As a young man living in Vienna in the 1960s, Helnwein was often abused for having long hair. It was not uncommon for people to scream at him, "Hitler should come back and gas you!" - in fact, it was an everyday occurrence. Faced with such condemnation, Helnwein fought back. His portrait of Adolf Hitler in blood was one such early act of rebellion, a theme that he pursued in an exhibition in 1972 entitled "Führer, We Thank You!" Here Helnwein exhibited a portrait of the Führer in traditional oils around which he placed several watercolours of wounded or disfigured children. The reaction of the crowd was immediate although somewhat unusual. On entering the exhibition space most visitors were amazed by the portrait of Hitler and only after a few moments did they notice the damaged children that surrounded him. Indeed, so powerful was the allure of Hitler's image that many viewers managed to block out the presence of the children altogether. For Helnwein, this proved to be an important lesson that revealed more about the visitors to the exhibition than the work on show.