Making the transition from grade school to high school can be a hard period for any boy, but was particularly hard on the eleven year old Adolf Hitler. He not only had to contend with the recent death of his brother but with a new environment. Unlike the small rural towns where he had spent his life, Linz was a bustling city of 55,000 people. Adolf either had to walk to the four-story school building, which took about an hour, or he could take the train. In the secondary school, which wasn't mandatory and where parents paid for their children's education, his father's position and rank meant little. As an "outsider" he and a few other boys from Leonding, were looked down on by many of the wealthier city boys as one of those "from the peasants."* For the first time he now found himself exposed to the class prejudices of the upper classes who considered him unworthy in not only character but appearance. As one class conscious historian later commented: "For here he found himself a rough-hewn rustic, a despised outsider among the sons of academics, businessmen, and persons of quality."* Adolf's whole world must have seemed like it was falling in on him. He appeared listless and unconcerned and, for the first time, did poorly in school.
As Adolf's grades plunged, a conflict between father and son developed because Alois feared another "no-account" son. Adolf Hitler would later write that "hostility" developed between his father and himself when he was "eleven years old." He would also admit that he once had a temper tantrum which caused him to fall to the ground, "faint from rage," when he didn't get his way in a disagreement with his father.* It wasn't long before Adolf found himself at the mercy of his father's discipline on a regular basis. Klara shielded the boy whenever possible but normally consoled him afterward and no doubt alienated her husband. The opposing values between parents drew Adolf closer to his mother and he developed a rebellious attitude toward his father. For the first time, relatives and neighbors noted that the spoiled child Adolf could also be defiant and did not like anyone telling him what to do. He failed math and natural history and was not promoted that year. "When I was a schoolboy," Hitler would later state, "I did all I could to get out in the open air as much as possible--my school reports bear witness to that!"*
Hitler's frustration is made clear by one of his own stories. One of his jobs at home was to protect the family garden from neighboring chickens. Adolf found it "irritating" that when he chased them away they came back again. "When I was a child," he would later recollect, "my parents had a little garden in Leonding. Our neighbor insisted on letting her hens forage in our garden. One day I loaded a shot-gun and blazed off at them."* The neighbor undoubtedly complained to the authorities and the incident was never forgotten by Hitler. Years later he would state that the legal way was to capture and hold the hens until damages were paid.*
After he returned to school in the Fall of 1901, and began repeating the year he had failed, things improved. The shock of his brother's death had subsided and he returned to some of his old ways. By keeping his distance from those "persons of quality," he found his place. Because of his brashness, and because he was now older than most of his classmates, many began to look up to him and he became a little leader again.* His grades improved and his twelve year old mind began to be shaped by the beliefs of his day. The ideals impressed upon the young Hitler during this period would dominate his thinking till the day he died.
Alois wanted Adolf to follow in his footsteps and become a civil servant for the Austrian government. Adolf, on the other hand, was opposed to it. Building upon the child's instinct to rival the father and a doting mother to protect or console him, Adolf's rebellious attitude toward his father increased. His sister Paula would later state: "When Mother said anything he obeyed, and when Father said anything he was against it."* Adolf admitted to his father that he did not want to follow in his footsteps. The conflict between father and son intensified. "Adolf," his sister also remarked, "challenged my father ... and... got a sound thrashing everyday. He was a scrubby little rogue, and all attempts of father to thrash him for his rudeness and cause him to crave the profession of an official of the state were in vain. How often on the other hand did my mother caress him and try to obtain with her kindness, where the father could not succeed with harshness!"*
Neither mother nor father succeeded for Adolf had other ideas. Adolf's teachers and classmates noticed that he had an above average ability in drawing. He was very adept at drawing geometric or architectural structures. He could amaze his classmates by drawing from memory buildings which they would recognize before he was finished. Some of his early works still survive and show the crude but budding talent of an untrained child. Adolf nourished the idea of becoming an artist. When he revealed this to his father it only aggravated the bad feelings already there.
Caught in that awkward period between the passing of childhood and the coming of adolescence, Adolf still led his Indian braves against the opposing forces. "When we children played 'Red Indians,'" his sister later related, "my brother Adolf was always the leader. All the others did what he told them; they must have had an instinct that his will was stronger."* He learned to throw a lasso and so occasionally switched sides.
