The Wittgensteins: Viennese whirl

From The Telegraph:

Family_2 The Wittgenstein family was one of the richest, most talented and most eccentric in Europe. While the youngest son, Ludwig, became one of the great philosophers of the 20th century, three of his seven siblings committed suicide, and all struggled to grow up in the shadow of their bullying father, Karl. In an extract from his book about the Wittgensteins, Alexander Waugh describes a unique dynasty.


In adult life Paul Wittgenstein was far more famous than his younger brother, but nowadays it is the other way round: Ludwig, or Lucki to the family, has become an icon of the 20th century – the handsome, stammering, tortured, incomprehensible philosopher, around whose formidable personality an extraordinary cult developed in the years that followed his death in 1951. At the time of Gretl and Jerome’s courtship, Paul – attractive, neurotic, learned, nature-loving and intense – was 17 and about to sit his final school examinations at the classical Gymnasium in Wiener Neustadt. Ludwig, a year and a half younger, was lodging during term-time with a family in Linz where he attended lessons at the Staat­sober­realschule, a semi-classical state secondary school of 300 pupils.

According to the recollection of one of his fellow pupils, the majority of the school’s teachers were mentally deranged, and quite a few ended their days as honest-to-God lunatics; their collars were unkempt, their external appearance exuded uncleanness, they were the product of a proletariat denuded of all personal independence of thought, distinguished by unparalleled ignorance and most admirably fitted to become the pillars of an effete system of government which, thank God, is now a thing of the past.

That pupil – just six days older than Lucki – was Adolf Hitler.

More here.