Manana Kvataia # 5
When the Truth is Read between the Lines
Grigol Robakidze’s scandalous novel “Adolf Hitler in the Eyes of an Unknown Poet”, as the author indicates was written in 1938 and first published in Germany in 1939. In the period of Soviet Georgia this novel was forbidden and only some years ago it was translated into Georgian language and published but scientific assessment has not been done yet. However, even today it is often perceived negatively.
The present paper does not aim to present “Adolf Hitler” in a positive or negative aspect. The object of our interest is spiritual portrait of Adolf Hitler, one of the 20th century's most powerful dictators, created by G.Robakidze which, in our view, is important nowadays too. (The complex and contradictory phenomenon of a Nazi’s leader is still being researched today). Robakidze’s interest toward this personality was not accidental. Being the writer of a strong vision with creative interests, naturally, he could not pass over the most influential and powerful of his contemporaries Fuhrer’s phenomenon in silence which does not mean Pobakidze’s “Hitlerism” at all. Both the writer’s contemporaries and researchers unanimously stated that G.Robakidze, who was a Germany’s resident that time, never met Hitler personally, and never attended numerous meetings and gatherings where Fuehrer spoke. (Bakradze 2004: 177).
Along with temporary success, the novel “Adolf Hitler” brought to Grigol Robakidze numerous concerns too. Many thousands copies of the novel were issued in fascist Germany and spread. However, a close analysis of the text evidences that the writer is not a panegyric of fascism or Hitler (one can’t find even panegyric epithets highlighting the main hero). The writer expresses his attitude through metaphor, mythology or philosophical meditations. Robakidze’s goal is to scrutinize closely an undoubtedly popular charismatic personality of his time and reveal his inner mystic character. Furthermore, proceeding from the essence of hero’s personality if there is a desire and possibility, an attentive reader can read between the lines about those “concerns” which consciously or unconsciously are implied by the author in a hidden form (Later Robakidze also indicates these “concerns” in his Explanation).
Psychological artistic portraits of prominent contemporary or known historical leaders were created by G.Robakidze already in Georgia. When he immigrated to Germany, his creative skills were known to his immediate surrounding and thus we cannot state with confidence, although not exclude, that the novel “Adolf Hitler” as well as published later “Mussolini” (1938-1939) were written by request from the interested circles in Germany. This version is also expressed in Nodar Kakabadze’s letter. In his work “Grigol Robakidze’s Portrait in Germany” an extract from Nicolaus Zombardt’s memoirs is brought up. (Having found his shelter in Germany, Robakidze often visited literary salon of N.Zombardt’s parents and the author of the book was personally acquainted with him since childhood): “Grigol’s book had unexpected but for us undesirable success. He was ordered to write similar book about Mussolini and he fulfilled this order.” (Kakabadze 1992: 227). Further N.Zombardt mentioned that “Grigol Robakidze regarded Hitler as a hypothetical liberator of Georgia from the Russian Bolshevik communists..” (Bakradze 2004:168).
The date of writing the “Adolf Hitler”: 1938 is of special interest. The familiarization with documentary material evidences that at that time the Nazi’s leader attracted increasingly large audiences with such unexpected, terrific rise to power, personal talent, strong character and uncompromisingness. An American journal Times (2 January, 1939) even named the German fuehrer “a man of the year” in 1938, whose deeds already in the following 1939 year made the humanity memorize him for a long time (Rozanov 1991: 21). It seemed that the world society had failed to explain the enigma of Hitler’s personality. In our view, while writing the novel “Adolf Hitler”, Grigol Robakidze must have been influenced by general panegyric wave of that time. In addition to this, a little bit earlier, the writer who was totally opposed to his compatriot Joseph Stalin, created a remarkable portrait of a Soviet dictator in his essays “Broken Soul” and “Demon and Myth” published in Germany. It is interesting to note that for Robakidze “Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini were mythological personages rather than 20th century’s real human beings” (Bakradze 2004: 178).
