Linz Opera House
Practicing frugality, Kubizek and Hitler often used to arrive early at the Landestheater to get a good standing place. They began competing with one another for one of the two columns which supported the Royal box. The wooden columns offered the luxury of something to lean against during the sometimes lengthy performances.* In time they recognized one another and became acquainted.
Kubizek was nine months older than Hitler and was a mild-mannered and sensitive youth with a look of intelligence. He was the son of a small businessman and lived above his father's upholstery shop in the family quarters on Klamm Strasse, not far from where Adolf Hitler lived. He was determined to be a renowned musician. At the time he could already play the piano, violin, trumpet and trombone and was studying music theory. He also played the viola for the local Music Society and the Symphony Orchestra. When he wasn't pursuing his dream he worked in his father's shop refinishing furniture.
Kubizek noted that "Adolf," because of his recent sickness, was a pale and skinny youth. But what captured his main attention was Adolf's glistening eyes and curious hairdo which was combed straight down over his forehead. Kubizek found that Adolf, like rebellious teenagers in every generation, wore his curious hairdo because no one else did. Kubizek, an only child, was one of those protected teenagers who have an adoration of the rebellious and "admiration" was his strongest point in cultivating a friendship. As Kubizek would write: "It was this very fact, that he was out of the ordinary, that attracted me even more."*
As their friendship matured, Hitler never addressed Kubizek by August but called him Gustl or Gustav, which had been the name of Hitler's oldest deceased brother. Kubizek in reality played the part of an idolizing younger brother. Hitler was extremely independent and it often happened that they did not meet for days even when they were on the best of terms.*
Although "Gustl" found Adolf high-strung, he also found him reserved. Hitler was formal and aloof in his dealings with others and was insistent on "good manners and correct behavior."* Unusual for a teenager, Hitler seldom became overly friendly and there were few teenagers his age that he liked. He had nothing but disdain for young people who wasted their time in shallow talk and mundane pursuits. He considered most teenagers superficial for he was, as Kubizek said, much more mature than most people of his age.
Walking was the only exercise that appealed to Hitler* and he and Kubizek often took long walks around the town or hiked into the nearby woods. They had their favorite trails and their favorite swimming hole. On these excursions, a walking stick was the only requirement and Adolf would wear a colored shirt and (in place of the normal necktie) “a silk cord with two tassels hanging down."*
Kubizek was particularly amazed by Adolf's refined speech which made him very persuasive, even with grown-ups. Kubizek was always astonished at how, when they were alone, Hitler could rant on about a particular subject and get himself worked up; yet, when dealing with others he kept calm and had an air of reasonableness. Hitler was normally polite to people, was not vain, and could be very sensitive if he felt someone was unhappy or sick. Kubizek also wrote that Adolf helped him through difficult times and always have time for people he liked.* Hitler was well-liked and respected by almost everyone he met.*
Kubizek was also awed by the seriousness and wide range of knowledge Hitler showed for one as young as he was. While most teenage boys interests are mainly confined to sports, comradeship and embellished stories or beliefs concerning the opposite sex, Hitler's interests were boundless. He was interested in agriculture, city planning, mythology, history, politics, and world events, including air travel. The Wright bothers had flown their heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk a few years before and Hitler was very impressed. He was interested in everything, Kubizek noted, and wasn't indifferent about anything.*
Kubizek would come to write a book about his experiences with the young Hitler. If the portents in retrospect and the occasional melodramatic moments are overlooked, he describes Hitler as a fairly normal teenager with an inquiring mind. Since many historians like to portray the young Hitler as unbalanced, ignorant, lazy, and stupid, a few have attempted to discredit Kubizek anytime he portrays the young Hitler in a decent light. Paula Hitler, however (who was about the only acquaintance who never tried to capitalize on her brother's name), stated that as a teenager Adolf had opinions about everything and constantly read. She also stated that he often used to give persuasive lectures on themes concerning history and politics to her and her mother.* (Paula, equal to her mother, was a quiet, docile and honest woman. She took a back seat to her brother when still a child and remained there all her life. She kept house for him during the "good" years and later learned applied art and led an obscure life in Vienna. She never married and spent the last years of her life living in the area of Berchtesgaden--her brother's last home. She died on June 1, 1960* almost unnoticed or unmourned.)
