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Sepp Happ, Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie

Sepp Happ, Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie Sepp Happ, Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie Sepp Happ, Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie

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Price:€ 720000.00

Description

This painting will be on display from November 1916 to October 1917 in three German museums: in ‘Situation Kunst (für Max Imdahl)‘ from 5 November 2016 to 9 April 2017, Bochum, in the ‘Kunsthalle Rostock‘ from 27 April to 18 Juni 2017 and in ‘Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie Regensburg‘ from 14 July to 29 October 2017.

Triptych of Sepp Happ: 'Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie'

This large work of 2 by 1 meter is the painting on the left side of the Triptychon of Sepp Happ called: '…über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie' ('Above all stands our infantry').
The monumental Triptychon was displayed at the Great German Art Exhibition of 1943, room 13, and bought by Gauleiter Florian.





Depicted is a Gerbirgsjäger, a German Mountain Trooper. The German Mountain Troopers were an elite infantry unit of the German army. On the right arm of the soldier we can distinguish the Edelweiss patch, the insignia of the Gebirgsjäger. On the collar of his combat blouse the Knight’s Cross (Ritterkreuz) is visible, on his left pocket the Iron Cross First Class (Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse) and above the right pocket a cloth War Breast Eagle. The red mark shown at the lapel must be the denomination of the Artillery branch of service within the Gebirgsjäger troops. The rank devices – his shoulder boards and collar tabs – are difficult to distinguish. Probably he was a Second Lieutenant (Luitnant).

Sepp Happ, the middle- and the right panel of the triptychon: ‘..über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie‘ (‘..above all stand our infantry’). GDK 1943, room 13. Both panels are lost, -probably destructed in one the four Central Collecting Points.
  


The Gauleiter (regional Nazi Party leader) of Düsseldorf from 1933 to 1945, Friedrich Karl Florian, bought the Triptych at the GDK for 12,000 RM. We found in a military database that he also bought from Sepp Happ: 'Wir stossen über den Don' (‘Crossing the river Don in Russia’).
In August 1945 the Allied forces discovered a large collection of art in Schloss Lichtenfels, at Dalwigkstal: ‘2,200 uncrated paintings, largely late 19th Century and contemporary, 9 crates of of paintings, and unknown quantities of plaster casts..’ According to an inventory list from the Headquaters Regional Military Government, Land Hessen-Nassau, dated 2 August 1945, a part of the collection belonged to Gauleiter Florian. Florian had, like other high placed Nazi’s and Nazi-institutions, stored valuable works of art in Schloss Lichtenfels for protection from Allied bombing raids. ‘Wir stossen über den Don’ by Sepp Happ was found on the inventory list, however not the triptych.
In 1949 Florian was sentenced to six years in prison and fined 20.000 DM, because of his rank in the Nazi Party. He was released in 1951. His property was not confiscated, he could even sell his house for half a million DM to the Dresdner Bank. However, based on the Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945, subparagraph 3, Part III, Section A, and the Military Government Regulation from OMGUS, all works of art in Germany which depicted portraits of Nazi-leaders, a swastika or military/war sceneries had to be destroyed. It is quite sure that the work ‘Wir stossen über den Don’ and the mid- and right panel of the Triptych were destructed by a Central Collection Point, and have not survived the war (see below).

- condition : II                     
- size : 200 x 100 cm, unframed 183 x 83 cm  
- signed : righ, under 
- type : oil on canvas         
- misc. I : provenance on request
- misc. II : professional cleaned and reframed





 
 



Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie: Above all stands our infantry

The slogan 'Über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie' comes  from a speech Adolf Hitler made on the 3rd of October 1941 in Berlin at the Opening of the Winter Relief Campaign. This speech is important because in it Hitler explains why they are fighting the war against Bolshevik Russia, and he gives further information about how the British have constantly rejected his disarmament proposals. In this address he also tells the people how strong and heroic the German infantry is: 'Above all, and I like to stress this, above all stands in our military performance, the German Infantrymen'.
'…Ob es sich um unsere Panzerdivisionen oder Motordivisionen handelt, oder ob es sich um unsere Artillerie oder Pioniere, dreht, ob wir unsere Flieger nehmen, unsere Jäger, unsere Sturzkampfbomber, unsere Schlachtflieger, oder ob wir unsere Marine nehmen, und ich schließe hier gleich ein die Besatzungen wie immer unserer U-Boote, ob wir endlich unsere Gebirgstruppen im Norden nehmen, oder ob wir die Männer unserer Waffen-SS nennen, sie sind alle gleich. Über allem aber, und dar, möchte ich hier wieder besonders betonen, über allem steht in seinen Leistungen der deutsche Infanterist…'

German propaganda poster, depicting and glorifying four stages of the infantry’s war.
'Über allem steht die Deutsche Infanterie‘: der Marsch (the Advance), die Abwehr (the Defence), der Angriff (the Attack), der Sieg (the Victory).



