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Freie Zeugenvernehmung in Leipzig (Free hearing of witnesses in Leipzig)

John Heartfield

(Berlin, Germany, 1891 - 1968, East Berlin)

1933

Photogravure

14 3/4 in. x 10 1/4 in. (37.47 cm x 26.04 cm)

Gift of Roger R. Smith

1991.17

More Information

Heartfield reflects the aura of political theater at the Leipzig trial. Van der Lubbe (in front) and two other defendants are suspended by giant fingers, like dolls or puppets. The Nazis claimed the fire was the first step in a communist coup. The day after the fire, a government decree enacted at the behest of the Nazis suspended key civil liberties. The communists asserted that the fire and trials were Nazi attempts to discredit them. Eventually van der Lubbe was beheaded but the other defendants were acquitted, infuriating Hitler. Many people believe the Nazis set the fire. Responsibility remains the subject of historians’ research and debate.

Keywords
Commercial Art
Germany
Photogravure
Photomontage
Politics
Propaganda
World War II