A riveting and highly original work, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics provides a key to an understanding of the Third Reich which has, until now, been missing from biographies and studies of the arts in the Third Reich, as well as from political and military studies of Hitler.


There have probably been more words written demonizing Adolf Hitler than any other leader of the 20th century – many of them with good reason since his regime carried the materialism of the 20th century and the pseudo science of evolution from the 19th century to their logical conclusions and the results were demonic.

The problem with making any human being out to be purely evil is that all human beings are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable qualities that allow them to listen to their better angels and become better people. The failure to listen to those angels and the squandering of these qualities is the stuff of tragedy and no one would argue that Hitler was not the stuff of tragedy.

What he was not – allied propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding – was a frothing at the mouth mad dog who, Svengali like, mesmerized the German people and nearly led the whole world to Gotterdammerung with a sweep of a cape and a Mephistophelean cackle. He was a lower middle class political operative who was maneuvered into power for the advantage of the anti-communists and the out maneuvered those who had put him in power and managed to impose a tyranny on people who had traded their fledgling democracy for order.

His artistic tastes reflect his origins rather than some grand vision. The architecture of the Reich may be monumental but it is almost funerary, the paintings are poster like with the subtly of sledgehammers and the automobile – the mighty VW bug – is the ultimate expression of lower middle class tastes having been designed as the everyman car. This book is a wonderful study of the aesthetics of Hitler and national socialism and as much a warning as a history.

Hitler and the power of aesthetics Woodstock : Overlook Press, 2003      Frederic Spotts Art and state  Germany  History  20th century Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing.     xxii, 456 p., [4] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [437]-443) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or margin alia in text. VG/VG

In Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, acclaimed historian Frederic Spotts presents a startling reassessment of Hitler’s aims and motivations. Spotts demonstrates that Hitler did not think of himself as a politician, but as an artist, and that he essentially bewitched the German public with his rhetoric, ceremonies, and rallies, instilling in them a sense of national pride and unity, as well as a fanatical devotion to himself. At the same time, Spotts argues, Hitler’s obsession with the arts led him to impose his personal taste and standards on music, painting, architecture, and even stage design.

Unlike the traditional biographical view that Hitler was an “unperson,” who had no life outside of politics, Spotts shows that Hitler’s interest in the arts was as intense as his racism and his argument is punctuated with photographs and illustrations, including reproductions of Hitler’s watercolors and drawings from his 1925 sketchbook. The book offers the first full analysis of Hitler’s own work as a painter, as well as of his art collection. It also treats the entire range of his personal interests: from architecture, painting, symphony, opera, and sculpture, to the German autobahn system and the development of the Volkswagen.

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