During this period Adolf also acquired the habit of reading since his father had a small library. Adolf's mind was fired by the exploits of the Norwegian Arctic explorer and oceanographer, Fridtjof Nansen (1922 Nobel Peace Prize winner), and also the Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin, who had recently traversed the ancient silk routes from Russia, through Tibet to Peking.*
"One Christmas," Hitler would later state, "I was given a beautiful illustrated edition [of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe]." He found it unmatched in "desert-island stories." He also read Don Quixote, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Gulliver's Travels, all of which he later hailed as "universal works."* His favorite stories, however, were still tales of the American west and he read all he came across.*
One day a friend of Adolf's found him reading Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. He told Adolf that the "westerns" of Karl May (who lived in Linz around this time)* where much better. Adolf took his advice. May, whose stories of the wild American west won him a huge German audience, soon became his favorite author. He compared May to Jules Verne. "I was carried away," Hitler would later say. "I went on to devour at once the other books by the same author."*
Although May never saw America he produced dozens of wild and rowdy stories of trappers, hunters, cowboys and Indians. Like the late 19th century American "dime novels," May's stories were filled with tales of adventure and violence. His swashbuckling hero, Old Shatterhand, was a white American who fought the red men and his ruthlessness was always described with admiration. Old Shatterhand liked to quote the Bible to show he was perfectly justified in killing his enemies.* As a balance to Old Shatterhand and the white man, there were the noble Apaches and their resolute chief, Winnetou. Adolf was deeply impressed with the character of Winnetou and nearly forty years later would state that Winnetou had always been his "model of a noble spirit."* May's stories were snatched up by millions of readers and a generation of German youths adored his work. Boys like Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer (1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner) were loyal May fans.* Even girls, like Eva Braun, read May.*
Around this time, Adolf read in one of those stories that it was a sign of courage not to show pain, and decided never to cry again when his father whipped me. He claimed years later that his resolve worked. Whether for that reason or not, the thrashing stopped and his father never touched him again.
One day Adolf found some literature in his father's library
about Germany's defeat of France in 1871. He also read about the Boer War in South Africa
(which was then drawing to an end) where the British were crushing resistance by burning
farms and sticking Boer families in concentration camps. Adolf's imagination was
fired by the stories of the
After repeating the year he had failed Adolf was promoted. He would earn decent grades in most subjects when he returned to school in the fall, but his grades would never reach the level they had before his brother's death. Like many students, he did not like mathematics and never mastered the technicalities of written languages. His grades in Mathematics were poor, and he received below average marks in both written and spoken German. Surprisingly he also received below average grades in Free Hand Drawing even though his teachers reported that he was "fluent" in the subject; but, his grades in geometrical drawing were above average. As in his first year he was failing French. His grades in conduct, on the other hand, were usually "good." Hitler would later blame his bad grades during this period on his habit of reading material not concerned with school activities.* Because his father expected better grades, the friction between them continued.
Although Alois, well into his sixties now, still "scolded and bawled" at Adolf and threatened to "bash" him, Alois' "bark," as before, was worst than his bite. Acquaintances stated he "never touched" Adolf during these later years and that "the boy stood in awe of him."* Apparently Alois had returned to his mellowed ways for witnesses stated that he was always cheerful and good company. He seems to have had his sentimental moments and in one of his surviving letters inquires about purchasing two beehives he built years earlier on the Hafeld farm "as a memento of my activities there."* Adolf Hitler would always speak of his father without malice and even remember times when his father joked with him. Years later he would remark:
Klara, who was always considered "a real nice women,"* was often seen on school mornings walking Paula to the gate and giving her a kiss in parting. Open affection was not a common trait among the Germans in the area and the Hitler children were the envy of some of their peers.* "My mother," Hitler would recall years later, "lived for her husband and children."* Although Klara attended church every Sunday with the children, Alois attended only on the Emperor's birthday. On the other hand, Alois continued to be involved with social issues and met at informal gatherings at a local inn and even joined a singing group. He was content, and though he had been bothered by a lung aliment for some time, appeared in good health.
