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March 13, 1971 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1971-03-13

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Saturday, March 13; 1,971

THE MICHIGAN DAILY PaFive

E %A tTw i IYRr

Memories: A Grand Design for the Third Reich

Albert Speer, INSIDE THE
T H I R D REICH, Macmillan,
$12.50.
By ROBERT BERNARD
At the Nuremburg Trial Albert
Speer claimed, "If Hitler had
any friends I would certainly
have been one of his close
friends." The manner in which
Speer, an apolitical architect,
a man who emerges in these re-
miniscences as what I would
term. 'the quintessential decent
chap,' came to be Hitler's most
cherished companion and in the
last three years of the War the
second most powerful man in
Germany, provides profound in-
sight into the personality of Hit-
ler, and the nature of technocra-
tic society.
Albert Speer grew up in com-
fortable upper middle-class sur-
roundings in Mannheim, the son
of a successful architect. Speer
was educated at the Institutes, of
Technology in Karlsruhe, Mu-
nich, and Berlin. He seemed des-
tined for the pleasant, prosperous
obscurity of his father and grand-
father. Only the enormous chaos
unleashed by the World Depres-
sion of the 1930's could have
forced such men as Albert Speer
into the political arena. Dragged
by several of his architecture stu-
dents to a talk by Hitler, Speer
found himself mesmerized by
Hitler's persuasiveness. Several
weeks later in January 1931,
Speer became Member Number
474,481.
Through a number of archi-
tectural assignments carried out
for the Party, Speer came to
Hitler's attention. Perhaps it was
inevitable that Hitler would be
attracted to Speer. Himself a
frustrated architect, Hitler per-
ceived a primary goal of the re-
vived nation to be the represen-

tation of its triumphant manner
in the construction of mammoth
imperial edifices.
Sometinies the most important
insights into life are gained in-
directly. I had never realized,
before reading Speer's memoirs,
how essential it is to study the
architecture of a civilization in
order to understand its inner
spirit. The essence of the Third
Reich is revealed in the gro-
tesquely mammoth, rigid struc-
tures that Hitler envisioned and

high on which the names of the
German war dead, all 1,800,000
of them, would be chiselled.
The private spirit and dignity
of the individual so important in
the writings of a Schiller or a
Thomas Mann seem totally ne-
gated by these blueprints for im-
perial grandeur. The nation of
'poets and thinkers' would be
transformed into a nation of
'pomp and gesture.'
Speer realized in the course gf
drawing up these plans the total:

Speer designed. The photographs
that Speer includes in his book
of the models of the government
center designed for Berlin reveal
megalomania in action.
Hitler planned a magnificient
avenue three miles long and 160
yards wide (120 feet wider than
the Champs Elysee). For the
northern side he designed a great
domed structure into which St.
Peter's Cathedral in Rome could
have fitted several times over.
At the other end of the avenue
Hitler intended to build an Arch
of Triumph four hundred feet

Art in the Age of

An

havoc such construction would
wreak on the daily life of Ber-
lin. Unexpectedly, he assumed
the role of city planner, redesign-
ing and redirecting the trans-
portation and residential systems
of Berlin. The chaos implicit in
these plans did not concern Hit-
ler. He continually urged Speer
to ignore considerations of prac-
ticality and concentrate all at-
tention on the grand scheme. I
believe the implications of Hit-
ler's behaviour are significant ip
understanding the mentality of
the leadership of Nazism. At
some point even megalomaniacs
must come into contact with the
mundane complexities of the
day-to-day world. At such junc-
tures Hitler's characteristic re-
sponse would be to scoff at com-
promise. Speer observes this
trait again and again in Hitler
and the other Nazi leaders, cul-
ininating in Hitler's mad direc-
tive in the last stage of the war
to destroy all German industry
falling to the Allied Armies.
Such an order, if carried out,
would have returned Germany to
the Stone Age.
I suspect that no future ana-
lyst of Nazi Germany will be
able to avoid coming to terms
with Speer's memoirs. T h e
idiosyncracies, egotism, a n d
rivalries of the Nazi leadership
are extensively and intimately
delineated by Speer. The com-
bination of Speer's position

