Life, being as it is, I open the latest issue of the London Review of Books, and there’s Jonathan Meades in full flight, reviewing Hitler At Home and Speer: Hitler’s Architect. It’s illustrated with this painting by Luc Tuysmans, titled The Walk in English, originally De wanderling in Dutch – Tuysmans is Belgian.
Meades writes, “Luc Tuymans’s painting The Walk shows Hitler and Speer silhouetted in early evening light on the Obersalzberg. The photograph that the painting is based on is mute. Tuymans’s manipulation of it is anything but. His Hitler, the Führer, the guide, is indeed guiding, just. He is stumbling awkwardly towards the last of the light while the upright Speer holds back, following certainly, but cautiously, tentatively, allowing his idol and besotted patron first dibs on divining the future – which may prove to be less golden than the sun’s shafts seem to promise. What if the guide has lost his touch, can no longer read the entrails?”
Well, this is good stuff, of course, and only a fool would get into an argument with Jonathan Meades, but I think I’ve found the original photograph, or a very close variant (on the website reichinruins.com), and I don’t find it mute at all.
Let’s face it, Ayrian dreams aside, most walkers look good pretty good and picturesque when walking into the sunset. For that matter most people look pretty good when walking among snow covered peaks. And I do find it interesting however, that in the painting Speer has grown to be a head taller than Hitler, compared with Hitler. Does that make the painting pro-Speer? Meades is virulently anti-Speer, as he's absolutely entitled to be.
Speer, as we know, was quite a walker, and he didn’t let incarceration in Spandau slow him down. In his native Heidelberg there remains the Thingstätte, an amphitheater which he designed for the Nazi party, built in 1935. It’s a great place for walking these days apparently. ”Carry a map and watch for the labeled rocks” is the headline on Tripadvisor.