- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 30, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195129644
- ISBN-13: 978-0195129649
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
As research director of the U.S. Presidential Advisory Committee on Holocaust Assets, Petropoulos (Art as Politics in the Third Reich) is at the forefront of the efforts to understand the full extent of Nazi plundering of art. (He is also professor of history at Claremont McKenna College in California.) Tirelessly scouring European archives, Petropoulos has compiled an invaluable account of how certain artists profited from the Nazi system. Moreover, he follows the story through the end of the war and describes how these profiteering artists fared after the fall of the Third Reich. Some, like the notorious sculptor Arno Breker, long a favorite of Hitler, amazingly escaped any major penalties or prosecutions. Detailed chapters describe the destinies of German art museum directors, art dealers, art journalists and art historians as well as artists, presenting a far broader picture than any previous study of the true artistic climate during the war years. Not only do we read about vile acts of cowardice and collaboration, but we get hints of the innocuous, everyday faces of the bureaucrats and journalistic hacks who committed crimes against art and humanity. With 69 pages of detailed notes, and an unusually useful and extensive bibliography, this book is sure to be a cornerstone for further studies of art in the Nazi period. Perhaps most impressively, Petropoulos manages to maintain a cool tone while recounting the spoilation of Jewish art collections for the profit of the Reich, a subject that even today raises emotions to fever pitch. This is the sort of book that literary prizes were invented to honor. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Since the publication of Lynn H. Nicholas's The Rape of Europa (LJ 5/1/94), a number of works have appeared that further document the cultural pillaging that took place during World War II. While books such as Hector Feliciano's The Lost Museum (LJ 8/97) have focused on the lost artworks, Petropoulos's study is the first to focus on the Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who made the looting possible. Spotlighting five groups--art museum directors, art dealers, art journalists, art historians, and artists--Petropoulos (history, Claremont McKenna Coll.) carefully and systematically details how each of these groups either directly or indirectly facilitated the theft of countless works of art and legitimized the Nazi regime. By following a number of individuals in each group through their rise in Nazi Germany and in a number of instances their "rehabilitation" in a postwar "de-Nazification" process, Petropoulos shows that justice is too often blind to the truth. Detailed notes document all of the author's allegations, and he supplies an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary materials that reinforce his arguments. Highly recommended for both public and academic collections.
-Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
P.4 "Part of the project of this book is to understand the various motivations that induced talented and respected professionals in the art world to become accomplices of the Nazi leaders-in most cases, to become art plunderers. These figures in the art world had the opportunity for a Faustian bargain because the Nazi leaders themselves cared so much about culture-the visual arts in particular. The Nazi leaders could not have dominated the artistic sphere or have amassed such collections without the assistance of figures in the art world."
P.7 "Dr. Ernst Buchner served as the General Director of the Bavarian State Painting Collections where he oversaw 15 museums. The 2nd chapter, on art dealers, focuses on Karl Haberstock. The 3rd chapter is dedicated to art critics who served as important mediators between the regime and the public. Art historians are discussed in chapter 4. The final chapter is about the artists (particularly Arno Breker) who collaborated with the leaders. Within each chapter are 3-4 other figures to show this was not a unique situation."
P.10 "This study underscores the extent to which individuals who participated in the criminal programs of the Nazi regime were able to rehabilitate their careers after 1945."
P.14 "Museum directors, while possessing considerable erudition and even international renown, comprised one of the most nazified professions in Germany."
In the late 1930s Jews who were in the art dealing world thought that there would be a place for them under the Nazis.
P.70 "Switzerland served as a kind of satellite to the French market."
P.278 "Subsequent studies have refined our understanding of why the courts were so lenient. Most have stressed the West German's wish to move beyond their painful past in order to focus on rebuilding their country and develop a new sense of collective self-worth."
The personal conclusions of this reviewer are different than those reached by Petropoulos who is uniformly critical in his portrayals. While some of the art glorified the Nazi leadership, most of it did not. Moreover, the subject matter and style of the art had been present in Germany and popular in the decades preceeding the Third Reich. The Nazis gave it prominent venues and subsidized it; they did not create it. Finally, it is a difficult stretch of logic to draw parallels with the artwork of the period and the brutality of the Nazi regime.
That said, although he does not hold back on his criticism, Professor Petropoulos is not heavy handed, and he allows his readers to render their own judgments. Petropoulos provides his readership with liberal citation to original source material so that the reader is ultimately left to draw his or her own conclusions about the artistic value of the work produced during that time, and the culpability, if any, of artists, art dealers, and art critics in glorifying the Nazi regime.