Man stabs 'crap' Hitler painting with screwdriver at Museo Di Salo in Italy

A 40-year-old man armed with a screwdriver has attacked a painting hanging in an Italian art gallery. The curator of the museum says the work is garbage but it shouldn't be censored.

An oil painting by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was attacked by a man with a screwdriver in Italy this week.

The man was enraged at seeing the work of the Nazi leader hanging in a gallery, the museum said. The picture was hanging in Museo Di Salo as part of an exhibition about madness.

"Museo della Follia (Museum of Madness): from Goya to Bacon," is a traveling exhibition curated by art critic and curator Vittorio Sgarbi who said Hitler's work was garbage.

"It's a piece of crap, it's a painting by a desperate man ... You don't see greatness but you see misery here," Sgarbi told Italian news agency ANSA. "(It) is not the work of a dictator but that of a wretch, it reveals a profoundly melancholy soul."

Read more: Hitler paintings on auction - who buys them?


Adolf Hitler as child (ca.1890)

"He's different from all the rest of the family." - Mother Klara Hitler, quoted by August Kubizek.


Class photo in Linz, 1900/01

"He was definitely talented, albeit also lopsided, and while not violent, he was considered rebellious. He was not hardworking either." - Dr. Eduard Huemer, Hitler's French teacher. (Adolf Hitler is at the top right of the picture.)


Adolf Hitler self-portrait

"All his relatives considered him to be a no-hoper who shied away from all hard work." - August Kubizek, Adolf Hitler's boyhood friend.


Hitler as a corporal in the First World War

"I have never uncovered what caused Hitler's fanatical hatred towards Jews. The experience with Jewish officers during the World War could not have contributed much to this." - Fritz Wiedemann, Lieutenant in the List Regiment.


Commemorating the Beer Hall Putsch (ca. 1929)

"They had only one virtue: obedience. On order, they were to be used for everything, trained to follow the man and capable of anything. Hitler's Brownshirts were recruited from the dissatisfied and unsuccessful, the ambitious, the ones filled with envy and hatred, from all classes - ready for murder and violence." - Carl Zuckmayer, German dramatist.


Adolf Hitler (1933)

"The people of the upper class want to get close to Hitler. My grandfather had an apt formula for these changeable kind of people: 'You spit in their eyes and they'll ask you if it's raining.' "- Bela Fromm, German-Jewish journalist, January 29, 1932.


Chancellor Hitler officially takes power from President Hindenburg, 1933

"I was not mistaken for a single moment about the fact that the Nazis were enemies - enemies for me and for all that was dear to me. What I was completely wrong about, however, was what terrible enemies they would be." - Sebastian Haffner, journalist, Memoirs.


Joseph Goebbels speech, 1936

"I go to the party reception in the old town hall. Huge bustle. I report the situation to the Führer. He decides: 'Withdraw police forces. Let the Jews feel the fury of the people.'"- Joseph Goebbels, diary, 10 November 1938.


Hitler in Bayreuth (1938)

"I can safely say that before I left for San Francisco, I had learned of the intention of Hitler to destroy incurable patients - not just incurable mental diseases - in the event of a war. As a motive, he said that they were unnecessary eaters." - Fritz Wiedemann, Nazi Party Adjutant to Adolf Hitler until January 19, 1939.


Hitler on Obersalzberg (undated)

"I am firmly convinced that neither England nor France will enter into a general war." - Adolf Hitler before his army generals on Obersalzberg, August 13, 1939.


Albert Speer and Adolf Hitler, 1938

"Throughout the war, Adolf Hitler never visited a bombed city." - Albert Speer, Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production.


Adolf Hitler

"I know that many perceived that Hitler had changed after Stalingrad. I didn't see it that way." - Rochus Misch, sergeant in the SS Escort Command of the Führer


Hitler after the failed assassination attempt in the Wolf's Lair, 1944

"There I saw Hitler, who looked questioningly at my distraught expression. He quietly said, 'Linge, someone has tried to kill me.'" Heinz Linge, Adolf Hitler's valet.


Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring, 1944

"I know the war is lost. Their superiority is clear. I'd like to shoot myself in the head now. [But] we do not give up. Never. We can go down. But we will take a world with us." - Hitler at the end of December 1944 to his adjutant Nicolaus von Below.


Newspapers report death of Hitler, 1945

"One feels Hitler's death is just rather pointless now. He should have died some time ago. I wonder how many people comfort themselves with thinking he's frizzling." - Naomi Mitchison, Scottish writer

The dictator supposedly submitted the image as part of his application to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, from which he was twice rejected. Hitler wrote about the director of the school in his antisemetic autobiography Mein Kampf: "That gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously lay in the field of architecture." 

Read more: How 'degenerate art' purges devastated Germany's museums


A 40-year-old man attempted to stab the painting with a screwdriver while shouting "s***head" before fleeing the Lake Garda museum, the museum said. The director of the museum Giordano Bruno Guerri said the picture would stay on display.

"Our exhibition would not be complete without showing insanity," ANSA quoted him as saying.

The painting escaped relatively unscathed. The owner, a private collector in Germany, decided not to pursue charges after examining the damage. The unnamed painting, which measures about 35 by 40 centimeters (14 by 16 inches), shows a seemingly endless flight of space in dark earthy tones. In the foreground a man sits at a table and a figure leans against a door frame, both looking despondent. It bears the signature "Adolf Hitler" in the lower right.

Related Subjects

Curator Sgarbi condemned the attack, saying on Facebook that works such as this should be viewed "with contempt and distance," but "without reproducing the censorship and hatred expressed by the dictatorships."

aw/rt (KNA, dpa)


Bodybuilding ideal versus reality

Arno Breker was Adolf Hitler's favorite artist. In the exhibition "Artige Kunst" in Bochum, his sculpture "Decathlete" is juxtaposed with "Ruhr District" by Conrad Felixmüller, who was defamed by the Nazis as "degenerate" in 1937. Art historian Max Imdahl described Breker's work as a "bodybuilding ideal." Felixmüller's, on the other hand, depicts haggard workers in the industrial Ruhr region.


Contradictory realities

A small boy walks past corpses that have been carelessly left on the side of the road. The picture was taken in 1945, just after the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated by the Americans. Next to the picture is a Nazi poster reading "Healthy Parents - Healthy Children" and a portrait of the "perfect" family by Hans Schmidt-Wiedenbrück.


Fake ideal

Paintings like "Working Maidens, Returning from the Field" by Leopold Schmutzler, "Plowing" by Paul Junghanns and "Farmer's Meal" by Herman Otto Hoyer show the deceptive, unrealistic imagery used by the Nazis. The simple life in rural settings was one of their favorite motifs in works that idealized pre-industrial agrarian society.


Heroes at sea

"Combat Zone on the High Seas" is what Claus Bergen named this painting. The waves are dangerously high as the military ship fights its way through the spray toward the bright sky. The clouds exaggerate the drama and romance of the scene. The message is clear: The ocean is not a combat zone, but a playground for heroes.


Crisis-free art

Stylistically speaking, Nazi art represented decades of artistic regression. While modern artists were using painting to question the depiction of reality, artists like Hermann Otto Hoyer were returning to rosy, distorted images of life. In "Farmer's Meal" from 1935, Hoyer painted one of the Nazis' favorite motifs: the German family.


Sugarcoated childhood

The photo "Captured Boy Soldier" by John Florea (left) and the painting "The Vacationers (on Vacation at Home)" by Paul-Mathias Padua hang side-by-side in the exhibition. Depicting soldiers as vacationers is pure mockery. The children listen intently as their father - in uniform - is probably telling war tales. Reality looked much different, as the photo of the young captured soldier shows.