The Lesson Not Learned

Undeterred by this failure, young Adolf promptly went to the Rector of the Academy for explanations. He later wrote in Mein Kampf:.

I went to see the Rector and asked him to explain the reasons why they refused to accept me as a student in the general School of Painting, which was part of the Academy. He said that the sketches which I had brought with me unquestionably showed that painting was not what I was suited for but that the same sketches gave clear indications of my aptitude for architectural designing. Therefore the School of Painting did not come into question for me but rather the School of Architecture

Pondering this suggestion for a few days, Adolf Hitler agreed that he ought to become an architect. However, he faced a very serious obstacle:

Before taking up the courses at the School of Architecture in the Academy it was necessary to attend the Technical Building School; but a necessary qualification for entrance into this school was a Leaving Certificate from the Middle School. And this I simply did not have.”

He boldly and defiantly (as usual) stated:

“I had my eyes steadily fixed on the goal. I would be an architect. Obstacles are placed across our path in life, not to be boggled at but to be surmounted. And I was fully determined to surmount these obstacles, having the picture of my father constantly before my mind, [the man] who had raised himself by his own efforts to the position of a civil servant though he was the poor son of a village shoemaker.

However, he did not overcome these obstacles. In fact, he didn’t even try. Although his sister Paula confirmed later that her brother did have a serious interest in architecture and he himself wrote in Mein Kampf:

As I grew bigger I became more and more interested in architecture It seemed to me that I was better qualified for drawing than for painting, especially in the various branches of architectural drawing.

 At the same time my interest in architecture was constantly increasing. And I advanced in this direction at a still more rapid pace after my first visit to Vienna, which lasted two weeks. I was not yet sixteen years old. I went to the Hof Museum to study the paintings in the art gallery there; but the building itself captured almost all my interest, from early morning until late at night I spent all my time visiting the various public buildings.

And it was the buildings themselves that were always the principal attraction for me. For hours and hours I could stand in wonderment before the Opera and the Parliament. The whole Ringstrasse had a magic effect upon me, as if it were a scene from the Thousand−and−one−Nights.”

In fact, he did nothing, absolutely nothing to overcome the educational obstacles to entering the Technical Building School – the necessary prerequisite for entering the School of Architecture.

There is a very simple and obvious explanation why. One word – obsession. Although Adolf Hitler was interested (even very interested) in architecture (as well as in music), it was only interest, not obsession. He was obsessed with only one dream – to become a great artist.

So he decided to try again – and apply to the painting school of the Academy of Fine Arts once more – in September of 1908. Contrary to his claim that death of his mother immediately threw him into abject poverty, in reality he had enough money at his disposal to support him for a couple of years at least.

Adolf’s ‘Hanitante’ – Aunt Johanna – had come up with a loan of 924 Kronen (roughly year’s salary for a young lawyer or teacher) to fund her nephew’s artistic studies. Besides, he received half of what his mother had left – around 1,000 Kronen.

Combined with the monthly orphan’s pension of 25 Kronen, he did not have to worry about making a living for quite some time. So after returning to Vienna in February 1908, it was not to pursue with all vigor the necessary course of action to become an architect (he simply did not have a drive powerful enough for that).

But to slide back into the life of self-indulgence which he had followed before his mother’s death (yes, in many ways he was a spoiled brat). He even persuaded parents of his friend August Kubizek to let the latter leave his work in the family upholstery business to join him in Vienna (ostensibly to study music).

He was still completely obsessed with his overwhelming desire to become a great artist. Any alternative – including architecture – was plainly an abhorrent thought.

His neighbor in Urfahr, later recalled:

When the postmaster asked him one day what he wanted to do for a living and whether he wouldn’t like to join the post office, he replied that it was his intention to become a great artist. When he was reminded that he lacked the necessary funding and personal connections, he replied tersely: “Makart and Rubens worked themselves up from poor backgrounds.”

However, he made no effort to improve his chances to get admitted to the painting school. Apparently (despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary), he convinced himself that his failure was just a one-time bad lack and that he already had all necessary qualifications to successfully pass the entrance exam.

Not surprisingly, he failed again. And thus was enrolled into an entirely different school – the one that he later called “the hardest school of my life”. The school that transformed the aspiring artist and a reluctant student of architecture into a self-educated politician.

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