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Hitler's Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich

Hitler's Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich

by Mary M. Lane


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The riveting story of Hitler's obsession with art, how it fueled his vision of a purified Nazi state, and the fate of the artwork that was hidden, stolen, or destroyed to "cleanse" German culture

Nazism ascended not by brute force but by cultural tyranny. Weimar Germany was a society in turmoil, and Hitler's rise to power was achieved not only by harnessing the military but also by restricting artistic expression. Hitler, an artist himself, promised the dejected citizens of post-war Germany a purified Reich, purged of "degenerate" influences.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he removed so-called "degenerate" art from German society and promoted artists whom he considered the embodiment of the "Aryan ideal." Artists who had weaponized culture to resist inequality and oppression fled the country. The government purged museums. Thousands of great artworks disappeared-and only a fraction of them were rediscovered by the Allied Monuments Men after World War II.

In 2013, the German government confiscated roughly 1,300 works by Henri Matisse, George Grosz, Claude Monet, and other masters from the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of one of Hitler's primary art dealers. For two years, the government kept the discovery a secret. This is the definitive story of those works of art, their theft, and their long, agonizing restitution: the last hostages of Hitler.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610397360
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 589,789
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Mary M. Lane is a nonfiction writer and journalist specializing in Western European art and Western European history. Lane gained recognition as the chief European art reporter for the Wall Street Journal and for publishing numerous scoops on the art trove of Hildebrand Gurlitt. Since leaving the Journal in December 2015, Lane has worked as a European art contributor for the New York Times and contributed to Mike Pesca's reporting at Slate. She splits her time between Berlin and Virginia.