The analysis of G.Robakidze’s “Adolf Hitler” is connected with a lot of problems. We cannot say that from artistic viewpoint it is distinguished. The novel is written in a typical essayistic manner and the peculiarities of this genre should be taken into account during its study and perception. “Through introspection generally to cognition of a man – this is the basic principle of an essayistic work” (Khelaia 1986: 352). The genre of essay must have given to G.Robakidze the full range of creative freedom to scrutinize and comprehend Hitler’s personality and the subjectivism of perception is implied in the title of the novel. Certain, such boldness at that time and that situation meant playing with fire.
In 1944, 20th October G.Robakidze wrote a long letter to Reich’s fuehrer and Reich’s minister Heinrich Himmler in which there is a remark to Adolf Hitler: it is “not a remarkable biographical portrait but an image of the essence seen in the Nord-German space“ (Bakradze 2004: 159). In our opinion, the author’s words are of conceptual significance for comprehension of the novel. Today this scandalous text as it had been once must be considered Robakidze’s earliest interpretation of such a complicated phenomenon marked with Hitler’s irrational mysticism.
The question arises as to what was Adolf Hitler at the peak of power from the viewpoint of Georgian writer G.Robakidze emigrated to Germany. Who was he: whether he was chosen by God or an evil genius brought for as a punishment, a hero or an adventurer playing blindly with mankind fate? Robakidze’s answer to these global questions is given to an intellectual reader in the novel although due to the known reasons it can be read between lines. At the 70th jubilee devoted to G.Robakidze, a well known emigrant, Mikheil Tsereteli told to the writer that his books are written neither for mass reader nor for average but for “aristos” reader with soul and heart. Such “aristo” reader being familiar with the world and European thinking managed to comprehend allegoric subtexts of the novel “Adolf Hitler”.
The author of essayistic text often strives for perception of inconceivable, mystic. The same is in our case: The main vector of narration of G.Robakidze’s “Adolf Hitler” is directed just to the solution of many unknown phenomena of the main hero: he studies his inconceivable essence, analyses the deepest layers of the hero’s soul, sorts out his typical essential details. Robakidze’s interpretation of Hitler’s enigma is often allegorical and original. This is evidenced from the detailed familiarization with the subtitles of “Adolf Hitler”. (While analyzing the text, we refer to the following publication: Robakidze 1939: 7-51).
According to the essay G.Robakidze’s first impression on German Fuhrer bearing the imprint of Amor fati is taken from numerous photographs available for him or news films in which Hitler was shown totally different. “It seems his inner look escapes the objective: understandable mark of a distant display”, - remarks the writer and tries to explain Furhehr’s abstract silence: “Maybe his image expresses constant intense radiation of inner spiritual forces that even a rudely camera is powerless to catch separate isolated moment for transmission”. Enigma does not reveal itself but it worth perception”, indicates G.Robakidze at the end.
G.Robakidze made an attempt to experience the essence of Hitler’s phenomenon “on spiritual plane creatively inspired where there is a close boundary between imaginary and reality”, but in vain: “none of the artists can claim to represent in-depth his inner image as portrait”, - remarks the writer.
With a few expressive strokes G.Robakidze touches Adolf Hitler’s outer silhouette in the essay but it fails to explain the essence of hero’s personality. Here the writer’s interest is increasing: and still where is his soul’s key, maybe in his voice, which has been preserved till now in news films and audio recording? The voice, distinct from others, is typical only to him “mystic voice”, as G.Robakidze underlines which captivated millions of people and subordinated. The mass ecstasy caused by this voice is rendered very impressively by the author. “His appearance was always an event. Thousands of people waited for his appearance and millions listened to him on radio broadcasting. The waves are rolling in passionately and inspiration makes dizzy. You can feel in the body: he is coming, he is already close. At each sound the roots filled with light of anticipants are rocking .. sorrow and a trap simultaneously.”
