitler then caught up with the troublemaker and gave him, to quote Kubizek, “a sound box on the ears.”
Just as in Linz, the opera was still Hitler’s first choice in entertainment, but opera seats in Vienna were extremely expensive.
Although Hitler preferred a seat in the upper balcony, to save money, he and Kubizek usually took the cheapest standing room.
Like most people who go to movies today, Hitler did not care for foreign works.
He was only interested in German customs, German feeling, and German thought.

Verdi – Aida

Except for Verdi’s opera, Aida – the love story of an Ethiopian slave girl and an Egyptian warrior – he didn’t care for most Italian operas because of the many plots involving “daggers.”
He also wasn’t particularly fond of French operas and considered Gounod’s Faust (there are two rapes within the opera) vulgar.
Not even the Russian Tchaikovsky met with his approval.
On the other hand he appreciated many of the works of the Germans Beethoven and Weber and was especially delighted with Mozart’s anti-establishment comedy of infidelity, Figaro.

Richard Wagner

His favorite works were by the highly acclaimed Richard Wagner who wrote about figures of medieval history, saga, and myth.
Most of Wagner’s heroes were purely human and were torn between desire and morality -Wagner believed in the first.
During Hitler’s years in Vienna, 15 different productions of Wagner’s operas were performed in over 420 performances at the State Opera House alone.
Hitler attended every new offering and saw some of the performances over and over again. “I was so poor, during the Viennese period of my life,” Hitler would later recall, “that I had to restrict myself to seeing only the finest spectacles.

Tristan und Isolde

Thus I heard [Wagner’s] ‘Tristan’ thirty or forty times, and always from the best companies.”
Every young man has his idol and Wagner was Hitler’s.
For me, Wagner is something Godly and his music is my religion,” Hitler would later tell an American reporter.
Kubizek also noted Hitler’s devotion to Wagner.
When Hitler attended a Wagner opera the music had a profound, exhilarating influence on him.
When talking to friends or other opera buffs, Hitler always praised Wagner with passionate devotion.
Wagner not only wrote the music but the librettos (words) for his operas.
He refused allegiance to any set forms.

Siegfried – from ‘Die Nibelungen’ – Fritz Lang – 1924


Besides composing, writing and producing his operas he occasionally took on the role of stage manager, director, and conductor.
He referred to his mission as the ‘Kunstwerk der Zukunft‘ (art work of the future) and to his ‘music dramas’ as ‘Gesamtkunstwerk (total art work). Wagner saw the orchestra as just adding to the action on the stage (much like background music in movies today), but he ruffled the egos of many persons of quality by concealing the conductor and orchestra so they would not distract from the performance.

Siegfried – from ‘Die Nibelungen’ – Fritz Lang – 1924

Many of the themes of Wagner’s music dramas were grounded on lofty German myths and legends which revealed human emotions that influence nearly all issues and relations.
Like Wagner, Hitler was enthralled by the past, and believed that great significance lay in German mythology.

‘Lohengrin’







One of Hitler’s favorites was ‘Lohengrin’.
He could amaze opera buffs by reciting the entire libretto by heart.
While living with Kubizek, he saw ‘Lohengrin’ ten times.
Lohengrin’s pomp, pageantry, and dramatic interest is compelling.
It is considered by many to be the finest of all romantic grand operas.
The plot is set in the tenth century and involves a beautiful blonde maiden who is falsely accused of murder. To her rescue comes the gallant Lohengrin, the “Knight of the Swan,” who will champion the accused and later marry her.
The love duet is exquisite (“one of the sweetest and tenderest passages of which the Lyric stage can boast”) and there is also the haunting Bridal Chorus.
Besides the compelling music and German nationalism, Hitler no doubt associated with the silver-armored hero with his pure soul and wondrous flashing eyes.
In the end, ‘Lohengrin’, called Fuhrer (leader) by his followers, is forced to reveal that he is a “Knight of the Holy Grail” and must give up love for a higher calling.

Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain. It is part of the Knight of the Swan tradition.

The opera has proved inspirational towards other works of art. Among those deeply moved by the fairy-tale opera was the young King Ludwig II of Bavaria. ‘Der Märchenkönig’ (‘The Fairy-tale King’) as he was dubbed later built his ideal fairy-tale castle and dubbed it “New Swan Stone,” or “Neuschwanstein”, after the Swan Knight. It was King Ludwig’s patronage that later gave Wagner the means and opportunity to compose, build a theatre for, and stage his epic cycle, the Ring of the Nibelung.

‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’

Another of Hitler’s favorites was ‘Die Meistersingers’ which is told in terms of a simple love story.
The plot involves a young songwriter who comes up against traditional rules and methods.
In the end he overcomes the rank prejudices of The Master Singers and while preserving what is best in art tradition, succeeds and wins the heroin for his bride.

As with ‘Lohengrin’, Hitler knew the ‘Meistersingers’ by heart.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) is an opera by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas still commonly performed today, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich, on June 21, 1868. The conductor at the premiere was Hans von Bülow.

The story takes place in Nuremberg during the middle of the 16th century. At the time, Nuremberg was an Imperial Free City, and one of the centers of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The story revolves around the real-life guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians, mostly from the middle class and often master craftsmen in their main professions. The Mastersingers developed a craftsmanlike approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. The work draws much of its charm from its faithful depiction of the Nuremberg of the era and the traditions of the Mastersinger guild. One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, is based on an actual historical figure: Hans Sachs (1494–1576), the most famous of the historical Mastersingers.

If an indication of the ideals and beliefs of a young man can be judged on the entertainment he enjoys, the young Hitler appears very normal for his time.
‘Aida’, and ‘Figaro’, are two of the most popular operas ever performed in their time.
‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ and ‘Lohengrin’ have, almost since their conceptions been German favorites.
Hitler’s enjoying ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ is comparable to young people in every generation enjoying stories whose plots rebel against tradition and the old folks.

‘Tristan und Isolde’ 

The story was written by Wagner to scorn the establishment that once rejected him.
The love story, however, is the backbone of the action and everything else is centered around it. The same thing can be said for ‘Lohengrin’ and especially ‘Tristan und Isolde’ which is about love and (did they love the night) little else.
That Hitler repeatedly enjoyed these operas places him in the majority of young men of his day who had high ideals concerning love.
During their trips to the opera, concert or theater, Kubizek noticed that women would flirt with Hitler despite his usually modest clothing and reserved manner.
On one occasion, a young lady handed Hitler a note informing him where she would be stopping after the performance.
Kubizek believed that women were attracted to Hitler because of his aloof but distinguished manners, or brilliant eyes, or some mysterious quality that can’t be described.
Hitler never responded to these opportunities.

Lucie Weidt

Like many eighteen year olds, Hitler had his favorite actress, Lucie Weidt (a gifted soprano ten years older than Hitler), “roused his enthusiasm in the part of Elsa in Lohengrin.”*
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, noted during this period that people seldom, if ever discussed their sex drive.
Hitler never talked about his desires or his sex life.
When discussing the subject in an impersonal way, Hitler, according to Kubizek, found the loose morals in Vienna shocking.
His belief was influenced by the terribly high rate of syphilis that existed in Europe at that time, and the incurable and horrible consequences of contracting it.
A cure would not be readily available for a few years and complications of the heart, blood vessels, bones, skin, and finally paralysis and insanity were common.
Hitler, like many others of his time had a fear of catching the disease and would later condemn the government for its “complete capitulation” when an all out “fight” was needed to bring the “plague” under control to insure the “health” of the nation.
Vienna, nonetheless, thrived with centers of prostitution and cafes where the sexes mixed liberally.
A survey of doctors, carried out while Hitler lived in Vienna, revealed that only 4% of the doctors had their first sexual experience with middle class young women who might qualify as potential wives, 17% had their first experience with lower class waitresses or the like, while 75% had their first romp with prostitutes.
Legalized prostitution in Austria dated from the Liberal ascendancy three decades before. When Hitler arrived in Vienna, any girl sixteen or older could register or apply for a license.
She was then free to practice the profession as long as she could prove mental competence and meet simple health rules.
Even with such liberal regulations, there was still a thriving free lance business throughout Vienna, and it was estimated that over 10,000 girls went unregistered.
On their evening excursions on the town, there were occasions when Kubizek and Hitler were approached by lone streetwalkers.
According to Kubizek, in every instance the “ladies” ignored him, and asked Hitler if he wanted to go with them.
Kubizek thought that these girls of the “unholy city” were attracted to Hitler because they may have seen him as a man of moral restraint from the religious countryside.
Hitler always refused.
Kubizek had to get up early in the morning for classes and usually retired early while Hitler was often awake and out till late at night.
There were times Hitler would go out and not return till the following day.
Hitler, as earlier in Linz, also had suggestions for Vienna’s planning and layout.
He believed in wider streets, pollution control, and less crowding.
He advocated the destruction of old tenement housing and the building of lower income housing where workers could live cheaply.
He believed that there should be more areas set aside for parks and green areas.
He thought it unthinkable that railroads should run through a city, tying up people and traffic. Railroads, he believed, should be rerouted to the outskirts and what trains that had to enter the city should be placed underground.
These revolutionary ideas were already starting to have their effects in some of the larger cities throughout the world and Hitler no doubt read about them.
That an eighteen year old could grasped their long range significance and advocated such a policy is noteworthy.
As he had in Linz, he spent quite a bit of time working on drawings and the details of such planning.
Kubizek, in the meantime, continued with his classes and it was becoming apparent that he was one of the star pupils in the music school.
He was constantly sought after to tutor other classmates and to perform in small musical groups in the homes of some of the wealthy and cultivated of Vienna.
Occasionally Hitler went along and “enjoyed himself very much” though he normally chose to play the part of the silent listener.
As he was in no financial position to buy new clothes, it was only his inadequate dress, Kubizek observed, that made him feel uneasy.
Hitler was proud of his friend’s achievements but witnessing what appeared to be Kubizek’s easy accomplishment, he began searching for a road to instant success.
Although he continued drawing, he did little painting that summer.

