Hitler, The Third Reich- As Artists

Discussions on the propaganda, architecture and culture in the Third Reich.
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Psycho Mike
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Hitler, The Third Reich- As Artists

Post by Psycho Mike » 30 Apr 2003 09:21

Terrific article about the role aesthetics had in shaping the Third reich:
http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.04.25/arts2.html

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White Leopard
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Post by White Leopard » 30 Apr 2003 16:56

I am currently reading this book and find that it rings true. Much of the "mystery" surrounding Hitler's motives and actions could be the product of an artistic nature that was frustrated from it's own internal limitations. At least it makes more sense to me than some of the absurd "Hitler was warped because he had only one ball" ideas.

A great deal of our fascination with this period springs from the cloak of sinister beauty that it was wrapped in. The frequent comments on this board conscerning the visual beauty of the rallies and the marches show that this beauty still has it's attraction in spite of the dark side and the horrible acts it harbors.

I believe that the cultural pretentions of the Third Reich cannot be ignored in trying to understand the phenomena. These have been too long dismissed or ignored because, like so much of that state, it causes uneasiness or dismay in the investigators.

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Post by Psycho Mike » 06 May 2003 03:17

"cloak of sinister beauty" wish I'd said that!

Yes the rallies were a form of performance art and I think they all thought they were fighting for a new aesthetic.

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Nazi Art Book

Post by JLEES » 06 May 2003 22:54

White Leopard,
Who published the book and what year was it printed? I'll order it.
James

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A Shift in Emphasis?

Post by Max2Cam » 07 May 2003 16:40

I read the review but doubt that I will read the book. It is NOT going to tell me anything new that I already don't know and have known all my life -- and know probably better than the author.

It seems that the Holocaust promoters (I don't know how else to describe them), are waking up to the fact that Nazi aesthetics are more attractive than theirs and that it won't die.

This is ironic because all my life I have heard that Hitler was a "failed" artist and that his paintings were crap and that there was no real Nazi art but just wacky ideas and mindless robotic rallies for propaganda purposes.

In truth, the Third Reich in itself was a work of art -- and a very attractive one too. Far more attractive looking than anything America or Britain could offer at that time. View the video: "Third Reich in Color" and you'll see it with your own eyes.

And yes, I would go so far to say that the war, the destruction of cities, the countless deaths, and even the so-called Holocaust was a part of that great and terrible beauty.

That's not saying it was always "good" or "nice" or "moral" but it was still beautiful. That is almost beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend, but still true...

I also have to laugh when I hear those who claim that Hitler was going to destroy European culture, when in fact he was totally into it and honestly wanted to be its great protector.

Sure beats rap music and abstract art...

You only have to contrast the care in which the Nazis crated up their (stolen) artwork and stored it in salt mines at the end of the war to the criminal neglect in which the USA just allowed the ancient treasures of Mesopotamia to be looted and destroyed to see who the real cultural barbarians are!
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National Socialism is really a way of life [eine Weltanschauung]. It always begins at the beginning and lays new foundations for life. That is why our task is so difficult, but also so beautiful.... -- Dr. Goebbels

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Book Info

Post by White Leopard » 07 May 2003 17:08

JLEES wrote:
Who published the book and what year was it printed? I'll order it.
The title of the book is: Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics

The author is Frederic Spotts and it was published this year, 2003. It can be ordered at a small discount from Amazon.Com.

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Nazi Art

Post by JLEES » 07 May 2003 21:15

Max2Cam,
You’ve made some interesting statements, I’d like to comment on and I really don’t care what the moderator thinks. First you said, “This is ironic because all my life I have heard that Hitler was a "failed" artist and that his paintings were crap and that there was no real Nazi art but just wacky ideas and mindless robotic rallies for propaganda purposes.” You may be confusing the ideas of Finer Arts and Propaganda. While the Art of the Third Reich, or what was displayed in the HDK could be called great works of propaganda, they are poor examples of Finer Art pieces. Unless of course, you’re just into Neo-Classic, Romanticism and Realism art forms and your appreciation of modern arts ends there. Hitler’s concepts of art were nothing more than the regurgitation of art from the 19th Century with neoclassic looking bodies with German heads (which by the way falls into the abstract definition of art). Although pretty to look at and great examples of propaganda for the masses, unschooled in art appreciation, there is nothing unique about them from a Finer Arts standpoint. Therefore, from a finer arts analysis, they’re junk (although great pieces of propaganda).

