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Heroic Art

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Heroic Art

The art of the Third Reich, the officially approved art produced in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945, was characterized by a style of Romantic realism based on classical models. While banning modern styles as degenerate, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were narrowly traditional in manner and that exalted the "blood and soil" values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience. Other popular themes for Nazi art were the Volk at work in the fields, a return to the simple virtues of Heimat (love of homeland), the manly virtues of the National Socialist struggle, and the lauding of the female activities of child bearing and raising symbolized by the phrase Kinder, Küche, Kirche ("children, kitchen, church").

Similarly, music was expected to be tonal and free of jazz influence; films and plays were censored.

Nazi art bears a close similarity to the Soviet propaganda art style of Socialist Realism, and the term heroic realism has sometimes been used to describe both artistic styles.

Among the well-known artists endorsed by the Nazis were the sculptors Josef Thorak and Arno Breker, and painters Werner Peiner, Arthur Kampf, Adolf Wissel and Conrad Hommel.

Historical background

The early twentieth century was characterized by startling changes in artistic styles. In the visual arts, such innovations as cubism, Dada and surrealism, following hot on the heels of Symbolism, post-Impressionism and Fauvism, were not universally appreciated. The majority of people in Germany, as elsewhere, did not care for the new art which many resented as elitist, morally suspect and too often incomprehensible.[1]

During recent years, Germany had become a major center of avant-garde art. It was the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, and the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill. Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang's Metropolis brought expressionism to cinema.

The Nazis viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust. Their response stemmed partly from conservative aesthetics and partly from their determination to use culture as propaganda.[2] Upon becoming dictator in 1933, Adolf Hitler gave his personal artistic preference the force of law to a degree rarely known before. Only in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, where Socialist Realism had become the mandatory style, had a state shown such concern with regulation of the arts.[3] In the case of Germany, the model was to be classical Greek and Roman art, seen by Hitler as an art whose exterior form embodied an inner racial ideal.[4] It was, furthermore, to be comprehensible to the average man.[5] This art was to be both heroic and romantic.[5]

The reason for this, as historian Henry Grosshans indicates, is that Hitler "saw Greek and Roman art as uncontaminated by Jewish influences. Modern art was [seen as] an act of aesthetic violence by the Jews against the German spirit. Such was true to Hitler even though only Liebermann, Meidner, Freundlich, and Marc Chagall, among those who made significant contributions to the German modernist movement, were Jewish. But Hitler ... took upon himself the responsibility of deciding who, in matters of culture, thought and acted like a Jew."[6]

The supposedly "Jewish" nature of art that was indecipherable, distorted, or that represented "depraved" subject matter was explained through the concept of degeneracy, which held that distorted and corrupted art was a symptom of an inferior race. By propagating the theory of degeneracy, the Nazis combined their anti-Semitism with their drive to control the culture, thus consolidating public support for both campaigns.[7]

Their efforts in this regard were unquestionably aided by a popular hostility to Modernism that predated their movement.[8] The view that such art had reflected Germany's condition and moral bankruptcy was widespread, and many artists acted in a manner to overtly undermine or challenge popular values and morality.[9]

Degenerate art

Main article: Degenerate art

The term Entartung (or "degeneracy") had gained popularity in Germany by the late 19th century when the critic and author Max Nordau devised the theory presented in his 1892 book, Entartung.[10] Nordau drew upon the writings of the criminologist Cesare Lombroso, whose The Criminal Man, published in 1876, attempted to prove that there were "born criminals" whose atavistic personality traits could be detected by scientifically measuring abnormal physical characteristics. Nordau developed from this premise a critique of modern art, explained as the work of those so corrupted and enfeebled by modern life that they have lost the self-control needed to produce coherent works. Explaining the painterliness of Impressionism as the sign of a diseased visual cortex, he decried modern degeneracy while praising traditional German culture. Despite the fact that Nordau was Jewish (as was Lombroso), his theory of artistic degeneracy would be seized upon by German National Socialists during the Weimar Republic as a rallying point for their anti-Semitic and racist demand for Aryan purity in art.

