Cuando Hitler intentó (y falló) ser artista

Cuando Hitler intentó (y falló) ser artista

A principios de 1908, después de la muerte de su madre, Adolf Hitler, de 18 años, dejó su ciudad natal provincial de Linz y se mudó a Viena, la glamorosa capital del Imperio Austro-Húngaro. Dejando atrás las ambiciones de su difunto padre de convertirse en funcionario público, Hitler vio a Viena como el lugar ideal para perseguir su propio sueño juvenil: convertirse en artista.

Pero mientras el amigo de la infancia de Hitler y su nuevo compañero de habitación, August Kubizek, fue aceptado inmediatamente en un conservatorio para estudiar música, Hitler pasó sus primeros meses en Viena durmiendo hasta tarde, dibujando y leyendo montones de libros.

La academia calificó los dibujos de Hitler como 'insatisfactorios'

Como escribe el biógrafo Volker Ullrich en Hitler: Ascenso, 1889-1939, lo que Kubizek no sabía era que antes de mudarse a Viena, Hitler ya había sido rechazado por la Academia de Bellas Artes de la ciudad. Aunque había aprobado el examen inicial en 1907, sus habilidades de dibujo eran "insatisfactorias", decidió el comité de admisiones.

Años más tarde, en su manifiesto autobiográfico MI luchaHitler afirmó que el rechazo lo golpeó "como un rayo de la nada", ya que estaba tan convencido de su éxito. En el otoño de 1908, volvió a postularse para la Academia de Bellas Artes y nuevamente lo rechazaron. Durante gran parte del año siguiente, se mudaría de una habitación alquilada barata a otra, incluso viviendo en un refugio para personas sin hogar por un tiempo.

Luego, en 1909, Hitler finalmente comenzó a ganar dinero haciendo pequeños óleos y acuarelas, en su mayoría imágenes de edificios y otros lugares emblemáticos de Viena que copió de postales. Al vender estas pinturas a turistas y vendedores de marcos, ganó lo suficiente para mudarse del refugio para personas sin hogar y entrar en una casa de hombres, donde pintaba de día y continuaba estudiando sus libros por la noche.

En Viena, el frustrado joven artista se había interesado por la política. Aunque Hitler afirmó en MI lucha que sus opiniones antisemitas se formaron durante este período, muchos historiadores dudan de esta historia simplificada. Después de todo, Samuel Morgenstern, propietario de una tienda judía, era uno de los compradores más leales de las pinturas de Hitler en Viena. Pero su estadía en Viena dio forma a la visión del mundo de Hitler, particularmente su admiración por el entonces alcalde de la ciudad, Karl Lueger, quien era conocido tanto por su retórica antisemita como por sus habilidades oratorias.

Hitler se muda a Munich

Hitler continuó su obra de arte después de mudarse a Munich en mayo de 1913, vendiendo escenas similares de los lugares emblemáticos de la ciudad en tiendas y cervecerías al aire libre. Aunque finalmente encontró varios clientes leales y acomodados que le encargaron trabajos, su progreso se detuvo en enero de 1914, cuando la policía de Munich lo localizó debido a que no se registró para el reclutamiento militar en Linz.

Como registró Ullrich, Hitler reprobó su examen de aptitud militar y los examinadores lo declararon "inadecuado para el combate y el servicio de apoyo, demasiado débil, incapaz de disparar armas". Pero se alistaría voluntariamente ese agosto, después del estallido de la Primera Guerra Mundial, poniendo fin a su período como un joven artista en apuros.

En las décadas que siguieron, los años de formación de Hitler en Viena y su frustrada carrera artística se convirtieron en parte de la creación de mitos, por el propio Hitler y sus seguidores, que ayudó a impulsar su fatídico ascenso al poder en Alemania. Como Führer, Hitler arremetió contra el arte moderno, llamándolo el producto "degenerado" de judíos y bolcheviques y una amenaza para la identidad nacional alemana.

En 1937, los nazis reunieron unas 16.000 obras de este tipo de los museos alemanes y exhibieron cientos de ellas en Munich. La exposición, destinada a acumular desprecio hacia los artistas, contó con la asistencia de unos 2 millones de personas.

Pinturas de Hitler










En cuanto al arte del propio Hitler, supuestamente hizo recolectar y destruir sus pinturas cuando estaba en el poder. Pero se sabe que sobreviven varios cientos, incluidas cuatro acuarelas confiscadas por el ejército estadounidense durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Aunque es legal en Alemania vender pinturas de Hitler siempre que no contengan símbolos nazis, las obras que se le atribuyen generan controversia cuando salen a la venta. En 2015, 14 pinturas y dibujos de Hitler se vendieron por unos 450.000 dólares en una subasta en Nuremberg. La casa de subastas defendió la venta argumentando que las pinturas tenían importancia histórica.

En enero de 2019, la policía alemana allanó la casa de subastas Kloss de Berlín y se incautó de tres acuarelas que supuestamente había pintado Hitler mientras vivía en Múnich. Aunque los precios iniciales de las pinturas se fijaron en 4.000 euros (4.500 dólares), las autoridades sospecharon que eran falsificaciones.

Menos de un mes después, también en Nuremberg, cinco pinturas atribuidas a Hitler no se vendieron debido a preocupaciones similares de fraude. Stephan Klingen del Instituto Central de Historia del Arte en Munich, dijo al guardián en ese momento esa autenticidad es especialmente difícil de verificar en el caso de las supuestas obras de Hitler. Esto se debe a que el estilo de Hitler era el de un "aficionado moderadamente ambicioso", dijo Klingen, lo que hacía que su pintura fuera imposible de distinguir de "cientos de miles" de obras similares del mismo período de tiempo.


Cuando este artista alemán intentó utilizar su obra para advertir sobre Hitler, el mundo lo ignoró. Es hora de escuchar

Cuando Adolf Hitler se hizo cargo de Alemania hace 85 años este verano, no fue, contrariamente a la creencia popular, `` cedió el poder ''. Más bien, los alemanes lo eligieron su Füumlhrer, o líder, en un referéndum el 19 de agosto de 1934 y posteriormente eligieron suscribir la narrativa cultural que creó: que Alemania se había vuelto demasiado abierta, demasiado tolerante con la diversidad cultural a principios del siglo XX. Esta apertura, argumentó Hitler, había causado su reciente crisis de identidad nacional.

Hitler sabía que para conquistar los corazones heridos de una ciudadanía quebrantada, primero debía conquistar la cultura misma. Docenas de artistas se enfrentaron a su persecución cuando expulsó al "Arte Degenerado" de los museos y lo introdujo en una exposición burlona en 1937, pero muy pocos intentaron advertir contra ello a través de su trabajo.

Una excepción notable fue George Grosz, un enérgico alborotador que arriesgó su carrera, familia, seguridad física y salud mental para hacer sonar la alarma ya en 1923, parodiando la visión de Hitler del nacionalismo agresivo en & ldquoHitler the Savior & rdquo, un trabajo que se burla de Hitler. como un guerrero teutónico con una túnica de un solo hombro. En su pintura de 1926 "Los pilares de la sociedad", el artista de entonces 33 años advirtió a sus compatriotas alemanes que, si no se cortaban de raíz los mezquinos francotiradores del gobierno y el cristianismo extremista, el surgimiento de Hitler sería la consecuencia probable. Grosz advirtió además contra los puntos de vista religiosos radicales de extrema derecha en 1927 & rsquos & ldquoShut Up and Do Your Duty & rdquo, una obra que muestra a Jesucristo clavado en la cruz con botas de combate y una máscara de gas & mdasha crítica de politizar el cristianismo que recibió elogios de los cuáqueros pacifistas en los Estados Unidos. Estados.

Sin embargo, la mayoría de los alemanes descartaron el trabajo antinazi de Grosz & rsquos como hiperbólico y ofensivo para el cristianismo, un sentimiento que los activistas de extrema derecha explotaron para distraerse de lo que estaba diciendo. Entonces comenzaron las amenazas de muerte. Una noche a principios de la década de 1930, Grosz descubrió una tubería de hierro en la puerta de su casa con una nota adjunta. & ldquoEsto es para ti, viejo judío-cerdo, si sigues con lo que estás haciendo. & rdquo El artista sabía que la realidad de que no era judío haría poca diferencia para los extremistas violentos.

