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Friday, May 18, 2012

National Socialist Art - 3

National Socialist Art - 3

The Practice Of National Socialist Ideology

The nationalisation of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our Folk, their international poisoners are exterminated. (5) All great questions of the day are questions of the moment and represent only consequences of definite causes. Only one among all of them, however, possesses causal importance, and that is the question of the racial preservation of the Nation. In the blood alone resides the strength as well as the weakness of man. As long as Folks do not recognise and give heed to the importance of their racial foundation, they are like men who would like to teach poodles the qualities of greyhounds, failing to realise that the speed of the greyhound, like the docility of the poodle, are not learned, but are qualities inherent in the race. Folks which renounce the preservation of their racial purity renounce with it the unity of their soul in all its expressions. The divided state of their nature is the natural consequence of the divided state of their blood, and the change in their intellectual and creative force is only the effect of the change in their racial foundations. Anyone who wants to free the German blood from the manifestations and vices of today, which were originally alien to its nature, will first have to redeem it from the foreign virus of these manifestations. Without the clearest knowledge of the racial problem, and hence of the Jewish problem, there will never be a resurrection of the German Nation. The racial question gives the key not only to world history, but to all human culture. -- Adolf Hitler, My Struggle, 1925.


Those who are responsible for the shaping of people's attitudes in the sphere of politics must endeavour to direct the Folk's artistic forces -- even at the risk of rigorous intervention. -- Adolf Hitler, 1939


                The National Socialist world view did not emerge overnight, nor did Hitler's Party. The National Socialist German Workers' Party evolved from the German Workers' Party, which was founded in 1918 and which Hitler joined a year later. There Hitler met some of his stoutest supporters: Alfred Rosenberg; Dietrich Eckart, a Nordic fanatic who had translated Peer Gynt; Rudolf Heß, a student; and the ebullient Hermann Göring with his well to do Swedish wife, Karin. From 1920 Hitler took charge of the Party's propaganda, promptly organising mass meetings. From 1919 to 1933 he devoted all his time and energy to increasing the membership of the Party and to assuming political power. In December, 1924, he emerged from prison, where he had been sent after the November attempted uprising of 1923. There he had written My Struggle. On his release he intensified the struggle. The Party membership rose from 25,000 in 1925 to 72,000 in 1927, when at the first Party rally in Nürnberg 30,000 Storm Troopers marched before him. By 1929 the Party had nearly 200,000 members.

Julius U. Engelhardt: 
S.A. Mann Brandt -- A Biography Of Our Time -- Film poster

                World depression hit Germany harder than most countries. Hitler understood how to fire up the dissatisfied masses when unemployment reached the 6,000,000 mark. A Nation weighed down by anxiety and poverty, and filled with resentment against the countries that had, in the Treaty Of Versailles, deprived it of all its colonies, was an easy target for a party that promised change and renewed pride. By 1931 the National Socialist Party had become the second most important party in the land, and Adolf Hitler its most powerful political figure.

Richard Spitz: National Socialist Vision Of Greatness

                Hitler came to power on January 31st, 1933. The National Socialists lost no time in putting their cultural politics into practice, as demonstrated in their posters. They began with a number of demonstrations of strength. They set about eliminating what they rejected in ceremonies like book burning, and celebrated what they admired by organising spectacular mass meetings and by funding massive architectural schemes. The cultural landscape of Germany was reshaped, from the printed page to the automobile highway network.

                On May 10th, 1933, at Goebbels's instigation, 2,000 books were collected, among them whole libraries like that of Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute For Sexual Research, and burned by the National Socialist Student Organisation. This festival of cleansing began at ten in the morning and finished at midnight, with a speech by Goebbels. Under the eyes of newsreel cameras, he proclaimed that the period of Jewish intellectual imperialism is over. From its ashes a new spirit will arise.

