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LETTER FROM MUNICH

Ingrid Rein

IT WAS MUNICH’S NAME as an art town, a sort of Athens on the Isar, that drew the young Adolph Hitler there in 1913. Over twenty years later, in 1935, he drafted a vision of Munich as a modern “city of the Hellenes”—the “capital of German art,”and the future “capital of the [Nazi] movement.” Even earlier, in 1933, at the foundation-stone ceremony for Munich’s Haus der Deutschen Kunst (the house of German art, the first representative building of Nazi architecture), Hitler had proclaimed, in his peculiar staccato, “I want to make Munich a city so honoring Germany that none shall know Germany without having seen Munich.” Lifting this language from the 19th-century Bavarian king Ludwig I, the man primarily responsible for Munich’s cultural reputation, Hitler had also invoked the “great Ludovican heritage.” (Actually Ludwig’s heirs, the Wittelsbacher family, shunned Nazism, and they ultimately

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