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London, September 28, 2003

Homes & Gardens ...Nazi ideal home

by Peter Conradi

A GLOSSY interior design magazine has become embroiled in a bizarre dispute after an article it ran in 1938 praising Hitler's Alpine retreat reappeared on the internet.

The article in Homes & Gardens, "Hitler's Mountain Home", is effusive in its praise of Haus Wachenfeld, the Nazi leader's "handsome Bavarian chalet" near Berchtesgaden, with its fine panelled study, light jade walls and cane chairs and tables.

Hitler - or "the Squire of Wachenfeld" as he is described - was a "droll raconteur", it continues, who "delights in the company of brilliant foreigners, especially painters, singers and musicians".

The article was unearthed by Simon Waldman, an internet enthusiast, who posted it on his website after coming across it by chance. For Waldman, the uncritical tone of the piece - published in the month of Kristallnacht, the outbreak of concerted violence against Jews throughout Germany and Austria - showed how many in the British Establishment remained sympathetic to Hitler almost until the outbreak of war.

"We hear a lot about how the British upper and middle classes felt that 'that Hitler chap had some very good ideas'," Waldman wrote. "But it's only when you see it in this almost comically fawning form that you realise how someone who can seem utterly abhorrent with hindsight can appeal to people at the time."

Waldman removed the article after receiving a warning from Isobel McKenzie-Price, editorial director of the magazine, about "unauthorised reproduction" of material belonging to IPC Media, its owner - but not before 10,000 people had seen it.


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