did not have enough steel avail-
able. Of course the concrete
locomotives would not last as
long as steel ones, he said; but
to make up for that we would
simply have to produce more of
them. Quite how that was to be
accomplished, he didn't know;
nevertheless, he clung f or
months to this weird idea for
the sake of which I had squan-
dered a two hour drive and two
hours of waiting time. And I
had come home on an empty
stomach, for visitors to Karin-
hall were seldom offered a meal.
This was the only concession
the Goering household made to
the needs of a total war econ-
omy."
The fundamental dilemma for
Speer, a dilemma he has a t -
tempted to resolve while in pri-
son, is how apolitical, decent
individuals like himself came to
involve themselves so integrally
in a system responsible for the
most horrendous crimes in his-
story. Speer attributes much of
the blame to the compartmen-
talization of responsibility in
Nazi Germany. Speer quotes a
passage from a British news-
paper which elucidates this
problem of the technocratic age.
What was really bothering
me on that day was that
Bormann [Chief Secretary of
the Nazi Party and a rival of
Speer] might show Hitler an
article from the British news-
paper The Observer (of April
9, 1944) in which I was de-
scribed as a foreign body in
the party-doctrinaire works. I
could easily imagine his doing
so, and even the caustic re-
marks he would make. In or-
der to anticipate Bormann, I
myself handed Hitler t h e
translation of this article,
commenting jokingly on it as
I did so. With considerable
fuss Hitler put on his glasses
and began to read:
"Speer is, in a sense, more
important for Germany today
than Hitler, Himmler, G o e r-
ing, Goebbels, or the generals.
They all have, in a way, be-
come the mere auxiliaries of
the man who actually directs
the giant power machine -
charged with drawing from it
the maximum effort under
maximum strain . . . In
him is the very epitome of the
managerial revolution.
Speer is not . one of the
flamboyant and picturesque
Nazis ... He rather symboliz-
es a type which is becoming
increasingly important in all
belligerent countries; the pure
technician, the classless bright
young man without back-
ground with no other original
aim than to make his way in
the world and no other means

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it

Solomon R. Guggenheim Mu-
seum (sponsor), ON THE FU-
TURE OF ART, Viking, $3.45,
paper.
By SID SCHNEIDER
Our day has been called an
"age of anxiety." Every individ-
ual is experiencing a rapid
change in his roles and desires,
*because the world around him is
changing so fast. Few individuals
face this crisis of roles more di-
rectly than the artist. As the
philosophies, technology and con-
ventions of s o c i e t y change
abruptly, what thecrole of the
artist will be in coming year s
becomes a matter of controversy.
In On the Future of Art, artists
and non-artists look at this crisis
of identity. The book opens with
Arnold Toynbee's essay, "Art:
Communicative or Esoteric?,"
Toynbee compares the artist of
the present day with that of the.
Graeco - Roman world. in the
third century A.D. the ancient
artists abandoned their naturalist
style and turned inward to the
human inner life; they became
introvert instead of extrovert. In
the modern world, the color pho-
tograph, television and other
agents of technology have taktn
over naturalist portrayal and the
artist turns to the abstract and
the world of psyche for his ma-
terial. The abstract expression-
ist movement andthe surrealist
painters bear out Toynbee's
j4 ideas.
Today's artists. notes Toynbee,
are in danger of falling into a
trap his ancient counterpai s fell
into: becoming so esoteric that
they lose touch with their "lay'
audience, and communicate only
with a small coterie. Today's ar-
*tists should beware that this is
not the future of art.
Another essay is by Annette
Michelson, a teacher at New
York University, who looks at
how the philosophy of art is
changing. Miss Michelson ex-
plores how the artist is in the
process of moving away from a
structural philosophy. This phi-
losophy, which is the outlooK of
anthropologist C l a u d e Levi-
Strauss and many linguists.
holds that beneath surface ran-
domness and disorder can be
found an orderly system of syni-
bols. For example, impression-
ism, in the eyes of Levi-Strauss

is a "reactionary revolution" b-
cause it "continues the tendency
... to possess the object through
illusion initiated in Greek sculp-
ture and the painting of the
Renaissance. The real problem
is to know if the object is sig-
nified or reconstituted in a kind
of possession-or at least this is
one's aim, since the object is
never really reconstituted." In
impressionism, the symbols are
still there. It is only recently that
symbols are disappearing. To-
day, in Miss Michelson's words,
"Our perception of the work of
art informs us 'of the nature of
consciousness itself." The trend

beggars, doctors, thieves and ar-
tists. Individual creativity, con-
trary to Skinner and Watson, is
not completely explainable in
terms of stimulus, response, and
response reinforcement. Creativ-
ity is a gift, tied to genetics at
least as much as to environmen-
tal stimuli. A human being is not
a machine that changes stimuli
into responses; he has a mind
from which comes the dimension
of creativity. Skinner's objection
that we cannot explain how the
mind is creative doesn't change
the fact that it can be ^reative.
James Seawright's essay fol-
lows. Seawright is a New York

