Adolf Hitler was born in Austria. His father was a domineering domestic tyrant but his mother, having already lost two children, devoted herself to the care of her one surviving son. As a result Adolf had a comfortable upbringing and became a spoilt brat prone to violent temper tantrums.
From a young age Hitler believed be would become a great artist. His father sent him to a technical school to beat the idea out of his head. Adolf despised the school but there was one teacher he admired: like Hitler’s father, Dr Poetsch was a pan-German nationalist who believed in the supremacy of the German race and Germany’s destiny as the ruler of Europe.
Hitler got poor grades and left the school before he was expelled. He was a drop out with no realistic job prospects. With his father dead and his mother continuing to support him, Adolf drifted into a “life of leisure” until his mother agreed to fund a trip to Vienna. There he was enraptured by the city and Wagnerian operas – and decided to apply to the famous Vienna Academy of Fine Art.
At 19 he sat the exam. He passed the first exam but in an era of revolutionary modernism in art his traditional drawings are deemed “unacceptable” – and he was rejected. Twice. Disillusioned and bitter Hitler became an unemployed loner reduced to begging and staying in doss houses until he started to earn some money painting and selling postcards of Vienna’s sights.
When WWI broke out Hitler was determined to fight for Germany rather than the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He fled to Munich where he volunteered to serve in the German army. Hitler was exhilarated by the war and never lost faith in the pan-German cause. In the final months of the war Hitler was injured in a mustard gas attack. While convalescing in hospital he heard the news of Germany’s surrender. Hitler became consumed by the defeat. His bitterness and anger launched him on the path to seek revenge on those he held responsible for stabbing Germany in the back. World War 1 became the turning point where the artist was left behind and Hitler found a new political career.
Turning Point: Hitler includes location shooting in Austria and Germany, evocative dramatisations and extensive archive material as well as interviews with leading experts Dr Andrew Webster (Murdoch University, Australia), Paul Ham (Historian and author of “Young Hitler, the Making of the Fuhrer”) and Dr Deborah Rothschild (Former Senior Curator, Williams College Museum of Art, USA).
HAM: “During the war he [Hitler] suddenly got the sense that there is some kind of divine intervention in his life …saving him for a greater destiny.”