Hofburg – Wien

The Hofburg, containing among other things, one of the most extensive (and beautiful) libraries in the world, was only a mile away from their room and Hitler visited there regularly.
He continued to read on architecture and art, but also mythology, religion, history and biography.
In his reading on architecture he acquired an extensive amount of history on many of Linz’s buildings and appears to have attempted to write a handbook or manual on the subject.
He then worked tirelessly on a short story he titled ‘The Next Morning‘.
He talked about becoming a playwright and after weeks of research at the library began a script centered on the time Christianity was introduced in Germany.

‘Die Melonenesser’
Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

He then switched to a play about the Spanish painter, Bartolome Murillo, who’s art work Hitler knew well.
Murillo had also been a “poor orphan” and became famous for his charming paintings of religious subjects and sweet street urchins.
After a vigorous start, Hitler put the idea aside.
When Hitler felt dejected he would walk to Schonbrunn Castle and spend his time in the huge adjoining park where miles of shaded walks wended their ways among clumps of trees, arbors, vast formal flower beds and elaborate fountains.
Along with other attractions the park also contained a zoo and the Gloriette, an elaborate stone pavilion surmounted by a huge imperial eagle.
Hitler’s favorite spot was a stone bench not far from the Gloriette where he enjoyed feeding the birds and squirrels.
(The stone bench, along with the descendants of those birds and squirrels, are still there at this writing.)
He never went to the park on Sundays since he did not like crowds, and the noisy and carefree spirit of most of the young people annoyed him.
Sooner or later however, he would conceive another idea and wholeheartedly throw himself into it.

Hof-Library – Wien

After numerous day trips to the Hof-Library and night after night of continuous writing, he abandoned one idea after another.
After countless false starts as a playwright or writer, he suddenly decided to become a composer.
Hitler spent months working on a Wagnerian type opera which would have been understood by ancient Germans.
The work was to be performed with rattles, drums, reeds, crude brass wind instruments, primitive harps, and bone and wood flutes.
He searched excitedly through volumes of the Hof-Library studying ancient music and looking for the types of musical instruments used by ancient Germans.
That he had no formal musical training, other than four months of piano lessons, daunted him not.
To make up for his lack of knowledge he read the scores and librettos of a large number of operas and acquired an amazing knowledge of stagecraft.
He worked on his opera night after night plotting the story, producing drawings for the sets, sketching the main characters in charcoal and composing the music with Kubizek’s help. Kubizek acknowledged that the prelude turned out very presentable (after he had convinced Hitler to add a few modern instruments) but Hitler was not satisfied.
It reduced him to utter despair,” Kubizek wrote, “that he had an ideal in his head, a musical idea which he considered bold and important, without being able to pin it down.”
Hitler finally realized that success as a composer was as hard to come by as that of a painter or writer and finally gave up.

