As far as we know, Adolf Hitler had one close boyhood friend – the son of the upholsterer Michael Kubizek and his wife Maria, named August. They met in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, through their shared veneration of the operas of Richard Wagner and became close friends between 1904 and early July 1908, when Hitler suddenly vanished in the homeless crowds of Vienna – as told in “The Little Drummer Boy“.
Much of what we know about Hitler’s life during those years comes from Kubizek. He made notes for the Nazi Party archive and in 1951 published an extended version under the name “Adolf Hitler, mein Jugendfreund” (‘The Young Hitler I Knew, Arcade Books 2011, ISBN 978-1-61145-058-3) through the Leopold Stocker Verlag. Although several errors in his notes have been pointed out, it is the only source for these years that we have.
It was perhaps characteristical of Hitler that he never mentioned his friend in the autobiographical chapters of “Mein Kampf” or in conversation until they met again on 9 April 1938 in Linz. In 1939 and 1940, Hitler invited Kubizek to the Richard Wagner Festivals in Bayreuth. In 1942, when the tide of war had turned against the Third Reich, Kubizek finally joined the NSDAP.
Kubizek was arrested by U.S. troops in the winter of 1945 and jailed until 8 April 1947 without ever being accused of, or much less indicted of, breaking any law. The publication of his book in 1953 allowed a view of young Hitler’s life the public had not been aware of.
He died on 23 October 1956, aged 68.
(© John Vincent Palatine 2015/18)