斯蒂芬·H.罗伯茨《希特勒之谜》 -经典文学英译-中英双语赏析



By Stephen H. Roberts

THE RIDDLE OF HITLER, by Stephen H. Roberts, in Harper’s Magazine, February, 1938, pp. 253, 254.

Life in the new Germany has been described as “mythology brought to life.” Stephen H. Roberts’s “The Riddle to Hitler” is an attempt to get inside the godhead of this mythology. Dr. Roberts is an Australian, professor of Modern History at Sydney University, and is regarded as an authority on international affairs. Some time ago he determined to investigate the Nazi régime as thoroughly as possible. He went to Germany and was able to secure unusual privileges from the Foreign Office and the Ribbentrop Bureau. Using these privileges to the full, he spent sixteen months combing the country and amassing material. From this material Dr. Roberts has compiled a book soon to be published under the title The House that Hitler Built, and in that book this short sketch will appear.

A strange man, this Adolf Hitler. He is infinitely polite and courteous in his interviews, pausing perceptibly after every statement in case there is something his questioner wishes to add. He is punctilious to the point of quixotism in acknowledging the salutes of his men and in himself saluting the standards. The odd feature is that he never seems at ease in formal gatherings or when being spoken to. He seems a hunted being and is always ready to find refuge in making a miniature speech, even when one asks him a question that could be answered by a single word. In making a speech he is at least on firm ground. There he does not have to think, for he has said it all thousands of times and will keep on saying it until he dies.

One fundamental fact is that Hitler never has any real personal contacts. The charming pictures one sees, in which he is taking bouquets from tiny tots or grasping the horny hands of picturesque old peasants, are all arranged. They are triumphs of the photographic skill of his old friend Hoffmann: Hoffmann blots out the surrounding guards and we see the result. The Führer is never alone.The giant Bruckner is always with him, and his “suicide-brigade” of special guards surround him everywhere. He goes out in his enormous Mercedès car (specially constructed so that he can stand up in front and receive support so that he is not wearied), and it is always preceded and followed by motor cyclists and a whole fleet of cars with S. S. men. He lives in an unnatural detachment that makes his disease of being a godhead batten on itself: the most balanced of human beings could not stand this kind of life without losing a sense of realities, and nobody would call Hitler emotionally balanced at the best of times. Most commentators make a great fuss about his diet or his celibacy; what seems to me far more important is his lack of ordinary human contacts. Abnormal himself, the constant adulation makes him pathological. He receives only the thrice-distilled views of the fanatics, intriguers, and genuine patriots round him. Nobody can tell him anything or speak frankly, still less criticize his policy or himself. He lives in a mental world of his own, more aloof than any Sun-King, and he has only the narrow mental equipment and experience of an agitator to guide him. Unless one accepts the prevalent German view that he gets his inspiration direct from God (one of the most powerful Nazis once said he had a private line to heaven! ), one must conclude that the future of Germany and the peace of the world rest on the tangled working of the mind of one man whom not even his friends would call normal. It is the most extraordinary comment on human evolution that, in this age of scicnce and progress, the fate of mankind rests on the whimsy of an abnormal mind, infinitely more so than in the days of the old despots whom we criticize so much.

But the final enigma remains. Granting that Hitler is a dreamer, a creature of emotion, a man of ordinary mental caliber, a gripping orator, a simple-living Führer with an almost divine sense of his mission—how did such a man rise to power and consolidate the nation in his first four years of rule? Many reasons seem to offer partial explanations of this. He was the most popular orator during a time of political chaos and national depression; his general philosophy about Deutschland erwache! fitted in with the psychology of the nation, so that his movement became a national narcotic; he had marvelous subordinates and, with them, built up the best Party organization; his simplest mentality enabled him to carry through a complex revolution before which a mind more clearly analytical of the consequences would have quailed; and finally he became the Mythus of the German people. The man was merged in the myth, and it became his task to think and act in terms of that myth, so much so that any power in the land which might supplant his Party would probably have to keep him as nominal Führer. The Hitler myth is the dominating fact in German life to-day. Indeed, he sees himself no longer as a person but as the Crusader who has captured the Holy City—the embodiment of a nation—the living and inspired voice of Germania—Der Führer in the most mystical sense of that word—and must one ultimately add:Der Führer-Gott?


Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), dictator of Germany.

in his interviews, when he meets persons face to face, either for a conference or for making statements to newspaper reporters.

punctilious, attentive to petty formality, to nice points of ceremony.

quixotism, enthusiastic vision, utterly disregarding material interests in comparison with honor or devotion.

the standards, the flags of the various units of his army.

tiny tots, small children.

horny hands, due to hard labor with their hands.

blots out, removes, eliminates, wipes out of the picture.

Führer, the title given to Hitler. The word means “leader.”

Bruckner, Hitler’s personal protector.

“suicide-brigade,  so-called because they are ready to die in defense of Hitler.

Mercedès car, Mercedès being the make of automobile that Hitler rides about in.

  1. S. men,the Schutz Staffel troops, the most select of the Sturm Abteilung (S. A.) troops of Germany. The Sturm Abteilung are the Storm Troops, the brown shirts; the Schutz Staffel, companies of the guard, the black shirts, are the specially-chosen elite.

godhead, being a god.

batten, revel in, feed gluttonously on (often implying morbid taste);grow fat.

his diet, the food that he eats.

his celibacy, his not being married. Hitler is still unmarried.

adulation, base flattery.

pathological, diseased, abnormal.

thrice-distilled, not the frank views of honest men, but the views which have been carefully prepared and checked over so as to avoid hurting the feelings of Hitler. In other words, Hitler does not get the honest opinion of frank men; he hears only what his followers think he enjoys hearing.

Nazis, National Sozialisten, the National Socialists, the ruling political party of Germany.

a private line, a telephone line connecting Hitler directly with God, a line which no one else can use. This is said in fun, of course.

whimsy, whim, sudden fancy, caprice.

old despots, aged absolute rulers, tyrants, oppressors.

enigma, riddle, puzzling thing.

Deutschland erwache! Germany, awake!

national narcotic, a drug which influences the whole nation, which stimulates the whole nation.

Mythus of the German people, myth of the German people; a mythical person.

the Crusader who has captured the Holy City. A crusader was a person who took part in the Crusade, the Christian expedition in the Middle Ages to recover the Holy Land, Palestine, from the Mohammedans. Hitler is here depicted as the Crusader who has succeeded in taking back the Holy City of Jerusalem, the city where Jesus Christ was born in.

Germania, Germany,

mystical, spiritually allegorical.

Der Führer-Gott, the Leader-God.


  1. What is the strange thing about Hitler? Why is he on firm ground when he is making a speech?
  2. Why does the author say that Hitler never has any real personal contacts?
  3. What most extraordinary comment on human evolution, in this age of science and progress, can be made?
  4. What is the final enigma? What reasons seem to offer partial explanations of this?











(余苏凌 译)

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