Erich Mercker, Feldherrnhalle

Erich Mercker, Feldherrnhalle Erich Mercker, Feldherrnhalle Erich Mercker, Feldherrnhalle

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Price:€ 8000.00



After the ‘Machtergreifung’ (the Nazi seizure of power) in Bavaria at 9 March 1933, the Bavarian Flag was changed for the Nazi-flag. The painting therefore must have been created before 1933.

A similar painting by Mercker, ‘Die Statte des 9. November’ (depicting the Feldhernnhalle with a Nazi flag and SS-guards), was displayed at the GDK 1939. This work was bought for 2,000 RM by Adolf Wagner, Minister of the Interior and of Cultural Affairs of Bavaria. Wagner also organized the ceremonies for the annual commemorations of the Beer Hall Putsch every November 9th in Munich.

The Feldherrnhalle painted from exactly the same perspective, by Adolf Hitler (early 20th century).

The Feldherrnhalle
Munich's Feldherrnhalle, prominently located at the Odeonsplatz, was built between 1841 and 1844. At the instruction of King Ludwig I, architect Friedrich von Gärtner designed this open loggia and modelled it after the Loggia di Lanzi in Florence. Built as a tribute to the Bavarian army that fought in the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648) and in the War of Liberation against Napoleon (1812 – 1814), the 20-meter-high structure features bronze statues of two generals of Bavaria, Count von Tilly (1559-1632) and Marshall Wrede (1767-1838). In addition, two lions, sculpted by Wilhelm Ruemann in 1906, grace the steps. The sculpture at the center of the Feldherrnhalle represents the Bavarian army and was created in 1899 by Ferdinand von Miller. On the back wall of the loggia hang two bronze reliefs, one honouring the fallen soldiers in the war with France (1870/1871), and the other honouring the fallen soldiers in World War I.The Feldherrnhall was hardly damaged during World War II.

The Beer Putsch

The Feldherrnhalle became famous as the site of a pre-World War II skirmish between the Bavarian police and followers of Adolf Hitler. On Sunday, November 9th, 1923, approximately 2,000 Hitler supporters organized an illegal march down the Ludwigstrasse towards the Feldherrnhalle to start the so-called 'people's revolution'. The state police ordered the marchers to stop and when they failed to do so, the police opened fire and killed 16 marchers. Four policemen were also killed during the clash and many others were wounded. Following the skirmish, Hitler was arrested and sent to prison to serve a short term. The battle between the marchers and the police has come to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch because the march began at the Bürgerbräu Keller, one of the city's largest beer halls.

Left: Annual Midnight Swearing-In Ceremony of SS, Feldherrnhalle, Munich, 1938.
Right: Recruits being sworn in front of the Feldherrnhalle on November 7, 1935.  

Nazi Memorial: 'Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt!'
In 1933 a memorial to the fallen putschists was erected (the ‘Mahmal der Bewegung’) on the east side of the Feldherrnhalle, opposite the spot in the street where the dead had fallen and the putsch had been halted. The memorial, designed by architect Paul Ludwig Troost and executed by sculptor Kurt Schmid-Ehmen, bore the names of the sixteen "martyrs of the movement" who were killed on 9 November 1923 (fourteen here at the Feldherrnhalle and two others at the War Ministry). The back of the monument bore the slogan "Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt!," which was from a speech by Hitler and can be translated ‘And yet you triumphed!’. During the Third Reich, SS men constantly guarded the monument, demanding the outstreched arm and accompanying salute known as the ‘Hitlergruss’ from passerby as a gesture of respect. Since citizens who refused this gesture were harassed, some begain to avoid walking by the monument altogether by cutting through the Viscardigasse immediately behind it, which soon acquired the name ‘Drückberger-Gassl’, or Shirkers’ Alley.

Left: 'Memorial of the fallen Putschists', Feldherrnhalle, Munich, during WWII. 
Right: The cenotaph in June 1945. After being dismantled by the American military government, the memorial (measuring 3 meters wide and 3,5 meters high, including the ‘Steinadler’ by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen on top) was removed and melted down to be used for the restoration of the Residenz.

After 1945
In 1945 the Putsch-memorial was removed and destructed. Today a small bronze plaque in front of the hall commemorates the four policemen killed in the attempted putsch
In 1995 Reinhold Elstner, a 75-year-old German World War II veteran committed self-immolation in front of Feldhernhalle to protest against "the ongoing official slander and demonization of the German people and German soldiers 50 years after the end of World War II". Elstner died twelve hours later in a Munich hospital.


