‘Hindenburg in Black Tie with Hindenburgstar’ (‘Hindenburgstern’).
The Hindenburgstern, awarded only twice, over a century apart
The ‘Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross’, or ‘Stern zum Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes‘ or ‘Hindenburgstern‘, was the highest military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire. It was considered a senior decoration to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. The Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to the most outstanding of generals who performed feats of leadership to the extreme benefit of the German state. It was awarded only twice, over a century apart, to Field Marshal Von Blücher in 1813 and to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg on March 25, 1918. Von Blücher’s award was referred to as the Blücherstern while Hindenburg’s was known as the Hindenburgstern. During the reign of Nazi Germany, it was intended to present the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross as an award to the most successful German General of the Second World War, once Germany had achieved victory. As Germany was defeated in 1945, the decoration was never bestowed under Nazi authority and has not been awarded since.
The Hindenburgstern disappeared from the Berliner Zeughaus/ Preussische Ruhmeshalle (now Deutsches Historisches Museum) shortly after the end of the second world war and is considered as lost. The only known prototype example of this decoration is today located at the Museum of the United States Military Academy in West Point NY.
With regard to the offered painting by Franz Triebsch: at some point in the turbulent history of Germany, the painting was wrapped around a wooden plank (still visible).
The ‘Hindenburgstern’, the ‘Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross’.
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: 102 x 81 cm; unframed 87 x 25% cm|
|– signed||: right, on top (and ‘1925’)|
|– type||: oil on canvas|
Franz Triebsch, ‘Bildnis des Führers’ (‘Portrait of the Leader’), art print respectively postcard*. GDK 1941, room 14; depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Left: depicted on the cover of ‘Kunst dem Volk’, August 1941.
Right: ‘Bildnis des Führers’ in room 14 of the GDK 1941; at the right ‘Bogenschütze’ by Adolf Abel, at the left ‘Faustkämpfer’ by Emil Cauer.
Franz Triebsch, Bildnis des Führers’, depicted in the ‘Salzburger Volksblatt’, 26./27. Juli 1941.
Franz Triebsch, ‘Bildnis des Führers’ (‘Portrait of the Leader’), art print. GDK 1939, room 23; depicted in the exhibition catalogue. Also depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, 1939, and in ‘Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte’, 1939, Heft 114. The painting is in the possession of the US Army Center of Military History (according to US-law it falls within the public domain, including the copyright).
Left: ‘Generalfeldmarschall Von Schlieffen’, GDK 1940, room 23. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, 1940. The painting is in the possession of the US Army Center of Military History (according to US-law it falls within the public domain, including the copyright).
Right: opening of the GDK 1940. From-left-to-right: Haus der deutschen Kunst director karl Kolb, Rudolf Hess and Gerdy Troost. At the background ‘Generalfeldmarschall Von Schlieffen’.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Hindenburg in Black Tie’, art print*. Depicted as frontispiece in ‘Hindenburg, Das leben eines Deutschen’, 1926.
Right: Franz Triebsch, ‘Generalfeldmarschall v. Hindenburg’, signed 1922. Size 73 x 53 cm. Displayed at the exhibition ‘100 Jahre Verein Berliner künstler’, May/June 1941, Berlin. Depicted in the exibition catalogue.
Franz Triebsch, postcard, ‘Leonardo da Vinci malt das Abendmahl’ (‘Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Evening Meal’). GDK 1941, room 15. Bought by Hitler for 23.000 RM. In possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. Size 295 x 215 cm.
Left: ‘Kaiser Wilhelm II’, postcard. After a painting by Franz Triebsch.
Right: ‘Generalfeldmarshall Von Hindenburg’, art print*. After a painting by Franz Triebsch. Depicted in the book ‘Hindenburg, Das leben eines Deutschen’, 1926.
Left: Franz Triebsch, art print, ‘Generaloberst Von Seeckt’ (‘Colonel General Von Seeckt’). GDK 1937, room 13; depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Right: Franz Triebsch, ‘Generalfeldmarschal von Hindenburg’, art print. After a painting by Franz Triebsch. Depicted in ‘Die Badener im Weltkrieg 1914 / 1918‘, Verlag von G. Braun GmbH, 1935.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Generaloberst von Kessel’ (‘Colonel General von Kessel’), artprint. Displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 1914.
Prussian Generaloberst von Kessel (1846-1918) served as Ajutant General for Kaiser Wilhelm II during WWI. From 1909 to 1918 Von Kessel headed the Supreme Command of Mark Brandenburg and also served as Governor of Berlin.
Right: Franz Triebsch, ‘Mädchen aus Olevano’ (‘Girl from Olevano’). Displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunst-Ausstellung’, 1901.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Der Sieger von Longwy’, artprint. Depicted is Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany. The Battle of Longwy (France) was one of the early battles on the Western Front. The Crown Prince commanded the German forces in this battle, making him ‘The Victor of Longwy’. Published in Velhagen & Klasings, 1914/15.
Right: postcard dated 2 June 1915. The text at the back reads: ‘Wilhelm, Deutscher kronprinz, -nach einem Gemälde von Franz Triebsch’.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Portrait of Erich von Falkenhayn’, Prussian General of the infantry. Falkenhayn (1861-1922) was minister of war between 1913 and 1915 and later Chief of the General Staff.
Right: a part of this Triebsch-painting was depicted on 14 August 2016 at the website of ‘Die Welt’ (‘Als Österreich auf seine Souveränität verzichtete’).
Left: ‘General der Infanterie Von Falkenhayn, Chef des Generalstabs’ (‘General of the Infantery Von Falkenhayn, Head of the General Staff’). Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstaustellung 1915. Depicted in the exhibition catalog.
Middle: ‘Nach dem Gemälde von Franz Triebsch’, detail of the portrait of Erich von Falkenhayn by Franz Triebsch. Depicted in a German magazine in 1914.
Right: ‘Erich Falkenhayn‘ by Triebsch, 1914, depicted on the cover of the magazine ‘Die Woche’ (1899-1944).
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Bildnis Herr von W.’ (‘Portrait of Mr. von W.’). Displayed at the ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung’, Verein Berliner künstler, 1940. Depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Right: Franz Triebsch, ‘General Ritter Von Speck’. GDK 1941 room 17.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Die Schwestern’ (‘The Sisters’). GDK 1939 room 26. Depicted in ‘Westermanns Monatshefte’, 75. Jahrgang, 150. Band (March-August), 1931.
Right: Adolf Hitler visiting the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung 1939. In white uniform: Italian propaganda minister Dino Alfieri, behind Hitler Gerdie Troost. On the background the portrait ‘Die Schwestern’ by Franz Triebsch.
Franz Triebsch, ‘Feldmarschall Wilhelm von Hahnke‘. Wilhelm Gustav Karl Bernhard von Hahnke (1833 – 1912) was a Prussian Field Marshal. In 1888 he was appointed Chief of the German Imperial Military Cabinet. Created after 1905. Size 96,5 x 82. In the possession of Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
Left: Franz Triebsch, ‘Bildnis der Frau von Dippe’ (‘Portrait of Ms. Von Dippe’). Depicted in ‘Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte’, 1913/14.
Right: Franz Triebsch, ‘Kgl. Militär-Oberpfarrer Goens‘ (‘Royal Military Chief Pastor Goens’). Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstaussellung 1912; depicted in the exhibition catalog.
Hitler as art
Thirty-six paintings and busts of Hitler were displayed at the Great German Art Exhibitions from 1937 to 1944. The first painting that people saw when they entered the exhibition was one of Der Führer in Room 1. In similar fashion, the official exhibition catalogues all started with a picture of the ‘Schirmherr (patron) Des Haus der Deutschen Kunst’.
Around 450 portraits depicting Hitler and other Nazi-officials, Nazi-symbols, German Soldiers and battle fields are currently stored in the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington. Keeping this German War Art Collection in the US is not seen by the Americans as a violation of the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1970 UNESCO Treaty on cultural property, as they don’t classify these paintings as art.
