What Happened To All Of Hitler's Artwork?

Some facts about Adolf Hitler are memorable because they don't fit with our image of him as one of history's most reviled monsters and mass murderers. The idea that he was a vegetarian is prominent in popular consciousness, as it raises the interesting question: "how could such a deranged killer care whether he ate animals or not?" But as it turns out, Hitler wasn't a lifelong vegetarian, nor did he avoid meat for ideological reasons. According to The New York Times, the Nazi leader only used a vegetarian diet to combat "excessive sweating and flatulence," and regularly enjoyed a range of meat dishes.

But while Hitler's supposed vegetarianism has become a famous urban myth, there is another part of his life that is also perversely appealing: his early career as a wannabe artist. According to History, following the death of his mother, 18-year-old Hitler moved to Vienna, where, in 1908, he created scores of sketches and paintings (pictured: a page of Hitler's sketchbook) while applying to join the city's Academy of Fine Arts. The future Nazi leader was, however, rejected, with the admissions board claiming that his work was "unsatisfactory," according to the same source.

But what became of the artwork that Hitler created in his youth?

The ultimate fate of Hitler's drawings

Though Adolf Hitler was rejected — twice — by the Academy of Fine Arts and his dream of being a famous artist evaporated, he continued to paint while in Vienna. According to History, the future fascist moved around the city and used his skills as an artist to keep himself afloat. From 1909, he made a living selling oil paintings and watercolors of local scenic scenes and landmarks. Hitler relied on painting for income until 1914, when he was arrested in Munich as a draft dodger, and subsequently went to fight in World War I.

Per the same source, when Hitler rose to power, he reportedly tasked a team with collecting his assorted artworks from around Germany, and he subsequently had them destroyed en masse. However, numerous sketches and paintings — many of which are signed "A Hitler" — have come up for auction. One batch sold for an astounding $450,000 in 2015, though many critics have claimed such sales should be outlawed.

Many works that sellers claim to have been painted by Hitler often turn out to be forgeries, and are subsequently withdrawn from sale. "Since Hitler had no style of his own as a painter, but generally just copied, it is very difficult to be sure what is by Hitler," claims art historian Birgit Schwarz (via The Guardian). Further works are still held by the U.S. Army following their seizure at the end of World War II (per The New Yorker).