August Kubizek – Who Was Adolf Hitler’s Childhood Friend?

August Kubizek in 1907
August Kubizek in 1907 [Image: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Often referred to as Adolf Hitler’s ‘only’ true friend, August Kubizek remained loyal to the Nazi dictator until his final breath. Keep reading to learn how the pair bonded over a shared love of art and music as teenagers before venturing down very different paths in adulthood.

August Kubizek Facts

  • Full Name: August Friedrich Kubizek
  • Nickname: Gustl (as referred to by Adolf Hitler)
  • Date of Birth: August 3, 1888
  • Died: October 23, 1956 (aged 68)
  • Nationality: Austrian
  • Known for: Childhood friend of Adolf Hitler

August Kubizek’s Early Years

August Kubizek was born on August 3, 1888, in Linz, Austria, less than nine months before Adolf Hitler entered the world (April 20, 1889) approximately 121 km (75 miles) away in Braun am Inn.

Kubizek was the first born and only surviving child of Michael Kubíček, a hard-working upholsterer also born in Linz, and Maria Panholzer-Bláhová, who was born illegitimate in Rosee. August was baptized Catholic in St. Matthias Church, the same church his parents tied the knot in a year earlier.

Michael and Maria suffered heartache, with all three of their daughters (Maria, Therese and Karoline) passing away in early childhood.

Kubizek later acknowledged striking similarities between his and Hitler’s childhoods, as the Nazi dictator’s grief-stricken mother had lost four children prematurely. As surviving children of heartbroken parents, it’s safe to say that this was a key contributing factor in the deep bond they would form.

Hitler’s Influence on a Young Kubizek

The pair first met in 1904 while competing for standing room in the Landestheater in Linz. A shared passion for the operas of German composer Richard Wagner ignited a blossoming friendship, with Kubizek openly regarding Hitler as his best friend.

As a teenager, Kubizek worked as an apprentice for his father’s upholstery business. It was no secret that his proud and driven father Michael wanted his only son to someday take over the family business. However, August had other ideas: he secretly wanted to become an orchestral conductor.

Kubizek confided in Hitler, sharing his dream of becoming an conductor but feeling stuck to appease his father’s wishes. As a result, Hitler encouraged his friend to dedicate more time to his passion and Kubizek would go on to complete all of the musical training available to him in his hometown.

The next step towards achieving his goal of becoming a conductor required Kubizek to enrol in further education to study music – a course offered only in Vienna.

Kubizek’s Move From Linz to Vienna

An 18-year-old Hitler decided to move to Vienna to pursue a career in art and longed for his friend to join him. Hitler somehow persuaded Kubizek’s father to allow ‘Gustl’ to move from his hometown and chase his dream of becoming a conductor rather than following in his shoes as an upholsterer.

Kubizek and Hitler would reunite in the sixth district of Vienna, where they shared a small room in Stumpergasse (29/2/2 door 17) from February 22 to early July 1908.

The aspiring conductor was immediately accepted into the Vienna Music Conservatory, where he would study the viola and quickly make a name for himself.

Hitler, however, failed twice to secure a placement at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. With Kubizek thriving in his studies, Hitler felt like a failure and couldn’t bring himself to reveal the truth about his applications being rejected on two occasions, resulting in him abruptly breaking off their friendship and drifting into homelessness.

Life After Completing His Studies

Upon completing his studies in 1912, Kubizek embarked on what promised to be a successful career in music. He became the conductor of the orchestra in Marburg on the Drau, Austria, which would become Maribor in Slovenia after 1918. Having made a name for himself, he was later offered a rather prestigious position at the Stadttheater in Klagenfurt.

Kubizek was finally living his childhood dream as a conductor. However, his musical career was cut short by the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

Before leaving for the front alongside his comrades in Regiment 2 of the Austro-Hungarian Infantry, Kubizek married Anna Funk (October 7, 1887 – October 4, 1976) in 1914. Anna, a violinist from Vienna, gave birth to three sons over the next few years: Augustin, Karl Maria and Rudolph.

Kubizek served as a reservist from August 1914 until the conclusion of the war in November 1918. During the Carpathian winter campaign of 1915, Kubizek was wounded at Eperies in Hungary (now Prešov in Slovakia).

Evacuated to Budapest in an ambulance train alongside hundreds of other wounded soldiers, Kubizek took several months to make a full recovery before returning to action in a mechanised corps in Vienna.

