Part 14: Berlin
Episode 14: Berlin: Youtube, Polsy
There's a great essay by Lee Sandlin titled "Losing the War", and there's a section in it where he talks about Hitler's visions of Teutonic glory and Wagnerian fated tragedy influenced his strategic plans: "He did have his own myth about Germany. He was obsessed with the shadowy folkloric world of the Vikings and the Teutons, the vanished Nordic past that had inspired the medieval sagas of the Volsungs and, through them, Wagner's Ring. His imagination was filled with the rush and thunder of the ancient warriors who'd beaten back the Roman empire and swept the barbarians back into central Asia. But where Wagner had used these stories for their symbolic value, Hitler responded to them as a primal vision of reality. (The allegorical choice in the Ring between love and absolute power meant nothing to him.) Sometimes he talked as though that world was more real to him than the daylight world around him -- as if the whole of modern civilization was an evil mirage obscuring the unceasing flow of mythic struggle.
This proved to be his great strength as a military commander. His generals were cautious about taking on the armies of Europe, but Hitler knew they would pose no challenge because he simply couldn't credit them with being real. They were hollow, he insisted -- only a coward would be intimidated by them. One big, decisive blow and they'd collapse. He was right, but this was almost a coincidence."
The whole essay is beautifully written, and deserves to be read in full.