Monday, February 24, 2014

Hitler, the Spurned Artist

One of the greatest tragedies in history is that Adolph Hitler's dreams as a painter were not realized. Had they been, the carnage of World War II might never have taken place. His story exemplifies how seemingly insignificant acts of a few innocent people can ricochet beyond their wildest dreams - much like one tiny little lit match, dropped in a place where the causes and conditions come together, can start a conflagration of terrible proportions for a forest and its nearby inhabitants.

Hitler considered himself an artist from his early teens, but with only modest abilities, he was denied entrance into the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, which rejected him twice in 1907 and 1908. Years later, when his invading armies swept over Europe, one of Hitler's top priorities (besides exterminating entire populations to make room for his Germanic stock) was to capture and transport back to Germany the prize paintings and sculptures from the enormous and art-rich museums of Paris, Florence, Rome, and anywhere else that housed a valuable trove, including private collectors of Jewish origins.

The documentary The Rape of Europa details not only the jaw-dropping theft of art by the Nazis, but reveals something far more interesting - Hitler's everlasting love of art and his desire to build the greatest museum in the world in Linz, Germany. Just two days before his suicide in the bunker, he was still pouring over the model of this grand new city where his museum would stand as the crown jewel of museums the world over.

We can all understand a two year old taking one of his toys and smashing it against a wall at the height of a tantrum. But unlike the relative harmlessness of a toddler's act, this spurned artist had a taste for revenge, the likes of which put him in the ranks of the most world's more spiteful dictators of all times. 

Ah, if only the admissions committee of that art academy had goggles into the future...they might have feted him as the next Rembrandt and coddled his ego into submission. But without such powers, we can only go through life with a wing and a prayer, hoping that the ripples of karma created every second wash onto the shores of a better existence.


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