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Art Under the Nazis Review Essay

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Updated: Dec 29th, 2021


The Nazis in Germany were against modern art and expressionism on the grounds that it was degenerate and poorly executed as an excuse for the general hate that they held against this form of art. The main reason for their dislike for modern art and expressionism was the feeling that it was against ideals that they considered to be of Germany heritage (Adam 12). They also saw modern art and expressionism as an attempt by the Jewish community to hijack the Germany society by introducing their way of life and marginalizing the people of Germany who were not of Jewish descent. There was widespread fear that the Jews were out to undermine the Germany administration under Hitler and the Nazis. The reality is that this form of art had nothing to do with the administration or undermining the non-Jewish Germany population. It was propaganda used by the Nazis to create an anti-Jewish sentiment and thus garner support for their persecution of Jews (Adam 19).

Main text

The Nazis used all the tools at their disposal to censor modern art and expressionism. A number of methods were used. These methods included the organization of a mock exhibition in which the items of modern art and expressionism were presented in a negative and highly distorted manner. Apart from this, there was widespread harassment of modern artists most of whom had to run away from Germany. The exit of these powerful modern artists and expressionists meant that their work in Germany had been brought to an abrupt stop (Grosshans 23). This was a big step backward for modern art. Other artists who did not go to exile had no option other than to stop their work or produce artwork that was able to stand the scrutiny of the Hitler administration. The fact that most works were gathered and destroyed adds to the idea that the Nazis had substantial power and they indeed used it to the best of their ability to censor modern art. The public was given a chance to view art that was sanctioned by the Hitler regime (Adam 20). Was there any reaction from the rest of the Germany society while all these things were being done by the Nazis? The larger Germany society was overwhelmed by the torrential propaganda that the Hitler administration employed in trying to make people belief that modern art was not good for the German culture. How does one recognize propaganda?

Recognizing propaganda may not be easy if the recipient is not informed on the other side of the coin. This is because in most cases propaganda tends to provide highly biased information. If this can be used as guidance to propaganda recognition, it can be said that propaganda can be recognized by the fact that it contains information regarding one side of the story. It does not care about informing the recipient about the good of the other side. To make the point even stronger, propagandists will supply exaggerated negative information concerning the other side and exaggerated positive information concerning the side the propaganda is supposed to favor. Therefore if information is biased, it is highly likely that it is propaganda. Is it possible to use propagandistic techniques to influence perception in a free speech environment?

In a free speech environment, it is possible to apply propagandistic techniques in influencing perception. The fact that the environment itself allows for free speech means that people or organizations spreading propaganda will be defended on the grounds of free speech. Is propaganda necessarily bad?


Propaganda is not necessarily bad. There are instances where propaganda can be utilized in doing something that is beneficial to the people. For example carrying biased information so as to make people turn out in large numbers or make parents take their children to school is not a negative undertaking. Propaganda can therefore be good when used for the public good. It only gets bad when it is selfishly used to mislead the public and benefit a small group of people at the expense of the common good. For example in the Nazis case, propaganda was misused to mislead the public about modern art. The people were thus misinformed and made to support the illegal crackdown on modern artists whose work was meant to benefit the wider society rather than hurting it. This was a bad application of propaganda.

Works Cited

Adam, Peter. Art of the Third Reich. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1992.Print.

Grosshans, Henry. Hitler and the Artists. New York: Holmes & Meyer, 1983.Print.

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