Después de que quedó claro que los nazis saldrían victoriosos después de que Hitler asumiera el poder en enero de 1933, con elecciones convocadas dos meses después, Grosz y su esposa Eva huyeron como activistas perseguidos a Nueva York, con sus dos hijos, navegando por separado a Nueva York. evitar sospechas. Trabajó incansablemente para integrarse y aprendió con éxito tanto el inglés como la cultura de su nuevo país. Sin embargo, Grosz todavía luchaba por convencer a los estadounidenses de que la represión cultural de Hitler & rsquos era un precursor obvio de erradicar los derechos civiles primero para las mujeres, las minorías y la prensa, antes de erradicarlos finalmente para todos los alemanes.

En su obra de 1934 “Paz”, Grosz predijo que los países poderosos apaciguarían a Hitler, lo que conduciría a una Segunda Guerra Mundial. En la llamativa pieza en blanco y negro, tres coches corren por una carretera con las banderas del Japón Imperial, Italia y la Segunda República Española. Empujándolos es un coche descarado con una esvástica.

Grosz creó la obra dos años antes de la Guerra Civil Española, tres años antes de la Segunda Guerra Sino-Japonesa y cinco años antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Parecía demasiado absurdo para ser profético, y los críticos de la cultura estadounidense rechazaron la pieza.

Cuando los estadounidenses se dieron cuenta de que Grosz tenía razón, ya era demasiado tarde.

Décadas más tarde, en la primavera de 1959, Grosz y su esposa Eva regresaron a Alemania. Eva había sentido nostalgia perpetua y Grosz buscaba un cierre emocional después de años de mostrar claros signos de trauma. Sin embargo, la reentrada en Berlín fue difícil: Grosz tenía acceso a menos recursos de salud mental que en los Estados Unidos, el mundo del arte estaba en ruinas, muchos de sus amigos habían muerto y el caos político continuaba en Alemania con la inminente Guerra Fría. Luego, el 6 de julio de 1959, luego de una noche de fiesta con amigos, el artista ebrio resbaló en las escaleras de su departamento, muriendo en el pasillo por las heridas. Con él murió su fallido sueño de advertir al mundo de la dictadura.

Entonces, ¿por qué no se conoce mejor la heroica historia de Grosz & rsquos?

En Alemania, las razones son dobles. Para la mayoría de los alemanes, elogiar los riesgos que asumió Grosz también implica reconocer que otros, tal vez sus padres, abuelos o bisabuelos, y Hitler y los rsquos incapacitados, se levantan al no hablar como lo hizo el artista. En segundo lugar, mientras Grosz pudo escapar con algunos documentos que facilitan la investigación, los nazis destruyeron copiosas obras y documentos que quedaron en Berlín.

Los estadounidenses, por otro lado, tienen una relación incómoda y centenaria con el fracaso. Millones crecieron con el cuento de hadas de que si un individuo está luchando por lo que es correcto, ese individuo ciertamente ganará y será recompensado por ello.

Sin embargo, es fundamental que prestemos atención a la advertencia de Grosz & rsquos en nuestro propio tiempo: el desmantelamiento de los derechos civiles está presagiado por el desmantelamiento de la cultura. Es fundamental que los miembros de una sociedad reconozcan que hay momentos en los que arriesgar nuestras carreras, e incluso nuestra seguridad, puede ser necesario para proteger el futuro de esa sociedad.


Hitler como artista

Adolf Hitler era un artista, un artista moderno, y el nazismo era un movimiento moldeado por su sensibilidad estética. La Viena cosmopolita incubó tanto su peculiar genio como sus horribles ideas. Estos puntos de vista han estado en el aire recientemente, y una exposición académica mordaz en el Williams College Museum of Art, en Williamstown, Massachusetts, & quotPrelude to a Nightmare: Art, Politics, and Hitler & # x27s Early Years in Vienna 1906-1913 & quot - los adelanta . La comisaria de la exposición, Deborah Rothschild, se inspiró en & quotHitler & # x27s Vienna: A Dictator & # x27s Apprenticeship & quot de Brigitte Hamann (1999). Un libro de próxima publicación, "Hitler y el poder de la estética", de Frederic Spotts, promete una interpretación de Hitler como & quot; artista pervertido por cuotas & quot. , & quot presentaba un trabajo conceptual mediocre que se dirigía al Tercer Reich con alusiones tontas al comercio y al sexo. Por ensayo y error, se está realizando un análisis especial. No va a alterar nuestros juicios morales y políticos sobre Hitler, cuyos crímenes siguen siendo inconmensurables, pero sin duda sacude las explicaciones convencionales del arte moderno.

Hitler tenía dieciocho años cuando, en 1908, se mudó de Linz y se instaló en Viena. Caminó por las mismas calles que Freud, Gustav Mahler y Egon Schiele, pero lo hizo como uno de los habitantes de la ciudad sin rostro y lleno de pobres. A menudo dormía en un sórdido refugio para personas sin hogar, si no debajo de un puente. Con la intención de convertirse en artista, falló dos veces en la prueba de admisión de la academia de arte y sus habilidades de dibujo fueron declaradas "insatisfactorias". Un joven delgado y cetrino, no estaba hecho para el trabajo físico. Con la ayuda de un amigo, se ganó la vida escasamente dibujando postales de Viena y vendiéndolas a los turistas. Los judíos se encontraban entre sus compañeros y patrocinadores. Aunque era fanáticamente pan-alemán, atrapado en visiones de una Alemania expandida, que incorporaría a Austria, tenía cosas elogiosas que decir sobre los judíos en ese momento. Sin embargo, demostró ser un alumno apto de las rampantes corrientes de antisemitismo de la ciudad, que explotaba el resentimiento popular contra la adinerada burguesía judía que había surgido bajo Franz Josef I, el conservador pero clemente y, efectivamente, el último, Habsburgo. emperador. Hitler estudió el fascinante estilo oratorio de la ciudad y el amado alcalde populista y antisemita Karl Lueger.

El joven Hitler estaba loco por la ópera wagneriana, la arquitectura majestuosa y el arte gráfico y el diseño ingeniosos. Su gusto por la pintura fue, y siguió siendo, filisteo. Juró por Eduard von Grützner, un pintor de género de alegres y borrachos monjes bávaros. Los primeros esfuerzos de Hitler fueron obra de un principiante provincial que estaba listo para recibir instrucciones que nunca recibió. (El espectáculo incluye una acuarela bastante bonita de una capilla de montaña, de un encargo que le consiguió Samuel Morgenstern, un comerciante judío). Como con cualquier vida joven a la deriva, Hitler & # x27s podría haber ido de varias maneras. La oportunidad perdida más desesperante fue la posibilidad de trabajar con el artista gráfico y escenógrafo Alfred Roller, miembro del movimiento antiacadémico de la Secesión, cuyos decorados para las producciones de Wagner de la Ópera de la Corte de Viena y # x27, que fueron dirigidos por Mahler, presagiaron a los nazis. teatralidad. Con una carta de presentación a Roller, Hitler se acercó tres veces a la puerta del gran hombre sin hacer acopio de valor para llamar. Al final resultó que, parece que nunca se ha asociado con nadie cuyo ego supere al suyo. Grandioso y rígidamente puritano, era una figura divertida para muchos de sus compañeros en las profundidades inferiores de Viena. Acumuló humillaciones en el camino de convertirse en dios de la venganza para los humillados de Alemania. Mientras tanto, su ciudad adoptiva encendió su imaginación. En & quot; Mein Kampf & quot ;, record & oacute; & quot; Durante horas, pude estar de pie frente a la Opera, durante horas pude contemplar el parlamento, todo el Ring Boulevard me pareci & oacute; un hechizo salido de & # x27Thousand and One Nights & #. x27 & quot

& quotPrelude to a Nightmare & quot ofrece una visión reveladora de los días de gloria de Viena, justo antes de la Primera Guerra Mundial. (El período se celebra simultáneamente con otras exposiciones en los Berkshires. El Clark Art Institute, también en Williamstown, exhibe paisajes de Gustav Klimt, diseños de Josef Hoffmann y Wiener Werkstätte, y planos arquitectónicos de Otto Wagner en el Berkshire Museum, en Pittsfield, muestra carteles selectos de la Secesión.) El programa de Williams anatomiza las respuestas de Hitler a la ciudad —sus encantamientos y desencantos— con textos murales bien escritos y obras de arte y artefactos seleccionados con criterio. Documenta escenas de boato imperial que, oscurecidas y estilizadas, se harían eco en los mítines nazis y esboza movimientos e individuos en las artes y la política como debieron parecerle al joven. Entre las voces políticas se encuentran los racistas Guido von List, quien, a partir de 1907, ayudó a popularizar la esvástica como un signo de pureza aria, y el loco discípulo de von List, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, quien creía que las mujeres arias, si no segregadas por la fuerza , caería inevitablemente en la virilidad demoníaca de las razas inferiores. Hitler lo absorbió todo.