In 2004 Brigadier General John Brown, outgoing head of the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History, was interviewed about the Army’s view of the legal status of these 450 objects in the German War Art Collection that remained in the custody of the United States. When asked if the Army’s continues sequestration of these works, which had been determined to be in volation of U.S. and German laws in 1947, could not also be construed as a volation of the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1970 UNESCO treaty on cultural property, he replied, “No. That would only be true if the objects in the German War Art Collection could be defined as cultural property or art. Our position is that these paintings are no art” (‘Nostalgia for the Future’, Gregory Maertz, 2019).
This remarkable point of view leads us to the following question: is a painting depicting Angela Merkel, Joseph Stalin, Benjamin Netanyahu or Mao Zedong art or non-art? And who decides this? Respectively German left-wing extremists? Russian civilians? Palestinians or Taiwanese civilians? Can people be interested in a portrait of Napoleon (or Hitler) because of it’s historical significance? Or does their interest mean that they are automatically right-wing extremists with the aim of conquering the whole of Europe? This last point of view echoes the theory of Hannah Ahrend who states: ‘The essence of terror lies in the immediate transition from accusation to conviction’. One thing we learned very well from the tragic 1930s and 1940s is that classifying art as ‘non-art’ is a dead-end-street, just like burning and forbidding books for political reasons. No matter how much one dislikes Hitler, Napoleon, Caligula or Stalin, and no matter how much their depictions were used as propaganda, a painting or sculpture of them cannot be reclassified as ‘non art’.
The extreme scarcity of National Socialistic art
Massive, systematic destruction of Nazi art since 1945: the Potsdam-Agreement
From 1933 to 1949 Germany experienced two massive art purges. Both the National Socialist government and OMGUS (the U.S. Military Government in Germany) were highly concerned with controlling what people saw and how they saw it. The Nazis eliminated what they called ‘Degenerate art’, erasing the pictorial traces of turmoil and heterogeneity that they associated with modern art. The Western Allies in turn eradicated ‘Nazi art’ and forbade all artworks military subjects or themes that could have military and/or chauvinist symbolism from pictorial representation. Both the Third Reich and OMGUS utilized the visual arts as instruments for the construction of new German cultural heritages.
The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945, subparagraph 3, Part III, Section A stated that one purpose of the occupation of Germany was ‘to destroy the National Socialistic Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations and to dissolve all Nazi and militaristic activity or propaganda.’ In accordance with Allied Control Council laws and military government regulations, all documents and objects which might tend to revitalize the Nazi spirit or German militarism would be confiscated or destroyed. For example, Title 18, Military Government Regulation, OMGUS stated that: ‘all collections of works of art related or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism will be closed permanently and taken into custody.’ As a consequence, thousands of paintings –portraits of Nazi-leaders, paintings containing a swastika or depicting military/war sceneries– were considered ‘of no value’ and destroyed. With knives, fires and hammers, they smashed countless sculptures and burned thousands of paintings. Around 8,722 artworks were shipped to military deposits in the U.S.
OMGUS regulated and censored the art world. The Information Control Division (ICD, the key structure in the political control of post-war German culture in the American zone) was in fact a non-violent version of the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture). With its seven subdivisions (i.e. press, literature, radio, film, theatre, music, and art), the ICD neatly replaced the Reich Chamber of Culture. The ICD established through its various sections a system of licensed activity, with screening and vetting by Intelligence to exclude all politically undesirable people.
‘Free’ German artists producing ‘free German art’ after 1945
In the ideology of OMGUS, painting was conceived of as a strategic element in the campaign to politically re-educate the German people for a new democratic internationalism. Modern art allowed for the establishment of an easy continuity with the pre-Nazi modernist past, and it could serve as a springboard for the international projection of Germany as a new country interacting with its new Western partners.
‘Free’ artists producing ‘free art’ was one of the most powerful symbols of the new Germany, the answer to the politically controlled art of the Third Reich. Modern art linked Western Germany to Western Europe – separating the new West German aesthetic and politics from that of the Nazi era, the U.S.S.R., and East Germany – and suggested an ‘authentically’ German identity.
Franz Triebsch, Court Painter of Hitler
One of the most prominent portrait painters of the first half of the 20th century.
