‘Teuton in armour’
Date of creation 1942.
‘The role of the artist was either to portray the struggle for the survival of a peaceful German world or else to represent this world, which had to be defended at all cost’ (Peter Adam, The Arts of the Third Reich).
Teutons and the ‘Teutonics Fury’.
The Roman poet Lucan used the term ‘Teutonic Fury’ to describe what he believed to be the outstanding characteristic of the Germanic tribe called the Teutones: a mad, merciless, berserk rage in battle. The Teutons met with the armies of the Roman republic in the eastern Alps around 113 BC. The Romans, under the command of the Consul Papirius Carbo, tried to lure the tribe into a trap, but they underestimated their military potential and lost the Battle of Noreia. The Romans also lost the Battle of Arausio (105 BC).
Anton Hoffmann, ‘Furor Teutonicus’ (Teutonic Fury’).
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||: 59 x 56,5 cm, unframed 50 x 40 cm|
|– signed||: right, under (Otto Flechtner, 1942)|
|– type||: oil on carton|
For Hitler, ‘art is not founded on time, but only on peoples.’
Great names of the past were useful to lend authority to the Nazi regime and to give it the conception of eternity. The element of ‘time’ was dismissed, and in a timeless sphere the Nazis did not categorize art in terms of past, present and future. The great German battle scenes and the representations of warriors from previous periods all helped to rally morale and solid support for the present war. The celebration of the precursors of the new Germany was used to tell the story of those who had prepared the ground for National Socialism. The readiness to fight and to die for the Nation was seen as the highest virtue. The role of the artist was either to portray the struggle for the survival of a peaceful German world or else to represent this world, which had to be defended at all cost. A good example were the large tapestries made for the new Reich Chancellery by Werner Peiner, depicting the battles of Marienburg, Leipzig, Teutoburgerwalde, the Ungarnschlag and the Türkenschlacht at Vienna. Paintings of the great battles in German history glorified the country’s military tradition and justified the continuing struggle. Similar examples are paintings from Arthur Kampf (e.g. ‘the flag carrying Maiden of Hemmingstedt’, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt, 17 February 1500) and Alfred Bürkle’s ‘Fighting peasant’.
Left: Arthur Kampf, ‘Jungfrau von Hemmingstedt’, GDK 1939. Bought by Hitler for 12,000 RM.
Right: Albert Bürkle, ‘Fighting Peasant’.
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Mounted Artillery on the March’. Oil on canvas.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ‘Citadel Von Witry’ in the northern French province of Marne. Painted 1916. The citadel was occupied from 1914 to October 1918 by the Germans. The destroyed neighbouring village was rebuilt after WWI (both paintings are in private possession).
Left: Otto Flechtnerr, ‘Deutsche Schneeshuh-patrouille’ (‘German Ski Patrol’). Cover of the Munich Art & Literature Magazine ‘Jugend’, 1915.
Right: Otto Flechtner, 1941. German propaganda poster: ‘SA-service develops comradeship, toughness, strength’. In the possession of the Imperial War Museum, London.
Left: Otto Flechtner, cover of ‘Die Brennessel’ 1935: Frontsolder (of WWI) to SA-man: ‘Your spirit gave me back my honour’.
Right: Otto Flechtner, 1943. Advertising poster for the SS regiment ‘Feldherrnhalle’.
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Dragoner-Angriff’ ( ‘Dragonder- attack’). Depicted in the magazine ‘Jugend’, 1915.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ‘The Reichsautobahn Kalender Die Strassen Adolf Hitlers’. State Freeway System Calendar called ‘The Roads of Adolf Hitler’. Published with approval of the ‘Generalinspektor für das Deutsche Straßenwesen’ (the General Inspector of the German Road System, Fritz Todt). It contained 53 original illustrations by Franz Siegele and Otto Flechtner; every week had its own page and illustration of a scenic stretch of the Reichsautobahn, cars and trucks on the Reichsautobahn, bridges, road signs or modern gas stations. Known are editions of 1939, 1940 and 1942.
Otto Flechtner, ‘SA-Wettkämpfe, Berlin Olÿmpia Stadion, 13, 14 & 15 August 1937‘ (‘SA 1937 Championships, Berlin Olympic Stadium‘).
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Die Flucht der Juden nach Frankreich’ (‘Flight of the Jews to France’). Original drawing depicted in ‘Die Brennessel’, 5th volume, edition 10, 1935.
The tekst below reads: ‘Mon Dieu, Mich davor zu sichern, habe ich vergessen!’ (‘Good Lord, I forgot to protect myself for this!’. In the possession of the ‘Museum im Kulturspeicher’, Würzburg.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ‘In höchster Not’ (‘In Great Trouble’). Original drawing depicted on the cover of ‘Die Brennessel’, 1th volume, edition 11, 1931. The tekst below reads: ‘Über bord mit dem ganzen Marxistischen Krempel!’ (‘Overboard with all this Marxist Junk!’). In the possession of the ‘Museum im Kulturspeicher’, Würzburg.