La muestra también presenta obras de Klimt, Schiele y otros artistas de la Secesión que luego entrarían en las listas nazis de arte degenerado. Hitler los despreciaba por sus insultos a los ideales clásicos de la belleza humana y por lo que llamó, en otro contexto, "conceptos liberales del individuo". Bandera nazi) y su astuto patrocinio de los talentosos jóvenes Leni Riefenstahl y Albert Speer. Al alargar la retrospectiva, se vuelve más difícil acreditar las distinciones categóricas entre la estética nazi y las de los temibles movimientos modernos en arquitectura y diseño, incluida la Bauhaus. Comparten raíces en la Viena de vanguardia.

El ascenso de Hitler & # x27 sigue siendo un misterio, aunque solo sea en cuanto a la cantidad precisa de suerte tonta involucrada, pero tiene un sentido desconcertante cuando se lo ve en términos de la capacidad de un artista ansioso de asimilar, sintetizar y aplicar las influencias de su tiempo y lugar. "Solía ​​pensar que podría haber sido cualquiera", ha dicho Deborah Rothschild, refiriéndose al líder del Tercer Reich. "Pero ya no lo creo". De hecho, el programa no deja lugar a dudas de que el nazismo fue una invención singular y que Hitler fue su autor indispensable. Sin él, el fascismo bien podría haber triunfado en Alemania, pero nada predestinó la combinación del nazismo y la malicia, su brillante tecnología y el atavismo merodeador. Parece claro que Hitler empleó medios artísticos —oratoria hipnótica, espectáculo conmovedor, diseño elegante— no solo para ganar poder sino para ejercerlo en el aquí y ahora. Mientras tanto, necesitaba una línea política, una causa, un enemigo, que fuera más dinámica que el pangermanismo. El hecho de que viniera por el culto al arianismo y al antisemitismo sugiere tardíamente que se desarrollaron tanto al servicio de su ambición artística como al revés. Todo racismo, en algún nivel, es estético, como proyección de "lo feo". El nazismo, de una manera horrible, era un programa para remodelar el mundo según un cierto gusto.

El programa de Williams refuta el cómodo sentimiento de que Hitler era un `` artista fracasado ''. De hecho, una vez que encontró su métier, en Munich después de la Primera Guerra Mundial, fue magistral, primero como orador y luego como un empresario integral de la política. teatro. También estaba engañado. No tenía ninguna visión del futuro aparte de una ópera cada vez más grandiosa. Encontró su final, que, como wagneriano profundamente teñido, podría haber anticipado, pero aparentemente no lo hizo, como un naufragio tembloroso del niño que había estado tan asombrado por la Viena imperial. Una fotografía en el programa de Williams muestra a un hinchado Führer en sus últimos días, mientras Berlín yacía en ruinas, mirando con entusiasmo un modelo de mesa de Linz, que él imaginó como el centro cultural de Europa, rehecho como un Valhalla moderno. Es una imagen espantosa, que sugiere que la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue incidental a un proyecto de remodelación del centro de la ciudad. Rothschild, en un texto mural, extrae esta moraleja de su espectáculo: "La unión de la malevolencia y la belleza puede ocurrir; debemos permanecer alerta contra su poder seductor". No estoy de acuerdo. Debemos permanecer alerta contra la malevolencia, y debemos considerar la belleza como el fenómeno fundamentalmente amoral que es. ♦


Analogías con otras destrucciones sistemáticas de infraestructuras

Si bien este Decreto puede parecer algo tonto, el último acto de un dictador decadente que ha perdido su poder, aún existen algunas analogías con otros estados. En particular, este tipo de destrucción sistemática de infraestructuras e instalaciones ya se había producido al menos dos veces en Rusia. Tanto la Campaña rusa de Napoleón como la Operación Barbarroja de Hitler, los intentos de Francia y Alemania de conquistar Rusia ocurrieron en 1812 y 1941 respectivamente, habían fracasado. Una razón común por la que estas operaciones habían fracasado era la capacidad de Rusia de destruir sistemáticamente sus infraestructuras, campamentos cultivados y cualquier otra instalación que pudiera ser útil para sus enemigos.

Pero también hay una diferencia. Si bien la destrucción de sus infraestructuras por parte de Rusia fue para ralentizar la penetración de sus enemigos dentro de Rusia, el "Decreto Nero" de Hitler no solo tenía este objetivo en mente. Algunos historiadores sostienen que Hitler estaba furioso con toda la ciudadanía alemana porque, según él, habían traicionado a su patria perdiendo la guerra. En opinión de Hitler, los alemanes no habían luchado con suficiente valentía, faltándole el respeto a él, a la Nación y a sus antepasados. Además, la ciudadanía debería haber desgastado las consecuencias de perder la guerra.


Contenido

El estilo de Hitler fue muy calculado a la hora de representar la arquitectura en sus pinturas. En lugar de progresar en su influencia artística, sus obras copiaron a los artistas del siglo XIX y otros maestros que lo precedieron. [2] Afirmó ser la síntesis de muchos movimientos artísticos, pero se basó principalmente en el clasicismo grecorromano, el Renacimiento italiano y el neoclasicismo. Le gustó la habilidad técnica de estos artistas, así como el simbolismo comprensible. [3] Llamó a Rudolf von Alt su mejor maestro. Los dos muestran un tema y un uso del color similares, pero Alt muestra paisajes fantásticos que prestan la misma o más atención a la naturaleza y al entorno circundante que a la arquitectura. [ cita necesaria ]

Ambición artística Editar

En su autobiografía de 1925 MI lucha, Adolf Hitler describió cómo, en su juventud, quiso convertirse en un artista profesional, pero sus sueños se arruinaron porque no aprobó el examen de ingreso a la Academia de Bellas Artes de Viena. [4] Hitler fue rechazado dos veces por el instituto, una vez en 1907 y nuevamente en 1908. En su primer examen, había aprobado la parte preliminar que consistía en dibujar dos de las escenas icónicas o bíblicas asignadas, en dos sesiones de tres horas cada una. . La segunda parte fue para proporcionar una carpeta previamente preparada para los examinadores. Se señaló que las obras de Hitler contenían muy pocas cabezas. [5] El instituto consideró que tenía más talento en arquitectura que en pintura. [6] Uno de los instructores, comprensivo con su situación y creyendo que tenía algún talento, sugirió que se postulara para la Escuela de Arquitectura de la academia. Sin embargo, eso habría requerido regresar a la escuela secundaria de la que había abandonado y a la que no estaba dispuesto a regresar.

Según una conversación de agosto de 1939 antes del estallido de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, publicada en el Libro Azul de la Guerra Británica, Hitler le dijo al embajador británico Nevile Henderson: "Soy un artista y no un político. Una vez que se resuelva la cuestión polaca, quiero acabar con mi vida como artista ". [6] [4]

Período de Viena Editar

De 1908 a 1913, Hitler tiñó postales y pintó casas para ganarse la vida. Pintó su primer autorretrato en 1910 a la edad de 21 años. Esta pintura, junto con otras doce pinturas de Hitler, fue descubierta por el sargento mayor del ejército estadounidense Willie J. Mc Kenna en 1945 en Essen, Alemania. [ cita necesaria ]

Samuel Morgenstern, un hombre de negocios austriaco y socio comercial del joven Hitler en su período de Viena, compró muchas de las pinturas del joven Hitler. Según Morgenstern, Hitler acudió a él por primera vez a principios de la década de 1910, ya sea en 1911 o en 1912. Cuando Hitler llegó a la tienda de cristalería de Morgenstern por primera vez, le ofreció a Morgenstern tres de sus pinturas. Morgenstern mantuvo una base de datos de su clientela, a través de la cual fue posible localizar a los compradores de las pinturas del joven Hitler. Se encontró que la mayoría de los compradores eran judíos. Un cliente importante de Morgenstern, un abogado llamado Josef Feingold, compró una serie de pinturas de Hitler que representan la vieja Viena. [8]

Primera Guerra Mundial Editar

Cuando Hitler sirvió en la Primera Guerra Mundial a la edad de 25 años en 1914, llevaba una multa [ cita necesaria ] papel y lienzo con él al frente y pasé horas libres dibujando y pintando. Las obras que pintó durante este período estuvieron entre las últimas antes de convertirse en político. Los temas de su pintura de la época de la guerra incluyeron las casas de los granjeros, el vestuario, etc.