Then you said, “And yes, I would go so far to say that the war, the destruction of cities, the countless deaths, and even the so-called Holocaust was a part of that great and terrible beauty…That's not saying it was always "good" or "nice" or "moral" but it was still beautiful. That is almost beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend, but still true...” Simply put, you’ve got to be insane!

Next, “also have to laugh when I hear those who claim that Hitler was going to destroy European culture, when in fact he was totally into it and honestly wanted to be its great protector.” Yes, if you are just talking about classical, neoclassical, romanticism and realism and overlooking everything else produced in the art world, which is about 90% of what remand. Hitler then would be a destroyer of art.

“In truth, the Third Reich in itself was a work of art -- and a very attractive one too.” Again if you limit yourself to Nazi aesthetic that would be true, but why limit yourself to such a shallow world?

“You only have to contrast the care in which the Nazis crated up their (stolen) artwork and stored it in salt mines at the end of the war to the criminal neglect in which the USA just allowed the ancient treasures of Mesopotamia to be looted and destroyed to see who the real cultural barbarians are!” This statement is so full of paradoxes it’s comical. First, the Nazis “looted and destroyed” art. Much of what they stored were the Looted and stolen works, which were recovered and returned to their owners (when possible). In terms of Iraq, it was the Iraqis that stole their own treasures and looted their own museums. The US Army’s primarily job was to fight a war, not museum preservation from the Iraqi people. Unlike the Nazis of WWII, the USA didn’t make it state policy loot the museums and take the art back to their own country and/or destroy it.

I think there is a great deal of fantasy in much of what you wrote in the form of legitimate art history. I think you’re confusing Finer Art Appreciation with Modern Propaganda, which is two different things. You should read some books on art appreciation and art history, before making such wild value judgments again.

White Leopard,
Thanks for the information about the book!!!
James

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Post by Johnny » 08 May 2003 13:24

All totalitarian states seem to bring out the power of art to it's fullest, atleast in it's darker sense. Has anybody seen parades or other sorts of official gatherings going on in North Korea right now? It doesn't differ that much from Nazi Germany, though it's clearly more inspired by Soviet styled propaganda.

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Post by Psycho Mike » 09 May 2003 15:39

I think BOTH JLEES and MAX make good points.

In the 1950's a group of art "experts" looked at Hitler's work, and were told who it was. They dismissed the art immediately, and their conclusions dominated the art worlds commentary for decades to come. Lesser known, is that in the 1980s a group of "art experts" were shown the same work- but not told who did it. The result was far different.

I taught at the Art Institute, 20th Century Art and I can tell you that if Hitler turned in his art today, whether the still lifes or the archetecture, he would be accepted at once. (This would be a great prank to play, hee hee). :lol:

Yes it is true that the west was going through a devastating depression. Suddenly Hitler is passing out cars, free health care, has people united and working together, paid vacations from the state. And people are eating again. This must have been astonishing to the entire world. You can see how grateful the Germans were when you see the color footage.

But aside from the work of Leni Reifenstahl- what art did they create? What lasted? Nothing. Zip. In America the term kitsch is beloved- it brings to mind "bad" art that we enjoy looking at. (Elvis paintings on velvet, etc).
But in Europe during this time calling art kitsch was like spitting in the face of the artist. Because Hitler merged his propaganda with art, he destroyed the aesthetic he was trying to save. So much so that when skinheads today listen to white power music, the words are often over music created by Blacks! (I think it was Rahowah that does a song over a Chuck Berry tune. Chuck Berry!) His view of art lay in the ruins of Germany and his followers today have no understanding of it, nor do his detractors understand that he was all about fighting for an aesthetic ideal.

Now where I draw the line with Max is that if we can't look at just the core of his belief system and admit that he himself destroyed it and used it for bad purposes, and say he was bad, there is no moral center. Whether you believe in the Bible, the Koran or you are a Pagan or atheist who believes in ethics, there is no way you can look at the end result and not use the word- evil. Because those original impulses, deliberately diluted to appeal to the masses destroyed their meaning.