When Adolf was almost fourteen, his father then 66, died unexpectedly of a lung hemorrhage (Jan. 3, 1903). The funeral was held a few days later in the church opposite their home. Relations from Spital, old friends from the customs service, and nearly everyone in the village of Leonding, included the mayor, attended. Alois was laid to rest on the other side of the stone wall. Although Adolf had his differences with his father, he considered him a "man of honor" and was "deeply bereaved."*
The Linz Tagespost, the largest paper in Upper Austria, gave Alois a lengthy obituary referring to his cheerfulness, energetic civil sense, his authority on bee-keeping and noted that he "was able to [speak] authoritatively on any matter that came to his notice." Alois, "at all times an energetic champion of law and order," was praised as a "good man" and "friend of song." They forgave him for his occasional harsh words and stated: "Hitler's passing has left a great gap."*
Whether his father's death was the triggering element or not, by this time Adolf lost complete faith in the teaching of the church. "Since my fourteenth year," he would later say, "I have felt liberated from the superstition that the priests used to teach."* Around this time a teacher/priest asked Adolf if he said his prayers. Adolf replied: "No, sir, I don't say prayers. Besides, I don't see how God could be interested in the prayers of a secondary school boy."*
Ironically, Adolf's grandfather ( Klara's father), had died the previous January. After watching his brother, grandfather and now father buried during three of the last four winters, Adolf not only turned away from his religion, but also began to develop a distaste for the colder months and never again enjoyed winter activities. Although he knew how to snow-ski, he gave it up around this time and never skied again.* "I've always detested snow," he would later state, "I've always halted it."*
Klara received about 80% of her husband's income in pensions for her and the children. Because of her frugality, the material life style of the family was not affected. They lived within the lower fringes of the middle class (petty bourgeoisie). They lived "quietly and decently--unnoticed little people in an out-of-the-way town."*
Klara allowed Adolf to room at Linz during school days to avoid the three mile trip to school everyday. She hoped his grades would improve--they didn't. The landlady of the boarding-house, Frau Sekira (and the five other boys at the Kostplatz), stated that although Adolf appeared ill at ease at times, he was polite, well-behaved and spent most of his free time drawing and reading.*
Adolf never became close friends with any of the five boys who shared the lodging. His experiences the previous year with class prejudices caused him to keep his distance from those who considered him an outsider or one from the peasants. In German there are two common forms of "you," Sie (formal) and du (familiar). Du, at the time, was only to be used among close friends of equal status. The young Adolf, in an apparent defiant gesture, refused to address certain classmates by du since they obviously did not consider him their equal.* As one of the boys would later state: "None of the five other boys made friends with him. Whereas we schoolmates naturally called one another du, he addressed us as Sie, and we also said Sie to him and did not even think there was anything odd about it."* As Adolf Hitler would later state: "In my youth, I was rather a loner and didn’t feel the need to be part of a group."* The peasants at this time furthermore, finding the word "Sie" too formal, frequently used the word "ihr" to address outsiders. Hitler may also have been proclaiming to those boys of "quality" that he was not a peasant.
One of Klara's sisters, Theresia, was married to a farmer named Schmidt whose farm at Spital consisted of woods and fields. After Adolf completed his school year, Klara, Angela, Paula and Adolf spent most of the summer on the Schmidt farm. The Schmidts had two young children and Adolf's Grandmother (Klara's mother) also lived there. Adolf would spend the next four summers there. Although he occasionally helped out with some of the farm chores, he avoided the tedium of field work. He spent most of his time reading, drawing and playing with the Schmidt children.
During this period the family heard from Alois Jr. who had gotten himself into trouble with the law again. He had been sentenced to eight months imprisonment for theft. He appears to have gotten out of jail and was finding it hard to make ends meet. He wrote Klara appealing for financial help. Adolf supposedly intercepted the letter and, no doubt remembering the pain Alois Jr. had brought to the household during his younger brothers death, is reported to have written back: "To steal and to be caught means that you are not even a good thief. In that case my advice is to go hang yourself."*
Since a student was expected to maintain a "satisfactory" grade in certain subjects Adolf had to take a special examination in Mathematics before entering his third year. Once back in school he got along with most of his classmates and like all boys participated in sports, indulged in pranks, and planned a trip around the world. He tried to make contact with girls by making funny faces at them or carrying their packages,* but he was shy around girls his age and was unable to carry on a sustained conversation. His grades remained about the same. As would be expected, some of his teachers liked him, others had no opinion, and some disliked him. He, on the other hand, disliked most of his teachers and admired others. He would later pay particular praise to one of his history teachers who, as he put it, "carried us away with the splendor of his eloquence....and who evoked historical facts out of the fog of the centuries and turned them into living reality."*
On Sept 14, 1903, Adolf's half sister, Angela who was now twenty, married a young assistant tax inspector from Linz named Leo Raubal. This was an unpleasant time for the fourteen year old Adolf who was close to Angela and saw her leaving as another terrible event. Adolf never got along with Angela's husband who made fun of Adolf's idea of becoming an artist or painter and thought that he should become a civil servant as his father had wanted. Also, because of Adolf's admiration of the Germans of Germany, Leo's position with the Austrian government further alienated them.
