Besides being extremely inconvenient for all travelers, the construction of new subway lines in Berlin have another important qualification: the discovery and subsequent excavation of things buried and forgotten underground.
What the Nazis over a half a century ago deemed as ´Degenerate Art`are now highly sought after artifacts that shed light on times and events long forgotten.
Eleven pieces of art that were believed to be long ago destroyed have resurfaced, literally, thanks to construction underway to build the new extension to the U-5 line in the center of the city where Koenigstrasse runs overground. The sculptures were made in the early 20th century and were all deemed unacceptable by the strict Nazi regime for being ‘un-German’ or too ‘Jewish’ among other reasons.
There was a long list of artists who were subsequently banned and their artworks ‘eliminated’ from the territory. Franz Kafka was forbidden beginning in 1939 but writers such as Herman Hesse and Hans Fallada were considered idealistic enough to remain in circulation.
A traveling exhibition in 1937 journeyed through Germany and showcased what was known as the ‘degenerate’ art.
The art was not displayed, mind you, to be admired, but rather to exhibit its decadence and to excite German citizens against such modernist creations. Adolf Hitler himself visited the exhibition., which was haphazardly arranged so that painting hung by cords every which way.
Modernist art was especially despised by the Nazis and forbidden in any form, be it painting, music, sculpture or literature. Anything considered offensive was ‘purged.’
The artworks were given derisive names mocking them. The last record of their existence dates back to 1941, after which, it was assumed they had been destroyed. What historians now surmise is that a resident had amassed and hid them who lived in Koenigstrasse 50 and had an office the building.
Erhard Oewerdieck assisted Jews escaping persecution and is the person that officials are now tentatively crediting for saving the statues.
His family is currently being questioned as to whether he expressed any desire or attempt to salvage artwork from decimation.
However, after his residence was decimated by bombs, it is likely he would have assumed all artwork had been incinerated and if there was more than those sculptures, it very likely was.
He was eventually the last person left living in the building he tenanted, which makes him the only person there in 1941. He was also a government official which means he would have had the ability to access them
The items can now be seen on display in the Neues Museum in Mitte, which is free to access every Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Cindy Su / OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog contributor
November 10, 2010
See also OTA-Berlin Consituency Blog article about other German exhibit presently on at the German Historical Museum -http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/berlin/2010/10/16/berlin-hitler-exhibit-hitler-and-the-germans-%E2%80%94-nation-and-crime-is-much-more-than-just-hitler-memorabilia/
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