Claus Bergen, Gegen England
'Gegen England' ('Against England')
U-Boat VII C in Heavy Seas with Junker 88 Squadron
Depiction of a U-Boat pressing onward in a stormy, blue-green sea, accompanied by Junkers bombers. The original massive version of ‘Gegen England’ (3.2 metres by 1.9 metres) hung in the GDK 1940, room 1. It was bought by Adolf Hitler for 12,000 RM; currently it is owned by Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
|- condition||: II|
|- size||: 126 x 96 cm, unframed 110 x 80|
|- signed||: left, under|
|- type||: oil on canvas|
|- misc. I||: sold in 2011 by auctionshaus Herman Historica, Munich|
|- misc. II||: professional cleaned and reframed|
Left: Claus Bergen, postcard, 'Against England'. GDK 1940, room 1.
Right: Claus Bergen, postcard*. 'Im Atlantik', GDK 1942, room 1. Bought by Robert Ley for 25.000 RM. In the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. Size 320 x 180 cm.
Wall painting 'Gegen England" in the Todt-bunker at Cap Gris Nez, near Calais.
(photo Arthur van Beveren, www.arthurvanbeveren.com)
Left: Claus Bergen, postcard. 'Unter Kriegsflagge' ('Under the war flag'). German propaganda postcard of 1915 aimed to support a fund raising campaign for the submarine warfare.
Right: 'Das rettingsboot Fürstin Bismarck, vor Wangerooge'. Postcard after a painting by Claus Bergen.
Claus Bergen, 'Beschiessung der Westerplatte' ('Shelling of the Westerplatte'), postcard. GDK 1940, room 27. Bought by Hitler for 5.000 RM.
The first shots of WWII were fired in Danzig by the battleship Schleswig-Holstein, built in 1906 and used against a Polish fortress in the harbor on September 1, 1939. Though old -the Schleswig-Holstein fought in both World Wars- she still overpowered the garrison and achieved some noteriety throughout the Third Reich after her victory.
Left: Claus Bergen, postcard. ‘Von Feindfahrt zurück’ (‘Returrning from the enemy’). GDK 1941, room 9. Bought by Hilter for 15.000 RM. In the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. Size 320 x 180 cm.
Right: Claus Bergen, postcard. ‘Im Kampfgebiet des Atlantiks’ (‘The Atlantic Battlefield’). GDK 1941, room 9. Bought by Hitler for 12.000 RM; currently owned by Deutsches Historische Museum, Berlin. Displayed ath the exhibition ‘Geschichten im Konflikt‘, 2012/ 13, held in the Haus der Kunst, Munich. Size 320 x 180 cm.
Left: Claus Bergen, postcard, ‘Ein heimkehrende U-Boot grüsst ein auslaufendes Kreuzergeschwader’, Wilhelmshafen, 1915 (‘Returning U-boat greats a departing cruiser squadron’, Wilhelmshafen, 1915). The original painting (97,5 x 67,5 cm) was sold at a German Auction in 2015.
Right: Claus Bergen, postcard, 'Deutsche Wacht in der Nordsee' ('German Guard at the Northsea'). GDK 1940, room 1. Painting of 270 x 150 cm, bought by Hitler for 8.000 RM. In the possession of Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
Claus Bergen, ‘Helgoland in Sicht’ (‘Helgoland in sight’). Postcard. The text at the back reads: ‘Long distance trip of U-boat; 12 orignal paintings, based on personal experience of Claus Bergen’.
Claus Bergen, ‘Wiedererstanden, U26‘, GDK 1937, room 13. Heinrich Hoffmann (left), Adolf Hitler and architect Prof. Leonhard Gall visiting the GDK 1937.
Hermann Göring Collection
Hermann Görings entire art collection comprised some 4,263 paintings, sculptures and tapestries. He planned to display them in the ‘Norddeutsche Galerie’, an art gallery which should be created after the war. The Norddeutsche Gallery was to be erected as an annex to Karinhall in the big forest of the Schorfheide, near Berlin. According to the website of the German Historical Museum, the work ‘Die Wikinger’ (‘The Viking’) by Claus Bergen was part of the collection. It was given by Claus Bergen as a present to Göring on 10 April 1935.