J.W. Burnham, in another es-
say, looks at the computer's ef-
fect on art. A McLuhanite, Burn-
ham suggests that man today,
more than ever before is per-
ceiving himself as an integral
part of his environment. Bringing
the computer into art will fur-
ther make fuzzy the Aistinction
between inside and outside, be-
tween art and the everyday
world. The works of John Cage,
Douglas Huebler and the entire
"conceptual art" movement,
which holds that doing anything
at all with the intent of produc-
ing art constitutes art, give evi-
dence for Burnham's ideas. The
author ends his essay with some
speculation of what artificial in-
telligence has in store, including
the radical reorientation of social
values and aesthetic norms.
The final essay is by Herbe"t
Marcuse, who sees art today as
a mirror of the established cul-
ture and, in fact, helping to sus-
tain that culture. However,, he
sees hope because art is getting
away from symbols and is brid-
ing the gap with reality, as sever-
al other writers in this book also
notice. Art is becoming less and
less a repression of the imme-
diacy of reality and more and
more a form of reality and as
such a political force against the
bourgeois culture.
In sum, this book shows us the
dilemmas the artist faces today.
Like the engineer who is waking
up to his moral resnonsibilties,
like the psychotherapist who
must decide whether processing
individuals from "maladjusted"
to "normal" is the best way, the
artist is undergoing an identity
crisis. The role of the artist is in
a whirlpool and how it emerges
in the next decade will have pro-
found effects on the future of art.

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books.books

away from structuralism will be
a pacesetter for the future.
B.F. Skinner's contribution de-
scribes how the principles of be-
haviorist psychology can be used
to encourage art in the future.
Skinner claims that society must
endeavor to make art rewarding,
that is, associate a positive rein-
forcement with it. By teaching
children that painting has a re-
inforcing value, we can make
creative people, claims Skinner.
The first Behaviorist, Dr. Wat-
son, claimed that if he were giv-
en complete control of any child's
environment, he could make that
child anything he liked-beggar,
lawyer, doctor, thief, artist, ctc.
Watson is probably right, but
he'd probably end up with lousy

sculptor whose works ircorpor-
ate many electronic gadgets. The
finished product may be a de-
vice that reacts to the move-
ments of the viewer with lights
and sounds, or a strange looking
object that roams around the
floor. Seawright sees art as
quickly becoming wed tortech-
nology.' This makes sense, for
ours is an age of technology and
art is likely to reflect the trends
of our time. The wonderful Ex-
periments in Art and Technology
(EAT) showings in New Ytrk
City several years ago show that
the merging of art and science
can produce some very aesthetic-
ally and intellectually int-eresting
pieces and is a very promising
movement for the future.

,Minister of Armaments and
Production) and his bland,
quiet, retiring personality allow-
ed him to be physically close to
the Nazi leadership, but at the
same time to view them from a
psychological distance.
I had originally planned to
include a number of anecdotes
from these memoirs in t h i s
review, but I think just one will
suffice to indicate the b o o k 's
flavor.
"When Goering heard that we
intended to increase production
of locomotives many times over,
he summoned me to Karinhall.
He had a suggestion to offer,
which was that we build loco-
motives of concrete, since we

than his technical and man-
agerial ability. It is the lack
of psychological and spiritual
ballast and the ease with
which he handles the terrify-
ing technical and organiza-
tional machinery of our age,
which makes this slight type
go extremely far nowadays...
This is their age, the Hitlers
and Himmlers we may get rid
of, but the Speers, whatever
happens to this particular
special man, will long be with
us."
Hitler read the commentary
straight through, folded the
sheet, and handed it back to
me without a word but with
great respect.

l11

PRE-EUROPEAN TOUR CONCERT

Today's writers ...
Robert Bernard is a senior
majoring in history.
Sid Schneider, also a senior,
dis co-founder of the New York
Dadaist - Anarchist Coalition.

N
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ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS
Yearbook Photo Meeting
7:-00 p.m. Wednesday
March I17
Please bring examples
and/ or portfolios

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THE FRIARS
Making your day a little happier
The Michigan Men's Glee Club
presents
OH HAPPY DAY!

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