August Walla was born in 1936 in Klosterneuberg in Lower Austria where he remained an only son and had a very tight bond with his mother, who raised him as if he were a girl, hoping thus to spare him being enlisted in the army. He imagined for a long time that Hitler was his father, not having known his own, who died during his early childhood.

Incapable of adapting to school, he was placed in a specialized institution. At the age of nine, after having lived through the traumatizing experience of losing sleep for three months, he wrote in his school notebooks: “Everything that is red is diabolical.” The punching bag of his classmates, he remained helpless, regretting he was not a girl. At age 16, after having threatened to take his life and burn down his house, he was committed for four years to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Upon his departure, his mother dedicated herself entirely to him. But in 1970, August was again admitted to the psychiatric ward, in the Gugging hospital, near Vienna. Sixteen years later, he became on of the members of the House of Artists created a few years earlier by Doctor Navratil outside the hospital, and where he would remain for the rest of his life.

Biography and portrait courtesy of UK Disability Month