Painting of Nazi Drug Addict Up for Auction

By McCarton Ackerman 01/29/13

This realistic depiction of Hermann Goering's morphine addiction saw the artist exiled.

Hermann Goering was "outraged" by the
realistic portrayal of his addiction.

An oil painting of Nazi leader Hermann Goering, known as Hitler's "right-hand man," that portrays him as a drug addict is set to sell for over $12,600 in a UK auction next month. Historical accounts say that Goering was "outraged" when he first saw the painting, created by Jewish painter Imre Goth, because it depicted the ravaging signs of his morphine addiction, which he had developed while being treated for battle wounds during the First World War. The painting depicts Goering's narrowed pupils, slumped posture and vacant stare—all tell-tale signs of his addiction—so he ordered Goth to alter the work and make it in line with the heroic propaganda images of fellow Nazi leaders. But the artist refused to paint a "dishonest" portrait, so he was forced to flee Germany and seek refuge in Britain. He was interned in a camp on the Isle of Man before eventually being allowed to remain in the UK until his death in 1982, aged 89. The artist gave the portrait to his friend Sylvia Reed on the condition that she destroy it upon his death, but she chose instead to keep the art work under wraps for almost 30 years. Historians say the painting is significant because it offers a uniquely honest depiction of a Nazi leader. “The historical significance of this portrait cannot be denied," says historical documents expert Richard Westwood-Brookes. “As opposed to the official Nazi portraits of Goering, this shows him exactly what he was—a depraved drug addict—and for that reason I personally think it should be displayed publicly to show successive generations exactly what the Nazis really were, as opposed to their now more familiar propaganda images.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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