‘Crossing the Dnjestr River’
This painting by Adolf Reich, one of his first works as regiments-painter, was printed on a full page in the ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung’, a weekly magazine based in Vienna. Publication date: 3 October 1915, page 23.
It depicts Austrian troops crossing the Dnjestr River (Ukraine) in World War I. There were five times as many Russian troops on the other side.
Left: cover of ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeichnung’ of 3 October 1915.
Right: ‘Crossing the Dnestr River’ by Reich, on page page 23.
The text below the depiction reads:
‘Ein Ruhmetag der Fünfunddreissiger, -Aus den Kämpfen des tapferen Pilsneren Hausregiment: die unter Schwierigsten Verhältnissen erfolgende Durchführtung des Flusses, nach welche das Regiment heftige Kämpfe gegen eine fünffache feundliche Übermacht tzu bestehen hatte. Originalzeichnung nach eine Skizee von A. Reich.’
The 35th Infantry Regiment got orders to cross the Dnjestr River on 22 June at 22:30 exactly, no matter how heavy the losses were. This 232 year old ‘Pilsener HausRegiment’ was faced with a river up to 110 meters wide, 3 to 5 meters deep and heavy artillery fire. Six days later, on 28 June, the Austrian troops finally conquered the other side of the river. A full description of this battle is given on page 9 of this digitalised magazine.
More depictions by Adolf Reich in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung’ (digitalised)
31 January 1915, cover of the ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘
Adolf Reich, ‘Zu den Kämpfen in den Karpathen, -In der Nacht vom 21. zum 22. Dezember von J. nahmen unsere Truppen einen 1035 Meter hohen Berg im Sturme, durch den sie in den Besitz des Ungher Komitates gelangten. Die Russen, die in ihren Verschanzungen schliefen, wurden gefangen genommen und hiebei zwei Maschinengewehre erbeutet‘ (‘The Battle in the Carpathians, -In the night from January 21 to 22 December, our troops stormed a mountain of 1035 meter high, they concured the Ungher Komitate. The Russians who were sleeping in their entrenchments were captured, and two machine guns were conquered’. Printed on the cover of the ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘, 31 January 1915.
4 April 1915, ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘
Adolf Reich, ‘Heldentaten unseres Landwehr-Infanterie Nr. 1‘ (‘Heroic actions of our Landwehr-Division Nr. 1‘), 1915. Full page, published in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘, 4 April 1915.
12 December 1915, ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘
Adolf Reich, ‘Der Kampf um Görz, -Dalmatiner Landwehr und Lemberger Infanterie warfen am 28. Oktober 1915 die Italiener aus den von ihnen zeitweise besezten Gräben auf der Podgora‘ (‘The Battle of Gorizia, -at 28 October 1915, the Landwehr-corps of Dalmatia and the Infantery of Lemberg drove the Italiens out of the ditches in the accopied Podgora’). Full page, published in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘, 12 December 1915.
23 January 1916, ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘
Adolf Reich, ‘Erfolgreicher heftiger Sturmangriff eines Truppenteiles der Kövess-Armee gegen die von den Montenegrinern besezte Bobiahöhe am 3. November 1915‘ (’Succesful heavy attack at 3 November 1915, by a section of the Kövess-Army against the Montenegrins, who occupied the Bobia-Heights’).
Full page, published in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘, 23 January 1916.
20 February 1916, ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘
Adolf Reich, ‘Zur heldenmütigen Erstürmung des Lovcen durch unsere tapferen
Truppen am 11. Jänner 1916: Der Angriff auf die ersten montenegrinischen Stellungen in der halben höhe des Lovcen.‘ (‘The heroic storming of Lovcen by our couragious troops at 11 January 1916: the Attack on the first Montenegrian positions at the half-heights of Lovcen’).
Full page, published in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung‘, 20 February 1916.
German War Art in the Pentagon
‘Very good, outstanding and brilliant in conception…’
House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Investigation Subcommittee, Washington, D.C. , September 23, 1981
At September 23, 1981, the House of Representatives discussed the transfer to Germany of 6.337 pieces of war art that were seized from the German Government by the United States Army in March 1947. Below some remarkable quotes from the discussion.
George William Whitehurst (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, journalist, professor) about the 6.337 pieces of German war art:
‘They are similar to the military works of art hanging on our own committee and subcommittee rooms. Part of the German collection is on display in the Pentagon…. This is war art, showing the life of German military personnel under the best and the worst conditions, as indeed soldiers, sailors, and airmen of all nations experienced it… ‘Asked by the Chairman about the value of the art: ‘Some of it is very, very good. The large canvas in my office is an outstanding work of art’.
