VITAL SIGNSrnThe Art of AdolfrnHitlerrnby Mark WarrenrnIn reading the Charles Manson story,rnllelter Skelter, I was struek bv a briefrnpassage about Manson’s admiration forrnihtler. Manson believed he had thingsrnin eommon with Hitler, and there werernsimilarities in their lives, howeer tri ial:rnboth were vegetarians; both had an incrediblernability to influenee others; andrnboth were frustrated, rejected artists.rnHitler—a frustrated, rejected artist?rnWhat was this all about? I had longrnheard that Hitler was a housepainter,rnthcxigh William Shirer claims “there isrnno evidence that he ever followed such arntrade.” ynd I knew that, in 1907, whenrnhe was 18 years old. Hitler had been rejectedrnfor admission b the ViennarnAeadem of Fine Arts, and that he hadrnbeen rejected again in 1908. The burningrnc]uestion for me was “Win was hernrejected?” According to I litlcr in MeinrnKampf, his rejection came as a blow, arnshocking mistake, because he was so certainrnthe acadcm- would accept him. Hernclaims that he was dissatisfied with himselfrnfor the first time in his life.rnBut where was information aboutrnHitler’s art—locations, catalogues,rnreproductions? Local uniersities hadrnnothing to offer, but I found exaeth’rnwhat I needed buried in a big-cit publicrnlibrar’: a treasure-troe of 260 pagesrnof I Htler’s art, some in black-and-whiternreproductions, some in color. This book,rncataloguing hundreds of sketches, drawings,rnand paintings by Hitler, was a stunningrnrevelation to me. Most interestingrnwere several examples of paintings thatrnHitler had submitted to the academy inrn1907, as well as several drawings, two ofrnwhich received a grade of “good.” Muchrnof I litler’s art, as this book makes clear, isrntoday in private collections not open tornthe public.rnThis diseo’cr fired m interest further.rnIt was apparent to me, as an artist,rnthat Hitler had talent. I lis artistic skill,rnin my opinion, was sufficient for entrancernto the Vienna Aeadem, and otherrnart authorities hac concluded thatrnhe should not ha e been rejected. Thernwork he produced between 1908 andrn1914 was more rcca]ing still; that workrnshowed a marked im])roement in hisrnart. During his Vienna years, a numberrnof dealers even sold his work.rnGrowing frustration tinged with angerrnand disappointment with the course ofrnhis life in Vienna apparently causedrnI htler to seek an escape from his trials.rnHis interest shifted from art to reading,rnwhich he took up a idh, focusing on polities,rnAustrian histor, and the plight ofrnthe dispossessed. He began to hate Viennarnand to attribute his own artisticrnproblems and all the social and economicrnproblems in Austria to the influeneernof the Jews, as he admitted in MeinrnKampf. Before the Vienna ears, there isrnlittle evidence that Hitler particuladyrnhated Jews. Anti-Semitism was not anrnissue in the en ironments where he grewrnup. His mother’s doctor was a Jew, andrnI htler is not on record as hating the Jewishrnart dealers in X’ienna who sold hisrnwork. But his hatred of Jew s was eleadyrnestablished b the end of his cars in Vienna.rnHe blamed them for his failures,rnand particulady for his failed art career,rnbut were the academ’s administratorsrnand faculty really Jewish^’ I thought thisrnworth’ of inestigation.rnI tried to learn more about Hitler’srnrejection bv the academy. What wasrnthe Jewish connection there, if am? Irnwrote to the director of ‘ienna’s KiinsthiHtomchesrnMuseum and asked outright ifrnthe Vienna Acadenn of k’ine Arts, inrn1907, had Jewish teachers and a Jewishrnadministration. Surprisingh, the acadennrnstill existed, and the director statedrnthat “obviously” there had beenrnteachers of the Mosaic faith. He suggestedrnthat 1 write to the aeadein- forrnmore detailed information. I wrote, butrnI received no answer. This only heightenedrnmy interest.rnMost biographers claim that Hitlerrnwas a laz-, poor student who showed littlernambition or sense of purpose. Actually,rnhe did well in lower school—andrnwell in upper school in what interestedrnhim. The tools he had to become arnsuccessful artist—talent, perseerance,rndetermination, and energy—were all forrnthe good, but these same tools becamernevil in the Vienna years.rnArt was on Hitler’s mind his entirernlife. He drew and sketched incessantly.rnHe supervised the design of all the newrnstructures he built and planned to build.rnAlbert Speer headed Hitler’s team of architects,rnand he attests to Hitler’s skill inrnthe conception and design of the NewrnGermain’s architecture. Many of thesernsketches and drawings still exist. Art wasrnon Hitler’s mind when he strtne, afterrnbecoming chancellor in 1933, to rid Germanyrnand Austria of the modernistrnpainters and their art, all of which wasrneventually removed from museums.rnThe artists lost their teaching jobs.rnSome fled Europe, some went to jail.rnThe great I .udwig Kirchncr committedrnsuicide, khtlcr built tlie House of GermanrnArt in Munich, based on his idea ofrnwhat art should be. I lis lifelong projectrnwas to eliminate ‘ienna as the prime artrncenter in Austria, and to this end he decidedrnto make 1 .in/,, his home, the greatestrnart center in the wodd. Art remainedrnon I litler’s mind all through the war. Inrnhis I’ahle lalk, a record of mealtime con-rn’ersations from 1941 to 1944, a goodrnnumber of his discussions were aboutrnartists, all forms of art, and plans for therncultural New Gcrmanw Werner Vlaser,rnhis biographer, tells how in March 1945,rnfour weeks before he died, he was engrossedrnin a wooden model of Linz thatrnincorporated his ideas.rnI litlcr frccjucntlv deplored his life, expressingrnhis dearest wish to wanderrnthrough Italy as an unknown painter.rnHe often tjuotcd Nero’s ding words,rn”What an artist dies in me.” Whilernspeaking to Carl Burckhardt about destroyingrnPoland, he paused and statedrnhow glad he would be if he could stayrnthere and work as an artist.rnWerner Maser devoted part of onern42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn