Many writers feel that chess is well served by their mentioning, however vaguely, the enthusiasm for the game (allegedly) shown by celebrities. Such name-dropping may not be founded on published evidence, the meretricious preference being to list as ‘a chessplaying celebrity’ almost any recognizable name which has appeared in the same sentence as the word chess. A chapter entitled ‘They all play(ed) chess’ on pages 251-268 of Chess for Success by Maurice Ashley (New York, 2005) has the longest such list we have seen in a book, featuring everyone and anyone from Adolf Hitler to Enid Blyton. Ashley expresses his ‘special thanks to Bill Wall for his comprehensive list’ and, of course, provides not a scrap of substantiation for any name put forward.
C.N. 3958 mentioned a claim that Adolf Hitler was a chessplayer. It emanated from one of the chess world’s least credible sources, yet we note that a reference to Hitler having possibly played chess with Lenin in Vienna in 1909 appeared on page 188 of Persönlichkeiten und das Schachspiel by B. Rüegsegger (Huttwil, 2000):
‘Die jüdische Malerin Emma Löwenstamm (1879-1941) brachte in Wien Hitler und Lenin zusammen, um sie gemeinsam zu malen. Sie lud beide ins Atelier von Julius von Ludassy ein. Im Donau-Kurier Ingoldstadt vom 19. July 1984 erwähnt Bernd Kallina in seinem Artikel die damals angefertige Zeichnung, wo Lenin auf der Rückseite die Worte “Lenin mit Hitler” hingeschrieben haben soll.’
Weiter wird erwähnt, dass sich beide 1909 in Wien getroffen und zusammen Schach gespielt haben ...’
No Hitler-Lenin illustration was provided in Rüegsegger’s book, but now Edward Hamelrath (Dresden, Germany) sends us the following picture:
Our correspondent writes:
‘This etching comes from the extreme right-wing (and now defunct) magazine Europa Vorn (spezial Nr. 1/4. Quartal 1991), in an article entitled “Ungeist aus der Flasche” by a “v. Freisaß”. The article is just a rambling diatribe on twentieth-century world politics and makes no reference to the picture itself. It is not even clear exactly what the title is – either “Lenin mit Hitler” or “‘Lenin mit Hitler’ beim Schachspiel in Wien 1909”. (The “Das Oberkommando ...” comment under the picture was simply plucked out of the text.) In any case, the Hitler figure corresponds more to his appearance in the mid-1920s than in 1909.’
Further information on this bizarre matter will be welcomed. In the meantime readers are, of course, advised to view it with extreme circumspection.
Later, in 2009, ChessBase presented an article entitled Did Lenin and Hitler face off at a chess board?
Yury Ryabokon (Moscow), who is a producer with the Russian broadcasting company NTV, asks whether more information is available about this purported picture of Hitler and Lenin (published in the magazine Europa Vorn, spezial Nr. 1/4. Quartal 1991), which a correspondent sent us in 2005.
At that time, the picture became widely known and gave rise to a barrage of speculation, though no facts. Is it possible to do better today?
See also Chess: Hitler and Nazi Germany.
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Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.