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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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Let no one say that these artists see things the same way. Among the paintings submitted here, I have seen many a work where one must in fact assume that the eye shows some people things very differently from the way they are, that is, that there really are men who see the shapes of our people today only as degenerate cretins, who fundamentally sense – or, as they might say: experience – meadows as blue, the sky as green, clouds as sulfur-yellow, and so on. I do not wish to get into an argument over whether or not these individuals truly see and sense it that way. Instead, in the name of the German people I merely want to prohibit these pitiful unfortunates, whose eyesight is clearly suffering, from trying to coercively con their fellow humans into accepting the results of their misconceptions as reality, let alone presenting it to them as “art.”

No, there are but two possibilities here: either these so-called “artists” do in fact see things this way and therefore believe in what they represent, in which case one merely has to examine whether their visual defects were produced in some mechanical way or by heredity. The first case would be deeply regrettable for these unfortunates, the second of importance to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, which would then have to deal with the question of preventing such horrible visual defects from being passed on. Or they themselves do not believe in the reality of such impressions, but are striving for other reasons to bother the nation with this humbug, in which case such conduct would fall within the realm of criminal justice.

This house, at any rate, was neither planned nor built for the works of these bunglers or abusers of art.

But above all, we did not work on this house for four-and-a-half years, demanding the very best from a thousand workers, only to exhibit the products of people who, to make matters even worse, were lazy enough to spend five hours bespattering a canvas in the firm hope that the boldness of extolling it as the brilliant lightning-stroke of genius would not fail to leave the necessary impression and create the precondition for having it accepted. No, the hard work of the builders of this house and the hard work of its personnel must have its counterpart in the hard work of those who wish to be represented in it. And it does not interest me in the least whether these pseudo-artists will or will not go on to cackle over and thus review each other’s eggs!

For the artist does not create for the artist, but like everyone else, he creates for the people! And we will make sure that it is the people who will henceforth be called upon again to judge his art.

For let no one say that the people do not possess the understanding of what is a genuinely valuable enrichment of their cultural life. Long before the critics did justice to the genius of Richard Wagner, he had the people on his side. Conversely, however, in recent years the people no longer had anything to do with the so-called modern art that was presented to them. They had no connection of any kind to it. The great masses walked through our art exhibits completely uninterested, or stayed away to begin with. In their healthy sensibility, they saw all these scribblings for what they are, the spawn of an impudent, shameless arrogance or of a truly frightening incompetence. Millions felt with instinctive certainty that the art blather of these last few decades amounted to the clumsy efforts of untalented children eight or ten years old, and cannot, under any circumstances, be regarded as the expression of our time, let alone of Germany’s future.

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