This chronology, created by Maia Woolner, places seminal events in the life of Fred Grunwald, his family, and his collection in context with the art historical and sociopolitical conditions of the time. Ranging from Grunwald’s birth in 1898 to his family's final donation to the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts in 1986, this timeline puts into perspective the experience of a Jewish collector operating in the shadow of the Third Reich and its aftermath.

May 15

Fred Grunwald (Fritz Grunewald) is born in Gelsenkirchen, Westphalia (Prussia), German Empire.


Artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884–1976), Erich Heckel (German, 1883–1970), and others form Die Brücke (The Bridge), an artists' group in Dresden. One year later, Emil Nolde (German, 1867–1956) and Max Pechstein (German, 1881–1955) join the group.


Adolf Hitler is rejected twice from admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. 


The almanac of the artists' group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), co-edited by members Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916) and Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), is published by Reinhard Piper in Munich.

July 28

World War I begins in Europe.


Fred leaves Gymnasium (high school). [Source: Ernest Grunwald, The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald]

Max Beckmann suffers a mental breakdown and is discharged from his position as a medical orderly in the German army. From 1915 to 1918 he creates more than 150 artworks about his wartime experiences.

November 17

Fred enlists in the German army. He fights as a corporal in the third artillery battalion in France on the western front. Almost a year after enlisting, Fred is wounded in the right thigh. After his recovery, he returns to fight in the fifth artillery battalion, again as a corporal. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, "Grunwald Family Story: Escape From Germany," DVD]


Conrad Felixmüller (German, 1897–1977), an artist from Dresden, and others begin to organize Expressionist soirees. These meetings will eventually become the Expressionist Working Group. 

July 4

Fred is severely wounded in battle. He spends two years in various military hospitals and after several surgeries his left leg is amputated below the knee. In the hospital he meets his future wife, Gertrude (Trude) Löwenstein, who visits him often during his long convalescence. During this time Fred’s interest in art deepens. [Sources: Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”; Frederick Wight, introduction to the 1956 exhibition catalogue An Exhibition of Master Prints]

April 1

The Bauhaus art school is founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany. 

June 28

The Allied Powers and Germany sign the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I. 


Weimar Germany emerges as a leading center of avant-garde art. Berlin hosts the opening of the International Dada Fair. Meanwhile, right-wing political groups exploit the atmosphere of political volatility and economic and social crisis.

After his hospital discharge, Fred settles in Wuppertal and begins collecting art, most likely through the Flechtheim Gallery in Düsseldorf. [Source: BADV, Restitution Application] His earliest purchases include works by Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945), Willy Jaeckel (German, 1888–1944), Ludwig Meidner (German, 1884–1966), Max Slevogt (German, 1868–1932), Max Klinger (1857–1920), Lovis Corinth (German, 1858–1825), Hans Meid (German, 1883–1957), Hans Thoma (German, 1839–1924), and Joseph Pennell (American, 1857–1926). He then becomes interested in Expressionists, including Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916), Wilhelm Lehmbruck (German, 1881–1919), Max Pechstein (German, 1881–1955), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884–1976), and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938). [Source: Frederick Wight, introduction to the 1956 exhibition catalogue An Exhibition of Master Prints]

Fred is employed in Elberfeld at Hirsch & Wistinetzki, a men's shirt manufacturing company owned by Gertrude's uncle. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, "The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald"]

July 29

Hitler becomes head of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP).

February 4

Fred marries Gertrude in Lübbecke, Westphalia, Germany. [Source: US naturalization documents]

November 2

Ernest M. Grunwald is born. [Source: German citizenship annulment documents]

August 26

Lotte Grunwald is born. [Source: German citizenship annulment documents]


Alfred Rosenberg founds the National Socialist Society for German Culture in Munich. This organization, known later as the Combat League for German Culture, becomes essential to nationalist propaganda and is a precursor to the campaign against "degenerate art" waged by the Nazis throughout the 1930s.

January 23

Wilhelm Frick becomes the first Nazi Party member to be appointed to an official post within provincial government in Germany. As the minister of the interior and education in the state of Thuringia, Frick orders approximately seventy modernist paintings to be removed from the Schlossmuseum, Weimar. In Berlin, National Socialists protest the premiere of Lewis Milestone’s film adaptation of the German World War I novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1929).


