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Drypoint etching by Lea Grundig of a woman watching children play

Object | Accession Number: 1987.92.1

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    Drypoint etching by Lea Grundig of a woman watching children play

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    Brief Narrative
    Intaglio print, Judengasse, created by Lea Grundig in 1934 in Nazi Germany. This is a print in the protest series, Unterm Hakenkreuz. It depicts a woman watching children play and Orthodox Jewish men crossing Jew's Alley in Dresden. Lea Grundig and her husband, Hans, were dedicated Communists who created anti-Fascist works documenting and protesting conditions under Nazi rule in Dresden. Such works were prohibited under Hitler and the Nazi regime. Lea, 30, was arrested for her resistance art in 1936, but released. She continued working as an artist and was arrested in 1938 for high treason and sentenced to two years in the Dresden Gestapo prison. In December 1939, Lea was released and left for Palestine. Hans, 35, was also arrested in 1936 and 1938, and in 1940, was imprisoned in Sachenhausen concentration camp. He was released in 1944 and went to the Soviet Union. The couple reunited in 1949 when Lea returned to Dresden.
    Artwork Title
    Alternate Title
    Jew's Alley
    Under the Swastika
    Series Title
    Unterm Hakenkreuz
    creation:  1934
    issue:  1972
    depiction: Judengasse; Dresden (Germany)
    creation: Dresden (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, on sheet, below image, cursive, pencil : Unterm Hakenkreüz Jüdengasse Lea Gründig 1934 [Under the Swastika Jew’s Alley]
    Artist: Lea Grundig
    Subject: Lea Grundig
    "I wanted to portray the thousand fears, the perception of the horrible, the subjection of those who are shadowed and persecuted. I wanted to show the dehumanizing process and the struggle of the best against it. And I wanted to warn the world against the war that threatened." Lea Grundig (1958)

    Lea Langer was born on March 23, 1906, in Dresden, Germany, into a middle class Orthodox Jewish family. Despite parental objections, she studied at the School of Academy of Arts and Crafts and then the Fine Arts Academy in Dresden from 1922 to 1926. While in school, she met Hans Grundig, another art student. Hans was born in 1901 to working class parents, also in Dresden. Lea and Hans joined the Communist Party in 1926. Her father did not approve of her politics or of Grundig, and sent Lea to sanatoriums in Heidelberg and Vienna, but Hans joined her in both cities. In 1928, she and Hans married. They lived in the poor, working class area of Dresden. Lea and Hans were founding members of the Dresden chapter of the Revolutionary German Artists' Association (ASSO) and worked with the Linkskurve theater group. Lea and Hans produced drawings and posters for the Communist Party, but neither could find steady work during the Depression. Lea did linocuts of mother and child images which were widely distributed. She was influenced by the humanistic work of Kathe Kollwitz and the anti-war work of Otto Dix. Her expressionistic style blended elements of her Orthodox Jewish background, social realism, and her deep political involvement in works inspired by the passionate belief that art that would change the world around her.

    Hitler assumed power in Germany on January 30, 1933. By summer, the dictatorship was firmly in control. Opposing parties were outlawed and civil rights were abolished. Resistance art was deemed dangerous and Lea and Hans were prohibited from working as artists. The government established a Reich Culture Chamber to control all aspects of German culture. In the Third Reich, the only purpose of art was to glorify Nazi-determined German virtues. Grundig defied the prohibition and between 1933 and 1939, she created three powerful series of protest art: Der Jude ist schuld [The Jew is Guilty], Unterm Hakenkruz [Under the Swastika], and Krieg Droht [War Threatens!] Her work opposed Nazi propaganda by depicting humane scenes of daily Jewish life and the inhumane effects of raids and mass emigration. She wished to show conditions as they really were and to warn people of the bleak future threatening everyone. She worked primarily in intaglio techniques, such as etching and drypoint. Lea was arrested in 1936, but soon released. She was arrested again in 1938, this time for high treason, and sentenced to two years in Dresden's Gestapo prison. After her release from prison, Lea emigrated to Palestine in December 1939 and produced a series of prints depicting the horrors of the ghettos, prisons, and camps in Nazi-dominated Europe. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Of the nearly 150 prints she created in Germany, 114 survived the war.

    In 1949, Lea returned to Dresden in the communist ruled German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany). She reunited with her husband. Hans, a painter and graphic artist, also had created works that protested the Nazi regime and its brutish rule, based on terror. He had been imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp from 1940-1945. Lea continued to create political works about the Holocaust, including some based on Hans's ordeal, as well as on contemporary concerns, such as atomic warfare. In 1951, Lea became a professor at the Fine Arts Technical University in Dresden in the communist ruled German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany). She was elected to membership in the Academy of Art and served as president of the Association of GDR Artists. She remained politically active and was a member of the Central Committee of the SED, a major political party. Hans, 57, died in 1958, the same year his autobiography was published. Lea, 71, died in October 1977.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Drypoint etching on heavy wove cream paper with an image of a careworn woman leaning from a second story window overlooking a street where 6 young children play and 2 bearded Orthodox Jewish men with wide brimmed hats walk. The street is lined with sidewalks and buildings. Across the street is a 2 story building labeled Restaurant, with a Star of David on both windows. The heavy hatchmark lines along the buildings and street have a somber effect that is alleviated by the clear, light, unmarked circle where the children play.
    pictorial area: Height: 9.625 inches (24.448 cm) | Width: 12.875 inches (32.703 cm)
    overall: Height: 16.375 inches (41.593 cm) | Width: 21.125 inches (53.658 cm)
    overall : wove paper, ink
    front, on sheet, lower right corner, pencil : 43
    back, on sheet, lower right corner, pencil : 500,∙

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The print was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1987.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-19 08:17:26
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