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‘It is not the mission of art to wallow in filth for filth’s sake, to paint the human being only in a state of putrefaction… or to present deformed idiots as representatives of manly strength.’ So declared Adolf Hitler in a speech in September 1935, two years before seizing hundreds of pieces of artwork belonging to a number of esteemed artists in Germany at the time, on the grounds that they were ‘degenerate.’ These artworks were displayed in an exhibition entitled Entartete Kunst , or ‘Degenerate Art,’ before being confiscated altogether by the Nazis. Here, we take a look at some of these abstract and expressionist pieces that Hitler found so objectionable and the artists behind them.

German painter Otto Dix used his paintings to convey his disillusionment regarding the horrors of war. In 1933, he was dismissed from his academic post as a teacher at Dresden Academy, and his artwork was declared degenerate. He was forced to join the Nazi government’s Reich Chamber of Fine Arts and had to promise to paint only inoffensive landscapes. In 1939 Dix was arrested on a charge of being involved in a plot against Hitler but was released shortly afterward.

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suffered a mental breakdown during World War One, and sporadic health problems from that point onward, as is reflected in the increasingly abstract nature of his artwork in the time leading up to his death. Following the removal of 639 of his paintings from museums in 1937, and the display of 25 of them in the Degenerate Art Exhibition, Kirchner took his own life by gunshot in June 1938. Along with Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Kirchner was a founding member of Die Brücke, or ‘The Bridge’ – a group of German Expressionist artists formed in 1905, who eventually had a museum named after them, housing a collection of their biggest artworks.

Although he died long before either of the World Wars, Van Gogh ’s famous Post-Impressionist paintings inspired many painters who came after him, especially Emil Nolde [see below], and they were therefore among the paintings seized during the Degenerate Art era. His self-portrait, shown here, was sold at a Degenerate Art auction for US $40,000.

Like Van Gogh, Franz Marc also died years before the Nazis came into power; he was killed during World War I. A painter by trade before the outbreak of the Great War, Marc initially enlisted as a cavalryman. However, shortly afterward, he was commissioned to paint military camouflage canvas covers, intended to hide artillery from aerial observation. One of his most famous paintings today is The Fate of Animals , shown here. Marc actually painted this in 1913, before the outbreak of the war; once mobilized in war, Marc said in a letter to his wife that the chaos depicted in this painting was ‘like a premonition of this war – horrible and shattering. I can hardly conceive that I painted it.’ This certainly may help to explain why this particular work was among those seized by the Nazis years later and classed as Degenerate Art.

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Safeguard measures restrict imports of a product temporarily if a domestic industry is seriously injured or threatened with serious injury caused by a surge in imports. The Agreement on Safeguards ( the Safeguards Agreement ) establishes rules for the application of safeguard measures by Member governments, as provided in Article XIX of GATT 1994. Effective safeguard rules are important to the viability and integrity of the multilateral trading system.

The availability of a safeguard mechanism gives WTO Members the assurance that they can act quickly to help industries adjust to import surges, providing them with flexibility they would not otherwise have to open their markets to international competition. At the same time, WTO safeguard rules ensure that such actions are of limited duration and are gradually less restrictive over time. Under certain circumstances, compensation is also authorized.

The Committee on Safeguards (the Safeguards Committee) was established to administer the Safeguards Agreement. It oversees the operation of the Agreement and is responsible for the surveillance of Members’ commitments. Governments have to notify and provide copies of their legislation authorizing the application of safeguard measures to the Committee, as well as report each phase of a safeguard investigation and related decision-making. The Committee reviews these reports and provides a forum for discussion of measures in place.

The Safeguards Agreement incorporates into WTO rules many of the concepts embodied in U.S. safeguards law (section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended).

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Requires a transparent, public process for making serious injury determinations;

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Requires that safeguard measures be steadily liberalized over their duration;

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Requires a review no later than the mid-term of any measure with a duration exceeding three years;

Allows safeguard actions to be taken for three years, without the requirement of compensation or the possibility of retaliation; and

Prohibits so-called “grey area” measures, such as voluntary restraint agreements and orderly marketing agreements.

In the United States, the U.S. International Trade Commission conducts safeguard investigations.

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