Munich

July 19, 1937


Caution: Adolf Hitler was completely wrong about absolutely everything...usually. When Hitler said something that was actually correct, it was merely to set up the next lie. As with all good propagandists—and he certainly was that—he would begin with a few obvious, documented facts, and then proceed to distort them horribly. At any rate, the infamous German Führer’s worm-tongue rhetoric is NOT to be taken seriously, except as a classic example of the sort of masterful demagoguery from which appropriate lessons may hopefully be learned.

As always, read with an abundant degree of cautious skepticism.

At this point I would like to make the following observation: Before we National Socialists came to power in Germany there was something called "modern" art, or as the word "modern" implies, almost every year there was a different kind of art. National Socialist Germany, however, wants "German art" again and this, like all creative values of a People, should be and will be art which is eternal. If it lacks this everlasting value for our People then today it also lacks any higher value.

When the cornerstone for this building was laid, our intention was to begin the construction of a temple, not for so-called modern art but for genuine and eternal German art; or to be more precise, the construction of a house for the art of the German People and not for some kind of international art of the year 1937, 1940, 1950 or 1960. For art has its roots not in a period of time but only in the Peoples of the world. Thus the artist's task is to create a monument not to a period of time but to his People. For time is subject to change, the years come and go. Anything which owes its existence to a particular period must perish with it. Such transience would claim not only what was created before us, but what is created today, and will be in the future.

We National Socialists recognize only one transience; the transience of the People itself. We know its causes. But as long as a People exist, it is the permanent element in a series of transient phenomena. It is what exists and what remains! And thus art, too, as the eternal monument and deepest expression of whatever is, is an everlasting monument, itself endowed with being and permanence. Its value cannot therefore be measured by criteria such as yesterday and today, modern and outdated; the only criteria are "worthless" or "valuable" and hence "eternal" or "transient". And such eternity is deeply rooted in the life of the Peoples, as long as they themselves are eternal, that is to say, as long as they exist.

People have often asked what it really means "to be German". Of all the definitions which many men have offered in the course of centuries, it seems to me that the most noble is the one which does not even attempt primarily to provide an explanation but to formulate a law. The finest law, however, which I can imagine for my People on this earth as their goal in life, was once stated by a great German: to be German means to be clear! That, however, means that to be German is to be logical and above all else genuine. A splendid law which, however, imposes on each one of us an obligation to serve it and thus to fulfill it. From this law we can derive a universally valid criterion for genuine art, genuine because it complies with that law which provides the life of our People with a purpose.

There has always existed within our People a profound yearning for such genuinely German art which bears within itself the imprint of this law of clarity. It was felt by our great painters, our sculptors, our architects, our thinkers and poets and most of all our composers. When the old Glass Palace which housed the Reichstag went up in flames on that unfortunate day, June 6 1931, the flames consumed an immortal treasure-trove of genuinely German art. They were called Romantics yet they were only the finest representatives of that German quest for the real and genuine nature of our People and for an honest and decent expression of this vital law which they sensed intuitively. For not only the subjects which they chose to represent were decisive for their characterization of what is German, but also their clear and simple way of expressing their feelings. And it is thus no accident that these old masters were closest to the most German and hence most natural part of our People.

These old masters were immortal and remain so even today, when many of their works are no longer available in the original but only as copies and reproductions. But how far removed was the work of these men from the pitiful commercialism indulged in by so many of our modern "art-creators" in their unnatural smearing's and daubing's which only the writings of critics who had as little character as they had conscience could promote and approve, but which the healthy instincts of the German People always rejected as totally alien, indeed loathsome. Our old German Romantics had not the least interest in being old or modern. Their feelings were those of Germans and naturally they expected their works to be cherished as long as the German People endure. ...

It did seem for a while as if the "November Men" would provide the Munich Art Exhibition with a building which would have had no more to do with German art than with the Bolshevist situation and conditions of their day. Some of you will still be familiar with the plans of the building which was to be constructed on the site of the old Botanical Gardens which are now so beautifully designed. An object which is very difficult to define. A building which could just as well have been a Saxon yarn factory, the market building of a medium sized town or possibly even a train station, or just as easily a swimming pool. I do not need to tell you how I suffered at the thought that the original disaster was to be augmented by a second. And hence in this particular case I was genuinely happy about the timid indecision displayed by those who were in those days my political opponents. ...

When I approached Professor Ludwig Troost, who was already working on Party buildings, with the request to construct an art gallery on this site, this exceptional man had already completed a number of grandly conceived sketches for a building of this kind, in conformity with the specifications of the tenders at that time, to be built on the site of the old Botanical Gardens. These plans also revealed the hand of a master at his craft! Nevertheless he did not even submit them to the jury at that time, because he was, as he explained to me with some bitterness, convinced that it would have been quite pointless to submit work of this nature to a forum which after all loathed all sublime and decent art, and whose ultimate goal was the Bolshevization, that is to say the chaotic subversion of our entire German life and thus of our cultural life. So the public knew nothing of these plans. It only learned later of the new design which now stands before you completed.

And this new architectural concept - as I am sure you will all agree with me today - is a genuinely great and artistic design. This building is so unique and individual that it defies comparison. There is no structure which can be said to have been the model of which this is a copy. As all truly great architectural creations this building is unique and striking; its unique characteristics are not only unforgettable, it has become a special feature of, and I would even say a genuine monument to this city and, moreover, to German art.

The great beauty of this masterpiece is matched by its practical design, without, however, the least danger that the technical requirements of its operation could dominate the entire project. It is a temple of art, not a factory, not a central heating plant, not a train station nor the operations center of an electrical generating station! ...