Belief in a Germanic spirit—defined as mystical, rural, moral, bearing ancient wisdom, noble in the face of a tragic destiny—existed long before the rise of the Nazis; Richard Wagner celebrated such ideas in his work.[11] Beginning before World War I the well-known German architect and painter Paul Schultze-Naumburg's influential writings, which invoked racial theories in condemning modern art and architecture, supplied much of the basis for Adolf Hitler's belief that classical Greece and the Middle Ages were the true sources of Aryan art.[12] Hitler's rise to power on January 31, 1933 was quickly followed by actions intended to cleanse the culture of degeneracy: book burnings were organized, artists and musicians were dismissed from teaching positions, artists were forbidden to utilize any colors not apparent in nature, to the "normal eye",[13] and curators who had shown a partiality to modern art were replaced by Party members.[14]

Creation of the Reichskulturkammer

In September 1933 the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Culture Chamber) was established, with Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Reichminister für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) in charge.[15] Subchambers within the Culture Chamber, representing the individual arts (music, film, literature, architecture, and the visual arts) were created;[15] these were membership groups consisting of "racially pure" artists supportive of the Party, or willing to be compliant. Goebbels made it clear: "In future only those who are members of a chamber are allowed to be productive in our cultural life. Membership is open only to those who fulfill the entrance condition. In this way all unwanted and damaging elements have been excluded."[16] By 1935 the Reich Culture Chamber had 100,000 members.[16] Nonetheless there was, during the period 1933–1934, some confusion within the Party on the question of Expressionism. Goebbels and some others believed that the forceful works of such artists as Emil Nolde, Ernst Barlach and Erich Heckel exemplified the Nordic spirit; as Goebbels explained, "We National Socialists are not unmodern; we are the carrier of a new modernity, not only in politics and in social matters, but also in art and intellectual matters."[17] However, a faction led by Rosenberg despised Expressionism, leading to a bitter ideological dispute which was settled only in September 1934, when Hitler declared that there would be no place for modernist experimentation in the Reich.[18]

Modern artworks were purged from German museums. Over 5,000 works were initially seized, including 1,052 by Nolde, 759 by Heckel, 639 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and 508 by Max Beckmann, as well as smaller numbers of works by such artists as Alexander Archipenko, Marc Chagall, James Ensor, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.[19] These became the material for a defamatory exhibit, Entartete Kunst ("Degenerate Art"), featuring over 650 paintings, sculptures, prints, and books from the collections of thirty two German museums, that premiered in Munich on July 19, 1937 and remained on view until November 30 before travelling to eleven other cities in Germany and Austria. In this exhibition, the artworks were deliberately presented in a disorderly manner, and accompanied by mocking labels.

Coinciding with the Entartete Kunst exhibition, the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung (Great German art exhibition) made its premiere amid much pageantry. This exhibition, held at the palatial Haus der deutschen Kunst (House of German Art), displayed the work of officially approved artists such as Arno Breker and Adolf Wissel. At the end of four months Entartete Kunst had attracted over two million visitors, nearly three and a half times the number that visited the nearby Grosse deutsche Kunstausstellung.[20]

Musicologists of the Third Reich

As the Nazi regime accrued power in 1933, musicologists were directed to rewrite the history of German music in order to accommodate Nazi mythology and ideology. Richard Wagner and Hans Pfitzner were notable preexisting composers who conceptualized a united order (Volksgemeinschaft) where music was an index of the German community. In a time of disintegration, Wagner and Pfitzner wanted to revitalize the country through music. In a book written about Hans Pfitzner and Wagner, published in Regseneberg in 1939 followed not only the birth of contemporary musical parties, but also of political parties in Germany. The Wagner-Pfitzner stance contrasted ideas of other notable artists – Arnold Schonberg and Theodor W. Adorno – who wanted music to be autonomous from politics, Nazi control and application. Although Wagner and Pfitzner came before the Third Reich, their sentiments and thoughts, Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, were appropriated by Hitler and his propagandists – notably Joseph Goebbels. According to Michael Meyer, "The very emphasis on rootedness and on tradition music underscored Nazi understanding of itself in a dialectic terms: old gods were mobilized against the false values of the immediate past to offer legitimacy to the epiphany of Adolf Hitler and the music representation of his realm."

