3 tragic facts about Adolf Hitler | by Jacob Wilkins | August 2022

The pain beneath the wickedness

A photograph of Adolf Hitler by an unknown photographer, 1937 (Wikimedia Commons)

AAdolf hitler is the ultimate villain in history. As leader of the Nazi Party, he turned his country into a fascist state, sparked World War II, and was integral to the Holocaust, an event that resulted in the deaths of six million Jews.

But most of us know very little about Hitler’s personal life. From the earliest days of his childhood, Hitler suffered physical and emotional abuse, and he also continued to suffer into adulthood. While it’s impossible to feel sorry for such a villainous man, these tragic facts shed new light on history’s most notorious villain.

A photograph of Adolf Hitler by an unknown photographer, c. 1900 (Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in northern Austria. Although Hitler’s mother was a kind and caring woman, his father was much meaner.

Alois Hitler was an aggressive, moody man who worked as a civil servant. His work was very time consuming and he often returned home in a bad mood. To make matters worse, he was not afraid to beat his children whenever they misbehaved.

Tragedy struck the Hitler family when their youngest son died of measles in February 1900. This traumatic event coincided with Hitler’s early teens, which was also a difficult time. The future dictator – despite his undeniable intelligence – produced poor academic results. Art was his true passion. He just wasn’t interested in other subjects.

After his father’s death in 1903, Hitler completed his last years at school before moving to Vienna, as the city was a cultural center for budding artists. Determined to succeed, Hitler attempted to enter the city’s Academy of Fine Arts. But his application was rejected.

In December 1907, Hitler’s mother died of breast cancer. She was only forty-seven and Hitler was devastated by her death.

A painting of the Vienna State Opera by Adolf Hitler, 1912 (Wikimedia Commons)

Supported by his maternal heritage, Hitler spent his days in Vienna making art or meditating on books. He often stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning, reading Germanic myths and heroic sagas.

But his legacy eventually ran out, and after being rejected from the Academy of Fine Arts for the second time, Hitler’s confidence was badly shaken. His dream of being a great artist was over.

Hitler had no fixed address. For several months he slept on park benches in Vienna and visited soup kitchens for a meal and a chance to warm up. In the fall of 1909, Hitler went to a homeless shelter which offered him hot meals and a place to sleep. But the refuge was only open in the evening. During the day, Hitler earned money by working as a laborer.

Eventually, Hitler acquired a stable income by creating and selling postcards. His associate wanted him to paint a postcard every day. But Hitler was not always open. Indeed, the two argued over the financial side of the business, and Hitler demanded a larger share of the profits.

In May 1913, Hitler left Vienna and traveled to the city of Munich, which in the aftermath of World War I became the epicenter of the far right in Germany.

A photograph of Eva Braun by an unknown photographer, 1942 (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s hard to believe anyone would find Hitler attractive. But there were plenty of German women who admired the Nazi Party leader, including Eva Braun.

Hitler met Eva at a photography studio in Munich in September 1929. He quickly developed a fondness for her new acquaintance and brought her small gifts, such as flowers and chocolates. Towards the end of 1930, Hitler began taking Eva on expensive dates, offering her evenings at the theater or the opera.

But when the Nazis came to power in 1933, Hitler had less time for Eva. His political commitments were endless, and his relationship was no longer a priority. Distraught by Hitler’s attitude, Eva attempted suicide several times.

Hitler was appalled by Eva’s suicide attempts and vowed to take better care of her. He housed Eva in a villa in Munich’s Bogenhausen district before moving her to the Chancellery in Berlin, where she remained throughout World War II. During this time, Hitler lavished gifts on her and made an effort to visit her regularly.

As the Russians moved closer to Berlin, Hitler and Eva finally agreed to marry in April 1945. But the marriage was short-lived. Fully aware that the Russians intended to capture them, the newlyweds said goodbye and committed suicide.