Landesleitung der Reichskammer der bildenden Künste beim Landeskulturwalter, Gau Wien

Landesleitung der Reichskammer der bildenden Künste beim Landeskulturwalter, Gau Wien


Provincial administration of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts at the Provincial administration of Culture, District of Vienna

In 1933, the government of the National Socialist German Reich established the Reich Chamber of Culture (RKK), based in Berlin, as a public corporation at the instigation of the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. From then on, it served as an instrument of Nazi cultural policy for organizing, monitoring and bringing into line all areas of cultural life and all "cultural workers". Membership was a prerequisite for practicing the profession. Through its president Goebbels, the Reich Chamber of Culture was also closely intertwined with the Ministry of Propaganda. Initially there were seven, later only six, individual chambers: the Reich Chamber of Literature, the Reich Chamber of Film, the Reich Chamber of Music, the Reich Chamber of Theater, the Reich Chamber of the Press, the Reich Chamber of Broadcasting (dissolved in 1939) and the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts. According to National Socialist ideas, art was to be healthy and "artgemäß" (appropriate); "blood and soil" was a central slogan.

After the "Anschluss," the establishment of provincial heads of the various chambers also took place in National Socialist Austria. On March 28, the authority of the Stillhaltekommissar für Vereine, Organisationen und Verbände (Liquidation Commissar for Societies, Organizations and Associations) appointed Leopold Blauensteiner, the president of the artists' association Künstlerhaus, as the provisional head or commissioner of all institutions for fine arts. Blauensteiner thus assumed control not only over the visual artists, but also over the domestic art and antiques trade. With the announcement of the Decree on the Introduction of the Reich Chamber of Culture Legislation in the State of Austria of 11 June 1938, made by the Reich Governor on 24 June 1938, the legal regulations for the cultural sector that were in force in the then "Altreich" also came into force directly in Austria. The basis for all further laws and ordinances had been the Reich Chamber of Culture Act of 22 September 1933. In the "Land of Austria", all persons who wished to continue to be active in the various fields of cultural life now had to register with the appropriate chamber by 30 June 1938. An "Aryan certificate" was the prerequisite for admission: "German cultural property is a matter for the Germans. Jews have no place in it," was a comment in the "Völkischer Beobachter".

In the regional leadership of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts in Vienna, the architect and painter Marcel Kammerer served as deputy managing director. Blauensteiner appointed 14 advisors, exclusively men, as responsible for the individual departments: Robert Oerley for architecture, Igo Pötsch for painting, Ferdinand Opitz for sculpture, Ernst Ludwig Franke for commercial art, Hans Sanders for arts and crafts, Otto Gälzer for landscape and garden design, Oswald Grill for associations, Emil Böckl for prizes and honorary gifts, Leopold Ruprecht for museums and collections, August Eymer for the art trade, Konrad Thomas for the antiques trade, Gilbert Schiviz for art auctions, Alfons Riedel for gravestones and cemeteries, and Robert Eigenberger for art education and art schools. Exhibitions also had to be approved by the state leadership of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts. The latter also had an important influence in the expropriation of Jewish-owned art and antique shops, but unlike in Germany, it was not the only competent authority in this respect. Rather, it was essentially the Property Transaction Office in the Austrian Ministry of Economics and Labor that made the decisions on the "Aryanization" or liquidation of businesses, which sometimes led to differences between the two institutions. As of July 1939, Blauensteiner was officially designated as Landesleiter (Provincial Administrator) of the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts for the Gau (District) of Vienna. The provincial leadership was initially based in the Künstlerhaus at Karlsplatz 5 in Vienna's 1st district, and from 1939 in Vienna's 3rd district at Reisnerstraße 40, which had been seized from the Jewish Pick family. In 1943, the provincial leadership of the Reichskammer was relocated to Trattnerhof 1 in Vienna's 1st district, and in January 1945 it returned to the Künstlerhaus.

The Zentralverband bildender Künstler Österreichs (Central Association of Austrian Fine Artists), which had been forcibly incorporated into the Reichskammer in 1938 and renamed the Wirtschaftsgenossenschaft bildender Künstler (Trading Cooperative of Fine Artists), was succeeded in May 1945 by the Berufsvereinigung der bildenden Künstler Österreichs (Professional Association of Austrian Fine Artists), with its headquarters in the Künstlerhaus. In 1950, the City of Vienna handed over the still existent file holdings of the provincial leadership of the Reichskammer to this association. As can be seen from a memo, the personnel files had been "seized" in November 1945 out of "state police interest". The whereabouts of parts of the material, mainly concerning the art trade, is unclear. The archive of the professional association, which is now located in Schönbrunn Palace, holds personal files and correspondence of visual artists residing in Vienna or Lower Austria who had been members of the Reichskammer or had applied for membership.


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Publications about the person / institution

Angelika Enderlein, Der Berliner Kunsthandel in der Weimarer Republik und im NS-Staat, Berlin 2006.

Anja Heuss, Die Reichskulturkammer und die Steuerung des Kunsthandels im Dritten Reich, in: sediment. Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Kunsthandels (1998) 3, 49–61.

Hans Hinkel, Handbuch der Reichskulturkammer, Berlin 1937.

Ingrid Holzschuh/Sabine Plakolm-Forsthuber, Auf Linie. NS-Kunstpolitik in Wien. Die Reichskammer der bildenden Künste, Katalog zu einer Ausstellung des Wien Museums, Wien 2021.

N. N. [Dr. K.], Eingliederung bis zum 30. Juni 1938: Reichs-Kulturkammergesetze in Österreich eingeführt, in: Völkischer Beobachter, 16. Juni 1938, 5, URL:"Reichskulturkammergesetz"&ref=anno-search (20.6.2022).

Nina Kubowitsch, Die Reichskammer der bildenden Künste. Grenzsetzungen in der künstlerischen Freiheit, in: Wolfgang Ruppert (Hg.), Künstler im Nationalsozialismus, Köln-Wien 2016, 75–96.

Monika Mayer, Freiwillige Verschmelzung. Künstlervereinigungen in Wien 1933–1945, in: Jan Tabor (Hg.), Kunst und Diktatur, Bd. 1, 288–293.

Hans Schmidt-Leonhardt, Die Reichskulturkammer, Berlin, Wien 1936.

Jan Tabor (Hg.), Kunst und Diktatur. Architektur, Bildhauerei und Malerei in Österreich, Deutschland, Italien und der Sowjetunion 1922–1956. Katalog zu einer Ausstellung des Bundesministeriums für Wissenschaft und Forschung im Künstlerhaus Wien, 2 Bände, Baden (b. Wien) 1994.

Gesetze und Verordnungen (chronologisch):

Reichskulturkammergesetz, RGBl. I 1933, 661f., 22.9.1933, URL: (19.4.2023).

Erste Verordnung zur Durchführung des Reichskulturkammergesetzes, RGBl. I 1933, 797 ff., 1.11.1933, URL: (19.4.2023).

Verordnung über die Einführung der Reichskulturkammergesetzgebung im Lande Österreich, RGBl. I 1938, 624 f., URL: (19.4.2023).

Kundmachung des Reichsstatthalters in Österreich, wodurch die Verordnung über die Einführung der Reichskulturkammergesetzgebung im Lande Österreich vom 11. Juni 1938 bekanntgemacht wird, GBlÖ. Nr. 191/1938, 24.6.1938, URL: (19.4.2023).


Archiv der Berufsvereinigung der bildenden Künstler Österreichs im Schloss Schönbrunn, Wien, Landesverband Wien/Niederösterreich/Burgenland, Akten der ehemaligen Landesleitung der Reichskammer der bildenden Künste.