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Welchem gebürt der Erste Preis?‘ (’Which one deserves the First Price?’). Cover of ‘Die Brennessel’, December, 1933. In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ’Die Wiener Reichspost schreibt;’ (‘The Wiener Reichspost writes;‘). ‘Die Brennessel’, July 1933. The text below the depiction reads: ..’National Socialism is in Austria nothing more than a criminal affaire.’ In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Deutsche Volkszählung‘ (’German Population Census’). ‘Die Brennessel’, June, 1933. The texts below the depiction reads: ‘Whats the meaning of “temporary” Mr. Einstein?!’ In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ’Das Anarchistenattentat in Spanien – 150 Tote‘ (‘The Attack by the Anarchists – 150 Victims‘). ‘Die Brennessel’, December 1933. The text below the depiction reads: ’The Marxist Happiness on advance!’ In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Left: Otto Flechtner, ‘Die originelle Tarnung‘ (’The original Camouflage, -Muhler, the Vicar of Munich, was arrested for spreading communist propaganda’). ‘Die Brennessel’, December 1933. In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Right: Otto Flechtner, ’Der Arbeitsseg in Ostpreussen’ (‘Victory of the Labourer in East Prussia‘). ‘Die Brennessel’, August 1933. In the possession of the ‘Deutsches Pressemuseum’, Berlin.
Otto Flechtner, propaganda posters.
Left: ‘Ein Frontsoldat wählt Adolf Hitler!’ (‘A front soldier votes for Adolf Hitler!’).
Right: ‘Der Führer befiehlt: Glauben, gehorchen und kämpfen! (‘The Führer commands: Believe, Obey and Fight!’).
Otto Flechtner, propaganda posters.
Left: ‘Winterwehrkämpfe 1944’ (‘Ski-contests 1944’, pre-military training organized by the SA).
Right: ‘Mannschaftsgeist Siegt!’ (‘Team-spirit Wins!’).
Otto Flechtner, propaganda poster. ‘Deutscher! Der Führer stiftete das SA-Abzeichen für den wehrhaften deutschen Mann. Erwirb auch du es als Zeichen deiner Wehrbereitschaft! Gib deine Meldung bei der zuständigen SA-Dienstelle ab!’. Call to buy the SA-Badge ‘for the German combative Mann’.
Otto Flechtner (1881–1952) studied from 1904 to 1913 at the Munich Akademie as Meisterschuler of Wilhelm von Diez and Carl von Marr. In 1910 he became a member of the Munich art group ‘Die Gilde’. He joined the military services in WWI. A portrayer and landscapist, Flechtner worked as a graphic artist, poster designer and painter. He made regular contributions to the journals Fliegende Blätter, Jugend and Simplicissimus. The last was a satirical Munich magazine (1896–1944) that was famous for its criticism of the morals of civilians, Wilhelmistic politics, the church, the government and (except for the period from 1914 to1918) militarism. After 1933 the magazine was controlled and used by the Nazis.
In 1933, Flechtner, already a member of the NSDAP during the Weimar Republic, was promoted to SA-Sturmführer (Assault Leader) and Ortsgruppenleiter (Local Group Leader) of the NSDAP. Gradually he also became one of the main caricaturists for the newspaper ‘Die Brennessel’ (‘The Burning Nettle’), a National Socialist publication that used satire and humour to ridicule the International Jewry, the Weimar Republic, International Communism, government bureaucrats, Churchill, Roosevelt, France and modern art. This weekly magazine contained high-quality, full-page illustrations addressing issues important to the Nazis in a hard-hitting way that no written information could. It contained artwork by artists such as Eugen Osswald, Karl Prühäusser, Helmut Rothe, Otto Flechtner, Kurt Heiligenstaedt, Schondorff, and Albert Reich.
Otto Flechtner created, together with Franz Siegele, ‘The Reichsautobahn Kalender, Die Strassen Adolf Hitlers’, a State Freeway System Calendar called ‘The Roads of Adolf Hitler’. Published with approval of the ‘Generalinspektor für das Deutsche Straßenwesen’ (the General Inspector of the German Road System, Fritz Todt). It contained 53 original illustrations by Franz Siegele and Otto Flechtner. Known are editions of 1939, 1940 and 1942.
At the Great German Art Exhibitions Flechtner was represented with five paintings, of which two were bought by Hitler. One of these two, ‘Kostumbild’ (a depiction of an older woman in costume), is nowadays in the possession of the City of Munich (Oberfinanz-direktion).
Flechtner died in 1952 in Utting, near Munich.