In 1907 Adolf Hitler moved to Vienna, the capital of Austria, where the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts was located. The author William L. Shirer tells in his monumental bestseller The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich how Hitler tried to take the entrance examination as the first practical step in fulfilling his dream of becoming a painter. Hitler was eighteen years old, full of high hopes - but to his own surprise he failed to get admission. An entry in the Vienna Academy's classification list tells the story:
"The following took the test with insufficient results, or were not admitted ... Adolf Hitler, Braunau a. Inn, April 20, 1989, German, Catholic. Father civil servant. 4 classes in High School. Few Heads. Test drawing unsatisfactory."
According to William L. Shirer Hitler tried again the following year and this time his drawings were so poor that he was not admitted to the test. In Mein Kampf Hitler told how he requested an explanation from the rector of the Academy:
"That gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously lay in the field of architecture; for me, he said, the Academy's School of Painting was out of the question, the place for me was at the School of Architecture."
But Adolf Hitler did not pursue his ambition to enter the School of Architecture - he realized that his failure years ago to graduate from high school might well block his entry. Within a year he was living in homeless shelters and eating at charity soup-kitchens. He spent his time reading anti-Semitic tabloids and pamphlets available at the newsstands and at local coffee shops. He had declined to take regular employment and took occasional menial jobs and sold some of his paintings or advertising posters whenever he could to provide sustenance.
Hitler didn't get much out of it - but in 1999 two paintings and a line
drawing by Hitler, completed between 1911 and 1914, were sold at auction
for a total of $131,000. In 2005 four sketches and two Christmas cards
signed by the Nazi dictator were sold in Montreal to a single buyer for
an undisclosed sum. A media report citing witnesses who said the items
were sold for $26,800 could not be confirmed.