Claus Friedrich Bergen (1885 – 1964) was a German illustrator and painter, who was best known for his depictions of naval warfare in both World Wars. From 1904 onwards he attended private lessons in the Munich area with Moritz Weinhold, Otto Strützel, Peter Paul Müller and Hans von Bartels. Finally, in 1909, he went to the Munich Art Academy where he studied under Professor Carl von Marr. In the first three decades of the century, Claus Bergen was numerous times represented at the Munich exhibitions in the Glaspalast. He was awarded in 1911 a Gold Medal Second Class from the Yearly International Exhibition in the Glaspalast and a Silver Medal from the VI International Art Exhibition in Barcelona, in 1912 the Medal of Honor from the Art Exhibition in Amsterdam and in 1923 he received (again) the Gold Medal from the Yearly International Exhibition in the Glaspalast.
In 1914 he was appointed Marine Painter to Kaiser Wilhelm II. After the Battle of Jutland in 1916 there was enormous demand for depictions of this battle, both from the public and from the captains of ships that had participated. In 1917 Bergen took the unprecedented step of joining the crew of the submarine U-53, under Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose, on an Atlantic combat patrol. The paintings that resulted from this are often considered to be among his finest work. In 1918 a presentation of his Skagerak-battles and U-boats took place in the Glaspalast; for this successful exhibition, visited by King Ludwig III at the opening, he was awarded the title of 'Königliche Bayerischen Professor'.
In the inter-war period he painted numerous officially-commissioned large-scale land- and seascapes, as well as Atlantic ocean-liners, while his friendship with commanders such as Erich Raeder and Karl Dönitz continuously brought him work from the German Navy. Bergen's brother Otto was an aviator in the Great War. As children, Claus and Otto were friends with Ernst Udet, one of Germany's top fighter pilots. These associations led to Bergen painting many aviation scenes and receiving commissions from within Germany's aviation industry. Claus Bergen joined the NSDAP in 1922. From 1926 to 1931 he joint the crue of many navy ships and U-boats. In the same period, until 1928, Bergen created 12 enormous works depicting the history of the Navy. The works, of which two were destroyed during World War II, were destinated for the ‘Shipping Hall’ in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
In 1937 Bergen moved from Munich to Lenggries, Upper-Bavaria.
Fifteen of his works appeared in the Nazi-sponsored Great German Art Exhibitions, which were held annually at the House of German Art in Munich from 1937 to 1944. For example: 'Im Atlantik' (1938), 'U-53 im Atlantik' (1939), 'Deutsche Wacht in der Nordsee' (1940), 'Gegen England' (1940), 'Beschiessung der Westerplatte' (1940), 'Von Feindfahrt zurück' (1941), 'Ran an der Feind' (1940), 'Erfolgreiche Rückkehr' (1942), 'Wiedererstanden U-26' (1937) and 'Schwerer Kreuzer Prinz Eugen im Gefecht in der Dänemarkstrasse' (1940). Nine of these works were bought by Adolf Hitler, 1 by Robert Ley (Head of German Labour Front) and 1 by the City Berchtesgaden for prices of up to 25.000 RM. During the Second World War Claus Bergen's name was on the 'Führerliste', an extended version of the Gotbegnadeten liste. Those listed as 'God-gifted artists', who performed jobs vital to the country and the war effort, were exempt and even forbidden from military service. They worked as 'Künstler im Kriegseinsatz'.
Claus Bergen died in 1964 in Lenggries from paint poisoning.
The work ‘Die Wikinger’ (‘The Viking’) was part of the art collection of Hermann Göring and destinated for the 'Norddeutsche Gallery'. Deutsche Historische Museum currently owns ‘U53 im Atlantik’ (GDK 1939), 'Den U-Boot-Helden zum Gedenken', 'Das Ritterkreuz', 'Im Atlantik', 'Einsamkeit', ‘Gegen England’, ‘Deutsche Wacht in der Nordsee’, ‘Von Feindfahrt zurück’, ‘Im Kampfgebiet des Atlantiks’ and ‘Schwerer Kreuzer Prinz Eugen im Gefecht in der Dänemarktstrasse’. A work named 'Segelschiff' is in the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. In 2012/ 13 the painting 'Im Kampfgebiet des Atlantiks’ (GDK 1941, room 9) was displayed at the exhibition ‘Geschichten im Konflikt‘, held in the Haus der Kunst, Munich.