The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Psychological Analysis & Reconstruction

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made] [Page 203]

We can imagine the deaths of his brother and his father in rapid succession had filled him with such guilt that he could not enjoy this idyllic situation to the full. Perhaps the situation aroused desires in him which he could no longer face on a conscious level and he could only keep these in check by either remaining in bed and playing the part of a helpless child or absenting himself from the situation entirely. In any case, he must have been a considerable problem to his mother who died four years after his father. Dr. Bloch informs us that her great concern in dying was: "What would become of poor Adolph, he is still so young." At this time Adolph was eighteen years of age. He had failed at school and had not gone to work. He describes himself at this time as a milk-sop, which he undoubtedly was.

Admission examinations to Academy of Art.

Two months before his mother's death he had gone to Vienna to take the entrance examinations for admission to the Academy of Art. At this time he knew that his mother was in a critical condition and that it was only a matter of a few months before death would overtake her. He knew, therefore, that this easy existence at home would shortly come to an end and that he would then have to face the cold, hard world on his own. It is sometimes extraordinary how events in the lifetime of an individual fall together. The first day's assignment on the examination was to draw a picture depicting [Page 204] "The Expulsion from Paradise". It must have seemed to him that Fate had chosen this topic to fit his personal situation. On the second day he must have felt that Fate was rubbing it in when he found the assignment to be a picture depicting "An Episode of the Great Flood". These particular topics in his situation met have aroused such intense emotional reactions within him that he could hardly be expected to do his best. Art critics seem to feel that he has some artistic talent even though it is not outstanding. The comment of the examiners was: "Too few heads." We can understand this in view of the circumstances under which he had taken the examination.

Death of his mother.

He returned home shortly after the examinations. He helped to look after his mother who was rapidly failing and in extreme pain. She died on December 21, 1907 and was buried on Christmas Eve. Adolph was completely broken and stood for a long time at her grave after the remainder of the family had left. Dr. Bloch says: "In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolph Hitler." His world had come to an end. Not long after the funeral he left for Vienna in order to follow in his father's footsteps and make his own way in the world. He made a poor job of it, however. He could not hold a job when he had one, and sunk lower and lower in the social scale until he was compelled to live with the dregs of society. [Page 205]

Vienna days.

As he writes about these experiences in MEIN KAMPF one gets the impression that it was a terrific struggle against overwhelming odds. From what we now know of Adolph Hitler it would seem more likely that this existance yielded him considerable gratification in spite of its hardships. It is perfectly clear from what Hanisch writes that with a very small amount of effort he could have made a fair living and improved his condition by painting water-colors. He refused to make this effort and preferred to live in the filth and poverty which surrounded him. There must have been something in this that he liked, consciously or unconsciously.

When we examine Hanisch's book carefully, we find the answer. Hitler's life in Vienna was one of extreme passivity in which activity was held at the lowest level consistent with survival. He seemed to enjoy being dirty and even filthy in his appearance and personal cleanliness. This can mean only one thing, from a psychological point of view, namely that his perversion was in the process of maturation and was finding gratification in a more or less symbolic form. His attitude during this period could be summed up in the following terms: "I enjoy nothing more than to lie around while the world defacates on me." And he probably delighted in being covered with dirt, which was tangible proof of the fact. Even in these days he lived in [Page 206] a flophouse which was known to be inhabited by men who lent themselves to homosexual practices, and it was probably for this reason that he was listed on the Vienna police record as a "sexual pervert."

Nobody has ever offered an explanation of why he remained in Vienna for over five years if his life there was as distasteful and the city disgusted him to the degree that he claims in his autobiography. He was free to leave whenever he wished and could have gone to his beloved Germany years earlier if he had so desired. The fact of the matter is that he probably derived great masochistic satisfaction from his miserable life in Vienna, and it was not until his perversion became full-blown and he realized its implications that he fled to Munich at the beginning of 1913.