As Kubizek further described Hitler: "There was an incredible earnestness in him, a thoroughness, a. true passionate interest in everything that happened and, most important, an unfailing devotion to the beauty, majesty and grandeur of art."* Because of their common knowledge in theater, painting, architecture, writing, poetry, and especially music and opera, they became fairly close friends and Hitler confided in Kubizek.
Hitler told Kubizek his dream of becoming a painter; "my beautiful dream of the future," as he referred to it. When Kubizek saw Hitler's room for the first time, it reminded him of an "architect's office." Although Hitler painted landscapes and many other subjects, most of his works tended to be architectural structures. One of his hobbies was drawing or painting the finer buildings of Linz and making changes in their design. His favorite buildings were of the Italian Renaissance style and his favorite building was the Landesmuseum which he considered "one of the peak achievements in German architecture."* The richly ornamented gate and the hundred meter long sculptured panel above the main floor never ceased to impress him. Kubizek and Hitler would take long walks around the city and Hitler would often stop to look over one building or another. "There he stood," Kubizek would later write, "this pallid, skinny youth, with the first dark brown showing on his upper lip, in his shabby pepper-and-salt suit, threadbare at the elbows and collar, with his eyes glued to some architectural detail, analyzing the style, criticizing or praising the work, disapproving of the material--all this with such thoughtfulness and such expert knowledge as though he were the builder and would have to pay for every shortcoming out of his own pocket."*
According to Kubizek, some art lovers in Linz founded a society to promote the construction of a new theater. Hitler joined the society and "took part in a competition for ideas."* Hitler also made detailed drawings of the city's layout, showing how it could be improved and beautified. Adolf, Kubizek wrote, "could never walk the streets without being provoked by what he saw."* On more than one occasion Hitler noted that this or that building "shouldn't be here"* because it distracted from a view or did not "fit into its surroundings."* Kubizek would later write that Adolf's ideas were not "sheer fantasy, but a well-disciplined, almost systematic process."*
Hitler always had a secluded spot outside of town where he could be alone. One spot was a bench along a winding trail (Turmleitenweg), and another, when he really wanted to be alone, was a large, overhanging rock perched high above the Danube near by. Here he could think and cultivate his plans and ideas, including one, way ahead of its time, to turn Wildberg Castle (north of Linz) into an "open-air museum."* This "island where the centuries had stood still," (Adolf's very words according to Kubizek)* was to have a permanent population of men, women and children in medieval costumes demonstrating their crafts and trades. Hitler thought the castle would serve as a place of study for all those who wanted to learn about life as it was lived in the Middle Ages. And, it could pay for itself by charging admission to tourists.
Hitler also nurtured ideas of becoming a poet, writer or playwright.** Kubizek was enormously impressed by some of Hitler's poems. There was one, a sonnet, that Hitler attempted to extend into a play. That Hitler "devoted himself to writing, poetry, drawing, painting and to going to the theater," had Kubizek's complete admiration.* Another thing that impressed Kubizek was Hitler's complete self-assurance that one day he would become famous.
In time they came to dream about their success and how they would either build their own villa or renovate a large flat where struggling "lofty minded" artists with talent could come and find shelter. Hitler made numerous sketches of the proposed villa. On the other hand, if they opted for the flat, they proposed to rent the entire second floor of a huge building adjoining the Nibelungen Bridge which crossed the Danube between Linz and the suburb of Urfahr.* They bought a lottery ticket and dreamed about how they would spend it furnishing their new abode if they won. Their plan was to find a refined and distinguished older woman to serve as host, and two other "females" to serve as cook and housemaid.* The women were to be of impeccable character since, at this point of their lives, they had high ideals concerning women.
