Research 750,000 art works and portraits were stolen by

Research
Paper: The stolen Art during World War ?

by Luisa Walter

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Thesis: The election of the NSDAP and Hitler to Germany’s chancellor
caused the destruction and robbery of famous art pieces and national monuments.

 

?.Stolen Art

During world war ?over 750,000
art works and portraits were stolen by Nazis from their rightful owners and museums.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 art works are still missing. Hitler himself was an
artist, before he became the leader of the NSDAP; he applied to the Academy for
Art Studies in Vienna, Austria, but never got accepted. (Top ten famous pieces
of Art stolen by the Nazis, Bryan Johnson) The art was hidden all over Germany
and Austria, in over 1000 depots. (The far and national gallery of art, Sarah
Elisabeth Gelfand) The Nazis have stolen art from many, today European countries.
20% of the European art work was stolen by the Nazis during world war two and
the time before that. Taken was the art from Jewish families who were forced to
leave their home and from all over the world.

 

?. The kind of Art

         Hitler
was a fan of art, but only certain art pieces were appreciated by him. He only
collected antique art work, everything that was against his ideals, was collected
and some even destroyed. There was a special practice required in order to
steal the art work, without destroying or damaging something. Hitler’s goal was
it too to get rid of all the art, created during the Weimar Republic
(1924-1930). Especially in his focus was the German artist Paul Klee, whose
work has been a big influence on the art scene, during the Weimar Republic. Art
work of artists like Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Pablo
Picasso were a big part of Hitler’a degenerate art list. (The Harald, Shedding
light on the darker side, p.15)

 

A
very famous sculpture the “Madonna of Bruges” by Michelangelo, an art piece
showing Mary with baby Jesus on her arm, was stolen in 1944 by German soldiers
and smuggled to Germany. In 1946 after Germany was liberated the sculpture was returned
to Bruges in Belgium.

 

Another very well-known art piece was the portrait of Adele
Bloch-Bauer also known as “Woman in Gold” by Gustav Klimt. It was stolen 1941,
but handed back to the remaining siblings after Germany was liberated. Today
it’s in a private gallery of an American businessman Ronald Laulder in New York
City.

(Top 10 famous pieces of Art stolen, Bryan Johnson)

 

The art ‘hated’ by Hilter was the so called ‘Entartete Kunst’ or
‘Degenerate Art’, was everything that he personally did not appreciated. It was
basically abstract modern style, Hitler himself liked to paint realistic
paintings, like landscapes or buildings. (How Hitler set out to destroy degenerate
art, BBC) There was an exhibition in Munich, opened in July 1939, where both
art styles were presented to the people. Everything antique was actually seen
as art by Hitler and only if he appreciated the work. The work of famous
artists like Paul Klee, Oscar Koboschka and Wassily Kandinsky and a German
artists like Max Beckmann or Emil Nolde was shown in the exhibition for
‘Degenerate Art’.(Why Hitler hated modernism, BBC Degenerate Art) A lot of the
stolen art work was returned, to their rightful owners a lot of famous
paintings is still missing or was destroyed by the Nazis during the war.

1)   
Vincent Van Gogh, the Painter on
his Way to work (1888)

It was stolen by the Nazis, but was destroyed by fire of bomb
attack.

2)   
Gustav Klimt, Philosophy

It was willingly destroyed by the SS, the German troop during
World War two, 1945.

3)   
Andreas Schlüter, the amber room
(18 century)

The painting was stolen during the war, and its current location
is unknown.

4)   
Gustav Klimt, portrait of Trude
Steiner (1900)

The portrait was stolen from Austria in 1938 and during the war,
1941, sold to an unknown buyer and is lost ever since. (10 most important
masterpieces)

?. The reason for the art robbery
and destruction

         Hitler
himself was always a big fan of art, he painted himself and before he became
the Fuhrer, he applied to the Academy for Art Studies in his home country
Austria, but never got accepted. He only painted, what he called ‘realistic
paintings’ of environment, but in this time the work of artists who painted in
the modern or abstract style was successful. His hate for the modern or
abstract art came from the rejection of his own art. Later he spread the
believe that the degenerate art was the work of Jews. (Why Hitler hated
modernism, BBC degenerate art) There were three main reasons:

·      Hitler’s planned museum and hate for modern/abstract art

·      To decorate the houses of high ranked Nazi officers

·     
Fund the Nazi government

(The far and national gallery of art, Sarah Elisabeth Gelfand)

He planned a Fuhrermuseum in his hometown Linz in Austria, which
in the end was never built. (Weston Williams, Why is it so hard to return
stolen art by the Nazis) The museum built instead, “The Great German Art
Exhibition”, opened in July 1937 in Munich and travelled through 11 cities.
(Peter Schjeldahl, The Anti Modernism p.96) It consisted out of two big parts
basically, I the first part showed all the work which was appreciated by
Hitler, his ideas and ideals on how art should be. This exhibition wasn’t a
great success, barely people came to see it, so he opened another exhibition,
called “Entartete Kunst” or “Degenerate Art” (Holland Cotter, First, they came
for the art, p.C21) In that exhibition he showed all of the art work which was,
in his eyes not ideal, wrong or was against his idea of art. He said that the
Jewish people were responsible for the degernerate art, but in reality not even
6% of the art work shown in the exhibition were really created or painted by
Jewish artists. Hitler took his ‘love’ for art so serious, that he believed
that art has the power to turn around people’s lives. He wanted the world to
see Germany as the nation of culture (The independent, Art of the deal, p.38)

a) Retrieving lost art

         1500
pieces of art work, from great artist like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso,
Piere-Auguste Renoir, Marc Chagall and Paul Klee were found in an apartment in
Munich. The man, who was hiding the art, is the son of one of the four art
dealers of nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goeppels. Gurlitt, took most of the
art to sell it for his own good. After the Allied dropped bombs on Dresden,
Germany, he told people that all of the masterpieces were destroyed in it.
After his death he gave the art pieces to his son. He was caught with a very
high amount of money and no explanation for it, German police found his
apartment with all the lost art and returned them to their rightful owners or
museums. (Brenden Manley, German officials reveal trove Nazi confiscated
degenerate art, p.8)

         Gurlitt
Sr. worked for the Nazi regime and bought very valuable art work for little
money from Jews, who were trying to escape out of Germany. (Cathrine Hickley,
Wheeler dealer; Art under Hilter p.81)

 

b) The Monuments Men

         But
not all hope for most of the European art was lost, 1943 a group of 345 women
and men united in a group, which today is known as ‘The monuments Men’. A group
of people fighting for the return of art pieces to their rightful owner and for
the protection of art work. They discovered art in salt mines, German hunting
castles and hunting lodges, used by Nazis during the war. (Barbara Marshall, An
act of conscience- and culture p. 1D) Overall the saved 400,000 art pieces and
saved the Mona Lisa out of the Louvre in Paris. They also were active after the
war ended, restorating some of the stolen work. They not only found art work in
form of portraits, but tapestries, fine furnishings, books and manuscripts and
even religious relics. (Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art,
Rosanna Scott)  The monuments men still
exist today with the same goal, to find hidden art and return them to their
rightful owner.

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