Fred leaves Hirsch & Wistinetzki to start his own shirt factory. By 1934 business is prosperous enough to employ ninety employees. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”]

October 1

The right-wing city government in Dessau shuts down art classes at the Bauhaus. 

January 30

Hitler becomes chancellor and quickly bans all political parties but the Nazi Party. 


Nazis burn the Reichstag, fueling the atmosphere of crisis. The Dachau concentration camp opens outside of Munich. The German parliament passes the Enabling Act, effectively endowing Hitler with dictatorial powersThe Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is established under Joseph Goebbels. This organization is the central state organ for purging “non-Aryans” and other “non-conformists” from German culture. Almost immediately “un-German books” are burned in Berlin and “defamatory exhibitions” are held in various German cities. These events mark the beginning of the Nazi art looting that would continue throughout World War II. 

Alfred Flechtheim, one of Fred’s art dealers, flees for Paris and then London, leaving behind his art collection and gallery. Alex Vömel takes over his gallery business in Dusseldorf. [Source: Getty Research Institute Special Collections, Karl With Papers, letter, Karl With to Alex Vömel] 

August 2

German president Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler becomes Führer. Over the course of the next year, Hitler rearms Germany with the aim of uniting all the "German peoples" and subverting the Treaty of Versailles, which had disarmed Germany and enforced crippling reparation payments, paving the way for Hitler's subsequent rise to power.

May 1934 or 1935

According to claims filed by Fred after World War II, sometime in May 1934 or 1935, the Gestapo raids Jewish homes in Wuppertal. Later, when Fred is seeking reparations, one eyewitness supports Fred’s claim that the officers seized a number of art portfolios from his home, leaving only unwanted Jewish art; another witness testifies to the existence and scope of his prewar collection. [Source: Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Restitution Application]

September 15

The Nuremberg Laws are passed, stripping Jews of German citizenship and prohibiting them from marrying or having relations with "Aryan" Germans. 

Many of the Grunwalds’ Jewish friends begin to leave Germany because of increasing constraints on Jews and Jewish businesses. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”]

March 7

Nazis occupy the Rhineland. In doing so, Germany violates the terms imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. 

July 19–November 30

The Degenerate Art exhibition is held in Munich. Adolf Ziegler, painter and president of the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts from 1936 to 1943, organizes the exhibition, which showcases more than 650 artworks confiscated from public museums that Nazi functionaries dismiss as instruments of moral and cultural decay. After the exhibition, the Nazi campaign against “non-Aryan” art continues, as they confiscate approximately five thousand paintings and twelve thousand works on paper from more than one hundred museums between 1937 and 1938.


The Grunwald home is ransacked by the Gestapo as part of a raid on all homes of officers of the Jewish lodge B’nai B’rith. Ernest alleges that a number of books and lecture notes on Eastern religions were seized during this raid. (He never mentions the art seizure of 1934 or 1935.) [Source: Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”]

April 1

Having made the decision to emigrate with his family, Fred sells his shirt factory to a Mr. von Baum and begins to plan the family’s departure. [Source: Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf, Department 15] 


Fred and Gertrude, following a number of business partners who had resettled in Bogotá, Colombia, travel to the city to test it as a possible destination for immigration. Fred finds, however, that the altitude will harm his heart, so they decide to immigrate to the United States instead. Ernest and Lotte begin to learn English in preparation for assimilation into American society. [Sources: Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf, Department 15; Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”]

May 31

The Law Concerning the Appropriation of Products of Degenerate Art is passed, providing Nazis with a legal cover to sell works of art removed from state collections. 

November 9–10

Nazi paramilitary forces wage a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany known as Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). Jewish homes, synagogues, and businesses are vandalized. Some sources estimate that thirty thousand men are taken to concentration camps during this twenty-four-hour period. Gertrude’s parents’ home is destroyed in the violence and Fred is arrested by the Gestapo. According to a surviving witness who was twenty-two years old at the time, Fred was among a group of men transported to Dachau after the arrests. [Source: Klaus Goebel, ed., Wuppertal in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus] Fred never confirms this, though Ernest claims that a sympathetic Gestapo officer and fellow veteran—who took notice of Fred’s disability—released him. After this arrest, Fred begins to negotiate release for other Jews imprisoned by the Gestapo at great personal risk. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, “Grunwald Family Story: Escape from Germany,” DVD]

December 3

The German government passes a law enforcing the compulsory "Aryanization" of all Jewish businesses. Jewish businesses are confiscated or taken over by Germans. 