If that has no meaning then right or wrong has no meaning. If we lack a style to life we will never have an art that touches us, for there will be nothing to touch.
I'd rather be dead. It was a beautiful evil at times, but lets not forget it was evil.

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Post by FBerloff » 12 May 2003 01:05

Meanwhile in the middle of a search for pics of nazi historical locations, i happened to stop on a webpage about the nazi artists, i was impressed by the statues, they weren't alive just because they were made of rock.
They were so realistic that seemed more like alive portraits of women.
:o

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Post by Johnny » 12 May 2003 09:31

Yeah Thorak's sculptures are really impressive allthough I find the nude paintings by Adolf Ziegler and such to be closer to pornography than art.

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Re: Nazi Art

Post by Max2Cam » 13 May 2003 19:33

JLEES wrote:Max2Cam,
You’ve made some interesting statements, I’d like to comment on and I really don’t care what the moderator thinks. First you said, “This is ironic because all my life I have heard that Hitler was a "failed" artist and that his paintings were crap and that there was no real Nazi art but just wacky ideas and mindless robotic rallies for propaganda purposes.” You may be confusing the ideas of Finer Arts and Propaganda. While the Art of the Third Reich, or what was displayed in the HDK could be called great works of propaganda, they are poor examples of Finer Art pieces. Unless of course, you’re just into Neo-Classic, Romanticism and Realism art forms and your appreciation of modern arts ends there. Hitler’s concepts of art were nothing more than the regurgitation of art from the 19th Century with neoclassic looking bodies with German heads (which by the way falls into the abstract definition of art). Although pretty to look at and great examples of propaganda for the masses, unschooled in art appreciation, there is nothing unique about them from a Finer Arts standpoint. Therefore, from a finer arts analysis, they’re junk (although great pieces of propaganda).


>>> You are merely repeating the same old "Nazi-art-was-crap" song and dance routine. Sure, if you restrict Nazi art to the forced pieces that you call "Finer Arts" you can find specific examples that are poor -- and probably some that are good. No doubt about it. But my point is that the Third Reich as a whole was a work of art. Someone used the phrase "performance art" to describe it and that hits the mark. The Third Reich was the LAST example of a exclusively German cultural episode that was unique, and great "beauty" can be seen in the cultural, spiritual, and war-making expressions of Hitler's Germany. Love it or hate it, Nazism was just as much a living artistic expression as it was political. Hitler himself said: "[National Socialism's] total image will be like a holy order." Notice that Hitler is obcessed with the "image" of Nazism -- I take that to mean aesthetic beauty -- and that he strives beyond art to that of creating a religion. The guy was definitely an artist molding the German nation into his vision of a artistic masterpiece (or wicked debased evil -- depending on your moral perspective).
Then you said, “And yes, I would go so far to say that the war, the destruction of cities, the countless deaths, and even the so-called Holocaust was a part of that great and terrible beauty…That's not saying it was always "good" or "nice" or "moral" but it was still beautiful. That is almost beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend, but still true...” Simply put, you’ve got to be insane!


I will only remind you that death, decay, ruins, and human suffering have long been subjects of artistic consideration and humanity has long infused artistic beauty into these disturbing realities. Why should the Third Reich be considered any differently? The article under discussion alludes to the same thing:
In fact, the resulting "art" encompassed much more than the kitsch statuary and paintings so easy to dismiss now: It also included Nazi pageantry and regalia, films and political choreography, architecture and, without too much of a stretch, even the so-called "theaters" of war and mass murder, as well.

Next, “also have to laugh when I hear those who claim that Hitler was going to destroy European culture, when in fact he was totally into it and honestly wanted to be its great protector.” Yes, if you are just talking about classical, neoclassical, romanticism and realism and overlooking everything else produced in the art world, which is about 90% of what remand. Hitler then would be a destroyer of art.


Perhaps it would be better to describe Hitler as the protector of "traditional" European art. He certainly wasn't the protector of "modern" art.
“In truth, the Third Reich in itself was a work of art -- and a very attractive one too.” Again if you limit yourself to Nazi aesthetic that would be true, but why limit yourself to such a shallow world?


