enlightened humanism, where distinguished scientists and scholars resided, among them Willibald Pirckheimer, Philipp Melanchthon, and Hartmann Schedel. But at the same time it was the city of the famous Folterkammer, the torture chamber in the castle above the town. Travelers and residents are still eager to see the famous Iron Maiden whose thousand spikes grasped the condemned in a deadly embrace.
Lindner related that this terrifying device had an abiding impact on him as he grew up in the city during the tumultuous years of the Weimar Republic. Later it was Nuremberg that Hitler selected for the site of his spectacular Nazi Party conventions.5 But Lindner had left the city well before that time, and he therefore had no firsthand experience of the impact of the extravaganzas Hitler conducted there.
At first Lindner trained as a pianist. But he was never happy with the pressure of performing, and, in fact, in his later life as a painter, he indicated that he had little interest in music. In 1922 he enrolled in the arts and crafts school in Nuremburg (Kunstgewerbeschule Nürnberg) and attended life-drawing and oil-painting classes. In 1926 he qualified for master classes at that institution. A year later, after having completed his
studies in Nuremberg, he moved to Berlin, where he worked as graphic designer and illustrator for the publisher Ullstein.
Berlin at the time was a great magnet for artists, scientists, scholars-intellectuals of every type. It was a major center of the modern movement in architecture and painting, in music and literature. Its theaters and cabarets were celebrated. It was the locus for scholarly discourse as well as an alluring playground for lowlife of every variety. Many of the denizens of the metropolis had traveled there from other places; as outsiders, they added to the sense of impermanence and transience of the city. People got together at cafés on the Kurfürstendamm, such as the Café des Westens, dubbed the « Café Megalomania, » and discussed the state of the world, art, and politics without ever taking any subject too seriously. A special urban gallows humor prevailed. Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill turned radical politics into catchy entertaining songs. Even paintings by George Grosz, Otto Dix, or Rudolf Schlichter combined moral accusation with a Berliner’s sense of dry sarcasm. There seems no doubt that one reason Hitler was able to assume power was that many intellectuals considered him to be just another clown-until it was too late.