The Young Hitler I Knew – August Kubizek
Chapter 13 –
"Come with me, Gustl!"

Adolf had often said these words jestingly when speaking of his intention of going to live in Vienna. But, later on, when he realised how impressed I was by his remarks, the idea grew in his mind that we would go there together, he to attend the Academy of Arts and I the Conservatory. With his magnificent imagination he produced such a colourful picture of this life, so clear and so detailed, that I often did not know whether it was just wishful thinking or reality. For me, such fantasies had a more practical aspect. To be sure, I had learned my trade well and satisfied my father as well as our customers by my efforts. But the hours in the dusty workship bad impaired my health, and our doctor, my secret ally, advised emphatically against my continuing to work as an upholsterer. This meant for me that I would try to make my beloved music my profession, a desire which assumed a more and more concrete shape, although the obstacles were many. I had learned all that there was to be learned in Linz. My teachers, too, encouraged me in my decision to devote my life to music, but this meant my going to live in Vienna. Thus the "Come with me, Gustl" which my friend had at first uttered so lightheartedly took on the character of a firm invitation and a definite goal. Nevertheless, I feel that without Adolf's determined intervention, my unadventurous nature would not have allowed me to change my profession and go to live in Vienna.

Yet my friend certainly thought primarily of himself. He had a horror of going alone, because this, his third journey to Vienna, was a quite different proposition from his earlier visits. Then, he still had his mother, and though he was away, his home still existed. He was not then taking a step into the unknown, for the knowledge that his mother was waiting to welcome him with open arms at any time and in any circumstances gave a firm and reliable substance to his insecure life. His home was the quiet centre round which his stormy existence revolved. Now he had lost it. Going to Vienna would be the last and final decision from which there was no turning back-a jump into the dark. During the months he had spent there last autumn, he had not succeeded in making any friends; perhaps he had no desire to do so. Relatives of his mother were living there with whom he had formerly had some contact and, unless I am mistaken, he had even stayed with them during his first visit. He never went to see them again and did not even mention them. It was quite understandable that he should have avoided his relatives, because he was afraid that they might question him about his work and livelihood. They would certainly have discovered then that the Academy had rejected him, and he would have suffered starvation and misery rather than have appeared to be in need of help. Nothing, therefore, was more natural than that he should take me with him, as I was not only his friend, but also the only person with whom he shared the secret of his great love. Since his mother's death, Adolf's "Come with me, Gustl" had begun to sound more like a friendly entreaty.

After New Year's Day, 1908, I went with Adolf to visit the grave of his parents. It was a fine winter day, cold and clear, which has forever remained in my memory. Snow covered all the familiar landmarks. Adolf knew every inch of our route, as for years this had been his way to school.

He was very composed, a change that surprised me for I knew that his mother's death had shaken him deeply, and had even caused him physical suffering that had brought him near to collapse from exhaustion. My mother had invited him to share our meals during Christmas, in order that he might recover his strength and leave for a while the empty, cold house in which everything reminded him of his mother. He had come, but had sat silent and serious at our table. It was not yet time to talk to him of future plans.

Now, as he walked solemnly by my side, looking much older than I, much more mature and manly, he was still deeply immersed in his own affairs. Yet I was surprised how clearly and detachedly he spoke of them, almost as if it were of someone else's business. Angela had let him know that Paula could now live with them. Her husband had agreed to that, but had refused to receive Adolf into his family as he, Adolf, had behaved disrespectfully to him. Thus, he was relieved of his greatest worry, for the child at least had a secure home. He himself had never intended to seek asylum with the Raubals. He had expressed his gratitude to Angela and had informed her that all his parents' furniture would go to Paula. The funeral expenses were paid out of his mother's estate. Incidentally, Angela had had a baby girl the day before, who was also to be christened Angela, and his guardian, he added, the Mayor of Leonding, had promised to settle the affairs connected with the inheritance and also to help him to apply for an orphan's pension.

All this sounded very sober and sensible. Afterwards, he began to talk of Stefanie. He was determined, he said, to bring the present state of affairs to an end. At the next opportunity, he would introduce himself to Stefanie and her mother, as this had not been possible during the Christmas holidays. It was high time, he said, to bring matters to a bead.