Schönbrunn Park – Wien

Dejected, he would return to the park and feed the pigeons and squirrels until another idea dawned.
Hitler came up with an idea for a traveling symphony.
He felt it was unfair that only the lucky few in the major cities were privileged to hear first rate performances.
His mobile orchestra was to travel to small towns where less fortunate people could hear other than second rate performances.
He spent quite a deal of time working out the intricate little details, including the composition of the group, their feeding, dress, direction, and rehearsal time.
He decided that only German composers would be played and he even timed the length of each piece while at concerts.
The orchestra was not only to perform classic and romantic works (the oldies so to speak), but also the works of modern, young and unknown composers.
As with traveling “concerts” today the ideal was plausible, but the lack of adequate public halls in small towns made him abandon the idea.
He then returned to the park.
Like all idealistic young men on a minimum budget, Hitler became disillusioned and he soon developed a strong social conscious.

Franzenring – Reichsratsgebäude – Wien

He would visit the Parliament when it was in session, and on a few occasions even dragged Kubizek along.

The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where the two houses of the Parliament of Austria conduct their sessions. The building is located on the Ringstraße boulevard in the first district Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace and the Palace of Justice.

The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek revival style was Theophil Edvard Hansen. He designed the building holistically, each element harmonizing with the others and was therefore also responsible for the interior decoration, such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and numerous other elements. Hansen was honored by Emperor Franz Joseph with the title of Freiherr (Baron) after its completion. One of the building’s most famous features is the Pallas Athena fountain in front of the main entrance, built by Hansen from 1898 to 1902.

Hitler was amazed at the lack of action.
He had expected to see stately men in control, debating and pondering over the problems of their day.
What he saw was dissension, filibustering, confusion, rants, threats, procedure, formality and wordy nonsense.
He came away disillusioned and was appalled by politicians and their, as he called it, “ridiculous institution.”*
The Viennese are noted for their criticism (“a grumble a day keeps bad temper away,” is one of their mottoes) and Hitler fit in well.
“Isn’t this a dog’s life,” became one of his favorite sayings and he began to blame government for his situation.
He became impatient and developed a deep contempt for most politicians.
He began raging openly against, as he called them: “the well-born and all powerful people.”
He felt that the government should provide grants to students with ability and that poor working young women should receive trousseaus to encourage marriage so as to cut down on fatherless children and sex-related diseases.
He believed the government should do something to decrease the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed by promoting non-alcoholic drinks.
And, he still felt that more should be done to house the working class.
Hitler actually worked out a plan for housing those with low incomes.
Using his interior plan as a starting point, the standard building was to be a two storied, four family residence.
Under no condition was any building to contain more than 16 families and all should be surrounded by gardens, trees, and play grounds.
He thought professional landlords unfair and believed that housing should be owned and built by the government and the rent set to cover the cost and maintenance of the building.
He devoted much of his thinking to moving people out of  “distress and poverty.”*
The longer Hitler lived in the giant city, the more he saw of the inequalities.
While the upper classes practiced an almost complete indifference, those of the younger and poorer generation began to openly criticize their leaders.
Hitler became one of them for he could not understand the apathy and resignation of politicians and leading intellectuals.
Their stance that “nothing can be done about it,” earned them his undying hatred. “He who resigned,” Hitler stated, “lost his right to live.”

Alios Hitler

He saw these men of education with their professional training as a group of “idiots.
No doubt remembering that his more-than-qualified father had been held in the same position for seventeen years because of his background, Hitler felt that men who actually showed ability should be chosen to manage affairs as opposed to those with formal qualifications, class and connections.
With what was left of his inheritance running low and knowing that his pension would only support a meager living, disillusionment soon vented itself in anger.
For no apparent reason, there were days when he would go into a rage about the unfairness of life.
Any disagreement or rebuke on Kubizek’s part only heightened his anger.
A while later he would be calm, cooperative and charming.
But, Kubizek noted, it was contrary to his nature to ignore important issues, and there were days he would read or see something that would set him off all over again.
Hitler was often abrupt, moody, and brash, but Kubizek stated that he could never be angry with Hitler because he regarded him as a “visionary.”
For a long time, I had it rough in Vienna,” Hitler would later recall.
For months I never even had a hot meal. I lived on milk and dry bread but spent thirteen kreuzers day after day on cigarettes.
I smoked twenty-five to forty a day.
One day the thought came to me: ’Instead of spending thirteen kreuzers on cigarettes, buy butter for your bread.
That would be five kreuzers a day and I’d have money left over.’
Soon after that thought, I threw my cigarettes in the Danube and have never touched another“.
There is nothing worse than a reformed – whatever – and Hitler soon began ranting about the government’s involvement in the tobacco industry.
He argued that the State was ruining the health of its own people for monetary gains.
He felt all tobacco factories should be closed and the importation of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes be forbidden.
(Later, when Hitler became Fuhrer and his European conquests seemed unstoppable, he made the statement: “Before going into retirement, I shall order that all the cigarette packets on sale in my Europe should have on the label, in letters of fire, the slogan: ‘Danger, tobacco smoke kills; danger: Cancer.'”)
Reflecting on Hitler’s meager fare, Kubizek concluded that much of Hitler’s anger stemmed from his financial situation.
Kubizek suggested that Hitler go to the “soup kitchen” and get a decent free meal.
Hitler angrily retorted that going to a soup kitchen was demeaning and that such “contemptible institutions…only symbolized the segregation of the social classes.”
Many of Vienna’s population lived in similar circumstances and Hitler “unhesitatingly” associated with the “simple, decent but underprivileged people.
He thought something should be done for the “‘little man,‘ the ‘poor betrayed masses.‘”
He ranted about the “tight fisted” ways of the upper classes.

