While we are certain that we have expressed the spirit and life source of our Folk correctly in politics, we also believe that we will be capable of recognising its cultural equivalent and realise it. — Hitler, Party Day 1935, Nürnberg

National Socialism is the only regime which carefully excluded all but the approved art forms right from its start, but the iconography of National Socialist art, although limited, was of the highest quality ever produced worldwide. The subjects which National Socialists favour and vigorously promoted shows that art was not only the direct expression of their political ideas, but also at the base of their political system in all its aspects.




German art represents Homeland and longing for the home. In landscape paintings the soul is expressed. It is the language of the Homeland which speaks even in an alien atmosphere or in foreign lands ….. When one speaks German, then the soul speaks. If one speaks with an alien tongue, a cosmopolitan, fashionable Esperanto, then the soul is silenced. (Eberlein, Was ist deutsch in der deutschen Kunst, page 17.)


Julius Pail Junghanns: Rest Under The Willows

In all the official German Art Exhibitions, landscape painting dominated. It was seen as the genre in which the German soul could best be expressed.


Albert Henrich: Country Still Life, 1940

Again and again the idea of the Folk was linked with the landscape of live streaming solutions. The country was a place of belonging. The nineteenth century, too, had dreamed of a medieval and rural Utopia in which Man and Nature could be fused together.


Karl Alexander Flügel: Harvest. Great German Art Exhibition, 1938

The National Socialists picked up these ideas and made them one of the central themes of their philosophy of art. But what for the Romantic painter was an idealised dream became reality for the new painters. Their landscape represented the Germans’ Lebensraum, their living space.


Oskar Martin-Amorbach: The Sower, 1937

The new landscape painting followed closely the tradition of the Romantic painters, especially Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge, both artists Hitler cited in his speech at the opening of the House Of German Art. Their feeling of longing and the specific mood they expressed appealed to many beyond the leadership. But landscape for the new artist was not only a place of contemplation, it was also a space for living, for action. The landscapes of Werner Peiner share with the Romantics’ landscapes a longing for expansive distances, but Friedrich’s landscape was an imaginary one; the landscapes of the new painters were meant to be real. Landscape, in National Socialist thinking, was always the German landscape. The painters of today are nearer to Nature than the Romantics. They do not look for a religious mood but for elementary existence. Each landscape is a piece of the German Homeland which the artists illuminate with their soul ….. Above all art today stands the law of the Folk. (Wilhelm Westeker, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, March, 1938, page 86.)