We were walking through the snow-covered village. There was a small one-storied house, No. 61, which had once belonged to Adolf's father; the big beehive, of which his father had been so proud, was still there, but now it was owned by strangers. Next to it was the cemetery. His father's grave, in which his mother had now been buried, was near the eastern wall, and the fresh little mound was covered with snow. Adolf stood in front of it with a stern, set face; he looked hard and severe, and there were no tears in his eyes. His thoughts were with his beloved mother. I stood by his side and prayed.

On our way back, Adolf said that he would probably stay in Linz throughout the month of January until the home was finally disposed of and the estate settled. He foresaw, he said, some heated arguments with his guardian. Certainly his guardian wanted to do his best for Adolf, but what use was this to him if the "best" was nothing more than an apprenticeship to a master baker in Leonding?

Old Josef Mayrhofer, Hitler's guardian, now well advanced in years, still lives in Leonding. Naturally, he has often been asked about his experiences with the young Hitler, and his impressions of him. In his simple, disinterested manner, he has replied to all questioners – first the enemies, then the friends, and then again the enemies of his ward – and his replies have always been the same, irrespective of the questioner's opinions.

One day in January, 1908, he would say, the Hitler-Adi, grown tall, with dark down on his upper lip and a deep voice, almost a grown man, came to see him to discuss the question of his inheritance. But his first sentence was: "I am going to Vienna again." All attempts to dissuade him failed – a stubborn fellow, like his father, the old Hitler.

Josef Mayrhofer still has in his possession the documents relating to these discussions. The application for an orphan's pension for himself and his sister which Adolf made at his guardian's request, reads as follows:

To the Respected Imperial and Royal Finance Administration. The respectfully undersigned herewith request the kind allocation of the Orphans' Pension due to them. Both of these applicants, after the death of their mother, widow of an Imperial and Royal Customs Official, on December 21, 1907, are now without either of their parents, are minors, and are incapable of earning their own living. The guardian of both applicants – Adolf Hitler, born on the 20th April, 1889, in Braunau-on-Inn, and Paula Hitler, born on the 21st January, 1898, in Fischlham, near Lambach, Upper Austria – is Mr. Joseph Mayrhofer, of Leonding, near Linz. Both applicants
are domiciled in Linz.


Incidentally, Adolf obviously signed the application for his sister Paula, for the name "Hitler" in both signatures shows the same downward-sloping tendency which was so characteristic of his signature in later years. Besides, he made a mistake in the date of birth of his sister; Paula was not born in 1898, but in 1896.

According to the legislation then in force regarding state officials, orphans of under twenty-four years of age, with no means of their own, were entitled to claim an orphan's pension amounting to one half of the widow's pension which their mother had been receiving. Frau Hitler had received a pension of 100 crowns a month since her husband's death; therefore, Adolf and Paula were entitled to a total of 50 crowns a month, and Adolf's share was thus 25 crowns a month. This, of course, was not enough for him to live on: for example, he had to pay 10 crowns a month for his room at Mrs. Zakreys'.

The application was granted, and the first payment was made on February 12, 1908, when Adolf was already in Vienna. Incidentally, three years later he renounced his share in favour of his sister Paula, although he could have continued to claim it until he reached the age of twenty-four, i.e., in April, 1913. The document of renunciation, dated May 4th, 1911, is still in the possession of his guardian, Joseph Mayrhofer.

The document concerning the inheritance, which Adolf signed in the presence of his guardian before he left for Vienna, also mentioned his share in his father's estate, amounting to about seven hundred crowns. It is possible that he had already spent part of this money during his previous stay in Vienna, but in view of his very economical way of life – the only large item in his budget was books – he was left with enough to tide him over at least the beginning of his new sojourn there. As regards our future together, Adolf was more fortunate than I, not only because he had some capital and a fixed monthly income, however small – a matter which I had still to arrange with my parents – but also because, having prevailed over his guardian, he was free to make his own decisions, whereas my decisions were subject to my parents' confirmation. For me, moreover, moving to Vienna meant giving up the trade I had learned, whereas Adolf could continue to lead there more or less his previous life. All these circumstances made it increasingly difficult for me to come to a decision; Adolf could not understand this for some time, although from the beginning he had taken the lead in this whole difficult affair. As far back as the beginning of our friendship, when I could still only visualise my future in the dusty, upholsterer's workshop, Adolf, though nearly a year younger than I, had made it abundantly clear to me that I ought to become a musician. Having put this idea into my head, he never gave up his efforts to persuade me. He comforted me when I despaired, he bolstered up my self-confidence when I was in danger of losing it, he praised, he criticised, he was occasionally rude and violent and railed at me furiously, but he never lost sight of the goal which he had set for me; and if sometimes we had such furious rows that I believed it was the end of everything, we would enthusiastically renew our friendship after a concert performance in which I had taken part.