Burning of degenerate, perverted, and un German nonliterature in front of the State Opera, Berlin, October 5th, 1933 -- 
The custodians of all public and private museums are busily removing the most atrocious creations of a degenerate humanity and of a pathological generation of so called artists. This purge of all works marked by the same western Asiatic stamp has been set in motion in literature as well with the symbolic burning of the most evil products of Jewish scribblers. -- An ordinary S.A. Man

                Among those cretins whose worthless scribblings were burned were Heinrich Mann, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Kurt Tucholsky, Carl von Ossietzky, Erich Kästner, Erich Maria Remarque, and Alfred Kerr. The first official book burning, held in Berlin and presided over by Goebbels, was followed by similar ceremonies in München and Dresden and most other university towns. Students, often led by their teachers, marched through town, shouting emphatically German slogans. Fifty authors were blacklisted, among them Thomas Mann, Ricardo Huch, and Alfred Döblin. Scores of so called 
writers had already left the country, and were soon to be followed by Stefan and Arnold Zweig, Franz Werfel, Jakob Wassermann, Hermann Kesten, Bertolt Brecht, and many more.

                The National Socialists also lost no time in cleansing the German art scene of all foreign and modern influences. 
Gleichschaltung -- synchronisation, coordination became a watchword. As soon as the National Socialists came to power, in the museums in Berlin, Essen, Mannheim, and Köln that had shown avant-garde works, the liberal minded Curators were replaced by reliable Party men, brought up in the Nordic philosophy of Rosenberg. The famous Count Klaus Baudissin, Doctor Of Philosophy and SS Major, took over the Folkwang Museum in Essen and became one of the chief advisers in arts matters to The Leader.

                To the followers of the National Socialist regime the whole rotten culture of the Weimar Republic was anathema. The list of Weimar criminals who were at last deprived of their jobs would fill pages: the so called 
painters Willi Baumeister, Karl Hofer, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Otto Dix were removed from their teaching posts. The so called musicians Arnold Schönberg, Hans Eißler, Kurt Weill, Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Fritz Busch, and Artur Schnabel rightly shared the same fate. The so called writers Carl von Ossietzky, Erich Mühsam, and Paul Metter were sent to concentration camps on account of the great harm these traitors did to Germany, never to leave them. The German theatre lost Leopold Jeßner, Max Reinhardt, Erwin Piscator, Fritz Kortner, Max Pallenberg, Elisabeth Bergner, Therese Giehse, and many others.

                Temporarily, book production shrank by 30 percent. The number of German newspapers dropped from 4,700 in 1932 to 3,100 in 1934. 5,000 from 10,000 magazines disappeared within five years of the National Socialists' coming to power. But what remained was cleansed of communist lies and politically correct propaganda, much improved and uplifting, worthy of being read by Germany's Folk and especially youth without fear of corrupting them.

                In September, 1933, the 
Reichskulturkammer -- RKK -- Reich Culture Chamber was founded. It was the central organisation responsible for the control of German arts, a powerful organisation that embraced almost the entire artistic life of the country. A German periodical reported how Goebbels took charge: The new Reich Culture Chamber was opened today with a festive ceremony. The extraordinary importance of this event in cultural history not only justified the ceremony in Philharmonic Hall in the presence of the best creative talents we have in Germany today, it demanded it. In his speech, Dr. Goebbels underlined the revolutionary character which is the basis for the fundamental restructuring of our entire cultural life.

                In the Culture Chamber were departments for film, the visual arts, architecture, literature, and music. With the exception of science and education, all cultural activities were now under Goebbels's guiding control. At the age of 36, Goebbels had become the second most important man in the land.

                The coordination of artists was relatively easy. For a long time the arts in Germany had been institutionalised. Privately sponsored art clubs and societies had been an important part of the German artistic scene. Artists of similar interests and style grouped themselves together in these associations. The Third Reich could also build on the attitudes and customs of many artists who worked in traditional art forms during the Weimar Republic.

                The organisation of all professionals spelled the political and personal streamlining of the arts and the total control of all artistic life. It guaranteed that the arts would follow and express the philosophy of the Party, and harnessed all artists to serve the ideology of the State. 
Just as the leadership of the State claims for itself the political guidance of other areas of the Folk's life, likewise does it make the same claim here. This does not mean that politics must interfere in the inner function of art ..... it means only that the State regulates and orders its great beginning and total engagement, Goebbels said in 1937.