As was usual for most sixteen and seventeen year olds of their day, both Hitler and Kubizek kept their distance from young women. "Flirtations" were out of the question and even a conversation with a young girl, outside the necessary everyday dealings, was rare. To further complicate their situation, Kubizek noted that Hitler, like himself, was very shy around young women and although interested, found it difficult to communicate with them. They were caught between that unrelenting biological urge to reproduce and the fear of the unknown. Rather then admit their fears they consoled themselves, as Kubizek noted, in waiting for that “sacred” virgin that would lead to marriage and children.*
Kubizek also noted that Hitler was a night person. If he wanted to think or something was bothering him, he would take lengthy night walks to the outskirts of the city and now and then climb the nearby hills on the west side of town. If he wasn't thinking he would paint or read late into the night. He seldom rose early except when absolutely necessary. Hitler was aware that early risers see themselves as superior to late risers, but he never tried to hide his sleeping habits. (Since he was known to be aware of Mark Twain's writings, it's possible that he knew about Twain's comment that he never went to bed as long as he had someone to talk to, and he never got up early unless it was "damn important.") Kubizek noted that anytime Adolf was up early in the morning, something had to be "very special." If Adolf slept too late, however, Klara would send the younger Paula to wake him with the words, "go and give him a kiss."* Adolf, who hated to be kissed or hugged, would jump out of bed the moment his sister got near him.
As their friendship continued, Kubizek would find that Hitler would sometimes become impatient or angry when someone disagreed with him. Kubizek took great care not to clash with Adolf and always yielded except on musical matters. Nonetheless, their relationship was an on-and-off thing, sometimes lasting for weeks. Kubizek would acknowledge that there were times he thought his friendship with Adolf was over, but they would meet by chance, usually at a concert, and patch up their differences.*
Around this time the Hitler family began seeing a new doctor named Eduard Bloch. He described "Adolf" as a "well mannered," "neat," "obedient boy" who would "bow...courteously" whenever they met. He found Adolf to be "neither robust nor sickly" but "'frail looking'" with "large, melancholy and thoughtful....gray-blue eyes....inherited from his mother." Dr. Bloch, like Kubizek, also described Adolf as a "quiet," and a "well-bred boy of fourteen or fifteen" who was "old for his age."*
Two-and-a-half months before Hitler turned seventeen his grandmother died on Feb, 8, 1906. Klara's mother had been loved by the whole family which went into deep mourning. For the fourth time in six winters Hitler saw another close family member laid to rest.
With a school year lost and spring approaching, Hitler began making plans for his future. Klara still had hopes that her son would take his final test to obtain his diploma and enter a local technical school and become a civil servant like his father. Adolf, on the other hand, pleaded that sitting in an office wasn't for him. He saw artists as a better class of society and his dream was to become a great artist, possibly like one of his three favorites, Rubens, or the moderns: Hans Makart or Anselm Feuerback. He decided that he wanted to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (known then as the Vienna School of Fine Arts) that autumn.
A diploma was not necessary for admittance to the academy and he undoubtedly pointed out the good marks he had received in art during his last year of school. Although not opposed to his studying art, Klara was strongly opposed to his relocating in Vienna. She had been terribly shaken by his recent sickness and his frail appearance worried her. He was her only surviving son and she wanted him by her side. Vienna was a hundred miles away.
For Hitler's seventeenth birthday, Klara gave in to her son's insistence. She gave him enough money for a vacation in Vienna where he could gather information on the Academy. She did so, however, with the hope that he would get the idea out of his system and give up his idea of leaving home. Shortly after his birthday, he arrived in Vienna where, after the blandness of Linz, he was immediately enchanted by the large metropolis. Klara had misjudged her son.