Ventas de subasta Editar

Varias pinturas de Hitler fueron confiscadas por el ejército de los Estados Unidos (algunas se cree que todavía están en Alemania) al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Fueron llevados a Estados Unidos con otros materiales capturados y aún están en poder de Estados Unidos. gobierno, que se ha negado a permitir su exhibición. [9] Otras pinturas fueron conservadas por particulares. En la década de 2000, varias de estas obras comenzaron a venderse en subasta. [10] En 2009, la casa de subastas Mullock's de Shropshire vendió 15 pinturas de Hitler por un total de £ 97.672 (US $ 143.358). [11] mientras que Ludlow's of Shropshire vendió 13 obras por más de 100.000 €. [12] En una subasta de 2012 en Eslovaquia, una pintura de técnica mixta se vendió por 32.000 euros. [13] Y el 18 de noviembre de 2014, una acuarela de Hitler de la antigua oficina de registro de Munich se vendió por 130.000 euros en una subasta en Nuremberg. La acuarela incluía una factura de venta y una carta firmada por Albert Bormann, que puede haber contribuido a su precio de venta comparativamente alto. [14] En julio de 2017, Mullock vendió dos pinturas de óleo raras. Uno muestra una casa en un lago.

Un grupo de eruditos estima que solo hay 300 obras completadas por Hitler a lo largo de su vida, sin embargo, Hitler mencionó en su libro: MI lucha, que mientras estuvo en Viena, produjo alrededor de dos o tres cuadros al día. Incluso si pintara un retrato al día durante los años que pasó en Viena, ese número sería más de 600. Peter Jahn, quizás uno de los principales expertos en el arte de Hitler, dijo que tuvo dos entrevistas con Hitler. Hitler dijo que en los seis años que pasó en Viena y Munich, de 1908 a 1914, produjo más de mil pinturas, algunas de ellas al óleo, como el árbol de Hitler en una pista de 1911.

Jahn fue una de las personas asignadas originalmente por Schulte Stratthaus, antes de que Hitler anexara Austria en 1938. Stratthaus había sido designado por Hitler en 1936 para localizar y comprar pinturas que Hitler había pintado de 1907 a 1912, y de 1921 a 1922. Jahn pasó casi cuatro años rastreando las primeras obras de Hitler, hasta que fue llamado al servicio militar. [15] Jahn se convirtió en Consultor de Arte de la Embajada de Alemania en Viena en 1937, donde luego buscaría, compraría y coleccionaría piezas individuales del arte de Hitler, para supuestamente destruir la mayoría de las pinturas. Jahn vendió una de las colecciones más grandes de arte de Hitler, unas 18 piezas, con un precio de venta medio de 50.000 dólares. [15]

Una de las colecciones privadas más extensas del arte de Hitler se encuentra en el Museo Internacional de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Natick, Massachusetts. [dieciséis]

En 1936, después de ver las pinturas que Hitler envió a la academia de arte de Viena, John Gunther escribió: "Son prosaicas, completamente desprovistas de ritmo, color, sentimiento o imaginación espiritual. Son bocetos de arquitectos dolorosos y nada más. Los profesores de Viena le dijeron que fuera a una escuela de arquitectura y abandonara el arte puro por desesperación ". [6]

En 2002, se le pidió a un crítico de arte moderno que revisara algunas de las pinturas de Hitler sin que se le dijera quién las pintó. Dijo que eran bastante buenos, pero que el estilo diferente en el que dibujaba las figuras humanas representaba un profundo desinterés por las personas. [17]

En un informe titulado Las acuarelas de Hitler: obras de arte recuperadas en homenaje a Rodolfo Siviero, elaborado por Fratelli Alinari, Sergio Salvi rechaza la caracterización de Hitler como "un pintor dominical sombrío" y lo describe en cambio como un "pintor profesional de poca monta" de "paisajes urbanos inocuos y triviales". [1]

Trabajando principalmente en acuarela, Hitler utilizó el medio para expresar tanto su amor por la pintura como por la arquitectura. [18] Charles Snyder dice que las acuarelas de Hitler a menudo muestran una atención detallada a la arquitectura en contraste con el tratamiento convencional y negligente de plantas y árboles que a menudo enmarcan el tema. [19]

El patio de la antigua residencia en Munich (1914) es una acuarela de Hitler. Representa el Alter Hof, un patio de piedra frente a una gran mansión. [20] Durante la estadía de Hitler en Munich, pasó la mayor parte de sus días leyendo y pintando, lo que hizo realidad su sueño como artista independiente. [21]

La pintura muestra su estilo y dominio de la acuarela para crear una delimitación estricta del edificio, pero a la izquierda, vemos dos árboles suaves que contrastan con las duras líneas de la casa. A la izquierda está pintada una pequeña fuente entre dos árboles.


Cuando Hitler intentó (y falló) ser artista - HISTORIA

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En su libro MI lucha, Adolf Hitler dijo que aspiraba a ser artista en su juventud en Viena, Austria. Dos veces no logró ingresar a la Academia de Bellas Artes de Viena, una vez en 1907 y en 1908. El futuro dictador tenía 18 años en ese momento.

Los profesores de la escuela dijeron que las obras de Hitler estaban "completamente desprovistas de ritmo, color, sentimiento o imaginación espiritual". Compararon las pinturas de Hitler con simples bocetos de arquitectos con detalles precisos, pero nada más.

Uno de los profesores de arte sugirió que el joven Hitler fuera a la escuela de arquitectura. El joven rechazó la sugerencia. Tendría que volver a tomar sus clases de secundaria donde abandonó, una opción que no le gustó.

Después de ese fracaso, Hitler pasó un tiempo entre cafés de artistas en Viena. Esperaba que uno de los maestros lo acogiera y le enseñara. Nadie se ofreció. Los jóvenes intentaron llegar a fin de mes dibujando cientos de postales, pero la empresa fracasó.

El futuro dictador adolescente fue aplastado. En lugar de convertir sus ambiciones en arte, Hitler luchó por encontrarle sentido a su vida. Mientras deambulaba por las calles de los pobres urbanos de Viena, Hitler escuchó a ciudadanos desilusionados repetir la retórica antisemita del rey Franz Josef I de que los judíos ricos estaban acaparando toda la riqueza de Austria.

Por lo tanto, la capa superior del movimiento artístico de Viena y vivir en la pobreza abyecta fomentaron involuntariamente el odio latente de un dictador en sus años de formación.

¿Qué hubiera pasado si los profesores de arte fomentaran el talento latente de Hitler? ¿Se habría convertido Hitler en un tirano malvado?

Hitler aprendió a dibujar y pintar por su cuenta sin ningún entrenamiento formal. ¿Qué habría hecho si alguien le hubiera enseñado a ampliar sus horizontes artísticos?

Los maestros dijeron que no dibujó suficientes cabezas en su arte, y los expertos señalan que Hitler copió pinturas tradicionales en lugar de crear su propio trabajo. A pesar de que Hitler imitó mucho arte, sus técnicas básicas para crear profundidad y luz parecen más bien sólidas para alguien de su edad. Hitler no era un genio prodigioso, pero con un poco de enseñanza, podría haber sido genial.

En total, Hitler creó más de 2.000 pinturas durante su vida. La mayoría de ellos fueron destruidos o perdidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Irónicamente, las pinturas de Hitler son mucho más valiosas hoy que cuando estaba vivo. Es la maldición de un artista, y seguramente su infamia se prestó a valores altos en las subastas de pinturas auténticas de Hitler.

