XXV111 INTRODUCTION intoxicate or enslave his peoples, and aspired to the dominion of Eurasia and the world? In his hatred of "Jewish Bolshevism", his contempt for the Slavonic sub-man, Hitler never lost his admiration for that other barbarian of genius, "the crafty Caucasian", whom he saw as his only worthy enemy "a tremendous personality", "a beast, but a beast on the grand scale", "half beast, half giant"—nor indeed for the communist credo and method, an ideology as powerful as his own. He preferred communists to aristocrats, Spanish Reds to the worthless Franco, that renegade creature of dukes and priests whom, in the end, out of utter contempt, he refused even to mention. 1 For this war, the war which Hitler was planning, the war between Germany and Russia, between Hitler and Stalin, between ideology and ideology, was to be no mere dynastic or economic war, it was to be a war of life and death, empire or annihilation, deciding the fate of centuries; a war not against the past—that was already dead—but between two Titans disputing its inheritance. For the dead world, and for the neuters who contracted out of the World's Debate, Hitler had only contempt; for the other Titan, as for an equal, he had some respect. But this did not mean that he would give him any quarter. In the battle for empire quarter would be neither sought nor given. In the hour of his imagined triumph Hitler declared that Russia was to be utterly destroyed, Moscow and Leningrad to be levelled with the ground, and their names and record to be for ever blotted out of geography and history alike; 2 in the hour of his ultimate failure he was prepared himself to destroy Germany: "If the war is to be lost, the nation also will perish. There is no need to consider the basis even of the most primitive existence. On the contrary, it is better to destroy it, and to destroy it ourselves. The future belongs solely to the stronger Eastern nation." 3 Such was the crucial struggle, a struggle for the history of centuries, in which Hitler saw himself as the incarnation of historical change. He had seen this problem—seen it at least since 1919; he had created the form in which it now faced the 1 Zoller, p. 162. 2 Zoller, p. 143 ; cf. below pp. 5, 617, 621-2. 3 This statement was made to Speer in March 1945 (see The Last Days of Hitler, p. 92).
THE MIND OF ADOLF HITLER XXIX world, demanding solution; by his heroic efforts he had made a German solution of it possible; and he naturally believed that only he could carry through "that Cyclopean task which the building of an Empire means for a single man". That meant that it must be carried through quickly, while Germany had the advantage, before Russia was ready, and, above all, while he himself was alive. "No one knows how long I shall live. Therefore", he had said in 1937, "let us have war now." 1 It was his "irrevocable decision", he declared, "to solve the problem of German living-space" before 1945 at the latest. In 1941 he duly launched his armies to the East, and the Russian armies rolled back before that terrible impact. What wonder if, at such a moment, Hitler saw all his prophecies fulfilled, the German millennium in sight, and himself so clearly established by history as the demiurge of centuries that he could write to his revered ally and exemplar, Benito Mussolini, as Titan to Titan in the birth-pangs of an age: "What I am for Germany, Duce, you are for Italy; but what we shall both be for Europe, only posterity will one day be able to judge" ? 2 He had been just in time—"another ten or fifteen years and Russia would have been the mightiest state in the world and two or three centuries would have to pass before any new change"; but now he had carried it off: it was the German, not the Russian millennium that had come. How trivial an adventurer Napoleon now seemed to him in comparison with himself! Napoleon had surrendered to tradition, had made himself Emperor and his relatives kings, had proved himself "only a man, not a world-phenomenon". Hitler would never do that : he would never forget that he was "the practical politician and the political philosopher in one", not just Spengler or Napoleon, but Spengler and Napoleon, a "world-phenomenon"; and for a world-phenomenon suddenly "to drive through the streets of Munich as Emperor in a gilded coach" would be merely ridiculous. Compared with this great problem—the conquest of the East and the establishment thereby of a millennial German Empire with a new racial religion to confirm its rule for ever—all other 1 Trial of the Major War Criminals, Proceedings of I.M.T. Nuremberg, 1946, I., 160, 172-3, and cf. below p. 661. * Hitler e Mussolini, Lettere e Documenti (Milan, 1946), p. 140.