Bored with my own pickings this week, I drove up to my corner library and found myself looking at the section about books. My eye, which seems drawn to details of the Third Reich, found themselves looking at a book about Hitler’s library by Timothy W. Ryback.
The earliest books in Hitler’s collection were acquired while he was still in the service during WWI. “Berlin” is a book about the architectural history of Berlin by the art historian Max Osborn. Osborn bemoans the fact that much of the architecture of Berlin is drawn from elsewhere, and little is actually Germanic in nature. Change was needed, he said. Hitler agreed. Hitler also agreed with several other authors who espoused riding Germany of the Jewish influence.
Ryback gives us a good overview of the remaining library. He commented that books were always favored gifts to Hitler. Many of the volumes in the remaining collection were gifts never looked at by Hitler. At the end of the war, Hitler had books in three different places. His volumes in his mountain home bunker survived but were looted. His Bunker in Berlin was burned then looted. Only the section of his library that was shipped into storage survived not even two thousand volumes.
By 1945, much of Hitler’s personal library, from the worn volumes acquired during the war to the boxed sets and folios, was boxed up and sent to underground caves for safety. Liberated by the US forces, it was eventually sent to the Library of Congress. Much of it today has not been catalogued, writes author Ryback. Other volumes from Hitler’s library turn up as individual volumes in scattered libraries across America.
Yes, as many philosophers say, one can judge a person by their library. Despite the philosophies and histories, plays and music on Hitler’s shelves, there were also many volumes arguing for the final solution. Ryback writes a fascinating history of not only Hitler’s library but of the times and thought that produced these volumes. I found this book an excellent addition to my research on the Nazi’s Third Reich rise and fall.