Early adulthood in Vienna and Munich
From 1905 onward, Hitler was able to live the life of a Bohemian on a fatherless child's pension and support from his mother. He was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1907 - 1908) due to "unfitness for painting", and was told his abilities lay rather in the field of architecture. His own memoirs reflect a fascination with the subject:
"The purpose of my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum, but I had eyes for scarcely anything but the Museum itself. From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings which held my primary interest." (Mein Kampf, Chapter II, paragraph 3).
Following the school rector's recommendation, he too became convinced this was the path to pursue, yet he lacked the proper academic preparation for architecture school:
"In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect. To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely needed. One could not attend the Academy's architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technic, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.''"(Mein Kampf, Chapter II, paragraph 5 & 6).
On December 21, 1907, his mother Klara died a painful death from breast cancer at the age of 47. Hitler gave his share of the orphans' benefits to his younger sister Paula, but when he was 21 he inherited some money from an aunt. He worked as a struggling painter in Vienna, copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants and tourists (there is evidence he produced over 2000 paintings and drawings before World War I). Several biographers have noted that a Jewish resident of the house named Hanisch helped him sell his postcards.
A watercolour by Adolf Hitler depicting Laon, France.
After the second refusal from the Academy of Arts, Hitler gradually ran out of money. By 1909, he sought refuge in a homeless shelter, and by the beginning of 1910 had settled permanently into a house for poor working men.
It was in Vienna that Hitler first became an active anti-Semite, or so he says. Nothing Hitler wrote should be accepted at face value, and his early childhood was likely awash in antisemitism. Still, it is true that antisemitism was in the air in Vienna, mixing traditional religious prejudice with recent racist theories. Vienna had a large Jewish community, including many Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe. (See History of Vienna.) Hitler was influenced over time by the writings of the race ideologist and anti-Semite Lanz von Liebenfels and polemics from politicians such as Karl Lueger, founder of the Christian Social Party and mayor of Vienna, one of the most outrageous demagogues in history. and Georg Ritter von Sch?nerer, leader of the pan-Germanic Away from Rome! movement. He later wrote in his book Mein Kampf that his transition from opposing anti-Semitism on religious grounds to supporting it on racial grounds came from having seen an Orthodox Jew:
"There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews who lived there had become Europeanized in external appearance and were so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans. The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought that they were persecuted on account of their faith my aversion to hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a systematic anti-Semitism.
Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance in Linz. I carefully watched the man stealthily and cautiously but the longer I gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?"
(Mein Kampf, vol. 1, chap. 2: "Years of study and suffering in Vienna")
Hitler began to claim the Jews were natural enemies of what he called the Aryan race. He held them responsible for Austria's crisis. He also identified certain forms of Socialism and especially Bolshevism, which had many Jews among its leaders, as Jewish movements, merging his anti-Semitism with anti-Marxism. Blaming Germany's military defeat on the 1917 Revolutions, he considered Jews the culprit of Imperial Germany's military defeat and subsequent economic problems as well.
Generalising from tumultuous scenes in the parliament of the multi-national Austria Monarchy, he developed a firm belief in the inferiority of the democratic parliamentary system, which formed the basis of his political views. However, according to August Kubizek, his close friend and roommate at the time, he was more interested in the operas of Richard Wagner than in politics.
A landscape painted by Adolf Hitler.
Hitler received the final part of his father's estate in May 1913 and moved to Munich. He later wrote in Mein Kampf that he had always longed to live in a "real" German city. In Munich, he became more interested in architecture and the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Moving to Munich also helped him escape military service in Austria for a time, but the Austrian army later arrested him. After a physical exam (during which his height was measured at 173 cm, or 5 ft 8 in) and a contrite plea, he was deemed unfit for service and allowed to return to Munich. However, when Germany entered World War I in August 1914, he immediately petitioned King Ludwig III of Bavaria for permission to serve in a Bavarian regiment, this request was granted, and Adolf Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian army.
World War I
Hitler saw active service in France and Belgium as a messenger for the regimental headquarters of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment (also called Regiment List after its first commander), which exposed him to enemy fire. Unlike his fellow soldiers, Hitler reportedly never complained about the food or hard conditions, preferring to talk about art or