I’m often delighted when I read up on the art news around the world. So much going on! Exciting new exhibitions to see! And the other day I was delighted to read what is possibly the most ridiculously understated press release title of all time.
I’m not making this up:
Goebbels’ early letters, to be sold at Alexander Autograph, show controlling behavior
It doesn’t get much more restrained than that. Were they trying to be kind? Was it a real effort not to overstate the mindset of a nazi leader who was instrumental is motivating a country to exterminate an entire peoples, who by the way, also murdered his 6 kids and wife and then himself after Hitler committed suicide?
I mean, would it be offensive to say Goebbels’ letters demonstrate sociopathic tendencies, obviously. Or Goebbels’ writes love letters, manages to fit in ‘I hate the Jews‘ and ‘did I mention how I also really dislike gypsies and gays?‘ and you have really beautiful eyes, like deep pools of tears shed by the unclean heathens I hope to exterminate, with you by my side.
Or something like that.
The papers up for auction actually include more than love letters. You’ve got a college dissertation, personal correspondence, love letters, poems and notes – an entire encyclopedia of the mind of a lunatic. Of course these papers hold significant value in a historic sense, which is why it’s kind of a bummer that they are being sold privately.
“Alexander Auction House is making a business out of selling Nazi artifacts and memorabilia,” said Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “They clearly have the legal right to profit here from such materials. I leave it to others to determine the morality of it all.”
And I can’t help but agree. I hate seeing really important artworks being sold privately and then sitting in storage so that the works can gain in monetary value but never see the light of day. Never being utilized as the cultural or educational tool that it can be. But then again, if someone privately owned the letters and they want to sell them to Jesse James or some other nazi enthusiast, who’s going to stop them?
Last year the auction house also sold the journals of Mengele, who might even beat Goebbels in the running for Worst Human on Earth for the past 100 years. It’s close. Good arguments on both sides.
And while there is a great amount of writing to be done about this whole thing, I can’t get over that ridiculous headline.
Controlling behavior. Oh my.