The “Spirit of the Bauhaus,” which opened in October at the Museum of Decorative Arts, includes SS officer Fritz Ertl’s designs for the extermination camp among the major achievements of the modernist art movement and school active in the years preceding the rise of Nazism. Historians of the movement have debated whether the school, which was denounced as decadent by the Nazi regime, bears responsibility for disciples who went on to work for the Third Reich.
Bauhaus was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that gave its name to the utilitarian architectural style perfected by many of the school’s graduates.
Ertl, who trained at Bauhaus from 1928 to 1931, became a member of the Waffen-SS in 1941 and contributed the plans of the barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to Le Figaro. He and another architect, Walter Dejaco, were tried in Vienna in 1972 and acquitted on charges of abetting mass murder.
French Jewish leaders called the exhibit an ‘insult’ to Jews murdered at the death camp.