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The Pain of the Others: Muslims Tour Auschwitz


Often drawing parallels between the suffering of Jews and Palestinians, Muslim leaders from around the world made emotional visits last week to Dachau, Auschwitz and other European sites as part of a Holocaust awareness program. Imams recited the Janazah, the Muslim prayer for the dead, inside the crematorium at Dachau, and held afternoon prayers in front of Auschwitz’ infamous, bullet-hole-riddled “Wall of Death,” where many thousands died.

“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination…Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism, for G-d’s sake, end anti-Semitism, for G-d’s sake, end Islamophobia for G-d’s sake, end sexism for G-d’s sake… Enough is enough.” – Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America.

via The Pain of the Others: Muslims Tour Auschwitz | Common Dreams.

World War II: The Holocaust-


One of the most horrific terms in history was used by Nazi Germany to designate human beings whose lives were unimportant, or those who should be killed outright: Lebensunwertes Leben, or “life unworthy of life”. The phrase was applied to the mentally impaired and later to the “racially inferior,” or “sexually deviant,” as well as to “enemies of the state” both internal and external. From very early in the war, part of Nazi policy was to murder civilians en masse, especially targeting Jews. Later in the war, this policy grew into Hitler’s “final solution”, the complete extermination of the Jews. It began with Einsatzgruppen death squads in the East, which killed some 1,000,000 people in numerous massacres, and continued in concentration camps where prisoners were actively denied proper food and health care. It culminated in the construction of extermination camps — government facilities whose entire purpose was the systematic murder and disposal of massive numbers of people. In 1945, as advancing Allied troops began discovering these camps, they found the results of these policies: hundreds of thousands of starving and sick prisoners locked in with thousands of dead bodies. They encountered evidence of gas chambers and high-volume crematoriums, as well as thousands of mass graves, documentation of awful medical experimentation, and much more. The Nazis killed more than 10 million people in this manner, including 6 million Jews. (This entry is Part 18 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)[45 photos]

Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. There are many dead bodies. The photographs are graphic and stark. This is the reality of genocide, and of an important part of World War II and human history.

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An emaciated 18-year-old Russian girl looks into the camera lens during the liberation of Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Dachau was the first German concentration camp, opened in 1933. More than 200,000 people were detained between 1933 and 1945, and 31,591 deaths were declared, most from disease, malnutrition and suicide. Unlike Auschwitz, Dachau was not explicitly an extermination camp, but conditions were so horrific that hundreds died every week. (Eric Schwab/AFP/Getty Images

This photo provided by Paris’ Holocaust Memorial shows a German soldier shooting a Ukrainian Jew during a mass execution in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, sometime between 1941 and 1943. This image is titled “The last Jew in Vinnitsa”, the text that was written on the back of the photograph, which was found in a photo album belonging to a German soldier. (AP Photo/USHMM/LOC) # 

German soldiers question Jews after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. In October 1940, the Germans began to concentrate Poland’s population of over 3 million Jews into overcrowded ghettos. In the largest of these, the Warsaw Ghetto, thousands of Jews died due to rampant disease and starvation, even before the Nazis began their massive deportations from the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising — the first urban mass rebellion against the Nazi occupation of Europe — took place from April 19 until May 16 1943, and began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. It ended when the poorly-armed and supplied resistance was crushed by German troops. (OFF/AFP/Getty Images) # 

A man carries away the bodies of dead Jews in the Ghetto of Warsaw in 1943, where people died of hunger in the streets. Every morning, about 4-5 A.M., funeral carts collected a dozen or more corpses from the streets. The bodies of the dead Jews were cremated in deep pits. (AFP/Getty Images) # 

A group of Jews, including a small boy, is escorted from the Warsaw Ghetto by German soldiers in this April 19, 1943 photo. The picture formed part of a report from SS Gen. Stroop to his Commanding Officer, and was introduced as evidence to the War Crimes trials in Nuremberg in 1945. (AP Photo) # 

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Ghetto was completely destroyed. Of the more than 56,000 Jews captured, about 7,000 were shot, and the remainder were deported to killing centers or concentration camps. This is a view of the remains of the ghetto, which the German SS dynamited to the ground. The Warsaw Ghetto only existed for a few years, and in that time, some 300,000 Polish Jews lost their lives there. (AP Photo) # 