Franz Triebsch (1870–1956) was a German painter born in Berlin. After his studies at the Berliner Academy under Max Koner, he made various trips to Italy and South America. In 1899 he was awarded the ‘Grossen Staatspreis’ and around 1900 he was given the title of professor. In 1910 he built a house in Ahrenshoop (on the German coast near Rostock) were he stayed during the summer. In Ahrenshoop he was connected to the painters H. Eschke, C. Kayser-Eichberg and F. Koch-Gothe. Triebsch was mainly a portrait painter, but occasionally he painted landscapes.
In 1914 he painted Kaiser Wilhelm II von Preusen and a year later the Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, ‘Der Sieger von Longwy’ (both printed on postcards). The battle of Longwy (France) was one of the early battles on the Western Front; the Crown Prince commanded the German forces in this battle, making him ‘The Victor of Longwy’. In 1922 Triebsch created a portrait of Paul von Hindenburg (depicted in different versions on numerous postcards in the 1920s). Several other portraits of Von Hindenburg followed, as well as portraits of other political and miltary leaders, like ‘Generalfeldmarschall Von Schlieffen’, ‘Generaloberst Von Seeckt’ (‘Colonel General Von Seeckt’), ‘Generaloberst von Kessel’, ‘General Ritter Von Speck’ and finally Adolf Hitler. Franz Triebsch grew out to be one of the most prominent portrait painters of the first half of the 20th century.
Works by Triebsch were displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunst-Ausstellungen’, and at exhibitions organised by the ‘Verein Berliner Künstler’ (i.a. ‘Herbst-Ausstellung 1938’ and ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung 1940’; and he was also represented at the exhibition ‘100 Jahre Verein Berliner Künstler’, Berlin, May/June 1941).
During the Third Reich Franz Triebsch created many portraits of Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Together with Fritz Erler, Conrad Hommel, Heinrich Knirr and Karl Truppe, he was one of the major Court Painters of Hitler. Triebsch was given the prestigious Goethe Medal on the day he turned 70, in March 1940.
The ‘Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft’
The ‘Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft’ (Goethe Medal for Art and Science) was authorized by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg to commemorate the centenary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s death on March 22, 1932. The Medal was in Hindenburg’s name given to Goethe scholars, artists, scientists, government officials and politicians. Among the recipients of the Medal were Chancellor Brüning, Max Planck, and the Nobel Prize winners Gerhart Hauptmann, Thomas Mann, Nicholas Murray Butler, André Gide, Knut Hamsun, Verner von Heidenstam, Guglielmo Marconi, Albert Schweitzer, Fritz Haber and Richard Willstätter. Other recipients were Benito Mussolini, José Ortega y Gasset, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Carl Goerdeler, Paul Ernst, Hans Grimm and E.G. Kolbenheyer. About one quarter of the honorees of the Goethe Medal before July 1934 were non-Germans. Women were rarely considered.
Beginning in November 1934, Adolf Hitler, in his position as German Head of State, took over the awarding of the ‘Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft’. Among them are the Nobel Prize winners Hans von Euler-Chelpin, Johannes Stark, Heinrich Wieland and Adolf Windaus, as well as five women: Anna Bahr-Mildenburg, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Agnes Bluhm, Isolde Kurz, and Lulu von Strauß und Torney. Under Hitler the Medal was generally awarded only on high birthdays or other important anniversaries. Many of the recipients were followers of National Socialism.
At the Great German Art Exhibitions Franz Triebsch was represented with eight works (until 1942). Among these were the following: Bildnis des Führers (GDK 1941), Generalritter Von Speck (GDK 1941), Generaloberst Von Seeckt (GDK 1937), Generalfeldmarshall Graf Schlieffen (GDK 1941) and Bildnis des Führers (GDK 1939). The last two paintings, which are shown above, are still in the possession of the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C.
In 1941 Franz Triebsch became completely blind. His studio in Berlin was bombed and destroyed in 1943.
* As also stated in our General Terms and Conditions, German Art Gallery offers the depicted postcards and art prints for sale. Allmost all of the postcards are ‘Haus der Deutschen Kunst’ editions. Prices on request.