Richard Grune lithograph of a torture scene witnessed in a concentration camp
Extent and Medium
overall : 24.000 x 16.000 in. (60.96 x 40.64 cm.)
pictorial area : 7.875 x 11.875 in. (20.003 x 30.163 cm.)
Richard Grune was born on August 2, 1903, in Flensburg, Germany. He attended the Municipal Arts and Craft School in Kiel. In 1926, he studied at the Bauhaus school in Weimar, and later Dessau, where his teachers included Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. He worked as a painter and photographer. Grune moved to Berlin in February 1933. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor in January that year and the country was rapidly shifting into a Nazi controlled dictatorship. Nazi ideology called for the racial and cultural purification of Germany and, in debates in the Reichstag, Nazi party members had already made clear their position that homosexuality was antithetical to a strong Germany. Under the new government, police were enforcing the existing law, Article 6, § 175, which punished indecent acts between men. Same-sex clubs were being shut down and those suspected of violating the law were being targeted for arrest. Grune was arrested in December 1934, one of seventy caught in a wave of denunciations. Under interrogation, Grune admitted to being homosexual. He was held in protective custody for five months, then returned to his childhood home in Flensburg to stand trial for violating §175. In September 1936, Grune was convicted and sentenced to prison in Lichtenburg. Upon his release, the Gestapo kept Grune in protective custody, asserting that his sentence had been too lenient. In early October 1937, Grune was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In early April 1940, he was transferred to Flossenbürg. In April 1945, as American forces approached, Grune escaped during the evacuation of the camp and joined his sister in Kiel. He began creating the works that would be exhibited and published as "Passion des XX. Jahrhunderts" (Passion of the 20th century). The set of lithographs was, one of the earliest and most important works to detail the horrific conditions and brutality of the German concentration camp system to the public. Grune spent much of the remainder of his life in Spain, but later returned to Germany. Grune, 80, died on November 26, 1983, in Hamburg.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, The Abraham and Ruth Goldfarb Family Acquisition Fund
Funding Note: The acquisition of this collection was made possible by The Abraham and Ruth Goldfarb Family Acquisition Fund.
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