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Satirical etching by Karl Schwesig showing men in academic robes saluting a corpse

Object | Accession Number: 1988.5.20

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    Satirical etching by Karl Schwesig showing men in academic robes saluting a corpse

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    Brief Narrative
    Etching created by Karl Schwesig in 1949 in Dusseldorf, depicting six men and a military officer saluting over a corpse. After Hitler came to power in January 1933, Schwesig, a Communist, was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months. After his release in 1935, he lived in Antwerp, Belgium. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and sent to Vichy France, where he was held in St. Cyprien, Gurs, Noe, and Nexon internment camps. In 1943, he was sent to Ulmer Hoeh prison in Dusseldorf, where he was liberated by American forces in April 1945.
    Artwork Title
    Der Ermordete ist schuldig
    Alternate Title
    The Murdered is Guilty
    creation:  1949
    creation: Dusseldorf (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    Artist: Karl Schwesig
    Subject: Karl Schwesig
    Karl Schwesig was born on June 19, 1898, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. His father was a miner. From 1916 to 1918, Schwesig served in the German Army during the First World War (1914-1918). In 1918, Schwesig began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf. In 1921, he left the conservative academy and joined the Junge Rhineland artist group. In 1924, Schwesig cofounded the satirical magazine Die Peitsche (The Whip). The right wing Nazi Party was growing rapidly in popularity duirng the 1920s and Schwesig was an outspoken anti-Nazi. He joined the Communist Party in the late 1920’s.

    Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933 and the country was soon ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. On July 11, 1933, Schwesig was arrested for his anti-Nazi commentary. He was detained by the SA and interrogated for the names of colleagues who also resisted the Nazis. He was sent to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. In 1934, he was convicted of treason and served his sentence in Bendahl prison in Wuppertal. After his release on November 18, 1934, Schwesig was granted political asylum in Belgium and lived in Antwerp. In 1937, his German citizenship was revoked and his property in Germany was confiscated by the Nazi regime.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and deported to St. Cyprien internment camp in Vichy France. In October, he was moved to Gurs internment camp after St. Cyprien was destroyed by flooding. In February 1941, he was transferred to Noé internment camp. In March 1943, he was sent to Nexon internment camp and classified as a politcal prisoner. In June, Schwesig was sent to Fort Romainville prison in Paris and in July to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. Throughout his imprisonment, Schwesig drew images of daily life in the camps. Schwesig was liberated in Ulmer Höhe after American forces captured Dusseldorf on April 17, 1945. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7. Schwesig stayed in Dusseldorf. He died, age 57, in 1955.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Etching on paper depicting a military officer wearing a long coat and a kepi at the front left, standing with his back to the viewer. He is raising his right arm in a salute. On the ground in front of him is the body of a man wearing a long shirt, with his head titled back so his face is not visible. Behind the body are 6 men in long robes and circular hats, also saluting with their right arms. There is a seventh man partially drawn on the right, but shaded over. The background behind the men and the ground around the body are darkly shaded. There is a building in the back left
    overall: Height: 13.500 inches (34.29 cm) | Width: 18.625 inches (47.308 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 8.125 inches (20.638 cm) | Width: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm)
    overall : paper, ink
    front, lower left corner below image, pencil : Probedruck [Sample print]
    front, lower center below image, pencil : “Der Ermordete ist schuldig” [The Murdered is guilty]
    front, lower right corner below image, pencil : Karl Schwesig 1949
    back, lower left corner, pencil : 0/12
    back, lower left, pencil : 370 – 1983
    back, lower center, pencil : G81-25/25
    back, lower left corner of image, handwritten, blue ink : 753

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The drawing was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:31
    This page:

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