Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Illimitable Power of Man's Art...

During the regime of Adolf Hitler, the tyrant spent countless hours gazing at models of his coveted plans for transforming Berlin into a world center he would name Germania, which, among the vast array of buildings forming its center would be an enormous collection of art objects collected and chosen by Hitler and his Minister of Armaments, Albert  Speer, who, incidentally, was a highly trained and gifted architect. During years of  spending  hours, much of the time the wee hours, hovering over and dealing with ever-changing arrangements of the artistic center of his new capital, all laid out on a huge table, Adolf Hitler  dreamed  of that ultimate hour of absolute personal victory by way of the reality that he would become the world's most  powerful entity  in the world of the arts.
He claimed that it would exceed the drawing power of any other capital in the world by way of its unique splendor, both in size and architectural imagination.
Hermann Goering, who for much of the Hitler regime of twelve years as Nazi no. 2, became a ravenous 'collector' of art objects from 1933, the first year of the Nazi accession to power, to just months before the defeat of Nazi Germany  in 1945. Goering, during this period, had become the 'owner' of somewhere between 1400 and 1700 works of art he obtained by personal choice  of each of these art pieces,many of which were renowned masterpieces.
There were others in the Hitler hierarchy who also became owners of various forms of art, including tapestries and furniture of immense value. It becomes quite obvious that the word 'power,' as so  efficiently utilized in the Nazi horror, is reflected in the Nazi's thirst for possession of Man's artistic creations as an intrinsic part of their identity.
Toward the end of the war, just a few months before D-Day in June of 1944, a letter was sent by Eisenhower, from North Africa to the Overlord planners to be aware of the immense and fragile quest to preserve as much of the art treasure in Europe as is possible in  the coming hostilities, and a group of men in the armed forces, many of  them known authorities in the arts, called the Monuments Men, became a vital part of the eventual preservation and reclamation of the art treasures which would survive the conflict. The world still does not know, and  probably will  never know, the final numbers  of treasures which were destroyed during the European phase of World War II.
As victims of Nazi occupation, the French offer countless examples of the indestructible connection to their art, two of which I offer:
As the German armies approached Paris in 1940, the French shipped out as  many  of the art treasures in the Louvre as they could. The procedure to save the great Hellenistic statue, Winged Victory, required a special transport to be designed in order to move this fragile piece of marble, assembled from fragments, down the grand stairs facing the Louvre entrance. Fortunately, the statue was safely removed after an inch-by-inch descent over the stairs, and sent out to unoccupied France. The other renowned work of art; namely, Mona Lisa, was placed in a small van which  had a sealed atmosphere within to protect the painting, which was in a most fragile state, and also shipped out safely to a place in Vichy France. These two treasures never fell into Nazi hands, in addition to many other art pieces, thanks to those who considered their treasures more valuable than their own lives.
The words of Beethoven  tell all:
"It is they who should bow to us."


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