Tuesday, April 15, 2008

History is Messy

The historical record around any subject is messy, complicating and occasionally disorienting. Take this excerpt from an article in the November 1938 edition of the English magazine Homes and Gardens about The Berghof , Adolph Hitler's mountain house . Anyone who has read similar magazines (Town and Country, House and Garden) understands that the people who write for them are not allowed to be critical of the people they cover. If you did not know who Hitler was, and the misery he and his followers imposed on millions of people whose only crime was to have been born in the wrong century, you might be forgiven for thinking that the subject of this article was the home of a relatively benign statesman. But for those who understand who it was who lived in the house and strolled in the gardens -all of it described in exceedingly guileless prose- the effect of reading this can be vertiginous.

Every morning at nine he goes out for a walk with his gardeners about their day's work. These men, like the chauffeur and air-pilot, are not so much servants as local friends. A life-long vegetarian at table, Hitler's kitchen plots are both varied and heavy in produce. Even in his meatless diet Hitler is something of a gourmet -- as Sir John Simon and Mr. Anthony Eden were surprised to note when they dined with him in the Presidial Palace at Berlin. His Bavarian chef, Herr Kannenberg, contrives an imposing array of vegetarian dishes, savoury and rich, pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate, and all conforming to the dietetic standards which Hitler exacts. But at Haus Wachenfeld he keeps a generous table for guests of normal tastes. Here bons viveurs like Field Marshals Göring and von Blomberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop will forgather at dinner. Elaborate dishes like Caneton à la presse and truite saumoné à la Monseigneur will then be served, with fine wines and liqueurs of von Ribbentrop's expert choosing. Cigars and cigarettes are duly lighted at this terrace feast -- though Hitler himself never smokes, nor does he take alcohol in any form.

I have chosen not to link to any of the sources that I found for this article and from which the quoted text is excerpted, because I cannot be sure that any of the sites that have posted it are not sponsored by Neo-Nazis or Nazi apologists. I do not want to be in the business of sending web traffic to those whack-jobs. But the article is easy enough to find if you search for it.

3 comments:

ntsc said...

And if his grandfather hadn't legitimized his father, we wouldn't have had the Holocaust.

Somehow I don't think 'Heil Schicklegruber' would have made it.

LifeOfNathan said...

interesting.... are then the tours of gloating grandeur in the European Imperial era palaces any better? Or even the Roman Coliseum where people were killed for sport?.....just some thoughts along the point that you're considering.

Linda said...

Ah, you found something. Very typical German lifestyle for that time, albeit with more money at disposal.... The agricultural techniques that the "green" Nazis adopted came from the bio-dynamic methodology put forth by Rudolf Steiner's theory of Anthroposophy. As much as Steiner was disliked by some Nazis the naturpathic Weleda factories continued to operate during this era, and biodynamic gardening persisted under Nazi rule.