The origin of today's question is cracked.com.

In the article, 2 independent examples of naked male art (sculpture) is present:

What gives?

This definitely wasn't the trend in German art during Bismark time. Nor did Hitler claim to be philosophically/spiritually descendent from classical Greeks or Renaissance Italians.

Why were the Nazis so supportive of this? (by comparison, Soviets would never be so open to what they would consider "pornography"). How did this official level of acceptance come about?

  • Interesting. Have you seen this Spiegel Article? Dec 24, 2012 at 11:17
  • @NathanCooper - Nope
    – DVK
    Dec 24, 2012 at 11:45
  • 1
    why shouldn't it be? Not every country is as prudish (and that only as a facade) as the early 21st century USA...
    – jwenting
    Feb 23, 2013 at 12:18
  • 1
    @jwenting - Prudish? You must not have watched TV recently :)
    – DVK
    Feb 24, 2013 at 1:50
  • 1
    @DVK yes, prudish. Remember "nipplegate"? States passing laws banning women from being topless? Statues being defaces and/or covered so people don't have to look at the naked figure even in stone. Almost everywhere having laws against "indecent exposure". Sure it's fake, porn production and sales and smut behind closed doors is everywhere, but they do keep up the appearance of being prude so much you'd think they'd want their women to wear burqahs to "protect their modesty".
    – jwenting
    Feb 24, 2013 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


This definitely is descending from the ancient Greek tradition. You should consider the following:

  • The Germans claimed that they are heirs to the European ancestry and as such their art should resemble and surpass the art of ancient epochs. As the ancient Greek and Roman art were considered the highest examples of art, the Germans tried to simulate them.

Note that this antique tradition can be seen in Soviet art as well, for example in a sculture "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares" although the genital seems to be hidden here, which can be explained with Russian national tradition.

  • There was a serious emphasis on bodily strength and reproduction in Nazi ideology.

  • There was more tolerance to erotic art in Germany as elsewhere in the West compared to the USSR due to market demand for eroticism. If you check both German and American films of the time you will easily find a lot of erotic scenes (even outside of any political context) which would be impossible in the USSR. By contrast in the USSR all the art was considered to be an educational tool and as such could not include anything not deemed educationally positive. This included eroticism which could give rise to things not projected to exist in a future society, such as prostitution which was claimed to be eradicated. By contrast, prostitution was allowed in Germany.


You may wish to consult GERMANY'S NAKED TRUTH

Quick summary (Quoted from the website)

GERMANY'S NAKED TRUTH German socialists saw nudism as a weapon of class struggle. George Hull investigates how nudist movements grew out of the crowded, dirty cities of the late 19th century before being co-opted by the Nazis in their quest for racial purity

  • Maybe you meant race struggle?
    – Anixx
    Mar 21, 2013 at 13:49
  • I did not. That is a quote from BBC History magazine. I don't have permission to quote more, but the issue was not racial.
    – MCW
    Mar 21, 2013 at 13:57

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