‘Der Meldereiter’ (‘The Despatch Rider’)
Extreme scarce work of art
Art works considered as overt propaganda were massively destroyed
As described below, 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.
This portrait shows a German despatch rider in Russia. It was painted in Russia in 1942 and stored (but not displayed) in the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung in 1943. As 25% to 50% of the art could not be displayed on the walls, it was stored in boxes (Kiste M.E., Stoss 204). Der Meldereiter is signed by Roman Feldmeyer and on the front is written ‘Russland 1942’.
The following are explanations of the labels on the back of the painting. The large label was filled in by the artist himself. The selling price in Reichsmark was the price asked by the artist. It is unknown when and to whom this painting was finally sold. Probably it was sold to a private person (and therefore was not destroyed in 1945). The smaller, rectangular label was filled in by the Haus der Deutsche Kunst(Einlieferungsnummer und Aufbewahrungsort im Depot).
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: 75 x 65cm, unframed 57 x 45 cm|
|– signed||: right, under. With GDK label on the back|
|– type||: tempera|
|– misc.||: professional cleaned and reframed|
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BIOGRAPHY: ROMAN FELDMEYER
Roman Feldmeyer. ‘Die von den Franzosen zerstörte Stadt Gien’ (‘City of Gien, destroyed by the French’). GDK 1941, room 13. Bought by Hitler for 4.000 RM. In the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Nach der Schlacht von Smolensk’ (‘After the Battle of Smolensk’). Russia, 1941. In the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Fromelles – hier kämpfte Adolf Hilter‘ (‘Fromelles – Adolf Hitler fought Here‘. GDK 1939 room 13. Bought by Adolf Hitler for 5.000 Reichsmark. Depicted in ‘Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte’, 10. Jahrgang, 1939. In the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
Left: Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Am frühen Morgen des 22. Juni 1941’ (‘In the early morning of June 22, 1941’ GDK 1944, room 13. The painting refers to the invasion of the Sovjet Union at June, 22, 1941. Also displayed in 1944 at the exhibition ‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’ in Breslau and Salzburg.
Left: ‘Am frühen Morgen des 22. Juni 1941’ by Feldmeyer, depicted on a postcard. On the back is printed: ‘Ausstellung Deutsche Künstler und die SS, – Herausgegeben im Auftrag: der Reichsführer-SS, SS-Hauptambt Berlin (‘Exhibition German Artists and the SS, -Published by order of the Reichsführer-SS, SS-Headquarter Berlin’).
Right: ‘Panzerbekampfung im Grossen Kessel vor Smolensk’ (‘Anti Tank Gun in Action in Smolensk’), created in 1941. GDK 1944 room 27. Offered price at the GDK: 8.000 Reichsmark.In the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
Deutsche Künstler und die SS (‘German Artists and the SS‘)
‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’ was an exhibition organized by the Reichsführer SS and the SS Supplementary Office of the Headquarter, held in the first quarter of 1944 in the Museum der Bildende Künste in Breslau. In total 589 works of art were displayed, of which 63 were depicted in the exhibition catalogue, published by Wilhelm Limpert Verlag in Berlin. The 72-pages catalogue had a prologue by SS Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger and a prologue by Heinrich Himmler.
Three months later -from June to July 1944- the exhibition was held in the Alte Residenz in Salzburg (Salzburg Residenz Palace); a separate catalog was issued with 20 depictions.
Romand Feldmeyer, ‘Zerstörte Njemen-Brücke bei Witebsk’ (‘Destroyed Njemen-bridge near Witebsk’). Displayed at the exhibition ‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’, Breslau, 1944; depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Left: ‘Zerstörte Njemen-Brücke bei Witebsk’ by Feldmeyer, in the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
Right: ‘Zerstörte Njemen-Brücke bei Witebsk’ by Feldmeyer, depicted in the catalogue ‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’, Breslau, 1944.
Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Baumbeobachtungstelle bei Lille, -Lichtmeßtrupp 31’ (‘Observation Post in Tree near Lille, -Flash-Spotting Section’), created 1939. GDK 1940 room 13. Bought by Hitler for 3.500 Reichsmark. In the possession of the US Army Centre of Military History, Washington.
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.
Left: Right: Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Im Laufgraben bei Fromelles’ ( ‘In the trenches near Frommelles’). GDK 1940, room 13. Bought by Hitler for 4.000 RM.