Marylou Gjernes, Army Art Curator, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Department of the Army:
‘..The Air Force similarly favors retention of German war art integral to its museum operations at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and a small exhibit of paintings that they have in the Pentagon.’…. ‘Some of the paintings and drawings are brilliant in conception and execution. They show by their artistry, color and mood, the spirit of combat, and the desolation, destruction and tragedy of war. There are illustrations of the despair and boredom of the troops…They are a testament to the sensitivity of the artist regardless of nationality. The collection ..is utilized in ongoing exhibition programs and displays to provide a unique view of World War II that supplements and supports the written history of the conflict..’
Extreme scarce work of art
Art works considered as overt propaganda were massively destroyed
In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement of August 1945, the Allied Control Council laws and military government regulations, all collections of works of art related or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism, were destroyed. Thousands of paintings were considered of ‘no value’ and burned. Around 8,722 artworks were shipped to military deposits in the U.S. In 1986 the largest part was returned to Germany, with the exception of 200 paintings which were considered as overt propaganda: depictions of German Soldiers, war sceneries, swastika’s and portraits of Nazi leaders.
|– condition||: II|
|– size||:76 x 59 cm, unframed 57 x 41 cm|
|– signed||: left, under|
|– type||: gouache on paper|
|– misc.||: professional reframed; museum-glass; acid free cardboard on the back|
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BIOGRAPHY: ADOLF REICH
Left: Adolf Reich, postcard, ‘Um Haus und Hof’ (‘All their precious belongings’), GDK 1940, room 39. Bought by Adolf Hitler for 6.000 Reichmark.
The title of the painting suggests that a peasant couple seated in a notary’s office in Austria is being robbed of everything they own. The two men coazing the farmer into signing the contract correspond to the hateful anti-Semitic image of the deceitful Jew. At the wall a calendar of 1934 and a portrait depicting the 11th Chancellor of the Federal State of Austria, Engelbert Dollfuss, one of the least-known Europe’s 20th-century dictators. On July 25th, 1934, less than a month after the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, Dollfuss was assassinated as part of a failed coup attempt by Nazi agents in 1934. His successor Kurt Schuschnigg maintained his regime until Adolf Hitler’s annexing of Austria in 1938.
Right: ‘Um Haus und Hof’ is in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. Displayed on loan in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg. Size: 130,5 x 121 cm. Photo 2014.
Adolf Reich, postcard, ‘Das grossere Opfer’, (‘The greater Sacrifice’), GDK 1943, room 27.
The paintings is currently displayed in the Deutsches Historische Museum, Berlin. Size: 260,5 x 230,5 cm. Another copy, likely a second version, is in possession of the Münchener Stadtmuseum.
Beginning in 1943, the first disastrous news comes from Stalingrad. Two members of the Hitler Jugend are collecting for the Winterhilfswerk. Responsible civilians are giving them money. In the background we can see the Munich Siegestor (built with Kelheimer Limestone, just like the Feldhernnhalle) and a young widow with a baby buggy. Two women are looking behind them at the soldier who had had his leg amputated. Originally there were plans for a stand for this painting with the inscription composed by Hitler: ‘He who is doubting whether to give or not, should look back. He would see someone who gave a much larger sacrifice’.
Left: ‘Das grossere Opfer’, in the possession of the Münchener Stadtmuseum.
Right: ‘Das grossere Opfer’, in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
Left: Adolf Reich, postcard, ‘Aus der illegalen Kampfzeit in Österreich’ (‘At the time of the underground fighting in Austria’). This work was evoking the period of clandestine activity of the NSDAP in Austria, until the Anschluss in 1938. GDK 1941, room 27. Bought by the Austrian Gauleiter August Eigruber for 14.000 RM. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, September 1941.
In early 1933, Engelbert Dolfuss, the 11th Chancellor of Austria and one of the least-known Europe’s 20th-century dictators, shut down parliament, assumed dictatorial powers and banned the Austrian Nazi party. On July 25th, 1934, less than a month after the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, Dollfuss was assassinated as part of a failed coup attempt by Nazi agents in 1934. His successor Kurt Schuschnigg maintained his regime until Adolf Hitler’s annexing of Austria in 1938. After 1938 Schuschnigg was arrested, kept in solitary confinement and eventually interned in various concentration camps.
Right: ‘Aus der illegalen Kampfzeit in Ösrerreich’ is in possession of the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum in Linz. Size: 263 x 199 cm.
Adolf Reich, ‘Am Bezirgsgericht im alten Österreich’ (‘Cantonal Court in te Old Austria’). GDK 1939, room 37. Bought for 4.500 RM by Edoardo Alfieri, the Italian Minister of Culture. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, September 1939, and in ‘Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte’, 1940.
Adolf Reich, ‘Die Wollsammlung in einer Münchener Ortsgruppe’, GDK 1942, room 39; depicted in the exhibition catalogue. Bought by Hitler for 20.000 RM. ‘The Wool Collection at a Munich Local Group’ displayes a drive collecting woolen goods for German soldiers during World War II.