Una acuarela se vendió por 161.000 dólares a finales de 2014. Un grupo de 14 pinturas se vendió por 450.000 dólares en junio de 2015. Imagínese lo que hubiera hecho Hitler con esa cantidad de dinero en Viena. Habría sido la comidilla de la escena artística de la ciudad.

Quizás el mundo sería un lugar mucho más pacífico ahora si solo un joven ingresara a la escuela de arte a los 18 años en Viena. Si solo.

Now that you've seen Hitler's paintings, learn about the last of Hitler's bloodline. Then learn about Geli Raubal, Hitler's true love and niece.


When Hitler Tried (and Failed) to Be an Artist - HISTORY

Half a century later, the paintings of Adolf Hitler are still a federal case

THE best of the paintings shows a war-torn streetscape -- a lamppost leaning away from a shrapnel-nicked brick building. The background reveals the facade of a gutted church, its purpose burned away. There is no one on the street life has been chased, bombed, swept from this Belgian village where the soldier-artist found such devastation. The artist was good enough to make his living at this for some years. But he realized he was not going to make his mark as a painter. He changed careers and became far more successful in another line of work. His name was Adolf Hitler .

The United States of America claims ownership of these four Hitler watercolors. So does an art collector in Texas who bought the rights to the paintings from the children of Hitler's personal photographer. A lawsuit over the watercolors has been slouching through federal courts in Texas and Washington for 18 years. There are lawyers who spent much of their careers on the case, retired and still come back to the office to work on it. Some of the most important witnesses have died while the case drags on. Billy Price , the Texas collector who first filed suit against the government, has long since sold off his collection of Hitler art and World War II memorabilia -- someone who didn't like the idea of collecting Hitler's paintings put a bullet into Price's office one day, and that was enough for him.

But the lawyers push on, and so do their clients -- Price and the descendants of Heinrich Hoffmann , Hitler's friend and photographer. And all around the country, there is a busy and lucrative trade in Hitler's artwork -- mostly watercolors, a few oils, lots of hand-painted postcards (some of which were actually sent and include birthday salutations and wish-you-were-here vacation greetings on the flip side), and a few 1-by-2-inch miniatures that reveal an obsession with architectural detail.

Fifty-seven years after the Nazi dictator killed himself in his bunker under the Berlin that Soviet troops were torching in a vengeful, righteous rage, the fascination with Hitler shows few signs of abating. It is a worldwide obsession with a man who has become a universal symbol of hate and the human capacity for evil. But Hitler is also a particularly American interest. German filmmakers and writers occasionally take him on, and artists around the globe use his story and image to make points about violence and tolerance, religion and hate. But only in this country are there cable channels that serve him up around the clock, only here does he remain a constant in entertainment and literature, only here does the market in his artwork remain brisk and busy.

Those who work to keep the horror of the Holocaust and the crimes of Hitler fresh and meaningful fear that the Fuehrer and symbols of him -- the black-and-white footage, endlessly repeated the mustache, forever imitated the wild gestures and barking rhetoric, ceaselessly mocked -- will devolve into a crass commercialization that sweeps away memories of the horror. These people worry that Hitler's art might be used to promote new bouts of extremism and hate -- which is exactly why Hitler's art is banned in Germany, as are swastikas, Nazi regalia and even Mein Kampf. Fear of resurgent nationalism still drives policy in Hitler's homeland, even after half a century of democracy.

IN this country, there are no such taboos: Hitler is out in the open, a staple of Hollywood and novels, a magnet for collectors of military memorabilia, and yet an almost mundane presence. He is as daily as Dan Rather or Britney Spears , and nearly as easy to spoof. In this country, beyond the imagination or comprehension of Germans, there's a longstanding, thriving market in everything Nazi. Collections run the gamut: legitimate auction houses, back tables at flea markets, private stashes in climate-controlled, high-security additions to fancy suburban houses, and, of course, eBay, which, on one recent day, offered 1,125 Hitler-related items, from postage stamps to autographs to cuff links. Billy Price's privately published book on Hitler's art sells for $99 and comes with a promise that it is "completely nonpolitical and only concerns itself with the art of Adolf Hitler." There are a couple of prominent Hitler art collectors in Britain and elsewhere (Florence's Uffizi Gallery owns 18 Hitlers, and several Japanese collectors have a few Hitlers, though most Japanese concentrate on Nazi uniforms, which reenactors like to wear), but most of the best collections are in this country.

"We understand that some artifacts are sensitive to some people, and we offer these specimens with this in mind," says a policy statement on the Web site of Manion's International Auction, purveyor of Hitler bronze wall plaques ($39), a swastika-adorned paper lantern ($75), a Hitler wall tapestry (asking $390 no bids), and an original oil painting of the Fuehrer, signed by the artist (asking $2,000).

But prices jump markedly if the offering is something from Hitler's own hand, if it is a vision from the dictator's mind, a glimpse into the artist who might have been, into the reality that might have followed, if only the young painter had risen above his art school rejection and persisted in the career he had chosen as a boy, the path that had so outraged his father, the identity that Hitler would cling to throughout his life. Adolf Hitler, artist.

What does it mean now, half a century later, to own a Hitler, to hang it in a place of honor in your front hall, to secure it in an annex to your house, to want it so badly that you fight the government for decades for the right to call it your own? What does it say about you, about the culture in which you live, and about what Hitler is and will be?

From a 1937 book of Adolf Hitler aquarelles, published by a Nazi Party publishing house: Hitler "is at once the First Fuehrer and the First Artist of our Reich."

IN a corner house on a quiet street in Bowie, Charles Snyder Jr ., a retired Air Force major (Korea, Vietnam), and his business partner, Chase Haddock , man the mice on a bank of computers that are always on, always scouring eBay for bids and buys. Snyder, dressed in shorts and madras plaid shirt, is surrounded by a bewildering forest of clutter: floor-to-ceiling tchotchkes precarious piles of books and maps plastic tubs and cruddy old suitcases, all packed with photos, magazine covers, original war documents shelves stuffed three-deep with military uniforms, swords, guns, decorations from the French Revolution to Korea entire newspaper photo archives and, tucked away in crevices known only to the proprietor, 16 works of art by Hitler. It's all for sale, all priced to move. At the moment, Snyder has 1,600 items up for auction on eBay.

Hitler once said he painted more than 1,000 pieces while living in Vienna from 1909 to 1914. A U.S. government report once put Hitler's total output at closer to 3,000 works. No good accounting of the pieces has been made. Collectors around the world consider any group of 20 or more Hitlers to be a fair-size collection. Snyder has bought and sold more than 100 pieces, at prices mostly in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

The Hitler business, like the rest of Snyder's Treasure Trove, as it's known to its customers, was once a very public, social sort of endeavor -- road shows, a regular annual circuit around the country. EBay put an end to all that. No reason to leave the house anymore. "We get almost a million hits a month," announces Snyder, a muscular, correct man with close-cropped white hair and a mustache. "It's saved our lives." Forget the trucks -- Snyder's tools of the trade now are ergonomic neck cushions and anti-repetitive strain injury wrist straps.

Snyder has been a collector since 1962. "It's a disease and you can't stop," he says. At 70, he is, like many collectors, old enough to remember the war. It was indeed World War II stuff that first got him hooked on the collectibles biz -- uniforms, weapons, Eva Braun's tea service, Nazi autographs, swastika cuff links, Hitler's silver, Hitler's desk ornaments, and then, finally, Hitler's art. At one point a few years ago, Snyder owned 40 Hitlers. He's down to 11 watercolors, a bunch of postcards and one large oil, a dark portrait of a cathedral under a mottled brown sky. It is signed "Adolf Hitler" and dated 1936.

"He was kind of busy then," Snyder says. The oil hangs just inside his front door, next to autographed photos of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan . Don't be distracted by the homey look: Everything is for sale. He wants $35,000 for the oil.

ABOUT seven years ago, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant who was involved in the looting of Hitler's Bavarian hideaway sold Snyder his collection of Hitleriana. It was a mother lode from the fatherland. D.C. Watts and others in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment had entered Berchtesgaden with the first occupation troops in May 1945. The initial looting had already ended, but Watts soon learned of a network of tunnels leading to Hitler's country house, the Berghof. There he found the grail -- the storage rooms where Hitler's belongings were protected from Allied bombing.

