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John Heartfield

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

(Berlin, Germany, 1891 - 1968)

1933

Photogravure

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

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
Propaganda
Germany
World War II
Photogravure
Commercial Art
Photomontage
Politics