BACKGROUND: Artwork, as a propaganda tool, was widely used during the Third Reich and Hitler’s own humble artistic background also helped foster a general interest in German art. Many art exhibitions were held through-out German during the time period with the largest being held annually, ever summer from 1937 to 1944, at the German House of Art in Munich. As early as 1938 the OKW, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (High Command of the Armed Forces), actively began recruiting artists who were assigned to a units Propaganda Company along with photographers and journalists. By the end of the war almost two hundred war artists had served in the Wehrmacht. One of the most prolific, and as a result, one of the best known German war artists was Feldwebel Wolfgang Willrich. Willrich a WWI veteran, had volunteer for military service prior to the outbreak of WWII but had been rejected on the basis of his age, (42), and was assigned to Landwehr I as a trained reserve. Through his personal friendship with Erwin Rommel Willrich was able to secure a position in the OKH visual arts section of the Propaganda department. In this position Willrich painted and drew numerous personalities and regular soldiers in all branches of service through-out the war. Many pieces of his artwork were featured on assorted series of postcards developed by the "VDA, "Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland", (National League for Germans Abroad), among others. The VDA was originally a pre-war organization formed to assist German nationals living in foreign countries and during the Third Reich era the VDA was taken over by the NSDAP and placed under the jurisdiction of the SS. In mid-1942 the OKH decided to have portraits of all the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross holders and Willrich was assigned the task. Of Note: Probably the most well known of all German Field Marshals Erwin Rommel, the famed "Desert Fox", even gained admiration from the most unlikely of all quarters including Winston Churchill. Having served with great distinction in WWI, being awarded the prestigious Pour Le Mérite, and achieving the rank of Hauptmann, Rommel was one of the 4000 Officers chosen to lead the 100,000 Reichswehr at the end of the war. Rommel’s exploits in WWII and his eventual demise are legendary and resulted in him being awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, on May 27TH 1940, the Oak-Leaves to the Knight’s Cross on March 20TH 1941, the Swords to the Knight’s Cross on January 20TH 1942 and the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross on March 11TH 1943. Rommel gained most of his fame leading the DAK, Deutsches Afrika Korps, (German Africa Corps), in the North African campaign of February 1941-May 1943. Implicated in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler Rommel was given the choice of going to trial, being charged as a traitor and put to death and his family would suffer at the hands of the NSDAP as a result, or he could take poison and be heralded as a national hero. Rommel chose the latter and took the poison on October 14TH 1944, and was given a State funeral.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly, 10.5cm x 14.5cm, mid-weight card stock, full color artwork postcard features a close up, portrait type, artwork of General Erwin Rommel in uniform and greatcoat with overseas cap and goggles. The visible uniform details include the Larisch type collar tabs,and the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and the Pour-le-Merite. The background features Willrich’s distinctive "W" initial cypher interspersed with the date, "1940". The reverse of the postcard has black printed Gothic script which includes , "Unsere Panzerwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Rommel", (Our Armored Force, General Field Marshal Rommel). The reverse also has additional script, "VDA, Verrlag: Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland", (Publisher: National League for Germans Abroad). The postcard was produced by the VDA, as number thirty-seven in the "E" series of fund raising postcards.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $60.00

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