By God, nobody on earth, not even my mother who loved me so much and knew me so well, was as capable of bringing my secret desires into the open and making them come true as my friend, although he had never had any systematic musical training.

In the winter of 1907, when work in our business was slackening and I had more time to myself, I took lessons in harmonics from the conductor of the Linz Theatre. My studies were as thorough as they were successful, and filled me with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, there was no scope in Linz for studying the other special subjects of musical theory, such as counterpoint, orchestration and the history of music. Nor was there a seminary for training in conducting and composition, much less any stimulus for free composition. This sort of training was only available at the Vienna Conservatory; besides, there I would have the opportunity of hearing firstclass performances of operas and concerts. Though I had made up my mind to go to Vienna, unlike my friend I lacked the necessary determination to carry out my decision against all odds. But Adolf had already prepared the ground. Without my knowledge, he bad succeeded in convincing my mother of my musical vocation; for what mother does not like to hear a brilliant career prophesied for her son as a conductor, especially when she herself is so devoted to music? Thus, she soon became our ally. And there was also her justifiable anxiety about my health, as my lungs could no longer stand the perpetual dust in the workshop. So my mother, who had grown fond of Adolf just as Frau Klara had become fond of me, was won over, and everything now depended on my father's consent. Not that he openly opposed my wish. My father was in every respect the opposite of Adolf's father, as he had been described to me by my friend. He was always quiet, and apparently took no interest in what was going on around him. All his thoughts were devoted to the business which he had created out of nothing, had successfully steered through grave crises, and had now built up into a reputable, prosperous enterprise. He regarded my musical tastes as idle dilettantism, as he could not believe that it was possible to build a secure existence on more or less useless fiddling and strumming. To the last, he could not understand that I, knowing poverty and distress, was willing to renounce security in favour of a vague future. How often did I hear him say "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," or bitterly, "What was the use of all my drudgery?"

I was working harder than ever in the workshop, as I did not want it said that I was neglecting my trade for the sake of my musical studies. My father saw in my industry a sign that I wanted to remain in the trade and take over his business someday. My mother knew how devoted my father was to his work, and so kept silent in order not to upset him. So at the time when my musical future depended absolutely on my attending the Vienna Conservatory, things seemed to have reached a deadlock within our domestic circle: I worked feverishly in the workshop, and said nothing. My mother also said nothing, and my father, thinking that I had finally abandoned the plan, did the same.

At this juncture, Adolf came to see us. At one glance he realised what the situation was, and intervened immediately. To begin with, he brought me back into "form." During his stay in Vienna, he had made detailed enquiries about the study of music and now he gave me exact information on the subject, telling me, in his tempting way, how much he had enjoyed attending operas and concerts. My mother's imagination was also fired by these vivid descriptions, and so a decision became more and more imperative. It was, however, essential that Adolf himself should convince my father.

A difficult enterprise! What use was the most brilliant eloquence if the old master upholsterer had no regard for any thing connected with art? He was quite fond of Adolf but, after all, he only saw in him a young man who had failed at school and thought too highly of himself to learn a trade.

My father had tolerated our friendship, but actually would have preferred a more sound companion for me. Adolf was, therefore, in a decidedly unfavorable position, and it is astonishing that he nevertheless managed to win over my father to our plan in so comparatively short a time. I would have understood it if there had been a violent clash of opinions; in that case, Adolf would have been in his element and able to play all the trump cards which he held. But that was not the case. I cannot recollect that any argument in the usual sense took place at all. Adolf treated the whole matter as of no great importance and, in particular, implied that the decision rested with my father alone. He accepted the fact that my father only half gave his consent, suggesting a temporary solution: as the current scholastic year at the Conservatory had already started in the previous autumn, I should go to Vienna for a trial period only to look around for a while. If the facilities for training came up to my expectations, I could then make a final decision, but failing this, I could return home and enter my father's business. Adolf, who hated compromise and with whom it was usually all or nothing, was, surprisingly enough, agreeable to this course. I was blissfully happy as never before in my life, for now I had achieved my purpose without upsetting my father, and my mother shared my joy.

