Burkhard Henke (Davidson College)
Charlotte Symphony Education Program
Randolph Middle School
13 March 2004

Art and Music in the Third Reich: The Functions of Art

1. Ideal Purpose of Art

• delight and instruct and be useful
• imaginative resistance to the given
• transcend and console
• represent humanity and ennoble humankind
• create sense of community
• raise questions
• comment on life

2. Ethos of Art

• free and creative expression
• imagination
• individuality
• morality
• exploration

3. Ontology of Nazi Art

• representational
• monumentalism and mythification
• limited iconography (stereotypes)
• form over content

4. Claims of Nazi Art

• art not for an elite
• purify and purge the people
• serve the people
• ideal model of being, of the Volk, the Aryan race, healthy body and soul, nature: blood, soil, and spirit
• anti-urbanism, anti-modernism, anti-intellectualism

5. Calculated Functions of Art

• political weapon and “education” as celebration of values
• tie the individual to the state: communal response
• create and direct desires and dreams
• transcend history to produce an eternal and universal art
• legitimate and celebrate the NS regime