From the outset, Hitler made art a centerpiece of his fascist campaign. Both the promotion of classical ideals in art and architecture and the elimination of the corrupting influence of the avant-garde were mandates of his cultural purification program. On the one hand, he planned the Führermuseum of classical masterpieces in his hometown of Linz, Austria, while on the other, he directed the closing down of art schools and the displacement or death of countless artists and collectors. The Nazis also ordered the confiscation, theft, and destruction of thousands of works of art from both state museums and private collections. In a public demonstration of the sincerity of their purpose, in 1938 they made a bonfire outside the Berlin opera house and burned approximately five thousand works of “degenerate” art. What the public did not know was that in a warehouse outside of Berlin they also amassed a...


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