What would you do if your cultural environment was systematically destroyed? Curator Matthew Gale recounts what happened in the life of artist Paul Klee following Hitler becoming the Chancellor of Germany

In 1930s Germany, the National Socialists fixed on what they perceived as a corruption of culture in the Weimar Republic as a target for attack. It was an excuse for anti-Semitism, anti-Communist, repression. On Hitler becoming Chancellor on 30 January 1933, the assault on the plurality of German culture was devastating.

As a modernist, Paul Klee was dismissed from his teaching post at the Dusseldorf Academy. His works were removed from public galleries, his collectors were hounded and his dealer Alfred Flechtheim forced out of business as a modernist and a Jew. More fortunate than many colleagues, Klee could return to Bern where he settled in late 1933, as the cultural world in which he had lived was systematically destroyed.

The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee: Making Visible is at Tate Modern from 16 October 2013 – 9 March 2014