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HONR.3300-303: Art and the Nazis

Weekly Lecture Topics/Reading

Each lecture will last 2-3 classes.

Lecture Topics Reading

Lecture 1: Historical Background 

Germany’s history from the Middle Ages to World War I

--Psychological cost on WWI on both sides and how that began to affect culture, art and society

--Hitler’s experiences before, during, and after the war and his attempts to enter art school

--Hitler’s fascination with National Socialism, and his propagation of the “Stab in the back” theory

No Reading this week.             
Lecture 2: “The Degenerates: Modern Art in Germany After 1933”

--classifying “degenerate” art

--WWI representations in German art

--the fate of Jewish and modern artists & professors

--Entarte Kunst exhibit and Day of German Art

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 1/prologue); Degenerate Art (chap 1 From Nordau to Hitler)
Lecture 3: “The Nazi Collectors”

--collection war begins between Hitler and Goering

--art & the Anschluss (Annexation of Austria)

--German art dealers get in the game

--first major looting in Austria and Czechoslovakia

--Hitler visits Mussolini in Italy (visits the Uffizi)

--England and France evacuate their elite museums

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 2); Lost Lives, Lost Art (Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer pp. 156-171)

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 2); Lost Lives, Lost Art (Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer pp. 156-171)
Lecture 4: “The Eastern Blitzkrieg”

--concepts of lebensraum, Kulturkitsch, and untermensch

--Nazi invasion of Poland, differences between Warsaw and Krakow

--The Czartoryski “Big Three” and the Viet Stoss altarpiece

--Nazi racial theory and Polish culture

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chapter 3)


Lecture 5: “Looting by method: The Nazi invasion of Western Europe” (w/special attention to The Netherlands)

--evacuation of the Ghent Altarpiece, the Bayeux Tapestry, and the English and French national collections

--art dealing explosion in the Netherlands

--Hans van Meegren and selling forged art to the Nazis

--trading Jewish lives for art

--Aryanization of Jewish-owned art dealers/galleries

--Nazi art as propaganda

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chapter 4);
The Faustian Bargain (chapter 2)
Lecture 6: “The Looting of France”

--occupation of Paris/Nazi propaganda machine

--re-writing WWI history

--The Kunstschutz in France

--The Kümmel Report

--Napoleon’s legacy

--The ERR looting apparatus

--German theft of the Ghent Altarpiece

--Shipping to Neuschwanstein Castle

--Möbel Aktion (Operation Furniture)

--“cultural exchange”

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 5)
Lecture 7: “Operation Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union”

--the dissolution of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact

--scorched earth policy

--The “Holocaust by Bullets”

--evacuation of the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad

--The Amber Room

--Winters 1941-1943/Stalingrad (echoes of Napoleon)

--fate of Pushkin Museum, homes/museums of Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy

Readings: The Rape of Europa
(chapter 7)
Lecture 8: “The Monuments Men: The Allied Protection Effort”

--evacuation/protection of US art museums

--national level art protection committees (resulting in the Roberts Commission)

--American Defense Group Harvard

--George Stout & Mason Hammond

--Allied invasion of Sicily

--British art propaganda problems in North Africa

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chapter 8);
The Monuments Men (chapters 5 & 6)
Lecture 9: “The Art War in Italy”

--Mussolini becomes “The Sawdust Caesar”

--Operation Avalanche (Allied invasion of Italy)

--art propaganda war (Italians, Germans, Americans)

--German “Art Preservation Units”

--destruction in Naples

--Monte Cassino

--Hermann Goering division

--The Ricoveri in Rome/Florence

--The Brenner Pass (alpine loot hideout)

--partial destruction of Florence

--The Campo Santo at Pisa

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 9); The Venus Fixers (chap 7)
Lecture 10: “D Day: The Allied Invasion of Northern Europe”

--Monuments Men land in Normandy and drive north from Italy

--SS Destruction Units in France

--Allied liberation of Paris (and the art of Paris)

--The art repository at Sourches/The Medici Cycle by Rubens

--Evacuating the ERR/Rose Valland and the “Art Train”

--James Rormier—Monuments Man in charge in Paris

--late German looting of the Bruges Madonna

--Berlin’s treasures hidden (Pergamon Altar, Priam’s Gold)

--Germans use flak towers and mines to hide art

--Mine at Alt Aussee in Austria

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chap 10); The Monuments Men (chaps 12, 13, 14)

Lecture 11: “Buried Treasure”

--Allied bombing devastation—particularly cities like Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, etc.

--the Trümmerfrauen/last ditch Nazi propaganda

--the first mine finds at Heilbronn, Siegen and Merkers

--Allies take Neuschwanstein

--the major find at the salt mine, Alt Aussee, Austria

--Hermann Göring’s collection/Göring’s arrest

--Crown Jewels of Holy Roman Empire/Nuremburg Bunker

--The Hesse heist

--The Collecting Points

--Russian “Trophy Commission”

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chapter 11); The Monuments Men (chapters 51 & 52)

Lecture 12: “Restitution”

--origins of Cold War (OSS/ALIU operations)

--art reparations discussed at Potsdam

--classification of looted art

-- The National Gallery show

--the Bloch-Bauer case

--The Rosenberg case

--The Rothschild Collection/MFA Boston

--The Berlinka Collection—art in politics today

--efforts of the US Congress on art restitution

Readings: The Rape of Europa (chapters 12 & 13); Interrogations—Testimony of Hermann Goering, 1945 (pp.288-296)