Arts, Culture & Media

What Hitler read

TR says he worried at times about presenting a human side of a man we think of as inhuman: I was afraid of the collection because of that issue. As I began to go through the collection, I came to realize that it confirmed the horrors of this man but also the shallowness of his intellect. What you come away with is a relatively insecure, mendacious individual who could go from reading a history book and then a piece of anti-Semitism literature and then Shakespeare. (You mentioned on his bedside was a cartoon book. Is that a sign that Hitler was more of a collector of books as opposed to a reader?) I would argue the contrary. He was a voracious reader, but also a superficial reader. This was a man in search of facts to fit in his view of his world, rather than in an attempt to acquire knowledge. What's interesting about this cartoon book is at night he would thumb the pages of a comic book. (Did you stumble upon on any books that gave you a real ah-ha moment about Hitler?) There was one book that stunned me�a translation of an American medical book. The author of it was an unabashed racist who felt society needed to be dominated by Anglo-Saxons. Hitler acquired this book early in his career and reportedly sent a letter to the author calling the book his Bible. (What was it like thumbing through these books that Hitler had his hands on?) In many ways Hitler is such an amorphous figure, so these books bring him home in a more personal way, which is chilling and frightening at times. Yet it does allow you to gain insights into the man.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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