Hitler conceives of the Führermuseum. He plans to build a massive cultural complex to house stolen and "repatriated" art in his hometown of Linz, Austria.

February 15

The Grunwald family leaves Germany aboard the SS President Roosevelt sailing from Hamburg to New York. They send their belongings ahead of them. According to Frederick Wight, little remains of Fred’s original art collection at this point. Ernest claims that the family did successfully smuggle out some artworks. [Sources: Frederick Wight, introduction to the 1956 exhibition catalogue An Exhibition of Master Prints; Ernest Grunwald, “Grunwald Family Story: Escape from Germany,” DVD] 

February 26

The Grunwalds arrive in the port of New York after an eleven-day sea journey.

March 4

 Aboard the City of Los Angeles, Fred and his family leave New York for Los Angeles, where they arrive sixteen days later on March 20, 1939. 

June 30

At the Grand Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, confiscated "degenerate art" is sold at auction to help support the German militarization effort. 

September 1

World War II begins in Europe when Germany invades Poland. Polish language and culture is declared degenerate. Polish libraries are burned by Nazi fire squads and the Warsaw Royal Castle, a symbol of Polish identity, is destroyed. 


Fred rents out a small factory space in the Garment District of Los Angeles and embarks on his new men's shirt business. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, "The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald"]

May 10

Germany begins a series of invasions of the Low Countries and France. As Parisians flee the capital, the Louvre's artworks are also evacuated to the south of France. France falls to the German army six weeks later. 

Ludwig Marx, a German Jew who had escaped from Germany in 1935, joins Fred's manufacturing venture in Los Angeles. After a rocky start, the business finally begins to take off. [Source: Ernest Grunwald, "The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald"]

December 7–8

The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress make a formal declaration of war on Japan. The United States enters World War II. 

The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg or ERR (Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce) is established to oversee the appropriation of cultural property in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Italy, the Baltic states, and regions in the Soviet Union and Ukraine.

January 20

Heinrich Himmler’s second in command, Reinhard Heydrich, assembles the top Nazi bureaucrats in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee with the aim of coordinating Hitler’s “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem.” The Wannsee Conference initiates the incremental push to exterminate all European Jews in concentration camps. 

More than twenty-two thousand works of art are removed from Paris and sent to the Reich in Germany. The ERR begins to plunder furniture and personal belongings from emptied Jewish apartments in Paris as French Jews are deported to concentration camps. The aim is not only to loot valuables, but also to eradicate all memory of Jewish life in Paris. Expensive furniture is transported to Germany to furnish German homes; everything else is destroyed.

June 15

Grunwald-Marx Inc. files an application to trademark its popular Spire shirt label.


Majdanek, a concentration camp located on the outskirts of Lublin in occupied Poland, is the first major camp to be liberated. Camps across Germany are liberated by Allied forces through May 1945. 

August 15

After the United States drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrenders to the Allied forces. Six years after the German invasion of Poland, World War II finally comes to an end.

September 17

Gertrude Grunwald dies after being hit by a car in Los Angeles. [Source: E. Maurice Bloch, oral history interview]

After his wife’s death, Fred finds solace in beginning to collect art again. Although Ernest claims that his father’s postwar collecting was funded by restitution settlements he received before 1952, Hammer Museum archival research suggests that Fred did not receive any financial compensation for persecution and economic loss until at least 1954. It is more likely that after taking a trip to West Germany in 1950, Fred began purchasing Expressionist prints with his own money. [Sources: Ernest Grunwald, “The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald”; BADV, Restitution Documents]


Fred marries Saidee Herz, and they travel to Europe. While in Paris, Fred makes contact with the well-respected French art dealer Paul Prouté. In the early 1950s he also establishes contact with Los Angeles County Museum of Art prints and drawings curator Ebria Feinblatt, and the two of them begin a professional friendship centered on building Fred’s collection. [Sources: Galerie d’art Paul Prouté Records; UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Ebria Feinblatt correspondence]

March 5

Fred lends Ebria Feinblatt twenty-eight works by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901) for an April exhibition at LACMA entitled Toulouse-Lautrec Prints.

The Bundesergänzungsgesetz zur Entschädigung für Opfer der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung or BErG (Federal Law on Compensation for Victims of National Socialist Persecution), the first law to institute compensation for private individuals who suffered from Nazi persecution, is passed in Germany.

