The German Nazis of the 1930’s and 1940’s had an explicitly approved form of art. Unlike the other totalitarian regimes of the era, the approved forms of art were firmly integrated into their iconography and ideology, and excluded any other art movement, including those that were popular at the time. These approved forms of art held a limited number of themes which were repeated as often as necessary, in order to portray the values the Nazis deemed relevant to their cause. These values were, of course, fundamentally nationalistic, and those themes approved by the government were meant to glorify not only the Aryan race, but specifically the German nation.
The painting Out To Harvest, by Oskar Martin-Amorbach, is a typical, governmentally approved, work of Nazi art. It depicts a family of farmers going out to harvest on what seems to be a summer day in a typical German countryside. It shows three generations of that family, a young boy at about 4-5 years of age, his mother, and what appear to be his father, grandfather, and a young woman who might be his older sister or aunt. As it’s title implies they are going out to harvest, for they are carrying scythes and rakes for harvesting and a small handheld basket, presumably holding their lunch for the day. In the background is portrayed a typical German landscape, rolling hills as far as they eye could see, symbolising the Nazis’ slogan of Blood and Soil.
What makes this painting a typical work of Nazi art is it’s glorification of peasantry. Not only is it mere peasantry it glorifies, but German peasantry. Now, while on the surface it may not sound a very Nazi-esque topic to the layman, it embodies many of the ideals that the Nazis stood for, one of them being the aforementioned Blood and Soil, another being the portrayal of peasantry as a source of strength and purity. The reason peasantry was held in such high regard by the Nazis, was that the peasant family was seen as a self-reliant, interdependent whole based on unity, that was portrayed as a symbol of strength and comradeship. Farmers were meant to be seen as a modest but proud people, being a fundamental part of the German population, or, to quote the German minister of works at the time, Richard-Walther Darré, “the raw material, and the foundation of the German race”.
What all this is meant to symbolise is, of course, the Nazi idea of racial superiority, which has long since become synonymous with the movement, and also the superiority of all that is German, including it’s people and landscape, even reaching as far as the German vegetation, which was also portrayed by the Nazis to be superior to that of the neighbouring countries. The Nazi message always was that if a thing is German, it is superior to the equivalent non-German thing. The idea was that a German tree was supposed to be viewed as being superior to other trees, and German landscape...