By the time Adolf Hitler was fifteen he was a committed outspoken German Nationalist. During this period a youth movement began sweeping Germany and Austria. It was a movement which gloried in the coming of a mystical nationalism led by a powerful Fuhrer (leader) who would lead the Volk (common people) to world prominence. The movement is normally referred to as volkisch which is somewhat defined as a racial community tied together by deep spiritual and cultural views fortified by a legendary past (many early American Indian tribes would understand its appeal). The movement taught that man must become a part of something greater than himself and emphasized the whole of the Volk over the individual. The movement appealed to many Germans since they, for the most part, have always looked for a strong leader to point them in the right direction. Many saw the ideal state as one patterned after the model of the family with a strong father/leader figure.
The work of the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-9O) did much to advance the idea. His discoveries of Troy on the shores of Turkey, and the ancient burial sights of the great "Aryan Greek heroes" in Mycenae, led to a rage of interest in ancient life which did much to promote the idea of militarism and the warrior in the German speaking world. The young Adolf was greatly impressed by these discoveries and came to believe that the "Hellenic spirit" ("and German technology") was the dominant reason for the great advances in Europe and the Near East.
Hitler took his nationalism seriously and like those around him was prone to generalities. Slogans like, "German boy, do not forget that you are a German," and "German maid, remember that you are to be a German mother,"* were heard by almost every Austrian child. Like adolescents today who take pride in their heritage, religion or ethnic affiliations (which subtly teach them to believe in their superiority), Adolf believed the teaching and racism of his time. Because of his light brown hair at the time, and blue eyes, he considered himself an "old German," as compared to others who, as an example, had been "Latinized" by their neighbors to the south. He once remarked to a schoolmate that the boy was not an "old German" because he had dark hair and dark eyes.* Most of Adolf's classmates, nevertheless, liked him at school or play and would later state that he wasn't a fanatic and was better than most boys. One stated that he was brave, likeable, and not a hothead but a "quiet extremist" who tried to be agreeable. Another felt that Adolf was "no more [nationalistic] than we all were."*
A few of Adolf's teachers disagreed. By the time he entered his third year of high school, he had become the typical spoiled, independent minded teenager. "We pupils of the old Austria were brought up to respect old people and women," he would later state; "but on our professors we had no mercy; they were our natural enemies."* Although one of his teachers stated that he left neither a favorable nor an unfavorable impression, others claimed that he was a spoiled, stubborn boy who talked back to them, failed to show them any respect, or played pranks on them.
In one of the pranks, Adolf knew that a teacher was going to instruct the students to stand and then divide the class down the center. Half were to proceed to one side of the room while the other half proceeded to the other side to conduct a lesson. Adolf, with a couple friends, organized the students and convinced them to go to the opposite side of the room. The confusion that resulted was paramount and Hitler would gleefully remember years later that the teacher "danced with indignation, exclaiming that the students became more and more stupid with every year."*
In another case, there was one teacher who did not uphold the national ideal of a united German people and believed strongly in a great Austria. Adolf enjoyed irritating the teacher by waving pencils of black, red and gold (the colors of Greater Germany) when he had a question. Adolf and his classmates were delighted when the teacher would bellow: "Put those horrible colors away immediately." This teacher had a female relative who kept a little shop a few doors down from the school. Adolf and his friends visited her one day and asked to see women's bloomers, corsets and other under garments which they knew she didn't stock. When the embarrassed lady told them that she did not stock such items, Adolf and his friends left the shop while putting on airs of indignation and "complaining in loud voices."*
One of Adolf's friends, "a real scamp," as Hitler called him, used to blow kisses at the younger nuns who lived in a convent near the school. One day a senior nun, "an old prude" as Adolf called her, complained to the head of the school, and Adolf, who undoubtedly followed his friends lead, got into more trouble. In the presence of higher authority Adolf promised to change his ways and admitted years later that if it hadn't been for a few teachers who acted on his behalf the "affair would have ended badly for me."*
Good intentions bore little fruit, and as Hitler would later remark: "I couldn't help it."* He was soon involved in other pranks. In addition, both Klara and Paula attended church every Sunday, but after Alois' death, Adolf attended only for weddings and funerals. (In spite of this, on May 22, 1904, he was confirmed at the Linz Cathedral. It was obvious to everyone present that he was against the confirmation and only went through with it to please his mother. On the ride back to Leonding he was almost rude to his sponsors who went to considerable expense to stand for him. Back at home, a group of Adolf's playmates were waiting for him and he soon dashed off among a chorus of Indian war hoots.*)
Naturally, such continued "bad conduct" was not to be tolerated. When it was found that Adolf was the prime organizer behind many of these indiscretions (and also a bad Christian no doubt), his mother was called to the school.
