War veterans in full military dress march along a city street. Such horrifically maimed and disfigured men were far from uncommon in Germany after World War I, when 80,000 amputees returned home from the front. Reliant on prosthetics, canes, and crutches, these veterans have become as mechanized as the war that claimed their flesh. Yet even while depicting the tragic results of the conflict, Dix imbues the work with caustic humor: the veterans are passing a shoemaker (identified by the boot in the shop window and the word Schuhmacherei), a service for which, thanks to the war, they now have limited need.
Kriegskrüppel (War cripples) is one of Dix’s earliest attempts at using drypoint, which he learned from the artist Conrad Felixmüller in Dresden. He based this print on a painting, which the Nazis later condemned as degenerate and destroyed.
Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.