Book Review: Hitler’s Temptation by Michael Walker

IT’S been quite a while since I actually read a book in one sitting, from cover to cover, but this brilliant play in eleven scenes is a real page-turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So there I was, burning the midnight oil like a committed seditionist and preparing to immerse myself in the literary efforts of an author who had first inspired me as a teenager in the mid-1980s. Michael Walker initially joined the National Front (NF) in the early-1980s and became an Organiser for the Central London branch, before moving to Germany and pouring enormous amounts of his own time, energy and resources into the intellectually ground-breaking magazine, The Scorpion. The journal dealt partly with the progress of the European New Right and its pages included articles and interviews relating to many of the writers involved with this unique current of thought, among them Alain de Benoist, Robert Steuckers, Pierre Krebs and Walker himself. But Michael’s journal also examined the ideas of Revolutionary Conservatives like Ernst Junger, Oswald Spengler, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Ernst von Salomon, Carl Schmitt, Ernst Niekisch and both Otto and Gregor Strasser. In fact the latter even appears as a character in the play, along with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Maximilian Amann (Party Treasurer), Geli Raubal (Hitler‘s niece), Emil Maurice (Hitler‘s chauffeur), William Stocker (an SA guard) and Benjamin/“Dr. Wagner” (a Jewish art student).

The play is set between November 1929 and September 1931, in the years immediately prior to Hitler’s eventual rise to power in 1933. As someone who had first read about the Strasser brothers and their revolutionary economic ideas in the pages of The Scorpion all those years ago, I was pleased to see that the author had chosen such a crucial and formative period on which to base his work. Indeed, I’ve written about and discussed Strasserite concepts many times myself, making reference to the cataclysmic encounter between Hitler and Otto Strasser in a hotel room in 1930. Strasser accused Hitler of being a capitalist sympathiser and blatantly selling out the National-Socialist revolution by ignoring many of the key facets of Gottfried Feder’s Twenty-Five Points of the NSDAP (1920), whilst Hitler, in turn, denounced Strasser for his uncompromising socialist principles. Otto left the Party soon afterwards and formed the Black Front, eventually being forced to flee for his life and pursued across Europe by the SS, temporarily stopping off on the island of Bermuda – where he met and came to despise the liberal utopianism of H.G. Wells – before eventually settling in Canada until the mid-1950s when he was finally able to return to his beloved German homeland.

Gregor Strasser, meanwhile, shared his brother’s socialist leanings but remained loyal to Hitler right to the very end. After 1932 his role in the NSDAP was significantly diminished and he was eventually murdered during the infamous ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in June 1934. I found it quite intriguing, therefore, to see which angle Walker’s play was coming from and already knew that he was no Hitler sympathiser.

The play deals with the torrid relationship between Hitler and his niece, Geli Raubal, an affair that Otto Strasser, Hermann Rauschning and several others regarded as sexually perverse. Hitler, according to these accounts, was in the habit of examining Raubal’s vagina in immense detail, asking her to urinate on him and then depriving great satisfaction from it. These rumours, however, have never been fully substantiated and – regardless of what one happens to make of Adolf Hitler and his controversial policies – Walker has decided to leave them out of the play altogether. Instead, we are treated to a fascinating insight into the kind of dialogue that would have taken place between Hitler and Raubal prior to her suicide in September 1931, an event that took place in rather suspicious circumstances and which almost forced Hitler to resign at the most crucial moment of his political career.

Despite the fact that Walker’s articles for The Scorpion have always been intellectually stimulating, they can often be quite dry and academic. Hitler’s Temptation, on the other hand, is written in a beautifully flowing style and one of the great attributes of the book is Walker’s ability to remain completely detached when it comes to presenting the ideological arguments that permeate its pages. Walker, who is an extremely opinionated soul, very cleverly assumes the role of Devil’s Advocate and his fierce attack on World Jewry – in the guise of committed Nazi fanatic, Emil Maurice – is met with an equally fierce tirade against Aryanism and anti-Semitism which is delivered through the character of Benjamin, an unassailable Jew who has an intense dislike of Hitler’s ideas. In fact, if truth be told, neither of these diametrically opposed characters emerges totally unscathed and the author skilfully and honestly exposes the flaws in both their arguments.

But the main impetus of the book concerns the doomed relationship of its two main protagonists: Hitler, who has just won 107 seats in the Reichstag but who must then keep his nerve until the final victory can be accomplished, is drawn into conflict again and again with Geli Raubal, a frivolous and childish young woman with no serious interest whatsoever in her uncle’s political machinations. Hitler is the charismatic strong man with little or no time to embark on mundane shopping excursions or to visit the theatre, whilst Raubal is a promiscuous flirt who gets through men like elephants get through currant buns. Hitler, meanwhile, who is gradually finding himself drawn towards a certain Eva Braun, is constantly perplexed and frustrated at the tragic influence he seems to have on women.

I don’t intend to reveal any more of the plot, because it would simply spoil it for the reader and Walker has put a great deal of effort into this work. The conversational style is first class and reveals the author’s enormous talent, the political and sexual intrigue is compelling and it is as much a book for women as it is for men. In a perfect world, however, this play would be sitting alongside the works of Wilde and Shaw, and certainly eclipses the work produced by many of the country’s modern playwrights. Finally, please make a determined effort to track down a copy of this highly ambitious and skilfully rendered play for yourself, because I guarantee that it will be one of the best things you’ve read in quite a while.

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