Hitler spent his days sight-seeing and sketching many of Vienna's wonders. He spent most of his evenings visiting the music halls, theaters, and especially the opera which overwhelmed him when compared to the caliber of Linz's. Just walking the stairs of the Burg Theater or the State Opera House was enough to make any youth feel he was part of a world of power and grandeur. As he would later recall: "Never shall I forget the gracious spectacle of the Vienna Opera, the women sparkling with diadems and fine clothes."*
Hitler sent postcards to his family and friends* including Hagmuller,* Kubizek* and Dr. Bloch,* voicing his enthusiasm. He returned home more convinced than ever that he wanted to return to Vienna by late September when admission tests to the academy began.
Although the family finances were adequate, Klara did everything to dissuade him. The love that mother and son had for each other was obvious to everyone, but the thought of being separated from her son was unbearable to Klara. She was intent that he should choose a profession which would keep him at home.
During the family's summer vacation on the farm that Summer, Adolf was hammered with alternative proposals for pursuing a more sensible career. He became alienated and kept to himself. He whiled away the hours by drawing in his sketch book, painting, reading or taking long solitary walks. When the family returned home he was further barraged with suggestions by Angela's husband, Leo. Klara even had her baker friend and his wife attempt to secure Adolf a position as a baker's apprentice which he refused. When a neighbor, no doubt at Klara's urging, suggested a position with the postal service, Adolf answered that he intended to become an artist. Undaunted, Klara continued searching for an excuse to keep her son at home.
Kubizek had been taking piano lessons from an expensive Polish teacher named Josef Prewatzki. Around the end of September when Adolf wanted to leave for Vienna, Klara suggested that he join Kubizek. Klara knew her son occasionally thought about becoming a poet or writer. With his love for music and the opera she attempted to convince him to study music so he could go on to become a composer or possibly write operas. Klara's persistence finally paid off. Adolf relented. The relieved Klara brought him a piano made by Heitzmann-Flugel, whose pianos were among the best in the world.*
Hitler began piano lessons on October 2, 1906. As with any subject he enjoyed, or found interest in, he threw himself into it. He never missed a class and paid by the month. According to the teacher, he was a little timid and was bored easily by finger exercises but he had a good ear for music, practiced his scales conscientiously and progressed steadily. His sister Paula remembered that he would sit at the large piano at home for hours practicing.* With the examinations to the art academy over for another year, life in the Hitler household settled down. Shortly after, the seventeen year old Hitler developed his first and only teenage crush.*
In the Winter of 1906, Hitler and Kubizek attended an opera of Wagner's Rienzi. The story is set in fourteenth century Rome and tells the story of a man of the people, trying to free them from the oppression of the upper classes. The privileged make an attempt to kill Rienzi but are overpowered and after violating their oath of submission are exterminated. Rienzi rises to the position of dictator and in one scene the trumpets blare and the people shout: "Heil, Rienzi. Heil the tribune of the people." Hitler was completely enthralled by the music and by the character of the rebel Rienzi who had been goaded to political action after witnessing the death of his younger brother. Rienzi in the end, however, is stoned and burned to death by those who never really wanted the freedom he offered.
The long opera was not over until after midnight and Hitler, quite out of context, showed a side of his personality that Kubizek had never seen. After the performance Hitler talked for over an hour about politics. Like many young thinkers of the lower middle class he was beginning to develop a hard attitude against the upper echelon--"the social order which made everything dependent on whether or not you had money," as he put it.* Because of those persons of quality he was first exposed to in high school, he appears to "have acquired a tenacious 'class consciousness.'"* His turn of mind was no doubt compounded by the fact that Stefanie and "her society," as he put it, were out of his reach.