- condition : II                    
- size : 115 x 95 cm, unframed 100 x 80 cm 
- signed : right, under
- type : oil on canvas                                
- misc. : professional cleaned and reframed

Erich Mercker, ‘Grossbaustelle der OT. I‘ (‘Large construction site of the Organisation Todt I’). GDK 1944 room 12. Bought by Albert Speer for 10.000 Reichsmark. In the possession of the U.S. Army Center of Military History (collection/ depictions fall within the public domain). Size 203 x 139 cm.

Right: Erich Mercker, ‘Grossbaustelle der OT. II’ (‘Large construction site of the Organisation Todt II’. Depicted is the construction of a U-boat bunker. GDK 1944 room 12. In the possession of the U.S. Army Center of Military History (collection/ depictions fall within the public domain). Size 196 x 130 cm.

The extreme scarcity of National Socialistic art
Massive, systematic destruction of Nazi art since 1945: the Potsdam-Agreement
From 1933 to 1949 Germany experienced two massive art purges. Both the National Socialist government and OMGUS (the U.S. Military Government in Germany) were highly concerned with controlling what people saw and how they saw it. The Nazis eliminated what they called ‘Degenerate art’, erasing the pictorial traces of turmoil and heterogeneity that they associated with modern art. The Western Allies in turn eradicated ‘Nazi art’ and forbade all artworks military subjects or themes that could have military and/or chauvinist symbolism from pictorial representation. Both the Third Reich and OMGUS utilized the visual arts as instruments for the construction of new German cultural heritages.
The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945, subparagraph 3, Part III, Section A stated that one purpose of the occupation of Germany was ‘to destroy the National Socialistic Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations and to dissolve all Nazi and militaristic activity or propaganda.’ In accordance with Allied Control Council laws and military government regulations, all documents and objects which might tend to revitalize the Nazi spirit or German militarism would be confiscated or destroyed. For example, Title 18, Military Government Regulation, OMGUS stated that: ‘all collections of works of art related or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism will be closed permanently and taken into custody.’ As a consequence, thousands of paintings –portraits of Nazi-leaders, paintings containing a swastika or depicting military/war sceneries– were considered ‘of no value’ and destroyed. With knives, fires and hammers, they smashed countless sculptures and burned thousands of paintings. Around 8,722 artworks were shipped to military deposits in the U.S.
OMGUS regulated and censored the art world. The Information Control Division (ICD, the key structure in the political control of post-war German culture in the American zone) was in fact a non-violent version of the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture). With its seven subdivisions (i.e. press, literature, radio, film, theatre, music, and art), the ICD neatly replaced the Reich Chamber of Culture. The ICD established through its various sections a system of licensed activity, with screening and vetting by Intelligence to exclude all politically undesirable people.

‘Free’ German artists producing ‘free German art’ after 1945
In the ideology of OMGUS, painting was conceived of as a strategic element in the campaign to politically re-educate the German people for a new democratic internationalism. Modern art allowed for the establishment of an easy continuity with the pre-Nazi modernist past, and it could serve as a springboard for the international projection of Germany as a new country interacting with its new Western partners.
‘Free’ artists producing ‘free art’ was one of the most powerful symbols of the new Germany, the answer to the politically controlled art of the Third Reich. Modern art linked Western Germany to Western Europe – separating the new West German aesthetic and politics from that of the Nazi era, the U.S.S.R., and East Germany – and suggested an ‘authentically’ German identity.

Erich Mercker, postcard*. Im Reiche der Hochöfen, GDK 1942, room 12.

Left: Erich Mercker, postcard, ‘Statten der Arbeit’.
Right: Erich Mercker, ‘Putzig bei Danzig’ (‘Putzig, small port-town near Danzig’). GDK 1943, room 5. Sold for 5.000 RM. World War II began with the shelling by the Germans of the Westerplatte, a peninsula in Danzig, on 1 September 1939. In 1941 Mercker, together with Claus Bergen, was ordered by the Reichspropagandaminsterium to paint cities and landscapes within the ‘Generalgouvernement’, the occupied area of the Second Republic of Poland that was under colonial administration of Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945. It included much of central and southern Poland, and modern-day western Ukraine. During his journey in 1941 Mercker painted ‘Putzig bei Danzig’.

Left: Erich Mercker, ‘Pfannlochbrücke‘, Deutsche Alpenstrasse bei gästhoff Mauthäusl ('Pfannloch-bridge, near Bad Reichenhall). Art print. Depicted in ‘Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte‘, 10 Jahrgang, 1939.
Right: Erich Mercker, ‘Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow´ (‘Ship Elevator Niederfinow'). Depicted in ‘Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte‘, 10 Jahrgang, 1939.

