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Porcelain figurine of a seated female acquired from Adolf Hitler’s Munich apartment

Object | Accession Number: 2014.470.2

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    Porcelain figurine of a seated female acquired from Adolf Hitler’s Munich apartment

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    Brief Narrative
    Painted porcelain figurine of a woman in a swimsuit, taken in 1945 from Adolf Hitler’s Prince Regent Square apartment in Munich, Germany, by Daniel Jacobson, a Jewish-American soldier. On April 30, 1945, Daniel arrived in Munich with the 179th infantry, 45th division. The apartment was untouched by the war and was visited by several American servicemen from Daniel’s division. Daniel visited the apartment on May 6, and left with the figurine and Hitler’s personal stationery. The figurine was designed in 1913 by Rudolf Marcuse, a German-Jewish artist. He was persecuted by the Nazi authorities and fled Germany for England in 1936. Rosenthal AG, a world-renowned porcelain producer that designed and sold dinnerware and artistic works, manufactured the figurine in 1918. The company’s founder Philipp Rosenthal, was raised Catholic but had a Jewish grandfather and was classified as a Jew under German law. In 1934, Rosenthal AG was Aryanized and Philipp was removed from the company by its board members with the help of the local and national government. After the war, Philipp’s wife and son filed a restitution claim against Rosenthal AG that resulted in a cash payment and shares of the company. The figurine was a decoration in Hitler’s Munich apartment, which he began renting in 1929 and later bought in 1938. Hitler had the apartment renovated in 1935 by the design firm, Atelier Troost. The figurine was likely chosen and placed in the apartment by the interior decorator, Gerdy Troost, unaware of its Jewish origin. After the completed renovation, Hitler hosted foreign dignitaries and leaders such as Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini.
    Vor dem Bade
    Alternate Title
    Before the Bath
    designed:  1913
    manufacture:  1918
    found:  1945 May 06
    manufacture: Selb (Germany)
    acquired: Munich (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Daniel Jacobson
    bottom, maker’s mark, stamped, green ink : Rosen / thal / Kunst-Abteilung / SELB • BAVARIA / 1914 / 1918 [Rosenthal / Art Department / Selb • Bavaria]
    back, handwritten, brown paint : RUDOLF / MARCUSE
    Subject: Daniel Jacobson
    Artist: Rudolf Marcuse
    Manufacturer: Rosenthal AG
    Previous owner: Adolf Hitler
    Daniel Jacobson (b. 1919) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Samuel David (1889-1977) and Annie (Anna) Rose Jacobson (1894-1966). Daniel’s parents were first generation Americans, who emigrated from Lithuania, Samuel in 1911 and Annie in 1914. Daniel had two younger brothers; Joseph (1924-2003) and Saul (1926-1999), and a younger sister, Beatrice (later, Bertha Lena Shannon 1929-1967). Samuel worked as a pyrographer and later, as a manager at a dry goods store. The family spoke Yiddish and English at home. While Daniel was still a young boy, the family moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma.

    In January, 1941, Daniel was working as a sales clerk when he was drafted into the military. He joined the army as a private and eventually attained the rank of sergeant. In December 1941, the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Daniel served in the 179th Infantry, 45th Division as an administrative clerk. He followed the division as they were shipped out to Arzew, French Morocco for training on July 22, 1943. On July 10, the division landed in Sicily and fought through Italy until June 16, 1944. On August 15, they landed in St. Maxine, in Southern France, and fought their way along the German border. On March 21, 1945, the 45th captured Homburg, Germany, and continued on to take Hamm, Aschaffenburg, Nurnberg and Munich by April 30th. The division spent several days in Munich, where with the help of a local child, Daniel discovered an SS weapons cache hidden in a field. While in Munich, Daniel and several men visited Hitler’s personal apartment in the city and took keepsakes from the residence.