A German in a military uniform shoots at a Jewish woman after a mass execution in Mizocz, Ukraine. In October of 1942, the 1,700 people in the Mizocz ghetto fought with Ukrainian auxiliaries and German policemen who had intended to liquidate the population. About half the residents were able to flee or hide during the confusion before the uprising was finally put down. The captured survivors were taken to a ravine and shot. Photo provided by Paris’ Holocaust Memorial. (AP Photo/USHMM) # 

Jewish deportees in the Drancy transit camp near Paris, France, in 1942, on their last stop before the German concentration camps. Some 13,152 Jews (including 4,115 children) were rounded up by French police forces, taken from their homes to the “Vel d’Hiv”, or winter cycling stadium in southwestern Paris, in July of 1942. They were later taken to a rail terminal at Drancy, northeast of the French capital, and then deported to the east. Only a handful ever returned. (AFP/Getty Images) # 

Anne Frank poses in 1941 in this photo made available by Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In August of 1944, Anne, her family and others who were hiding from the occupying German Security forces, were all captured and shipped off to a series of prisons and concentration camps. Anne died from typhus at age 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but her posthumously published diary has made her a symbol of all Jews killed in World War II. (AP Photo/Anne Frank House/Frans Dupont) # 

The arrival and processing of an entire transport of Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, a region annexed in 1939 to Hungary from Czechoslovakia, at Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland, in May of 1944. The picture was donated to Yad Vashem in 1980 by Lili Jacob. (AP Photo/Yad Vashem Photo Archives) # 

Czeslawa Kwoka, age 14, appears in a prisoner identity photo provided by the Auschwitz Museum, taken by Wilhelm Brasse while working in the photography department at Auschwitz, the Nazi-run death camp where some 1.5 million people, most of them Jewish, died during World War II. Czeslawa was a Polish Catholic girl, from Wolka Zlojecka, Poland, who was sent to Auschwitz with her mother in December of 1942. Within three months, both were dead. Photographer (and fellow prisoner) Brasse recalled photographing Czeslawa in a 2005 documentary: “She was so young and so terrified. The girl didn’t understand why she was there and she couldn’t understand what was being said to her. So this woman Kapo (a prisoner overseer) took a stick and beat her about the face. This German woman was just taking out her anger on the girl. Such a beautiful young girl, so innocent. She cried but she could do nothing. Before the photograph was taken, the girl dried her tears and the blood from the cut on her lip. To tell you the truth, I felt as if I was being hit myself but I couldn’t interfere. It would have been fatal for me.” (AP Photo/Auschwitz Museum) # 

A victim of Nazi medical experimentation. A victim’s arm shows a deep burn from phosphorus at Ravensbrueck, Germany, in November of 1943. The photograph shows the results of a medical experiment dealing with phosphorous that was carried out by doctors at Ravensbrueck. In the experiment, a mixture of phosphorus and rubber was applied to the skin and ignited. After twenty seconds, the fire was extinguished with water. After three days, the burn was treated with Echinacin in liquid form. After two weeks the wound had healed. This photograph, taken by a camp physician, was entered as evidence during the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg.(U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, NARA) # 

Jewish prisoners in Buchenwald concentration camp, after the liberation of the camp in 1945. (AFP/Getty Images) # 

American soldiers silently inspect some of the rail trucks loaded with dead which were found on the rail siding at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, on May 3, 1945. (AP Photo) # 

A starved Frenchman sits among the dead in a sub-camp of the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp, in Nordhausen, Germany, in April of 1945.(U.S. Army/LOC) # 

Bodies lie piled against the walls of a crematory room in a German concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. The bodies were found by U.S. Seventh Army troops who took the camp on May 14, 1945. (AP Photo) # 

A U.S. soldier inspects thousands of gold wedding bands taken from Jews by the Germans and stashed in the Heilbronn Salt Mines, on May 3, 1945 in Germany. (AFP/NARA) # 

Three U.S. soldiers look at bodies stuffed into an oven in a crematorium in April of 1945. Photo taken in an unidentified concentration camp in Germany, at time of liberation by U.S. Army. (U.S. Army/LOC) # 

This heap of ashes and bones is the debris from one day’s killing of German prisoners by 88 troopers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar in Germany, shown on April 25, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps) # 

