Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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.OWIN / STKINKRS'S HK1.1COF1KRS
51
he Jew, especially his chosenness? Would tha t Hitler, the Hitler
o r whose philosophy destruction was the powerful cornerstone,
ave
condemned
Stalin for killing 30 million? Whatever the ir
ifferences, H itler would have congratulated Stalin for tha t feat.
Would that Hitler have taken credit for the establishment o f
he State o f Israel? On the contrary, the very existence o f the State
f Israel would have been considered by the Hitler o f 1945 the
ost consternating sign o f his u tte r defeat. As John Toland , in his
assive biography o f Hitler pu t it: “T he greatest irony o f all was
ha t the driving force o f his life — his ha tred and fear o f Jews —
as thwarted. He had in tended the elimination o f six million Jews
o be his greatest gift to the world. It would lead, instead, to the
ormation o f the Jewish state.”8The creation o f the State o f Israel
f te r all his efforts would have been H itler’s private hell.
IRECT BORROWING
So where did the A.H. o f the fiction get all his ideas from? What
as Adolf Hitler been doing du ring the thirty-five years that sepa­
ate his real death in the bunker in 1945 from his reb irth in
teiner’s fiction? He has been reading George Steiner. It is from
he Steiner o f
In Bluebeard's Castle
9 tha t Hitler learned that Moshe
8 Toland, p. 891.
9 See especially, George Steiner, “A Season in Hell," in his ///
Bluebeard's Castle
,
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971, pp. 27-56. The coincidence of
Hitler’s words with Steiner’s writings has been commented upon by others,
notably Hyam Maccoby,
Encounter,
58,5(May 1982):27-34, Steven Whitfield,
Moment Magazine,
(December, 1982):45-47, and Alvin H. Rosenfeld, op. cit.,
p. 172. I quote at length from Rosenfield’s piece: “What one does hear,
surprisingly, is a language that is recognizably Steiner’s own, taken as it is from
key sections o f
In Bluebeard's Castle
and some o f the author’s other expository
writings. The ideas set forth by the Hitler o f
The Portage
— ideas that link Nazi
doctrines o f covenantal election, racial purity, historic destiny, and the like
with biblical sources — have been presented by Steiner before in some of his
noil-fictional work. Now there is nothing wrong with returning to such work
and mining it for a later novel, but to carry over not only the thinking but the
distinctive idiom o f one’s earlier writing and ascribe it to Hitler is something
else again, and something strongly unsettling. . . In addition, the seeds for
Hitler’s diatribe against the God o f the Book o f Job can be found in an article
by Steiner
inThe Listener
o f October 18, 1979, pp. 508-511. Finally, in an inter­
view conducted by Bill Moyers for WNET-TV on May 22, 1981, Steiner’sJew­
ish erudition (about God being a God of vengeance unto the thirtieth genera­
tion) is as approximate as A.H.’s. (For the last two references I am indebted to
Sonja Stollman.)