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This is an intimate and in depth view of the private thoughts of a true genius, unfortunately one who used terrible, evil means to his ends. Every word Hitler spoke at meals with his "inner circle" was recorded from 1941 until 1944, when his world began to come apart. The material was gathered with comment by the preeminent English historian of the Third Reich, Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper. The Cameron - Stevens translation is quite readable and the foreward by Gerhard Weinberg helps put the material in perspective. This is an important book for anyone with an interest in the Second World War and its causes.
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"This book remains the only complete and
consecutive presentation of an important
historical document...the official record of
Hitler's 'table talk' as uttered at the height of
his success. I'm glad to see this book back in
print. It is surely necessary reading for students
of Nazism and the Second World War. "

One of the most significant documents of
recent history, Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944
records the private, off the record, informal
conversations of a man, who, more than
anyone else, came close to destroying the
Western world.
Here is a startling account of Hitler freely
talking about his enemies, his friends, his
ambitions, his failures, his secret dreams voicing his thoughts to his intimate associates
as the sun set at the end of each day of the war.
We see here a conversational Hitler letting
down his guard to his trusted henchmen.
Miraculously, Martin Bormann persuaded
Hitler to let these talks be taken down by a
team of specially picked shorthand writers.
Hitler had intended, after his infamous tyranny,
to use these notes as source material for the
books he planned to write about the glory of
the "Thousand-Year Reich."
continued on back flap

Now they have come to us, indisputably
authentic, a raw, fascinating, unretouched
look at the inner recesses of the mind of Adolf
Hitler. Der Führer's mind was crude and
narrow; he had little education and, as we
see here, no humanity; but we can also see
that he was (as he himself knew) a political
genius, a "terrible simplifier," a man who,
with no equipment except his own will power,
personality and ideas, attemted to bring
mankind into a terrible darkness.
As Trevor-Roper says in his brilliant
introduction..."if we are to discover the mind of
Hitler, we must penetrate behind the thick
curtains of superficial evidence which conceal
it - the repellant character which formed
its expression, and for which no power of
thought can compensat; e, and the unreliable
intermediaries who have commented upon
it. We must go directly to Hitler's personal
utterances: not indeed to his letters and speeches
- these, so valuable, are too public, too
formalized for such purposes - to his
secret conversations, his table talk."
It is here, in Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944, that
the mind of this extraordinary historical figure
is remarkably revealed.

Printed in Canada.

Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944
His Private Conversations

"This book remains the only complete and consecutive presentation of an
important historical document...the official record of Hitler's 'table talk' as
uttered at the height of his success. I'm glad to see this book back in print. It is
surely necessary reading for students of Nazism and the Second World War."

On Martin Bormann's instructions the secret conversations at
Hitler's headquarters from July 1941 to November 1944 were all recorded.
This extraordinary document is the result.
In the relaxed atmosphere of his inner circle, Hitler talked freely about his aims,
his early life and his plans for further conquest and a new German empire.
The full text of Hitler's Table Talk preserved by Bormann, is presented here.
This book is the most significant record of Hitler's mind and character in existence.
Revealing, for instance, his thoughts on the English language which he thought
inferior to German as it 'lacks the ability to express thoughts that surpass
the order of concrete things', and his hatred of idealism, 'he found it quite
normal that the bodies of his political prisoners should be burnt
and their ashes used by his SS guards to manure their gardens'.
A compelling and frequently repellent read.
Hugh Trevor-Roper provides an Introduction on
'The Mind of Adolf Hitler' and a new preface.
Cover photograph: Adolf Hitler at his mountain retreat at Berchtesgarten, March 3, 1933. © Hulton Getty

Printed in Canada.
Cover design: Andrea Purdie


9 781929 631056
ISBN 1-929631-05-7

His Private Conversations

Hugh Trevor-Roper is an historian and scholar noted for his works
on aspects of the Second World War and on Elizabethan history. He
graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1936, and during
the Second World War worked in intelligence: his official investigation into Adolf Hitler's death was later published as The Last Days of
Hitler. From 1946 to 1957 he taught history at Christ Church. During
this period he wrote several articles about Hitler, stirring controversy
by contending that Hitler was not only a systematic thinker but a
genius as well. In 1957 he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern
History and Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He remained at this
post until 1980, when he was appointed Master of Peterhouse
College, Cambridge, where he stayed until 1987. He was created a
life peer in 1979.


The Last Days of Hitler
The Gentry,
Historical Essays
Hider's War Directives, 1939^1945
Religion, the Reformation and Social Change,
and Other Essays
The Philby Affair: Espionage, Treason,
and Secret Services
Princes and Artists: Patronage and Ideology
at Four Habsburg Courts, 1517^1633
The Goebbels Diaries
Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans

His Private Conversations

Translated by

Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens
Introduced and with a new Preface by

H.R. Trevor-Roper


Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944
Introduction and Preface by Hugh Trevor-Roper
Copyright © Enigma Books 2000
First published in Great Britain
by Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London
a division of the Orion Publishing Company
Introductory Essay 'The Mind of Hitler'
and Preface © 2000 by H.R. Trevor-Roper
English translation copyright © 1953
by Weidenfeld and Nicolson
The moral right of H.R. Trevor-Roper to be identified
as the author of the introductory essay 'The Mind of Hitler'
and the Preface has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved under International
and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Published in the United States by Enigma Books, Inc.
580 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Second Printing
Printed and bound in Canada
ISBN 1-929631-05-7

Preface to third edition
The Mind of Adolf Hitler
5th July—31st December




January—5th February




6th February—7th September



13th June—24th June



13th March—29th-30th November




This book, which was first published in 1953, has remained since
then the only complete and consecutive presentation of an
important historical document, the so-called Bormann-Vermerke,
the official record of Hitler's 'table talk' as uttered at the height
of his success, in the first year of his war of aggression against
Russia. With total victory in sight, he then looked forward to the
realisation of all those ambitious plans which he had first adumbrated sixteen years before in Mein Kampf. In my essay 'The Mind
of Adolf Hitler', which was printed in the first edition of this
book, and is reprinted here, I set out the context and examined
the content of the document. In this preface I shall give some
account of the document itself and of the curious history of its
publication (or non-publication) in the last half-century.
The document, as I have explained in my essay, was compiled
on the initiative, and by the orders, of Martin Bormann, head of
the Party Chancellery, who in May 1941 had succeeded Rudolf
Hess (by then a prisoner in England) as Secretary to the Führer.
Just as Hess, in 1924—5, imprisoned with Hitler in the fortress of
Landsberg in Bavaria, had taken down, from his lips, the philosophy and programme to be set out in Mein Kampf, so now,
insulated with Hitler in the fortified Führerhauptquartier in East
Prussia or the Ukraine, Hess's successor would ensure that the
triumphant completion of that work, and the realisation of that
philosophy, would be similarly recorded for the guidance of
posterity. The record was to be made, as exactly as possible, by
an experienced Party official on Bormann's personal staff, a
lawyer with the rank of Ministerialrat Heinrich Heim.
Heim began his record on 5 July 1941 and kept it regularly for
over eight months; but in mid March 1942 he was seconded for
other duties, and for the next four months his duties as recorder
of the Table Talk were assigned to a deputy, Dr Henry Picker.
Heim returned to his duties as recorder on i August 1942.
However, he did not continue them for long, for in September,
in circumstances which I have described in my essay, the record



itself was discontinued. Both Heim and Picker were sound Party
members, personally known to Hitler and trusted by him, and
there can be no doubt that die record was conscientiously made.
The final texts, as approved by Bormann, were sent consecutively to Frau Bormann in Obersalzberg, where Bormann had an
official residence in the complex built by him for Hitler. There
were two copies of them: one was passed to the Party archives in
Munich; the other was to be kept by her as Bormann's personal
Of these two copies the former perished when the Führerbau in
Munich was destroyed by fire towards the end of the war. Later,
on 25 April 1945, the remaining copy narrowly escaped the same
fate when much of the Obersalzberg complex was destroyed by
an Allied air-attack. Frau Bormann diereupon moved, and took
it with her, to a safe house in die former Austrian, now Italian,
South Tyrol; but becoming terminally ill with cancer of the
bowels, she passed it to the former Gauleiter of Tyrol, from
whom it came ultimately, by purchase, into the hands of an
enterprising Swiss citizen, François Genoud.
François Genoud, an elusive and somewhat mysterious
person, had once, at the age of 16, heard Hider speak in
Freiburg-im-Breisgau, and from diat moment till his death by
suicide in 1998 he remained an unwavering devotee. After the
fall of the Third Reich he made it his business—one of his
businesses—-to salvage the texts and buy up the presumed copyrights of important personal documents of die Nazi élite and
thus, at die same time, both relieve die sudden poverty of the
owners and acquire for himself a potentially marketable asset.
The unique official record of the Bormann- Vermerke was such an
asset, the prize object of his collection, and having bought up the
presumed copyrights of Hitler and Bormann he waited for die
opportunity to realise it.
Unfortunately for him, and for the convenience of historians,
he had reckoned widiout Dr Picker. For Dr Picker, during die
four months when he had deputised for Heim as recorder of die
Führer's table talk, had made a surreptitious private copy of his
record: he had also copied several of Heim's records to which he
had had access; and in 1951 he forestalled M. Genoud by
publishing, in Germany, a volume entided Hitlers Tischgespräche.