Prisoners at the electric fence of Dachau concentration camp cheer American soldiers in Dachau, Germany in an undated photo. Some of them wear the striped blue and white prison garb. They decorated their huts with flags of all nations which they had made secretly as they heard the guns of the 42nd Rainbow Division getting louder and louder on the approach to Dachau. (AP Photo) # 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and other American officers in the Ohrdruf concentration camp, shortly after the liberation of the camp in April of 1945. As American forces approached, the guards shot the remaining prisoners. (U.S. Army Signal Corps/NARA) # 

A dying prisoner, too weak to sit up amid his rags and filth, victim of starvation and incredible brutality, at the Nordhausen concentration camp in Germany on April 18, 1945. (AP Photo) # 

Prisoners on a death march from Dachau move towards the south along the Noerdliche Muenchner Street in Gruenwald, Germany, on April 29, 1945. Many thousands of prisoners were marched forcibly from outlying prison camps to camps deeper inside Germany as Allied forces closed in. Thousands died along the way, anyone unable to keep up was executed on the spot. Pictured, fourth from the right, is Dimitry Gorky who was born on Aug. 19, 1920 in Blagoslovskoe, Russia to a family of peasant farmers. During World War II Dmitry was imprisoned in Dachau for 22 months. The reason for his imprisonment is not known. Photo released by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.(AP Photo/USHMM, courtesy of KZ Gedenkstaette Dachau) # 

American soldiers walk by row after row of corpses lying on the ground beside barracks at the Nazi concentration camp at Nordhausen, Germany, on April 17, 1945. The camp is located about 70 miles west of Leipzig. As the camp was liberated on April 12, the U.S. Army found more than 3,000 bodies, and a handful of survivors. (AP Photo/US Army Signal Corps) # 

A dead prisoner lies in a train carriage near Dachau concentration camp in May of 1945. (Eric Schwab/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Liberating soldiers of Lt. General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army, XX Corps, are shown at Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, on April 11, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) # 

General Patch’s 12th Armored Division, forging their way towards the Austrian border, uncovered horrors at a German prison camp at Schwabmunchen, southwest of Munich. Over 4,000 slave laborers, all Jews of various nationalities, were housed in the prison. The internees were burned alive by guards who set fire to the crude huts in which the prisoners slept, shooting any who tried to escape. Sprawled here in the prison enclosure are the burnt bodies of some of the Jewish slave laborers uncovered by the US 7th Army at Schwabmunchen, May 1, 1945. (AP Photo/Jim Pringle) # 

The corpse of a prisoner lies on the barbed wire fence in Leipzig-Thekla, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, near Weimar, Germany. (NARA) # 

These dead victims of the Germans were removed from the Lambach concentration camp in Austria, on May 6, 1945, by German soldiers under orders of U.S. Army troops. As soon as all the bodies were removed from the camp, the Germans buried them. This camp originally held 18,000 people, each building housing 1,600. There were no beds or sanitary facilities whatsoever, and 40 to 50 prisoners died each day. (AP Photo) # 

A young man sits on an overturned stool next to a burnt body in the Thekla camp outside Leipzig, in April of 1945, after the US troops entered Leipzig April 18. On the 18th of April, the workers of the Thekla plane factory were locked in an isolated building of the factory by the Germans and burned alive by incendiary bombs. About 300 prisoners died. Those who managed to escape died on the barbed wire or were executed by the Hitler youth movement, according to a US captain’s report. (Eric Schwab/AFP/Getty Images) # 

Burned bodies of political prisoners of the Germans lie strewn about the entrance to a barn at Gardelegen, Germany on April 16, 1945 where they met their death a the hands of German SS troops who set the barn on fire. The group tried to escape and was shot by the SS troops. Of the 1,100 prisoners, only 12 managed to escape. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps) # 

Some of the skeleton-like human remains found by men of the Third Armored Division, U.S. First Army, at the German concentration camp at Nordhausen on April 25, 1945, where hundreds of “slave laborers” of various nationalities lay dead and dying. (AP Photo) # 

When American troops liberated prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp, Germany, in 1945, many German SS guards were killed by the prisoners who then threw their bodies into the moat surrounding the camp. (AP Photo) # 

Lt. Col. Ed Seiller of Louisville, Kentucky, stands amid a pile of Holocaust victims as he speaks to 200 German civilians who were forced to see the grim conditions at the Landsberg concentration camp, on May 15, 1945. (AP Photo) # 

