Aaron Oppenheim writes:
I read last Sunday's E-Sylum issue with mention of Gunter Kienast's passing in 2017.
As a brief introduction, I am the grandson of Maurice Frankenhuis, a renowned collector of numismatics and memorabilia of the two World Wars; see ANS Quarterly Magazine
Issue 3 of 2017 article by David Hill, 'Maurice Frankenhuis Built a Collection to Remember"
As I am digitizing the archives of the Frankenhuis Collection, I came across the attached letter he wrote to Margo Russell (Editor of Coin World) with his remarks. It
dates back to 1966, quite interesting, given his intimate knowledge of the medals of Karl Goetz during the war. (My grandfather and I had extensive correspondence with Margo
Russell, and numerous articles published about our activities and exhibits.)
I have attached a copy of his letter; feel free to share with E-Sylum readership, as I think it sheds another light on the subject.
Thank you. Here is the main body of the Maurice Frankenhuis letter, to the best I've been able to OCR and transcribe it. It is dated October 24, 1966. -Editor
Sunday evening, on returning home from the most inspiring M.A.N.A. Numismatic Convention in Washington, I found the October 26th edition of COIN WORLD awaiting me.
My attention was arrested by the Gunter W. Kienast article entitled, "NAZI PARTY TIES SPURNED BY GOETZ AS REVEALED BY MEDALS, WRITINGS." May I say that my reaction to
its contents was decidedly unfavorable. As this is Mr. Kienast's first article, I shall defer my commentary until the completion of the series. I am, however, impelled to make
the following immediate remarks as my reaction to what Mr. Kienast has said in his capacity of author of a book on Karl Goetz.
As to the Lusitania catastrophe and the medal designed by Goetz, to which Kienast plans to devote "generous space" ... with "many unpublished statements of
officials and Goetz himself, "the sinking of this ocean liner on May 7, 1915 was a barbaric act committed by Germany during World War I. There was no justification for
commemorating this atrocity as if it were a heroic triumph. And yet that is the spirit in which Goetz conceived and executed the medal. How can Mr. Kienast condone its
creation, when "everyone in the civilized world, be it an enemy citizen or a neutral, was shocked" when this diabolical "art" object appeared?
Your article has a sub-heading, "Artist Refused to Agree with Policies of Hitler." Kienast maintains that Goetz was compelled to work for the government, that he had
to do it even to survive. In the actual record, however, there is no hint of such a conflict either in his conduct or his work. Even if he was not a member of the party, he served
as one of its skilled propagandists, using his art to glorify first the German and then the Nazi atrocities. He translated the most heinous crimes and the most evil doctrines into
an aesthetic, and therefore pleasing, motif.
I can readily back up the above with materials in my collection. A short analysis of Karl Goetz that I wrote years ago touches upon the Lusitania medal, his ready service to
the Kaiser and the Fuhrer, and a work of his that involved me closely -- his design for a medal that, with bitter and cruel irony, depicted as an everlasting triumph the bombing
and invasion of Holland by the Germans in May 1940. I have cause to disagree with Mr. Kienast when he writes, "The satire and sarcasm which is so dominant in his World War I
medals is absent [in the Hitler period]. His style changed noticeably."
Mr. Kienast endorses Goetz's contention that he was not contaminated by Nazism, even though the latter proudly confesses his ties with Gebert who pandered the favor
of Julius Streicher in order to promote Goetz's designs, notably his medal "Hitlerputsch." If ever there was an admission of guilt, it is contained in Goetz's
boast that he "hit the nail right on the head" when Streicher showed pleasure with his work. This occurred in 1923, before Hitler took power, and when people were still
free to exercise their right to dissent, But Goetz was evidently aiming to please the Nazis even then.
The beast he was trying to please was none other than the arch-racist publisher of "DER STUERMER, who steamed up the German people to hate the Jews with his lurid
fabrications of "ritual murders," first published in a special edition in May 1934, together with the infamous caricatures. This issue aroused a world-wide outcry. The
Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in the London Times (May 16, 1934): "It seems almost incredible that such a publication recalling the worst excesses of medieval fanaticism
should have been permitted in any civilized country."
I leave it to your discretion about advising Mr. Kienast, at this time, concerning my findings as indicated in this letter.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
GUNTER W. KIENAST (1923-2017) (https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n03a09.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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