Der Lichtbringer (The Bearer of Light)
A stunning gilt bronze relief denounced by Hitler as "degenerate art"—even though it was dedicated to the Nazi leader.
Böttcherstraße is a 330-foot street in Bremen historical center, and its buildings represent a rare example of Expressionist art. The north entrance to the street, near Marktplatz, is crowned with an imposing gilt bronze relief, in which a young man holds a colossal sword in battle with a three-headed monster. Known as Der Lichtbringer, or The Bearer of Light Bearer, it currently is identified as the archangel Michael fighting the devil, or Saint George attacking the dragon. But when it was made by German sculptor Bernhard Hoetger in 1936, it was accompanied by the words (now removed), “Our leader’s victory over the powers of darkness.” It was dedicated to Adolph Hitler.
The image, as well as almost all the buildings in Böttcherstraße, were built the behest of Ludwig Roselius, a supporter of National Socialism and admirer of the Nordic myths that the movement seized upon. Both Roselius and Hoetger believed in Nazi race theories, and they tried to manifest that ideology in the Böttcherstraße, which was a medieval street usually inhabited by coopers (böttcher means “cooper” in a northern German dialect). However, much to their despair, Hitler rejected this work as “degenerate art.” Today the street is a highlight of Bremen, especially its splendid carillon of 30 Meissen porcelain bells, which ring out at certain times of the day.
Know Before You Go
Near the Marktplazt, the heart of Bremen
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