Starved prisoners, nearly dead from hunger, pose in a concentration camp in Ebensee, Austria, on May 7, 1945. The camp was reputedly used for “scientific” experiments. (NARA/Newsmakers) # 

A Russian survivor, liberated by the 3rd Armored Division of the U.S. First Army, identifies a former camp guard who brutally beat prisoners on April 14, 1945, at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Thuringia, Germany. (AP Photo) # 

Dead bodies piled up in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after the British troops liberated the camp on April 15, 1945. The British found 60,000 men, women and children dying of starvation and disease. (AFP/Getty Images) # 

German SS troops load victims of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp into trucks for burial, in Belsen, Germany, on April 17, 1945. British guards hold rifles in the background. (AP Photo/British Official Photo) # 

Citizens of Ludwigslust, Germany, inspect a nearby concentration camp under orders of the 82nd Airborne Division on May 6, 1945. Bodies of victims of German prison camps were found dumped in pits in yard, one pit containing 300 bodies. (NARA) # 

A pile of bodies left to rot in the Bergen-Belsen camp, in Bergen, Germany, found after the camp was liberated by British forces on April 20, 1945. Some 60,000 civilians, most suffering from typhus, typhoid and dysentery, were dying by the hundreds daily, despite the frantic efforts by medical services rushed to the camp. (AP Photo) # 

Manacled following his arrest is Joseph Kramer, commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Belsen, photographed on April 28, 1945. After standing trial, Kramer, “The Beast of Belsen”, was convicted and executed in December of 1945. (AP Photo) # 

German SS women remove bodies of their victims from trucks in the concentration camp at Belsen, Germany, on April 28, 1945. Starvation and disease killed hundreds of the many thousands imprisoned at the camp. British soldiers holding rifles in the background stand on the dirt which will fill the communal grave. (AP Photo/British official photo) # 

A German SS guard, standing amid hundreds of corpses, hauls another body of a concentration camp victim into a mass grave in Belsen, Germany in April of 1945. (AP Photo) # 

Piles of the dead at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 30, 1945. Some 100,000 people are estimated to have died in this one camp alone. (AP Photo) # 

A German mother shields the eyes of her son as they walk with other civilians past a row of exhumed bodies outside Suttrop, Germany. The bodies were those of 57 Russians killed by German SS troops and dumped in a mass grave before the arrival of troops from the U.S. Ninth Army. Soldiers of the 95th Infantry division were led by informers to the massive grave on May 3, 1945. Before burial, all German civilians in the vicinity were ordered to view the victims. (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, U.S. Army Signal Corps)

An international exhibition that’s become an international incident


An international exhibition that’s become an international incident

An exhibition of art in the Louvre has provoked fury in Germany for portraying the country as a dark and dangerous neighbour – has it ignored key movements deliberately, or is it all a matter of taste?

Above, a detail from Max Beckmann’s The Hell of Birds. Photograph courtesy of the Louvre

The Louvre’s spring exhibition, De l’Allemagne; German Thought and Painting 1800-1939 has generated so many ruffled feathers and bruised feelings that it is worth saying at the outset what is good about it.

A German newspaper lamented that the contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer’s monumental engraving on wood and collage on canvas “sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition” by reminding visitors of “Germany’s bloody past”. Yet Kiefer’s work is a powerful evocation of the tragic pairing of countries that fought one another four times in two centuries, taking many tens of millions of people to their graves.

Kiefer’s room, through which one must pass to enter and exit the exhibition, is black, white and grey. The Rhine, the border between France and Germany, surrounds one, along with the Atlantic Wall and the Maginot Line, vestiges of two World Wars. Black tree trunks rise from the banks of the Rhine, like the bars of a prison that traps, submerges and encloses the visitor in an inescapable past. A geometric prism floats across the scene, annotated with the word “Melancholia”.

Kiefer was born in 1945 and has spent his life asking how the horror happened. He adds Satan to the Holy Trinity, thus transforming it into a quartet. Among the names of great German thinkers painted on the walls, Kiefer includes Paul Celan, the Romanian-born, German-speaking Jewish poet whose parents perished in the Holocaust, and who drowned himself in the Seine in 1970. “There are still songs to sing, above and beyond the history of men,” are the hopeful words of Kiefer’s homage to Celan.