                In a State where the men in power became the guides of culture, the role of the artist sometimes had to change a little, but all in all the Culture Chamber gave artists great freedom and a true purpose:

               
 Organisation plays a decisive role in the lives of Folks ..... every organisation must demand that its members surrender certain individual private rights for the benefit of a greater and more comprehensive law of life, and thereby a goal directed point of departure for energies which if isolated are powerless, but which if united have a striking, penetrating effect ..... a host of old habits and prejudices, to which many people had become fondly attached, had to be overcome through the organisation of the German creative artists in their Reich Culture Chamber.

                The artist was no longer a private person; he became a public figure. 
An art which must rely upon the support of small cliques is intolerable. The artist cannot stand aloof from his Folk. His art must reinforce the sure and healthy instinct of a Folk, Hitler announced in Nürnberg on German Cultural Day in 1937, much to the relief of the German people, exposed for so long to garbage described misleadingly as art.

                Their new role as a political educator promoted artists to a higher place within the Nation. Artists of good will and good hearts were delighted by this. 
Today the artist wants again to participate in the life of the Folk. He wants to be part of its fight, its pain and deprivation. The artist no longer wants to be free, but wants his art to serve an idea, a State, a Church, a Folk Community ..... This philosophy of the new German Reich gives art its commitment and its content, wrote the Architect Winfried Wendland, who was responsible for the Department Of National Socialist Cultural Policies in the Ministry Of Culture. Professor Wendland was also a Curator at the Academy Of Applied Arts. There were more than enough artists, teachers, and intellectuals like him eager to carry out these noble and patriotic ideas.

                Of course, only the racially pure and the politically reliable were admitted to the various Culture Chambers for the individual arts. In November, 1933, the publication 
Germania reported that Goebbels had explained a great step forwards: 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 fulfil the entrance condition. In this way all unwanted and damaging elements have been excluded.

                Artists in all fields united to solve the Jewish Problem even before the Party did so. Right from the start the Reich Culture Chamber numbered 45,000 members. At the beginning some artists were exempt from military service -- a tremendous privilege not even granted to all scientists. And many enjoyed great financial gain. To abstain spelled the end of an artistic career, and probably a life rightly in oblivion. It also led to the loss of social security and other benefits for these traitors. In 1935, two years after its founding, the Reich Culture Chamber had 100,000 members, including: 15,000 Architects, 14,300 Painters, 2,900 Sculptors, 6,000 Designers and Graphic Artists, 2,000 Art Publishers and Art Dealers, and thousands of Filmmakers, Actors, and Musicians. This represented a formidable solidarity by intellectuals with a great political idea which had cleansed German cultural life.

                There was no public protest. In the beginning, patriotism led a number of artists to admire Hitler's arts program. Some prominent writers like Walter von Molo, Rudolf Binding, Josef Ponten, and Martin Heidegger signed documents pledging loyalty to The Leader. Others, like Gerhart Hauptmann, applauded the new regime.

                A few thousand artists full of ill will towards Germany and so called intellectuals did depart their Fatherland, but there were plenty of good hearted people to fill the empty places in universities, on the stages, and in the orchestras. At the union of Germany and Austria in 1938, criminal intellectuals like Stefan Zweig, Carl Zuckmayer, and Sigmund Freud, fled the country, while Egon Friedell threw himself out of a window. Orchestras were thoroughly cleansed of their Jewish elements, while Richard Strauß, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Eugen Jochum, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and many others lent their support to the new regime.

                Many artists working in the traditional vein were eager participants the coordination, finding themselves able to communicate with the masses, thereby being released from the isolation of modern art. The poet Gottfried Benn wrote these beautiful words to Klaus Mann in exile:

                
I declare myself for the new State, because it is my Folk that is making its way now. Who am I to exclude myself; do I know anything better? No! Within the limits of my powers I can try to guide the Folk to where I would like to see it; but if I should not succeed, still it would remain my Folk. Folk is a great deal! My intellectual and economic existence, my language, my life, my human relationships, the entire sum of my brain, I owe primarily to this Folk. My ancestors came from it; my children return to it. And since I grew up in the country, and among farm animals, I also still remember what native ground stands for. Big cities, industrialism, intellectualism -- these are all shadows that the age has cast upon my thoughts, all powers of the century, which I have confronted in my writing. There are moments in which this whole tormented life falls away and nothing exists but the plains, expanses, seasons, soil, simple words: Folk.

