Hitler in Vienna. I hate to say this but Vienna played a role in catapulting Adolf Hitler to dictatorship. For one thing, it was in Vienna that he was bitterly rejected as an artist and slipped into poverty. And it was in Wien where he encountered fervent Antisemitism and started to doubt democracy. On the other hand, Vienna was the perfect catalyst for the Führer’s Nazi ideology from as early as 1931. Without doubt, Nazi Vienna fuelled Hitler’s expansion into Europe.
Since you won’t find Hitler plaques and signs anywhere in Vienna you’ll need to know what to look for. Below I’m sharing the 10 key sites and museums related to Hitler.
Academy of Fine Arts
Hitler in Vienna. When he was young Hitler wanted to study arts at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorische Akademie). But the Academy rejected his water colours and drawings twice, in 1907 and 1908. In fact, Hitler’s test drawings were classified as unsatisfactory, showing lack of talent. While the Academy jurors felt Hitler had some ability to draw architecture he wasn’t able to appreciate the human form. ‘Too few heads’ was the Academy’s response in 1908, not even admitting him to further test drawings. His architectural drawings were deemed of good quality by contemporary art historians though somewhat outdated in style. Subsequently, Hitler tried to make a living selling water colours of Viennese scenes. However, he ended up having financial arguments with his business partner.
Even though you won’t find historical traces of Hitler, do visit the institution that could have changed the course of world history. Housed in a splendid palace, the fine classical art gallery displaying top European masters is also a perfect off-mainstream art treasure.
Location: Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna
Opening Times: daily except Tuesday, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
Hitler in Vienna. In 1908, Adolf Hitler shared a small room in a flat in Stumpergasse 31 in Mariahilf (sixth district) with his childhood friend August Kubizek. After Hitler had used up his family inheritance he was forced to leave the flat and became temporarily homeless. Every now and then he would use the homeless shelter in the 12th district of Meidling before renting an inexpensive room in a large B&B for males (Männerheim).
While you can’t access the flat it’s worth visiting the area to get an idea of the place Hitler once called home. On a pragmatic note, combine it with a visit to the Imperial Furniture Collection (aka Hapsburgs Museum of Furniture), at 20-25 min walk.
Hitler in Vienna. Unearthing the history of Nazi Vienna can still be tricky as the example of the Adolf Hitler House shows. In 1931, the Viennese Nazi party (NSDAP) bought the three storey building in Hirschengasse in the sixth district. In fact, that house should become a ‘Brown House’ similar to that in Munich. From then on the ‘Adolf Hitler Haus’ became Nazi Austria’s center of power, years before Hitler annexed Austria. By 1933 the Viennese Nazis had radicalised enough to regularly terrorise Jews and political opponents.
Nowadays the Austrian Ministry of Education, Art and Culture uses the building as a youth hostel. Surprisingly, hardly any of the young Austrians visiting their capital has been made aware of their accommodation’s dark past. Despite some press coverage I doubt many other Austrians know about it. Especially since the Ministry decided to only dispense information ‘upon explicit request’.
Location: Hirschengasse 25, 1060 Vienna
Heldenplatz and Neue Burg
Hitler in Vienna. Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square) and the newer part of the Imperial Palace (Neue Burg) turned into Hitler’s grand stage and birth place of Nazi Vienna. When he proclaimed the ‘homecoming of Austria’ at the 1938 Anschluss, 250,000 ecstatic Viennese cheered him on Heldenplatz. That square symbolised centuries of power of the German speaking nation. (Yet Hitler disliked the Habsburg monarchy and their multiethnical Empire.) As the title photo shows the Führer chose to make his proclamation from the Neue Burg’s balcony. The name Heroes’s Square is unrelated to the Nazis but dates from the Napoleonic Wars and victory over the Turks.
“As Führer and Chancellor of the German Nation and the Reich, I report before history the entry of my homeland into the German Reich.” (Adolf Hitler at Heldenplatz, 12th March 1938)
Nazi Vienna: Holocaust Memorials
Hitler in Vienna. Shortly after the Anschluss Hitler’s Nazi party started to systematically suppress and persecute Viennese Jews. Two memorials symbolise the cruelties performed in Nazi Vienna: the Hrdlicka memorial on Albertinaplatz – named after its creator Alfred Hrdlicka – displays a Jew scrubbing the floor with his toothbrush. Right next, the sculpture against War and Fasciscm called Gate of Violence is made from granite of Mauthausen concentration camp. Featuring thousands of stone books the Shoah memorial on Judenplatz commemorates Viennese Jews who had lost their lives. Each of the 65,000 books represents the story of a Viennese Jew. Like Heldenplatz, you will find it easy to visit the Holocaust Memorials because they are so centrally located.
