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The Opera was Hitler’s favorite example of Parisian architecture, and he carefully inspected the great stairway, resplendent in its ornamentation and sweep, the splendid foyer, and the elegant, golden parterre.

Hitler visits the Paris Opera in June 1940Hitler had made a careful study of the building and confidently led his retinue through the deserted grand spaces, guided by a small, white haired attendant. All of the lights burned brightly, as they would on the night of a performance. Near the proscenium box, Hitler found a salon missing and commented. Yes, the room had been eliminated during renovations many years ago, said the attendant. “There, you see how well I know my way about,” said Hitler, who was fascinated by what he saw. He expostulated ecstatically about the beauty of the place, his eyes glittering with excitement.
Of course, the attendant had quickly recognized whom he was guiding through the building, and was quite businesslike and aloof. When the visit was over, Hitler whispered to his adjutant, Wilhelm Brückner, who took a fifty-mark note from his wallet and offered it to the attendant. When the little white haired man politely refused the money, Hitler asked Arno Breker to pay the attendant, but the man still refused. He was only doing his duty, he said.