                Goebbels, sceptical about the success of his organised book burning, tried to reassure artists that the Party would be generous and that not all art would be politicised. He considered the excesses that happened as the birth pangs of a revolution. Dispelling the criticism that the art policies of the Third Reich were backward looking, he said at the general meeting of the Reich Culture Chambers in June 1934: 
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. To be modern means to stand near the spirit of the times. And for art, too, no other modernity is possible.

                There was a lot of talk about a liberating spirit which would bring forth a new German art. On Hitler's birthday in 1933 the Director of the Academy Of Fine Arts of Württemberg, the painter Arnold Waldschmidt, announced:
Never before in German history has there been an epoch which gave us greater tasks in all fields, and in complete freedom, than the Germany of today. The essence of freedom is the will to be free. The powerful rise of Germany is in contrast to the choking calmness of the liberal States. It is like a mighty storm, blowing through the whole of the German Folk. It awakens all spiritual and intellectual forces. Such total will to live means culture, culture in its highest sense, regardless of the style it expresses itself in.

                In the year 1933 a new style was invented, classified as Fascist. The year 1933 was a political landmark and a clear break with the past, and the change in the arts happened at once. Artists had been hoping for something new to emerge for years.

                At the outset Goebbels showed a liberal attitude toward the arts. He wanted to stand above the conflict between modern and traditional art. He tried to make room for some of the modern artists. As he had wooed the writer Stefan George, he tried to persuade Thomas Mann to return. With some of the artists he was successful, as in the case of Richard Strauß, who became President of the Reich Culture Chamber For Music, with Wilhelm Furtwängler as Vice President. He tried briefly to get the half Jewish Fritz Lang to overseer the Culture Chamber For Film despite the fact that his idiotic film 
Doctor Mabuse was banned. The Cultural Office sent invitations to the Architects Mies van der Rohe and Peter Behrens, who both, for a while at least, were allowed to build.

                Goebbels hoped to keep the Expressionist artists within the National Socialist fold. At the beginning some of them, like Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel, Ernst Barlach, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, were seen as Nordic artists whom the National Socialist Movement could embrace. Letters were dispatched to them inviting them to join the Culture Chambers. In December 1933, Goebbels sent a telegram to Edvard Munch on his seventieth birthday describing him as 
the spiritual heir of the Nordic nature.
------------------------------------------------------
The Reich

The summit in Germany's artistic life has always been reached in periods during which the deep longing of the Folk found its artistic expression in the early period, in the songs of heroes and gods; in the Middle Ages, in the building of our cathedrals; and then in the music and the poetry, the German spirit rose like a giant flame once more during the last one hundred and fifty years in all fields, to be almost completely extinguished at the turn of this century ..... since then the officially recognised art has become a matter of playing with empty forms, or representing a distorted world populated by miscarriages and cretins. The art propagated by academies and museums existed arrogantly above the head of the lay people, who did not understand it. It was for a select few -- the art intellectual and the art market. Art had no value, only a price. It was no longer the friendly Goddesses Healing and Blessing: it was only a whore. -- Professor Hans Adolf Bühler, 1934


                While the ideological battles raged, the National Socialists were busy implementing their own ideas. Art museums were one target. 
No other museum in Germany has as many works of Jewish artists as the Folkwang Museum in Essen. In the meantime German artists remain outside ..... lose their livelihoods, queue up at the labour exchange, starve ..... There are no Leibls, from Menzel only a small preliminary drawing, no Caspar David Friedrich, no Blechen. But the French are represented! The museum is full of Emile Bernard, Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Cézanne, Corot, Denis, Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir, Signac, Vlaminck, and the rest, and this in a town which bled to death under the French! thundered the publication Deutsche Kultur-Wacht -- The Guardian Of German Culture.