‘Down and Outs’ in Vienna

As Kubizek would later state: “Everywhere we noticed a deep chasm between the social classes….We saw the splendid mansions of the nobility with garishly attired servants in front, and the sumptuous hotels in which Vienna’s rich society – the old nobility, the captains of industry, landowners and magnates – held their lavish parties. Poverty, need, hunger on the one side, and reckless enjoyment of life, sensuality and prodigal luxury on the other.”
The obvious social injustice embittered Hitler and the presumptuous and arrogant demeanor of the upper classes “roused in him a demoniacal hatred.”
He continuously railed “against the privileged position of certain classes.”
Although Kubizek always portrayed Hitler as a serious and stern young man, there was another side of him.
Kubizek took a short trip home for the Easter holiday and wrote Hitler that he had contracted an eye infection, and that when he returned he might be wearing glasses.
Kubizek knew his constant practicing on the piano distracted or annoyed Hitler at times so he also mentioned that he was also going to bring a viola, testing what Hitler’s reaction would be. On April 20, 1908, the day of his 19th birthday, Hitler wrote back (after making a joke about the bad weather in Vienna):
I am deeply sorry to hear that you are going blind.
It means you will play more wrong notes and keys.
The blinder you become, the deafer I will become. Oh dear.”
He also added that he was going out to buy “cotton” for his ears.
He then signed the letter: “Your friend, Adolf Hitler.
Kubizek returned shortly after and, in June, completed his first period at the Conservatory with excellent grades.
He was privileged to conduct the end-of-term concert where three of his songs were sung and part of his sextet for strings was performed.
At a gathering in the “artists’ room,” Kubizek was showered with praises by his teachers and classmates as Hitler sat quietly by himself watching.
It appeared that for Kubizek, success was just around the corner.
Kubizek went home in July to work in the family business for the summer.
Since he was nearly a year older than Hitler he was now of military age and was required to report for a physical.
Found to be fit, he was to undergo eight weeks of training for the Army Reserve and would not return till November.
Hitler’s landlady also took a trip to visit her brother and Hitler looked after the building for her until she returned.
Hitler kept in touch with Kubizek and on one occasion, referring to one of his ideas for a book, wrote: “Since your departure I have been working very hard often again until 2 or 3 in the morning.”
Knowing Hitler was running short of money Kubizek and his mother sent him some food packages.
A few days later the proud Hitler would write on a postcard dated July 19, 1908:

        Dear friend!

        My best thanks for your kindness. You don’t need to send me butter and cheese 

        now. But I thank you most gratefully for the kind thought. Tonight I am going
        to see Lohengrin. Kindest regards to you and your esteemed parents.

                                                                                            Adolf Hitler.


