The tenuous thread of Destiny — Russian mistakes at Stalingrad — Racial mixtures — Sailors on leave.
This excerpt from Hitler’s Table Talk is particularly interesting. Here we have Hitler ranting at how Germany lost the First World War due to the fact that it had manifest destiny against it. He seems to blame the fact that Germany lost that war because it had not started producing tanks fast enough and blames the Home Front for that. He refers to the fact that the industriousness and foresight of such men as Lloyd George and Churchill looked ahead and immediately grasped the huge possibilities that the military tank could offer for better battle advantage.
Hitler also refers to what he terms as a ‘rift’ in British public opinion where those who are in the centre are disappearing.
“It is becoming more and more obvious that a rift in public opinion in Britain is gradually widening, each individual going, to the Right or the Left as it suits him” (p 694).
Hitler also affords some length to a description of General Antonescu, the Romanian leader as a man of vision and of real personality. He describes Antonescu as someone who has finally realised that the destiny of Romania is to be dominant in the Balkans which is very intriguing considering the abject failure by this nation in the war.
However the most interesting part of this talk is Hitler’s observations on the situation at Stalingrad since this was in early 1942 when the armies were both bogged down in a stalemate. He seems to excuse the fact that the Germans did not finish off the Russians yet, largely due to the fact that they had decided to make a considerable stand. He then delves into superstition as so often he did to excuse his military mistakes and comments that it would have been a disaster for the Russians to lose Stalingrad so they remain in command of Leningrad. He observes that it is a grave mistake to hold on to Stalingrad. His comments on sailor’s leave are also instructive since he jokingly observes that sailors do not have much time to see their family.
The great artistic achievements of the nineteenth century were German — Architecture in Berlin and Munich.
Hitler was always commenting on the problem of architecture and how he intended to revive Munich and Berlin as well as his birthplace of Linz in Upper Austria. One can sense his nervousness in this table talk when he looks to the future and dreads the idea of the introduction of museums in Berlin and Munich on the history of the Third Reich. In his view this would be completely erroneous since he had an idea of decentralising everything and not focus on the past in some museum. He scorns the idea of someone following the ‘ideas of the late Fuhrer’ since he is already concerned with how he was to be viewed after death. Hitler also seems to be quite concerned with how the state would be perceived after his death. He indicates that the Military Museum in Munich is amply enough for the German nation’s needs so there is definitely no need for another enormous museum in Berlin.
Then we return to the discourse of Linz as his birthplace and how important the Military Museum for such a city would be. He goes deep into the history and science of fortifications referring to the Maginot Line as something which was obsolete while the West Wall was indeed a superb piece of architecture in more ways than one. Hitler goes down to the essence of detail referring to the planning which needs to take place to create this vast museum which eventually did not come to fruition.
Thoughts on Art and Music
Hitler was a consummately cultured man who viewed art as an important means to an end of completely dominating the German people. He provides some intriguing observations on art and music in his table talk. He observes the qualities two great German artists had, these were Corinth and Triibner and compares their works with other artists of the time finding them greatly superior. However he then notes the Jewish influence on art which has corrupted everything according to him and also observes the huge decline in artistic merit since art was then solely focused on monetary gain.
Hitler also acknowledges the greatness of Italian art in the 14th to the 17th century but also observes its decline which means that no artists from Italy are now left. He observes the greatness of the Germans and also comments about the French revival – one suspects that he was not all too fond of Impressionism and modernism.
Hitler then turns his attentions to the world of music and opera where he compares the Dresden and Vienna Theatres with that of Paris. While acknowledging that the Paris Opera is quite beautifully designed, he comments rather disparagingly on the interior of the building which he feels is quite pretentious and is too lavishly decorated thus also lacking in taste. Hitler then mentions the building of a new opera house in Munich which is intended to surpass all that has gone before it and which will reach the highest echelons of art and opera.
Hitler then goes on a rant to bemoan the lack of funds which hampered the construction of an opera house in Berlin although the artistic conceptions were always of the highest quality. He criticises the fact that there were not enough statues in Berlin in King Frederick the Great’s day while also acknowledging that Munich was indeed a far cry from architectural beauty in certain streets with certain houses having been built quite shoddily. Hitler refers to the construction of the Prinzregenten-Theater where “every possible economy was practised,
and the cost of construction, apart from interior decoration, was under thirteen hundred thousand marks”. Hitler also refers to the Reichstag in Berlin which costs a staggering 28 million Marks but which was probably necessary to ensure the greatness of the German nation. He also enthuses about the Palace of Justice in Munich which he describes as being ‘perhaps the most beautiful example of baroque of recent times’. Conversely he is disparaging about the equivalent in Brussels which he describes as dominating the whole city and should not be a dominating feature of any place.
Hitler’s artistic credentials are reinforced in the last statement of this section where he states that “a man is never more ready to fight for his country than when it is a question of defending the artistic and intellectual heritage of the nation”. This is indeed an apt closing to this essay on Hitler’s Table Talk.