“Hitler and Wittgenstein” / Memorable Fancies #1969

In the old archives and now online, there’s a class photo taken in 1904 at the Realschule in Linz. Adolf Hitler is seated in one row, Ludwig Wittgenstein in the row below and to Hitler’s right. Between them there is another student, a good-looking young man with a small chin and pale face.

Let’s consider that “other student,” the one who sat between the future ruler of Europe and the man who would revolutionize modern thought. Let’s call him “Hans Zwischen” as a tribute to his not-here not-there -ness.

We know nothing of Hans Zwischen’s later life. Perhaps he fought for Hitler, willingly or not. Or perhaps he taught philosophy in that same Realschule.

It is 1904. The photo has been distributed to parents and faculty. The teacher of these boys looks at the photo. That Hitler, he thinks, will never amount to much – that fierce but dreamy look. Maybe he’d be good at drawing. And the other – a boy with strange ideas he can’t quite articulate – he’ll never amount to much, either. But Hans Zwischen – now there’s a sturdy young lad with a bright future! Perhaps he’ll become Chancellor some day, or a famous philosopher!


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