You will, however, also understand now that merely making this building available for German fine arts - a building which is so decent, clear and genuine that we can justifiably call it a house of German art - will not in itself suffice; now the exhibition itself must also set a new trend to end the destructive process which we have witnessed in sculpture and painting. ...

It is not Bolshevist art collectors and their literary henchmen who created the basis for a new type of art, or who ensured the continued existence of art in Germany; it is we who created this new state; and since then it is we who have provided the generous funding which German art needs for its continued existence and creativity, and above all, it was we who gave art itself new and great tasks. For if I had achieved nothing more in my life than to have this building erected, I would already have done more for German art than all those stupid hacks employed by our former Jewish newspapers, or the little would-be artists who, aware of their own transience, could cite only their modernity to recommend their work.

I know, however, that quite apart from this particular new work, the new German Reich will give rise to an unprecedented blossoming of German art, for art has never been confronted with more impressive challenges than it is today and will be in future in our Reich. And never were the resources it requires more generously allocated than in National Socialist Germany.

However, in addressing you today, I also speak as the representative of this Reich, and just as I believe in the perpetuity of this Reich which shall be nothing but a vital organism of our People, I am bound to believe in and work for the perpetuity of German art. Hence the art of this new Reich will not be judged by the criteria old or modern; as German art it will have to ensure its everlasting place in our history. For art is not something which goes in and out of fashion. Just as the essence of our People and their blood is unchanging, art, too, must lose the quality of transience and in place of this, through a series of increasingly sublime creations, become the worthy visual representation of our People's evolution. Cubism, Dadaism, Futurism, Impressionism and so on have nothing to do with our German People. For all of these concepts are neither old fashioned nor modern, they are simply the affected talk of people whom God denied the gift of genuine artistic talent and instead endowed with the gift of the gab or the power of deception. ...

I would like to take this opportunity to state that I have made up my mind to put an end to meaningless phraseology in German art just as I did with confusion in politics. "Works of art" which cannot be understood, cannot speak for themselves but require a verbose set of instructions in order to find some shy creature who patiently listens to such stupid and brazen nonsense, will from now on no longer reach the German People.

All these catchy phrases such as "inner experience", "strong-minded", "a powerful desire", "feeling which is pregnant with the future", "heroic attitude", "significant intuitive powers", "inward experience of a system of time", "original primitivism" and so forth, all these stupid, fallacious excuses, phrases and meaningless formulations will not excuse or recommend products which are substandard and therefore without intrinsic value.

If someone has a strong will or inner experience, let him demonstrate this by his work, not by empty phrases. We are all far less interested in intentions than in ability. Therefore any artist who hopes to be exhibited in this building or has any desire to make a name for himself in Germany in the future, must have ability. The existence of a will to create something can be taken for granted! For that would really be the limit if someone were to foist upon his fellow citizens works which ultimately had no real purpose. If, however, these people with the gift of the gab try to make their works palatable by describing them as the expression of a new age, the only thing we can say to them is that it is not art which creates a new age. It is the general life of the People which takes on new forms and thus frequently seeks a new form of expression. However, those who talked about new art in Germany in the last decades clearly did not understand the new age in Germany. For it is not the men who wield a pen who shape a new epoch, but those who are willing to enter the fray, who take control of the course of events, who lead their People and thus make history. These wretched, confused artists and scribes will hardly consider themselves men of this ilk.

It is, moreover, either an incredible insult or an almost incomprehensible act of stupidity, to offer a period such as ours works which might well have been made by a Stone Age artist ten or twenty thousand years ago. They speak of a primitivism in art, and they completely ignore the fact that the function of art is not to divorce itself from the evolution of a nation and look back to the past; its task can only be to symbolize the living evolution of a People. ...

... With the opening of this exhibition we have begun to put a stop to making a mockery of art (Kunstvernarrung) and to the subversion of the culture of our nation. From now on we shall wage total war to cleanse ourselves of the last of the elements which subvert our culture ...

... For we do not believe that with the passing of the great men of former centuries the age of the creative powers of inspired individuals has passed, and that in its place will come the age of the collective masses! No, when we see the achievements of outstanding individuals in so many fields, we believe that today the supreme value of the outstanding personality will also triumph in art. Hence at this time I can only express the wish that in the centuries to come the galleries of this building will once again display to the German People many works of great artists, and thus enhance not only the fame of this genuinely artistic city but also the honor and standing of the entire German nation. I herewith declare the 1937 Great German Art Exhibition in Munich open to the public!

Fuehrer Adolf Hitler <—Yeesh! What an insufferable bore.

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A Joke: Hitler and Goering were arguing about the Jews, with Goering stating that they were quite clever people and Hitler vehemently denying they were any such thing. Finally Goering told Hitler that they should go shopping in Berlin and Goering would show Hitler it was true. Hitler agreed, so they disguised themselves and went out on the street.

Goering took Hitler into a shop, went up to the counter, and asked the clerk: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?" The clerk stared at Goering for a moment and then said no, mein herr, I do not.

The two left with Hitler complaining that he did not understand what the point of this was and Goering telling him to be patient. They went to another shop and Goering gave the same act: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?" The clerk stared and shrugged his shoulders.

They left with Hitler becoming incensed over this nonsense and Goering begging for patience. Finally they went into a Jewish shop; Goering again asked the clerk: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?"

The clerk smiled graciously, went into the back room and made a show of rummaging around, brought out a saucer and teacup, set down the saucer, and carefully placed the cup with the handle pointed so Goering could pick it with his left hand. "There you are, mein herr!" the clerk said.

Goering bought the teacup, thanked the clerk, and the two men left. Goering turned to Hitler and said: "See, I told you the Jews were very clever people."

"I don't see what was so clever about that," Hitler snapped. "He just happened to have one in stock!"


 
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