Composers, librettists, educators, critics, and especially musicologists, through their public statements, intellectual writings, and journals contributed to the justification of a totalitarian blueprint to be implanted through nazification. All music was then composed for the occasions of Nazi pageantries, rallies, and conventions. Composers dedicated so called 'consecration fanfares,' inaugurations fanfares and flag songs to the Fuhrer. When the Fuhrer assumed power the Nazi revolution was immediately expressed in musicological journalism. Certain progressive journalism pertaining to modern music was purged. Journals that had been sympathetic to the ‘German viewpoint,’ entrenched in Wagnerian ideals, like the Zeischrift fur Musik and Die Muzik, showed confidence in the new regime and affirmed the process of intertwining government policies with music. Joseph Goebbels used the Volkscher Beobatcher, a journal that was disseminated to the general public in addition to elites and party officials, as an organ of Reich Culture. By the end of the 1930s the Mitteilungen der Reichsmusikkammer became another prominent journal that reflected the music policy, organizational and personnel changes in musical institutions.

In the early years of the Third Reich, the musicologists and musicians redirected the orientation of music, defining what was "German Music" and what was not. Nazi ideology was applied to the evaluation of musicians for hero status; musicians defined in the new German musical era were given titles of prophets, while their accomplishments and deeds were seen as direct accomplishments of the Nazi regime. The contribution of German musicologists led to the justification of Nazi power and a new German music culture in whole. The musicologists defined the greater German values that musicians would have to identify with, because their duty was to integrate music and National Socialism in way that made them look inseparable. Nazi myth making and ideology was forced upon the new musical path of the Third Reich rather than truly embedded in the rhetoric of German music.

Genres in the Third Reich


In general, painting – once purged of "degenerate art" – was based on traditional genre painting.[2] Titles were purposeful: "Fruitful Land", "Liberated Land", "Standing Guard", "Through Wind and Weather", "Blessing of Earth", and the like.[2] Hitler's favorite painter was Adolf Ziegler and Hitler owned a number of his works.

Landscape painting featured prominently in the Greater German Art exhibition.[21] While drawing on German Romanticism traditions, it was to be firmly based on real landscape, Germans' Lebensraum, without religious moods.[22] Peasants were also popular images, reflecting a simple life in harmony with nature.[23] This art showed no sign of the mechanization of farm work.[24] The farmer labored by hand, with effort and struggle.[25] Not a single painting in the first exhibition showed urban or industrialized life, and only two in the exhibition in 1938.[26]

Nazi theory explicitly rejected "materialism", and therefore, despite the realistic treatment of images, "realism" was a seldom used term.[27] A painter was to create an ideal picture, for eternity.[27] The images of men, and still more of women, were heavily stereotyped,[28] with physical perfection required for the nude paintings.[29] This may have been the cause of there being very few anti-Semitic paintings; while such works as Um Haus and Hof, depicting a Jewish speculator dispossessing an elderly peasant couple exist, they are few, perhaps because the art was supposed to be on a higher plane.[30] Explicitly political paintings were more common but still very rare.[21] Heroic imagery, on the other hand, was common enough to be commented on by a critic: "The heroic element stands out. The worker, the farmer, the soldier are the themes .... Heroic subjects dominate over sentimental ones".[31]

With the advent of war, war paintings became far more common.[32] The images were romanticized, depicting heroic sacrifice and victory.[33] Still, landscapes predominated, and among the painters exempted from war service, all were noted for landscapes or other pacific subjects.[34]

Even Hitler and Goebbels found the new paintings disappointing, although Goebbels tried to put a good face on it with the observation that they had cleared the field, and that these desperate times drew many talents into political life rather than cultural.[35] In a speech at the Greater German Art Exhibition in Munich Hitler said in 1939:

"The first goal of our new German creation of art [...] has surely been achieved. Analogous to the recovering of architectural art which began here in Munich, here also started the purification in the sphere of painting and sculpture, that maybe had been even more devastated. The whole swindle of a decadent or pathological trend-art has been swept away. A decent common level has been reached. And this means a lot. Only out of this can the truly creative genius arise."[36]


