Metal and paint (3 elements), overall: 140 × 38 × 28 cm.
The cultural purging that took place before the Second World War featured the condemnation and destruction of “degenerate” art, works that had Jewish influences and which were perceived as a threat to the Nazi ideals being promoted at the time. What resulted was the Degenerate Art Exhibition, which toured Germany until 1939. The works displayed were mocked by Hitler and his followers for being aesthetically unappealing and proof of Jewish inferiority. Joseph Goebbels, the German Reich Minister of Propaganda, instructed Swiss dealer and gallerist Theodore Fischer to hold an auction at his gallery for the condemned artworks in Switzerland, the proceeds of which would fund the Nazi efforts. Ironically, the people who rushed to see the exhibition included British and American collectors. The life of Otto Dix was not spared from the war which he detested— Dix, a German painter who remained antiwar until his death, was fired from his teaching position at the Dresden academy and forced to join the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts, where expression outside of placid landscapes was forbidden. A painter of psychologically probing portraits and satirical drawings, Dix believed in critically engaging with the world in which he lived in.
He was later conscripted into the Volkssturm, the militia set up by the Nazi Party at the end of the Second World War, and captured by French forces before being released in 1946.
War Cripples was burned along with the rest of the artworks that did not sell at the auction.