Not only did the Nazi want to exterminate the Jewish and non-Aryan people, but they squeezed everything out of them before. In addition to the slave labor in the concentration camps, the Nazis extracted gold teeth, rings, and even the family collections of art.
Before the Nazis invaded Paris, the Louvre removed all of its works in fear of them being seized by the Germans. Imagine walking through a museum with nothing to see. Allies attempted to save the art by hiding it. Regardless, the Germans got their paws on tons of works of arts--both from museums and personal collections--and once they were under Ally threat, they stored them in abandoned mines.
Luckily, Ally efforts discovered these mines and the Germans' other hiding places, and started to return the works to their respective origins. This headache may make art-haters question: why bother?
What is the value of art? Given that the sculptures and carvings from 38,000 BCE are still kicking around today, I'd say we, as humans, are either too sentimental for our own good or sheep following in the practices of our ancestors. Do we really care about art, or have we just continued to save art for the sake of it?
Art is personal. There's no denying that every artist pours his or herself into each work. Often, that injection of the personal into an object, the modern-day horcrux, is shared with the viewer, regardless if the purpose of the artist is equal to the interpretation of the viewer. A work of art is an insight into another person's personality and emotions, which presents a point of interest for others to pry into. Constantly grappling with the inability to fully understand other people, we cling to art because it provides a glimpse into the inner psyche of another person.
Not only is the work of art a portion of the artist, but the selected artworks are a portion of the art collector. That is, an art-lover would likely only collect artworks that are "speak" to him or her for one reason or another. What is ironic, then, is that the Nazis disregarded this idea. Blinded by the hatred of non-Aryans, the Nazis did not care to consider the persona that is created by the collection of the artwork, but instead seemingly cared only about the artwork itself.
Liz is a senior English major with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her research interests, like her areas of academic speciality, lie in the intersections between humanities and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with dogs.