Sepp Happ, ‘Wir stossen über den Don’  (‘Crossing the river Don in Russia’). GDK 1943, room 1. Bought by Gauleiter Florian for 3.500 Reichsmark.




Left: Sepp Happ, 'Berglandschaft' ('Landscape of Mountains'). GDK 1940 room 24, size 90 x 60 cm. Bought by Hitler for 1.250 Reichsmark. In the possession of Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
Right: Sepp Happ, 'Dolomitenlandschaft' ('Landscape of the Dolomites'). GDK 1939 room 17. 
  




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.



Sepp Happ was a painter of landscapes, flower bunches and birds in trees. But, as the Nazi’s were disappointed with the number of art works at the GDKs depicting heroic military and war sceneries, artists were requested to create works especially with such themes. Painters were compelled by similar demands to depict occupied cities in Eastern Europe (Karl Walther) and military constructions (Erich Mercker). Not complying with this rule could mean the artist would no longer be able to exhibit in the GDK (and it also included the risk of no longer being exempted from military service).
Like many other artists (e.g. Georg Müller, Paul Mathias Padua), Sepp Happ adapted himself to this policy and created some works witch were completely different from his own style: ‘..über alles aber steht unsere Infanterie’ and ‘Wir Stossen über den Don’ (‘Crossing the river Don’). He also applied this policy to the names of his landscape paintings, such as: ‘Ewig heilig Heimatland’ (‘Eternal, holy Fatherland’) and ‘Erinnerung an die Heimat’ (‘Remembering the Fatherland’).
Foto: Sepp Happ.





Sepp Happ
German painter Sepp Happ was born in 1912 in Bad Brückenau, the year of his death is unknown. Happ studied at the Kunsthochschule in Weimar with Paul Schultze Naumburg (the architect, painter, writer and prominent Nazi-politician) and he was the 'Meisterschuler' of Prof. Hugo Gugg. In 1933 he studied –as a guest– at the Academies of Florence and Rome. Later he lived and worked in Munich and Bayerzell until 1945.
The style of Happ was landscape painting and flower bunches, but later he also produced propaganda works. As the Nazi’s were disappointed with the number of art works at the GDKs depicting heroic military and war sceneries, artists were requested to create works especially with such themes. Painters were compelled by similar demands to depict occupied cities in Eastern Europe (Karl Walther) and military constructions (Erich Mercker). Not complying with this rule could mean the artist would no longer be able to exhibit in the GDK (and it also included the risk of no longer being exempted from military service). Like many other artists (e.g. Georg Müller, Paul Mathias Padua), Sepp Happ adapted himself to this policy and created some works witch were completely different from his own style: ‘..über alles aber steht unsere Infanterie’ and ‘Wir Stossen über den Don’ (‘Crossing the river Don’). He also applied this policy to the names of his landscape paintings, such as: ‘Ewig heilig Heimatland’ (‘Eternal, holy Fatherland’) and ‘Erinnerung an die Heimat’ (‘Remembering the Fatherland’).
Sepp Happ won the 'Silver Medal' in 1937 at the World Exhibition in Paris in the German Pavilion (only 22 works of German artists were displayed in the German Pavilion).
At the Great German Art Exhibitions he was represented with 14 works. Besides landscape paintings there were also displayed the above mentioned works: 'Wir stossen über den Don' and the Triptychon '…über allem aber steht unsere Infanterie'. Buyers of his paintings include Adolf Hitler, Gauleiter Friedrich Karl Florian (3), Deutsche Arbeitsfront Berlin (2), Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring and Reichsjugendführer Baldur von Schirach.
In 1943 Hitler had 21 paintings from the Great German Art Exhibition delivered to his Munich apartment on Prinzregentestrasse. It is fair to assume that these works, which mainly comprised landscapes and still lifes by painters such as Anton Müller-Wischin, Franz Xaver Wolf, Friedrich Schüz, Herman Urban, Sepp Meindl, Willy ter Hell, Ludwig Platzöder and Sepp Happ were his personal favourites.
After the war Happ became an Honorary professor and Academy Member of the Institut de Documentation et d’Etudes Europeenes. He also became an honorary member of the Albert Schweitzer Society. By the Belgium-Hispanic association Happ was awarded the Peter Paul Rubens Medaille. Happ had several exhibitions in Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Zürich, Bern, Strassburg, Nürnberg, Salon de National de Paris, Venice (Biennale) and Milan (Biennale).
'Berglandschaft' (GDK 1940, room 24, bought by Hitler) is in the possession of Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. 'Am alten Kalkofen' (GDK 1944, bought by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront Berlin) and 'Blumenstrauss' (probably a 1944-GDK work bought by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront) are in the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen.