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Good business
Art trade in Berlin 1933 - 1945

Auktionshaus »Union«, Inhaber Leo Spik, in der Tiergartenstraße 6, um 1935 Landesarchiv Berlin More than sixty-five years after the end of the Nazi reign, an accurate representation of the art trade in Berlin at that time is still a subject requiring research.
In the capital of the Reich, Berlin, which had been one
of the metropolises of international art trade, the measures of the National Socialist art and arts trade policy took immediate effect from 1933 on. By means of examples, the exhibition shows through the history of fourteen Berlin art shops and auction houses how the Nazi cultural policy exerted its influence on an industry which had otherwise been largely independent up to that time. In addition to several prominent art and auction firms, several unknown small galleries and art dealers are also documented.

A large number of Berlin art dealers fell victim to anti-Semitic persecution. They had to give up their businesses, and not all managed to emigrate in time. Others were actively involved as profiteers in the liquidation of the companies of their ostracised colleagues or as dealers of stolen works of art which had been confiscated. From 1937 on there was also the trade of items confiscated from German museums as "degenerate" art. Private art sales and foreign exchange were mainly conducted via four art dealers. Three of them were based in Berlin.

The debate over the restitution of stolen works of art is still only beginning. It has just been in the past few years that the inventory of the major museums and collections in Berlin has been examined for "Nazi plundered art". Only a small number of paintings have been recovered and returned to the descendants of the former owners. It is the aim of this exhibition, which was developed by a working group of the Aktives Museum e.V., to direct attention to and explore this aspect of Berlin history in the Nazi era which had previously been neglected for so many years.


The presentation of this exhibition in the Mitte Museum is particularly appropriate, as this district was very much linked to the events of the time due to the fact that art trade was highly concentrated here. The history of criminals, their accomplices and the victims is presented through the stories of 14 art trading companies and auction houses. The expulsion of Jewish gallery owners is as transparent as the role of the art dealers in plundering Jewish art collections. The exhibition also covers the handling of "degenerate art" and the "Linz special order" (special organisation to provide works of art for the Führer's planned art museum in Linz) which was very profitable to the art trade of the time. In view of the high degree of relevancy of the plundered art issue, the Aktives Museum and the Mitte Museum both consider it imperative that this important exhibition be made available to the interested public.


Accompanying programme:

Lost in the "Third Reich" - searched for to this day. Plundered art and provenance research.
Lecture by Dr. Hans-Joachim Hinz, historian/provenance researcher
Thursday, 28 February 2013, 6 p.m.


Art dealers and the art market in Berlin in the Nazi era
Lecture by Dr. Angelika Enderlein, art historian/provenance researcher
Thursday, 14 March 2013, 6 p.m.


Guided tours of the historical gallery area in Tiergarten

with Regine Wosnitza and Heike Stange
Saturday, 11 May 2013, 2 p.m.
Meeting point: Esplanade Residence, Bellevuestrasse 1, 10785 Berlin
Underground/S-Bahn: Potsdamer Platz
Price per participant: 10 €    Time: approx. 2 hours
Guided tours for groups possible by appointment


By order of Goebbels: How the Evangelischer Kunstdienst (Protestant art service) conducted business involving "degenerate art"
Lecture by speaker: Horsta Krum, theologian and historian
23 May at 6 p.m. - free of charge

Among other issues, this lecture - in addition to others - researches the question of how the trustful cooperation between Nazi leaders Goebbels and Göring and the Evangelischer Kunstdienst (Protestant art service) came about and how the sales in the Niederschönhausen castle were carried out.

In this context, the lecture will also address in detail the artists Emil Nolde and Ernst Barlach, and Barlach’s friend, the art dealer Bernhard A. Boehmer.  more


Exhibition dates: 5 December 2012 to 30 June 2013


www.aktives-museum.deAktives Museum - Faschismus und Widerstand in Berlin e.V.

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