A few days later Hitler would write again mentioning that he was not feeling well.
It was not until August 17 that Kubizek heard from him again.
This time he mentioned that he had got over a “sharp attack of bronchial catarrh,” but was “writing quite a lot lately.”
Late that August, Hitler took a trip to the Wooded Quarter for a family gathering on the Spital farm.
Besides his two aunts and their families, his step-sister Angela and her family were also present.
Hitler still disliked Angela’s husband and had considered putting off the trip, but was no doubt shown the new addition to Angela’s family – a two month old daughter called “Geli.”
He also saw his twelve year old sister, Paula, who was now a pretty, quiet and reserved girl. Hitler had previously given Paula the book ‘Don Quixote’ (possibly after reading it) as a birthday gift and got into an argument with her because she disapproved of a list of books he obviously had read and suggested for her education.
Since they were never very close, her rejection of his advice separated them further.
Although “fond” of one another, as Paula would later state, they remained fairly distant all their lives.
Before returning to Vienna, Hitler sent Gustl a postcard wishing him the “best” on his Name-day.
It would be the last contact Kubizek would have with Hitler for thirty years. (After a promising beginning Kubizek’s artistic dreams would be shattered by der Große Krieg.
He became a “clerk.“)
In Sept 1908 the nineteen year old Hitler applied for entrance to Vienna’s Art Academy again. The drawings he submitted on this occasion were not considered adequate.
He was notified, that this time he would not even be permitted to take the test.
The 1908 entry in the Academy’s list read:

The following gentlemen …. #24 Adolf Hitler … April 20, 1889, German, Catholic …. Not admitted to test.

Again he was crushed.
This time he asked for a reason and was told that his abilities lay in architecture and it was recommended that he study that field.
This judgment is borne out by his surviving drawings and paintings which show a flare for architectural renderings.
To enter the Architectural branch of the Academy, however, a diploma was necessary.
What I had defiantly neglected in the high school ” Hitler stated, “now took its bitter revenge.”
Since he lacked a diploma he would have to show that he was “exceptionally gifted” to enter the architecture field.
Hitler was realistic enough to know that he did not possess such abilities and never attempted to register.
As Hitler would show many times in his life, he could not face people when things were going bad.
Although Kubizek had previously offered Hitler financial help, Hitler, as with the food packages, was too proud to accept, and decided to end their relationship.
Because of his failure to gain admittance to the Academy for the second time, he no doubt felt ashamed to face Kubizek, or anyone else.
Around the same time, Hitler also quit writing Hagmuller, the boy who used to have his lunch at the Hitler house in Linz, and they also “lost touch.”
On Nov. 18, 1908, with Kubizek expected back in a few days, the dejected Hitler gave notice to his landlady.
Without leaving a forwarding address he moved to a building across from the railway yards.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Die Anschluss Österreichs

DIE  ANCHLUß  ÖSTERREICHS
The Anschluß also known as the Anschluss Österreichs was the union of the German Republic Austria with the Third Reich in 1938.

The German Republic Austria was united with the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938.
There had been several years of pressure by supporters from both Austria and Germany (by both Nazis and non-Nazis) for the “Heim ins Reich” movement.

The Heim ins Reich (Home into the Empire; or Back to the Reich), was a foreign policy pursued by Adolf Hitler beginning in 1938.
The aim of his initiative was to convince all of the ethnically German people who were living outside of the Third Reich (i.e. in foreign countries such as Austria and the western districts of Poland) that they should strive to bring these regions “home” into Greater Germany. It included areas ceded after the Treaty of Versailles, as well as other areas containing significant German populations such as the Sudetenland. The policy was managed by VOMI (Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle) (Main Welfare Office for Ethnic Germans). As a state agency of the NSDAP, it handled all Volksdeutsch issues. By 1941, the VOMI was under the control of the SS.

Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria’s Austrofascist leadership.
Devoted to remaining independent but under considerable pressure from both Austrian and German Nazis, Austria’s Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg tried to hold a referendum for a vote on the issue.

Although Schuschnigg (see right) expected Austria to vote in favour of maintaining autonomy, a well-planned coup d’état by the Austrian Nazi Party of Austria’s state institutions in Vienna took place on 11 March, prior to the referendum, which they canceled.
They transferred power to German Empire, and Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss (see left).

The German Government held a plebiscite within the following month (see left), asking the people to ratify the Anschluss.

The German Government claimed to have received 99.73% of the vote in favor.
Although the Allies were committed to upholding the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and St. Germain, which specifically prohibited the union of Austria and the German Empire, their reaction was only verbal and moderate.
No military confrontation took place and even the strongest voices against the annexation, particularly Fascist Italy, France and the United Kingdom (the “Stresa Front”) remained at peace.

The Anschluss was among the first major steps of Adolf Hitler’s creation of a Grossdeutsches Reich – (Greater German Reich) (see left and right) which was to include all of the ethnic German and lands and territories which German Empire had lost after World War I, although Austria had never been a part of (in 20th-century terms) Germany.
Prior to the 1938 annexation, the German Empire had remilitarized the Rhineland, and the Saar region was returned to Germany after 15 years of occupation through a plebiscite.

