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August Kubizek. The Young Hitler I Knew.

August Kubizek. The young Hitler I knew, Greenhill Books, Lond, 2006. ISBN 1-85367-694-2, Hard cover with dust jacket, 264 pp, 22 b & w photos, 16 x 24 cm. UK19.99 [pounds sterling] plus p&p.

It seems the fascination of today's inhabitants of the earth with the epitome of evil in the form of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party is undiminished. This work, originally published in German in 1953, has been through many editions. This new edition catches up with previous omissions and deficiencies in translation from the German.

The author, as a teenager, was, between the years 1904 and 1908, the only friend of the slightly younger Adolf Hitler in the town of Linz, Austria. Kubizek and Hitler met through their love of music and opera. The unemployed but visionary Hitler and the apprentice upholsterer, though opposites in so many personality traits, became friends. Kubizek records many of Hitler's behaviour patterns and family background that goes a long way to explaining subsequent behaviour in later years. The young Hitler was interested in everything and was impelled to express himself fluently on the subject of the moment with passion and rhetorical gestures. These emotional outbursts were "like a volcano erupting," a portent for things to come. As the legendary English grandmother was moved to comment just before WW2, "That man Hitler is such a fidget."

As most know, Hitler's childhood was not a happy one, and the author explores his family background that should have left Hitler worrying about inbreeding rather than ancestral Jewish blood. Hitler's unhappy school days are also explored in depth with few teachers being regarded as "positive". One, however, acted as a character witness at Hitler's 1924 trial. Also covered are the teenage Hitler's crush on "Stephanie", his involvement with German nationalism, his artistic endeavours, his self-directed study regime, his pitiful existence in Vienna and other facets of his early life that still occupy the minds of many a psychologist.

Perhaps the defining moment in Hitler's life occurred after he and Kubizek had attended an opera by Wagner, and had climbed to the summit of the Freinberg outside Linz. Overcome by the emotive opera, Hitler declared in a frenzy of feverish rhetoric that he would in the future receive a mandate from the people to lead them out of servitude to the heights of freedom. This vision or revelation never left him. Unfortunately for civilisation, Hitler's ideas of servitude and freedom were somewhat different from that of most others. In fact, the greatest war in history was fought over them. This then is a moving but tragic saga for study, contemplation, philosophising or head shaking. It also raises the uncomfortable question of how many other impressionable young minds are being inculcated with the vision of "liberating" unbelievers.
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Author:Wigzell, Syd
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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