Artworks that survived Hitler
Today’s New York Times has a front-page article describing a routine excavation in Berlin that turned up a number of pieces of sculpture. At first, the find presented a mystery. Although the pieces were easily identified as early twentieth-century works, it took a while to unravel the connection among them. It turns out that the pieces were victims of the Nazis’ campaign against what they called “degenerate art.” They were seized from museums in the 1930s, exhibited as examples of “degenerate art”—and then they disappeared. It’s possible that they were hidden by Erhard Oewerdieck, who is known to have protected and supported Jews and anti-Nazi activists. One theory proposes that he was sequestering the art in a building where his office was located. In 1944, the building burned in the aftermath of Allied air raids, and the sculptures were buried in the rubble. An exhibition featuring the resurrected sculptures is touching, since it reminds us that the past is not lost—perhaps just temporarily misplaced.
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