it de en

The discovery of previously
unknown works and documents

Study and research carried out in recent years by the Christian Hess Cultural Association (founded in October 2003) have led to the discovery in Germany, Austria and Italy of around a hundred of Hess’ works or personal documents that were completely unknown  in the 1970’s at the time of the traveling Exhibition of Rediscovery. These latest findings have been of enormous importance in helping to reconstruct more fully Christian Hess’ artistic career and provide more information about a life marked by two World Wars, Nazi persecution which led to his exile in Sicily, and an early death in the Austrian town of Schwaz from injuries suffered during an allied bombing raid on Innsbruck.

Among Hess’ paintings rediscovered after the traveling exhibition in the 1970’s were some which became the object of highly confidential and delicate negotiations. The Christian Hess Cultural Association took on the responsibilty of tracking down these works so they could be brought out of the obscurity in which the Nazi regime would have wished them to remain in eternity. 

Hess’ political ideas

One of the recent discoveries is a letter which helps shed light on Christian Hess’ political ideas. It was written in the autumn of 1934 when the artist was living in Lucerne with his wife Cecile but was planning to return to Messina because German nationals were not popular in Switzerland. Hess writes to his sister Emma:

“There are clear signs that Germany is preparing something. In their letters my friends in Saarbrücken, who I intend visiting before 13 January, have described quite monstrous developments. Either things will get better in Germany and it will be possible for me and Cecile to work freely or everything will come crashing down (war). In that case what does it matter if – as Germans – we are imprisoned in Sicily or Switzerland? For the rest of my life I never want to be forced to bear arms again. Unless it’s against Hitler. But he will be eliminated before and we will be spared what they are doing now: abuse and murder. For now, being pacifists, that is to say friends of peace, will lead us straight to the concentration camp. Here I have some wonderful books which in Germany are all banned. We have no choice, we must come to Messina.”

Rediscovered works and documents
for the General Catalogue


The house of exile
painted by Hess

Villa Preggi – the two-storey house
at Tremestieri (Messina) where
Christian Hess lived in exile in the 1930’s.  
Water-coloured drawing on writing paper

On the right, the house
where Hess lived at Villa Preggi.
Mixed technique on paper 45.5 x 65cm

The entrance to Villa Preggi – water-colour

The terrace at Tremestieri – water-colour

The garden at Villa Preggi – water-colour


The last letters written by Christian Hess


Among the most important finds were the last two letters Hess ever wrote. They were written in Innsbruck just a few weeks before Hess died and both were for His close friend Marya Neitzel who was living in the suburbs of Munich. The content was dominated by the war: the deaths of Hess’ cousin and Marya’s mother, Marya’s deep concern for her son Walter who was missing in action.

In one of the letters Hess includes a sketch of himself in hospital, where he had been admitted for respiratory problems caused by injuries received in an allied bombing-raid on Innsbruck.
In his final letter Hess recounts the air-raid of 20 October 1944 and the anguish of being abandoned among the rubble by a supposed friend. The letters were donated to the Tirolerlandesmuseum “Ferdinandeum” in Innsbruck by Marya’s daughter in law Frau Leonore Neitzel.


Letter by Hess dated 22 October 1944

Hess’ last letter dated 13 November 1944


The search for the dispersed works continues

As the search for dispersed works by Christian Hess, continues, the Association would like to renew its invitation for visitors to this web-site to join in the search for the many paintings and other works which disappeared during the dark years of Nazism. There are paintings, water-colours, drawings, posters and sculptures which have been catalogued (see Gallery – final section) but whose current location is unknown. Visit the “Intermezzo” page on this site and join in the “Hunt for Missing Works”.