| Philosophische Fakultät, Historisches Seminar, SPF Wissen. Räume. Medien., Veranstaltungen

2024 Re-read: "Kunsthalle" Shows Anti-fascist Photomontages By John Heartfield

In 2024, Thuringia's election year, the Erfurt "Kunsthalle" is presenting a new exhibition of anti-fascist photomontages by John Heartfield entitled "33 Geistesblitze". The initiators of the project at the interface of arts and politics are Professor Patrick Rössler, communication scientist at the University of Erfurt, and Michael Tallai, managing director of "Funke Medien" in Thuringia.

"Kunsthalle" on Fischmarkt

From 1930, the former Dadaist John Heartfield fought against the rise of fascism in Germany with his photomontages on contemporary history, from 1933 onwards from exile, and ultimately in vain. Nevertheless, the more than 200 artistically outstanding prints that he published full-page in the weekly magazine AIZ (founded by Erfurt-born Willi Münzenberg) marked an important crystallisation point of resistance against the inhuman spirit of his era: A 33.1% share of the vote was enough for the NSDAP in the November 1932 elections to make the German "Reich" ungovernable; the consequences of the transfer of power in 1933 and twelve years of Hitler's regime – millions of war dead and victims of the Holocaust – are well known.

Learning from history also means visualising it again and again. Against this background, the exhibition at the "Kunsthalle" now presents 33 of Heartfield's photomontages from 9 March to 26 May, the day of the local elections, accompanied by current commentaries and classifications by Thuringian public figures. It follows on from the republication of the "33 photomontages" exactly 50 years ago, which were published in 1974 as a posthumous tribute to the exceptional artist Heartfield.

"We are showing the printed original works together with the commentaries, which can be re-read through them and against the current background," explains Patrick Rössler. "We are also planning a panel discussion with some of the commentators during the exhibition period to initiate a public discourse – not least to remind people of the dangers of fascist-orientated politics, especially in view of the upcoming elections in Thuringia (and elsewhere)."

In addition, the accompanying texts with the Heartfield motifs will be documented in a brochure and on a website – as a virtual exhibition. There are also plans to create a roll-up exhibition that can be shown free of charge at various locations in Thuringia (e.g. schools, cultural centres, savings banks) following the presentation in the Erfurt "Kunsthalle" and is intended to stimulate discussion until the Thuringian state elections in September 2024.


Holder of the professorship for Empirical communication research / methods(Empirische Kommunikationsforschung / Methoden)
(Seminar für Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft)
C18 - Teaching building 4 / Room 212
Office hours
on appointment
Profile page