September 15

Fred submits a claim to the German authorities for the devalued sale of his shirt manufacturing business. The Compensation Chamber at Wuppertal settles the claim by awarding him 35,000 deutsche marks (approximately US $74,000 today). [Source: Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf, Department 15]


Fred loans prints by Christian Rohlfs (German, 1849–1938), Emil Nolde (German, 1867–1956), Ernst Barlach (German, 1870–1938), Otto Müller (German, 1874–1930), and others to Ebria Feinblatt for an exhibition at LACMA entitled German Expressionist Prints. [Source: LACMA catalogue, German Expressionist Prints]


According to E. Maurice Bloch, Fred fell out with LACMA executives in the mid-1950s when his wife was snubbed at a social event. According to Ernest’s “Grunwald Family Story,” Fred was insulted by LACMA’s refusal to name a gallery space after him. In any case, Fred decides to gift his collection to UCLA instead and between 1954 and 1965 gives more than 1,500 works on paper to UCLA. [Sources: E. Maurice Bloch, “Oral History”; Ernest Grunwald, “Grunwald Family Story: Escape from Germany, DVD”]


Ebria Feinblatt tours Germany, Italy, and France. She brokers a number of sales for Grunwald's collection, including Italian contemporary prints purchased at Obelisco Gallery in Rome. 


Fred loans a number of his Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) prints to LACMA for a high-profile Renoir exhibit. [Source: Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1955]

November 14

Fred submits a second restitution application for travel and medical expenses including the loss of his pension payments incurred during and after immigration to the United States. These claims are also settled in Fred's favor. [Source: Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf, Department 15]

January 25

Gibson A. Danes, chair of the UCLA Department of Art, and Frederick Wight, director of the UCLA Art Galleries, propose Fred’s idea to create a graphic arts study center at UCLA in a letter to Chancellor Raymond Allen. In this proposal, Fred formalizes his desire to give his art collection to the university. [Source: Early History of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts]

March 5

The Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation is established at UCLA. The inaugural exhibition showcases prints by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903), Paul Klee (German Swiss, 1879–1940), Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), and Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944), among others. [Source: Frederick Wight, introduction to the 1956 exhibition catalogue An Exhibition of Master Prints]


Additional restitution laws and amendments, including the Bundesgesetz zur Entschädigung für Opfer der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung or BEG (Federal Law on Compensation for Victims of National Socialist Persecution, 1956) and the Bundesgesetz zur Regelung der rückerstattungsrechtlichen Geldverbindlichkeiten des Deutschen Reiches und gleichgestellter Rechtsträger or BrüG (Federal Law on the Settlement of the German Reich’s Reimbursable Liabilities and Equal Legal Entities, 1957) are passed in Germany.

December 19

Fred files a claim with the Restitution Office (Wiedergutmachungsamt) of the Duisburg District Court under the BRüG law, claiming that his residence in Wuppertal was raided and art collection seized by the Gestapo in May 1934 or 1935. In June 1960, with the assistance of his lawyer, Fritz Goode, Grunwald amends his application to include two affidavits that explain in greater detail the scope of his former holdings. 

August 4

The court hears eyewitness testimony in support of Fred’s case: one from a neighbor claiming to have witnessed the raid, and another from art dealer Alex Vömel, who submits a written statement that he visited Fred’s house around 1928. According to Vömel, Grunwald’s art collection at this time was primarily made up of works by Die Brücke and Blaue Reiter masters. The German government settles the claim for 125,000 deutsche marks (approximately US $250,000 today). [Source: BADV, Restitution Application]

March 12

Fred Grunwald dies at the age of sixty-five. His existing collection is divided up between his widow, the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation, and his children. 


Ernest Grunwald gifts to the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation 95 works from the collection bequeathed to him in Fred’s will.


Saidee Grunwald gifts 298 art objects to the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation over the twelve years following her husband’s death.


UCLA, with the approval of the Grunwald family, changes the name of the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation, which becomes become two entities: the Grunwald Collection of Graphic Art and the Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts.


Saidee Grunwald sells a number of works from Fred’s collection to Ray E. Lewis, the owner of R. E. Lewis gallery in San Francisco. At the Archives of American Art, Hammer Museum researchers have found circumstantial evidence for specific prints that Saidee likely consigned to Lewis for sale.


The Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts receives from Fred’s daughter, Lotte, and her husband, Stanley I. Talpis,  the last of more than 300 works from the Mr. and Mrs. Stanley I. Talpis Collection.