10 surprising facts about Adolf Hitler

As History investigates what really happened to the Nazi leader in the Berlin bunker, discover 10 lesser known facts about Adolf Hitler.

In History's Hunting Hitler, the long-held theory that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler escaped his Berlin bunker in 1945 to escape to a new life in Latin America is explored further, revealing plenty of fascinating facts about his life and times along the way.

[Did Hitler really die in his bunker? The Hunting Hitler theory explained…]

Hitler's role in the rise of the Nazi party between the two World Wars and the atrocities committed under his leadership before and during World War II are well documented, but do you know these lesser-known facts about him?

1. He was rejected from art school twice

adolf hitler

It’s well known that Hitler was rejected from Academy of Fine Arts Vienna but did you know that he attempted to reapply? The school was so unimpressed with his work that he wasn’t even allowed to set a re-entry exam - make your own mind up about the self-portrait above…

[More from History: Is the Zodiac killer about to be found?]

2. Hitler loved Disney

It's not easy to picture Hitler chuckling away to Mickey Mouse – but apparently this was the case. Despite expressing disdain for Americans, Hitler was apparently particularly fond of Disney’s first feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in 1937.   

3. He also admired the Native American genocide

adolf hitler native americans

He gave Americans credit for the genocide of Native Americans. Historical records indicate that Hitler both studied and took inspiration from the way the US treated the Native Americans from the 16th century onwards. Indeed, direct comparisons can be made between the reservations that indigenous Americans were forced to live on and the mass concentration camps of the Nazis .

4. He was a vegetarian, but not for the reasons most people think

Hitler supposedly loved animals, and Nazi propaganda images can be seen feeding and cuddling all kinds of creatures – from dogs to deer. Many assume that Hitler’s choice of vegetarianism was because of his strong bond with his four-legged buddies, but according to medical records he was actually recommended a plant-based diet due to his suffering from severe constipation.

5. Hitler sent Jesse Owens a picture of himself

adolf hitler

Hitler supposedly snubbed African-American four-time Olympic gold medallist Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer games in Berlin by refusing to shake his hand. However, the Fuhrer did send the athlete a belated congratulations present – a photograph of himself.

6. Hitler never made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

When Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler turned up at the Eiffel Tower for a visit. A great admirer of Parisian architecture, he’d even warned German bombers to avoid historical buildings in the city. But in order to stop him taking in the epic views of the city, the French cut the ties of the tower's elevator. Not fancying climbing the 1,500 stairs to the top, Hitler declined, and instead posed for photo opportunities at its foot.

7. He didn’t like smokers

Hitler didn’t smoke and couldn’t stand smokers. He supported an anti-smoking propaganda campaign that criticised the habit for its addictive and unhealthy properties.

8. It's likely Hitler had Parkinson’s disease

adolf hitler

Film of Hitler’s speeches show his hands trembling. This could easily be dismissed as simply a by-product of his extreme enthusiasm and passion but medical reports covering the last decade of Hitler’s life indicated he may have been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Not only does Parkinson’s cause uncontrollable tremors, it also can cause memory loss and mental disturbance – which certainly matches Hitler’s psychopathic behaviour. 

9. He was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

In 1938, Hitler was declared Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, a tribute which Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have also earned. The title is awarded, the publisher says, to the man or woman who, "for better or for worse... has done the most to influence the events of the year".

10. Hitler wanted a 'Museum of an Extinct Race'

Hitler planned to create a 'Museum of an Extinct Race' once his wartime genocide was complete. This would house valuable items, such as paintings and historical artefacts, which Aryans could visit to 'learn' about the peoples the Nazis had eradicated.

Hunting Hitler is on Mondays on History at 9pm.