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Nazi Censorship of the Arts

"Entartete Kunst" - Degenerate Art


Example of paintings condemned and called Degenerate by the evil Nazis (click to Enlarge)

The years 1927-37 were alarming and terrifying for artists in Germany.   In 1937 The National Socialist Society for German Culture held an art exhibition in Munich.  The Nazis  called the exhibit Entartete Kunst, or Degenerate Art.  During this time over 22 thousand art-works by more than 200 artists of were confiscated. The National Socialist Society for German Culture declared artists of the banned paintings, mostly ExpressionistsCubistsDadaism, Surrealist, Fauvists, nineteenth-century Impressionism and Post-Impressionist  to be  insane and morally corrupt. Adolf Hitler stated "As for the degenerate artists, I forbid them to force their so-called experiences upon the public. If they do see fields blue, they are deranged, and should go to an asylum. If the only pretend to see them blue, they are criminals, and should go to prison. I will purge the nation of them."

Many German painters were inspired by the atrocities and inhumanities of the first world war. The paintings created during this explosive time were stirring and intense.  Hitler and the Nazis despised this new style of art. Hitler angrily declared "Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice."Particularly reviled by the nazis were:  Edvard Munch, Emile Nolde,
James Ensor and Ernst Kirchner ( Kirchner was so devastated by his exile to Switzerland that he committed suicide in  in 1938.) Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, Franz Marc, and Paul Klee. Klee feared for his life and spent his last years exiled to Switzerland. The artist was unable to obtain Swiss citizenship because of his status as a degenerate artist. Brilliant art nouveau  painter, Alphonse Mucha died shortly after an "official questioning session" by the Gestapo in 1939.

The Nazis felt that these many contemporary artists led young people astray by encouraging free thinking and corrupt behaviors. The upper echelons of the SS occasionally got together for 'art burning' parties. They would drink beer and throw darts at so called degenerate paintings, later burning the paintings in huge art pyre. God knows how many masterpeices were lost forever.

The justification for deciding on what could be classified as "degenerate" art was relatively straightforward and spiteful: any painting or sculpture that was in conflict with Hitler's artistic philosophy, was considered to be "Entartete Kunst".  Hitler famously  stated "Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized."

Many historians believe Hitler despised the artists of his day because he was never recognized for his own lackluster paintings. 

In 1937, Joseph Goebbels, Minister for Propaganda organized  a public exhibition of banned art.  The exhibition was called "Entartete Kunst," meaning, "Degenerate Art."  The purpose of the exhibition was to show the public the stupidity, immorality, and depravity of the modern art movement.  It is so sad to think of those despicable Nazis rampaging through art galleries and museums destroying beautiful works of art and condemning artists to death, exile and torture.

Important Artists on the the Nazi shit list ....   singled out for special condemnation

Otto Dix German 1862-1942 Expressionist
 Vincent van Gogh Dutch, 1853-1890 Post-Impressionist
Max Beckmann German, 1884-1950 Expressionist
 Edvard Munch Norwegian, 1863-1944 Symbolist/Expressionist
 Emile Nolde German, 1867-1956 Expressionist Painter
 Ernst Kirchner German, 1880-1938 Expressionist Painter. 
Wassily Kandinsky  Russian, 1866-1944 Expressionist Painter
Paul Klee  Swiss 1879-1940 Swiss Expressionist Painter
 Franz Marc German, 1880-1916  Expressionist / Fauvist

Great Artists Who Were Murdered by the Nazis

Abraham Joseph Berline (1893 – 1942) Russian, murdered in Aushwitz

Josef Čapek (1887 – 1945) Czech, murdered at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Max Jacob (1876 – 1944) French, died enroute to a German camp

Otto Freundlich (1878 – 1943) German, murdered at Majdanek Concentration Camp

Rudolf Levy (1875—1944) German, murdered in Aushwitz

Felix Nussbaum (1904 – 1944) German, Surrealist, murdered in Aushwitz

Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943) German, murdered in Aushwitz 

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