In the excerpt from Mein Kampf, Hitler posits that original artistic creation is an indicator of the purity of a race. Specifically, he suggests that Jews have never generated their own art, but rather have used and corrupted the ideas of others. Thus, he declares, they are an inferior race that will bring about the destruction of German society. On the other hand, Ivan Goll believes that “the negroes” don’t have “an art of their own making,” yet he thinks that their art will benefit Germany. He postulates that the “Negroes are here” and that they can help resurrect a dying German culture “with their howls, with their laughter.”
Although both men believe that the races will change German civilization, Goll views the arrival of “the Negroes” positively while Hitler laments the presence of the Jews. Moreover, both texts assert that the art of the two races is affecting the morality of the continent. This is significant because the authors are implying that the artistic expression of a race determines its value.
Additionally, because the identity of the race is closely linked to its artistic expression, the arguments of the authors suggest that races can be classified by art and culture as well as physical characteristics. Although artistic expression isn’t readily visible in a person, Hitler and Goll use it as a distinguishable factor used to classify race. For Hitler, these supposedly inconspicuous characteristics are a more accurate depiction of Jews and reveal their evil intentions.
In my Spanish class studying Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, I learned that after the Muslims conquered the territory, they converted a church of Christian Visigoth origin into the Mosque of Cordoba. Notably, they replaced the Christian art with their own designs and features. This demonstrates that far before the Weimar Republic, many associated artistic expression with racial and national identity. However, in contrast to Hitler’s view that mixing Jewish and Aryan art would lead to the collapse of Germany, Muslim society in Islamic Iberia valued the integration of other cultures.