Besides someone like Usama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler is arguably one of the worst and most catastrophic beings known to man. What was it that sparked his massive hate for the world? During the reign of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, nearly all artistic expression–other than Nazi-promoted propaganda–was either collected, burned, or banned; artists were exiled or even killed in certain circumstances. But what would you say if I told you that Hitler was once a passionate painter who was twice rejected from Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, a lifelong dream of his. Let that sink in. It is quite ironic, isn’t it?
This acknowledgement of Hitler’s attempted artistry forces humanity to consider: what if Hitler was accepted into the academy? Would this have prevented Hitler the opportunity to grow into a tyrannic, anti-Semitic monster? I believe this “what if” question could be debated in quite complexity. However, what we do know is that regardless of Hitler’s path in the artistic world, he embodied those same disgraceful characteristics in his young artistic self that he did during his infamous rise and reign of power.
The feedback which accompanied Hitler’s denied admittance explained that his paintings were “unsatisfactory” and lacked appreciation of the human form. He was also told that these paintings lacked the uniqueness of artistry. I believe this feedback about his paintings can be symbolic of his character. For example, we see how uniform he was and how little he actually valued human life. One of his few close friends, August Kubizek, described Hitler to be “violent and high strung,” and explained that he would not stand to be corrected. These characteristics did not generate in Hitler because he was denied admittance, but they were already a part of his being. At this young of an age, Hitler’s violence was visible in both his paintings and his relationships.
Today, some of Hitler’s paintings still circulate the market for purchase and observation. Years after his rejection, Hitler explained that his denied admittance “struck him as a bolt from the blue.” Hitler was a man consumed with his individual success, and he was arrogant in the assumption of admittance. This young and “innocent” Hitler still encompassed his same narcissistic and pessimistic views–they only unraveled from this point. While not attending Vienna Academy of Arts put him one step closer to his path towards destruction, his artwork and feedback infer that Hitler’s beliefs were arguably unchanged throughout his lifetime.
Circling back to the irony of this debate, I ask: if Hitler was actually passionate about art, what gave him the ability to destroy the artistic world during his reign? It may have taken a while to understand, but Hitler always was the man who he grew into: someone who valued power and success over passion and creativity.