American soldiers carried out their war booty by the trunkful. Watts snared hundreds of pieces of silverware, thousands of documents and more than 30 original Hitler paintings. "We won, so it's ours," is Snyder's explanation. "That's why guys bring stuff back. It's, 'Gee, Mom, I was there.' "

Snyder buys from anyone he once picked up a Hitler from Albert Speer , the Fuehrer's architect. Snyder paid $500 for a Hitler sketch for a German pavilion at the proposed 1942 World's Fair. The major later sold it for $1,000. Negocio.

Snyder has pencil sketches of Linz, Austria, Hitler's home town. He has the postcards. Snyder doesn't especially like Hitler's painting. In his catalogue of his collection, he writes of the Hitler works,

All of which has nothing to do with Snyder's regard for the value of his Hitlers. They're merchandise. Most of his customers see it the same way: One of Snyder's friends liked one Hitler so much, he scanned it into his computer to use as a screen saver. But other customers don't care what the painting looks like as long as it's a Hitler, and still others just don't talk about why they want what they want. And Snyder never asks.

There are a few customers who make it clear they think of Hitler as a hero. "We just overlook that," Snyder says. "You get the arrows from the flanks and you overlook it. This neo-Nazi movement is built up beyond what it is. All these kooks. I'm not a real historian about Hitler, but over 40 years you absorb all this. And still you don't understand him. You can't understand a dictator. They live within themselves."

Snyder won't identify most of his customers, but euthanasia advocate Jack Kevorkian , "Dr. Death," was one. Had a nice little Hitler collection there for a while. For what it's worth.

Snyder doesn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out Hitler the artist or Hitler the genocidal dictator. He has product to move. "Our job is to place these things with collectors who will really appreciate them," he says. Nor is he ever creeped out by having all this Hitler stuff all over his house, even in the bedroom. "You get used to creepiness, being a warrior. Which is unfortunate, but you do. I used to have mannequins upstairs, World War I aviators, and it just got too weird, my wife didn't like it, so I took them downstairs." Where they stare at him all day.

He will say this: "There is more of a fascination with bad guys than with good guys." Churchill and Eisenhower painted, too. "You don't see much of their work, and there's not much demand." But the demand for Hitler art shows no sign of waning. It's only when he starts going through old photographs of the war that Snyder relates all this to his own years in the military. "The further away you get from a terrible experience, the better it seems," he says suddenly. And he tears up.


When This German Artist Tried to Use His Work to Warn About Hitler, the World Ignored Him. It's Time to Listen

When Adolf Hitler took charge of Germany 85 years ago this summer, he did not, contrary to popular belief, &ldquoseize power.&rdquo Rather, Germans elected him their Führer, or leader, in a referendum on Aug. 19, 1934 and subsequently chose to subscribe to the cultural narrative that he created: that Germany had become too open, too tolerant of cultural diversity in the early 20th century. This openness, Hitler argued, had caused their recent national identity crisis.

Hitler knew that to conquer the wounded hearts of a broken citizenry, he must first conquer culture itself. Dozens of artists faced his persecution when he pushed &ldquoDegenerate Art&rdquo out of museums and into a derisive exhibition in 1937, but very few tried to warn against it through their work.

One notable exception was George Grosz, a spirited rabble-rouser who risked his career, family, physical safety and mental health to sound the alarm as early as 1923, parodying Hitler&rsquos view of aggressive nationalism in &ldquoHitler the Savior,&rdquo a work that mocks Hitler as a Teutonic warrior in a one-shoulder tunic. In his 1926 painting &ldquoPillars of Society,&rdquo the then-33-year-old artist warned his fellow Germans that, if petty government sniping and extremist Christianity were not nipped in the bud, Hitler&rsquos rise would be the likely consequence. Grosz further warned against radical far-right religious views in 1927&rsquos &ldquoShut Up and Do Your Duty,&rdquo a work that shows Jesus Christ nailed to the cross wearing combat boots and a gas mask&mdasha criticism of politicizing Christianity that drew praise from pacifist Quakers in the United States.

So why is Grosz&rsquos heroic story not better known?

In Germany, the reasons are twofold. For most Germans, lauding the risks that Grosz took also involves acknowledging that others&mdashperhaps their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents&mdashenabled Hitler&rsquos rise by not speaking out as the artist did. Secondly, while Grosz was able to escape with some documents that facilitate research, the Nazis destroyed copious works and documents left in Berlin.

Americans, on the other hand, have an uneasy, centuries-old relationship with failure. Millions grew up with the fairytale that if an individual is fighting for what is right, that individual will certainly win and be rewarded for it.

Yet it is critical that we heed Grosz&rsquos warning in our own time: the dismantling of civil rights is portended by the dismantling of culture. It is critical that members of a society recognize that there are times when risking our careers, and even our safety, may be necessary to protect that society&rsquos future.


The Artist Who Dared to Take On the Nazis From Their Earliest Days

On e afternoon in or around 1920, during the nascent days of Germany’s Weimar Republic, artist George Grosz paraded through Berlin with a poster aimed at recruiting “well-built young society girls” for a party at his studio, beginning at 8 p.m. Roughly 100 guests flooded the studio for a rollicking two-day bacchanalia. This and other alcohol-fueled festivities were, Grosz readily admitted, escapes from the trauma and violence that the artist, then in his mid-20s, had experienced throughout the First World War. He called it “contentment and suicide in high style.”

Grosz had voluntarily enlisted, as had a fellow artist four years his senior named Adolf Hitler, because they genuinely considered military service to be an opportunity for artistic inspiration. Growing up in a society that glamorized war, both were utterly unprepared for the unprecedented levels of carnage that new military technology had enabled in the 1910s.

Though Grosz and Hitler were equally traumatized by Germany’s defeat, they coped in wildly divergent ways. Hitler, an aspiring dictator, adopted a pernicious form of nationalism. He diabolically understood in 1919—a full 14 years before coming to power—that quashing the growing cultural diversity in the Fatherland was vital to carrying out his genocidal agenda. By the early 1920s, the failed artist argued that the Nazis should control German culture before attempting military expansion.

Grosz, however, learned from World War I that the very origins of Germany’s defeat were rooted in bellicose nationalism, and that conquering this would be the key to his nation’s rebirth. Putting his mental health, career, and physical safety at risk, he launched a decade-long crusade in Germany through the most popular method of cultural expression at the time: visual art. Long before Hitler ever did, Grosz became a household name in Germany through his widely published satirical artworks mocking the growing radical right and skewering the government and judicial system as incompetent.

Consequently, though Hitler and Grosz never met, Grosz earned a permanent place in Hitler’s political crosshairs. A few days before Hitler came to power in January 1933, Grosz, his wife, and their children fled to New York after receiving death threats from the Nazis. His instinct to flee, like his social commentary, was on target: a few days after the Führer’s ascent, Nazi hooligans raided his empty home and studio in Berlin.

Grosz continued his criticism of the Nazi Party from his new home in the United States. Yet the man who was once the most famous artist in Germany never again regained that renown. After the war he returned to Berlin, but struggled with drinking. In 1959, at age 65, it led to his death there, in the nation he had so vividly tried to warn about the perils of fascist and racist policies. ✯


George Grosz, here in 1928 with his Scottish Terrier, believed that an artist’s most important contribution was in social criticism. (bpk Bildagentur/Ewald Hoinkis/Art Resource, NY)


PILLARS OF SOCIETY (1926): Grosz's most iconic work reflects the artist's worries that politicians, the clergy, and the media will be Germany's downfall. In the foreground, a Nazi politician's head is cut off to reveal horses of the apocalypse. To his left, a journalist is depicted with a chamber pot on his head. This work came to define Grosz's career in the eyes of both his supporters and his detractors. (bpk Bildagentur/Nationalgalerie, Staaliche Museen, Berlin, Germany/Art Resource, NY)


SHUT UP AND DO YOUR DUTY (1927): One of Grosz’s most misunderstood and controversial works depicts a crucified Jesus wearing a gas mask and combat boots. In 1930 the artist was tried for blasphemy his supporters, though, knew the artist, a Christian, was deeply disturbed by the prospect of mixing religion with war. Grosz even earned the support of American Quakers, who defended his push for pacifism. (bpk Bildagentur/Kufferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany/Art Resource, NY)