Along with million of people this fatal voice is heard by the writer too and, directing his eyes into one’s own self, he returns to the reality. The merciless reality is that “two million people lie on the devastated earth, seven and half million is suffering from loss of blood again. The large German army is bending under the armament. Silence dominates in the moonless hard night, of the other world”. Very soon this evil silence would transform into the fire of World War II. But this will be later…
A psychological look at Hitler’s typical features makes the writer sure that his personal enigma is beyond any logic, analysis or censure; it is more profound irrational (let us recall Nietzsche’s phrase: the irrational forces must totally dominate over superman). In order to penetrate into the spiritual essence of a German leader he addresses metaphorical, mythological or philosophical parallels, primarily Goethe’s paradigm of a first plant Uhrplantze (mythical reality of a plant). According to G.Robakidze it is namely Adolf Hitler who uses best of all the Uhrphänomen of people, i.e. the main phenomenon (here: mythical reality of Germanism). In our opinion, this fragment of the text must be one of the principle points for cognition of the hero’s phenomenon. But the naturally question arises as to what the writer implies in this “mythical reality” of Germanism. Maybe it is a unity of those features due to which Goethe predicted to his own nation “judgment day” of mankind. Or: maybe there is meant a secret link of his people with devil which was a subject of Tomas Mann’s concerns. The allegory of this Uhrphänomen in Fuhrer’s personality, in our view, proceeding from Adolf Hitler’s personal essence must indicate one of the greatest “threats”.
The subtitle of the essay Amor fati expresses one more essential feature: it is readiness to self-sacrifice. “He is full with inner sacrificial selflessness”, - remarks the writer and feels just a sacrifice in Hitler’s voice who is sometimes sensitive, sometimes threatening, sometimes inspiring and bright. The readiness to sacrifice is “a crucial moment: “genius of fire” , - is written in the novel. The writer considers that this feature is typical to Mussolini, ”Adolf Hitler entirely obsessed with such boldness is thought over in a new way”. According to the text Hitler’s boldness is immeasurable: “he never shudders at the sight of the horrors of war. Yes, it is evident, he overcomes.. He feels the pulsation of his own country in himself…he is aware of what blind fate has in store for him”. There are fascinating examples given in the novel which describe these qualities of the Fuhrer.
The author is interested to know where such boldness takes its origination when even the fate comes to encounter the hero and his thoughts proceed in the following way: After the Fall the mankind has lost the Wholeness which the animal possesses. But “an animal has no “ego” , the sign of divinity”. The inability to imagination in animals is substituted by immediate touching of the things. “It penetrates into the object and this is a reason of its terrible magic. Only by its naked appearance, a wild animal changes the atmosphere surrounding it”. It is known that Hitler fascinated with Spengler’s philosophy representing a German as “perpetually militant type predator of animals” (Kveselava 1991: 366). Moreover, he compared himself with a wolf. Fascist elite used to mention him with this word as a nickname which Fuhrer liked very much. Again there arise questions whether it is accidental to speak about animal magic in the novel dedicated to the Fuhrer. Maybe proceeding from Hitler’s character, the author warns a reader about “great” danger in a covered form. Surely, the Nazi leader’s animal like, wild uncontrollability and dictatorship in case of total war would threat the world with destruction. Besides this, the essay’s phrase: an animal has no “ego”, a sign of divinity” makes a reader think.
In our view, proceeding from the hero’s inner essence one of such “dangers” appears in the subtitle of the novel which is called Kairos. By writer’s interpretation “a person who subordinates to people’s destiny with all his soul gradually receives the mercy of Life as a gift that ancient Greeks called Kairos (i.e ability to see the right moment of action). The narrower time interval, the stronger Kairos is. It is similar to animal’s naked intuition. This ability is “very typical to Adolf Hitler”, remarks the writer and as its expression he considers Fuhrer’s quick success in 1920-1938. Obviously such uncommon ability of a Nazi leader dreaming about domination in the world put in danger mankind in not a less degree.