This consisted of substantial passages from his private texts,
arranged not consecutively or chronologically but under general
subject-headings—foreign affairs, war, propaganda, religion,
women, etc: in fact a kind of anthology of the universal wisdom
of the Führer, comparable, as he himself put it, with
Eckermann's account of the conversation of Goethe. Trusting in
his presumed copyrights, M. Genoud sued Dr Picker in a
German court, which however found against him. He thereupon
decided on no account to expose his German text (which of
course, being complete, was much more substantial than
Picker's) to other predators, but instead to hurry out a French
translation in order to establish his copyright abroad. So, in 1952,
he would publish in Paris the first volume of his translation, Adolf
Hitler: Libres Propos sur la Guerre et la Paix. Dr Picker attempted to
block this publication in the French courts, but failed.
It was while Dr Picker, with his furtive but protected half-text,
and M. Genoud, with his purchased but unprotected full text of
the German original, were battling in the courts that I called on
M. Genoud in Lausanne and suggested that he allow the publication of an English version, and thus secure the English copyright. He readily agreed, and so did Mr George Weidenfeld, to
whom I recommended the project. This was the origin of the first
edition of the book.
To German historians, eager to read the original text, and to
read it whole, it was frustrating to have to rely either on a foreign
translation or on Dr Picker's devout and partial anthology. But
between M. Genoud, resolutely refusing access to what his competitors termed his 'plunder', and Dr Picker, stoutly defending
his legalised monopoly, any collation of texts was impossible.
Competition, not collaboration, was the only way forward. In
1964 two distinguished German historians, Percy Schramm and
Andreas Hillgruber, surrendered to Dr Picker. They produced a
scholarly edition of his material, swollen with 36 entries quietly
appropriated from Ministerialrat Heim's record, learned commentaries, and some extraneous matter. Meanwhile other
scholars and publishers kept up the pressure on M. Genoud.
They found it hard work—'very wearying', as one of them told
me in 1968. Finally M. Genoud surrendered, rather cautiously,
to the Hamburg publisher Albrecht Knaus and in 1980 there



appeared at last the German text of the Bormann- Vermerke under
the title Adolf Hitler: Monologe im Führerhauptquartier, that is - as far
as it goes - the German original of this book.
I say 'as far as it goes' because there is one substantial omission
in the published German text. Between 12 March and i
September 1942 - that is, in the period when Heim was absent
and Picker acted as his deputy—the Bormann- Vermerke contain 100
entries. None of these are printed in Monologe: a last victory for
the adamantine Eckermann Dr Picker.
The Thirty Years War in Germany between Dr Picker and M.
Genoud over the text of Hitler's Table Talk—the lawsuits and
swashing blows of the protagonists and the neat academic
stiletto-work in the editorial footnotes, may irritate or divert
German readers, but English-speaking readers will probably find
all they want in this compact and complete edition, and I am
glad to see the book back in print. It is surely necessary reading
for students of Nazism and the Second World War. In respect of
my own essay on 'The Mind of Adolf Hitler' I will only ask the
reader to remember that it was written in 1952 and was, at that
timCj a pioneering work. At certain points it may need modification. I would not now endorse so cheerfully the authority of
Hermann Rauschning which has been dented by Wolfgang
Hanel,1 but I would not reject it altogether. Rauschning may
have yielded at times to journalistic temptations, but he had
opportunities to record Hitler's conversations and the general
tenor of his record too exactly forestalls Hitler's later utterances
to be dismissed as fabrication. It is not to be dismissed like Josef
Greiner's book, which I mention tangentially but is now discredited as a source on Hitler's life in Vienna. With these reservations I am happy to reprint the essay as it appeared in 1953. If
it is held to be worth reprinting, it can bear the evidence of its


Wolfgang Hanel, Hermann Rauschnings 'Gespräche mit Hitler'—eine
Geschichtsfälschung (Ingolstadt, 1984)

by H. R. Trevor-Roper
WHO was Hitler? The history of his political career is abundantly documented and we cannot escape from its terrible
effects. A whole generation may well be named in history after
him and we shall speak of the Age of Hitler as we speak of the
Age of Napoleon or the Age of Charlemagne. And yet, for all
the harsh obviousness of its imprint on the world, how elusive
his character remains! What he did is clear; every detail of
his political activity is now—thanks to a seizure and exploitation of documents unparalleled in history—historically established; his daily life and personal behaviour have been
examined and exposed. But still, when asked not what he did
but how he did it, or rather how he was able to do it, historians
evade the question, sliding away behind unplausible answers.
To the Marxists—most old-fashioned of all—he was simply a
pawn, the creature of a dying capitalism in its last stages.
Others have seen him as a charlatan profiting by a series of
accidents, a consummate actor and hypocrite, a sly, cheating
peasant, or a hypnotist who seduced the wits of men by a
sorcerer's charms. Even Sir Lewis Namier endorses the account
of him given by a disgusted German official as a mere illiterate,
illogical, unsystematic bluffer and smatterer. Even Mr. Bullock
seems content to regard him as a diabolical adventurer animated solely by an unlimited lust for personal power. And yet,
we may object, could a mere adventurer, a shifty, scatterbrained charlatan, have done what Hitler did, who, starting
from nothing, a solitary plebeian in a great cosmopolitan city,
survived and commanded all the dark forces he had mobilised
and, by commanding them, nearly conquered the whole world?
So we ask, but we seldom receive an answer: the historians have
turned away, and like antique heroes we only know that we
have been talking with the immortals from the fact that they
are no longer there.
Now this problem is, I think, a real problem, and it is worth



while to emphasise rather than to evade it. Let us consider
for a moment Hitler's achievement. The son of a petty official
in rural Austria, himself of meagre education and no fixed
background, by all accounts a shiftless, feckless, unemployable
neurotic living from hand to mouth in the slums of Vienna, he
appeared in Germany, as a foreigner, and, in the years of its
most abject condition, declared that the German people could,
by its own efforts, and against the wishes of its victors, not only
recover its lost provinces, but add to them, and conquer and
dominate the whole of Europe. Further, he declared that he
personally could achieve this miracle. Twenty years later he
had so nearly succeeded that the rest of the world thought it
another miracle when he was at last resisted.
To historians there are no miracles. Whatever has happened
they explain and it becomes to them, in retrospect, inevitable.
But it is salutary sometimes to see events from their startingpoint, not from their conclusion, and to judge thereby the prospect, not the issue, of success. Only thus can we appreciate
the character of those who foresaw them. We rightly regard it
as one sign of the greatness of Mr. Churchill that, from 1933, he
appreciated, as few others did, the real danger of a new German
Empire. We should, I think, recognise it as one sign of the
genius of Hitler that he, twelve years earlier, when it seemed
far more improbable, appreciated the hope of such an empire
and believed—correctly as it proved—both that it could be built
and that he, though then a solitary demobilised corporal, could
be its builder. I have laboured this point because I wish to
maintain—contrary, as it appears, to all received opinion—
that Hitler had a mind. It seems to me that whereas a mere
visionary might, in 1920, have dreamed of such a revolution,
and whereas a mere adventurer might, in the 19303, have exploited such a revolution (as Napoleon exploited the French
Revolution which others had made), any man who both envisaged and himself created both a revolution as a means to
empire and an empire after revolution, and who, in failure and
imprisonment, published in advance a complete blueprint of his
intended achievement, in no significant point different from its
ultimate actual form, simply cannot be regarded as either a
mere visionary or a mere adventurer. He was a systematic



thinker and his mind is, to the historian, as important a problem
as the mind of Bismarck or Lenin.
Why then do his historians tell us so little of Hitler's mind,
often dismissing it as non-existent? Partly, no doubt, because
of its repellent character. Interesting minds are minds that are
sensitive, lucid, rich, versatile, humane. The minds of many
despotic statesmen and formidable doctrinaires, with whose
aims we may have little sympathy, are nevertheless rendered
interesting, perhaps even sympathetic, to us by these qualities :
as the mind of Richelieu attracts us by its lucidity, that of
St. Augustine by its richness, that of Cromwell by its lumbering
humanity. But Hitler's mind had no such engaging character.
It was coarse, turbid, narrow, rigid, cruel. It had nothing to
recommend it but its power; and mental power, though important, is not by itself attractive.
There is also, I think, another reason why Hitler's mind has
been so undervalued by historians. It lies in the evidence they
have used, which is largely the published evidence of those
Germans who came into contact with him because they served
him and served him long. These men were necessarily literate
men, and as such keenly aware of the vulgarity, the inelasticity,
of their master's mind—qualities which, in their writings, they
have duly emphasised. But they were also servants who, after
the war, found it necessary to excuse their service to that discredited master; and how could they better excuse it than by
representing themselves as the innocent dupes of a superhuman
dissembler, a hypocrite who, by his superlative hypocrisy, contrived to deceive even such virtuous and intelligent men as
themselves? Such excuses are common form in the history of
unsuccessful revolutions. Those who had compromised themselves in the service of Oliver Cromwell similarly represented
him as a master of machiavellian hypocrisy and diabolical
deceit, and for two hundred years—until Carlyle published
Cromwell's letters and speeches—this doctrine was accepted.
This is the price always paid for catastrophic failure. No doubt,
if Adam and Eve had not been caught out in their crucial transgression, the Serpent (if indeed he had been allowed any credit
for their discovery) would have been commemorated as a useful mouthpiece, articulating the general will of the people



of Paradise; it was to save their reputation after a catastrophic common failure that they gave him his diabolical
Thus, if we are to discover the mind of Hitler, we must
penetrate behind the thick curtains of superficial evidence
which conceal it—the repellent character which formed its
expression, and for which no power of thought can compensate,
and the unreliable intermediaries who have commented upon it.
We must go direct to Hitler's personal utterances : not indeed to
his letters and speeches—these, though valuable, are too public,
too formalised for such purposes—but to his private conversation, his Table-Talk. Table-talk, like notebooks, reveals the
mind of a man far more completely, more intimately, than any
formal utterance; and whenever we happen to possess it, we find
it indispensable. The diaries of Dr. Göbbels, being written for
publication, have scant historical value; how much more vividly
the mind of that most intellectual of the Nazis emerges from
the table-talk recorded by Rudolf Semler ! * Hitler's own tabletalk in the crucial years of the Machtergreifung (1932-34), as
briefly recorded by Hermann Rauschning,2 so startled the
world (which could not even in 1939 credit him with either such
ruthlessness or such ambitions) that it was for long regarded as
spurious. It is now, I think, accepted. If any still doubt its
genuineness, they will hardly do so after reading the volume
now published. For here is the official, authentic record of
Hitler's Table-Talk almost exactly ten years after the conversations recorded by Rauschning.
What a difference had occurred in those ten years! In 1932,
when Rauschning began his record, Hitler had achieved the
first stage of his revolution. Ten years before that, he had made
his appearance as a revolutionary party-leader in Germany
only to experience humiliation and defeat and to find himself in
a Bavarian prison, his political career apparently broken and
finished. Now the Kampfzeit, those years of struggle to which
afterwards he so often and enthusiastically referred, was over;
already he stood on the threshold of power in Germany, and
Rudolf Semler, Saadan vor Goebbels (Copenhagen 1947: English translation, Goebbels the Man next to Hitler, London 1947).
* Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks (London 1939).