Erich Mercker, postcard, ‘Hochofen’ (‘Blast Furnaces’). A painting very similar to this one (’Riesen der Arbeit’) hung in the GDK 1938, room 12.

Erich Mercker, known for his depictions of Third Reich construction projects
Erich Mercker (1891–1973) was the son of a high-ranking Prussian officer and his family settled in Munich, Germany in 1906. Upon graduating high school, he studied at the Technische Hochschule Bauingenieurwesen (engineering) at the university in Munich and later in Berlin. World War I interrupted his studies. In 1915 he committed himself to painting and, despite being self-taught, he rapidly professionalised himself. From 1920 onwards he travelled to Austria, Italy, France, Sweden and Norway. In 1920 he was for the first time represented in the Münchner Glaspalast. Mercker painted landscapes and industrial scenes and factories in Germany (e.g., ports, iron melting fabrics, steelworks, building sites) in a neo-impressionistic style. 
When Hitler came to power, Mercker was asked to immortalize the immense construction projects that took place during the Nazi era. In May 1933 Mercker became member of the NSDAP. In March 1935 he created a large oil painting depicting the NSDAP Party building in Münich. This painting was hung in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin. Mercker won the 'Grosse Goldene Medaille' in 1937 at the World Exhibition in Paris for four monumental paintings of 5 by 4 metres in the German Pavillion: 'Nürnberg', 'Mangfallbrücke', 'Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow' and 'SS Party Rally' (only 22 works of German artist were displayed in the German Pavillion). Beginning in 1938, Erich Mercker was represented in the Great German Art Exhibitions with 34 works. His most well-known works from that era were: 'Die Stätte des 9. November', 1939 (Day of the Hitlerputsche), 'Marmor für die Reichskanzlei', 1940, 'Zeppelinfield im Bau', 1937, 'Baustelle Reichskanzlei', 1939, 'Hermann Göring Werke im Bau', 1941, 'Ein Rüstungswerk ensteht', 1943, 'U-Boote noch und noch', 1942 and 'Torpedoboote in der Werft' 1942. Adolf Hitler, Albert Speer, Robert Ley and Adolf wagner bought 15 of Mercker’s works for prices of up to 5,000 RM. One of Merckers paintings, ‘Vosstrasse’ -a picture of the construction of the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin- is still in possession of the US Army Center of Military History, Washinton DC.
At the XXIII Venice Biennale, 1942, Mercker displayed two works, including ‘Cave di marmo a Flossenburg’. This painting, ‘Granitbrüche Flosenbürg’, was earlier displayed at the GDK 1941, room 12 and bought by Hitler for 4.000 RM.
In 1944, when Mercker was bombed out of his house in Munich, he moved to the Allgäu. In 1954 he returned to Munich. He was a board member, and president, of the Münchner Künstlergenossenschaft. After 1945 he mainly painted commissioned works for large companies like MAN, Volkswagen and Bayer.
Nowadays the works of Mercker hang in several museums and institutions, including the Stadtmuseum Kiel, the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg, the Stadtmuseum in Frankenthal, the Westpreußisches Landesmuseum Münster. In the possesion of the Deutsches Historisches Museum are: ‘Marmor für die Reichskanzlei‘ (GDK 1940 room 12), ‘Granitbrüche Flossenbürg‘ (GDK 1941 room 12), ‘Baustelle Reichskanzlei‘ (GDK 1939 room 12), ‘Märzfeld in Nürnberg‘ (GDK 1941 room 12), ‘Hermann Göring-Werke in Linz‘ (GDK 1941 room 12), ‘Ostmark-Almtalbrücke der Reichsautobahn‘ (GDK 1941 room 12), ‘Reichsautobahn Rohrbachbrücke‘ (GDK 1939 room 12) and ‘Grossbaustelle Märzfeld‘. In the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen are: ‘Deutsche Industrie‘ and two landscapes by Mercker. The Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee, founded by the industrialst Eckhart G. Grohmann, owns 81 works of Erich Mercker.
Merckers work 'Granitbrüche Flossenburg' (GDK 1941 room 12) was displayed in 2012/ 13 at the the exhibition ‘Geschichten im Konflikt‘, 2012/ 13, held in the Haus der Kunst, Munich.

* As also stated in our General Terms and Conditions, German Art Gallery offers the depicted postcards for sale. Allmost all of these postcards are 'Haus der Deutschen Kunst' editions. Prices on request.