The Fuhrer style: Historian says press coverage of Hitler’s lavish life fueled his rise to power

Historians in the News
tags: Hitler, Adolph Hitler



His home, his furniture, his pets and a tomato garden: The admiring press was eager to cover the casual lifestyle of Adolph Hitler shortly before World War II - and it was these “fluff” stories that helped propel him to power says Despina Stratigakos, an architectural historian at the University at Buffalo.

She has a new book titled “Hitler at Home,” to be published in late September that reveals all. News outlets from home magazines to the New York Times portrayed the Nazi leader as a “country gentleman” and cultured statesman with a mountain chalet - unaware that the image was propaganda created by an inner circle of experts for political ends. 

“They were able to engineer a complete transformation of Hitler’s public persona. They accomplished this by focusing on his private life - by showing him playing with his dogs and with children, and at home in architectural spaces designed to evoke a feeling of warmth,” says Ms. Stratigakos. “By the end of the 1930s, news stories around the world described him as a caring, gentle individual with great taste in home decor.”

The public of the time felt they knew the “true Hitler,” behind the Fuhrer.
“These news stories filled your head with positive images of Hitler. I was shocked at the extent of it and how late they appeared,” the historian says.

She cites a New York Times magazine article recounting day-to-day life at Hitler’s mountain chalet near the Austrian border, full of flattering descriptions handwoven rugs, traditional decor and “quiet cheerfulness.” The Fuhrer favored chocolate, his tomato garden and an afternoon nap, the story said. It was published Aug. 20, 1939 - 12 days before Germany invaded Poland, nine months after the violent anti-Jewish pogroms of Kristallnacht and six years after the first Nazi concentration camp opened at Dachau. ...




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