At the beginning of February, Adolf returned to Vienna. His address remained the same, he told me when he left, as he had continued to pay his rent to Mrs. Zakreys, and I should write to him in good time announcing my arrival. I helped him carry his luggage to the station, four cases altogether unless I am mistaken, every one of them very heavy. I asked him what they contained, and he answered "All my belongings." They were almost entirely books.

At the station Adolf once again spoke of Stefanie. Unfortunately, he had had no opportunity to talk to her, he said, for he had never met her unaccompanied. What he had to tell Stefanie was for her ears only. "Perhaps I shall write to her," he added in conclusion. But I thought that this idea, expressed by Adolf for the first time, was merely a sign of embarrassment, or at the most, a cheap consolation. My friend entered the train and, standing at the window, shook me by the hand. As the train moved off, "Follow me soon, Gustl," he called out to me.

My good mother had already started preparing my clothes and linen for my journey to great, unknown Vienna. In the end, even my father wanted to contribute something; he made me a big wooden box which was reinforced with strong iron bands. I put into it my music, and my mother filled the remaining space with clothes and shoes.

In the meantime, a postcard arrived from Adolf, dated February 18, 1908, showing a view of the Armour Collection at the Vienna Museum of the History of Art: "Dear Friend" it began-and this form of address proved how much our relationship had deepened since his mother's death. "Dear Friend, am anxiously expecting news of your arrival. Write soon so that I can prepare everything for your festive welcome. The whole of Vienna is awaiting you, therefore come soon. I will, of course, come and meet you." On the back of the postcard he wrote: "Now the weather here is improving. I hope you will have better weather too. Well, as I said before, at first you will stay with me. Later we shall see. One can get a piano here in the so-called 'Dorotheum' for as little as 50/60 Fls. Well, many regards to you and your esteemed parents, from your friend, Adolf Hitler." Then a postscript. "Beg you again, come soon."

Adolf had addressed the card as usual to "Gustav" Kubizek. He spelt Gustav sometimes with a "v" and sometimes with a "ph." He heartily disliked my first name, August, and always called me "Gustl," which was more like Gustav than August. He would probably have preferred it had I formally changed my first name. He even addressed me as Gustav when he wrote to me on my Saint's day, the feast of Saint Augustine, August 28. Under my name there is the abbreviation "Stud.", and I remember that he liked to refer to me as "Stud. Mus."

This postcard, unlike the previous ones, is much more cheerful. Typical of Adolf's mood is his humour, which permeates it. "The whole of Vienna is awaiting you," he says, and he intends to prepare a "festive welcome." All this indicates that, after the dark and depressing days which he had spent in Linz following his mother's death, he was feeling relaxed and free in Vienna, however uncertain the future might be. Nevertheless, he must have been very lonely. The "anxiously" in the first sentence of his card was no doubt meant seriously, and the fact that he repeats the "come soon," even in the form "beg you again to come soon," proves how much he was looking forward to my arrival. Even the information as to the cheap piano was intended to encourage me to come without delay. He may have feared secretly that my vacillating father would change his mind at the last moment.

The day of my departure arrived. In the morning I went to church with my mother; I felt how painful my departure was for her, although she stuck tenaciously to her resolve. Yet I also remember a typical remark which my father made when he saw my mother weeping. "I can't understand why you are so depressed, Mother," he said. "We haven't asked Gustl to leave his home; he wanted to himself." My mother, in her grief at our parting, concentrated on my creature comforts, giving me a nice piece of roast pork; and the dripping, which was to be spread on my bread, was put into a special container. She baked some buns for me, gave me a large piece of cheese, a jar of jam and a bottle of coffee. My brown canvas bag was full to overflowing with food.

So off I went to the station after my last dinner at home, well provided for in every respect. My parents saw me off; my father shook my hand and said "Always remain honest." But my mother, with tears in her eyes, kissed me and, as the train started, made the sign of the Cross on my forehead. For a long time I felt her tender fingers there as they traced the Cross.