HITLER'S NEFERTITI (NOFRETETE) MYSTERY
Adolph Hitler's Strange Fascination with Nefertiti
Shangrila Gifts and Art
obtained this fascinating gypsum bust from an old private estate in Berlin, Germany. It is likely a Nazi era casting of an Amarna Period portrait, perhaps of Queen Nefertiti, rescued from the World War II bombings, of a bust illustrated in Fig. 55, page 169, 'Akhenaten and Nefertiti', Cyril Aldred, Brooklyn Museum, 1973; where it is identified as 'probably Smenkhkare'.
While for 90 years Egypt and Germany have been fighting for possession of one publicly known and famous bust of this stunning Egyptian queen from the Amarna period, the sculpture of Nefertiti (Nofretete), whose name means "the beautiful one has come," made during Adolf Hitler's control over Germany raises interesting questions for the field of Egyptology.
This brief discussion explores the questions of provenance and identity of this intriguing artifact, and its copies dating to the Nazi era. Queen Nefertiti is certainly one of the most famous women in history. She was wife of the unusual New Kingdom Pharoah, Akhnaton, and aunt of the famous boy Tutankhamum (King Tut). Is Hitler's private Nefertiti bust a recent copy of the published Berlin sculpture of Smenkhkare / Nefertiti or an antiquity in disguise? In either case, how does this new portrait fit within the context of the other Nefertiti portraits from Tell Amarna? Was Nefertiti really Smenkhkare after the death of Akhenaton?
Why was Hitler so fascinated with ancient Egypt, and the Amarna age in particular?
ADOLPH HITLER AND NEFERTITI
It is no secret that Adolf Hitler was smitten with love for the ancient Egyptian queen Khenemet Nefertiti Hedjet. In 1933, the Egyptian government made the first of many demands over the decades for Nefertiti's return. Among his many titles Hermann Goering was premier of Prussia (which included Berlin) and, as such, Goering suggested to King Fouad I of Egypt that Nefertiti would soon be back in Cairo in exchange for political alliances between Germany and Egypt.
But Hitler had other plans. Through the ambassador to Egypt, Eberhard von Stohrer, Hitler informed the Egyptian government that he was an ardent fan of Nefertiti: "I know this famous bust," the fuehrer wrote. "I have viewed it and marveled at it many times. Nefertiti continually delights me. The bust is a unique masterpiece, an ornament, a true treasure!" This bold cultural usurpation was part of a colonial mindset of the time. Egypt was widely viewed as a birthplace of Western (hence German) civilization.
Hitler boldly claimed Nefertiti had a focal place in his dreams of rebuilding Berlin as Germania. "Do you know what I'm going to do one day? I'm going to build a new Egyptian museum in Berlin," Hitler went on. "I dream of it. Inside I will build a chamber, crowned by a large dome. In the middle, this wonder, Nefertiti, will be enthroned. I will never relinquish the head of the Queen." Hitler and his dreams are long dead. Nefertiti continues to smile serenely, as she has for 3,300 years. As if to say, this shall pass but I endure.