Sculpture's monumental possibilities gave it a better expression of Nazi racial theories.[37] The Greater German Art Exhibit displayed, throughout Nazi years, a steady rise in the number of sculptures at the expense of paintings.[37] The most common image was of the nude male, expressing the ideal of the Aryan race.[38] Arno Breker's skill at this type made him Hitler's favorite sculptor.[39] Nude females were also common, though they tended to be less monumental.[40] In both cases, the physical form was to show no imperfections.[29]

Josef Thorak was another official sculptor of the Third Reich owing to his skill at monumental sculpture.[41]


Germany's urban centers in the 1920s and 30s were buzzing with jazz clubs, cabaret houses and avant garde music. In contrast, the National Socialist regime made concentrated efforts to shun modern music (which was considered degenerate and Jewish in nature) and instead embraced classical "German" music. Highly favored was music which alluded to a mythic, heroic German past such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner. Anton Bruckner was highly favored as his music was regarded as an expression of the zeitgeist of the German volk.[42] The music of Arnold Schoenberg (and atonal music along with it), Gustav Mahler, Felix Mendelssohn and many others was banned because they were Jewish or of Jewish origin.[43] Paul Hindemith fled rather than fit his music into Nazi ideology. Some operas of Georg Friederich Händel were either banned outright for themes sympathetic to Jews and Judaism or had new librettos written for them.

Music by non-German composers was tolerated if it was classically inspired, tonal, and not by a composer of Jewish origin or having ties to ideologies hostile to the Third Reich. The Nazis recognized Franz Liszt for having German origin and fabricated a genealogy that purported that Frédéric Chopin was German, and the Nazi Governor-General of occupied Poland even had a "Chopin Museum" built in Krakow. Music of the Russian Peter Tchaikovsky could be performed in Nazi Germany even after Operation Barbarossa. Operas by Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini got frequent play. Such contemporary composers as the Russian Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók were tolerated until they ran afoul of Nazi politics.

There has been controversy over the use of certain composers' music by the Nazi regime, and whether that implicates the composer as implicitly Nazi. Composers such as Richard Strauss,[44] who served as the first director of the Propaganda Ministry's music division, and Carl Orff have been subject to extreme criticism and heated defense.[45][46]

Jews were quickly prohibited from performing or conducting classical music in Germany. Such conductors as Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, Ignatz Waghalter, Josef Krips, and Kurt Sanderling fled Germany. Upon the Nazi seizure of Czechoslovakia, the conductor Karel Ančerl was blacklisted as a Jew and was sent in turn to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz.

Graphic design

The poster became an important medium for propaganda during this period. Combining text and bold graphics, posters were extensively deployed both in Germany and in the areas occupied. Their typography reflected the Nazis' official ideology. The use of Fraktur was common in Germany until 1941, when Martin Bormann denounced the typeface as "Judenlettern" and decreed that only Roman type should be used.[47] Modern sans-serif typefaces were condemned as cultural Bolshevism, although Futura continued to be used owing to its practicality.[48]

Imagery frequently drew on heroic realism.[49] Nazi youth and the SS were depicted monumentally, with lighting posed to produce grandeur.[49]

Popular art

Mass culture was less stringently regulated than high culture, possibly because the authorities feared the consequences of too heavy-handed interference in popular entertainment.[50] Thus, until the outbreak of the war, most Hollywood films could be screened, including It Happened One Night, San Francisco, and Gone with the Wind. While performance of atonal music was banned, the prohibition of jazz was less strictly enforced. Benny Goodman and Django Reinhardt were popular, and leading English and American jazz bands continued to perform in major cities until the war; thereafter, dance bands officially played "swing" rather than the banned jazz.[51]

A film premiered in Berlin on November 28, 1940, which was clearly a tool used to promote Nazi Ideology. The release of the film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) was only two months prior to the announcement made by German officials of the establishment of the ghetto in Lodz, Poland. The film was portrayed in the Nazi press as a documentary to emphasize the cinema as truth, when in reality it was nothing more than propaganda to raise hatred against the Jewish community to its viewers.[52]

