Friday, December 16, 2005

Not as 'History Channel' as It Sounds

The Artnewspaper reports of a massive cache of Nazi propaganda photos being posted as an online database. What the images actually are is a lot different than you might think. They are essentially documentary photographs of murals inside of buildings from Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia and the Czech republic. It is still an interesting piece of history and a good story. The images were taken for the Ministry of Propaganda. (Which would make an ideal name for an aspiring industrial-techno-metal-goth band)

The documented art dates from the 10th through the 19th centuries. The Art Newspaper’s online version of the article is pretty sad, duplicate paragraphs, references to "see image” where there is no image. So Art or Idiocy? has taken the liberty of cleaning it up and posting it below. Along with links to the online archive. Because, yes, links to the subject of the article are also missing from The Art Newspaper version. Consider this a little Xmas gift from your uncle Werner.

Main Site: fotothek
Map Reference: Click on a country for a list of works
You have to be intuitive, and fiddle around. The site is all in German and there are no translations. But it is definitely worth exploring.

Dresden - Pillnitz
New Palace

Architect: Christian Friedrich Schuricht

Dresden Castle

Fig. ZI0700_0010: View from the rose garden
admission color: 1943/1945)

    From Conservation:
    Nazi photo archive goes online
    Some 60,000 images of art inside German palaces and churches are now publicly available
    Posted 15 December 2005

    By Donald Lee
    London. A Nazi archive of 60,000 digital colour images of wall and ceiling paintings in German buildings has been put online by the Central Institute for Art History in Munich in collaboration with the Photographic Image Archive in Marburg. The pictures were taken for the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and the Department of Buildings and Monuments between 1943 and 1945.

    The photographs show the interiors of 480 buildings—churches, monasteries, castles and palaces, dating from the 10th to the end of the 19th centuries—in what was the “Greater German Reich”: what are now Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia (East and West Prussia), and the Czech Republic (Bohemia and Moravia). Each photographer was paid 35 Reichmarks for each frame and was required to take six of each work. Many of the works photographed were destroyed or damaged during World War II so the archive provides an unparalleled resource for restorers.

    The Nazi authorities intended to record the works in order to publicise the destructive barbarities of the Allies and to provide the means of restoration when the war was over.

    After World War II, the photographic archive was divided between the Munich institute, which received some 39,000 slides, and the Marburg archive, where 20,000 slides were deposited, for safekeeping.

    Photographs from the archive were most recently used to help in the rebuilding and restoration of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. The archive has been consulted for other projects where works were destroyed or severely damaged, for example, in the recreation of the Golden Hall of the Town Hall in Augsburg in the 1980s.

    Now, with the complete digitalised archive online and available for free (, restorers, art historians and researchers are provided with an invaluable historical record, not only of works that have been lost or damaged, but also of the condition of works in 1943-45 that have undergone subsequent changes as a result of restoration or refurbishment.

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