It’s well known that Adolf Hitler dabbled in watercolor and that the Führer and his Nazi underlings amassed vast stashes of ill-begotten works of art, but according to art historian Birgit Schwarz, Hitler’s artistic streak ran deeper into the dark zones of his psyche than most people realize. —KA
SPIEGEL: Doesn’t the perception of Hitler as an artist make him seem less evil?
Schwarz: No. In fact, his love of art led directly into the heart of evil. But neither is it the root of everything else. His fanatical pursuit of his own cause, and his self-image as a genius, contributed to his powers of persuasion and, therefore, his success. Art was part of his life until his last hours, even playing a role in his private will, in which he mentions his collections. This was someone who issued the so-called Nero Decree (Ed’s note: Hitler’s Nero Decree, issued in March 1945, ordered the destruction of any infrastructure which could be of use to the Allies.) while at the same time making sure art treasures were rescued. But no one is willing to admit to his obsession with art.