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Reflections of an Aryan woman, 45

(Editor’s Note: A model of Hitler’s plan for Berlin formulated under the direction of Albert Speer, looking north toward the Volkshalle at the top of the frame.)

The enormous industrial, technical and material development of the Reich, which was the inspiration long before the war in 1939, was due to the willingness to fulfil everything Hitler had promised as soon as he took over the government. More than seven million unemployed people had their eyes on him. They had voted for him, for his workers’ party. They had—and their sons had often helped him—to hold the streets where for thirteen years his followers and the Communists had clashed. He could not disappoint them. Besides, he loved them. Ten years later, at the height of his fame, he would still speak with the emotion of ‘the humble’ who had joined his Movement ‘when it was small’ and could be thought doomed to failure.

It was impossible to keep seven million unemployed people busy and to restore strength and prosperity to a country of eighty million people—prosperity being the primary source of strength—without intensively promoting industry and undertaking all kinds of public works. The factories that had been closed due to the unstable political and economic situation of the Weimar Republic soon began to operate at full capacity, and an unprecedented fever of construction, transformation and gigantic remodelling took place throughout the Reich.

It was then that hundreds of kilometres of four-lane autobahns were laid out, lined with forests, and admired by all travellers who had the good fortune to visit Germany at that time (or even later, as most of these grandiose roads still exist). It was then that some of the great architectural ensembles that were the glory of Hitler’s Germany were built such as, in Munich, the monument to the Sixteen who fell on 9 November 1923, or the Brown House; or in Berlin, the New Reich Chancellery or in Nuremberg, at the Zeppelin Wiese Stadium, the monumental staircase dominated by a double peristyle linking three enormous pylons with massive bronze doors, one central; two lateral, from the top of which on the great solemnities of the Party the Führer saw the S A and SS formations parade; those of the Hitler Jugend of the ‘Labour Front’ and the German Army from which he would harangue the multitudes that overflowed the stands and the immense grounds.

These works of art and masonry, which Robert Brasillach called ‘Mycenaean’ to show their overwhelming power—which others have likened to the most imposing works of Roman architecture—were, in Adolf Hitler’s mind, intended to last. And they would have lasted, defied the centuries, if Germany had won the Second World War. They had occupied thousands of workers, at the same time capturing them in their greatness as Germans. Adolf Hitler also wanted the most modern industry—that which allows a country, increasingly populated in a world of galloping demography, to indefinitely increase its production and raise its ‘standard of living’ and remaining independent of foreigners if not beating them on his own ground—helped his people to grasp their greatness.

He understood very well that technology was not everything but that it was of little importance compared to other areas, such as the quality of man. But he also realised that without it there was, in the present world, the world corresponding to the advanced stage of the Dark Age, neither power nor independence possible; nor survival worthy of the name. He was as aware of this fact as the realist leaders of traditional Japan may have been at the time of their forced choice in 1868, or as some of the men who took it upon themselves in India after 1947 to reject Gandhi’s archaic conception of autarky and to proceed with the industrialisation of the country against his will.

But he was, as a European and especially as a German, conscious of the fact that, imperfect as it may be compared with the splendid Aryan creations of the past, recent or remote, modern technology, the daughter of experimental science, is nevertheless, in itself, an achievement of the master race and a further argument in favour of its superiority.

He certainly didn’t put it on the same level as the work of the classical German musicians, in particular, nor that of Richard Wagner, his favourite composer, nor that of the builders of Gothic cathedrals or ancient temples; nor that of the Aryan sages, from Nietzsche to the Vedic bards, via Greek thought. However, he saw in it the proof that the last and grossest achievement of man in the Dark Ages, the only great achievement of which he was still capable, when neither true art, nor pure thought, but still a product of Aryan genius.

This, along with his desire to keep his people strong amid an increasingly mechanised world, led him to promote national industry and to do everything possible to raise the material standard of living of each of his compatriots. He was certainly interested in machines—every machine, from the most advanced machines of war, to the vulgar typewriters which avoid wasting time ‘deciphering doodles’. He spoke, they say, of each one with such precision of technical knowledge; the autodidact in this field as in all the others, left the specialists speechless.

He had a clear concern for the motor car. Not only could he discuss the various engine models with any experienced technician but loved this mode of transport. Speaking in a talk on February 3 to 4, 1942, about his memories of the Kampfzeit (the time of his power struggle) he said, among other things: ‘The first thing I did when I got out of Landsberg prison on December 20, 1924 was to buy my Kompressor Mercedes. Although I had never driven myself, I had always been a car enthusiast. I particularly liked this Mercedes. From the window of my cell in the fortress I followed the cars passing by on the Kaufbeuern road with my eyes and wondered if the time would ever come when I would drive again’.[1] Everyone knows the part he played in the creation and launch of the Volkswagen, the popular car with a solid mechanism that he would have liked to see in the possession of every German working-class or peasant family.

And he seems to have been, in yet other areas of everyday life, anything but an opponent of standardisation. Here, for example, is what he said in a talk of 19 October 1941, reported in his Tischgespräche translated into French under the title Libres Propos sur la Guerre et la Paix:

‘Building a house should consist of nothing more than an assembly which would not necessarily lead to a standardisation of housing. One can vary the number and arrangement of the elements, but they must be standardised. Anyone who wants to do more than is necessary will know what it costs. A Crésus is not looking for a ‘three-room apartment’ at the lowest price. What is the point of having a hundred different models of washbasins? Why are there differences in the size of windows and doors? You move to a new flat and your curtains can’t be used anymore. For my car I can find spare parts everywhere, not for my flat… These practices only exist because they are an opportunity for those who sell to make more money. In a year or two this scandal will have to stop’.

‘In the field of construction, the tools will also have to be modernised. The excavator still in use is a prehistoric monster compared to the new spiral excavator. What savings could be made here through standardisation! Our desire to provide millions of Germans with better living conditions forces us to standardise and thus to use standardised elements wherever necessity doesn’t dictate individual forms’.

‘The mass will only be able to enjoy the material pleasures of life if it is standardised. With a market of fifteen million buyers, it is quite conceivable that a cheap radio set and a popular typewriter could be built’.

A little further on, in the same talk, he says: ‘Why not give typing lessons in primary school instead of religious education, for example? I wouldn’t mind that’.

It seems difficult to go more resolutely in what I have called ‘the direction of time’: to willingly accept the side that perhaps is most repulsive: this tendency, precisely, to uniformity from below, to the serial hatching of objects all similar, of identical tastes, of interchangeable ideas, of interchangeable men and women; of living robots, for how can’t we feel that the uniformity of the intimate environment facilitates the uniformity of people? Is this the Fighter against this general decadence which characterises our ‘end of cycle’, the One who returns from age to age to take over the increasingly heroic, desperate struggle against the tide of Time, or is it a flatterer of the appetite for cheap comfort, a demagogue, who speaks in this talk?

If one can still pay tribute to the Aryan genius in the most stunning inventions of modern technology, it can no longer be a question about that here. Should we then admit the existence of a profound contradiction in the very personality of the Führer, of an opposition between the Architect of superhumanity and the politician eager to please the plebs by providing them with ‘better living conditions’?


[1] Libres Propos, p. 75.