The mood then shifts to the past, with Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein’s iconic portrait of Goethe in the Roman Countryside (1787). The German Centre for the History of Art in Paris, one of the chief protagonists in the controversy over the exhibition, had wanted the great German poet, writer and thinker to be its focus. Goethe’s watercolour studies of the spectrum of light and his paintings of plants are a delightful surprise, shown alongside strikingly similar works by Paul Klee, done more than a century later.

Max Beckmann’s The Hell of Birds , painted in 1938, after the painter fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam, closes the exhibition. A row of garish figures on the left raise their hands in Nazi salutes. A dark German eagle presides over the centre of the canvas, beneath the Nazi salute of a bird-like priestess with four breasts. A naked man lies prostrate on a table, his hands and feet bound, while a creature scores his back with a knife. Le Monde called Beckmann’s painting “perhaps the only canvas of the century that could be hung next to Guernica and hold its own”.

It is easy to see why the exhibition’s German critics interpreted The Hell of Birds as an allegory for Nazi dictatorship; it is more difficult to understand why the Louvre’s curators excused it as “a militant pacifist work, a work of resistance”.

The exhibition of more than 200 works was meant to commemorate 50 years of Franco-German friendship since the Treaty of the Élysée. It will continue, under the patronage of President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel, until June 24th.

The world’s most-visited museum strived for political correctness, all but ignoring the official, Nazi-approved art of the 1930s and dubiously portraying universalist humanism as the German artistic response to the horrors of the first World War. Among August Sander’s striking 1930s photographs at the end of the show are two portraits, one a man, one a woman, entitled “persecuted”. Were they Jewish? The Louvre doesn’t tell us.

A sinister vision 

The Louvre was “surprised and profoundly hurt . . . shocked by the openly Francophobe statements” in Die Zeit ’s critique of the exhibition, wrote Henri Loyrette, the director of the Louvre,

in a four-page letter to the Hamburg daily. Accusations that the museum intended to convey a “sinister” vision of Germany were “totally unfounded”, Loyrette continued. “We had no other ambition than to enable the French public to discover the richness, diversity and inventiveness of German painting from 1800 to 1939,” he protested.

Yet the official notes, published by the museum, seem to confirm its German critics’ chief grievance. The notion that nationalism was the driving force in German art permeates the exhibition. “While the Napoleonic occupation helped advance the cause of unity in this vein, providing the political underpinnings for the earliest stirring of the Romantic movement, the rise of Nazism, at the end of the period’s chronological span, revealed the tragic dimension of this concept,” the curators write.

The wings of the angel in Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld’s Annunciation (1820) are gold, red and black, the colours of Germanic peoples since the Middle Ages. The museum calls Franz Pforr’s Rudolph von Habsburg Enters Bâle (1808-1810) “a nationalist manifesto”. Painted under Napoleonic occupation, Pforr’s masterpiece shows the foundation of the Habsburg dynasty in 1273, but in 16th-century costume. Nostalgia for the 962-1806 Holy Roman Empire, when German-speaking peoples lived under unified rule, is a recurring theme in early 19th-century art.

A detail from Franz Pforr’s Rudolph

The show includes six paintings of the Catholic cathedral of Cologne. After a lapse of centuries, Protestant Prussians completed the cathedral in 1880. It was then the tallest building in the world, and a symbol of a powerful and united Germany.

Natascha Marest, a German guide employed by several French museums, finds the Louvre’s exhibition “superb”. Yet she understands why a German who regards it superficially might be offended. “In my youth, in the 1970s and 1980s, all we watched were films about the Holocaust,” she explains. “We never read Goethe. The myths of the Nibelungen were not taught. We were ashamed of our cultural heritage. When a German sees the Cologne cathedral and [Leo von Klenze’s 1836 painting of] Valhalla in an exhibition, it may shock him; he may say, ‘This is a nationalist interpretation of German art’.”

The exhibition includes 20 paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, the master of the 19th-century Romantic landscape. Friedrich’s Woman in the Morning Sun (1818) shows an elegantly clad woman facing the sunrise and is the signature painting of the exhibition. The spiritual, mystical Friedrich rejected Goethe’s exhortations to paint according to scientific theories. “Close your physical eye to see first with the eye of your mind,” Friedrich said.

Yet even Friedrich’s syrupy landscapes are accused of nationalism. In Tree With Crows (1822), gnarled branches, freighted with birds of ill portent, are framed against a pastel sky. The tree grows from an ancient Druid tumulus, evoking the nation’s origins and its capacity to survive.