already, while in public he appeased his conservative allies and
masters with respectable utterances, he was privately describing,
with confident relish, the next stage of the revolution. Hearing
it, Rauschning himself—for he was himself a conservative, an
East Prussian Junker appalled at such millennial ambitions—
drew the consequences. In 1934 he detached himself from the
Juggernaut whose maniacal driver he had thus overheard, and
fled abroad. Thus the window into Hitler's mind which
Rauschning soon afterwards opened to the West (but how few
looked into it or believed what they there saw!) was suddenly
closed again; and for the next decade the table-talk at the
Fuehrer's Headquarters became, as it had always been meant to
be, private. How is it, then, that in 1941, when Hitler had completed the second stage of his revolution and stood poised for his
final, crowning ambition—the conquest of the East—that window was suddenly reopened; reopened, moreover, not by an
accident like the desertion of Rauschning ten years before, but
' deliberately, by the institution of an official record? To answer
this question we must consider for a while the circumstances in
which these conversations took place.
Hitler's life, during the war, was spent, in general, at his
military headquarters. At first, during the Polish campaign,
these headquarters were in his special train, stationed near
Gogolin; later during the same campaign he transferred them
to a hotel in Zoppot. At the beginning of the Western campaign his headquarters were in a cramped bunker near Bad
Nauheim, which he called Felsennest, or "Eyrie" ; later, as victory
followed victory, he moved to Bruly-de-Pesche on the FrancoBelgian frontier, near Roczoi. His quarters there were named
Wolfsschlucht—"Wolf's lair" (he had an old liking for the name
Wolf, which he had himself assumed when in hiding in the days
of Kampfzeit] ; It was at Wolfsschlucht that he heard the news of the
fall of France and performed his famous jig. Thereafter he divided
his time between a new headquarters in the Black Forest ( Tannenberg) and his special train. Then in July 1941 he moved to East
Prussia to direct the greatest of all his campaigns, the knock-out
blow in the East. For over three years his headquarters remained
in the East, generally in East Prussia, once (during the trium-



phant advance in the summer of 1942) in Russia itself. Then,
in November 1944, Field-Marshal Keitel at last persuaded him
to leave that insalubrious spot, among dreary pine-forests, in
which he had so nearly been assassinated and in which he had
lived, for the last year, night and day, a troglodyte existence
underground. This East Prussian headquarters was at Rastenburg, and Hitler called it Wolfschanze, "Fort Wolf". His
temporary Russian headquarters was at Winnitza in the
Ukraine, and was called Werwolf. It was at Wolfschamy or at
Werwolf that all the conversations recorded in this book took
They took place at meal-times: sometimes at his luncheon,
sometimes at supper, more often at his last, most sociable meal,
the long succession of tea and cakes which—generally long after
midnight—closed the working day. Then Hitler would expand.
A passionate talker, he seems by his voice as well as by his eyes
—though it was a harsh voice and though they were dull eyes—
to have fascinated his hearers; for his informal talk, unlike his
formal oratory, was—all hearers agree—fresh, flexible, sometimes even gay. Of course it was largely a monologue—
although Hitler welcomed stimulative interruptions—and of
course he often repeated himself. Nevertheless his intimate
circle—for it was only his intimate circle, and occasional
reliable guests, who attended these functions—seem to have
delighted in it. They saw in it the whole mind of the Fuehrer—
autobiographical details from his undocumented early life, the
secret history of the glorious Kampfzeit, the terrible but exciting
philosophy thanks to which he had already achieved threequarters of his vast programme and was now, it seemed, about
to achieve the rest. Why, they asked, could not these authentic
sayings of the Master be recorded for posterity? Particularly
Martin Bormann asked this question, the literal-minded
evangelist of the movement, Hitler's indispensable secretary,
infallible agent, and, at the end, trusted executor. But Hitler
always refused. He hated the thought of recording instruments,
or even of recording agents, in his hour of rest, while he was
thus spontaneously, unadvisedly, even gaily delivering himself.
Then, quite suddenly, in July 1941, when the apocalyptic
moment had arrived and the great Eastern triumph was about



to begin, he yielded. He still refused to admit any mechanised
recorder to the room, and he insisted that no obtrusive figure or
obvious gestures must disconcert him while he talked, or inhibit his large freedom of discourse; but he agreed that an
official of the Party might be admitted to his meals, who might,
in a retired corner, unobtrusively take a few notes—notes whose
final form was to be corrected and approved and preserved by
the only reliable interpreter of the Fuehrer's thought, Martin
Bormann at once made the necessary arrangements. A Party
official was appointed and, from yth July 1941, was duly admitted to Hitler's presence at meal-times. His name was Heinrich Heim. All through the monologue he would sit discreetly
apart, taking brief shorthand notes; then he would retire and,
on the basis of those notes, dictate to one of Bormann's stenographers his record of the conversation. The typescript was
then handed to Bormann, who read it through, sometimes
correcting it or adding elucidatory comments, initialled and
filed it. Heim continued to take these notes until nth March
1942, when he was sent away for four months on a special
mission to Paris ; during these four months, another official, Dr.
Henry Picker, deputised for him. Both Heim and Picker, however, were mere subordinate officials, acting under the instructions and control of Bormann, who alone, as Hitler's secretary,
was responsible for the preparation, the accuracy and the
preservation of the records. Sometimes, on intimate occasions,
Bormann himself took the notes. Whoever took them, they were
officially known as Bormann-Vermerke, Bormann-notes; and at the
head of the 1,045 typed pages which they ultimately filled, and
which Bormann kept in his personal custody, he wrote with his
own hand the words, "Notes of fundamental interest for the
future. To be preserved with the greatest care."
When Heim returned, on 1st August 1942, to resume his
duties as court-reporter at Hitler's headquarters, he found that
he was not destined to stay for long. For already Hitler's
Annus Mirabilis was drawing to its close. In the summer of
1942 Hitler's strategy in the East—in particular his weakening
of Paulus' 6th Army at Stalingrad in order to strike at yet more
distant prizes in the Caucasus—led to violent opposition from



the Army General Staff. General Haider, Chief of that Staff,
still gobbles on remembering those scenes. Hitler's decision, he
says, "ceased to have anything in common with the principles
of strategy and operation as they had been recognised for
generations past. They were the product of a violent nature
following its momentary impulses", morbid megalomania,
criminal irresponsibility. Hitler denounced the General Staff
officers as cowards whose minds were "fossilised in obsolete
habits of thought", and, when an officer read out figures of
Russian strength, "flew at him with clenched fists and foam in
the corners of his mouth, and forbade the reading of such
idiotic twaddle".1 On the point of strategy Hitler won, and we
know the sequel. As a by-product of these explosions, in
September 1942, Haider was dismissed. At the same time
Hitler made an end of his informal meals with members of the
General Staff, whom he now regarded as his enemies, "the only
freemasonry which I have failed to break". His routine was
broken; the petty-bourgeois gaiety, the sanguinary confidence,
the inflammable imagination ebbed away from his utterance;
and the Bormann-Vermerke, at least as a regular institution,
ceased. Occasional records were still taken, and are printed
here, but they were intermittent, exceptional and few. They
were not recorded by Heim, but either by Bormann or by a third
reporter who succeeded Heim.
The monologues, of course, did not cease; but they changed
their character, and they were addressed to a more limited
audience. At first, in the deep, almost maniacal depression,
which overcame Hitler after Stalingrad, he withdrew into
absolute solitude and for several months ate alone with his
Alsatian dog. When that solitude began to bore him, he
decided once again to invite occasional officers to his meals;
but finding it impossible, in their company, to avoid military
topics, he soon abandoned the experiment. In the end he
settled down to a regular but often bored or uncomprehending
audience of his female secretaries, varied occasionally by his
hard-drinking, trouble-making adjutant, his quack-doctor, and
—after July 1944, when he was afraid of being poisoned unless

Franz Haider, Hitler als Feldherr (Munich, 1949); English translation,
Hitler as War Lord (London, 1950), pp. 55-7.



he showed her exaggerated attention—his vegetarian-cook.1
One of his secretaries has given a melancholy account of these
later functions. "After Stalingrad," she writes, "Hitler could
not listen to music any more, and every evening we had to listen
to his monologues instead. But his table-talk was by now as
overplayed as his gramophone-records. It was always the same :
his early days in Vienna, the Kampfzeit, the History of Man, the
Microcosm and the Macrocosm. On every subject we all knew
in advance what he would say. In course of time these monologues bored us. But world affairs and events at the front were
never mentioned: everything to do with the war was taboo."
"In 1944 I sometimes found myself still sitting up with Hitler
at 8.0 a.m., listening with feigned attention to his words . . . I
still wonder why he thus sacrificed his nightly rest in order to
expound his theories to an audience most of whom would have
preferred to be sleeping." Eva Braun, who was also sometimes
present, took less trouble to conceal her boredom: she would
occasionally cast at Hitler a disapproving glance or loudly ask
the time. Then Hitler would cut short his monologue, make his
excuses, and break up the table.2
With these last, most dispiriting conversations this book is
not concerned, nor, of course, does it contain the complete
record of what must often have been, even in the best times,
repetitive discourse. It contains only those parts of Hitler's
Table-Talk which Bormann thought worth recording. Even so,
much of it is naturally repetitive. Much of it also reflects the
coarseness and crudity, the dogmatism, the hysteria, the
triviality of Hitler's mind. But cluttered as it is with much
tedious and much disgusting matter, it also contains the kernel
of his thinking; it is the mirror of his hideous genius: a
genius which, I believe, it is both possible and essential to

Hitler had four personal secretaries during the war : Frl. Johanna Wolf,
Frl. Christa Schröder, Frl. Gerda Daranowski (who, towards the end of the
war, married General Christian) and Frau Traudl Junge. The first three of
these are occasionally mentioned by their initials, J. W., C. S. (or Chr. Sehr.),
G. D., as participants in the Table-Talk. Hitler's adjutant was Julius Schaub,
his2 doctor Prof. Theodor Morell, his vegetarian-cook Frl. Manzialy.
A. Zoller, Hitler Privat (Düsseldorf, 1949), pp. 44-5, 97, 146-7. The real
author of this valuable book (whose accuracy is now confirmed by the
Table-Talk) appears from internal evidence to be Frl. Schröder.