In the winter of 1941, during the invasion of Russia, the German army desperately needed millions items as woolen hats, gloves, long johns and overcoats. On December 20, 1941, Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, broadcast an appeal for warm clothing to send to the troops, saying: ‘Those at home will not deserve a single peaceful hour if even one soldier is exposed to the rigors of winter without adequate clothing.’
Again a depiction of ‘sacrifice’ by Adolf Reich. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, september 1942 and in Mortimer G. Davidson, ‘Kunst in Deutschland’. The painting is in the possession of the US Army Center of Military History.
Adolf Reich, ‘Im Kunsthistorischen Museum Wien’, (‘In the Art History Museum of Vienna’). Date of creation around 1941. Official ‘Haus der deutschen Kunst’-postcard, however it is unclear whether the painting actually was displayed in the Haus der deutschen Kunst.
Adolf Reich, ‘Kunst- und Naturfreund’ (‘Art & Natur Lover’), GDK 1941, room 37. The painting, intentionally or not, shows the art as a way to look at erotic pictures. The artist, a professional and advanced in years, treats the model as part of the artistic process. However, the middel aged patron sneaks a look at the nude model.
Sold for 65.000 USD by Sotheby’s New York in December 2015 (size 50 x 39,50 cm).
Left: Adolf Reich, ‘Inneres der Hofkirche‘ (‘Interior of the Hofkirche in Innsbruck‘), postcard.
Right: the Hofkirche in 2023.
The Hofkirche (Court Church) is a Gothic church located in the Old Town of Innsbruck, Austria. The church was built in 1553 by Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564) as a memorial to his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519), whose cenotaph within boasts a remarkable collection of German Renaissance sculpture. The church also contains the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tyrol’s national hero.
Adolf Reich. Date of photo unknown.
Adolf Reich, the Austrian Spitzweg
Adolf Reich (1887–1963), born in Vienna, was the son of a metal caster who created bronze sculptures and other forged works of art. The self-taught painter Reich worked for seven years as painter of stage scenary for the German Theatre in Vienna. In 1910 he devoted his life to being a freelance artist. In addition, he became an illustrator and soon became one of the most sought after artists in the field.
Reich was turned down to be a soldier in World War I, but in 1915 was assigned to be an embedded regimental painter with the troops. He painted in trenches and other positions within the first frontlines; many of his war-depictions were depicted in ‘Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung’.
From 1916 to 1926 he exhibited annually in the Vienna Academy of Art. In 1926 Reich moved to Munich to escape the financial chaos in Austria. As a permanent staff member of the ‘Leipzig Illustrierte’ and receiving constant commissions from many other magazines and newspapers (like the Süddeutsche Post and the Münchner Illustrierte Zeitung), he became highly respected within a few years. His improving financial position made it possible for him to start again on his passion: genre painting. In 1927 he became President of the newly founded artist-group ‘Wiener Heimatkunst’.
Reich’s passion was capturing the everyday, the ordinary, and the unimportant moments in life, which rendered him the nickname ‘the Austrian Spitzweg’. His paintings do not allow one to glean a deep, metaphysical understanding of the soul. He paid much attention to details and was a master at creating seemingly ordinary, mundane sceneries.
It was also in Munich that Adolf Reich began to work for the Nazis creating folk postcards and propaganda art. From 1938 to 1944 Reich had ten paintings in the Great German Art Exhibitions; three were bought by Hitler for prices of up to 20.000 RM. Reich painted two of the most well-known propaganda pictures of the National Socialists: ‘Um Haus und Hof’ (‘All their precious belongings’, GDK 1940, bought by Hitler for 6.000 Reichmark), and ‘Das grossere Opfer’ (‘The greater Sacrifice’, GDK 1943).
In 1944 Reich lost his house and studio during an air attack by the Allies. After the war he was imprisoned at Camp Glazenbach, outside of Salzburg, Austria, together with hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officers. Reich was ordered to paint portraits of American officers and their wives, which he continued to do until at least 1949. Upon release, he lived in Salzburg. Due to his involvement with the Nazis, he was never allowed to pursue his dream of teaching art. In 1953 he lost his wife who had stood by him in good times and in bad. Reich lived an isolated life and devoted himself completely to his art. During these last quiet years he created a collection of significant genre pictures and masterly portraits.
Adolf Reich died in 1963 in Salzburg.
In 1965 a remembrance exhibition of Adolf Reich (‘Gedächtnisausstellung Adolf Reich, 1887 – 1963‘) was held in the ‘Galerie im Mirabell-Casino‘, Salzburg.
Nowaydays works by Adolf Reich hang in: the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum in Linz (‘Aus der illegalen Kampfzeit in Österreich’), the Stadtmuseum München (a second version of ‘Das grossere Opfer’), the Lichtensteinmuseum in Vienna and in the Salzburg Museum. Die original and largest version of ‘Das grossere Opfer’ is in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum; in 2010/11 it was displayed at the exhibition ‘Hitler und die Deutschen’ (‘Hitler an dthe Germans’) in Berlin, and depicted in the ‘Tagesspiegel’, 2010.