Because of his reputation as an organizer and ringleader, Adolf was not allowed back to his school after completing his third year. As Adolf's German and French teacher, Professor Huemer, would later testify:
Klara was forced to transfer her son to a different school that year. Adolf was enrolled in the state High School in the charming town of Steyr for his final year.
Although it was the closest alternative, Adolf's new school was twenty-five miles away. Klara had him boarded at the home of a local family named Cichini who lived on the Grunmarkt.* This was the first time in Adolf's life that he was truly separated from his mother. At the school in Linz he could come home to be consoled or comforted if he had a problem. At Steyr, he could return only on weekends. In addition, at the age of fifteen when most boys need the companionship of others and have carved out their place among their peers, Adolf had to adjust to a new environment where he was considered a real outsider. He knew no one, was terribly unhappy, and had trouble adjusting.* He also faced a new curriculum and his grades during the first semester plunged.
By the second half of the year he learned to fit in and made friends with a few boys. One, a boy named Sturmlechner who had artistic ability, drew him in profile. Adolf also made friends with the boy who shared his room and although years later he could not remember the boys last name he had no trouble remembering that his first name was Gustav. By the end of the school year he was able to bring his grades up. He failed Geometry however, and had to repeat an examination which resulted in a passing grade. (It appears that he was permitted to take the reexamination before returning home to Linz.) In July of 1905, when Adolf was 16, he completed his last year of Mittelschule (equivalent to high school in the US).
Accordingly, he received his grade completion Certificate, but he did not graduate. In Austria, the completing and promoting of a grade did not entitle one to a diploma. Adolf was required to return later that year and take a "final examination."
After receiving their grade completion certificate, Adolf and a few friends decided to celebrate the occasion, as well as the beginning of the summer holidays.* As he would later tell an acquaintance: "We went out on the sly to a country inn where we drank and had a high old time."* The party continued into the night. Adolf got so drunk he didn't remember anything till the next morning when he was awakened along the road from Steyr to Garsten by a milkmaid.* He made his way to his rooming house and after he took a bath, Mrs. Cichini gave him a cup of coffee and asked if he received his Certificate. For the first time he realized it was missing. "Just what happened I didn't know," he would later remark, "I had to piece things together." He learned that he had torn his Certificate into four pieces and used it for toilet paper while he was drunk. "Heavens," he said to Mrs. Cichini, "I've got to have something to show to my mother!"* Knowing that the passing Certificate would greatly please his mother, he returned to the school and attempted to obtain a duplicate. The principal of the school had been informed of the drinking and toilet paper incident and gave Adolf a sound scolding about his behavior which left him, as he put it: "humiliated."* A duplicate Certificate was apparently not issued until the 16th of September. Adolf was so embarrassed that he swore to Mrs. Cichini that he would never drink again.* It is seldom in this world that a youth will carry through his pledges made at 16 years old, but it was the only time in Adolf Hitler's life he ever got drunk. If there was ever a drink in front of him in the future, it was just for social reasons or to show he was one of the boys, he seldom finished it.
It is unknown what Adolf told his mother when he returned home in July. Klara, despite all, was delighted with her son's achievement and saw him as a conquering hero.* To have her only surviving son complete high school was one of the great moments in Klara's life. There was no doubt in her mind that he would prevail in his final examination and go on to a higher education at a technical institute or a realschule for the advanced. A diploma also entitled a pupil to a state grant enabling him to enter an officer cadet training college if he chose.*
About the time Adolf returned from Steyr, Klara moved the family to Linz. She had sold the house in Leonding the previous month for 10,000 kronen. The initial purchase price had been 7,700 kronen and with the equity built up over a period of seven years, on a ten year mortgage, only 2520 kronen was owed. After setting aside 1304 kronen for Paula's and Adolf's future, she ended up with over 5500 kronen after taxes.* To have her stepdaughter and confidante Angela living nearby, Klara rented a third floor (4th in US) apartment in a new, attractive building on Humbold Strasse not far from the Danube River. The apartment was small but Adolf got his own little room where he set up his painting equipment.
