Home NEWS Local Scene Saint Mary’s College Removes Bronze By Nazi-Era Sculptor After Students Protest

Saint Mary’s College Removes Bronze By Nazi-Era Sculptor After Students Protest

Photo: Change.org

A well-known German sculptor favored by the Nazis during World War II has been denounced by students at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga who discovered one of his bronzes on campus – and who launched a petition drive to have the work removed.

Fritz von Graevenitz’s “Falcon Boy,” a slim-figured bronze of a youth – believed to have been the artist’s deceased brother staring pensively at a falcon perched on his hand – stood until recently in the courtyard of the school’s Museum of Art.

School officials ordered the work, cast by the sculptor in 1953, removed until “more education” and a community discussion could be conducted.

“…in the meantime, we have removed it temporarily because of the student concerns,” said William Mullen, SMC’s vice provost of enrollment and communications. “We wanted to take the students’ concerns very seriously. We’re trying to learn more facts…”

Although the nude, spartan work bears no Nazi symbology, the students believe the artist’s other works on behalf of the National Socialists and family ties to the party during the war years were reason enough to have the piece removed.

More than 1,000 of a requested 1,500 people have signed a Change.org petition agreeing, so far, with supporters asking that “Falcon Boy” be replaced with something that “celebrates Jewish culture and prosperity.”

Historians just getting word about the work’s removal admit von Graevenitz (b. 1892 – d. 1959) was a favorite of the Nazi hierarchy and was photographed sculpting works for party members and buildings – although he was not a member of the Nazi Party himself. He was, however, a member of the Militant League for German Culture, a group given to the promotion of Nazi values in art and culture in Germany.

Von Graevenitz served as director of Stuttgart’s State Academy of Fine Arts during the National Socialist Party’s rise to power and on into the war years. He was also included in the regime’s Gottbegnadeten-Liste (“God-gifted list” or “Important Artist Exempt List”) a 36-page roster of artists considered crucial to Nazi culture.

College administrators said “Falcon Boy” was purchased on behalf of the college by Henry Schaefer-Simmern, an art faculty member who died in 1978. Schaefer-Simmern was born in Germany but left the country in 1937 after “[s]eeing that further art education research and teaching were impossible under Hitler’s regime,” according to a 1980 biography.


  1. A naked boy contemplating a raven. Yeah, that ‘s gotta be art. Let’s preserve that for all eternity because of its exquisite execution? No. Nothing exquisitely executed. It’s unique creativity? No, it’s an imagining of his own brother. Return to sender imo. Let them relish it.

  2. Students at St. Mary’s should have more important things to worry about. Getting worked up about something that most students don’t know the history. He wasn’t a Nazi himself. Jewish culture and prosperity? It’s a Catholic school. So sick of the pathetic woke mindset.

  3. Look into anyones past long and hard enough and you will find blood somewhere. This man doesn’t seem to fit the profile of your basic goose stepper. Many people aligned themselves with the party in order to feed themselves and their families during the war. It doesn’t make it right as the regime was inarguably responsible for unforgivable genocides against many of the people of Europe at the time, but Uncle Sam appropriated many of them after the war and some have said we wouldn’t have made it to the moon if we hadn’t. I don’t know if you can or should be blacklisted simply because despicable people liked your work. Still worthy of discussion.

      • Agreed. Well said and realistic with awareness of the times that may be lacking today. A full and fair discussion of a controversial topic is commendable because that’s how we learn – but cherrypicking history serves no purpose.

  4. Maybe we should boycott Porsche cars because they were designed by naza era people. Same with Mercedes and BMW. They were all so liked by the Nazis so therefore….
    (get the logic?)

    • I do get the logic. So let’s make the discussion, if there is to be a discussion, more nuanced. We are a country founded by great thinkers who were largely OK with owning black humans as slaves. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.

  5. A lot of the artists of the WPA were Communists, including Diego Rivera as their Professor. Considering the horrendous and murderous history of that party, all the murals we have in San Francisco should be painted over or sold off immediately. True, many are good works of art, but we are now aware that an artist’s political affiliation is much more important than his or her works.

    • “an artist’s political affiliation is much more important than his or her works.” Are you sure you want to stand by that statement? You must have an unusual appreciation for art which lacks passion.

  6. Irony or return of evil times. Burning books and destroying decadent Art was the Nazi actions against Culture. Same is happening today by people ironically who are so called anti-Nazi. These Times of Cancel Culture is a return to era of Evil practiced during early 20th Century Nazi and Communists in Europe.
    This statue is just one of many removed by people who measure moral worthiness by their standard. Generations before had rough edges and in a cancel culture that picks out the minute amounts of imperfection to warrant censor. They have found a one size fits all way to censor, revise and cancel the past and present.
    Reading between the lines the College will put the Art in storage. To wait until the current batch of SJWs are out of College before returning the Statue.

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