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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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During the long years of planning for the new Reich, and thus for its intellectual creation and shaping, I often devoted myself to the tasks that the rebirth of the nation would impose on us especially in the area of its cultural purification. After all, Germany was to arise again not only politically or economically, but above all also culturally. Indeed, I was and am convinced that this last aspect will take on much greater importance for the future than the first two. I have always battled against and rejected the opinion of the small minds of the November period, who simply dismissed every great cultural plan, indeed, every large building project, by asserting that a politically and economically ruined people must not burden itself with such projects.

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Among the many plans that I contemplated during the war and in the period after the collapse was a plan to erect, in Munich, the city with the greatest tradition of artistic exhibits – and this seemed especially important given the utterly disgraceful condition of the old building – a new exhibition palace for German art. Many years ago, I already thought about the very location that has now been selected. But when the old Glass Palace suddenly came to such a terrible end, all the grief over the irreplaceable loss of the greatest objects of German culture was joined by the danger that the representatives of the worst perversion of art in Germany would end up preempting a task that I had already identified, so many years earlier, as one of the most vital tasks of the new Reich.

For, in 1931, the assumption of power by National Socialism was still so far off in an uncertain future that there seemed to be virtually no prospect of reserving the building of this exhibition palace for this Third Reich.

And, in fact, for a while it seemed that the November men would bestow on the Munich art exhibit a building that had little to do with German art and more with the Bolshevist circumstances and conditions of their time. Some of you may still remember the plans they had envisaged back then for the house that is now the splendidly designed Old Botanical Garden. An object very difficult to define. A building that could have just as easily been a Saxon yarn factory as the market hall of a mid-sized city, possibly a train station, or just as readily a swimming pool. I do not need tell you how much I suffered back then from the thought that one disaster [the 1918 fire] would be joined by another one. And that therefore, precisely in this case, I was genuinely pleased – even happy – about the fainthearted indecision of my political opponents at the time. For therein lay perhaps the only chance of being able, in the end, to reserve the new construction of a Munich art exhibition palace for the Third Reich as its first great task.

You will all understand that I am filled these days by the truly painful sorrow that providence did not allow us to witness this day with the man who, immediately after the assumption of power, as one of the greatest of German architects, drew up for me the plans for this structure. When I approached Professor Ludwig Troost, who was already working on various party buildings, with the request to erect an art exhibition building on this site, this exceptional man had already created, in accordance with the call for proposals at the time, a number of grandly conceived sketches for such a structure on the grounds of the Old Botanical Garden. These plans, too, revealed his masterful hand!

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