When my mother died my fate had already been decided in one respect. During the last months of her illness I went to Vienna to take the entrance examination for the Academy of Fine Arts. Armed with a bulky packet of sketches, I felt convinced that I should pass the examination quite easily. At the Realschule I was by far the best student in the drawing class, and since that time I had made more than ordinary progress in the practice of drawing. Therefore I was pleased with myself and was proud and happy at the prospect of what I considered an assured success.
But there was one misgiving: It seemed to me that I was better qualified for drawing than for painting, especially in the various branches of architectural drawing. At the same time my interest in architecture was constantly increasing. And I advanced in this direction at a still more rapid pace after my first visit to Vienna, which lasted two weeks. I was not yet sixteen years old. I went to the Hof Museum to study the paintings in the art gallery there; but the building itself captured almost all my interest, from early morning until late at night I spent all my time visiting the various public buildings. And it was the buildings themselves that were always the principal attraction for me. For hours and hours I could stand in wonderment before the Opera and the Parliament. The whole Ring Strasse had a magic effect upon me, as if it were a scene from the Thousand-and-one-Nights.
And now I was here for the second time in this beautiful city, impatiently waiting to hear the result of the entrance examination but proudly confident that I had got through. I was so convinced of my success that when the news that I had failed to pass was brought to me it struck me like a bolt from the skies. Yet the fact was that I had failed. I went to see the Rector and asked him to explain the reasons why they refused to accept me as a student in the general School of Painting, which was part of the Academy. He said that the sketches which I had brought with me unquestionably showed that painting was not what I was suited for but that the same sketches gave clear indications of my aptitude for architectural designing. Therefore the School of Painting did not come into question for me but rather the School of Architecture, which also formed part of the Academy. At first it was impossible to understand how this could be so, seeing that I had never been to a school for architecture and had never received any instruction in architectural designing.
Book Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Mein Kampf (My Struggle)