Hitler’s Furniture

Tipped off by Adam Tooze’s review in the Wall Street Journal, which I highly recommend, I ordered Martin Kitchen’s new biography of Albert Speer. A few nuggets so far.

On Hitler, Speer, and furniture:

The style of furniture that was extolled in the professional journals of the day as ‘furniture for the German people’ that reflected ‘the honesty, solidity and directness of a natural lifestyle’ was not to be found in the new chancellery [designed by Speer to Hitler’s specifications]. Aping the style of bygone ages, particularly if foreign and essentially aristocratic, was roundly condemned. Such gaudy luxury and ostentatious grandeur had no place in the new Germany….Speer’s approach was radically different. His was the exact reverse of the Werkbund’s. He had no taste for furniture that was designed somehow to reflect German’s racial characteristics….

Ideologically sound National Socialist furniture makers, true to the ‘Blood and Soil’ ideology, insisted that Germans should have furniture made of German woods such as pine, beech or elm. For special occasions walnut, ash or larch might be considered. Hitler and Speer wanted nothing to do with such nonsense. Only mahogany, ebony, rosewood and other tropical woods, for which scarce foreign exchange was needed, were good enough for them. This at a time when the average German had increasingly to make do with plywood, laminates and hardboard as the Four-Year Plan extended its control over civilian production….Even in furniture there was a marked contrast between that of the leadership and the masses that revealed the true nature of National Socialism and exposed the concept of the ‘racial community’ as an empty sham.

On art in the chancellery:

No one seemed to have the noticed the irony of Tintoretto’s painting of the discovery of Moses among the bulrushes hanging in the cabinet room.


And the AC in the Chancellery seldom worked.


  1. mindweaponsinragnaro (@mindweapon) December 30, 2015 at 8:35 pm | #

    C’mon, man, what about all the good things Hitler did?

  2. lazycat1984 December 31, 2015 at 12:25 am | #

    Hitler was, if anything, consistently inconsistent.

  3. freegirard December 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm | #

    Like Donald Trump, Hitler and Speer had a perverse taste for massiveness and ostentation in their architectural ideas. I saw a picture of Trump’s dining room in Florida; it would have made Louis XIV blush with its gilding and ostentation. Hitler and Speer had a similar problem.

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