    After the war, Daniel settled in Baltimore, and started a jewelry business with his wife, Julia (1918-1970), who he married a month before he left for Europe. They had two children, Joe and Joyce, and remained married until Julia’s death. Daniel retired shortly after Julia’s death, and remarried. His second wife died, and Daniel married Joy in 1978.
    Rudolf Marcuse (1878-1940) was a German-Jewish sculptor born in Berlin, Germany, to Therese Philipp Marcuse. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Berlin under Ernst Herter and became an active sculptor in the Charlottenburg borough of Berlin. In 1903, Rudolf was awarded a scholarship to study in Rome, Italy, for eight months from the Michael Beer Foundation. On November 16, 1915, Rudolf married Elisabeth Selizsohn (1875-?), another Jewish sculptor. Around this time, Rudolf also began designing statues for the Rosenthal AG Porcelain Company. During World War I, Rudolf created busts and statues of prisoners of war (POWs) in German POW camps. Rudolf also created monuments of famous Germans such as Moses Mendelssohn and Carl Hagenbeck. He also made small sculptures for the Unterweissbacher Werkstätten für Porzellankunst (Unterweissbacher workshop for porcelain art) and Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin (the Royal Porcelain Factory, Berlin). Rudolf’s work was displayed in several exhibitions in various German cultural institutions, including the Munich Glaspalast (Glass Palace), in the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), and at the Große Berliner Kunstausstellung (Great Berlin Art Exhibition) for multiple years.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Under Hitler, Nazi authorities began suppressing the rights and personal freedoms of Jews and systematically dismantling the artistic culture of Germany. They removed more than 20,000 artworks from state-owned museums and ostracized 1,600 artists, banning them from museums. As a Jewish artist, Rudolf experienced this persecution more fervently than his gentile counterparts. Many Jewish works were labelled as “degenerate” and destroyed while their creators were imprisoned in labor or concentration camps. On October 30, 1936, Rudolf fled Germany for England on board the Europa. He moved to London and married Alice Frankel (1878-?) (the fate of his first wife, Elisabeth is unknown) in 1939. In London, Rudolf worked as a freelance artist until his death.
    Rosenthal AG was established in Erkersreuth Castle in Selb, Germany, in 1879 by Philipp Rosenthal (1855-1937). The company began as a decorative paint shop for porcelain and then expanded to porcelain production a year later. They found early success designing and manufacturing porcelain goods such as ash trays and dinnerware. In 1897 Rosenthal opened a new production facility in Kronach, Germany. During the early 20th century, the company began producing porcelain figurines and established itself as a world-renowned, porcelain producer with over 7,000 employees.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Under Hitler, German authorities quickly began suppressing the rights and personal freedoms of Jews. Even though he was raised Catholic, the Nazis determined Philipp Rosenthal had a Jewish grandfather, and he was considered a Jew under German law. As such, the Nazi authorities, in conjunction with the company’s board of directors, began working to remove Rosenthal and Aryanize the business. In order to keep the business in his family, Philipp transferred 66 percent of the shares in the company to his non-Jewish stepson, 24-year-old Udo Franck, on November 17, 1933. The transfer of two thirds of the company’s shares legally Aryanized the company according to German law.

    However, in 1934, relatives from Philipp’s first marriage, and the company’s board members (many of whom were ardent Nazi supporters) took action against Philipp and Udo. They claimed the company’s profits and best interests were threatened by an inexperienced young man that held such a large share of the company. The board members balked at the prospect of having Udo on the board and ousted Philipp from the company. They then appealed to local government leaders to limit any future role Philipp could have in the company’s leadership. The authorities then began restricting the family’s rights, stripped Philipp of his passport, and made threats against the Rosenthals to deter any future participation in the company. In 1936, Philipp was declared mentally deficient and placed under guardianship. Under pressure from Nazi authorities and the antisemitic board, Udo was also forced out of the company.

    After Philipp’s death in 1937, his wife, Maria, escaped to France, and their son Philip went to England to finish school. After completing his studies, Philip joined his mother in France, where he enlisted with the French Foreign Legion to fight the Nazis. He ended up fleeing to Gibraltar, where he worked in Britain’s Propaganda Department.

    After the war, Maria and Philip sought restitution for the expulsion of Philipp from the Rosenthal Company before the war. Negotiations between the German government, the leadership of the company, and Philip and his mother lasted three years. In the end, the Rosenthals received a cash payment and eleven percent of the shares in the company. In 1950, Philip joined the company as a sales manager and was able to work his way up to become the CEO.

    Physical Details

    Decorative Arts
    Physical Description
    White, glazed, hand-painted porcelain statuette of a woman sitting on a rock in a bathing suit. Draped over the surface of the rock is a blue towel. The woman has blonde hair in a bob cut, fair skin, and a dark blue swim cap that matches the towel. She wears a green, one piece V-neck swimsuit trimmed in white, with a shoulder strap falling down her left arm. She has her ankles crossed, one hand on her thigh and the other hand on the edge of the rock, as she leans forward and to the right. The artist’s name is written on the back of the statuette near the base. The bottom of the base has a small hole in the center and a green maker’s mark. Small amounts of dirt and dust have accumulated in the crevices near the woman’s hands, feet, and legs and there are spots of yellow dirt on the back.
    overall: Height: 10.250 inches (26.035 cm) | Width: 4.375 inches (11.113 cm) | Depth: 7.000 inches (17.78 cm)
    overall : porcelain, glaze, paint, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The figurine was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 by Daniel Jacobson.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 17:15:45
    This page:

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