13th October 1941, night
A war commander must have imagination and foresight. So it’s not extraordinary that our people is at once a people of soldiers and of artists.
21st-22nd October 1941, night
SPECIAL GUEST: REICHSFUEHRER SS HIMMLER
The need for decorum—The face of new Berlin—Monuments that will last a thousand years.
We need an impressive décor, and we ought to create one. More and more we should give our festive occasions a style that will remain in the memory. In England, the traditional forms, which from a distance seem baroque, have retained their full youth. They remain vital because they represent customs that have been observed for a long time and without the slightest interruption.
I regard it as a necessity that our ceremonial should be developed during my lifetime. Otherwise one of my successors, if he has simple tastes, could quote me as his authority. Don’t speak to me of Prussian simplicity! We must remember how Frederick the Great took care of his State’s finances.
Berlin has the monuments of the days of Frederick the Great. Once upon a time it was the sand-pit of the Empire. Nowadays, Berlin is the capital of the Reich. Berlin’s misfortune is that it’s a city of very mixed population; which doesn’t make it ideal for the development of culture. In that respect, our last great monarch was Frederick-William IV. William I had no taste. Bismarck was blind in matters of art. William II had taste, but of the worst description.
What is ugly in Berlin, we shall suppress. Nothing will be too good for the beautification of Berlin. When one enters the Reich Chancellery, one should have the feeling that one is visiting the master of the world. One will arrive there along wide avenues containing the Triumphal Arch, the Pantheon of the Army, the Square of the People—things to take your breath away! It’s only thus that we shall succeed in eclipsing our only rival in the world, Rome. Let it be built on such a scale that St. Peter’s and its Square will seem like toys in comparison!
For material, we’ll use granite. The vestiges of the German past, which are found on the plains to the North, are scarcely time-worn. Granite will ensure that our monuments last for ever. In ten thousand years they’ll be still standing, just as they are, unless meanwhile the sea has again covered our plains.
If I try to gauge my work, I must consider, first of all, that I’ve contributed, in a world that had forgotten the notion, to the triumph of the idea of the primacy of race. Secondly, I’ve given German supremacy a solid cultural foundation. In fact, the power we to-day enjoy cannot be justified, in my eyes, except by the establishment and expansion of a mighty culture.
Berlin will one day be the capital of the world.
Night of 24th-25th January 1942
Origin of Tristan and Isolda—Cosima Wagner—Wahnfried—The Makart style—Bayreuth—On the Nuremberg Congress.
Whatever one says, Tristan is Wagner’s masterpiece, and we owe Tristan to the love Mathilde Wesendonck inspired in him. She was a gentle, loving woman, but far from having the qualities of Cosima. Nobody like Wagner has had the luck to be entirely understood by a woman. Those are things that life does not owe a man, but it’s magnificent when it happens.
Neither Mozart nor Beethoven, neither Schiller nor Goethe, have had a share of such happiness. In addition to all Wagner’s gifts, Cosima was femininity personified, and her charm had its effect on all who visited Wahnfried. After Wagner’s death, the atmosphere at Wahnfried remained what it had been during his lifetime. Cosima was inconsolable, and never ceased to wear mourning. She had wanted her own ashes to be scattered over her husband’s tomb, but she was refused this satisfaction.
Nevertheless, her ashes were collected in an urn, and this urn was placed on the tomb. Thus death has not separated these two beings, whom destiny had wished to live side by side! Wagner’s lifetime was also that of a man like Meyerbeer! Wagner is responsible for the fact that the art of opera is what it is to-day. The great singers who’ve left names behind became celebrated as interpreters of Wagner. Moreover, it’s since him that there have been great orchestra-leaders. Wagner was typically a prince. His house, Wahnfried, for example! It’s been said that the interior, in Makart style, was over-loaded.
But should a house be mistaken for a gallery of works of art? Isn’t it, above all, a dwelling, the framework for a private life, with its extensions and its radiance? If I possess a gallery of ancestors, should I discard it on the pretext that not all the pictures in it are masterpieces?
At the beginning of this century there were people called Wagnerians. Other people had no special name. What joy each of Wagner’s works has given me! And I remember my emotion the first time I entered Wahnfried. To say I was moved is an understatement! At my worst moments, they’ve never ceased to sustain me, even Siegfried Wagner. (Houston Stewart Chamberlain wrote to me so nicely when I was in prison.) I was on Christian-name terms with them. I love them all, and I also love Wahnfried.
