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German History in Documents and Images
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Hitler’s Watercolor of Ruins (1919)
In February 1908, at the age of eighteen, Hitler left Linz (Austria), and moved to the capital of Vienna, where he hoped to gain admission to the Academy of Fine Arts. Hitler’s dreams of an artistic career were dashed, however, after he failed the entrance examination twice. At the time, Vienna was on the cutting edge of artistic innovation, and Hitler’s art – traditional and avowedly anti-modernist – in no way reflected the dramatic cultural and artistic revolution that was taking place around him. Still, he remained in the city until May of 1913. To supplement his meager income during this time, Hitler occasionally made small paintings and postcards (mostly of the Viennese architecture) and sold them on the street. This watercolor (executed after he had moved to Munich) shows that Hitler’s art was firmly rooted in the nineteenth-century.