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23rd September, 2016


Here's where I take a break from the Bengali cooking scenario and go exploring some deep dark stuff. At some point during my obsession with WWII and the holocaust last year, I decided to read what's been called the most definitive biography of Adolf Hitler, written by Pulitzer prize winning historian, John Toland. It made for an intriguing, exhausting read. The intriguing bits were to do with young Adolf's earlier phase of life, when he was an intense, passionate young boy with artistic dreams,  with a stepfather who thrashed him regularly and a mother he wrote a moving poem for, after her death from cancer.


Young Adolf had dreams of becoming an artist, he made architectural sketches and plans for rebuilding the cities he lived in, he played the piano, he was passionate about Wagner and Lohengrin, he loved dogs and dogs loved him. In other words, he was pretty much like you or me and so many people one knows! What was it then, that tipped the balance and turned this young man into the cold blooded manipulator and mass murderer that he eventually turned into? 

I was in Munich, to visit Dachau Concentration Camp. I decided to take a look at some of the areas he spent this transitional phase of his life in. The first floor pad at 41 Thierstrasse, according to the biography, is where he lived from when he returned as a 31 year old injured WWI soldier, upto the age of 40, a rapidly rising force at the NSDAP, known as the Nazi Party. Frau Reichert, his landlady, found him a moody, sulky, silent Bohemian type who paid his rent punctually, and lived in spartan simplicity with his dog, Wolf, his books and the hallway piano which she let him use. 

Hitler, I discovered, is a taboo subject in many parts of Germany. Noone really wants to talk about him or that period of history. And so, it was not easy at all to find the places mentioned in the book. Eventually, I was able to find a blog on the Third Reich that I used as a guide to track down the building.


On the way there, we also passed by the place which used to house Cafe Neumar, where Hitler could be found every Monday - the accordion player in the video was sitting very close to where this was. And we swung by Hofbrauhaus, the iconic beer hall where Hitler gave his first few speeches to the Nazi party, and which became a major centre for Nazi supporters. Mozart, Lenin, Louis Armstrong, Gorbachev and Kennedy were among its other famous patrons, over the years. 

Later on this trip, we were in Vienna, where I tracked down the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste ( academy of fine arts ) where it had been young Adolf's dream to study fine arts and become a famous artist. 

This song describes the evening I spent looking for Hitler's home at 41 Thierstrasse and is shot around his erstwhile neighbourhood in Munich, and around the fine arts academy in Vienna where he failed to gain admission. 


Song written, composed, produced, performed by Sawan Dutta

Footage shot by C.B. Arun Kumar  

Video produced by CB Arun Kumar and Sawan Dutta


I'm in the neighbourhood where Hitler used to live

Before he'd done the things that noone can forgive

I'm trying to find the place where Hitler used to stay

Before he turned into the man we know today

His dreams crushed by an entrance test he couldn't pass

He moved to Munich, and to 41 Thierstrasse

I'm looking around to see if I can find

Traces of what went on in his mind

How does a man, from writing poetry about his mom

Go on to kill more people than a nuclear bomb?

He's not a man this city talks about

His home is not so easy to dig out

From Marienplatz, I'm using GPS and a blog

To find the room that Hitler rented with his dog

Well, here we are in the ancient beer hall

Where 97 years ago, he began it all

His first speech to the Nazi party happened here

With 70 guys gathered mainly for the beer

I'm in the neighbourhood where Hitler used to chill

Before he got himself his desperate urge to kill

Walking by this ancient brickwork church

I can feel my heart begin to lurch

I almost crash into a man on a speeding bike

As I'm trying to find some traces of the Third Reich

A tram goes by, I wait for it to pass

And I walk across, to 41 Thierstrasse

Well, there's not a single sign, no visible trace

Of the man who changed the history of the human race

A pile of junk, a manhole cover, a wooden door

To mark the house where Hitler lived, there's nothing more

Once women shook his hand, and didn't wash for days

A kid today is too ashamed to say he stays

In a block where 90 years ago someone sublet

A room to a man this country's trying to forget

I read the names on the plate and to my shock I see, 

A desi lives in the flat where Hitler used to be !!! 



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