School art from Nazi era shows children's view of Third Reich

Punch and Judy are depicted as brutal sadists; the words scrawled on an army lorry by a schoolboy warn the British Prime Minister: "Chamberlain we're coming." Such stirring images are just two of a collection of more than 500 drawings and paintings of Nazi school children's art on show in Munich's Art Pavilion.

After lying unseen in the archives of the city's schools for more than 60 years, the pictures have been put on public show.

The exhibition is the first in post-war German history to illustrate in detail what adolescent school pupils chose or were ordered to draw in the Third Reich while they attended art classes at Munich grammar schools during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Brigitte Zubor, an art historian from Munich university who organised the exhibition, spent months combing art archives of 26 of the city's schools to come up with the exhibits. She said: "They combine an extraordinary mixture of works that display rigid attention to detail and others which simply legitimise the crimes of the Nazi regime."

The works include dozens of bombastic and frequently naive pastel drawings of aircraft dropping bombs on buildings, of steel-helmeted stormtroopers fighting their way across rivers and a lino cut of a German U-boat slipping through a moonlit sea.

One pupil exhibits his early acceptance of Nazi indoctrination by writing the propaganda slogan: "Better to have fought and died in honour than to lose freedom and soul" across the top of a battle scene.

Excerpts from a Nazi art magazine,Munich Mosaic, feature alongside the drawings and provide an insight into art teaching of the era: "Bombs explode, whole islands disappear, the sterns of ships fly into the air. Fantasy, the child's second soul, is mobilised," reads a quote from the magazine. Other paintings depict a Swastika flying alongside an Italian flag to celebrate Mussolini's visit to Germany but there are also drawings of skulls and corpses.

A 15-year-old boy's painting of a German army truck roaring down an autobahn dated late 1939 bears the words: "The Polish eagle is no longer flying." It also warns the British: "Chamberlain, we're coming."

Another work, at first seemingly innocent, is a watercolour portrayal of Punch and Judy. It contains a disturbing undertone on closer inspection.

Punch stands opposite a dishevelled figure hanging from a gallows and fires at him from close range. A group of children watch the show and heartily applaud the execution.

The show also contains scores of obsessively detailed paintings of flowers and lacework exhibits completed by schoolgirls. Nazi school propaganda material states that attention to careful and accurate artwork is "intended to promote inner cleanliness among pupils".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor