Adolf Hitler was a mystic. By definition, a mystic is an individual who differs from ‘regular individuals’ (non-mystics) by his or her belief in, and pursuit of, a transcendent truth that surpasses rational, ‘normal’, scientific’ human knowledge.
But he was more than just a mystic. He was a missionary mystic in a sense that he felt and believed that his destiny in this life was to identify and accomplish a great and glorious Mission, that he was chosen by some Higher Power (that he called ‘Providence’ or ‘Destiny’) to do something genuinely great, to make a significant difference in this world.
To identify this Mission, a mystic invariably looks for ‘the signs’. Like where he was born and what it might mean (a mystic firmly believes that there are no accidents – everything happens for a reason).
Consequently, for Adolf Hitler it was no accident that he was born in Braunau-am-Inn – a little-known small town (even now it has a population of just over 16,000) on the river Inn. A town with a unique geographic location and surprisingly long and rich history. Both highly relevant to the Mission of the future Führer of Germany (as he perceived it).
Adolf Hitler later wrote in Mein Kampf:
“It has turned out fortunate for me today that destiny appointed Braunau-am-Inn to be my birthplace. For that little town is situated just on the frontier between those two States the reunion of which seems, at least to us of the younger generation, a task to which we should devote our lives and in the pursuit of which every possible means should be employed”.
By the age of 49, he successfully accomplished this noble objective – on March 12th, 1938 Austria and Germany were united into Greater Germany as Austria was annexed into the Third Reich.
The history of this little town was no less relevant and important to Adolf Hitler’s grandiose Mission. It was first mentioned as a town in 1120 so at the time of Hitler’s birth it was already over 750 years old. However, it receive full town rights only in 1260 (one of the first in present-day Austria).
Braunau am Inn had a long and distinguished history of German nationalism – played an outstanding role in the (unsuccessful) Bavarian uprising of 1705-06 against the Austrian occupation during the War of the Spanish Succession, when it hosted the Braunau Parliament, a provisional Bavarian Parliament. There is little doubt that this historical fact contributed significantly to transformation of young Adolf into a passionate German nationalist.
Although at the time of Hitler’s birth and childhood Braunau was an Austrian town, it was not always so. For a brief period of seven years (1809-1816), it was a Bavarian (i.e. German town) – a historical fact that was another important inspiration for local German nationalists (and Adolf Hitler).
Braunau even had his own German nationalist martyr – one Johannes Philipp Palm, a German bookseller and devoted anti-French activist (in Hitler’s words, an ‘uncompromising nationalist’) executed during the Napoleonic Wars at Napoleon’s orders. His life became one of the key origins of Hitler’s powerful anti-French feelings.
In the spring of 1806, Palm was the owner and the CEO of the the Stein publishing house. Which sent to the bookselling establishment of Stage in Augsburg a pamphlet (presumably written by Philipp Christian Yelin in Ansbach) entitled Deutschland in seiner tiefen Erniedrigung (“Germany in her deep humiliation”), which strongly attacked Napoleon and the behavior of the French troops in Bavaria.
On learning of the violent rhetorical attack made upon his régime and failing to discover the actual author, Napoleon ordered Palm arrested in and handed over to a military court at Braunau with strict instructions to try the prisoner and execute him within twenty-four hours.
Palm was denied the right of defense, and after a mock trial on 25 August 1806, he was executed by the firing squad the following day without having betrayed the pamphlet’s author.
A life-size bronze statue was erected to his memory in Braunau in 1866, and on the centenary of his death, numerous patriotic meetings were held throughout Bavaria. Since 2002 a private foundation at Schorndorf awards a Johann Philipp Palm Prize for freedom of speech and the press.