Third Reich - Photos & Postcards

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An approximately 15cm x 10.5cm artwork postcard that features Knights Cross recipient Oberst Bruno Bräuer. The background features Willrich’s distinctive "W" initial cypher interspersed with the date, "1940". The reverse of the postcard has black printed Gothic script which includes , "Oberst Bräuer, der erste deutsche Fallschirmjäger, der Sieger von Dordrecht und Moerdijk or Oberst Bräuer, the first GermanFallschirmjäger, the winner of Dordrecht and Moerdij" The reverse also has additional script, "VDA, Volksdeutsches kameradschaftsopfer der DeutschenJugend, Februar 1942".

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Artwork, as a propaganda tool, was widely used during the Third Reich and Hitler’s own humble artistic background also helped foster a general interest in German art. Many art exhibitions were held through-out German during the time period with the largest being held annually, ever summer from 1937 to 1944, at the German House of Art in Munich. As early as 1938 the OKW, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (High Command of the Armed Forces), actively began recruiting artists who were assigned to a units Propaganda Company along with photographers and journalists. By the end of the war almost two hundred war artists had served in the Wehrmacht. One of the most prolific, and as a result one of the best known German war artists was Feldwebel Wolfgang Willrich. Willrich a WWI veteran, had volunteer for military service prior to the outbreak of WWII but had been rejected on the basis of his age, (42), and was assigned to Landwehr I as a trained reserve. Through his personal friendship with Erwin Rommel Willrich was able to secure a position in the OKH visual arts section of the Propaganda department. In this position Willrich painted and drew numerous personalities and regular soldiers in all branches of service through-out the war. Many pieces of his artwork were featured on assorted series of postcards developed by the "VDA, "Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland", (National League for Germans Abroad), among others. The VDA was originally a pre-war organization formed to assist German nationals living in foreign countries and during the Third Reich era the VDA was taken over by the NSDAP and placed under the jurisdiction of the SS. In mid-1942 the OKH decided to have portraits of all the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross holders and Willrich was assigned the task.

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