The German Council of German Jews has decried plans to cut down the trees in front of the Hitler-era Haus der Deutschen Kunst (“House of German Art”) in Munich, claiming that an unobstructed view of the famous building is “reconstructing Nazi architecture.”
British architect David Chipperfield—who won acclaim for his remodeling of the equally famous Neues Museum in Berlin—has proposed a €78 million ($83.7 million) renovation plan to revert the now renamed Haus der Kunst to its original exterior by removing the deliberately planted trees obscuring the city-facing side of the building.
The Haus der Kunst in summer, as currently seen from the front.
The Haus der Kunst as envisioned by the “remodelling.”
The Haus der Kunst in winter, as currently seen from the front.
The museum was opened by Adolf Hitler in 1937 to promote healthy art, as opposed to the nonsense put forward as “modern art,” known then as Entartete Kunst (“degenerate art.”)
The museum housed many great and beautiful art works, ranging from statues to paintings, and, miraculously, survived the bombing of Munich intact.
After the war, the museum was renamed and it has since been filled with the sort of nonsense modern art it was meant to oppose, in a deliberate snub to the National Socialist conception of art.
The trees were also planted in a row in front of the museum—which faces one of the city’s inner ring roads, with the other side facing out onto the Englischer Garten (“English Garden”) park.
The architect’s office called the design “visible and transparent,” and Bavarian culture minister Ludwig Spaenle said the design “reveals the past of the building” and promotes a platform for dialogue around the institution which is “highly charged with history.”
However, Charlotte Knobloch, the president of the official Jewish organization in Bavaria, the “Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria” (Israelititschen Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern, IKG), said that the idea of taking away the trees in front of the building was “incomprehensible” and that it was “reconstructing Nazi architecture,” according to an article in the Rundschau newspaper.
“I see this backward-looking fantasy as a history-obsessed view of this rudiment of Nazi terror,” Knobloch said, adding that it would be a “devastating signal to appreciate or glorify the old Nazi buildings.”
Chipperfield’s plans for the front are limited to cutting down the trees—which in any event do not have leaves in winter—while he also intends to reopen the doors at the building’s opposite end doors to create a terrace entrance from the English Garden park.
It was in the nearby Hofgarten where the famous “degenerate art” exhibition in Munich was held, where the works of nonsense art were publicly ridiculed.
In 1937, Germany’s Nazi government staged an exhibition in Munich entitled “Entartete Kunst”—the official designation given to all “modern art” which was not strictly classicist or realist in nature. The exhibition was not merely designed to illustrate what the Nazis deemed “bad art,” but also had a political purpose. Click here for details.