HILDEBRAND GURLITT’S ART ACTIVITIES AS A REFLECTION OF THE NATIONAL SOCIALISM EPOCH

  • Viktoriia Soloshenko the State Institution “Institute of World History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”, 5, Leontovycha Street, Kyiv, 01103, Ukraine https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7096-9859
Keywords: Germany, Hildebrand Gurlitt, art dealers, National Socialism, Munich trove, paintings, cultural values, collections, alienation

Abstract

The article is centered on Hildebrand Gurlitt’s figure and his role in the Nazi’s trading in pieces of art. The documents of H. Gurlitt’s life history and his art activities have just recently been publicized and remain poorly researched. It was found that due to his purposefulness and strong friendly relations with artists, H. Gurlitt, who managed to collect one of the best art collections of the contemporary modernists and expressionists in Germany by the late 1920s, became a professional sought after by the Nazi authorities. Against the background of notorious German art historians, such as the special representatives of Hitler appointed to create the collection of the Fuehrer’s museum and planned museum in Linz Hans Posse and his successor from 1943 Hermann Voss, the chair of the Federal association of art and antiquities dealers in Germany Adolf Weinmueller, who actively participated in the persecution of Jewish art dealers, it was shown what was the personal contribution of H. Gurlitt and other “cultural officers” to the development of the Third Reich cultural component. Being the member of a special Ministry of propaganda working group of art dealers, H. Gurlitt established connections with branches of Western antique firms that worked in Germany and bought from them secretly the works of “degenerative art”. In his turn he bought the works from German collectors of Jewish descent; helped them, gave them money and a chance to emigrate from Germany. The Reich Treasury received millions of foreign exchange earnings from his activities. Revealing of Gurlitt and other art dealers activities complements the holistic picture that represents the National Socialism epoch.

 Gurlitt’s case was also analyzed as “the greatest discovery of the century”, when more than 1400 paintings were found in the ordinary rented apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, who was the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, in Munich in 2012. Emphasizing that the discovery stirred Germany and widely resonated around the globe, the author reveals the reasons for which the German Government held off disclosing the information about Gurlitt collection. It is stressed that allowing open access to the collection helped in finding owners and descendants, as well as identifying criminals and accomplices of the Nazi expansionist policy.

 

Soloshenko, V. (2019). Hildebrand Gurlitt’s Art Activities as a Reflection of the National Socialism Epoch. Mìžnarodnì zv’âzki Ukraïni: naukovì pošuki ì znahìdki – The International relations of Ukraine: scientific searches and findings, 28, 231-252 [in Ukrainian].

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Published
2019-12-05
How to Cite
Viktoriia Soloshenko. (2019). HILDEBRAND GURLITT’S ART ACTIVITIES AS A REFLECTION OF THE NATIONAL SOCIALISM EPOCH . International Relations of Ukraine: Scientific Searches and Findings, (28), 231-252. https://doi.org/10.15407/mzu2019.28.231