Nazi Art



Many people know that Adolph Hitler was an artist in his youth as an Austrian, but just how
much art played a role in the National Socialist Germany seems to get underrated in the history
books. Just as a racial war was waged against the Jewish population and the military fought the
French and the Slavic people, an artistic cleansing for the Germanic culture was in progress.
Special Nazi units were searching the ancient arts of antiquity for evidence of a great Germanic
race that existed well before history. Hitler had monuments and museums built on a grand scale
with carefully designed architecture that would last a thousand years. Art of this nature was a
priority because Hitler wanted to capture Chronos, not Gaea. He wanted to dominate the rest of
time, not the limits of Earth.

Hitler was born and raised in the town of Linz. As a youth he studied art, primarily as a painter
capturing mostly the surrounding Alpine Mountain landscapes that he grew up with, but he also
had an interest in architecture. When he turned eighteen he applied to the Vienna Art Academy,
and was rejected. Along with art, Hitler was fascinated with Linz, Antiquity, and Wagner. It was at
this time in his youth that Hitler and his friend, Kubicheck would try to finish an opera that
Wagner had abandoned. This opera was about a leader trying to establish the Roman Empire by
overthrowing the Papal government in Rome. Hitler would remember "It was in that hour it all
began."1

Hitler thought of Wagner and art as the basis for a new government, nation, and people. It is
not just coincidence that he would be surrounded by National Socialist leaders with background
in the arts. Joseph Gobbels, the Minister of Propaganda and head of the Reich Chamber of
Culture, was an experienced writer and aspiring poet. Rosenberg was a painter and Von Sherot
wrote poetry. Hans Frederick Munch of the Reich\'s Chamber of Literature said "This government
born out of opposition to rationalism knows the peoples inner longings and dreams, which only
the artist can give them."2 Less than three months after coming to power, the Nazis issued
"What German artists expect of their new government" in March of 1933. One of the first projects
of the Nazi regime was the House of German Art (Haus der Deutschen Kunst), a large museum.
Quickly the Third Reich was forming it\'s own style of art, as identifiable as Soviet "Social-
Realism", but symbolizing the national and racial policies. And while the Soviets tended to
emphasize Literature, the Nazis focused on Visual art and Architecture. Nazi art was Neo-
Classical with a twist of German romanticism, heroicism, and nostalgia for the times of yore.3

In the beginning there was debate on what exactly the Nazis were looking for in art. It is well
known that the Third Reich was extremely hostile to Avant-Garde artists, but before the Nazis
came to power, Joseph Goebbels took to the opinion that some German Expressionists were
compatible with National Socialist ideas. These artists include Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich
Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Barlach, and Emil Nolde. Nolde was even a Nazi party
member, but these artists could hardly be called "Nazi artists". They declared nationalism and
were very anti-capitalist. The Expressionists promoted sensation and passion over rational logic
and were heavily into primitive German culture. Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, and other senior
Nazis attacked these modern artists as incompatible with the Nazi ideal because of there strong
opposition to authoritarianism and the individualism expressed within their work.4 Albert Speer,
commissioned to decorate Goebbels home would later write: "I borrowed a few watercolours from
... the director of the Berlin Nationalgalerie. Goebbels and his wife were delighted with the
paintings---until Hitler came to inspect, and expressed his severe disapproval. Then the minister
summoned me immediately. \'The pictures will have to go at once; they\'re simply impossible\'."5
Upon the assumption of power, almost all modern art was attacked and artists of all sorts fled the
country as work was confiscated and art schools were closed.

There are many reasons Hitler attacked modern art. Such groups as the Dadaists and the
Bauhaus had close connections with the Soviet schools of Constructivism and Suprematism.
These groups, while not necessarily Communist, were overly leftist ranging the gauntlet from
Socialism to Anarchism and was extremely anti-military. Hitler also attacked the aesthetics of
modern art. The Bauhaus was ultra-modern and cosmopolitan in it\'s designs. It\'s creations were
seamless global industrial works that lacked a recognizable element of German