The Discovery of Lost Nazi Art

The startling find of the long-lost works made for Adolf Hitler has been a very important discovery of the 21st century. These works of art were commissioned by Hitler, for the “Speer project”, to create a splendid new capital for the Nazis’ Thousand Year Reich.

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Bronze horses, made for Adolf Hitler by Josef Thorak, on May 21 in Bad Duerkheim, Germany.

 

Josef Thorax known as one of the two “official sculptors” of the Third Reich, was the artist of a pair of colossal “striding horses” that had once stood outside the Reich Chancellory.  They are life-sized, made in bronze and stood facing away from each other outside the Reich Chancellory. This Nazi art was apparently so dear to Hitler, that they were evacuated in 1943, when the first Allied bombs attacked Berlin. And they stayed hidden until the Communist rule started to crumble in East Germany.

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They were photographed by a group of West Berlin art historians in 1988, however when the Soviets began retreating from East Germany, the horses disappeared. These Nazi era sculptures could be classified as ‘stolen state property’.

The availability of these near-lost horses in the market in 2013 suddenly set off alarms in the Berlin police circles. After thorough detective work and finally a sensational police raid on 10 properties in Germany until May 2015, dozens of missing pieces of Nazi art were uncovered and shed light on the secret markets where such works were traded.

The discovery of the Thorax horses along with several other sculptures and reliefs created by the other “Official Sculptor”, Arno Breker, stunned researchers who had long lamented their vanishing. It is not illegal to possess Nazi art commissioned by the Third Reich by private organizations or individuals, however it is necessary that the state doesn’t have a direct claim on the objects in question. That is certainly not the case with most of the recovered works.

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A bronze Wehrmacht statue, which may be the original by Arno Breker, a sculptor favored by Hitler.

It is a great victory for German art historians that the original works are back, which could be used for further research in the area given that not many art works commissioned by Hitler survive. Christian Fuhrmeister, from the Central Institute for Art History in Munich, and an expert on Nazi art said, “Art historians currently know much more about the art that Hitler did not like, than about works that the Nazis favored.” This discovery will certainly help art historians overcome this.

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