"Degenerate Art" in Nazi Germany: Background information when reading Shadows of Berlin

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Shadows of Berlin

A Novel

by David R. Gillham

Shadows of Berlin by David R. Gillham X
Shadows of Berlin by David R. Gillham
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2022, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 24, 2023, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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"Degenerate Art" in Nazi Germany

This article relates to Shadows of Berlin

Black and white photograph featuring art confiscated by the Nazis including a Van Gogh self-portraitIn David R. Gillham's Shadows of Berlin, the protagonist's mother was a modern artist whose work was banned by the Hitler Regime.

Adolf Hitler didn't originally intend to have a career in politics, planning instead to be a professional artist. In 1907 at the age of 18, he applied to Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts, but was rejected — twice. Still, he was able to make a reliable living selling his paintings to tourists before leaving for Munich in 1913, where he worked on commission for several wealthy patrons. The dismissal of his work by Austria's artistic elite struck a nerve, though, and their refusal to take his paintings seriously had consequences the art world never could have foreseen.

Over the ensuing decades, Hitler came to power as the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (aka the Nazis), becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1933. His attacks on modern art began almost immediately thereafter, with orders issued to confiscate any art he deemed "...

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