The Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie during the Nazi Period
Lecture by Andrea Meyer
In this lecture, held as part of the exhibition Die Schwarzen Jahre. Geschichten einer Sammlung. 1933-1945 (The Black Years: History of a Collection, 1933–1945), Andrea Meyer explored the history of the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie during the Nazi period.
Originally founded in 1929 with the goal of expanding the collection of Berlin’s Nationalgalerie, then located at the Crown Prince Palace, by adding contemporary art from Germany and abroad, the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie was forced to change course under the new regime. First under the chairmanship of Eduard von der Heydt and later Hans von Flotow, the association assisted publications, financed renovations, and in 1939 sold off holdings via the art dealer Karl Buchholz, who was officially charged the task of selling undesired modern art. The association, which lost around 80 percent of its membership by the end of the war, also worked in the interest of the museum by allowing it to acquire works Jewish collectors were forced to sell. The lecture by Andrea Meyer discussed the collaboration of the association’s leadership with the various (interim) directors of the Nationalgalerie between 1933 and 1945 and explored its room to maneuver under the conditions of restrictive Nazi cultural policy.