During the wars against Napoleonic France, the Louvre notes, “the land takes on patriotic connotations; the feeling of nature an ideological dimension”. Friedrich exalted the landscape – considered an inferior art form by the French – and made it quintessentially German.

A detail from Caspar David Friedrich’s Friedrich’s Woman in the Morning Sun. Photograph courtesy of the Louvre

The Louvre’s logic 

The title of the exhibition is taken from Germaine de Staël’s De l’Allemagne (1813), which shaped French attitudes throughout the 19th century. One has only to read her chapter on fine art to understand the Louvre’s approach: “Germans in general conceive of art better than they put it into practice,” she began. Germany’s best painters – Dürer , Cranach and Holbein – lived before the Reformation, de Staël wrote. Germany produced fine writers and musicians, she added, but not artists. The stereotype persists today.

Much of what is best in German art – the Brücke, Blaue Reiter and Bauhaus movements, for example – was left out of the exhibition on the grounds that these were international movements. Instead, many of the paintings on show are second-rate, a confirmation of the French view that Germans can’t paint. And many are Austrian or Swiss, not German. Anselm Feuerbach’s Lucretia Borgia (1864) is mannish and ugly. Arnold Böcklin’s Frolicking Mermaids (1886) is kitsch.

Whatever the intention of the Louvre’s curators, and despite the controversy they’ve ignited – or perhaps because of it – the exhibition is a success, drawing 3,400 visitors daily; 81 per cent more than the museum expected. “Our bet was that the French, like Madame de Staël in her time, harbour curiosity and fascination for Germany,” says Henri Loyrette. For Germany, he concludes, is France’s neighbour, “so close and yet so far away”.

The German view: criticism belies exhibition’s success

Critical reaction to the Louvre exhibition in Germany has ranged from polite applause to furious scorn. The Frankfurter Allgemeine and Die Zeit attacked the show for, in their eyes, following the controversial Sonderweg (“special path”) narrative of German history – namely, that German history took a path separate to its neighbours that triggered an inevitable slide towards Hitler.

This impression, they suggested, is underlined by the exclusion of respected German art movements dubbed “degenerate” by the Nazis – such as the Secession, Bauhaus or Brücke. Both newspapers relate complaints from the German Centre for the History of Art in Paris. Although ostensibly a co-curator, it claims to have been excluded from the show’s curation process.

“These restrictions are unusual in international academic circles, to put it mildly,” says Andreas Beyer, the centre’s director, in Die Zeit. When finally allowed into the Louvre the Germans told the FAZ they were “amazed and appalled” by a “visual history of an abysmal land . . . headed more or less straight for National Socialism”.

“The accusation is that the Louvre took the material delivered by the German Centre and formed their own history of Germany that confirms all cliches of the romantic-strange, dangerous and dark neighbour,” writes FAZ critic Niklas Maak.

He adds: “Whoever doesn’t read the catalogue essays and only follows the show’s signs gets the impression that the Germans, after a short period of fascination with the antique era, retreated to their forests and . . . went crazy around 1900 before emerging during National Socialism.”

Die Zeit agrees, suggesting visitors should concentrate on the art and ignore the Louvre’s attempt to impose an Apollonian- Dionysian dichotomy of order and chaos on German art. “To call the exhibition’s concept an over-simplification would be a euphemism,” it notes drily. Germany’s best-selling quality daily, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, disagreed, praising the show for “not drawing a direct line from romanticism to National Socialism”.

It points out that footage of Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia is juxtaposed with Billy Wilder’s little-seen film Menschen am Sonntag, showing that 1930s German life was not one endless show of Aryan muscle. On Deutschlandradio Kultur, Prof Bénédicte Savoy, a French-born art historian based in Berlin, suggested the allergic reaction in some quarters suggested that “Germans don’t like being liked. In Paris, the exhibition is a huge success,” she said.

“Everyone’s saying that their eyes have been opened and have got to know the more gentle Germans.”

Derek Scally

via An international exhibition that’s become an international incident – Art News | Headlines from the Art & Design World |The Irish Times – Fri, Apr 26, 2013.

via An international exhibition that’s become an international incident – Art News | Headlines from the Art & Design World |The Irish Times – Fri, Apr 26, 2013.

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