HITLER THE SAVIOR (1923): Grosz sounded the alarm about Hitler early on. Roughly a decade before Hitler came to power, the artist parodied the future Führer, obsessed with Teutonic warriors, as the hyperbole of the archetypical Aryan fighting man, with a muscular physique far unlike his actual build. Grosz took the drawing's title from Hitler's supporters, who had brazenly compared him to Christ. (Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Erich Cohn, © Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)


ECLIPSE OF THE SUN (1926): A veteran of the First World War, Grosz depicted a Germany consumed with plotting a new war. An aging President Paul von Hindenburg and headless bureaucrats surround a bloody sword and a cross painted in German national colors. A war profiteer whispers in Hindenburg's ear as a blindered donkey—representing the public—eats from a precarious manger. Meanwhile a child—Germany's future—peers through a grate in the floor in horror. ((The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY)


THE PIT (1946): Created after the artist fled Germany for the U.S., this five-by-three-foot work was, to Grosz, the most significant of his American-made paintings. In the lower left corner, a maimed German soldier carries his own leg under one arm around him nightmarish scenes swirl. "My drawings and paintings were done as an act of protest," Grosz once wrote. "I was trying by means of my work to convince the world that it is ugly, sick, and hypocritical." (Wichita Art Museum, Roland P. Murdock Collection)


A GLIMPSE INTO THE NEGRO SECTION OF DALLAS (1952): When the owner of a major Dallas department store invited Grosz to create a series of paintings, the artist accepted because he needed the job. At some point Grosz strolled into Dallas's segregated black community: this vibrant watercolor was the result. Grosz's German roots allowed him to see Dallas's African American community in a way that a native-born citizen could not at the time. (Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of A. Harris and Company in memory of Leon A. Harris, Sr. © Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

This article was published in the February 2020 issue ofWorld War II.


Napoleon’s and Hitler’s failed invasions of Russia

Two men separated by over 100 years of history, yet both planted the seeds of their downfall by invading the same country. Possibly the two most significant invasions in modern military history that would significantly change the balance of power in Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte, a man that would change European history forever with not only his military skill, but with the ideas of the French revolution spread across the continent. And Adolf Hitler, possibly one of histories most horrific ruler whose ambition dragged the world into yet another horrifying war that saw the death of over 50 million people worldwide.

Napoleon was born in Corsica, an island just off the west coast of Italy. The ownership of the island had changed in years close to Napoleon’s birth, the islands being at one time part of the Republic of Genoa in Italy. When Napoleon was born it was then owned by France but he was hardly a Frenchman. The young Napoleon did not even speak French, the majority on the island speaking Italian, and had to learn it in his youth, however he would speak it for the rest of his life in a strong Corsican accent. Like Napoleon, Hitler was also not born in the country he would eventually rule over. Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria but did not face the difficulties of language that Napoleon did with Austria being a German speaking country.

In later life when both rose to power, the similarities are impossible to miss. Hitler ignited a Second World War in 1939 quickly achieving victories with his German army until by 1941 he was the de facto ruler of Europe. In Napoleon’s time, the revolutionary wars ended with France being the dominant superpower in Europe as Napoleon skilfully manoeuvred his way into power, eventually declaring himself emperor of France and, like Hitler, master of Europe by 1812. The only nation that defied Hitler and Napoleon’s rule was Great Britain. Protected by the seas and its Royal Navy, the sturdy island nation proved to be a constant hindrance to both leaders in their never ending pursuit of power.

In 1807, following the French victory in the war of the fourth coalition, Napoleon had completely charmed the Russian Tsar and had been able to sign a peace treaty leading to an Alliance between the two countries. The main purpose of the alliance was for Russia to join the ‘Continental System’, designed by Napoleon, it was intended as a solution to defeat the British. The ‘Continental System’ effectively stopped any trade with Britain by any nation in Europe. With a huge power like Russia joining this system, Napoleon hoped it would hurt Britain even further and leading to Britain coming to the negotiating table with him. But the alliance with Napoleon, who before the alliance had been slated as being the Antichrist in Russia, was highly unpopular, eventually the Tsar had to concede to the Russian nobles and neutral ships began arriving at Russian ports for trade. Seeing his ‘Continental System’ threatened, Napoleon knew he needed to intervene militarily to force Alexander’s hand.

Stalin smiles as the pact with Nazi Germany is signed

Like Napoleon, Hitler had also signed an alliance with Russia, or the Soviet Union as it was then called. The Molotov – Ribbentrop pact had brought both rival ideologies of National Socialism and Communism together, an act which stunned the world. The main intention was to give Hitler a free hand in the West dealing the British and French without any worry for a war in the East for the time being. Hitler made quick work of the Allies, taking Poland in September of 1939, then Norway and France in 1940. Veering south he next took the Balkans with Yugoslavia and Greece falling. By 1941 Hitler had defeated every major enemy on the European continent. But like the conundrum Napoleon was in, Hitler was unable to force Britain to her knees. Here is where things start to differ between the two men. Napoleon only invaded Russia reluctantly in order to drag Russian back into the alliance and into his cherished ‘continental system’, Britain being the main enemy in Napoleon’s eyes. But for Hitler, defeating Russia was much more personal. He detested the Soviet Union and everything it stood for, especially communism. He believed his invasion was to be a war of extinction against the ‘Slavs’ in the East and his ‘Aryan’ Germans and was clear on his intentions of destroying the population in the East, developing horrific ideas such as the plan to systematically starve millions of people once a victory had been achieved over the Soviet Union. Hitler was able to convince his generals of the invasion by reasoning that if the Soviet Union also fell, then Britain must surely come to terms in understanding that they could never defeat Nazi Germany alone.

Napoleon with his Grande Armée

For an invasion of a country as vast and powerful as Russia the two leaders knew that they needed a colossal army. Napoleon’s Grande Armée was the largest of its time. Whilst it was led by French generals, it would have been more appropriate to have called it ‘L’Armée de l’Europe’. It included soldiers from all over the continent, the main body being Frenchmen and others from the French empire such as Dutch, Swiss, Italians and Belgians. The second largest in number were Poles, then came the Italians, Germans, Austrians, Croats and Spanish, just to name a few. The actual number of the troops involved has been widely debated, but it was somewhere between 550,000 to 600,000, along with over 160,000 horses gathered from all over the continent to be used as cavalry or transportation. Hitler’s army of 1941 dwarfed Napoleon’s, but then again it was over 100 years after Napoleon’s time. Hitler had positioned 3,050,000 German troops along the border to the Soviet Union. They were joined by troops from their Axis allies bringing the total to nearly four million soldiers. Hitler also had his famous Blitzkrieg weapons in the form of tanks and armoured cars that would race behind the Russian lines, but along with this army came 600,000 horses used to tow ambulances, ration wagons, guns and used for other forms of transportation. Although modern technology allowed for motorized vehicles to speed up certain units, the majority of troops were on foot, just like Napoleons soldiers.

A French soldier of the Grande Armée

On 24th June 1812 Napoleon and his army crossed the Niemen river to start its invasion of Russia, almost 129 years later on the 22nd June 1941, German and axis troops began entering the Soviet Union, only 2 days before the Grande Armée had set off. For Napoleon the invasion went relatively well. The Grande Armée swiftly pushed through the countryside as the Russian armies retreated further and further towards Moscow. The Russian generals preferred to fall back and let attrition take its toll on the Grande Armée rather than take on Napoleon whose military genius was greatly feared. Many times the Russian general Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly attempted to create a strong defensive position in order to fight the Grande Armée in a decisive battle, but the French advance was too rapid for the Russians who continued to retreat. Eventually Barclay de Tolly was removed due to his refusal to give battle. His replacement was Mikhail Illarionovic Kutuzov. Like his predecessor, he soon realised that if he were to give battle to Napoleon he would surely lose, his only hope was to fight whilst in a strong defensive position and so he continued in the same way as Barclay de Tolly had. He eventually was able to stop in Borodino, a village a mere 70 miles or so from Moscow. He set up defensive positions and awaited the Grande Armée.

