GERMANY: Blasphemous Backdrops

A stolid jury foreman said, "We find the prisoner guilty." A blinking owlish Berlin judge imposed a fine of 2,000 gold marks ($576). Thus Society sought once more to quell famed George Grosz, irrepressible modernist painter, obstreperous pacifist. This time he had been caught painting back drops for a pacifist play, "with intent to blaspheme God Almighty and libel the Christian Religion."

As the sentence was imposed, some 200 Frauen and Frauleins in the gallery of the court shrilled protests. Adoring, they had hoped to see, "unser lieber George" triumphantly acquitted. Spellbound they had heard his bold though Vain defense:

"I...