Right: Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Battle of Smolensk’, 1941.
Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Organisation Todt beim bau eines Geschützbunkers’ (‘Organisation Todt building a artillery bunker’). Displayed at the exhibition ‘Maler an der Front, -eine Ausstellung des Heeres’, Berlin, 1941.
Left: Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Feldweg’ (‘Sandy path’). Displayed at the Grosse Münchener Kunstausttellung in the Glaspalast, 1931.
Right: Roman Feldmeyer, ‘Im Mai’ (‘In May‘). Displayed at the Münchener Kunstausttellung 1939, Maximilianeum.
Roman Josef Feldmeyer (1895 – 1950), born in Munich, studied at the Academy of Art in Munich under the Professors Franz von Stuck, Angelo Jank and Adolf Hengeler. From 1915 to 1918 he served in the 6th Bavarian Reserve Regiment. Landscape and war painter Feldmeyer had, from 1937 to 1944, twenty paintings hanging in the Great German Art Exhibitions. Nine of these paintings, most of which were military images, were bought by Adolf Hitler for prices of up to 8,000 Reichsmark. Other works were bought by Staatsminister Hermann Esser, the ‘Kulturambt München‘ and the ‘Wirtschafts-Verwaltungs-Hauptamt bei Reichsführer SS‘, Berlin. Several of the GDK-works by Feldmeyer are depictings WWI-batllefields scenes, similar in depiction and/or in tittle to watercolours created by Adolf Hitler. Worth mentioning here are: ‘Der Schützengraben des Führers’ (‘The Trenches of Adolf Hitler‘, GDK 1938), ‘Hauptkampfstätte des Regiments unseres Führers‘ (‘Battle station of the Regiment of our Führer‘, GDK 1938), ‘Fromelles – hier kämpfte Adolf Hilter‘ (‘Fromelles – Adolf Hitler fought here‘, GDK 1939), ‘Aus dem Kampfgebiet der Division Adolf Hitlers‘ (‘From the Battlefields of the Division of Adolf Hilter‘, GDK 1939), ‘Strasse in Fromelles unter Störungsfeuer‘ (‘Street in Fromelles under Attack’, GDK 1940) and ‘Die von den Franzosen zerstörte Stadt Gien‘ (‘The city of Gien, destroyed by the French’, GDK 1941).
Feldmeyer’s works were depicted in prominent magzins like ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich‘, Velhagen & Klasings Monasthefte‘, ‘Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte‘, ‘Kunst dem Volk‘, etc.
In 1944 Roman Feldmeyer took part in the exhibition ‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’ in Breslau and Salzburg; displayed was ‘Am frühen Morgen des 22. Juni 1941’ (‘In the early morning of June 22, 1941’ GDK 1944), and ‘Zerstörte Njemen-Brücke bei Witebsk’ (‘Destroyed Njemen-bridge near Witebsk’) which was aslo depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Roman Feldmeyer died in 1950 in Munich.
After the war most of Hitler’s personal collection, including the Feldmeyer paintings, was destroyed at the Central Collecting Points in Germany.
The remaining pieces are in the cellars of the Deutsche Historisches Museum and in the United States Army Center of Military History. In the archives of the Deutsche Historisches Museum in Berlin there are currently 55 paintings by Roman Feldmeyer. The U.S. Army Centre of Military History in Washington D.C. still owns the following works by Roman Feldmeyer: ‘Die von den Franzosen zerstörte Stadt Gien’ (‘City of Gien, destroyed by the French’, GDK 1941); ‘Nach der Schlacht von Smolensk’ (‘After the Battle of Smolensk’, Russia, 1941); ‘Zerstörte Njemen-Brücke bei Witebsk’ (‘Destroyed Njemen-bridge near Witebsk’, displayed at the exhibition ‘Deutsche Künstler und die SS’, Breslau, 1944), ‘Baumbeobachtungstelle bei Lille, -Lichtmeßtrupp 31’ (‘Observation Post in Tree near Lille, -Flash-Spotting Section’, GDK 1940) and ‘Fromelles – hier kämpfte Adolf Hilter‘ (‘Fromelles – Adolf Hitler fought Here‘, GDK 1939).
The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen holds three works by Feldmeyer.
It is nearly impossible to find a painting from Roman Feldmeyer for sale anywhere.