Paul Josef Goebbels spent his early adulthood searching for religious truth; he found the salvation he sought when he met Hitler. Algis Valiunas reviews Peter Longerich’s biography of the Nazi Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and compares its subject to another leading figure in Hitler’s regime:
Goebbels adored Hitler and loved his work. . . . Hannah Arendt never said so directly, but her account of Adolf Eichmann conveyed a man who supposedly took no pleasure in the killing of Jews or in seeing them dead. . . . That is what Arendt called banal, as though such indifference deserved a place in hell less hot than that reserved for the maniacal true believers. Goebbels was a consummate bureaucrat, but he was also one of the maniacs. The Führer occupied the god-shaped hole in what passed for the proud underling’s soul, and Goebbels never again felt a pang for his youthful infatuation with the peaceable Galilean. He revered the beast in man, wished that human beings could summon more of it, and delighted in the thought of the predator perfected for killing.