Philip Johnson was a pedigreed, witty charmer from Cleveland who became a fixture of Manhattan’s art world and social circuit. But before Johnson’s rise to fame as one of America’s most influential architects, he delighted in another rise—that of Hitler and the Third Reich. In his forthcoming book, 1941: Fighting the Shadow War, Marc Wortman explores the architect’s fascination with Nazism.
For Philip Johnson, following the German army as it wiped out the last resisters in Poland seemed like living within a dream—in his case, a very happy dream. Like Shirer, he had watched the Third Reich rise as a relentlessly aggressive military power. He had encountered Hitler’s spellbinding rhetoric even before Hitler became Germany’s leader. His reactions were as different from Shirer’s as night from day: Shirer’s nightmare scene was, for Johnson, a Utopian fantasy come true. He had thrown himself wholly into the Fascist cause.