Undoubtedly influenced by the writers of the time, the seventeen year old Hitler also began to believe strongly in destiny. The fact that two of his brothers died before he was born, and another was born and died after him, caused him to wonder why he was spared. He confided to Kubizek that he believed in fate and that even he could be called upon someday by the people "to lead them out of servitude to heights of freedom."* (This at first appears to be one of Kubizek's exaggerations or recollections borrowed from others (including Mein Kampf), however, Adolf Hitler would tell more than one person that the "beginning" of his success began the first time he saw the opera Rienzi. It would be hard to deny that the first time he saw the opera was with Kubizek.) Years later Hitler would comment to another friend on the story of Rienzi: "Listening to this blessed music as a young man in the theater at Linz, I had the vision that I too must someday succeed in uniting the German Empire and making it great once more."* He believed that he was destined for a "special mission."*
In January of 1907 Klara fell ill and doctor Bloch summoned Adolf and Angela for a conference on the situation. They learned that Klara had breast cancer and her only chance for survival was a serious operation. Dr. Bloch was touched by Adolf's tears and concern and recognized the strong "attachment that existed between mother and son."*
Klara entered the hospital in mid January and on Jan 18, 1907, during an operation performed by a surgeon named Karl Urban, one of her breasts was removed. She had little concern about herself but was most concerned about her children if she should die. She did not hide from Dr. Bloch that her gravest concern was for her son. "Adolf is still so young," she said repeatedly to him.* While she lavished her son with almost everything he wanted, she herself spent the next two and a half weeks recuperating in a third class ward of the hospital even though she could have afforded better. Adolf visited her every day.
When Adolf's recuperating mother returned home he, possibly afraid of disturbing her or unable to concentrate, discontinued his piano practice and lessons. He resumed his painting and drawing. Both Kubizek and Dr. Bloch (who called and at times administered Klara morphine to relieve her pain) speak of Adolf's attentiveness to his mother and the fear in his eyes on bad days. Dr. Bloch stated that this was not a pathological relationship, only deep affection between a mother who adored her son and a son who adored his mother.* As the months passed Klara appeared to have recovered.
2nd Linz home at Urfahr
She now apparently had a change of heart about Adolf's desire to become an artist.* When Klara's sisters and especially Angela's husband suggested to her that Adolf should give up his artistic desires and get a job, she now replied: "He is different from us."* Late that summer she withdrew Adolf's patrimony, now over 700 kronen, and gave it to him along with her blessings to pursue his dream of becoming a painter.
If Adolf was frugal, the money he received was enough for tuition and living expenses in Vienna for over a year. In Sept. of 1907 his plans were made to leave for the academy's admission test. Shortly before his departure Klara's health took a turn for the worse, but examinations for entrance to the academy were scheduled for Oct. lst and 2nd and he would have to wait another year if he didn't go then. When Kubizek came to see Adolf off, there were tears all around as Klara, Paula and Adolf bid farewell. They were aware that once accepted, he would begin classes in a week and he might not return till the holidays.
When he arrived in Vienna, he rented a single room on Stumper Gasse (Stumper Lane) which was only a few blocks southwest from the railroad station (Westbahnhof) that served all trains going west. If word arrived that his mother's health had taken a turn for the worse, he could catch a train and, for a little over seven Kronen, be back in less than three and a half hours.*
Along with 51 other candidates, Adolf Hitler was refused admittance to the art Academy. He was crushed. All his dreams were dashed. The fact that out of 113 original candidates only 28 were admitted* did not console him. For over a week he roamed the streets of Vienna not knowing what to do. He then received word that his mother had taken another turn for the worse.
Hitler returned home immediately to be by his mother's side. On October 22nd. he consulted with Dr. Bloch* and found that Klara was in very serious condition. The operation had occurred too late and the disease was spreading rapidly. An experimental treatment was attempted which only added to her suffering. Within a short time she needed constant attention. Her bed was moved to the kitchen/living room area which was the warmest room in the house. Although Adolf admitted to others that he had failed to gain admittance to the academy,* he didn't burden his mother with his rejection and assured her that he was accepted and would become an artist someday.
Klara spent the next two months in constant pain which she bore well believing "that her fate was God's will."* However, the ever present Adolf according to neighbors, Kubizek, and Dr. Bloch, anguished over her suffering. Although Klara's sister Johanna also helped care for Klara, Adolf took over as man of the house. He was in constant attendance to his mother and did whatever possible to make her comfortable. Dressed in his old clothes, he scrubbed floors, helped with the washing, and cooked her favorite meals which she greatly appreciated. He took charge of his eleven year old sister, Paula, and even tutored her.