The filmmaker, Fritz Hippler, used numerous visual techniques to portray Jews as a filthy, degenerate, and disease infested population. Purporting to provide the viewer with an in depth look at the Jewish lifestyle, the film showed staged scenes of Lodz (soon to be ghetto) with the presence of flies and rats, to suggest a dangerous-to-life area of Europe; which in turn only perpetuated underlying superstition and fear to the viewer. To add to this staged and exaggerated scene of filth was a warning released by officials of The Reich: an advisory that Lodz is an area of widespread infectious disease. The film director utilized racist cinema to bolster the illusion that Jews were parasites and corruptors of German culture.[53]

Hippler made use of voice-overs to cite hate speeches or fictitious statistics of the Jewish population. He also borrowed numerous scenes from other films, and presented them out of context from the original: for example, a scene of a Jewish businessman in the United States hiding money was accompanied with a bogus claim that Jewish men get taxed more than non-Jews in the United States, which was used to insinuate that Jews withhold money from the government. Through the repetitive use of side angles of Jewish people, who were filmed (without knowledge) while looking over their shoulder at the camera, Der ewige Jude created a visual suggesting a shifty and conspiring nature of Jews. Yet another propaganda technique was superposition. Hippler superimposed the Star of David onto the tops of world capitals, insinuating an illusion of Jewish world domination.[54]

Der ewige Jude is notorious for its anti-Semitism and its use of cinema in the fabrication of propaganda, to satisfy Hitler and to embrace the Germanic ideology that would fuel a nation in support of an obsessive leader.[55]

Art theft

Main article: Nazi plunder

Later, as the occupiers of Europe, the Germans trawled the museums and private collections of Europe for suitably "Aryan" art to be acquired to fill a bombastic new gallery in Hitler's home town of Linz. At first a pretense was made of exchanges of works (sometimes with Impressionist masterpieces, considered degenerate by the Nazis), but later acquisitions came through forced "donations" and eventually by simple looting.[56]

The purge of art in Germany and occupied countries was extremely broad. The Nazi theft is considered to be the largest art theft in modern history including paintings, furniture, sculptures, and anything in between considered either valuable, or opposing Hitler’s purification of German culture. During the Second World War, art theft by German forces was devastating, and the resurfacing of missing stolen art continues today, along with the fight for rightful ownership. Not only did the Reich confiscate and reallocate countless masterpieces from occupied territories during the war, but also put to auction a large portion of Germany's collection of great art from museums and art galleries. In the end, the confiscation committees removed over 15,000 works of art from German public collections alone.[57]

It took four years to “refine” the Nazi art criteria; in the end what was tolerated was whatever Hitler liked, and whatever was most useful to the German government from the point of view of creating propaganda. A thorough head-hunting of artists within Germany was in effect from the beginning of the Second World War, which included the elimination of countless members within the art community. Museum directors that supported modern art were attacked; artists that refused to comply with Reich-approved art were forbidden to practice art altogether. To enforce the prohibition of practicing art, agents of the Gestapo routinely made unexpected visits to artist’s homes and studios. Wet brushes found during the inspections or even the smell of turpentine in the air was reason enough for arrest. In response to the oppressive restrictions, many artists chose to flee Germany.[58] Before the impending war and a time of simply looting occupied nation’s art treasures, but during the Reich’s efforts to free Germany of conflicting art, authorities of the Nazi party realized the potential revenue of Germany’s own collection of art that was considered degenerate art which was to be purged from German culture. The Reich began to collect and auction countless pieces of art—for example, “on June 30, 1939 a major auction took place at the elegant Grand Hotel National in the Swiss resort town of Lucerne”.[59] All of the paintings and sculptures had recently been on display in museums throughout Germany. This collection offered over 100 paintings and sculptures by numerous famous artists, such as Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso; all of which were considered “degenerate” pieces by Nazi authorities and were to be banished from Germany. An auction of this magnitude was viewed as suspicious by potential buyers, who feared that the profits would end up funding the Nazi party: “The auctioneer had been so worried about this perception that he had sent letters to leading dealers assuring them that all profits would be used for German museums”.[60] In reality, all of the proceeds from the auction were deposited into “German controlled-accounts”, and the museums “... as all had suspected, did not receive a penny”.[61]