1st Linz home
As in the previous summers, Adolf stayed with his younger cousins on the Spital farm. The days of cowboys and Indians were behind him and he became listless and uncommunicative. He continued to read, draw, paint and, like many teenagers, dabble in poetry. The Schmidt children noticed the change and teased him because he would no longer play with them. They were delighted when Adolf would angrily chase after them. During the summer Adolf developed, as his father had, a lung infection. He lost weight and took on a lanky appearance.
Shortly before he was to return home, and then on to Steyr for his final school examination, he suffered a severe lung hemorrhage. He became weak and pale and began coughing blood. The attending doctor, Karl Keiss from the nearby village of Weitra, predicted a slow recovery and thought that Adolf might "never be healthy after this sickness."* According to the Schmidt children, Klara tenderly nursed her son back to health. Every morning she awakened him with a glass of warm milk and made him drink it. The family remained on the farm till Adolf was well enough to travel.*
With Adolf back home recuperating under the watchful eye of his doting and anxious mother, he missed his examination and never bothered to obtain his diploma. He knew his poor showing during the last year would probably bring failure and he would have to return for additional studies. That was the last thing he wanted. At sixteen his anti-establishment attitude, that so many teenagers go through, was in high gear. He was caught up in the rebellious youth movement of the turn of the century which rejected many of the social norms.
Divorce, at the beginning of the twentieth century--like abortion at the close--was one of the great challenges to state and religious institutions. Adolf got caught up in the fervor of his time. As his health improved he joined a pro-divorce organization to help, as he stated, "spread the truth amongst the public”* about wives who, because of the law, could never separate from callous husbands. He also rejected the idea of settling down to a steady bread and butter job or, the other accepted alternative, pursuing a military career (he would have needed a diploma for that). He began in earnest to believe that he could become an artist through his own ability and that he would never need a high school diploma.
He began spending much of his time painting in oils or water colors and filling his sketch book with the drawings that most sixteen year old aspiring artists are noted for. He also copied, with meticulous care, pictures, paintings, or postcards, sometimes making many copies of the same picture till he got it exactly the way he wanted it. His surviving drawings and paintings from this period, including a water color of Postlingberg Castle near Linz, another titled Camel Boy, and a drawing of a cavalier, show that for an untrained boy he had artistic ability.
That Fall, a boy named Hagmuller from Leonding began attending the high school in Linz. Since it was too far for the boy to travel home for lunch, his father, a baker who knew Klara, arranged for the boy to have his midday meal at the Hitler's apartment in Linz. Hagmuller would continue to have his noon meal at the Hitlers for almost two years.
Hagmuller was almost four years younger than the sixteen year old Adolf, but despite their age difference they became good friends. "Often when we were at the table," Hagmuller would later remark, "[Adolf] would take a sheet of paper and make a quick sketch of some building, column, archway, window, or whatever occurred to him."* Hagmuller also observed Adolf painting in water colors and oils. There was one still-life he observed which Adolf took "special pains" in doing. Adolf also did a silhouette of Hagmuller sitting in an armchair. Adolf, as did his father, enjoyed singing and Hagmuller would later recall: "I can still see the weakly lad pacing up and down the room singing."*
Ironically, although Adolf didn't want to attend any more school he had an insatiable appetite for knowledge on subjects that interested him. He developed into a voracious reader. He spent much of his time reading a great number of books he was able to borrow from the many private libraries in the city. He also joined the city's Museum Society.
Around this time he began to take a deep interest in the city's architecture. One building that sparked his interest was Martinskirche which is one of the oldest churches in Austria. Saint Martin's Church was built in the 8th century on foundations constructed by the Romans who recognized the strategic importance of Linz which commanded both the Danube valley and the former salt routes coming down the Traun valley. Adolf's mind was fired with the thought that St. Martins builder was none other than Charlemagne, one of the greatest of European conquerors who attempted to unite Europe by force. Both the French and the Germans claimed Charles the Great as their own. Adolf considered him one of the greatest men in world history.
Although most of Adolf's reading tended to be informative or instructive he did read novels.* With the exception of adventure stories which he read for enjoyment, he seldom read popular novels which had not stood the test of time and wisely read classics. Occasionally he did read novels that were in vogue, a friend would later state, "but in order to form a judgment of those who read them rather than of the books themselves."*
He spent his time away from home attending the local concerts and, since movies had not yet come into their own, the theater and opera. Opera seats at the local (Landes-) Theater were fairly expensive so Adolf usually purchased tickets that entitled him to a "cheap seat in the top gallery,"* or cheaper still, a standing spot.