Hitler's Vienna

Hitler's Vienna : A Dictator's Apprenticeship

4.26 (142 ratings by Goodreads)
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Hitler's Vienna is the authoritative biography of Adolf Hitler's early life up to his departure from Austria as a 24-year-old. It is also the cultural and political history of Vienna as Hitler encountered it during his critical formative years: the Vienna of immigrants, the unemployed, and the homeless, and also of German Nationalism and antisemitism. Brigitte Hamann examines critically for the first time the few accounts of eyewitnesses and the many legends of Hitler's early years, bringing to light, for example, newly discovered letters and facts about his close contact with Jewish friends and benefactors. She also analyses the influence of the politicians who determined Hitler's political path. No one has produced such an extensive and well-founded picture of the climate and milieu in which Hitler's character was shaped. Hitler's Vienna demonstrates, using a wealth of individual examples, that central elements in Hitler's world-view were acquired during his Vienna years.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 490 pages
  • 148.6 x 214.1 x 18.5mm | 358.34g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • numerous halftones and line drawings
  • 0195140532
  • 9780195140538
  • 1,989,459

Review quote

"Hamann's deep knowledge of Vienna and her skeptical approach to previous sources results in a double-sided portrait that will help readers to understand both the Dual Monarchy and WWI and the Third Reich and WWII."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)"A virtuoso piece both of research and exposition...Brigitte Hamann is an author of great flair, as well as being thorough, scholarly, and thoughtful."--Robert Evans, Oxford University"The world needs another Hitler biography like it needs another squirrel, but his one is different and worth the effort.... Hamann paints a fascinating picture of the events and readings that shaped the young Hitler. Much of this information will be unfamiliar to American readers, and translator Thornton has done a masterful job of inserting notes to help those unfamiliar with the details of Austrian history. Highly recommended for any library with serious interest in 20th-century European history."--Library Journal"A fascinating and impressive book...whether one accepts its underlying thesis, Hitler's Vienna serves as a prologue to the inhuman." --George Steiner, [London] Times Literary Supplement"A valuable social history of Vienna's netherworld and an attempt at explaining Hitler's anti-Semitism."--Kirkus Reviewsshow more

About Brigitte Hamann

Brigitte Hamann is a Ph.D. and specialist in 19th and 20th-century history, specifically of Austrian history. She is the author of many books in German, some of which have been translated into English, including The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Bertha von Suttner. A Life for Peace.show more

Review Text

A valuable social history of Vienna's netherworld and an attempt at explaining Hitler's anti-Semitism. Most biographies of Hitler will, of course, spend some time on his contested family history, often an expression of how deeply Freud has penetrated the craft of biography. Yet the time Hitler spent in Vienna as a down-and-out painter may have contributed more to his character than previously assumed. At least, this is the thesis that historian Hamann (The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, not reviewed) brings to life here. Hitler was 17 when he first arrived in the Austrian-Hungarian capital in 1906 with aspirations of becoming an artist. Hamann is sometimes overly detailed; for example, we are informed that in 1906 Vienna there were 176 arc lamps providing electrical light, 657,625 incandescent lamps, 354 automobile accidents, 997 hansom cabs drawn by two horses, 1,1754 one-horse carriages, and 1,101 cabs, which altogether caused 982 accidents. Hitler, though, is never overwhelmed in this profusion of detail; instead we get a meticulous portrait of everyday life in the artistically and philosophically modernist metropolis. That everyday life was not modernist at all, but materialistic, anti-Semitic, petit-bourgeois, and petty. As the most multinational of the European empires, Austria-Hungary was obsessed with concepts of "nation," "race," "degeneracy," and "Jewish modernism"; obsessions that soon became Hitler's own. Acknowledging the problem of sources, Hamann has hit upon a working - but not unproblematic - solution: liberally sprinkled through the text are italicized excerpts from Hitler's monologues, speeches and writings. Hitler revealed that "for me this was a time of the greatest spiritual upheaval I ever had to go through. I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and became an anti-Semite," and more ominously, "the visual instruction of the Viennese streets had performed invaluable services." Hamann concludes that Vienna's fin-de-siecle malaise was a critical ingredient in the madness that became Nazi Germany. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

142 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 44% (62)
4 42% (59)
3 13% (18)
2 1% (2)
1 1% (1)
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