German motorized troops on the move in Russia

The German armies in 1941 had managed to catch the Soviets by complete surprise and quickly engulfed entire armies in vast encircling manoeuvres with the panzer troops racing behind the Soviet lines. Just 5 days after the invasion, two panzer groups had met at Minsk, some 200 miles behind the Soviet front line and had managed to encircle more than 300,000 Red Army troops along with 2,500 tanks that were either destroyed or captured. In 3 weeks the Red Army had lost 3,500 tanks, over 6,000 aircraft and around 2 million men. For Hitler victory seemed close as his troops continued to roll forward crushing any Soviet armies that lay in their way. Whilst the Germans began to reach Moscow in the centre and Leningrad in the north, they soon learned how extensive the Soviet Union’s manpower really was. Hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers were rushed into the front line only to be killed or captured by the Germans, but no matter how many Soviets they killed, more kept appearing on the horizon. As they approached Moscow the weather was beginning to turn for the worst. To the German soldier the situation was certainly unsettling. The optimism following the early victories had been ground away by the countless number of Red Army soldiers they continued to face. Victory only seemed possible if they got to Moscow, but the weather was getting colder.

Painting of the battle at Borodino

As Napoleon stood on a hill overlooking the battlefield at Borodino, with Moscow in the background, the weather was still in good condition. His forces finally faced the Russian army, a battle he had been waiting for since the beginning of the invasion. The battle commenced involving more than 250,000 troops, it was to be one of the bloodiest days in European military history until the battle of the Somme in 1916. Although Napoleon’s performance in the battle was possibly his worst as a general, he still came out the victor, though not without losses. The Russians suffered around 45,000 casualties whilst the Grande Armée’s losses came to around 28,ooo. The damage to the Russian army was crippling and so it began to limp back further into Russia for a much needed rest and to await reinforcements. The Russian general Kutuzov knew he could not give battle again until his army had recovered, but this meant losing Moscow, the old capital of Russia. The French losses were not as severe, however Napoleon had all but destroyed his cavalry.Yet the Grande Armée marched on towards Moscow capturing the city on the 14th September. When the Russians fled the city, a fire had started which devastated large areas before the French had arrived. With a burnt out city at its feet, the Grande Armée needed a more suited camp to face the Russian winter and so in the middle of October Napoleon began moving his troops back westwards. Greatly underestimating the Russian climate the French manoeuvre soon became a full scale retreat as its supply lines came under attacks from Russian units in the French rear. With the army marching in freezing conditions out in the open the losses began to rise. Just to make things worse the Russian army, back up to strength after its period of rest, began chasing the Grande Armée as it fled westwards. The Russians had used Moscow as a trap to lure the Grande Armée into Russia until winter hit which they knew would destroy the French army. Napoleon had no option but to retreat as best he could knowing the cost to his army would be disastrous.

Soviet troops ready to defend Moscow

In October 1941, the Germans had Moscow on the horizon, being tantalizingly close to achieving a possible victory. With fresh units arriving from Siberia in the far East, the Soviets launched a massive counter offensive smashing apart the German armies at the front. After months of continuous marching and fighting the German armies were in no condition to withstand the attack. For the first time in the war the German army had been halted decisively. Now troops began to panic and German generals called for retreat. Before the invasion many German generals had read accounts of Napoleons invasion of Russia and the subsequent retreat, above all they feared a similar situation for their own army. Hitler had forbidden any winter clothing to be issued to his troops, believing it to be possible that his army could defeat the Soviets before winter set in. But he massively miscalculated as his troops began to freeze on the front lines whilst being attacked by Soviet troops. It was at this moment that Hitler called for a halt. Not wishing to replicate Napoleons retreat of 1812, he forbid any units to fall back and ordered them to create strong points to stop the Soviets. Huddled together in make shift foxholes in the freezing cold, the Germans held their positions as the Soviets pushed against them hard.

Napoleon and his freezing Grande Armée on the retreat

The Grande Armée on the other hand crawled its way back through western Russia, being constantly harassed by the Russians, losing thousands of men to the Russian cavalry hacking at their rear. The further the men marched, the worse the weather got with men and horses dying on a tremendous scale, many freezing to death. In late January, after almost 3 months of retreating and fighting their way back through Russian armies, the Grande Armée entered the relative safety of Poland. But here Napoleon was able to see the true scale of the disaster which had befallen his army. It is impossible to give an exact figure of the losses, but starting the invasion Napoleon had somewhere between 550,000 to 600,000 soldiers. In January 1813 only around 120,000 came out of Russia. Thus it can be roughly assumed that as many as 400,000 soldiers died, only a quarter of them from battle. The rest were killed by the Russian winter. This was the beginning of the end for Napoleon. His first real defeat allowed his enemies to rally behind Russia and rise up against him. First the Prussians and then the Austrians declared war on France joining Russia in pushing him back to the borders of France. By March 1814 Paris capitulated and Napoleon was defeated.

Frozen and starved, a German soldier taken captive in Stalingrad

Hitler’s downfall went differently. His freezing army was able to hold on against the Soviets who were unable to keep up the pressure in their offensive. When the weather improved in mid 1942 his troops were able to launch another assault pushing even further into Russia, but whilst Napoleon’s end began in the city of Moscow, Hitler’s began in the city of Stalingrad. In early 1943 the Germans lost nearly 800,000 troops to the Soviets in the battle for the city which bore Stalin’s name and they were never able to regain the initiative. Over the next 2 years they were gradually pushed back until Soviet artillery shells began landing on the street above Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. Preferring to commit suicide rather than face a trial for his war crimes, Hitler shot himself on 30th April 1945. Germany surrendered shortly afterwards.

End in Berlin: The Reichstag in ruins

For all their similarities, Napoleon and Hitler were two very different people. Hitler’s desired war of annihilation against the Soviet Union resulted in nearly 20 million Soviet deaths during the war. Included in the figure are soldiers and citizens. Napoleon did not harbour any racist or ideological hatred against the Russians, nor did he ever consider it a war of annihilation. Yet Hitler was hell bent on destroying the Soviets from the outset. It is true that even Napoleon’s war brought with it death and destruction which can be blamed on Napoleon himself, but he often forbid his troops to loot local civilians and had no insane ambitions to kill all ‘Slavs’ like Hitler did. Also Napoleon truly was a military genius, none can doubt it. His control on the battlefield led to countless victories for France, yet whilst Hitler claimed he was responsible for the great German victories, his generals were often the ones who should receive credit, Hitler made a habit of claiming their ideas for his own. The only possible exception for this would be Hitler’s order to halt outside the gates of Moscow during the Russian offensive, but whether this decision helped save the German army is still widely debated to this day.

The consequences of both wars were felt all over Europe. Napoleon had conquered Europe, making France the dominant superpower in the world, only being hampered by the British Navy which kept it restricted to the continent. In truth whenever the French and Russians faced each other in battle, even during the dreadful conditions of the retreat when the French army was starved and freezing, the soldiers of the Grande Armée significantly beat the Russians every time. But with all of Europe rising up against French rule there was no way Napoleon could hold onto his dream of French hegemony over Europe. Instead a new Europe emerged out of the ashes of French defeat and two nations rose to become the new dominant forces. Russia, enjoying the prestige of defeating Napoleon and freeing Europe from Napoleonic rule was of course one. The other was Prussia which after Napoleon’s defeat received many German lands leading it to become the dominant German state. In 1870 Prussia would unite the German states to become the Empire of Germany. These two nations who had once fought side by side against the French would soon be engaged in two of the worst wars that the world had ever seen.

The consequences of Nazism

For all their similarities both men are remembered in different ways. Napoleon is remembered for his victories. Even in defeat he still holds fame as one of the greatest military commanders who ever lived. Many rightly point out that this man was responsible for dragging all of Europe to war causing thousands of casualties. But more importantly he brought the ideas of the French revolution to the rest of Europe. The Napoleonic Code which made such laws as forbidding any privileges based on birth and allowed freedom of religion has lasted for far longer than Napoleon was alive. Hitler though is remembered for the horrors that came with Nazism. The deaths that can be directly attributed to Nazism, with its ideological beliefs of a war of annihilation against ‘lesser’ races have never before been encountered on such a scale as carried out by the Nazis. We can surely be thankful that Hitler made that fateful decision to turn East and invade the country that even the military genius Napoleon could not conquer.