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Stolen art
by Nazis

1-20-18

 

Under Hitler’s regime, art was looked
at as modern and a sign of class.  Both
of which challenged his goal and questioned his authority.  The stolen art by the Nazis was called Nazi
Plunder, which was the stealing of art.  Paintings,
ceramics, books, and religious treasures were the objects that were stolen.  Many of these pieces of art that were stolen
were never found. Some of the art were put into German museums while others
were sold to private buyers.  Also some
were given to high ranking officials of the Nazi party as mementos. Some of the
paintings that could not be sold were publicly burnt because they were of
little value or little importance.

The most famous art auction was the
degenerate art auction in Switzerland.

From 1937 to 1939 it was estimated that over 20,000 pieces of
art were stolen and sold

at the auction. Several modern types of art such as:
expressionism and surrealism were the

most common types of art sold. These types of art were looked
at by Hitler as forward thinking

and this challenged his agenda.
Neuendorf, Henri. (2017, Aug 4) 80 Years After Hitler’s ‘Degenerate Art’ Show, Two German Museums
Confront Its Dark Legacy. news.artnet.com/exhibitions/degenerate-art-80-years-1037816

Artist that were looked at by the
Nazis as modernist were Emile Nolde, Franz Marc, George Grosz, and many other
artists. These were all German artist that Hitler viewed as a threat to his
plan.  There were many other artists,
including Jews, Americans and Europeans whose works were sold or destroyed.  

            There
were three main reasons why Hitler confiscated, sold and destroyed degenerate
art.  Some of these pieces of art were
worth a lot of money.  The Nazis sold
them to help pay for the costs of running the country and the military. Art
that was created by Jews had to be stopped in Hitler’s mind. Hitler thought
that the art of the Jews and Bolsheviks threatened the spiritual health of the
German people. Artists whose paintings were seen as degenerate were forbidden
to make any more pieces of art or they would be killed. Some of the German
artists were initially excepted by Hitler and the rest of the Nazi party, but
later were seen as degenerate artist.

            Hitler
had hated degenerate art because he was a failed artist himself who had failed
liked traditional art such as buildings and landscapes. This type of art was
rejected by the art establishment. So to gain his revenge Hitler began the
degenerate art exhibition.  Nazis claimed
that the degenerate art auctions were only pieces of art by Jews and
Bolsheviks. But only 6 of the 112 artist that were in the exhibition were
Jewish. The idea of the degenerate art exhibition was to mock the modern art
and that this type of art was an evil plot against the German people. The
degenerate art auction attracted millions of people. Some of the art was later
burned by Nazis. For some of these artists this was a very good thing because
their pieces of art became more valuable abroad. Some of the artists that were
in the exhibition are thought of as some of the greatest modern artists of all
time. If the artists rejected the order to change their art so that it was not
degenerate, they would be exiled from Germany.

Burns, Lucy. (2013, Nov 6).
Degenerate art: Why Hitler Hated Modernism. www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24819441

            Lastly,
the demolition of art showed Hitler’s power by being able to ban modern art in
Germany by only allowing classical art. Hitler ordered for degenerate paintings
to be stolen and put into museums to mock them. This allowed for Hitler to keep
the people in order by not only owning their belongings but by truly believing
that he owned their thoughts and expressions. He wanted everybody to be like him
and didn’t want change because he believed the Germans were the superior race
of the world.

            Some
of the famous paintings that were stolen were the Saint Justa and Saint Rufina
by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Painter on The Road to Tarascon by Vincent Van
Gogh, Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
I by Gustav Klimt, Altarpiece of Veit Stoss by Veit Stoss, Place de la Concorde
by Edgar Degas, The Astronomer by Johannes Vermeer, Amber Room by Andreas
Schluter, Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo.   Most of which were never recovered after the
war.  Johnson, Bryan. (2014, March 13).
Top 10 Famous Pieces of Art Stolen by the Nazis. www.toptenz.net/10-famous-pieces-of-art-stolen-by-the-nazis.php

            Some
of these paintings that were stolen were found in other museums around the
world, in Officers of the Nazi army’s homes and by buyers from the
auctions.  The majority have never been
found because many of the pieces of art were hidden or given away to high
ranking military officials or to private buyers. Cornelius Gurlitt was the son
of a Nazi art dealer who had reportedly been keeping an estimated 1.35 billion
dollars’ worth of paintings to himself. Most of the art was stolen during World
War II.  More than 1400 works were seized
by the government and over 600 of them are being investigated because they are
thought to be Nazi loot. The German government went under heavy criticism
because they waited so long to announce that they have found all of these
paintings. Family members of the Jewish people have been waiting for
reparations for so long because all of these paintings were part of their
culture. The German government announced that they intend to double funding for
the search of the stolen art. Even today there is Nazi looted art in German
museums. Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. (2014, Feb 11). Sixty More Works Discovered
in Hidden Nazi Art Trove. www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/02/more-nazi-art-loot/357951/

            The
stolen art of the Nazi party is a very important topic throughout the world and
especially in Hollywood. There has been multiple movies created about the
stolen art by the Nazis. A few of these movies are the Rape of Europa which was
a documentary on Nazi Germany’s plundering of Europe’s greatest art works during
World War II. Another movie is the Monuments Men.  It is a drama movie about how a World War II
platoon is given the mission to rescue art masterpieces from the Nazi thieves
that stole them and return them to their rightful owners.  The last movie is Woman in Gold which is a
biography about a woman who was a Jewish refugee who takes on the Austrian
government to recover the artwork stolen by the Nazis that she believes
rightfully belongs to her family.

            In
conclusion, it is clear to see that Hitler didn’t have a problem with the
degenerate art but rather with the failures of his past and as a failed artist.
Hitler wanted to keep the people of Germany limited to what he liked and what
he thought was best for them. By doing this he was able to keep a stronghold on
the people and create fear against anyone that went against his beliefs. It is
a shame that much of the art was destroyed and some never found, so it will
never be able to be appreciated or returned to the families of the rightful
owners.

                                                         

                                                          WORKS
CITED

 

            Neuendorf,
Henri. (2017, Aug 4) 80 Years After Hitler’s ‘Degenerate Art’ Show, Two German
Museums Confront Its Dark Legacy. news.artnet.com/exhibitions/degenerate-art-80-years-1037816

 

            Burns,
Lucy. (2013, Nov 6). Degenerate art: Why Hitler Hated Modernism. www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24819441

 

            Johnson,
Bryan. (2014, March 13). Top 10 Famous Pieces of Art Stolen by the Nazis. www.toptenz.net/10-famous-pieces-of-art-stolen-by-the-nazis.php

 

            Wiener-Bronner,
Danielle. (2014, Feb 11). Sixty More Works Discovered in Hidden Nazi Art Trove.
www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/02/more-nazi-art-loot/357951/

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