Notebook

Walther Funk, who was both Minister of Economics and president of the Reichsbank, told stories about the outlandish pranks that his vice-president, Brinkmann, had gone on performing for months, until it was finally realized that he was mentally ill. In telling such stories Funk not only wanted to amuse Hitler but to inform him in this casual way of events which would sooner or later reach his ears. Brinkmann, it seemed, had invited the cleaning women and messenger boys of the Reichsbank to a grand dinner in the ballroom of the Hotel Bristol, one of the best hotels in Berlin, where he played the violin for them. This sort of thing rather fitted in with the regime’s propaganda for all Germans forming one “folk” community. But as everyone at table laughed, Funk continued: “Recently he stood in front of the Ministry of Economics on Unter den Linden, took a large package of newly printed banknotes from his briefcase – as you know the notes bear my signature – and gave them out to passers-by, saying: ‘Who wants some of the new Funks?’” … Hitler’s eyes filled with tears of laughter. When he had recovered, he launched into a monologue on how hard it sometimes is to recognize a madman.

Albert Speer, “Inside the Third Reich”.

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