National Socialists and Art

Paul B. Jaskot

in The Nazi Perpetrator

Published by University of Minnesota Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780816678242
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781452948225 | DOI:
National Socialists and Art

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This chapter presents an overview of German political history that describes the characteristics of the Nazi perpetrators. It addresses the question: what range of actions did postwar audiences label as criminal in order to define the category of the perpetrator? An analysis of the Nazi Party to ground the particularities and complexities of that political institution is given. Nazi leaders found the work of renowned art historian Heinrich Wölfflin useful in surprising ways. In his influential book Principles of Art History (1915), he advocated a schematic comparative study of formal typologies to understand fundamental distinctions between European Renaissance and Baroque art. By focusing on culture not as an ideological cipher but as an intellectual work of strategic use, this chapter argues that the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) developed a series of different relationships to art that helped constitute a typology of the perpetrator. It also explores how the strategic use of cultural policy for racism came to define aspects of criminal behavior recognized by postwar audiences.

Keywords: Nazi Party; German political history; postwar audiences; Heinrich Wölfflin; racism; cultural policy; criminal behavior; Nazi perpetrator; National Socialist German Workers’ Party

Chapter.  11983 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art

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