My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR Mainly About Pictures

IN matters of art, Hitler laid claim to infallible judgment which may have been traceable to his original intention of becoming either a painter or an architect. On one occasion only--and that was in Fritz Thyssen's house--I saw a little oil painting by Hitler which betrayed a very limited ability and also revealed mistakes in drawing. He was firmly opposed to so-called abstract painting and similar experiments, and one can't blame him for that. Since he entrusted HerrGoebbels with the weeding out of pictures in the "degenerate art" it is no longer possible to ascertain if the condemnation of many good paintings produced by the "degenerate" artists orginated with him or with Goebbels.

Hitler's taste inclined more to the subject of the picture than to sound craftsmanship. He took a lasting interest in the House of German Art in Munich, which he had built to replace the Glass Palace, destroyed by fire. My present wife, who for five years was First Assistant at the House of German Art, was more frequently able to discern signs of this interest than was possible for his expert ministers.

Hitler's artistic judgment was not always reliable. He showed his lack of knowledge on many occasions when he caused pictures to be bought. When bidding at auctions he would often give instructions to several agents in the neighbourhood at the same time, neither knowing anything about the other. As a result these bidders would frequently force up the prices. One well-known painting by Defregge put up for auction with an estimated value of some six thousand reichsmarks was forced up to a figure of ninetyfive thousand in this way.

Once, when I was staying at Karinhall, Hermann Goering's private residence, I was struck by a three-quarter length portrait of a young lady by Makart. Karinhall, both in style and material, was exactly as one might imagine an ancient German log-hut. The walls were of thick planks covered with heavy beams, much of which had been brought from far-distant forests; add to this an enormous hearth and a fire fed with great logs and it is easy to understand why, in these surroundings, I was particularly impressed

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