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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 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.