Adolf Hitler and the shameful secrets of his youth

From a young age, Adolf Hitler was an expert in oratory and persuasion, after being rejected for the second time in the Academy of Fine Arts he went on to live as an indigent.

Adolf Hitler speaking at the Reichstagssit. Photo The Grosby Group
Adolf Hitler speaking at the Reichstagssit. Photo The Grosby Group

The years have passed, thousands of books have been written, films have been recorded, documentaries that show all the horror that was lived in the Nazi concentration camps. The figure of Adolf Hitler has been studied by psychologists, sociologists, politicians, all with the aim of knowing this character and understand how he came to be who ordered one of the greatest barbarities of humanity.

It is difficult to believe that in his youth he slept in the streets, dressed as a homeless person and ate what they gave away in community shelters.

Thanks to the writings of August Kubizek, who was Hitler's only friend, a little more is now known about the life he had before becoming the recognized leader of Nazi imperialism.

Kubizek's book "The Young Hitler I Met" tells the story of Hitler's life, his character, and the failures he had; for many, making this stage of the young Führer's life known is a form of justification because ignoring his childhood would help take away his humanity altogether.

August and Adolf met, according to the first, "around the feast of All Saints in 1904". Although this date has been later described as false by some historians. Kubizek had the opportunity to meet Hitler because they both shared a love for art, the bond was so strong that for four years they shared the friendship and for a few months the rent and poverty that flooded them in Vienna.

Despite being poor and having nothing to eat, Hitler seemed like a young man from a good family, according to his friend's definition:

"He was a curiously pale young man, thin, about the same age as me, who followed the performance with gleaming eyes. There was no doubt that he was from a well-to-do house, for he was always neatly dressed and very reserved. [...] In one of the representations we entered into conversation in one of the intermissions. [...] I was amazed by the confident and quick understanding of my interlocutor. There was no doubt that he was superior to me in this respect. On the contrary, he recognized my superiority when the conversation concerned merely musical subjects [...] From that day on we met each opera performance," wrote Kubizek.


The young Hitler did not like to be portrayed, so now there are not many photos of his youth.

Adolf Hitler as a baby, photo taken by J.F. Klinger of Brauna, Austria, 1890. Photo The Grosby Group
Adolf Hitler as a baby, photo taken by J.F. Klinger of Brauna, Austria, 1890. Photo The Grosby Group

"My friend never felt, as far as I can remember, the need to have himself portrayed. He was anything but presumptuous. Although he cared a lot about himself, he was not presumptuous in the ordinary sense of the word. I even dare say that to be presumptuous was too little for him. He was too intelligent for that," the work reads.

He also claims that he was a lonely, marginalized young man. According to Kubizek, his friend had no interest in young women or sex, always avoided physical contact and opposed "anything to do with the human body," but he was sure that his poor skills would make him a recognized artist or a successful architect who would work for the great German Reich.

In 1907 when he moved to Vienna he led a bohemian life. He lived in a tiny, dilapidated apartment, which he was only able to pay thanks to the pension he received after the death of his parents. He also managed to sell some of his paintings to furniture shops at very low prices. In addition, Kubizek lived with him from February to July 1908 and helped him pay half the rent.

During this time he frequently visited cafes until late at night and slept little. At this time, the writer realized that the young Hitler was too prone to anger and that it was impossible to disagree with him when he presented his opinions.

His character and health did not entirely fit, for he almost always fell ill and his lungs were delicate: "His health was worse than he would have wished and he frequently lamented about it. He had to protect himself from Linz's nebulous, humid weather during the winter months. [...] In short, he was weak in his lungs.

As for his physique, he adds: "He was of medium height and slender, at that time already a little taller than his mother. His constitution was by no means that of a strong man, but rather thin and fragile. (...) The nose, very regular and well proportioned. The forehead, clear and free, slightly inclined backward. I knew badly that, at that time, he had the habit of combing his hair very towards the forehead.

Hitler, the mediocre young man

He was an excellent orator since he was young, he had the power of persuasion and severe expressiveness when conversing, his voice was deep and sonorous.

"I gladly listened to him when he spoke. His language was very chosen. He refused the dialect, especially Viennese, which was adverse to him because of its soft tone. [...] There is no doubt that my friend Adolf was, from his early youth, a man of easy oratory. And he knew it, he spoke at ease and without interruption. (...) He liked to prove his power of persuasion in me and in other people", describes his friend.

The German dictator, Adolf Hitler. The atrocities committed by one of the doctors who was sympathetic to his regime came back to light. Photo/ AFP Archive
The German dictator, Adolf Hitler. The atrocities committed by one of the doctors who was sympathetic to his regime came back to light. Photo/ AFP Archive

Hitler was such a person who usually ignored other people's comments because they thought they were unimportant, and his friend Kubizek experienced it more than once.

"Most of the time he did not respond to what I had asked him and simply interrupted me with a very significant gesture from his hand. Later, I got used to it and I no longer found it ridiculous that that sixteen- or seventeen-year-old boy developed gigantic projects and explained them to me in detail.

Kubizek says that his friend had a manic character and the first sign of this was a concern for his appearance, as he was obsessed with being well dressed even though he barely had money to eat.

For example, he had the habit of putting his ironed pants in the same place day after day to avoid wrinkles, he liked to look like a bourgeois.

The young Führer's luck changed in 1907 when he presented his drawings at the Academy of Fine Arts and was rejected.

"He was so convinced that he was going to succeed that, at the moment of receiving the rejection, it struck him like lightning out of nowhere," says Kubizak.

In July of that year, he tried again and was rejected again while Kubizek was admitted. That, surely, was a blow to his pride and ego... the young Hitler was humiliated.

"Almost penniless and ashamed by his second and humiliating failure at the academy, he did not want to see Kubizek again. He gave the notice, paid his share of the rent and, while his friend was still in Linz, simply disappeared leaving no contact address.

The time following this outcome was perhaps the worst the Nazi dictator had because he ran out of pension for his dead parents and began to live like a vagabond.

"For months he resided in the streets, slept in parks and cafes that opened all night, under bridges, at the entrances to buildings, and sometimes found refuge in homeless shelters and in bad pensions.

This bad streak ended in 1910 when he settled in a Jewish-financed communal house and there he began his journey to the Chancellery.

Adolf Hitler after shooting himself. Photo The Grosby Group
Adolf Hitler after shooting himself. Photo The Grosby Group

Recommended stories