The Hitler Museum

Apart from auctioning art that was to be purged from Germany’s collection, Germany’s art that was considered as especially favourable by Hitler were to be combined to create a massive art museum in Hitler’s hometown of Linz, Austria for his own personal collection. The museum to-be by 1945 had thousands of pieces of furniture, paintings, sculptures and several other forms of fine craft. The museum was to be known as the “Führermuseum”. By the late spring of 1940 art collectors and museum curators were in a race against time to move thousands of pieces of collectables into hiding, or out of soon-to-be-occupied territory where it would be vulnerable to confiscation by German officials—either for themselves, or for the Führer. On June 5, a particularly important movement of thousands of paintings occurred, which included the Mona Lisa, and all were hidden in the Loc-Dieu Abbey located near Martiel during the chaos of invasion by German forces. Art dealers did their best to hide artwork in the best places possible; Paul Rosenberg managed to move over 150 great pieces to a Libourne bank, which included works by Monet, Matisse, Picasso, and van Gogh. Other collectors did whatever they could to remove France's artistic treasures to the safest locations feasible at the time; filling cars, or large crates en route to Vichy, or south through France and into Spain to reach transport by boat. Art dealer Martin Fabiani moved mass quantities of pictures: drawings and paintings to be boarded onto a ship so that the prized possessions were to be in safer keeping on British soil in Bermuda, although when the ship's contents arrived, complications arose over proof of ownership of foreign assets from France. British consuls were wary of exports and carefully inspected shipments from France, after which Fabiani’s assets were relocated to Canada, in the charge of the Registrar of the Exchequer Court of Canada where they were to remain until the end of the war. Similar shipments landed in New York, all in an effort to protect artistic treasures from confiscation, theft, and destruction.[62]

By the end of June, Hitler controlled most of the European continent. As people were detained, their possessions were confiscated; if they were lucky enough to escape, their belongings left behind or in storage became the property of Germany. By the end of August, officials of the Reich were granted permission to access any shipping containers and remove any desirable items inside. As well as looting goods that were to be shipped out of occupied territories, Arthur Seyss-Inquart authorized the removal of any objects found in houses during the invasion, after which a long and thorough search was in effect for European treasures.[63]

Artwork became an important commodity in the German economy: no one in German or axis-controlled countries was allowed to invest outside of the new Germanic-controlled territory, which in turn created a self-contained market. With few options available for investments, art was of great importance to anyone with cash, including the Führer himself, as a safe form of investment, and even in trade for the lives of others. At the height of trading in 1943, art was even used by Pieter de Boers, who was the head of Dutch association of Art Dealers, and the largest seller to Germans in Holland, in the exchange of the release of his Jewish employee. Demand began to increase dramatically, forcing prices to rise, and only furthering the desire to discover hidden treasures within occupied territory.[64]

As exploration continued within occupied France, and by order of the Führer, a list was created which included all of the great works of art in France, and the German Currency Unit began to open private bank units which contained countless collectors' property and possible items on the list. The owner of the vault was required to be present. One particular investigation of a vault was that of Pablo Picasso; he chose a rather clever tactic when soldiers searched the contents of his vault. He packed his own artworks with countless other artists’ works of his collection in a chaotic manner, with the result that the investigators thought that nothing in the collection was significant, and took nothing.[65]

As confiscations began to pile up in massive quantities, the items filled the Louvre, and forced Reich officials to use the Jeu de Paume, a small museum, for additional space, and for proper viewing of the collection. The grand stockpile of art was ready for Hitler to choose from: the Führer had first choice for his own collection; second were objects that would complete collections of the Reichsmarschall; third was intended for whatever was useful to support Nazi ideology; a fourth category was created for German museums. Everything was supposed to be appraised and paid for, with proceeds being directed to French war-orphans.[66]

Hitler also ordered the confiscation of French works of art owned by the state and the cities. Reich officials decided what was to stay in France, and what was to be sent to Linz. Further orders from the Führer also included the return of artworks that were looted by Napoleon from Germany in the past. Napoleon is considered the unquestioned record holder in the act of confiscating art.[67]

Individual artists

In September 1944 the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda prepared a list of 1,041 artists considered crucial to National Socialist culture, and therefore exempt from war service. This Gottbegnadeten list provides a well-documented index to the painters, sculptors, architects and filmmakers who were regarded by the Nazis as politically sympathetic, culturally valuable, and still residing in Germany at this late stage of the war.


