The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, August 17, 2018


Exhibition at German Historical Museum charts Germans' mania for saving
A Deutsche Bank "Savings Automat" from 1970 is on display at the exhibition "Saving - History of a German Virtue" at the German History Museum in Berlin on March 22, 2018. While the European Union gears up for another of its endless post-crisis bouts over spending, debt and deficits, Berlin's German Historical Museum has turned a microscope onto the mania for saving in Europe's largest economy. John MACDOUGALL / AFP.

by Daphne Rousseau


BERLIN (AFP).- While the European Union gears up for another of its endless post-crisis bouts over spending, debt and deficits, Berlin's German Historical Museum has turned a microscope onto the mania for saving in Europe's largest economy.

"Merkel's bullying", "Queen of austerity", "German dogma": headlines from around the EU greet visitors to the baroque pile on the leafy Unter den Linden boulevard that houses the museum.

All are relics of Berlin's insistence that eurozone members stick to strict limits on debts and deficits at the height of the currency bloc's post-2008 financial blues.

Politicians and the public have been puzzled by the rage from other nations, while Spaniards, Italians and above all Greeks have cursed Berlin for soaring unemployment and slashed government services.

"These attacks meet with little understanding in Germany. Why is this conflict so highly charged emotionally?" questioned museum chief professor Raphael Gross.

To most Germans, saving around 10 percent of their income has long been an "unquestioned virtue" come war, inflation, famine or fortune, Gross noted.

Witness to that fact are some 2.3 trillion euros ($2.8 trillion) socked away in savings accounts or under mattresses, according to a January report by Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank.

Curator Robert Muschalla said he deliberately wanted to provoke with the title of the exhibition -- "Saving: History of a German virtue".

"The idea isn't to say that saving is good or bad, it's about opening a debate on a topic that is seen as self-evident in Germany... saving has become internalised into a habit," he explained.

Gold for iron
To understand Germans' nest-egg neurosis, visitors must look back to the 18th century, when the building that today houses the museum was the arsenal of militaristic Prussia.

Like neighbouring France, Prussia and other German states were roiled by emancipatory ideas spread by the Enlightenment thinkers of the time.

But "while the French carried out their Revolution [in 1789], the Germans invented saving" as the foundation of personal autonomy and a means to pay for education, Muschalla pointed out.

The first of the Sparkasse savings banks that dot cityscapes to this day was opened in free city Hamburg in 1778.

Prussia boasted some 278,000 savings accounts by 1850 and 2.2 million by 1875.

To a state that had asked citizens to fund its war effort against Napoleon by exchanging gold jewellery for iron rings, the savings system was a natural bulwark against enemies within and without.

Communist thinker Karl Marx raged in "Das Kapital" -- a first edition of which can be seen among the exhibits -- that workers' cash piles kept them invested in the capitalist system, giving them something to lose in case of a revolution.

And when World War I broke out in 1914, ordinary citizens' savings again helped foot the bill for the bloodletting.

Truckloads of cash
At the heart of the exhibition stands the symbol of what came next -- a replica of the wheelbarrows used to haul stacks of near-worthless banknotes through the streets during the hyperinflation of the early 1920s.

Adolf Hitler's Nazi party was quick to seize on the opportunity, placing "saving in opposition to lending," curator Muschalla said.

A "background noise of anti-Semitism" painted finance and credit as the province of their preferred scapegoat for Germany's ills, the Jews, he added.

Propaganda posters from 1938 -- five years after the Nazis seized power -- hailed "those who work and save" as the guardians of "German tradition".

Under Hitler's Third Reich, a "Sparautomat" or savings machine was installed in many schools, allowing children to deposit pennies and pull a lever to mark their savings books.

Meanwhile, the regime began confiscating Jews' bank deposits in 1938, a few years before it began deporting them to forced labour and extermination camps.

'Stinginess is cool'
After the Nazis' 1945 defeat, the new Federal Republic of Germany turned westwards and became a thriving capitalist economy.

But unlike Americans or western European neighbours, the new Germans still shunned purchases on credit, hoarding their deutsche marks until they could afford a car, fridge or television -- and keeping the savings machines in schools, minus the Nazi propaganda.

A poster preserved in the exhibition blares the "Geiz ist geil" -- "stinginess is cool" -- slogan used by the Saturn electronics chain in the 2000s.

In a society still obsessed with discount supermarkets and money-off coupons, saving is a "German pathology" lamented Die Welt newspaper columnist Henryk M. Broder in a video.

"'Geiz ist geil' is really the worst phrase -- except for 'Heil Hitler' -- ever invented in this country," he said.

© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

April 15, 2018

Exhibition at German Historical Museum charts Germans' mania for saving

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac to represent the Estate of Joseph Beuys

Exhibition with new paintings by Albert Oehlen and Julian Schnabel on view at Galerie Max Hetzler

Oscar-winning 'Cuckoo's Nest' director Milos Forman dies at 86

New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

Sotheby's announces highlights from the Arts of the Islamic World auction on 25 April

Taiwan opens world's largest performing arts centre under one roof

Three centuries of opulent Asante gold regalia arrive at the Dallas Museum of Art

Christie's announces highlights from its Rare Watches auction

Regen Projects opens exhibition of new paintings and collages by New York-based artist Sue Williams

38th EVA International: Ireland's biennial opens in Limerick

White Columns exhibits at kurimanzutto as part of CONDO Mexico City

Carol B. Cadou named Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO of Winterthur

Rich Ferrante joins Redwood Media Group as Show Director

Morris Museum opens new exhibition as part of a four-year series

Large signed mixed media artwork by Wadsworth Jarrell will be auctioned April 22nd in Atlanta

Zabludowicz Collection exhibits Lindsey Mendick's installation 'Perfectly Ripe'

Sikkema Jenkins & Co. opens an exhibition of new work by Erin Shirreff

Artist presents new installation for National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April

Retrospective exhibition of works by Rose O'Neill opens at Springfield Art Museum

Iconic design for specific architecture to be offered at PIASA

JFK's 'Victory Map' used during The Cuban Missile Crisis sold for $138k at auction

New York-based artist Elaine Reichek's first solo exhibition in Austria opens at Vienna's Secession

Vadehra Art Gallery announces the death of Ram Kumar

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Royal Family portraits chosen by HRH The Prince of Wales on display at Buckingham Palace this summer

2.- Exact copy of car that made motor racing history in the 1960s for sale with Aguttes Auctions

3.- Who built Stonehenge? Cremation ashes found near Neolithic monument yield clues

4.- 'Heaven-guided' underground maze proves Armenian tourist draw

5.- Royal Family portraits chosen by HRH The Prince of Wales on display at Buckingham Palace this summer

6.- Display at Tate Modern explores 'Magic Realism Art in Weimar Germany: 1919-1933'

7.- Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says Beijing studio wrecked without notice

8.- Cat abduction from Moscow museum captivates Russians

9.- The Museo del Prado completes the redesign and rehang of its North Wing galleries

10.- Bangladesh photographer sacked over viral kiss photo



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful