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German History in Documents and Images
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Storage Room in Niederschönhausen Castle for Confiscated Works of Degenerate Art, including Works by Pablo Picasso and Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1937)
All art that did not correspond to the National Socialist aesthetic was deemed "degenerate." The category included modern and avant-garde works by the Expressionists, Impressionists, Surrealists, and the Fauves, works by artists of Jewish descent, and socially critical works, such as those by Käthe Kollwitz. By the summer of 1937, the large-scale confiscation of “degenerate” from German public collections was already underway. Confiscated works were held in depots, such as the one pictured below, and then sold abroad, providing the regime with a source of foreign currency. On June 30, 1939, more than 125 were confiscated works were put up for auction at the Hotel National in Lucerne, Switzerland. The photograph below features some of the works that were put up for sale: (on the left) Picasso’s portrait of the Soler family (1903), confiscated from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne; (on the easel, top), Picasso’s Two Harlequins (1905), confiscated from the Städtische Galerie, Wuppertal; and (in the right foreground) two sculptures by Wilhelm Lehmbruck, taken from collections in Wiesbaden and Lübeck.