Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why Hitler was a big fan of porcelain.

As James McAuley notes in his review in the New Republic of Edmund de Waal’s book The White Road: A Journey Into An Obsession, porcelain exhibits “a distinct whiteness, an unmistakable hue that has captivated consumers since it originated in China some two thousand years ago.” This made porcelain of particular fascination to the Nazis, who maintained a porcelain factory at the Dachau concentration camp called Allach. 

“White porcelain is the embodiment of the German soul,” read Allach’s first catalogue, the antithesis of the “Degenerate Art” Hitler sought to eradicate. And indeed The White Road features haunting photographs of Hitler and Himmler admiring porcelain figurines of the muscled male form, sculpted to perfection. Porcelain, in other words, becomes complicit in the Nazi quest for racial purity, a pursuit of whiteness in its own right. 

Read the rest of the review here.