BACKGROUND: Artwork, as a propaganda tool, was widely used during the Third Reich and Hitler’s own humble artistic background also helped foster a general interest in German art. Many art exhibitions were held through-out German during the time period with the largest being held annually, ever summer from 1937 to 1944, at the German House of Art in Munich. As early as 1938 the OKW, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (High Command of the Armed Forces), actively began recruiting artists who were assigned to a units Propaganda Company along with photographers and journalists. By the end of the war almost two hundred war artists had served in the Wehrmacht. One of the most prolific, and as a result, one of the best known German war artists was Feldwebel Wolfgang Willrich. Willrich a WWI veteran, had volunteer for military service prior to the outbreak of WWII but had been rejected on the basis of his age, (42), and was assigned to Landwehr I as a trained reserve. Through his personal friendship with Erwin Rommel Willrich was able to secure a position in the OKH visual arts section of the Propaganda department. In this position Willrich painted and drew numerous personalities and regular soldiers in all branches of service through-out the war. Many pieces of his artwork were featured on assorted series of postcards developed by the "VDA, "Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland", (National League for Germans Abroad), among others. The VDA was originally a pre-war organization formed to assist German nationals living in foreign countries and during the Third Reich era the VDA was taken over by the NSDAP and placed under the jurisdiction of the SS. In mid-1942 the OKH decided to have portraits of all the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross holders and Willrich was assigned the task. Of Note: Born in Bad Aibling Bavaria on July 21ST 1890, Eduard Dietl joined the German army in October 1909, fought in WWI and remained in the Weimar era Reichsheer as an commander of an Infantry Regiment reaching the rank of Oberstleutnant by February 1933. Promoted to the rank of Oberst in January 1935, Dietl then took command of a Mountain troop Regiment in October 1935. In April 1938 Dietl was promoted to the rank of Generalmajor and in May 1938 he assumed command of the 3RD Mountain Division. Dietl was promoted to the rank of Generalleutnant in April 1940 and on May 9TH 1940 he was awarded a Knight’s Cross of the Iron cross. On April 9TH 1940 the Germans launched the invasions of Denmark and Norway and although Denmark capitulated immediately with little resistance, Norway was a harder nut to crack and the Norwegian army, with British assistance, held out until its final surrender on June 10TH 1940. The important northern port of Narvik changed hands a few times in the coarse of the campaign but was eventually held by the Germans under the command of Generalleutnant Eduard Dietl. As the "Hero of Narvik" Dietl was the first German soldier of the war to be awarded the Oak-Leaves to his Knight’s Cross on June 19TH 1940 for his actions at Narvik. As an indication of how tenacious the battle was, allegedly Dietl commented at its conclusion, "I’m the Hero of Narvik. Had the British stayed two more hours, I would have left.". Dietl went on to be promoted twice more reaching the rank of Generaloberst in June 1942. Dietl died in an airplane crash in Styria on June 23RD 1944 and was posthumously awarded the Swords to his Knight’s Cross on July 1ST 1944.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly, 5 7/8" x 4 1/8", light-weight cardstock, sepia toned, charcoal artwork postcard features a close up of Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and Oak-Leaves, Generaloberst Eduard Dietl wearing a mountain trooper’s cap and wind blouse with a pair of binoculars slung about his neck. The visible uniform details include the shoulder boards and a unique "Larisch" pattern collar tab, and a Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak-leaves. The background features Willrich’s distinctive "W" initial cypher and the date, "1942". The reverse of the unused postcard has black printed Gothic script which includes the artists name, W. Willrich", the subjects name with rank prefix, "Generaloberst Dietl", along with additional printed script that includes, "Verlag: Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland", Publisher: (National League for Germans Abroad). The postcard was produced by the VDA, as number forty-four in the "E" series of fund raising postcards.

GRADE ****1/4                             PRICE $35.00

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