After the Anschluss, Hitler targeted Czechoslovakia, provoking an international crisis which led to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, giving the Third Reich control of the industrial Sudetenland (see left), which had a predominantly ethnic German population.

In March 1939, Hitler then annexed truncated Czechoslovakia and made the rest of the nation a protectorate.
That same year, Memelland was returned from Lithuania.

The idea of grouping all ethnic Germans into one unified country (as a nation-state) had been the subject of inconclusive debate since the end of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation (see right) in 1806.

At the same time, the 18th century was a period when thousands of Germans emigrated to other areas, sometimes at the invitation of governments who wanted to resettle areas depopulated by war and the plague, or to improve farming.
Often promised special rights and the ability to keep their language and religion, the Germans settled in communities along the Danube (territory that is mostly now present-day Serbia), in Poland, Russia, and across the Atlantic to North America before the American Revolutionary War.
The system of spheres of influence in Europe, developed at Vienna in 1815, depended upon the fragmentation of the German and Italian states, not their consolidation.
Consequently, a German nation united under one banner presented significant questions (and answers): Who were the Germans? (German-speaking people.) Where was Germany? (The German-speaking land in middle Europa.) But also, Who was in charge?, and, importantly, Who could best defend “Germany”, whoever, whatever, and wherever it was?
Different groups offered different solutions to this.
In the Kleindeutschland (little, or “lesser,” Germany) solution, the German states would be united under the leadership of Prussia; in the Großdeutsche Lösung (Greater Germany) solution, the German states would be united under the leadership of the Germans (Habsburg) in Austrian state (see left).
This controversy, called dualism, dominated Prusso-Austrian diplomacy and the politics of the German states, for the next 20 years.
In a series of diplomatic and military moves during the late 19th century, the Chancellor of Prussia Otto von Bismarck (see right) increasingly isolated Austria from its traditional position of influence in broader German affairs.

Prussia’s defeat of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War eliminated Austrian influence north of its border, allowed for the creation of the North German Confederation and consolidated the German states through Prussia, enabling the creation of a German Empire (see left) in 1871.
When the German-Hungarian Empire, called “Austria-Hungary”, broke up in 1918, many German Austrians hoped to join with German Empire in the realignment of Europe.
On 12 November 1918, German Austria was officially declared a republic.
The provisional national assembly drafted a provisional constitution that stated that “German Austria is a democratic republic” (Article 1) and “German Austria is a component of the German Republic” (Article 2).
Later plebiscites in the German border provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98 and 99% in favor for a unification with the German Republic.

The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain (both signed in 1919) explicitly prohibited the inclusion of Austria to politically join the German state.

This measure was criticized by Hugo Preuss (see left), the drafter of the German Weimar Constitution, who saw the prohibition as a contradiction of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination of peoples, intended to help bring peace to Europe.
Following the destruction of World War I, however, both France and Britain feared the power of a larger Germany, and had begun to dis-empower the current one.
Austrian particularism, especially among the nobility, also played a role in the decisions; Austria was Roman Catholic, while Germany was dominated by Protestants, especially in government (the Prussian nobility, for example, was Lutheran).
The constitutions of the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic included the political goal of unification, which was widely supported by democratic parties.
In the early 1930s, popular support in Austria for union with German Empire remained overwhelming, and the Austrian government looked to a possible customs union with German Republic in 1931.
The rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in German Empire initially caused the Austrian government to withdraw from such economic ties.

By the same token Hitler, an Austrian German by birth, had picked up German nationalism ideas after WWI and advocated the idea of a Greater Germany, in accordance to this one of the Nazis ideologies was to re-unite all ethnic Germans living outside of the Reich.
From the early beginning of his leadership in the Nazi Party he had publicly stated in his 1924 auto-biography (‘Mein Kampf’ – see right) that he would create a union between Austria and Germany by any means possible.
Austria shared the economic turbulence of the Depression, with a high unemployment rate and unstable commerce and industry.
These economic problems made the young democracy vulnerable to social unrest.
The First Republic, dominated from the late 1920s by the Catholic nationalist Christian Social Party (CS), gradually disintegrated from 1933 (dissolution of parliament and ban of the Austrian National Socialists) to 1934 (Austrian Civil War in February and ban of all remaining parties except the CS).

