• Hitler used to go straight to the comics and then the crossword. (SBS)Source: SBS
How did the man grow from artist to soldier to prisoner to fuhrer?
Shane Cubis

26 Jan 2017 - 2:56 PM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2017 - 2:57 PM


Fascinating new series Hitler’s Secrets takes a fresh look at one of the 20th century’s worst monsters, with rarely seen footage, colourisation and even body language experts to provide new perspectives on the man. Before you watch, it’s worth taking a virtual tour through the physical spaces that made Adolf Hitler who he was.  

Linz was where he was reared

When Adolf was a little boy, his family moved to Linz, Austria. His father, Alois, intended for Adolf to follow in his footsteps at the customs bureau, but according to Mein Kampf, he intentionally performed poorly at school in order to gain parental permission to pursue his actual ambition: painting. Sources say Adolf’s personality changed completely when his little brother died of measles.

Vienna dashed his dreams of artistic success

Heading to the Austrian capital at 18, Adolf’s head swam with ideas of being Vienna’s finest artist. Unfortunately he was rejected twice by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and fell on hard times. In 1909, it was the perfect time, place and bitter personal situation to be swayed by the rising anti-Semitism of the city.

The Somme isn’t technically a city, but it’s important

Hitler was in Munich when war was declared in 1914, and rushed to sign up and do his duty. He fought bravely for his side, earning the Iron Cross after being wounded in the Somme, although he spent most of his time as a dispatch runner. Shocked by Germany’s defeat – which he blamed on Marxists and civilians back home – he later described the war as “the greatest of all experiences”.

Munich gave him his first taste of political success and failure

It was here that the famous Beer Hall Putsch took place, in which 2000 Nazis attempted to seize power. In the short term it was a failure, but gave them a great deal of national publicity – as well as laying the foundations for Hitler’s reputation as an orator. A prison sentence for treason followed, giving him time to write Mein Kampf and consolidate his ideas on how the nation should be run.

Berlin raised him to the highest position, but did not win his love

Having built his party into a crack force of troublemakers, agitators and publicity whores, Hitler took power in Berlin, the nation’s capital. A Bavarian at heart, he had no love for the decadent capital, but it was the only place one could set fire to the Reichstag and blame it on Communist agitators, declare martial law with the support of Hindenberg or dissolve the office of President following Hindenberg’s death and declare oneself head of state.

Paris inspired him to greater glories

Touring the conquered French capital, Hitler was inspired by the beauty of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and other Gallic icons. In fact, his future sketches for the German capital were, in part, calculated to overshadow and humiliate France. His experiences in WWI, as well as the humiliating Treaty of Versailles, no doubt played a role in his thirst for vengeance.

Germania was the planned culmination of his dreams

The Third Reich was supposed to last for a thousand years, and as such demanded a capital worthy of its glory. Germania was the proposed centre of the globe-spanning empire, designed by Albert Speer to celebrate Aryan glory. Hitler received a scale model of part of Germania for his 50th birthday, and constantly returned to admire the architectural reflection of his plans.

Hitler’s Secrets airs Saturday nights at 7:30pm on SBS. Catch up with earlier episodes on SBS On Demand:

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