The Young Hitler I Knew -August Kubizek
Adolf Hitler’s death and the surrender of Germany in World War II, brought and end to mankind’s deadliest conflict. For over 70 years, the war is still being studied and Hitler’s Third Reich serves as an example of power that is allowed to develop without restraints. To some he is the most evil dictator in world history. To others, a wrongly persecuted leader of a nation in ruins and savior to millions. His life story is well documented. But what was the young Hitler really like? The turning point his life from young aspiring artists to raging anti-Semite is still unknown and surrounded by speculation. The death of his father Alois and mother Klara both occurred before he turned 18. It is to be expected that their deaths must have played some role in his future mental and emotional development. Hitler never revealed much of any friendships he had but as we can see in this interesting book by August Kubizek (1888-1956), he did in fact have at least one friend during his youth in Austria.
It is interesting to some that although Hitler seized control of Germany, he was Austrian by birth. Born in the small village of Spital on Eastern Sunday in 1889, he would spend most of his early life in Austria before making the move to Germany and joining the Wehrmacht. But years before he became the future Chancellor of Germany and Führer of the Third Reich, he was simply Adolf, a young man with a teenage crush and dreams of being the best artist Germany had ever seen. This is the story of two friends who cross paths at a critical time in their lives and the friendship that developed.
Affectionately nicknamed Gustl by Hitler, Kubizek is the best witness we have to what Hitler was really like as a young man in Linz. Their days are filled with visits to the Opera, discussions about life and Hitler’s endless drawings as he pursued his artistic goals. And throughout the book, there is no trace of the future dark visions that became part of his persona. Adolf is your average teenager moving through life with his best friend. And incredibly as the reader goes through the book, it is easy to forget that Adolf would one day cause the deaths of millions of people and bring shame to Germany. And this is the truly special part about the book. Kubizek shows nothing that gives any indication of the future Adolf. For those seeking an answer to the megalomania that became a staple of the Reich, you will not find it here because it does not exist. What does exist is the tragic story a young man faced with the deaths of both parents and an uncertain outlook in life.
Following his mother’s death, Hitler remained in Linz before moving on to Vienna and crossing into Germany. He parted ways with Kubizek after Klara died and the two did not reunite until nearly 30 years later. By his own words, Kubizek never joined the Nazi party and remained in Austria where he married and became a father. And while he did have opinions about the events transpiring at the time, he remained neutral to Hitler. The book is neither for or against Hitler, but the remembrance of one friend by another. It was an incredible friendship forged by common interests and mutual understanding. And of all the what if questions that surround Hitler, we can only wonder what if he had followed Kubizek back home instead of moving toward Germany. Perhaps there would have never been a second world war. For those looking to learn more about the life of Adolf Hitler, this is a welcome addition to the library.