Following the devastating war, Kubizek became a council official in Eferding, Upper Austria.

Reich President von Hindenburg and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler on the Day of Potsdam (21 March 1933)
Reich President von Hindenburg and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler shaking hands on the Day of Potsdam (March 21, 1933). [Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S38324 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons]

Reunited With Hitler After 26 Years

Despite Hitler moving out of their shared accommodation without leaving a forwarding address, Kubizek remained fond of his childhood friend and followed Hitler’s career with great interest.

He later recalled seeing Hitler on the front page of the Münchner Illustrierte – believed to be circa 1920 – but did not attempt to contact him until 1933, when he wrote a letter congratulating him on becoming Chancellor of Germany.

On August 4, 1933, Kubizek received an unexpected response from Hitler, who made it clear that he cherished fond memories of his childhood friendship: “I should be very glad… to revive once more with you those memories of the best years of my life.”

They would reunite in person almost five years later, on April 9, 1938 – almost 26 years to the day that Hitler disappeared and cut off all contact with Kubizek.

Hitler, who by this stage was the most powerful person in Germany, met Kubizek in a hotel lounge during a visit to Linz. After reminiscing for around one hour, Hitler offered to revive his now 50-year-old friend’s musical career by arranging for him to conduct a leading orchestra in Germany. Kubizek politely declined the offer. 

Insistent on doing something nice for his childhood friend, Hitler convinced Kubizek to allow him to fund his three sons through music school at the Anton Bruckner Conservatory.

During this hotel meeting, Hitler also agreed to pay Kubizek for writing two short propaganda booklets about his early life. For many years after this encounter, Hitler also sent birthday presents to Kubizek’s elderly mother.

In 1939 and 1940, Hitler invited his childhood friend to sit with him at the Bayreuth Festival in Bavaria to celebrate the music of Richard Wagner, the German composer the pair bonded over as teenagers.

Kubizek later wrote that these occasions were the “happiest hours of my earthly existence.”

And when the tide of the Second World War began to turn against Hitler in 1942, the non-political Kubizek voluntarily became a member of the Nazi Party as a gesture of loyalty to his dear friend.

Kubizek’s Imprisonment 

Kubizek was so besotted by his childhood friend that he treasured keepsakes given to him by Hitler over the years, and in December 1945 went to great efforts to conceal them in the basement of his home in Eferding.

During the same month, Kubizek was arrested and held at Glasenbach. He was interrogated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and his home was thoroughly searched, but the letters and drawings from Hitler were hidden so well that they were not found during these searches. 

Kubizek was released on April 8, 1947.

Controversial Memoirs

Following his release from Glasenbach, publishers were keen for Kubizek to put pen to paper and document his friendship with Hitler. 

He declined several offers for his memoirs before changing his mind in 1951 and agreeing to publish Adolf Hitler, mein Jugendfreund (“Adolf Hitler, My Childhood Friend”) through the Leopold Stocker Verlag.

Unbeknown to most of these publishers, Kubizek had already written a first draft of his memoirs in 1943 following a request from Martin Ludwig Bormann, a German Nazi Party official and head of the Nazi Party Chancellery.

His first draft had been 150 pages long but answering so many questions from Hitler’s biographer, Franz Jetzinger, who later penned Hitler’s Jugend (“Hitler’s Youth”), meant he now had an extended version totalling 352 pages, complete with pictures showing postcards and drawings Kubizek received from Hitler between 1906 and 1908.

The final version of Kubizek’s memoirs comprised a prologue, 24 chapters and an epilogue. The book was released to the public in 1953, and it caused quite a stir when it hit the bookshelves. 

Kubizek reflected on everything from how they met to Hitler’s bitterness following his rejection from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts:

“Choking with his catalogue of hates, he would pour his fury over everything, against mankind in general who did not understand him, who did not appreciate him and by whom he was persecuted and cheated… I had the impression that Adolf Hitler became unbalanced.”

Kubizek’s Death

Kubizek passed away on October 23, 1956, the same day the Hungarian Revolution broke out, aged 68, in his hometown of Linz and was buried in Eferding, Upper Austria.

He had parted ways with Anna and married for a second time, this time to a lady named Pauline whom has been credited with providing additional photographs for the fourth edition of his memoirs, published in 1975.

References

Kubizek, A. (1955). The Young Hitler I Knew: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Childhood Friend ISBN 978-1848326071

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