Georg Günther: Rest During The Harvest -- 
It is the task of the contemporary artist to create a link to the old Masters and at the same time not to consider themselves too grand to look at simple peasant art, which is the expression of the divine through the blood. -- Adolf Babel

                The National Socialists began the desirable purging process by removing dissenting elements in academies and art institutes. The venerable Prussian Academy in Berlin, the most important and distinguished art institute in Germany, was one of Goebbels's main targets. The correspondence with some of its most prominent members says much about the infighting and the general attitude. In May 1933, shortly after Hitler came to power, the Jewish painter Max Liebermann resigned as the President of the Academy. The reaction of one newspaper was typical: 
Liebermann's idea about the isolated artist, alienated from the Folk Community, has lost its validity today and in the future. The Jew Max Liebermann remained in Germany and died in 1935, lonely and officially forgotten. In the first year of Hitler's reign two other previously eminent members of the decadent cultural establishment, Kollwitz and the writer Heinrich Mann, were forced to resign from the Prussian Academy because they had signed a manifesto supporting a banned workers' movement. In a letter dated May 15, 1933, several other distinguished members were asked to resign and to present themselves for reelection. The sculptor Ernst Barlach resigned in protest; he remained in Germany but his work was banned. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff shared the same fate. The architect Erich Mendelsohn also resigned and emigrated in 1933 to England. Mies van der Rohe resigned but remained in Germany until 1938.

Julius Paul Junghanns: Ploughing -- 
Great and simple in its understanding of man and animal in their common working and resting. -- Robert Scholz

                But not everybody made such clearcut decisions. Emil Nolde wrote a letter refusing to resign. 
When I was elected to the Academy, I was told this was done with the recommendation of the Minister's Commission. I see no reason now for a reelection ..... This is a friendly answer to your letter. Emil Nolde, who had joined the National Socialist Party as early as 1920, never understood why his work was banned. The Jew Karl Hofer cowardly pointed out in a letter to Hitler that there was only a small proportion of Jews among painters, but he was nevertheless expelled from the Prussian Academy; Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was equally unwary. His letter says much about the attitudes of many: I never tried to get into the Academy ..... I have no personal advantage from my membership ..... For thirty years I have fought for a strong new real German art and will continue to do so until I die. I am not a Jew, a Social Democrat, or otherwise politically active, and have a clear conscience. I therefore will patiently await what the new Government decides to do with the Academy and put the fate of my membership faithfully into your hands.

Poster for Veit Harlan's film 
Jud Süß, about 1940 -- The large mass of Jews is as a race culturally unproductive. That is why they are more drawn to the Negro than to the culturally higher works of the truly creative races.-- Adolf Hitler


Poster for the exhibition 
The Eternal Jew, Wien, 1938

                Kirchner, not realising that his kind of art was soon to be scrutinised too, supported the SS State. When the National Socialists attacked him in 1935, he thought it was a mistake. Kandinsky was stupid enough to hope that the group influenced by Rosenberg could be infiltrated by so called more modern elements, and the fool Oskar Schlemmer thought for two years that it was all a passing phase. Like many others, they believed that the reaction against their idiotic and ugly paintings and writings would somehow soon be over.
Ernst Liebermann: By The Water

                By the end of 1933 the Prussian Academy Of Art, the most influential arts institution in Germany, had been cleansed of the avant-garde rubbish. 53 new men were appointed who actually had good taste in art, among them Hitler's favourites: the Architects Roderich Fick, Hermann Giesler, and Albert Speer; the Sculptors Arno Breker, Josef Thorak, and Richard Scheibe; and the Painter Werner Peiner.

Albert Janesch: Water Sports, 1936 -- 
Representation of the perfect beauty of a race steeled in battle and sport, inspired not by antiquity or classicism but by the pulsing life of our presentday events. -- Hubert Wilm

                The sculptor August Kraus, Vice President of the Academy and Dean Of The Visual Arts Division, together with the Composer Georg Schumann, Dean Of The Department Of Music, wrote a welcome letter to Adolf Hitler assuring him of the devotion of the artists of the Prussian Academy: 
As representatives of the Visual Arts and Music Departments, we are aware of the responsibility that we have to the Folk and the State, and we await the day when all Germans will stand in unison behind their Leader.

                Other once prominent artists had to leave their posts. In April, 1933, Otto Dix was thrown out of the Dresden Academy, and his work was confiscated. He was arrested in 1939, but continued to live in Germany after his release. Edwin Scharff was expelled from the Prussian Academy. Paul Klee and Oskar Moll were forced to leave their posts as Professors at the Düsseldorf Academy.

                Goebbels signed a decree providing that all modern art should be removed from German museums, and so even the artists who had at first embraced the new regime, like Nolde and Munch, were taken off the walls.