Then you agree that the 3rd Reich was a work of art in itself? Incidently, I don't limit myself that that aesthetic alone, but can see that it really does exist and is sometime's surprisingly effective, plus that is the subject of this forum.
“You only have to contrast the care in which the Nazis crated up their (stolen) artwork and stored it in salt mines at the end of the war to the criminal neglect in which the USA just allowed the ancient treasures of Mesopotamia to be looted and destroyed to see who the real cultural barbarians are!” This statement is so full of paradoxes it’s comical. First, the Nazis “looted and destroyed” art. Much of what they stored were the Looted and stolen works, which were recovered and returned to their owners (when possible). In terms of Iraq, it was the Iraqis that stole their own treasures and looted their own museums. The US Army’s primarily job was to fight a war, not museum preservation from the Iraqi people. Unlike the Nazis of WWII, the USA didn’t make it state policy loot the museums and take the art back to their own country and/or destroy it.


I stand by my original statement. The Nazis took pains while they were losing the war to protect European artistic masterpieces. Contrast that to the USA knowingly allowed mankind's cultural treasures to be destroyed in Iraq while armed troops stood by and did nothing. Not their job? Under the Fourth Geneva Convention it was the USA's responsibility to protect Iraq's cultural treasures. The Americans acted like barbarians in that respect and I consider it a potential war crime on our part.
I think there is a great deal of fantasy in much of what you wrote in the form of legitimate art history. I think you’re confusing Finer Art Appreciation with Modern Propaganda, which is two different things. You should read some books on art appreciation and art history, before making such wild value judgments again.


I would submit that the "Nazi aesthetic" stands up to anything, anywhere, anytime. This, of course, ignores the "moral element" which you perhaps cannot accept. To me art is outside of morality. It has to be. In addition, art itself has many hallmarks of propaganda. Think about it. Art seeks to influence ones emotions and thinking. That is why Hitler's "art" as seen in his rallies, uniforms, flags, decorations, military hardware, battles, and even final ruins was so successful. Simply put, the guy knew what looked good and infused it into traditional German culture. The result was pretty stunning no matter how much guys like you try to deny it. If it wasn't so stunning, this Forum probably wouldn't exist, and you'd be fighting other battles...

Again, my critique does NOT apply the moral factor to Nazi art, but why should we? Recall the phrase: "Art for art's sake." Otherwise wouldn't Maplethorpe's "Plss Christ" and similar works be too wicked for words?
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National Socialism is really a way of life [eine Weltanschauung]. It always begins at the beginning and lays new foundations for life. That is why our task is so difficult, but also so beautiful.... -- Dr. Goebbels

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Nazis and Their Art

Post by JLEES » 14 May 2003 11:37

Hello again Max2cam!
You said, "The Nazis took pains while they were losing the war to protect European artistic masterpieces. Contrast that to the USA knowingly allowed mankind's cultural treasures to be destroyed in Iraq while armed troops stood by and did nothing. Not their job? Under the Fourth Geneva Convention it was the USA's responsibility to protect Iraq's cultural treasures. The Americans acted like barbarians in that respect and I consider it a potential war crime on our part." First, you've overlooking the large amounts of art publicly destroyed and plundered during the thirties. These were works by modern artists and pieces of art in the conservative contemporary style executed by socialist, communist and Jewish artists. In terms of Jewish art the Nazis destroyed it simply because it was done by a member of that race. These were contemporary works of art simply destroyed because the artist was Jewish or a non-Nazi. Would those documented examples of Nazi art destruction also fall into your theory of Nazis salvaging Western Art? It sounds like you’ve seen some documentary on TV about Nazi art and have thrown together a message on this forum, using some sound bits from the show and know very little about the subject itself beyond that. The idea of destruction of cities and the holocaust as art is almost comical and maybe should be included as a standup act at an art show. Also, in terms of the US Army and Iraq their initial job upon capture of the capital was destroying enemy troops still at large. After that mission was accomplished then preservation of cultural pieces would come second. Anyone with basic understanding of the military and laws of war understand this. It's too bad the Iraqis themselves were so willing to immediately rob their own nation of its heritage. You shouldn't be so quick to make wild statements like the Nazis made great efforts to preserve art and label the Americans as “barbarians,” before doing some reading on both subjects.
James

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Post by Nick Pears » 14 May 2003 13:03

No work of art can ever by 'outside' morality. Art is, by it's very nature a reflection of the world, and the world we inhabit is a world of moral judgement. To claim that beauty exists in the Third Riech as a whole is one thing, to claim that there is greatness in this artistic achievement is wholly ridiculous in relation to the moral standpoint of most free thinking individuals.

