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The Power of Art in Nazi Germany

How art shaped the political and social elite

Published onApr 29, 2022
The Power of Art in Nazi Germany

How Did Art Influence Nazi Elite

During the early years of the 20th century, art in Germany had no real impact among political and social elites. The end of the first world war in 1918 brought hard times to Germany due to the fact they were blamed for the start of the war. Germany as a nation suffered stiff economic, social, and political consequences for their actions which gave outside influences a chance to infiltrate and change German culture with non-traditional, modernistic approaches to art and politics. After the Nazi party took control of power, all of the modern influences within Germany were beginning to be snuffed out and a more traditional culture, influenced by radical Aryan beliefs, was set into place.

The Early Approach

In the early stages of the war, the artifacts that Nazi troops seized would be categorized and documented for their records, then stored in various locations around the country. Some of these locations where in lavish castles and others deep in salt mines around Europe where German forces occupied the land. As the power of the Nazi party grew, so did their taste for the fine arts. German political and social elite would collect art that aligned with the agenda of those in charge and many would gift items to attain status or rank among the elite.

Degenerate Art

Art that went against the view of Hitlers new Germany and was considered modern art was deemed degenerate by Hitler. The culture within Germany was that of the homeland, independents, and Aryan beliefs. Outside influence wasn’t excepted within Nazi Germany so the control of thigs like art and education played a key role in shaping the culture of German people under Hitler. Hitler wanted his people to see Germany as pure, sophisticated, and powerful.

Attaining Art

Hitler would amass thousands of works of art from nations he invaded and from the people within his own country that he wanted to get rid of. The Jewish community within Germany had to allocate all of their possessions and turn the over to German officials. Hitler had military groups to track down and find art and artifacts that he wanted control of and these people would go find these works of art and either make a deal under the table or confiscate the art and label it “secured from the enemy” to make his theft seem legal.

The End

In the end, Hitler had amassed the worlds greatest art collection, many of his elite social and military class would attain vast amounts of art that would go along with Hitlers ideas and serve to gain them status. Although the monetary value wasn’t important to the Nazi elite, the status that the items could bring brought them great wealth and power. Many of the works of art taken by the Nazi’s were returned to its owner, thousands were never seen again.

The painting Jews with Oranges was created by Aleksander Gierymski in 1881 and was looted by the Nazis during WWII and recovered in 2011. 1

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