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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 is repeated in every person compressed into a few decades, we can see in this merely the proof that an artistic production which does not exceed the level of accomplishment of eight-year-old children is not “modern” let alone “seminal,” but, on the contrary, very archaic. For it probably goes back even before the period in which Stone Age humans scratched the world they perceived onto cave walls. These bunglers are thus not modern, but ancient people sadly left behind, for whom there no longer is any room in these modern times.

I therefore know that when the German people will now walk through these halls, they will also acknowledge me here as their spokesman and guide, for they will realize that here, for the first times in many decades, we are honoring not artistic fraud, but honest artistic achievement.

In the same way that they are already today giving their approval to our buildings, they will also express, breathing an inner sigh of relief, their joyful agreement with this purification of art.

And that is the crucial thing: for an art which cannot count on the most joyful and heartfelt approval of the healthy, broad masses of the people, but draws its support only from small cliques – some interested, some indifferent – is intolerable. It is trying to confuse the healthy, instinctive feeling of a people, instead of supporting it joyfully.

It therefore creates only irritation and annoyance, and these miserable scoundrels should not dare point out that the great masters of the past were likewise not understood in their time. No, on the contrary. It was at most quibblers, which means once again men of letters, who stood outside of their people as the tormenters and torturers of these geniuses. But we believe, in any case, that the German people will once again stand face to face, in full and joyful understanding, with the truly great German artists that are to come. Most of all, though, they are to appreciate once again honest work and decent effort, as well as the endeavor to respond to our people and its sensibility and serve it from the deepest foundation of the German heart. And that is also a task for our artists. They cannot stand aloof from their people, lest their path lead them inevitably and quickly into lonely isolation.

And so this exhibit today is a beginning. But I am convinced that it is the necessary and promising beginning to bring about also in this area the beneficial change that we have already been able to accomplish in so many other areas. For let no one deceive himself: National Socialism has given itself the task of freeing the German Reich, and thus our people and their life, from all those influences that are pernicious to our existence. And even if this purification cannot happen in a single day, every person or thing that is participating in this perversion should realize that the hour of his elimination will come sooner or later.

But the opening of this exhibit is the beginning of the end of German artistic foolery and thus of the cultural destruction of our people.

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