The man registered as prisoner no 1
When in 1931 Nazi students tried to knock down the Jewish jurist Nawiasky and to throw him out of the Munich university, Claus Bastian takes the floor to condemn their intentions. They laugh at him, they pull him down the trousers to make fun of him.
For a short time Bastian joins the Communist party, then he is founder of a »Marxist Students' Club«, because he is mainly attracted by humanistic ideals. Already on 9 March 1933 at 4 o'clock in the morning he is arrested in his appartment. Passing several prisons in the Munich Ettstrasse, at Stadelheim, and at Landsberg, he finally on 22 March has to join the first transport to a shut down ammunitions factory near Dachau. On his way from Landsberg to Dachau during a break near Greifenberg he becomes a witness to the killing of two of his fellow prisoners, who are »shot when trying to escape« without any warning. Bastian gets registered as prisoner no 1 at the Dachau concentration camp. At this time the camp is still guarded by the Bavarian police. Shortly afterwards it is taken over by the SS. They trash the prisoners, push them into the cold water of a gravel pit, throw rocks at them. Bastian has to endure hardship at the road construction roller and again hears of prisoners who got »shot when trying to escape«, the way such events were reported in the newspapers. The SS tries to hide their murders because at that time the Munich public prosecutor still tries to work in accordance to law. In one case the SS therefore burns the corpse of a fatally tortured prisoner together with a hut. Bastian is an immediate witness to this event. But he does not only remember such horrible incidents. He is deeply impressed by many fellow prisoners he recognizes as exceptionally strong personalities who stick to their sincerity even under the conditions of the concentration camp.
By chance and luck Bastian is already released from the camp in September 1933. Despite a lot of problems raised by the Nazis he manages to graduate at law and to get a job at the Munich chamber of commerce. In 1936 he returns to the city of Dachau together with his family and moves to a house in the former Dachau artists' settlement. Until 1938 his address is Hindenburgstr. 17 (today: Hermann-Stockmann-Str.). Bastian tries to avoid military service by enthusiastically running a farm in Tyrol. But finally he has to join German troops invading Russia. He manages to survive the war without firing a single shot. Shortly before German surrender he almost is sentenced to death by a military court because of »insulting the Fuehrer« and of »self-inflicted wounds«.
After the war Claus Bastian especially tries to help people having been persecuted by the Nazis as a lawyer. His office has to deal with more than 2000 proceedings of compensation for Israeli. In 1951 at a Munich jury trial he defends the former SS-guard Carl Friedrich Wicklmayer, accused of having shot Sepp Götz, a communist member of Bavarian parliament at the Dachau camp prison. Bastian still knew Wicklmayer from his time as a Dachau prisoner. Further milestones of his lawyer career: He becomes Albert Schweitzer's attorney until death of the latter. For more than 15 years he in addition is the advocate of the Albertinian line of theBavarian Wittelsbach dynasty.
At the beginning of the fifties the first results of his former artistical impressions from Paris emerge. He becomes a self-taught painter and sculpturer. »The human being is the subject« he describes his art. Women as individuals and in groups are predominant in his work. In an attempt to praise human suffering he created four stations of the Cross. In each of it one of the henchmen looks like Adolf Hitler. The most remarkable of his stations of the Cross is the one at the church »Zur göttlichen Vorsehung« (divine providence) at Königsbronn near Augsburg. This impressive building was designed by professor Dahinden, one of Le Corbusier's best students. In Munich there are stations of the Cross done by Bastian at St. Lukas church in Neuaubing and in the chapel of Herz-Jesu-Church at Romanstreet. In addition he created two fountains in Munich: »Drei-Wasser-Speier« (triple water spout) near Föhringer Markt and »Flache Schale« (shallow bowl) at Blumenauer street.
During the last years of his life Claus Bastian prefered being active as a painter to anything else. His oil paintings, light and pastel shaded, are poetic and full of emotional tension at the same time. In his rich drawings we encounter the contemporary human being with his troubles, his Eros and vitality. In his work Bastian unites many different styles and articulatory powers. His work cannot be ascribed to any art school. The world of uniforms where individuals are subordinate to a supreme leader - all of this the artist is regarding as a »big absurd theatre«. A frequent quotation in the work of Claus Bastian is the face of Salvador Dali, whom he regards as expression of the absurd per se.
Documentation: Anna Andlauer