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  1. #1

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    Hitlerjugend bronze by Fritz Best

    I posted similar photographs of a recent acquisition on theWar Relics forum. This bronze of a proud Hitler Youth is by Fritz Best (aka Fritz Best-Cronberg)(1894-1980). Best-Cronberg was a regular contributor to the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) during the Third Reich period. Typically, the pieces he showed at the HDK were smaller bronzes. Contemporary photographs from late 1930s/ early 1940s tend to show classically-inspired figurative work that does not deal with overt Nazi themes.

    This bronze is an exception, although it is doubtful that it was shown at the HDK. However, one of Best-Cronberg’s bronzes that was displayed at the HDK in 1942 appears to be of the same size and depicts the same model as the bronze that I just acquired. Aside from a different pose, the statuette displayed at the Haus der Deutschen Kunst depicted the same boy , but in lederhosen and not in his Hitlerjugend uniform. I am assuming from these similarities that my bronze is from 1942 (I am also making that assumption because he is not wearing an HJ dagger, and it is my understanding that wearing a dagger became rare around 1942).

    Fritz Best is the subject of a museum in Kronberg im Taunus, Germany. Although I have not been able to contact the museum directly, a helpful person in Kronberg told me that she would pass my contact information on to the Museum Director. I hope that I can learn some additional information about this charming sculpture. I will post here if I do.

    Of course, if anyone else here has any information concerning this piece, please let me know.

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    cropped613 (Medium).jpgcropped614 (Medium).jpgcropped616 (Medium).jpgcropped617 (Medium).jpgcropped618 (Medium).jpgFritz Best 1.JPGFritz Best 2.JPG

    Last edited by Robert666; 5th May 2013 at 05:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi Robert,

    As you say, hopefully the museum will be able to identify your bronze. Please let us know how you get on. Why do you believe that the wearing of the HJ knife became rare from 1942?

  3. #3

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    Extrapolation of facts, Garry, which, I am sure, is a risky thing to do. From my understanding, HJ knives were no longer being produced after 1941. The war required steel to be rationed to such an extent that ceremonial knives ceased to be made.

    All of that said, I could be wrong in my facts. Fortunately, new research is coming out that puts some rumors to rest. Case in point about bronzes during the Third Reich period:

    Years ago, I was told by a knowledgeable collector that after 1940, bronze statues ceased to be made. In fact, there are photographs out there of metal drives where bronze and copper statues and fittings were scrapped for the war. High quality zinc castings was used instead of bronze for all statuettes made after that time.

    Since that time, a virtual website for the HDK has been put online. What is shows breaks a lot of myths about the HDK, how it operated, and about art production in Germany at the time.

    One of the big myths is that bronze was abandoned for art. While a number of statues were cast in plaster and in zinc, bronze pieces were still being made as late as 1944. For those interested in the HDK, this is an invaluable site:

  4. #4
    Hi Robert,

    Yes, this information on the bronzes is another example of how the internet has enabled the instant passage of information and provided access to masses of resources and individual research. Great stuff.

    On the knives; late-war production moved to the use of zinc for the handle but I'm not aware of any regulations/orders that would support the idea that the production of HJ knives ceased from 1941. There are forum members with the specific knowledge required to answer that question but there are certainly knives around with the year 1942 stamped into the ricasso. As far as I'm aware there are none with 1943. Does that mean that no knives were produced after 1942? I don't know but there was still a need for the knife with waves of new members entering the Hitler Youth as they reached the required age so as I say, more qualified members should be able to help more.

  5. #5

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    Well folks,

    The kind people at the Fritz Best Museum wrote back to me. Although I did not receive any substantive information, I appreciate the reply and the courage it took to do so. In hindsight, I committed a bit of a faux pas. In the art world, there are many critics and curators who quickly condemn an artist just because he or she had some connection with the Third Reich. People who make judgment calls on people of the past from the safety of the present should know better to do so. But they do nonetheless. It was nice to get a reply, although the museum may not have been too happy to see the photos I sent.

    The reply was that the work appeared to be done by Fritz Best, but that the particular version was not in the museum's collection. However, there are several variations to the same subject which are in diferent sizes. The reply noted that the statuette was not meant to be a portrait of anyone in particular.

    Many thanks to the museum for writing back to me! Vielen Dank!

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