Locations: Albertinaplatz (close to Albertina Museum and Vienna State Opera); Judenplatz (next to Jewish Museum on Judenplatz)
Air Defence Towers
Hitler in Vienna. Arguably Vienna’s three pairs of gigantic World War 2 defence towers are the city’s most bizarre monuments. Erected only in the last months of World War 2, the FLAK towers helped to defend Vienna against air raids, and also to provide shelter to the public. At almost 50 metres the massive steel concrete cylinders are not only indestructible they have turned into deliberate memorials against war. This picture shows one of the towers in baroque Augarten. Unlike the other towers, one FLAK tower is accessible: Housing Vienna’s public acquarium, the Haus des Meeres also runs daily guided tours (11.00 am and 4.00 pm) through a small exhibition space about the history of these defence towers.
Location (Haus des Meeres): Fritz-Grünbaum-Platz-1, 1060 Vienna
Museum of Military History
Hitler in Vienna. Why does the Museum of Military History not do a separate section on history changers such as Hitler or World War 2? Certainly, the main reason to add the period from the end of World War 1 to the outbreak of World War 2 is context. The first thing to remember is that Hitler’s phenomenal rise in Austria and subsequent war goes back to the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. At the ‘Heeresgeschichtliches Museum’ you can dig down to the roots of Hitler and National Socialism in Austria. Among the key exhibits are original historical objects, from war uniforms and an Allied Forces vehicle to Nazi posters and the weirdest Hitler paraphernalia.
Location: Arsenal, Objekt 1, Ghegastrasse, 1030 Vienna
Opening Times: daily, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm; closed on 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 1 November, 25th and 31sst December;
Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance
There is no better place in Vienna to explore the truth about Nazi Vienna than at the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance. For example, few people know that the Gestapo Headquarters in Vienna was larger than that in Berlin. On top, the German Gestapo found it really easy to recruit its members from the Viennese police. Notably this was the result of the German NSDAP’s enormously successful campaign in Austria since 1931.
In the first place, explore documents, photographs, letters and Nazi posters about the Gestapo. What I found most revealing were the stories about the deportation of Austrian Jews, and Austrian resistance fighters. Some visitors who have lost family members in Vienna during that time can also search a database of more than 63.000 victims.
Location: Wipplingerstrasse 6-8 (Old City Hall), 1010 Vienna; Memorial for the Victims of Gestapo – Salztorgasse 6, 1010 Vienna
Opening Times: Monday to Wednesday, and Thursday: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (workdays); opening hours in Salztorgasse on request;
The Third Man Museum
Hitler in Vienna. At first thought, you wouldn’t add the private collection of a local ‘The Third Man‘ film fanatic to complete your factual insight about Hitler in Vienna and World War 2. As a matter of fact, part of this internationally renown museum holds an unprecedented amount of stunning original documents about life in Vienna in the years after the war. That was when the Allied Forces occupied Wien, when post-war soldiers and even some Jewish families returned, when local ‘rubble women’ tidied up the city and citizens had ‘roof rabbit’ (aka cat) instead of Wiener Schnitzel.
If you are lucky you will encounter passionate museum’s owner Gerhard Strassgschwandtner. He loves to share his insight about that dark part of Viennese history as well as the story of his museum.
Location: Pressgasse 25, 1040 Vienna (close to Naschmarkt)
Opening Times: Saturdays 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Guided Tours For A Consistent Story
Most key sites, like Heldenplatz, have other historical contexts, too. Some, like the Holocaust Memorials, remind of the impact of the Führer’s regime rather than his physical presence. To get the best insight into Hitler in Vienna, combine key sites with museums. Equally important is to get a consistent story: A good tour guide can provide the contextual frame of Hitler’s Vienna and post-war Vienna as you walk along.
Other Sites of Hitler In Vienna
Apart from the key places outlined, you will likely find yourself walking in Hitler’s footsteps in Vienna without even knowing.
For example, Adolf Hitler regularly frequented the Vienna State Opera and Burgtheater, and admired the grand buildings of Ringstrasse boulevard. Several times Hitler also visited the Imperial Chapel to see the Vienna Boys Choir. When he arrived in Wien in 1938, Hitler stayed at luxury Hotel Imperial on Ringstrasse.
visit Jewish Vienna – Map, Top Sights and Walking Tours
go to Vienna Sightseeing Top 10 + 5 Points Of Interest in Vienna
find out more about What To Do In Vienna: A Native’s Free Guide
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