Hitler saw himself as the man of centuries, almost (although
he himself expressly disclaimed so religious a title) the Messiah.
He believed that he alone—or almost alone—both understood
the crisis of our time and could correct it. For to him the defeat
of Germany in the first World War was not merely a crisis of
Germany : it was—as it had been to Oswald Spengler—a crisis
of civilisation, the kind of crisis that occurs only at rare moments
of history, can only be understood by those who have studied
past history in terms of centuries, and can only be remedied by
those who are prepared to launch and able to control those
cataclysms and convulsions in which historic ages perish or are
born. This cataclysmic view of history was an essential part of
Hitler's ideas, and it is essential for us to understand it: for it
was within this framework that he saw himself and the mission
with which he credited himself, against this background that
he judged other men, both in the present and in history. One
of the clearest expressions of this view was uttered by him not in
1941, when it might easily be ascribed to the intoxication of
power, but in 1924-5, when he was apparently finally defeated,
and in prison. It is a passage which I have already quoted once;1
but since Mein Kampf, though a book of fundamental importance, is, in general, both unreadable and unread, I shall make
no excuse for quoting it again. "At long intervals of human
history", he then wrote, "it may occasionally happen that the
practical politician and the political philosopher are one. The
more intimate the union, the greater are his political difficulties.
Such a man does not labour to satisfy demands that are obvious
to every philistine; he reaches forward towards ends that are
comprehensible only to the few. Therefore his life is torn between hatred and love. The protest of the present generation,
which does not understand him, wrestles with the recognition
of posterity, for which he also works."2 By 1941 Hitler's success
had naturally confirmed him in this view that he both understood and could control the course of centuries. More and more
his mind ranged over the history of mankind, its crucial stages,
and the great men who had been the architects of its change.
"A man who has no sense of history", he said, "is like a man

The Last Days of Hitler (2nd ed., 1950), p. 46.
* Mein Kampf (English translation, London, 1939), p. 183.



who has no ears or no eyes. He can live, of course, but what is
What was Hitler's interpretation of history? It was crude
but clear, and—like all his views—buttressed by a vast array
of arbitrarily selected facts stored in his astonishing memory
and arranged in preconceived patterns by his restless, rigid,
systematic mind. Further, although experience added new
details and new illustrations to it, it remained, from at least
1923, absolutely clear and consistent. Hitler, like Spengler,
saw history as a succession of human ages which could be
defined by their "cultures", the totality of their social organisation and ideas. There was the ancient culture of Greece and
Rome for which he expressed great enthusiasm—although, as
Albert Speer has drily observed, "his conceptions on this subject
were not based on any profound historical studies"; there was
the "Germanic" Medieval culture which had been eclipsed
at the Renaissance by the modern "capitalist" society of
Western Europe; and there was that modern society which,
again like Spengler, he believed to be in its turn sick unto death.
How was it, he asked, that these cultures had so sickened or
died? "I often wonder", he said, "why the Ancient World
collapsed"; and his mind ranged over a series of possible
answers to this perplexing question. Was it a decline of population? or climate? or was the Roman Empire rotted from within
by Jewish Christianity? These were not academic questions,
for their answers, to him, contained the answer to the great
practical problem which he had long ago decided to solve.
For just as the Roman Empire had sickened before the
German barbarians fell upon it and destroyed it, so the
civilisation of the West, he believed, was now sickening and
would slowly die. Or would it be allowed to die? Would it not
rather, like the Roman Empire, be conquered and absorbed
by the new barbarian power which would ultimately replace it?
But what would that new barbarian power be? On this topic
also Hitler had brooded long, and, following "the iron law of
historical development",1 thought that he had found the answer.
First of all, it was clear that the new power, whatever it was,
must be a land-power. This was determined by technical fact.

Hitler Speaks, p. 47.



The day of maritime empires such as the empires of Portugal,
Holland and Britain, was, in his opinion, over. In old times,
indeed, the sea had provided the only smooth and cheap communications with the distant parts of the earth, and great landmasses had been the barriers, not the means of travel; but now,
thanks to roads and railways, motor-power and air-power, that
was reversed: the new empire, which would conquer and
absorb and replace the society of Western Europe, must be a
great land empire, bound together not by ships and trade but
by giant roads and massive armies, the real nexus of the new age.
Hitler was naturally a landsman : he came not from the Baltic
or the Mediterranean but from the heart of Europe, and he had
probably seldom seen the sea. Certainly he never understood
sea-power; and distant colonies, which depended on sea-power,
he altogether rejected. It was continents, not islands, that interested him. So he brooded over maps and planned vast roads
and studied the new science of "geopolitics" which, inspired by
Sir Haiford Mackinder in 1919, had found a more sympathetic
reception in Central Europe than in its native England. Hitler's
obsession with roads and land-armies and the conquest of great
spaces is often evident in his Table-Talk; but it was older than
that also. "No two men", he once confessed, "interested me
more in my youth than Nansen and Sven Hedin"; and even in
the middle of the war he would turn aside from politics and
strategy to receive a devout but disreputable pilgrim, the aged
Sven Hedin, and together they would discuss those empires of
the steppes which the one had once explored and the other now
sought to conquer.1 Similarly, his mind often dwelt on great
roads, "the beginnings of every civilisation", the nerves which
must animate a land-empire. He would imagine the roads of
the past—Roman roads in Europe, Inca roads in Peru, and the
roads of the future—German Reichsautobahnen "from Klagenfürt
to Trondhjem and from Hamburg to the Crimea" ; and when he
recollected, as he so often did, the exhilarating days of the
Kampfzeit, it was in the endless motor-journeys along "the
beautiful, broad, white Autobahnen" that that recollection
seemed to him most concentrated.
But if the new age was to be the age of a great land-empire
See Som Hedin's German Diary (Dublin, 1951).



dominating what Sir Haiford Mackinder had called "the
Heartland", "the Citadel of the World Empire"—the area,
that is, invulnerable to sea-power in Central Europe and Asia—
what people, what government could claim this empire?
Clearly it could not be any of the old maritime peoples—and in
them therefore Hitler was fundamentally uninterested : it must
be—if it were to be a European people—either the Germans or
the Russians, for these peoples alone had the land-armies, the
land-ambitions, the "geopolitical" outlook for such an achievement. The German geopoliticians, on the whole, had assumed
that it would be the Russians, who were, after all, both more
numerous and already there; and they had advocated, for
Germany, rather an alliance with Russia than an attempt to
conquer it. And yet, Hitler asked himself, was that really
inevitable? Were not the Germans the real Kulturträger, the
culture-bearers of Europe? Was it not the Germans who, when
the Roman Empire had been rotted inwardly by Jewish Christianity and a declining population, had conquered and inherited it? The Germanic Middle Ages had indeed been
frustrated by the "Christian" Renaissance, the rise of the
plutocratic capitalist civilisation of Western Europe; but now
that that plutocratic capitalist civilisation was in its turn
decaying, might not the Germans reawake and, awakened,
resume and redirect their splendid mission? The old German
Emperors, for good technical reasons, had looked south to
Italy; the new German Reich, for similar reasons, must look
east. Might it not, even now, by some heroic effort, wrest from
the Russians their dominion and impose upon the Heartland a
German instead of a Russian Empire? It is true, the Russians
were more numerous; but had not minorities often before, by
skill and determination, conquered and enslaved great nations?
It is true, the Germans had just been defeated in war and
Germany was now amputated, unarmed and helpless ; but had
not Russia also been defeated in war, had it not lost, in the
West, its richest provinces, had it not been ravaged by civil
war ? It is true, the Germans were politically incompetent—
Dickschädel, Querschädel, Dummköpfe—desperate blockheads and
ninnies incapable of political sense or action; but "even stupid
races can accomplish something, given good leadership"



Genghiz Khan, by his "unique genius for organisation", had
united the Tartars; Charlemagne, "one of the greatest men in
world-history", had by force united even the thick-headed
Germans. What force and leadership had done once, force and
leadership could do again. It is true, Germany had already
failed to conquer Russia in the past; but the Germany that had
failed was the byzantine, cosmopolitan, traditionalist, Jewridden Hohenzollern monarchy, and while "monarchies are at
best able to keep conquests, it is by revolutionary powers that
World-Empires are created"; what if there were to be a revolution in Germany, a revolution which would release the inhibited
and frustrated energies of the real Germany, the nationalist and
proletarian Germany which an anti-national upper class had
hitherto divided and enslaved? It is true, the Russians had
already had their revolution and were to that extent better
placed, and the geopolitical prophets easily acquiesced in the
inevitability of Russian domination; but against the defeatist
doctrine of inevitability Hitler advanced a more inspiring doctrine, a doctrine which, to the depressed and desolate Germany
of the 19203, seemed an evangel of human hope against the
dismal, mechanical pessimism of his contemporaries : the doctrine of the ultimate sovereignty of the human will. Had not
Nietzsche and Schopenhauer declared this doctrine? Had not
Mussolini, "that unparalleled statesman", proved its truth by
his example? Hitler's genuine personal reverence for Mussolini,
which so exasperated some of his more clear-sighted followers—
a reverence first expressed in Mein Kampf and sustained until
1944, when Hitler discovered with chagrin what Mussolini had
been saying about him—sprang primarily from this fact:
Mussolini had shown that a seemingly inevitable decay could in
fact be resisted and reversed; "the March on Rome was a
turning-point in history: the mere fact that it could be done
gave us our inspiration". Of Hitler's own almost incredible
will-power all witnesses have borne testimony, and he himself
claimed, with some justice, to have the strongest will in centuries : to the very end, even when all physical power had gone,
he exercised, by mere will-power, an absolute authority over a
whole people. Nevertheless, it was not by will-power alone
that Hitler hoped to reverse the seeming inevitability of history :



he planned to do it by thought also. With his coarse, powerful
mind he raked and combed the centuries of human history and
thrust and forced the reluctant facts into a brutal, uncritical,
systematic philosophy for the fulfilment of his vast designs.
How is a social revolution carried out? he asked. How is a
great empire conquered by a relatively small people? How is an
empire, once established, rendered permanent? To all these
questions history—if read with the selective faith of a Spengler
or a Toynbee—supplies the answer. All revolutions depend
for their success on the capture of power by an elite, and the
formation of such an élite was the function of National Socialism :
the Germans were to be the élite of Europe and to be themselves
governed by a German elite, the Party. A Germanic people,
thus mobilised, could easily, given the will to power and
dynamic leadership, conquer an Empire. Look at the English,
another "purely Germanic nation", and their achievement,
under their natural aristocracy—those princely, self-confident
"Lords" whose vast estates (Hitler asserted) covered all England,
making military manoeuvres impossible. A few thousand
Englishmen had conquered and governed four hundred million
Indians. Again and again Hitler's mind reverted to the example
of the English conquest of India, the origin of that maddening
English self-confidence. "What India was for England", he
said, "the spaces of the East will be for us"; and then he would
allow his mind to roam erroneously over the history of England
and of India, subjects of which he knew nothing, but of which
Ribbentrop, the great master of English affairs, and himself so
like an English lord, had often informed him.
But could such a conquest be made permanent? Of course it
could. Modern science, modern power, modern propaganda,
made that possible. Revolution by subject peoples against a
self-confident master-race, he wpuld declare, was now quite out
of the question; and again and again he would describe, in
hideous detail, the methods whereby a conquered empire could
be preserved. The ruling power must recognise that subjects
have no rights: "Who has, has"—that is the sum of human
morality in politics; and to give arms to a subject people is even
more criminal than to give them freedom : "History teaches us
that all master-races have declined once they consented to arm



