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Secrets of Hitler's forgotten library
May 4, 2003 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Secrets of Hitler's forgotten library: The Scotsman Has A Story on the many secrets still to be uncovered in what is left of Hitler’s library.
In historical terms, the German dictator and architect of the Holocaust may be remembered as a burner of books, but in life, Hitler loved the printed word and boasted a collection somewhere in excess of 16,000 volumes.
A friend from his teenage years, August Kubzieck, wrote: "I just can’t imagine Adolf without books. Books were his world." But generations of historians and biographers have ignored the remaining volumes of Hitler’s library, saying they represent only a fraction of the books he once owned and arguing that many were never touched by the Nazi leader.
You may have seen This One in The Atlantic Monthly already.
posted by Blake (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The Library.. found hidden in Schnapps crates buried in a Munich salt-mine by United States soldiers from the 101 Airborne Division in the spring of 1945. They were delivered to the Library of Congress in 1952. The collection was not fully catalogued until 2001..

Sounds like Indiana Jones. What else remains undiscovered in the bowels of the LoC.
posted by stbalbach at 6:27 AM on May 4, 2003


I call Godwin's Law.
posted by jpburns at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2003


a very interesting -- and scary -- part (for the Mefites who don't feel like reading the whole, excellent article): is this:

Several books are inscribed to Hitler from Richard Wagner's youngest daughter, Eva, who had married Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Chamberlain was an anti-Semitic Englishman best known for his book The Foundations of the 19th Century, in which he advanced the thesis that Jesus was of Aryan rather than Semitic blood. Hitler read Chamberlain during his Vienna period, and had a brief audience with the aging anti-Semite at the Wagner estate shortly before being sent to Landsberg Prison. "You know Goethe's differentiation between force and force," Chamberlain wrote Hitler in October of 1923. "There is force which comes from chaos and leads to chaos, and there is force which is destined to create a new world." Chamberlain credited Hitler with the latter. (...) And I found hints of Hitler the future mass murderer in a 1932 technical treatise on chemical warfare that explores the varying qualities of poison gas, from chlorine to prussic acid (Blausäure). The latter was produced commercially as Zyklon B, which would be notorious for its use in the Nazi extermination camps.


also of interest, the author explains his research methods: "When I typed the author's name into one Internet search engine, I scored eight hits, including sites on Satanism, eroticism, sadomasochism, and flagellation. When I typed his name into Google, I scored twenty-six hits, ..."


What else remains undiscovered in the bowels of the LoC.
one can only imagine what quonsar is going to answer to such a (reckless, in this environment) question
;)
posted by matteo at 9:45 AM on May 4, 2003


In relation to the upcoming Hitler: The Rise of Evil mini-series and the recent film Max (which showed Hitler as a young artist), I think sometimes there is a public desire to remove Hitler and the Nazis from human terms, and these recent works are pushing back against that by aggressively defining him as human. I believe this is far a more useful way to examine the important questions. It's more disturbing to realize that he was a cultured man who liked things that many other people like: literature, music, fine wines. In many ways the movies use these attributes to stereotype the Nazi as elitist, which certainly pleases American audiences, but I think it would be far more unsettling to see him as someone who was ordinary in very many ways.
posted by dhartung at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2003


I believe this is far a more useful way to examine the important questions. It's more disturbing to realize that he was a cultured man who liked things that many other people like: literature, music, fine wines. In many ways the movies use these attributes to stereotype the Nazi as elitist, which certainly pleases American audiences, but I think it would be far more unsettling to see him as someone who was ordinary in very many ways.

Absolutely. The thing about these books and manuscripts -- assuming, of course, that they're a representative sample of the original collection -- is that they give a hint of the intellectual and cultural context Hitler existed in. The middlebrow tastes; the conservative Romanticism; the interests in astrology, the occult, and the 'new age'; the German philosophers -- Hegel, Schopenhauer. Hitler can't just be written off as a pathological case. He came from somewhere, and in a lot of ways reflected the cultural values and beliefs of a now vanished Mitteleuropa.

'Behind [Hitler's] impassioned rages, his enormous ambitions, his gigantic self-confidence, there lay not the indulgent ease of the voluptuary, but the trivial tastes, the conventional domesticity, of the petty-bourgeois. One cannot forget the cream buns.' -- Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'The Last Days of Hitler', p 82-3.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2003


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