Was Hitler sweet at sixteen?

Was Hitler sweet at sixteen?

Sweet sixteen, as a coming-of-age milestone in the U.S, supposedly marks the transition from youth to adulthood. As I reflected on my thank-goodness-it’s-over teenage years of discomfort, anxiety and confusion, my thoughts wondered how I am different today than I was then. I wondered if the seeds of who I am now were planted then or if they were already engrained in my DNA from birth.

Then, I remembered an exhibit my friend Lucy and I saw at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City many years ago. The artist, whose name I can no longer remember, displayed photos of influential figures from history, accompanied by a photo of each as a child. This is a photo I took of the Hitler exhibit, him as a child and as a man.

The installation inspired so many thought-provoking questions:

If we could go back in time, how would we treat the baby Hitler, knowing what we know now?
When were the seeds of who he would became planted?
If we had that knowledge, what is our responsible as a society, or as individuals?

What are your thoughts? I would be interested to hear them, if you would share them with me. Thanks.

Was Hitler Sweet at Sixteen?



  1. Hitler had some issues. I don’t know his upbringing. I always thought he already had come from a good family. There are people who come from good families who do strange things sometimes too I assume. It’s an interesting subject and I’ve been wondering about people along these similar lines of thought and discussion.

    • Hi Nowelle: Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am also been wondering about this a lot lately. I think it’s safe to say that all people have issues. The defining factor is how each of us work out our personal issues without adversely affecting the lives of others.

  2. I find it quite scarey when I see obviously inherited behavioural characteristics show themselves when there has been little contact between the relatives. It makes me wonder just how much influence parenting and environment actually has.

    • Hi Macmsue: Thanks for the comment. Some of the articles I have read recently address that exact concern. Have you read the studies about twins, who are separated from birth and raised in diverse environments? The researchers were amazed to find that many end up in the same profession, with the same likes and dislikes as their birth siblings, even when their environment and their parent’s backgrounds were so different.

  3. I have read about the twin study before. Ironically in our newspaper here today there is a report on some research done at the University of Montreal which apparently says, “Toddlers throw tantrums because of their genes rather than their upbringing”. I would however like to see the original report rather then rely on a newspaper’s interpretation.

    • Yes, one must be vigilant and very critical with the news or anything published. I am sure that for every study touting something, there are scientists in other labs finding the exact opposite. Interestingly enough, today’s NYTimes had an article titled ‘New Truths That Only One Can see’ highlighting the decreasing state of replication. I am still waiting for a study to tell me that it’s healthier to sit and blog (sedentary) than to get out of the house and exercise every day (active); it’s difficult to get motivated to go outside when it’s gray, overcast and cold.

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