The Fuhrer himself assumed overall responsibility for Germany: “Yes, he faces challenge, writes Robakidze, - All-Ein, where All, i.e. the world means his people’s Uhrphänomen. It seems he is the first to make decision if he is filled with Uhrphänomen when being alone”. It is interesting how the writer explains this: man ordained to Uhrphänomen is of two kinds – either uniting or destroying the world but who fails in inner struggle with the Uhrphänomen is destined to disaster. In our view, the author’s conclusion is also of special significance. “Here I found a main point of Adolf Hitler’s phenomenon”. Could the Fuhrer, being left alone, overcome this inner struggle Germanism. Maybe there was hidden a world dictator in him? (Isn’t the “danger” real?).
The final chapter of Robakidze’s essay is very symbolic. “The Iggdrazil stream on the right of the Esche”, where the Fuhrer’s activity is estimated: “Adolf Hitler created great Germany; he is its sovereign founder. His historical deeds have not been finished yet. History makes his name mystic.” As was mentioned above, Robakidze’s Adolf Hitler was written in 1938 and its author could not have supposed that the ambitious Nazi leader would not have satisfied just with the creation of a “Great Germany and the scales of his military desires soon would cover the whole world. Actually Hitler’s ‘mythic image’ gradually emerges: as evil fate willed, a man came to the world whose favorite phrase was: “the greatest evil is manifestation of the greatest kindness and, who, in the same way as Nietzsche was seeking for the truth beyond “the goodness and evil” (Kveselava 1991: 155). The only truth for him was an idea of creation an “ideal National Socialistic world” which was not realized.
At the beginning of G.Robakidze’s novel “Adolf Hitler” there is an epigraph: “When I penetrate into my self I see a saint mountain, mullions of men are again with me and again fearless.”. These are Bhagavad Gita words which according to the writer fit well to Hitler’s character. Climbing the mountain symbolizes the height of truth. It is Nietzsche’s saying: “the peak and cliff are created together”. It seems Adolf Hitler standing on the peak of greatness at that time stood just on that boundary and blinded with fame failed to perceive vast cliff expecting him that absorbed him and his surrounding in a few years. The thrown down dictator consumed lives of 50 million people.
Grigol Robakidze in his novel “Adolf Hitler seen in the eyes of one foreign poet” explores standing on this intersection German Fuhrer’s irrational inner image which is “the image of essence, seen in Nord-German space and not a real person, with his behaviors, mistakes, with positive or negative sides. Only prepared reader could read between lines guessing these future “dangers” coming from this image. Adolf Hiotler’s subtexts and allegories make us think that this novel intends to warn an intellectual reader rather than clear apology to the main hero. Naturally, for German fascists these hidden indications might not have been easy to comprehend.
Unfortunately we are not aware of Grigol Robakidze appreciated Hitler after the 1940ies. There has not been known to us any composition that can familiarize us with the writer’s position so far.
Bakradze 2004: Bakradze A. Collection of works, v.2, Tbilisi: Publishing-house “Nekeri”, “Lomisi, 2004.
Kakabadzw 1992: Kakabadze N. Grigol Robakidze’s German Portrait. J. Literatura da xelovneba (Literature and Art), 5-6, 1992.
Khelai 1986: Khelaia M. Georgian Literary Essay. Tbilisi. “Merani”, 1986.Kveselava 1991: Kveselava M. Asergasis dge (“150 Days”), p.2 Tbilisi. “Didostati”, 1991.
Rozanov 1991: Rozanov G.G. Stalin. Hitler. 1939-1941. Moscow. Mysl, 1991 (in Russian).
Robakidze 1939: Robakidze Gr. Adolf Hitler, von einem fremden Dichter gesehen. Jena, Eugen Diederichs Verlag. 1939.