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Prestigious Award for Art Historian

Dr. h. c. Andreas Hüneke Receives German Federal Cross of Merit

№ 289/2013 from Oct 04, 2013

On Friday the highly regarded art historian Dr. h. c. Andreas Hüneke from Freie Universität Berlin was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit. The ceremony took place in Schloss Bellevue. Hüneke was selected for this award because of his achievements as a leading expert on Nazi art policy. For more than 30 years he has been investigating the "Degenerate Art" campaign, with which the Nazis systematically ostracized and destroyed modern art. Furthermore, he has done important fundamental work on the history of the modern museum in Germany. With his unique knowledge and his personal archives, he has assisted generations of researchers in East and West. Through his teaching work at Freie Universität, Hüneke was able to raise interest in the topic among young people and guide them in making a critical, differentiated judgment. An additional factor in selecting him for this honor was his volunteer work in professional associations, for example, as the founder and chairperson of the Potsdam Art Association and the longtime vice president of the International Association of Art Critics, AICA.

Andreas Hüneke was born in 1944 in Wurzen in Saxony. He spent his childhood and youth in the Soviet zone of occupation and later the GDR. He was denied the right to education and free choice of employment. After 8th grade he was excluded from further schooling. Although his main interest was art, he was forced to work in other areas. Hüneke was trained as a poster painter and completed secondary school at night school. Then he attended theological school. He worked as a scene painter and finally studied theology at the former Martin Luther University in Halle. Since he was a conscientious objector, theology was the only subject that was open to him at university level.

While at the university he also attended classes in art history, thus acquiring knowledge that enabled him to be hired for a position at the Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg in Halle an der Saale. For decades, until German unification, Hüneke was harassed by the state security service of the GDR and restricted in his professional development.

In the 1970s Hüneke began dealing with the topic "degenerate art." The term refers to the ostracism and destruction of more than 20,000 works of classical modernism by the Nazis. The objects were confiscated from 101 museums. Some were sold to obtain hard currencies from abroad, and others were destroyed. Hüneke is also a recognized expert in the art of Expressionism. In spite of his publications and his work, in the GDR Hüneke was forbidden to complete a doctorate or habilitation. Since 2003 he has been teaching and conducting research at the “Degenerate Art” Research Center at Freie Universität Berlin. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.

Hüneke has published numerous books, articles, and catalogs, and he has curated many exhibitions.

Further Information

Dr. Meike Hoffmann, “Degenerate Art” Research Center, Freie Universität Berlin, Email:;