On January 14, 1907, Adolf Hitler's mother went to see the family doctor
about a pain in her chest, so bad it kept her awake at night. The doctor,
Edward Bloch, who was Jewish, examined her and found she had advanced breast
Adolf Hitler sobbed when the doctor told him she was gravely ill and
needed immediate surgery. A few days later, Klara Hitler, 46, was operated
on and had one of her breasts removed. But the operation was too late.
Her illness, malignant cancer, would slowly ravage her body. She couldn't
make it up the stairs to the family apartment, so they moved into a first
floor apartment in a suburb next to Linz, Austria.
Eighteen-year-old Adolf had grand ideas of someday becoming a great
artist. Each October, entrance examinations were held at the Academy of
Fine Arts in Vienna. Despite his misgivings about leaving his mother, Hitler's
artistic ambitions had driven him to withdraw his inheritance from the bank
and move to Vienna to study at the academy.
Problems had arisen for Hitler when he failed the academy's entrance exam
and his mother's condition took a turn for the worse. He left Vienna,
feeling quite depressed, and went back home to his mother and did not tell
her he failed the exam.
Hitler consulted Dr. Bloch who recommended drastic treatment to save
his mother's life. The painful, expensive treatment involved applying dosages
of iodoform directly onto the ulcerations caused by the cancer. She was
moved into the warm kitchen of the Hitler apartment where Adolf kept constant
watch and even helped out with household chores such as cooking and washing
the floor. The apartment, however, always smelled of iodoform.
She bore the pain well, but Adolf anguished over every moment of her
suffering. Her condition steadily worsened and as the festive Christmas
season approached in December 1907, she was near death. In the early hours
of December 21st, amid the glowing lights of the family's Christmas tree,
she died quietly. Adolf was devastated. Dr. Bloch arrived later that day
to sign the death certificate. He later said he had never seen anyone so
overcome with grief as Adolf Hitler at the loss of his mother.
Klara Hitler was buried on a misty, foggy December day in the cemetery
at Leonding, next to her husband. The cemetery also contained her son Edward,
Adolf's younger brother, who had died from measles at age six.
The next day, Christmas Eve, Hitler and his sisters paid a visit to
Dr. Bloch and settled the medical bill. The doctor gave the family
a break on the charges considering the many home visits he had made to
his patient. Adolf Hitler expressed profound gratitude to the doctor. "I
shall be grateful to you forever," Hitler told him.
Now, with both parents gone, Hitler once again set his sights on Vienna
and the art academy. He moved there in February 1908. But in that beautiful
old city things would go quite poorly for Hitler. He would eventually wind
up sleeping on park benches and eating at charity soup kitchens. His years
of misery in Vienna would also be a time when he formulated many of his
ideas on politics and race which would have immense consequences in the