Konrad Heiden

April 5th, 2016 § 0 comments

When HG was 23, HG began living, on and off, with Jeanette L., a wordily woman some 20 years his senior. It was a very instructive and rewarding relationship. Jeanette lived in Paris for a number of years and was friends with esteemed sculptors Ossip Zadkine and Chana Orloff. Jeanette gifted HG (almost 63 years ago) with an exquisite drawing by Zadkine’s wife, Valentin Prax. It hangs in HG’s New Mexico office and HG stares at it for a moment as HG types this post. Jeanette was close friends with many great German journalists, artists and musicians who emigrated to the United States after the rise of Hitler. Jeanette, a libertine, had intimate relations with many of them. One afternoon, on New York’s West 72nd Street, Jeanette and HG were lunching at Eclair, a delightful restaurant and pastry shop favored by European refugees. Jeanette introduced HG to a distinguished German journalist/historian, Konrad Heiden (1901-1966). Heiden encountered Hitler very early in the Nazi’s career. In 1923, when Heiden was one of Germany’s most prominent journalists, he described Hitler as “a demagogue at the head of an army of the uprooted and disinherited.” Heiden was frighteningly prescient. In 1937, he predicted The Holocaust. Hitler and the Nazis, he said had a “cooly calculated plan for the mass murder of Jews”. The “mass murder,” he wrote,”would be on a scale the world has not seen. We can only venture guesses on what the technical means these executions are to take.” In the late 20’s, Heiden went to a Berlin dinner party given by a society hostess. Hitler, a guest, was silent at the party, confining himself to eating many pastries and cookies. Then, the hostess made a light remark about Jews. Hitler arose and delivered a 30-minute tirade, his voice rising to a scream. He then left. Heiden remarked: “His voice was the most penetrating and powerful I have ever heard.” Heiden wore a number of books about Hitler and the Nazis. “Der Fuhrer”, published in 1944, was a best seller in the United States. Heiden said Hitler was a “great propagandist.” Heiden wrote: ‘The great propagandist hears the murmur of the masses. His actions are contradictory and misleading. However, the lies of the great propagandist reveal deeper truths about the world’s cynicism and dishonesty. By his lies the great propagandist involuntarily shows himself to be a self revealing prophet of the Devil.” Heiden’s words seem very relevant in terms of today’s political scene.


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