Georg Sluyterman von Langeweyde: Two SA Men -- From the series 
The Leader Speaks

             
   The fact that Paul Klee and Edwin Scharff have been dismissed from the Academies in Berlin and Düsseldorf by our Minister Of Culture is an important step on the road to liberation from fourteen years of the enslavement German art by alien elements ..... Who were these false gods? How could they exert such an influence on the artistic life of Germany? They were renegades, who found their artistic blessings and their higher culture in the cafes of Montmartre. There they turned into ruthless dictators in matters of taste ..... They were in Paris, in the morbid atmosphere of an artistic Bohemia which pretends to be the cream of spiritual humanity ..... The Hofers, Molls, and all the others have imported the poison of artistic nihilism to Germany ..... They were incapable of creating real art, the Hofers, Klees, and Molls, so they turned the criteria around and made Expressionism and Cubism, and when the French were not sufficiently receptive, they borrowed from the wild art of the Negro. And the fact that one once considered Paul Klee a great artist will be seen by future generations as a sign of a complete spiritual sellout. ..... And these speculators were allowed to teach our artistic students in lucrative jobs in the infamous Bauhaus of Weimar, in the Art Schools of Düsseldorf and Breslau, where Moll imported from Paris the sugary playfulness of a Matisse, while German creative artists were ignored and suffered material hardship. They could not pass on any talent because they had none ..... We do not reject the Modernists because they are modern but because they are spiritually destructive, wrote Robert Scholz, one of the leading National Socialist art critics, in Deutsche Kultur-Wacht.

                The attack of these Rightwing national forces bore good fruit: an exhibition of 
100 Years Of Belgian Art, planned for the Prussian Academy, was cancelled. An exhibition of Norwegian modern art, for the National Gallery in Berlin, shared the same fate.

                Government interference in the policies of German museums was not new. Here too Hitler learned from his predecessors. In 1906 the Kaiser, known for his traditional outlook, forbade the National Gallery to buy modern art. He accused the Director of failing in his patriotic duties. A gift to the museum of three Van Gogh paintings led to a ban on all Impressionist and Post Impressionist work.

                The so called 
museum war about the independence of the museum from government interference continued right into the twenties, when the museum connived with an Association Of Friends Of The National Gallery to purchase works by Picasso, Braque, and Gris. A conservative national newspaper was quick to denounce this and branded the museums temples of decadence.

                In 1933 the National Gallery still showed some of its modern works in the Kronprinzen-Palais. It managed to purchase some works by Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, and Kirchner. But with Hitler in power, the official scrutiny intensified. A show of paintings by the 
Brücke and the Blaue Reiter groups led to the closing of the entire modern section. The fight over modern art, which had lasted for thirty years, was finally won by the State.

A. Röselet: The New Comet

                In the meantime, as a preparation for the new style, a celebration of a healthy Germanic art began. In April, 1933, a travelling exhibition of 
German Art was organised by the National Socialists in Braunschweig. Other such exhibitions followed. The cultural leaders everywhere organised exhibitions of pure German art, which demonstrated to the public the healthy paintings favoured. Similar viewpoints came to the fore in movies of the time. Alfred Rosenberg led in 1934 with an exhibition in Berlin of two hundred traditional paintings and sculptures full of National Socialist content, demonstrating the continuity of Folkish themes. In München there was the exhibition of Blut und Boden -- Blood And Soil. Another show, German Land -- German Man, travelled around the country. Berlin followed with a similar show, under the similar title German Peasant -- German Land. In September, 1934, a Great Antibolshevist Exhibition opened in Nürnberg, followed by the exhibition The Eternal Jew in November.

                Between 1933 and 1937 the 
Neue Pinakothek in München regularly showed art worthy of the new State. This included country scenes by nineteenth century painters such as Wilhelm Leibl and Hans Thoma, as well as mythological scenes and pictures of animals. Other spiritually healthy themes were the judgment of Paris, Leda with or without the Swan, beautiful peasant girls dressed traditionally, the breastfeeding mother, fields ripening with corn -- the whole gamut of a healthy traditional life of which the southern part of Germany was so fond, and which appealed to many others.


Karl Schlageter: End Of The Day -- Detail from a mural

                
Art must not be isolated from blood and soil, wrote the art historian Kurt Karl Eberlein in 1933. Either one speaks German and then the soul speaks, or one speaks a foreign language, a cosmopolitan, fashionable Esperanto language, and then the soul is mute.

