The Wretched Little Demon That Was Hitler:
He Possessed the “Mass Soul” of the Third Reich
Is the abomination that was Adolf Hitler ripe for the judgment of history? For the moment, the stream of material on him, mostly cheap journalism and gossip, that began pouring forth in Germany after 1945, seems to be drying up; even the most sensational “memoirs” are almost all behind us. And now we have two serious, painstaking, and richly documented biographies issued almost simultaneously, one by an Oxford historian, Alan Bullock, and the other by two Germans, Walter Görlitz and H. A. Quint. It is a curious experience to read both books together. The same facts and actions are presented, from the same sources, and they lead to the same ineluctable “moral.” Yet the tone and attitude of the two books could not be more different.
Not surprisingly, the Oxford historian maintains a detachment of which Hitler’s German biographers are incapable. His book, for this reason, has a precision and unity which their flickering, indistinct, and somewhat lurid portrait lacks. The ghost of the “Führer” still haunts Görlitz and Quint—and they shudder at it in a curious way. We seem to hear them exclaiming at each new turn of events: “What a monster!” or: “Still—what a man!” The exclamation marks they punctuate every second or third sentence with make them sound as if they were trying to make sure the reader felt the “appropriate” emotions. “He opened his heart to no one! Even now there was no friend to whom he trusted himself unreservedly, there was no woman who could have boasted that she ruled him. He feared nothing so much as that. He hid his innermost mystery in absolute darkness until his death!”
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