In terms of committing atrocities, few are on the same level as Adolf Hitler; the Nazi dictator who was responsible for the deaths of six million Jewish people during the Holocaust. (And then even more civilian deaths throughout the course of WWII.)
But despite him being one of the most documented men in history, there are still a few things about him that people don’t know. Or at the very least, there are a few things that tend to be overlooked. Which, for the record, is understandable.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Adolf Hitler.
1. Hitler was rejected from art school more than once
We know that Hitler’s failed art career eventually led to his life of fascism, but you may not know that he actually applied to art school twice – and was rejected so hard the second time that he wasn’t even allowed to sit in on the entry exams. Even now, art experts maintain that Hitler was a sub-par artist. You lose, H.
2. Speaking of art, surprise: Hitler loved iconic German artists
Hitler’s affinity for classic German artists could be seen in his own work, which is why it’s easy to draw the parallels between Hitler’s sketches and the works of painter Hans Thoma. Other favourites? Albrect Durer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Johannes Vermeer – all of which who probably would have preferred not to be.
3. He practiced for speeches by taking photos of himself . . . making speeches
A megalomaniac supreme, Hitler was so obsessed with his image that he had photographer Heinrich Hoffman take photos of him making speeches, so he could see how badass he looked. Fortunately for us, despite being told to destroy the photos afterwards, Hoffman did not and included them in his memoir instead. (And for that we are all truly grateful.)
4. He was an out-of-control spender
Hitler was out-of-control in general (obviously), but biographer Volker Ullrich recently uncovered that the Fuhrer actually spent thousands on opulence (cars, champagne, clothes, etc.) while pretending to be “a man of the people.” What didn’t he spend money on? Income tax. Because of course he didn’t.
5. Hitler was once ordered to trim his moustache
Hitler and his moustache go together better than any comparison I can possibly make, but his preferred moustache style was actually of the handlebar variety. Unfortunately for him, during WWI service he was ordered to scale it back so it would fit underneath gas masks. (Which didn’t work – he was gassed in 1918 and temporarily blinded.)
6. He loved Disney
The sooner we stop trying to understand Hitler, the better. However, while Disney represents kids’ films and family to us, to the dictator, it represented the advance of technology since "Snow White" boasted some pretty impressive animation circa its 1937 release. Rumour has it he also felt strongly for "King Kong" because of its special effects, and watched both that and war films repeatedly.
7. Hitler’s obsession with Wagner began eons before WWII
At age 12, Hitler stumbled upon Wagner and he never looked back. Writing in Mein Kampf that he was “addicted” after attending the opera, "Lohengrin", Hitler reportedly skipped school to attend the opera well into his teens. (Probably should’ve gone to those art classes instead.)
8. Rumour has it that Hitler had bred an army of talking dogs
According to Dr. Jan Bondeson, Hitler and his henchman rounded up “educated” dogs with whom they communicated (through tapping paws, barking, and wagging their tails) – and got even one to bark, “Mein Fuhrer!” These dogs were supposed to help win the war (apparently), which makes a bit of sense considering Hitler was heavily attached to his dogs, Blondi and Bella. (The former, he killed before killing himself.)
9. Hitler was a vegetarian who was diligent about food testing
Surprisingly (just kidding), Hitler was a paranoid person. So paranoid, in fact, that he employed food tasters who, on one side, got to enjoy the crème de la crème of German cuisine (during a time of rations and starvation). On the other? After an attempted assassination, he basically kept his food tasters imprisoned, according to Margot Woelk, who had to suffer through the terrible ordeal.
10. His favourite actor only died in 2011
At age 108, Hitler’s favourite actor – the Dutch Johannes Heesters – passed away. However, despite being a favourite of the dictator and the S.S., Heesters was still allowed to perform because the Allies didn’t think he was involved in Nazi propaganda. However, because he did perform for the Nazi regime, he was still scrutinised for several decades.