In late November, Klara had a serious relapse. Adolf slept on the couch near her bed and did what he could to comfort her. He read aloud to her the sentimental novels she loved even though he hated them. He drew her picture and on some days held her hand for hours on end. As Paula would state years later: "...my brother Adolf spoiled my mother during this last time of her life with overflowing tenderness. He was indefatigable in his care for her, wanted to comply with any desire she could possibly have and did all to demonstrate his great love for her."*
When Kubizek or Dr. Bloch visited they found the normally high strung and proud Adolf quiet, gentle and apprehensive. If Klara showed any signs of improvement, Dr. Bloch noted, Adolf's eyes would light up and he would take an optimistic view.* With the holidays approaching a Christmas tree was placed in the living room in hopes of lifting her spirits.
On Dec 20th. Dr. Bloch made two house calls and saw that the end was near. Kubizek also visited and saw her lying, weak and barely able to speak. Her thoughts, however, were of her son. When the distraught Adolf left the room momentarily she managed to whisper to Kubizek: "Go on being a good friend to my son when I'm no longer here."*
At 2a.m. the following morning, with Adolf at her bedside, Klara, age 47,
died in the glow of the lighted Christmas tree. Adolf was crushed. Dr. Bloch stated:
"In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf
Hitler."* Two days later, on Christmas Eve, Adolf followed the hearse which
drove to Leonding three miles away. The funeral Mass was held in the small church across
the road from where they used to live and Klara was laid to rest beside her husband.
He himself wrote the announcement of the passing away of his "deeply, loved, never-to-be-forgotten mother."* For the rest of his life he would always have a picture of his mother on his person or nearby, and whenever the occasion arose would proudly and lovingly show it. Dr. Bloch, who was Jewish, would later emigrate to the safety of the United States but still refused to repudiate his statements, including the one that described the young Hitler as "a fine and exemplary son who bore such a deep love and concern for his dear mother which one finds on this globe only in extremely exceptional cases."* Kubizek, also, in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the psychologists, newsmen, historians in residence and other persons of quality, who never ceased to degrade the young Hitler as an uncaring son, would later write: "Adolf really loved his mother. I swear to it before God and man."
As Klara's oldest child, Adolf, under the guidance of his legal guardian, the Mayor of Leonding, Josef Mayrhofer, took care of all of his mother's personal unfinished business and paid all her debts with the estate left behind. Surviving documents show that the doctor bill outstanding was 300 kronen while the funeral and coffin, cost 370 kronen--an extremely large sum for a lower middle class family to pay. Adolf also gave a part of his inheritance to his stepsister since she and her husband agreed to take on the responsibility of raising the eleven year old Paula.* He thanked neighbors for their help and even gave one of his best paintings to a couple who had showed particular loyalty during his mothers sickness. His legal guardian, Mayrhofer, found the young Hitler's actions "laudable."
Since their father had been a State official, the "orphans" Paula and Adolf were now eligible for 600 Kronen annually between them. Their guardian split the pension down the center. The eighteen year old Adolf Hitler was to receive 300 kronen a year in monthly payments until he was twenty-four years old or until he became self-supporting.
Hitler, now armed with a letter of recommendation from his influential landlord (which described Hitler as a "nice, steadygoing .... serious and ambitious young man ... mature and sensible beyond his years,"*) decided to return to Vienna. If fortune did not smile on him, he could retake the examination test to the Art Academy later that year. As "my father had accomplished fifty years before," he would later write, "I too, wanted to become 'something.'"*
Kubizek also wanted to leave Linz and enter the Academy of Music in Vienna but his father was against him leaving at the time. Hitler made a trip to Kubizek's house and persuaded the old man to let him go. Kubizek would follow him shortly. With what was left from his inheritance, Hitler left for Vienna in mid February 1908, in search of a "special mission."