Osterreich Uber Alles
Dolfus Poster

The government evolved into a pseudo-fascist, corporatist model of one-party government, which combined the CS and the paramilitary Heimwehr with absolute state domination of labour relations and no freedom of the press (see Austrofascism and Patriotic Front).

Power was centralized in the office of the chancellor, who was empowered to rule by decree. The predominance of the Christian Social Party (whose economic policies were based on the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum) was an Austrian phenomenon.
Austria’s national identity had strong Catholic elements that were incorporated into the movement, by way of clerical authoritarian tendencies not found in Nazism.

Both Engelbert Dollfuss (see left) and his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, turned to Austria’s other fascist neighbour, Italy, for inspiration and support.
The statist corporatism often referred to as Austrofascism bore much more resemblance to Italian Fascism than German National Socialism.
Benito Mussolini (see right) supported the independence of Austria until his need for German support in Ethiopia (see Second Italo-Abyssinian War) led him into a client relationship with Berlin that began with the 1937 Berlin–Rome Axis.
On 25 July 1934, Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis in a failed coup.
The second civil war followed, lasting until August 1934.
Afterward leading Austrian Nazis fled to Germany but they continued to push for unification from there.

The remaining Austrian Nazis started to make use of terrorist attacks against Austrian governmental institutions, causing a death toll of more than 800 between 1934 and 1938.

Following Dollfuss’ assassination, his successor was Schuschnigg, who followed a similar political course.
In 1935 Schuschnigg (see right) used the police to suppress the Nazi supporters in Austria.
Police actions under Schuschnigg included gathering Nazis (and Social Democrats) and holding them in internment camps, however, the support from the powerful and increasingly popular Nazi German state to the north was impossible to prevent.
Eventually Schuschnigg gave up his anti-Nazi program, and in July 1936 he signed the Austro-German Agreement, which, among other concessions, allowed the release of Nazis imprisoned in Austria and the inclusion of National Socialists in his Cabinet.
This did not satisfy Hitler and the pro-Germany Austrian Nazi’s grew in strength.
Following increasing violence and demands from Hitler that Austria agree to a union, Schuschnigg met with Hitler on 12 February at Berchtesgaden in an attempt to avoid the take-over of Austria.
Hitler presented Schuschnigg with a set of demands which included appointing known Austria Nazi sympathizers to positions of great power in the Austrian government.
The key appointment was: Seyss-Inquart would take over as Minister of Public Security, with full and unlimited control of the police forces in Austria.
In return Hitler would publicly reaffirm the treaty of 11 July 1936 and reaffirm his support for Austria’s national sovereignty.
Schuschnigg accepted Hitler’s “deal”, returned to Vienna and made the changes to his government.
One week later, Hitler made a speech saying
The German Reich is no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across its borders.”
Wilhelm Frass – Die Ostmark

This was clearly directed at Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Hitler sent an ultimatum to Schuschnigg on 11 March, demanding that he hand over all power to the Austrian National Socialists.
The ultimatum was set to expire at noon, but was extended by two hours.
Schuschnigg desperately sought support for Austrian independence in the hours following the ultimatum.
Realizing that neither France nor Britain was willing to take steps, he resigned as chancellor that evening.
In the radio broadcast in which he announced his resignation, he argued that he accepted the changes and allowed the Nazis to take over the government ‘to avoid the shedding of fraternal blood [Bruderblut]’.
On the morning of 12 March, the 8th Army of the German Wehrmacht crossed the border to Austria.
The troops were greeted by cheering German-Austrians with Hitler salutes, Nazi flags and flowers.
Because of this, the Anschluß is also called the ‘Blumenkrieg’ (war of flowers), but its official name was ‘Unternehmen Otto’.

For the Wehrmacht, the Anschluß was the first big test of its machinery.

Hitler’s car crossed the border in the afternoon at Braunau (see left), his birthplace.
In the evening, he arrived at Linz and was given an enthusiastic welcome in the city hall.
Hitler’s travel through Austria became a triumphal tour that climaxed in Vienna, (see right) on 2 April 1938, when around 200,000 German-Austrians gathered on the Heldenplatz to hear Hitler proclaim the Austrian Anschluß .
Hitler later commented:
I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators.”
The Anschluss was given immediate effect by legislative act on 13 March, subject to ratification by a plebiscite.
Austria became the province of the Ostmark, and Seyss-Inquart was appointed governor.
The plebiscite was held on 10 April and officially recorded a support of 99.73% of the voters.


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