The Propaganda Photography of Anna Koppitz


I gladly gave your minister the promise to work in the blood question, and I hope not to disappoint him. Whether it is portrait or nude photographs, I am the same” – Words by Anna Koppitz to the secretary R. Walther Darré (January 18, 1940), on her way to castle Neuhaus, near the German city Wolfsburg, where the photos were to be created.

In the spring of 1939, Richard Walther Darré, Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft contacted Anna Koppitz, who lived in Vienna. He engaged the widow of the renowned art photographer Rudolf Koppitz, with whom she had worked intensively until his death, to take pictures of his beloved project, which was to photograph the pupils of the Reichsschule Burg Neuhaus, located near Wolfsburg. The declared objective of the institute was to create racial models by selecting gymnasts from farmers’ families, where Darré saw the future of the German people. Anna Koppitz’s photographs were to play a central role in the dissemination of this model.

As early as 1930, Hitler appointed Darré as the agrarian expert of the NSDAP with the task of winning the rural population for the  National-Socialist movement. Photography was the favorite medium of Reich Minister of State R. Walther Darré in order to illustrate and spread his blood-and-soil ideology. The protagonists, which were to be placed in front of the camera, were athletic youths from the peasantry, who were specially trained in the Reichsschule Neuhaus castle. On their bodies, he projected his conceptions of the German race and the peasants as the genetic future of Germany.

Richard Walther Darré, Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (Minister of Food and Agriculture).

Darré developed his ideas of racial hygiene and racial breeding in propaganda magazines such as Das Zuchtziel der Deutschen Rasse and Neuadel von Blut und Boden. Because he needed photo material for the illustration of these works, he contacted Anna Koppitz. On the one hand, Anna Koppitz photographs were inspired by her husband’s artful body studies and, on the other hand, by current sports photography fashioned in the style of the film aesthetics by Leni Riefenstahl; in a word, the perfect artistic combination ideal for propaganda purposes. Stylistically, Anna Koppitz not only drew attention to the work of her husband, but also to the work of sports photographers such as Hanns Spudich.

Until now Anna Koppitz had been known as the widow and estate supervisor of her husband Rudolf Koppitz, who was one of the leading Viennese art photographers of the inter-war period. Recent research has now shown that Anna Koppitz (who died in 1989) also created an extensive work, which she mostly placed at the service of National Socialism (I guess this means her entire body of work might not be available to public domain any time soon).

As a gesture of longed artistic self-assertion, Anna Koppitz stood at the service of the National Socialist cause, though no proof of an NSDAP membership has been found as of yet. Nowadays we can only enjoy her work and appreciate the vision of the future that she, along with Richard Walther Darré, tried to project to the world.


Published in: on March 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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