Hitler's Art and National Socialist Era Art

Hitler's Art
Before amassing his fortune with the enormous royalties from the publication of his hugely popular Mein Kampf, Hitler earned a living by using his artistic skills to produce paintings that were sold to the public or used for postcards. Hitler was a great student of the fine arts and studied music, opera, painting, sculpture, and architecture. While living in Vienna under conditions of poverty, he read voraciously and still managed to spend whatever meager income he had to attend lectures, concerts, opera, and the theater. Even when he barely had enough money to survive he refused to compromise and always purchased the best paints, brushes, paper, and canvas. As a remarkably prolific artist, he is estimated to have created between 2000 and 3000 drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings. His artistic talent revealed itself at an early age and continued painting and drawing throughout his life. Even while behind the front lines in World War 1, he continued to paint in his spare time and contributed instructional drawings and cartoons to the military newspaper. His art continued throughout his leadership of Germany and included detailed building plans, furniture design, city planning, and monuments.

Perhaps the notion of an artist becoming a political seems strange in the current era where politics are dominated by professional politicians, it was Hitler's profound artistic vision that translated from his dreams into reality the Autobahn, Volkswagen, Rocket Science, and in the general the groundwork for a prosperous people and flourishing culture before this was lost in World War 2.

Just as the ancient Greeks wrote about the unique qualifications of a philosopher to be a leader, an artist's unique perspective and instinctual drive to create something out of nothing makes the artist uniquely qualified to lead and inspire a nation.

National Socialist Art
Among the most renowned artists whose style flourished during the National Socialist era were Arno Breker and Adolf Wissel. The classical style of these artists stood against the world trends in art at the time, such as cubism, surrealism, impressionism, expressionism, dadaism, and modernism in general. Rather than censor these modern styles of art, Hitler decided it was better to gather the work from trendy modern artists and provided exhibits of "degenerative art" where citizens could see for themselves what this style was about and compare it to classical art. It was labelled "degenerative art" because it suggested negativity and incomprehensibility of the world, and as such was at odds with the positivism, determined progress, noble ideals, desire for solutions, and generally hopeful outlook that the National Socialist movement stood for. Hitler believed that modern art was in conflict with the eternal values of beauty and therefore could only lead to a decline of civilization. Modern art separated people from identifying with the positive expressions of art because it was incomprehensible. In addition, modern art had obliterated the concept of beauty and consequently stood as an enemy of life itself because it preferred nothingness or the ugly to the beautiful.

Now that over 80 years have passed since Hitler first formed and articulated these ideas, we are now left to judge the societal effects from modern art's inversion and destruction of beauty. While the human form in some cases remains praised for health and vigor, in other cases it is attacked with piercings, tattoos, or hair that is dyed in strange colours. Meanwhile the splendor of nature's landscapes are often destroyed in favor of poorly conceived architectural designs, though few people seem to notice. In countries like the United States, the potential monetary benefits of a strip mall take precedence over the psychological effect of bad design, crass commercialism, and the loss of a natural landscape. Contrastly, many people who life in cities with buildings that are several hundred years old and maintain architectural standards suggest that these old buildings energize and inspire the people who live there.

Hitler considered the lack of architectural standards to be a serious problem.

In the 19th Century our cities began to lose the character of cultural centers and became simply human settlements.

When Munich was a city of 60,000, it wanted to be one of the major German centers of culture. Today nearly every industrial city claims this honor, usually without being able to show any significant accomplishments of its own. They are nothing more than collections of houses and apartment buildings. How can such an insignificant place have any appeal? No one will have particular loyalty to a city that lacks any individuality at all, that avoids anything resembling art.

Even the big cities are becoming poorer in real works of art even as they increase in population.

The modern era has done nothing to increase the cultural level of our big cities. All the glory and treasures of our cities are the inheritance of the past.

Contrary to the belief that Hitler was uptight about things such as nudity, he allowed painters and sculptors to produce both male and female nudes. Male nudes were depicted as responsible, heroic and powerful while females were neat, clean, and full breasted while having a flat belly, long-muscled thighs, and slim shanks. They were sometimes depicted as Nordic, perhaps because many people prefer the natural beauty of Nordics, but were sometimes brunette as well. It should be noted that contrary to historical propaganda, Germany is not a Nordic nation but a predominately Alpine one, though it has a small Nordic minority, and this has been the case for several centuries. It is therefore most probable that the artists and people were praising an ideal in the depiction of their minority population rather than positing a notion of national superiority in this image.

Copyright © 1998-1999 - Hitler Historical Museum - All Rights Reserved