Sep 3, 2009

Did This Really Happen?

It's owner, the great-great grandson of a prominent Viennese Jewish political man, says so.

Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin faced off in a chess game in 1909.

The etching that is going up for sale at auction, was allegedly done by Emma Lowenstramm, purportedly Hitler's Jewish art instructor during his stint in Vienna. It is being displayed together alongside the chess board with which they played, distinguishable because of the interestingly shaped bishops and kings. On the reverse are two signatures--supposedly by the two future dictators. Though handwriting analysts aren't positive, they give an 80% chance of authenticity.

The timing would have been right. Hitler, according to Mein Kampf, arrived in Vienna in 1905 at the age of 16. Lenin at the time was meandering across Europe, fomenting socialist rage. It is not at all suspect that he could have been in Vienna, at the home of a Jewish politico.

Hitler, of course, after being rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, decided to get involved in politics. It was there, once again according to his memoirs, that he began to hate Jews.

So, it's amazing because it was possible. It will be astounding if it actually happened. Jonah Goldberg at the National Review says that if ever there was a time for God to strike a dwelling with a bolt of lightning, that game was it. Together, those two wrought the world and caused millions and millions to die. But one afternoon in 1909, before Hitler was anybody and before Lenin was taken seriously by anyone but the tsars, they may have shared a cup of tea over a quiet game of chess in Vienna.

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