the peoples they had conquered". As for education, let subject
peoples learn German, so that they cannot pretend not to
understand the orders of their masters, let them learn so much
of geography as to know that Berlin is the capital of the world,
and otherwise let them practise contraception (even if it
means sending the Jews there to teach them) to reduce their
birthrate, and be denied hospitals to increase their death rate,
so that the German colonists, secure in their new strategic cities
and linked with the centres of power by vast Autobahnen, need
never fear a rising of their Helots. Such, said Hitler, is the iron
rule of imperialism. When that had been established by victory,
the remaining tasks would be easy. Pockets of resistance,
tolerated hitherto, would be eliminated : Hitler would carry out
"the Final Solution" of the Jewish problem; the old European
aristocracies, the "upper-class mafia" 'of frivolous cosmopolitan
reactionaries—the same people who had corrupted German
diplomacy for so long and still sabotaged the Duce in Italy—
would be liquidated; the Churches, by their own methods,
would be supplanted (Hitler always expressed admiration for
the methods, though he detested the doctrines, of the Roman
Church); Christianity, with its disgusting equalitarianism,
would be extirpated; and at the first report of mutiny in the
Reich "the whole anti-social rabble", "a few hundred thousand
men" conveniently kept in concentration camps for the purpose, would be led out to execution. Thus the German millennium would be secured.
A barbarous millennium! Hitler would not have denied it;
for barbarism, he maintained, was the first basis of all culture,
the only means whereby a new civilisation could replace an old.
The German conquerors of the Roman Empire had been barbarians; but they had replaced an old and rotten society by the
basis of a new and vigorous civilisation. Similarly, the Nazis,
must be barbarians to replace with their millennium the dying
culture of the West. "Yes", he had declared in 1933, "we are
barbarians! We want to be barbarians! It is an honourable
title. We shall rejuvenate the world. This world is near its
end." By "historical necessity" barbarian forces must break up
decaying civilisations and "snatch the torch of life from their
dying fires". The last fifteen hundred years, he casually in-



formed Mussolini—the years between Attila and himself, the
whole span of Christian civilisation—had been a mere interruption of human development, which "is now about to
resume its former character". As for culture, that, he declared
in Mein Kampf, must wait till its basis has been established by a
barbarian heroic age, as the culture of Athens and Rome
throve on the basis of the Persian and Punic Wars.1 . . . But
what, we may ask, was the new Germanic culture to be like,
whose institution was to justify these barbaric methods? Alas,
the answer is clear. Hitler, the artist, was always willing to
develop his ideas on culture. This book is full of them; narrow,
materialist, trivial, half-baked, disgusting. No more words
need be wasted on them. The hundred million self-confident
German masters were to be brutally installed in Europe, and
secured in power by a monopoly of technical civilisation and the
slave-labour of a dwindling native population of neglected,
diseased, illiterate cretins, in order that they might have leisure to
buzz along infinite Autobahnen, admire the Strength-throughJoy Hostel, the Party headquarters, the Military Museum and the
Planetarium which their Fuehrer would have built in Linz (his
new Hitleropolis), trot round local picture-galleries, and listen
over their cream-buns to endless recordings of The Merry Widow.
This was to be the German Millennium, from which even the
imagination was to have no means of escape. "After National
Socialism has lasted for some time, it will be impossible to
imagine a form of life different from ours."
But before that could happen, was victory certain? All depended on that essential condition. For the struggle between
Germany and Russia was to be the decisive battle of the world,
like the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields between Rome and the
Huns, or certain other battles which Hitler as erroneously
supposed to have been decisive in history. If the Germans were
to win, the millennium would indeed be theirs, but if they were
to be defeated, then their defeat would also be for a millennium.
For in Russia was there not another secular genius, der geniale
Stalin, who had also carried through a great revolution, who had
also imposed a new élite on his subject people, who had also
liquidated his enemies by millions, preached a new religion to

Mein Kampf, p. 499.



intoxicate or enslave his peoples, and aspired to the dominion
of Eurasia and the world? In his hatred of "Jewish Bolshevism", his contempt for the Slavonic sub-man, Hitler never
lost his admiration for that other barbarian of genius, "the
crafty Caucasian", whom he saw as his only worthy enemy "a
tremendous personality", "a beast, but a beast on the grand
scale", "half beast, half giant"—nor indeed for the communist credo and method, an ideology as powerful as his own.
He preferred communists to aristocrats, Spanish Reds to the
worthless Franco, that renegade creature of dukes and priests
whom, in the end, out of utter contempt, he refused even to
mention.1 For this war, the war which Hitler was planning,
the war between Germany and Russia, between Hitler and
Stalin, between ideology and ideology, was to be no mere
dynastic or economic war, it was to be a war of life and death,
empire or annihilation, deciding the fate of centuries; a war
not against the past—that was already dead—but between
two Titans disputing its inheritance. For the dead world, and
for the neuters who contracted out of the World's Debate,
Hitler had only contempt; for the other Titan, as for an equal,
he had some respect. But this did not mean that he would
give him any quarter. In the battle for empire quarter would
be neither sought nor given. In the hour of his imagined
triumph Hitler declared that Russia was to be utterly destroyed,
Moscow and Leningrad to be levelled with the ground, and their
names and record to be for ever blotted out of geography and
history alike;2 in the hour of his ultimate failure he was prepared
himself to destroy Germany: "If the war is to be lost, the nation
also will perish. There is no need to consider the basis even of
the most primitive existence. On the contrary, it is better to destroy it, and to destroy it ourselves. The future belongs solely
to the stronger Eastern nation."3
Such was the crucial struggle, a struggle for the history of
centuries, in which Hitler saw himself as the incarnation of
historical change. He had seen this problem—seen it at least
since 1919; he had created the form in which it now faced the

Zoller, p. 162.
Zoller, p. 143 ; cf. below pp. 5, 617, 621-2.
This statement was made to Speer in March 1945 (see The Last Days of
Hitler, p. 92).





world, demanding solution; by his heroic efforts he had made a
German solution of it possible; and he naturally believed that
only he could carry through "that Cyclopean task which the
building of an Empire means for a single man". That meant
that it must be carried through quickly, while Germany had the
advantage, before Russia was ready, and, above all, while he
himself was alive. "No one knows how long I shall live. Therefore", he had said in 1937, "let us have war now."1 It was his
"irrevocable decision", he declared, "to solve the problem of
German living-space" before 1945 at the latest. In 1941 he duly
launched his armies to the East, and the Russian armies rolled
back before that terrible impact. What wonder if, at such a
moment, Hitler saw all his prophecies fulfilled, the German
millennium in sight, and himself so clearly established by
history as the demiurge of centuries that he could write to his
revered ally and exemplar, Benito Mussolini, as Titan to Titan
in the birth-pangs of an age: "What I am for Germany, Duce,
you are for Italy; but what we shall both be for Europe, only
posterity will one day be able to judge" ?2 He had been just in
time—"another ten or fifteen years and Russia would have been
the mightiest state in the world and two or three centuries would
have to pass before any new change"; but now he had carried
it off: it was the German, not the Russian millennium that had
come. How trivial an adventurer Napoleon now seemed to him
in comparison with himself! Napoleon had surrendered to
tradition, had made himself Emperor and his relatives kings,
had proved himself "only a man, not a world-phenomenon".
Hitler would never do that : he would never forget that he was
"the practical politician and the political philosopher in one",
not just Spengler or Napoleon, but Spengler and Napoleon, a
"world-phenomenon"; and for a world-phenomenon suddenly
"to drive through the streets of Munich as Emperor in a gilded
coach" would be merely ridiculous.
Compared with this great problem—the conquest of the East
and the establishment thereby of a millennial German Empire
with a new racial religion to confirm its rule for ever—all other
Trial of the Major War Criminals, Proceedings of I.M.T. Nuremberg,
1946, I., 160, 172-3, and cf. below p. 661.
* Hitler e Mussolini, Lettere e Documenti (Milan, 1946), p. 140.



problems seemed to Hitler secondary. Even the war with the
West was secondary. Long ago he had formulated his attitude
to the West. The West, in spite of its victory in 1918—achieved
only through the famous "Stab in the Back"—and though still
powerful at this crucial moment, was, when seen in the long
perspective of history, clearly in decline. It could be left to decline. Fundamentally Hitler had no interest in it. For England,
indeed, he had some admiration, mixed with envy and hatred.
He admired the British as a "pure Germanic people" and a
conquering people. On the other hand he envied England as an
upstart, self-confident world-power—what right had England
to claim a history on the basis of its beggarly three hundred
years compared with the thousand-year German Reich?—and
he hated it, as so many German nationalists have hated it, as
the great Carthage which by trade had colonised the world and
sought to strangle the honest land-empire of Germany. But
since England and the West were anyway destined ultimately
to fall behind, Hitler was content to ignore them if they would
keep out of the immediate battle, the great land-struggle now
pending in the East. England would surely keep out, for what
interest had England in the Ukraine? Hitler was anyway, in his
benevolent moods, prepared to "guarantee" the British Empire
as an element of stability in the irrelevant maritime world.
France, it is true, might have to be knocked out—for France,
in the days when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, was the centre of a
system of Eastern alliances. But by 1940 those alliances had
gone and France was crushed. Only England was left to lick its
wounds, recognise the facts, contract out of the world-struggle,
and either moulder quietly away in its Atlantic corner or accept,
like the rest of Europe, German patronage. Ultimately the
"best" elements in Western civilisation—that is, those elements
which were acceptable to Hitler—would be preserved by such
patronage, just as Greek culture was preserved by the Roman
Empire. . . . Unfortunately this did not happen. England, the
England of Winston Churchill, continued obstinately to fight,
and, fighting, to inflame the otherwise conquered and quiescent
West. To Hitler this was unintelligible, irresponsible, intolerable: it involved him in a naval war which he did not understand and in Mediterranean politics which he could not control,



and it fatally interfered with his Eastern project, the be-all and
end-all of his war. In the end, English obstinacy was his ruin.
Hence the violent hatred with which Hitler pursued the name
of Mr. Churchill. He could not respect him as he respected his
frontal enemy, Stalin. Stalin, after all, had understood the problem of the twentieth century in the same terms as Hitler—he too
was a new Genghiz Khan; Churchill had not: therefore he was
simply an unscrupulous adventurer, a drunkard, the grave-digger
of England, ' 'and also, in his private life, not a gentleman' '. When
the West was reinforced by the American declaration of war, this
hysterical abuse was of course extended from England to America,
from "toper Churchill" to "criminal Roosevelt".
England, America, India, art, music, architecture, the Aryan
Jesus, the Bolshevik St. Paul, the Pharaohs, the Maccabees,
Julian the Apostate, King Farouk, Viking vegetarianism, the
Ptolemaic system, the Ice Age, Shinto, prehistoric dogs, Spartan
soup—there was no subject on which, however ignorant, Hitler
was not prepared to dogmatise, and it is often difficult to see,
through the utter rubbish which surrounds it, the vulgarity
with which it is expressed, and the disgusting cruelty which
enflâmes it, the hard kernel of Hitler's personal thought. Nevertheless, I think, that hard kernel is there, and can be defined as I
have defined it here; and who can say that it has not, in spite
of all its hideous and vulgar features, a terrible cohesion, a
grim correspondency with the reality which it almost created?
It is surprising to me that no historian, as far as I know, has
sought to discover the history of Hitler's mind, the impulse
which drove him to seek and systematise these formidable ideas,
or the sources from which he drew them. What books did
Hitler read? What were the numerous volumes, finely bound
by Hess's sister, which filled his "large library" in Munich?1
We are not told: his biographers, having dismissed him as an
illiterate smatterer, have not thought it worth while to ask
such a question. But if he was not a mere smatterer—if, as
I have suggested, he was rather a powerful systématiser of
ideas, one of those "terrible simplifiers"—he would not him1