With the development of his perverse tendencies we also find the development of his anti-Semitism. There is absolutely no evidence that he had any anti-Semitic feeling before he left Linz or that he had any during the first years of his stay in Vienna. On the contrary, he was on the very best terms with Dr. Bloch while he was in Linz and sent him postcards with very warm sentiments for slome time after he went to Vienna. Furthermore, his closest friends in Vienna were Jews, some of whom were extremely kind to him. Then, too, we must remember that his godfather, who lived in Vienna, [Page 207] was a Jew and it is possible that during his first year there he might have lived with this family. Most of the records of his mother's death are incorrect and place the event exactly one year after it had happened. During this year Hitler lived in Vienna but we have no clue as to what he did or how he managed to live without money during this intervening year.

All we know is that he had time for painting during this period for he submitted the work he had done to the Academy of Art the following October. He was not admitted to the examination, however, because the examiners found the work of this period unsatisfactory. Shortly afterwards, he applied for admission to the School of Architecture but was rejected. The cause of his rejection was probably inadequate talent rather than the fact that he had not completed his course in the Realschule. It is only after this happened that we find him going to work as a laborer on a construction job, and from then on we have a fairly complete picture of his activities.

We know that he had very little money when he left Linz, certainly not enough to live on for almost an entire year while he spent his time in painting. Since the date of his mother's death has been so universally distorted, it would seem that efforts were being made to cover something which happened during this intervening year. My guess would be that he lived with his Jewish godparents who supported him while he was preparing work for the Academy. When he failed to be [Page 208] admitted at the end of a year, they put him out and made him go to work. There is one bit of evidence for this hypothesis. Hanisch, in his book, mentions in passing that when they were particularly destitute he went with Hitler to visit a well-to-do Jew whom Hitler said was his father. The wealthy Jew would have nothing to do with him and sent him on his way again. There is scarcely a possibility that Hitler's father was a Jew, but Hanisch might easily have understood him to say father when he said godfather. This would certainly make much more sense and would indicate that Hitler had contact with his godparents before the visit and that they were fed up with him and would help him no further.


Hitler's outstanding defense mechanism is one commonly called PROJECTION. It is a technique by which the ego of an individual defends itself against unpleasant impulses, tendencies or characteristics by denying their existence in himself while he attributes them to others. Innumerable examples of this mechanism could be cited in Hitler's case, but a few will suffice for purposes of illustration:

"In the last six years I had to stand intolerable things from states like Poland."

"It must be possible that the German nation can live its life...without being constantly molested." [Page 209]

"Social democracy...directs a bombardment of lies and calumnies towards the adversary who seemed most dangerous, till finally the nerves of those who have been attacked give out and they for the sake of peace, bow down to the hated enemy."

"For this peace proposal of mine I was abused, and personally insulted. Mr. Chamberlain in fact spat upon me before the eyes of the world..."

"...It was in keeping with our own harmlessness that England took the liberty of some day meeting our peaceful activity with the brutality of the violent egoist."

"...The outstanding features of Polish character were cruelty and lack of moral restraint."

From a psychological point of view it is not too far-fetched to suppose that as the perversion developed and became more disgusting to Hitler's ego, its demands were disowned and projected upon the Jew. By this process the Jew became a symbol of everything which HitIer hated in himself. Again, his own personal problems and conflicts were transferred from within himself to the external world where they assumed the proportions of racial and national conflicts.

Forgetting entirely that for years he not only looked like a lower class Jew but was as dirty as the dirtiest and as great a social outcast, he now began to see the Jew as a source of all evil. The teachings of Schoenerer and Lueger helped to solidify and rationalize his feelings and inner convictions. More and more he became convinced that the Jew was a great parasite on humanity which sucked its life-blood [Page 210] and if a nation was to become great it must rid itself of this pestilence. Translated back into personal terms this would read: "My perversion is a parasite which sucks my life-blood and if I am to become great I must rid myself of this pestilence." When we see the connection between his sexual perversion and anti-Semitism, we can understand another aspect of his constant linking of syphilis with the Jew. These are the things which destroy nations and civilizations as a perversion destroys an individual.

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