Hitler's First Love.
During Hitler's youth it was the custom of the upper classes to promenade on certain days along the fashionable Land Strasse not far from the Hitler home. Flower sellers and other vendors lined the street which added a romantic touch. In the early evening, young women, accompanied by their chaperones, strolled and appeared to be window shopping while they looked for reflections of young men looking their way. Well dressed young men or military officers in lustrous uniforms whispered to one another and maneuvered to positions where a fleeting glance might be exchanged. If encouraged, a bouquet handed to the right girl at the right moment might be the beginning of a romance--if the chaperone approved.
The object of Hitler's admiration came from a rich family, dressed elegantly, and was usually chaperoned by her mother. She was two years older than Hitler and after a two year college education in Munich and Geneva had returned in November, 1906,1 to Urfahr, a suburb of Linz directly across the Danube. Her name was Stefanie Jansten and she was an attractive girl with an innocent face framed by long blond braids. Adolf Hitler considered her a "gem" and she instantly had his "extraordinary love."2 Through friends he learned as much about her as possible and the only fault he could find was that she danced--he didn't.
About this time "Adolf" began to realize that the way one dressed was a sign of the "distinction between the classes." He put away his colored shirts and threadbare jackets. To Klara, nothing was too much for her contented son and she showered him with what he wanted. He now began to dress in white shirts, flowing cravats with stickpins, a broad-brimmed black hat set at a confident angle and well-cut tweed suits which were the envy of the other young men. When the weather was foul he wore a silk-lined black overcoat and carried a walking stick. When he attended the opera he wore black gloves and a top hat. The days of standing in the gallery were over.
For months he attended affairs which the object of his devotion frequented, hoping, like many a foolish youth, for a sign of recognition--a sign which never came. Undaunted, he befriended her brother and had himself invited to the girl's house3 under the pretext of using the family's library. He was surprised that a "poor boy," like himself was invited back and for a time became a steady visitor.4 All was in vain. Although he may have glimpsed Stefanie on occasion, they were never introduced. Because of his shyness, and that he was sure the girl's father, "a high official,"5 would reject him because he lacked the proper background, he never revealed his devotion.
He wrote a poem in her honor, and it is extremely likely that he sent Stefanie an unsigned love letter. Years later, Stefanie would remember receiving a note from a completely anonymous admirer. She and her mother marveled over a serious "art student" who asked her to wait four years before he would reveal himself.6 As with many teenage attractions, Hitler never even had a conversation with his "gem." Stefanie never noticed him.7 In a little over a year Stefanie would become engaged and later marry her military officer. Adolf's dream would end except for some innocent, embarrassing, but bittersweet memories.
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1 Jetzinger 106
2 Kubizek 60
3 Hanisch 297
4 Heiden 51-52
5 Heiden 51, Kubizek 61, Hanisch 297
6 Jetzinger 106-7
7 Ibid 106