German Expressionism

Hitler the Artist

Course Outline
Post WWI Germany
The Beginning
Die Brücke & Der Blaue Reiter
The Artists
Entartete Kunst
Hitler the Artist
Golden Age of German Cinema
The Films
The Directors
Film Noir
Recent Films

Adolph Hitler did not plan a career in politics when he moved to Vienna in 1908. His great dream at that time was to devote his life to art...either as a painter, a theatrical designer or an architect. Prior to his move to Vienna he was a provincial German national. But Vienna was not a good match for Hitler. A sophisticated city of mainly upper-class Jewish families, with its coffee houses, cafes, painters such as Klimt and Schiele, composers such as Mahler, the architecture of Otto Wagner, the psychiatry of Sigmund Freud and many progressive social programs, Vienna took no notice of the unimaginatively artistic and socially inept Adolph Hitler.

SalzburgerIn a chapter from his article on The Rise of Adolph Hitler, Drifting in Vienna, Jeremy Noakes describes those years in Vienna from 1908 until 1913. Unable to gain a place in the art school (his application was rejected twice) Hitler was forced to live in hostels and, too frail for most manual labor jobs, subsisted on the small amount of money he made hawking his paintings of famous sites. Vienna is where Hitler first became politically active. His bitterness at his rejection as an artist and his feeling of being an outsider in the sophisticated society of Vienna undoubtedly fueled his bitterness and paved the way for his hatred of both the modern art and the Jewish community that had been oblivious to both his work and himself.

For other Hitler paintings, go to:
Hitler festményeibõl

The film, Max, is a blend of fact and fiction that provides a chilling examination of Hitler's disastrous attempt to become an artist...a failure that was to cost the rest of the world dearly.

Additional Resources

Williams College Museum of Art: Prelude to a Nightmare
New York Times article on siezed Hitler paintings
Glimpses of Vienna
black & white photos of Vienna
Vienna Images
color photos of Vienna
An excerpt from Mein Kampf referring to Hitler's period in Vienna

Learning Activity

Was Hitler an anti-Semite prior to his move to Vienna? There are two schools of thought on this question. Try to locate information for either argument.

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