The Primary Origin of
World War Two

At the beginning of the War, when I saw [the painter Kokoschka] again --- two or three years after our first meeting in Prague --- I hadn't been with him for more than half an hour when he made me his monstrous confession. He was to blame for the War, in that Hitler, who had wanted to be a painter, had been driven into politics. Oskar Kokoschka and Hitler were both applying for the same scholarship from the Viennese Academy. Kokoschka was successful, Hitler turned down. If Hitler had been accepted instead of Kokoschka, Hitler would never have wound up in politics, there would have been no National Socialist Party, and no Second World War.
In this way, Kokoschka was to blame for the War. He said it almost beseechingly, with far more emphasis than he usually had, and he repeated it several times, in a conversation that had moved on to other matters, he brought it back, and I had the dismaying impression that he was putting himself in Hitler's place ... It was impossible for him to be implicated in history without having some significance, even if it were guilt, a rather dubious guilt at that.

--- From Party in the Blitz
Elias Canetti
Michael Hofmann, Translator
©2005 New Directions
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