Hitler Speaks, p. 255.
"I have the gift", Hitler said in 1932,' 'of reducing all problems to their
simplest foundations". (Hitler Speaks, p. 16.)



self have disclaimed the title2—whose advent on the political
scene was so prophetically announced by one of the greatest
and profoundest of nineteenth-century historians, then surely
we must ask this question. For Hitler's miraculous career is
not to be explained by the mere enumeration of his actions, or
the registration of his personal behaviour: it is to be explained,
if at all, by the mental power which, at some time of his life, he
directed to the basic questions of history and politics, revolution
and ideology, strategy and power. It was because his views on
these subjects were so compulsive that he was able to draw
around him, as willing accomplices, not only that nucleus of
devoted and fanatical revolutionaries who provided him with
his élite, but also those millions of ordinary Germans who,
recognising in him the prophet and executor of their half-formulated and since disowned ambitions, followed him readily, even
gladly, even to the end, in his monstrous attempt to impose upon
the world a barbarian German domination.
When did Hitler think out these problems? Since his
historians give us no help, and since his early life is so illdocumented (although there are untapped living sources who
could perhaps inform us) I shall not seek a firm answer to that
question here. Perhaps it was in those early days in Vienna
which seemed to their contemporary observers so wasted and
trivial—we are told diat he was even then a great client of the
lending-libraries and brought home from them "readingmatter by the kilo"—not novels, which (as he tells us) he never
read, but books on history and religion, on geography and
technology, art-history and architecture.1 He himself claimed
to have devoured all five hundred volumes in a Viennese
book-store;2 and we know how he read, glancing first at the
end, then in the middle, then—when he had some idea of its
content—working systematically through it. But accumulation
and memorisation is not necessarily thought, and we cannot
be sure that Hitler in Vienna did more than accumulate the
matter which his powerful mind afterwards arranged in a grim,
erroneous system. More probably this stage came later, during
Josef Greiner,

Zoller, p. 36.

Das Ende des Hitler Mythos (Vienna, 1947), p. 83.



the war when, as he tells us, he carried the works of Schopenhauer, the philosopher of nihilism and will-power, regularly in
his pocket and "learned a great deal" from them. We know,
from his secretary, that he could quote Schopenhauer by the
page ; and the other German philosopher of will-power, Nietzsche,
whose works he afterwards presented to Mussolini, was also
often on his lips. The war was certainly an important experience in his life, the only period when, as he afterwards said,
he had no material worries, and therefore was free to think. It
is probable that his views on Eastern conquest were also formed
in the war. Certainly they were at least partially formed by
1920, when he was declaring to one of his earliest audiences
that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Germany had taken
from Russia some fifty per cent of its productive capacity, was,
compared with the wicked Treaty of Versailles, "infinitely
humane".1 Probably it was during the war also that he
acquired his interest both in Frederick the Great, the type of
heroic will-power, whom by 1933 he recognised as his "great
exemplar",2 and in Garlyle, the prophet of hero-worship. Appropriately, in his last defiant stronghold, the besieged Fuehrerbunker in Berlin, Hitler sat beneath the portrait of Frederick the
Great and listened to passages from Carlyle's biography of him.
Nor was Frederick the Great only a military hero to Hitler:
Frederick's cynical letters about religion and his Theological
Controversies were also among his favourite reading. From his
schooldays Hitler had expressed a neurotic, indeed cheap,
detestation of religion, which he often afterwards, with pitiful
complacency, delighted to recall, and in his Table-Talk he would
praise the "Solomon's wisdom" of Frederick's gibes and recommend them—they had already been selected and published in 1940'—as compulsory reading for the notoriously
religious class of generals and admirals. Hider's views on
strategy—and already in 1932 eight years before his achievements seemed to justify the hyperbolical title of "the greatest
war-lord of all times", he regarded himself as "a great
strategist of a new kind, a future war-lord in a sense and to a


Mein Kampf, p. 389.


Hitler Speaks, p. 258.

By the Nordland Publishing House, Berlin, which made a speciality
of anti-clerical works.



degree hitherto unknown" —were, we know, largely based on
Clausewitz, whose works he studied constantly in his military
headquarters; but his first studies of Clausewitz had also been
made before 1923, no doubt during the war. By the same time
he had also read The Protocols of the Elders of %ion, the intellectual justification of his anti-semitism, and Houston Stewart
Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, the avowed
and recognisable basis of his racial doctrines.8 Rosenberg's
Myth of the Twentieth Century, on the other hand, had negligible
influence on Hitler, who admits that he had never been able to
read it. It anyway was not published till 1930 when Hitler's
mind was formed and fixed. In these ideological matters Hitler
was more practical than his own doctrinaire followers: his
attitude was that of the layman in religion—he believed the
general truth of the doctrine but had no patience with the
theological niceties of the priests. Himmler and Rosenberg
both had the outlook of priests, and Hitler laughed at them both.
But if, as seems probable, Hitler's thinking was nourished
in the years of the war, it was, I suggest, in 1924—5 that it was
finally crystallised in the systematic form deducible from this
Table-Talk. For in 1923-24 Hitler spent a year in prison, and
passed his time there not only keeping control over his temporarily disjointed party but also reading and writing. He
read, above all, history. He himself, in Mein Kampf, ascribed
his original interest in history to his school-teacher at Linz, Dr.
Leopold Pötsch, to whom he paid an eloquent but apparently
unrequited tribute.3 Others have dismissed this statement as a
mere retrospective rationalisation of an interest which Hitler
in fact acquired later.4 However this may be, it seems certain
that in prison Hitler either plunged or re-plunged into historical
reading. It was then, he afterwards said, "that I had leisure to
give a historical basis to my philosophy", then that he "deepened
various notions previously based on instinct only", then that he

Hitler Sfeaks, pp. 17, 19.
* Mein Kampf, pp. 544-5, 258 (cf. Hitler Speaks, pp. 235-18), 227.
* According to Thomas Orr, Dos war Hitler (Revue, Munich, No. 41/1952).
Dr. Pötsch, on receiving two handsome, personally inscribed copies of
Mein Kampf from Hitler, acknowledged them formally and gave them away
to 4a monastery library.
Greiner, p. 53.



discovered his mission, his "fearless faith and unshakeable confidence in our destiny", then that, by a study (as he admitted)
of Marxist methods, he evolved the plan which he afterwards
so skilfully executed, of a coup d'état from within. Schopenhauer's doctrine of the will, Lenin's theory of the capture of
power, and Dr. Pötsch's teaching of history were all fused
together into a consistent philosophy during that year of imprisonment—a year, like the years in the Army, free from
material worries—during which the Wagnerians also solaced
the prisoner and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the son-inlaw of Wagner and prophet of racialism, wrote "so kindly" to
him. Nor was this the only personal solace he received in that
crucial year. Earlier in 1923 he had met for the first time a
devoted disciple who now shared his cell and with whom he
must often have discussed, and in discussion formulated, his
ideas : Rudolf Hess. Now Rudolf Hess did not only come to
Hitler as a companion, an amanuensis, a disciple : he was also,
in some sense, a teacher. For Hess had lately been studying at
Munich University and had been the pupil and friend and
enthusiastic follower—he was afterwards to be the assistant—of
Professor Karl Haushofer; and Haushofer, as head of the new
Geopolitical Institute at Munich, had taken up and was now
popularising in Germany those doctrines of Eurasian landpower which, derived from Mackinder, and advanced as the
basis of Russo-German agreement, were soon found applicable
to a very different purpose: a German conquest of Russia.
The result of Hitler's period of intellectual gestation in prison
and his association with Hess was, first, Mein Kampf, which
Hitler dictated and Hess wrote down and, secondly, an unpublished book by Hitler on foreign policy of which the text
has not seen the light but which, we know, advocated peace
with England and therefore probably war with Russia, and
which Hitler evidently showed to one man only, Rudolf Hess.1
That Hess was a channel whereby Haushofer's geopolitical
ideas were conveyed to Hitler's mind, there to be transformed
into the doctrine of Eastern Lebensraum, seems to me almost

Zoller, pp. 155-6. The book (which was written in 1925) is mentioned
by Hitler, below, p. 314. [Since this preface was written, the text has
been found and published as Hitler's Zweite Buch, Stuttgart 1961.]