So I felt it to be a special happiness to have been able to keep Bayreuth going at the moment of its discomfiture. The war gave me the opportunity to fulfil a desire dear to Wagner’s heart: that men chosen amongst the people—workers and soldiers—should be able to attend his Festival free of charge. The ten days of the Bayreuth season were always one of the blessed seasons of my existence.
And I already rejoice at the idea that one day I shall be able to resume the pilgrimage! The tradition of the Olympic Games endured for nearly a thousand years. That results, it seems to me, from a mystery similar to that which lies at the origin of Bayreuth. The human being feels the need to relax, to get out of himself, to take communion in an idea that transcends him. The Party Congress answers the same need, and that’s why for hundreds of years men will come from the whole world over to steep themselves anew, once a year, in the marvellous atmosphere of Nuremberg. They’ll come, and they’ll see side by side the proofs we shall have left of our greatness, and at the same time the memories of old Nuremberg.
On the day following the end of the Bayreuth Festival, and on the Tuesday that marks the end of the Nuremberg Congress, I’m gripped by a great sadness—as when one strips the Christmas tree of its ornaments.
Night of 25th-26th January 1942
On marriage—Some beautiful women.
It’s lucky I’m not married. For me, marriage would have been a disaster.
It’s only after maternity that the woman discovers that other realities exist in life for her. The man, on the other hand, is a slave to his thoughts. The idea of his duties rules him. He necessarily has moments when he wants to throw the whole thing overboard, wife and children too. When I think of it, I realise that during the year 1932, if I’d been married, I’d scarcely have spent a few days in my own home.
The bad side of marriage is that it creates rights. In that case, it’s far better to have a mistress. The burden is lightened, and everything is placed on the level of a gift.
The Fuehrer noticed two guests who looked somewhat crestfallen, J.W. and Chr. Sehr. He turned towards Sehr, and explained: What I’ve said applies only to men of a higher type, of course!
Relieved, Sehr, exclaimed: “That’s just what I was thinking, my Fuehrer.”
At Brunswick, a young girl rushed towards my car to offer me a bouquet. She was blonde, dashing, wonderful. Everyone around me was amazed, but not one of these idiots had the idea of asking the girl for her address, so that I could send her a word of thanks. I’ve always reproached myself most bitterly.
27th January 1942, midday
The faith of the German people.
On the day when the English set free their nine thousand Fascists, these men will tear the guts out of the plutocrats, and the problem will be solved. In my view, when there are nine thousand men in a country who are capable of facing prison from loyalty to an idea, this idea remains a living one. And as long as a man is left to carry the flag, nothing is lost. Faith moves mountains.
In that respect, I see things with the coldest objectivity. If the German people lost its faith, if the German people were no longer inclined to give itself body and soul in order to survive—then the German people would have nothing to do but disappear!
17th February 1942, evening
The birthplaces of great men.
It’s my view that, simply for the sake of their beauty, the great noblemen’s estates should be preserved. But they must retain their size, otherwise only the State would be capable of maintaining them as private country-houses. And the ideal thing is that they should remain not only in private hands, but also in the family that has traditionally lived in them—else they lose their character. Thus these great monuments of the past, which have retained their character as living organisms, are also centres of culture. But when the country-house is occupied by a caretaker acting as a guide, a little State official with a Bavarian or Saxon accent, who ingenuously recites his unvarying piece of claptrap, things no longer have a soul—the soul is gone.
Wahnfried, as in Wagner’s lifetime, is a lived-in house. It still has all its brilliance, and continues to give the effect of a lover. Goethe’s house gives the impression of a dead thing.
And how one understands that in the room where he died he should have asked for light—always more light! Schiller’s house can still move one by the picture it gives of the penury in which the poet lived.
24th February 1942, midday
How great artists can serve their country.
I’ve learnt that young Roller has just fallen at the front. If I’d known that he’d gone out! But nobody told me. There are hundreds of thousands of men who could serve their country in no better way than by risking their lives for her, but a great artist should find another way. Can fate allow it that the most idiotic Russian should strike down men like that? We have so many men seconded for special duties!
What harm could it do to add to their number the five or six hundred gifted men whom it would be important to save? Roller is irreplaceable. We had only Sievert, Arent and Praetorius—Austria had given us the young Roller. Why didn’t Schirach warn me? I saw his Friedenstag. What a lovely thing! The young Roller was a brave man. Before the Anschluss he would have had to leave Austria. I’m convinced he went out as a volunteer.
I could have sent him anywhere at all, for personal reasons, if he hadn’t insisted on staying in Vienna.