Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

A glimpse into what passed for Hitler’s soul

July 21st, 2011 by Vader

From Andrew Roberts’ excellent The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War

The Berghof itself was not the architectural masterpiece Hitler believed it to be; the historian Norman Stone describes it as “a building fit for an Ian Fleming villain. Huge slabs of red marble adorned it; looted pictures hung on the walls; there was a vast, thick carpet; a huge fire burning in the grate; oversized armchairs were placed an uncomfortable distance apart, in such a way that the guests would have to half shout their platitudes at each other as the sparks leapt from the fire in the gathering twilight.”

I prefer the coziness of a private meditation chamber, but His Majesty’s office does somewhat fit this description. However, His Majesty’s tastes in art lean toward abstract sculpture, whereas Hitler was incapable of appreciating any but representational art; he considered abstract art a sign of cultural decadence.

From the Berghof, Hitler could see his beloved Salzberg and all the surrounding countryside. For his fiftieth birthday in April 1939 the Nazi Party presented him with the civil engineering miracle of the Eagle’s Nest, a stone building 6,000 feet up, reached through the interior of a mountain, from which one can view the entire region.

Again, a bit reminiscent of the observation deck on the second Death Star.

Yet the breathtaking scenery did not calm what passed for his soul. Paradoxically, these panoramic views seemed only to have helped him come to his most drastic decisions…. It was in late March 1933, while staying there, that Hitler decided upon a national boycott of all Jewish businesses, services, lawyers and doctors across the whole Reich. Staggeringly beautiful scenery clearly had an effect on Hitler that was opposite to how most other people reacted: rather than softening and humanizing him it hardened his heart and filled him with power-lust.

I was always at my best in the stark desert beauty of Tatooine, or the quickening lake country of Naboo. My worst moments came in the urban wasteland of Coruscant or the aseptic bridge of a Star Destroyer or Death Star. Whatever it was that made Hitler tick, it wasn’t what made the rest of us tick.

And this could explain why Chamberlain et al. had such a tough time sizing Hitler up. This odd hardening of resolve in beautiful, isolated surroundings bespeaks a man deeply uncomfortable with the presence of strangers. It’s the opposite of the pattern in democracies, where politicians typically are the most sociable of persons. I’d speculate Hitler was a coward in modest-sized groups; he was at his best, if that word can be applied, in isolation, including (significantly) the isolation of the crowd.

 

Comments (4)
Filed under: We transcend your bourgeois categories | No Tag
No Tag
July 21st, 2011 18:15:12
4 comments

Zen
July 21, 2011

Good Mercy… Hitler thought that abstract art was a sign of cultural decadence. If by abstract art, you mean modern glibberish that passes as art, then I will whole-heartedly agree. I least I can count the Art Renewal Center among the sort that agree.

http://www.artrenewal.org/

But I think you are mistaking what Hitler saw in that Eagles Nest. He saw the power the building represented, and not simply the trees and valleys. In such a circumstance, the dark alleys and broken sidewalks of a decedent city might be more sanctifying than pure power represented by land he conquered (politically).


Vader
July 22, 2011

I think it is important to distinguish between abstract and avant garde. The best critical comment I’ve ever heard on the latter was Watterson’s observation that, with avant garde, the trouble is knowing who’s putting on whom.

I personally have no use for Jackson Pollock, but I am rather fond of Van Gogh. I will even confess to a secret fondness for The Persistence of Memory

Anything involving elephant dung, human urine, or collage de Hustler is beyond the pale. No offense intended to our Irish readers.


Bookslinger
July 22, 2011

Hitler was in 3rd place (at most) in terms of 20th century state-sponsored murder, yet he seems to get most of the press. And to this day, the press continues to gloss over the atrocities of lefties/communists.

As far as raw numbers go, Mao Tse Dong was #1, and Stalin was #2.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM


Vader
July 22, 2011

True.

And, to Robert’s credit, he bluntly tells that part of the story, too.

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