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Hitler’s myth-maker

Leni Riefenstahl's apologists say she was a pure aesthete who cared nothing for politics. But it was her indifference to how her talents were used that made her so repugnant

By Kevin Jackson   May 2007

Leni: the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl, by Steven Bach (Little, Brown, £25)

The career of Leni Riefenstahl looks like a real-life version of the Faust myth. In return for a brief span of worldly riches and artistic glory, the comely young Fraulein Riefenstahl sold her soul to the devil, in the form of Adolf Hitler. Pampered, protected and funded beyond most film directors’ fantasies, she produced the only creative products of Nazi Germany that have any claims to enduring aesthetic merit, the semi-staged documentary Triumph of the Will and…

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