Did Lenin play chess with Hitler: Scandalous etching of a little-known artist
This drawing, which dates back to 1909, caused 100 years after its creation a real scandal. Could young Hitler have met Lenin, and did such a chess game really happen? While art historians and historians do not stop arguing on this subject, Emma Lowenstamm etching was put up for sale. Experts at the Mullock’s auction house claim that this is a genuine drawing, especially since there are three signatures on the back of the sheet – the artist and two people depicted on it.
Historians and bibliographers deny that Lenin and Hitler have ever met. There are no documents or memoirs of contemporaries in this regard, and it is not entirely clear whether this engraving can be considered evidence of such a fact. However, according to the version of the artist’s heirs, this chess match really took place in Vienna in 1909. Theoretically, such a meeting could have happened, because life is full of contingencies.
In 1909, Adolf Hitler was a young and not very successful artist. He at that time turned 20 years old, and he failed twice exams at the Vienna Academy of Art. He really lived for several years in Vienna and worked part-time by making copies of postcards and engravings depicting historic buildings – such pictures sold well. Etching author Emma Leuvenstamm – an accomplished, albeit little-known artist, supposedly gave the future dictator private painting lessons. Lenin at that time was in exile. True, Paris was considered the official place of his stay, but his appearance in Vienna cannot be ruled out. In 1909, he just completed his main philosophical work, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and in the process, Vladimir Ilyich traveled more than once to Europe – at least to Geneva and the British Museum in London. So to say that such a meeting was impossible in principle, historians cannot. In addition, there is evidence that both historical figures really loved this noble game:
“When Hitler was twenty-one, he had no concrete plans for the future, and he had not yet decided to devote himself completely to politics. Young Adolf then lived in Vienna, led a wandering lifestyle and was an avid visitor to chess cafes, sitting in them until late at night. The game fascinated him so much that he began to fear that chess would not suck him completely. Therefore, one fine day Hitler decided to end chess once and for all. ”
Lenin’s love of chess was even quite professional in nature. He not only played chess, but also solved chess problems and sketches, was actively interested in the events of chess life in Russia and beyond its borders, and met with well-known chess players of his time. For example, he wrote to his brother on February 17, 1910:
“Dear Mitya! Having received your task, I was a bit “embroiled” in chess – otherwise it was completely overloaded. I didn’t play, it seems, for a year, but in recent years he played several “hussar” and semi-hussar parties. I solved your task easily. But in Rech I saw a sketch today, which I did not immediately decide and which I really liked … A beautiful little thing! ”
The engraving that caused so much controversy depicts two chess players. Thinking over the game, Adolf Hitler sits by the window and plays with white pieces. Lenin, on the contrary, is just making a move. The dimensions of the painting are approximately 50/40 cm. On the back side of the signature are Lenin, Hitler, Emma Lowenstamm and the inscription is “Vienna, 1909”. It is alleged that a total of five prints were made, but the fate of the other four is unknown. The same piece, along with a set of those same chess pieces, was inherited by the grandson of the housekeeper of the Leuvenstamm family, Felix Ednhofer. Before the start of World War II, Emma left the country, leaving most of her property in the care of a housekeeper. For many years this engraving was not known until the new owners decided to sell it in the 1990s. Since its authenticity was questioned by experts, Felix Ednhofer himself prepared a whole selection of documents (about 300 pages). This dossier contains the reports of forensic experts and art historians, as well as testimonies proving that Emma Lowenstamm really worked in Vienna and was a mentor to Adolf Hitler.
Despite such a solid selection of evidence, scientists still have doubts about the fact of such a chess game. Everyone considering etching immediately has several questions: firstly, Adolf Hitler in this image looks much older than 20 years old, and secondly, the rich hair of Vladimir Ilyich surprises – as you know, he was only “small” with “curly head, ”historian Helen Rappaport, for example, spoke even more frankly on this subject, arguing that Lenin had been“ bald like a bat since 1894, and his hair was only on the sides of his head. ” Although this discrepancy is explained by a possible conspiracy, it is known that Lenin often wore a wig. And finally, the move that Comrade Ulyanov makes with his left hand can only be explained in terms of a successful artistic composition.