LINZ.- This is not the first time Linz has been the focal point of European cultural politics. During the era of National Socialism, the former capital of Gaus Oberdonau (Upper Danube region) was transformed from a small town to an industrial city in the hopes of capturing the Führers eye and interest. Curated by art experts and historians in the field of art and modern history, this detailed exhibition addresses cultural life in the region as well as the cultural politics that were practiced by national socialists. The exhibition encourages visitors to explore questions such as how cultural life in a period of National Socialism was formed, which continuities from the period have been retained and how strong the fractures after 1945 were.
The Cultural Political Policies of the National Socialists and Upper Austria
The region of Upper Austria, also referred to as the Reichsgau Oberdonau, anticipated that an era of national socialism, and its cultural political policies, would improve and develop the areas status and significance. As the Führers hometown, one would believe to have overcome an image of provinciality in Linz and Upper Austria and expect significant development and expansion. Hence, the region began to boast itself as a homeland, particularly in a culturally political context. The expectations of people living in the region hardly corresponded to the Führers actual plans and those of the national socialistic state. The cultural political plans for Linz included numerous cultural institutions (such as museums, an opera house), however in reality, none of these plans were ever materialized. Moreover, Munich had already been designated as the cultural center of the Third Reich. Hitlers personal interest in Linz was mostly only in his minds eye; an idea that revolved more around a sense of a hometown myth rather than in achievable terms.
Although the NS art policies - which embodied the racist and ideological criteria of NS cultural politics - were implemented by the national socialists, they hardly led to fractures in art work and biography among the resident artists in Linz and Upper Austria and more importantly, this occurred to a lesser degree than elsewhere. Before 1938, the modern era, as well as works by few Jewish artists, was rarely discernible in Upper Austria. Aside from a few documented exceptions, there was no ban on writing, painting or performing arts. This allowed for an exceedingly high degree of continuity that was practiced before 1938 as well as in the period after 1945 not only in the area of arts, but also in the policies of cultural politics.
Although only a handful of planned NS projects were built, we continue to see a large legacy of relics from the period throughout Linz and Upper Austria today not only as a mind set among city inhabitants but also on a factual level. At select locations, remnants from the period of National Socialism will be made more visible to the public.
The exhibition focuses mainly on the cultural life and cultural politics of Upper Austria in the period of National Socialism (1938 1945) in regards to the continuity of respective fractures before 1938 and after 1945. The exhibition has been arranged in two spacious, but completely separate sections: the first section focuses on the cultural political / contemporary historical background, whereas the second section highlights the areas of fine arts, literature, music and theater and the distinctive artistic life in the Upper Danube region Gau Oberdonau.