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Hitler’s Speech at the Opening of the House of German Art in Munich (July 18, 1937)

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Since we know today that the development of millions of years repeats itself in every individual but is compressed into a few decades, we have the proof that an artistic creation that does not surpass the achievement of eight-year-old children is not "modern" or even "futuristic" but is, on the contrary, highly archaic. It probably is not as developed as the art of the Stone Age period, when people scratched pictures of their environment on the walls of caves. [ . . . ]

I know, therefore, that when the Volk passes through these galleries it will recognize in me its own spokesman and counselor [ . . . ] it will draw a sigh of relief and joyously express its agreement with this purification of art. And this is decisive, for an art that cannot count on the ready inner agreement of the broad, healthy mass of the people, but which must instead rely on the support of small, partially indifferent cliques, is intolerable. [ . . . ] We are convinced that the German people will again fully support and joyously appreciate the future truly great artists from within their ranks. [ . . . ]

This exhibition then is but a beginning. [ . . . ] But the opening of this exhibit is also the beginning of the end of the stultification of German art and the end of the cultural destruction of our people. [ . . . ] Many of our young artists will recognize the path they will have to take; they will draw inspiration from the greatness of the time in which we all live, and they will draw the courage to work hard and will in the end complete the task. And when a sacred conscientiousness at last comes into its own, then, I have no doubt, the Almighty will lift from this mass of decent creators of art, several individuals who will rise to the eternal star-covered heaven of immortal, God-favored artists of great ages. [ . . . ] We believe that especially today, when in so many spheres the highest individual achievements are standing the test, so also in the sphere of art will the highest value of personality again emerge to assert itself.

Source of English translation: Benjamin Sax and Dieter Kuntz, eds., INSIDE HITLER’S GERMANY: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF LIFE IN THE THIRD REICH. 1st edition. Lexington, MA, and Toronto: D.C. Heath & Company, 1992, pp. 224-32.

Materials from Sax, INSIDE HITLER’S GERMANY, 1st edition, displayed with special permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.

Source of original German text: Völkischer Beobachter, July 19, 1937. Munich edition. 200th Issue. 50th Volume. Title page; reprinted in Peter-Klaus Schuster, ed., Die "Kunststadt" München 1937. Nationalsozialismus und "Entartete Kunst." Munich: Prestel Verlag, 1987, pp. 249-52.

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