certain. That doctrine, fully developed, was placed, as a
"political testament", at the end of Mein Kampf. It remained
Hitler's political testament to the end. The last words he is
recorded as having written, the valedictory words which he
addressed to the German Armed Forces while he was preparing for death in the Berlin Bunker and the Russians were
at the gates, were an exhortation "to win territory for the
German people in the East". And in 1941, when Hess flew
to Scotland with a Tibetan amulet from Sven Hedin in his
pocket and an allegorical dream by Professor Haushofer in his
mind,1 it was, according to one authority,2 the knowledge of
Hitler's mind as revealed in the secret manuscript on foreign
policy that drove him to undertake that perilous, idealist,
lunatic adventure.
This, then, was the positive character of Hitler's mind. But
it had a negative side also, and no account or analysis of it can
be complete without reference to the yawning emptiness which,
on certain sides, bounded its hard, clear, monolithic structure.
For if we know some of the books that Hitler read, and the
subjects which he studied, and from which he built his monstrous, but, to many Germans, compelling philosophy, equally
we know—and it is almost as important—some of the books
which he did not read, some of the subjects which never engaged his otherwise roving, predatory, gluttonous mind. "A
man", said Bishop Berkeley, "who hath not much meditated
upon God, the human mind and the summum bonum, may
possibly make a thriving earthworm, but will most indubitably
make a sorry patriot and a sorry statesman." Hitler was a
patriot and a statesman of this sorry kind. He never meditated
on these things. No word he ever uttered even so much as
touched the human spirit. His views on art were worthless.
He did not know the meaning of humanity. Weakness he despised, and pity (being sympathy with weakness) he despised
also. It was Humanitätsduselei, humanitarian stupidity. And if
he despised physical weakness he also, in others, hated moral
strength. What he admired in Stalin was only the craft, the
cruelty and the success which he discovered in that rival

1. R. Rces, The Case of Rudolf Hess (London, 1947), pp. 16,18-19.
Zoller, pp. 155-6.




revolutionary career; the British refusal to be defeated simply
drove him into paroxysms of petulant hatred. Only his own
strength, his own will, his own faith had for him any merit:
the qualities themselves, to him, were valueless. Love meant
nothing to him—it was simply a competition in which the
most Nazi of he-Germans deserved the most conventionally
well-proportioned of she-Germans,1 and there is something
repulsive in his conception of it, not cynical, nor coarse, but
simply mean, mechanical, inhuman. Children were to him
merely the continually replaceable (and therefore continually
expendable) means of conquest and colonisation. He had views
indeed on Nature and often spoke of his "communion" with it,
but it was a hideous Nature, the devouring Nature whose
cruelty justified his own : not a sociable pagan Nature of nymphhaunted woods and populated streams, but a romantic Wagnerian Nature of horrid Alps in whose intoxicating solitude he
could best hatch his own equally violent and implacable interventions. And as for the purpose of human life, that futile
quest which nevertheless is an index of humanity, it was for him
merely that Germans should be the masters of the world.
The mind goes back to earlier conquerors and colonists, as
brutal no doubt as the Germans—the Arab armies, the Prankish
crusaders, the Spanish conquistadors. They too murdered and
destroyed, oppressed and enslaved, burnt and desolated. But
always—erroneously, no doubt—they subordinated their most
violent actions to an impersonal end, which, when the dust of
battle and conquest had settled, imposed humility even on the
conquerors, so that now, looking back, we forget the incidental
cruelties and see only churches and mosques, hospitals and
schools, built not merely for the convenience of the victors, but
for the service ofthat abstract God or that concrete humanity to
which they also felt themselves subject. To Hitler all this was
completely alien; and it is for this reason, I think, that his ultimate conception of German culture is so utterly revolting. To
him it was simply a question of more cakes for Germans and less
for non-Germans. He was a complete and rigid materialist,
without sympathy or even tolerance for those immaterial hopes
or fears or imaginations or illusions which, however absurdly,
See, on this subject, Zoller, Hitler Privat, pp. 105, 115.



cast a faint ennobling gleam on the actions of mankind.
To Hitler all this immaterial world was simply Mumpitz.
Moral values—the whole scale of better or worse—since they
depend on immaterial criteria, simply did not exist for him:
"I have not come into the world", he would say, "to make men
better, but to make use of their weaknesses", and, like Shakespeare's Caesar, he expressed an open preference for corrupt
men, whose weaknesses he could so use, over "ascetics with
rings under their eyes"—those "lean and hungry" men who
"think too much", and whom alone he feared. And to what end
did he wish to use the weaknesses that he thus preferred? So
that the Germans, whom he despised, might eat more than
those whom he despised even more. And when they had eaten
enough, what then? Achilles gave back the body of Hector. The
Christian crusader rests on his sculptured tomb, the priests sing
for his soul, and by his will an almshouse is founded
to relief of lazars and weak age
of indigent faint souls past corporal toil ;

an illusion is perhaps perpetuated, but humanity is served and
art prolonged. To Hitler such a world was not only unintelligible but inconceivable: "hating all idealism, he found it
quite normal that the bodies of his political prisoners should be
burnt and their ashes used by his SS-guards to manure their
gardens". Naturally such a man, in his reading and talking,
felt no need of the humanities. "Though he ranged over almost
every field of human thought", says his secretary, "I nevertheless felt that something was missing. Even now I cannot exactly
define it. But it seems to me that his spate of words lacked the
human note, the spiritual quality of a cultivated man. In his
library he had no classic work, no single book on which the
human spirit had left its trace."1 And yet this spiritual dustbowl, this earthbound, ignoble cynic, called himself an artist,
fancied that the cultivated Popes of the Renaissance would
have found him a congenial companion, and uttered his pert
and trivial dogmas on the works of the spirit as if he had returned from meditation on Helicon.
Such, then,—if we can see past the decomposing intellectual

Zoller, p. 115,49.



litter around it—was Hitler's mind, as it emerged from the
crystallising experiences of his year in the Landsberg prison,
such its ruthless systematising power, such its dreadful human
nakedness. From that date, as it seems to me, it was fixed:
in the next twenty years it expressed itself in action. The
experience of the Kampfzeit, the wider range of activity both
before and after the Machtergreifung of January 1933, must have
added illustrative detail; contact with the clear organising intelligence of Goebbels—whom Hitler had first met in 1922—no
doubt sharpened its outlines and perhaps supplied a more intellectual basis to his social thinking; the mere practice of these
soliloquies must also have supplied many missing links and
greased, as it were, the working of his ideas; but substantially,
in its basic philosophy and its ultimate aims, the mind remained
constant : a terrible phenomenon, imposing indeed in its granitic
harshness and yet infinitely squalid in its miscellaneous cumber
—like some huge barbarian monolith, the expression of giant
strength and savage genius, surrounded by a festering heap of
refuse—old tins and dead vermin, ashes and eggshells and
ordure—the intellectual detritus of centuries. Every glimpse that
we have of it in those years—in Mein Kampf in 1924, in Rauschning's versions of the Table-Talk of 1933, in occasional secret
speeches of which the record has survived, and now in this
full record of the Table-Talk of 1941-44—shows its consistency.
Clearest of all, by reason of its range and the triumphant
circumstances of its delivery, is this Table-Talk: the selfrevelation of the most formidable among the "terrible simplifiers" of history, the most systematic, the most historical, the
most philosophical, and yet the coarsest, cruellest, least
magnanimous conqueror the world has ever known.
i6th March 1953
Christ Church, Oxford


5th July—31st December



Saturday, 5th July 1941
Aryans and Russians—Necessity of the mailed fist in
Russia—Deterioration of soil.

What we need is a collective view of people's wish to live and
manner of living.
We must distinguish between the Fascist popular movement
and the popular movement in Russia. The Fascist movement is
a spontaneous return to the traditions of ancient Rome. The
Russian movement has an essential tendency towards anarchy.
By instinct, the Russian does not incline towards a higher
form of society. Certain peoples can live in such a way that
with them a collection of family units does not make a whole;
and although Russia has set up a social system which, judged
by Western standards, qualifies for the designation " State ", it
is not, in fact, a system which is either congenial or natural to her.
It is true that, in a sense, every product of human culture,
every work gifted with beauty can be born only of the effect of
the constraint which we call education.
The Aryan peoples are peoples who are particularly active.
A man like Krümel works from morning to night; such-andsuch another person never stops thinking. In the same way, the
Italian is as diligent as an ant (bienenfleissig). In the eyes of the
Russian, the principal support of civilisation is vodka. His ideal
consists in never doing anything but the indispensable. Our conception of work (work, and then more of it!) is one that he submits to as if it were a real curse.
It is doubtful whether anything at all can be done in Russia
without the help of the Orthodox priest. It's the priest who has
been able to reconcile the Russian to the fatal necessity of work
—by promising him more happiness in another world.
The Russian will never make up his mind to work except
under compulsion from outside, for he is incapable of organising
himself. And if, despite everything, he is apt to have organisation thrust upon him, that is thanks to the drop of Aryan blood
in his veins. It's only because of this drop that the Russian
people has created something and possesses an organised State,
It takes energy to rule Russia. The corollary is that, the



tougher a country's régime, the more appropriate it is that
equity and justice should be practised there. The horse that is
not kept constantly under control forgets in the wink of an eye
the rudiments of training that have been inculcated into it. In
the same way, with the Russian, there is an instinctive force that
invariably leads him back to the state of nature. People sometimes quote the case of the horses that escaped from a ranch in
America, and by some ten years later had formed huge herds of
wild horses. It is so easy for an animal to go back to its origins !
For the Russian, the return to the state of nature is a return to
primitive forms of life. The family exists, the female looks after
her children, like the female of the hare, with all the feelings
of a mother. But the Russian doesn't want anything more. His
reaction against the constraint of the organised State (which is
always a constraint, since it limits the liberty of the individual) is
brutal and savage, like all feminine reactions. When he collapses
and should yield, the Russian bursts into lamentations. This will
to return to the state of nature is exhibited in his revolutions.
For the Russian, the typical form of revolution is nihilism.
I think there's still petroleum in thousands of places. As for
coal, we know we're reducing the natural reserves, and that in
so doing we are creating gaps in the sub-soil. But as for
petroleum, it may be that the lakes from which we are drawing
are constantly renewed from invisible reservoirs.
Without doubt, man is the most dangerous microbe imaginable. He exploits the ground beneath his feet without ever
asking whether he is disposing thus of products that would perhaps be indispensable to the life of other regions. If one
examined the problem closely, one would probably find here
the origin of the catastrophes that occur periodically in the
earth's surface.

Night of 5th-6th July 1941, 11.30 a.m.
The shortening of space by roads—The frontier of the
Urals—Moscow must disappear—The treasures of the

The beauties of the Crimea, which we shall make accessible
by means of an autobahn—for us Germans, that will be our



Riviera. Crete is scorching and dry. Cyprus would be lovely,
but we can reach the Crimea by road. Along that road lies
Kiev! And Croatia, too, a tourists' paradise for us. I expect
that after the war there will be a great upsurge of rejoicing.
Better than the railway, which has something impersonal
about it, it's the road that will bring peoples together. What
progress in the direction of the New Europe! Just as the autobahn has caused the inner frontiers of Germany to disappear,
so it will abolish the frontiers of the countries of Europe.
To those who ask me whether it will be enough to reach the
Urals as a frontier, I reply that for the present it is enough for
the frontier to be drawn back as far as that. What matters is
that Bolshevism must be exterminated. In case of necessity, we
shall renew our advance wherever a new centre of resistance is
formed. Moscow, as the centre of the doctrine, must disappear
from the earth's surface, as soon as its riches have been brought
to shelter. There's no question of our collaborating with the
Muscovite proletariat. Anyhow, St. Petersburg, as a city, is
incomparably more beautiful than Moscow.
Probably the treasures of the Hermitage have not been
stored at the Kremlin, as they were during the first World War,
but in the country-houses—unless they've been shifted to the
cities east of Moscow, or still further by river.

