Fascist Art and the Nazi Regime: The Use of Art to EnflameWar

by Stephanie Petcavage

Institution: University of Cincinnati
Year: 2016
Keywords: Art History; Nazi Propaganda; Leni Riefenstahl; The Degenerate Art Exhibition; Triumph of the Will; The Eternal Jew; The Great German Art Exhibition
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2070130
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1463130930


For centuries, political leaders have used propaganda to promote ideology and acts of military aggression. In his studies of this concept, Walter Benjamin, in his aestheticization theory of historical experience and sense perception focused on Nazi Germany’s use of aesthetics politics and propaganda to redefine the political as the autonomous realm of absolute power over ethical norms. The Third Reich manipulated Nazi culture and aesthetics to create a backdrop for political ideology and the coordination of all cultural expressions during the Nazi period. Under Hitler and the realm of the Third Reich, fascist politics infiltrated the arts and film industry tapping its access to the masses. Two events most indicative of the exploitation of art for propaganda use were the Great German Art Exhibition and the syndication of Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the Will. Discussed in this paper is Hitler’s use of art as a tool to influence the populace and recruit support for his cause. Using a qualitative method and a sociological case study research design supported by a critical literature review and the conceptual framework of Benjamin’s theory of Aestheticization of Politics under German Fascism, I examine how Nazi propaganda, using the arts of the time selectively apportions acceptance of its social members. Advisors/Committee Members: Herzog, Harold (Committee Chair).