  • Thomas Baumgartner (1892–1962)
  • Fritz Erler (1868–1940)
  • Sepp Hilz (1906–1967)
  • Walther Hoeck (1885–1956)
  • Conrad Hommel (1883–1971)
  • Trude Hoppe-Arendt
  • Julius Paul Junghanns (1876–1953)
  • Hubert Lanzinger (1880–1950), painter of "Adolf Hitler as Standard Bearer"[68]
  • Georg Lebrecht
  • Ernst Liebermann (1869–1960)
  • Oskar Martin-Amorbach (1897–1987)
  • Paul Mathias Padua (1903–1981)
  • Gisbert Palmie (1897–1984)
  • Werner Peiner (1897–1984)
  • Ivo Saliger (1894–1987)
  • Leopold Schmutzler (1864–1940)
  • Georg Sluyterman von Langeweyde (1903–1978)
  • Edmund Steppes (1873–1968)
  • Karl Truppe (1887–1952)
  • Udo Wendel
  • Wolfgang Willrich (1897–1948)
  • Adolf Wissel (1894–1973)
  • Adolf Ziegler (1892–1959)



See also

External video
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, a so-called degenerated artist



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  • Barron, Stephanie, ed. (1991). 'Degenerate Art:' The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0-8109-3653-4
  • Clinefelter, Joan L., (2005), Artists for the Reich: Culture and Race from Weimar to Nazi Germany, Oxford:Berg Publishers
  • Davidson, Mortimer G. (1991). Art in Germany 1933-1945: Painting
  • Davidson, Mortimer G. (1992). Art in Germany 1933-1945: Sculpture
  • Davidson, Mortimer G. (1995). Art in Germany 1933-1945: Architecture
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  • Grosshans, Henry (1983). Hitler and the Artists. New York: Holmes & Meyer. ISBN 0-8419-0746-3
  • Grunberger, Richard (1971) The 12 Year Reich Holt, Reinhard, and Winston of Canada Ltd.
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  • Hollis, R. (2001). Graphic design: a concise history. World of art. New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20347-4
  • Kater, Michael (1999). The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kater, Michael (2000). Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kater, Michael and Albrecht Reithmuller, ed. (1992). Music and Nazism; Art under Tyranny. Berlin: Freie Universitat Berlin. ISBN 3-89007-516-9
  • Laqueur, Walter (1996). Fascism: Past, Present, Future. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509245-7
  • Levi, Erik (1994). Music in the Third Reich. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-10381-6.
  • Meyer, Michael (1975). The nazi musicologist as myth maker in the third reich. Journal of Contemporary History. 10(4), p. 649-665
  • Michaud, Eric (2004). The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany, translated by Janet Lloyd. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4327-4.
  • Nordau, Max (1998). Degeneration, introduction by George L. Mosse. New York: Howard Fertig. ISBN 0-8032-8367-9
  • Nicholas,Lynn H. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York: Vintage Books Print, 1995
  • Potter, Pamela (1992). "Strauss and the National Socialists: The Debate and Its Relevance". in Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work (Sources of Music & Their Interpretation). ed. Bryan Gilliam. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Steinweis, Alan E. (1993). Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4607-4
  • Thoms, Robert: The Artists in the Great German Art Exhibition Munich 1937-1944, Volume I - painting and printing. Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-937294-01-8.
  • Thoms, Robert: The Artists in the Great German Art Exhibition Munich 1937-1944, Volume II - Sculpturing. Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-937294-02-5.

External links

  • GDK Research, research platform for images of the Great German Art Exhibitions 1937-1944 in Munich
  • Complete catalogs of all the Great German Art Exhibitions 1937-1944
  • Nazi Approved Art
  • Nationalsocialist Realism
  • Nazi Political Art
  • Nazi War Art: 1940-1944
  • Nazi Military Paintings
  • Hitler's Ideals Regarding Art
  • Nazi & Soviet Art
  • Works of Art from Nazi Germany
  • Presentation of many paintings of the era


fr:Art officiel#Le nazisme
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