Night of 11 th-12 th July 1941
The natural piety of man—Russian atheists know how to
die—No atheistical education.

I think the man who contemplates the universe with his eyes
wide open is the man with the greatest amount of natural piety:
not in the religious sense, but in the sense of an intimate
harmony with things.
At the end of the last century the progress of science and
technique led liberalism astray into proclaiming man's mastery
of nature, and announcing that he would soon have dominion
over space. But a simple storm is enough—and everything
collapses like a pack of cards!
In any case, we shall learn to become familiar with the laws
by which life is governed, and acquaintance with the laws of


nature will guide us on the path of progress. As for the why of
these laws, we shall never know anything about it. A thing is so,
and our understanding cannot conceive of other schemes.
Man has discovered in nature the wonderful notion of that
all-mighty being whose law he worships.
Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this allmighty, which we call God (that is to say, the dominion of
natural laws throughout the whole universe). The priests, who
have always succeeded in exploiting this feeling, threaten
punishments for the man who refuses to accept the creed they
When one provokes in a child a fear of the dark, one awakens
in him a feeling of atavistic dread. Thus this child will be ruled
all his life by this dread, whereas another child, who has been
intelligently brought up, will be free of it.
It's said that every man needs a refuge where he can find
consolation and help in unhappiness. I don't believe it! If
humanity follows that path, it's solely a matter of tradition and
habit. That's a lesson, by the way, that can be drawn from the
Bolshevik front. The Russians have no God, and that doesn't
prevent them from being able to face death.
We don't want to educate anyone in atheism.

Nightofii th- is th July 1941
National Socialism and religion cannot exist together—No
persecution of religions, let them wither of themselves—
Bolshevism, the illegitimate child of Christianity—Origin of
the Spartan gruel—The Latvian morons—Stalin, one of
history's most remarkable figures.

When National Socialism has ruled long enough, it will no
longer be possible to conceive of a form of life different from
In the long run, National Socialism and religion will no
longer be able to exist together.
On a question from C. S., whether this antagonism might mean a
war, the Fuehrer continued:
No, it does not mean a war. The ideal solution would be to
leave the religions to devour themselves, without persecutions.






But in that case we must not replace the Church by something
equivalent. That would be terrifying! It goes without saying
that the whole thing needs a lot of thought. Everything will
occur in due time. It is a simple question of honesty, that's what
it will finally boil down to.
In England, the status of the individual in relation to the
Church is governed by considerations of State. In America, it's
all purely a matter of conformism.
The German people's especial quality is patience; and it's the
only one of the peoples capable of undertaking a revolution in
this sphere. It could do it, if only for the reason that only the
German people has made moral law the governing principle of
The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming
of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child.
Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter
of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.
Bolshevism practises a lie of the same nature, when it claims to
bring liberty to men, whereas in reality it seeks only to enslave
them. In the ancient world, the relations between men and
gods were founded on an instinctive respect. It was a world enlightened by the idea of tolerance. Christianity was the first
creed in the world to exterminate its adversaries in the name of
love. Its key-note is intolerance.
Without Christianity, we should not have had Islam. The
Roman Empire, under Germanic influence, would have
developed in the direction of world-domination, and humanity
would not have extinguished fifteen centuries of civilisation at a
single stroke.
Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of
the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things.
The result of the collapse of the Roman Empire was a night
that lasted for centuries.
The Romans had no dislike of the Germans. This is shown by
the mere fact that blond hair was fashionable with them.
Amongst the Goths there were many men with dark hair.
The Italian, Spanish, French and English dialects were
created by mixtures of local languages with the linguistic

elements imported by the migrant peoples. At first they were
mere vernaculars, until a poet was found who forged the
nation's language. It takes five or six centuries for a language
to be born.
The conqueror of a country is forced to adapt himself to the
local language. That is why language is not the immovable
monument on which a people's characteristics are inscribed. A
people's way of eating, for example, is racially more typical—
for every man remains persuaded in his heart that his mother is
the best cook. When I tasted the soup of the people of SchleswigHolstein, it occurred to me that the gruel of the Spartans
cannot have been very different. In the time of the great
migrations, the tribes were the product of ceaseless mixtures.
The men who arrived in the South were not the same as those
who went away. One can imagine two hundred young
Friesians setting out for the South, like a tank setting out
across country, and carrying with them men belonging to other
tribes. The Groats are certainly more Germanic than Slav.
The Esthonians, too, have a lot of Germanic blood.
The Esthonians are the élite of the Baltic peoples. Then
come the Lithuanians, and lastly the Latvians. Stalin used
Latvians for the executions which the Russians found disgusting.
They're the same people who used to have the job of executioners
in the old empire of the Tsars.
Stalin is one of the most extraordinary figures in world
history. He began as a small clerk, and he has never stopped
being a clerk. Stalin owes nothing to rhetoric. He governs
from his office, thanks to a bureaucracy that obeys his every nod
and gesture.
It's striking that Russian propaganda, in the criticisms it
makes of us, always holds itself within certain limits. Stalin,
that cunning Caucasian, is apparently quite ready to abandon
European Russia, if he thinks that a failure to solve her problems
would cause him to lose everything. Let nobody think Stalin
might reconquer Europe from the Urals! It is as if I were installed in Slovakia, and could set out from there and reconquer
the Reich. This is the catastrophe that will cause the loss of the
Soviet Empire.

L U T H E R , D A N T E AND M U S S O L I N I



Night of 21st-22nd July 1941
Gratitude to the Jesuits—Protestant fanaticism—Similarities between Germany and Italy—Dante and Luther—The
Duce is one of the Caesars—The march on Rome—a turningpoint in history—Delightful Italian towns—Rome and Paris.

When all's said, we should be grateful to the Jesuits. Who
knows if, but for them, we might have abandoned Gothic
architecture for the light, airy, bright architecture of the
Counter-Reformation? In the face of Luther's efforts to lead an
upper clergy that had acquired profane habits back to mysticism, the Jesuits restored to the world the joy of the senses.
It's certain that Luther had no desire to mould humanity to
the letter of the Scriptures. He has a whole series of reflections
in which he clearly sets himself against the Bible. He recognises
that it contains a lot of bad things.
Fanaticism is a matter of climate—for Protestantism, too, has
burnt its witches. Nothing ofthat sort in Italy, The Southerner
has a lighter attitude towards matters of faith. The Frenchman
has personally an easy way of behaving in his churches. With
us, it's enough not to kneel to attract attention.
But Luther had the merit of rising against the Pope and the
organisation of the Church. It was the first of the great revolutions. And thanks to his translation of the Bible, Luther replaced our dialects by the great German language!
It's remarkable to observe the resemblances between the
evolution of Germany and that of Italy. The creators of the
language, Dante and Luther, rose against the oecumenical
desires of the papacy.
Each of the two nations was led to unity, against the dynastic
interests, by one man. They achieved their unity against the will
of the Pope.
I must say, I always enjoy meeting the Duce. He's a great
personality. It's curious to think that, at the same period as
myself, he was working in the building trade in Germany. Our
programme was worked out in 1919, and at that time I knew
nothing about him. Our doctrines are based on the foundations



proper to each of them, but every man's way of thinking is a
result. Don't suppose that events in Italy had no influence on
us. The brown shirt would probably not have existed without
the black shirt. The march on Rome, in 1922, was one of the
turning-points of history. The mere fact that anything of the
sort could be attempted, and could succeed, gave us an impetus. A few weeks after the march on Rome, I was received by
the Minister Schweyer. That would never have happened
If Mussolini had been outdistanced by Marxism, I don't
know whether we could have succeeded in holding out. At that
period National Socialism was a very fragile growth.
If the Duce were to die, it would be a great misfortune for
Italy. As I walked with him in the gardens of the Villa Borghese, I could easily compare his profile with that of the Roman
busts, and I realised he was one of the Caesars. There's no
doubt at all that Mussolini is the heir of the great men of that
Despite their weaknesses, the Italians have so many qualities
that make us like them.
Italy is the country where intelligence created the notion of
the State. The Roman Empire is a great political creation, the
greatest of all.
The Italian people's musical sense, its liking for harmonious
proportions, the beauty of its race! The Renaissance was the
dawn of a new era, in which Aryan man found himself anew.
There's also our own past on Italian soil. A man who is indifferent to history is a man without hearing, without sight.
Such a man can live, of course—but what a life?
The magic of Florence and Rome, of Ravenna, Siena,
Perugia! Tuscany and Umbria, how lovely they are!
The smallest palazzo in Florence or Rome is worth more than
all Windsor Castle. If the English destroy anything in Florence
or Rome, it will be a crime. In Moscow, it wouldn't do any
great harm; nor in Berlin, unfortunately.
I've seen Rome and Paris, and I must say that Paris, with the
exception of the Arc de Triomphe, has nothing on the scale of
the Coliseum, or the Castle of San Angelo, or St. Peter's. These
monuments, which are the product of a collective effort, have



ceased to be on the scale of the individual. There's something
queer about the Paris buildings, whether it's those bull's-eye
windows, so badly proportioned, or those gables that obliterate
whole façades. If I compare the Pantheon in Rome with the
Pantheon in Paris, what a poor building—and what sculptures !
What I saw in Paris has disappeared from my memory : Rome
really seized hold of me.
When the Duce came to Berlin, we gave him a magnificent
reception. But our journey in Italy, that was something else!
The reception when we arrived, with all the ceremonial. The
visit to the Quirinal.
Naples, apart from the castle, might be anywhere in South
America. But there's always the courtyard of the royal palace.
What nobility of proportions !
My dearest wish would be to be able to wander about in Italy
as an unknown painter.

Night of the 22nd-23rd July 1941
British arrogance—The birth of German industry—Trade
competition with Britain—Steps towards a durable understanding between Germany and Britain—Dearth of
philosophic and artistic sense of the British.

The Englishman is superior to the German in one respect—
that of pride. Only the man who knows how to give orders has
Everywhere in the world, Germans are working without getting the wages they deserve. Their abilities are r