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Re: Nazis and Their Art

Post by Max2Cam » 14 May 2003 16:57

JLEES wrote:Hello again Max2cam!
You said, "The Nazis took pains while they were losing the war to protect European artistic masterpieces. Contrast that to the USA knowingly allowed mankind's cultural treasures to be destroyed in Iraq while armed troops stood by and did nothing. Not their job? Under the Fourth Geneva Convention it was the USA's responsibility to protect Iraq's cultural treasures. The Americans acted like barbarians in that respect and I consider it a potential war crime on our part." First, you've overlooking the large amounts of art publicly destroyed and plundered during the thirties. These were works by modern artists and pieces of art in the conservative contemporary style executed by socialist, communist and Jewish artists. In terms of Jewish art the Nazis destroyed it simply because it was done by a member of that race. These were contemporary works of art simply destroyed because the artist was Jewish or a non-Nazi. Would those documented examples of Nazi art destruction also fall into your theory of Nazis salvaging Western Art? It sounds like you’ve seen some documentary on TV about Nazi art and have thrown together a message on this forum, using some sound bits from the show and know very little about the subject itself beyond that. The idea of destruction of cities and the holocaust as art is almost comical and maybe should be included as a standup act at an art show. Also, in terms of the US Army and Iraq their initial job upon capture of the capital was destroying enemy troops still at large. After that mission was accomplished then preservation of cultural pieces would come second. Anyone with basic understanding of the military and laws of war understand this. It's too bad the Iraqis themselves were so willing to immediately rob their own nation of its heritage. You shouldn't be so quick to make wild statements like the Nazis made great efforts to preserve art and label the Americans as “barbarians,” before doing some reading on both subjects.
James
For all your implied vast knowledge, you're overlooking some very basic points.

Hitler believed himself to be the guardian or protector of "traditional" European art -- not modern art -- which he considered a poisonous influence. Therefore, in his world view an attack against "degenerate" art was a key part of his philosophy and his guardianship of traditional art. The art he found worthy was protected and Hitler planned great art museums in Linz and elsewhere.

Again, I'm not saying what he did was "moral" or "good" or "right" from a modern perspective, but that it was the worldview under which he was working and he was pretty consistent in it.

The Americans, on the other hand, never disputed the greatness or value of the Iraqi antiquities and artwork that was looted or destroyed under their watch. American experts in the field begged the U.S. military to protect these world-valued treasure sites and I have heard that promises were made that they would be protected. It would have been a very simple thing for the U.S. Superpower to guard a few museums, hospitals, etc. considering that there was no real battle for Baghdad and very minimal resistence and occupation was a accomplished fact from day one. But the crucial necessary orders were never given. That IMO is criminal neglect by the occupying force -- the USA. And please quite blaming the "Iraqi themselves" which is a broad racist remark. The looting was done by small groups of thugs -- not the Iraqi people that you try to shift the blame onto when in fact the blame rests on the Americans whose responsibility it was under the Fourth Geneva Convention once the previous order had fled or been destroyed.

I wonder what you'd be saying if Hitler had allowed the Louvre to be looted and destroyed in like manner? In fact, maybe you'd like to accept all of Hitler's war crimes as okay because hostilities were going on and that was all part of the mission.

You can't have it both ways.

Lastly, if you find the "beauty" or "art" of ruins and human tragedy so absurd, then I imagine you would never visit the ruins of Greece or Rome, or that Medieval studies of death and hell are also beneath your contempt.

My point remains that the Third Reich was NOT the comic book event you and others try to convince us was the case, but a very complicated culture with its own unique values and demands. A full and objective study of Third Reich aesthetics has yet to be accomplished and remains the feat of some future brave thinker.
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National Socialism is really a way of life [eine Weltanschauung]. It always begins at the beginning and lays new foundations for life. That is why our task is so difficult, but also so beautiful.... -- Dr. Goebbels

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