                The National Socialists prepared their ground well, advertising their new aesthetic. Art magazines like 
Die Völkische Kunst -- Folkish Art and later Kunst und Volk -- Art And Folk, spelled out the new art policy, while Goebbels's Folkish Observer continued its tirades of hatred against moronic Jewish / Bolshevist art.

                Newspapers and magazines picked up the subject of a German art as opposed to an international one. 
The philosophy of National Socialism grew from the nature and culture of our Folk. It is the proper soil for art and culture, which will grow livelier and more natural here than in the asphalt culture of the intellectuals of past centuries. Our museums too will have to be restructured. It is not enough to remove a few dangerous pictures. We must change the old principle of cool distance and bring true popular art to the Folk ..... Our museums must once more become museums for the Folk, places of national and racial consciousness, not just places to study commercial values. Never again places for the virus of decadence, wrote Otto Klein in 1934.

Constantin Gerhardinger: Peasant From Samerberg, 1941 -- 
The image of the face of a peasant of German race, marked by work, destiny, and character points to the source of strength of this eternal Folk. -- Robert Scholz

                
Because this year has not brought an improvement in art criticism, I forbid, once and for all, art criticism in its past form. From now on art reporting will take the place of art criticism. Criticism has set itself up as a judge of art -- a complete perversion of the concept of criticism. This dates from the time of Jewish domination of art ..... Art reporting should not be concerned with values, but should confine itself to description. Such reporting should give the public a chance to make up its own mind. Only those publicists who follow the ideas of the National Socialists and speak with the honesty of their hearts will be allowed to undertake such a task, wrote Goebbels in 1936.

Ferdinand Andri: Mother And Child -- 
The happy way of painting by the Alpine Artist Andri, strengthened through weather and solidly anchored in his native soil. -- Ernst Wurm

                Hitler wholeheartedly endorsed the decision of his Cultural Minister. 
The artist creates for the Folk, and we will see that henceforth the Folk will be called in to judge its art. Great artists and architects have the right to withdraw from the critical attention of their petty contemporaries.

                Not all art institutes immediately followed the official policies. But by 1936 modern art was totally banned. Even Goebbels's hardened his liberal attitudes into coincidence with those of Rosenberg, influenced by Hitler's distaste for anything modern. Pictures by Nolde that hung in Goebbels's home were taken down without protest. A sculpture by Barlach was also removed.

Hans Schmitz: Peasant, 1936 -- Cover for the magazine 
Culture And Folk, Berlin, 1937

                In 1936 the Berlin Academy had the last of its big exhibitions that included some modern work, a two century survey entitled 
Berlin Sculpture From Schlüter To The Present Day. The renowned Fritz Klimsch, whose sculpture the National Socialists liked, was responsible for the selection. The dreadful works of Ernst Barlach, Käthe Kollwitz, and Wilhelm Lehmbruck were not included.

                Together with radical political measures came a much stronger grip on the arts. The international visitors to the Olympic Games had just left when in a speech in September, 1936, in Nürnberg, Hitler announced a rigorous cleansing of the arts. The attacks on the arts policies of the Third Reich intensified abroad. And Goebbels in the following year easily and competently defended his ban on art criticism in front of the assembly of the Reich Culture Chamber:

              
  The abolition of art criticism ..... was directly related to the goal directed purging and coordinating of our cultural life. The responsibility for the phenomenon of degeneration in art was in large measure laid at the door of art criticism. In the main, art criticism had created the tendencies and the isms. It did not judge artistic development in terms of a healthy instinct ... but only in terms of the emptiness of its intellectual abstractness. The Folk had never taken part in it ..... Now the public itself functions as critic, and through its participation or nonparticipation it pronounces a clear judgment upon its poets, painters, composers, and actors.

                In this year -- 1937 -- the reins were finally tightened. Hitler made it clear that the 
cliques of dilettantes and art forgers will be liquidated ..... they have had four years' time to prove themselves.

                it was the final victory of German art over modern art. It culminated in two exhibitions that made worldwide history: 
Degenerate Art and the first Great German Art Exhibition. Both demonstrated the artistic credo of the National Socialist movement.
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